Saturday, 30 November 2013

Weekend Reflections: Mist again (like we did last autumn)

Early morning mist as Daisy the Labrador has an early morning sniff and Wilson the green narrow boat greets another day on the Trent and Mersey Canal. 
See other Weekend Reflections.

Back in the city after a walk, and it's time to go to the Manchester Peace and Craft Fair at the Birch Community Centre on Brighton Grove (11.00- 4.00 p.m). Festive stalls including Nepalese treasures, Palestinian delights, jewelry, art and much more. Stalls from CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign et al, and live music. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Save Barton Moss from the Frackers! @Frack_Off

All power to the Northern Gas Gala! activity which started this week at IGas Energy's fracking site in Salford. Brave people are protesting and taking action against shale gas exploration at Barton Moss though, see the The Northern Gas Gala and updates at Frack Off UK. We will not be conned by the powers-that-be.  

The Northern Gas Gala is a show of community protection against the threat of harm to health and environment posed by the fracking industry. There have been six earthquakes in Texas alone this past week in the vicinity of fracking sites. 

With thanks to the gallant protesters and photographers (some of whose images I have treated and am sharing here for the greater good).

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Skywatch early morning, late autumn

Taken on a country walk on a frosty morning near the River Dane last weekend.  See this week's other Skywatch posts.

A tough winter may lay ahead of us and it certainly seemed that way last Saturday. Heading off to a favourite walking spot of mine in northern Cheshire, the temperature gauge as we set off read -3°C. It felt rather chilly too, crunching through the frost in my battered walking boots, wondering if my thickest lined gloves’ first outing of this late autumn season were going to keep my fingers warm.

The gentle rolling scenery of the Trent and Mersey canal weaving its way from Whatcroft to Middlewich was a pleasant distraction from the cold. The River Dane was gushing away 20 feet downhill to the right of us, cartwheeling in crazy undulating bends when compared to the “Straight ahead boys!” approach of the ancient canal’s builders.  

When the sun came out there was a sheer magical quality hanging in the frozen air; a bright blue sky, frosted leaves and berries, the canal frozen over in places until an occasional narrow boat broke through.  The wildlife was at its best last week as well; pheasants and grouse scurried along the roads and through fields. My highlight of the walk was a kingfisher, in fact we spotted a couple that day. One was always just ahead of us, swooping onto the next overhanging branch from where it could fish, only to be disturbed by us as we caught up 30 seconds later. It may have annoyed the kingfisher but it enabled us to delight at the sight of its vibrant turquoise body as it flitted along a few feet above the water.

I usually warm up halfway through a walk but not last Saturday- it was too cold. A hole in the top of my right walking boot didn’t help- if I walk about 12 miles every weekend and have had the boots 2 years that must be about 1200 miles I have walked in them, so maybe they are a little worn out. Likewise my fleece is not equipped for this kind of weather, nor my gloves really. And a hat that doesn’t look silly but does the trick is something I still yearn for…

Although most of my walks are on the flat Cheshire plains, when I was back in the warm, with a mug of steaming coffee and a peanut butter bagel, I checked out the Craigdon Mountain website. Their wide range of walking gear could suit my needs and for serious mountaineering and skiing friends there is some heavier wearing equipment. You might not catch me in crampons but I soon came up with a useful Christmas lists worth of items. 

So, this year so please can I have a lovely lime green Marmot sling shot jacket, or maybe a pink ice mountain Rosiere jacket; a North Face Messenger bag in red; an Alaska or an Electra beanie; maps and books on Scotland and the Munros would certainly make me want to head northwards too. I also found a few Christmas ideas for some outdoorsy types I know but had better not mention here lest they be read…

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

ABC Wednesday: "T" is for The Toast Rack

Taking part in ABC Wednesday where I'm happy to have some "T" with my toast today.

Down in Fallowfield opposite Platt Fields is this slightly surreal looking education edifice, built between 1958 and 1960.  Called the Hollings Building, quelle surprise, it has always been known to every Mancunian as the Toast Rack. 

Until this summer it belonged to Manchester Metropolitan University. Luckily listed, what will become of it next is yet to be decided. It even has its own dedicated blog which details its final academic year and comes up with plenty other archival and interesting items on the building.

I worked here for a month or so several summers ago, in the Faculty of Food, Clothing and Hospitality Management. It was an intriguing building on the inside as well as out, with the staff offices on the top floor rather small and almost attic like, as the building reached its apex. Another good blog post on it at Nothing To See Here.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Between the tick and the tock of the seasons

A contribution to Ruby Tuesday and Our World Tuesday. Autumn may be here until 22 December but the recent frosts herald the start of that overlapping of seasons, as late autumn meets with early winter. Nature leaves you speechless sometimes... 

It's lovely to be out in the crisp cold but only if you can come back to somewhere warm. Tragically hospitals have seen cases of hypothermia rise by more than a third to 28,000 under the Conservative-Liberal coalition government, who have allowed soaring energy bills from the Big Six Power companies to go unchallenged. Support the Fuel Poverty Action Group.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Monday Mural: Snow season at Spinningfields

A nice vintage style advertisement hoarding at this year's Spinningfields ice rink.
Taking part in this week's Monday Mural.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Inspired Sundays: St. Peter's Church, Ancoats

St Peter’s Church on Blossom Street in Ancoats was built in Italian Romanesque style in 1859 with a capacity of 1,350. The area was later, coincidentally, populated by many Italians and became known as Little Italy. 

It has recently been renovated and is home to the Hallé Orchestra, which itself was founded in Manchester by Sir Charles Hallé - a year earlier in 1858.  

Taking part in the Inspired Sunday meme.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Weekend Reflections: Red brick through the window...

A Chinese Travel agency reflects typical examples of the 19th century red brick grandeur of Princess and Portland Streets in central Manchester.

When I wander around the centre looking up at these Victorian red brick palaces I am often overcome by the richness of the details and the huge financial cost behind them.

More Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Skywatch Friday: Suburban mellow yellow autumn

Occasionally in suburbia your eyes can trick you; to me this could be a forbidden cottage in a forest glade, on a bright autumnal afternoon. Maybe the dark wood theme will hit you more if you listen to the rather manic, spookily sung Time for tea by Emilie Autumn?  I think I prefer Yellow Time by Mostly Autumn. Taking part in Skywatch Friday

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Pink shoes...and 27 things Manchester gave the world

Pink shoes...and pink scarf and pink coat and pink nails. I saw these luminous pink-tipped shoes a mile off and had to try to take a photo. Meanwhile, from the streets of Manchester to 27 excellent things Manchester gave the world. Mostly these are good and groundbreaking but I can only apologise for numbers 1, 9 and 18 -  I'll celebrate the rest.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

ABC Wednesday: "S" is for Strawberry Studios Stockport

Stockport's Strawberry Recording Studios (photo P.Wadsworth)

Although Greater Manchester has sometimes been described as a musical desert from the late 1960s to mid 1970s, one small Stockport building of the time embodied much of the spirit and attitude associated with later generations of Manchester musicians and the development of a Manchester music scene. From 1967 until 1992, Strawberry Studios provided recording facilities for a wide variety of artists from the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, through Neil Sedaka to The Smiths and New Order. Some of pop's greatest moments were created in Stockport - such as 10cc's classic Number 1 single "I'm Not In Love" and one of the greatest albums of all time, Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures".

Peter Wadsworth of the University of Manchester is an expert on what made Strawberry such a success and how its history leads us to a revision of the conventional historical narrative of Manchester music, challenging the notion of a 'musical desert".

There is a dedicated Facebook page for Strawberry too, full of evocative photographs of the studio's heyday. With grateful thanks to Peter Wadsworth for today's post and for his permission to use both photos on today's Mancunian Wave. 

Taking part in ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ruby Tuesday: On your bike, on your boat...

A scene from another lovely walk along the canal near Dutton. A bright sky, colour-changing forest and moored boats all combine to give an uplifting experience. After a stressful week at work clearing the head with a crisp walk can work wonders for the soul...

A contribution to Ruby Tuesday.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Monday Mural: Back to the '60s with Dougal and Twiggy

A late afternoon on Thomas Street where, along with the long shadows, there's currently a 1960's theme going down with these recently painted murals by Lispencie: Dougal from the Magic Roundabout and, perhaps the world's first supermodel, Londoner Lesley Lawson -  better known as Twiggy (now aged 64!). Some of the doves I featured a few weeks back can be seen against the wall in the background on the right. Taking part in this week's Monday Mural.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Inspired Sunday: The Friary in Lancaster

The Friary is, alas, a friary no more but the largest pub in Lancaster. It's a Grade II listed, 18th century converted church on St Leonard's Gate. Taking part in the Inspired Sunday meme.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Weekend Reflections: Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up is the name of the narrow boat moored here on the Trent and Mersey canal at the section which breached a year ago. 

I probably go on about 130 walks in the countryside each year and although many are memorable, some- like this one last Sunday- are absolute gems: when the weather, the scenery, the season, the conversation with my walking companion and the overall mood all come together to make me positively buzz and spark with inspiration and happiness at being in the great outdoors appreciating the local landscape. 

We may not have canyons or mountains in Cheshire but the reclaiming of the canal networks from the industrial past is something to shout about.

Taking part in another round of worldwide Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Cooperative viewing on Angel Square

A treated view of the Co-op HQ and northwards to the hills. The main building to the right on Angel Square was officially opened yesterday  by two 
über wealthy pensioners. It claims, according to various radio reports I heard last night, to be the most environmentally friendly building in the world. A shame that the Co-op Bank is likely to be losing its independence - and possibly its ethical stance too- after all these years...

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Poll Fest at the People's History Museum @PHMMcr #PHMPollFest

Some diverse but solid symbols of Manchester: the green and socialist political movements, the Hacienda and Manchester Central station.

The People’s History Museum in Manchester is holding a politics festival -
 POLLfest. Visitors are invited to join in from Friday 15 to Thursday 21 November to mark Parliament Week with a series of events, activities and unfamiliar goings on to explore this year’s theme of Women in Democracy.

The festival kicks off on Friday 15 November with a special tour of the main galleries celebrating women’s contribution to UK democratic life.

On Saturday 16 November, MP for Manchester Central, Lucy Powell, will give her views on what it’s like to be a female MP in parliament today. In a Q&A with the museum’s Director, Katy Archer, Lucy will chart her journey from joining the Labour Party, to becoming the first ever female Labour MP in Manchester, to taking up her new role as shadow minister for childcare.

Lucy commented: ‘I'm really glad to be taking part in this festival as part of Parliament Week in Manchester. I want to make sure that parliament doesn't seem remote to people and so it's good to have the chance to discuss parliament's work in my constituency and to hear some of the questions which people have. I am very keen to talk to people about politics and I'm pleased to have the chance to talk to people about some of my own experiences.

In the evening, there's
 Pecha Kucha, an informal presentation event where people are invited to talk about politics with a maximum of 20 slides for up to 20 seconds each. This allows for quick, straight to the point presentations which both engage and educate.

 Working Class Movement Library will be holding a Women in Democracy event, highlighting the lack of women MPs which is often a complaint about parliament. With women making up over half of the population it goes that they should make up half of parliament. Visitors can see collections relating to those pioneering women who fought against this inequality, from the first female councillor in Eccles, to the women in the Co-operative movement, explore how women have fought for an equal say.

On Sunday 17 November the funny side of politics is aired in
 Comedy Spectacular! Do Not Adjust Your Stage will improvise scenes and stories inspired by the museum’s story.Gráinne Maguire will be bringing her One Hour All Night Election Special to the museum. Gráinne condenses all the fun of staying up late to watch democracy in process. Expect needlessly complicated graphics, politicians dancing awkwardly and humiliated grown ups trying not to cry in public. There will be Swingometers…

Throughout the festival groups can book guided tours, Living History workshops or pARTicipate sessions to find out more about the history of democracy in the UK. The festival is suitable for young people and adults and The Left Bank cafe bar will be offering 15% off to all visitors attending any of the events. See you there!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

ABC Wednesday "R" is for Rehearsals, Research & RNCM new Concert Hall

Mancunian Wave is taking part in this week's ABC Wednesday meme, where "R" is for the above rehearsal at The Royal Northern College of Music. 

The RNCM is raising funds for a new Concert Hall to update the one that has been in place since the building opened 40 years ago. Alison Balsom, international mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, Professor Brian Cox and Classic FM's John Suchet are among the supporters of Your RNCM; a £3 million campaign to transform the RNCM’s Concert Hall into a state-of-the-art venue.

As well as being a conservatoire (i.e. a college for the study of music) RNCM is a research institution and an arts centre, with music of all genres researched into and performed here; classical (and all that entails), new music, electronica, World, folk, rock, pop, jazz, opera... The events speak for themselves. 

The RNCM is at the very heart of the heady cultural mix that makes Manchester such a dynamic and vibrant city. It is one of my favourite places in town to enjoy great music and mix with fellow music lovers and students in a landmark venue that will only be improved by the renovation programme. I look forward to spending many more exciting evenings in the transformed RNCM Concert Hall.’             - Stuart Maconie, BBC and a Campaign Champion.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Too early for the "C" word... @mcrsanta

Guess who I stumbled upon, looking all forlorn and in pieces, back on 30 October? Horribly and annoyingly early, Manchester's Zippy Father Christmas was about to be assembled and hoisted into  place for the lights switch-on last Friday (8th November). It's far too early for anyone to feel remotely festive, but on this isle of poverty and inequality perhaps we all need any excuse to have fun?...  Ready or not, the many city centre Manchester Christmas Markets commence this Friday and will run for six weeks. Rest assured that I will hold off until December to go- and to blog about them.

Meanwhile, my monthly guest post for Smitten by Britain takes us to medieval Newark in Notts.

A post for the Ruby Tuesday Too meme.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Monday Mural: blank spaces on Stevenson Square!

Last week while passing Stevenson Square I noticed the summer murals had finally all been painted over in white. Potentially there are a dozen available spaces, so we now eagerly await the next round of murals to adorn them. Will there be a wintry theme like this time last year or the year before, 2011?

I like the way that some green Northern Quarter resident has reclaimed the top space here and cleverly built a little wild flower garden on top of the wall that, once upon a time, was the ceiling of an underground public convenience! 

Don't worry, I haven't run out of Manchester murals and am still taking part in the Monday Mural meme at the Oakland Daily Photo blog.  I simply wanted to share a photo of this creative space in transition. Watch this space!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

GW Bonson's heated store rooms extraordinaire...

Godfrey William Bonson (1858-1932) moved to Altrincham as a child. He worked for Gillows (a famous Lancaster cabinet firm) and Kendal and Milne Department Store (Kendal's on Deansgate) before starting a business in carpet beating aged just 23. He later took over a relation's firm too. Godfrey was by trade a cabinet maker, upholsterer and house furnisher and his business mechanically beat carpets and doubled up as a storage space. With thanks to the Bonson Family History webpages.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Weekend Reflections: Trouble on the tram tracks @metrolinkFAILS

Taking part in Weekend Reflections.  Rant alert... The first frost of autumn came on the 3rd November and no trams ran on the entire network (the same thing happened in 2011 according to this week’s Manchester Evening News). On one memorable early morn October adventure it took me 75 minutes on a tram from Altrincham to get to the city (instead of 20 minutes). At least you can apply for a refund when such failings occur.

There seem to be regular breakdowns despite new stock and track and point issues. There have been weekend replacement buses since the summer and these seem to still be going, well into autumn.  Why? 

Do the Metrolink/Transport for Greater Manchester head honchos use the system themselves I wonder? I feel for the staff on the front line who have to deal with an irate public. I hope that Metrolink directors all have regular stints as part of these teams to deal with the flak in person (unlikely I suspect?).

Metrolink's not much more than a clockwork railway really and other underground and tram systems seem to run more smoothly despite worse weather and/or higher passenger volume: Stockholm and Moscow (severe winters), London (270 tube stations) New York (450 subway stations), Chicago etc. My experiences in these cities are that their networks don't crawl to a halt or are overcrowded every time the temperature drops to 0°C, or when there is a small festival in town or a solitary football match on ;-)

Every weekday at the rush hour peak of 5.30 there is a tram driver shift change at Old Trafford station- A driver has to leave his cab, squeeze through the packed trams to get out and a replacement driver clocks on- the drivers themselves apologise for the shift change being at “such a stupid time” A little tweaking here wouldn’t go amiss?

I know that compared to some North American cities and Third World countries we are lucky to even have a half decent public transport system, but even so...

A possible acrostic for Metrolink?:


Friday, 8 November 2013

Skywatch Friday: November nights by the cut...

A November night down at Castlefield with the lovely Italianate Congregational Chapel (1858) on the right and (to the right) an equally old arching bridge over the Rochdale Canal. The blue-lit trees are there all year round and always add to the atmosphere of one of my favourite parts of the city. See this week's other Skywatch Friday posts.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

It's autumn o'clock and all's well

Early morning on the Bridgewater Canal near Moore- misty and sunny, with no-one around- so the perfect time for a walk in my view. A narrow boat with no name's chimney smokes merrily away, and all's right with the world...well, this little part of it anyway...

Taking part in Rurality bloghop.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

"Q" for is quality & quantity, Steve Hackett's unquiet slumbers #SteveHackett

Photos by Robin Berney, with thanks 

Queuing up to celebrate the letter "q" on this week's
ABC Wednesday.

Words can’t adequately describe the brilliance of the Steve Hackett gig at Manchester's Art Deco Apollo the other week; from the theatre-vibrating bass pedals on the opening number of Dance of a Volcano, through a myriad of magical moods and songs, I realised that never mind that old “Gabriel-era Genesis versus the post-Gabriel era” debate, it is in fact the Steve Hackett-era Genesis that is the most remarkable to me. 

Those six studio albums from Nursery Cryme to Wind and Wuthering created classic pieces that still hold their own 40 years later. Thank you Mr Hackett and his fabulous band, and well done to the Prog Mill show on Stafford Radio, celebrating 100 editions last Sunday. Here’s to many more of both…

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Fireworks on Guy Fawkes Street, Ordsall Hall #GuyFawkes

Ordsall Hall in Salford is where Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and their merry men came up with an audacious plan to blow up London’s Houses of Parliament, in the gunpowder plot back in 1605. Guy Fawkes et al may have been considered villains by many back then, and even to this day, and it’s not surprising there is only one street in the country named after any of them (AFAIK). Guy Fawkes Street runs down one side of Ordsall Hall which is itself an incongruous gem in a maze of somewhat mismatched housing stock which has developed in recent decades in the area.

My book for this week has to be the 1841 novel Guy Fawkes or The Gunpowder Treason by 19th century Mancunian author Harrison Ainsworth, who inspired Charles Dickens, among others.

I can’t condone violence but certainly many in the UK would agree that today’s Parliament has long needed plotting against or an overthrow of some kind... 
 Enjoy the fireworks tonight folks  - I'm off to the always awesome displays at Bowdon cricket club.

Taking part in Our World Tuesday.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Monday Mural: The Salutation

The Salutation pub has undergone many changes over the years- but it's still a favoured watering hole of many an academic and whatever it's future may be, these murals in the yard always make me feel I may have had one too many...

 Linked to Monday Mural

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bollin Valley Way, way to go

Last Sunday morning , a gentle 90 minute stroll on the TransPeninne Way along the Bollin Valley Way section, with the trees providing a natural tunnel effect.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Weekend Reflections: Start ups under the arches on Alty Street

There have been many university start-up companies and spin-off businesses over the years, many of who are housed here in the arches along Altrincham Street near Piccadilly station. Whether or not they all bask in reflected glory I do not know, but in a sometimes rather wet week, it was nice to see sunshine in their windows as I walked past the other afternoon. Taking part in Weekend Reflections

Friday, 1 November 2013

City Daily Photo Theme Day: Heights

A couple of weekends ago, ascending over Cheshire countryside from Manchester to Newquay Airport ... and high enough for City Daily Photo's November theme day of Heights

As ever I was feeling terribly guilty about flying, but proof that we live in a mad world is illustrated by the fact that a train fare for Manchester to Cornwall (320 miles) costs twice as much as a flight and would have taken me 8+ hours rather than door-to-door in three+ hours. 

In a sane world we would not be forced to work the hours that we do and everyone could have more leisure time, in which case I would take a coach or a series of cheaper train journeys to the south-west, visiting friends and places along the way. Using valuable annual leave would not be such an issue. Oh for the overthrow of the capitalist system we live under, and a replacement with the green utopia that I desire!

I was visiting family but managed to walk some wonderful Cornish coastline too, so here's a bonus non-Mancunian photo with a height theme, which I took on the cliffs at Tintagel.

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