Manchester In Lockdown

I took a few pics of Manchester after lockdown while I was still going to work (I’m classed as a key worker).

Piccadilly Gardens:

Pigeons have now taken over the town (I’ve seen that happen before, albeit briefly), though I wonder how they’ll get fed, as with no people in town eating, there are no crumbs left for them.

Is there any better sign of the bleakness of the times we live in than a closed McDonald’s?

Market Street:

Written in chalk on the pavement:

Entrance to Arndale from Exchange Square.

Printworks–I’ve never seen it shut down in all the 17 years I’ve lived in Manchester.

Well, here’s your gloomscapes, the Universe whispers to which I respond: I did not want this! I only like it when it’s fictional! I only to like to imagine it!

I used to joke often about the upcoming end of the world, never did I imagine it would happen for real. In the future, we will talk about the before and after. Everyone will know someone who has lost someone to the virus.

How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

Bastille, Pompeii

The only way is to hope that the world will change for the better–and work towards it.

Roman Lakes, Marple

The problem with taking so many pictures when going on a trip is that it’s so hard to decide which ones to post on the blog.

me

When I went to Marple, I didn’t have any particular plan. I asked the guy behind the information counter at the station what there was to see and he said there was a river on one side (Goyt), canal on the other and that there was a place called Roman Lakes.

I went down to the village and walked a bit, when I spotted a trail and I thought, okay, since I had such a good experience with it last time in Hebden Bridge, I would try it again. A good decision! Not only did I get a healthy hike and some great shots out of it, I eventually reached the lakes place the information guy told me about–from the other side.

I can see why it is popular.

My old friends ducks and geese hang out here a lot.

That’s where I sat when eating my bacon sandwich. Yes, they do serve food and drink here and there is also a toilet–see the building on the left on the top photo.

I should add, the lakes have nothing to do with Romans, they’re just named that way. I haven’t managed to find out why, so I’m going with Bill of Kill Bill‘s saying “They thought it sounded cool”.

So I did find Anne of Green Gables in print… and it’s pink

I’ve never seen Anne of Green Gables series in printed format, she said.

She was looking in the wrong section.

The other day I was in Waterstones, an incredibly wonderful UK bookstore, which also sells stationery and other cool silly stuff. While I was paying at the till, for one reason or another (I don’t know where I get the urge to talk to people these days, I never used to be like that), I asked the checkout guy if they ever had Anne of Green Gables in stock. He searched the database and confirmed they did have it–in the children’s 9-12 years section.

You know how much Anne means to me. So yesterday when I was in Waterstones again, I went to check the said section and indeed, there it was. I picked the hardback, because when it comes to physical books, I prefer them to paperbacks.

This is the treasure.

Actually… a few days before I bought it, I was in Paperchase (a mega cool stationery shop) just browsing around and I saw this same edition. They don’t normally sell books, so I thought it was some hipster thing and didn’t pick it up and open it. So when I saw it at Waterstones, I was like, OMG it’s real!

Can I just say… okay, I know nothing about categorising books, but it doesn’t seem right to me to have the Anne series in the children’s section. Little Women gets to be with the classics, yet has a similar theme. Anne is also far more fun, far less patronising, has better characters and the right people end up coupled at the end; as opposed to wrong people marrying the wrong people in Little Women. Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered about it, because after all, there is nothing wrong with children’s books, but why can’t it be in both sections at once? I spent ages desperately looking for Anne when I came to UK, in libraries and bookshops. When I couldn’t find any LM Montgomery books here, I concluded that she wasn’t as popular here as in Slovakia (where her books certainly aren’t in the children’s section). I know you think I could have just asked the staff in library or a bookshop, but well, I didn’t. I have social anxiety for one and I hate asking for help and then, I used to feel stupid about liking certain things. Like, nobody cared about Anne anymore after they’d finished all the books and I was the only one who did. Also, I could not have been sure what the book was called in English. Green Gables is translated into “green house” in my language. I don’t think we even have a word for “gable”, Anne’s room in east gable is translated as “east attic room”. Different countries, different architecture styles.

For the inside the book shot, I chose this unforgettable chapter, in which Anne and her friends Diana, Jane and Ruby decide to play out Elaine (I believe it’s the poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Tennyson) in real life and Anne nearly drowns in a pond. After this, she makes a sensible decision to not be romantic again. “It was probably easy enough in towered Camelot hundreds of years ago, but romance is not appreciated now,” she says to Marilla. This however saddens Matthew and he tells her:

Don’t give up all your romance, Anne. A little of it is a good thing–not too much, of course–but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it.

Dear, dear Matthew Cuthbert. We need more like him.

You Are The Great Cat

Behold the Egyptian Deity.

You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat.

inscription on tomb in the valley of the kings

It’s actually my cat Pepper. But all cats think they’re gods so who’s to say she isn’t?

Please, if you’re reading this and and are looking to adopt a cat from a shelter–consider a black cat. They are the ones that are most difficult to find home for. People still have some prejudices about them (though how can you claim to be a cat lover and have prejudice about black cats, I don’t get) and also, I read somewhere that, apparently, another reason is that “they don’t photograph well so they don’t look good on Instagram.” If that is true, then… well, check out my blog.

As you can see, it is perfectly possible to take nice pics of black cats. And that was taken with just my smartphone, not a DSLR camera. You just need a lot of light. I was really lucky to get that shot, it was Saturday morning and sunlight was pouring into my bedroom and she was sitting on the window sill. It’s probably my best picture of her.

Click here for the rest of my feline photos!

The Not April Fool’s Post

The First of April is commonly associated with All Fools’ Day, pranks and hoaxes. Not for me–I dislike April Fools’ tradition, I hate pranks, and I find majority of jokes I hear desperately unfunny and lame. As for hoaxes, I don’t think in the times we live in, with all the fake news and propaganda, it’s appropriate to be indulging in such things. But what if there was another angle to the first day of April?

This time of year is, in the Northern Hemisphere, normally associated with spring. It is also a time of Easter, which is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. So, all new things. Or reborn things, if you like.

In Tarot cards, The Fool is the first card of the Major Arcana, numbered 0. He is the beginning of the journey, he takes a leap into the unknown, so to speak. (I want to stress right here that I’m not Tarot expert and I don’t practise it; I have a Tarot guide that I bought in a discount shop because I wanted to find out more about it. I also have a pack of Tarot cards purely for the aesthetics, I’ve never done anything with them.)

Fool he may be as he knows not much, but he is also hopeful and imaginative. Where will his journey lead him?

So, when was the last time you took a leap into the unknown? For me it is now, with this post, lol. Seriously though, it was actually in April when I moved to UK from my home in Slovakia, though not till the end of the month. That was almost 16 years ago.

The Lego figure on the photographs is one I made myself from the parts in the Lego store in Manchester Arndale. You can make your own Lego figure using five parts (head, torso, legs, hair/hat and an accessory). When I built this one, a shop assistant remarked that it’s a clown with a guitar. A clown wasn’t what I was going for really, but I still kept it and it’s that what inspired me to make this entry. Clown, joker, fool, you get it. Then I had to go buy some playing cards, of course, for the sake of the Joker card. Things I do for love, sigh. But I think these pictures perfectly capture the delicious mess that is my photography.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

William Shakespeare

Yorkshire Moors

Out on the wiley, windy moors

So here they are, as promised in my previous post.

These pastures are right beyond the Haworth Parsonage and the church–there are several little paths that lead out on the moors.

I believe Top Withens, carved on the above sign, was Emily Brontë’s original inspiration for the setting of Wuthering Heights.

I wish I could have seen more of the moors, but I had to rush back to town to catch the bus. Yeah, literally I ran on the moors, though for much more practical and much less romantic reason than that I wish I were a girl, half savage and hardy and free. (Well, I am ever an indoors person.)

“Heeeeathcliiiiiiiiiiiiiifffff!!!”


Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

I’ve always had hard time with Wuthering Heights. It was a struggle for me to read it in English (when Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall weren’t) and I don’t like the narrative style, though I can get past that. What really was the problem, as it is probably for many people, was that the book was promoted to me as romance–when it isn’t. It’s a story about revenge and cycles of abuse, as brilliantly explained in this Tumblr post. Once I understood that, I got it. And what I always liked, even before I knew all of this, was the ending and how Catherine the younger and Hareton get together. I have no doubt the first Catherine and Heathcliff loved each other, but they were both awful and hurt everyone around them. Whereas Catherine Jr and Hareton chose kindness in the end and they lived happily ever after. (And let’s not forget, in the 1998 adaptation Hareton is played by Matthew Macfadyen, who went on to play Mr Darcy in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice!)

After seeing the moors with my own eyes, I no longer wonder why Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights. How could she not?

My own video, made by smartphone.

You may have recongised the first line of this post, out on the wiley, windy moors, as the line not from the book, but from the 1978 song by the magnificent Kate Bush. I wonder, could this song be considered a musical version of fanfiction?

Fun fact: Kate Bush and Emily Brontë share the same birthday, 30th July.

And thus concludes my Haworth trilogy.

Haworth Parsonage (and the Brontes)

Following my previous post, here are some pictures of Haworth Parsonage. (And some things I’ve got to say at the end.)

Haworth Parsonage was the home of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë and is now a museum. It’s mostly unchanged from what it looked like then and contains furniture, clothes and other possessions and artefacts owned by the family. Certainly interesting for any literature lover, but an absolute must for fans of any of the sisters.

St Michael and All Angels Church, where Patrick Brontë was a parson.

The tickets cost £9 for an adult, but can be used for multiple visits within 12 months. The museum also has a little shop that sells their books and souvenirs. They have mugs, notebooks, tote bags, stationery, you know that sort of stuff. I bought myself a fridge magnet with the picture of that famous painting of the three sisters, made by their troublemaker brother Branwell.

I couldn’t help but feel there was an underlying sadness, but that sadness is always there when it comes to the Brontës, isn’t it? They all died so young. I felt such sorrow for Patrick Brontë, who lost his whole family; first his wife to cancer, then all six children one by one. Aside from literature, should another word associated with the Brontës be–tuberculosis? What’s interesting is that Patrick lived to be 84 and for one reason or another, had a strong immunity that was not inherited by his children. Although I wonder. If Charlotte really died from a form of extreme morning sickness, could she have lived longer had she not got pregnant?

The graveyard between the Parsonage and the church.

I want to say a few words about the books now. The ones I’ve read so far are: Jane Eyre by Charlotte, Wuthering Heights by Emily and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne. My favourite out of these? The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! And this is not me being a hipster. It’s because–how could it not be? The real question is, why is it not more popular? Why is Anne known only as the “third Brontë sister”, so much so that Family Guy had a cutaway scene about that?

Charlotte prevented re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne’s death because apparently she found it too shocking. Well, it was, but why did Charlotte find it so? This is what she had to say about it: “Wildfell Hall hardly appears to me desirable to preserve. The choice of subject in that work is a mistake, it was too little consonant with the character, tastes and ideas of the gentle, retiring inexperienced writer.” Like, sigh… So because someone is gentle, they can only write… gentle? Do you even fiction, Charlotte? And who are you to decide it was not desirable to preserve and what makes you think the subject of the work is a mistake? Anne didn’t put in the book anything that she hadn’t seen while working as a governess, which included Branwell’s affair with Lydia Robinson, the mistress of the house and mother of the children Anne was a governess to. It’s likely she left her position because of that.

What can you do, Branwell gonna Branwell.

Really, I don’t understand why Charlotte was so easily shocked. She was the oldest. She spent time in Brussels, she had a huge crush on a married man, she worked as a teacher and as a governess, she must have seen things. And then there was the alcohol-prone, opium-addicted, debt-incurring brother. Branwell inspired all three of the sisters to some extent, at least I think I can find him in every book. John Reed in Jane Eyre, Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights and Arthur Huntingdon in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. All of their work was quite groundbreaking at the time. So why the outrage, Charl?

I found this article about Anne by Lucy Mangan on Guardian, which ends with “I’d like to think her time has come.” I’d like to think so too and that, in the #MeToo era, there’s no better time than now.

#TeamAnne

Link to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on Gutenberg. Also, hello Netflix, Amazon Prime or whoever, if you’re reading this: we urgently need a new adaptation. Sort it out for us, please.

Next: The Yorkshire moors!

International Women’s Day Post

Today is International Women’s Day and here is my International Women’s Day mixed content post.

The Photographs

A Book

A Statement in the City

An Epic Walk by the Ladies of Peaky Blinders

The Quotes

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.

Jane Austen

A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.

Coco Chanel

Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.

Mae West

The Song