CCTV on the Cowley Road

And so we are now “protected” on the Cowley Road. I’m not keen personally. I don’t think they protect us that much. However if we’re going to have them, the feed for the cameras should be online for all to see. We should know what can be seen, and we should be able to benefit from them. We could see how busy the road is, see if there is a queue for the O2 Academy, see if our favourite randomly open pub is actually open. I think it’s a matter of open-sourcing our lives, if others get to see them, we should get to share that too.

Cowley Road CCTV to go live today (From The Oxford Times)

New Oxford Guide to Local Independent Shops launched

This is a great idea, a guide showcasing 85 of Oxford’s best independent shops. I like to support Oxford businesses where I can, and this can only help me.

It looks like there is a site coming to thinklocally.co.uk too, so that will be worth keeping an eye on.

Book keeps Oxford independent (From The Oxford Times)

Christmas can now start

The turkey is in the fridge, the presents are under the tree, the heavily discounted champers and wine are in place. So I guess this must mean I’m prepared. All I have to do tomorrow is find cloves (and I’m going to be stunned if the food shops of the Cowley Road fail me), and meet my wife in the pub around 1ish.

It should be a nice chilled Christmas Day, just the two of us for nice pressies and lots of good food. We’ve already treated ourselves to our main present, a nice big HD telly, and I’ve already been making the most of this for Rock Band 2 playing, and World Championship darts viewing. I suspect the Boxing Day tradition of 4 Hills Ski-Jumping is going to look lovely on it too.

Upcoming Gigs in Oxford

Soon we shall be speaking no more of The Zodiac on the Cowley Road, it shall now be the Carling Academy Oxford. It does look like the new owners are going to get it off to a good start. There are a lot of gigs due there over the next few months, but my personal recommendations are:

  • Ska Cubano – Carling Academy Oxford – 27th September 2007
  • Happy Mondays – Carling Academy Oxford – 5th October 2007
  • Super Furry Animals – Carling Academy Oxford – 26th October 2007

How do we stop the Starbucksification of the Cowley Road?

The Cowley Road in Oxford is starting to change shape at the moment. Not in terms of it being dug up and rerouted, as seems to happen every few months, but instead the start of its Starbucksification. There is always a churn of shops on such roads, but it does seem to be the start of something more significant. Several shops have closed recently, some of them citing excessive rent rises. Three of the longer term shops that have gone are Coopers newsagent, The Bead Shop, and Panda Records.

We’ve seen the arrival of a large Subway (with another only a few minutes away in St.Clements), and Costa Coffee is due to open an outlet soon as well.It’s starting to look like more of the larger chains are on their way too. I can’t see it being more than a year before we get our first Starbucks, and then the virus of the chain will really kick in. Not to mention the replacement of The Venue/Zodiac with the Carling Oxford Academy.

By co-incidence, I was listening to an interview with William Gibson today, on the BoingBoing.net podcast. He was asked which he thought was the most futuristic¬† city in the world, and he felt it was Berlin. One of his reason for this was that the retail space was a lot cheaper than in other cities, and it meant that smaller, innovative and interesting shops were able to set up there and trade successfully. He wondered aloud how this could be achieved in older cities such as New York or London, and one of his suggestions was that on new developments, there should be sets of retail spaces with very small floorspaces. The idea behind this being that chains wouldn’t be attracted to the smaller shops, and they would thus appeal to the smaller retailer.

Interestingly, this is the same solution presently employed to preserve the nature of the Laines in Brighton. Apparently they have a conservation order on the area, which prevents new retail spaces over a certain size, or knocking through into another shop. From my own experience, you do get an interesting mix of shops there.

So perhaps this is what is needed to help Oxford’s Cowley Road maintain some of its sense of character. It would be a shame for it to turn from what it is into yet another high street.

This is not my beautiful back. These are not my beautiful knees

I hurt a bit today. Did a slightly longer cycle ride last night, and my ancient bones know all about it now. Going to have to make sure I get out again tonight, keep up the good work. Last night was following the cycle path on the other side of the Cowley Road all the way up to Hollow Way. Bit of a hill in the way at the end, and I got halfway up before my heart and body said “fuck that”. So I pushed the rest of the way, as I had to see still. Watching the Tour de France later embarrassed my laziness somewhat, although I did find it heartening to see that the present yellow jersey wearer did effectively the same as me.

Tonight I might try and get down to the river. May try and idle around a bit off Jackdaw Lane I found recently. Also should remember for future reference that there was a whole wooded area off the cycle path I was on last night I know nowt about. May well be worth a wander. One of the nice things about getting out on the bike like this is that it does give me more opportunity to learn Oxford better. I quite enjoy a good explore, go down a turn I don’t know, see where it takes me. I’ve a great believer in being able to assume that north is north, spotting something that lets me know where that is, then following my nose until I find somewhere I recognise.

I think my body is telling me to do a few stretches afterwards though. Yes. That does make sense. Ouch.