I took a walk through Preston city centre yesterday on the first day that ‘non-essential’ shops were allowed to open. Judging by the queues and the increased number of people about, it would appear that what is labelled as non-essential to one person is another person’s must have.
No doubt the businesses are mightily relieved to be open again but I can’t see how the relaxation of lockdown restrictions can have anything other than a negative impact on containing the virus. I wore a face-mask while walking through town but I would estimate that less than 10 percent of people were bothering to cover their faces. I guess time will tell if the laissez-faire approach to virus control in the UK will result in another infections spike.
One positive of the lockdown and there hasn’t been many, is the opportunity to spend time seeking photographic inspiration from other photographers.
Today, I discovered the story of a secretive american photographer who’s talent was only appreciated after she died. She may not have sought fame and fortune, and it’s impossible to know what she would have thought about her subsequent elevation to photographic icon status but what I do know is her street photography is truly inspirational.
The photographer I am in awe of is like many artists after their deaths, now world renowned. She is Vivian Maier. Take a look at this trailer for ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ and you will hopefully see what I mean:
It was the opening night when we visited Blenheim Palace, not really knowing what to expect, but it’s fair to say that the Illuminated Trail exceeded our expectations.
Treetops glow in the dark and the colours are amazing. There are light sculptures and a constantly changing vista to keep things interesting. As you begin the trail you walk through a light tunnel glistening with 100,000 small lights – a magical experience.
The trail itself is around one mile long and as you return towards the Palace you are greeted with seasonal projections onto the house itself and search-lights dancing across the sky.
It was great to photograph, though to be honest it was also a bit of a challenge. The exposure levels varied so much between the various set pieces and it was quite busy on the opening night too.
The fantastic light experience is available to book at Blenheim Palace until the 1st January.
A little bit of everything last weekend in Southport both in terms of the weather, which was cold and also photographically with a bit of street photography, a few sunset photos, a visit to an art gallery and a firework display.
I guess it’s the variety that makes Southport a good destination for a short break at this time of year. The AtkinsonWhitworth gallery was a great spot to shelter from the rain and enjoy the latest exhibitions. The costumes of Vivienne Westwood pictured below formed part of an interesting display. I enjoyed the portraits of various celebrities wearing the same t-shirt against a plain grey background. It was interesting to see how they each posed and managed to make the t-shirt their own.
There was also a fabulous art exhibition featuring painting by Nahen Shoa called ‘Black Presence’ which is also worth a visit.
It wasn’t a planned visit to Cuerden Park. We had been out and about visiting local DIY stores, searching for something or other, which was pretty mundane. We did however remember that there was a cafe at Cuerden Park which was only five minutes away and so we set off, more in hope of finding a coffee and a place to relax for a while than taking any pictures.
As it happens, we didn’t get the coffee. We hadn’t counted on the cafe being like the place in Lancashire for dog owners. Every table was taken. It would appear that this is the place to go if you are a ‘professional’ dog-walker, because everyone seemed to have at least three dogs lashed around the seats and table legs.
So, no space for us in the cafe but we did still enjoy a walk around the country park, albeit as the only ones without dogs in tow!
Preston is lucky enough to have some fabulous public parks and at this time of year they are spectacular. The Autumn colours have been good this year and it’s hard to resist the lure of a walk with the camera.
Here are a few photographs taken in Avenham/Miller Park, Moor Park and Haslam Park.
All photographs captured on either the Fuji X-T1 or X-T3.
It’s something of a tradition around this time of year – the night’s are closing in, the summer season is a fading memory and it’s time for a visit to Blackpool Illuminations.
The spectacular free light show along the promenade at Blackpool is great for photography and I normally try and make a couple of visits at least. In fact I really do need to visit again this year as the weather wasn’t the best on this Blackpool Illumination trip. At least the bad weather provided some stormy light for a few photos before the lights came on, but the wind, rain and sea spray continued to make photography a challenge!
Here are a few photos from my visit. Hopefully I will be back again soon to catch the Festival of Light, when entertainers roam the promenade and the illuminated trams join in a procession along the sea front, later this month.
One of the highlights of the St Ives September Festival is the free lunchtime sessions that take place in Norway Square, which on the face of it is barely big enough to swing a cat! Notwithstanding its small size, the sessions led by charismatic host Bob Devereux managed to attract a sizeable gathering of people, keen to sit and listen to the artists perform.
Some of the performances came from holiday making visitors to the town, others were there plugging a show taking place later in the week and some were St Ives veterans, such as Bob, who’s storytelling, (part poetry, part song) was particularly entertaining. In fact once you’ve heard ‘The Morris Room’ and ‘Queen of all the Gypsies’ they kind of stick with you!
Until next year here are a few photos from the 2019 sessions in Norway Square, St Ives…
It is a World Heritage site after all so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. The number of foreign visitors is staggering, they arrive by the coach load and yet I’m guessing that many people from the UK have never visited. Anyway the thing is Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is a tourist hotspot.
Blenheim is famous, among other things, for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill and there is an excellent permanent display at the house telling the story of his life.In the gift shop too, you can buy all sorts of Churchill souvenirs, including a book about the great man by one Boris Johnson!No doubt we will continue to hear more Churchill influenced rhetoric from its deluded author.
Churchill is buried a short walk away in the village of Bladon. We were stopping just around the corner from here at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Bladon Chains site.
One benefit of staying on the Club site is the thirty percent discount on admission charges to Blenheim. Once you have purchased your admission ticket you can then upgrade it to an annual pass at no extra charge. That makes a return visit even more attractive.
A downside of its popularity is the painfully slow pace during the route through the house.We didn’t bother with the iPhone-type audio guides, which may well be an interesting addition to the tour experience, but they did result in hundreds of people stood blocking the route like some sort of half human creatures, staring and tapping while gazing at the rooms and walls.
Anyway, armed with our annual pass, we will return but probably at a quieter time of year when the visitor numbers have dropped off a bit.
Not quite as grand as some of the other Oxford colleges (but it’s all relative!) and tucked away a little bit, Merton College is still worth a visit. Some of the dates are mind blowing. Merton College has been involved in education and research at the University of Oxford since 1264!
The College has approximately 300 undergraduates studying a wide range of subjects including mathematics, physics, history, literature and law. Well known Mertonians include JRR Tolkien, TS Elliot and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.
As a visitor, there is a small charge to enter but you are free to wonder around the central areas of the college site and visit the impressive Chapel. The Chapel itself was built between the late 13th to mid 15th centuries and it served as a parish church.Outdoors you can visit the oldest quadrangle in Oxford, which goes by the really quite funky name of the ‘Mob Quad’.Sounds like a good name for a four piece band! It’s not a new name by any means; it was first used around 1797 and probably refers to the undergraduates who lived in this part of the college.