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A few last pictures from the Pride Parade on Saturday. This gentleman above is 91 and was at the front of the parade on his mobility scooter leading it around the route from Castlefield to Canal Street. There was a huge cheer as he went past and he seemed to be enjoying it.

As he was 91 that means he must have been born in 1923. He spent the first 44 years of his life in danger of imprisonment if he acted on any of his natural inclinations. That was because of an Act of Parliament of 1861 that brought the prison sentences in. Allegedly it was also supposed to do the same for Lesbian women but Queen Victoria refused to sign it because she didn’t accept that women could do anything like that. While we might look at the 1861 Act as a backward step it actually was a step forward as it replaced the Buggery Act of 1533 (yup! that’s what they called it) that had the death penalty for homosexual behaviour.

Since 1967 being gay hasn’t carried the prison sentence in England And Wales but it took to 1981 in Scotland and 1982 in Northern Ireland. Now the age of consent has been equalised, there are civil partnerships and marriage.

This gentleman has seen huge changes in how GLBT are seen in his lifetime. Manchester has gone from a position where gay people had to keep their inclinations and activities secret, a city where Alan Turing, who deciphered the Enigma Code and shortened WW2 and then went on to develop the world’s first working computer, laying the foundations of the world we live in today, was forced to commit suicide because he was gay. It’s now a city with a thriving GLBT culture where a 91 year old guy can ride along Deansgate on Saturday afternoon and be cheered for what he is.

Some more pics from the parade. Look out for the Queen, she usually turns up…

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This little Yorkie was having an extra specially exciting walk this morning. All the way from the marshalling area in Castlefield to Canal Street, being admired by the crowds and constantly photographed. His paws must have been sore when he got there…

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I’m not sure what breed this doggie is, but he was walking from Castlefield to Canal Street like this all the way. He was getting tardy so his master would come and encourage him to walk faster…

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The theme of this year’s Pride Parade was ‘The Summer of Love.’ Apparently this has something to do with a bunch of hippies in San Francisco and the surrounding area who took a lot of interesting substances, listened to a lot of music and ‘let it all hang out ‘back in the 1960s. I’m not sure if Manchester ever had a ‘summer of love’, even in Chorlton, and I’m pretty damn sure Salford didn’t have one ever. But this picture claims otherwise. Please excuse the finger…

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But back to the subject of the post. The UK, along with most of western Europe, wears its religion lightly. I think it’s got something to do with the continent’s history. Centuries ago we were riven by religious wars as people fought over which particular version of an imaginary friend in the sky was better than another person’s imaginary friend in the sky. They were vicious wars and many people died. We are talking millions. We are still putting out the dying embers in some parts of the continent. But then we had the Age of Enlightenment which gradually rolled back the religious bigotry.

In the UK we love our churches and cathedrals, the sublime music and the beautiful art. We celebrate the festivals. But, by and large, religion plays an increasingly smaller part in people’s daily lives. Something we are grateful for when we see people decapitating innocent people because they believe their version of an imaginary friend is better than someone else’s and that imaginary friend is telling them to do that.

We do, however, have a very small number of so called Christians who are very convinced that their version of an imaginary friend is better than anyone else’s and a group of them were at the Pride Parade yesterday. They like to stand on Deansgate near the John Ryland’s Library and sermonise to the crowd and the parade as it passes. We had about an hour of them doing this before the parade got to us so I was able to listen to them at length. From what I can gather, unless we join them, we are all going to burn in hell. Apart from the obvious at a gay event, we can go to hell for drinking wine too much (oh dear), too much shopping will get you there (oh deary dear) and too over zealous use of computers, iPads and iPhones will also get you sent to a fiery pit of brimstone. Pretty much everything I do will get me sent there. But at least I will have lots of company. I wanted to ask what book, chapter and verse of the Bible banned iPads but the parade arrived so I will have to investigate at a later date. They were loud and vociferous while we waited but became incandescent when the parade arrived. It was good fun.

They were a particularly joyless bunch…

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People in the parade took great pleasure in expressing their love in front of these people. Here two guys from the Canal Street Racers (a running club) kissed to the delight of the crowd and the disgust of the so called Christians…

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Not all Christians share these views and gay Christian groups and Christaians who support gay people were marching in the parade. Apparently there is a specially nasty part of hell is going to be reserved for them…

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I’m not convinced these are real nuns. Possibly their placards…

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And I know the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence aren’t. Do you think he’s a choir boy?

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I haven’t been to see the Manchester Pride Parade for a few years now. Which is a bit sad as it’s one of the best free shows in town and, sadly, marks the end of Manchester’s summer. From now on we are looking forward to darkening nights and deteriorating weather. That’s the downside. The upside is we still have the Food & Drink Festival, The Literary Festival and the Christmas Markets to look forward to.

I nearly didn’t go this year either. It was raining heavily this morning but, about 10 30, the clouds parted and the sun came out. I drove into Chorlton to go to the Arts Market at the Post Office Café. I’d ordered some things at the last one and needed to pick them up. They are actually intended as Christmas presents but the person who makes them gets busy towards the festive season so I thought I’d order early and pick them up in November. But, as she does get busy she decided to do them straight away so she has time for later orders towards Christmas. So I picked them up today. Apologies, but I seem to have inadvertently started Christmas shopping.

The city centre was going to be busy with diversions so I left the car in Chorlton and took the tram into the city. The tram itself was busy with people heading in for the parade and other bank holiday weekend events. I found a place on Deansgate across from the John Ryland’s Library and the Armani Store and claimed my spot so I could take pictures. It’s an interesting spot to stand as it’s where a group of fundamental Christians like to stand and berate the people in the parade about their lifestyle choices. They are very entertaining and it’s fun to watch the interactions between them and the parade. Or is that just me?

I have taken dozens of pictures and I might be boring you with them for a few days. But I thought Id start with this one. I remembered I had my iPhone with me that has the panorama feature on the camera. It was so unusual to see the street empty of traffic but with thick crowds lining it, patiently waiting for the parade to begin, that I thought I’d try a panorama. I was really pleased with how it came out. The RBS Building, the Armani Store and the John Ryland’s Library came out really well. I love the way the old and the new contrast next to each other in the city. And we had bright, warm sunshine from a blue Manchester sky to enjoy the parade with. 

Just a few random pics…

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Many thanks, yet again for some wonderful pictures from the Greater Manchester Police Helicopter. At some point in the last couple of nights they’ve been over the part of the city centre called The Village which is the centre of gay and lesbian culture in the city. As it is Pride weekend they’ve uploaded some stunning pictures of the area.

In the days when it was illegal to be gay in the UK, quite a while ago now, the gay community in Manchester and the police had quite a difficult relationship with the police having to enforce some very anti gay laws. It has taken a long time for the police force to gain the trust of the gay community but things are a whole lot better theses days. In this Saturday’s parade one of the biggest groups to march in it will be GLBT police officers for the Greater Manchester Force and other local forces.

In honour of the event the police helicopter, well one of them, has had a rainbow makeover. Here it is landing at its base at City Airport at Barton Moss.

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Here’s a couple of shots they took of the village. Click on them to see them in more detail. In this one Princess Street runs from top to bottom on the left of the picture. Manchester’s famous Canal Street, lined with gay owned and run bars, restaurants, clubs and other businesses runs across the picture at the bottom. If you click on the picture to make it bigger you can make out the little white lights that hang in the trees that line the Rochdale Canal that gives the street its name. A long time ago this part of the city was the main port of the city with wharfs and warehouses lining the canal. Near the top of the picture on Princess Street you can make out the rainbow lights of one of the old warehouses that is now one of the city’s biggest gay clubs. I forget its name. At the top, on the right, you can see part of the Manchester 1, one of the tallest towers of 1960s Manchester. Just below it you can make out the car park on top of Chorlton Street Bus Station where the intercity buses arrive in Manchester.

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In this one the helicopter is above China Town and is looking towards Canal Street which is in darkness from this angle. You can see Manchester 1 again in the bottom left corner. Bloom Street is lit up roughly in the centre of the picture from this angle. It runs parallel to Canal Street and is lined with bars. Now, while the bars on Canal Street are big, smart and classy, the sort you could take grandma to if she felt like a fun night out; the Bloom Street bars are a little edgier and ‘interesting’ shall we say and leave it at that. In the top left hand corner you can see the green of Sackville Park, a little green oasis in this very urban part of the city.

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Just close to the gay part of town is Piccadilly Station. It’s one of the busiest stations in the country. This is where the London trains arrive in the city. It looks stunning from this height with the great glass roof of the Victorian train shed lit up.

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The Greater Manchester Police Helicopter have done this video of them flying over Pride. The helicopter gets used a lot in the city when large number of people get together just in case there’s any bother. You often see it over football games checking stuff out. And they were over the city centre a lot during the stand off outside that store on King Street over the situation in Gaza where they was a real chance of bother. But Pride, apart from someone having a glass of sherry or six too many, passes off trouble free.

The helicopter seems to have three different cameras up there. There’s the conventional one that has been providing all these stunning shots of Manchester at night. Then they have a night vision camera that makes the city look ghostly when its switched on. And then there is the heat sensitive camera that the police use when chasing bad people late at night in dark places. The people appear as white figures. This video uses all three. At one point the helicopter closes in on a surface car park behind Bloom Street. Its being used as an outdoor arena for the Pride concerts and you can see thousands of white dots enjoying the music.

As I posted a couple of days ago, it’s the BIG WEEKEND for Manchester Pride, the annual GLBT Festival that has been going on for the last couple of weeks. Most of it is happening in the city centre but there were echoes of it in trendy Chorlton.

I liked the window display of the Betty & Butch Dog Lifestyle Store (the other store in Chorlton run by a dog, Duke) ‘DOGS DON’T DISCRIMINATE’. How true. Dogs give their love unconditionally and don’t judge you on who you choose to love.

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And across the street from Betty & Butch is Chorlton Central Church (Baptist & United Reformed) which seems to be practising what Jesus actually preached about in relation to recognising that the love is more important than who you choose to love.

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It’s always good to find a new (to me) independent business. This one’s in Chorlton (of course) an area where I thought I knew them all as well. I’d finished work about 2 and headed for Chorlton to have a bit of a wander about and see what was going on. I headed up Wilbraham Road looking for the shop that sells Belgian chocolate, but it was closed while the owners have their annual holiday.

Turning back I noticed Tiny’s Tipple, a well set up independent wine store. It is a modern take on the traditional wine store with the front of the shop painted this tasteful grey. The window display contained wines and, intriguingly, dog beds and bowls.

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This is Tiny of Tiny’s Tipple. One of two stores that I know of in Chorlton run by dogs. Tiny wasn’t there today, he likes to start his weekend early especially as it’s holiday weekend. This oil painting catches his likeness very well apparently.

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Some wine stores can be dark and dusty which can be cool. One of my favourite ones is the one up in Clitheroe in a series of damp cellars which has a great selection of wine and a great atmosphere. This one, with the blonde wood shelving, stripped wooden floor, subtle paint job, with the wine arranged by country enticing you to have a browse, is the opposite of that one but still had a great atmosphere. Plus no dust or damp which is a bonus. Each of the wines are labelled to give you an idea of what the wine is like. Light streams in from the street and the counter looked like, to me, a tastefully toned down version, with its grey and blue tiles, of the bar just installed at ODDEST further along the street.

I’m sure the owners of this store will have had a good time choosing the wines to sell. They seemed to be all ones that I hadn’t heard of before so you’re not going to find anything that you might come across at your local ASDA, Sainsbury’s, TESCO etc. This is a store where you can experiment and try wines you have never seen before.

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The front room of the store contains the wines while the back room has a selection of interesting, artisan beers.

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I had a good time inspecting the wines on the shelves.

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As well as wine and beer they do sell some soft drinks. I was drawn to the range of Fentimen’s drinks. They make soft drinks but to traditional recipes and in traditional ways. We particularly like their tonic water which is the only one we use when we are drinking one of the expensive gins we like. And I like their Curiosity Cola and Seville Orange Jigger.

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This was my haul. At the back is a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio from the Veneto (near Venice) region. It’s one of my favourite grape varieties for making wine. I like the combination of fruit and dryness. The wine of the left is also from Italy. It’s called Mosketto. I’ve never had it before but the label promises me the scent of white flowers with peach and citrus fruit flavours. Without the pop of a champagne, it has a slight fizz to it as well. If you want a bottle you might be out of luck as I got the last one in the store. Maybe more will be on their way.

On the Fentimen’s shelf I spotted one I hadn’t had before. A cherry flavoured cola drink called Cherrytree Cola. Not sure what it will be like but am pretty sure it will be good.

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They have regular wine tastings which sound fun. They are not the kind of tastings where you are ‘taught’ about the wine. It’s more of a social occasion where you can try some wine and enjoy some food made by a company run by one of the guy’s girlfriend (I think that’s what he said, apologies if I got it wrong). It could be something fun to do in the autumn with a view to stocking up on some Christmas wines.

Their website is….

www.tinystipple.co.uk

And the food is provided by….

http://wendyshousesupperclub.co.uk/

She seems to run something that I have heard of but have never experienced. Rather than eating her food in a restaurant, she hosts restaurant evenings in her own home. I’ve heard of this happening in London but had no idea that the concept had moved up to Manchester. Something else fun to try…

 

It was a long busy day at work. I finished about 6 and then had two alternatives. Either I could sit for a hour or so trying to get home on the motorway or I could have some dinner and a glass of wine in a nice bar and drive home later. I decided on the latter option and headed for my favourite Chorlton bar, ODDEST. I was anxious, and a bit concerned, to see how the refurb had gone. It was closed last week while they smartened the place up. I liked the old look, it might have been getting a bit tatty around the edges but it was comfortable and a good place to spend a couple of hours enjoying a drink or two.

I needn’t have worried. They have taken care to keep the ambiance of the old bar as it was while smartening it up. The Moroccan lanterns and the Thai angels are still there. The beautiful mirrors and other artworks are back in place and the furniture, including my favourite armchair, have all been refurbished as well. And the same people who worked and ran it before are back in position so the friendly welcome is still in place.

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The paintwork has been refreshed and the floor has been stripped back to the bare wood which has lightened the room. It looks good. The bar has had its front redone, being covered with the same rectangular tiles as the walls but someone has used all the crayons in the box producing this…

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The terrace bar outside had seen the biggest changes. The old tables and chairs have gone and been replaced by this custom made seating. Even on a cool evening, people were enjoying it seated under the glass veranda and patio warmers. It’s gone a bit cool of late but, hopefully, summer will return soon before autumn sets in…

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I decided on Steak Frites for my dinner…

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I would love to get a chance to take pictures like this. They aren’t mine. Many thanks to the Greater Manchester Police helicopter (or one of them) for these beautiful night time shots of Manchester city centre. I wonder who they were keeping an eye on while they took these? Manchester looks cool and very beautiful at night. Click on the picture to see them in more detail.

This one is looking up Oxford Street to Central Library which looks stunning all lit up. Facing it across St. Peter’s Square is the new office block, No. 1 St. Peter’s Square which is being fitted out ready for occupation. To the right of the library you can see the Town Hall Extension and, beyond it, you can see the tower of the gothic Town Hall on Albert Square with the clock lit up. To the left of the library is the Midland Hotel.

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In the centre of this picture, the triangular building with the purple and blue glass domes is the Corn Exchange. It used to be the Corn and Produce Exchange buying and selling all manner of stuff. When it closed down it was filled with tiny stalls selling all kinds of interesting things. The IRA bomb of 1996 ripped through this building and all the little businesses relocated to what is now the N4, kick-starting the development of that area to what it is today. The Corn Exchange was restored and renamed The Triangle and was given up to high end shopping. Apart from the stores that faced Exchange Square and in spite of its proximity to the Arndale Centre, Selfridge’s and Harvey Nichols, it didn’t take off as a shopping destination. It’s closed down at the moment and is being reconfigured inside as a food and drink destination. And people who know Manchester well, will realise it’s practically impossible to find a restaurant in this city (puts on ironic face). It’s also gone back to being called the Corn Exchange.

In the top right hand corner is the massive (well part of) Arndale Centre with the glass roof over the Winter Gardens. On the right you can see Selfridge’s and the red tower thing marks where Harvey Nichol’s is. Just below the Corn Exchange, Manchester Cathedral is in darkness and to its right of that you can just see the Olde Wellington Inn and Sinclair’s Oyster Bar. To the left of the Corn Exchange is the URBIS building, now the home to the National Football Museum. At the top of the picture is The Printworks with all the lit up roofs. It used to be a place where national newspapers were printed, hence the name. Now it’s one of Manchester’s pleasure palaces full of bars, restaurants and cinemas including the city’s IMAX screen. You can see the neon guitar advertising Manchester’s Hard Rock Café. While working at the Dig The City Garden Festival I learned there are gardens up there among all those lights and they keep bee hives up there as well which produce delicious urban honey. Who’s have thought?

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This picture is looking along Brazennose Street from Deansgate. It’s looking into Albert Square, with the Albert Memorial at its centre, directly at the gothic Town Hall. To its right you can see the Town Hall Extension, Central Library and No. 1 St. Peter’s Square again. The Manchester Art Gallery is just beyond the Town Hall and beyond that we are looking into China Town at the top of the picture. It’s a very recent picture. On the left of the square you can just make out the work being done on the new tram route along Princess Street. And the Town Hall is magnificently lit up in rainbow colours for the GLBT Festival that is on in the city at the moment.

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You know summer is almost over when Manchester Pride appears on the horizon. The annual celebration of LGBT culture in the city is already in full swing with the accompanying cultural festival. But this weekend, which includes the August Bank Holiday Monday, is the BIG WEEKEND, when the city throws on its gaudiest, flashiest frock, its trashiest costume jewellery and its highest heels and party’s. On Saturday afternoon a huge parade makes its way through the city centre through streets lined with 1000s of people and if you weren’t aware that Manchester is one of the world’s top LGBT destinations, you will be then. It’s quite sedate as it makes its way along Deansgate, but, as it gets closer to Canal Street it can get a little raunchy. Those of you easily shocked, might want to claim a spot on Deansgate.  You have been warned! See it before the Lord Mayor takes the salute in Albert Square. After that anything goes. I haven’t seen the parade for years so I might take my camera in, if the weather looks good, and take some pictures. I hope it is. A lot of effort goes into the parade. And it’s a huge boost to the local economy as people come from far and wide and make a weekend of it, packing the bars, restaurants, hotels and spending in the shops. And we have been two whole weeks without a festival haven’t we?

I’m still trying to catch up with all the pictures lying on my computer so here’s a couple I haven’t posted that I took on the walk from the car park to China Town which happens to cross Canal Street. This huge sign has appeared on the side of Vanilla, a bar just off Canal Street for ladies of the Sapphic persuasion…

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Someone wanted to stop people parking on a tiny piece of land behind their business. So they laid these stones out around the edge. They have been given the rainbow flag treatment…

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And some Calendulas that were brightening up a corner of Sackville Park, that I liked…

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