Category: Autumn


I was a bit irritated on Friday night to discover that work had downloaded a lot more work to me than I had expected. True, I have to the end of the month to do it but I’d already worked out my daily schedule and to keep to it I’d have to do a bit more almost straight away to keep me on track. So I got up ridiculously early on Saturday morning (6am) and by 11am I’d caught up. Go me! I then fired off an email saying that I expected this extra, unexpected work to be reflected in my Christmas bonus. Always good to do this sort of thing from a position of power I think.

Having caught up I was able to get out and about and do a few things I needed to do in Chorlton and Altrincham. Nothing onerous, just organising a few things for Christmas. I had a bit of a wander around Chorlton to see what was going on and see if there was anything that would be of use over Christmas. On Beech Road I like to check out the ‘A’ boards outside Launderette, the restaurant/café bar that has been put in what used to be a public lauderette. They are always witty. Here’s yesterday’s offering. They didn’t disappoint.

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There was a sign on the gate into Beech Park.

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I had Beech Park all to myself this morning. The weather wasn’t brilliant and people were busy on the Saturday morning errands. The park still looked lovely as the Copper Beech trees are taking on their autumn colour. It’s a shame there wasn’t some sunshine. That really brings out the colour which looks wonderful against a blue sky.

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This sign was on the gate to the children’s playground. Adults seem to want to keep the kids and dogs apart. I bet the kids and dogs would have a great time together.

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I was at an important meeting for work yesterday. I can’t go into details as it’s all a bit sensitive at the moment and a lot of stuff in in the air still. We can’t see it settling for a couple of years to be honest if you catch my drift. We’re all in the same boat at the moment and many companies will be having similar meetings across the UK. We just want the best for the company and its employees and the best for the city. We hope that the people who are in control outside our company achieve the best result for Team GB as a whole. We will see. At the moment we are just weighing up our options.

The meeting was held in a meeting room in the university. I’d not been in that part of town since summer and had forgotten how busy it was with the students back. Manchester has a huge student population and they really make a difference to the vibe in this part of the city when they are back and when they are away of course. And the new cohort looked so young. I used to be able to relate to them as I was at the university as well. But now they are looking like a different race entirely.

The meeting began dramatically, even more dramatically than we anticipated given what we were discussing. The woman chairing the meeting began it. She’d got as far as welcoming us all and then fell silent and it became clear, as her legs buckled beneath her, that she wasn’t at all well. It seems she suffers from a condition called Ménière’s Disease. It’s a condition that affects the inner ear and causes bad vertigo and dizziness. She had to be helped down from the podium and spent the rest of the day sleeping and getting back to normal. When we left she was well enough to stand and walk but still looked not at her best.

So another woman had to stand up and take the meeting from the notes. She was a little uncertain at the beginning but, with the support and good will of the audience, she got better and we got through the day.

At lunch I went out for a little fresh air. We were just near the little park at All Saints so I headed there to look at the trees. On a map this area is called Grovesnor Square but everyone calls it All Saints after the church that used to be in the centre of it. It was demolished when it became surplus to requirements as the growth of the university and the city centre caused the population to move out. The church has gone but the old graveyard is still there under the lawns. Students enjoying their lunch here may not be aware of this and the thousands of people buried below the grass. A little indication is that ball games and dogs are banned in the little park.

Here’s the Grovesnor Picture House, a pretty tiled cinema from back in the 1920s. It’s now called The Footage and is a student bar.

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Like the rest of Manchester, the university district is undergoing massive changes as new building projects are begun. The rather ugly 1960s building on the corner of Oxford Road, next to the School of Art, is coming down to be replaced, hopefully, by something more attractive.

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Oxford Road itself is having a massive overhaul. It’s been one of the busiest routes into the city centre and the busiest bus route in Europe. Sometimes you can taste the air it is so polluted. Cars are being banned from it and only buses and bicycles will be able to use the part from Whitworth Park to St Peter’s Square, creating a tree lined boulevard right thorough the hospital and university corridor. It will look great when finished but is a mess at the moment along its entire length. Omelettes and eggs come to mind.

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The little park was an oasis of calm away from the traffic and building along Oxford Road. The trees are taking in their autumn colour and shedding them. I like this time of year, it’s one of my favourites.

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All the summer flowers are finished or way past their best. But Michaelmas Daisies are at their peak. Their tiny purple flowers aren’t very dramatic on their own but, en mass, they look great and they are a late food boost for bees before they find somewhere safe and cosy for the winter.

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This stall has been on the edge of the park for years selling fruit to students who might never come across a piece in their four years at university. When I was at university The Footage wasn’t known for its baskets of fruit shall we say.

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And I like this little stall selling second hand books and music.

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These trees are maple trees, they are in Hardman Square in the heart of Spinninfields. They are related to the sycamore trees that line suburban streets in the leafy suburbs of English cities and the countryside alike. When I was little I liked collecting sycamore seeds. They come in pairs and if you split them and throw them in the air, they twirl like helicopters. Good fun. I like sycamores but they do seed freely and some people regard them as the weed of the tree world. A bit harsh I think. Sycamores turn a golden yellow in Autumn while these maples go this beautiful red.

They look good against the concrete, steel and glass of the corporate buildings of Spinningfields. In one of the pictures you can see the latest tower, No 1 Spinningfields, reaching its full height. And the blue glass cladding is creeping up the tower daily.

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The area in front of the tower is off limits to us at the moment. This is a shame as it’s become a popular open space with lawns, seats, cafés and bars. It’s where the open air cinema is in summer and where we watch Wimbledon and the cricket. In winter it’s transformed into Manchester’s Christmas ice rink giving the city a little of the vibe I saw when we were lucky enough to visit the Rockerfeller Centre in New York City one Christmas. The company that have developed Spinningfields, Allied London, have a reputation for looking after the public realm around their buildings. You know when you are on their land when the litter and chewing gum stops. This bodes well for their other projects in Manchester, the massive St John’s development and the London Road Fire Station project. It contrasts with the perpetual running sore that is Piccadilly Gardens. That area is cut off AGAIN while they try and sort it out. By ‘sort it out’ they are repeating the same old solutions that have failed many times in the past. If I had my way I’d GIVE Allied London Piccadilly Gardens and let them run with it.

Once No 1 Spinningfields is finished (2017 I believe), Allied London are going to refurbish Hardaman Square with lawns, seating, flowers, cafés, bars and trees. I hope the maples are kept. Here are some pictures of what they are planning.

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I was in the city centre this morning so thought I’d hang on into the afternoon to see the Team GB Olympic and Paralympic Parade through the city to celebrate their success in Rio over the summer. I hung about in St Peter’s Square for a while watching the trams come and go hoping to catch a glimpse and a picture of the golden tram that has been specially painted to mark the event. It was at Media City this morning so I thought it might be on the route to Piccadilly Station. It didn’t pass through while I was there but, doubtless, as soon as I’d left it turned up.

I went off for some lunch and a wander round the stores to see what was in them for Christmas. Harvey Nichols was doing their windows behind covers but Selfridges was already in full Christmas mode with fully decorated Christmas trees out in Exchange Square. And we haven’t had Halloween or Bonfire Night yet. In fact the leaves are only just beginning to change colour.

St Peter’s Square was a lot quieter than it has been. No 2 St Peter’s Square is about finished outside, they are up to the fitting out inside now. And they are putting the finishing touches to the tram station and the square itself. The tramline is about finished from St Peter’s to Exchange Square, they will be running test trams along it soon before it opens. It was calm all along the route. The people on this project will be moving onto the new line that’s being built from Pomona to the Trafford Centre via Manchester United’s stadium and the Imperial War Museum. That will open in 2020 and is out of the city centre so we’re all pleased about that. It’s been given permission and work starts this winter.

Back to the leaves. The trees in St Peter’s Square are just turning. Here are some pictures…. 

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Orange Christmas, or Halloween as it’s better known, is in full swing in the UK. It is amazing how it’s caught on over here. All the houses in our neighbourhood are decorated for it, the Trafford Centre was full of kids in their costumes and lots of stores have made the effort to decorate for it. I like it, I think it’s fun.

I went into Chorlton to check on a couple of places that I knew were making an effort. First to the Post Box Cafe where the garden I designed has morphed into the Macmillan Nurses Pumpkin Patch. Macmillan nurses are specially trained nurses in the UK who look after people in the final stages of cancer, helping both the patient and their loved ones to cope with a very difficult time. They are highly respected and do all their work supported by charitable donations. People have brought their carved pumpkins to the Post Box Cafe and paid to enter their efforts into a competition. All proceeds going to the Macmillan Nurses. And I’m pleased to see the garden I designed still being used. 

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Paella Fella’s daughter and her bf (I think) were providing the entertainment on the terrace which was busy with stalls and people sitting out on an unseasonably warm day.

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I had a Pumpkin Syrup Latte and a Halloween cupcake.

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I’m having a few days off to recharge my batteries. I’m just catching up on reading, TV, listening to the radio and suchlike. I’ve also been out for walks, in fact I’ve not driven anywhere since last Friday. It’s a nice time of year for walks, there’s a lot to look at. This Silver Birch tree is on its way out and was sporting some impressive Bracket Fungus. The tree is gradually being broken down and will crumble to enrich the soil underneath it…

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I liked the red of this bush in a suburban garden on today’s walk…

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And this oak looks spectacular in its Autumn colours. I’m not sure how long it’s been here. It’s certainly older than the houses that look as if they were laid out to surround it. It will probably outlive the houses. We have some in the UK that are about a 1000 years old. It will certainly outlive us unless it has an accident…

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It has been unseasonably warm today. We’re eight weeks off Christmas and it’s Halloween at the end of the week. I have my gloves and scarfs ready and went out in a padded body warmer this afternoon as it’s October and I should be wearing one. I regretted that descision a lot.

The warmth brought out some Red Admiral butterflies that really should be hibernating somewhere by now. There were three of time enjoying the nectar of the ivy flowers and spreading their wings in the sun. Ivy blooms at this time of year and is a valuable food source for any insects that might be about. There were actually three butterflies but I just caught two of them.

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I’ve been told that pumpkins are in short supply this season, something to do with the wet summer we had. So better buy now to avoid disappointment.

Saturday was a miserable, wet day. Well at least the morning was. But by lunchtime the rain stopped and the sun began to come out. At this time of year we have to take our chance as far as the weather goes and get out when we can. So we went out for a walk and I took my camera. There are lots of berries about. These will keep the birds and other creatures going through the winter hopefully. These are snowberries. I not sure what affect they have on birds but they can make people very sick and can kill dogs. Even touching them can bring you out in a nasty rash. They look tempting but they are best avoided.

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These bright red berries are holly berries. They’re not good for people either according to Wikipedia, 20 berries can kill a small child. And the leaves are not good for you should you be stupid enough to chew on a few of these spiky leaves. It won’t stop us from dragging boughs of it into our houses to decorate out homes for Christmas. Oddly birds aren’t affected by the holly berry and use them to get themselves through the winter.

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These orange berries are from a Berberis bush. You usually see them in gardens but this one has escaped into the wild. I like the colour. These are only MILDLY poisonous I’m told.

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These are rose hips, the seed pods left after the rose flower has faded. Here they are on a wild rose vine growing in a hedge. These plants are the ancestors of all the cultivated roses that we grow in our gardens. These aren’t poisonous and are used to make rose hip tea. I’ve had it bought in packets from a teashop or supermarket, but I’ve never made it from the actual hips.

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These are blackberries of course. They are edible and delicious and we went out and picked some a few weeks ago. They are in the freezer for use later in winter. These were small and past their best and it’s best to leave them to the creatures who rely on them over the winter months.

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A few months ago these were elegant Queen Ann’s Lace plants, a relative of Giant Hogweed. I like that you can still see their shape through the winter months. I look forward to cold mornings when they are covered in frost when it would be nice to take them inside as Christmas decorations.

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We know the area very well but we were amazed to find this undiscovered, by us, green, canopied lane with the path covered with fallen leaves. I like that it is so secret.

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And we found this ancient pond. It looks overgrown but it will be a haven for wildlife.

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I’ve had a bad couple of days with the technology. It was one of those situations where one thing leads to another and the mess becomes increasingly complicated until you are completely lost in it all. It started when I updated the iPad to iOS something or other. That went well. But then my iPhone was out of synch with the iPad. I tried to upgrade the iPhone but it was having none of it. So I jumped into the car and was off to the Apple  store at the Trafford Centre. I thought it would be quiet but it wasn’t. I stood patiently in a queue until one of the tech guys could see me. He seemed to think it was easily remedied but some a****** of a guy pushed into the queue demanding that his problem was so important the rest of us could wait including me, in the middle of a consultation. He was very angry so I told my tech guy to deal with him, at least it gave me some time to get my head around what he’d told me. And it was entertaining to watch. Security arrived and the guy left the store even more angry than he’d arrived.

But I had my instructions and I had to go home to plug my iPhone into the laptop, doing something with iTunes and download the version of iOS to the phone. All went well until  I tried to restart it and the instructions were in Czech (I think). So it was on to Apple to sort that out. That done I noticed that all my pictures had gone so it was back on to Apple to sort that out.

I thought that was all sorted until I tried to upload some pictures to this blog. The portrait ones were all loading as landscape. I tried lots of different ways of doing it but no joy. Eventually my good chum, Mike, sorted it out by uploading a tool that rotates the pictures properly. This he did from his home in the Arizona desert. If I wanted someone to come across town to fix the washing machine though, that would be an entirely different matter. Many thanks to Mike.

Yesterday was calmer. I was able to pop over to Warrington to check on a house. It was a bright, sunny Autumn day but I needed to dig one of my body warmers out of the wardrobe for the first time this season. Here’s some of the golden trees against the blue sky near the house.

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I had some time on my hands so I went for a wander around Risley Moss. It’s a wetland, nature reserve with the kind of trees (Silver Birch, Oak etc) that must have covered this area before people arrived and made farms and then someone built a huge city on top of them. It’s a nice little nature reserve that has all kinds of wildlife, some rare, but all I spotted were the squirrels scampering about doing squirrel things.

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Some fungi (probably poisonous) and the last of the Summer Geraniums.

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There were a were a fair few carvings along the path I took and some benches that people had paid to have put in the reserve in memory of some loved one.

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I don’t know the story of this bench but it says ‘Ben’s Bear’ so I imagine it’s rather sad.

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The public are allowed to walk around a small part of the reserve. The biggest part is closed to the public so the creatures can go about their business in peace. Some views across the closed part.

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Autumn is well under way in the UK. It’s one of the great pleasures of living in a country like the UK where we have distinct seasons. I really couldn’t be doing with living in a place where the weather is the same day after day, week after week, month after month…

The trees are changing colour daily and the lawns are being covered with the falling leaves. Some people sweep them up but we prefer to let the wind blow the where it will and for the worms and other creatures that live underground to drag them into the soil to enrich it for the next generations of plants. Some pictures of the colours…

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Although the colder weather is on its way, the wildflower meadows are still in bloom and going strong…

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