Friday photo hunt – bubbles

The final Friday of Astrid’s photo challenge for April and it’s a quick one from me this time.
Last summer a new shop opened in the town centre, and having discovered exactly what this stuff is I have to admit it’s not something I fancy as a drink but apparently lots of people love it, so as I’m never likely to go in there I’ve had to pinch this photo from the local news.
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Next is a bit of a weird one. I don’t know what the creature is supposed to be but I found it painted on a wall at the end of a short alleyway in Manchester’s NQ. I did feature a cropped version in a previous post but to include the speech bubble I’ve had to blank out the words.
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Speech bubble
The soap in my bathroom soap dispenser was getting low recently so I topped it up with water, gave it a good shake and photographed the results.
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Bubbles in the soap dispenser
I recently went back to my previous hobby of Postcrossing after a 2-year absence and though I still have lots of postcards to send to people I wanted something a bit different. I found a bundle of 100 modern postcards at a good price on ebay and when they arrived I was pleased to find one which fits this week’s topic perfectly.

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

Corporation Park, Blackburn – a spring revisit

My Monday walk this week was done just yesterday on yet another gloriously sunny blue-sky morning. Wanting to get away from walks in my immediate area but not really wanting to drive too far I decided to let the train take the strain, as the tv ad once said, and go to Blackburn to revisit Corporation Park. A reasonably early start meant there were no buses from my area down to the main station in town so a mile-and-a-half walk took me to a smaller station on the Bolton to Blackburn line. With a train due just after I got there I was in Blackburn soon after 9am and an easy walk through the town centre took me to the park situated on the outskirts about quarter of a mile away.
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Approaching the main entrance
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Halfway up the main path I took a minor path leading through the trees on the right to the larger of the two lakes then bypassing the smaller lake I headed towards the west end of the Broad Walk. Passing in front of the Conservatory I noticed its derelict condition was still as bad as when I first saw it last year, and though I stopped to look at the birds in the nearby aviary taking any decent photos of them proved difficult as there was a barrier and a great deal of narrow gauge mesh in front of them.
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The lime trees along the Broad Walk still had to gain their leaves so everywhere was much more open than on my previous visit, and though I hadn’t been impressed with the Colourfields panopticon at the time I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and climb to the top of the park to take another look. Unfortunately my previous opinion of it was reinforced – it was dull, drab and pointless, and even though the currently leafless trees enabled a slightly better view over the town down below it was still uninspiring, so the one photo I did take from there was deleted straight away.
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My climb to the top of the park hadn’t been in vain though. Walking along towards the east side the path was lined with creamy white daffodils and a wooded area further on was filled with both yellow and white varieties, while the pleasant open area of the children’s cycle track was in complete contrast.
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At the far side of the park, and just outside the boundary wall, was Brantfell Road, a unique street dating from the early 20th century. Red brick terraced houses with bay windows face the eastern boundary of the park, and while the upper and lower sections of the street have vehicle access the centre section is characterised by a series of 60 wide steps which still contain the original stone setts. One website describes the street as being ‘a pram-free zone’ and having walked down the steps and back up again I can understand why.
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Yes, they really are so steep
Back in the park I retraced my steps past the tennis courts and the cycle track, through the wooded area and down a minor path and a set of stone steps to the centre of the Broad Walk. Another set of steps took me down to the Italian Garden but with a distinct lack of flower beds or a central water feature it couldn’t look any less Italian if it tried, though it was still a very pleasant area.
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As the train approached the station where I’d started my journey I had a swift change of plan and rather than walk back home from there I decided to take the easy way out. Staying on the train to the main station at the interchange in town it was an easy matter to get a bus from there to my area and get off just round the corner from home, and though I had a five minute wait for the bus I still got back quicker than if I’d walked from the previous station.
This had been Snowy’s first experience of travelling by train and bus and though she had been a bit restless on the train out she was more settled on the return journey and was fine on the bus, so maybe on the occasions when I leave the van at home she will become quite a seasoned little traveller.

Friday photo hunt – earth

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

More Manchester street art – the Northern Quarter

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

That Wednesday/Thursday feeling

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

A local walk at Easter

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

Friday photo hunt – farm

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

Shut up Manchester (2)

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

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Hilton Street

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Oldham Street

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Oldham Street

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Oldham Street

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Newton Street

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Newton Street

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Newton Street

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

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Stevenson Square/Lever Street

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

Friday photo hunt – chocolate

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that with the first photo hunt for April falling on the Easter weekend the subject is ‘chocolate’. I originally had another post partially written for today but something unexpected happened earlier this week which ties in nicely with the photo hunt subject chosen by new host Astrid so I’ve had a change of plan.
A couple of weeks ago, without being asked, Michael brought me a couple of bars of white chocolate from our local corner shop. It was a brand I’ve never heard of, possibly produced for cash-and-carry outlets, and it was only cheap but surprisingly it was very nice, though as I don’t eat a lot of chocolate anyway the second bar remained unopened until yesterday when I took the photo.
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One day last week I got a rather puzzling text from Michael’s girlfriend to say there would be a delivery arriving for me on the Saturday; it turned out to be a long box containing a large and rather lovely bunch of flowers with a card and a miniature box of chocolate seahorses. The flowers are now brightening up my bedroom unit though the seahorses have yet to be eaten.
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Back in mid March I got an online newsletter from an Oxfordshire company I’ve dealt with several times since 2008. The newsletter contained a 10-question quiz with all the questions and/or answers relating to Easter; first prize was a Lindt Easter egg with assorted chocolates and there were three smaller runners-up prizes. The answers had to be emailed in by March 24th and quite surprisingly I knew them all without having to resort to Google, so I sent them in just for fun; if I’d had to start looking things up I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
On Monday morning this week I got an email from the company to say my name had been picked as first runner-up and my prize, a pack of Cadbury’s creme eggs, would be sent out to me straight away. They arrived on Tuesday and as I wouldn’t eat them all I gave a couple of them to Michael.
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I don’t often enter competitions as I very rarely ever win anything so getting the creme eggs was an unexpected but nice surprise, though I have to say they are now a lot smaller than they once were and they don’t seem to taste quite as good as years ago. And for someone who doesn’t eat a lot of chocolate I now feel like I’m being inundated with the stuff!