A journey to the past

Despite living in the village for almost 22 years, I had not been to the annual vintage rally before. I come from a long line of mechanical engineers who have worked on trains, boats, planes, cars and buses and have vague memories of family visits to traction engine rallies with my grandfather when I was very small but we have often been away when the rally takes place. We have even had traction engine breakdowns outside the house before. Here is one from 2009:
2009 May 31 254
This year, we were spending the weekend at home, had a friend who loves all things vintage visiting and with good weather forecast, decided to venture out. It is around a mile away so we wandered over late morning. There were static engines of various sorts and cars, trucks, at least one bus, with a tractor-pulling competition and dancing diggers scheduled over the weekend. A local brass band serenaded us while we ate lunch. There were also motorbikes and a Hurricane fly past late afternoon. With all those engines, pollution increased for a few days.
Kettle May 2016-1
MG Vintage Rally Smallwood May 2016-1
Motorcyclist May 2016-1
Yesterday we walked along to our local pub for dinner and passed some small vehicles heading back to the site after their evening meal.
Small steam  2 May 2016-1
This evening everyone is heading home with the rumble of engines all around.

Meanderings and music in Manchester

It has been a while since I took the train to Manchester. Yesterday we were on the slow one which takes almost an hour to do the journey. Passing through the green of the south Cheshire countryside where the hawthorn is in full bloom it is not long before we pass the telescope at Jodrell Bank and then are in the part of the county beloved of premier league footballers. Alderley Edge consumes more champagne per head of population than anywhere else in the UK and a little further on we pass the Aston Martin Service Centre. There is always a wait just outside Manchester Piccadilly for a platform but we were soon there. The station approach is being re-vamped yet again so there is scaffolding everywhere.

After some shopping (only three books) we had a late lunch in a Northern Quarter pub. The landlord was on holiday and the lone chef struggling to cope with the orders. The waitress handled the banter from the other customers who said that we had been waiting so long, we would be malnourished. Afterwards I enjoyed some of the nearby street art, making a note to explore the area further on another trip. I was missing my SLR camera which I had left at home as heavy rain was forecast and I would not have been able to take in into the stadium. After 45 years of looking through the viewfinder, I do find framing a picture on a screen more difficult.
Street Art 1  Manchester 25 May 2016-1
We were heading to the Etihad Stadium to hear Bruce Springsteen and took the scenic route along the Ashton Canal. Some of the resident Canada Geese have are raising goslings and were feeding on the grass alongside us.
Geese on canal  Manchester 25 May 2016-1
At the stadium we were glad that we had booked seats as it poured with rain for the whole evening and the standing audience were drenched. He is a great performer and took a lot of audience requests. At one point, a guy wearing a Santa Claus outfit appeared which Bruce said was a first in the off-season. This led to ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town’ – the first time I have sung that along with 40,000 other people, in May. Bruce also had a child up on the stage to sing with him at one point. He is renowned for doing long sets but we could not stay until the end as we had our return train to catch after a wet walk back to the station.
Bruce Springsteen  Manchester 25 May 2016-1

A day in Liverpool

Despite working in Liverpool for almost seven years, there are still many sights I have not had the chance to visit so when James announced that he was attending a course there, it was a good opportunity to use some of my hotel points to get us a free night there. As the brief of summer weather had ended by Tuesday evening, we had a wet walk from the hotel to Panoramic 34, a restaurant at the top of a building. The views were indeed extensive and the food very good but as all the windows were covered in rain spots, photography was not an option. We ate our meal watching the Mersey and Isle of Man ferries departing.

This morning, I left James at the course venue and after a coffee, wandered down to the Pier Head to visit the Museum of Liverpool which I had never been in before and which is in a striking building. There were lots of things I had not known before and I learnt a lot about the city I have come to love. The photojournalist Lee Karen Stow, had an exhibition called Poppies: women at war which was very moving as I have had a number of patients who have escaped from war zones in several countries and are seeking asylum in the UK. Much of combat history is devoted to the men who are fighting so this was a refreshing change.

Museum iexterior 11 May 2015-1
Museum interior 11 May 2015-1

Afterwards I took a few photographs around the Pier Head and then visited one of the city’s secondhand bookshops, Kernaghan’s, in the Bluecoat. It was quiet so I had a good chat with the owner, his wife and her father covering caffeine metabolism, the school they used to run in Nepal and trekking in the Himalaya. I bought two books, one by some guys who did an overland trip in a Trabant. Their route covers a lot of the London to Sydney overland route we hope to do in a couple of years so it should be interesting. The other is on American myth, a topic of interest for this summer’s drive.

After lunch, James headed back to his course and I walked up the hill to visit 59 Rodney Street. Edward Chambré Hardman was a 1950s society photographer who lived and worked from the house for many years until his death in 1988. The National Trust have now taken it over and it is a fascinating insight into that era of photography and the Hardman’s lives, as they threw very little away. After the 90-minute guided tour which is a must for anyone interested in photography, I looked in both cathedrals as I had never been in them. I then walked back down Brownlow Hill towards the station, just as all the students were pouring out of the universities. On the short train journey back to Crewe, one of the staff was telling us which end of the first class section to sit in so that we had time to down the drinks and eat before we disembarked.

Hardman House 3 11 May 2015-1
Hardman House 4 11 May 2015-1

Metropolitan Cathedral 11 May 2015-1

Driving home

We left Edinburgh and the haar behind this morning and by the time we reached a friend’s house between Pathhead and Lauder, it was warm and sunny enough to have our coffee outside in the garden. After that we scooted over the hill on a B road between Lauder and Stow to the A7. These cattle were hoping to get some shade from the heat by sitting under this tree but it was not yet in leaf. Highland Cattle with their heavy furry coats are not designed for hot weather.
Cows under tree near Lauder 1 9 May 2015-1
All the way down the A7 the grass verges were full of dandelions in bloom and gorse in bloom on the hillside. There is a saying dating from some time from the 19th century that when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion. No worries about that today. We found a picnic spot just south of Langholm next to a path that led down to the River Esk. It is supposed to be a fishing spot but fish tend to hide in good weather so no-one was fishing today.
River Esk near Langholm 9 May 2015-1
The motorway part of the drive was uneventful until we got closer to home when due to delays and accidents we got off and drove over the Manchester Ship Canal by the Warburton Bridge and very slowly towards home as the motorway was closed and the surrounding roads gridlocked. Warburton Bridge 1 (1 of 1)
The bridge always reminds me of some we crossed on Route 66 and maybe we will find some more on the Lincoln Highway in a few weeks time.

Birds and buying plants in Edinburgh

There were no broken-down trains, damaged viaducts or fires to delay my journey to Edinburgh early on Thursday morning. The train was fairly quiet and arrived on time. In Carlisle, large number of gulls have made the city rooftops their home. The local paper reported in 2014, that one had nested on the ground of the site of a burnt-down store when she had previously nested on the roof. Most seemed to be herring gulls and apparently those living on buildings in Cardiff spend their winter in Spain and Morocco as someone has tagged and tracked them. I don’t know if the Carlisle ones do the same, as I am sure I have seen them here in the winter. I felt unwell on arrival so had a fairly lazy day catching up with a few chores and resting. Outside, on the lawn, a group of jackdaws were searching for food until they were disturbed.
Jackdaw  Monkwood Court May 2016-1
Friday was devoted to housework and making sure a meal was ready for James when he arrived after a long day’s work and drive. On Saturday we met a good friend for lunch in the Canny Man’s pub in Morningside. When we lived in Edinburgh previously (almost 30 years ago), this watering hole decorated with all sorts of decorative items hanging on the walls and ceilings was not a hostelry to venture into. It was a serious drinking house, the décor was never dusted and as several patients frequented it, not a good place to be for us. Fortunately, all that has changed and now they serve good food. Sadly, photography is not allowed so I cannot give you a visual feel of the place. The afternoon was spent walking by the Union Canal and the Water of Leith totting up 11 miles in total and spotting a few birds. The Water of Leith Walkway is part of the John Muir Way which runs between Helensburgh in the west and Dunbar on the east coast where he was born. It is a walk we must do at some point. In the evening our friend cooked a fabulous dinner inside as the haar (the Edinburgh equivalent of the San Francisco fog) put paid to a
barbecue outside.
Water of Leith 7 May 2016-1
Blackbird Water of Leith 7 May 2016-1
Magpie Water of Leith 7 May 2016-1

Today, while James was attending a course, I walked down to the Botanic Garden as they were having their annual Rare and Unusual Plant Sale. I found another paeony (I can never have too many) and a Crinodendron patagua which will go in the spaces cleared in the front garden revamp. It has lovely bell-shaped flowers and hails from Chile.

The haar had burnt off to a very sunny afternoon so I had a very hot brisk walk back up the hill to George Street where I caught the bus back to the flat. Over six miles walked today so a lazy evening is in order.