More of Blackburn’s street art

Exactly a week after my first walk round Blackburn town centre I got the 7.30am train from the nearest station to home and arrived back in Blackburn less than half an hour later, so my Monday walk this week features my continued wanderings to find more of the murals in various parts of the town. First was the Alexandra Gallagher mural at the back of a car park, which I couldn’t get last time as too many cars were in the way, and bingo! – my early start had paid off as this time there wasn’t a car in sight and I was able to get shots of the whole thing. Next was the coffee shop window and again my early start proved to be a winner as the place wasn’t yet open so there were no tables, chairs or people outside to get in the way.
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Artist – Alexandra Gallagher
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A strange but cute creature
From the coffee shop I had to cover some ground I’d already covered on the previous visit but the next two murals were in roughly the same area and I didn’t want to double back on myself any more than I needed to. Given the title ‘Cottonopolis’ the first one was done by a female duo well known in the street art world and it paid tribute to Lancashire’s cotton mill workers of the past, some of which were young children only six years old.
The second one wasn’t the easiest thing to photograph as it was on one of the staggered side walls of a modern building surrounded by high railings and security gates – I had to put my arm through the railings, point the camera and hope for the best, and just as I was getting my shot a nearby intercom buzzed into life with a disembodied voice asking if it could help me. Presumably I’d been picked up on cctv, in which case the voice would have seen that I was only taking a photo so I ignored it, got a couple of shots and went on my merry way.
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‘Cottonopolis’ – artists – Nomad Clan
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Artist – Tank Petrol
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The full mural – only half a face
Back up the road again and near the car park mural I managed to get a shot of one I missed on my previous visit as there were cars parked in front of it, then it was on to a road junction where I should have been able to find two more murals but it seemed they no longer existed. That wasn’t the case with the next one though – I’d found it on the internet since my first visit, it featured a couple of Hayley Welsh’s whimsical creatures and I just had  to find the real thing if it was still there so I was really pleased to see it covering the whole of a gable end wall overlooking another car park.
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Artist – Marcus_Method
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Artist – Hayley Welsh – the balloons represent inner thoughts drifting from the mind
The next mural was on a wall by a car park behind the Hayley Welsh mural but this particular piece of rough land was seemingly being used as a bit of a site storage area for the nearby roadworks. It was cordoned off with tall barriers and there was so much stuff around that I couldn’t even see the mural properly, however the barrier gate was open and though there was a notice saying ‘Construction site parking only’ I figured out that as I wasn’t parking anything and there was no-one around anyway it would be okay to nip in and get the best shot I could. So that’s what I did, without getting caught, and also got a corner shot from outside the barrier.
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Artist – Cracked Ink
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From there it was only a short distance to the next one which was done for the Open Walls festival last year. This particular mural was huge, taking up the whole wall and boarded-up windows of an old building although part of it was obscured by trees. Painted by Sheffield artist Phlegm (I’m sure he could have picked a better name than that!) it’s a homage to the town’s cotton workers of years gone by and features a fantasy creature sitting at a loom.  A local vote after the event picked it out as being the town’s favourite, but though it’s a brilliant piece of artwork there are others which I personally prefer.
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‘Loom’ – artist – Phlegm
Just down the road from ‘Loom’, and on the side wall of a bar, was a mural by an English-based Malaysian artist. It was done in the style of a fine arts piece depicting a dressmaker at work, but the wall was in a closed-in alley and once again several commercial wheelie bins were in the way so I could only get a partial shot of it.
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Artist – Caryn Koh
Having had no breakfast before I left home I was feeling rather peckish by this time so I broke off my mural search and went to look for a café – a proper café where I could get a decent breakfast at a reasonable price, not one of these ‘in’ places of the moment which sell vile looking green smoothies and ‘healthy options’ costing an arm and half a leg – and I eventually found one in one of the pedestrianised shopping streets. A quick look at the menu and I chose a ham omelette, which was made with four eggs and came with a salad, and a mug of milky coffee, and I must say I was quite impressed. The omelette was so filling I only just managed to eat it all and the coffee was really good, so that’s a place to remember if I ever go to Blackburn again.
Heading back to where I needed to resume my mural search I cut down a short narrow alley and came across the rear yard of some business premises protected by a high steel fence and a very colourful gate ; I don’t know if the gate was supposed to be part of the art thing but it was worth a quick shot anyway. Not far from where I hoped to find the next murals on my list I had the surprise of finding one which wasn’t ; it was on a hoarding on the corner of a narrow back alley and was very amateurish in comparison to all the others, also some moron had scribbled over part of it with a few rude words but I managed to get most of it.
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A very colourful gate
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Artist – unknown. The banner in the creature’s paw reads “Water voles are in rapid decline due to the destruction of their habitat by humans”
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Round the corner from the water voles were the next three murals on hoardings, one of which celebrates Lancashire’s farming heritage, and down the street was a large mural high up on a gable end wall. Below the wall, at street level, was an enclosed private bit of land with a wooden shack type of a building and on the front of it were two more murals which I didn’t expect to see as they weren’t on my list – there was no clue to the artist(s) but one of these I recognised as being the face of the well-known 1930s, 40s and early 50s Blackburn contralto singer Kathleen Ferrier.
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Artist – Mr Tea One
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Artist – Jay Sharples
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A paste-up from photographer Taylor Rianne
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Artist – Case Maclaim
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Artist – unknown
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Artist – unknown
By this time I needed to find a loo but wasn’t sure where there would be any, however across the far side of the nearby large car park was a Morrisons store and as I needed to get some bread at some point that day I though I may as well kill two birds with one stone, which actually worked in my favour. The store had an off shoot like a very mini shopping mall and high up over the door into the street was a clock – not exactly street art but it amused me enough to take a photo of it as I was on my way out. I’ve since learned that it strikes every quarter of an hour and the monkeys swing down from the tree – if I’d known that beforehand I would have waited another five minutes just to watch it.
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The Morrisons clock
Back to the mural search and the next one, which would have been the last on my list, was just across the road from Morrisons. Painted by Mr Christa it ran the full length of a long hoarding at a road junction and was quite difficult to photograph all in one but I managed to get most of it. Back across the car park and I found the final few, a group of five murals all done by the same artist but each on a separate section of wall. These were really lovely and personally I felt they deserved to be in a much more prominent location than in a side street on the high wall of a shopping centre car park.
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Artist – Mr Christa
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Artist for all five murals – Alexandra Gallagher
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Yes, this is meant to be upside down
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Satisfied that I’d finally found all the murals on my list – or most of them at least – I headed back to the station and the next train home. There were four murals I hadn’t managed to find but it wasn’t for the want of trying ; I’d been in the right location each time but it seemed that these had become non-existent, probably painted over or otherwise removed, however over the two separate days I’d found and photographed a total of 41 murals and a café window so I was happy with that. And having seen how much different Blackburn town centre is now compared to the last time I went there ten years ago maybe, just maybe,  I might return sometime for a general look round.
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In search of Blackburn’s street art

After my recent foray into Manchester to seek out some of the street art in the city’s Northern Quarter I remembered reading a few months ago that Blackburn also has various murals dotted around the town centre so I decided to do a bit of internet research to find out more about them.
Blackburn Open Walls was started in 2016 by Blackburn-born international artist Hayley Welsh as a 3-year project starting that year to bring street art to some of the town’s forgotten walls, and several local, national and international artists have created a collection of large scale murals on a variety of buildings. It took a while to find out where most of these things are and after much studying of Google maps for street names I made a list and set off recently in search of some of them, so join me on my Monday walk this week as I wander round Blackburn town centre looking for art.
Leaving the van at home I went to Blackburn on the train and as I came out of the station I saw my first art piece – not a mural but the sculpture of a young woman holding her child’s arm while he tries to reach for a teddy bear dropped on the ground. A short walk from the left of the station found the first four murals, two of them by Hayley Welsh herself ; Hayley is apparently well known for her cute, whimsical and often sad looking fantasy creatures and I really loved the second one I found. From those first four murals it was just a matter of following the street route I’d written out for myself and ticking things off my list as I found them, although I ended up doing more than one deviation.
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Blackburn Youth Zone building – mural by Lucy McLoughlin
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Artist – Curtis Hylton – stork hidden down an out-of-sight storm drain
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Artist – Hayley Welsh
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Artist – Hayley Welsh
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Artist – Annatomix
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Artist – Add Fuel – This one is so realistic I had to touch the wall to check that it really isn’t layers of torn wallpaper
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Artist – Curtis Hylton
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Artist – Boo_Who_Up_North
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Artist – Goya Torres
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist – Cosmo Sarson, mural painted June 2019
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Artist – Dale Grimshaw
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A search for one of Curtis Hylton’s works, the colourful head of a bird surrounded by roses, proved to be a bit frustrating as I couldn’t find it anywhere even after several checks of my list and the street name, but I did find some works by other artists. A later internet search proved that I was in the right location and looking at the right building so the bird must have been painted over and replaced by one of the other works, though so far I’ve been unable to find out who the other artists are.
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
The next mural was down a narrow back alley, covered the full rear wall of three separate businesses and reached from ground to roof. Unfortunately several commercial-sized bins were lined up alongside the wall making it difficult to get a full photo – so I wheeled three of them out of the way and the following five shots are the best ones I could get.
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Artist – Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
The next mural covered the full length and height of the single storey extension to a business premises but unfortunately the wall was at the back of a car park, so with cars parked all the way along it was impossible to get a full photo. I waited around for a while and eventually one car moved and I was able to get a shot of the centre part of the mural but I was disappointed not to get the whole thing as it looked really colourful.
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Artist – Alexandra Gallagher
Not far away from there was a coffee shop with rather a cute picture on its window. Okay, it wasn’t exactly street art but it was worth a photo though there was only one problem – people were sitting at tables outside, making it impossible to get a good shot of the window whichever angle I tried to take it from. So I came to a decision – I would split the walk into two parts, give up for the time being and return to Blackburn another day but very early in the morning. Hopefully then I could get a shot of the full mural with no cars in the way and also take a photo of the coffee shop window with no people in the way – so with that decision made, and happy with the shots I’d got so far, I headed back towards the station and the train home.
To be continued next week….

Me 0, traffic cone 1

I suppose there have been times in the lives of many people when they’ve done something a bit stupid which at the worst could be a bit embarrassing or at best could be funny, depending of course on the particular individual’s sense of humour and frame of mind at the time. Well that was just the sort of thing which happened to me about three weeks ago.
To put you in the picture, the main car park at my evening job has a wide offshoot which runs between the works building and the office building and has a large storage unit at the end ; whenever there’s a delivery of steel components due a couple of traffic cones are put out to stop employees from parking in the offshoot and preventing a wagon from backing in. Deliveries aren’t expected or accepted after 4.30pm though and by the time I get to work at 4.45 the offshoot is clear, so in the recent very warm sunny weather I’ve been parking the van in the shade at the side of the works building and near the fire escape from the offices.
So when I finished work on the evening in question, instead of leaving the offices by the main door I left via the fire escape, straight down the stairs and into the van which I reversed along the offshoot to the main car park. Before I got there however there was a thud and a clunk behind the van and I knew I’d driven over something ; thinking that going forwards again would release whatever-it-was I did just that, except whatever-it-was insisted on staying under the van, and when I got out to investigate I found a rather large and extremely solid traffic cone wedged securely between the rear wheel and the wheel arch. Now I knew there had been no traffic cones around when I arrived at work as I’d driven straight into the offshoot so I could only assume that for some reason someone leaving the works at 5pm had left it there, and because I’d left the offices by the fire escape instead of the main door I just hadn’t noticed it.
A bit of to-ing and fro-ing in the van wouldn’t release it and I didn’t want to do any damage to the van itself so I went with Plan B and out came the solid camping mallet I use for knocking tent pegs into hard ground – if I could beat the cone into submission I might manage to get it free but this thing was solid and I couldn’t even put a dent in it. So Plan C came into force and I called out the AA – well I don’t pay astronomical membership fees each year not to make use of their services! The guy who came out to me soon had things sorted though, he jacked the van up at the side, pulled the cone out from underneath and checked for any damage (to the van, not the cone!)  Fortunately there wasn’t any but he could hardly stop himself from laughing and he did say that’s the first time he’s ever been called out because of a traffic cone.
And me? -well I could have been embarrassed about the situation but my wacky sense of humour saw the funny side of it. I never thought, when I first joined the AA several years ago, that I would end up calling them out because of a traffic cone stuck under the van but needless to say, whenever I’ve parked in the car park offshoot since then I’ve made sure to check for any stray cones before I reverse!

Lancaster Canal and Garstang

My Monday walk this week features a section of the Lancaster Canal and the small historical market town of Garstang, both places which I hadn’t been to for several years until recently. Garstang itself lies just to the east of the main A6 about ten miles north of Preston and the same distance south of Lancaster, but my walk started on a country lane just to the west of the A6. Bridge House Marina is situated in a quiet location next to the very scenic Lancaster Canal and a few times in the past I’ve stayed on the caravan park there ; the last time was ten years ago though so with a possible future visit in mind and before the start of my walk I parked in a lay-by on the lane near the entrance and went for a wander round to see if it’s still as nice as it always was (it is) and to pick up a current brochure and price list.
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Bridge House Marina caravan park
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The holiday home area
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Looking towards the canal
Leaving the van in the lay-by my walk started from the entrance to Bridge House, and a short distance along the lane a hump-back bridge took me over the canal to the towpath on the far side. From there it was an easy and level 15-minute walk into Garstang, and with boats moored up in various places it was nice to see that nothing had really changed in the years since I was last there.
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Looking north west from the bridge
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Approaching Garstang
Heading into Garstang the canal wound its way past the outskirts and steps took me up off the towpath to a road bridge leading the short distance into the town itself. Just past the end of the bridge was Pickle Cottage, and with it’s very pretty and colourful garden it was worth a couple of photos. At the end of the road was a mini roundabout with the Farmer’s Arms pub set back on a corner, and going straight on took me into High Street and the main part of the town.
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Pickle Cottage
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Looking along High Street from the Royal Oak
There were lots of interesting independent little shops along both sides of the road, several cafes and other places to eat, and a couple of pleasant weinds (side alleys) with more shops, and it was nice to browse in various windows as I went along. By the time I’d got towards the end of High Street the intermittent and often inconvenient clouds which had previously gathered were beginning to clear and the sun was shining in earnest ; an already warm day was turning into quite a hot one and as I knew of a nice place where I could chill out in the shade for a while I nipped into the nearby One-Stop shop to get a sandwich and a nice cold can of Coke for a mini picnic.
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Looking towards the end of High Street
Across the road from the One-Stop shop was a very pretty little remembrance garden set back on a corner and a walkway from there took me past a small car park to a pleasant grassy and tree-shaded area by a bend in the River Wyre. There were plenty of people about, mainly young students, but there was lots of space so I picked a nice spot and settled down to enjoy my mini picnic, then following the river for a while I walked along until the path took me up onto a private lane past a playing field with a view over to the lower slopes of the Bowland Fells.
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The River Wyre

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The lane took me back onto the end of High Street where I cut down one of the weinds to where a short but pleasant precincted area had been created since the last time I was there.  At the end nearest the road was a low semi-circular concrete wall with an incorporated seat along its length and set in the ground was a circular mosaic featuring a very intriguing looking lion and an engraved plaque. The writing on the plaque reads “In 1314 a weekly market was granted to Garstang by Edward ll, renewed by Elizabeth l in 1597. The town’s charter was granted by Charles ll in 1680”
Information on the lion is very sketchy but it seems the original crest was designed as an official seal in 1680 by the newly-formed Garstang Corporation ; the mosaic has been designed by a North Lancashire mosaic artist and is based on images found in documents held by Garstang library. The word ‘villa’ has nothing to do with any large dwelling though, it seems to be a corruption of the French word ‘ville’ meaning town, so it can only be assumed that whoever designed the crest back in 1680 wasn’t the world’s best spelling expert!
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From there I headed along the road in the general direction of the canal and just before I got to the mini roundabout near the Farmer’s Arms I came to The Wheatsheaf, made very attractive by the colourful hanging baskets along its front wall. Back on the canal I had another very pleasant walk with a couple of brief photo stops and arrived back at the lane leading to Bridge House Marina fifteen minutes later.
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Moss Lane bridge
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Fylde Water Board (1927) bridge with the A6 bridge beyond
It had been interesting to see that although Garstang itself had undergone a couple of changes since I was last there the section of the Lancaster Canal between Bridge House Marina and the town was still the same – and the walk has prompted me to make another visit soon to start in Garstang and walk along the canal in the other direction. I remember how nice it was ten years ago so it will be interesting to see if that too is still the same.

One person’s trash….

Is another one’s treasure so they say, and that certainly came true for me just recently. I’d only just arrived at my morning job when the guy who opens up the premises asked me what shoe size I am – now that was a bit of a strange question at 7 o’clock in the morning, however….
The unit across the car park from where I work is the office and storage/distribution depot for a locally-based manufacturers of outdoor footwear and it seemed they were having a bit of a clear out. A couple of days previously a skip had arrived and along with some office chairs and old files a large quantity of various (brand new but old stock) boots and wellies had been dumped in there, with the instruction for anyone to have a look through and take what they wanted. Many people had, so I was told in case there was anything in there which would fit me – of course I wasn’t going to pass up the chance of a freebie so I went over to have a look.
It took a fair bit of rooting as most of what was left was either too big, mis-matched, or had gone so far down in the skip that I couldn’t reach, however I was lucky enough to find a pair of wellies which were the right size and still wrapped in polythene. These weren’t your normal common-or-garden green wellies either, they were bright blue – according to the label inside ‘Ocean Blue’ – and for wellies they looked really smart. Guaranteed to be warm and waterproof, and with really thick soles and deep tread, they would be great for walking the dogs in winter weather but they look so nice it would be a shame to get them muddy – in fact I feel I should be wearing them to go to bed.
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Photo from the internet
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Now I knew that this make of footwear doesn’t come cheap – they aren’t the sort of thing you’d find at ten quid a pair on a market stall or in a discount shoe shop – but I didn’t realise what price they are until I looked on the internet. This style is actually still current and the RRP on the company’s website is £85! Needless to say I’m really pleased with my freebie but if they retail at that price I feel I should frame them rather than wear them!

Ashton Gardens in summer

Back in April, while on an afternoon out in St. Anne’s, I went to Ashton Gardens situated on the edge of the town centre.  It was a place I hadn’t been to before and in the sunny weather I was impressed enough to want to go back during the summer, so my Monday walk this week features a second visit which was undertaken earlier this month. Just as previously I started my walk at the gates in the side street closest to the town centre then wandered round in a ‘sort of’ anti-clockwise direction, ending at the gates on the main road.
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St. George’s Road entrance
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The first of two bowling greens
When I got round to the rose garden I must admit to being slightly disappointed as it didn’t look quite as good as I’d expected. Although all the beds were full of roses of different colours it seemed that many of them were already past their best with withered blooms and fallen petals, indeed two gardeners were busy dead-heading the worst of them. Not being interested in gardening I’ve no idea if there’s a particular time when roses are at their best – maybe there is and I’d missed it, or maybe the best was yet to come, however the garden was nice enough in its own way and I got a few good photos.
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Beyond the rose garden was the undulating land with the two ponds and meandering waterway, and the place looked a lot different to April when the trees were still quite bare. And strange as this may sound, I actually thought that there was too much  greenery around as a lot of it was obscuring what had previously been some really nice views, however I still got some good shots and the bonus was seeing the fountain in the big pond shooting water about 15ft in the air, something I hadn’t previously known about as it hadn’t been working in April.
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Next came the Japanese garden which I’d missed last time as I hadn’t known about it, then the circular sunken garden with its beds full of pink and white flowers ; in the bright glaring sunlight they looked rather washed out but the pink ones were actually much deeper than they appeared. From there I made my way past the war memorial and the pavilion cafe then down the wide main path to the gates onto the main road, finally making my way back to where I’d left the van in the car park at my usual cafe.
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The Japanese garden
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The sunken garden
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The pavilion cafe
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Looking back up the main path
It had been interesting to see the difference in the gardens now it’s mid summer but of course that’s got me wondering what they will be like in autumn when the leaves are changing colour – and who knows, maybe a third visit will be on the cards in the not-too-distant future.

 

Scavenger photo hunt – July

July’s photo hunt has arrived and the topics this month are – cluttered, paddle, pink, starts with an ‘E’, roof, and as always, my own choice. I already had a couple of photos in my archives and the rest have fallen into place within just a few days so here goes –
In my work as an office cleaner I’ve come across desks in various stages of tidiness or disarray, ranging from ‘minimalist’ with just monitor, mouse and keyboard to those which can only be described as ‘organised chaos’, and it was one of these which made a good subject for the first topic.
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Cluttered – an office desk at work
My little dog Poppie came to me on the last day of October in 2014 and with it being autumn/winter I didn’t really have the chance to find out if she would swim or if she even liked water. In May the following year, during a camping holiday on Anglesey, we were walking in a secluded little bay where a stream came from somewhere inland and tumbled down over rocks into the sea, and though Sophie stayed firmly at the edge Poppie went straight in and had a great time paddling and splashing about – and this was the first of many occasions when she’s been eager to go in the water while out on a walk somewhere.
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Paddle – Poppie’s first paddle in an Anglesey stream
The next photo was also taken on Anglesey, on a visit to Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens three years ago. The close-up shot of the fluffy pink flower (which I’ve since learned is an Allium) came out so well that I had it enlarged and made into a square canvas print which was just right for a plain bit of wall in my pink bedroom.
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Pink – an Allium on Anglesey
A couple of weeks ago Michael went down to London for a concert at the O2 arena ; although in previous years he’s been to various concerts in Manchester this was the first time he’d ever been to London. The ‘band’ was Empire of the Sun, an Australian duo (with a backing band and dancers) apparently known for their very elaborate and colourful costumes and stage sets – he’d only discovered their music late last year so he was quite excited when he found out that they were playing just one UK gig this year.
Prior to him going to London I’d asked him what he wanted for his forthcoming birthday and got the usual answer of a shoulder shrug and “I don’t know, get me anything” which really wasn’t helpful at all, however when he came back from the concert he’d enjoyed himself so much that the solution to the birthday present problem leapt up and smacked me in the face. A quick search on the internet, a few clicks of the mouse, and three days later his present arrived – three Empire of the Sun cds. It was his birthday on Friday last week but he went to Ireland the day before so I gave them to him then and he was really pleased.
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Starts with an ‘E’ – Empire of the Sun cds
I found the photo for the next topic only a couple of days ago. Heading north along the A6 towards Garstang I passed a pub which in previous years has always looked to be a nice place though it seems that it’s been disused for a year or two now. With barriers round it on the pavement side it looked like it was in the initial stages of demolition though it was the roof which caught my eye as I drove past, so on my way back home I stopped to have a look and found that the place had been on fire. It looked like it had been in its current state for a while so I was surprised to learn via the internet that the fire only happened a week ago.
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Roof – fire damage at the Boar’s Head, Barton
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My final shot was another one I found earlier this week, it was actually two separate pictures on display in a Garstang shop window. There was no price on them so no doubt they were expensive for what they were but they did rather amuse me so I took a shot of each of them and ‘glued’ them together in my photo editing programme.
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My own choice – I like the incredibly furry one best
Well there you have it, my photos for July. Thanks again to Kate for hosting the challenge, unfortunately she’s been having ongoing internet problems but the link to her own blog is finally working so I’m off now to see what everyone else has chosen for the categories this month.