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My Saturday posts are a bit muddled up. The Jazz Festival and the Gaza protest came after these pictures. Before heading off into the city centre I decided to visit the Chorlton Art market in the hope of catching one of their regular stall holders to order some things for C*******S. She was there and I put in my order. Sorry to use the ‘C’ word in July!

The Chorlton Art Market is a monthly event on the third Saturday. It’s held on the terrace of The Post Box Café which looks small when it’s empty but it’s amazing how many stalls you can get on it. I usually like to go past if its on. A lot of work by the organisers and the artist/stall holders goes into it. And, although we are having a good summer weather-wise, sometimes the elements have not been kind to this event.

But everything was fine and dandy today with the sun beaming down on all the hard work. I was pleased about this as a lot of work had gone into this one. It had a Dorothy (from Oz) and Alice (from Wonderland) mash-up vibe about it with the stall holders making a lot of effort with costumes, props and themed items for people to buy.


To get there you could follow the white rabbit into Wonderland…




Once at the market you could follow the yellow brick road  to the doors of the Post Box Café. A small Dorothy wannabe was trying it out…


A pair of sequinned ruby slippers. for aspiring Dorothy’s…


This is Holly auditioning for the role of Toto. Off to try out the yellow brick road. A very friendly Yorkie who likes people and being out and about but isn’t keen on traffic apparently…


Lots of pictures of what was on offer to buy in the bright Chorlton sunshine…




















The next one will be on the third Saturday of August but, as yet, I have no idea what the theme will be.


The latest instalment in the Israel/Palestine problem that has been dominating the news along with the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines Airliner over the Ukraine has had its ramifications in Manchester. And, surprisingly, they have been in the genteel surroundings of King Street, one of the nicest and most exclusive shopping streets in the city.


At one end of the street is a store called Kedem. It’s a store that sells make up and beauty products, some of them made from mud from the Dead Sea which, I’m told, is great for the skin. A press release from the store says that all the materials are sourced in Israel and not on any disputed territory and the products are made in a factory in a suburb of Tel Aviv. That withstanding, it’s become to centre of attention for the Palestinian population in the city for lack of a more prominent Israeli building in the city to protest in front of. The protests have been going on for several days now.


Of course the Palestinians are not having it all their own way here and the city’s large Jewish  population have been mounting their own demonstration in the same place. It’s remained ‘friendly’ so far with just a lot of shouting at each other. But that maybe because there is a large contingent of Manchester’s finest strung across King Street keeping them apart, trying to keep things normal for the other businesses in the area and allowing the rest of Manchester going about its upmarket shopping in peace.

Here are the Palestinian protestors…






And the Jewish protestors…




The police…



Some of the messages on the pavement on King Street…




The ironic thing was that if I’d wanted some a Dead Sea Mud face pack , the police presence was such that I could have easily accessed the store. But if I’d wanted an expensive, scented candle (you can never have two many of those) from next door French store, L’Occitane en Provence, I would have stood no chance as the demonstrators were totally blocking the route to it.


I don’t really know what the solution is. Not to this tiny sideshow in a nice street in Manchester but to the horrible mess in the Middle East. The present situation seems to have been started when those three Israeli boys were kidnapped and murdered. That seems to have led to the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian boy near Jerusalem. And then it all blew up. Of course it’s been going on for years, decades, centuries even and doesn’t seem to anywhere near finding a solution.

But it’s all got worse since there was a step up in the number of rockets being fired by Hamas towards Israel. The Israelis have never been a people to take things lying down and have responded to defend themselves. But it’s out of hand. Hamas shouldn’t be firing rockets at Israel. Nor should they be firing them from populated areas or keeping them in sensitive buildings. But, being an ordinary person I feel very much for the ordinary Palestinian people who, like most of us,  just want to go about their lives in peace. The Israeli defence system can take care of any incoming rockets it seems. But the people of Gaza have no defence against the missiles from Israel and they are paying a heavy price. If Israel feels it needs to neutralise the threat to their country I’m sure they could do it without the deaths of so may innocent people. They need to target the people who are their real threat and not the innocent. But all this is easier said than done of course. And then there’s Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan…

I know it wouldn’t solve the problems of the Middle East but five minutes walk from here people were sat in the sun, drinking beer, earing street food and enjoying the jazz. They could do worse than join them and get to know each other?


Yesterday was a busy day. Up early for some work at ASDA. A bit of tutoring on Seymour Grove, but that’s over now for the summer as the kids have broken up from school. Then it was off to Chorlton to visit the Arts Market to see if a certain stall would be there. The stall was there so I ordered some stuff to be made for Christmas! In July, in a heat wave, I went Christmas shopping. I do like to have everything bought be mid November and wrapped before I open the first window of my Advent Calendar.

Then it was off into the city centre for one last visit to the Jazz Festival which ends today having been on for 9 days under warm, blue, rainless skies. It was busy with Albert Square packed with people enjoying the sun, the street food, the cold beer and the general vibe.





I’d mentioned to Andy at ASDA that the Jazz festival is on. He enjoys his music and is an extraordinary drummer. He should really do something with this talent. He’s really that good. It would be a shame for him to get to 50 and regret not having tried. I was just getting the first cold beer of the afternoon and felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Andy and his lovely girlfriend, Leanne. They’d decided to come to the festival and check it out.


We only had time for two bands as Andy had a gig in Warrington later on in the evening. His old band had decided to call it a day but he’s in the process of setting up a new one. But the gig that evening was with some more musician he knows.

We watched and enjoyed Mr. Wilson’s Second Liners in the square. They had the look of Sgt. Pepper’s Band and played jazz versions of music by Manchester bands like the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses.




Later in the evening they played a gig at Matt And Phred’s Jazz Club in the N4. It started with a progress through the N4 to the club collecting N4 Hipsters like the Pied Piper collected rats. And later in the clip they are in Albert Square. We may be in the crowd somewhere under the Town Hall clock near to the festival bar.

After that we got tickets to see one of the bands. A local jazz group from Wigan called Wagon Train. Never heard of them and, until yesterday, had never seen them. They were wonderful. They did classic Blues Jazz, jazz with a rock vibe and a piece of jazz with a Cuban feel to it. The music was great and got even better when they were joined for the last two pieces of their set by a guy playing harmonica. With the sticky heat in Manchester yesterday, it was pure old school New Orleans jazz.




Gosh it’s hot! Nothing to do with this post but I thought Id mention it. Its 8 in the evening and still 25C! It looks like its going to last into the weekend as well….

But back to my post. I’ve been getting behind with them the last few weeks. Work has been manic but, apart from taking a few bits into the office tomorrow, I’ve do it all! So I should be getting back to normal now. Well until the next time of course. I have managed, though, to organise my workload to take in some of the Jazz Festival. All work and no play would make Tom a dull a boy and we wouldn’t want that would we? Absolutely not!

These pictures are from the Jazz Festival on Tuesday. We returned to St. Ann’s Square to listen to another concert in the church which is light, airy and cool, even on a day like this. Since I wrote my last post about the Monday concert I’ve had a couple of tweets from the church. Someone had read my piece. I called the church ‘Georgian’ but it actually dates from the time of Queen Anne (1665 – 1714) so that would make it late Stuart. To be considered Georgian it would have to have been built in the times of one of the Georges (1714 – 1820). But the church, with its elegant simplicity and classical detailing, does have a lot of the features of Georgian buildings. But I stand corrected.

It is dedicated to St. Ann of course but also has connections with Lady Ann Bland, who was something of a mover and shaker in late Stuart Manchester society. And of course, it always helped if you church gave a nod to the reigning monarch, the aforementioned Queen Anne. I did discover something quite interesting about Stuart Manchester religious life. Of course religion was a very important part of life in those days, much more so than today. And people would go to the first service of the day to the Collegiate Church (now Manchester Cathedral) which still maintained some of the older church traditions; but would go to nearby St. Ann’s for the service later in the day where the religious observance was of a simpler, stripped back variety. I wonder what the people of those days would have made of the church being used for Jazz? Possibly some may not have approved.

Having seen what happened with the crowds descending on the church for Monday’s concert we decided to get their early and stake a place in a better position. We went for the ground floor where the rich would have sat in their dedicated pews. There was quite a difference. The pews are larger with a bit more leg room. And they had been lined with thick cushions to make the sitting a more comfortable proposition. Upstairs, in the gallery, the narrow pews were lined with a thin mat thing that would have become quite uncomfortable had not the jazz been good or the sermon was long and dull (not, I’m sure, does St. Ann’s go in for long and dull sermons of course).



We listened to two Spanish guys, Carles Benevant, who rocked the church with a wonderful fusion of jazz and flamenco. We were amused that one of the guys from Spain complained that he found Manchester too hot! But the music was cool…


After that finished it was a quick dash down Cross Street, through all the diggings for the new tram route, to Albert Square for some more Thai food, some cold beer and the second concert of the day. This time is was a traditional jazz quartet called the Dorian Ford Quartet. They were old school jazz and there’s nothing wrong with that. It had more of a blues vibe with the guys improvising on the tune and taking turns to show off their musical prowess and their instrument. It was a good concert. The guy who played trumpet and flugelhorn was from Italy and, like the saxophonist on Monday, went into a different place when he played. I like that in my jazz musicians.


While watching them a thought struck me. The excellent drummer was a black guy from London. Now I haven’t seen all the concerts but he was the only black person I’d seen so far. I may be wrong. A while ago we had the pleasure of going to New Orleans, the home of jazz as I understand it. We went to a couple of concerts, admittedly in the tourist orientated French Quarter, including one at Preservation Hall. Most of the musicians we heard were black and the concerts were attended by lots of black people and a few tourists like ourselves. In the UK, it seems, that Jazz has become something that is played by white musicians and listened to by almost entirely white audiences. Again I might have got it wrong and am ready to be corrected. Interesting how it’s developed once it cross the Pond. Just an observation…



After listening to Unfurl in St. Ann’s Church I took part in the exodus (appropriate thing to do in a church?) and headed back to Albert Square for another concert, this time in the tented Festival Theatre.


I just had time for a snack. Chaophraya had set up their field kitchen in the square so it was Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and Vegetable Spring Rolls with Sweet Chilli Sauce. Quite delicious…



I had time to sit and look around. It was warm and sunny. People were sitting at the picnic tables and on the square’s benches, under the trees or in the bright sunshine enjoying the food, the beer, the music, the vibe. It was Monday but it felt like Saturday afternoon. I wondered what all these people did that allowed them to sit in Albert Square and enjoy life like this on a work day? Maybe, like me, they had got up early, worked their socks off all morning and deserved the break? It was all very civilised. In a week with the news dominated by the Malaysian plane brought down in a missile attack over the Ukraine and the latest nasty instalment in the on-going, intractable problems in the Middle East I felt momentarily guilty about enjoying myself. But I think Manchester has got it right (mostly) and if more of the world would sit down with a cold beer and listen to some jazz it would be a lot better place.













A glass of beer was in order on a hot afternoon so I went to the tented bar and tried the specially brewed, for the festival, HOP SAX Festival Ale. It hit the spot on a hot afternoon…


The jazz band I listened to was The Slowlight Quartet. They were good to say the least. If I could play one instrument it would be the piano but I would happily pass that by if there was a saxophone on offer. This guy on his was good. When he played he went into ‘the zone.’ He was obviously aware of what the other band members were doing but you could see from his face that he was in a world of his own, aware of this one but the music was coming from somewhere else. Loved it…







I’m still snowed under with work. But at least I’ll be handsomely paid for doing it. At least I hope I will. I’m working at home for the next two days. Well that’s the theory at least. Some people love working at home, they don’t have the commute and can organise their own time. I’m not so good at it. I find lots of other things that need my attention before I start on the work. I set myself a doable target and then find myself miserable because I only reach it late in the evening and I wonder where the rest of the day went?

Today started off well and I’d got up early and achieved a lot by 8. But I had to go to the docs for a check-up and to give some blood for some routine tests. Nothing to worry about but after my nasty little op they are just keeping an eye on me. This broke the day and by the time I’d treated myself to a coffee and filled the car up with some petrol I knew the day was lost.

So I took my work into Manchester on the tram and headed to my quiet place in Central Library. It’s in its summer lull period at the moment; the schools and universities have finished their examinations and the great reading room at the core of the building was almost deserted. I kicked off my shoes, set out my stuff and just got on with it.


I promised myself a cold beer and some music at the Manchester Jazz Festival, currently in full swing across the city but with its festival hub in Albert Square under warm, blue skies, when I’d achieved my goal. Manchester is in festival mode now until the autumn which is how we like it. It will then take a breath before it plunges itself into the Christmas Markets. And another year will have gone…

Well I achieved my target by 1 and headed to the square. Checking the programme of events told me, that if I walked fast, I could get to listen to a concert at St. Ann’s Church on its eponymous square. I wondered how many people would be there on a work day? Me, one man and his dog? Nothing like it. It was packed to the rafters. The vicar, introducing the concert, wondered what the Manchester Jazz Festival had that God didn’t? Presumably a good band by the turnout today. Though, having said that, I have heard some beautiful church music in my time.


I couldn’t sit downstairs as it was full but went up into the gallery for the first time ever. It’s a Georgian church, very elegant and simple in its design, fitting the style of Christianity that was popular in those days. None of the candles and incense of a Roman Catholic church, just a simple place to commune with God. The building was even simpler than it is now in Georgian times. It was the Victorians, with the need to ‘improve’ things who added the stained glass windows and other decorations. Originally the rich would sit on the ground floor with the richest of the Mancunian society of the day in their private pews close to the altar and to God. Further back would have been the middle classes. Upstairs, in the gallery where I was, the poor would have sat. As I have said in other posts, this pretty church is now one of the most fashionable in the city and the sought after venue for some of the best weddings. I’m sure the poor would be welcome here but you don’t see many of them at the fashionable weddings.



The acoustics are pretty good in here and the jazz was superb. A band called Unfurl were playing. They played an ethereal mixture of jazz but added the rhythms, sounds and instruments and styles of Peru, Africa and the Middle East to it. It was quite beautiful. And it was one of the free concerts that the festival puts on to make it accessible to everyone.



Yesterday my, relatively, new iPhone developed a fault. I say a fault; the screen was black and no amount of pressing and recharging the battery would get it to work. After a long conversation with people in Goodnessknowswhereistan, a kind lady booked me a time at the APPLE Store at the Tafford Centre with one of their experts, usually some fresh faced 14 year old. When I got there the 14 year old was a little older than that and had amazing tattoos up his arms and they just appeared above his T shirt neck and probably in all places between. He looks pretty cool now but I wondered what he would look like at 80. He plugged my phone into his Apple Mac, clicked a few things and declared that my phone had had a ‘catastrophic hardware failure’ which kind of stopped me from studying his tattoos. I know little about smart phones but do understand ‘catastrophic.’ I was about to demand what they were going to do about it when he cut me short with he was going to replace my bust phone with a brand new one. He also set it up so I left the store with a working, new phone. 10 out of 10 for customer service!

I then headed down to the Nespresso Store to pick up some coffee capsules for our coffee machine, they were running low. Another place with great customer service. It’s one of my favourite stores in the Trafford Centre. It has a little coffee bar at one end where customers can try a coffee. I got talking to one of the other customers, a lady from South Dakota who is married to a man from Cornwall but they now live in Manchester. Her husband has connections with Australia which reminded another woman at the coffee bar that she was off to Melbourne next week for her brother’s wedding. Then this guy turned up who asked about a particular coffee. I actually was drinking it at that moment so we fell into conversation about it. The barista  made us all a second round of coffees. It was all getting convivial.

These are the coffee capsules I bought. A special selection to mark the golf at the British Open which is being held at Hoylake near Liverpool not that far from Manchester…


I’d missed lunch so I went looking for some. The Trafford Centre has no shortage of places to eat, some of them rather good. But by 3 in the afternoon I didn’t want a big meal. Nothing appealed to me. I wandered into Selfridges’ and remembered Yo!Sushi in the food department. I really like this place with its informal dining. You can order hot food or just help yourself to little plates of food as they circulate on the conveyor belt that passes by the booths and the counter. I was on my own so they sat me at the counter which as fine with me. I wasn’t alone for long as the guy from the Nespresso Store turned up alone and they sat him by me. We compared coffees bought, as guys do in trendy, metrosexual Manchester…

Here’s my Nespresso coffee bag full of capsules, some Beef Teriyaki with Garlic and a glass of chilled Chardonnay…


I like watching the food go round on the conveyor belt and picking off some tasty morsel. The booth next to me was empty when I took the picture. But it was soon occupied by a young couple with a cute little guy of about 2 years old. They sat him next to the conveyor belt which he liked. While his parents tucked into their food he licked each of the little domes of the plates of food as they passed by. He didn’t actually lick the food but I was careful which ones I picked off after that. Eventually I lost which ones were licked and not licked so I gave up on lunch. It was funny watching him…



I ordered this from the kitchen so the kid couldn’t lick it. It’s cucumber and cream cheese wrapped in Nori Seaweed, some sticky rice and then smoked salmon. Delicious! I also had some duck pastries with plum sauce but ate them before taking a picture…


These are a kind of soft vanilla cream doughnut with a raspberry coulis…



Many thanks to the GMP Helicopter and the National Police Air Service at Barton Airport for this wonderful picture of Manchester city centre. When they are not chasing bad people about the city with their eye in the sky, they sometimes take and tweet pictures like this for the pleasure of the law abiding citizenry like myself. Thank you!

Click on the picture to see a larger version. So you know what you are looking at…

Obviously the Hilton Tower is front and centre, still the tallest building in the UK outside of London. To it’s right you can see the striking curve of the train shed of the old Central Station, now the Central Convention Centre. To its right, across the tram line and street you can see the diamond shaped roof of the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester’s symphony hall and home to two of its three symphony orchestras. Above the convention centre you can see the brown, terracotta walls of the Midland Hotel which has just been voted the best hotel in the UK. The rest of the country are about 100 years behind Manchester, we have known that for years. And above that and to the right you can see No. 1 St. Peter’s Square, the new office block facing Central Library which we are all loving now its nearly finished. You can’t actually see the library because its hidden behind the top of the Hilton Tower.

The modern building with the sloping roof to the left of the Hilton Tower is the Great Northern Tower, a much sought after apartment block. Above that you can see the sandstone bulks of the Town Hall (with the tower) on Albert Square with the Town Hall Extension to its right. The trees in front of the town hall mark where Albert Square is. Enjoy…


This customised car that drives about in Chorlton in Manchester was once a Landrover before it had all the work done on it. I’ve spotted it a few times when is parks up outside ODDEST Bar on Wilbraham Road. I’d liked to have got a picture of the owner as he’s given himself a makeover as well and fits in nicely with his ride…


One of my favourite, and rather overlooked, buildings in Manchester is the Minshull Street Crown Court. Being a Crown Court and therefore standing in for the decision of the Queen in a criminal case; it is one of the city’s most important buildings. Centuries ago, any criminal could ask to be tried by the reigning monarch. This might have worked when the population was small (but I doubt it) but would be impossible today with a population of 62,000,000 and rising, some of whom are not as honest as we would like them to be. So a series of Crown Courts was set up in major towns and cities across the land to take care of the most serious, high profile cases with judges standing in for the Queen. Magistrates Courts take care of any low grade crime that comes their way. Personally I intend to stay out of either.

The biggest Crown Court in the city is the one on Crown Square in the middle of Spinningfields. It’s easy to find as it’s in the middle of the city’s new business district. But Minshull Street Crown Court is tucked away at one end of Canal Street not far from Piccadilly Station. Not being on one of the main streets or squares of the city it tends to be overlooked. Which is a shame as it deserves to be looked at. It’s an impressive Victorian building done in the Venetian Gothic style that is popular in the city. It was designed to impress and overawe. It said, and still says: ‘You are in big trouble here son! This isn’t gong to be a picnic.’ And if the police have built a case strong enough for it to be heard here, unless you’re very lucky, or possibly actually innocent, you are going away for quite a while. And they won’t be putting you up in a villa on one of the Spanish costas.

The doors are impressively solid and give you the impression that you find it hard to get out once you have been brought in…



Surrounding these doors are these sculptures that are set at eye level as you arrive for your trial. They fix you with their beady eyes and heighten the feeling of foreboding that any criminal might have. I like them. I called them gargoyles. But an internet bud pointed out that Gargoyles have a purpose like draining water away from a building. She said they were actually Grotesques. She’s probably right. But as they were put by the doors to throw the fear of God into criminals they DID have a job to do and that would make them Gargoyles. Comments? Ideas?