Friday 30 January 2009

Nine Tree Hill -historic climb of the republic

Our fellow-travellers, the Association of British Drivers, think that bicycles should have a license and pay tax. Presumably they want the bikes to pay tax so that they have a right to use the road which complicates the whole pedestrian crossing thing. Should pedestrians pay a tax too? This is something to investigate.

Number plates though, they would be handy. You are actually required to have them if you live in Switzerland, but it helps pay for the armed bike police, which certainly ensure that nobody cuts you up on a bus lane. Why is Bristol Traffic interested in bicycle number plates? It would let us name and shame the two people seen pushing their bicycles up Nine Tree Hill at 08:57 on this sunny Wednesday morning.

But given that some the contributor who took this photo seemingly goes home a different way just to avoid Nine Tree Hill, it is hard to shame them. They are pushing their bikes up one very steep hill.

Here are some facts about Nine Tree Hill:
  1. It is a hill.
  2. It is very steep.
  3. There are less than nine trees on it.
  4. It connects the People's Republic of Stoke's Croft with Kingsdown
  5. There are some very nice pubs and cafes nearby.
  6. It is believed to date from Roman Times; going onto Fremantle Road and hence onto the port at Sea Mills. If true, people have been suffering up this climb for two thousand years.
  7. It is believed that in the 1970s, the ill-fated Outer Circuit Ring Road wanted to run their dual carriage way up here, through Cotham and hence to Clifton.
  8. The square at the top, Fremantle Square, is where one of the Royalist forts that defended Bristol during the English Civil War stood.
It is that fort and the civil war that merits a mention today. Because today, January 30th, is a day for anniversaries.

First and foremost: January 30, 1943: the surrender of the German 6th army at Stalingrad and hence the turning point of the Second Word War. If Putin wants to remind the Davos audience of their obligations to Russia, that event of fifty-six years ago is the one to mention.

Closer to home, it is the 360th anniversary of Britain executing King Charles I, and hence becoming, if not a Republic, a Commonwealth. Which those days meant shared assets, not the shared ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland's 1.4 trillion pounds worth of liabilities.

This roman road then, with its monument to a civil war fort at the top, is a reminder of the history that lies round this city, and the fact that as far as this road is concerned, England becoming one of Europe's first modern republics is in fact a recent event. It is also why alongside the People's Republic of Stoke's Croft, should stand the Commonwealth of King's Down.


Thomas Guest said...

Ah, the famous Mont d'Arbre Neuf. Even harder to tackle on a frosty morning. Sometimes cyclists zig zag up it, and I've seen pedestrians tackle it backwards, presumably because their reverse gear is lower than their forwards one?
This road is so steep that the directions offered by google maps won't even let you walk up it!

Anonymous said...

Nine tree hill? Love it! It's on my walking route to work so I do it most weekdays.

The trick is to keep the pacing frequency (that's 'cadence' to cyclists) the same and take shorter steps. I frequently overtake people who were halfway up when I was just starting at the bottom.

SteveL said...

Walking up backwards stresses different muscles. Or perhaps they are practising french-style crampon work, though I've never seen it that icy.

When I go down it, I get to see the expressions of despair on the people heading up. People look unhappiest about 3/4 up, where the square isn't there yet, but they are worn out.

SteveL said...

@tag -I've reported the routing bug to Navteq

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No. We do not take adverts. We are funded as part of the BBC license fee for community news.

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Anonymous said...

Nine Tree Hill? Thats nothing, try Vale Street in Totterdown!

Anonymous said...

"There are less than nine trees on it"

You know what a pedant would say here, don't you?

Ms McCarthy MP has the same obsession, I see.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what a pedant would say, can you enlighten me?

I do have a theory that we name streets and suburbs after the things we destroy to build them. There is no wood in Clifton Wood, no Down in King's Down. Perhaps there were nine trees on the hill before the nine-tree hill road was built

Anonymous said...


SteveL said...

Ahh, but I'm a computer scientist. As far as I am concerned natural numbers are represented by 0 and the successor operator S(); the number normally written as "1" is merely shorthand for S(0), 2 for S(S(0), and so on. 9 is S(S(S(S(S(S(S(S(S(S(0))))))))). The less_than() operator, which takes two natural numbers and returns the boolean true if and only if one is consider "less" than the other is defined as:

less_than(0,0) :-false.
less_than(0,S(_)):- true.
less_than(S(A2),S(B2)):- less_than(A2,B2).

This recursive definition can take any number written in the S() notation and return true iff (shorthand for if-and-only-if) one is less than the other. It is often denoted as < and provides nice number-theoretic foundation for natural number maths. It provides a meaning for numbers, which is very profound, even if small children get bored when you try to explain it to them.

I should therefore have written "the number of trees on this hill
is a member of the set of all sequences of S() and 0 such that less_than(N,9) hold true." But that would have made for a trickier sentence and scared everyone off. There is some mathematical shorthand, but HTML doesn't like things that complex.

It's not one of the computer related topics that anyone has any interest in. But It means when I said "less-than" I was in fact correct.

Please consult wikipedia
for more details.

SteveL said...

Wikipedia's articles on the Peano Postulates is a better reference. They use the total order less-than-or-equal operator as the foundational query. The word fewer does not appear anywhere on the page. I stand by my "less than nine trees" sentence pending anyone proving that the Peano Posutulates do not describe all natural numbers.