Tag Archives: twickenham

Twickerati Takes A Break

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickerati
Hello everyone. I want to share some news with you hence abandoning the pretentious first person plural style and going straight to the first person singular. This is the 501st posting on this blog and it’s one of the more important ones.

When I started twickerati in May 2010 I didn’t really know what to expect. I just felt there was an opportunity for someone relatively normal to witter on about Twickenham. Someone who was not linked to any political party, local society or interest group and who wasn’t even the sort of person who wrote regular letters of complaint to the Richmond and Twickenham Times, laudable as those things are. There was a lot going on in 2010: the future of the Riverside, shops opening and closing, the planned station redevelopment, schools issues and so on. In the first few months I got very few hits on the site. A mere handful, if the hand in question belonged to a small child. Then one day someone posted a comment on one of my stories and then someone else did. Thank you Maria, thank you Chris. I began to realise that it was not just family and close friends who were following my ramblings but that other people were actually reading them out of choice rather than loyalty. Amazing! Ditto for Twitter and Facebook. In those early days I thought I’d be happy if I got one thousand page views a month on the blog and one hundred Twitter followers. Fast forward five years and the site now gets over 5,000 views a week from an audience of nearly 2,000 locals. Often more. On Twitter, @twickerati now has over 9,000 followers… although you can of course buy that number for about $100 if you really care about such trivial things.

Most of those Twickenham issues from the early days are still relevant and continue to be the subject of heated debate in our town. However, after five years of posting fresh items once or twice a week and tweeting several times a day I’ve decided to scale things back. It’s just too time consuming given other things going on: family life, the day job, building work (maybe), other hobbies, and basically just life in general. There’s no money in local blogging, I can vouch for that, although had twickerati generated even a trickle of income I might see things differently. Has it all just been a massively time consuming hobby? A bit of fun? An addiction? A labour of love? A millstone and a bind? Yes, it’s been all of those things at different times and sometimes all of them at once.

“Boring. Get to the point”, I hear you cry. Well the point is that I will be cutting right back on new postings and closing existing threads to new comments. Perhaps I’ll dabble with the occasional High Street Update, opinion piece or write something about the Rugby World Cup. I just don’t know yet but I didn’t want twickerati to become one of those websites which just stops or becomes totally rubbish without any explanation. You deserve better.

It’s been great creating something that people seem to enjoy and I’ve met some fantastic people along the way. A few of you even wrote pieces for the site so thank you again for those. And hell, some of your comments have made me laugh too – plenty of them for the right reasons and some of them for the wrong ones.

This isn’t necessarily a complete end to twickerati but it’s the end of it in its current format and I’m certainly going to enjoy taking a bit of a break from it. Well, at least I think I am.

So, if you do want to know when a new post is published your best bet is to sign up for email subscriptions (there’s a box on here somewhere) and that will save you the trouble of returning time and again to the same tedious, unchanging page. The twickerati@gmail.com email will still be valid but please don’t take offence if your requests for publicising X, Y or Z gets ignored or if I take a while to reply to any other messages. It’s nothing personal.

Tweeting will be cut right back too. If you want to get in touch you can always find my other account on Twitter for the occasional tweet about football, running, cycling, Twickenham and other life-affirming matters. It’s here.

In the meantime, get yourselves hyped up and ready for Twickenham Festival (maybe we’ll meet there for a beer or two?), fresh arguments about the Riverside and town square developments, Heathrow battles, more El Brute shenanigans and a whole bunch of new shops opening and then closing down again. It’s what we all love about living here isn’t it?

I’ve really enjoyed the last five years of turning out regular Twickocentric updates and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. So, for the short term at least, thank you so much for your support Twickenham, it’s been a blast.

Russell

 

UPDATE 19/05/15:
Wow! Thank you for all you kind words, advice and suggestions. I really do appreciate them. I have said above that I hope this is not a complete end to the blog and I will consider some of the ideas you’ve made although I won’t be leaping into anything straightaway. Just to address a few of the points raised.

Would I consider a collaborative thing? Yes, but as you’ve seen above, it’s a time consuming enterprise and previous requests for contributions have generated a bit of interest but only occasional end product. Regular writing is quite a commitment. I’d also want to ensure the ‘ethos’ of the site remained even if writers’ styles differ.

Can these things make any money?  I have generated some money (about £1,500 in total) for charities Spear & Shooting Star Chase but as many a ‘real’ business knows, turning site views into any kind of regular money can be hard work. And of course the returns get smaller if they get split several ways. Sponsorship? Maybe but it needs to not affecting the editorial, he said whilst enjoying a delicious, refreshing Twickenham Ale.

Anyway, I don’t want to give too much thought to new ideas immediately but if people are serious about getting involved in something new then a pub-based discussion might be appropriate in a while.

Thank you all once again and bye for now.

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A Rubbish Morning in Twickenham 

A sunny Sunday morning in Twickenham after the Marriot London 7s. Everyone likes a party, right? Certainly the tens of thousands who descended on Twickenham at the weekend in fancy dress liked to party. Hard. In fact, they liked it so much they decided to share some of it with the rest of us. Litter (tick), broken glass (tick), pissing in the street (tick). The combination of an event that has become party destination for a youngish crowd, the warm weather, people stocking up with shop bought booze to carry on drinking after pubs closed early, all made for a grim sight on Sunday morning. Yes, the Council did turn up to begin the clear-up at about 11.00am but surely LBRuT and the RFU need to be doing more? The annual London 7s is not your average day at Twickenham (luckily) but with the Rugby World Cup only months away, some serious thinking – and money – is required to tackle mess like this sooner and better.

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King Street litter [Photo courtesy of Deryn Harvey on Facebook]

King Street litter
[Photo courtesy of Deryn Harvey on Facebook]

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Filed under Council, Local Issues & News

Pic of the Week: More Spring

A bit cold, wet and miz outside? Not yesterday it wasn’t. It was bloomin’ luvverly, especially early in the morning. In fact, the view from Richmond Hill looked a little bit like this…

Twickenham, as seen from the wrong side of the river

Twickenham, as seen from the wrong side of the river

Twickenham, you’re lookin’ good!

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And Your New MP is… Tania Mathias

And so there we have it. Twickenham has spoken. And so have Hampton, St Margarets and Whitton. Even little old Teddington piped up. Bless. The polling stations have closed and the votes have been counted.  The result? Vince Cable is ousted and we have the Conservative Tania Mathias as our MP for the next 5 years.

Are you surprised? We are. It’s one of the shocks of the night.

It was always going to be a two horse race between Vince Cable, Twickenham’s MP since 1997, starting off as clear favourite with his 12,000 majority, and the Tories’ Tania Mathias. A tale of two doctors, if you will. Over recent weeks Tania Mathias and her fellow Conservatives have been busy trying to chip away at the Liberal Democrat lead and even overturn it but it’s felt like something that they’ve been working on, if not for this election, then for the next one whenever that might be. Last minute visits to Twickenham by Messrs Clegg and Cameron added to the excitement and gave a fleeting sense that this might actually be a seat where an upset could take place but was a Lib Dem victory in real doubt? It didn’t feel like it but then again politics is a funny old game.  They might well have taken a battering elsewhere but Twickenham seemed a relatively safe seat for the Lib Dems. In the end Cable’s 12,000 majority was overturned to give a 2,000 majority to Mathias. It’s a big big swing from yellow to blue. In his speech on the platform Cable said it was a “terrible night” for the Lib Dems and put the result down to a “well organised national campaign by the Conservatives”. For her part Mathias was gracious in paying tribute to his long service as an “amazing local MP for Twickenham” who it will be an “absolute privilege to follow”.

So, after 18 years as Twickenham’s voice in parliament Vince Cable must find something else to do with his time and Tania Mathias will have to get ready for a new career ‘up West’.

And what of the other candidates? Labour’s Nick Grant finished third picking up more votes for Labour than in 2010, with Barry Edwards of UKIP and Tanya Williams of the Greens trailing in behind. Again, no surprises there. Despite all the heated UKIP-related debate on this site and elsewhere, there was no big change to the landscape in the political garden here in Twickers.

Six candidates. Five are now disappointed

Six candidates. Five are now disappointed

What does all this mean for the next Government? After having a high profile MP for many years and a member of the cabinet for the last five,  Twickenham’s MP will be a backbencher. At this precise point in time we don’t know the final outcome of the election but a very narrow Conservative majority looks likely. If it isn’t it may be a while before we get any sense of what coalitions might be viable. As they might say in the non-existent film Carry on Governing, “Just how well hung is our parliament going to be?” It’ll take a little while longer to find out. Discovering what it all means locally for the likes of schools policy, Heathrow expansion, job creation, affordable housing and mansion taxes may take longer still.

And that’s all for the moment, we say ‘Thank you and farewell’ to Dr Cable and ‘Congratulations and good luck’ to Dr Mathias.

The 2015 Results
Tania Mathias (Conservative) 25,580
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) 23,563
Nick Grant (Labour) 7,129
Barry Edwards (UKIP) 3,069
Tanya Williams (Green) 2,463
Dominic Stockford (Christian Party) 174
David Wedgwood (Magna Carta) 26
Majority 2,017
Turnout 77.3%

The 2010 Results (BBC website)
Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) 32,483
Deborah Thomas (Conservative) 20,343
Brian Tomlinson (Labour) 4,583
Brian Gilbert (UKIP) 868
Steve Roest (Green) 674
Chris Hurst (BNP) 654
Harry Cole (Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality) 76
Paul Armstrong (Magna Carta Party) 40
Majority 12,140
Turnout 59,721 (74.8%)

LINKS:
* BBC Twickenham Constituency Results
* Cable loses seat – BBC

Our previous General Election items are now both closed to new comments but can still be read here:
*  The ‘All New’ Election Spectacular
*  The Original ‘Defunct’ Election Spectacular

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TWAP! It’s the New Road Surface and Cycle Lanes

It’s not been long since we last talked about the Twickenham Action Plan (aka the TWAP) or about bikes for that matter. But as we begin to see a few signs that the road and pavement works in Twickenham may actually come to an end at some point this spring (or perhaps summer, but definitely, 100% definitely before the Rugby World Cup) we thought we’d take look at the brand new road surface and cycle lanes. The result? Confusion. Confusion for us, confusion for cyclists and, quite possibly, confusion for drivers.

Advance cycle stop markings at junctions?  Nothing says ‘stop your car here’ quite like a massive bicycle painted on the road, or so it seems. Some education is required.

Cycle lanes? We’ve got yes, no and maybe. All at the same time. It’s a very mixed picture.

We all know that the sheer volume of traffic through Twickenham means finding a solution that suits, cars, cyclists and pretty much anyone else is always going to be tricky but here at twickerati HQ we can’t help but feel that bike lanes that appear, disappear then re-appear will make life confusing for all.

Most troubling is the north side of King Street heading towards Richmond. Cars coming from Cross Deep are in two lanes as they turn right into King Street. Cars coming from Heath Road are also in two lanes (bus stop and regular M&S deliveries permitting). But King Street now has a cycle lane marked out and the road simply isn’t wide enough for two lanes and the cycle lane. Should cars merge into a single lane? Dunno. Should cars drive in the bike lane? Perhaps. Should they try to do both?  And what is supposed to happen when the road narrows to barely two lanes at the York Street / London Road junction. It’s unclear. Apart from giving a general indication that there might be cyclists around, these bike lane markings make things ambiguous for drivers as well as cyclists and that doesn’t seem like a good recipe for a safe and sensible approach. Maybe there’s still time for an early rethink or at least some clearer signs and a bit of education?

That’s our view as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian and bus passenger. What’s yours?

Two lanes plus bikes?

Two lanes plus bikes?

A brief video clip

A Vine

UPDATE: On May 11th @LBRUT responded to a question on Twitter about the lanes in King Street from @CindyCroucher. The LBRuT response was, “It operates as a single lane for most of the time, with an advisory cycle lane marked on the nearside… During peak periods traffic can travel in two lanes by over-running the cycle lane if not in use.”
To us that just sounds like usual road use, i.e. if there’s a cyclist in the left hand lane, try not to run him/her over. Perhaps that’s the ‘advice’ bit in the ‘advisory cycle lane’?

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Filed under Features, Local Issues & News, Twickenham Action Plan

Eel Pie Music Museum Update

Print Remember a few weeks ago when we told you all about the plans for a museum dedicated to Eel Pie Island’s music heritage? Of course you flippin’ do, although it was really the organiser Michele Whitby rather than us who told you all about it. Well Michele has an update for you on the state of the plans. And guess what? Here it is….

“Whilst still looking for permanent premises, the Eel Pie Island Museum will be running a pop-up version, renting two of the upstairs rooms at Twickenham Library, from early June until the end of October. We really wanted to have something in place for the Twickenham Festival and the Rugby World Cup so the chance to do this at the library is fantastic. Local businesses and residents have already come forward to help, both financially and with offers of skills and time. We would like to thank them all, particularly David McGeachie from Tenant Finder, the first business to offer sponsorship to the project. Dave has been active on the local music scene for 15 years and is really passionate about helping make the museum happen. We’re delighted to have him on board.

The museum is being run as a Community Interest Company, which means that all profits get ploughed back into the project. Anyone wishing to contribute any amount, no matter how small, can do so by bank transfer or cheque. Please email me at michelewhitby@hotmail.com for further details.

Really, every penny helps and will be greatly appreciated. We will be making a ‘wall of fame’ for contributors in the museum.”

Michele Whitby with David McGeachie

Michele Whitby with David McGeachie

LINKS:
* Previously on twickerati: Plans for an Eel Pie Island Museum
* Contact Michele at michelewhitby@hotmail.com

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High Street Update – Spring

Our last High Street Update was way, way back in February. It was a time when the election, new road surfaces, bust-ups over school sites and questions about landscape gardening seemed but distant dreams. Halcyon days some might think. But we are where we are. And where are we? We’re in the place where it’s time for a quick update.

Food Hall goes here...

Food Hall goes here…

Let us begin with some good news. The launch of the new food emporium in Twickenham is getting ever closer. The Church Street Food Hall plans to open its doors in May. It will be in the former Langtons book shop premises on Church Street. The responsible adults behind the scheme have steamed up with various providers of essential victuals, including the likes of Borough Wines, to bring a range of food and drink to the twickerati (that’s you, btw). It’s an interesting idea and we wish them well. Will the new food hall help bring in the extra footfall that Church Street so badly needs? Let’s hope so. It needs it.

Church Street Food Hall poster (click to enlarge)

Church Street Food Hall poster (click to enlarge)

Staying in Church Street, Wild Goose has flown the nest and we hear rumours that another store very nearby may soon be bidding farewell to Twickenham. On a more positive note, the Lovers Lights pop-up shop that has been occupying the old Mercado store is moving a few doors down to take up residence in Monica Boxley’s old place.

My word, we’ve got all this way in our update without a single mention of a new cafe. How can this be? Well, to assuage your concern we can report that the former cafe Bellissimo on London Road has had a makeover and is now open longer and later and describing itself as a cafe / restaurant. Good luck to ’em is what we say. Continue reading

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Haymarket Media Twickenham Bound?

Bridge House from... the bridge.

Bridge House from… the bridge.

If, like us, you thought Bridge House, the nondescript office block opposite Twickenham station, was en route to becoming flats then think again. Word has reached twickerati HQ (yes, we do very occasionally get told things here) that the building on London Road is set to become the new headquarters of Haymarket Media. As you will know, Haymarket’s riverside base at Teddington Studios is set to be turned into an upmarket residential development, the plans for which were approved last year.  Although it will keep its Berners Street office as a central London hub, Bridge House will become the company’s new HQ. The company has previously said that it is also intends to have some staff based at the planned ‘REEC’ education campus in Egerton Road in Twickenham. Bridge House might not be the most impressive looking home for a modern media company but its central Twickenham location right opposite the station makes it attractive.

Given that Bridge House has been languishing in an unloved state for some time now, this move looks like a good result for Haymarket and a good result for Twickenham.

Bridge House on London Road  - to become home to Haymarket Media?

Bridge House on London Road – to become home to Haymarket Media?

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The All New Twickenham General Election Spectacular…

polling station sign in lbrut
Our Election Result item will appear HERE.

PREVIOUSLY…
Deja vu all over again? You betcha! The previous thread got rather overloaded so we’ve re-launched our election item to allow for three more weeks of heated debate…

May 7th is looming and you’re asking yourself the very straightforward question, “What is the twickerati position on who to vote for in the election?”. It’s a great question. Let us make our position absolutely clear. We regard elections as the very bedrock of our democracy. In fact, over the last ten years we have seen year on year increases in the number of references to democracy across the internet. Furthermore, we’ve shown our support for the use of the internet and social media by opening accounts on Twitter and Facebook and regard good communication as vital for hard working British families. So let’s celebrate the creativity and diversity we have in our midst, right here in Twickenham. To the people at home we say, ‘We hope that clearly answers your question’. Next!

Oh dear. Here at twickerati HQ we’re not very good at politics because we find it so difficult to give a straight answer to a straight question. And that is why we asked five local candidates to write 500 words each setting out their stall for the 2015 election. We said we’d include a link to their website and their profile picture too. They agreed. This is what they have to say to you… Continue reading

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