Heskin . A Day At The Steam Rally.

Well I don’t know where the time has gone, I didn’t plan to leave it this long between blog entries. I’ve been busy working on my book production, transferring e-books into Print On Demand format and creating new titles. It’s surprising how the days flit by when you get engrossed in a project.


HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Charnock Richard Brass Band.

So for a change of scene and some much needed fresh air I took myself off to the annual Heskin Vintage Fair and Steam Rally. This is a two day event which takes place in rural Lancashire, a world away from the image of the industrial towns normally associated with the towns of north western England.


HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Parade ring spectators.

The attractions include steam traction engines and all manner of agricultural equipment, alongside these are veteran and vintage cars and motorbikes, there’s usually a selection of ex military vehicles as well. I like all these big boys toys, they make the event a fertile hunting ground for a photographer and camera.


HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Parade ring, model steam engine parade.


HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Bear in a car.

That’s enough words for now, the pictures will fill in the gaps, I have to get back to the grindstone, I have two books to finish and upload.


HESKIN. 25th STEAM RALLY. Landrover conversation.








New Brighton On A Sunny Day

After the festivities and fun of Christmas I needed a breath of fresh air to blow the cobwebs of self indulgence away. Plus I needed to take a selection of photos of the local rail network for an ebook I’m working on. From where I live on the edge of the Merseyrail network the journey out to New Brighton is not a long one. Part of the network, the rail loop under Liverpool city centre is closed for rebuilding but a very efficient bus substitution is in place so I got to see parts of Liverpool and Birkenhead I don’t normally pass through from the top of a double decker bus. It’s the big kid in me as in my area double decker buses are now very much a thing of the past.

I picked up the rail service again at Birkenhead North as was in New Brighton within twenty minutes. I took the station shots I needed, they were ‘In Case Of ‘ shots just to make sure I had covered the station thoroughly. That done I decided it was time for something to eat. New Brighton railway station sits on the high ground above the promenade at the top of Victoria Road, the main shopping street which leads down to the site of the now demolished pier, once served by the famous Mersey Ferries, which still criss cross the Mersey but sadly no longer serve New Brighton.

A little bit pushed for time, I always am (promise to self in 2017 be more organised), I dropped into the Morrisons Supermarket and had a sandwich and a coffee, both very good. I like these sort of places with the people watching and the unsought-after but always interesting chances for conversation. I also took the chance to catch up on the note making for my day so far. The Supermarket is on the promenade, perhaps not everyone’s first choice to put a shopping area but it does bring some activity and life to the area. The sun was still beaming down from a clear blue sky so I took a walk along the prom, watching the shipping making it’s war in and out of the still busy Mersey river. One of the New Brighton attractions is the Fort, designed to keep the area safe from invasion by Napoleon, seeing service through to WW2 and now open to the public. It features in the header image. Another scene which caught my eye was the large, off shore wind farm built on Burbo Bank, one of the sandbanks which guard the estuary entrance. I know that wind farms are something which divide opinion but there appearance did have a dreamy quality, spinning silently on the horizon in the sea haze.


The Burbo Bank OffShore Wind Farm

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Chorley. Astley Hall All Lit Up.

Astley Hall is a historic manor house on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. It’s favourite place of mine, I like to visit it with my camera as the seasons roll and change through the year.

It has a changing sequence of events taking place through the year which always add to the pleasure of any visit. A more recent attraction is Astley Hall Illuminated, a light show that takes place in the grounds on one night in November and I was able to make it to this years performance. As well as the lights there were other attractions, living Christmas Trees walking around, children being terrified and intrigued in equal measure and a Brass Band from the Lancashire village of Tarleton played Carols throughout the evening.


SPARK Line up outside the Hall

The highlight for me though was a drumming troupe by the name of SPARK. Their appearance was completely other worldly. They wore illuminated costumes, the colours changing as the beats of their drums changed. Throughout the evening they marched in formation around the Hall and it’s grounds like ghostly Pied Pipers with the crowds following in their wake. It was a truly magical experience.


SPARK attracts the crowds.

I’ve already made a note to check out the date for next year, a tip if you go wrap up warm, it’s Lancashire and it’s November. I warmed up afterwards with a hot chocolate from the Hall’s Cafe Ambio, a lovely end to a great evening.


Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK. 






Liverpool. A Very Particular Gallery.

A few days ago I finally made my way to a place I’ve been meaning to visit for some time, the Victoria Gallery & Museum, part of Liverpool University. I had kept coming across references to it and had made various plans to visit but something had always come up and got in the way until the Saturday when I finally got through the door.

The Gallery is located on Ashton Street, off Brownlow Hill. It stands opposite the modernistic Metropolitan Cathedral, the warm, red brick of the gallery building is a stark contrast to the brash concrete and angular shape of the cathedral.

LIVERPOOL. Metropolitan Cathedral.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

This isn’t the largest museum or gallery I’ve ever visited but it more than makes up for it with character and quirkiness. The interior of the building is largely unchanged from its opening, when the top floor, now the Tate Hall, served as the University’s library. It is a marvellous time capsule of Victorian design and style of that period. The magnificent entrance hall, now a excellent cafe, is dominated by a wonderfully tiled fireplace from which elegant stair cases lead off up to the higher floors.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

The Entrance Hall Cafe.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stairway to The Upper Floors

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Owl Skeleton

Owl Skeleton On The Stairs.

Some of the displays are contained within individual rooms, which I found helped, I was able to focus more on specific items rather than be overwhelmed by larger displays.

The top floor of, the original museum library, now the Tate Hall named after Sir Henry Tate one of the University library’s benefactors, is a large and airy space with a beautiful beamed ceiling. This part of the gallery contains a wonderfully quirky mix of displays, one end has exhibits charting the part Liverpool University played in nuclear research, for medical uses originally and then how that changed with the onset of WW2 and then with the coming of peace developments with lead to the building of the Large Hadron Collider. At the other end of the room however there is a display of dentistry through the ages with a reconstruction of a typical Victorian era Dentist’s surgery and a collection of dentures form around the world.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Tate Hall.

The Tate Hall.

One final aspect which made my visit so enjoyable was the staff, they are amongst the most friendly, approachable and well informed that I have met, only to happy to discuss the museum, its history and displays. Treat yourself to a couple of hours away from the rush of the city centre, next time you are near or in Liverpool, pay the Victoria a visit.





Edinburgh. A Drink in An Elegant Bar.

It was a friend’s 50th birthday and he decided that an appropriate way to celebrate would be lunch in Edinburgh at the Malt Whisky Society. Three of the attendee’s, Andrew the birthday boy, Niall and myself live in Lancashire, the fourth guest, Gavin lives on the outskirts of Inverness. So train tickets were booked and lunch reservations made.

A travel note, it took as long for Gavin to travel from Inverness to Edinburgh as it did for us to travel up from England, Scotland is by no means a small country.

We all rendezvoused in Jenner’s cafe overlooking Princes Street, there’s a photo of it in a previous Edinburgh post. After a coffee and catching up session it was a taxi to the Malt Whisky Society in Leith where excellent food was provided along with excellent wine. The finale being a measure of a gorgeous cask strength Bowmore single malt.

Extremely happy and satisfied we made our way back into Edinburgh ready for our early evening trains home. There was time in hand though for one last relaxing drink, a little bit of head scratching produced the Cafe Royal in West Register Street, just off Princes Street and convenient for Edinburgh’s Waverley station.

A quiet drink was had in the elegant surroundings and was the perfect end note to what had been a very, very pleasant day.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The Cafe Royal

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Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

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Lytham. The Morning Paper.

Lytham is one half of a  a charming pair of  Fylde resort towns, the other is St. Annes,  on the Lancashire coast a little to the south of Blackpool . It’s about an hour’s drive away from where I live so it’s an easy destination to make for with my camera. It’s a bustling place with plenty of life and a busy centre, which means there are many opportunities for the candid image. Sunday is a favourite day, when people ease back a little and take time over the small pleasures, like reading your newspaper in the sun.

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Manchester. Art On The Street.

A few weeks ago a friend invited me along to his graduation ceremony for his Masters degree which was being held in Manchester. I think it now makes him some sort of Jedi.

The event was being held in the starkly elegant Bridgewater Hall across from the Victorian splendour of the Midland hotel, the hotel was acting as the dressing room for the students cap and gownery. So needless to say there was a certain amount of hustle and bustle between the two but in amongst all the celebrations and mortar board throwing etc. there was a small oasis of calm.

Carefully, diligently a gentleman was sketching away at recreating the Manchester skyline in a panorama of watercolours and pen strokes. From time to time small knots of the celebrating crowds would break off to admire his craftsmanship but never once did he break his concentration or step out of his zone.

I wonder what the finished image looks like and where it’s now hanging?

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The Midland Hotel Manchester

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