Greater Manchester


The History of Softys’ Hard Stuff

Softys' Hard Stuff

I never went into Softys’ Hard Stuff. In fact, I only went past it once, during a photo wander around Bolton, which is when I took this photo. The picture has now been used (with permission) by Manchester Evening News in an article about the adult shop’s genesis in a TV programme and subsequent run-ins with the law.


The Private Cashier- A Pride Month Dodge Charger

A Dodge Charger with a Pride flag on the roof has been on the to-do list for a while. This version wasn’t as large a project as I’d initially planned, and used transfers rather than the more ambitious masking I thought would be involved. But I got it done within Pride month, after only deciding to do it on the last day of May.

Read more about Private Albert Cashier on Wikipedia

Skintone progressive Pride flag by PersikFlorCC BY-SA 4.0

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The e-bike Wild West

I’m back to kicking around ideas for Another Summer of Hate, my next novel. One possible plot thread would involve the death of a kid on an e-bike, so I’m following the news about the incidents so far this year. (And one of them happened close to where I used to live, so there’s that as well.)

I don’t like the repeated suggestions in this article that it would somehow be perfectly safe to chase riders who wore helmets. Protective headgear, bike helmets in particular, provide limited protection against a limited range of injuries. They are not the magical lifesavers some people think they are (see also the zombie Helmet Debate, recently returned to eat the brains of politicians).

Criminal gangs, and reckless kids, use e-bikes. There is no straightforward way to deal with them, and I hope Police are deciding how, and whether, to pursue them based on more than just what’s on their heads.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/jun/16/softer-tactics-calls-for-uk-ban-police-chases-of-children-on-e-bikes-deaths


The scooters of St George 2023

I primarily go to the St George’s Day parade for the scooters at the end, but there are always a few other cool vehicles passing by before them. The first half of the video is the Jeeps, Land Rovers and trucks that also attended, the second half the scooters.

For a while, it looked like the scooters weren’t going to make an appearance. I don’t know what held them up, but it must have been frustrating, and no doubt explains why they seemed more rowdy and anarchic than in previous years.


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.