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Wednesday 1 February 2023


John Medd is the author of the Are We There Yet?, a blog I have been visiting for years, a treasure trove of music, photography, art, reports on travels and adventures and slices of life. John has set himself the target of using the first post of each month in 2023 to set himself a photography challenge. On 1st January he went for numbers and posted three photos all depicting the number one (here). He sent me a message to ask if I'd like to join in and I said I would. February's theme is water. The water above is the reservoir at Rivington Pike, part of the West Pennine Moors near Bolton and Chorley (although it could easily in that picture be part of a Scandi- noir or gothic horror. Don't go into the woods. Or near the reservoir). 

Despite being inland we're blessed with water round here although it's fairly industrial in nature. I thought for John's water themed first of the month post I'd give you a short tour of the waterways we have near us. The Manchester ship canal runs from not far north of here to meet the Mersey and then onto Liverpool, the gateway to the world during the Industrial Revolution. Again to the north of us, a short walk away, is one of Manchester's three rivers, the Mersey. We can walk along the Mersey in either direction. Heading east the river runs to its source in Stockport, disappearing under the Mersey shopping centre. The point shown here is under the M60 near Northenden. 

Manchester's other two great rivers are the Irwell and the Medlock. This is the Medlock as it runs through the southern edge of the city centre, the dirty old town of legend caught on camera. 

This is the Irwell running past Peel Park in Salford, behind the university, a point where the river is wide and slow. Historically it marks the boundary between Manchester and Salford. It runs west where it feeds into the ship canal. The picture here was taken last September, when everything was a bit greener than it is now.

Half a mile to our east we have the Bridgewater Canal, an extension of the first canal in the world (which can be found at Worsley) built by the Duke of Bridgewater to transport his coal to Castlefield to sell. The Industrial Revolution was born there, Manchester's entire reason for being kick started by coal (and then cotton). Today the canal seems pretty clean and is used by narrow boats. When I walk down the towpath I often wonder about the pleasures and drawbacks of living on a narrow boat (storing thousands of records and books being the chief drawback). This photo is also from last summer. 

Today's water theme gives me a chance to extend my recent immersion into the world of Underworld in the 90s. In 1993 they remixed William Orbit's Water From A Vine Leaf, an epic track even before Darren Emerson got his hands on it. Part 1 is twelve minutes long, massive chunky drums and a synth horn sample, the bassline coming to the fore at points and then the piano riff leading the way. In the second half the piano becomes a tinkling topline, Beth Orton's vocal appears and it's all very much perfect 90s progressive house. 

Part 2 starts out slow, Beth's voice chopped up and a stuttering synth part dropping in and out. Gradually it slips into a groove, the elements building up in layers, Karl Hyde's guitar on top, but it's a very chilled and dubbed out affair


Rol said...

Great photos, as always. That top one looks very much like a reservoir I stop to walk round occasionally on my way home from work.

C said...

Wonderful photos as ever and I enjoyed the local education. I know what you mean about narrowboats, they seem so attractive but the practicality of living on one could definitely be an issue! An ex colleague from years back (who used to captain oil tankers!) took early retirement, sold his house and took to the narrowboat life, travelling around the UK canals on one with his wife. Apparently he managed with a Kindle and digital music but I'd miss all the tangible 'stuff' we accumulate through life...
Top photo is particularly evocative - couldn't help thinking of 'The Spirit Of Dark and Lonely Water' public information film which scared the hell out of me as a child https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb00H6mCTM8

Swiss Adam said...

That's pretty frightening still C

Anonymous said...

Great photos Adam and you’ve educated us too. You really went for it. Looking forward to next month’s theme already.

John Medd said...

You are fast becoming my go to Manchester psychogeographer! Great piece, Adam.