This summer’s ‘selfie’ spot.

This summer’s ‘selfie’ spot.

Whatever you think of Bath’s annual Christmas Market the one thing l always look forward to is the Abbey Hotel’s ‘Snow Globe’ installation – the location of one of the best festival selfies you can get in this city.

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Setting up the Snow Globe.

Well – as we head into summer – l think l have found a new location for turning the camera on yourself – or your friends. It’s an archway of flowers that’s been erected in Milsom Place Shopping Centre as a centrepiece for this weekend’s Milsom Place Festival of Flowers.

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Bath’s latest ‘selfie spot’ – a living archway of flowers at Milsom Place this weekend. Allison Herbert, General Manager of Bath BID, and Allan Russell, a Bath BID Ranger, inspecting the floral handiwork.

This historic central location is being dressed to impress under the guidance of Chelsea Flower Show gold medal veteran Jon Wheatley with plants on sale and even a hand-tied bouquet workshop.

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Jon Wheatley – with 26 gold medals to his credit from Chelsea – was busy showing a party of ‘bloggers’ around Milsom Place where he orchestrates the planting throughout the year.

I was introduced to the Centre Manager Alex McLaren by Allison Herbert who is General Manager of Bath BID.

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Allison and Allan with Alex McLaren (left) who is the Milsom Place Shopping Centre Manager.

For those who don’t know this is the Bath Business Improvement District – an independent, not for profit, business-led initiative that works to create the environment for businesses in Bath to succeed.

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Hanging baskets in Milsom Street.

It’s also in the process of helping to ensure many of the city’s central shopping streets are properly decorated with flowers for our millions of visitors.

Local authority cuts mean that – although they can supply the flowers from their greenhouses, B&NES hasn’t the resources to ‘manage’ the displays.

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Flowers in Upper Borough Walls. That’s Bath BID Ranger Alan Russell with Bath BID General Manager Allison Herbert.

I joined Allison and BID Ranger Alan Russell in Upper Borough Walls where they were keen to show off a whole railing full of blooms – before we headed for Milsom Street.

It’s Allan who has the job of managing the floral displays in the city centre and – twice a week – physically driving around to water them all.

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Bath Bid will be looking after these displays in Milsom Street.

We stopped outside Milsom Place so l could find out more about how the BID was helping to maintain Bath’s floral reputation. A city famous for its success in national competitions which judge floral displays.

 

Find out more about the Milsom Place Festival of Flowers via http://www.milsomplace.co.uk

Bath BID via www.bathbid.co.uk

Meanwhile, while l have been critical of the plastic box hedging that has appeared in the Saw Close – alongside the new Casino, hotel and restaurant development – it’s a shame to report that one of the displays has been vandalised.

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Someone has tugged one of the plastic​ bushes out of the trough.

Many people agree it’s a poor show for a new development – and one that has dangerous steps that have needed marking to make them safer – but l would rather see all the plastic removed by the developers than the contents of one scattered across this badly-thought-out space.

 

Polluted paradise.

Polluted paradise.

Popped into the BRLSI-  amongst other things, for me the city’s unofficial ‘Museum of Bath’ – yesterday to catch Collection’s Manager Matt Williams and Graphic designer Jude Harris busy setting up the summer exhibition which opens today (Saturday, April 21st).

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Collections Manager, Matt Williams with some of the vivid photographs within the exhibition which illustrate environmental damage to the Pacific Ocean.

The Institution is inviting the public to come in and explore four different themes concerning the Pacific Ocean – a sea so vast that ALL the Earth’s landmasses would fit into its basin.

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‘Bleached’ coral reefs where environmental issues are upsetting the ecosystems that operate beneath the waves.

There is no charge so come and explore the material culture of the indigenous island peoples of the Pacific – including war clubs, drums, jewellery and beaded clothing.

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Beads and gourds – Pacific culture on display.

The exhibition also examines the diversity of marine life which is shown by some of the beautiful shells donated by 19th-century naturalist collectors.

You can learn about the history and significance of the Wallace Line, an invisible boundary (named after 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Wallace) which separates the distinctive ecozones of Asia and Australasia – with tigers, barbets and woodpeckers on one side, for example, and marsupials, honeyeaters and cockatoos on the other.

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Still in the process of setting up – but here’s a photo illustrating how some islands will be submerged by rising sea levels.

For me, the themes that really hit home are the damage – we the human race are doing -with the ocean under threat as pollution and climate-change impacts on Pacific ecosystems and communities.

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Rising sea levels threaten to swamp whole islands and plastic – floating on the ocean surface – is being mistaken for food and fed to bird chicks!

The exhibition is illustrated by prints from four renowned international photo-journalists – Chris Jordan, Ciril Jazbec, Jonas Gratzer and Remi Chauvin – highlighting the impact of environmental change on the wildlife and peoples of the Pacific.

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Pacific – Ocean of Islands‘ runs until September 22nd. It is free to enter and the ground floor gallery is open from 10 am to 4pm Monday to Saturday. You will find the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square.

A sunshine tour.

A sunshine tour.

The hottest April day since 1949 and some good news amidst the sunshine.

 

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Welcome back!

 

The fountain in Laura Place is back in action after the installation of a new pump. It’s the only real fountain the city has and – just like what is left of Mr Pieroni’s architectural offering on Bog Island – is in need of some long-term tender love and care.

Both fountains need real money spent on them or – long term – they will be lost.

Back to the good news. I have been gently chiding Garfunkel’s Restaurant – on the ground floor of the Empire Hotel – about their exterior planting troughs full of plastic flowers.

Somehow it seemed ironic to me that they should be there when just across the road was a riverside park which has constantly won awards for its living blooms.

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Now you see them.

Bath seems to have more success in saying it with flowers – thanks to an overstretched and under-funded parks department – than it does with celebrating its waters.

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Now you don’t!

But back to the restaurant where – l am pleased to say – the artificial flowers are gone. The manager tells me he is looking to source some living plants to go outside his restaurant. At last! It will help make his business bloom!

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The area between the two eight-storey​ buildings is gradually​​y being transformed into a​ riverside park.

Good to see the new riverside park taking shape as part of the Crest development down by Victoria Bridge.

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Royal View with Sovereign Point – still under construction – beyond.

Whatever you think of the new eight-storey apartment blocks – taking shape on the riverbank – it’s fair to say Bath has not seen anything like them before.

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The photography exhibition by David Molina Gadea in the Holburne Museum Garden.

Back into town and the Holburne Museum cafe-goers are sharing their garden space with an exhibition of photographs called The Long Way Home which reflects on the long journey that refugees across the world undertake when they decide to leave their homes in pursuit of a new place to call “home”.

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These contemporary ‘monoliths’ are part of the photographic exhibition by David Molina Gadea who is a member of the Portuguese agency of photojournalism. They make a striking sight in the museum garden.

It’s a striking display with a strong message.

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Who has set up camp in Sydney Gardens? The tepees are part of a ‘corporate event’ being held here on Friday, April 20th. B&NES is looking to get more revenue from its parks but – somehow – it’s a bit of an affront to the people who use this public space that part of it is being ‘denied’ to them. Even on a temporary basis.

Into Sydney Gardens, where three large tepees have been erected for what l was told, was a ‘corporate event’ today – Friday, April 20th. The cash-strapped Council is obviously out to extract more commercial value from its parks – and cannot be blamed for that. l just feel its a temporary denial of public space for the benefit of a private enterprise. I am not aware of any notices going up to warn of the event.

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A bit of a tidy up

Onto the towpath and finally, the Canal and River Trust is removing the growing rubbish heap that had been created in and around a bag of grit that had been left on the grass verge by the path down to Grosvenor Bridge.

The Trust doesn’t provide proper rubbish bins and so – maybe – you can’t blame people for looking for somewhere to put litter. It’s one of the reasons we find so many discarded dog poo bags on the towpath too.

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I am always full of admiration for the one-man team B&NES employs to keep the city clear of graffiti. Caught him at work on Grosvenor Bridge. The horrid concrete replacement for what was a fine suspension bridge that disappeared many years ago.

Finally – across Grosvenor Bridge – where the one-man-band that is the city’s Graffiti Unit was hard at work removing more evidence of this urban blight. It’s a spot from where l have often stopped to photograph a half-submerged tree up-river of the bridge on the Avon.

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There’s life in that old river tree yet!

It’s bare branches look stark in the winter. I often wonder how long it will be before what is left of its roots gives way and the tree is carried off during the next rain-induced flood surge. Yet here – on this sunny morning – one of its branches was covered in new growth. Takes a lot to make Nature lose her grip.

 

 

 

Save our open-air veggie!

Save our open-air veggie!

One of only two independent greengrocers still in business in Bath is threatened by plans to install a bank in part of the Mark and Spencer store facing New Orchard Street.

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The open-air fruit and veg stall by M&S.

It’s a popular stall where you can buy your fruit and veg in the traditional way – as this is a covered stall and the produce is on open-air display. It’s a riot of colour on a dull day. Add to that the stall holders ‘shouting their wares’ and you’ve got a slice of living history – as well as fresh fruit and veg.

Looks like they may have to split their business in two. One part moving further along this side street – and unfortunately not just around the corner from where the crowds are anymore – and the other maybe being allowed to head up Union Street to outside the Min’s side wall – where the florist used to be.

 

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The open-air florist from a few years ago.

 

Make proper room for them B&NES – it’s a bit of street colour we don’t want to lose.

On the subject of fruit and veg. With a sudden awareness of plastic – and the environmental damage it is doing worldwide. Can l just have a go at supermarkets?

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Here l am. Heading for the loose peppers and looking for a bag to put them in. The only container is PLASTIC. So – if you avoid plastic-wrapped peppers – you still have to put the loose ones in more of the stuff.

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Bring back paper!!

What happened to Bath’s planned water fountains?

What happened to Bath’s planned water fountains?

A new network of drinking fountains and bottle-refill points is set to be rolled out across London – according to a report in the Guardian newspaper – in an effort to reduce the amount of waste created by single-use plastic.

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Part of the Guardian article.

Reminded me of a similar scheme launched in Bath back in 2012 – though we only managed one fountain across the road from Bath City College – and that was taken away.

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Th one and only water fountain to be installed back in 2012. It was later removed.

The Bath scheme –  l seem to remember – was a community-led project called Love Tap Water. It was set up by three women who thought this ‘city of waters’ should have drinking fountains so that tourists and residents alike could refresh themselves – without having to buy a plastic bottle full of water.

 

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What was planned for Bath back in 2012. It never happened?

 

They were going to install ten ‘watering holes’ through Wessex Water – with the support of Sir James Dyson who was going to design a reusable stainless steel drinking bottle.

It never happened? Why?

What a load of rubbish!

What a load of rubbish!

Now what – l ask you – is a waste doctor? Well, if you live in B&NES and pile black rubbish bags – in addition to your wheelie bin – on the kerbside outside your door – you may get a visit from one!

It’s a softly, softly approach that will be used for a while to try and stop people trying to sneak extra rubbish for collection.

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Cllr Bob Goodman,  B&NES Cabinet member for Development.

 

Cllr Bob Goodman –  B&NES Cabinet member for Development – thinks that means people are not recycling properly and – if the waste doctor’s educational service doesn’t work – the Council’s determined they will start issuing £60 fines.

Having said that, it seems – since the new collection and recycling service has been introduced – recycling rates have improved dramatically.

There’s every likelihood B&NES will be moving from a 54% recycling rate to a 65% one. That would move the authority from 42-second place – IMG_6741nationally – to being in the top ten.

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However – as we have heard – a lot of plastic waste has until recently been shipped off to China for reprocessing. Now the Chinese government has changed its mind and doesn’t want our waste anymore.

Bath Newseum met Cllr Goodman and asked whether it was now worth recycling at all?