We’ve been engrossed not only by all the sport on TV this week, the Paralympics and La Vuelta a España, but also the world-famous Northenden Boat Race. We witnessed this fund-raising event for the first time since moving to Northenden all those years ago. We thought about entering the race, but you have to bring your own inflatable dinghy or canoe, and we don’t have one. But next year, who knows?
We followed the sound of bagpipes, played by the Northenden Pipe and Drum Band. I think one of the drummers had had enough, look where he left his instrument.
The car park at Didsbury Golf Club was full of inflatable boats and pumps. But I was more interested in using their facilities and the coffee bar.
The boat race started at Simon’s Bridge, and we watched as innumerable dinghies set off at the same time. It wasn’t long before some of them turned sideways or even started going backwards.
Out of the blue, I heard a voice. “Are you Mick?” Well, yes, but who are you, I wondered. “I’m Colin.” Colin who? Not Colin Cook who put earthworms down my wellington boots when I was about 6 years old, surely? Ah, Colin. From Wythenshawe Radio WFM 97.2 “I recognised your voice” he said. He’s the guy that takes my (slightly edited) Radio Northenden show and cues it up for broadcast on a Wednesday evening. What are the chances that we would end up standing so close to each other by the river?
As the boats drifted downstream – it would be an exaggeration to say they were being propelled by any serious, competent paddling – we started walking towards the Tatton Arms Bridge, where the race ended.
One vessel started sinking so the bloke got out to push. Fortunately, the river was quite low so he could walk along the river bed.
There were lots of people around, but it didn’t feel as crowded as the zoo did a few days earlier. Well, until we reached the other bridge, which everyone was trying to walk across. Glad it didn’t collapse under the weight of probably more people than it’s known since before the first lockdown.
Even those competitors who found themselves facing the wrong way finally made it to the end.
The pipers played a few tunes for the long queue waiting to cross the bridge. I briefly thought about joining this band. Then I remembered, I can’t actually play any of the instruments.
On the other hand, I haven’t tried this one, the big bass drum, yet. I’m sure our neighbours wouldn’t mind me practicing.
Liesel went straght home but I didn’t want to miss the subsequent action on the Village Green a little later.
This is one of the last boats to descend the weir. As far as we know, nobody actually fell into the water.
When the dust settled, the heron returned, scratching its head, wondering what the heck just happened?
While waiting for the last of the crowds to disperse, I sat on a bench near the playground. A lady sat at the other end and asked what was going on. She’d missed the boat race, so I showed her my photos. Such a strange situation: trying to maintain a safe distance from a stranger while, at the same time, holding my phone close enough for her to be able to see the images.
On the Village Green, the Lord Mayor of Manchester presented the prizes to all the winners and gave a little speech.
Lilly decorated the pavement for us. I don’t want to get her into trouble, but she did sign her own work.
This was outside Samosa Box. Guess what we had for dinner?
Some of the roads around here still have cobble stones along the edges. Unusually, this road had them on display. No cars parked on them, or half on the verge. I very quickly took a photo.
In other news Martha and William returned to school this week, looking very smart and very happy.
Liesel had a day out with her WI ladies, a visit to Manchester Jewish Museum. I dragged myself out of bed and we drove into Manchester together. Parking was no problem, just along the road a bit in a shopping centre. While Liesel was in the Museum, I went for walk into the city centre.
As you can probably tell, I take more photos that Liesel does. This is a rare one, taken inside the museum.
I took about half an hour to walk to St Peter’s Square in Manchester, outside the Central Library. It’s my first visit to the city centre for a long time, other than quick trips to donate blood.
I said hello to Robert Owen but he just looked at me stoney faced.
He is known as ‘the father of Co-operation’ and he stands outside the Co-op Bank’s headquarters.
What was so attractive about St Peter’s Square? The Gratitude exhibition. This is a collection of 51 statues, each decorated by a different artist, and the display is to show gratitude for the wonderful performance by all the NHS and other key workers during the pandemic.
Scattered pages from a square journal, each one a picture of our life in lockdown. The Isolation Chronicles contains snapshots of the pandemic – supermarket checkouts, nurses, vaccinations, deliveries, farming, 3D printers making visors. Designed by Sue Prince from the Peak District.
Inspiration for the design comes from the metaphorical poem ‘Good Timber’ by Douglas Malloch, which suggests that only by struggle can we overcome adversity and reach the other side. The trees in the design have fought and grown together so their uppermost branches can ‘hold counsel with the stars’. The woodland floor is laced with bluebells which are thought to symbolise gratitude. Designed by Gail Stirling Robertson from Scotland.
Faces of Lockdown depicts a collection of personalities from the last year, featuring politicians, scientists, TV characters and a Welsh goat! Designed by Hammo (Nick Hamilton), an illustrator and mural painter from Manchester.
You can see all the statues by downloading the Gratitude app for a mere £1.99, this display is here in Manchester until 12 September then it’s off to Edinburgh and London.
I couldn’t resist a visit to the library of course. Hip-hop is an art form that has largely passed me by, but I thought a visit to the Manchester Hip Hop Archive Exhibition might be educational. And it was. Lots of photos and posters and artefacts from the 1980s onwards. I even recognised some of the names, but I wouldn’t have known the context.
A lot of the culture revolves around urban art: graffiti and tagging of course, and some of that is very decorative. And the poems are as good as some of the really old ones we had to read at school.
I was going to try this but the librarian wouldn’t let me.
In the library, I met Erinma Bell MBE DL, Peace activist.
This sculpture is made from recycled hand guns, by Karen Lyons in 2016.
Andrew went to prison for 6 years during which time he lost his camera. The big loss though was his collection of 1000 photos of graffiti taken all around Manchester. After release, he sorted himself out, stayed away from drugs and alcohol and has embarked on the graffiti photo project again. There’s a display of hundreds of his pictures in the library in an exhibition called ‘Reds and K1000’.
After a coffee break in the library, I walked back to the Jewish Museum. On the way, I found another wee poem.
Liesel and I caught up with each other and I waited outside while she visiting her old friend Dunkin’.
One day, we’ll find out what this building is, with its amazing geometric pattern on the outside.
It was a good idea to move my show to 4pm, because today, I would have panicking about not getting back in time. It was Crime and Punishment this week, all harmless murder, shop-lifting and mugging. Listen back here if you have a spare couple of hours.
But mainly this week, it was Paralympic sport and a bike race in Spain. Both finish this weekend, so let’s hope we do a bit more during next week’s hinted-at heat wave.
My regular Tuesday night date with Jessica Lee Morgan reached episode 94 this week, and this will be the last one for a while. She’s out on tour, doing real live shows in front of real live people, and we’re all happy about that.