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.

CHORLEY FLOWER SHOW

CHORLEY LIVE

BEES COUNTRY KITCHEN

WOODCHATS COFFEE SHOP

MY BOOKS

MY IMAGE PORTFOLIO

 

 

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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

CHORLEY INFORMATION

CHORLEY MARKET

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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.

KNUTSFORD INFORMATION

KNUTSFORD MAKERS MARKET

THE CHEESE YARD

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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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ORMSKIRK MARKET INFORMATION

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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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Market Day

I live in the North West of England and I am a great fan of local markets, the mix of goods for sale and the conversations that bounce to and fro between stallholders and customers are two of the experiences that make a visit to the market such an enjoyable experience for me. Also they are a constantly evolving business as tastes and customers change, reflecting the increasing diversity of their customers backgrounds and heritage. and of course they are the perfect hunting ground for the photographer out on the hunt for the candid image.

LANCASHIRE, Ormskirk. The Saturday Market.

LANCASHIRE, Ormskirk. the Saturday Market.

There are generally two types of market, the market hall, the header pic is the fine Victorian market hall in Darwen, Lancashire, built with civic pride and confidence and dating from the 1880’s. These are generally open for most of the week, sometimes with extra stalls opening up outside on particular days. The other is the open market, opening on one or two days a week and featuring stallholders who travel from venue to venue. The picture above of Ormskirk Market shows this second. The market is open two days a week, Thursday and Saturday and is held on the pedestrianised main street, adding a colourful hustle and bustle to the town’s atmosphere. Everything from fresh meat and vegetables to bedding and shoes can be found, plus plenty of opportunities for a candid image.

CUMBRIA, Keswick. The Market

CUMBRIA, Keswick. The Market.

The Cumbrian town of Keswick also has a fine example of the open market, again opening on Thursdays and Saturdays, the mix of goods available, rare breed meats, handcrafted cheeses, artisan breads etc as well as the more regular items reflects Keswicks place as a popular tourist destination.

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ACCRINGTON MARKET HALL.

Out in East Lancashire you will find the fine and imposing market hall at Accrington, its frontage an exercise in Victorian pomp, with clock, columns and statues representing the various bounties that nature provides. For all their almost otherworldly elegance the places are not museums but are a vital, vibrant, functioning part of the local community.

110212 ACCRINGTON Market Hall wrought iron roof

This interior shot of Accrington market shows the simple but elegant ironwork that supports the high, clerestory roof. It’s one of the things I admire about Victorian architecture, function wasn’t enough, there had to be style and elegance as well. Also as can be seen the largely uncluttered floor space allows alterations and modernisations to take place relatively easily.

01/05/15 BURY. The Market.

BURY. The open market, Brandwood Farm Meats.

North of Manchester you will find Bury and it’s market, spread over two halls, one dedicated to fresh meat and fish and the other to general items. Sprawling between the two is the network of alleyways and stalls of the open market, where you can shop until you drop. 

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Bury Market, Cafe Plaza

Should you feel shopper’s fatigue coming on don’t worry every market has a cafe, or a selection of them. I find them perfect places to spend a while with coffee and cake or  bacon roll ( usually all three to be honest ) and just let the world pass by.

11/07/13 HUDDERSFIELD. The Market, fruit and veg.

HUDDERSFIELD. West Yorkshire. Huddersfield Market, fruit and veg

Bustling Huddersfield in West Yorkshire is another favourite destination, I watch in fascination as stallholders bounce from customer to customer without a break in the rhythm, a dance set to conversation and chatter instead of music. I had some of the apples by the way and one of the melons. They were good. 

23-10-12 BOLTON.  The market, Take Away

Last but not least, what is almost my local market, at Bolton, Lancashire. It’s on Ashburner Street, not too far from the excellent Octagon Theatre.  Not too long ago it had a bit of a refit which has worked really well, the strengths of the market were recognised and left untouched, with skilfull improvements, a food court with a real ale bar, adding to the atmosphere. There is a cheese stall that exerts an almost magnetic attraction for me, I must have been a mouse in a previous life. So that’s a brief tour around part of my northern and photographic heritage and influences. So next time you go to the market, take a camera as well.