Thursday, 31 October 2013

All Hallows' Eve, Ordsall's October #OrdsallHall #Salford

The amazing medieval Ordsall Hall, which Salford councillors wanted to demolish in 1959 but thankfully were prevented from doing so (unlike the famous Salford Quays landmark of the blue cranes which were pulled down by cultural vandals, I mean under the council's jurisdiction, last weekend). Ordsall Hall supposedly has a ghost, unsurprisingly with its hundreds of years of history, and even a ghost cam. Watch out tonight....

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

ABC Wednesdays: "P" is for playing Pompeii, BΔSTILLE

Photo by Holly S-B

This week ABC Wednesday is at "P"...

Bastille (BΔSTILLE) played the Academy last week and a long queue of fans snaked along Oxford Road and down side streets as they waited to get to see their all-conquering heroes. The set list is here.

Any band that names itself after a French prison and its revolutionary connotations is maybe going to be a cut above your average rock band, and the track Pompeii underlines this. It’s from their 2013 Bad Blood album, which currently holds the record for the longest time at number one on the UK's Official Streaming Chart, remaining at the peak for seven weeks.  A rather meaningless statistic perhaps; if you like something then you should like it regardless of what the masses think or are told what to think...

Pompeii is about how the citizens of that tragic town must have reacted and felt as Vesuvius erupted. Another Pompeii with a credible music connection is the Pink Floyd at Pompeii film which is worth 90 minutes of anyone’s time.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ruby Tuesday: Green and red in the suburbs

A walk in the suburbs around Hale and as well as some extravagant houses there are many natural delights such as these contrasting leaves. Linked to the Ruby Tuesday blog.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Monday Mural: Trust your struggle on Houldsworth St

The Trust Your Struggle Collective is an artistic grouping of visual artists, educators, and cultural workers including Mister Bouncer and Shaun Burner. Since 2003 they have been based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City (lucky things!) but have ventured as far eastwards as here in north-west England. I also featured their commissioned work on a Cornerhouse wall, (which I think has sadly now gone) back in April.

Linked to Monday Mural, itself coming to you from the San Francisco Bay Area, in Oakland.

Posting a photo of this mural in the northern reaches of the Northern Quarter seemed somehow suitably slightly spooky for Halloween week. It’s a thought-provoking mural. I also like the reuse of the wall, breathing new life into the space where windows once were but are now bricked up and painted.

A great name too, and I will take that on board as a personal mantra- People around the world, trust your struggle!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Weekend Reflections on a Shudehill crown

The functional modernity of the Crowne Plaza hotel reflects a typically Mancunian early 20th century red brick palace on Shudehill. Taking part in Weekend Reflections

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A touch of autumn

Autumn creeps up on the city at Hardman Square. Meanwhile across the city I'm off to see Steve Hackett with some unquiet slumbers for the sleepers at the Apollo tonight and then tomorrow it's down to Victoria Baths for the Vintage Home Show- can't wait. Hopefully a Saturday and Sunday walk in the country too, weather permitting... Have a good weekend everyone.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Skywatch Friday: Autumn oases in the city

As the colours of autumn reach their zenith, it's enchanting to discover little pockets of Manchester with trees in breathtaking colours. My lunchtime walk around the old UMIST campus yesterday was a beautiful experience; a backdrop of blue sky and solid scientific research buildings with a display of nature changing its colours almost before your very eyes... Check out this week's other Skywatch Friday posts.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A squash in the vegetable patch...

This weekend we’re cooking our home grown squash, or pumpkin. It was given to me as a seedling by my friend Rachel on my birthday in late May, and has grown well these past five months in our vegetable patch, producing one small fruit and this large beauty. 

It grew rapidly in late August and we all stood around thinking how it looked impressive in size but wondering when it would ripen to that famous pumpkin orange colour. Doh!-spot the city folk. Turns out it is a Crown Prince (Cucurbita maxima) squash, which is this blue-green colour and one of the best tasting varieties, so the experts say. We shall see-the proof of the pumpkin is in the eating…

With the wonderful sunshine we had in the north-west all summer long and well into autumn, it needed a fair amount of watering. It’s not always easy when you are away to ensure this happens- I know of people who have fallen out big-style with neighbours who forgot to water their beloved pot plants or vegetable patch.

I’m thinking of investing in an automatic water timer or similar garden gadgetry for the veg patch next summer. It’s amazing how high-tech gardening can be, if you want it to, with such watering systems. 

Allotments used to be the preserve of the older man and woman but seem to have become more in demand in recent years as we all turn to growing our own fruit and veg, and baking artisan loaves of bread and cupcakes in the kitchen too. It’s the Great British Bake-Off effect coupled with the recession and a natural urge to return to our organic roots, shopping locally and being community-focused. Cheaper and healthier lifestyles away from the chemically treated supermarkets' produce are the only way to go.

Other items to go on my Christmas list from the Easy Watering website include a water butt (no need to wrap it up for me!) and a
 wild bird feeder and watering station. Maybe I can get Santa to dig over my garden and the reindeer manure might encourage my crops next year… This year’s success stories from the vegetable patch include autumn raspberries, broad beans, beetroots and lettuces but the crown prince squash takes the top prize.

Today I'm linking from here in the"Atlantic North-West" with the Pacific North-West at Rurality blog hop.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

ABC Wednesday: "O" is for olden but golden #Camel

ABC Wednesday reaches the letter "O"...

It's not every day that one of the greatest bands of last century play a gig 30 metres (30 yards) from your office door. But Monday was one such night as Camel returned to Manchester for the first time since 1984, to play at the RNCM. 

In a two-part set just short of 3 hours, it was an epic occasion -the gig sold out months ago- so I was delighted to have got a ticket, albeit a last minute return. I'd never seen them before but have been a fan since the early 1980s.

The first set consisted of the wonderful 1975 instrumental album Flight of the snow goose, based on the Paul Gallico short story. Andrew Latimer (guitar, vocals), Colin Bass (bass, vocals, guitar), Denis Clement (drums), Guy LeBlanc and Jason Hart (both keyboards) spent the next part of the evening delving into the band's long and rich repertoire including Mystic queen, the amazing Song within a song, Lady Fantasy, Wait/Your love is stranger than mine, The hour candle a song for my father, Echoes, Fox Hill...

The full set list is here and even has links to YouTube versions of the songs- Wonderful!

The track One of these days I'll get an early night from Rain Dances, Moonmadness, Nude (1981, based on a true story of an isolated Japanese soldier who didn't realise World War II had ended) and Stationary Traveller (1984, set in East and West Berlin) are all tracks and albums I would particularly recommend. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ruby Tuesday: Flu & you

For the over 65s and those at risk it's the time of year to get a flu jab. I like the 1950s style cartoons used in the national  Flu & You health promotion- a clever move to get people of a certain age to partake perhaps? Linked to the Ruby Tuesday blog.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Monday Mural: Doves up the wall

Chequered birds take a long break in the sunshine on a Northern Quarter wall... Taking part in Monday Mural.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Gothic Manchester Festival @gothicmmu

Worsley Courthouse, Salford was built in 1849 for Francis Egerton but is not on the list of local haunted hotpots, yet. I know it's more mock Tudor than Gothic but despite it now being a wedding venue it always looks a little sinister and ghostly to me...

Manchester’s Centre for Gothic Studies opens this month. To mark this there are a series of events and activities from the dark side this week:

"There will be readings from Gothic writers, a ghost hunt at haunted Ordsall Hall, a tour of Monstrous Manchester, tours of architectural hotspots like the John Rylands library and the Town Hall, a lamp-lit walk through the Gothic highlights of the Manchester Art Gallery, creative writing workshops, a double-bill of horror at Cornerhouse and a series of academic papers and symposia. Manchester is teeming with gothic architecture, goth bands, gothic events and gothic experts, and has even been the setting of horror films such as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Jorge Grau, 1974). "

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Reflecting at Dimitris

Evening outside Dimitri's on Deansgate, looking into one of my favourite bars. The blue and white striped canopy is similar to the Greek flag and reflects in the window here. Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Skywatch: St James' building

This week's Skywatch Friday posts. The St. James' building is 101 years old. This beautiful edifice has stood the test of time, where Oxford Street merges with Oxford Road.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Woodside in Worsley

The Woodside Pub was originally a 19th century family home owned by a local colliery owner. Later in its life it was owned by a school teacher. It's now an enticing pub with a good atmosphere, decent food and friendly staff.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

ABC Wednesday: "N" is for Nobel prizes, graphene scales the heights...

ABC Wednesday reaches the letter "N", which I am using to illustrate the Nobel Prizes (which were announced last week) and a past local winner- Novoselov. 

Manchester University has a long history in breaking scientific and technological boundaries. In a space of a few hundred yards and over 90 years or so, Ernest Rutherford split the atom and won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1917), Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams designed the world's first stored-programme computer (the Small-Scale Experimental Machine in 1948) and Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov discovered graphene (in 2003), winning a Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 in the process. The workers above are on a crane building the Graphene Centre, built upon the noble Nobel efforts of Geim and Novoselov.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Who's looking down at the BBC? #DrWho

Night falls over the BBC at Media City, while Dr Who looks down benevolently  He will be smiling too at the news last week that some copies of several missing 1960's episodes of Doctor Who have been found in a TV station in Nigeria and will soon be available as DVDs. Taking part in Our World Tuesday.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Monday Mural: Blossom St. heritage

This new (?) mural on Blossom Street in Ancoats reflects the local heritage of Little Italy, the Rochdale Canal and St Peter's church (the latter is in both the mural and the background). The Hallé Orchestra play there during the day today as part of the Manchester Literature Festival's "There's a rumble in the jungle". Taking part in Monday Mural. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Sunny Sunday sees Salford sail on by

The enthusiasm for water sports continues unabated down at Salford Quays with swimming, sailing and wakeboarding, whatever the weather. Today, here at Salford Watersports Centre and Salford Wake Park there is a national wakeboarders' competition.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Weekend Reflections: Cubism on the Canal

A very non-traditional but rather arresting design on this narrow boat at Castlefield Basin. Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Skywatch Friday: To Err(wood) is forgive (water) divine

A view from a fantastic walk in east Cheshire's Goyt Valley. The Errwood reservoir was constructed in the 1960s for Stockport's water supply.  Have a look at other Skywatch Friday posts around the world.

Talking of water, interesting background information has been unearthed about how Manchester unjustly got its rainy city epithet...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

A day out to Lancaster Castle

An hour’s drive from Manchester is the ancient and lovely city of Lancaster. The wonderful castle overlooking the River Lune dates back to around the 12th century with the keep being the oldest part.

It’s difficult to document hundreds of years and tears of history in a single blog post, but some of the momentous events here included Scottish invasions in 1322 and 1389. When Henry, Duke of Lancaster ascended the throne as King Henry IV in 1399, he began adding the monumental gatehouse to show off his new found wealth and powers.

Skipping a couple of centuries, the notorious Pendle witches trial took place at Lancaster Castle in 1612. For fuller details of the past visit the official castle website.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

ABC Wednesday: "M" is for mayday mooring, that sinking feeling

ABC Wednesday reaches the letter M. Down at Castlefield Basin a once proud vessel needs to put out a Mayday distress signal (from the French "m'aider" = help me!). I have a feeling this boat was abandoned months ago and was moored a few hundred yards from here, with a squatter on board. Someone needs to take some action  methinks...

My latest guest post for Smitten by Britain is now live - Dolgoch Falls: ever green, ever gushing. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ruby Tuesday: Ivy of suburbia

Green grows the ivy until, as if bled, it turns red. Taking part in Ruby Tuesday.

A better Autumn poem is A Vagabond Song by Canadian Bliss Carman (1861 –1929)

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood— 
Touch of manner, hint of mood; 
And my heart is like a rhyme, 
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time. 

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry 
Of bugles going by. 
And my lonely spirit thrills 
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills. 

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir; 
We must rise and follow her, 
When from every hill of flame 
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Monday Mural: Green not greed @mcrgreenparty

Taking part in Monday MuralCartoon characters always make for a striking looking mural and the Incredible Hulk has spent the summer hanging out here on Stevenson Square. Last week he was joined, aptly enough by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and various Manchester Greens, as part of getting our message across during the Tory Party Conference which was taking place the other side of this great city of Cottonopolis.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sunday Bridges: a 12 penny ride on Warburton Bridge

Travelling over Warburton Bridge last Sunday with the sun setting over the Manchester Ship Canal. Not a bad little trip across the toll bridge for a fee of 12p each way or 25p for a day ticket! The privately-owned bridge is about 115 years old.

The fee was increased from 10p to 12p in 2007. At the time Lymm parish councillor June Gittins called for the repeal of a 19th century law that enables the Manchester Ship Canal Company, which owns the bridge and the private Warburton Bridge Road, to charge a toll.

Taking art with the Sunday Bridges meme focusing on the mother of all bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which I was ecstatic to drive across last April. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Manchester Food and Drink Festival: 3 of the best @MFDF13

My favourite three stalls at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival have been Churros and chocolate- which is batter covered in sugar and cinnamon and dipped in melted chocolate (vegans catered for); Vegetarian street food, as approved by the Vegetarian Society; and Chaophrayra, from the wonderful Thai restaurant on Chapel Walks.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Skywatch Friday: small county, big sky

An amazing sky awaited us at 8 a.m out in the borough of Vale Royal last weekend. I appreciated it on a lovely walk in the Cheshire countryside, but it was far too good to keep to myself- so here it is for Skywatch Friday!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Rurality blog hop. Festina Lente

Late afternoon on the Bridgewater canal at Little Bollington (not to be confused with Bollington on the Macclesfield Canal). I never seem to tire of narrow boat photos- sorry 'bout that folks! Here we have the good boat Festina Lente: a classical Latin adage and oxymoron meaning "make haste slowly" or "more haste, less speed". 

Taking part in the weekly Rurality blog hop, based over in the U.S Pacific North-West.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

ABC Wednesday: "L" is for Lancashire's last colliery, Astley Green

ABC Wednesday and an "L" for the last colliery in Lancashire. 

The Astley Green Colliery is situated 3 miles east of Leigh and 8 miles west of Manchester. It opened in 1910 and closed in 1970 and has been preserved as a fascinating little museum. This is run and maintained on behalf of the community by the Red Rose Steam Society Limited, a registered charity based in Lancashire. 

To see the dreadful and dangerous conditions that so many miners endured is a very moving experience that I recommend to everyone. It certainly makes you feel humble and grateful. A good read on Astley Green Colliery by JG Isherwood (1990).

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

City Daily Photo Theme Day-"Details". Tory boys v eco warriors

I'd got a shot all lined up for City Daily Photo's Details theme today but then I passed the Tory Party Conference in Manchester city centre on the way home last night, and decided I should instead treat you to some topical details from that.

So here we have some Conservative suits of Britain, and some heroic protesters at the gates... There were 50,000 of the latter who attended the demo on Sunday.

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