January is such a strange month - nothing much happening after the excitement of Christmas and New Year, no presents to buy, no food to plan for and probably for most people either a big credit card or no money in the bank account after the excesses of the previous month. Its a month of new starts - diets, exercise, savings - we all do it at least for a few weeks! It probably should be a restful month after the stress of the Christmas build up - a month of winter walks and holiday planning.
Our January hasn't turned out like that! For some reason both of our 'grown ups' decided to start 2018 with a big new start and are currently in the process of moving house/flat , which (as we all know) brings a whole new range of stress and worry to everyone involved!
Lucy and Simon finally move this weekend after selling their house back at the beginning of October - house sales take so long now! Adam is right at the start of his process but as it is a flat for flat rental swap it probably should be a quicker process - won't it? I really hope so! With lots of paperwork to sort and discussions needed we decided to take a trip to the brand new Salford-ish Tim Hortons. But did it live up to expectations?
A Christmas Eve Eve trip to the Lowry to watch the wonderful production of Elf. We had no idea what to expect of the show but it actually bought tears to my eyes with the most amazing ending - snow, starlight and Santa flying - magical and we're over 50!
Winter family walks, long lunches (afternoon naps!) and catching up with films and box sets all topped off with an almost perfect New Year's Eve spent in and around Manchester with our cameras . From Alan Turing in the morning, reflections in Canal Street, to a coffee stop and lots of photographing in the new amazing building that houses the Mackie Mayor food court (first of two places that day where I wish I had taken my camera into the toilets!) in Manchester's Northern Quarter (the best place for interesting photography in Manchester and one of several places where they filmed Captain America!). A brief stop to spend some Christmas money and then into the glorious Manchester Cathedral beautifully decorated for Christmas. Amazing views from a 10th floor room in the always excellent INNSIDE (most courteous and friendly staff followed by amazing breakfasts - chocolate yule log for breakfast on New Years Day though?!)
All we need now is a break from work to recover!
We started 2017 watching the fireworks from the 19th floor of the Hilton Deansgate in Manchester and ended it 12 months later in Albert Square with thousands of other New Year revellers at the last Manchester Town Hall fireworks for a considerable time. The Town Hall will close to the public from Sunday 14th January for restoration works which will continue until 2024.
The Town Hall provides a magnificent backdrop to the fireworks, all watched over by the world famous Manchester Santa, affectionately known locally as Zippy - make your own mind up!
This year's end of year celebration had an added poignancy and was fittingly marked with a musical tribute to the 22 people who lost their lives in the tragedy of the Manchester Arena bomb and the families who continue to be affected by the events of that night. We were personally touched by the events of May 22nd 2017 and count ourselves very lucky that our son returned home safely that night.
New Year is a strange night full of what if's and what might be's. Sadness when someone you love has been lost to you and great joy for those who have found love whether that be with a new partner, child or even a pet. We've had some difficult New Year's but also some of great joy - most memorably a skating expedition with good friends which involved one member of our party accidentally sitting on someone's tray of lunch! Cue exploding crisps and coffee and great hilarity from one half of the incident!
We celebrate New Year quietly now, which this year included a first time lunch at Wahaca's - lots of lovely Mexican street food and the chance to pay with their brand new app! Paying the waitress would have been much quicker, but maybe next time...
This was followed with a fabulous evening in 'Las Vegas' at the Bridgewater Hall with the always exciting Manchester Camerata, where it would appear Frank Sinatra is alive and well and pretty amazing!
The decision to watch the fireworks in the square was made very last minute as, as is often the case in Manchester, there had been some spectacular rain showers earlier. It turned out to be the best decision of the day - a moving, warm and convivial end to 2017 followed by a spectacular beginning to 2018. We've nothing but praise for the organisers of the event, Manchester City Council and the GM Police. The event was well policed and organised and felt very safe and friendly. It was also very exciting! Nothing like a good countdown.
So here's to 2018 and whatever it may bring us all. In the words of Tony Walsh aka Longfella Poet 'We choose LOVE'.
After a busy, and at times, stressful 2017, this year's Christmas break was a much needed time to rest and recharge. Thanks to some good weather almost every day, we took the time to take our cameras out around our local area and simply walk and talk and photograph. We had sunsets and frost, icy puddles and lots of mud! A new pair of walking boots is definitely needed - soggy socks are not pleasant!
We are so lucky to share the same hobby (although at different levels of skill and experience!) and thankfully neither of us are too competitive!
Thankfully Christmas saw us all in good health and, after our traditional three generational (and dog) baking session we enjoyed a lovely few days all together eating, drinking, playing xylophones and throwing snowballs at silly hats. Oh, and Christmas Eve I bought all our Christmas cards for 2018!
Merry Christmas everyone.
2017 started for us on the 19th floor of the Hilton Hotel in Manchester – lazily watching the fireworks in our PJs drinking champagne and eating sausage rolls. As it reaches its last hours I’m sure we’re not unusual in looking back on a year which has had extremes of sadness, worry, great excitement but above all gratitude that we’re still here and still have each other.
The face you show the world through blogs and Instagram posts probably doesn’t fully reflect the life you are actually living – as photographers we choose to show what we consider our best work and isn’t a blog the same?
Our year has probably been much the same as most other people’s bobbing along in the ‘we’re ok’ middle road of life with occasional rapid descents to extreme happiness and the times when you fall of the cliff and plunge into sadness and despair. The constant negativity from the ‘media’ adds to personal worries and sometimes makes life unbearable for many people – fake news, scare stories - it feels like we are living in a rapidly darkening cloud. Is it possible to find that spark of positivity?
Social media comes in for much criticism, and rightly so at times, but what we have personally experienced in the Instagram community has opened our eyes to the friendship, encouragement and positivity that exists in this world. In amongst our 2000 plus followers we are blessed to have new found digital friends from around the world supporting and encouraging us with our burgeoning photography hobby. Friends who live close, but we have never met- friends in other countries living culturally different lives to us – friends who make us laugh and friends offering positive comments and great support. Fellow Instagrammers who inspire us to try different photography techniques and even experiment with food. Thanks to @grandad1912 we now make the best roast potatoes (the secret's in the polenta - sshhhh!) and Cleveland's @princess_wendyk inspired us to produce our very first calendar! We are anxiously awaiting her thoughts on it - as well as anxiously trusting our postal service...
We don’t choose our photographs to count the likes we receive – our gallery is a record of our photographic journey and something for us to look at on our darker days. We try to show the best parts of our little corner of the world and celebrate the North West of England and beyond.
So, as we say goodbye to 2017, here is a big thank you to everyone in our new little community and here’s to 2018. (And - just for all the people who constantly ask – yes, the photos are definitely ours and not just Chris’)
Being of a certain age its sometimes hard to tell if I have a temperature from a current bout of coughing and sneezing or it is indeed one of those "moments". But it has been a tiring and sickly week. Working every day – a cold is certainly not grounds for any time off – with the evenings spent slumped on a chair or very early to bed. Thank goodness for the new Sky Q allowing me to browse hundreds of channels until it’s time to sleep (being particularly indecisive I’m not sure I fully watch anything - I’m like a cat distracted by a ball of wool – ooh what’s on the next channel….).
There have recently been discussions in the house about moving away from Sky but the draw of Game of Thrones and Walking Dead have always stopped us. Imagine our delight when Sky informed us that we had been designated as a "Sky Black" customer having been with them for 24 years (where has that gone?) and to reward our loyalty (and heaps of dosh from our subscriptions) by offering us two great deals on Sky fibre and Sky Q. Being techy geeks we signed up straight away. Not noticed too much difference yet with the fibre (though Chris says uploading photos is very much quicker) but the Q box is a revelation.
We can record 6 programmes at once and watch a 7 – amazing (have we got time to ever watch them though – not sure, but we can store whole series and make plans to spend an evening binge watching!) Programmes recorded downstairs can be watched upstairs - very useful this week and most excitingly the remote control has a tracker so it will never be lost again! Combined with Netflix and our Amazon Prime subscriptions, bought to support the kids when at Uni, it is hard to believe we could ever watch everything that interests us. The Netflix "to-watch list" is lengthy and oh the stress when you see one of your favourite programmes is restarting next week and you are still on episode 2 of the last series!
If only being a "Sky Black" customer gave you access to a time machine.
Viv & Chris
We fully appreciate how fortunate a family we are having all our parents still with us. September 17 was a milestone birthday for my Mum who has now reached the grand age of 80 although she looks and definitely acts much younger! Despite being (in our daughters words!) a ‘socially awkward’ family, we decided to throw our party- hating Mum not one but two parties (but definitely not surprise ones!). Thanks to our favourite butcher Graham (Taylor’s Butchers, Derby House) we celebrated her actual birthday with Graham’s battered chicken goujons and all the trimmings – if you’re from Wigan that means barm cakes to make your butties! We produced our ‘decade’ boxes which had taken weeks of planning and arguments (and money) and contained presents to reflect the different aspects of her life from childhood to being a Nan. We celebrated in the rain with sparklers – continuing the Northern spirit of carrying on in all measures of torrential rain – and are pleased to report that she had a great time! Phew! It was touch and go particularly when Lucy’s lovely German Shepherd Navi took too much of an interest in the Airedale puppy cuddly toy!
For our second treat we gathered our most special people together and shared picnic tables at the Paddock Restaurant in Wrightington. A delicious version of an afternoon tea containing mugs of soup, buckets of fish and chips (battered courgettes for the veggies) chicken ceasar salads and some yummy cakes. We finished off with a very special birthday cake made by the extremely talented Debbie Binder who is second to none for producing exquisite sugarcraft figures (frighteningly lifelike – the journey home from Debbie’s with Mum’s sugar head peering at me through the box was very unsettling). Candles, two renditions of Happy Birthday, lots of hugs and kisses and photos and Mum had had a lovely time.
Life and other