Saturday, 30 June 2012

Canada House on Canada Day

Happy Canada Day across the pond for tomorrow, 1 July. Canada House was constructed at the end of the Victorian era and was considered to be one of the best cotton warehouses in Manchester. 

How shameful and embarassing then that the Canadian government cuts caused the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to pull the plug on their voice to the world for 65+ years, Radio Canada International, only last Sunday. This despite many protests from listeners all over the world. It was one of my favourite stations. The RCI Action Committee tried its best to save the service. I hope somehow it may return one day in its former glory with Maple Leaf Mailbag and The Link.

Linked to the Weekly Top Shot blog .

Friday, 29 June 2012

North Star's northern outpost

Earlier this week I sat in the sunshine at the North Star Delicatessen which trades in town as well as in Chorlton cum Hardy (which I featured back in January). I see North Star in Piccadilly Basin as something of a hidden gem, frequented by the many of us lucky enough to be in the know. It is on Dale Street, a wonderful road that drips with red brick architectural delights from Manchester's past which has some interesting new builds to complement it too.  

North Star started its successful life back in 2003 thanks to three siblings: Adam and John Berlyne and chef Deanna Thomas. Why would anyone choose to go to a coffee shop chain when there are lovely independent places like this, with locally produced quality products at a reasonable price?

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Architects on Dulcie St revisited

I featured the front of BDP Architects Practice on Dulcie Street a year ago, last June , and promised to show the contrasting view round the back. In comparison to the shimmering and striking front it is comparatively ordinary, but at least the light floods into the offices from here, and there are nice views over the Rochdale Canal basin. There are certainly far worse buildings to work in.

Linking to Weekend Reflections.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

"X" is for Xerxes and xylophones at the RNCM

Xerxes is an opera by Handel based on a Persian king who led a war against Greece. It was performed here at the RNCM (Royal Northern College of Music) earlier in the year. Last week I enjoyed a lunchtime concert given by the RNCM Brass band. It featured some contemporary and atmospheric pieces by Elgar Howarth (The Bandsman’s Tale and Tombeau) then Edward Gregson’s Rococo Variations. And yes, one of the instruments played was a xylophone...

Linked to ABC Wednesdays .

On another note (pun intended), last week I met up with Sandi and her lovely family, and we had a whistle-stop tour of Manchester on a balmy evening. She writes the Flying into the Light blog in her hometown of Vancouver, Washington.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Strawberries and dream

Although 200 miles north of Wimbledon, the annual tennis fiesta can be enjoyed outside in Manchester. Either on the big screen in Exchange Square or from the comfort of a deckchair here at Screenfields.Yesterday evening it provided the perfect post-work pick me up. 

I watched young English wildcard Oliver Golding lose narrowly to Russia's Igor Andreev. Igor is 400 places higher in the rankings. The 18 year old Oliver has had quite a career already, and not just in tennis. He was previously a child actor on tv, stage (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and screen. This included a part in a 2002 film by the wonderful Mike Leigh, (a local Broughton boy) called All or Nothing. It seems an appropriate title too for the first day of Wimbledon.

Linked to the Our World Tuesday blog.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday Murals: Print and Paste stops fighting

This billboard space in Chester Street is a curated art space that belongs to Print and Paste. A different artist each month exhibits their work here. Print and Paste "aim to support the artist and inspire the public by using the space for freedom of expression, positive social commentary, and the exhibition of original work."

I believe this current exhibit is the first (previously it advertised Print and Paste themselves). This work is by Steve Lambert, an interesting artist from across the pond in New York, who " aims to make art for non-art audiences: work that is accessible, relevant, challenging, and often fun."

What's your interpretation of the meaning here?

Linked to Monday Murals at the Oakland Daily Photo blog.

Print and Paste:
Steve Lambert:

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday Bridges: bars & barges at Catalan Square

The 19th century railway viaduct above carries trains and trams to and fro, while Merchant's Bridge in Catalan Square (built 1996) links people to bars, restaurants and apartments on both banks of the Bridgewater canal.  

Linking to Sunday Bridges 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Weekend Reflections: Cows' Week

Not be confused with the famous boating extravaganza of Cowes Week off of the Isle of Wight in August, this is my idea of a more gentile and low key cows' week. Taken on the Shropshire canal in Cheshire, where they all trotted across to see us as we walked past. Some then proceeded to use the canal as a giant drinking trough.

More Weekend Reflections .

Friday, 22 June 2012

Exchange Square: Summer House and the living is easy

The Summer House on Exchange Square in central Manchester is bright and fun, whether you choose to embibe within the marquee or alfresco. Their Twitter account sums up the ethos (@Summerhousemcr). "Inspired by European urban gardens, with a big splash of colour, lots of trees and greenery and simply the best summer drinks in this wonderful city."

Bargain of the day is their £1 coffee hour from 11.00 to midday. From 12.00 to 4.00 daily you can have a delicious sounding veggie felafel burger with beer or wine for £6 (as a veggie I cannot condone the meat burger alternative but there is one...).

To help get the workers through the early working week Summer House also offers two for one cocktails deals from 4.00 to 7.00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Marbury's Mere: Silent sorrow in empty boats?

A new favourite walk of ours (about 6 miles long and therefore takes about 2 hours) is from Barnton along the Trent and Mersey Canal, past the amazing Anderton boat-lift that lifts craft from the River Weaver to the canal and vice versa.

You can then reach Marbury Country Park in Comberbach, finishing here at Budworth Mere, where the ducks sunbathe on the empty boats.

Silent sorrow in empty boats is a track which bookends a lovely ambient music mix. In my view it's a perfect accompaniment for sitting up as late as possible and savouring the long daylight at this time of year.

Linked to the Rural Thursday blog .

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

"W" is for West Africa - We Face Forward, art & music

Contemporary West African art is celebrated from 2 June until 16 September at the City Art gallery with the We Face Forward exhibition. It's part of a city-wide series of cultural summer events celebrating the global and the local, exploring the links between Manchester and West Africa.

Also at the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Gallery of Costume, the Manchester Museum and the National Football Museum (when the latter opens on 8 July). Plus related gigs at Band on the Wall. It all looks and sounds really promising to me and I hope to get to see aspects of it over the coming summer weeks.  BBC Manchester has a slide show of some of the art on show:

Linking to ABC Wednesdays , this week it's the letter "W".

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


The spire of St. Peter's church on Ashley Road in Hale, which was completed in 1892. The current vicar is Libby Lane, who took over after the passing of Michael Robinson in 2006. There is a moving memorial to the late vicar in the churchyard.

For a virtual tour packed with history visit their website, especially these two links:

Linked to the Our World Tuesday blog

Monday, 18 June 2012

Monday Murals: Hula Tiki Lounge

Summer's on the way,- it starts on Thursday ;-) so it's time for alfresco tea breaks and banter before an evening at the Hula Tiki Lounge. If you believe their publicity it all sounds promising and you can count me in:

"A 1950’s inspired tropical slice of Tiki goodness for urban beachcombers. You will be delighted by the hedonistic fun you can have at Hula Tiki Lounge - a basement den of cocktails, rum and good cheer. Located down in the basement of 11 Stevenson Square, Hula will transport you to the tropics with an eclectic and relaxed haven for you to unwind and wash away your troubles".

Linked to Monday Murals at the Oakland Daily Photo blog in ever sunny California.

You might also like to read my monthly guest post for Smitten by Britain, which is entitled Aberdovey Dreaming and is at:

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Foxgloves and flags

My favourite flower, the foxglove, standing tall as it blooms throughout June. Pictured here in a country garden near the village of Comberbach in Cheshire. Effects used were Lomo and vignette. Linked to the Weekend flowers blog.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Weekend Reflections: Saltersford Tunnel

The northern entrance to Saltersford Tunnel reflects in the Trent and Mersey Canal, making a perfect egg shape. The tunnel was built almost a quarter of a millennium ago, in the 1770s, and is 424 yards (388 metres) long. The narrow tunnel requires a strict timetable to ensure craft don't meet in the middle as they'd be unable to pass. Southbound barges can enter between 30 minutes past and ten minutes to each hour. Interestingly the tunnel is crooked inside, as tunnelling started at different points and didn't quite meet in the middle...

Click to see more  Weekend Reflections.

If you enjoyed this post then you might also like to read my monthly guest post for Smitten by Britain, which is entitled Aberdovey Dreaming and is at:

Friday, 15 June 2012

CBE: Clean British Energy - the only way to go!

This statue of John Dalton was just one of the Britons around the country to have been decorated with an alternative ‘CBE’ medal yesterday (14 June). The awards mark a new link-up between Friends of the Earth and the UK’s only specialist green energy providers, Good Energy and Ecotricity, aimed at boosting clean British power. (Dalton, 1766-1844, was a Quaker, chemist, meteorologist and  physicist).

Morning commuters and passers-by were surprised to see the oversized red, white and blue ‘CBE’ medals around the necks of statues of iconic Brits. The statues were carefully selected to represent the ‘Best of British’ and included pioneering industrialists, giants of science, political heavyweights, sporting legends, cultural icons and folk heroes.

Members of the public are being urged to back the campaign – and show their support for renewable power by switching their energy supply to one of the two suppliers – at the campaign website

The Clean British Energy campaign calls on the Prime Minister to cut carbon emissions and create new jobs and industries by supporting home-grown energy from the wind, sun and water. Recent polling by Friends of the Earth shows that 85% of people in the UK want Cameron to ditch dirty, imported fossil fuels in favour of renewable power sourced in the UK. So there is no excuse for him not to do so, today. I am sure he will...

You can see all of the CBE medallists at:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Hats off to the Hat Works

Today we feature the hat museum in Wellington Mill in Stockport, which used to be a hat factory. It's the "UK's only museum dedicated solely to the hatting industry, hats and headwear"  and an award winning visitor attraction. The mill is a restored Grade II listed 19th century mill.

Linked to the Thursday Challenge blog -this week's challenge is "big".

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

"V" is for VW clamper van

Volkswagen Camper Vans are still very much in vogue all over the UK, especially amongst surfers and the young at heart. This 1967 van near Lapwing Lane has unfortunately been wheel clamped (see rear left wheel), presumably without a valid permit. I guess it's going to cost about £100 for the owner to release it before it can load surfboards and head to the coast, or load guitarists and head for a music festival. Perhaps "Volkswagen" does indeed translate as "the people's car" ?

Linked to ABC Wednesdays .

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

MARC my words, printing needn't cost the earth...

MARC stands for the Manchester Area Resource Centre and it's a thriving printers on Edge Street in the Northern Quarter. It specialises in design and print services and advice, such as posters for community groups, charities' newsletters and many other grassroots activists' publicity. It's been a stalwart of the Manchester political scene for longer than I can remember. They print on recycled paper and their soya ink print process uses digital machines called Risographs. As they say, printing needn't cost the earth! Their website is and Twitter feed is .

My first experiences at MARC were back in the late 1980s when I used to co-write the Chorlton CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) group newsletter, on a typewriter at home(!), and sometimes at a community centre on computer. I would then head off to MARC, then on Bloom Street. You would produce a template and, using a machine with a roller, have to manually turn and churn out your publication, sheet by sheet. The smell of printers' inks remains fresh in my head to this day, as does the positive and radical feel that all the groups using MARC then were slowly but surely changing the world for the better (or trying to) - think locally, act globally!

They then relocated to a large mill in Ancoats before becoming very much part of the bohemian village that is the Northern Quarter. I like the way that their window display shows the forthcoming month's events as well as showcasing their wide range of clients. 

Linking to the Signs, Signs blog for signs around the world this week.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Monday Murals: Junk sail

A brick mural of a Chinese junk in the heart of Chinatown. It was completed in the late 1980s when Chinatown was revitalised with the Chinese Arch and this mural as landmarks. There are around 20,000 descendants of Chinese immigrants that live in Manchester. 
Linked to Monday Murals at the Oakland Daily Photo blog.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

On the Sandstone Trail

The Sandstone Trail stretches for 34 miles (55 km) across Cheshire and north Shropshire. It meanders across the still largely green and pleasant English county of Cheshire from the ancient market town of Frodsham on the Mersey estuary to Georgian Whitchurch in rural Shropshire:

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Weekend Reflections: A (salt) mine of information

Plants on the window sills at the Midland Hotel, with a reflection of the circular 1930's Central Reference Library in the window panes- which is currently being renovated and stays closed until 2013. 

The archives and the rarest books are in storage 150 metres underground in the Cheshire salt mines. The storage facility, DeepStore, has consistent temperature and humidity levels and is naturally free from the dangers of ultraviolet light, vermin (book worms?) or flooding. It is currently the size of 700 football pitches but continues to grow, as a million tonnes of salt is mined every year.

Click to see more Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Skywatch Friday: Hulme Arch sunset

The sun sets behind Hulme Arch, from Bonsall Street. At 25m (82ft) high, the arch was built in 1997 as part of the Hulme regeneration programme.  More Skywatch Friday posts.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cottage garden, cares melt...

Pepper Street in Lymm has some characterful cottages. Gardens with sweet peas and other summer flowers growing heartily and healthily, including what I think are these pink daisies, next to the more familiar white version.
The symbolic meaning of the daisy flower is unfettered love and innocence which I am unsure of, but I'd go along with the anonymous saying that "Cares melt when you kneel in your garden."

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

"U" is for under water...MV Chica, a boat of many names

This is the MV Chica, a boat that is nearly 120 years old and now is semi-submerged in the River Weaver which wanders through Cheshire. I wondered how long it has been sinking for and with a bit of research found out that it was 1993 when she began to go  under.

The MV Chica started its life in Norway in 1894 with the name Flora. In 1940 she was commandeered by Germans for World War II duty, and renamed Bjorg Haukaas. In 1965 she became the Lill Tove and, after being bought by the Straight Shipping Company in Gibraltar in 1977, was renamed Chica in 1981.

Chica is now abandoned and a talking point for all who walk, cycle, jog, row, sail or chug past Dutton Lock on the Weaver Navigation river.

Linked to ABC Wednesdays .

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

God save the Queen? Don't jubilee've it...

It is hard to believe that Queen Elizabeth II is now celebrating her diamond jubilee (60 years of being a monarch.) I remember the opposition to her silver jubilee in 1977, partially spearheaded by the second summer of punk and the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK album.  Artwork depicting that very album is seen here at Generation Pop, a Manchester pop art gallery, (although it is not currently on display).
The Sex Pistols gig in Manchester's Lesser Trade Hall in June 1976 is said to have spawned a generation of Manchester bands. And a book:  I Swear I Was There - the Gig that Changed the World  by David Nolan.

There was a campaign to get the Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen single to number one for this week's chart. Originally released in May 1977 it was banned from tv and radio and yet it sold enough to make it number 1 in the charts. However, the powers that be refused to acknowledge it. This wasn't a conspiracy theory, this was for real. 

"God save the queen,the fascist regime...Don't be told what you want, Don't be told what you need...God save the Queen, 'Cause tourists are money and our figurehead is not what she seems, Oh God save history, God save your mad parade..."  Matlock, Lydon, Jones and Cook - The Sex Pistols

35 years on the British media did not air much on an opposition view to all this pomp and pageantry, so to try to redress the balance just a smidgeon I point you to an alternative view. "60 Inglorious Years" at:

Monday, 4 June 2012

Great Manchester Cycle Race

The Great Manchester Cycle Race takes place today. This is a photo of a publicity photoshoot for the event the other week at the urban beach.

Starting and finishing at Eastlands, the course goes through Manchester, Trafford and Salford. "The urban terrain provides access to roads normally strictly off limits to cyclists, giving you a new perspective on the iconic buildings and landscapes of Greater Manchester".  You can Get Out and Pedal over 13 miles, Rule the Roads over 26 miles or Test Yourself over 52 miles.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Eurocultured Festival starts today

The 9th Eurocultured Manchester street festival takes place on Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th June on and around New Wakefield Street. Outdoor stages are set up under railway arches and in car parks, with seven venues across three streets.  Bands and artists of both the musical and the painting kind will entertain masses of people. Over 100 acts inlcuding Ukrainian folk dancers Orlyk, the Hooping Harlots (hula hoopists extraordinaire), Death in Vegas, The Amazing, Jim Noir, Lovely Rita, and Golden Glow to name a handful. There are plenty of bars to chill out in around here and street art to admire, if you are happy to cope with the crowds...  Some good food also is guaranteed as Mod's Veggie/Vegan Cafe at the Thirsty Scholar pub will be running a veggie barbecue.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Lymm Cross as diamond jubilee repeats itself

The Lymm Cross has probably been here in one form or another since Anglo Saxon times. The current cross was erected for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897 and stands on ancient steps carved from sandstone in the heart of the village centre.  One of the four square corner pillars supporting the base has the date 1775. Featured gables of the Cross are bronze sundials of 1897 displaying the inscriptions We are a Shadow, Save Time and Think of the Last.

115 years later Britain still has a monarchy and is in the throes of another diamond jubilee. Manchester writer Louise Bolotin speaks for millions when she says "I know the government say we need something to cheer us up, but I'd rather they saved the money [being spent on] the celebrations and didn't carry out swingeing public sector cuts."

Friday, 1 June 2012

Theme Day: Tranquility

Tranquility comes in many forms but the simplest is often the best. A sunny afternoon in the garden with a happy family, a good book, birdsong, occasionally casting a sleepy eye over the sights of the ever-changing seasons. On a day like this we can all be as content as Buddha and Daisy the Labrador.

Tranquility is the subject for June 2012's City Daily Photo theme day. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants .

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