Posts Tagged ‘picnic’

Back in the Manchester Groove

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Guess where I am, kids! Row M, position 1 of the reading room spiral at Manchester Central Library. My favourite room in the city has welcomed me back, providing me with ergonomically inferior seating in a deliciously silent setting.

Central library

I took this photo the other day. I have since moved.

Currently in my direct line of sight is the arse crack of a man who looks weirdly like Sir Pubert Gladstone (oh good, he just changed positions so my eye balls aren’t hurting quite so much), and earlier I was sitting opposite a guy who was eating away at the skin of all of his fingers. He had to occasionally mop up the blood he was discharging with a dirty tissue. The library attracts all sorts.

I have been in Manchester for over a week now and I am feeling surprisingly settled. It is much, much, much easier to move to a city that you are already familiar with and that is home to people you have already met. I don’t have to start from scratch this time and I know where to go to buy the best value avocados. I have been able to catch up with some of my friends and I am no longer having to whinge to Sir Pubert via text messages. Now he is just a £1 bus ride away and I can nag him in person.

I am living in an area called Victoria Park which sounds fancy and once was. It used to be home to some well known and well to do folk – Mr Charles Dickens used to come and visit on occasion. Of course, that was then and it definitely isn’t now. It is now home to a largely student population and people whose incomes will only let them afford to live in student-like housing. Loads of character and plenty of potential. The apartment that I am sharing is in a building called The Gables which I am certain must have some sort of interesting history. It is next to a pub called The Rampant Lion which has recently reopened as a hotel/pub/trying to be fancy Halal Italian restaurant/beer garden/coffee shop/downstairs Middle Eastern restaurant/take away food outlet. The building is nice, the garden is nice, the beer menu is terrible.

Rampant Lion

View from my apartment window looking at the back of the Rampant Lion

The last week has mostly involved attempting to register for university but discovering that it is harder than it looks, and so doing some writing work in the library instead. On the weekend, I made use of the Heritage Open Days and visited a few historically and culturally significant buildings that were open to the public for free. This included a trip to Halifax with Sir Pubert, continuing our tradition of weekend outings involving a picnic lunch.

England countryside

England sure knows how to do ‘countryside’

Halifax wasn’t great, but the blue cheese, walnut, tomato and onion chutney sandwich that Sir Pubert made me certainly was.

Sandwich in Halifax



Friday, December 19th, 2014

It would seem that I have had actual paid work and responsibilities this week as I haven’t written about the fact that IT SNOWED last Friday. I had been concerned that I had lost my inner child who becomes ridiculously excited by the arrival of falling icicles; so imagine my relief when I giddily screamed “SNOW!!” when I saw the first flakes fall. They melted instantly and turned into slop but for a brief second I was excited.

Ice patterns on Sir Pubert's car

Ice patterns on Sir Pubert’s car

Friday’s blustery snow arrival was more impressive in hilly parts of the North such as the Peaks, the Lake District and Scotland. So on Saturday, Sir Pubert and I packed an impressive lunch and headed along Snake Pass into the Peaks in search of a picnic spot.

Warming soup.

Warming soup.


We headed to the highest part of the Snake Road pass where we were surrounded by fog and scatterings of white icy stuff. We parked and walked a very short way along a muddy, icy and therefore slippery path before sitting and scoffing our faces. The sun managed to come out from the behind the clouds and warmed us up nicely. It was great fun but after we’d eaten our delicious cheese sandwiches and warm soup, we threw a few snow balls and hurried back to the car. Sir Pubert was concerned we would get stuck in the Peaks due to ‘the weather’. That’s Brits for you – always concerned about getting lost/stuck in the ‘wilderness’. We managed to escape unscathed.

Snow at the High Peak

Snow at the High Peak

Since the weekend, the weather has changed once again and turned into a constant drizzle. It is much warmer but I have holes in the soles of my shoes and my feet keep getting wet. Everything is wet. It’s quite horrible.

In other news, today I bought my plane ticket home to where the current forecast for tomorrow is 39 degrees. No rain. This ‘going home’ thing is suddenly sounding ok.

Weekend Hill Climbs

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

How many times do you have to repeat an activity for it to be classified as a habit? Over the past few weekends Sir Pubert Gladstone and I have started a trend of packing a picnic lunch and driving to a ‘thing on a hill.’ We have visited three ‘things on hills’ now – is that verging on an addiction? At least it isn’t drug related, although large amounts of cheese are involved. 

A friend from my office had told me about the panopticon sculpture series that is dotted throughout Lancashire. There are four sculptures perched on various hills delivering panoramic views (hence panopticon) of the surrounding lumps and bumps of the region. You can’t beat a free panoramic view so we got our picnic lunch together, bought some Maltesers in case we got stuck up the hill and had low blood sugar levels, and headed off in search of The Singing Ringing Tree.

We had looked at the four statues on the internet and decided that The Singing Ringing Tree, designed by Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu, was going to be the most exciting. However, it was also quite mysterious as no websites gave away its exact location and it wasn’t on Google maps. “Above Burnley” was the closest we got, along with some grammatically incorrect driving directions and the instructions to look out for “a brown sign”. Thanks to a random stab at a potential location and a lot of good luck, we found The Singing Ringing Tree. We also found the brown sign which was on the far side of the road and pointing to the carpark next to the statue. Handy.

As we walked along the dirt track to the statue, we both made the observation that it was a lot smaller than we expected. The images on the website suggested a much bigger tree but I guess that’s what online advertising is all about. The statue is made from multiple metal pipes piled on top of one another to form a twister-like shape. The tubes act as musical instruments as wind blows through and past them, hence the singing. Through some sort of miracle, we had managed to come on one of the very few non-windy days and the tree was silent. So it was a silent and slightly smaller than expected metal tube tree.

A very quiet singing tree.

A very quiet singing tree.

It was a nice silent tree though – I really like the fact that it exists as an open-air artwork for people to enjoy. And the view over Burnley was wonderful. We sat at a table next to the statue and had our picnic in the sunshine with views over Lancashire. Lovely.

Pubert makes a might fine sandwich.

Pubert makes a mighty fine sandwich.

We had some time to burn so we decided to hunt down another of the panopticons. Thanks to an excellent 3G connection “above Burnley” I googled the approximate location of the Halo (again, a distinct lack of location/directions) and we were off. Our search for the Halo took us up a very narrow, winding road “above Haslingden” although there were a few more brown signs pointing us in the correct direction this time.

The Halo is a large satellite dish structure, located on a landfill site, that apparently lights up at night. During the day it is grey and there was a distinct smell of urine. The structure was quite interesting and the views were good but definitely less impressive than the Singing Ringing Tree. The secluded location on the top of a hill and the difficult to access road suggested it would be a great place for teenagers to come and ‘hang’ at night. Plenty of KFC packaging scattered around too. In fact, both locations had a worryingly large amount of fast-food containers and general rubbish floating around. Considering both statues were in relatively remote areas and surrounded by nature it was horrifying to see how much rubbish had been left by visitors. For shame.

The Halo.

The Halo.

So that was one Saturday. The following Saturday we decided to head to a very distinct tower on a hill that we had seen on our previous weekend drives. The tower was reminiscent of a tower on a hill that local Mancunian artist, Lowry, had painted in such artworks as A Landmark. We googled whether or not it was the same tower but it turns out it probably isn’t. But who cares? Let’s drive there anyway! Picnic made, Anzac biscuits packed – we were off to Peel Monument.

Our drive took us to Ramsbottom, a town I have wanted to visit for some time purely because of its name. And there is also a pub with particularly good looking food that I want to eat at. We saw the pub but didn’t go in, and instead walked up a steep and winding path in the warm sunshine to reach the tower on the hill. There were quite a few people who had had similar ideas – Peel Monument is a popular spot for families and sporty-types. There was no signage to explain what Peel Monument was and you couldn’t go inside but once again the view was great and we had a nice picnic in the sunshine. (I have since Wikipedia-ed Peel Monument and it is believed to be a memorial for Sir Robert Peel.)

Tower on a hill.

Tower on a hill.

Where our next ‘thing on a hill’ will be, I’m not sure. But any local suggestions are very welcome.

Pique-Nique à Paris

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Yesterday was my friend Jen’s birthday and she decided to have an evening picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a glorious soon-to-be-summer day and it was lovely to sit with all of the American tourists with our picnic feast. Jen didn’t have a birthday cake and there were no candles but the Eiffel Tower did sparkle for her (twice). I think that’s better than out-of-tune singing.

Eiffel Tower

Happy birthday, Jen.

Sunny Weekend in Paris

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Ahh sunshine… I think I have prattled on about the wonders of the sun a fair bit, but it is amazing how much sunshine affects the general feeling of Paris. Everyone comes out of their grey coats and lies half naked in parks soaking up the rays. People drink beer, play guitars, and sit around chatting with friends, making the most of the weather. In Australia I think we take our weather for granted and know that tomorrow we’ll probably have a fine day once again. Whereas here you make the most of what you have because it may not happen again for awhile.

The days are getting much longer and the change into summer time really spurred the long evenings along. The sun sets around 8.45pm so we have been finding ourselves eating dinner very late and staying up until past midnight most nights. Considering I used to be a 6pm-dinner and 10pm-sleep person, this is just strange. I have had a few stomach aches in the last few nights thanks to going to bed with a very full tummy, but it is an enjoyable lifestyle. On Saturday night, Tom and I had a picnic with our friends Rom and Coup down by the canal Saint Martin. The canal edges were full of Parisians doing exactly the same thing and it was one of the most enjoyable things we have done while in Paris. But imagine doing this in Perth – at 8pm we went to the supermarket and bought two types of cheese, vegies, chips, dips, beer and wine; went to the bakery and bought two fresh baguettes and by 8.30pm we were sitting by the canal setting out our picnic. It wouldn’t have been possible to do that at that hour in Perth and if we’d bought all of that food during opening hours it would have cost us around $100. Here we bought all of that for less than 30 Euros. Oh, I love Paris.

Friday night we went and saw the Australian band Architecture in Helsinki at a new venue just down the road from me. It was such a great night – the venue was amazing. It is a new, contemporary art gallery/performance space that has been inserted into a beautiful ye-olde building. The performance space was a big box in the middle of what could have once been a ballroom. The bar was in another room which had frescoes with gold trim on the ceiling and red velvet puff seats scattered throughout the room. The band was great and once again I was amazed at how few people we had to watch them with. Despite being in such a densely populated city, most of the music gigs that we have been to haven’t been sold out and have been in relatively small venues with a moderately sized crowd. Perhaps I’m going to un-cool music but still. It’s great!!

Anyway I have to go to my French class. It has improved slightly as I have learnt some new verb tenses that I wasn’t sure about before (when I say “I have learnt”, I mean I have been given the idea to go home and look up what they are myself) and the teacher is cracking down on slack students. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve and I will actually get something out of this experience.