Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Official Opening of The Hive

 Wednesday 11th July 2012 was a very exciting day for the people of Worcester - the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh came to visit, and mark the official opening of the Hive.  The crowds were out in force, despite heavy rain at times. 
The Queen and  Prince Philip arriving at the Hive.

The Queen is greeted by local children who had brought her flowers.
The Royal Standard flying over the Guildhall while the Queen was present.
Sadly my photos weren't as good as I would have liked, but it was wonderful to see them both, even at a distance.  The Queen looked beautiful, and they both looked very happy.  I hope they enjoyed their brief visit to Worcester as much as we enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Hive - Worcester Library and History Centre

Monday 2nd July 2012 saw the opening of this amazing new facility for the people of Worcestershire.  The Hive is Worcester's library and history centre.  It is the first in Europe to combine the public and university libraries.  It also contains the local council customer service centre, quiet study area, a cafe and the archive and archaeology service.

We have been looking forward to the Hive opening for a long time, so I was very excited to finally get to look around today.  I was very kindly granted permission to take photos, so I've uploaded quite a few! 
The first thing you will notice as you arrive at the Hive (conveniently located next to the bus station, a few minutes walk from the train station and right next to a large car park), is the unique gold-clad design.  Love it or hate it, it's certainly eye-catching.  And I happen to love it.  Landscaped gardens and lawns surround the building, with sloping paths leading around to the main entrance.  We did find this a little hard to find at first, but hopefully more sign-posts will be installed to help first-time visitors.  However, by walking the entire circumference of the building, we did get to admire it from every angle.  A co-ordinating gold-glad bridge has been installed between the Hive and the bus station and shops, making it easy to access from the city centre.
The bridge to the Hive
Large glass doors lead into a central area, which is full of light from the huge windows and skylights.  From this area, you can look all the way up to the skylight in one of the two towers.  This gives a wonderful feeling of space and light.  There were several members of staff ready to welcome visitors and help direct them to the part they were interested in visiting, or to answer any questions they might have.  The lady we spoke to was very helpful, and made us feel welcome straight away.

Main entrance
 On the ground floor to the left as you come through the door is the council hub, and to the right is the cafe. 
 Also on the ground floor is the bright and colourful children's section.  I felt sad that my children have outgrown this area, as it is a fantastic area.  Small seats are integrated with the bookshelves, making reading with your child and introducing them to the wonderful world of books a joyful experience.
Mini seats, and low bookcases in the childrens' area
Full height windows look out towards the railway aqueduct and River Severn and let in lots of light.  There is an area for messy play, a room for group activities, such as the weekly Bounce and Rhyme sessions and the fairytale-esque Story Island - an outdoor classroom reached by a bridge from the children's section, and built to look like it belongs in a castle.  I think learning there would be a magical experience.

Story Island

Before the Hive was built, the area was thoroughly excavated.  A case in the central area contains a selection of the artifacts found - including a plastic toothbrush!
Items found during the excavations
Part of the Roman remains found at the sight has been left for visitors to see.  This gives a great link between the ultra-modern new building, and all the years of history that have lead to this point. 
Roman remains
 There are lifts to all floors, but you get panoramic views of the building from the open-plan staircase.
Central staircase leads from ground floor to
The first floor contains the public records and archaeology sections.  This is an area I'll be investigating further on future visits.
The open plan, large windows and sky lights make the building full of light and space
The second floor is the main library floor.  This contains the public and university libraries.  There are comfortable seating areas to read, tables for quiet work and research and a large number of computers for public use.  In total the library contains around 250,000 books.  A book lovers paradise.  The lights on the top of each shelf really help you to read the book spines without being overly bright. 

I did think there could have been a few more stations to check out books, but in fact there are quite a few on the ground floor as well.  I didn't notice these until I was on my way out though.
The library contains approx. 250,000 books

There are 800 study stations in the Hive
The third floor is for research and quiet work, and access to this floor can only by made via one lift.  In fact it's so well hidden, that we forgot it was even there, so missed out on seeing that part.  But that will be my first port of call next time. 
Manga and graphic novels
The lowest floor is dedicated to teenagers.  It is a fantastic space where they won't have to worry about keeping quiet so they don't upset other library users.  Although it is situated below the main floors, the full height windows looking out onto he same view as the children's section means it is certainly not dark and dingy.  We were impressed by the manga and graphic novel section - somethings our children have a particular interest in.  There are tables for studying, comfortable chairs for reading or spending time with friends and even three games consoles with large screen TVs.  And what surprised me most - several vending machines. 

The Hive is a truly remarkable achievement.  It combines a state of the art building with beautifully thought out touches.  For example, the colour palette is taken from Royal Worcester porcelain.  Combining the university and public library will help to integrate the university students with the residents of Worcester.  It is an invaluable resource for everyone. 

It was wonderful to see so many different groups of people using the Hive.  Parents with small children, elderly couples, and everyone in between.  There is really something for everyone here. 

I'm proud that this amazing building belongs to me as a resident of Worcestershire.  If you get the opportunity, it's well worth a few hours of your time.  Me?  I think it'll become my home away from home.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Book Q&A

I saw this on even artichokes have hearts (Skye's beautiful and inspiring blog), and thought it would be a great idea to have a go myself to ease me into book blogging.

what are you reading right now?
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson and
The Earth Angel Training Academy by Michelle Gordon 
do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
The Silmarrilion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Unfinshed Tales of NĂºmenor and Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien

5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin

what magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
Mollie Makes and various crochet magazines.  Also John's Juxtapoz and Hi Fructose magazines.

what’s the worst book you've ever read?
I honestly can't think of one.  I can see the positives in most books, and there are very few that I read and don't want to read again at some point.

what book seems really popular but you actually hated?
Again, I can't think of one! 

what’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
There are quite a few.  How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran is a must, especially for women.  I lent it to my 13 year old daughter and she thought it was brilliant too.  Anything by Marian Keyes of course, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and anything by Tolkien.

what are your 3 favourite poems?
Cloths of Heaven by Willam Butler Yeats
Tyger Tyger by Willaim Blake
All That is Gold Does Not Glitter by J.R.R. Tolkien

where do you usually get your books?
Amazon (books & Kindle store)
Snowdrops (St Richard's Hospice Charity Bookshop)

where do you usually read your books?
Regular books, in the bath mostly as it's the only time I get uninterrupted.  If it's a book I'm unable to put down, then I read every second I can - even when cooking and ironing!
With the Kindle mostly when I'm waiting for appointments (Dr etc).

when you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Reading every second I had.  I would read until my parents went to bed, pretend to be asleep, then when they fell asleep, read more until my eyes stopped working.  I read about 12 books a week in my early teens (borrowed from local library).

what’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

have you ever “faked” reading a book?
Not that I can remember.  Possibly Charles Dickens or George Elliott at school - really didn't get on with them, but was more likely to go home and read the whole book in one night so I didn't have to read it painfully sloly a chapter at a time in class.

have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Yes, I bought Jinx by Meg Cabot for my daughter as I liked the sparkly cover!  I've probably bought a few others becasue of the way they looked too, but that's the only one I remember.

what was your favourite book when you were a child?
I loved the Jill's Ponies books by Ruby Fegrguson, (and anything about horses), Enid Blyton, the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia. 

Treasured books from my childhood

what book changed your life?
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  This was the first book I totally lost myself in, when I was 7.  Once I'd discovered the escapism of reading, I never looked back.
And possibly even more importantly, this was the book that made me realise that I wanted to be a writer.

what is your favourite passage from a book?
From the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:
'All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king'

what are your top five favourite authors?
Not sure I can limit it to 5!  But some of my favourites are:
Marian Keyes
J.R.R. Tolkien
Jane Austen
Philip Pullman
Douglas Adams
Susan Cooper
Dan Brown
J.K. Rowling
Sophie Kinsella

A few of my favourites

what is your favourite classic book?
I love all Jane Austen's novels, not sure if I can chose a favourite.  Which ever one I've read most recently probably.

5 other notable mentions?
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich 
Eve Was Framed and Just Law by Helena Kennedy
The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer (also loved the Host)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams