The famous British Bank Holiday - what does it make you think of? Rain? Traffic jams? Old films on the TV? Who remembers when Disneytime was the bank holiday treat and the only time you saw Disney film clips outside of a cinema! How times have changed.
No matter what the weather, Bank Holidays are such a treat. No Monday morning get up (hands up who forgot to cancel their work alarm!) and a four day working week to follow. Time to spend with your family and friends, barbecues to eat, gardens to dig, scarecrow festivals to visit and no end of weird and wonderful UK traditions.
The 2018 early May Bank Holiday followed the strange weather pattern of the rest of this year producing the hottest temperatures for that day for more than 40 years, cue queues at the beaches and garden centres, the sound of lawns being mowed, people digging and planting, the smells of sausages being massacred on barbecues and badly sunburnt people visiting Boots for some after Sun! Sound familiar?
We retreated into the cool, peaceful surroundings of Manchester Cathedral - strangely quiet for a Saturday morning. We love to take the cameras inside the building and when the sun shines through the stained glass it becomes a photographers dream. Imagine our delight when we realised a young harpist @elfair89 (better known as Elfair Grug Dyer!) was setting up to rehearse for a concert later that day. After asking her permission, we then spent at least twenty minutes photographing her and the harp whilst listening to the most beautiful music which was so in keeping with the surroundings of the cathedral.
If only we had been able to stay to her 11am coffee concert (all free of charge with donations for your coffee and cake!). Sadly we had duties elsewhere and after a quick recharge in the café at the Royal Exchange Theatre (my first glimpse of the original trading boards still hanging in the building - remnants of its previous life as a cotton exchange) we sadly left behind the crowds of people who were now enjoying al fresco dining and socialising in the by now glorious sunshine.
In line with probably half the country we gardened, visited the garden centre for some bark to hide the weeds and came away with some half price garden furniture. ( word of warning here delivery is later this week and we fully expect that to be the end of everyone’s summer - sorry!).
We walked 7k with daughter and the pup early in the morning before it got too hot, which happened surprisingly early! Then enjoyed the beautiful weather in our currently tidy garden listening to our neighbours digging their garden and playing darts! We took lunch al fresco and enjoyed a lazy afternoon.
If only every Monday was as relaxing as this…now somebody bring me an ice cream?
After what seems to have been a very long winter, with parts of the country being deluged with snowfall and bad weather (as is common in our little part of the UK we seem to always miss the worst extremes of the weather - possibly due to being on the sheltered side of the Pennines) towards the end of April saw the sun finally make an appearance with the hottest April temperature in 70 years, 29.1C (84.4F), being recorded in London.
We usually go out and about with our cameras every weekend and when we have time during the week, evenings too. Everywhere has looked very bleak with bare trees, spring flowers only just beginning to appear and grey skies, but all this changed almost overnight last week.
As the sun came out the skies turned blue, leaves began to appear on the trees and we even spotted a bluebell poking its head above the soil! (early for April?). Sadly, the sun and the heat seemed to have a detrimental effect on the rows of very late yellow daffodils, which appeared to have wilted and died almost overnight.
A morning mid week walk on the #warmestdayoftheyear (don’t forget the hashtag!) with the sunshine casting glorious shadows in the woodlands and on fences and buildings - followed by a Saturday afternoon walk, which saw blue skies and a temperature of 22C (almost 72F) plus a few complaints about how hot we were! The fields and paths were full of walkers and dogs, teenagers playing music and spending time together in the woods and even a tractor ploughing his dusty fields. Fields of yellow rapeseed and the sounds of cricketers playing in the sunshine. It definitely felt like summer!
Fingers crossed that these idyllic few days are not summer 2018 and that there is plenty more to come!
Social media is full of people demonstrating their ‘wanderlust’ – 50 countries - 12 months, bucket lists of jaw dropping locations, I gave up my job to travel the world… We gaze at their photographs of visits to places most people can only dream of and envy their courage to ‘up sticks’ and travel the world.
Sadly, for most of us life is much more mundane consisting of mortgage repayments, a job that you’ve stayed in too long and of course (let’s not forget!) supporting your kids as they travel through life. Is it possible to achieve ‘wanderlust’ with all of this against you?
Long distance travel to experience different cultures and visit remarkable places is something most of us can only dream of doing, but how many people look at what their local area has to offer? Do you visit your local areas? Research your local history? Take the time to explore what is in and around where you live.
We constantly look for different places to photograph and despite living in and around this area for many, many years we have during the past 12 months discovered all sorts of hidden gems of places to visit – many of which can be visited for nothing!
Although the Parbold Bottle may not inspire you with the same level of excitement as the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China - the view from the top of Parbold Hill is stunning stretching out to the Lancashire coastline across a remarkably flat landscape. The walk up to watch the sun go down should be on everyone’s bucket lists – if you are lucky you might even find an ice cream van there!
Despite Standish rapidly disappearing beneath new housing estates, there are still areas of outstanding natural beauty. The walk past the cricket club down to Elnup Woods gives you waterfalls, old buildings, bridges, benches (to rest for a while!) and even a spectacular ravine.
Worthington Lakes is another hidden gem – United Utilities reservoirs offering a 3km walk all the way round with birds and woodland and, if you feel like getting up early, amazing views of the sun rising above nearby Winter Hill.
Wigan itself is steeped in history from our world famous pier to Uncle Joe’s famous mintballs, unbelievable sportsmen and women and even a statue with a lucky foot! I wonder how many people just pass these wonderful places on their way to somewhere else.
So maybe we should all start our quest to achieve ‘wanderlust’ closer to home. Who knows where it may eventually lead?
Do you ever wake up and decide to go and see a bridge? It’s a normal occurrence in our house!
Sunday morning is one of the few mornings that we usually have a little bit of a spare time so we like to go out very early with our cameras and try to capture something different. A photowalk with a purpose.
Just beneath the M60 motorway close to the Chill Factore is a brand new road bridge crossing the Manchester Ship Canal to Barton and beyond – hopefully relieving some of the (what can be horrific) traffic around the Trafford Centre and Event City.
Parking at the Trafford Centre and walking to, and then across, the new bridge as far as the shared stadium of Salford Red Devils Rugby League and Sale Sharks Rugby Union gave us a 6k walk (tracked to ensure we keep up with our Us Against the Year Challenge on Map My Walk!) Perfect start to a winter Sunday morning with the added bonus of some exercise and umpteen photo opportunities. Our average pace is pretty rubbish – we stop too many times to take a photo!
A very impressive bridge well worth the trip. Fascinating structure and frightening when you see how they are held up. It was a perfect photowalk with urban opportunities everywhere – motorway bridge, the stadium, the new bridge enhanced by a surprisingly beautiful Manchester Ship Canal complete with reflections of trees and shimmering sunlight.
We finished the walk with a trip inside the Chill Factore – from urban Trafford to an alpine village in seconds! The slope is particularly impressive although I’m not sure I’ll ever be going down it! I’ll stick to taking photos of bridges!
One of our favourite places to join the canal is behind the Fredericks Ice Cream shop on Bolton Road, on the approach to Chorley. Anyone who lives in the vicinity will definitely have taken a trip to Fredericks and sampled their ice creams. The shop has been there since the 1890's, so there has been plenty of time! The legendary shop (locally anyway!) always has a huge variety of flavours some traditional and some just strange! The queues in the summer on warm days can stretch all the way down a very long Bolton Road, which no doubt causes the locals considerable parking angst! If you follow the path at the side of the shop it takes you down past the factory where they produce all their ice cream (tiny place - don't expect huge smoke filled industrial buildings!) to a seating area and the canal. Left takes you into Chorley and right leads you through a canal side residential area. On a warm sunny night this is a magical place full of houseboats and fairy lights - people sitting reading and eating at fires with fantastic views of Winter Hill and beyond behind them. Horses in the fields, beautiful reflections - it looks like an idyllic way to live and always makes us want to 'drop out' of our current way of life and try something different - a life on the waves (albeit very gentle ones!)! Second only fantasy to the travelling the world in a camper van one - we're hardly original!
So a cold, damp January Sunday led to a bracing, windy walk through piles of mud down the stretch of the Leeds Liverpool between Appley Bridge and Parbold. It was a real trudge, the mud was really thick and the wind was blowing a gale!
I was convinced I had nothing of interest on my camera at the end of it- nothing had inspired me - I was cold and tired and very muddy! Tree lined canals are very bleak without their leaves and a dull sky didn't help. But, as is often the case, something that doesn't look that interesting is transformed after a little experimenting on Lightroom!
Shot of the day by far was Chris' mean and moody bridge. He loves black and white! I must try harder next time - although I'm secretly pleased (and a little bit shocked) with some of my efforts!
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!
So on Saturday 1st July, we took a family, plus dog, trip out to Liverpool to take part in the first Royal British Legion Liverpool 10k Poppy Walk, as the Married with Grown Ups team, and walked to remember the short life of Uncle Percy.
Walkers set off at their own time and their own pace to journey round the city. Despite being familiar with the city due to the family connections we visited several places we had not even realised existed. The walk included the Cavern, St George’s Hall and cenotaph, both cathedrals, Liverpool One and Albert Dock and the waterfront.
For Navi, the almost 2 year old German Shepherd it was her first visit to a big city and there was a lot going on! She was very unsure of the Lamb bananas and took fright at a memorial to Liverpool’s VC winners which must have seemed very big and very scary! She encountered lot of crowds, a very big queue waiting to meet Brooklyn Beckham, marching bands, scary statues and very friendly people! She happily sniffed her way round the city stopping to kiss several people and even had her photo taken by The Royal British Legion photographer.
At the end of the 10k walk we returned to the Town Hall and were presented with some lovely poppy medals by veterans – presumably from the Falklands war. Refreshments and entertainment were available but we were unable to take part as Navi wasn’t allowed inside!
We enjoyed the walk very much – it was a very interesting and entertaining way to raise money for a very worthy cause supporting the armed forces and their families. We felt it was a very apt way to commemorate Percy and the sacrifice he gave for our country.
For more photos visit our gallery page.
As well as shaking off the post-Christmas lethargy by having a good bracing walk we also wanted to use the great lighting and weather conditions to give our new camera a Fuji X-T1 a good work out. As you can see from the images below it didn't disappoint.
The kitchen courtyard is a real gem and well worth the visit. We will be returning to try the other shops and pick up some more ice cream!
Haigh Hall Kitchen Courtyard
Tea Room and Cafe
All You Knead Bakery and Coffee Shop
A M Flowers
Two Left Feet Brewery
Holden’s Ice Cream
Cook and Foragers
So we've had a few busy weekends in the last month and also a few quieter ones too. That tends to be the pattern doesn't it? Mad busy or nice and quiet. Whichever way it's a nice mix.
This weekend we're also trying out a nice little gizmo that will help with getting us into the world of video and some funky stuff with our mobile phones - long exposures etc. Our first go at this is on our YouTube channel and we've shared it below. It's Viv making our lunch - pea and ham soup - 3 and half minutes of work crammed into 12 seconds - high speed soup! It did take longer to eat. Hopefully we'll get some more chances to do similar stuff and get a little more experimental too over the coming weeks.
Life and other