Friday 24th January 2020, 10.05pm (day 3,074)
The blog’s first trip to Northern Ireland, and only my third. Has it been as wet as this neon display suggests? No — or not yet, anyway.
Up in the air again, from Manchester airport heading roughly north-west, though not very far (so if you want, you can deduce where I travelled to before I post from t/here tomorrow). Not long after take off, visual interest was added to the flight to the south, where this cloudscape revealed itself. I wasn’t sure at the time where this might be but a subsequent look at the map suggests the hills in the background must be Snowdonia, in the north-west corner of Wales. It’s the general golden wash that I like about this photo, however. Far better weather up there than down on the ground today — as is often the case, of course.
One of those days that was spent sat at home, marking. On such days, photographically, I’m glad my house has a view. It’s been a mild winter thus far, which doubtless some will attribute to climate change but frankly I think Britain always does have these, every few years: the last really mild one was 2013-14. But then again maybe some east wind will cover us in snow in March, as happened in 2018….
Stalybridge railway station’s buffet bar is perfectly preserved in its early 20th-century state, with no sense of tweeness or fakery: it is also provides the best beer for miles around. As a result of both these things it is locally, and perhaps even nationally, famous. You will not find a better pub at a railway station anywhere else that I know of.
Which means you can experience the best of Stalybridge without ever leaving platform 4 of its station, because it’s not really a place one wants to get to know better. Trust me.
Abingdon Street is one of the keys to making my walk between Victoria station and my office as peaceful and traffic-free as is possible. In summer 2018 it was closed off, to allow for the building of the latest boutique hotel that Manchester city centre doesn’t need. This annoyed me so much that I specifically moaned about it, twice, in the manuscript of the book I wrote on sabbatical last year (due out in March, apparently). However, last week it looked as if preparations were being made for its reopening and today I got to walk the length of it again for the first time in 18 months. Thankfully, despite the concrete carbuncle now stood at one end, it remains as peaceful and traffic-free as before. Welcome back. These are the little things that matter, sometimes.
Not that I’ll be using it again for a couple of weeks — I’m not back in Manchester for work for a fortnight.
Another very beautiful (but frosty) winter’s morning, part of which we spent walking from our hotel back to New Street station through a near-deserted Birmingham city centre. I don’t know this place well; it seems a strange mix of time periods, blocks of urban desolation suddenly becoming US-style skyscraper downtown and then a bit further on, leafy suburbia. Anyway, this shot relies on two things: the narrow slot between two small road signs and the flare effect having behaved itself well.
The suburban acres of Sutton Coldfield, north of Birmingham, make a not-unimpressive debut on the blog thanks to a) the efforts of Boldmere St. Michaels FC (in white) and their opponents Newark Flowserve, in today’s encounter with the depths of English non-league football; and b) a rather decent sunset, the sort that makes you feel we have been temporarily translated onto Mars, or the fervid atmosphere of one of the outer gas giants.
If this fake owl sitting at the top of a building on Bridge Gate ever did deter the local pigeon troops from settling there, it’s long since stopped working. In fact, this photo was supposed to be of a whole bunch of them sat around and on it. But a second before I clicked the shutter, one of those intangible signals went through them all and off they flew, leaving me just with these last two in take-off mode. But I like it, as it makes it appear as if they have in fact decided to abort a landing — maybe, just maybe, because of the ‘owl’.
The extreme close-up may make this slug look bigger than it was — it was only about half the length of my little finger. A mere baby. I wonder what a slug’s family life is like; probably not very extensive. They get to explore the world in their solitary way from a very early age.
Two Manchester morning shots in a row. I must be working. There’s still not many people on campus, so let’s keep pointing the camera at buildings. I quite like the Turing building, in fact. A decent bit of architecture.
Lately whenever I have tagged anything as university-related on this blog, the posts have been ‘liked’ by accounts that are obviously providing contract cheating ‘services’ to students — “easyessayonline” for example. Hi, guys. Let me point out that detection of this kind of thing is becoming easier as we redesign our assessment processes to focus on the student, not their words. Put extra stages into the process, like the submission of drafts and preparatory notes, and milled essays stand out like sore thumbs — and are failed. We don’t bother going through tiresome disciplinary procedures. We just fail them for blatantly having not done the work. I wonder if you advise your clients of this likelihood, and return their money in such cases. I doubt it.
You might argue that it is a free market and you have the right to exploit processes of deliberate fraud in order to make your profits. Whatever. But in the meantime, kindly don’t exploit my blog for advertising purposes, and fuck off.