Monday, 30 November 2015

#MondayMural: Kes #citydailyphoto

A Mark Kennedy mosaic special in the Northern Quarter. I fear the shop it's outside may have closed now and the shutters are therefore down on this mural from the classic 1969 Ken Loach film Kes - based on Barry Hines' northern novel A Kestrel for a Knave. Taking part in Monday Mural.

Kes 1969 film poster.jpg

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Inspired Sunday: Stood outside Gorton Monastery

I give you a kind of triptych of Gorton Monastery, also known as the Church and Friary of St Francis.  The Franciscans arrived in this part of east Manchester in December 1861 and built their friary between 1863 and 1867. I hope it is enjoyed by fellow Inspired Sunday bloggers. We went inside back in March last year and on 23 November.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Friday, 27 November 2015

Skywatch Friday and Weekend Reflections 2 for 1

It's two for the price of one today and I only had to step outside the front door to see the sun set in a car's windows...

Here are this week's Skywatch Friday posts and  Weekend Reflections.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Unfamiliar forest faces... #citydailyphoto

I'm sure I am not alone in seeing faces in the woods and forests? Some are friendly, some are scary but this one appeared to me as simply a little bemused.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

ABC Wednesday: "T" is for The Tapestry at Band On the Wall

There was an amazing night of bands and artists at Band On the Wall on Monday. Part of RADAR Music Week. Here are three of the seven acts. Manchester four piece The Tapestry, above were first up and had a punchy but melodic energy, driven mostly by their female bassist and drummer. I liked their whole sound though and there was something quite Mancunian about the music- it's hard to describe exactly what, maybe a touch of the ancient Manchester music history of The Fall and Joy Division, and an urban angst that is born of post industrial cities perhaps. I will be off to Islington Mill next month (12 December) to see them there.

4i (below) had, in my eyes and ears, a chilled, almost "blissed out at 4.a.m on the beach vibe". Some great keyboards and backing vocals did it for me.

Colour the Atlas are a trio who have already had BBC Radio 1 airplay. They were sublime- "haunting" was a word used by people there and that sums them up. I will be following their musical advancements too with excitement and eager anticipation.

Taking part in the "T" round of ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Keeper of the 16 locks

Close up of part of a Lock keeper's cottage which dates from 1805 and is nestled next to one of the 16 close together locks of the Peak Forest Canal at Marple. Taking part in Our World Tuesday.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Sunday, 22 November 2015

First #snow of autumn #CityDailyPhoto #Bury #ScoutMoor #GreenEnergy

I awoke yesterday morning to see this sight on the distant hills. The glorious white wind turbines matched by snow and frost on the ground above Bury 10 miles away.  I assume this is part of the wonderful Scout Moor wind farm which is actually 15 to 20 miles from where I took this photo in Manchester City centre! Scout Moor is an upland moor of peat bog and heather in the South Pennines, reaching a maximum elevation of 1,552 feet (473 m) at its peak, Top of Leach.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Weekend Reflections: Solitary with a solo tree

The leaves have left, I am bereft 
The sun may shine, I can but pine
And as time drifts by, my spirit fails to fly
Hope always lying around the next bend...

A quiet moment for a solitary Weekend Reflection on the 93 mile long Trent and Mersey Canal

Friday, 20 November 2015

High as a kite at @Highasakiteband and @monstersandmen

Of Monsters and Men at the Manchester Academy on Wednesday (photo by Holly Sutton-Brand) 

Highasakite are probably the best support act I have ever seen - and I first started gig-going in London back in the summer of punk (1977)! This five-piece Norwegian band have a mesmeric, haunting and original sound. A visually stunning line up on stage too, all in an equal row with a searchlight behind each of them.

Of Monsters and Men were wonderful too (although some of the chattering audience really wound me up. Why go to a gig if you are going to talk through it? This hasn't happened at any of the other 12 bands I have seen aroun Manchester in the past six weeks).The audio mix was a bit off at times too IMHO- the three lots of drums often drowned out Nanna's vocals and the four guitars.

Overall they still sounded great though - such energy, amazing sounds of brass, accordian and keyboards creating a unique sound of indie-folk and sagas of Icelandic life. Most of the fantastic tracks from their two albums were played but please play my fave track Yellow Light next time! Earlier this week in the Guardian there was a good article on why modern Icelandic music sounds as it does.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Prestwich to Paris #CityDailyPhoto

One of the reasons for the outpouring of grief in the western media over Paris, more so than Beirut and other non-western cities that have suffered from recent acts of terrorism- and the non-stop live tv and radio coverage of Paris which continues as I type - is simply a cultural and personal identification with the city. It is of course every country's domestic media's responsibility to cover world news better than they do (which is why I tend to listen to Deutsche Welle, Radio France International, The Voice of Turkey, BBC World Service, Radio Sweden, Radio Prague and other international stations rather than domestic services).

Most people in the west have been to Paris I would think, or certainly know more about it than most other cities in the world. A case in point is the view above I took yesterday in Manchester, looking 3 or 4 miles northwards in a city I know so well. Yet I'm struggling to identify the landmark church. It's probably in Prestwich, I will pop up there tomorrow after work to find out more (and to pick up a retro lampshade from Emma of Light Fandango at Rose and Lee Vintage Living). But in the views below, which I took last autumn, the distant landmark would be instantly recognisable by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

"S": Sepia square in #Manchester & September in St Petersburg #Piter @Easternbloc1985

ABC Wednesday and so suddenly "S" surrounds us. A section of Albert Square in Manchester gets a sepia treatment above while, marking my solidarity with the innocent lost lives of hundreds of Piter (St. Petersburg) residents in the recent terrorist plane bombing, below's a quirky photo I took in happier times for that stunning city in September.

It's of my Manchester Eastern Bloc Records bag in front of its design inspiration - The Church on Spilled Blood, built in the 1880s on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Peace be with you...

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Bistrot petit Paris on King Street

Along with all the other city centre Christmas Markets, The French Christmas market on King Street opened at the weekend, but with an understandably sombre mood.

Taking part in Our World Tuesday.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Monday Mural: Ladies of #Sakam

The terrace at Sakam restaurant on Peter Street, a nice place to sit outside and people-watch even in autumn. Taking part in Monday Mural.

And sparing a moment  to think of innocent victims of terrorism everywhere, be it state or religious terrorism and from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, below is a zoomed in random piece of Parisian street art taken by me last autumn, from Sacre Coeur.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Curved Air at Band On the Wall @CurvedAir1 @bandonthewall

I really enjoyed art rock band Curved Air at Band on the Wall on Thursday night. Very intense and trippy and an amazing back catalogue as well as newer material. I'm sure I saw them live at the Southern Hotel in Chorlton, Manchester circa 1990 but can't find it on the lists of their gigs. Did I dream it? 

Keyboard Player Robert Norton, Violinist Paul Sax, Drummer Florian Pilkington Miksa, Vocalist Sonja Kristina, Bass Chris Harris and Guitarist Kirby Gregory.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Friday, 13 November 2015

Skywatch Friday

The sky last Friday at dusk over All Saints Park. Celebrating with others at Skywatch Friday

And, dear diary, it's been a busy week since (captured in snippets on Instagram):
A great weekend in lovely Norwich with old friends, quite an intense deadline-ridden week at work, a productive Manchester People's Assembly Against Austerity meeting, an inpsiring rally supporting the junior doctors' at the Cathedral, and a fabulous performance by Curved Air at Band On the Wall last night. Looking forward to catching up with some more mundane domestic chores today and working on my latest two freelance writing assignments...

Thursday, 12 November 2015

‪#‎juniordoctors‬ Manchester People's Assembly

Hundreds of people from all walks of life packed Manchester cathedral to back the Junior Doctors fighting back against the NHS cuts to services and privatisation of the NHS.
Dr Siema Iqbal speaks above, with a signer to the right. The Tory Government contracts will put patients lives at risk and will slash salaries. Many medical professionals spoke, all passionately, including Dr Gurshuran Johal. "If we don't do something now we're going to lose the NHS-this is the undoing of the NHS, it starts with us and then it'll be everyone else", "We ARE going to fight for it". "Unity is strength and needed".

Tv and press coverage included this in Manchester Evening News today and a short video of Siema here.

(Forgive the poor quality photo- just a phone snap).

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Martin Niemöller 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

ABC Wednesday: "R" is for Remember XI XI XI

This is the Greenfield War Memorial (1000 ft) at the Pots and Pans stone landmarks above Oldham.

Remembering all the innocent people and animals whose lives have been ruined by war mongers, arms traders and those politicians who broker arms deals to countries such as Saudi Arabia etc. 

ABC Wednesday reaches "R".

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

White poppies for peace #PeacePledgeUnion #WhitePoppies #CityDailyPhoto

White poppies as well as red at the Friends' Meeting House. The Peace Pledge Union

"The White Poppy symbolises the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts and embodies values that reject killing fellow human beings for whatever reason. Our work, primarily educational, draws attention to many of our social values and habits which make continuing violence a likely outcome. 
From economic reliance on arms sales (Britain is the world's second largest arms exporter) to maintaining manifestly useless nuclear weapons Britain contributes significantly to international instability. The outcome of the recent military adventures highlights their ineffectiveness and grim consequences. 
Now nearly 100 years after the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ we still have a long way to go to put an end to a social institution, which in even in the last decade contributed to the killing of millions."

Taking part in Our World Tuesday.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Monday Mural: River Irwell #psychedelic duck under cover

Down by the Irwell last week, (see my Saturday Weekend Reflection bridge shot) I spotted this mural for the first time. Hidden away under a stone balcony and greenery- it's always satisfying to come across murals in less obvious locations. Enjoy this week's Monday Murals.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Skywatch Friday: Dawn diminishing

Last Saturday morning I was up early as usual, to see in the spectacular dawn from the 8th floor... this area bottom left where the old Boddington's brewery was is up for some interesting new developments, which I think will be a good thing for us all in the vicinity.

Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

ABC Wednesdays: "Q" is for quality & quantity @ZoukTeaBar

I was invited to dine at Zouk's Manchester branch on Chester Street on Monday night to sample their Indian and Pakistani cuisine. I'd not been before and was very impressed (regular readers will know how critical I can be when it comes to restaurants and eateries!).

It's a large space over two levels and is stylishly furnished, but the size doesn't detract from a nice cosiness and good atmosphere. There is a cool outside space of wood and glass which is inviting even on a foggy autumn night (though mostly if you indulge in shisha pipes).

The staff are welcoming and highly professional without being in your face, just the right level of friendliness. I like the fact that you can see across the restaurant and into the kitchen where chefs work their magic over hot stoves. 

So what did we eat? Some simple but tasty starters with roti bread, houmous and felafel. I know the latter is traditionally Middle Eastern rather than South Asian but these felafels were truly amazing. I am a bit of a felafel connoisseur, and having tasted fine examples several times at Dimitri's on Deansgate throughout the summer (and some disappointing bullet-like offerings at Fuel in Withington the other week) I was a little unsure. But these were fabulous - large, moist, infused with some lovely herbs and easily the best felafel that I, and my dining companion Susie, have ever tasted. The accompanying wine was good too, glasses of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Onto the mains and we shared a Vegetable Tikka and Mili Juli Sabzi. The latter is spicy skewered vegetables with an accompanying spice and herb sauce; the tikka a good selection of char-grilled aubergines, courgettes, capsicums, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms, served with rice and a spicy sauce. The fluffy rice was probably the best I have ever tasted and is served in the most fabulous little wooden pots. Elegant, tasty and, even better, all the food we chose was vegan. 

My only gripe, and this is a fault with many restaurants, is why not advertise these vegan delicacies on the main menu under the vegetarian section with an asterisk to denote that vegan options are available? My 1000 friends at the Manchester Vegan Group would be pouring through Zouk's door if they knew the food here was so good. (I'm off to tell them about Zouk on Meet Up and Facebook now). 

So, to summarise, I have been very fortunate to eat out on probably 40+ evenings this year so far, from Las Vegas to Criccieth, St. Petersburg to New York City. For what my humble opinion is worth, Zouk makes it into my top five restaurants of 2015, alongside Manchester's 1847, London Vauxhall's Bonnington, St Petersburg's Botanica and St Petersburg's Cafe Ukrop. I am  planning my next trip to Zouk later this month with one of my gig-going friends, Dave.

The Mancunian Wave blog is taking part, as always, with bloggers all over the globe in ABC Wednesdays where this week we reach the querulous letter "Q".

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Fog on the blog

Photo by Tim Sutton-Brand.

The first fog of autumn arrived on Halloween, Saturday night. This is a photo of a long walk home for some teenage revellers at around in the 'burbs.

I had a great evening with 4,999 other ghoulishly-attired zombies and fake-bloodied freaks at the Victoria Warehouse, watching Wolf Alice  (plus a number of less original acts: James Bay, Years and Years, Nothing But Thieves and Little Simz). All part of a Vevo inspired night with a great vibe.

Taking part in Our World Tuesday.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Monday mural: Cafe culture on Chester Street

I really like this bold poster which is currently up on Chester Street- it may suggest summer days and cafe culture with a chic European feel. But with some wonderful sunny autumn days lately we can still live this lifestyle even here in north west Europe... Taking part in Monday Mural.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

#CityDailyPhoto Theme Day: Ephemeral

The River Bollin at Dunham yesterday morning is my entry to this month's City Daily Photo theme of Ephemeral.

"One of the challenges of photography is to catch the ephemeral: the brief moment that shimmers in light or shadow and just as quickly disappears. Ephemeral images haunt us in a glowing flash of sunrise, an indelible expression, passing shadows, or reflections that glaze and enliven an image. They are gone almost before we recognize them."

This month's City Daily Photo theme comes from Kay at Sequim Daily Photo in Washington State, USA.

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