Great Britain


Around Ashton Again

Ashton-under-Lyne does not present its best face to you if you arrive by tram or bus. The new bus terminal is more attractive than the one it replaced, and it does a good job of hiding the back side of the shopping centre, but you’ve still found your way there past soulless big-box stores and venues. The more interesting part of town is on the other side of the Escher inspired maze of the shopping centre.

The market square and market hall lead you on to a small grid of streets, well stocked with interesting finds.

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Of course, when I say interesting, I mean to me- so it’s all old facades, abandoned stuff, and a surprising number of dead nightclubs.

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The Hudson Bay is even more exclusive now it’s shut down and no-one at all can get in.

Club Denial

Club Denial can’t accept that it’s now a small supermarket.

Tameside Hippodrome

The Hippodrome survived a century, but something between 2004 and now has led to its closure.

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I’m not sure what Slotworld was before it was Slotworld, but it’s not Slotworld any more, either.

I wandered for a while, and was back a couple of days later to get a couple more pictures. There are more photos in the gallery.

Now, which satellite town should I visit next?


Shalom Christian Church

Shalom Christian Church

It’s only in the last few years that I have been introduced to the concept of the “estate pub”- basic brick buildings providing booze in newer build areas. Functional, but far from attractive, many of them never got the chance to age into the character you expect of a good boozer, having been demolished already.

The Shalom Christian Church building has the look of estate pub thinking applied to a place of worship.

Shalom Christian Church

The “ramparts” at each corner provide more of an architectural flourish than most estate pubs were blessed with. Combined with the barbed wire along the roof line and the brieze blocks on the inside of the windows, it has an air of a fortress about it.

Shalom Christian Church

The biggest surprise- to me- was that the building isn’t as abandoned as the barricaded windows made me think. Walking past it yesterday morning, I was surprised to find the door open for the regular Sunday service. I didn’t look inside- that would have felt like prying (and I hadn’t had any breakfast yet, and was in a hurry to find food).


To and from a COVID Jab

Vaccination wander
Photos from a wander to and from my first Coronavirus vaccination.

Yesterday was the first of my Covid vaccinations. As I’ve worn a groove between the flat and work over the last few months, and barely deviated from it, this was something of an expedition. So I took a few photos, and visited some spots that weren’t directly on the route*.

Today, I have a few aches as the vaccine teaches my body how to fight off the real thing, but none of the fever-y and flu-like symptoms others have reported. I’m working from home tomorrow, just in case.

Hopefully, the Flickr album is embedded above. If you can’t move between photos, click through to see them all.

*Don’t worry, I didn’t go mad. A mask was worn in shops and on public transport, and I maintained a safe distance. And, as the photos will show, a lot of the wander was through practically deserted parts of town anyway.


Not Coming Back

I’m getting out more, now. Not rushing out to pubs and all that stuff, but leaving the flat for more things than just going to work or shopping for food.

After last week’s jaunt, I decided to go for another bike ride around Manchester City Centre. This time, I thought I’d pay respects to three Manchester venues that this week announced they won’t be re-opening.

In reverse order of their importance to me-

Nexus RIP

Nexus Art Cafe has been one of my favourite coffee shops for years. I’ve gone there to write, do life drawing, and meet friends. It was a quirky semi-basement space, which hosted art exhibits and all sorts of other events. A not-for-profit, it was run by a Christian group that displays all the best qualities of religion- caring, inclusive, and all round decent. I’ll miss it, and I hope something as lovely rises from the ashes.

Deaf Institute RIP

The Deaf Institute. Two bars and a mid-sized music venue. I’ve drunk in there a few times, but may only have been to one gig. I would have liked to go to more….

Gorilla RIP

I don’t know if I’ve ever been in Gorilla. I’ve been too broke for too many years to do the gigging I wish I could.

I’m sure these buildings will be taken over by new management, and the new venues that are created will hopefully be as good. It just sucks that they had to end this way.

I have a job now, and a bit more disposable income, so I’m going to do what I can to get the cash flowing for other local small businesses. After I’d taken my photos, I took the time to go buy some stuff in Fred Aldous and FanBoy Three, because I don’t want to be posting photos of their locked doors in a few months time, saying how much I’ll miss them.

Update: Embedded Nexus’ farewell Facebook message below-


The first ride since lockdown

First ride after lockdown

I finally left the flat for something other than work or food shopping. Just an easy ride into Manchester city centre to check out car free Deansgate, then around a few familiar places, and back again. You may have to click through to enjoy the full gallery, depending upon what mood the embedding code is in.


The Ruins of Bolton

A fortnight ago, I went for one last photography wander before starting my full on social distancing*. But I thought I’d go further afield, and hopped on a train to Bolton. If the Flickr embed below isn’t playing nice, you may need to click through to see the whole gallery.

Ruins of Bolton

*Even more distant than the social distancing I’ve been doing for the last few years.


A couple of walks on the fringes

Feb 1st Wander

I started the month with a walk around the area close to Mayfield Depot, on what I think of as the Ancoats/Ardwick border. Lots of interesting stuff, and I finally found the location of Dirt Factory, where I plan to throw bikes around some day soon.

Pendleton Decay

My next wander was closer to home, and more of a hunt for something specific. I watched a couple of episodes of car customising programme Goblin Works Garage, and kept seeing the Beetham Tower in exterior shots. So I went for an explore in street view, but couldn’t find the exact location of their workshop. Until one of the shots showed ‘Pendleton Cooperative Industrial Society’ carved into the bricks of their neighbours. The building was less than a kilometre from where I live, so I went and visited at lunch time, and got some shots of the neighbourhood.


A Flashback to Reclaim The Streets

Reclaim The Streets, Manchester, 1996

Last week’s Extinction Rebellion protest reminded me of Reclaim The Streets, and other demos I went on in the 90s. So I took a dive into my boxes of photos, and found these. The demo closed Oxford Road for a while in 1996. (I checked the release dates of the films on the Odeon billboard to get the year.)


Rebelling

Weekend of Rebellion

After Pride over the Bank Holiday weekend, this last one was more focused on Anger. Are we working our way through the seven sins? Next week, maybe I’ll just stay in bed for Saturday and Sunday. A big feast the one after.

I can’t wait for Lust to turn up.

Extinction Rebellion was in town from Friday to today, closing a section of Deansgate to traffic, and making it civilised. I visited, and took photos, on Friday and Saturday. It actually upset me, in a strange way, because it reminded me of the Reclaim The Streets demos I participated in in the 90s. We didn’t see the change we called for then until fairly recently, and then only slow and flawed. We don’t have two decades to wait for things to get done about climate change.

Also on Friday was August’s Critical Mass. But I’d walked in, so I just took some photos.

Saturday saw my second visit to Extinction Rebellion, and the Stop The Coup demo, which started out in Cathedral Gardens, and made its way to Albert Square, despite starting in very heavy rain.

Then it was down to Platt Fields for something not angry- the Festival of Manchester. I got some nice photos, then there was more heavy rain, so I abandoned it early.

It’s going to be a busy Autumn, and I’ll try to get to as many of these demos as possible, getting photos and video when I do.


Manchester Pride Parade 2019

Manchester Pride Parade 2019

I set off late for Pride, so didn’t get as good a vantage point as usual. But, to compensate, I have a better camera than in previous years, and every so often, a shot framed by the crowd in front of me worked.

Nonetheless, of the 489 photos I took, I only liked 35 of them enough to put into the album. Click on the image to see them.


The Ruins of Manchester City Centre

Manchester, August 2019

As yesterday was the first day for a week where it wasn’t pouring down, I grabbed the chance to head into the city centre and do some writing. Once I’d got a thousand or so words out, it was time to take the new camera, and have a walk through the back streets on the edge of the centre. There are still some run down buildings in the Northern Quarter, but also a number of more surprisingly unused ones nearer to Piccadilly. I also found an industrial age chimney, rising up out of a building halfway between a couple of the busier streets, that I swear I had never even noticed before.

Enjoy the gallery (you may have to click on the image to see it at Flickr). I have also added some of the images to the Ruins of Manchester collection in my Redbubble shop, so you can get prints, cards, and other items with them on.


Sunday Morning Manchester Ride

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Today, I finally got around to it.

Getting up at 4am, I had a cup of tea, pumped the bike’s tyres up to a good running pressure, and headed into Manchester city centre. I videoed my ride around some random streets, and added some music, and here it is.

Okay, it’s no C’etait Un Rendezvous, but I had fun. If someone would like to lend me an electric motored mountain bike, and maybe some GoPros, I’d have a go at a point to point across the city centre, with a higher speed up the hills, and overall. (I might set out later, though. I hadn’t expected there to be so many people still around at 5am. Maybe at 7 or 8, the clubbers would mostly have made it home, and there’d be fewer cabs on the road.)


The Ruins of Manchester

I get around to most jobs, eventually.

For years, I’ve been taking pictures of run-down and characterful buildings in and around Manchester (and elsewhere, when I’ve been able to visit other cities). I’ve finally started uploading them to Redbubble, so you can get them printed onto various items. Every image is available as a card, but some of them are also available on mugs, phone and tablet covers, and as larger prints. You can even get a redbrick miniskirt.

I’m only up to 2010 so far, so there’s more to come. Keep dropping in to see what’s new. Ruins of Manchester isn’t the only series I’m doing. I’ve got other photos, and several designs, that are also available. Check out all my works here.