MANCHESTER. A Christmas Market Evening.

November is briskly working it’s way through and the season of the Christmas & Continental Markets is here. A few days ago I was making my way back home from a trip up to Rochdale and I decided to break my journey at Manchester and have a quick look around the Christmas Markets. It was a Saturday evening so I knew that it was going to be busy and I wasn’t disappointed. It was busy, busy busy. Not a problem though, the markets are running through until December so I have plenty time to have some more visits.

Enough words, here’s some photos.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Albert Square. Burgers To Go.

MANCHESTER. Albert Square, business is brisk on the burger stall.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. St. Annes Square.

MANCHESTER. St. Annes Square. Filling up on a Saturday evening at the Christmas Market.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. The Old Wellington & Sinclair's Oyster Bar

MANCHESTER. The evening crowds keeping warm in the cold at The old Wellington and Sinclairs Oyster Bar. These old, half timbered building have stood at a few sites around the city centre in their time. Being largely held together by wooden dowels hammered into their beams they can be taken apart in kit form.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Albert Square. Santas.

MANCHESTER. Albert Square. The Santas are coming.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Albert Square. Kabanos.

MANCHESTER. Albert Square, choose your Kabanos.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. St. Annes Square. Candy Time.

MANCHESTER. St. Annes Square chocolate and candy for that sweet tooth.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Kings Street.

MANCHESTER. Christmas cheer gets going at the bars along King Street.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Kings Street.

MANCHESTER. Bright lights and beer along King Street.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Kings Street. Bratwurst.

MANCHESTER. King Street. Evening gathers in around the bratwurst stall.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Cathedral Gardens. Food In The Evening.

MANCHESTER. Cathedral Gardens with burgers and a side of fries.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Albert Square. Chorizo.

MANCHESTER. Albert Square. Busy time at the chorizo stall.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Cathedral Gardens.

MANCHESTER. Cathedral Gardens by the National Football Museum.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. Cathedral Gardens.Pancakes & Waffles.

MANCHESTER. Cathedral Gardens. Waffle and pancake time.

17/11/18  MANCHESTER. New Cathedral Street.

MANCHESTER. New cathedral Street. Reverlers gather around the stalls along New Cathedral Street.

 

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Chester. A City And It’s Walls.

Fancying a few hours out and about in the cool October air I took the train out to Chester. I have a choice of rail routes to the city and this time I took the longer one through Liverpool and down the Wirral Peninsular. I like to use rail journeys to make notes and work on ideas for blog posts, books and other photo projects.

I arrived in Chester just before lunchtime and decided to to the market for a bite to eat, I’d seen a bakery stall there on a previous visit and thought I would give it a try. Yes it was good, very good in fact, it’s now on my list of places to eat and drink. I like having these bolt holes, oases where I can sit back and watch the world go by.

As you will see from the photos, the weather was not the most inspiring or welcoming but it was good enough to have a walk around and see what was going on in Chester.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. Northgate Street.

CHESTER. Northgate Sttreet opens out to form a square in front of the Town Hall and across from that sits the Cathedral of St. Werburgh.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Groves.

CHESTER. The Groves is the pleasantly tree lined promenade down by Chester’s river, the Dee. Busy with visitors on a crisp cool day as the leaves take on their autumn colours.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. Morgan's Mount.

CHESTER. Morgans Mount on the city walls. The cannon sculpture commemorating the civil war. In 1645 King Charles Ist watched the defeat of his forces at the Battle of Rownton Moor from a tower on the Walls of Chester. The cannon sculpture was created by Colin Spofforth.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Market. Crustem Bakery.

CHESTER. Crustem Bakery and Cafe on the market.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Market. Crustem Bakery.

CHESTER. Crustem Bakery and Cafe on the market. My chicken, bacon & salad sandwich. I had seen this bakery on a previous visit to Chester but I had already eaten and anyway the place was quite busy but I made a note of it for future reference. I was not disappointed and I shall be returning.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Market. Crustem Bakery.

CHESTER. Crustem Bakery and Cafe on the market.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. The Water Tower.

CHESTER. Now garlanded with trees, the Water Tower once stood with the waters of the River Dee lapping against it’s base as it guarded the entrance to Chester’s harbour on the river.The silting of the Dee as it’s course changed led to the closing of the harbour and the city loosing it’s pre-eminence as a trading port to Liverpool on the River Mersey and left the Water Tower standing on dry land.

17/10/18.  CHESTER. Watergate Street Centurion.

CHESTER. On the corner of Bridge Street & Watergate Street a local Centurion goes about his duties. You encounter these costumed guides quite regularly around the city, often in charge of parties of schoolchildren enjoying the experience of being drilled and marching as the Roman Army.

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Warrington. The Oktoberfest Beer Festival.

Last weekend I went along to one of my favourite events of the year, The Oktoberfest Beer Festival, held annually in Warrington’s Parr Hall on Palmyra Square. The beer festival works on several levels for me, first of course is the beer, while I’m not a big drinker I do enjoy a craft ale or beer, something that’s a little different and stands a little outside the mainstream. All told there was over one hundred ales, ciders, perrys and lagers to choose from this year. I wasn’t heroic enough to try and work myself through the whole list, just a few halves of the darker ales which are a favourite of mine. As well as the drink there’s also live music, which year on year has never failed to impress and adds to the atmosphere where people have come along to enjoy a drink and explore what’s new on the flavour front, and there’s always food. The events are organised by the local Rotary Club with the proceeds going to support local charities.

Enough with the words, on with the pictures, though I would point out that any drops in quality are due to me being there to enjoy a night out and not strictly for blogging purposes.That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. Choices Choices.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 With over seventy ales to choose from making a decision can take a bit of time.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST.  Faces in The Crowd.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 faces in the crowd in the main room.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. A Pint Glass.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 The reason for the whole event, a pinmt of real ale, in this case it was Rev James Gold from the Brains of Cardiff brewery. I fancied a change from the dark stouts.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. Currywurst & Chips.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 As well as the real ales on offer there’s always some food to keep you going. This is my Currywirst & chips. I know that not everyone will find them appealing but believe me they were very good at the time.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. The Escape Commitee.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 Music by The Escape Commitee.

12/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. The Parr Hall.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 at the back of the main hall by the Cider & Perry bar.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. The Lazy River Jazz.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 The main hall with the Lazy River Jazz band bringing a taste of New Orleans to downtown Warrington.

13/10/18. WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST. No Stamp Required.

WARRINGTON OKTOBERFEST ’18 No Stamp Required take to the stage on the last night of the event, bringing to life a great selection of 70’s & 80’s hits.

This is The Escape Committee at work.

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Chorley. Chorley Live, Music On The Streets.

Can I make a suggestion for your diaries next year? Clear a space around the beginning of October and make a note to get along to Chorley Live. Its a marvellous music event that takes over the town centre, places not normally thought of as venues become the stage for a two night celebration of live music of all types.

Professional, semi professional and people chancing their luck at an open mike session all make the two evenings swing along. You won’t go hungry either there’s food as well as an interesting selection of beers from the bars and pubs around the town centre.

Enough with the words, on with the pictures.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  Bees Country Kitchen.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. Part of the fun of Chorley Live is the wide variety of food available. Bee’s Country Kitchen on the covered market, offer a wide selection of home cooked food.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  The Covered market. Donna James.

CHORLEY LIVE ‘!8. Donna James gives and open air performance on a cool evening at the Covered Market.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  The Covered Market.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. With is central location the Covered Market is a natural hub for Chorley Live.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  Face Painting On Cleveland Street.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. As well as enjoying the music. atmosphere and food, you can also indulge in a bit of face painting.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  Adam Heap.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. Adam Heap brings his own take on the songs of George Ezra for the patrons of the Ginnel Bar.

05/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE '18. Sherpards Hall Ale House. Yoz Hindley

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. Yoz Hindley and guitar make the most of the Ale House’s intimate atmpsphere.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE. Jan et Al.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. Entertaining the audience in the Market Hub Centre Jan et Al add a Parisian twist to the evening.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  The White Bull.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. The White Bull on Market Street, one of the Chorley Live venues.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  Fazakerley Street Doughnuts.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. Live music, beer, and doughnuts on Fazakerly Street. All part of the Chorley Live experience.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  Lone Violinist On Chapel Street.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. A lone violinist serenades the night in the gathering shadows on Chapel Street.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  The Covered Market.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. A wide selection of food is part of the Chorley Live experience here at the Covered Market.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  Lone Violinist On Chapel Street.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. A lone violinist serenades the night in the gathering shadows on Chapel Street.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE. Mike Kneafsey At The White Bull.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. Mike Kneafsey strums the night away at the White Bull.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  The Shed Bar.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. As well as being a warm and intimate venue, the Shed Bar serves an excellent selection of beers.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE. The Shepheards Hall  Ale House.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. The Shepheard’s Hall Ale House, is a cosy bar that is another of the Chorley Live venues. Real ale and great music.

06/10/18 CHORLEY LIVE.  The Covered Market.

CHORLEY LIVE ’18. A wide selection of food is part of the Chorley Live experience here at the Covered Market.

So there you are, don’t say I didn’t tell you about it, might see you there next year.

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Chorley. Waiting For The Bus.

Even though I’m a car owner I still like to use public transport regularly, either the bus or the train. I welcome the change from being the driver so I can just sit back and let the journey unfold. I find these sorts of journeys really helpful if I’m working on a project, a photo book, a short story or a blog post that’s got a bit ‘sticky’ or isn’t progressing as well as it should. I just sit and watch the world go by the bus or train window and let my mind freewheel. I try not to deliberately think about the problem in hand, that just seems to chase any solution further away into the dark corners.

There’s plenty of stimulus to be found on these journeys, scraps of overheard conversation, or scenes being acted out as you pass by.

What were those two staring at so intently?

What was in the big, cardboard box that was so heavy?

The briefly noticed scene in a cafe window, do those two people meet regularly?

The list is endless.

There was a particular reason for me travelling to Chorley, a market town in central Lancashire, not too far from where I live. The town has a vibrant centre and market, with plenty of independent traders and they always put on a good event. I was going to collect my ticket to the flower show which is held at the end of July in the grounds of Astley Hall which is just off the town centre. This is the fourth year that the show is being held and each year they have added to and improved it.

It has become a permanent fixture now in my own calendar. There’s all the attractions you would expect, the displays, the talks, appearances from well known gardeners from the TV. There’s also a growing food court area.

Speaking of food, collecting my ticket only took a few minutes so I had plenty of time to have a walk around the town and the market. I had a really good brunch at one of my favourites, Bee’s Country Kitchen on the market and after some more shopping I headed back to the bus station in time to have an afternoon coffee & cake at Woodchats Cafe on the bus station, in fact you can just make it out at the top, right hand corner of the photo.

The next event I’m looking forward to after the flower show is Chorley Live, a two night event of live music played at venues throughout the town centre. I blog more about that one when I’ve been.

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Todmorden. A Market & A Folk Festival.

The weather had at last taken a turn for the better, the sun was high in the sky and the breeze was warm. There had been a run of grey, wet days and I needed to get out of the house and into the world outside. I’m lucky in where I live in North West England that there are really good transport links, railways in particular. It was a Saturday so that markets would be open, I really like the atmosphere that come with a market in a northern town. I picked the town of Todmorden as my destination, it sits up on the Pennines on the Lancashire – Yorkshire border and is a decent train ride away.

I made my way to my local station, Newton le Willows on Stephenson’s historic Liverpool to Manchester route bought my ticket and caught the train into Manchester where I would pick up the onward service to Todmorden. The train change at Manchester was a relaxed one, time enough for a coffee and some people watching on the station concourse, then it was onwards and out through the suburbs of Manchester and into the Pennines. For all the urban sprawl around Manchester, its soon left behind as the hills make their presence felt.

The steady climb up through the rolling moors is suddenly interrupted by the sudden blackness as the train plunges into Summit Tunnel, at over a mile in length it is an example of the challenges that face the Victorian railway builders. With modern trains the tunnel is a brief-ish blip on a journey but for the early passengers travelling behind a smoke and spark belching steam locomotive it must have been a very much more thrilling experience.

Coming out of the tunnel the journey was only a few more minutes before the train pulled into Todmorden station, which sits a little above the town centre. The town was busy, a combination of good weather. Market day and it being the weekend of the town’s Folk Festival.

First order of business after any journey is a coffee and I knew just the place in the market hall, the Exchange Coffee stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall, Exchan

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, Exchange Coffee stall.

You will never go hungry or thirsty in Todmorden, there are so many places to choose from but this is a favourite of mine, as is the market hall itself. So it was a mug of really good coffee and some cake ( some things just go together ) while I gathered my thoughts and took in the surroundings. There’s the market hall, with is collection of businesses, butchers, bakers and a ‘proper’ hardware stall.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Market Hall. Hardwa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday market hall, the hardware stall.

 

While outside there are more stalls, the whole place having that atmosphere of busy coming and going, conversations being had, shopping being dome and friend and acquaintances being greeted.

A local church had set up a fund gathering cake stall, the cakes were good too. It would have been rude to walk past and not make a donation, well that was my excuse.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Open Market. St

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, St. Peter’s Church Wallsden, Charity cake stall.

 

The fishmonger was in town as well, busy in the hot sunshine.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Open Market. Pa

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Paul’s Fresh Fish.

 

Your sweet tooth would be well catered for on Mrs B’s stall, where jams, honey and marmalades were the order of the day.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Saturday Open M

TODMORDEN. On the Saturday open market, Mrs. B’s jams and cakes.

 

Dragging myself away from the market I went in search of the Folk festival. There was a busy program of events and the various troupes of dancers and musicians were performing at various points around the town. The image at the head of this post is off the 400 Roses Belly Dancers, who bewitched the crowds with their graceful, rhythmic movements.

For contrast the Oakenhoof Clog Dancers also entertained with the steady click clack of the clogs backed by the breathy notes of the accordion and the twangs of the guitars.

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers accordion player.

 

05/05/18  TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. Oakenhoof Clog Danc

TODMORDEN. The Folk Festival 2018. The Oakenhoof Clog Dancers. Man in a hat full of blossom.

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Chorley. Leek & Potato Soup

The weather in my part of the UK is currently bouncing to and fro between wet, windy or just plain horrible and it’s been like this for the past few weeks. I finally ran out of patience a couple of days back and decided I had to get out of the house come what may. I had counted all the flowers on my wallpaper more than once and my camera was sat in it’s case feeling lonely and neglected.

It was Tuesday, that meant Flat Iron Market day in the nearby town of Chorley. I believe the name comes from the practice in years gone by of turning up at the market with an old blanket, the corners of which you weighted down with anything to hand, old flat irons etc and that was your stall and that name stuck. Things are more organised today. Due to building work the Flat Iron isn’t on it’s usual site, a large car park instead the stalls are threaded through the streets around the covered market. I must admit I like it, the arrangement means you get the best of both worlds, the regular shops, Chorley has a fine selection of independent traders, mixed in with the market stalls.

You would have to put a lot of effort into going hungry in Chorley, the choices of places to eat is really wide. To warm up on this visit I took myself to Bees Country Kitchen on the side of the covered market. This place is a true gem, an almost bewildering selection of food comes out of a single market stall. I went for the Leek & Potato soup, perfect for the cold weather. Seating is in a couple of pavilions alongside so you get to eat and watch the world go by. Perfect if you are looking for inspiration for that project/image/idea.

The Bees Country Kitchen

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