Sunday 20 December 2015

Top Ten Photos of 2015

Here are my top 10 favourite photos of the year in no particular order.  They were taken by me on a combination of iPhone 5s, Samsung NX1000 (RIP) or a Nikon D3300.

Reflection in the Corn Exchange window in Manchester. (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Top of Minshull's House in Manchester. (Nikon D3300)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Lion door knocker on St John's Street in Manchester. (Nikon D3300)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Reflections in Manchester School of Art windows. (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall

Shadows in the Ellesmere Centre in Walkden.  (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Footpath near Blackleach Park in Walkden.  (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Apartments by the River Irwell near the Lowry Hotel in Salford. (Samsung Nx1000)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

The Imperial War Museum North at Salford Quays. (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Beetham Tower in Manchester. (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

Earl the cat in my back garden. (iPhone 5s)

Copyright Anne-Marie Marshall 

More of my images can be found at my Pinterest site - Life in Northern Towns and my Instagram account - Angelickittycat.

Friday 29 August 2014

Six Week Challenge - Week Seven

At last the final stretch.  After sprinting around on my aircast the previous week I thought "balls to this" and take off my cast a few days earlier than I was told.  A couple of weeks before my accident I bought some lovely Brooks trainers for running.  I'd bought it at a specialist shop so they fitted properly (size 9 - I normally wear size 8 shoes).  Anyway these were a God send as they gave me great comfort walking.  So after gingerly walking around the house and practicing my right breaking foot on my sewing machine, I knew it was time to try driving my car.

The blessed relief of getting behind the wheel of a car was bliss.  Freedom!  That was until the engine light decided to come on.  In a panic I went to the nearest garage only to be told it was a mystery, but the car was okay to drive.  This lead to me popping in and out of garages to find out what the problem was.  It still remains a mystery and the amber light is still on my dashboard.  The car works fine and all I can think is that it developed the fault as it spent over six weeks parked on the drive.

Now that I had wheels meant that I had to take my Mum to the Trafford Centre.  This was both a physical challenge for both myself and my Mum - me with my foot and Mum with her back.  We started at the John Lewis end on the first floor and we almost killed ourselves to get to Debenhams.  My foot was getting quite irritated with the walking. Weirdly I found there were more seats on the ground floor than on the first floor.  On the way back from Debenhams to John Lewis on the ground floor we practically sat on every chair and bench on the way back.  I certainly slept well that night.  It's amazing how being inactive for over six weeks can impact on your stamina.

So what are the top ten things have I learnt over the seven weeks?

1.  Your health is fragile a can be altered in the matter of a misjudged step.
2.  Pet ownership is marvellous despite the fact Iil'Sox inadvertently put me in a cast.
3.  It's good to have a creative outlet whilst you're indisposed otherwise you can go stir crazy.
4.  Families and partners are worth their weight in gold.
5.  Tesco's delivery service is the 21st century home help for the incapacitated. 
6.  Strangers can be really kind when you're on crutches - apart from in a nightclub where alcohol is involved.
7.   Avoid daytime telly - it sucks the life from your soul.
8.  It gives you the opportunity to reflect on your life and help recharge your batteries.
9.   Public transport sucks.
10.  ...and cars must be driven regularly or you end up having engine problems.

Friday 8 August 2014

Photo of the Week: Manchester Museum

Once in a while I pop to Manchester Museum to have a look at the exhibits.  This time I fancied trying out the cafe there called Cafe Muse.  The food was nice (I had a hot roast turkey ciabatta with cranberry sauce), although the cafe was jammed packed with families as it was the summer holidays.  Thankfully I found a quiet little spot in an alcove with a couple of foreign students.

The museum is a beautiful Victorian building and it is a pleasure to wander through the exhibits.  As it was the summer holidays the museum is geared to cater for the younger audience with rooms set aside for activities. 

One of the major draws to the museum is the Egyptology section, which is well presented.  However I do have a problem with the exhibition showing human remains, even though they are thousands of years old.  It's just a personal opinion, although the museum do show them with dignity.

I really like the main gallery area of the museum as it reminds me when I first visited as a child with school.  I remember not filling in the worksheet we were supposed to complete on our visit.  Knowing me I was too distracted looking at everything.

The only drawback for me with this section are the stuffed animals.  Unfortunately I have a longstanding phobia of taxidermy, which stems back from childhood when one of my Mum's cousins used to have a stuffed fox in her hallway.  That said I love the use of neon in this section, which gives the space a contemporary feel.  On the top level of the gallery is a picnic areas for families to eat their packed lunches.  I think that's a nice touch as the cafe is too expensive for families on a budget.

My favourite exhibition was about the history of Whitworth Park.  It was tucked away in a quiet corner of the museum, but I love social history and it was nice to find it here.

Manchester Museum is great for families and the museum certainly caters well for them.  Although next time I go I'll try to go midweek when the kids are at school, as they kept running into shot when I was taking photos.

Here are a couple of photos from my trip:

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014

Monday 28 July 2014

Six Week Challenge - Week Six

Week six had come and still another week to go before I could get this damn air cast off.

So what did I get up to?  More buses and more travel sickness.  However I noticed whilst in the air cast I was no longer the slowest person in the neighbourhood.  In fact I was over taking old people and mum's pushing prams.  It got to the point where I was taking my foot out of the air cast and tentatively putting my weight on it.  No pain.  Not bad, not bad at all.  Hurrah!  

However there was a major dampener on the horizon.  Whilst stroking Sox I discovered a large lump between her shoulder blades.  Naturally I googling her symptoms and got really worried especially as one of her injections is linked to causing cancer.  So another trip to the vet was in order.  The vet checked her over and confirmed it was probably due to one of her injections, but most likely nothing to worry about.  Sox was prescribed a course anti-inflammatory medicine and I have to say I said a little prayer that it would work.  Thankfully over the week the medicine, which I had to administer in her food, brought the swelling down.  Now you can hardly feel it.  In just six weeks, Sox in my life has provided me a rollercoaster of emotions, but one thing for sure I wouldn't be without her.

Things I learnt this week:
1) Getting out and about is good for the soul, especially when you have been couped up for weeks.
2) Gently testing your broken limb without cast on helps to build confidence.
3) Googling medical terminology (human and animal) leads to sleepless nights.  Avoid Google if you can until you speak to a professional.
4) I love my cat more than I could ever have anticipated.
5) By week six finding even five things to learn from is simply impossible.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Photos of the Week: Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library has been closed for a few years for a major refurbishment. Recently it reopened and I had the opportunity to attend some Openstories workshops being held there (by the way the workshops were inspiring and well recommended if you are interested in blogging).  The workshops gave me the opportunity to explore the refurbished library.  I have to say they have done an amazing job at transforming the library.  In parts it's recognisable and I want to revisit with my proper camera to spend more time taking photos of the place.

Here are a some photos I took on my visits to the library:

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014 

This clock and dome is on the first floor in the main study library.  Thankfully they kept much of the original features, but relocated the lending library to the basement and stripped back the clutter.  As a result it looks really classy in an academic sort of way.

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014

The lift is a new feature with lots of steel and glass.  They relocated the lifts to the right hand side and where the the old lifts were have been transformed into the entrance to the newly created ground floor space.

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014 

You can see this literary inspired stained glass window from the first floor balcony.  I hate to say this, but I never noticed it before now even though it has been here years.  Before the refurbishment the desk to check in and out books was here, so all I noticed was the librarians and not the lovely window.  

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014 

The refurbishment created a new ground floor space.  I think this space had previously been part of the theatre.  Now here is the new cafe, group study spaces, meeting rooms, the archives and Special Collections study rooms.  It's very space age with lots of fluid shapes and lines - it certainly brings the library into the 21st century.

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014 

I really like this picture.  It's the view of the exit from the ground floor space.  It was a random capture whilst I was passing through.

Definitely take a trip to Manchester Central Library.  It may still look closed with all the barriers around the building, but it is now open.  It's a lovely peaceful and beautiful place to do that piece of work that requires no distractions or to take time out in on a busy day. 

All images the work of Anne-Marie Marshall.

Friday 20 June 2014

Photo of the Week - Royal Exchange Theatre

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014 
The Royal Exchange Theatre is one of my favourite places in Manchester.  Not only is it a fab, in the round, theatre space, but also housed in a beautiful Victorian building.

When I was a teenager and worked in Boots the Chemist opposite the theatre, I used to eat my sandwiches on the benches here whilst appreciating the art exhibitions.  When I had the money I would try to catch a show.  I remember seeing What the Butler Saw with Kate Winslet before the fame, Richard II with Sue Johnson who made me laugh at an inappropriate moment and Love Labours Lost.  After every show I always remember floating out here on a cloud of wonder.

There used to be a good cafe here that you could get a decent salad here.  It was also a great place to meet friends before a night out as it was not intimidating like waiting in a pub in the 1990s. I also spent my 21st birthday hungover checking out the cast in the theatre bar with my best mate Shaun.  Things change over the years though, but you can't escape what a beautiful building this is.

Recently I was on an architectural photography course and at lunch time I did a detour to take photos of the building.   I love the contrast of the modernist feel of the podlike theatre against the Victorian columns and dome.  There is something wonderfully serene about the place - almost a church-like quality.  I think that is why as a teenager I took sanctuary in this place after the hustle and bustle of working in Boots.

I just love the form, light and the colour of the theatre in these shots.  I will definitely come back here on another Sunday to take more photographs.

Here are a couple more shots from my trip here:

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014 

©Anne-Marie Marshall 2014

All the images are the work of Anne-Marie Marshall.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Six Week Challenge - Week Five

The good thing about this week was the fact I was able to get out more.  Okay I had to take the bus and I got travel sick, but hurrah I was out and about.

However the one big thing I didn't factor about getting out and about was that I couldn't do certain things.  The main things were carrying food and drink whilst on crutches.  Thankfully in Barburrito and Starbucks they took the initiative and helped me with my purchases.  In Barburrito they even helped me to find a good table.  The other thing was carrying bags of shopping - there is only so much you can carry before overbalancing your crutches.  In many respects having crutches has a sympathetic effect on other people and I certainly got help when I needed it.  The only exception was when I went to a club night and had to negotiate stairs and the drunks weren't patient with me.  I may have had an injury, but I can still have a life.  Knobs the lot of them.

Anyway I had another trip to the hospital.  This time I didn't need my Dad to drag me around the hospital in a wheelchair as I much quicker on the crutches.  I didn't need another x-ray which I was surprised about.  However I found out I needed to be in my aircast for an additional week than  anticipated.  This was such a pain in the butt as the thought of spending another week on the buses was a killer.

Sox and her twitter account did provide a pleasant distraction.  I was amazed how quickly she amassed followers.  It's surprising how a few cute photos and witty comments gets people following.  It's a subculture I had not been aware of on twitter, but I guess you don't find out about these unless you start looking for it.

The sewing machine has proved to be a productive distraction and I found that the internet was great for finding out how to make stuff, either through You Tube instructional videos or blogs.  I found out how to make reversible tote bags and lined zipped purses / pouches.  With my Mum and friend's birthdays coming up, my convalescence gave me the opportunity to make stuff for people.  I do find you get greater pleasure giving people gifts you have made, rather than a mad dash around the shops to get something they may not like.

Things I learnt this week:

1. It all gets a bit groundhog day, with days blurring in the next.
2. Being signed off for another week was so disappointing.
3. I still can't find it in my heart to love buses.  No matter how many times I go on the bus the travel sickness remains.  As long as I don't read a book or use my iPhone I can minimise it to a certain extent.  At least I can still listen to podcasts on the iPod.
4. Making people gifts is lovely.
5. There are only so many things you can learn each week and trying to find ten by week five is impossible.