Moon, Venus and Jupiter were aligned over Knutsford when I looked out one evening last week.
A happy occurrence of heavenly alignment. This one even pretty well aligns with the street lamp on earth.
Have we forgotten what it is to align our affairs with those in heaven? Do we always act from the highest motive, for the greater good? This question becomes ever more urgent amid the permacrisis with undercurrents of unwinnable warfare.
On a more mundane note, I was amazed to find that this photograph looked even remotely presentable, having been taken hand-held with my smartphone. There’s some incredible software in these things!
A sunny day at Parkgate ended with an interesting, rather than spectacular, sunset over the marshes and reedbeds. Sand was in the air blowing up from the Sahara, so the cloud patterns were unusually striking.
The mass of white buildings spread along the quayside road (of the one-time port) shows up well on a sunny day at Parkgate in the Wirral.
The quay looks out over marsh and reedbed, part of a vast area of RSPB reserve that stretches across the Dee Estuary to North Wales on the other side. Large numbers of pink footed geese and lapwings periodically rise and land a short distance away. The marsh is regularly patrolled by a pair of Marsh Harriers, hovering over the reedbed and occasionally swooping down on their prey..
Many visitors walk up and down the quayside (or the nearby Wirral Way) in the sunshine and eat locally made ice cream or fish and chips on the quayside.
The dominant building is Mostyn House School (right and featured image), now converted to apartments (see earlier post).
In autumn and winter huge numbers of birds gather together at WWT Martin Mere ready for feeding time. When the warden scatters seed on the ground, the great rush and natural spectacle begins. Particularly prominent are the shelducks, greylag geese, mallards and Icelandic whooper swans. But there are quite a few species there in the mêlée. The challenge is to make any sense of it all photographically.
Here are just a few individuals I managed to isolate with a reasonable shot, albeit in rather poor light.
Catching up with photos from our autumn visit to Southport, I was intrigued to relate them to the history of the place.
It all began in 1792 when an innkeeper named William Sutton built a bathing house on the beach, and then in 1798 he built a hotel, the South Port Hotel. This soon became popular and a settlement grew around it. The deal was sealed in 1848, when the railway arrived, followed by the crowds. In 1860 the pier was established (see earlier posts).
Lord Street was always the main shopping street for Southport, a ‘Victorian canopied boulevard edged in scenic gardens’. Here is a small part of it today. I remember a summer’s day trip there in the 1950s, when it seemed very posh to me with all those glass canopies, and it was extremely crowded. It’s not so busy these days and many shops have closed.
Originally Lord Street was just set back from the sea front. In 1887 local entrepreneurs had a wonderful vision to handle the mass of visitors. A huge new Marine Lake and King’s Park was established and the beach itself was effectively pushed out to sea by several hundred yards, away from Lord Street. Attractions now included the lake, walks, boat rides, funfairs, a bathing pool… And half the pier was now over land, rather than over sand and sea, which certainly surprised me when I first realised it. The Marine Way Bridge in the featured image links Lord Street with the modern sea front.
Here are just a few photos of the Marine Lake area.
I realise that Southport was still in its heyday on that visit in the 1950s. Today, it obviously struggles to sustain the magic without the mass tourism of those days. It’s still popular though, and well worth visiting.
I never cease to be inspired by Lincoln Cathedral. Growing up in Lincoln, it was always there, dominating the city and visible across the fens for miles around. On our recent visit we caught the afternoon sun full onto the stunning and newly cleaned West Front.
Our purpose was to attend the candlelit Christmas Carol Service, enjoy listening to the sublime singing of the choir, and join in with the well known Christmas carols, all the while inspired by that superb gothic interior.
Afterwards, purple lighting on the cathedral towers gave some magical effects. I particularly liked this one.
God’s own cathedral, I call it. But then, I am a bit biased!
During my childhood there were always public toilets available. It was part of the civilisation we inherited from Victorian times. In the two-mile walk or cycle ride from home to the centre of Lincoln, I still vividly recall the public toilets at the South Common, in the Park, at Gowt’s Bridge, in the station, the market, and by the High Bridge in town. There was always a toilet handy in case of need. Of course, there were few cafes with private facilities in those days, so public provision was essential. But it has to be saiid that, by the 1950s, the loos were often rather smelly places.
Since then it has been downhill all the way. Public provision of toilets has not been a priority, and free public loos have gradually disappeared, some replaced by limited automated paying facilities.The rise of cafes and bars mean that there are many more private facilities available to those who can pay for a drink.
How refreshing then to find these old loos still open at Altrincham Market (Altrincham was given a Royal Charter for a market by Edward 1 in 1290.) Separate Gents and Ladies facilities are down steps each side of the entryway – clean, hot water in the taps, working hand driers, all spotlessly maintained. Better than the old days!
Altrincham Market House itself is a rather fine regeneration project, repurposing the old covered market as a community facility with small retail outlets, with the still-thriving open air market alongside. As the publicity blurb says:
One beautiful listed building; part restaurant, part market, part town square. Eat, meet, drink, shop, watch, talk, listen, laugh. Come in, be yourself and if you like it bring your friends!
I went into Manchester the other day, on the Metrolink, while the car was being serviced. Now Manchester is certainly not the most beautiful city in the world. It was a leader in the industrial revolution, and there is an air of functionality about the place, although the Victorians did put up quite a few beautiful buildings.
There is much modern development going on, so I kept losing my way as I went in search of Manchester Cathedral, although I was once quite familiar with the central area of the city. Eventually I found it. The thing is, the cathedral is usually quite easy to find in most cathedral cities, but here it is hidden away, dwarfed by its surroundings. Here is a photograph of the cathedral, with a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the foreground.
This is a bit of a cheat, as I applied perspective correction to the original wide angle shot from my phone (see featured image). With so many tall buildings around, it is difficult to get a complete framing from street level without using a wide angle lens.
The cathedral is not the grandest building in Manchester, which is probably the Town Hall, larger and more impressive. Manchester’s priorities are clear.
The Gandhi statue was put up in 2019, in memory of the 150th anniversary of the birthday of this great man of peace. A plaque includes the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
An important reminder to each of us. If we want a world of love and peace we have to create it day by day, acting ‘as if’, and it shall happen… But maybe not in our own lifetime
As the sun was going down there was sure to be something spectacular going on after a sunny day in Southport, despite gathering cloud. I had never really noticed this particular feature before – the Clwydian Hills of North Wales, emphasised by back lighting from the setting sun, framed by the picturesque structures of the Victorian pier.
Just wait for the walker to reach the centre and shoot… Shame about the bin.
Southport pier is the second longest in England, after Southend-on-Sea.