Sunday, February 26, 2006

Save me from block paving!

click photo to enlarge
I can't make up my mind about block and brick paving. Over the last fifteen years or so block (cast), and brick (fired) paving has spread virtually everywhere in Britain. Sometimes it is used well, offering interesting colour, texture and pattern. This is usually where local authorities have laid it, and a professional's eye has determined its disposition. More often it's an abomination!

Many private householders have used it to completely replace their front gardens. Grass, shrubs and flowers have been banished by the accursed blocks, all in the interests of "tidiness" and "convenience". If the owner has an "artistic" bent a small circle with a solitary shrub, invariably a dwarf acer surrounded by pebbles , is left to represent nature. This effect is doubtless inspired by some awful instant-garden makeover TV programme. Otherwise the decoration of the front of the house comes courtesy of Toyota, Ford or BMW! In my darker moments I find myself hoping that retribution for this sacrilege arrives in the form of flooding - these blocks absorb virtually no rainfall, and must have contributed enormously to run-off into the drains in recent years!

The photograph above shows a rare good example of this type of paving. It has clearly been designed by a professional, and is on the south promenade at Blackpool, Lancashire. Here circles of blocks and curved concrete steps are used as visual interest and to focus attention on art installations, seating and viewing points. The morning I took this contre-jour shot the light was delineating the surface very clearly. My job was simply to find a good composition and press the shutter.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen