Chorley. Leek & Potato Soup

The weather in my part of the UK is currently bouncing to and fro between wet, windy or just plain horrible and it’s been like this for the past few weeks. I finally ran out of patience a couple of days back and decided I had to get out of the house come what may. I had counted all the flowers on my wallpaper more than once and my camera was sat in it’s case feeling lonely and neglected.

It was Tuesday, that meant Flat Iron Market day in the nearby town of Chorley. I believe the name comes from the practice in years gone by of turning up at the market with an old blanket, the corners of which you weighted down with anything to hand, old flat irons etc and that was your stall and that name stuck. Things are more organised today. Due to building work the Flat Iron isn’t on it’s usual site, a large car park instead the stalls are threaded through the streets around the covered market. I must admit I like it, the arrangement means you get the best of both worlds, the regular shops, Chorley has a fine selection of independent traders, mixed in with the market stalls.

You would have to put a lot of effort into going hungry in Chorley, the choices of places to eat is really wide. To warm up on this visit I took myself to Bees Country Kitchen on the side of the covered market. This place is a true gem, an almost bewildering selection of food comes out of a single market stall. I went for the Leek & Potato soup, perfect for the cold weather. Seating is in a couple of pavilions alongside so you get to eat and watch the world go by. Perfect if you are looking for inspiration for that project/image/idea.

The Bees Country Kitchen

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Knutsford. Market In The Street.

The weather’s been frightful, as the song goes. I needed to get out of the house for a couple of hours and give my car a warm through as it had been standing for a couple of days in the snow and the rain.

I live near the northern part of Cheshire which puts a clutch of market towns within easy reach. For this trip I set my sights on the town of Knutsford, I knew from previous visits that the town was quite lively on Sundays with plenty of eating places open, along with quite a few of the towns shops. What I hadn’t planned for was the pleasant surprise of the monthly Makers Market being held. I have visited this event before but for some reason my Winter addled brain was convinced that it would not be restarting until after Easter. Note to self, check the internet more often before planning journeys. At the moment car parking is free on Sundays but if an event is on it can get a bit tricky. Luckily I found somewhere fairly quickly and it was only as I turned the corner onto Princess Street did I discover why this Sunday was such a busy one.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Cakes and Biscuits.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Home made cakes and biscuits.

The Market fills the length of one street an a few of the side streets running off. I decided to make lunch my first call and looked into a favourite venue of mine, the Cheese Yard on Cotton Yard. The inspiration for the menu is in the title, and a very pleasant menu it is too. I opted for the potato cake, scrambled eggs and bacon, perfect food for a cold day.

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The Cheese Yard. Potato Cake, Scrambled Eggs & Bacon.

The market offers a very wide range of produce, artisan breads and cakes through handmade craft good to real ales and cheeses. There’s also always a wide spread of street food vendors and live music on offer.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

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KNUTSFORD MAKERS MARKET

THE CHEESE YARD

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK. 

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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.

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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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Gateshead And An Angel

Standing with a mute indifference over the bustle and clutter of a housing estate and the busy A1 road to Scotland is Anthony Gormley’s ‘Angel of The North’. The sculpture was erected in 1998 and it’s rusted orange presence has now become part of the psyche of the North East. The varied palette of orange and browns that make up the surface of the Angel are a feature of the Cor-Ten steel which is used in it’s construction. This steel has naturally weathering properties which protect it and remove the need for any additional painting.

On the day I took this image I had been visiting Newcastle upon Tyne, just across the River Tyne from Gateshead and the Angel. It was late-ish summer and the evening was beginning to settle in as the sun bid goodbye to the day. I decided to silhouette the Angel against the cloud fluffed sky and while I liked the resulting image, I felt a B&W version would work too.

A detail I only noticed when editing the shot, I had always assumed that the wings of the Angel where flat but in fact they fold inward by a very few degrees in a shallow embrace.

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