Blog : Posts tagged with 'development'

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Curious problem

In which FP has an obscure font problem, in annoyingly specific circumstances


Only a day after the new garden blog went live, I found myself with a problem. This morning, I noticed a problem with it, on K’s PC. Moreover, it was only a problem on K’s PC. On her PC, in Firefox and in IE, the heading font was hugely oversized compared to the rest of the page. In Chrome, everything was fine.

Now, I’d tested the site in all of my browsers. On my Windows PC, running Window 7 just like K’s, there were no problems in any of the browsers I’d tried. On my Linux box, all fine; on my FreeBSD box, all fine. But on K’s PC, apart from in Chrome, the heading font was completely out. Whether I tried setting an absolute size or a relative size, the heading font was completely out.

All of the fonts on the new site are loaded through the Google Webfonts API, because it’s nice and simple and practically no different to self-hosting your fonts. Fiddling around with it, I noticed something strange: it wasn’t just a problem specific to K’s PC, it was a problem specific to this specific font. Changing the font to anything else: no problems at all. With the font I originally chose: completely the wrong size on the one PC. Bizarre.

After spending a few hours getting more and more puzzled and frustrated, I decided that, to be frank, I wasn’t that attached to the specific font. So, from day 2, the garden blog is using a different font on its masthead. The old one – for reference, “Love Ya Like A Sister” by Kimberly Geswein – was abandoned, rather than wrestle with getting it to render at the right size on every computer out there. The replacement – “Cabin Sketch” by Pablo Impallari – does that reliably, as far as I’ve noticed;* and although it’s different it fits in just as well.

* this is where someone writes in and says it looks wrong on their Acorn Archimedes, or something along those lines.

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Not In My Back Garden

In which we talk about redevelopment and green space


Yesterday, I mentioned that we’d noticed some urban camping going on in Totterdown and Hotwells, and speculated that maybe it was a wild-camping tourist. Of course, it’s always possible that it was somebody who’s decided that mortgages and rents are just too expensive, and is living rough instead. It’s unlikely, I’d have thought, but possible. In the south-west, affordable housing is hard to find.

It might be getting harder, too. Yesterday’s news included an announcement that local councils will be able to block developments on garden land.

Note that the article there is rather optimistic as to whether that type of development will be stopped. It won’t be; the decision on whether to allow it will be devolved to local government, which is in democratic terms a Good Thing that’s hard to argue against. In practical terms, though, it means that developments will be stopped in areas where residents have the means and inclination to be influential and to lean on their councillors; and will be concentrated in areas where nobody’s going to complain. In other words, another polarisation policy, to increase the economic differentiation of our towns and suburbs.

At first sight, I thought, it sounds like it might be a good idea. After all, I grew up in a leafy suburb, built in a time and place when housing plots included reasonable gardens, and so I quite enjoy tree-lined avenues and verdant cul-de-sacs that help you forget you’re in a city. But, thinking about it, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea. Verdant cul-de-sacs are nice, but affordable housing is better. A blanket ban on building over gardens isn’t what’s needed; what would be more useful is a more general control on maximum density of housing. If the planning regulations included a rule that every X square metres of new housing must include Y square metres of private or public garden space, then developers would be as free as they liked to demolish old houses and replace them with flats; the open space and the greenery would be preserved, just in a slightly different form.

It doesn’t take much, after all, to give an area the greenery it needs. Symbolic Towers, from the front, has no green space at all, one house in a line of terrace with virtually every front yard concreted, tiled or gravelled over.* At the back, we only have a small square of garden, too. But despite its small size, the garden and the gardens alongside are a quiet, peaceful, green space, sheltered from the inner city with trees and bushes.

It’s easy to forget, when a development is fresh and harsh, how time mellows a landscape. As I said, I grew up in a tree-lined surburban estate, and that’s how it is in my memory. When I look back at photos from my childhood, though, I’m shocked by how bare it looks. There’s hardly any greenery to be seen: it’s a stark landscape of red-brick houses, bare, plain lawns and sticky saplings staked into the ground here and there. In my memory it’s always as it is now, those saplings all fleshed out into fully-grown trees, and gardens grown up to fill in the spaces.** We forget that gardens take time to grow and mature; we forget, indeed, that Britain has no such thing as natural countryside at all, even our “ancient woodlands” being to some extent man-made.*** Developing on garden space isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as some green space remains; and it’s easy for “we don’t want to lose the green space next door” to be a cover for “we don’t want flats that just anyone can afford next door!” If we have rules that ensure that some green space will remain, we can redevelop our cities in a sensible and healthy way. And in thirty years time, those new flats will be surrounded by greenery, and people will wonder that their street was ever any different.

* Do not ask about the gravel. Unless, that is, you would like some free gravel.

** Memo to my parents, 30 years ago: think twice about moving into a house with a horse chestnut sapling planted at the end of the driveway, because before it’s a third fully grown it will already have buggered up the drains.

*** They are still ancient, of course. But pollen analysis shows firstly that their mixture of trees is rather different to the genuine primaeval forest that grew up between the end of the recent ice age and the start of farming; and, secondly, that we probably have rather more woodland today than we did 2,000 years or so ago.

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The Cycle

In which we sit back and don’t let other people stop us enjoying life


It’s dark outside. It’s not night, but rain-gloomy and grey. It feels dark. Winter is on its way. Soon, it will be dark.

Lots of things have come to an end in the past year; but lots more have begun. The year may be coming to a close, but the next one will be just around the corner. So much has changed for me in the past 12 months, that for the first time in a while I’m thinking like an optimist. I’m a changed person. I might not still be sure who I am, what I’m looking for, and where I’m going, but I’ve taken several steps along the path. I’ve made mistakes, but I don’t regret making any of them.

I can’t say where I would be if I hadn’t done X, or Y, or Z. You never know how things would have changed if you’d taken a different path one morning. Driving to work today, I saw a car parked on a sharp bend, and slowed down. Its driver was stood by on the phone, and an unconscious biker was laid by the side of the road. The ambulance was still on its way. Maybe, if I’d left home five minutes earlier, it would have been my crash.

This isn’t meant to be a melancholic post, by the way. I don’t know what’s coming round the next corner, and I’m not sure I want to. I’m just going to see what happens, and make decisions as I get to them. I don’t have a strategy; I don’t have a plan. I’m probably going to make more mistakes at some point, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to stop anyone else making mistakes either, because they deserve to learn things too.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

In which things don’t change


Tomorrow night, I’m going out for the evening. This doesn’t happen too often, so surely this should be cause for much rejoicing? Shouldn’t it?

Well, no, it shouldn’t.

I’m going out to the pub, to meet up with a couple of friends who I knew at school. One of whom I was very close to, in fact, but who I haven’t seen now for at least five years. And I know what I’m going to listen to: how they are both getting on superbly with their lives, are settling down with wonderful partners and happy families, and so on and so forth. Which just reinforces the fact that I’m single now, I’ve been single for a long time, and I’m not likely to meet anybody who will change that for the forseeable future. As far as I can tell, the happy cosy partnered life just isn’t going to come along for me.

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