Salford Dog Festival

After Saturday’s hike around Cartmel, Lady Hughes suggested something a bit easier for Sunday – the Salford Dog Festival at Clifton Park. Dogs 4 Rescue, who we got Ziggy from, would be there, so she thought it would be nice to show our support and we could take Ziggy and Bobby along too – because everyone knows dogs love organised community events!

If you like dogs, this is for you. If you don’t like dogs, then you’d probably best avoid it as there was every type you could possibly think of – I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea, there was a lot of dogs.

I like dogs so I found it really interesting. Not just the dogs, but the owners too – again, all types, us included of course.

I used the experience to do a bit of ‘doggy’ street photography (is it my dirty mind, or does that sound wrong?), if such a thing exists? Looking for interesting shots of dogs and their owners, something to illustrate the relationships, the special bond that they have.

The easiest option was the obedience display as they were doing a great job entertaining the crowd whilst also making us all feel guilty about how badly trained our dogs are.

The weather was changeable but the crowds were out in force and it looked like the event was going really well. We finished off with a walk round the lake before making our way home – via the Wharf pub in Castlefield to make up for missing out on a pint the day before.

Chris

Cruising through Cartmel, Hiking up to Hampsfell Hospice

Back up the M6 this week, to the south of the Lake District, starting and finishing in Cartmel. I was out for a meal that night so we were looking for something relatively close that wouldn’t take too much time. This was a new one for us so it would be interesting one way or another,  whatever it was like.

Parking at the racecourse, we dodged the Segways and headed off across the countryside. This area is near Morecambe Bay, so it doesn’t have any of the big hills, but it was a lovely day and there were great views of the mountains to the north and the coast to the south, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and the Pennines to the east.

Walking through the meadows with Lady Hughes and Ziggy, we were constantly overflown by a small aircraft ejecting parachutists every couple of minutes. I tried to get a few shots of them but they were too far away, so I turned my attention to the swallows speeding low over the fields, catching flies, to see if I could get a good shot or two – easier said than done. If street photography is like being a sniper, this is more like anti-aircraft shooting.

 

Crossing one field we found our way blocked by a herd of young bulls. Clare is a bit scared of cattle, so I went first to clear a path, only for Ziggy to slip his lead and sprint towards them. Clare was shouting frantically for him to come back and when the cattle started to trot over to him he decided it might actually be a good idea, so he about turned and legged it back. We squeezed through the gate just before the rush hit us.

Most of the walk was pretty reasonable with no great climbs, until the last half when you go up to Hampsfell Hospice – not a great climb, but just enough ‘up’ to get a sweat on. This is the best part of the walk with panoramic views and a Victorian shelter to explore – it doesn’t take long, there’s only one room and the roof.

From there it’s straight back down to Cartmel. We didn’t have time for a pint, even though we would have sorely loved to, as I was attending a work reunion that night in Stockport. But I did stick my head in the old Priory for a lightning tour. This dates from before the Restoration and is apparently one of the best preserved of its type – just wish we had more time to do it justice.

Lovely walk, seven miles, not too tricky and not particularly exhausting. Next weekend should be more intrepid as we fly off to Ireland to climb Croagh Patrick – watch this space.

Chris

 

Sunny Street Photography in Manchester

With Lady Hughes working this Sunday I was at a bit of a loose end, so I decided to pop into Manchester and do a bit of street photography. The weather was great, sunny and warm, I had no agenda, so no pressure. I grabbed my camera and jumped in the car.

My favoured technique with street photography is that of the sniper. Pick your target, shoot quickly and then move on. What you’re looking for is a story, a glimpse of life, action, character, relationships. The trick is to find a subject and then capture what you’re after quickly before they realise. Once they know they’re being observed, people change, the moment’s gone. If all else fails, you can always shoot the environment.

 

I try not to be too intrusive and I do think about whether it’s right to take certain pictures – I try to empathise with the subjects and show some respect – well, most of the time anyway. If you’re going to stand on a busy street corner and start singing you’re really asking for attention aren’t you.

Starting at Piccadilly, I walked through Piccadilly Gardens and down Market Street to see the street entertainers. One group called the Piccadilly Rats were drawing a crowd but more out of morbid curiosity than admiration I think.

At St Anne’s Square there was a lady whacking a tennis ball on elastic, which made a great shot with the Victorian statue right behind her, but she spotted me and moved out of the way – spoilsport! Perhaps she didn’t have a permit and didn’t want to be photographed – who knows?

I stopped by the John Ryland’s Library as there was market, and I’d only taken about three shots when a security guard approached me to ask if the pictures were for personal use. When I said yes, he backed off, radioing my status to his controller. Walking on, into Spinningfields, I was challenged by another security guard, asking the same thing. He was very nice about it, but it became apparent that I was being watched – ironic, I suppose.

Apparently, the whole area is privately owned and the security guard explained that they get a lot of celebrities and football players so they are very sensitive about paparazzi. Well I didn’t see any celebs, not that I was looking for them. What I did see was lots of ‘beautiful’ people, head to toe in designer brands, relaxing in a spotless, designer environment, with a designer busker, on a designer performance area, fenced off by designer shrubbery under a designer marquee – time to move on I think.

On to Albert Square, Central Library and back to Piccadilly Gardens, where I met up with Lady Hughes, who had just finished her shift. We popped into Pizza Express, sat outside and watched the world go by over a couple of pizzas and drinks.

Piccadilly Gardens has always been one of those places I’d previously avoided to be honest. It had a reputation for dodgy characters and seedy goings-on, not helped by haphazard redevelopment and a lack of maintenance – the once lovely fountains are now filled with plastic flower containers to try and hide the fact they don’t work anymore.

But here in the sunshine, there were children playing, couples relaxing on the grass, families, Pokémon hunters, workers, pensioners, disabled people with their carers, teenagers, and even a busker – admittedly, she was bloody awful, but at least you knew she hadn’t been selected by a marketing department, to fit in with the colour scheme. It wasn’t exclusive, it was inclusive and no, I probably wouldn’t want to go there every weekend, but it was a damn sight more interesting than Spinningfields.

Chris Hughes