Manual Something Shady (Small Town Swains)

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I copy them here for those interested. It certainly raises more than it answers. A website will soon be live. A clear consensus is that the site needs development in some form. It is a depressing and out dated vision that high streets and local villages are inevitably lost to supermarkets and chains, which we know kill small retailers and any chance of maintaining independent trading character. People agree that this is a charming and valued parade which defines this neighbourhood. This is nothing new — after all this very site is identified and its character defined within the Conservation Area statement which is a statutory document, adopted by Camden.

Any new scheme has first to understand this character, and then to capture it, and enhance rather than dilute it. It is a nonsense that small businesses can no longer survive on the high street. Look at Marylebone High Street.

Small Town Swains Series

The Howard de Walden Estate have thoughtfully managed this balance and created a destination where a shop lease is now like golddust. The footfall is far less at Swains Lane but the reality is that if the quality is there, the people will come. There are big queues at the expensive farmers market. The Carob tree is busy. The new Pizza East in Highgate Studios was rammed the second it opened. We should be discussing what kinds of modern, appropriate small, independent retailers would work here. If you fancy reading any background to this, I have posted the councils view on the 2 previously submitted but withdrawn schemes on this site from and which are emphatic in describing and protecting the low rise character of this site.

All these arguments have been made before. Nothing has changed since then. So why are we now being presented with a scheme that is almost 2 storeys higher than that which was so definitively rejected? Are we being taken for chumps? What I believe needs to happen is that the developer must tear up this proposal, go back to first principles and then engage in a proper, thoughtful consultation with the community to garner ideas and support for an exemplar scheme, based on an enlightened, imaginative brief instead of foisting on us a bloated pastiche loosely disguising yet another supermarket.

There is a scheme that can be so much better. We should be discussing what that could be on this page. In the meantime, the current scheme should be blocked so that the developer understands he needs to change tack. When he does, we should be ready to suggest exciting ideas for how this can be an example of how a community identified what it loved about a place, and worked with a site owner to make it the best version of itself that it can be.

I know many of you love Waitrose, but how about just logging onto Ocado and instead get thinking about why this is a great place and what we can do to make it even better? What a load of nonsense. The existing buildings and shops are a shabby disgrace, whereas the proposed development looks superb and at four storeys is no higher than surrounding buildings.

Why It Matters: Swain’s Lane

The sooner we get a Waitrose here the better. Instead of whinging about this progressive and very welcome development to improve Swains Lane why not campaign to demolish St Albans Villas and other chronically ugly municipal eyesores that spoil the area. A supermarket will leave us with half a block of dead windows. No interaction between the shopping area and the pavement. A vibrant and open shop pavement maintains community buzz.

I agree about St Albans Villas. And I utterly disagree with the notion that the proposed development is superb. I guess this boils down to taste. But it looks like a branch of Lillywhites to me. Another one of unimaginative architecture hung up on the past. There is beautiful architecture being designed all over the world that is looking forward with sensitivity, and an updated sense of how communities work.

I also massively disagree with your comment about scale. The low building height in this precise spot is far more important than the height of the buildings next to it. Driving up highgate road, and coming off the heath, the main thing about having a low building in this position is the feeling of openness that it provides. As you walk or drive up the hill you can see over the shops and up the green slope of Highgate, at the trees and church spires. I let out a sigh of relief every time I see it.

And people need it.

They come to this spot to relax. A far more depressing sight than a row of run down independent retailers. We need to build a more positive way forward. But in my opinion these plans would tear out the heart of our uniquely vibrant community centre. Another bland urban lump in the middle of a semi-rural village.

Whoever is responsible for renewing our community centre needs to understand what there is to love about it at the moment. If you prefer imitations of period buildings in Belgravia, maybe you should consider moving to a different area? I might start a campaign to get the carob tree renamed as Kentish Town House. Now that would cause a stir! Another supermarket here in addition to Tesco will be a death sentence for Swains Lane.

The proposed building looks like a parody of commercial architecture, circa — really unpleasant. Why do you say this scheme is progressive? Give some reasons why? So far as the retail arrangement is concerned, remind me what is progressive about it? Have a look on the Facebook page for posts by others who are starting to discuss other interesting, actually progressive developments elsewhere in the country.

Firstly, your suggestion that a 4 storey building here is appropriate just because others are that height. In Rotorua, nature is never far away. Walk along the edge of Lake Rotorua, and you will find yourself in carefully-preserved native woods that seamlessly coexist with the surrounding streets. In the summer, this green microcosm is fragrant with manuka flowers, though the lake itself smells vaguely of sulphur. Keep walking, and you will come across the sulphur springs themselves, bubbling from beneath the ground and emitting steam. These alkaline and acidic waters, along with the mud, have been used by generations of the local Maori for a variety of medicinal purposes.


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Kyle and I are road cyclists who have never been on a mountain bike before, so we decided to find a nice beginner trail and give it a try. Having the lush forest scenery all around made me feel like I was riding in a more ancient time. The canopy provided enough shade to keep us cool.

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I would recommend these biking trails to anyone from novice to expert. Another fun experience is taking the Skyline Gondola to the top of Mount Ngongotaha for some walking trails with truly amazing views. You can even take your mountain bike into the cable car with you! In addition to hiking and biking, kids-at-heart can take a luge ride down the mountain. The next item on the agenda—whitewater rafting—was the most exhilarating experience during our stay in Rotorua. Although we have never done it before, our choice fell on the fast-moving Kaituna River with its Grade Five rapids and three waterfalls.

Our guides provided thorough instructions before we set off on the river. In no time at all, we were paddling along the river into the canyon. The fern-clad cliffs towering over us were alive with bird calls. The sun peeking through the thick canopy filled the canyon with green light.

Where the river slowed down, we took time to marvel at the surroundings. Our support team included a kayaker scout and a lifeguard raft, so tackling the rapids and the first two waterfalls felt perfectly safe—even for beginners. Were we going to flip over? The lifeguard raft that went ahead descended without screams. Somewhat reassured, we got down to the floor and braced ourselves, as our raft slowly approached the waterfall and tipped over the edge. For a split second, my ears, nose and mouth were full of water; there was no light or sounds, only immense downward pressure.

Then it was all over. We were at the base of the waterfall, safe and upright, with everyone managing to stay in their place. I would do definitely do this again in a heartbeat! No trip to Rotorua is complete without meeting the Maori people and learning about their heritage. We visited Ohinemutu Village, a living Maori community that has resided on the shores of Lake Rotorua for years. We met our guide on the Marae meeting grounds , and set off together on a walking tour of the village.

It was fascinating to see a living community where homes with modern conveniences coincide with traditional buildings. We learned the history of the tribe, including how they adapted the geothermal energy and biochemistry of the hot springs to heat their homes and treat all kinds of ailments, from common colds to joint inflammation. With great enthusiasm our guide answered questions on how the tribe handles matters of life and death, marriage and family, religion, local politics, civil rights, and even appearances of Maori actors in Hollywood movies.

I felt so privileged to have this knowledge shared with me. Next up was the Mitai Maori Village, a reconstructed traditional village with an outdoor theater for cultural performances. This is a large group tour, with a Hangi dinner and conert where charismatic hosts act out a traditional way of life.

So between landing in Auckland and pushing your physical limits in Queenstown, consider experiencing this geothermal, natural, and unique wonder! I am a native of Minusinsk, Russia, with a passion for all things travel, design and languages. My favorite part of exploring new places is encountering their unique nature, wildlife and beautiful landscapes. Outside of work, I enjoy adventuring outdoors, classic literature, and skiing.

Queenstown will always be one of my favorite places on earth. Home to never ending mountain views, pristine lakes, a small town feel and more restaurants and shops than imaginable. Per the norm with activities in New Zealand, first came the safety briefing and gear fitting. We were advised that quad biking is the most dangerous activity you can do in Queenstown. Here, they determine if anyone is unfit to journey on their own ATV — and if so they will simply ride on the back of one of the guides bikes.

After a few rounds on the test course, we were off and ascending Queenstown Hill. Delighted to find fresh snow, we quickly made our way through powder and mud puddles. We stopped at every gorgeous outlook imaginable. We enjoyed hot chocolate and biscuits over the most beautiful snow-capped mountains. Riding through hills, we made our way through more puddles of mud and slush. All too quickly it was time to head home.

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I had never been white water rafting, but it was high on my list. We went for the ambitious Shotover River, graded , and had a blast. After safety briefing and wet suit fittings, and the treacherous journey on the road through skippers canyon, we arrived at the launch site.

They broke us up into groups of , and paired us up with our guide. Then, we got right in the rafts and advised of the basic rafting commands. After practicing the slew of commands and ensuring we were ready, we paddled off and braced for the rapids.

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The river had five or six main rapid sections, broken up by calm stretches of the river. We were even given the ability to hop in and go for a swim. Although it was freezing, it was sparkling clean — and when was I going to get this chance again?! After getting back in the raft, we headed for the highlight of the river; the cave. This is one of only two rivers in the world that has a cave you raft through. At the end of the cave was the biggest rapid of the river, and after ducking down and surviving, our incredible journey had come to a close.

Out of all of the experiences on my trip, this is the one I would do again in a heartbeat. By road, the trip to Milford is around 4. We flew over the mountains and into the fjord, and were surrounded by unmatched beauty. On the flight back, we landed on top of a glacier where they stopped the engine of the helicopter so that we could simply enjoy the serene setting and breathe in the fresh air. After snapping some photographs and relishing in the moment, it was back in the chopper and back down to Queenstown. They have a handful of bungies and swings to choose from, and we chose the biggest swing of all: the Nevis Swing.

After traveling out to the site, we waited our turn and contemplated our lives — our choices, our regrets — okay but seriously watching the people go in front of you is terrifying! Once harnessed into the swing, we were slowly brought out over thin air and stared down at the canyon below — an over foot drop. The total arc of the swing is just shy of 1, feet. After swinging back and forth a few times, and wiping the tears from our eyes, we were able to spot a few goats at the bottom of the canyon while we were pulled back up to safety.

Returning to Queenstown brought a rush of adrenaline and tons of adventure activities, something that Queenstown specializes in! As a graduate of Eastern University with a degree in Anthropology, I have always valued the experiences one can find in other cultures. I have lived in Sydney and used it as a base for travels across the country. With the passion and longing for every individual to experience at least one other culture in their lifetime, I have found myself at Swain; with the opportunity to bring this passion to life.

After spending an afternoon exploring the downtown, we had one day to try and see just what Canterbury was all about before hopping on the TranzAlpine to the West Coast. The day began with a brief drive through downtown Christchurch, before ascending the hills on the way to Akaroa. Stops were made to view the incredible scenery. We also stopped for tea down by the water before heading into town. Once in Akaroa, we meandered through some local shops before heading to Black Cat Cruises for our adventure.

After receiving a safety briefing and getting fitted for wet suits, it was time to hit the water. A short minute cruise to the edge of the harbour was all it took to spot the first Hectors Dolphins. We were advised to never reach out and try to touch one of the dolphins.

We were to respect their rights as wild animals. After assessing the wild dolphins, the brave jumped right into the freezing ocean for a closer view. After treading water and seeing dolphins in the distance, it was time to move locations for a better view. For the next hour or so we were hopping in and out of the boat, cruising through the harbour and swimming alongside of the dolphins.

Once back on dry land, it was time for a hot shower and some fish and chips for lunch before heading back to Christchurch.