Todmorden. A Market & A Folk Festival.

The weather had at last taken a turn for the better, the sun was high in the sky and the breeze was warm. There had been a run of grey, wet days and I needed to get out of the house and into the world outside. I’m lucky in where I live in North West England that there are really good transport links, railways in particular. It was a Saturday so that markets would be open, I really like the atmosphere that come with a market in a northern town. I picked the town of Todmorden as my destination, it sits up on the Pennines on the Lancashire – Yorkshire border and is a decent train ride away.

I made my way to my local station, Newton le Willows on Stephenson’s historic Liverpool to Manchester route bought my ticket and caught the train into Manchester where I would pick up the onward service to Todmorden. The train change at Manchester was a relaxed one, time enough for a coffee and some people watching on the station concourse, then it was onwards and out through the suburbs of Manchester and into the Pennines. For all the urban sprawl around Manchester, its soon left behind as the hills make their presence felt.

The steady climb up through the rolling moors is suddenly interrupted by the sudden blackness as the train plunges into Summit Tunnel, at over a mile in length it is an example of the challenges that face the Victorian railway builders. With modern trains the tunnel is a brief-ish blip on a journey but for the early passengers travelling behind a smoke and spark belching steam locomotive it must have been a very much more thrilling experience.

Coming out of the tunnel the journey was only a few more minutes before the train pulled into Todmorden station, which sits a little above the town centre. The town was busy, a combination of good weather. Market day and it being the weekend of the town’s Folk Festival.

First order of business after any journey is a coffee and I knew just the place in the market hall, the Exchange Coffee stall.

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TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, Exchange Coffee stall.

You will never go hungry or thirsty in Todmorden, there are so many places to choose from but this is a favourite of mine, as is the market hall itself. So it was a mug of really good coffee and some cake ( some things just go together ) while I gathered my thoughts and took in the surroundings. There’s the market hall, with is collection of businesses, butchers, bakers and a ‘proper’ hardware stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall. Hardwa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, the hardware stall.

 

While outside there are more stalls, the whole place having that atmosphere of busy coming and going, conversations being had, shopping being dome and friend and acquaintances being greeted.

A local church had set up a fund gathering cake stall, the cakes were good too. It would have been rude to walk past and not make a donation, well that was my excuse.

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TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, St. Peter’s Church Wallsden, Charity cake stall.

 

The fishmonger was in town as well, busy in the hot sunshine.

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TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Paul’s Fresh Fish.

 

Your sweet tooth would be well catered for on Mrs B’s stall, where jams, honey and marmalades were the order of the day.

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TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Mrs. B’s jams and cakes.

 

Dragging myself away from the market I went in search of the Folk festival. There was a busy program of events and the various troupes of dancers and musicians were performing at various points around the town. The image at the head of this post is off the 400 Roses Belly Dancers, who bewitched the crowds with their graceful, rhythmic movements.

For contrast the Oakenhoof Clog Dancers also entertained with the steady click clack of the clogs backed by the breathy notes of the accordion and the twangs of the guitars.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers accordion player.

 

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers. Man in a hat full of blossom.

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Liverpool. Calderstones Park.

Like every other photographer I am always on the lookout for images, seeing if I can find  one with the elusive spark that tingles down the spine. For me it doesn’t have to be a dramatic scene, just one where the elements fall into place. Where there’s a sense of place. It’s a constant search as I look for material for the photobooks I produce.

This shot is from a journey I made into Liverpool, to Calderstones Park to the south of the city. The park was once a grand estate and house with the various elements which went with a house of that period. The open parkland surrounding the smaller, more intimate gardens nearer the house. I visited early in spring this year, it was still cold and new growth had yet to make it’s presence felt. Wandering around the Old English Garden I found this row of gardener’s outbuildings tucked away behind a high hedge. There was something in the quiet, unassuming, workaday scene that caught my eye, so the shot was made. With the starkness of the trees so early in the year I decided that a black and white image would be the way forward, to emphasise the coolness of the day and bring out the regimented lines of the brickwork.

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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

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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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Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

 

A few days ago I took a train journey up to one of my favourite destinations, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Scotland’s a place I have been travelling to for many years, my connection being my late father who was a Scot from the Lanarkshire area. The reason, or excuse for this latest trip was that fact that the Edinburgh Festival which always adds an extra dimension to the attractions of the city.

It was to be a day trip, something which is easily managed from where I live in Lancashire, the journey time is about two and a half hours also on this trip I travelled by first class which made it even more of a pleasure than usual. So after an excellent breakfast on the train and a lot of window gazing I landed up at Edinburgh’s Waverley station, nestling in it’s narrow valley between the castle on it’s rock and the well tended greenery of Princes Street Gardens. The station is always a busy, bustling place and some aspects of it’s layout can confuse the traveller unused to it’s ways.

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My Eggs Benedict, a very enjoyable way to start a train journey.

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The always busy  Waverley Station concourse.

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Yes, its the same platform, just remember which end of it you want.

I left the station by the Waverley Steps, a brisk way to leave the station and get myself onto Princes Street. The festival had started the previous week so it was now into it’s stride. I took a walk up to St. Andrew’s Square to get a flavour of the atmosphere, Festival time the square is a popular venue site with pop up arenas and bars.

After an hour or so of people watching I was making my way back towards Princes Street and I decide to stop off at Jenner’s, an Edinburgh department store of some repute. There is a cafe on the top floor which gives and excellent view over the gardens and across to the castle. So I took in this marvellous view while I enjoyed my sandwich and coffee.

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Cafe at Jenners

I like exploring places on foot and Edinburgh is a great city to do this in. I made my way along Princes Street and then up Lothian Road to the district of Morningside, Passing by one of Edinburgh’s great open spaces, Bruntsfield Links. This area is a hive of independent shops and cafes and is one I like to visit with my camera and people watch.

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Jogging by a Bruntsfield Cafe

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Keeping an eye on Morningside.

It was now time to make my way back to the city centre and the Royal Mile to take in the atmosphere of the Fringe performers on the preview stages. The route I chose took me across The Meadows and along the George IV Bridge. Built in the late 1820’s to span one of the many valleys that cut into the city centre this doesn’t look very bridge like as you walk along it, as over the years Edinburgh has crept up on it and absorbed it. It leads you past Greyfriars Kirkyard, the cafe where Harry Potter came into being and onto the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral.

This is the hub of the previews for the shows and is always a must see destination as the performers do their best to drum up and cajole and audience for their own particular show.

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Bright colours to bring in the crowds

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The cathedral looks on as another story unfolds.

So that is a flavour of my Edinburgh trip, it’s a brilliant city to visit in it’s own right and when the festival is on even more so.

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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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Astley Hall & Figures In A Walled Garden

A favourite place of mine for taking my camera for a walk is Astley Hall on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. The Hall has it’s origins in the 15th century, with succeeding families of owners each putting their own stamp on the building. To the rear of the hall is the walled garden, the kitchen garden, providing produce to feed the household. The garden has been under a program of restoration and replanting with the emphasis shifting to the decorative as opposed to the edible.

It’s a spot that holds year round attractions as the season ebb and flo, the bare sticks of trees and frozen hummocks of soil slowly warm and ease themselves into a new cycle of life for the year. Shoots forcing themselves through onto the stage of a new growing year and fresh leaves begin to garland the trees as the days lengthen.

The walled garden is also a stage for an ever shifting range of features and exhibits. Two that have caught my eye are these wicker figures, not quite a Wicker Man, they don’t quite have those sinister overtones, they are more peaceful and reflective.

13/09/15 CHORLEY. Astley Hall Walled Garden. Wicker Figure.

LANCASHIRE. Chorley. Figure woven out of willow in the walled garden.

My original shots were colour but something in the poise of the figures made me try out B&W versions of the images which I felt conveyed more the timelessness of a peaceful walled garden.

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LOOKING AT LINCOLN

Lincoln is a city that I had wanted to visit for some time and to have a change from driving I decided to travel by train. The journey took a couple of hours with the route starting in the industrial surroundings of Manchester before passing through the beauties of Derbyshire’s Peak District. More industry was passed through at Sheffield but before long the train was travelling through the flat Lincolnshire countryside.

The railway station lies at the bottom of the city, by the River Witham. It was in this part of Lincoln that signs of the earliest settlements have been found. The Romans settled here in the AD 50’s, building their fort at the top of Steep Hill, where the cathedral and castle now stand.

Lincoln River Witham

The River Witham

Lincoln High Street

The High Street

This lower part of Lincoln by the river is linked to the Upper by the very aptly named Steep Hill. On your way up Steep Hill you pass The Jews House, a building which dates from the 12th century and has been occupied ever since. Having been in the recent past an Antiques shop it is now a restaurant.

Lincoln Steep Hill

Looking down Steep Hill

Lincoln Jews House

The Jews House

At the top of Steep Hill stands the glorious Lincoln Cathedral, as you will see from my headline picture it is a soaring,  impressive building. Constructed a little after the castle it was consecrated in 1092. The cathedral owns one of only four copies of the Magna Carta, this one signed in 1214, it is displayed in the museum which now occupies the castle.

Lincoln cathedral organ

The Cathedral Organ

After the collapse of the Roman Empire Britain fell prey to other invaders such as the Vikings and then finally William the Conqueror arrived in Lincoln and had the castle built in 1068. In Victorian times the castle became a prison. Now a museum the castle still has the prison chapel where the prisoners were seated and hooded in individual stalls so as to prevent any contact or conversation. It is possible to walk a complete circuit of the castle walls, a viewpoint which gives stunning views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Lincoln Castle

The Castle Entrance

Lincoln Gaol ghost

Inside the Castle Gaol

One feature of my visit to the Castle Gaol was the use of re-enactments of prisoners stories projected onto near invisible screens. They do give you a jolt if you are not expecting them. This ‘ghost’ recounts her tale of being imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread.

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