Tag: Telford

However, despite all of the above, over the last four months I have grown to love The Rented House in a bizarre love-hate unexpected way. I would even go as far as to say that I will miss it when the move to the permanent house finally happens.

The Rented Staircase

I feel as if I have gone through a lot while living for a short period in The Rented House. It has been a fun, fabulous, emotional, turbulent four months. I have dragged myself kicking and sometimes screaming towards a BA in Fine Art and I have laughed and cried my way to the end of May. It has been a time in my life I will never forget.

The messy Rented Kitchen

I feel a weird emotional attachment to The Rented House, the house that I hated on first sight. Why is that? Am I then just a naturally sentimental creature? Do I feel a inevitable attachments to ‘things’ whatever they may be, houses or otherwise? I think the answer is ‘yes’. I do find myself getting quite attached to things very easily. After all, try to take my cuddly poo off me and risk bodily injury. So, am I just going to be sentimental wherever I am, however happy or unhappy I am? I don’t leave any attachments to people in Muxton. Muxton isn’t Shrewsbury, not even close. Only one parent has spoken to me at the school gates since we moved here and that was just last week, I won’t miss Muxton. In fact, Muxton is confusing and weird to me. Yet, I feel oddly sad. The only thing I will miss is my Muxton lamppost.

The view out of the window

I know that I will shed a tear or two on Thursday. I didn’t think I would, but I will. I will leave a part of me in this funny old 1990s falling apart house fondly known to me and my boys as The Rented House. Bye bye number 33.

The messy Rented Sittingroom

 

 

 

Can I find beauty in Telford?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my issues with Telford. The argument I raised about the delights, or not, of Telford caused quite a stir. A few friends agreed with me  and stated that in their opinion Telford is quite a soulless place; others (mostly Telfordians but not all) reacted quite defensively. I was told that Telford beholds many beauties including Ironbridge, Much Wenloch and the like. However, my definition of ‘Telford’ doesn’t include those locations (even if the official definition of Telford does). I was talking purely about Telford town centre and the old ‘villages’ that it engulfed when it was founded (Wellington, Oakengates, Madeley and Dawley among others).

So today, as I was destined to return to Telford once again while my son attended his writers’ workshop, I decided to take my camera and try to find beauty in Telford. I want to love Telford. I don’t like being negative about the place. I want to be proved wrong. I really want people to argue with me and say ‘How can you say Telford has no soul!’

On one level, I found photographing Telford quite a challenge. The Telfordians seemed to regard me, a lone body photographing their shops and signs, as a bit of an oddity. I was on the receiving end of quite a lot of strange looks. Secondly, I saw so many fabulous photo opportunities which included the Telfordians themselves as they slouched around the shops in search of happiness but I was just too shy to snap away. I really, really want to be as confident as the likes of Martin Parr. So due to shyness most of my photographs centred on objects rather than human life.

I started my search for beauty in one of Telford’s old ‘towns’: Oakengates.

Even Oakengates recognizes that they need help

Even Oakengates recognizes that they need help

A typical Oakengates retail outlet

A typical Oakengates retail outlet

Somehow black-and-white photography fits Oakengates

Somehow black-and-white photography fits Oakengates

The town that the 21st-century forgot

The town that the 21st-century forgot

The rubbish of Oakengates

The detritus of Oakengates

I conclude that I was able to find some beauty in Oakengates. I found old shops, dated signs, lots of flower baskets, and a charming outdoor market. Perhaps to me this was beautiful because I love urban decay. Oakengates has charm. However, I still wouldn’t want to live there.

A fallen flower in Oakengates

A fallen flower in Oakengates

Next, I tackledTelford Shopping Centre and surrounding area. I found more similar beauty as a lover of urban life but didn’t really have the confidence to capture most of it. However, I did manage to capture some elements of Telford’s attractiveness.

Telford town from afar

Telford town from afar

A colourful Telford

A colourful Telford

A lovely old sign

A lovely old sign

Just like Oakengates, Telford lends itself naturally to arty black-and-white photography

Just like Oakengates, Telford lends itself naturally to arty black-and-white photography

Bored of looking for beauty, I stopped for a coffee

Bored of looking for beauty, I stopped for a coffee

The people of Telford, through a reflection

The people of Telford, through a reflection

The fag ends of Telford - I think these have beauty

The fag ends of Telford – I think these have a certain beauty

A plethora of colourful bags

A plethora of colourful bags

I think I found some beauty in Telford, and much more than these photographs indicate. If I’d had the courage I would have taken many, many more photographs. Does that mean, then, that beauty can be found anywhere if it is sought after? Even in Telford? I’m inclined to think  that the answer is ‘yes’. As someone who likes to find and highlight the extraordinary in the ordinary (and the more ordinary the better), I now truly believe that Telford and Oakengates have much to offer. The beauty might not be the same as found in Shrewsbury with its Grope Lane and Quirky Coffee Shop, but it is there nonetheless.

Shrewsbury may have traditional beauty, but somehow the beauty found in a town like Telford is that bit more precious.

Why don’t I like Telford?

This is a weird thought I had, not on the toilet, but in Telford today.

Every six weeks my middle son attends a writers’ workshop co-run by author Kate Long in a small settlement in Shropshire called Oakengates. This workshop lasts 2 hours. Oakengates is 20 minutes from our house so it isn’t really worth me coming back home again before I have to fetch him. The first time I took him, I tried to hang around Oakengates for 2 hours. I failed as I couldn’t find enough to amuse me in that time (I had two coffees in two cafes). Oakengates, in case you don’t know, consists of a theatre (where my son was), a scattering of sad-looking charity shops and two cafes.

The Theatre in Oakengates

The Theatre in Oakengates

The second time I took him, I went to Telford shopping centre to find amusement, which is 7 minutes away. There is indeed enough to amuse me there (at the very least, a Zara, two Costas and a Waterstones) but I don’t like Telford. I go there with a heavy heart and a cross brow. So my weird thought is: why don’t I like Telford? Plenty of people do like Telford. People even live there. Why does the thought of going to Telford make me feel cross? Why do I profess to hate it so much? What has Telford ever done to me?

The town with no soul

The town with no soul

There are a number of reasons for my antipathy towards Telford:

  • I always get lost in Telford as it seems to consist solely of  roundabouts and ring roads and all lead to each other. There is no logical way out.
  • I always get lost in Telford because my sat nav thinks it is mostly fields.
  • There is no middle of Telford. It is just roundabouts (yes I know I should love these as I love roundabouts) and a shopping centre.
  • Telford has no soul (not having a middle).
  • The Waterstones, although a highlight of a visit to Telford, is fairly crappily stocked (it only has one floor).
  • Telford has no black-and-white buildings. I like black-and-white buildings.
  • The people don’t look happy. They must be, they are in Telford. They don’t look it though. They drag themselves around the shops as if searching, yearning, for something indescribable. I don’t think they will find it in Telford. I feel as if I ought to tell them to go to Shrewbsury instead.
  • I always get lost in the shopping centre.  It is quite big and it all looks the same.
  • All the houses in Telford are new. I don’t like new houses.
  • The sun always shines in Telford. That can’t be real. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Telford in the rain.
  • Telford reminds me of Seahaven from The Truman Show. Everyone looks as if they are acting (they couldn’t possibly be there by choice, could they?) and the buildings look artificial. Is Telford a reality TV show?

I hope I haven’t upset anyone who lives in Telford with my disparaging words. I’d be happy to engage in some lively debate with a Telfordian and be convinced that Telford is actually a nice place. Please do feel free to try if that is you. It has an ice rink, after all. So it isn’t all bad. I think the main reason I don’t like it is because it isn’t very old and I live in Shrewsbury which is very old (we have a lane called ‘grope lane’ where the ladies of the night used to hang out in medieval times – and a very interesting history is attached to such streets).

My favourite street in Shrewsbury - no ladies of the night here now

My favourite street in Shrewsbury – no ladies of the night here now

I keep thinking I need to learn to love Telford and perhaps I should start an art project about the town so I can grow to love something about it. I suspect that there is something about it that part of me loves (like when you fancy someone and you are mean to them). I have a love-hate relationship with Telford. It just seems such a sad place where the only leisure pursuit is to shop in the search for happiness or a meaning to life. Shopping is just not the path to happiness though, or is it?

These people live in Telford

These people live in Telford

 

 

Speed awareness – thoughts!

Today I had to attend a speed awareness course in sunny Telford because a few weeks ago I was caught on camera travelling at 34 miles per hour through and 30-mile per hour speed limit in Church Stretton. I’d been late returning from Craven Arms to Crowmoor School fuelled by good coffee. I hadn’t seen the man in the van.

The course was four-hours long so I had plenty of time for quiet, in the toilet, contemplation about the course during the breaks. I had three thoughts.

Where I went today

Where I went today

Dads in disguise

Of course my experience is limited to just one occasion but we had two trainers and they both taught in the style of dads. The course is delivered in a way as not to admonish or judge but to advise and pass on the wisdom of years of experience. There is something secondary school like about the course. It is made simple to make it palatable and also to aid retention of information. This was a good thing. Both trainers were men in their late 50s or early 60s. Both were driving instructors. Both had a vast knowledge and experience of driving (just like your average dad) and a bucket load of anecdotes. So both taught like dads giving their grown-up children tips on how to be safer drivers.

My dad

My dad

Tips they gave included:

1. Wheels on Tarmac

If you can see the wheels of the car in front of you on the tarmac when at a junction (i.e. when stationery), then you are at a safe distance. Well done, you!

2. COAST

Coast is an acronym that will help you become a better driver, my child. It stands for: Concentration, Observation, Anticipation, Space, Time.

3. The 2-Second Rule

This rule is your most useful rule, it will apply in any speed limit. This is the amount of time that should pass between the car in front of your passing any given object and you passing it, in case you aren’t sure.

4. Stop and Give Way signs

These are the same sizes all over the world, except in one awkward country – Japan. Oh how much I wished I’d driven when I lived in Japan because then I’d have known this.

 

People resort to their fourteen-year-old self when they are on a course

This includes me. I hate this about myself but whenever I am on a course I become the class clown. I’m the joker who has the cleverest answer (and never the right answer). I’m the one that makes everyone laugh and I get a boost when everyone laughs. I am also the distractor. I have to fight the urge to pass a note to the person next to me with a factitious comment about the course leader. In addition, I have to sit on my hands to stop myself either fiddling or drawing the course leader. This, I find really hard.

My school photo - can you spot me?

My school photo – can you spot me?

I’m not the only person who struggles to fight off their fourteen-year-old self I am sure.

Today we had the popular girls who immediately spotted each other and sat together looking all perfect and tanned, swapping stories about boyfriends and cars. And this isn’t the first time they’ve been on this course of course. Sooo boring. Here we go again.

We had the vocal know-it-all who knew more than that course leader: ‘No, that’s not right, today tractors can get up to speeds of 60 plus miles an hour.’ ‘I’ve definitely seen signs of 70 miles per hour speed limit in England, it was in Nottingham.’

Also, we had the token silent but deadly know-it-all who also knew more than that course leader. Rather than shout it out though and embarrass the poor chap in front of the class, he had a habit of muttering the correct answer under his breath so the class could all just about hear but the course leader could not. In a way, he is kinder than the vocal know-it-all type.

And a course will always have its confidents. Today these consisted of a group of young twenty-something men. They sat, slouched, and oozed through their pours ‘we should not be here, this is stupid, we know how to drive, thanks’. I think they left with their opinion changed at least a little.

There’s more. Every course will have the eager-to-pleases. We had one of these today. These are the swots of olden days. They read the Highway Code the night before. They know all the answers, even to the very hard questions such as: ‘How long can a temporary road sign remain temporary before it has to be put on a post and made permanent?’ (I bet you don’t know the answer without googling.) They glow with pleasure when the course leader praises their knowledge.

It doesn’t matter what course you are attending, whether it be a computer course, a how-to-be-a school governor course (the last course I attended) or a speed awareness course. Sane, normally mature, grown-ups will turn into their fourteen-year-old selves. I do it every time.

 

These courses are GOOD

Finally, I hate to admit it, because I went today with a heavy heart and my tail between my legs ready to feel ashamed of my reckless behaviour but the course is a good thing. I learnt a lot. The two trainers were enthusiastic (despite probably teaching this course a lot with little variation in content). They were good dads. I hope I will be a better driver as a result, at least one who is more aware of their surroundings than they were before. And I got to meet some interesting people from Telford including the very knowledgeable lorry driver called Mark who really did know a lot about driving.

Know your signs

Know your signs

I just hope I don’t get to do it again. Once is enough for obvious reasons.

 

 

 

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