Manchester street art 2021 (2)

Continuing my walk round Manchester city centre this week with another collection of street art and quirky bits photographed two weeks ago, and on the edge of the Northern Quarter not far from Piccadilly Station I came across an artwork which was so long I couldn’t get all the detail in one shot.
In October 2018 the international arts and homelessness movement With One Voice, founded by Streetwise Opera, collaborated with American community muralist Joel Bergner to produce the huge mural. Known as The Doodle On Ducie Street it depicts a homeless man flying from hardship to a better future and led by Joel, who drew the initial design on the wall, it was created by over 30 artists who were, or had been, homeless in Manchester.
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My quest took me away from the NQ for a while and a few streets behind Piccadilly Gardens I found a design on a wall in China Town, then my feet led me to the Gay Village in the Canal Street area. To be honest I wasn’t terribly impressed with the area as a whole, but with its rainbow colours in various places Canal Street itself was bright enough and just one street behind it I did find some artwork.
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China Town car park
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Divina de Campo – artist, Akse
In September 2014 a huge mural was painted on the side wall of the Molly House bar on Richmond Street. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries ‘Molly-house’ was a term used for a meeting place, generally a public house, tavern or coffee house, for gay men and cross-dressers.  Honouring the city’s most famous gay people the mural on the present day Molly House features drag act Anna Phylactic, feminist Emmeline Pankhurst, drag queen Foo Foo Lamarr, fashion designer Quentin Crisp and computing pioneer Alan Turing.
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The Molly House bar and coffee house – artists, Nomad Clan
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Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst
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Drag queen Foo Foo Lamarr
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A slightly damaged paste-up, Richmond Street
Killing two birds with one stone, as well as street art I was also looking for something else which will feature in a future post so my quest took me briefly towards Manchester Cathedral before I headed through the very deserted Arndale shopping centre back to the NQ.
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Beer garden wall, Bootle Street
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Cathedral Yard
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Arndale centre – “It takes 5 years of love for a coffee plant to produce beans”
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Restaurant, Piccadilly
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Little Lever Street – Artist, Akse
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Dale Street
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Brick Lane
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Whittle Street – Wombat?
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A good Northern colloquial expression
The next series of murals were all down below street level along the basement wall of the Northern Quarter multi-storey car park – not easy to see unless walking past the street level boundary wall. The bottoms of them were quite grubby though most of the dirt was obscured by various forms of vegetation which I actually thought enhanced their appearance in a way.
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With one more shot – a shutter which I featured in the Shut Up Manchester post – I headed off towards Victoria Station and the train home. I did take a final shot, a very colourful one,  on my way to the station but I’m saving that for a second shutter post to come.

Friday photo hunt – light/dark

The last Friday of the month and I have to admit that this week’s topic was quite a challenge, especially as recent events round here have meant that I haven’t been able to devote too much time to trawling through the thousands of photos in the archives or ‘thinking outside the box’ for new ones, so this time there’s only a handful of shots rather than the dozens I usually put in a post.
Starting off with a shot I took just ten days ago, the moon in a still-light early evening sky as I arrived home from work, followed by one of a series I took after dark in May last year between 10pm and 11pm one night.
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Next are two shots of the Custom House at Custom House Quay on Dublin’s River Liffey. The first was taken on a grey and cloudy day in November 2016 and the second one, showing the lights of the illuminated building against the dark night sky, was taken during a December evening the same year, both from a coach as I travelled through the city.
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Next are two shots of the same view taken while on holiday in 2009, one in daylight and one after dark showing the illuminated castle and the lights of the small harbour. Malcesine (pronounced Mal-chez-in-ay) on the north east side of Italy’s Lake Garda was a favourite holiday destination for many years from 1995 and was, to me at least, one of the nicest towns on the lake.
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And finally, a couple of shots taken on my recent foray into Manchester to photograph street art. The sunburst lights above the escalators in the city’s Arndale shopping centre were designed, made and installed to client specification by the local company where I have my morning job. Not having been in the centre for many years I’d only gone in to see what the place looked like with the shops closed and no-one around and I’d forgotten about the lights until I saw them.
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Well that’s it from me for this week, short and sweet as the saying goes. Sadly this is the last time Kate will be hosting the photo challenge as her life is now too busy to devote enough time to it, so after five years at the helm she is handing over to another participant in the challenge, Astrid of Dragon Stitches and Stuff. Thank you Kate for continuing to host the challenge for so long and I wish Astrid the best of luck in taking it over to make sure it continues.

Manchester street art – 2021 (1)

My walk round Manchester city centre a week ago provided so many street art photos it would have been impossible to put them all in one post. Last week I concentrated on some of the many door and window shutters which I wouldn’t normally see if all the shops were open, this week I’m featuring street art in general with a couple of quirky bits thrown in.
There’s one thing about looking for street art in the city centre – you never know where you’re going to find it, so although I did start with a vague route in mind I went down so many side streets and back alleys I doubled back on myself more than once, meaning the photos have lost any sense of order and I can’t remember where many of them were taken. The first three shots were actually the last three I took but somehow it seems better if I use them first. Not technically street art they were part of the wall along the walkway above the rail lines at Victoria Station and I thought they looked attractive enough to be included.
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Salmon Street – artist unknown
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Cafe bar, Edge Street
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Hare Street – artist, Luke Passey
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Carpenter’s Lane
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Adult shop, Oak Street
The next artwork, on the side of an old substation, was painted in September 2020 by Louis Masai for Meridian Foods and is ‘twinned’ with the door shutter featured in last week’s Monday post. The 3-D effect of the blue and white boot was so good that it looked like it had been made by sticking pieces of rubber to the wall, and the quirky tree on Affleck’s wall spread so far along the side of the building I couldn’t get it all in one photo.
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Tib Street/Thomas Street substation
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Tib Street
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Tib Street
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Affleck’s, Tib Street
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Short Street
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Oldham Street
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Oldham Street
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James Bond mosaic, Houldsworth Street
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Spear Street
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Sponsored by Fred Aldous art and craft store the Outhouse Project has been running since 2010, with artists from around the country regularly producing new artworks on the walls of disused substations and public toilets; the next three shots were taken in Stevenson Square, while the brightly coloured paintwork in Little Lever Street was definitely an optical illusion, giving the impression that the flat wall was wavy.
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Stevenson Square
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Little Lever Street
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Stevenson Square
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Unicorn paste-up, Faraday Street
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Border Terrier paste-up
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Port Street – artist unknown
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Tribute to Ian Curtis, Joy Division singer – Artist, Akse
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Port Street – Artist, Qubek
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Decorated window, Newton Street
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Henry Street
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Great Ancoats Street
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Northstar, Oldham Street
Northstar is a recently renovated and refurbished building offering flexible and creative workspace for individuals and small businesses, and I think its brightly coloured and attractive frontage makes a good photo to end this section of Manchester’s very diverse street art.
To be continued…

Friday photo hunt – sunrise/sunset

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of another week and the photo challenge has come round again – where does the time go? A search through the archives produced more sunsets than sunrises and a few of them have been used on the blog before, two quite recently, but I couldn’t resist using them again.
Starting with the sunrises, the first one was taken in early June 2013 while staying on a lovely small camp site on the Scottish highlands coast. The dawn chorus had wakened me at 2.45am and an hour later it was well on the way to becoming daylight; peering out of the tent window I could see the deep colours of a very early sunrise over the hills behind the site so grabbing the camera, and in pink fluffy dressing gown and furry slippers, I walked a few yards along the nearby track and took a couple of shots before disappearing back into the tent.
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The next three shots were all taken before 7am at California in Norfolk, overlooking the beach just down below the camp site where I stay. The first was in mid September 2015, the other two were taken a day apart in mid September 2016.
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Next we go to Benllech beach on Anglesey and a shot taken on a very early morning at the end of May 2016. There was just me and my two little dogs, Sophie and Poppie, and a vast expanse of beach to ourselves, with no sound other than a couple of seagulls overhead and the gentle lapping of the shallow waves on the sand – it was a perfect start to the day.
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Further north now and to the camp site in Cumbria where I stayed for Easter 2019. The weather was glorious for the whole of the long weekend and I woke very early one morning to see the deep colours of a lovely sunrise over the fells beyond the site. It was a photo worth taking so I went out to stand in front of the van and snapped a couple of shots before the sky became light enough to lose all its colour.
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Staying local now and a couple of shots from a series of six taken early last month and which I featured right at the beginning of this month.The colours of a lovely sunrise were just spreading across the sky as I drove down the lane to the works premises one morning so leaving the van in the car park I walked back for a short distance and took a few shots through the nearby trees.
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On to the sunsets now and the first three were taken just after 8pm on an evening in late August 2008, overlooking one of the fishing lakes at a lovely and peaceful caravan site a few miles from Huntingdon. I stayed there again two years later, and while I don’t fish I liked the site just for its peace and quiet and ‘get away from it all’ atmosphere.
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Back into Lancashire now and the next shot was literally a quick point-and-shoot job taken in mid September 2008 at a lovely caravan site by the side of the Lancaster Canal and less than an hour’s drive from home. I was sitting in the awning one evening when I glanced out of the window and saw the colours of a lovely sunset over the canal so I grabbed the camera, ran round to the canal side and snapped the shot before the light changed.
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Back to the Scottish camp site now, and while the area had some nice sunrises it had some stunningly beautiful sunsets. The end of the site went right down onto a gorgeous beach with views over to the Small Isles of Eigg, Muck and Rum and the next four shots are from a series of a dozen taken just after 10pm in early June 2013.
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Over to Ireland now and first is a shot of the sunset above the clouds, taken just after 5pm on a day in late November 2016 when I was flying back from Dublin to Manchester. The sunset disappeared completely not long after I took the photo and by the time we were over the English mainland again it was almost dark. The second photo was taken through the window of a moving coach as I was on my way back to Roscrea after a day spent exploring Kildare and Portlaoise in late November 2017.
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Back to Anglesey now for the final shot which was taken in mid July 2017 from my pitch at the Benllech camp site where I always stay. I’d just been to fill my large water container from the tap at the top end of the field and noticed the lovely sunset over the trees as I got back to my pitch – it was a photo not to be missed.
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Well that’s just about it from me for this week, as usual I’m linking up with Kate’s blog and I’ll be back later on to check out the sunrises and sunsets chosen by everyone else.

Shut up Manchester

My Monday walk this week was an opportunity not to be missed. A friend had asked me to accompany her to Piccadilly station in Manchester and as I would otherwise have been on my own for Mother’s Day, at least until the early evening, it was a chance to photograph some more street art in and around the Northern Quarter. A quiet Sunday morning and most shops being closed meant that I could photograph many of the door and window shutters which I wouldn’t get to see under normal circumstances so I’m concentrating on those for this post.
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Hare Street – “You spin my head” – Artist, LeiMai LeMaow
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Publicity company, Thomas Street
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MYF, Brick Street
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Abakhan Fabrics, Tib Street
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Great Ancoats Street
The next one was covering the window of an adult ‘party shop’ and is so ugly I passed it by without photographing it, but when I went back that way later on I decided that even though it wasn’t particularly attractive it deserved to be included just because  it was so ugly.
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Tib Street
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Manchester Framing Company, Tib Street
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Rear of Affleck’s, Short Street
Oldham Street has quite a diverse range of businesses from cafes to tattoo and body piercing places and the next series of shots were all taken as I walked along its length from Piccadilly to Great Ancoats Street. The black and white rose design covered the front of a tattoo place and while I dislike tattoos intensely I think the shutter design is very attractive.
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Hilton Street
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Hilton Street/Oldham Street
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Hilton Street/Oldham Street
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Coffee bar, Oldham Street/Houldsworth Street
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Brunch Cafe, Houldsworth Street
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Little Lever Street
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Cocktail bar, Stevenson Square
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Lever Street
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The next shutter is quite special, it’s ‘twinned’ with a mural on the side of an old substation in Thomas Street. Painted by artist and environmentalist Louis Masai it was commissioned by Meridian Foods, a UK company producing foods without using palm oil, and supporting the rescue and rehabilitation of orangutans whose rainforest habitats have been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. Between September 23rd and October 7th 2020 murals were painted in Manchester, London, Glasgow and Birmingham to help highlight the plight of orangutans – you can read more about Meridian Foods here.
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Second hand/rare book shop, Church Street
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Jerk Shack Caribbean street food, Church Street
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Grilled cheese restaurant, Church Street
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Tattoo place, Thomas Street
The Thomas Street tattoo place was the last shutter I photographed and almost the last shot of the day. As well as the NQ I’d also been to another couple of areas and I’d been roaming around the city centre for four hours so it was time to get the train back home, make a brew and chill out for a while.

Friday photo hunt – look up/look down

This week’s photo hunt combined topics were relatively easy for once as I have literally dozens of photos taken looking up at things or looking down on them so any difficulty has been in deciding which to include. I finally narrowed it down to ten ‘pairs’ for the sake of getting this post published today but I may very well add a couple more over the weekend if time allows.
First is a visit to one of my favourite places, Anglesey, and Parys Mountain located a couple of miles south of the coastal town of Amlwych. Originally a huge copper mine worked from the 1760s until 1904, the mountain landscape with its diverse range of very rich colours looks very much like it could belong on another planet. At the highest point is a Grade ll listed windmill built in 1878 to aid the removal of water from the mine shafts; 35ft tall and with a cellar 7ft 7ins deep it was unusual in that it was constructed with three doorways and five sails. The windmill operated until the mine closed but later fell into a state of disrepair and by the end of 1920 was described as being ‘a capless shell’.
The Great Open Cast is roughly in the centre of Parys Mountain and is a vast and impressive chasm which was opened up during the early stages of mining. Created by workers using little more than picks, shovels and gunpowder the Open Cast hides many miles of underground tunnels, shafts and caverns, and any visitors adventurous enough to try it can explore a lot of these with an experienced guide.
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Look up – Parys Mountain windmill
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Look down – Parys Mountain open cast
Staying on Anglesey and underneath the Britannia Bridge are four huge Egyptian-style stone lions, two at each end. Carved from limestone each lion is 25ft long, 13ft tall and sits on a 13ft high base; put there when the original tubular rail bridge was constructed in the mid 19th century a rather modest and amusing short poem written at the time stated “Four fat lions without any hair, two over this side and two over there” which was relevant from either end. After the bridge was partially destroyed by fire in 1970 it was rebuilt with the modern day road running above the rail line, meaning that the lions are now hidden from view and can only be seen very briefly from a passing train – road users will actually drive just a few feet above them without ever knowing they are there.
A mile to the east of Britannia Bridge is the Menai Suspension Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford to carry road traffic between Anglesey and the mainland and pre-dating the Britannia Bridge by 24 years. With a narrow pavement along each side of the road pedestrians can walk across the bridge and get a great view looking over the Menai Straits down below.
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Look up – one of the lions at Britannia Bridge
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Look down – view from the Menai Bridge with the mainland on the right
Across the sea to Ireland now and Kildare round tower situated in the grounds of St. Brigid’s Cathedral. Built in the 12th century the walls are over 2ft thick and at 108ft in height it’s Ireland’s second tallest tower and one of only two which can be climbed. The doorway is 13ft off the ground, accessed by a steel staircase, and once inside the climb to the top is made via a series of six almost vertical ladders, two of which have been in place since 1874. With the tower gradually narrowing in width and the top two ladders having only one handrail it isn’t a climb for anyone with claustrophobia or a fear of heights but the views from the top are worth it.
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Look up – Ladder 4 in Kildare round tower
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Look down – one of the views from the top of the tower
Staying in Ireland and a visit to the 13th century King John’s Castle in Limerick. Between 2011 and 2013 it underwent a massive redevelopment to improve the visitor facilities and now has a new visitor centre and shop, interactive exhibitions and a café with views of the courtyard and river, with a self-guided tour leading through a modern exhibition to the castle itself.
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Look up – a modern spiral staircase in King John’s Castle
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Look down – a River Shannon view from a castle tower
Back over to Anglesey now and a visit to the Marquess of Anglesey Column not far from Britannia Bridge. Erected in 1817 to commemorate the 1st Marquess of Anglesey’s important role in the Battle of Waterloo it was finally topped with a bronze sculpture of the Marquess in 1860. Standing almost 100ft high access to the top of the column is by a spiral wooden staircase of 115 steps, with a small door leading out onto the surrounding balcony which gives extensive views over the island and the Menai Straits. It was lucky that I did the climb in May 2013 as due to the deterioration of parts of the staircase the column has been closed since 2014.
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Look up – the Marquess of Anglesey Column
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Look down – the keeper’s cottage and garden
Heading up to Scotland now and Ardnamurchan Lighthouse on the most westerly point of the British Isles. Designed by Alan Stevenson, uncle of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, it was completed in 1849 and at 118ft tall is the only lighthouse in the UK built in the Egyptian style. Access to the viewing balcony at the top is by 152 steps of a steep but attractive spiral stone staircase and a final short almost vertical ladder. Apparently it’s possible to spot whales and dolphins from up there but when I visited in June 2013 there wasn’t a fin or a flipper to be seen anywhere.
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Look up – the attractive stone staircase at Ardnamurchan lighthouse
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Look down – view from the lighthouse balcony
Heading to East Anglia now and while camping in 2014 at California in Norfolk I climbed the tower at the 15th century St. Mary’s church in the coastal village of Happisburgh (pronounced Haze-brough). The tower is 110ft high and the first part of the climb was a steep and narrow 95-step spiral stone staircase up to the bell chamber, with the second part being a new but just as steep steel spiral of 38 steps. The views from the top were worth the climb though, and on a clear day it’s possible to see 30 churches, 2 lighthouses, 7 water towers, 5 corn mills, 5 drainage mills, 3 wind farms, Trimingham RAF ‘golf’ ball’ radar station, Bacton Gas Terminal, Sea Palling reefs and the spire of Norwich Cathedral just over 16 miles away – now that’s certainly some view.
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Look up – steel spiral staircase in Happisburgh church tower
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Look down – view from St. Mary’s church tower
Returning to Anglesey yet again and the stainless steel Celtic Gateway Bridge at Holyhead. Opened in October 2006 for pedestrians and cyclists it connects the railway station and ferry terminal with the town centre. Futuristic in style with one shallow incline as well as the steps it’s 520ft long, 23ft wide, completely accessible for wheelchairs and prams and is illuminated at night.
Hidden from view below a cliff the old Porth Wen brick works, which I explored in 2018, were established in the mid 19th century and produced fire bricks to line steel making kilns. Production ceased sometime during the first half of the 20th century and the buildings have been left to the elements ever since; the ruins include two chimneys, an engine house, brick kilns, the main building and a loading quay. This place isn’t classed as a tourist attraction and is so out of the way that many of the locals don’t even know about it – it wasn’t the easiest of places to get to either and the route down the cliff involved a narrow path overgrown with brambles and a steep rocky gulley which had to be negotiated almost in a sitting position but my efforts were rewarded when I found myself standing on a wide ledge looking down on one of the strangest and most unique places I’ve ever been to.
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Look up – part of the Celtic Gateway Bridge, Holyhead
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Look down – brick kilns down at the derelict Porth Wen brick works
Close to home now and the residential village of Barrow Bridge on the north west outskirts of my home town. Created during the Industrial Revolution as a model village for the workers in the nearby mills the managers’ houses were built overlooking the brook while the mill workers’ cottages were built in terraced rows at the top of a steep slope, with access to and from the main road via 35 wide and shallow stone steps. The village is a place I often go to on a dog walk in summer and going up the steps on one of my visits there last year I noticed above my head a cat looking down at me from a cottage balcony; at first I thought it had its head stuck in the railings but just after I snapped the photo it twisted round and got up.
Look up – a cat on a cottage balcony just above my head
Look down – steps leading down from the terraced streets to the main road
A final visit to North Wales now and Llanddwyn Island at the end of Newborough beach on the south west corner of Anglesey. Llanddwyn Island is named after Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers and sick animals and is said to be one of the best hidden gems in Britain. With two old lighthouses, a ruined chapel, a row of old boat pilots’ cottages and several stunningly beautiful beaches it’s a lovely place to explore, and the stone cross makes a great vantage point to see the views over to Snowdonia on the mainland.
No visit to Anglesey, whether it be virtual or in reality, would ever be complete without taking in a view of my favourite beach just a short walk from the Benllech camp site where I always stay. Set back off the short promenade is a large car park which has a couple of flights of wooden steps leading up the cliff at the back; a left turn at the top leads to another car park but turning right gives a great view over the beach looking towards Red Wharf Bay, Pentraeth and Llanddona.
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Look up – the stone cross on a rocky outcrop, Llanddwyn Island
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Look down – Benllech beach from the cliff top
Well that’s just about it for this week’s challenge, I hope everyone likes my choices this time. It’s actually taken longer than I expected to do this post and it’s now nearly time for bed so I’ll hop over to Kate’s blog tomorrow when I have more time.

A reservoir ramble

This week’s Monday walk is the one I originally set out to do a week ago but didn’t because of the horrendous traffic situation I encountered on the Sunday. The following morning arrived with more blue sky and sunshine so I decided to attempt the walk again, this time going earlier than the previous day; it was a weekday so hopefully there would be fewer cars around and no problem parking.
I arrived at the lane leading down to the reservoir a few minutes after 10am and with no cars parked along the ‘B’ road, which was a far cry from the previous day, I decided to leave the van there to avoid any possible traffic problems along the lane later on. With views over the nearby countryside it was a very pleasant walk down the lane to the reservoir and I was passed by only one car.
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The reservoir itself is mainly surrounded by pine forest reaching right down to the footpath so unless the sun is fairly high in the sky many parts are in deep shade, meaning photography isn’t always the best, however when I rounded the second bend in the path I found that many trees on the south side had been felled and the whole place looked much more open than it once was.
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At the western end of the reservoir Cadshaw Brook came from somewhere on the moors and was crossed by a wooden bridge. More trees had been felled here, opening out the end of the reservoir; on the left was evidence that a new footpath was being made and across the far side a small area of what had once been trees and bushes had been cleared to expose a short wavy dry stone wall which followed the contours of the land.
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None of the trees on the north side of the reservoir had been felled and at one point they came so close to the water’s edge that the path was quite narrow in places, though it did widen out as I got further along. Eventually it veered away from the water and took me a short distance through a wooded area skirting round a reservoir offshoot before taking me back to the waterside, and in the water close to the corner was The Wader, a galvanised welded steel sculpture of a heron. Commissioned by United Utilities it was made by Marjan Wouda, an artist originally from the Netherlands but trained in the UK and living and working in nearby Darwen for the last twenty years.
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Past the sculpture the path was separated from the reservoir by a stone wall with several grassy and rocky areas right by the water but these were used by the members of a private fishing club so there was no access for the general public. At one point the trees became quite sparse and set back a few yards off the path I spotted just one small clump of miniature daffodils, the first I’ve seen so far.
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Another ten minutes walking got me to the eastern end of the reservoir and the dam with its lane leading up to an out-of-the-way gastro-pub and a country ‘request stop’ station on the line to Blackburn. Out in the water was something which, from a distance, looked like a small boat but was actually some sort of circular platform with what appeared to be a large net strung underneath it. A large ‘danger’ notice attached to the railings warned of ‘high voltage’ and ‘rotating parts’ and perched on the top rail were several gulls, while three cormorants sunned themselves on the platform underneath.
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Designed by Thomas Ashworth, a local land surveyor, the dam was built in 1832 for a group of local mill owners who obtained an enabling Act of Parliament to regulate the supply of water in Bradshaw Brook for water power for the finishing of textiles further down the valley. The overflow channel with its distinctive ‘pyramids’ and the nearby valve tower were added by Bolton Corporation Water Works who took over the reservoir in 1864, though it’s now owned and managed by United Utilities and along with another reservoir nearby it provides around 50% of Bolton’s drinking water. The door in the valve tower was quite small in comparison to the size of the tower itself, it reminded me of a hobbit door though the fancy stonework round the edge was quite unusual and attractive.
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With one final shot looking back towards the far end of the reservoir I crossed the dam and as I passed the car park I noticed quite a few cars in there although it was by no means full. Heading up the lane I took the last three shots of the countryside then made my way back to the van parked up on the side of the road. 
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When I got there I found just two other vehicles parked a hundred yards or so further along; it seemed that my decision to return to the reservoir on a weekday and much earlier than before had paid off, and without the aggravation of the previous day’s traffic chaos I’d enjoyed a really nice walk.
Entwistle reservoir walk

Friday photo hunt – signs of spring/signs of autumn

The weekly photo hunt is continuing through March and this month Kate has provided two similar subjects for each week with a choice of using one or the other, or both. A timely walk at the beginning of this week provided one of the photos for spring and a trawl through the archives came up with some autumn photos which have never been on this blog before.
The first two photos were taken in mid February 2019 in the grounds of Lytham Hall. I’d gone there to do the Snowdrop Walk and the carpets of snowdrops were indeed very beautiful though I was quite surprised to see a couple of clumps of very pretty crocuses popping up on the edge of the woodland. The climate on the coast must be much milder than inland as here at home there was no sign of any crocuses at all so early in the year.
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The butterfly photo was taken in mid March last year. The weather was warming up considerably and while on a dog walk near a local golf course I was surprised to see the peacock butterfly which flitted past me and landed on the path just a few yards away, but before I had chance to focus the camera it flew off again so I kept walking. This happened several times but eventually it landed and stayed just long enough for me to snatch a reasonable photo of it.
The daffodil shot was taken on Monday this week while walking round a local reservoir. Up until recently much of the reservoir has been surrounded by pine forest but the clearance of a lot of the trees bordering the path on one side has opened everything up and it was just off the path that I spotted the small clump of miniature daffodils. I always think of daffodils as being ‘happy’ flowers and these were a lovely and unexpected sign of spring.
On to autumn now and all four of these shots were taken at Bolton Abbey in October 2012. As part of a group of solo and single-parent campers I was staying at a lovely site four miles from Skipton, and while we all got together in the evenings for fun, food, good conversation and impromptu entertainment the days were very much ‘do your own thing’, so not being one to hang around on site when the weather was good I took myself and the dogs to Bolton Abbey one day. I’d been there a few times in previous years but this was the first time visiting on my own, and with the sunshine and autumn colours in the trees I got some really nice photos.
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Well that just about wraps up my selections for this week, time for an early breakfast now then later on I’ll pop over to Kate’s blog to see what photos have been chosen by others this week.

Sunrise through the trees

Just for a change there’s no Monday walk this week but it isn’t for the want of trying. After a very frosty early morning yesterday it was gloriously sunny and with just enough fluffy white cloud to make the blue sky interesting so at lunch time I decided to take the short drive to a fairly local reservoir which I haven’t been to for a while. Now this place is basically in the middle of nowhere with a car park close to the dam, accessed from a ‘B’ road by a lane only just about wide enough for two cars to pass and with a steep bend a couple of hundred yards before the dam – and that’s where I began to wish I hadn’t bothered leaving home.
Just before the bend I ended up at the back of a line of stationary cars with another line of cars trying to squeeze past from the opposite direction. It seemed that the car park was full and people were turning round at the bottom of the hill, creating havoc because the lane was so narrow; added to that someone about four cars behind me had decided to pull into what he thought was an offshoot on the right, which wasn’t, and he was blocking the road so for quite a while no-one was going anywhere.
Eventually two very helpful young men got out of their car and started directing all the other cars round each other to clear the blockage and finally, with the cars in front of me having managed to get down the hill and with nothing else coming up, I had a clear run down to the car park. I’d mentally counted the cars coming up the hill, which were more than the number having gone down in front of me, so I was hopeful I would be able to get a space, however it wasn’t to be.
To get into the car park meant making a sharp right turn on an angle but several cars were parked inconsiderately on the lane opposite the entrance and with other cars coming out there was no way I could get my slightly-larger-than-normal mpv in there, so I carried on across the dam in the hope that I could park on the far side. That was impossible too, cars were parked along the lane for a hundred yards or so and with nowhere to turn round I just had to carry on. The lane ended in a dirt track and a ‘Private road – access only’ sign, however I had a good idea of where I would end up so to hell with it, that’s the way I was going.
The track was full of deep water-filled pot holes so it was a very bumpy ride but eventually I arrived at an out-of-the-way gastro-pub and a proper tarmac lane which took me past a nearby country station and across the top end of a second reservoir to the outskirts of a nearby village. My problems weren’t over however as this was another narrow lane and not far from the main road through the village I encountered another car coming in the opposite direction; with no room to get past and several cars behind me there was nothing I could do. Eventually the other driver decided to reverse back to the main road, as did the two drivers who had arrived behind him, and finally I was free to continue.
Driving back towards home the main road took me past the ‘B’ road to the reservoir I’d originally planned on going to so not being one to give up easily Plan B swung into action and I went back along that road. A second attempt at getting down the narrow lane to the car park would be sheer lunacy so I decided to drive past the lane and park on the road – except I couldn’t. Car after car after car and almost bumper to bumper, they were parked along the road for nearly two miles. It was unbelievable – where had all these cars and people come from? I’ve been round that reservoir and woodland several times in the last few years and even on a sunny weekend in the middle of summer it’s never been that bad. By the time I found a reasonable space I was a long way from where I wanted to be so I gave up completely, turned down a nearby main road and headed for home – an hour and twenty minutes in the van and I’d ended up right back where I started from, at my own front gate.
The dogs did finally get their walk but only round the nearby park which isn’t very exciting so there are no photos of that one. Instead I’m including a few shots I took three weeks ago as I was on my way to work early one morning. The colours of a lovely sunrise were just spreading across the sky as I drove down the lane to the works premises so leaving the van in the car park I walked back for a short distance and took a few shots through the trees. The sunrise promised a lovely day ahead but unfortunately it wasn’t to be; once full daylight arrived the sky turned grey and stayed like that, with just a very watery sun showing briefly and intermittently through the clouds.
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Apart from being resized and sharpened just a touch these shots haven’t been edited in any other way – the colours of the sunrise are just as I took them. Sometimes I think nature paints some wonderful pictures.