A local walk to Hall i’ th’ Wood

Never having got round to writing about it until now – sometimes life and other things have a habit of getting in the way – a very warm and sunny day in mid May saw me taking Sophie and Poppie for a walk to Hall i’ th’ Wood museum via a route which I hadn’t been along for quite some time. Parked all morning in full sun outside the house my van had become like an oven by lunch time so I drove a couple of streets away to an avenue where I could leave it in the shade of several overhanging trees for the rest of the day and my walk started from there.
Crossing the nearby main road I went down a side road and past the lower playing field of the secondary school where I worked several years ago – surrounded by trees and grass banks it looked more like a country area rather than a suburban school playing field and I thought it worthy of a quick photo. From there I went past a couple of blocks of really nice detached and semi-detached houses with well kept gardens blooming with lovely flowers – I’m not a gardener by any means but I do like to see and appreciate other people’s colourful gardens when I pass them.
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School playing field
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A pretty garden set up above street level
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I don’t know what this shrub was but I like the colour
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I love the pink of this one
The side road took me round a corner to another minor road where I came to the Bank Top community garden and Bank Top Brewery. The original Bank Top village was created in 1884 by the Ashworth family who owned the nearby New Eagley Mills (demolished in 1985), to provide quality housing and amenities for their employees. Original buildings included a school house, chapel, library and social club, and though over the years a couple of large modern housing estates have taken over the area there are still several terraced rows of stone cottages remaining.  The original Bank Top tennis courts and pavilion were created in 1923 and for seventy years the club had one of the town’s most successful tennis teams, but sadly declining membership numbers and increasing costs for the maintenance of the courts and pavilion finally led to the demise of the club.
Although the tennis courts were abandoned and left to go to rack and ruin the Grade ll listed pavilion was taken over in 1995 by the newly-founded Bank Top micro brewery, which currently produces nine different beers totalling 22,000 pints per week using brewing methods from more than a hundred years ago. In 2004 work finally started on the old tennis courts, eventually turning them into a peaceful community garden for the benefit of the area’s residents. I’d never been in the garden before so decided to take a look – it was lovely and quiet and apart from a young man sitting on a bench and throwing a ball for his dog I had the place to myself. Separated from the community garden by various trees and hedges was the pavilion itself, set in its own garden which was attractive enough to justify taking a couple of photos.
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Bank Top community garden
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Bank Top micro brewery in the old pavilion
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Opposite the pavilion garden was a row of stone cottages and my walk took me round the end of the row and onto an unadopted lane. There was nothing special about the lane, just the tall back fences of some nearby bungalows on one side and a motley collection of private garages looking a bit worse for wear on the other side; these were followed by a heavily wooded area with a steep bank leading down to the nearby Eagley Brook, then the lane ended at the private land belonging to Yew Tree Cottage – which was actually a large detached house with several bedrooms – and a great view of the countryside across the river. A footpath took me past the side garden of the house and through a very pleasant tree-shaded area to another section of the river crossed by a concrete bridge with metal railings, then up a short steep hill I came to an equally steep cobbled lane.
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View from the lane near Yew Tree Cottage
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On the lane I had a choice of left or right – I went left first and a narrow path took me through a small wooded area at the back of Hall i’ th’ Wood museum and brought me out at one end of the hall’s parkland. Working my way round to the left I came to the long garden in front of the hall then back onto the cobbled lane and the gates of the hall itself. A small group of people from the local history society were sitting at a table outside the entrance and when I mentioned that I would have to go back on another day without the dogs if I wanted to look round inside one of them very kindly offered to keep an eye on Sophie and Poppie for me if I wanted to go in then – it was an offer I wasn’t going to refuse but I took so many photos while I was in there that I’m going to save them for another post.
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Hall i’ th’ Wood parkland with Winter Hill in the distance
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With my exploration of the museum over I retrieved the dogs and thanked the lovely lady who had been looking after them, then went back down the cobbled lane and continued past where I could have turned right earlier on. It wasn’t long before the lane itself turned into a rough and rocky narrow track which ran past the high stone wall of some nearby business premises and eventually I emerged near another section of the river and the entrance to a local steel distributors, where another cobbled lane took me up onto a section of the main A58 ‘ring road’ round the northern outskirts of town.
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Eagley Brook
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Heading back to the main road
Just after I emerged onto the main road I came to Watermillock, a huge one-time gentleman’s country house set in extensive grounds. Constructed between 1882 and 1886 for Thomas Thwaites, one half of Eden and Thwaites bleachworks owners, it was subsequently inhabited by local mill owner T M Hesketh and his family, then after ending its days as a private residence it became a military hospital in WW1, run by the Red Cross for pilots with horrific burns and other serious injuries. In 1937 the house was used as a hostel for refugee children evacuated from Bilbao during the Spanish Civil War, though they only stayed for about a year before going back home to Spain.
In subsequent years Watermillock became an old people’s home, and though I’m sure I can remember that at sometime during my childhood years it also acted as a subsidiary to the local hospitals’ laundry I can’t find any reference to that. It stayed as an old people’s home into the 1990s when it was finally closed, and eventually it was converted by Banks’s Brewery into a restaurant with function rooms, though for the last few years it’s been a Toby Carvery.
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Watermillock restaurant
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From Watermillock I walked a short distance along the main road then turned off onto a short quiet avenue of modern Georgian-style houses; the avenue ended in a cul-de-sac with a grassy area at the end and just beyond it was a detached house set in quite a large garden. It looked a bit of a mish-mash of a place but it was attractive enough to warrant a photo so I took what was to be the last one of my walk.
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At the side of the house a dirt track led past a few allotments and from there it was just a matter of zig-zagging through a few side streets until I reached home. It had been a good walk with a very interesting time spent looking round Hall i’th’ Wood itself but now it was time for the three of us to have a cool drink and relax for a while.
My walk, clockwise from yellow spot
I’m linking up again with Jo, where this week her Monday walk gives us a beautiful sunrise over the salt pans of Tavira in Portugal – time for breakfast now and a leisurely read to discover where the other Monday walkers have been to.

Scavenger photo hunt – July

The scavenger photo hunt has come round once again and this month’s six topics are – door, 11am, texture, shadow/s, view, and as always, my own choice. Although a couple of the categories were relatively easy and I had several choices of photos for them a couple of others needed some thinking about, however I finally came up with this group –
First off is Kildare Round Tower in the grounds of St. Brigid’s Cathedral in Kildare, Ireland. At 108ft high it’s the tallest accessible Round Tower in Ireland with seven levels of floors and ladders to reach the top; the entrance door itself is set just over 13ft from the ground and accessed by a set of metal stairs, with the doorway being constructed of ornately carved red sandstone.
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Door – Kildare Round Tower
I had to search through a lot of photos to find one taken at 11am or round about but eventually I came up with this very colourful one of the fairground at Elvaston Steam Rally, taken at 10.58am on July 6th four years ago. The rally only opened at 10am so it was still a little early for there to be many people at the fair.
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11am – Elvaston Steam Rally fairground
The next category really got me thinking but then inspiration struck and I took the camera with me when I went to clean at the boss’s house. I took photos of three different things but chose this particular one as an example of three different textures all in the one item –
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Texture – the boss’s porch doormat
The next photo is of a local cobbled lane not far from home which I walked up while out with the dogs in early May. It’s quite a steep lane with a hairpin bend near the bottom and has been traffic-free for many years – in my teens I would ride my bike hell-for-leather all the way down it, only putting my brakes on just before I hit the road at the end. I wouldn’t do that now though, I think I’m a bit more safety-conscious these days!
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Shadow/s – a local cobbled lane on a dog walk
I had any number of possibilities for the next category so it was difficult to choose but to get away from the various views of Anglesey which I seem to post a lot of on my blogs I finally decided on these two from my holiday in the Arisaig area of Scotland five years ago. The camp site where I stayed was on the estuary of a small river and the end of the site went right onto the beach. The area was gorgeous, the sunsets were fabulous and the views were to die for, and my tent was literally just ten feet from the beach – you can’t get better than that!
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View – looking across to Eigg, Muck and Rum from the camp site beach
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View – the white sands of Morar, about 4 miles from the camp site
And finally, while having a long-overdue sort out of the bureau drawers in the living room I came across a set of school photos taken of Michael when he was in primary school. Unfortunately there’s no date on them but he must have been about nine years old at the time. He looks so darned cute I just had to include one – I know he won’t mind but now he’s an adult I don’t think he could still be described as cute!
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Michael aged about 9
Well that’s just about it for this month’s challenge, I hope you like my choices. Once again I’m linking up with Kate so I’ll make myself a brew now and pop over to see what others have featured on their blogs for the different categories this time.

A summer afternoon in Southport

On a visit to Southport last October, after not having been there for several years, I was so impressed with the changes that have been made along the promenade and sea front in recent times that I decided I just had to pay another visit sometime this year, preferably during the summer months when the promenade gardens would be full of colour. That opportunity came at the beginning of this month when Michael had a weekend off work and we decided to go for a Sunday afternoon drive with Southport being the chosen destination. Of course the continuing good weather ensured that the world and his wife were also out that day so finding a parking space wasn’t easy, however while we were waiting for someone to come out of a space in the car park overlooking the Marine Lake a young boy came to me and said he and his family were just about to leave if I wanted to go in their nearby space – and he also gave me their car park ticket which had been paid for all day, which was an unexpected but welcome bonus.
Arranging to meet up again at 5pm Michael and I went our separate ways and I wandered along the lake side first. A bright yellow speedboat with half a dozen passengers was roaring up and down that part of the lake, twisting and turning and doing the boat equivalent of a car’s handbrake turns, making the female passengers scream loudly. It looked like good fun so I made a mental note to try that one on a future visit when maybe I wouldn’t have the dogs with me.
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From the lake side I walked up to the promenade gardens but if I was expecting to see flower beds blooming with colour I was destined to be disappointed. The plants seemed to be too spaced out with many of them looking rather withered in the heat, and what would normally have been lush green lawns were just large expanses of yellow dried up grass. Further along I came to an ‘oasis’ of shrubbery surrounded by more dried up grass and with an odd-shaped tree in the centre; a path took me from there to the lower promenade and on past the King’s Community Gardens where several families and groups were sunbathing or having picnics on the grass. Beyond there were a couple of bowling greens, looking suspiciously green where most other places were yellow, and eventually I emerged from the gardens near to the entrance of the Pleasureland amusement park.
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Promenade gardens
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King’s community gardens
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A splash of colour near the bowling green
To say that the amusement park was busy was an understatement, it was heaving, and every single attraction and stall was busy or had a queue. The whole place was very colourful though and I got lots of photos, but just watching the way some of the rides turned people round and upside down convinced me that I’ve always been right in my resolve never to try these things myself.
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A wonky-looking fun house
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No way would I ever go on this thing!
From the amusement park I made my way along the lakeside path to the wide wooden foot bridge which crossed the middle of the lake, then back on the lower promenade I went round to the beginning of the pier. Down below, on a stage outside the Marine Lake Cafe, a group was singing and playing a great mix of 60s and 70s songs and some people were even dancing in whatever space they could find. The music was quite infectious so I stayed to listen for a while before making my way down to Lord Street where many of the shop are.
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Swan pedaloes on Marine Lake
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A very busy cafe area
It was while I was on Lord Street last October that my photo taking was curtailed when I ran out of space on my camera card so this time I made up for it. Having the dogs meant I couldn’t go in any of the shops so keeping an eye on the time I wandered through the gardens on the other side of the road and took shots of anything that looked interesting or nice. After I’d first left the van the sky had clouded over somewhat even though it was still hot, but by the time I was wandering along Lord Street it had cleared up, the sun was out again in full and the blue was back so I got several really nice shots.
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War memorial and monument
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Christ Church, Lord Street
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Council offices and The Atkinson theatre and arts venue
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The bandstand
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Gardens between Lord Street and St. George’s Place
By the time I’d taken the last shot it was getting on for 5pm so I rang Michael to find out where he was – he was close to the pier so I said I would meet him by the carousel near the entrance. We were both ready for something to eat by then but as it was far too hot to leave the dogs back in the van we needed to find somewhere with outside tables – one of the new buildings just across the corner was a casino and part of the ground floor was The Waterfront restaurant with an outside eating area, so as it wasn’t far from the car park we decided to go there. By the time we’d finished our meal it was well after 6pm so not wanting to be too late back we made our way down to the car park, where I took Sophie and Poppie for a very quick, very short walk along the lake side.
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A final view of the lake
With the dogs settled back in the van we set off for home – it was a very pleasant drive back in the early evening sunshine and we arrived home just before 8pm. It had been a lovely afternoon and I’d got some good photos but being ever mindful of the time I hadn’t explored as much as I would have liked, so I think next time I go to Southport it will be a solo trip while Michael is at work!
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s been walking round the grounds and gardens of one of my regular yearly haunts, Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Time to put the kettle on now and see where the other Monday walkers have been to this week.

Only in Ireland…..

Early on Monday evening Michael left here for a holiday in Ireland to coincide with his birthday which is tomorrow (Thursday). He travelled overnight by coach and ferry, arriving in Dublin at 6am yesterday morning and getting a coach to Roscrea almost immediately, finally getting to the family home just before 9am. He’d already had a breakfast on the ferry so Nellie made him a brew and being tired from the long journey he took himself off to bed, finally waking up at 4.30pm in time for a cooked tea.
At lunch time today he phoned me to let me know he was okay and to tell me a couple of rather funny stories. When he’d got on the coach at Dublin yesterday and said he wanted a ticket to Roscrea the driver asked him if he knew where he was going – well obviously he did, he’d just asked for a ticket for there! However what the driver really meant was did Michael know the way to where he was going – it seems it was the driver’s first time on his own on that route and he wasn’t sure which way to go or where the stops were, and he actually stood up at the front of the coach and made an announcement to the other passengers to say that if anyone knew he was going wrong along the way then to shout out and put him right. Luckily it’s a direct route with not many stops so with Michael sitting in the seat directly behind the driver ‘just in case’ they eventually got to Roscrea – the final destination was Limerick so hopefully the driver eventually ended up there.
The second funny story concerned Michael himself. He’d taken a packet of bagels with him which he’d brought from work specially to give to Nellie when he arrived yesterday, and he took great pains to tell her that they weren’t just any old bagels, they’d been made personally by him during the course of his previous day’s shift at work and they were specially for her. So this morning he got up and went downstairs for breakfast, only to find that along with scrambled eggs Nellie had done him…..three bagels! Now if that isn’t very much like taking coals to Newcastle I don’t know what is! Of course he wouldn’t upset Nellie by not eating them but he impressed on her that she really must have the other three herself as that’s why he’d taken them. It just seems so funny that he’d gone all the way from here to Roscrea and ended up eating his own bagels, but as we said of both stories – only in Ireland…..!

Winter Hill fire – a week in pictures

The wildfire which has devastated several square miles of local moorland not far from my home over the last sixteen days is now mostly out and resources are being scaled back with the number of fire crews reduced to nine, but there are still several hotspots in the peat which are being tracked by a Lancashire Fire Service thermal imaging drone and dealt with by the crews stationed at strategic points around the moorland. Over the last eight days, while out and about during my daily life, I’ve stopped off at a couple of places where I’ve been able to get some photos of the east side of the moors, although due to the long range involved and the smoky atmosphere the quality of some of them isn’t the best.
The following five shots were all taken in the afternoon of Friday July 6th from fields at the Last Drop Village at Bromley Cross –
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The next six were taken from the same location on the morning of Tuesday July 10th – smoke still rising but greatly reduced
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Burnt moorland close to the tv mast
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Burnt moorland above Scout Road
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The next couple of shots were taken at lunch time on Thursday July 12th from the road between the Egerton area and Belmont Village. Although the smoke was going less I could see one area where it was actually creeping down the hill – I did take a couple of shots of it but it was too far away to make even a half-decent photo.
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Fire crew stationed next to Springs Reservoir on the main road to Belmont
Late that afternoon the sky clouded over somewhat and by 6pm it was raining the proverbial cats and dogs though it only lasted for about half an hour. The rest of the evening was fine, though when I got up on Friday morning I could see that it had rained overnight – probably nowhere near as much as was needed to put the fire out completely but at least it would help. The day was dull and cooler than previously and again we had a downpour during the late afternoon but it didn’t last long and the evening turned out to be quite pleasant. Yesterday, to counteract the assumption that the fire is now out completely, the Lancashire Fire Service staff from Bacup fire station posted a photo taken at 5am that morning of flames breaking out in a hotspot.
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Hotspot photo from Lancashire FRS
With the very brief damp spell over the weather yesterday was back to being hot and sunny, and no longer having any smell of smoke in the atmosphere that morning I decided to take the dogs for a walk to see if I could get any closer-up photos of some of the burnt moorland. The main A675 road up to Belmont Village is still closed so I drove up as far as the boss’s house, which was as far as I could go, left the van there and walked up through the nearby farm and the fields onto Scout Road, which is also still closed off. With no immediate sign of the fire it was hard to believe that the currently quiet road had probably been chaos not long ago, and the only tell-tale sign was the long fire hose made up of many sections coupled together and stretching the whole length of the road.
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Fire hose stretching along Scout Road
As I walked along I began to see signs of the fire; a field on my left, where a couple of horses were quietly grazing, was backed by a steep bank covered in scorched and blackened earth, and as I got close to the top of the bad bend in the road more blackened land came into view. The road at that point had acted as a natural fire break and all the fire had been contained on one side, but I was quite surprised to see a burnt area on the opposite side, at the top of the path leading down to the quarry where I walked only a few weeks ago. It wasn’t a very big area though so I’m assuming that the wind had blown some sparks across from the main fire and this one was extinguished fairly quickly.
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The minor fire was in the foreground – the road runs between there and the mound behind
With a fire engine and crew down towards the bottom of the road, and not wanting to go too far down in case I shouldn’t really have been there, I turned round there and retraced my steps along the road and through the fields back to where I’d left the van. From there I drove the long way round to Belmont Village, parked near my friend’s house then went to see what I could see from that side of the moorland. In actual fact there wasn’t really much to  see from the village as the bulk of the fire had been over the top of the hill and more on the Smithills and Rivington side so I went back to the main road and walked down and up the hill to the San Marino restaurant, which wasn’t far. There was a fire crew based in the car park there so after I’d taken a couple of photos I got talking to them – one of them was quite taken with Sophie and Poppie and he even gave them a drink of bottled water.
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Parts of the burnt moorland seen from San Marino
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The dogs get a drink from a fireman
Thanking him for the drink I walked back to the van and made my way back home via the road from Belmont to Egerton, stopping just once in a lay-by to take another couple of photos, and looking over at the moorland from there it was possible to see pockets of smoke still rising from a few hotspots on the hillside. The firemen had told me that the crews will probably remain on duty until the end of the week continually dampening down the ground, and only once they are sure that the fire is completely out everywhere will they leave.
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Hard to see on here but smoke is still rising from parts of the hillside
Those were my last shots of the day and back at home I made a coffee and downloaded my photos onto the pc. I’d been out for three-and-a-half hours and done a fair bit of walking, and though I still had some shopping to do I was going to relax for a while first – and hopefully it won’t be long before I read an update to say the the Winter Hill fire is out completely and the battle has finally been won.
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Red – enclosed area affected by fire, approx 5 square miles   Blue – roads/lanes closed to traffic   White – footpaths closed   Yellow – tv mast and buildings   Orange – Rivington Pike tower   Green – where I took the photos from

A special day out – the Coronation St. Tour

If anyone reading this doesn’t regularly watch Coronation St. then you probably won’t have a clue who or what I’m writing about, but on Saturday I went on the official tour of the soap’s new outdoor set. The tours started at the end of May this year and are only on selected Saturdays – booking opened at 8am on May 3rd, and having previously asked my ex’s sister-in-law Louise if she fancied going (she’s an avid watcher of the show) and decided on a mutually convenient date, I got online just after 8am that morning and booked Saturday’s 2pm slot for both of us. Our day started at 11am after I’d driven over to Louise’s house between here and Bury; I left my van there and after a quick coffee she drove us to the nearest tram station for the tram into Manchester city centre where we transferred to another tram which would take us to MediaCity and the ITV studios.
With half an hour to kill when we got there we had a wander through the nearby gardens and along the waterfront then went to Dock 10 of the ITV buildings to check in. Looking upwards the whole of the length of the foyer ceiling was awash with open umbrellas – the Umbrella Project launched just over a week ago on June 28th as part of an initiative to raise awareness of ADHD and autism and it certainly made a bright splash of colour on the foyer ceiling.
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The Umbrella Project at MediaCity

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At the check-in desk we were each given a tour pass and a map of the Coronation Street set then we congregated in a small group near a mock-up of the Rovers Return frontage. Our tour guide was called Tiffany, and given her quite young age she was very knowledgeable about the programme and its characters right from when it first started back in 1960 to the present day. Following a 10-minute introduction she led us out of the building, across the bridge over the river and round to the outdoor set – we had to go through two closed-in turnstiles manned by a couple of burly security guards then we entered the set on ‘Viaduct Street’ and close to Dev’s corner shop. After giving us some more information we were free to wander round and take photos before meeting up again round the corner outside ‘Underworld’.
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The sign on the outside of the studio building
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The bistro (owned by Michelle and Robert) on Viaduct Street
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Kevin Webster’s second garage, burnt out in January 2017
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Corner shop flat currently occupied by Adam, Daniel, Sinead and Flora
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Dev’s corner shop and Kevin’s house
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The Kabin newsagent’s
Tiffany explained that it took two years to build the new set and although all the houses are almost full-scale they aren’t set up to be lived in, but for continuity the areas immediately behind the front doors are exactly the same as the studio lots where the indoor scenes are filmed, and we were free to look through any letterboxes and take shots if we could get them. The jars of sweets in The Kabin are apparently real, although they’ve been there so long you wouldn’t want to eat them, and the Underworld factory is actually set up with some sewing machines.
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Kevin and Tyrone’s garage
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Inside Underworld’s entrance
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The Platt’s house
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Chesney’s house
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Ken Barlow’s house
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Norris’s house
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Looking through the door blind at Audrey’s salon
Unfortunately when we got to the end of Coronation Street itself I found it impossible to take a decent shot of the Rovers Return as that’s where the official photos were being taken so there was always someone in my view, but saying that Louise and I joined the queue and had our photo taken together in the pub doorway. At first we thought that having an official photo would be the money-making catch of the tour so we were surprised when Tiffany said that there was no obligation to buy and also we could hand her our own cameras and she would be quite happy to take snaps using those – it was a great idea but not knowing if she would be familiar with my own camera settings I decided to give that one a miss.
After having some time to wander along ‘Rosamund Street’ and the alley behind the houses (where Louise and I got an unexpected surprise) we gathered at the junction of ‘Rosamund Street’ and ‘Victoria Street’ to hear some more interesting facts and figures from Tiffany, then after a lot more photo taking we moved on to the far end of the street and the newest parts of the set, some of which haven’t yet featured in the programmes. Going into the alley behind the pub we were surprised to find the back yard beer garden exactly as it appears in the programmes – it was a ‘dressed set’ and there was, understandably, a gate across saying ‘no access’ though it wasn’t very high and we could easily take photos from outside it.
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The Rovers’ beer garden
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A little way down the alley, and painted on a back yard wall, was the mural done by Craig Tinker and his then girlfriend Caitlin Ryan in early 2016 as a memorial to Maddie Heath who died after being caught up in an explosion at the builder’s yard – I’ve no idea who painted it in real life but it’s very pretty. The alley turned a corner there and a few yards along was another ‘no access – dressed set’ gate and we were looking down the alley behind the rest of the Coronation Street houses. With rough brick walls, back gates and wheelie bins it looked and felt more like a real-life back alley than part of an outdoor set for a tv programme.
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Maddie’s memorial
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Along ‘Rosamund Street’ there was the chippy and medical centre set back up a slope, then Tracy’s flower shop on the corner – when I looked through the window I could see it was actually set up as a proper florist’s shop but unfortunately the interior was too dark to get a decent photo. Across the street and round the corner at the ‘dead end’ part of ‘Victoria Street’ was the taxi office and on the opposite corner was Prima Doner takeaway, and looking through the letterbox I could see it was set up as a proper takeaway. Unfortunately I completely forgot to have a look through the letterbox at Roy’s Rolls but I did have a look through the community centre one and it certainly looked like a place where a playgroup and other activities could be held.
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The chippy and the medical centre
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Tracy Barlow’s flower shop
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Streetcars cab office
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Prima Doner takeaway, Roy’s cafe and the community centre
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Inside Prima Doner
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Inside the community centre
Diagonally across from the community centre was the scruffy and untidy-looking builder’s yard now run by Gary Windass then back across the street was the ultra-modern Victoria Court apartment building, looking rather incongruous set among the older properties and what were once old warehouses. After a large space set aside for ‘residents-only parking’ for the apartments we came to Speed Daal, the restaurant set up by Zeedan Nazir and now managed by Sophie Webster after both the character and the actor playing him left the show; peering in through the fancy glass in the door I managed to get a shot of the sign on the inside foyer wall.
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The builder’s yard
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Victoria Court apartments
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Speed Daal restaurant
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From there we came to the new extension of the set, officially unveiled in March this year and which includes a tram station, Costa Coffee shop, a Co-op food store and a community garden on the corner. Although the tram station exterior has briefly been seen in the background of a couple of episodes and the community garden has featured several times in recent story lines none of the other businesses have yet been referred to or featured, though some characters have occasionally been seen carrying takeaway Costa Coffee cups. The community garden was quite pretty in a scruffy-looking way and though it looked like it needed a good tidy-up it does feature a memorial bench which was specially commissioned to pay tribute to the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017.
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Tattoo shop and snooker hall (not yet featured)
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Tram station exterior
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Costa Coffee (not yet featured)
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Co-op food store (not yet featured)
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Inside the Co-op
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Victoria St. community garden
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Community garden memorial bench
The tour ended there and with a final few snippets of information from Tiffany we were free to make our way round the outside of the set and the studios and back across the bridge to the main building, where we could collect our official photos and any Coronation Street merchandise we wanted to buy. And this is where Louise and I got an unexpected bargain – the photos were priced at £7.50 each or two for £10 so we said we would have two and split the cost, however the girl on the desk said we were entitled to one free anyway so we decided we would just have one extra instead of two. So we paid the £7.50 for one but when the girl handed them over in a bag we found she’d given us three, meaning we had one each plus an extra one – and neither Louise nor I could figure how she’d worked that one out but we weren’t complaining. And we even got to keep our tour passes, which I fully expected that we would have had to hand in at the end of the tour.
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The outside of the photo folder
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Our official photo – I’m the blonde having a bad hair day!
From there we had another wander along by the waterfront and the gardens where I was able to take quite a few photos – with several places to eat and drink and the pleasant gardens to sit and relax in it was a lovely area and I was impressed enough to want to go back on my own just to spend time exploring. After our wander we got the tram back into Manchester centre, found somewhere to have a snack and a drink and had a wander through part of the huge Arndale shopping centre before getting the tram back to Radcliffe where Louise had left her car.
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Over the bridge to Coronation Street
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The Imperial War Museum North
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Looking down the River Irwell
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The Lowry is along there somewhere
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Gardens outside ITV and BBC buildings
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Along the waterfront – North Bay
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Huron Basin
Back at Louise’s we had a coffee and talked over our trip, when we both agreed that we’d had a great time, then I finally arrived back home at 7pm. The tour had cost £35 each which wasn’t exactly cheap, but we’d both said that it was definitely value for money and much better than we’d expected – Michael had actually paid for mine as a birthday present. Tiffany had been a great tour guide, not only imparting various facts and information but also interacting well with us as individuals and as a group in spite of her relatively young age. It had surprised us too that apart from the obvious ‘no-go’ areas there was no restriction on us taking photos anywhere, in fact we’d been positively encouraged to take as many as we wanted, and there was no pressure on us to buy an official one either. All in all it had been a great tour and I’d certainly go again if only to take photos of the things I missed this time – looking at the website it seems to be fully booked for the rest of this season so all I can say is roll on next year!


** After yesterday’s problem of my comment facility disappearing for this post it seems like I’ve managed to rectify the matter, so if anyone has tried to leave a comment and couldn’t then please try again as you should now be able to. Anyway, I’d love to know what people think of my day out!  🙂

The battle continues

The huge moorland fire which has been burning just a couple of miles up the road from home is now in its ninth day, and though much of it has been extinguished there are still many parts of the moors with peat continuing to burn just under the surface of the ground, evidenced by the large patches of white smoke rising up in many places and the presence of the United Utilities helicopter as it continually drops water to soak the land. Road blocks are still in place and an exclusion zone has now been set up to keep people away from the affected area.
On Wednesday I had to clean at the boss’s house, which is up the main road about halfway between my house and part of the fire, and thinking ahead to going up to my friend’s at Belmont Village I drove past the boss’s place to see how far up the road I could get. The answer was not very far as the rest of the road was blocked off at the junction with Scout Road and it was easy to see why – with the exception of one small corner much of the land above the lower end of Scout Road and along the main road heading towards Belmont was a blackened and charred mess, and with no traffic the normally quite busy road was eerily silent.
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Fire crew near the bottom of Scout Road
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Burnt land above Scout Road
When I’d finished my work at the boss’s house I left the van there and took a walk through the nearby farm and fields to see if I could see anything from a different viewpoint. Birds tweeted and chirped in the nearby trees and hedgerows, and butterflies flitted among the tall grasses and wild flowers – it was an idyllic, if rather hot, summer’s day and it was only the constant noise of the sometimes unseen helicopter which gave a clue to the nearby serious situation. Although the path would eventually take me up onto part of Scout Road I didn’t want to go that far if I wasn’t supposed to be there so I just took a couple of long-distance shots then turned and made my way back to the van.
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A tranquil country scene
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The helicopter hard at work
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Some of the burnt moorland on Winter Hill
Yesterday morning I found out that the country road between Belmont Village and the Egerton/Bromley Cross areas on the northern outskirts of town had been reopened to allow villagers in and out of Belmont without having to go miles out of their way, so when I left work at Bromley Cross I went straight over to my friend Janet’s place. Driving along that road I had a good view over to the moors and Winter Hill so I pulled up in a lay-by to take a few photos; the fire damage was extensive and there was still smoke rising from the ground in many places – and that was just one section of the whole moor.
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Smoke still rising from the burnt areas just below the skyline
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A very smoky view
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The zig-zag path on the right is where I would walk from the road up to the tv mast
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The support by local people for the fire crews and mountain rescue teams working long exhausting hours in the current hot weather has been fantastic. Individuals and schools have donated bottled water, energy drinks, biscuits, crisps, chocolate bars and other snacks as well as sun cream, insect repellent, socks and caps, and a local supermarket has donated a refrigerated vehicle to keep all the food and drink cool. On Wednesday and yesterday a local branch of McDonald’s provided 200 meals for the fire crews and a sports massage place within a town centre fitness studio is offering free massages this weekend to the firefighters and rangers who have worked all week. Also starting today a local micro brewery/pub will have a 50 litre keg of beer available for any firefighters to have a free pint after their shift and it will stay on tap until they finish it.
The children at the primary school just up the road from me have painted some great messages of thanks and encouragement onto flattened cardboard boxes and these have been fastened to the roadside barriers outside the school where the fire crews can see them as they drive up and down the road – I noticed them on Wednesday when I was driving back from the boss’s house and thought they were so touching that I just had to stop and take a photo of them.
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There’s been a couple of unexpected rays of hope in this disaster though. At the beginning of the week a firefighter rescued a small bird which he found among the smouldering grass, and on Tuesday evening a member of the mountain rescue team saw three deer and a few pheasants on the moor, showing that in spite of the large-scale devastation some creatures have managed to escape and are still alive. It will take a long time for the moorland to fully recover from this disaster but for now I can only hope that when the fire is finally extinguished for good and the ground cools down more creatures will find their way back there and continue to live their lives in peace.

Praying for rain

It’s not often you would ever hear me wish for rain as I can’t stand the stuff, and the current hot sunny weather suits me just fine, but locally there’s been a disaster of such huge proportions that I think many people would welcome a rain storm just now. Soon after 3pm on Thursday last week a wildfire started on Winter Hill not far from the tv mast – about three hours later, as I took the rubbish round to the skip at work, I noticed a big plume of smoke rising up some distance away but couldn’t tell from there where it was coming from. It was only as I was driving home and heading in the right direction that I saw that the smoke was coming from the moorland only a couple of miles up the road from home.
Initially a total of twelve fire engines were sent to tackle the blaze but by nightfall it was covering more than 250 acres with fifteen fire crews trying to stop it from spreading. On Friday a 22-year old man was arrested for arson on suspicion of starting the Winter Hill fire (although later released) but on the same day a second fire started further down the moorland and just above Scout Road where I walked along with the dogs on my quarry walk in early June – it was also just above the path which I walked three times last year to get to the vicinity of the tv mast. This second fire was reported to be one-and-a-quarter miles long and another fifty firefighters were sent there to deal with it, but due to a stiff breeze blowing up on Saturday it merged with the original fire on Winter Hill and a major incident was declared because of possible damage to the tv mast and also the nearby communications systems. Various roads in the area have been closed off, including the one running past the end of my street and going up to Belmont Village and beyond, and at one point, looking between nearby trees and houses, I could see part of the fire from my bedroom window.
On Sunday Michael and I had a drive out to Southport and on the way back we could see part of Winter Hill and the smoke from about twenty miles away, although as most of it now seems to be coming from the back of the hill I can no longer see it from my bedroom window, but with the wind in the right direction I can certainly smell it. As of yesterday the fire has covered more than 3 square miles with as many as 29 fire engines tackling the blaze and helicopters doing more than five runs per hour dropping water on it. With the moorland being made up of mainly peat the ground is burning underneath the surface so as fast as the flames are being extinguished in one place they are starting up again somewhere else – it’s been estimated that it could take another week to extinguish the whole lot completely.
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Smoke from the Winter Hill fire, seen on Sunday while passing Lower Rivington reservoir
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Monday evening sunset over Winter Hill, taken from the bedroom window
The one thing which saddens me about all this is the loss of various forms of flora and fauna. The Woodland Trust owns a 1,700 acre estate in that area, part of which is on some of the affected land, and a large part of that estate has been burnt; it was home to several species of delicate and rare plants, and creatures such as the brown hare, lapwing and common lizard. Breeding and ground-nesting birds will have been affected and the fire has also burnt into the first trees to be planted as part of the Northern Forest project; whole eco systems will have been wiped out and the habitat will take years to recover. I wonder if the person, or persons, who started all this, whether deliberately or carelessly, ever stopped to think what consequences their actions would have for everything and everyone affected? – probably not.
Although the photos above are the only ones I’ve been able to take of part of the fire (the public are being advised to stay away from the area although there are some idiots who are ignoring that advice) there are some excellent and very powerful shots to be seen on here.  A recent weather forecast is for the hot dry days to continue for a while yet so as much as I don’t like rain I really hope we get a prolonged and torrential downpour before too long and the fire is extinguished properly before it does any more damage.