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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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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Liverpool. Passing Through Lime Street Station.

I had a day turn up where I had nothing that I really needed to get done, so rather than waste this unexpected bonus I decided on a trip out on the train. My ‘free’ day was a Thursday which meant that it would be market day in Ormskirk, a market town not too far away in West Lancashire. The journey by rail involves travelling into Liverpool and back out again. That’s not as complicated as it sounds as there are excellent services in both directions. Readers of my blog, if you are one, thank you, will know that I visited the Cobble Cafe in Ormskirk for a bowl of hot soup a little while ago.

15/02/18  LIVERPOOL. Lime Street Station. Concourse.

LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse.

Lime Street station sits at the end of the Liverpool to Manchester route created by Stephenson. The original terminus was in Crown Street, which while it was easier to construct in engineering terms, was a little too far out from the city centre to be either convenient or competitive. This lead to the building of Lime Street in 1836. Construction was not without it’s challenges, the principal one being the steep gradient down from the junction with the Crown Street route at Edge hill on the City’s outskirts. Now a steep sided cutting the route was initially a dark, satanic tunnel cut through the sandstone ridge. Something which must have tested the nerves of those early railway passengers.

The traveler’s destination is a grand terminus under an arching roof, one of the oldest functioning termini in the country. The frontage, facing St. George’s Hall sitting loftily on it’s plateau, was an imposing hotel which is now given over to student accommodation. I wonder what they think of living in a building that on it’s opening was described as looking like Dracula’s Castle.

15/02/18  LIVERPOOL. Lime Street Station. Concourse.

LIVERPOOL. Lime Street station, the concourse, main line platforms.

 

The station is home to a large array of main line and local services, plus tucked away in their own tunnels beneath are parts of the Merseyrail suburban network. Currently a rebuilding program is in progress with a view to adding more capacity and bringing the promise of direct services to Scotland in the next year or so.

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Macclesfield. An Evening Stroll.

All the Christmas and New Year fun and frolics where over and while I had enjoyed the to and fro shuttling of visiting, catching up with friends and the pleasure of time well spent with good food and enjoyable company, once the dust had settled I felt the need to have a little time by myself and have a think about what I had done with the old year and what I would like to do in the new.

I like traveling by train, still a big kid at heart when it come to the romance of the railways, so I decided to take myself off for a few hours, as much for a breath of fresh air and a little exercise as anything else.

Where I live in Northern England I’m lucky in having railway stations nearby and a choice of tickets which cover a set area, a days travel for the price of one ticket. I chose a ticket which covers an area centred on Manchester and working to my system of catch the first train thats available I arrived in the Cheshire market town of Macclesfield.

In days past the town’s fortunes where built on silk spinning and there is a museum dedicated to the industry. The day of my journey was early January so the days were short and the weather was crisp and cold. The town’s railway station sits at the bottom of a hill, the town centre at the top where a square sits surrounded by a group of fine buildings. I hadn’t really set out with photography in mind but as I always carry a camera of some sort just in case I took a couple of shots of the square and the Christmas lights. Then I made my way to one of the coffee houses nearby to warm up a little before making my way back home with a few thoughts and ideas for what I want to do in 2018.

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Ormskirk. Hot Soup On A Cold Day

It was Thursday which meant it would be market day in Ormskirk. I needed to get out of the house for a few hours as I had a couple of errands I needed to sort out and as I hadn’t been over that way for a little while I thought it would make a pleasant change.

Ormskirk is a market town in West Lancashire, an area of broad flat plains stretching out to the coast and the Irish Sea. The resort of Southport is only a few miles further on. Its a farming area with a rich dark soil. The market is held on Thursdays and Saturdays and straddles through the pedestrianised centre around the clock tower. Its a general market so it’s probably got whatever you are looking for.

The weather had been reasonable when I turned out but as I stepped off the train the rain decided to visit Ormskirk as well. I quickly sorted out the bits of business I needed to and after a short look around the stalls getting colder and damper, I decided I needed to warm up somewhere. I’m a great fan of cafes, something I inherited from my parents who were great people watchers. Ormskirk has quite a wide choice, it’s my mission to try a different one on each visit, on this wet market day I picked Cobble Coffee.

I found a window seat so I could watch the world go by while I had my very pleasant bowl of hot soup and my coffee while outside in the unfriendly weather the Thursday shoppers scurried about getting everything done, while the stallholders put on the brave face and did their best to keep warm.

(PS. The soup was a excellent, lightly spiced Parsnip, perfect for a cold, inhospitable day )

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Appleby Horse Fair

In an earlier post I mentioned in passing the Appleby Horse Fair and I thought I would revisit it and add a few more images. 

The fair takes place annually at the beginning of June and centres on the former county town of Appleby, once of Westmorland now of Cumbria. The fair has been in existence since the sixteenth century when horses were the mainstay of agricultural work plus horses transported the armies that waged the wars across the fells, Appleby is not too far south of the border city of Carlisle with the Scots just across the Solway Firth. Things quietened down a little in these debatable lands with the Union of the Crowns under James 1st& VIth ( he was James the first of England but was already the sixth of that name of Scotland ) So illegal sales of horses to the Scots gave way to other money making ventures. The Appleby Fair was once part of a chain of fairs which took place around the country, which one by one have fallen by the wayside or have changed their character so much to be unrecognisable. Buying and selling was the mainstay of these fairs, cattle, horses and other goods. Horses and their equipment are still a large part of the Horse Fair scene, plus other items you never knew you needed.

06/06/14 APPLEBY HORSE FAIR.

CUMBRIA. Appleby. The Market & camp on the hill. Harnesses and bridles and all other kinds of leather work.

06/06/14 APPLEBY HORSE FAIR.

CUMBRIA. Appleby. The Market & camp on the hill. What every home wants, a big shoe to keep things in.

The camp and the market area are together on top of a hill that overlooks the town centre and there is a regular traffic of people and horses between the two, one of the daily rituals is taking the horses down to the River Eden which flows through Appleby so the horses can be washed. It’s purely coincidental that the mile or so route is perfect for the young men to show off their horseriding skills and you do have to keep an eye open for the traps as they flash past.

06/06/14 APPLEBY HORSE FAIR.

CUMBRIA. Appleby. The Market & camp on the hill. Buggy coming through.

Down by the river is the popular spot for the tourists and photographers050610 APPLEBY  Say cheese

as they watch the horses and riders plunge into the water. Again it’s pure coincidence that it’s a chance for the young men to show off again. Horses in the water3678977601_f5e34c114d_b

All around are the incessant chatter of accents and deals being done as the horses are tethered up or paraded or paraded around in front of potential buyersAppleby horsefair 110606 horse group050610 APPLEBY  White horsesP04-06-11 APPLEBY Horses and carts

Up until recently the horses shared the road to the camp with other traffic, which could be interesting03060512

Apart from the smell, horse manure on the roadway doesn’t help a cars braking distance. While there is a lively atmosphere the Police  are always in discrete attendance along with the animal welfare charity the RSPCA. So while there’s fun to be had at the fair there’s also a steadying hand. The event generally runs from a Wednesday to the following Wednesday, though after the middle weekend things rapidly calm down and the travellers start to make their various ways out of Appleby, it is a feature of both the build up and the break down of the fair, the long line of traffic on the main A66 route being held behind a group of horse drawn caravans with impatient HGV drivers drumming their fingers on their truck’s steering wheels as they wait to get past. 

The details for the next fair.