Monday, 30 September 2013

Monday Mural: Eyes down on Whittle Street

A simple but amusing mural on Whittle Street.  What more can I say, except it cheered up my Monday? Linked to Monday Mural

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Signs of the times, demo today

The government may think the recession is over and the economy is picking up but when you see the state of the main street in plush and seemingly ever-affluent Prestbury village, with all of these shops, restaurants, and other  businesses up for sale, I am not so sure.

The Tory Conference starts in Manchester today- a city that historically hasn't much love for them, as today's national demonstration to save the NHS and fight against the Tory government's cuts will show...

Prestbury is full of lovely timber framed curiosities. One of its oldest buildings is the Priest’s House, a timber-framed black and white building dating back to about 1448. I must track it down for Mancunian Wave one day.

P.S 50,000 attended the demo: a write up too on the ignorance of some mainstream media.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Skywatch Friday: Blue skies, red bricks, black lamp post

The repeating patterns in some of the city centre's 19th century solid red brick buildings is probably something that us Mancunians take for granted. But look up or look at them from a different angle and you can appreciate their beauty in a new light. See your city as a tourist would!

Click to see this week's other Skywatch posts.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rural blog hop Thursday: early autumn on the canal

The Trent and Mersey Canal, a year on from the breach. 26 September 2012 was a bleak day when the canal burst its banks- but the repairs were all completed by May 2013. Although there is a stretch that looks new and repaired, it has been expertly done and normality and tranquility have been restored. Linking with Rurality Blog Hop #33.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

ABC Wednesday: "K" is for Kenworthy's Buildings

I am unsure who Kenworthy was but this was built in 1902 on Bridge Street. An interesting description of the satyr mask and similar, less grotesque figures are given at Bob Speel's Victorian & Edwardian sculptures website. 

It's another ABC Wednesday, featuring the letter "K".

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tuesdays: no moping on a moped

Sometimes you hardly need a description for a photo. To me this could be the epitome of cool; commuting on a funky red moped, bobbing past the trade-only fashion warehouses displaying the 2013 autumn trends. An example of many minutes of me wasting time, I mean people-watching, paying off! 

Taking part today in two Tuesday memes: Our World Tuesday and Ruby Tuesday.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Monday Mellow Yellows: All things bright and Bollington

The heat of summer was still apparent in the first weekend of autumn. On Sunday I went for a wonderful early morning  6 mile walk in the low 20°Cs.  Some trees are now turning to their autumn glory, such as this one on the hillside at Bollington in Cheshire. Mancunian Wave is linking today with Monday Mellow Yellows.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Pulling the rug out from under my feet…

I was at the wonderful eco home in Chorltonville last weekend. It’s an early 20th century building that has undergone a green transformation and looks stylish, warm and family-friendly as well as meeting with the green standards that every home should have.

Once I have grappled with the technical specifications that I was bamboozled with when I was there I’ll write more on its advantages. Instead I wanted to write today about flooring, specifically rugs and their warmth. There was a wonderful, huge rug in the living area at the eco home- you can see a part of it in the photo above along with the environmentally-friendly wallpaper, lighting and sofa. The rug was made from discarded scarves, ribbons, ties and bow ties and looked surprising effective.

It’s that time of year when I go from being barefoot around the house to wearing slippers, and also tip-toeing around sleeping spiders that make their way indoors every early autumn. So it’s good to be thinking about warm rugs to cove the laminate flooring. I prefer rugs to carpets as you can move then around and create a new look so easily, either swapping them room for room or occasionally buying a new one.

I recently discovered a kilim (a flat tapestry-woven carpet or rug produced from the Balkans to Pakistan) that we’d bought decades ago in Turkey. I can’t remember whether it was in the far east of the country on the Kurdistan-Iraqi borders, where there were troops amassing for the first Gulf War, I recall. Certainly I remember seeing a dazzling array of many patterned and coloured kilims and carpets hanging out to dry on parched vast expanses of land. I am sure ours came from a market and involved a little haggling, something that as a reserved Brit I am appallingly bad at. I have found a new home for the kilim between my bed and my dressing table- it fits snugly and will stop my having cold feet in the bleak mornings ahead.

I need to replace another rug, in fact it was a carpet cut-off which has now shredded its underside and sadly needs to go. Looking into rug buying I was amazed at the variety in styles and sizes these days. Swirls and circles, plain and polka dot, gigantic or thin, there are endless choices. So it made sense to look online to narrow the choice. I found a handful at In House Rugs that I would happily give floor space to. 

Most high street shops I’ve looked in have too small a selection so it was great to look at a range of prices and materials, wool or shaggy, round or square etc. The modern range was more to my choosing but I have relatives who would be happier with the traditional and some who would always go down the budget line- though most of the prices were reasonable. I just have to narrow down my choices, take advantage of the free delivery service and - voilà, my floors are ready for autumn and my bare feet can sink into those warm cosy surfaces!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

All to Arley Hall for Cheshire food & drink festival ~ @ArleyHall

The next Cheshire food and drink festival tales place at wonderful Arley Hall this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. The event says there are a number of stalls with a range of vegetarian options (I sincerely hope there will be, vegan too please), as well as gluten-free dishes, craft and kids events, including live music and a cake-off to find the county's best amateur baker. 

This photo is taken inside the glorious Arley Hall, which I wrote a little about in one of my A Wondrous Place posts earlier this year on one of the Hall's 18th century housekeepers - Elizabeth Raffald.

If you can't get out to Cheshire this weekend then instead you could go to the heart of the city centre where the Manchester Feast Market in St. Anne's Square continues until Sunday 29 September.  This annual event bringing together over 40 north-west food traders includes a microbrewery real ale day on Tuesday 24 September.

Then the annual Manchester Food and Drink Festival itself starts on 26 September running until 7 October 2013. I like the fact that it's probably the historic harvest festival seasons and traditions that energise these modern day food and drink fiestas.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Skywatch Friday: Sun sets on summer...

No-one can complain about the wonderful weather of summer 2013. I wish it wasn't fading away but I'll have to look forward to some bright autumn days with walks in the countryside and cosy nights inside with good company, good food, wine, music and good books too. Click to see this week's other Skywatch posts.

Despite some autumnal mornings and foul rain the past few days, this weekend is forecast to have some warmth, especially Sunday. In fact if there is an air frost before it gets back up to the predicted 20°C then that almost constitutes an Indian summer in its true meaning...

A weekend must see is on Saturday 21st September between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when visitors can drop in to the Salford Working Class Movement Library to find out more about Peterloo, its origins and its aftermath. You will have the opportunity to look at Peterloo-related objects - from eye-witness accounts, to maps, cartoons, reports of trials of participants in the event, a commemorative head-scarf sold to raise money for those injured and the families of those killed. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to discuss the items and answer questions.

The showcase follows on from Library trustee Maxine Peake’s performance of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s epic poem The Masque of Anarchy, which was a highlight of Manchester’s International Festival inJuly. Masque of Anarchy was Shelley’s heartfelt response to the horrors of the massacre. Admission is free and all are welcome; light refreshments available. 51 The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WX.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

In a spin at Launderette eaterie Beech Rd

The Laundrette on Beech Road was, yes, formerly a launderette/laundrette under the name of Laundrette Soap Opera. In fact back in my student days I spent many an hour there and can still remember that lovely smell of fresh, clean clothes and feel the warmth the tumble dryers emanated.

Since August it's been a fabulous restaurant and with a nice nod to its legacy has retained the washing-day theme even in its menus. e.g. starters are in a section called “pre-wash”, salads are “easy care”, desserts are “delicates” etc. 
There’s a detailed review and fabulous photos at the Bacon on the Beech blog.

There will hopefully be more alfresco eating in Chorlton cum Hardy for me and countless others this weekend.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

ABC Wednesday: "J" is for Java on Cigar Alley

Welcome to ABC Wednesday where "J" sees us visit those nice people who set up the Java Bar Espressos in Manchester.

They were inspired by their visits to eastern Europe in the early 1990s, where such places (and sometimes almost palaces) were commonplace and invariably elegant with fine architecture, rich furnishings and decor- not to mention good quality coffee, world wines and European beers. 

Java were there at the start of the 1990s coffee boom in Manchester, before all the American chains took a foothold; thankfully the independent cafes of the Northern Quarter, Chorlton et al effectively joined Java and independents have fought back well- there appears to be room for hundreds of coffee shops in Manchester and her 'burbs. 

Hats off to Java...Visit them at Victoria, Oxford Road Approach and Uppermill.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ruby Tuesday: Thirty Aethyrs Dry metal...

Photo by Holly

A post for Ruby TuesdaySaturday was metal night at Dry Bar. Five locally based bands took to the stage, and this is progressive extreme metal outfit Thirty Aethyrs

They take pride in their “melancholic theatrical performances, and pour every shred of ourselves into every note and beat, and as such our appeal is universal, no matter what genre of music people may want to constrain themselves to. Unashamed to shy away from exploring the darker sides of the human psyche, which lends itself very well to aggressive music, our message is one of overall peace. Aethyrs are currently promoting our second release entitled Phoenician Apocalypse - a short concept album detailing an allegorical view on Armageddon that has a message for everybody, no matter what their tastes may be”.  

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday Mural musical moptops

Taking part in Monday Murals. 

There's long been a historical, cultural and sporting rivalry between the major metropolises at either end of the East Lancs Road. So you might think that it's a brave rock and roll memorabilia shop that sets up in Manchester under the name of Penny Lane and features the four most famous Liverpudlians on the signage. Inside you'll also find plenty of Manchester music memorabilia plus a wider range of rock acts.

I'm amazed that there is an audience among today's teenagers and 20 somethings for the Beatles and Smiths and their ilk.  My teenagers were keen to be photographed walking over the Abbey Road zebra crossing when we were down in London NW8 over the summer, and it's still a real tourist trap there. (although to me the Abbey Road studios are more about Pink Floyd's recordings there - Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, More, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here). Back north and a young friend' s favourite Manchester night out is at South where Inspiral Carpet's Clint Boon presides over an ultimate night, every Saturday...  

As much as I can enjoy my musical yesterdays it's equally, if not more, important to me to be aware of real, raw, independent music of today and tomorrow, wherever they hail from. The indie shoegazers from Brooklyn called Fieldmouse are up there as a band I champion. As are downtempo Signal Hill from California. Likewise Australians Cloud Controlwho play the Deaf Institute in Manchester on 24 September. See you there?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Looking down on Deco

Don't you just love those elegant curved walls and small window panes of the 1930's office block on the right? Art Deco we salute you! Down near Angel Meadow.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Weekend Reflections: A crime to miss Marple food & drink festival...

A lovely walk last Sunday morning along the Peak Forest Canal staring at Marple- and I took this shot with my phone. I hope to return to Marple's Market Street town centre today (Saturday 14th) for the annual food and drink festival.

I wonder who will win the Samuel Oldknow Pie Competition? It's a competition for amateur cooks to suggest a pie (sweet or savoury) that Samuel might have fed to his apprentices at Bottoms Mill. He was a cotton manufacturer who lived from 1756 to 1828 and who also helped finance the Peak Forest Canal.

Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Skywatch Friday: Rhapsody in blue & weekend with too much to do...

There were plenty of inspirational views from the Peak Forest canal banks last weekend - this one was snapped with my smartphone which gave it an interesting if inaccurate effect of being far more distant than it really was. Bright and crisp mornings like these are alright with me and will ease me from summer into autumn. Click to see this week's other Skywatch posts.

Coming up in the north-west this weekend- there is far too much to see, basically! The annual Ramsbottom Festival is from Friday to Sunday with I Am Kloot headlining, the wonderful Public Service Broadcasting, Twisted Wheel, and blasts from the past such as Richard Hawley and Sinead O’Connor. 

The annual Heritage Open Days run  from 12 to 15 September with free entry to lots of attractions -well known and lesser known- around the UK. Locally there are dozens of options but I have narrowed it down to these which I'd like to get to most of all: 

A tour of BBC Radio Lancashire in Blackburn, the Chorlton Eco Showhome in Chorltonville, Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Cheetham, Little Marton windmill in Blackpool, Carnforth Station Heritage Centre (where Brief Encounter was filmed), Whalley Abbey in Clitheroe and an Art Deco guided walk around Morecambe...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Ekeing out summertime @RosyLeeTeaRooms

Some sultry summer nights last week ensured that the summer of 2013 will be long remembered for good weather. Northern Quarter's Rosy Lee tearooms  (next door to the Tiki Lounge- what a contrast!- both are good) was doing a roaring trade in after work cocktails, beers and wines, all served in very stylish looking glasses. 

A modern tea rooms with a twist including a Georgian and Victorian decor combination. (I think the building may be Georgian). The interior is pretty mind blowing too but I 'll save that for another time- a good excuse for me to return on a dark cold evening. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

ABC Wednesday: "I" is for Dylan Izaak

Welcome to another ABC Wednesday, where the letter "I" is for Dylan Izaak - he has a certain way with his "wonky" paintings. They appear like warped reflections, be they of Manchester's Albert Square (top) or Paris (these were for sale at a gallery on Deansgate).

 Dylan,born in 1971, has also painted striking city-scapes of New York, Venice and London.

"I" is also for my Instagram account, which this summer, in addition to Manchester, has seen me visit places as far apart as Southampton and Liverpool, Buxton Spa and Portobello Rd, Durdle Door and Aberdovey...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Northern nuptials

Passing Manchester Town Hall in the summer months it seems that there is always a bridal party making their confetti-covered way out of the grand entrance. As a keen people-watcher I’ll take any subject matter for my fix, but weddings are always a bonus. While the men are usually in similar sombre attire, the women are always a picture: Brides in white, ivory, purple or red, with the rest of the females in the wedding party parading a range of styles and colour; some of which look great, some you can’t help but feel they were badly advised…  

Although the summer is traditionally when most weddings take place, there is steady nuptial traffic throughout the year, and the thought of getting married- or just attending - on a crisp autumnal day, a frosty winter morn or a pink-blossomed spring afternoon all have intoxicating appeal to me. 

I was wondering how many weddings you get to attend in a lifetime. It depends on how big your family is and how wide your social circle of course, but what would you say is the average? A dozen? 20? 30? And how many of those are first weddings, or second or even third? 

Reception-wise, things can be tricky. Sourcing a venue the right size for a small or large wedding party is the first issue. Last week a friend’s reception was held in a Manchester casino and there is no shortage of options. But even when you have found a venue you want to decorate it in your own style, which is not always easy if you are restricted by gothic columns and chandeliers and aristocratic portraits which don’t fit your theme. Likewise, some hotel rooms can be a little bland, or downright distasteful when it comes to the swirling patterned carpets favoured by many a hotelier. 

Personally I would go for an option of hiring a marquee and giving it your own stylish twist. I may be biased as that’s what my own wedding was held in, but it enabled us to choose a venue that was just the right size for the 80 people attending to be seated, collect their wonderful vegetarian fare provide by award winning French-Moroccan chef Nadine Abensur, and also had room for a dance floor (homemade by us out of panels which later insulated a loft floor) and a small stage to hold a ceilidh band. 

I have no plans to remarry but would point friends and family to the many choices when you hold your wedding, or any function at any time of year come to that- private or corporate- in a marquee. If you are thinking like me, start at C and J Rentals marquee hire. Based here in the north of England since the 1970s they operate nationally at grand venues from Lord’s Cricket Ground to Aintree, but they specialise in more modest family weddings too. It’s amazing what can be done in a marquee: windows and flooring, heating and ovens. They can come equipped with linen and luxury loos too! 

I’ve been fortunate to attend memorable weddings all over the UK. A reception on a barge going along the Leeds-Liverpool canal was unique, with a sobering moment when the water vehicle gave a violent shake, just as mention was made in a speech of a recently departed friend. Stately Homes are always a good wedding venue and I attended two in a week once; one at Arley Hall in Cheshire, the other in the grounds of a former abode of King Henry VIII. Castles, cliff top churches and grand civic buildings have been other romantic settings… Happy days...

Monday, 9 September 2013

Monday Mural: Tumbling toasters @TheToasters

Whether it is paying homage to the screen saver from the 1990s of toasters with wings, I don't know,  but it looks effective and I prefer this mural to the lomo photography one which preceded it. Well done to the street artist team known as The Toasters!

 Linked to Monday Murals.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Weekend reflections: east meets west at The Shack @ShackNQ

The Shack is a new favourite bar of mine, spacious and glamorous in a retro, slightly kitsch, urban way- if that definition makes sense.

Anyway, a nice series of black and white murals includes Ian Brown of the Stone Roses giving the vees, then the Barnsley boy Billy Caspar from the classic Ken Loach film Kes (based on Barry Hines' book A kestrel for a knave) seemingly putting two fingers up across the pond to American icons Madonna and Eastwood...

Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Happy International Cassette Store Day...

Do you realise that today, Saturday 7th September, is the first International Cassette Store Day? There is, of course, a website dedicated to this and I'll be exploring Manchester's many second hand and vintage record stores to see how they are marking the auspicious occasion. Cassette Store Day is on Facebook too.

There is a wonderful review of 50 years of the audio cassette which was launched in its compact form by Philips in 1963. I still have hundreds of them, a combo of home recordings, plus pre-recorded music (mostly 1990s indie, shoegazing and ambient) and classics comedy such as Lake Wobegon, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, John Shuttleworth and the 1950's USA drama with Dana Andrews,  I was a Communist for the FBI.

There is a certain style to them, perhaps in the same way the less-loved and less-long lived 8 track cartridge of the late 1960s and 1970s had, - the compact audio cassette, as it was known, was flexible and enabled you to record your own voice, songs and of course to make mix-tapes. Millions of us would record (i.e. pirate) friends' vinyl collections, which helped spread the word about a band although many an act may have suffered financially as a result...

The e-How website explains that "Cassettes are able to produce a much higher range of frequencies than CDs. While CDs are only able to reproduce frequencies up to about 22 kHz, a cassette can reproduce a dog whistle. Some believe this gives analogue recordings a "fuller" sound."

I liked cassettes when they were in their heyday and still play the odd one today, but portability-wise the mp3 player beats them hands down. Lugging around a box of cassettes to play on your Walkman back in the 1980s was always tough going. You needed a boxful if you were travelling round Europe by train for a few weeks, or even a weekend away...

But I've memories, friendships, relationships and life markers as well as momentous music all wrapped up in cassettes (and likewise vinyl and CDs and audio files), so this evening I'll be drinking a toast to the humble compact audio cassette and stores that stock them.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Manchester Canal Festival- this weekend's "must do" @MCRcanalfest

The annual Manchester Canal Festival takes place in the heart of the city this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Head to the Rochdale Canal in Piccadilly Basin by the Northern Quarter and Brownsfield Mill- entrance on Port St - for great food from Kosmonaut and TAKK, activities for all the family (kids in the afternoons from 2.00-6.00 p.m.), music, art and even a float-in movie (Finding Nemo at 6.00 p.m. on Saturday and Life of Pi at at 8.00 p.m. on Sunday).

Local street artists and illustrators include Emma Reynolds, Barney Ibbotson and Rose Whittingham who will be creating new work at the festival. There's also an after hours party at 2022NQ on the Saturday. Read the festival flyer.

On a more rural note, my latest guest post for Smitten By Britain has just been published Join me over the border in Wales for Visiting Happy Valley, Bearded Lake and Echo Rock.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Rurality blog hop: Sunflower season

September is sunflower season and there's a field of them in Whatcroft, Cheshire, near the Riverside Organic Farm. 

Taking part in Rurality Blog Hop number 30.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

ABC Wednesday "H" is for Horwich hillside hostelry

ABC Wednesday and I have an H" is for a Horwich hillside hostelry.

On Sunday evening I was out near Winter Hill in a pub called The Blundell Arms. It's in the rural village of Horwich just outside Bolton up on a hill. Built in 1741, it used to be a court house and the cellar was once a mortuary. 

Although not an advocate of chains and more into independents, be they shops, bars or cafes, the food here was good- well, the nut Wellington and vegetables that I ate was certainly plentiful and full of flavour. More vegetarian options and a vegan option or two would improve the menu further, along with smaller and healthier portions. 

But no real complaints with food or atmosphere- characterful old wooden beams and quite a stylish renovation job in a nice shade of pale green. Stepping outside, on a clear day there are great views out as far as Blackpool Tower.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Ruby Tuesday: a spiritual posting?

I couldn't resist snapping with my phone as a Hari Krishna or Buddhist devotee passed a post box the other week. The contrast of saffron robes and pillar box red drew me in. It's a poor quality shot but in bright late summer colours... A post for Ruby Tuesday.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Monday Mural: apprentices of the world unite...

I do like the approach of this mural, and its homage to socialist realism. It's set up by Manchester City Council to advertise apprenticeships  Youth of the city unite, you have nothing to lose but your...youth? 

Taking part in Monday Murals.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

City Daily Photo monthly theme day: Pink

A pink mini by The Grand Apartments: a desirable car and an equally desirable building to own a flat in. Taking part in City Daily Photo's monthly theme day, which for September is PinkHere's hoping the last few weeks of this glorious summer keep us all "in the pink"...

(Apologies to fellow bloggers for a lack of visits and comments on your blog lately- I have been out of the country but am now back home in Manchester. I will try and catch up with you all over the next few days).

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