Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bridging the gap on the ship canal

View from the Lowry Centre bridge looking along the Manchester ship canal to the Media City footbridge. I am not sure if this bridge art is part of the cultural Olympiad festival or not, but either way I like it.

You can read my latest Smitten By Britain guest blog post on the London Olympics...bicycle road races .

Also, Mancunian Wave is linking today to the Our World Tuesday blog.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Coffee for cubists?

A photo with more than its fair share of squares and rectangles. Maybe it's a case of count the cubes over coffee and cake? Round the back of Bake Station cafe at 225 Deansgate.

Apologies for not commenting on blogs much at present- I am in London this week with limited internet access, but will be blogging a little about the Olympics at the Smitten by Britain blog, and will put links up when available.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

2002 Commonwealth Games swimming pool

This is the entrance to the Aquatics Centre which was a legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. I like the fact it retained a statement of its provenance.

Evidently this £32 million swimming complex was the only one in the UK to have two 50 metre pools. (I guess the London Olympics now have similar?) 

This website has a interesting look at the north-west regional legacy of those 2002 games: http://www.gameslegacy.co.uk/cgi-bin/index.cgi

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Sporting Union

The Professional Footballers' Association is based here in Oxford Court, perhaps smelling of roses because it's the close season. It was formed in 1907 and is the world’s longest established professional sportsperson’s union.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Commercial-free Olympics? BBC

The BBC's television and radio sport departments are now based here on Salford Quays, although they are covering most of the Olympics live from the east London stadium.

At least being a public broadcaster they will have to keep coverage commerical-free, unlike the hypocritical sponsors who are largely responsible for the western obesity crisis and have nothing to do with the health and vigour promoted by most Olympians. Two American burger and fizzy drinks companies, and a UK chocolatier spring to mind... Rant endeth.

The pop up bar called Dock, see the pink umbrellas, is proving a popular meeting spot for BBC and ITV media this summer. ITV's Granada Studios are currently building a new complex next door to the BBC and will move from their central Manchester studio in due course. 

More Weekend Reflections.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympics at Old Trafford

Manchester failed in its bids to host the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, but instead hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002. Ten years on from that, Manchester United's Old Trafford ground is hosting some of the London 2012 Olympics' football tournament, starting today.

Olympics at Old Trafford.
  • 26 July - Men's football - UAE v Uruguay - 5.00 p.m. & Britain v Senegal - 7.45pm
  • 29 July - Men's football - Brazil v Belarus - 12.00 p.m. & Egypt v New Zealand - 2.45 p.m.
  • 31 July - Women's football - USA v North Korea - 5.15 p.m.
  • 1 August - Men's football - Spain v Morocco - 5.00 p.m.
  • 4 August - Men's quarter finals
  • 6 August - Women's semi-finals
  • 7 August - Men's semi-final

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

ABC Wednesdays: B is for birds, breadcrumbs & benevolence

A hot and steamy day in St. Ann's Square and this kind lady, laden with her Marks and Spencer carrier bags, feeds the much maligned pigeons. See more beauty beyond boundaries at ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Arcadia: Barton oh so British

The Barton Arcade was built in 1871 and I imagine the jingoism around the union flag raising we see here would not have been out of place back then. Likewise in other years that royal occassions were marked, such as Queen Victoria's jubilees in 1887 and 1897.

I'd surmise that there was also much celebrating and flag waving in here after the British Empire's triumphs in the Boer wars of 1881 and 1902. Yet here we are 140 years on and, while so much has changed, some attitudes around nationalism still remain entrenched in a distant past... A lovely building though.

Linking today to the Ruby Tuesday blog. My apologies for not being able to comment on people's blogs the past few days. I am travelling a lot with work this week too with little internet access, but will catch up when I back on terra firma ;-)

Monday, 23 July 2012

Isaac Newton's apple trees

These six "Flower of Kent" cooking apple trees are in the grounds of the University of Manchester, at the UMIST campus. They are scions of the tree at Grantham where Isaac Newton is said to have come up with his theory of gravitation. A modest statement of his from 1675 is one of my favourite quotes: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Bright futures

A memorable day for these graduates outside the Manchester Museum by the main University building.

Friday, 20 July 2012

RHS Flower Show at Tatton, Japanese Gardens

The annual RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park in Knutsford runs from 18-22 July. This exhibit of a Japanese garden is paying homage to the many Japanese gardens in grounds of stately homes all over the UK. Around 1910, to have a Japanese garden was de rigueur for the well to do, and there are many fine examples that still remain intact. From a much larger version one than this here at Tatton, to Torosay Castle on the Isle of Mull, Llanarthne in Carmarthenshire, Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire and Compton Acres in Dorset.

Having been fortunate enough to see examples of the real things in Japan, many of the British replicas look quite authentic - or at least very zen...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Olympic bunting, Oakley treasure hunting

The Olympic bunting is up in many places around Manchester in anticipation of the small part the city is playing in London’s 2012 Olympics, i.e. hosting a selection of the football matches.

Californian sportswear company Oakley has three stores around Manchester and is launching a national treasure hunt challenge as their contribution to this summer of sport. They have chosen six secret locations around the UK – including Manchester– as part of a Treasure Hunt Challenge to find “exclusive heritage products”.

In order to locate them, you have to visit www.facebook.com/oakleyeurope and solve daily clues. Fans are also encouraged to post images of themselves wearing some of the many Oakley styles from the past four decades- they first specialised in sports eye wear but later branched into further areas of sportswear. The treasure hunt commences on Sunday 22nd July and mixes social media interaction with real-life treasure seeking.  When the final clue is revealed, a race will be on to find the heritage prizes.  Six Treasure Hunt winners will be entered into a Grand Prize Draw for a chance to meet with some of the world’s leading athletes at Oakley’s Safehouse.

The Grand Prize winner will also be able to enjoy the Oakley sponsored ‘Designed To Win’ exhibition at London’s Design Museum – showcasing innovative sports equipment and celebrating the ways in which design has helped shaped the world of sport.

For the chance to participate in the Treasure Hunt Challenge go to www.facebook.com/oakleyeurope or follow #OwnAPieceOfHistory via www.twitter.com/oakleyeurope.  For more information about the Designed to Win exhibition, see: http://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/2012/designed-to-win

Linking to this week's Skywatch Friday posts.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

ABC Wednesdays: "A" is from apothecary to Apotheca

Yes, this former chemists/pharmacy/apothecary was given a new lease of life when it opened in late 2008. Apotheca on Thomas Street is a great place for an early evening drink. The name comes from the antique pharmacy cabinets, which grace the front bar and originally provided medicinal relief for customers. There is a short video of its transformation at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08n7K6IYJdk

Linked to ABC Wednesdays  where a new 26 week round starts today...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Jazz Department, Mcr jazz festival #mjf2012

The Jazz Department is a band with members from Manchester, Leeds and Bradford, five of whom were once in the same jazz department either as lecturers or students – hence the name.  Led by guitarist Kathy Dyson, we have Steve Hanley on drums, Max Sterling on double bass and John Dyson on alto and tenor saxophones. Josie Smith is the vocalist on some of the numbers. See: www.kathydyson.co.uk

I'm a little too busy this week (business and pleasure), so am unable to see all the acts at this year's jazz festival that I'd like. But in some ways it's good to attend only when you can. I have discovered many an exciting musical experience that way.

Linked to the Our World Tuesday blog.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Monday Murals: Latest cycle on Stevenson Square

The street art on Stevenson Square, renewed every three months, is bold and primary for summer. The good thing is that if you don't like the current cycle, you know it will be replaced. I have mixed feelings about the current theme- I do like the colour scheme and the bicycle though. Linked to Monday Murals at the Oakland Daily Photo blog.

My Smitten by Britain guest post for this month is titled London’s Austerity Olympics...of 1948.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

9 days and all that jazz, Mcr jazz festival #mjf2012

Preparations at the Festival Pavilion.

The annual Manchester Jazz festival started on Friday night and is in full flow. From Albert Square to Matt and Phred's, Band on the Wall to afternoons at the Midland Hotel and beyond, a range of venues are inundated with over 70 acts, and most of its is free - free admission that is rather than free jazz. Although I am sure there is some of that as well. Nice! http://www.manchesterjazz.com/

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Weekend Reflections: National football museum kicks off

The National Football Museum opened last weekend. I made the most of a lovely evening on Wednesday and wandered around the city grabbing photos with some blue sky.

It's housed in what was the Urbis museum of cities from 2000 until a couple of years ago. The football museum then moved from Preston North End's ground to the centre of Manchester into this much larger space for the many thousands of exhibits.

I preferred the previous museum's subject matter but at least the entrance is free and am sure I will pop in sometime.  Some photos from a I book I co-authored also appear at the museum. Wembley Stadium of Legends (Tomsett & Brand, Dewi Lewis Media, Manchester, 2007).

Part of the Weekend Reflections postings.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Skywatch Friday: Co-op HQ & loneliness of a crane driver

This photo is of the Co-operative Group's new HQ on Miller Street. An ethical bank seems a rarity these days and the Co-op bank has been inundated with applications for new accounts from people leaving the scandal-hit high street banks.

Another ethical Mancunian stalwart is the bearded Bury band Elbow, whose song The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver is a regular on their summer festival sets. A lovely, lilting and melancholic piece, according to Elbow's Gus Garvey it's a true tale about "a tower crane driver in a bar who began the night boasting about how well paid he was and how much he loved his job. He ended the night crying into his beer with loneliness. Ambition, if pursued to the cost of everything else, can leave you high, dry and lonely."

My Smitten by Britain guest post for this month is titled London’s Austerity Olympics...of 1948. Part of it is adapted from a book I was co-author of: Wembley: Stadium of Legends (Tomsett & Brand, Dewi Lewis Media, Manchester, 2007).

More Skywatch Friday posts.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

St Peter's Pipes of Pan

Unlike Pan the Greek God of shepherds and flocks, these pipers play their tune to call the workforce to put in a shift at Century House on St Peter's Square. It's an office block built in 1934, as you will doubtless have already realised due to its Art Deco detailing.

I have worked in about a dozen buildings around Manchester (and dozens more around the UK and Europe). I should post the more interesting of the Manchester ones on this blog from time to time.

But no matter where work takes me in the future, no workplace can ever compete with my days at the BBC World Service in Bush House in London, which was surely the most cosmopolitan workplace in Britain. The final BBC WS occupants leave Bush House today to return to a new part of their original 1930s home, across London to Broadcasting House. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

ABC Wednesdays: "Z" is for Zouk

I was spoilt for choice with the letter Z. I was going to show you the Zion Community Centre or take you for a stroll down residential Zetland Road, or maybe the Zaika Indian restaurant, then I stumbled across Zouk. This is an Indian and Pakistani restaurant in the Quadrangle on Chester Street. I like the brightly slightly clashing colour scheme, the greenery and the vegetarian options on the menu. The hubba-bubba (sheesha) pipes that seem to have dramatically risen in popularity for some reason in the past few years around town are less to my liking.

Linking to ABC Wednesdays , where this week we complete its six month run with the letter "Z". It starts again at "A" next Wednesday and good luck to all who take part in the new round.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Ruby Tuesday, Grocers' Warehouse

A rare sunny spell in a sodden summer in England. Down to Deansgate Quay where this large red wheel is part of the mechanism at the old Grocers' Warehouse. Such water wheel machinery hauled the Lancashire coal which arrived on barges up to street level. It was then transported around the city to fuel the ongoing industrial revolution.

Behind this is a former congregational chapel, built in 1858 and later used as a recording studio by Pete Waterman (of Stock Aitken and Waterman fame). Some of his 1980s pop pap output was recorded here, including songs by Kylie Minogue.

Linking today to the Ruby Tuesday blog.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Monday Murals: On the sixth day, God created Manchester

Amidst the late 1980s Madchester phenomenon, Leo Stanley created this popular slogan which was worn on many a best selling tee shirt. Leo and Identity had a shop here in Affleck's Palace.The full story's at: http://www.identity-manchester.co.uk/leo.php 

For out of towners, Affleck's Palace (known as just "Afflecks" now with neither palace nor apostrophe!) is a wonderful ex-department store. It used to be Affleck and Brown, the Harrods of the north: http://manchesterhistory.net/manchester/tours/tour4/area4page66.html

Since 1982 Affleck's Palace has been full of creative design, bright young things, vintage clothing, vinyl and vicissitudePart of Affleck's 30th anniversary has included some new mosaics, put up to replace the ones that were foolishly destroyed by Bruntwood when they took over the building in 2008. I'll show some of the others in future Monday Murals.

Mancunian Wave is linked to Monday Murals at the Oakland Daily Photo blog.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

In a Cheshire country garden

Early summer in a vibrant garden on Lodge Lane near Lodge Wood and the River Weaver.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Whether the weather vane's in vain

A sunny evening spent nosily peering over fences and walls into people's gardens.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Moonrise at sunset over the old Fire Station

The lovely old fire station (1905) is still a dominant building on London Road, despite it being bought and then neglected for the best part of the past 30 years- thanks to the irresponsibilities of the Britannia Hotel group.

In addition to a fire station, the building housed a police station, an ambulance station, bank, a Coroner's Court, and a gas-meter testing station. The fire station operated for 80 years, housing the firemen, their families, and the horse drawn appliances that were replaced by motorised vehicles a few years after its opening.

Mancunian Wave is linking today to other  Skywatch Friday posts.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Potato Wharf

Part of the Potato Wharf apartments. A collection of contemporary one and two-bedroom apartments set in one of Manchester’s waterside locations. It's all part of the city's 30 year drive, which started in the 1980s,  to integrate modern living spaces amongst its regenerated industrial heritage.

However, I noticed that building one of the other blocks seemed to stop months and months ago. I imagine due to the recession but also there is a limit to the amount of new apartmenta any city needs. Especially when even the cheapest is almost beyond most average people's income. Most are bought by investors and then rented out.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

"Y" is for Yacht Club

The Yacht Club on Hardman Square is an ambitious venture, what with the notorious British weather, but on a sunny day or evening it works well. 

Bar Life UK states that it's led by Manchester raconteur Jamie Jones and that “The summer playground of world leaders, glamour girls, actresses, playboys and the rich and famous, the 1950s Riviera was the ultimate place to party and have a jolly good time. The ideal place to quaff champagne and absorb the sunny Manchester rays, The Yacht Club will harness this spirit, bringing to life the elegance of the Cote d’Azur with the sophistication of the Promenade des Anglais and the stylishness of St Tropez in a chic outdoor bar complete with wooden deck and day beds.”

Thanks, I'll have a Boardwalk Bramble (Bombay gin, lemon juice and a drizzle of crème de mure liqueur). Linked to ABC Wednesdays .

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Shudehill shudders, Lower Turk's Head needs some love

Looking down on Shudehill to the "greasy spoon" by the name of The Abergeldie cafe and its neighbouring fast food joint. This was a modern bar or shop for a while, hence the gentrification of the green flats above, now in disrepair.

Russell Davies’ blog reviews the Abergeldie- he has a predilection for cholesterol judging by his "egg bacon chips and beans" blog, or maybe he is being ironic?

An abandoned pub- the Lower Turk's Head, has a lovely frontage and dates from circa 1780. You would think it is surely ripe for some Northern Quarter refurbishment but maybe not when you discover it went on the market a year ago for a staggering £1.1 million!

There is an Upper Turk's Head a little further north on the road out of town I hear. I must see if it's still there...

The Shudehill book shop is hard to miss in its garish yellow and black, next to an electronics store. It pays to look above the shop frontages to get a feel of an area's history, and in today's case, to look down on them too.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Monday Murals: Love will win

I have heard that Manchester City Council, in their "wisdom", want to remove the wonderful street art on New Wakefield Street. It enlivens the arches and businesses opposite a good range of bars and good architecture. It has even engendered the annual Eurocultured festival, which is held here each June. 

Hopefully love, and art, will win this unnecessary battle and the council can concentrate on issues that actually matter to city residents. Three issues that immediately spring to my mind are the need to create some new green spaces, combat and reduce car pollution and do something about cleaning the cities' streets which are sadly paved with chewing-gum, cigarette ends and fast food/junk food debris...

Linked to Monday Murals at the Oakland Daily Photo blog.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Theme Day: Chimneys

15 Oxford Court is an imposing office block on Oxford Street. Its eight chimney stacks do make for an eye-catching architectural feature for those of us that always look upwards as we walk around the city...

July's City Daily Photo theme day is chimneys. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants. That CDP portal link is down so please go to: http://cdpbthemeday.blogspot.com.au/ for July's Theme Day.

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