Greater Huntingdon…

The population of Cambridgeshire is growing1 and there’s plenty of demand for further growth2, but developing new places for people to live, work and play in Cambridgeshire is tricky. Cambridge itself is surrounded by green belt that few seem willing to sacrifice, despite much of it being described as dull and featureless.3 There’s lots of development around Peterborough, but it cannot be expected to handle all of the population growth. A few new towns are being developed (Cambourne and Northstowe), but these are not well suited to grow beyond a certain size.4

Notably, Cambridgeshire is curious in that it has two small-ish cities but does not yet have any large towns like Wellingborough, Corby and Kettering in neighbouring Northamptonshire. Many of the bigger towns to the east of the county (March, Wisbech and the city of Ely) are surrounded by flat, low-lying land that’s at risk of flooding by both river and, in the longer term, sea. On this basis5, I would suggest that these towns should not be top of the list for future growth. However, the bigger towns in the west of Cambridgeshire are better suited to handling significant growth and providing Cambridgeshire with some large towns: Huntingdon and St Neots.

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  1. There are a variety of good reasons for this, such as great employment opportunities in Cambridge itself and the Metropolitan Green Belt covering much of the land between Cambridgeshire and London. []
  2. The house price to wage ratio in the county is currently the highest in the country. []
  3. I recall reading a news article where a developer used words to this effect several years ago in Cambridge News. Unfortunately their website does not keep articles around for very long (for example, the Cambridge Automated Metro article has disappeared), so I can’t provide a reference. However, it’s not difficult to see their point, even if you disagree with their implication that the green belt should therefore not be kept. []
  4. For example, there are reasons there weren’t towns in those locations in the first place, though that doesn’t mean that further growth is impossible. []
  5. There are other reasons to discount these towns too, such as poor transport links. []

Seb Skelly…

During a recent extended browse of YouTube1 I came across a fun channel by North-London-based Seb Skelly. On that channel he performs nice arrangements of music you may know (from the Thomas the Tank Engine theme to The Final Countdown2), typically for brass quintet, that are well worth a listen.

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  1. I was testing out the speakers on a Google Pixel 2 XL. It has been a while since I did a post in the mobile category but, in case it interests anyone, I swapped to the Nexus/Pixel line a few years ago to get the latest Android updates while minimising maintenance overheads (and keeping front-facing speakers). Hardware updates seem have become much less exciting over the last 5 years compared with the preceding 6. []
  2. Other versions of both of these have previously been featured on this blog, incidentally. []

How to score a sequel…

It has been a long time since I originally posted about Geoff Zanelli. In that time he has worked on a number of films, taking on an increasingly prominent role. When I heard that he was taking over as lead composer for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film (Dead Men Tell No Tales/Salazar’s Revenge), I was excited to listen to the result. Just over a month ago1 I was lucky enough to see the film2 and I was not disappointed.

An extract from some Piratey music I wrote back in 2008. © 2008 Mark Hogan.

An extract from some Piratey music I wrote back in 2008. © 2008 Mark Hogan.

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  1. I’ve been busy writing music for an event, otherwise I would have finished this post much sooner. []
  2. I’ve seen it twice now: once in an IMAX screen and once in a more normal screen. I won’t go into the visual merits of one screen over another, but the soundtrack was unexpectedly much more vibrant in the IMAX screen. []

Radio Garden…

Radio Garden is an interesting website I came across a while ago that allows the exploration of radio around the globe with ease. While it does have sections on History, Jingles and Stories, the most interesting feature is the ability to browse radio stations geographically and listen to them live. The website seems very well put together, working smoothly across a range of devices, making it useful for general purpose browsing and playing if your favourite stations are geographically spread.

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An early look at Pirates of the Caribbean 5…

Joachim Rønning, one of the directors of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, recently posted this brief but exciting video of the score for the movie being recorded. A sneak peak of the start of the movie can be seen in the background: most is not too interesting (the usual Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films logos), but you do get a few seconds of the first scene.

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Cambridge Connect…

I recently stumbled across the website of Cambridge Connect, an initiative “to help create an enduring system of rapid and sustainable transit that would help address the transport challenges facing Cambridge, while ensuring that the social, educational, economic, environmental, historic and cultural qualities that define the City are maintained and enhanced”. So far the energies of Cambridge Connect seem to have been mostly spent investigating and proposing a light rail rapid transit system for Cambridge, something that I agree needs to be pursued as a long-term transport solution for the city and surrounding areas. It’s also probably a good time to propose the idea again because, as I initially feared, it looks like Cambridge’s city deal money is almost certainly going to be mostly spent on relatively piecemeal improvements that make Cambridge a less attractive place to live for most people1.

A Dublin Bus bus in Cambridge

An old Dublin Bus bus (now Go Whippet branded) in Cambridge

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  1. Buses (at least the ones in Cambridge) are mostly unpleasant for anyone on or near them and much of the cycle infrastructure in Cambridge is dangerous when combined with drivers not familiar with the city. Also, as argued previously, the prevalence is cycling in Cambridge is probably contributed to by the poor public transport. []