Rooftop Risks

We have become familiar with the sight of workmen scrambling upon rooftops. Not common but every so often we look out to discover a workmen installing a new window, running cable, or repairing chimney stacks.

Most of the time, they work in pairs and have harnesses. The drop is five or six stories and lethal.

So, the sight of three girls smoking on the ridge of an apartment block was a cause to grab the camera. The incomprehensible risks they were taking took a few moments to fully digest. Do not forget they are also smoking. One of these two activities is going to levy a high price.

Girls sitting on a rooftop smoking
Girls sitting on a rooftop smoking
Five stories up and smoking
Five stories up and smoking

I hope they do not repeat the act but fear they will.

Specialised Bikes

The city centre here is not a fun place to drive around. Touch parking is normal. Pedestrians and vehicles mingle with a casual ease that I find unnerving.

Given that, seeing specialised bikes and vehicles around the narrower streets is great. A response to needing to move through the city easily and swiftly. Today I happened upon the TNT delivery bike in the photos below.

Front of TNT delivery bike
Front of TNT delivery bike
Side of TNT delivery bike
Side of TNT delivery bike
Back of TNT delivery bike
Back of TNT delivery bike

Compare this to the effect of two garbage collection vehicles from earlier this week. The larger of the two completely blocks the street and causes long queues of traffic to form behind. Unavoidable, if rubbish is to be collected during working hours.

Two garbage trunks in Lyon
Two garbage trunks in Lyon

Tiny Elevators

Retrofitting an apartment with an elevator is always going to involve compromise.

What was once a beautiful, stunning even, five story city centre building now houses tenants demanding modern convenience. Tenants have argued an elevator is essential and you must find a way to install one. They don’t care how, just make it happen.

I pity the engineers who looked at the building and came up with many of the retrofitted designs in this city. It must have been heart breaking to realise the options available.

The better instances carve into the central courtyard space. A square chunk neatly handed over to a shaft of metal and cables. Hidden from the street and affecting only those living in the apartments.

In our first apartment, the courtyard had already been eaten away with toilet blocks stacked on each other; providing residents with much needed indoor facilities. An additional bite out of the courtyard did little harm to the already shrunken space. Enough space now left only for the communal bins.

Looking down the shrunken courtyard
Looking down the shrunken courtyard
Looking up the shrunken courtyard
Looking up the shrunken courtyard
A tiny elevator suitable for two people
A tiny elevator suitable for two people

It is a rotten trade when in payment for your new elevator, an apartment block carves not into the courtyard, but instead into the stairwell itself.

Stairs once large enough to allow the passage of white goods or a sofa, reduced to a narrow squeeze space. Too small to allow free movement of larger items but still functional enough to allow claim to actually having stairs.

Elevator carved into stairs
Elevator carved into stairs

What do the tenants get in return for this trade? An elevator. But a useful elevator. Not always? Elevators capable of holding just one person, maybe two if they are close, are common.

We once used an elevator to carry up and down our large suitcases but not us. We could not fit inside along with our luggage. That luxury the tenants were not able to afford. Instead we pushed buttons, stepped back, and rushed up the stairs to meet the lift on our floor. An event probably neither as comical or as rare as we thought at the time.

As the years pass living in this aged city, it has become easy to forget the quirks and odd comprises. The layers of change seem normal and the resulting outcomes seem acceptable. Time is softening my critical judgement and the shrug so associated with the people of this nation seems an acceptable response. What other choice was there, it seems to reply.

A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs
A tiny elevator encroaching on the stairs

Finding the Bees in Manchester

If you wander around Manchester, you will see bees everywhere. The worker bee is a symbol of Manchester, and it adorns their public buildings, bins, and bollards.

Our visit to Manchester turned into a treasure hunt for bees. It started at the town hall. I saw a TV programme a while ago which showed the mosaic bees on the floor of Manchester’s town hall, and when we decided to visit the city, it was the first thing that went on my to-see list.

Floor of Manchester town hall A closer look at the town hall floor Public bin in Manchester Bee carved into stonework of a building Manchester's worker bee Bees in the crest of the Corn Exchange Metalwork bee Bee motif on a traffic bollard Planter box in Manchester

From there, I was curious to see how many other bees we could spot around the city. Some were obvious, like those decorating the many public bins. Others were more discreet, hiding within emblems or carved into the stonework of buildings.

Watch the video.

Lights of Manchester Town Hall

It was a trick I discovered in Sydney’s town hall. When faced with a dark building interior, take photos of the lights from below. The results are fantastic.

Manchester‘s town hall is a beautiful building and worth a visit. Taking decent photographs inside is tricky. The lights tend to dominate the shot – they do however accent the gilt edges nicely.

Great Hall in Manchester's town hall
Great Hall in Manchester’s town hall

Standing directly below and photographing different clusters of lights produced these strange and beautiful photos.

Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall