Didsbury Car Show 2011 1

Didsbury Car Show 2011

Many more pictures here.

In keeping with the show I cycled down to Didsbury park on an old Puch 3 speed ladies bike, to shake it down and see what needed fixing before selling it. There were a couple of bikes used as props to go with vehicles, so my little red sit-up-and-beg wasn’t out of place.

I’m not interested in recent Porsches or Ferraris, so there are no photos of the ones that turned up, though I did take pictures of the Speedster and seventies 911. TONKA, a battered Toyota pickup which was only a few spikes away from a roll in the next Mad Max, appealed to the country boy in me. My favourite cars of the show, however, were two very different Morris Minors. One was an ex GPO van which was only recently rescued from use as a hen shed whilst the other was a shiney red soft top with a Fiat twin-cam engine fitted. Wierdly, I have no pictures of the exterior of the latter, only a lot of studies of the engine bay and interior.

We would have stayed longer, but yet another of the heavy showers that are becoming this Summer’s motif hit. After half an hour under a tree, out of the worst of the weather, we accepted the coming soaking and headed home. If we’d hung around only a little longer I could have got some nice shots of the cars glistening with rain drops as the skies cleared up again, albeit briefly.

Long Exposures in the snow 1

Manchester snow

I’ve had a slightly frustrating day, with a morning spent learning the limitations of my chosen video editing hardware and software and an afternoon spent learning the limitations of the footage I shot on Wednesday.

But never mind, it’s snowed! I looked out of the window at about ten o’clock and found everything had gone white. I just had to grab the camera and a tripod and head out. The photo above was a fifteen second exposure in Cavendish Road Park. The other long exposures were four seconds each. The flash photos were taken using the camera’s “slow synchro” flash setting, which uses a longer exposure to bring up the background. Adjusting the white balance with Photoshop has brought out a lot of detail.

Manchester snow Manchester snow Manchester snow Manchester snow Manchester snow Manchester snow

Art of Tea

As the next Irwin tale is tentatively titled A Death in Didsbury, I shall be spending some time over the next few weeks down here trying to soak up local flavour. I’m currently in The Art Of Tea on Barlow Moor Road, making the most of their free WiFi and casting about for inspiration.

I remember when this was a bookshop with a mod inspired sign, which started selling drinks as an extra earner. Now it’s flipped. The bookshop still exists in the rear of the building, along with the picture framers, but the last time I was here the lights were off in the back room so I didn’t venture in. Maybe when I’ve finished my green tea I’ll go for a browse.

A short architectural wander down Palatine Road

Calderbank Chambers

A very short wander, because I only went to get pictures of one building. Calderbank Chambers is one of those places I must have passed hundreds of times over the years, but it’s well worth stopping for a closer look, if only for the ornate main entrance. Someone started with the cherubs and the leaves and just couldn’t stop. And then there’s the turret/spire butting out from one corner, perfect for looking down on the oiks as they walk past on the way to the Jobcentre.

Calderbank Chambers Calderbank Chambers Calderbank Chambers

West Didsbury secret garden 3

Secret Garden

I found this on the way back from the dentist on Monday, after heading off down one of those alleys you keep going past and wondering where it heads. It’s around the back of some houses, next to garages which can’t possibly be for cars because the only access is via alleys far too narrow for most vehicles.

Secret Garden

There used to be a sign beside the gate which would no doubt have enlightened me as to who ran the little green oasis, but it’s been pulled down, so it remains a mystery. Maybe I should go back some evening when people may be around and enquire.

Secret Garden Secret Garden Secret Garden

An architectural wander around Didsbury 2

Saint George

This wander wasn’t as thorough as it could have been- rain stopped play. So just some stuff on or near Wilmslow Road through Didsbury village. I’ll be getting on my bike and doing more wide ranging wanders later in the year.

Letter box

This horse themed letter box looks like it’s been sealed up.

B Oldfield

“B Oldfield [something] agent & dealer”


I don’t normally include new buildings in my wanders, but I liked the spike which runs down from the peak of the roof through the balconies.

Stained glass

I did a bit of post processing and masking with this one to bring out the colours of the stained glass.

Number 2 Passage

Number 2 Passage.

Church of England Girls' School

Didsbury Police Station

This is above one of the windows of the Didsbury Police station. I had to stand on the wall in front of their notice board to get a better angle. I shouldn’t tempt fate, but it seems that even then I wasn’t suspicious enough looking to be stopped by cops for photographing.

Didsbury Architecture

There were another two of these decorative thingies (I’m going to have to start learning the proper architectural names for stuff) on this house. They looked like they’d both been restored, but they were obscured by scaffolding so I couldn’t get pictures.

Didsbury Architecture

I noticed a few of these decorative roof toppers- again, I’ll have to learn the proper name- on houses along Barlow Moor Road.

The full set is on Flickr. Some of the images can be bought as prints from my Qoop store’s Manchester section.

Objects of Desire- the Morris Minors of Didsbury 2

I went for another architecture wander this morning, but as well as the buildings I also found a few Morris Minors. No other classic cars today, just three rather nice examples of Sir Alec Issigonis’ second greatest design.

Morris Minor Morris Minor

Morris Minor Morris Minor

Morris Minor Morris Minor

I’d love to have a Minor, though I’d want to make a few minor tweaks- disc brakes, improved suspension and a newer engine. Nothing too silly, I reckon it should be easy to find something that’s both more powerful and more economical than the old block that would come with a vintage Moggy. It’s not like I’d try to emulate Nic Mann’s creation, which was the fastest street legal car in the country for a few years-

And how could I possibly pass up a chance to play this-

I’ve been driving in my car, it’s not quite a jaguar
I bought it in primrose hill from a bloke from brazil
It was made in fifty-nine in a factory by the tyne
It says morris on the door, the g.p.o. owned it before
I drive in it for my job, the governor calls me a slob
But I don’t really care, give me some gas and the open air

It’s a bit old but it’s mine, I mend it in my spare time
Just last week I changed the oil, the rocker valves and the coil
Just last week I changed the oil
Last week it went round the clock, I also had a little knock
I dented somebody’s fender, he learnt not to park on a bender, ha ha ha

I’ve been driving in my car, it don’t look much but I’ve been far
I drive up to muswell hill, I’ve even been to selsey bill
I drove along the a45, I had her up to 58
This copper stopped me the other day, you’re mistaken what could I say
The tyres were a little worn, they were o.k., I could have sworn
I like driving in my car, I’m satisfied I’ve got this far

I like driving in my car, it don’t look much but I’ve been far
I like driving in my car, even with a flat tyre
I like driving in my car, it’s not quite a jaguar
I like driving in my car, I’m satisfied I’ve got this far

MAdness- Driving in my Car (Available, along with a load of others, on Total Madness)

West Didsbury Architecture Wander

I went in a different direction for this architecture trawl.

Before I get to any buildings, here’s what the old railway line looks like now they’ve taken away a load of trees-

The old railway line

I’ve been meaning to get pictures of this building for a while. It’s the Local Board Offices. Board of what, I’m not sure, but it is nice.

local board offices 6

local board offices 5 local board offices 4 local board offices 3 local board offices 2 local board offices 1

A little further down the road is the Mercantile Bank of Lancashire, now a solicitor’s offices.

Mercantile bank Mercantile bank 2

On to Burton Road. The bike atop G.T. Blagg’s is cool. And there are what appear to be cane structures for training plants on the roof behind it. I wonder what they grow up there?

Blagg bike

I’m not sure how much of the decoration on the Metropolitan is original and how much has been added for atmosphere. It looks nice though.

Metropolitan Metropolitan 2

The Jamieson sign is still there. And, despite the gentrification of Burton Road, Hibbert’s continues its slow decay.

Jamieson Hibbert's

Back up Burton Road to the last of my targets for the day. I forgot to take the proper name of this school. It is an impressive building nonetheless.

school 10

school 9 school 8 school 7 school 6 school 5 school 4 school 3 school 2 school 1

Prints of these and other images are available from my shop at Qoop.com.

Leaping from tree to tree on the West Didsbury branch line 1

I keep getting distracted from the main aim of the day (making a start on the first page of Point of Contact, since you ask). But at least it’s by good content.

When I popped out for a quick food shop I ummed and ahhed about which direction to go. I’m glad I headed for Burton Road.

Clearing West Didsbury branch line

I’d seen the Save Our Trees signs, but hadn’t realised how urgent they were.

I’m a big kid, and I’m so glad I got to see these grown up Tonka toys in action.

Clearing West Didsbury branch line

First through, but the last I got a picture of, is the one which does the actual cutting. They were on a break when I got this picture, but as they didn’t call the Police when I asked if I could take pictures it would be ungrateful to complain.

Clearing West Didsbury branch line

I may have missed the machine which strips the smaller branches off the trunks and cuts the big sections into more manageable lengths. This John Deere beasty comes through after that work’s been done, picks up the thinner branches and bundles them into convenient lengths.

Clearing West Didsbury branch line

Then this folows and picks up the big trunks.

Clearing West Didsbury branch line

I couldn’t get down to platform level. This is it from up the embankment after cutting but before clearing.

Last train to West Didsbury station

This is a platform level shot of roughly the same spot which I took last year. And here’s a post from a few years ago about a wander along some of the line they’re clearing out. The cover of Global Weirding used a photo I took at one end of the old station platform. I have some other pictures, but they’ll take a bit of digging out.

Tracked radio vehicle/ armoured personnel carrier Tracked radio vehicle/ armoured personnel carrier

Entirely unrelated, but I saw this in the car park of the Four in Hand. I haven’t got a clue what it is, but I know enough war geeks that I might be able to get an answer. The yellow panel on the side is a warning about high voltage radio equipment.

Last train to West Didsbury station

Who knows, in a couple of years trams could be running through here. For now though, nature has it and the track bed is a long, thin pond.

Urban exploration- wandering along abandoned railway lines

Waiting for the Ghost Train
Originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Inspired by the Play exhibition at Urbis and because I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, I went for a wander along some abandoned railway lines earlier today. I’d found a gate, just off Lapwing Lane, that would let me into the overgrown cutting I’ve often looked at from the bridge on Burton Road. I closed it behind me and carefully half slid, half walked down the embankment.

I found myself on an old platform, which research tells me was for the Albert Park station on the Manchester South District line. From here I headed west toward Chorlton. I’ve watched too much CSI, so it was quite eerie at first. This sort of slightly naughty wander is always interrupted by the discovery of a body. When none was forthcoming I became more confident and strode toward the Burton Road bridge.

Just before the bridge is a potential future archaeological site. Rubbish, old televisions and unwanted toys have all been thrown over the back fences of the houses on one side. It’s pathetic, really, but fascinating at the same time.

The wander in this direction didn’t get much further. The bottom of the cutting is a pond, from side to side. I got a short way in, but soon discovered that at least one of my boots is no longer waterproof. I headed back the other way.

There are some very large trees down in the cutting. I think the line was abandoned in the ’60s, so they’ve had long enough to grow. A fair few were blown over in the storms earlier this year and had to be clambered over. Close to the bridge under the Lapwing Lane/ Palatine Road junction, the cutting became a pond again. I’ll have to try this again in the summer. If it’s as hot as promised it may be dry down here. Alternatively, I guess I could find some wellingtons.

This part of my wander was a bit disappointing, being quite short, so I followed the alleys alongside the railway toward Chorlton and rejoined it on the far side of Princess Road. This section is open and even has a footpath along it, so wasn’t as much fun. I did discover a small BMX track, possibly abandoned given how overgrown it is, and joined the cycle path near St. Werburgh’s Road.

All in all, quite a pleasant morning out and about. There’s a set of photos up on Flickr.

Boyfriend Season

“Autumn is boyfriend season. With the nights drawing in and the weather getting worse it’s the right time to have a man to keep you warm and stuff.”

I was with Lauren and Vanessa, a few pints into the night somewhere in Didsbury, when Lauren had dropped this concept into the conversation.

“And in Spring you can dump them because there’s so much else to do.” Vanessa added.

I think I did a guppy impersonation for a while. It was only later that I thought that men are at their horniest in Spring. It’s all sunny and the serotonin levels are rising again. I’d probably have been told that that’s just the way it goes.


Tis the season to be hunted
Important message for the Brotherhood of Single Men!
It’s Boyfriend Season.
They’re after you, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Or let yourself get caught. Whatever.
Posted by Jim at 00:52:34am


I really ought to have asked what a boy does to attract attention during the season. Preferably early on. It could be useful information.

I’m not looking for a relationship, but, then again, I’m not not looking. You know how it is. And the sort of relationship I’m not looking for is a long term one. I don’t think I’m wired for one night stands, flings or seasonal affairs.

Unless the right woman suggests it.

So I’m meeting new people, trying to give a good impression to as many women as possible and having conversations about dating to suit the weather. There’s a whole world apart from the geeks I know and love and it’s quite interesting.

Just so long as they don’t ask me to do tech support.


Sue kills mice for a living.

Not, you know, herself, physically. She does have little hands, probably small enough to wring a rodent’s neck if the need arose. There’ll be a fetish site for that sort of thing.

No. Sue formulates the poison that goes into those mouse hotels, or whatever they’re called, the black or brown plastic boxes with little circular doors you see on the exterior walls of cinemas and the like. Her aim is, perversely, to make the tablets less toxic. If she can kill the mouse quickly and have the poison break down there’s less chance of it getting into the food chain.

God help me, but I found this fascinating. So much so that I sought her out after the speed dating session and we talked some more. It helped that she’s cute. Short, slim, very dark hair, pale. Perhaps a little too pale, she does look like someone who spends her days around poisons. In a room full of topped up tans, Rimmell and hair gel her unpainted pretty face drew me.

I didn’t ask for her number. I don’t know what the etiquette is about that, and she didn’t ask me. I ticked her name on the list, however, and hopefully she did the same for me.


The boyfriend season thing’s becoming a meme. I’ve had a couple of comments and a few people have mentioned it in emails. I’m waiting to see how long it takes for someone to tell me it as if they think I don’t already know about it.

In the meantime, the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Single Men is trying to imagine what sorts of lures we could be using.

“Shouldn’t the hunters be the ones using the lures? We are the prey, after all.” Steve observed.

“Ah, they have their feminine wiles to use as lures.” I can’t believe I said that. This is what happens when you drink strange spirits people bring back from holiday.

“T-shirts with big targets on them.” Bert suggested, “Or that say ‘This space available to rent’ and point at the crotch.”

“Mount me.” I offered.


“T-shirts that say ‘Mount me’.”

“Oh. Right.”

“I was thinking more along the lines of a duck call kind of thing.”

“What would it sound like?”

“Wa-Hey!” Bert offered.


“Get yer tits oot for the lads.” Me.

“Not going to work.”

“I have chocolate.” Bert again.

“That…. Now that might work.”


I really, really hate Neil.

Oh, okay, that’s a lie. I love him to bits, in a totally heterosexual way. But he’s getting laid, so I’m very jealous.

She’s a Phd student, “Companion Animal Learned Behaviour.”


“Pet psychology.”

“You’re joking right? They do postgrads in pet psychology? How?”

“Have you ever tried to out-think a cat?”

“Fair point. So what are you doing in the pub with your sad single friend when you’ve got a hot doggy shrink to go home to?”

“She’s got some sort of open session on. ‘Bring in your gerbil and we’ll deal with its Oedipal problems.’ That sort of thing. It won’t be done for a while.”

“I was hoping it was because you still loved me.”

“Nah, sorry. You’re last month’s thing. I’m just slumming with you ’cause she lives across the road. Bar billiards?”

Two games, and another pint, later, his phone rang. “Hey honey.” he glanced out of the window at the flats across the road. “Really? How come? Oh, well, that’s cool. Just take all your clothes off and I’ll be right over. Bye bye.”

My shot had gone so horribly wrong that I’d knocked over all three pins. Mental images.

“I’ve got to go. Finish this if you want.” Neil waggled his half drunk pint.

“She isn’t going to be waiting there naked you know.”

“She might be. And would you pass up the chance?”

“No, I guess not. No doggy style, though. Might remind her of work.”


Maybe Neil’s girlfriend can introduce me to a few of her friends.

Or maybe not. The last time we went to a student party Steve and I got drunk and started reminiscing about the early nineties.

There are only so many times you can hear, “I was only four!” before you start to feel old.


Larger offices tend to have a demarcation along employment status lines. The perms look down on us temps because we don’t have their security. We look down on them because that security so often leads to lack of imagination and risk avoidance. Morlocks and Eloi, where it’s always the other bunch who are the knuckle dragging devolveds.

Karen was another of the temps at work. We’d developed a nil carborundum kind of camaraderie against the management stupidity. It was her last day on Friday, so we went for a few drinks.

She’s quite buff, goes to the gym twice a week, to maintain the flat stomach and muscle definition. I refused the offer of an arm wrestle. Cycling does wonders for the definition of my arse and legs, but my top half is flabby and weak.

One by one our band of Eloi disappeared, off home to S.O.s and cats. In the end it was just Karen and me. Somehow we’d made it to the Kro on Oxford Road opposite the University. It was that flux period, between the after work drinkers going home and the party animals getting dressed and heading out.

Karen cycles as well. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Perhaps I should have suggested a ride, but there’s an inner ten year old that just can’t accept the possibility of being beaten by a girl.

At some point before closing time we went our separate ways. I don’t strictly remember the bus ride home. Not that I blacked out. It’s just that I’ve made it so many times it all passes me by unless something particularly interesting happens.
I can’t believe I didn’t get her number or email. I think sh
e knows about my blog.


Sue chose me!

Hungover and befuddled I checked my email. I nearly blocked the message from the speed dating site. It proclaimed ‘Susan wants to see more of you!’ and I was about to mark it as spam when I recognised the site name in the email address.

Sue put a tick next to me on the website. As I ticked against her on my page we get each other’s emails to do with as we please. I was far too hungover to do anything and decided to leave it for a while.

Steve owed me a fry up, so I headed over. Somehow he convinced me to pick up the bacon and sausages on the way. There’s something not quite right about that.

Bert had been photoshopping and now his desktop is a picture of Alyson Hannigan as Vampire Willow, saying “Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting boyfriends.”

We like the idea of being hunted. We don’t believe it really happens, though. Any woman caught making it easy for a bloke would be kicked out of the girly club.


Sue emailed me whilst I was out. Is it a bad sign that she’s capable of being that coherent on a Saturday morning?

She wants to get together some time, tonight even, if I’m free. I guess if I take some paracetamol and drink enough water I’ll be able to pass for sentient by the evening.


Food and drinks in Metropolitan on Burton Road. We met early evening, before the pre-club crowd filled it. It was as awkward as you’d expect at first. I bought her a drink (Directors, good call) and we found a table.

“So….” I began, but couldn’t think of what to say next. ‘Why did you wait nearly a fortnight to tick my box?’ would probably sound too judgemental and/or desperate. I sort of waved my hands and smiled.

“Sorry I took so long to complete the feedback. It’s been hellishly busy the last few weeks. I just got back from three days in Germany yesterday.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“Not really. I didn’t get to see anything of the area. It was all meetings, trips around chem labs and late meals at the hotel. I got some reading done.”

“What sort of stuff?”

“I’m re-reading all my Pratchett.”

“Oh. I started doing that last year.”

We discussed the Discworld for a while, and somehow it segued into hobbies. Thankfully, nothing Sue does in her spare time involves cruelty to small furry animals. We ate, and drank a bit more, then it became a bit too crowded.

Her place was only a couple of street away. It seemed logical that we should end up there. It was a single bedroom flat on the first floor. I sat on the sofa and checked out the living room whilst she broke open some wine. It was good to know I’m not the only one who’s so untidy. It wasn’t messy, it was just that paperwork, books and magazines were filed in piles on available surfaces.

She brought a bottle of white and two tumblers and sat right beside me. One glass later she was draped across my lap and I was pushing and tugging her top off.

She’s got tiny tits with responsive nipples that seem, relatively, large. I couldn’t keep my hands, lips, tongue and, occasionally, teeth off them. She squirmed a bit, made a lot of appreciative noises and finally went tense and then limp with a little “Wow”. The flush on her pale skin was very sexy.

Having made her come just by concentrating on her breasts I had sealed the deal. We took things to the bedroom.


Coffee in bed. Sweet.

The bedroom’s tidier than the living room. Two bookshelves completely filled, a dressing table and two cupboards. The only signs of disarray were the suitcase and our discarded clothes from the night before.

It was good coffee, too. “I buy the beans from the health food shop. They’re FairTrade.” Sue explained.

She was wearing a big baggy top, looking tiny. Her hair framed her face and she looked worryingly young. “I nearly didn’t tick anyone from the speed dating night. I kept telling myself no-one would be interested.”

“So what made you change your mind?”

“You seemed a nice guy, and interesting. And I was a bit horny. And, well, it is boyfriend season.”

Notes I did think of posting this in parts, but then decided to present it in one piece. “Boyfriend Season” was written in October whilst working on an IT helpdesk. It was inspired by a conversation very like the one that opens the story (see my own version of the Boyfriend Season post). Sadly I haven’t seen the women who introduced me to the concept since that evening.

I’d like to expand upon this story. I was experimenting with minimalism when I wrote it and on re-reading it I think I may have stripped away a little too much. I’ve stated my aim to incorporate this into a novel about a blogger to be called Post & Publish. I see it being the second, of three or four, distinct parts of the novel. Parts 3 and 4 will concentrate on Jim and Sue’s relationship developing and the lives of their friends. I’ve only got this lightly sketched out at the moment, it’s my New Year writing project.

Other fiction-

So Much To Answer For, a crime story also written whilst I was on the helpdesk.

Heavensent is the propeller-punk sci-fi war novel I recently wrapped up.

Download Another Education/Ruby Red or Ten Years Asleep.

Donate Now I’ve started writing again I’m unlikely to stop, but it would be nice if I could eat during my breaks. So please feel free to donate some money to my starving author fund by clicking on the PayPal button below.

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Social Circle


Social Circle is a new Didsbury group for people in their 20s and 30s that want to break the dull routine. People that want to have fun, seek adventure, find friendship, and enjoy life to the full!

We meet every Monday, 8pm at the Slug & Lettuce, Didsbury. Our first meeting will be on Monday 25th September. It’s all free and there is no commitment or membership. We just want to have some fun!

Sounds like a better organised version of Spinneyhead’s own Ministry of Fun.

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