Wednesday, 31 December 2014

ABC Wednesday: "Y" is for Purl City Yarns @Purlcityyarns

Purl City Yarns at 62 Port Street are more than a knitwear shop. They run workshops and classes, such as knit and natter groups and movie nights. Hey, they even write a blog too. 

I'm linking up on this New Year's Eve with other "Y"s and wherefores.. to ABC WednesdayHave a good New Year's Eve, whatever you choose to do!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

End of year at Allotment @AllotmentBar

Allotment in the NQ opened last summer and is a spacious bar and restaurant with a rustic but cool edge. From their themed website to the shabby chic benches and tables, it looks the part. I ate here on Saturday and the food quality was high, portion sizes were just right to generous, the presentation stylish and the crockery nicely vintage. I was disappointed, of course, to see few vegetarian options though and no vegan meals at all. I;'d like to see that fixed on the menus, at the expense of some of the meat-heavy cruelty options, and then I would happily eat drink and be merry here throughout 2015.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Weekend Reflections: Snow play and a good read...

Taking part in Weekend Reflections. Yesterday, on the third day of Christmas, we were sent 3 cm (maybe more) of snow. Time for a morning walk at Dunham Forest golf and country club. It turned into a magical stroll as the sun rose between the bare trees.

It was a lovely day all round as after this I headed into town to meet a friend for lunch at Northern Quarter’s rustic and enjoyable Allotment restaurant and bar. Then home for family cocktails.

My lunchtime companion, Miriam, is one of two friends that have had fiction published in 2014. Her gripping short story, Frontiers was published in October by The Pankhearst Singles Club. I recommend it. The other published friend, who I enjoyed a curry with earlier in the month at East z East, is Steve Guariento. His sci-fi novel Incarnadine is a book promised myself I would read over this Christmas holiday. I need to find a warm, quiet corner and get started on it!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Snow at dusk yesterday...

Snow fell here yesterday early evening, the first proper snow fall for two years in Altrincham I think. Not much snow gets here as it, like much of Manchester is low lying. This area is 30 to 60 metres above sea level, unlike the hillier outermost regions of Greater Manchester and beyond, such as Oldham at 213 metres, Alderley Edge at 215metres  or Snake Pass at 510 metres.  It looked lovely, and hopefully as you read this I am out walking in it on Saturday daytime...

Friday, 26 December 2014

Skywatch Friday: St Stephen's stroll in the country

A bracing walk in the countryside is the order of the day... Saint Stephen, fresh from all that feasting, would surely have approved. By the Bridgewater Canal near Dunham Town. My Boxing Day contribution to Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas from Mancunian Wave

Thanks to Holly Sutton-Brand for this great image of Manchester Town Hall, taken at the Albert Square Christmas lights switch-on back on 7 November, but which seems appropriate for today. 

Merry Christmas - may yours be peaceful, happy and cruelty-free!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Old School festive in Dunham Town

The Old School in Dunham Town, looking subtly festive with wreath and matching plants. The sign above the door reads: "This school was erected in 1759 for the benefit of the township of Dunham Massey according to the will of Thomas Walton Gent."

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The last Cornerhouse Christmas #SaveCHBuildings

This is the last Christmas that the Cornerhouse will be in in its present buildings before the Spring move to Albion Street. We had a nice works meal and drink in the first floor cafe bar last week. I love their wooden tree- trust an arthouse cinema and gallery to be stylish. In the main screen building It's A Wonderful Life and Northern Soul are being advertised. It's the last day today before they close for the festive break.

Taking part in Our World Tuesday. 

Meanwhile the capitalist vultures are circling to demolish this 1900 building and throw up another soulless glass and steel office/hotel block. Please get involved with Save the Cornerhouse building campaign.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Monday Mural: Print and Paste mountains

Here’s a wonderful winter poster on the Print and Paste space. It reminds me of those 1930s / 1950s winter tourism and ski adverts, only without the text. I think it is the work of @Heystudio in Barcelona thanks to  @m_onestudios. It was put up in early November but I have been saving it for this last Monday Mural before Christmas.  The current poster is of The A Team's Mr T as Santa, which is not an image that does anything for me.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Manchester Carols

Manchester Cathedral is a good place to head for some carol services all this week...Originally a medieval church the Victorians did their typical renovation work on it and turned it into a Perpendicular Gothic edifice.

Talking of festive singing, the Manchester Carols are a collection of carols linked together to reshape and modernise the Christmas story. Composer Sasha Johnson Manning and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy were the team behind them, and the latter writes: 
"These carols were written in Manchester in 2007 and first performed by children from several Manchester schools at The Royal Northern College of Music (and again in 2008). All of us who worked on them – librettist, composer, artist, conductor, teachers, musicians and singers – live and work in that great city. And so these are, and will forever be, The Manchester Carols."

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Weekend Reflections: Greengate Square fountain

Greengate Square's dancing fountains in winter colours look pretty but not inviting on these cold days. Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Skywatch Friday: Misty Manchester morn

Last Saturday morning I awoke and saw what I thought was low cloud on my 8th floor balcony; it was actually fog all the way down to ground level. I wandered through a muffled sounding and quiet city centre in the early morning to see the sun rise over frosty fields in Cheshire by the time I was on a London-bound train. It turned out to be one of those blue sky, crisp days that we had so few of in autumn but which I hope to see plenty of now that we are about to head into winter. My contribution to Skywatch Friday.

P.S Don't be fooled by the Royal Exchange clock, which hasn't worked for several years. It is poetically stuck at midnight (or noon) ...

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Ice rink repeats... @Spinningfields

I make no excuses for my annual photo of visits to the ice rink at Spinningfields- it sums up the season so well in my eyes. Here too are links to my blog photos of it from the three Decembers past, in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

ABC Wednesday: "W" is for the Wheel

Today's photo is taken by Tim Sutton-Brand from the summit of the Manchester Wheel, with "W" being this week's ABC Wednesday  letter of choice.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Familiar faces

Some Christmas markets return year after year to the same spot- this lampshade and wood carvings seller on Albert Square always provides an attractive display. The markets end their 5 week run on Sunday, so the countdown has begun for the 300+stalls before they pack their wagons and head homewards, to locations from Lancashire to Lapponia.

Taking part in Our World Tuesday - take a coffee break glimpse at places all over the world today.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Monday Mural: Penguin Parade

You've got to smile at this mural on Tib Street by Pete McKee. I showed the other side on 24 November. Composition-wise I liked the way they seem to be about to surround the unsuspecting man on his phone. Taking part in the wonderful Monday Mural meme, sharing innovative street art around the world. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Castlefield 'Off the High Street' Christmas Market

A weekend Christmas market worth visiting is the Off The High Street one in Campfield Arcade at Castlefield. Some great photography for sake along with, craftwork, vintage items from around the world - and a big refreshments bar. It'll be less crowded than the Christmas Markets elsewhere in the city centre- where masses flock at weekends.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Weekend Reflections: Bridgewater Hall this autumn

The Midland Hotel reflects in the entrance of The Bridgewater Hall from a few weeks ago. (although it is still autumn for another week!) Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Skywatch Friday: Chapel Steet dusk

Looking down Chapel Street at this time of year can be gloomy- as can be everywhere in the northern hemisphere with days that rarely, barely rise above a dusk grey light. There are blue skies as I post this though, which lifts the spirits. What else is at Skywatch Friday?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cheese and whine at Monroe's this Christmas

While much of the city centre and suburbs go for tasteful and stylish decorations, there's something reassuringly old school, if a little cheesy, about Monroe's pub and hotel on London Road. 

The pub has had a tough couple of years, with the demolition of the iconic Twisted Wheel club (home to Northern Soul) next door and then being dwarfed by the inconsiderate construction of yet another hideous, out of character, unwanted by most of us mega hotel all around it. Time to boycott the 330 room German budget hotel... There's a depressing video here.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

ABC Wednesday: "V" is for vintage Photomaton booth

ABC Wednesday veers towards the letter "V". In a corner of Fred Aldous' arts, craft and creativity mega shop, stands this late 1960s (?) vintage "photo-me" booth. It cost  2/- (two shillings = 10p) for the classic strip of black and white passport type photos. These were a hi-tech novelty for those of us who remember the 1970s... 

There is actually a modern booth elsewhere in the shop although nothing beats a bit of vintage! Oh, and the cows?- well, who knows (moo knows?) - it's all part of the three floors of the quirky Fred Aldous wonderland on Stevenson Square.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

M&B Braithwaite Bicycles saddles up for the last time

Maurice Braithwaite has retired and sold the family firm of M&B Braithwaite Bicycles on Stamford Road. Families have happily shopped here and had bike repairs carried out since 1947 - it's a lovely, friendly little corner shop. 

Hopefully the new owners will keep it going. It's the kind of place everyone should be buying their Christmas presents from, not high street chains and multinationals that bleed the little shop keepers dry. Read the full story here.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Monday Mural: Seven Miles Out

This week's contribution to a Monday Mural is taken at the Seven Miles Out cafe: a cool creative social space in Stockport. I went there for the first time last month when attending a Sunday market. The award-winning Vintage Village market is just across the way from here on 14th December- I'll see you on Sunday!

The mural includes the Bard of Timperley Frank Sidebottom with Little Frank, plus part of the famous Stockport viaduct. I'm unsure as to what the other images represent. Would any Stopfordians care to enlighten me?

"The name Seven Miles Out itself has a direct link to Manchester, in that we are just seven miles out of one of the greatest cities in the world. Seven Miles Out was also the name of one of Stockport’s lost cultural landmarks, a boutique emporium in the 1960s situated on Wellington Road South, near where the Hatworks currently is now.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Power to the people! #TuitionFees

“What do we want? Free education. When do we want it? Now!”

Apologies for quality of the phone snap but no apologies for the banner's content. A strong message was shouted out by university students in Manchester on Wednesday protesting at having to suffer for four years, since the outrageous charge of £9,000 per year tuition fees was introduced. Since the Tory and so-called “Liberal Democrat” government entered power in 2010, they have ripped the heart out of society, preying on anyone who is vulnerable or disadvantaged.

Free university education used to be a basic right in the UK, funded by the taxpayers. Taxes remain the same and yet students are charged. Students used to receive grants, then they were abolished. They have to take out loans to get them through their education. So with say £6K a year loans and £9K a year tuition fees a tree year degree can lead to a student being £45K in debt when they start their first job. Don't tell me that this (Dis)United Kingdom is at all civilised or fair...

Nick Clegg MP famously reneged on his promise to oppose tuition fees once he became Deputy PM; as a result he could well be voted out of his Sheffield constituency by the large student population next May.

The Green Party seem to be the only mainstream party to oppose these tuition fees. Labour would merely reduce then to £6000. Oh that we lived in a true democratic system (not a first past the post voting system) like Finland and Sweden where the Green Party is part of their coalition governments.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Ducking the issue, #MeatIsStillMurder

One of the many beautiful ducks on the mereside at Marbury Country Park on a walk last Friday. I fear that the sound of slaughterhouses up and down the country are echoing to the cries of millions of turkeys, geese and ducks being massacred as I type. I was pleased to see pavement slogan street art earlier this year neat the Palace theater with the hashtag  #MeatIsStillMurder , from PETA .

It's so easy to be vegan or veggie at any time of year but festive recipes can be found at their society websites here (vegan) and here (veggie/vegan)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Skywatch Friday: Leicester Road sundown

Walking around suburbia at dusk at this time of year gives plenty of photo opportunities: the setting sun and silhouetted bare trees give a glow to even the most ordinary of streets, although Leicester Road is far from ordinary, with its huge 19th Century family homes. My contribution to Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Window on Dutton Locks

A walk by the River Weaver where the waterside cottages always have a certain something photogenic about them. The lock keepers used to live in these when Dutton Locks were built in 1874. The locks were built at a time when Cheshire's thriving salt industry was at its peak and boats transported salt from Northwich to Liverpool, from where they went on to the world.

Taking part in this week's Thursday Challenge topic of "minimal", at the Spun WIth Tears website.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

ABC Wednesday: "U" is for upcycling (ii)

26 weeks ok I gave you a "U" for upcycling for an ABC Wednesday post. Six months later here's a recent little project of mine. I wanted some 1950s atomic style fabric and found a small amount of this reproduction 1950s fabric online. With the style of the noughties chrome lamp base already fitting my idea of a take on mid Twentieth Century design, it was a simple job, although the details need a little tidying up.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

More people at work...

Another option for yesterday's theme day photo was this shot of workers in Kendal's taken last Wednesday evening- a department store which emphasises taste in its window displays unlike some.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Theme Day: People in their workplace @MCRSanta

The City Daily Photo theme day for December was orignally  People in their workplace and then it got amended to Worker. 

A once a year job started weeks back, on Halloween, as Manchester council workmen and workwomen (aka Santa's little helpers?) assembled Father Christmas in Albert Square (above). 

A few weeks later (below) on 10 November they were putting up the stalls for the Christmas Markets (actually more like late-autumn markets) which dominate the city centre in several locations, from the Cathedral Gardens to Spinningfields, Brazennose St to Campfield Arcade. Even the soulless and clinically commericalised Market Street has some Xmas market stalls this year.

Five mulled wine drinking, twinkling light filled festive weeks from Friday 14 November to Sunday 21 December.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Weekend Reflections: Stephanie Manchester

This time of year you often see barges like this on the Bridgewater, Trent and Mersey and other canals, clearing overgrown banks. It's rather amusing to see that they appear to be given names too. Taking part in Weekend Reflections.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Weekend in Black and White: Lincoln lights

Lincoln Square, Christmas Markets, far too early for Christmas but it's more of the nice warm feeling that you get wandering around. A lot of stalls selling sugar-laden rubbish and stuff no one needs, but some nice craft work on offer and the chalet hut bars are always a fun and sociable place to meet and drink.

Taking part in the Weekend in Black and White.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Skywatch Friday: Misty city from Brazil Street

Looking  towards Whitworth Street from Brazil Street on a misty lunch hour last week- it seemed rather quiet and quite atmospheric. My contribution to Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thursday Challenge: Berlin Wall will finally fall (in Manchester)

The lonely leafed trees at each end of the dreaded wall make this a rather forlorn entry to this week's Thursday Challenge of leaves. Once upon a time Piccadilly Gardens, behind this wall, was an urban oasis of flowers and trees, with subtle leaf blossom in spring, bright colours in summer and auburn tinges in autumn.

The hideous "Berlin Wall" was commissioned by Manchester City Council years ago and has been hated by millions ever since. It may block out some of the noise and fumes from the bus station when you are in the Gardens but why it was never decorated with street art or plant life I will never understand. After many long running campaigns, finally a Manchester Evening News survey was listened to and things are gonna change. The wall will form the inside of retail units, which is not the answer but it's a start. To knock it down would cost at least £50,000 evidently, although I know a thousand Mancunians who would do it for free...

"For 12 years a big slab of grey concrete has blocked the view of Piccadilly Gardens from the south-east of the square. The wall, designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando as part of a refurbishment exercise after the 1996 IRA bomb, has long been compared unfavourably with the most visible symbol of the iron curtain.

Earlier this year the Manchester Evening News launched a campaign to get rid of the wall, after three-quarters of its readers said they hated it. The structure was also blamed for Piccadilly Gardens being dubbed one of Manchester’s worst tourist attractions by TripAdvisor."

Come the revolution, that disgusting concrete wall will be the first thing to come down. Until then I suggest covering it with hanging baskets or creeping plants or something,”"
 More at the Guardian

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

ABC Wednesday: "T" - from toilet to Temple

ABC Wednesday  finds time for "T" as we look inside The Temple of Convenience, a former underground public convenience that was transformed from a toilet to a bar in the early 1990s. It later dropped the "of Convenience" from its title. I was here the other week to discuss an exciting project with my artist friends Polyp and Eva Schunkle.

Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain