RIVINGTON. Sunlight And Old Stones.

High on the sometimes bleak West Pennine Moors in between the Lancashire towns of Horwich and Chorley there’s a hilltop rich in trees, with here and there the remains of buildings showing through. These are the Terraced Gardens, the creation of local businessman William Lever, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme. I’ve been visiting the gardens since my childhood and have seen the ebb and flow of their condition over time. The gardens were an extravagant mix of pathways and follies, the designer was Thomas Mawson. From the top of the gardens there are views right across the plain of Lancashire to the coast.

Leverhulme created the gardens at the turn of the 1900’s, he was familiar with the area from his courting days and the gardens were heavily influenced by his travels. He made his fortune by building on his family’s grocery business, creating the very successful Sunlight Soap brand along the way. His main home was on the Wirral at Thornton Hough, the Wirral is also the location of the garden village of Port Sunlight which he built to house the workers from the adjacent factory. The fascinating Lady Lever Galley which houses some of the art collection built up by him and his wife and opened in her memory can also be found in Port Sunlight.

After Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925 the estate was sold on to the owner of a local brewery and on his death the estate was bought by Liverpool Corporation who already owned much of the land in the area and had created a series of reservoirs to supply the city. The main house and the estates’ gatehouses were demolished in 1947 and the long period of decline began. Now in the hands of the water company United Utilities a program consolidation and restoration work is underway.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Seven Arch Bridge across the old road from Chorley into Horwich.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge Steps.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The steps leading down from the summer house to the Seven Arch Bridge over the old Chorley – Horwich road. Due to the steep slopes visible in this shot the gardens were laid out in a series of terraces.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Pigeon Tower.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. One of the most striking and visible features of the gardens is The Pigeon Tower seen from the boating pool. The tower was built to take advatage of the views from the highest point of the gardens. The top floor was used as a sitting & sewing room by Lady Leverhulme. as can be seen from the photo consolidation and restoration is work taking place throughout the gardens.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Swimming Pool Restorati

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The the boating pool beneath the Pigeon Tower undergoing restoration. Viscount Leverhulme being a great believer in the benefits of fresh air and exercise would occaisionally swim in the pool. Again the restoration work in progress can been seen with the new lining to the pool and the clearing away of overgrown vegetation.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Bungalow Ruins.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Lord Leverhulme’s house at Rivington was a bungalow by the name of Roynton Cottage. This tiled flooring is all that now remains of the building. Roynton Cottage replaced an earlier, wooden cottage which was burnt down in 1913 by Edith Rigby as a Sufferagette protest. The curve of the tiles runs along the edge of what had been the cicular ballroom, the ceiling of which was dark blue and decorated with gold stars representing the constellations on the night of Lord Leverhulme’s birth, 19th September, 1851.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Ruined Shelter.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The ruins of a garden shelter on the level below the site of the bungalow.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Double Staircase.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. the double staircase which leads up from the boating pool to the site of the bungalow Roynton Cottage.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages above the Japanese Pool.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  The Dell & Blue Pool Bridg

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Looking down the course of the waterfalls in the dell towards the footbridge.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Caves Above The Dell.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The man made caves alos known as The Bear Caves, on the path above the Dell.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool. Inspired by the Willow Pattern design in its heyday the pool as surrounded with tea houses lit by lanterns and was fed by waterfalls and cascades from the upper levels of the gardens.

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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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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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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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Knutsford. Market In The Street.

The weather’s been frightful, as the song goes. I needed to get out of the house for a couple of hours and give my car a warm through as it had been standing for a couple of days in the snow and the rain.

I live near the northern part of Cheshire which puts a clutch of market towns within easy reach. For this trip I set my sights on the town of Knutsford, I knew from previous visits that the town was quite lively on Sundays with plenty of eating places open, along with quite a few of the towns shops. What I hadn’t planned for was the pleasant surprise of the monthly Makers Market being held. I have visited this event before but for some reason my Winter addled brain was convinced that it would not be restarting until after Easter. Note to self, check the internet more often before planning journeys. At the moment car parking is free on Sundays but if an event is on it can get a bit tricky. Luckily I found somewhere fairly quickly and it was only as I turned the corner onto Princess Street did I discover why this Sunday was such a busy one.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Cakes and Biscuits.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Home made cakes and biscuits.

The Market fills the length of one street an a few of the side streets running off. I decided to make lunch my first call and looked into a favourite venue of mine, the Cheese Yard on Cotton Yard. The inspiration for the menu is in the title, and a very pleasant menu it is too. I opted for the potato cake, scrambled eggs and bacon, perfect food for a cold day.

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The Cheese Yard. Potato Cake, Scrambled Eggs & Bacon.

The market offers a very wide range of produce, artisan breads and cakes through handmade craft good to real ales and cheeses. There’s also always a wide spread of street food vendors and live music on offer.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

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Chorley. Astley Hall All Lit Up.

Astley Hall is a historic manor house on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. It’s favourite place of mine, I like to visit it with my camera as the seasons roll and change through the year.

It has a changing sequence of events taking place through the year which always add to the pleasure of any visit. A more recent attraction is Astley Hall Illuminated, a light show that takes place in the grounds on one night in November and I was able to make it to this years performance. As well as the lights there were other attractions, living Christmas Trees walking around, children being terrified and intrigued in equal measure and a Brass Band from the Lancashire village of Tarleton played Carols throughout the evening.

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SPARK Line up outside the Hall

The highlight for me though was a drumming troupe by the name of SPARK. Their appearance was completely other worldly. They wore illuminated costumes, the colours changing as the beats of their drums changed. Throughout the evening they marched in formation around the Hall and it’s grounds like ghostly Pied Pipers with the crowds following in their wake. It was a truly magical experience.

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SPARK attracts the crowds.

I’ve already made a note to check out the date for next year, a tip if you go wrap up warm, it’s Lancashire and it’s November. I warmed up afterwards with a hot chocolate from the Hall’s Cafe Ambio, a lovely end to a great evening.

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Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK. 

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Liverpool. A Very Particular Gallery.

A few days ago I finally made my way to a place I’ve been meaning to visit for some time, the Victoria Gallery & Museum, part of Liverpool University. I had kept coming across references to it and had made various plans to visit but something had always come up and got in the way until the Saturday when I finally got through the door.

The Gallery is located on Ashton Street, off Brownlow Hill. It stands opposite the modernistic Metropolitan Cathedral, the warm, red brick of the gallery building is a stark contrast to the brash concrete and angular shape of the cathedral.

LIVERPOOL. Metropolitan Cathedral.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

This isn’t the largest museum or gallery I’ve ever visited but it more than makes up for it with character and quirkiness. The interior of the building is largely unchanged from its opening, when the top floor, now the Tate Hall, served as the University’s library. It is a marvellous time capsule of Victorian design and style of that period. The magnificent entrance hall, now a excellent cafe, is dominated by a wonderfully tiled fireplace from which elegant stair cases lead off up to the higher floors.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

The Entrance Hall Cafe.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stairway to The Upper Floors

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Owl Skeleton

Owl Skeleton On The Stairs.

Some of the displays are contained within individual rooms, which I found helped, I was able to focus more on specific items rather than be overwhelmed by larger displays.

The top floor of, the original museum library, now the Tate Hall named after Sir Henry Tate one of the University library’s benefactors, is a large and airy space with a beautiful beamed ceiling. This part of the gallery contains a wonderfully quirky mix of displays, one end has exhibits charting the part Liverpool University played in nuclear research, for medical uses originally and then how that changed with the onset of WW2 and then with the coming of peace developments with lead to the building of the Large Hadron Collider. At the other end of the room however there is a display of dentistry through the ages with a reconstruction of a typical Victorian era Dentist’s surgery and a collection of dentures form around the world.

LIVERPOOL. Victoria Gallery & Museum Tate Hall.

The Tate Hall.

One final aspect which made my visit so enjoyable was the staff, they are amongst the most friendly, approachable and well informed that I have met, only to happy to discuss the museum, its history and displays. Treat yourself to a couple of hours away from the rush of the city centre, next time you are near or in Liverpool, pay the Victoria a visit.

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