Manchester street art – Ancoats and other bits

With the weather not being good enough for me to do what I had planned over the weekend my Monday walk this time catches up with some street art photographed three weeks ago when my wanderings round Manchester took me away from the Northern Quarter for a while. On someone else’s blog I’d recently seen a photo of a ‘green lady’ artwork located in the vicinity of the Great Northern shopping/entertainment complex and though it was a fair walk from the NQ it seemed to be worth looking for.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find the green lady anywhere in spite of walking round the area more than once so I came to the conclusion that the photo I’d seen had been taken some time ago and the artwork had since vanished. I did however find a leafy mural at the entrance to a currently closed restaurant and some street art under a railway bridge, then as I made my way back to the NQ I found Spiderman on the windows of a corner building.
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Back in the NQ I was passing though Stevenson Square on the way to Ancoats when I saw something on the side of a bus shelter. As an advert it wasn’t really street art but it was amusing enough to take a photo – although having found out what it actually is I certainly don’t fancy drinking the stuff – then tucked in a corner down a narrow side street I found a colourful hotch-potch of all sorts which had obviously been there for quite a while.
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Ancoats isn’t really known for its street art as it has very little compared to the NQ but one thing I did want to find was a big colourful bird known as the Guardian of Ancoats. Featured on several blogs and websites as a ‘must see’ it was supposed to be situated just one street behind the main road separating Ancoats from the NQ but it proved to be just as elusive as the earlier green lady so presumably it had been painted over some time ago.
Encouraged by finding a couple of Qubek’s bees on the wall of the Manchester Creative Studio and some colourful shutters nearby I decided to explore a few more streets in the vicinity and was quite surprised when I found far more street art than I expected.
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Sherratt Street
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Oldham Road
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Oldham Road
In Bengal Street a new multi-storey building was being constructed on a large corner plot and two sides at ground level were surrounded by hoardings covered in brightly painted street art. They were certainly a good way of brightening up a construction site and well worth getting a few shots.
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Construction site, Bengal Street
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Across the main road in Addington Street I found a lovely paste-up on the side of an old disused building then back in the NQ I discovered a shutter and another piece of artwork down a narrow alleyway which I’d somehow missed on my previous wanderings.
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Addington Street
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Cavell Street
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Cavell Street – Artist, David Speed
Back on Thomas Street I took the final four photos of the day (featured in a previous post) then made my way back to the station. Four hours of constant walking round the city’s streets were enough for one day, it was time to go home, make a brew and a late lunch, then relax for an hour or so.

New street art in the city…

And a few quirky bits thrown in for good measure.
Just recently it seems that Manchester’s street artists have been painting things faster than I can photograph them. Less than a week ago I found out about two new artworks in progress and soon to be finished so early yesterday I went out to the city to photograph them, however I actually found more than I expected.
Although it’s nothing to do with street art I’d read recently that the exterior of the Printworks is classed by some as being very Instagrammable so I took a slightly different route from Victoria Station to find the suggested spots for photo taking, then never having been in the place I crossed the road and went to take a look.
Originally the home of several newspaper and printing businesses dating from the late 19th century the building was bought in 1986 by publishing magnate Robert Maxwell who immediately closed it down. It was left unused and derelict for over ten years then as part of Manchester’s redevelopment following the 1996 IRA bombing it was bought in 1998 by Shudehill Developments and converted into an entertainment and leisure venue which includes a cinema, fitness club, nightclub and several eateries.
During the redevelopment the original frontage was retained and part of an internal railway from the newspaper business was incorporated into the new ground floor walk-through from the main road to the street behind. It was actually quite dark in there and it felt a bit odd with everywhere closed and no-one around so I didn’t linger too long.
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Coming out of the back of the Printworks I followed my previous well trodden route to find the new street art I wanted to see but before I got to it I unexpectedly came across a new work in the process of being painted. Liam Bononi is a self-taught Brazilian street artist based in Liverpool and his artwork can be seen in many cities in other countries; expressive eyes and hands are apparently distinctive features of his work so it’ll be interesting to see this one when it’s finished.
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Caught in the act – artist Liam Bononi at work in Hare Street
The next artwork, which is one of the two I especially wanted to see, is on the side of the Manchester Craft & Design Centre and has quite a sweet little story attached to it. The Design Centre was once a Victorian fish market where, over many years, the fishmongers would always welcome the local cats as a way of deterring any pests, for which they were rewarded with treats of fish. The market finally closed down in 1973 but the cats kept returning although there was nothing there for them, however one dedicated fishmonger, Jimmy Kelly, would also go back regularly to make sure they got their dinner.
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Copperas Street – Artist, Hammo
It was just a short walk from there to Tib Street and the next artwork I wanted to see, and though it had been completed I was surprised to see another artist at work on the wall next to it. The two walls form part of the boundary of the Northern Quarter Car Park and though I’ve been past there many times I didn’t realise until recently that one is a memorial wall. To brighten up what has long been a bit of a redundant corner all the artwork had been commissioned by the Northern Soul Grilled Cheese place across the street, though unfortunately Qubek’s work was partially obscured by a couple of notices and stacks of tables and chairs ready to be laid out.
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Tib Street memorial wall – artist, Qubek
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Caught in the act – artist Krek at work in Tib Street
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From Tib Street I made my up to Stevenson Square as I wanted to photograph something for a future post, and though I wasn’t expecting to find anything new since my previous visit two weeks ago I actually did. A series of shutters on a corner building had undergone a very bright makeover, and while they weren’t advertising any particular product they seemed to signify mobile phone usage.  
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Oldham Street
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Stevenson Square/Spear Street – Artist, Reasm
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Having recently found out about a place which was considered to be highly Instagrammable, and thinking of shots for a future post, I headed away from the NQ. Via various streets and pedestrianised squares I finally found what I was looking for and though I couldn’t go in it was certainly worth several shots from the outside.
On the floor in the window of a vacant shop nearby, which appropriately had been a tailoring and alteration business, I spotted an old and very decorative Jones sewing machine though light reflection on the glass meant the shot wasn’t too clear. Enlarging it later on I made out the words “As supplied to Her Majesty Queen Alexandra” on the shoulder of the machine and research tells of a reliable account that she did indeed use a Jones machine during her days at college.
Along the street was a tall narrow 4-storey building with a very flowery front facade and though the direct sunshine made photographing the whole thing difficult I did manage to get a shot of part of it. Round the corner was Crazy Pedro’s bar and pizza restaurant and as well as one of Qubek’s well known bees there was some really bright art work round the side. 
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Crazy Pedro’s – Artist, Qubek
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With the sky clouding over again I made those my last shots and headed off on my long walk back to the station – not a moment too soon either as just as I got there it started to rain. Although I hadn’t spent as much time in the city as on previous occasions I’d got most of my planned shots and more and it had been nice to chat briefly to the two artists I’d seen working, but now it was time to head back home for a good brew and a late lunch.
 

Friday photo hunt – bubbles

The final Friday of Astrid’s photo challenge for April and it’s a quick one from me this time.
Last summer a new shop opened in the town centre, and having discovered exactly what this stuff is I have to admit it’s not something I fancy as a drink but apparently lots of people love it, so as I’m never likely to go in there I’ve had to pinch this photo from the local news.
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Next is a bit of a weird one. I don’t know what the creature is supposed to be but I found it painted on a wall at the end of a short alleyway in Manchester’s NQ. I did feature a cropped version in a previous post but to include the speech bubble I’ve had to blank out the words.

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Speech bubble

The soap in my bathroom soap dispenser was getting low recently so I topped it up with water, gave it a good shake and photographed the results.

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Bubbles in the soap dispenser

I recently went back to my previous hobby of Postcrossing after a 2-year absence and though I still have lots of postcards to send to people I wanted something a bit different. I found a bundle of 100 modern postcards at a good price on ebay and when they arrived I was pleased to find one which fits this week’s topic perfectly.

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Well that’s it from me this time, I’m now looking forward to seeing what next month’s words will be. It’s a bank holiday weekend now in the UK and so far I have no definite plans, though no doubt I’ll end up somewhere with the camera; I hope everyone enjoys the weekend whatever you do.

Corporation Park, Blackburn – a spring revisit

My Monday walk this week was done just yesterday on yet another gloriously sunny blue-sky morning. Wanting to get away from walks in my immediate area but not really wanting to drive too far I decided to let the train take the strain, as the tv ad once said, and go to Blackburn to revisit Corporation Park. A reasonably early start meant there were no buses from my area down to the main station in town so a mile-and-a-half walk took me to a smaller station on the Bolton to Blackburn line. With a train due just after I got there I was in Blackburn soon after 9am and an easy walk through the town centre took me to the park situated on the outskirts about quarter of a mile away.

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Approaching the main entrance

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Halfway up the main path I took a minor path leading through the trees on the right to the larger of the two lakes then bypassing the smaller lake I headed towards the west end of the Broad Walk. Passing in front of the Conservatory I noticed its derelict condition was still as bad as when I first saw it last year, and though I stopped to look at the birds in the nearby aviary taking any decent photos of them proved difficult as there was a barrier and a great deal of narrow gauge mesh in front of them.
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The lime trees along the Broad Walk still had to gain their leaves so everywhere was much more open than on my previous visit, and though I hadn’t been impressed with the Colourfields panopticon at the time I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and climb to the top of the park to take another look. Unfortunately my previous opinion of it was reinforced – it was dull, drab and pointless, and even though the currently leafless trees enabled a slightly better view over the town down below it was still uninspiring, so the one photo I did take from there was deleted straight away.
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My climb to the top of the park hadn’t been in vain though. Walking along towards the east side the path was lined with creamy white daffodils and a wooded area further on was filled with both yellow and white varieties, while the pleasant open area of the children’s cycle track was in complete contrast.
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At the far side of the park, and just outside the boundary wall, was Brantfell Road, a unique street dating from the early 20th century. Red brick terraced houses with bay windows face the eastern boundary of the park, and while the upper and lower sections of the street have vehicle access the centre section is characterised by a series of 60 wide steps which still contain the original stone setts. One website describes the street as being ‘a pram-free zone’ and having walked down the steps and back up again I can understand why.
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Yes, they really are so steep

Back in the park I retraced my steps past the tennis courts and the cycle track, through the wooded area and down a minor path and a set of stone steps to the centre of the Broad Walk. Another set of steps took me down to the Italian Garden but with a distinct lack of flower beds or a central water feature it couldn’t look any less Italian if it tried, though it was still a very pleasant area.
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As the train approached the station where I’d started my journey I had a swift change of plan and rather than walk back home from there I decided to take the easy way out. Staying on the train to the main station at the interchange in town it was an easy matter to get a bus from there to my area and get off just round the corner from home, and though I had a five minute wait for the bus I still got back quicker than if I’d walked from the previous station.
This had been Snowy’s first experience of travelling by train and bus and though she had been a bit restless on the train out she was more settled on the return journey and was fine on the bus, so maybe on the occasions when I leave the van at home she will become quite a seasoned little traveller.

Friday photo hunt – earth

The topic for this week’s photo hunt is ‘earth’ and after first thinking “what on earth  am I going to do for this one” I managed to take a few photos all within the last three days, so here goes.
First are the tyre tracks made in the soft earth at the side of the lane leading down to where I work in the mornings. The lane has a sharp bend halfway down so any wagons going up tend to stray onto the soft verge in case there’s something coming the other way. DSCF8339
A couple of weeks ago Michael was taking a short cut home from work and walking along a nearby riverside when his foot accidentally kicked a bottle lying on the ground. It wasn’t very big, possibly a medicine bottle, and seemed to be older than today’s bottles so he brought it home, cleaned it up and was surprised to find the date 1860 on the neck. So he now has a new hobby, digging for bottles on his way home from work, and he’s found quite a few in the earth by the river. It’s possible that some aren’t that old but he’s found several fancy ones which look older, though I don’t know what he intends to do with them.
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A friend of mine has a great interest in the planets and the solar system and a while ago bought herself an illuminated desk top globe. Now I must admit I have no interest whatsoever in the solar system and my brain switches off whenever she talks about it but a desk top model of the earth on a wooden base made a good subject for a photo.
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The weather here over the last couple of weeks has been glorious – a few frosty starts but sunshine and blue skies every day so I’ve been leaving the van at home and walking to and from my morning job, a very pleasant walk which takes me through woodland and along a riverside. Arriving early at work yesterday I found I was the first one there so while I waited for the boss I mooched about in the nearby woodland, and as it was apparently Earth Day I thought a shot of the trees on the steep bank in the early morning sunshine would be quite appropriate.
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And finally, a bit of cuteness to end the post – one of Earth’s creatures which ran across the lane in front of me as I was walking up from work. I fully expected it to disappear before I could get the camera out of my bag but it sat on the fence for several minutes before it jumped down and scampered up a nearby tree.
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Well that’s my lot for this week, I’m linking up to Astrid’s blog again and I’ll be popping over later to see what interesting things other photo hunters have chosen.

More Manchester street art – the Northern Quarter

For someone who doesn’t ‘do’ cities I don’t seem to have been able to stay away from Manchester just recently. Less than two weeks since my last visit, and only a few days ago in some cases, I found out about some new street art in the Northern Quarter, so an early start yesterday morning saw me in the city for 9am on a mission with the camera.
My first port of call was the section of Thomas Street which was in the process of being pedestrianised when I was there two weeks ago, and without all the barriers which had previously been in place I was able to get several uninterrupted photos. In an alleyway just off the street was a large artwork stretching along two walls of a corner building and only completed last Friday, though there was nothing to say who the artist was.
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A bit further up Thomas Street was Cane & Grain, a New York style cocktail bar; two weeks ago the frontage was surrounded by scaffolding so I could only get partial shots of the shutters but now with its makeover complete and the scaffolding gone I could photograph the whole building.
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The old Tib Street/Thomas Street substation had gained two new artworks to accompany the recent Tom Moore mural, and a few yards further along was a newly painted wall which I assumed had been commissioned by the Northern Soul Grilled Cheese place just across the street.
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Artist – OskarwithaK
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Artist – Qubek
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Artist – Qubek
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At the junction of Thomas Street and Hilton Street the shutter of Fresh Bites takeaway had undergone a makeover by Qubek while round the corner on Oldham Street another couple of shutters had new words painted on them. Up the road the lower part of Stevenson Square had been blocked off to traffic and had new artwork in several places; even the bollards, metal barriers and the lower parts of some of the lamp posts had been painted in wacky designs and bright colours.
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Artist – LeiMai LeMaow
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Artist – Folie ArtandDesign
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Artist – Bukun Baldwin
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Even the road has been painted
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Flok wine bar, Stevenson Square
Most of the new artwork seemed to be concentrated in just a couple of small areas so once I’d found as much as I could I went walkabout round the side streets and alleyways to see what else I could find. Some of the alleyways were the type of places most people wouldn’t dream of going down but then you never know what you might miss if you don’t, and I actually did find a few things which I hadn’t seen before.
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My wanderings had actually taken me away from the NQ for a while until I’d come full circle and ended up back on Thomas Street. That was where I took the last four shots of artwork on a series of hoardings surrounding a patch of disused land then I made my way back to the station for the train home; after four hours of constant walking it was time to relax for a while.

That Wednesday/Thursday feeling

The topic for this week’s Friday photo hunt is ‘the colour purple’ which isn’t an easy one for me. I don’t dislike the colour, it’s just not one which really features in my life, and the only purple things I have were used in previous photo hunts so I’m giving this one a miss for something completely different.
Now if there’s one thing guaranteed to cause confusion in the Mouse House it’s Michael’s work shifts. His normal shift pattern is four days on (two days, two nights) and four days off, with start and finish times at either 6 or 6.30 whether it’s days or nights. However, over the last year or so he’s either volunteered or been asked to cover shifts where other people have been off work for whatever reason, meaning he’s often working when I think he’ll be at home or vice versa, and sometimes we’re like ships that pass in the night.
Last week, after staying at his girlfriend’s for a few days, he arrived home early on Thursday morning after a 12-hour night shift just as I was getting ready to go to my own morning job, and the conversation went like this –
Me – “When are you going back to Laura’s again?”
Him – “Friday”
Me – “Tomorrow or do you mean next Friday?”
Him – “Friday this week, tomorrow’s Thursday”
Me – “No it’s not, tomorrow is Friday, it’s Thursday today”
Him – “Are you sure? I thought today is Wednesday”
Me – “No Michael, today is definitely Thursday”
Him (checking his phone for the day and date) – “You’re right, it is  Thursday. Well in that case I’m going back tomorrow”
So with that confusion cleared up I left him to his sleep while I went to my morning job. Fast forward a week and yesterday I arrived at my morning job to find the boss’s son first one in and making toast in the kitchen – and this was the conversation –
Aaron – “What day is it today?”
Me – “Thursday, why?”
Aaron – “Are you sure? Is it not Wednesday?”
Me – “No Aaron, it’s definitely Thursday”
Aaron (checking his phone) “Oh, it is – funny, I thought it was Wednesday”
Now call it Groundhog Day, that deja vue feeling or whatever but it seemed totally bizarre that I’d had almost exactly the same conversation with two different people but a week apart. What is it about Wednesdays and Thursdays? Have other people lost the plot or is it just me? No, I don’t want anyone to answer that one….
 

A local walk at Easter

Staying away from Manchester street art for a while, my Monday walk this week is just a local one which takes me not too far from home and which I featured on here a couple of years ago. Along the back lane close to home I came across a large patch of tiny yellow flowers spreading across the grass verge; I don’t know what they are, they may even be weeds but they looked pretty enough for a quick photo.
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The bottom of the lane emerges onto a busy main road and over on the far side is a large and pleasant triangle of green space. Bounded by the main road on one side and by minor roads with big houses on the other two sides it’s not big enough to be called a park but with a couple of benches it’s a nice enough place to sit and while away some time on a sunny day.
At the apex of the triangle a local community group had put up three Easter displays while further along all the larger trees had been decorated with colourful ribbons and there was a childrens’ Easter egg hunt taking place A couple of large white ‘Easter bunnies’ were overseeing the proceedings and a ‘find’ of a painted stone, plastic duck, rabbit or egg could be exchanged for a chick or a rabbit containing a creme egg.
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Following the longest of the minor roads took me to a steep cobbled lane with an even steeper bank on one side, and down at the bottom of the lane was the bridge over Eagley Brook. At the far side of the bridge was Brook Mill, a former cotton mill converted into apartments in 2003, and down in the water was a small group of residents ducks, among them the large black and green Cayuga duck which I’d first seen two years ago. Not having seen him last year it was nice to know that he’s still around.
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A short access road behind Brook Mill took me to a footpath and a distance along was the very overgrown mill pond with its current residents, two mallards and a white duck which seemed to be all on its own. The footpath emerged onto the large expanse of open land belonging to a local sports club and I found that since I went that way last year the land had been separated from the path by high green metal fencing with a proper entrance and access track running between the football and cricket pitches. There was a game of football taking place, presumably between two local amateur teams, but as I have no interest in sport I only stayed long enough to snap a couple of photos.
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A cobbled lane at the far side of the sports ground ran alongside the river and took me back onto the main road where a tarmac lane across the far side led me to a farm track through a wooded area, which in turn took me to a fishing lake and a huge field which was part of a vast expanse of farm land. A gravel footpath close to one side of the lake ran along the edge of the field and up to the main road which eventually runs past the end of my street.
As I got further along the path I came across three teenage lads sitting in the grass and shouting up to a fourth lad who was climbing up a nearby tree. I watched for a couple of minutes as he got higher and higher on some very narrow branches, then decided that I really didn’t want to witness what could possibly be a nasty accident if he put a foot wrong and a branch gave way; you can just see him on the left in the bottom two of the following four photos.
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Leaving the lads behind I continued up the path towards the road and a couple of minutes later was met by a large red tractor and trailer trundling down the hill. I didn’t fancy stepping off the path to get out of its way as the grass along the edges had been churned up, presumably by said tractor, but I needn’t have worried as it went round me. As it neared the bottom of the path it turned off into the field and began muck spreading, and though I couldn’t actually smell anything I was glad I wasn’t still down there.
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At the top of the hill I turned and snapped a photo of the view then set off down the main road. On the bank between the fields and the road a single clump of daffodils nodded their heads in the breeze and bordering the top corner of the end field were three trees bearing what seemed to be silvery white blossom.
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Ten minutes later I was back home and ready for a mid afternoon coffee. Not being a gardener I haven’t a clue what the silvery white trees were but they did make a nice photo to end what had been a very pleasant Easter walk with Snowy and Poppie.

Friday photo hunt – farm

Starting this week’s photo hunt post with some shots taken at the local open farm which is just a short walk from home. Originally a dairy farm for many years – I remember walking through the farm yard on several occasions when I was a small child and my dad would lift me up to look through the shippon window at the cows being milked – the open farm was established as a visitor attraction in 2001 with various farm animals to see and feed.
Granted a zoo licence in 2009 the different species of animals increased from normal farm animals to include reptiles, owls, meerkats, skunks and llamas to name just a few, and with indoor/outdoor picnic and play areas, bouncy castles, donkey and tractor rides, a cafe, gift shop and ice cream shop, the place is extremely popular and has gone from strength to strength. The admission prices aren’t exactly cheap but there’s no time limit once you’re in there and you can stay as long as you want.
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Travelling up to Cumbria now and a lovely out-of-the-way camp site where I stayed a couple of times in 2019. It was part of a family-owned chicken farm with a huge number of free range chickens used to supply eggs for supermarkets, shops and even McDonald’s, and though with so many birds you would expect the place to be noisy it was actually very quiet.
At the other side of the hedge from my pitch was a large field which had been cut for haylage and on two consecutive days I watched the farm machines at work, baling and wrapping. I found the wrapping process quite fascinating to watch, and with my interest in tractors I would have loved to operate that one. The following morning the bales were all picked up and stacked elsewhere on the farm and the field became available for any campers to exercise their dogs off-lead.
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And finally, I couldn’t end this post without including a bit of cuteness. The farm had three pygmy goats in a small paddock, two were long haired and I liked them all but my favourite was the smallest and youngest of the three.
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Well that’s just about it from me for this week, coffee awaits so with mug at hand I’m off to Astrid’s blog now to see what everyone else has chosen this time.

Shut up Manchester (2)

A very quiet Easter Sunday morning and once again I was roaming round Manchester’s Northern Quarter with two things in mind. I’d recently seen an Instagram video clip of a new artwork in the process of being painted and I wanted to see it while it was new, plus it would probably be my last chance to photograph some more shutters before various shops started opening up again.
Coming out of Victoria Station I knew roughly where I was heading and at the very bottom of Thomas Street I found three shutters together, though it seemed like the artist of the first one was having a bit of an identity crisis.
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Further up Thomas Street I found more than half a dozen brightly painted shutters but photographing them properly was difficult – that section of the street was in the process of being pedestrianised and barriers along both sides were obstructing the full view of most of the shutters.
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Further on still and I came to one of the reasons for going back to the NQ, and though it’s not a shutter it’s so well done and so new I think it deserves a place in this post. On the side wall of the Tib Street/Thomas Street substation, where only three weeks previously I photographed an orangutan, was Akse’s latest artwork – it was only completed the day before Good Friday and definitely needs no introduction or description.
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Round a few of the nearby side streets, a couple of which I’d somehow missed on my previous visit, I found several more shutters, then on Oldham Street and Newton Street I was able to photograph a few on shops which had been open on my last visit but were now closed for Easter.
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Hilton Street

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Hilton Street

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Oldham Street

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Oldham Street

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Oldham Street

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Newton Street

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Newton Street

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Newton Street

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In Stevenson Square I found a new artwork in the process of being painted, and though it wasn’t finished it still looked good enough for me to take a shot for a future post. From there I headed down to Church Street and with another five shots taken at the bottom end I’d just about photographed all the shutters which I thought were photo-worthy so I made my way back to Victoria Station.

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Stevenson Square/Lever Street

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There’s just one more photo to include in this post and that’s the final one which I snapped on the way to the station on my previous visit to Manchester. Rather more than an actual shutter it was very colourful and it covered almost the whole frontage of an unoccupied retail unit at the rear of the Printworks building.
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On my wanderings round the NQ yesterday I saw two large double gable end walls which have recently been repainted in plain colours, presumably ready for the next murals; it will be interesting to see what eventually gets painted on them so it won’t be long before I make another visit. And for someone who doesn’t ‘do’ cities I’m becoming quite familiar with Manchester’s Northern Quarter!