A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘manchester’

NCN Route 66 – The Rochdale Canal

Posted by Alan on November 9, 2012

Due to my procrastination (well work etc probably is more important…) this is a post that has been sat in drafts for such a long time.  The Rochdale Canal gave me one of my first ever cycling memories, cycling the 12 or so miles downhill from Rochdale to Castlefield. This summer I finally made it back to see how what it’s like following the restoration.

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Cycling – the Mancy Way!

Posted by Alan on June 6, 2012

When I first started cycling, I never expected to be in a position to cycle along a motorway; for obvious reasons it’s illegal!  However… this bank holiday Monday I had the fortune to stumble across a cycling event running along the Mancunian Way (A57M or Mancy Way as known locally).

Motorway

Looking up Mancunian Way towards UMIST and the west

On spotting the cyclists whizzing overhead, I thought I should get a closer look, so proceeded up the slip road just by Upper Brook St.  Very quickly I could hear someone yelling behind me. A glance over my shoulder revealed an angry looking G4S security guard running in my direction.

Man, Bike, Cider advert

I am bicycle man

Taking the hint that this wasn’t wise I stopped. Apparently the road was closed to “all vehicles” and my bike counted as a vehicle. I did protest slightly pointing at the other bicycles up on the carriageway but figured it would be easier not to get into an argument with a Scots guard.

Motorway

Overpass over London Road

Heading back through the old UMIST campus to the London Road junction I found a few more security guards.  Local lads, they were much more amenable particularly as I approached them directly to ask what it was all about and “did I need a number” to ride? They were happy enough to let me on saying the last few riders in the race (it was a charity thing organised by The Mirror) had now passed here and I could catch them up!

Motorway, UMIST

Looking back towards UMIST

So off I went, the wrong way down a motorway on my bicycle. Having cycled into Manchester already I didn’t feel the need to go too far – half a mile later I came off again headed on my merry way.

Definitely an enjoyable experience that I would have another go at given the chance, those overpasses have some interesting gradients!

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Wheelers Brunch

Posted by Alan on May 9, 2011

Having been in Manchester for Uncaged Monkeys on Friday, on Saturday it make perfect sense to head out for a ‘late running’ wheelers brunch, a Manchester cycling meet up. I was kind of expecting breakfast somewhere but actually we headed down to Jacksons Boat on the ‘Cheshire’ side of Chorlton Meadows.

Jackson's boat - Chorlton

Jacksons boat - Chorlton

The whole point is for like minded ‘normal’ cyclists (i.e. not speed freaks in lycra) meeting together. Topic of conversation doesn’t have to be bikes/cycling/infrastructure but we did talk about that. Quite a bit as it turns out. In the mid-afternoon grey (Manchester is able to demonstrate all 256 shades of grey) we took a more circuitous route back to Chorlton via Sale water park and some cycling infrastructure, I’d guess provided by Sustrans due to the frequency of anti-cycling gates.

Anti-cycling gate

Mr C, posing by the anti-cycling gate showing it's impact...

It was a fairly pleasant route even with the frequent dismounting. I can understand the pressure to block these routes to motorcycles – but they aren’t vandal proof – the gate below has been pushed apart so we could cycle through easily. I bet you could even push a motorbike through…

 Anti-cycling gate

Anti-cycling gate - this one has been spread by the locals

This isn’t a direct route between conurbations or even between major centres of employment so maybe it doesn’t have to be a cycle superhighway. But even then, why put in cycling sign-age and but infrastructure that slows you to walking pace? How is that going to improve the modal share of cycling?

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To the edge and back

Posted by Alan on April 18, 2011

Lunch atop of the edge

Lunch atop of the edge

This post has sadly loitered in my drafts for far too long… A couple of weeks ago I headed out with the guys I am doing the c2c with in June for a test run from Manchester down to Alderley Edge – a fairly steep incline, with Mr Potter kindly lending me his Revolution tourer for the trip.

Looking towards Manchester

Looking towards Manchester (behind us!)

Apart from the stop start nature of the inner Manchester roads (so *many* traffic lights) we had a fairly good run out, though we did prove that I am not really for the hills of the Lake District. Picking up some food in the posh end of Alderley Edge (fantastic pork pie from the butchers, mmm) we then took to narrow lanes and were due to head to the Middlewood Way, a cycle trail heading from Macclesfield to Marple. Sadly for me, a mechanical issue on the tourer kicked in just before we went ‘off road’ and I was forced to take the train home.

Home on the train

Home on the train

Sad times. But, it has spurred me on into planning some more hilly expeditions ready for the c2c trip!

If you live in the Manchester/Cheshire area, it’s worth going up to the Edge to to check out the view – Manchester’s Beetham Tower is visible even on really hazy days…

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Manchester Cycle Chic

Posted by Alan on March 29, 2011

Mr Orange

Manchester, cycle chic?

Last week Manchester joined the growing number of cities with a website dedicated to cycle chic – people riding bikes, dressed for their destination, not clad in Lycra as per the cyclist stereotype.  The original idea started in Copenhagen and there are now worldwide sites, including a Gambia cycle chic! Having spend a few minutes as resident paparazzi in Piccadilly Gardens at the weekend, I felt it was only appropriate to share…!

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Bogle 2011

Posted by Alan on March 7, 2011

This weekend saw me tackling Manchester RAG’s famous Bogle event.  There are many variations on the ‘creation myth’, but what is certain is that some people walked around 55 miles home from somewhere north west of Manchester.  This is my second attempt – the first ended after completing the ‘south loop’, a distance of 29 miles.  This time, I am very glad to say I made it all the way around!

Fresh faces!

Fresh faces - at the very beginning, a mug shot with our walker numbers!

Starting from the old UMIST campus close to Manchester Piccadilly station, we were fresh and ready to go (despite rather stupidly having walked to Whitworth Park and back!). From here, the route takes us down through studentsville (Fallowfield), Northenden and finally Heald Green where checkpoint 1 provides a very welcome brief stop, nearly 10 miles out.

Checkpoint 1

Checkpoint 1 - still smiling. Tea is awesome!

From checkpoint 1, the route heads further out taking in Bramhall, Hazel Grove, Stockport, Didsbury and finally back up Oxford Road to the hub at UMIST – checkpoint 5. Here we took a decent break, having covered the 29 miles in just over 9.5 hours – an average of almost 3.5mph – which is really quite a fast walking pace to maintain! Leaving checkpoint 5 before 6am, this stretch is an infamous challenge amongst Boglers. 4 of the 5 miles to checkpoint 6 are up hill, following the Oldham Road to Failsworth through areas of Manchester that are ‘awaiting regeneration’.

Checkpoint 6

By checkpoint 6 (34 miles) the gruelling nature had set in.

At least the checkpoint is indoors! The next stretch is possibly the most difficult distance en route.  Checkpoint 7 is 41 miles in – yes – that’s a 7 mile stretch without a scheduled break.  It was during this stretch I came closest to quitting.  A chance encounter if a friend who was following the walkers on his bike provided some conversation and a welcome boost in morale. It was really nice to talk about cycling for a bit and take my mind off the various pains! Having reached checkpoint 7, I was now in good spirits – with a sandwich in one hand it was off again, for checkpoint 8 is just 3 miles further round. If I get that far, at least I can have a hot pie, I thought…

Pie

By checkpoint 8 however, things started to look up. The shop had pies!

Indeed I could. The man in the shop at Ringley stores was very happy to chat about the walk and very proud of his own certificates for keeping a Kidscan charity box in his shop! From here, the route is very much on the top of the hills.

Top of the morning

Top of the morning - high above Bolton and Bury, it did get quite pretty.

But with an up, there’s obviously a down. And then an up again – the Irwell valley brings you the ‘Hill of Death’.

Looking up

Looking up - "the hill of death". It wasn't so hard.

It’s quite steep, but I got through it thanks to a little musical inspiration from The Guillemots, managing the climb in a little under 10 minutes. Turning left at the top, it then really started to feel like I was heading home. Through several checkpoints and eventually onto the final stretch – the last 3 miles through Salford back to base. At this stage it really feels like there’s no point giving in no matter how slow the progress.

Old Salford

Old Salford - happily this stereotype is now rather rare

Liverpool St (picture above) is unremittingly grim.  Long, straight, and a mix of late 20th century flats, earlier terraces and some industrial sites (such as a scrap yard).  Here I gave up on music. Perhaps Portishead’s Third was just a little too fitting. Close to the centre of Salford I joined up with 2 freshers – who had absolutely no idea about Salford, or quays.  For the last mile we took it steady, finally crossing the Irwell, then Deansgate, then St Peters Sq and finally turning down the slope onto the campus.

Finishing 21 hours and 44 minutes after I had set off, I had made it. So without further ado, here are the freshly crunched numbers:

Vital statistics

2011 figures 2009 figures
Checkpoint Arrive Depart time since last CP miles from last checkpoint Total Distance section average mph moving average mph Arrival Depart section average mph
0 00:00:00 19:33:05 00:00:00 0 0 0.00 0.00 00:00:00 20:10:00 0.00
1 22:28:17 22:51:33 02:55:12 9.8 9.8 3.36 3.36 23:15:00 23:40:00 3.24
2 23:55:26 0:09:44 01:03:53 3.6 13.4 3.38 3.36 00:41:00 00:55:00 2.95
3 1:57:30 2:08:07 01:47:46 6.2 19.6 3.45 3.39 03:08:00 03:22:00 2.93
4 3:43:00 3:55:00 01:34:53 5.2 24.8 3.29 3.37 05:33:00 05:50:00 2.52
5 5:15:07 5:51:49 01:20:07 4.2 29 3.15 3.33 07:15:00 2.35
6 7:31:57 7:57:10 01:40:08 5 34 3.00 3.28
7 10:21:58 10:27:38 02:24:48 7 41 2.90 3.21
8 11:51:41 12:10:17 01:24:03 3.1 44.1 2.21 3.11
9 13:38:33 13:57:23 01:28:16 4.1 48.2 2.79 3.08
10 15:33:54 15:39:00 01:36:31 3.9 52.1 2.42 3.02
11 17:26:55 01:47:55 2.9 55 1.61 2.89
Distances as per route notes, maybe rounding errors may exist

At the time of writing I had amassed £260 in sponsorship. You can still sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011 with the funds going to Lymphoedema Support Network.

My feet are beginning to recover!

Posted in Buildings and Places, Charity starts at home | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bogle 2010

Posted by Alan on March 14, 2010

Last year I walked (Bogle 09) and managed to get just over halfway round (29 miles!) before quitting and helping out a bit. This year I took the opportunity to drive a van. Since passing my test I haven’t driven anything but vans – but it isn’t like I get to drive very often so I thought it’d be great to keep the skills going! 🙂

An early start meant dragging my mum to help too (she loves it really though) since Metrolink killed our public transport back in October last year I can’t get in from their house to town before about 8AM…

This year I got checkpoint 8, which is out in North Manchester just on the boarder between Bury and Bolton. In a car park we couldn’t put the van in, but that didn’t matter too much. We had meat pies…!

Lech tucks into a meat pie on CheckPoint 8

By this point, the hardcore walkers had managed around the 45 mile mark and we could offer them tea, coffee and cake as sustenance for the final 9.9 miles.

Coffee from the van

Around 70 walkers made it all the away around the full 55 miles this year and the running total for charity has already passed 11K.  And I didn’t crash 🙂 Awesome eh?

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Ready for the Floor

Posted by Alan on February 24, 2010

Almost another month goes by without me spilling diatribe onto here. Just what is wrong with me? Well, as per usual I just got busy and forgot. Lame eh?

So heading backwards… last Friday saw me at Manchester Academy 1 to see Hot Chip. Not a bad gig, the band took a bit of warming up but after a couple of old numbers mid-set got into their groove. Loved the fact that I bumped into ‘old’ uni-mates, nice to have a home 🙂

Hot Chip - Manchester Academy I

Hot Chip - Manchester Academy I

Hot Chip in pink

Hot Chip in pink

Academy I has changed a bit since uni…but not loads. I really should do more gigs…

Spotify nerds click:

* * *

Saturday week ago, Henry and Alice were in town so we figured we should check out some of the bars in the Shoreditch triangle.  Not quite enough to consititute a real pub crawl, but:

The Reliance - Old St

Nice little pub, selection of ales and ciders. Not too expensive for the trendy part of town!

Bricklayers Arms - Charlotte Road

Without a hat,  scarf or haircut we looked a bit out of place. OK ale though and decent jukebox at least!

Spread Eagle - Kingsland Road

No ale but interesting enough inside…

Then we took in some food at The Diner, back towards Old St again.

Finally we finished up in the Pembury Tavern, Hackney for a game of bar billiards.

Bar Billiards - Pembury Tavern

The Pembury is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Quite an unusual pub – huge, has a young clientele but sells only real ale, real cider and real lager (I think the closest lager was from Germany!).

Much of the rest of the time has been taken up working or thinking about BCS stuff.

It’ll be Easter before I know it.

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Catching Up

Posted by Alan on January 25, 2010

I really am falling behind with this blogging lark. There’s still stuff from Christmas that I want to write about. Oh well… it obviously can wait a little bit longer yet.

This Friday I had the afternoon off. Straight to the train and by 4.30 I was at the Winter Ales beer festival in Manchester. For a long time this was in the convenient New Century Hall, but apparently that needs refurbishing so is no longer available. Hence we meandered on the bus up to Miles Platting, just short of Collyhurst where Shameless is meant to be set.

Even at half 4 it was standing room only.

Winter Ales - Dan on the Floor

Winter Ales - Dan on the Floor, and just ½pt no. 1!

Some bloke (who later turned out to be deputy organiser!) wheeled out some extra chairs making a joke about how just because the venue was in Beirut, the young ‘uns on the floor should stop making it look so! Eventually we found two chairs at a table and gradually invaded…

Old Tom - Best Ale?

Old Tom - Best Ale? We disagree vehemently!

Beer, Here

Beer, drunk best in halfs or nips (1/3rd pint)

By the end of the evening someone had balloons. Just some random person.

Balloons + beer = comedy balloon shapes & animals.

Balloons

Balloons can be made into many things. Or not.

This was also the first social trip out for the EOS 500D. I’m starting to like it a lot and I think I really need to get out into the City and shoot a few of the more beautiful parts. And maybe clock up how many S44 Stop and Search I can collect in an hour!

* * *

Winter ales wasn’t the first beery outing this week though. On Thursday, I took a trip out to Old St to check out a crawl for ELAC with Dickie. We had fun (sticking just to halves again – it was a school night after all). Found some places to drink and one not to drink.

The journey was: Old Fountain, Wenlock Arms, William IV, Eagle (“Hoxton”),  Bavarian Beerhouse, Artillary Arms. Each pub had it’s own merits – the Wenlock full of character (and characters), the William IV with pretty good Jazz but the Bavarian Beerhouse was a bit disappointment to say the least. £3 got you ‘0.3l’ of beer (of any sort) – though the glass was lined at ½pt (less than 0.3l!). If you felt flush you could spend £8.10 on a stein (1l). Whilst there were saw at least 4 smashed which is perhaps why they cost £8.10!

That’s enough for now… I will get back to older news (olds?) later in the week…

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Brass and Boats in Little Venice

Posted by Alan on May 3, 2009

Ahh bank holidays. Time to kick back in the flat and enjoy the rain? Not so this weekend. An unusual break in the London bank holiday weather allowed a bit of exploring.

So, what to do? Somewhere I found out about this boat thing down in Little Venice. Essentially lots of boats (and people) converge on the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal and have some fun. There was stalls a plenty, beer tents and a band that sometimes floated (see above).

I’ve put a whole load more shots online at http://alansrandomness.fotodock.co.uk/c1691986.html – I think I even managed to frame a few nicely this time!

Totally unrelated, I’ve been starting to wade through a bargain bag of albums from Vinyl Exchange in Manc. Have found what I think might be gem amongst the dross. This gem is ebb – think Sigur Ros but with the random electronic sounds of Thom Yorke. The vocals remind me very much of my architects who I saw support Cooper Temple Clause a few years ago.

Enough from me. The time zone change between West and East London has made me feel somewhat sleepy…zzzz…

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