Friday, June 04, 2010

How on earth can Inverness be considered ugly?

I am spitting mad with fury that Inverness, the town of my birth, has been nominated for a Carbuncle Award.

This is not a simple matter of me looking back with rose tinted spectacles. I visit the city regularly and although you can't help but wonder exactly what the architects who designed some of the questionable 60s architecture at the bottom of Bridge Street were on, I still think it's one of the loveliest places I've ever been to.

I never fail to smile at that bit on the A9 where the Kessock Bridge comes into view and Inverness unfolds before you. Although it's 31 years since I actually lived there, I feel like I'm properly home when I see that.

There have been huge changes since I lived there, of course. The city has really expanded with many new housing estates being built, like many other places, but still, the sights that made me happy as a child are still there. If you start walking along the river at the Greig Street Bridge, looking over to Huntly Street and St Mary's Cathedral hall where I did so many of my primary school concerts, and walk alongside the river until you come to the green, lush, cool and beautiful islands, I defy you to find anything unpleasant about it. Ok, you'll need to turn your backs on the Caley Hotel and the aforementioned monstrosities on Bridge Street, but the rest of the walk, looking up the hill to the castle, going past the lovely Ness Bank church, going past the Glen Mhor hotel (a favourite place for family "occasions"), looking across to the awesome St Andrew's Cathedral, where I was christened in the font which could easily be mistaken for a weeping angel, Who fans..

Seriously, even away from this walk, as you go out of town towards Lochardil, Stratherrick Road is gorgeous. So is Culduthel Road, going out of town from Castle Street which has trees, gorgeous gardens, lots of side roads with lovely stone houses.

I also think that the Inverness Caley Thistle football stadium on the shores of the Firth, is just gorgeous. There is nothing like basking in the sunshine watching the team play.

I just find it really insulting that such a beautiful, thriving city should get within a million miles of this shortlist.

I would seriously go back to live in Inverness tomorrow if I could.

And as for John O'Groats' inclusion on the list, just because the last house in Britain hasn't turned into a concrete sprawled theme park does not mean it should be condemned as a ghost town.

I really wanted to be in Caithness yesterday afternoon when Phillip Schofield tweeted this

The long walk begins. John O Groats to .... afternoon tea :)

If a southern softie like him can stand at John O'Groats in short sleeves, then it must have been a glorious day.

He then posted a series of photos throughout the evening showing the amazing Summer evening Caithness sunset, still not dark at 11pm. I hadn't realised that his wedding had been at Ackergill Tower and he'd returned there yesterday.

It's made me want to find a nice Highland holiday cottage for this Summer.


Well Behaved Orphan said...

I am with you on the charm of Inverness.

A personal favourite that you didn't mention is the "Comper Jewel" - the tiny Church of St Michael and All Angels

Anonymous said...

Certainly it is sad to read this about our city, but, I have to agree it has become an ugly, poor and dirty looking city centre, full of charity shops, pubs and drunks. The Council should have made the clean-up of the buildings a priority over badly done expensive paving and ugly sculpture.
The condition of the roads and pavement surfaces all around the city are in a disgraceful and dangerous state of disrepair. This is due to the cheap method of re-surfacing, using a thin layer of tar sprinkled with grit, which has proved to be false economy, and, the constant badly done patching. This all adds to the look of impoverishment Inverness now has.
Come on Highland Council, get the basics right.


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