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Posted on 19th November, 2011

A day in the life:

museums, exhibitions and pubs in Manchester and Salford.


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The subject of the Guardian Camera Club November monthly assignment is '24 hours', a day in the life. Now I can understand someone being interested in a day in the life of John Lennon or Paul McCartney. In my case though, even though I value greatly the precious days I have left on this planet, it's not because I fill them with high-living, but because I'm in the privileged position of being free to use them how I wish. In fact, I think that counting all those holes in Blackburn, Lancashire would be more interesting than most days of my life. But, you never know: could there really be someone curious about the mundaneness of my existence? Well, I'm pleased to say that my blog does get a steady stream of visitors, so this entry is a special thankyou to them for showing that interest.


Footbridge over River Irwell between Salford and Manchester, 5th November 2011.


You can probably guess then that I decided to enter the assignment: I would fill it with pics from what promised to be, for me, one of the more interesting 24 hours, November 5th 2011. A day of culture and heritage in Manchester, that needed an 05.45 alarm call to take full advantage of the London Midland £10 'Great Escape' offer. As it was a trip out, the pics would follow an obvious chronological sequence, but, they wouldn't be that creative I felt. Even so, I thought it worth a go.


I managed to grab the required 6 images without much trouble. In fact, the only problem I had was getting a sharp-enough pic whilst on the moving train en-route to Manchester. Having then taken the required 'establishing shot' at Piccadilly Station, the next three were records of visits I made to cultural attractions, but with a bit of human interest and movement thrown in to disturb the calmed nature of such places. Firstly was The People's History Museum, followed by the Museum of Science & Industry. Finally, over the River Irwell to the city of Salford, The Lowry Hotel to be precise, for a small exhibition of photographs by David Lake called 'Leica Postcards'. I'll shortly be posting a review of the exhibition as a separate blog, so please look out for that.


That left one pic to do, and the burger and partly-drunk real ale I had at Wetherspoons (The Waterhouse) were happy to pose for me. Most pleasing about this last shot was that it was pretty sharp, even though it was a hand-held 0.5 sec exposure using only a chair and table surface for support: further proof indeed, for someone like me who can't hold a camera steady, of the relaxing benefits of real ale.


I did take a few other pics on the day of course, but they didn't closely fit the brief I thought. The most appealing was one of the modern walkway across the Irwell outside The Lowry Hotel, against a very attractive sky that was still just about lit by the setting sun. But what's this? Me happy to take a shot that has no people in it? No matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs even? Well not really: I was just in a good mood, knowing that the mission was almost complete, and the next stop was the liquid reward at the Wetherspoons mentioned above.


Actually, I followed the Wetherspoons pint with one in the Jolly Angler pub, not far from Piccadilly Station. This very much down-to-earth Hardy's outlet is a true local, serving a great community said the landlord, and joking (I hope) that they would ask if they could have my camera before they nicked it off me. It had Irish music on later that evening, but too late for us unfortunately, as we had to begin a return-journey that threatened to make it literally a 24-hour day.


So, passing many Guy Fawkes bonfires and fireworks, we arrived at Coventry station at approx 22.20. At 22.30, having not progressed another inch, the driver announced that there was no longer a guard, and would we all get off please as the train was cancelled. Mayhem followed of course, but was eventually controlled and resolved by a British Transport Police constable, and the Virgin rep at the station. Thankyou gents for your work, and we eventually got home via taxi at 01.45, 2+ hours late. OK, not 24 hours then, but 20 hours is more than long enough for a day in the life of someone my age I think.


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