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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I love taking photographs and rarely leave home without my camera. I am frequently reminded that while I love pointing and clicking away, I often fall far short of capturing the view as I remember it.
Often my photos feel lacking depth and contrast. Over the years I have learnt to rein in my camera’s automatic settings and white balance adjustments but my methods are tricks rather than expertise based on real understanding.
Recently I have begun to work on changing that. I have started taking more photos on settings other than the comfortable, forgiving, automatic and program modes.
I have started messing around with one setting at a time; learning what it does, how it affects my photos, and what new types of photographs the setting opens up for me.
The result is many more photos but with few worth keeping. Those I do keep justify my efforts.
Those few stand out for feeling better; they have an indescribable quality of being captivating. The moment more accurately evoked – both lighter and darker – less perfect in some ways, but much more interesting to look at.