Stump Watch Extra! … A Newsflash

I’ve been expecting this for some time, but this was the sorry sight that greeted me this morning out on the Rec –

I noticed that the other trees had had the small branches that grow at their bases trimmed back as well.  I imagine some well-intentioned soul has tried to “tidy them up a bit“.  I suppose they do look neater but also – in this case – a bit dead.  O tidiness, what crimes are committed in thy name!   

But we Stump Watchers are playing the long game, and I confidently expect to see a little regrowth … perhaps by the end of the Spring?

Stump Watch and Nest Watch – Together At Last!

I promised dramatic developments in the continuing story of the stump and – as you will see – this was no idle boast.  You may remember that – a few months ago – I noted the arrival of a sort of official alternative  to our feral stump, in the shape of a young sapling (a beech, possibly), planted a few feet away.

And now – someone has removed the support from the sapling, cut it in half  and tried to dig it up!  Like so –

Although it is perfectly true that I expressed misgivings about the effect that the sapling might have on our stump, I can in no way condone acts of mindless vandalism.  In fact it is a great pity that the actions of a small number of violent hooligans, hell-bent on trouble, have diverted attention from the much larger group of law abiding citizens making a legitimate and peaceful protest … (continued all newspapers p. 94).  Anarchists, probably – they seem to get everywhere.

The stump does seem to have taken advantage of the situation, and is beginning to bud a little –

Meanwhile, back in the Belly of the Beast, our magpie’s nest is now a robust and sizeable structure (the remains of the old nest are visible towards the lower left hand side of the tree, with a magpie in it) –

They now seem to be at the stage of lining the nest with mud – I did try to snap one with a great clod in its beak, but it seemed to find this undignified and flew away. 

I fancy we shall soon be hearing the beating of tiny wings.

The Many Faces of Kettering : Northampton House and Station Road in Transition


 The longer this blog goes on, the more chances it offers to revisit the recent past and observe the processes of change (and sometimes decay).  It was about a year ago that I began taking photographs, and I see that one of the first things I snapped were a pair of buildings at the end of Station Road, Kettering.  I must have passed these innumerable times now in the course of the last fifty years. 

One of these used to be the Kettering Centre for the Unemployed, and the other was most recently used by the body that conducts driving tests.  In 2006 it was announced that the buildings were to be redeveloped, and a “competition” was launched to find the best design (the brief is here – \”Design brief\”).

The winning design involved demolishing the existing buildings and erecting a grandiose-looking set of offices.  Amongst others, the Victorian Society objected to this proposal (Don\’t demolish Kettering\’s Edwardian heritage say Victorian Society) (oddly, the Society think the buildings were built in 1910, whereas the Council  think they are ca. 1873).

For a while there was a sort of artist’s impression of the new development at the end of the street – with much use of the word “Gateway” (and quite possibly Beacons and Flagships too – there was a lot of that around in those days).

By the time I photographed it first (I think it was April last year) that hoarding had come down and it looked like this –

and the entrance like this (the remains of the winning design hoarding are visible – note the word Gateway) –

 I think if I were directing a film in years to come and trying to establish that it was set somewhere in the second half of the first decade of this century I’d go for something like this – a facade of happy smiling multicultural children’s artwork (the Many Faces of Kettering)  obscuring the debris of a stalled regeneration project.  

And if I were trying to establish that we had moved into a new decade?  Well, again, I think this is perfect.

Steel shutters and the kind of political graffiti that I haven’t seen in many a long year – “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people” (good to see the comma in there, incidentally – obviously written by a student).

And here are some other views : 6, Station Road from the side (I’ve a suspicion that cloud that Tigger has his nose stuck in is an addition by a later artist) –

from the rear of Northampton House (that Social Security sign really must be ancient) –

an interior view of 6, Station Road-

and the interior of the entrance to Northampton House (curiously, as you can just about make out, they seem to have left behind a couple of rather attractive high-backed wooden chairs and a bookcase – possibly original Edwardian (or Victorian) features) –

(If you enjoyed looking at these photographs, incidentally, you might also enjoy Marchand and Meffre’s pictures of the Ruins of Detroit – something similar, but on a sublime scale …)