London: A fleeting return

I lived in London for 16 years before heading north to Manchester. The first four years of this blog detailed places around the capital. 

I found myself back in London recently on a very brief stopover. But long enough to ride the Elizabeth Line, the newest artery of London’s Tube network. 

On the way I looked up and captured some new architecture above ground.

Have you been on the Elizabeth Line? Tell me what you thought in the comment section below.

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Manchester: Ship Canal stroll

My favourite local walk from home in Castlefield, Manchester is along the Manchester Ship Canal to Salford Quays.

You’ll find water (of course), city trams running along the route – and a whole lot of architecture.

The area is being developed rapidly and I like checking on how the buildings and skyline are taking shape. 

Do you like new buildings or should our progress be slowed? Add your thoughts below!

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That evening after I’d taken my walk, Manchester was blessed with a spectral, spectacular dusk. This is captured from my balcony which doesn’t even face the direction of the sunset.

A spectacular dusk over Castlefield, Manchester

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A magnificent northern garden

A warm summer’s day is the perfect time to visit the RHS Bridgewater Garden in Salford, just a 30-minute bus ride from central Manchester. CONTINUES BELOW

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The garden, which opened last year, is on the site of stately pile Worsley New Hall.

Some of the old architecture remains, while there’s a sleek new building which houses visitor amenities.

Bridgewater’s focal point is a large walled garden which was bursting with plants and colourful blooms on my visit. It looks like it’s been established for decades, not just a couple of years.

Woodland and meadow trails are also part of the site, full of grasses and wild foxgloves as I wandered around the site.

RHS Bridgewater is already a huge success, with many visitors which I hadn’t expected. It was a challenge to take photographs giving the impression I had the place to myself!

Have you been to Bridgewater or another RHS garden? Share your thoughts below.

A pair of seats in the walled garden at RHS Bridgewater

There are plenty of spots to rest and enjoy the gardens

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Manchester at dawn

Summer mornings start very early, so I got up, grabbed my camera and had a wander around Manchester city centre. But this wasn’t a normal Saturday… CONTINUES BELOW

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This was a extra long weekend to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Both Thursday and Friday were designated public holidays, very unusual in the UK.

As I wandered around the centre of Manchester from 5am in the early summer light, I got the distinct impression that this was the morning after the night before.

The streets and squares were practically deserted as most Mancunians decided to sleep in after their celebrations.

It meant I had the place to myself and could go about photographing some familiar landmarks that can be difficult in a bustling city centre.

What gets you up early to go out and take photos? Let us know below!

An empty Deansgate in Manchester on an early summer morning

You can’t usually stand in the middle of Manchester’s busy Deansgate

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A wonderful Yorkshire wander

Yorkshire is just a hop from Manchester, and I took a day trip to explore the scenic Calder Valley. CONTINUES BELOW

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The thriving canalside town of Hebden Bridge appears at first glance to be traditionally Yorkshire but is filled with lovely little independent shops and cafes, making it a real draw for visitors.

It is also home to a sizeable LGBT community, making it an unexpected place to find rainbow flags proudly flying and gay friendliness.

I decided to take an uphill hike to the village of Heptonstall, enjoying delightful views of Hebden Bridge and surrounding countryside as I climbed.

Historic Heptonstall is a beautiful little place of dark stone cottages, but most famed for its shell of a church which was abandoned in 1847 after a devastating storm. A new church was built next door. The ruins still feel oddly alive.

I got so caught up in this abandoned building that I forgot to visit the grave of poet Sylvia Plath. Next time…

The visit ended with a hearty pub lunch and getting caught in a sudden shower of rain. I would return to this area and heartily recommend it.

Have you visited Hebden Bridge? Why not share your impressions below.

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