2021 Recap

The year has been… strange. World as we know it will never be the same. But there has been success with vaccines.

For Some Photoblog, however, 2021 was the most productive year ever–89 posts! The major theme was pictures of flowers taken by my smartphone on my walks, with an occasional bird thrown in.

starlings have been the stars

My DSLR camera, bless the poor thing’s mirrored heart, got some work done at last, after mostly idle 2020. The lens cap got stuck in the course of this long idleness, sending me into a state of panic (easily happens to me). I had to consult Google for a solution. Thankfully I managed to get the cap off. I even wrote a short flash fiction story about it! Which was actually inspired by a prompt at Online Writers Guild, but funny how that prompt, erm, mirrored, exactly what was going on in my life.

I didn’t get up to much this year, I only visited two places outside Manchester–Lyme Park and Halifax, but the visits were that much more enjoyable. I also took a walk to Castlefield one Saturday at the end of February to have a look at the sets of Peaky Blinders that was being filmed there, and I came home with some fantastic shots–not just of the sets, but of early spring too. I think there are altogether four posts made out of that one single walk.

crocuses always please

Autumn has also been good, we’ve been really lucky with the leaves this year.

On the pop culture side, I covered some of my favourite things: Agatha Christie (a reposted entry from 2019 with new photos taken this year), Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and most of all, actor Sam Claflin to whom I dedicated a 5200-words-long post. (I didn’t realise it was that long!) I pretty much carry a flag with his name on it–because someone has to.

hello handsome

In the world of movies, after a dry 2020, we’ve finally seen some delayed cinematic releases, and more. Marvel have treated us to four films in total, and they were all fantastic (Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Eternals and, most of all, Spider-Man No Way Home), plus five series on Disney+. While I’m not a big fan of James Bond, I did go to see No Time To Die, as it was Daniel Craig’s final outing, and because it was the first major picture to be delayed in the early months of the pandemic. I can say it’s my favourite now–it really was something else–and I loved the gorgeous cinematography. Cary Joji Fukunaga also directed the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre; if you’ve seen it, you know it has the right gothic feel. (I acknowledge that, as much as I’m fond of butchering that story.) Dune also finally made its appearance, a difficult book to translate to screen, but Denis Villeneuve pulled it off. The soundtrack was just *chef’s kiss*, Hans Zimmer outdid himself–and that’s saying a lot!

In the streaming world, everyone went mad for Squid Game, and I’m happy for a non-English language show to achieve such a huge success. Speaking of non-English shows, French series Lupin also enjoyed big popularity–I love me some heist. The last show I want to give a shout out to is The Irregulars, a Sherlock Holmes adjacent series featuring the group of street kids known as Baker Street Irregulars. Unusually for Sherlock Holmes-verse, it’s a paranormal mystery, with a diverse cast. I liked it so much more than that bloody Enola Holmes last year (this is an unpopular opinion and I stand by it), but unfortunately it has not been renewed by Netflix. In episode three, I spotted a familiar sight–The Cage at Lyme Park. Thus I became the Leonardo Di Caprio pointing at the screen meme.

Just like last year, I listened to a lot of Taylor Swift, who has been re-releasing her old music to get back her rights. Most memorable is probably the ten-minute version of All Too Well, to which she recorded a short film as a music video. My most streamed song this year, though, was Wellerman, a remixed sea shanty that went viral thanks to TikTok at the beginning of the year. Not surprising since I played it on loop!

Elsewhere on my writing blog, it’s also been a successful year. I particularly enjoyed myself by murdering an English classic (guess which one), dreaming about being seduced to the dark side by hot villains, and experimenting with a day in the life of a very fictional Home Secretary in a fictionalised version of Britain. But the most popular story turned out to be I Fall In Love With You Every Day. Same as previously mentioned The Camera Smiles, it, too, was a response to a prompt by Online Writers Guild.

I think I went on for long enough, so let me wrap this up with Pepper, my constant and only companion. In October I had some massive work done on my flat (landlord at last realised what terrible state it was in), so I now have a brand new kitchen and bathroom–a side note, you don’t realise how a thing like that can completely change your mindset–and one of the builders remarked that every time they brought something new in, such as tools or materials, the cat “must come and check everything”. Of course, as all cat owners know, this is a completely normal cat behaviour, but the builder clearly didn’t know it, and it still makes me laugh to this day.

Thank you for visiting my blog in 2021 and all the best for 2022!

Let’s Try It Again… 2020 Recap

Okay, so the previous post was stupid. Let me do it again, better.

In terms of my photography, overwhelming majority of pictures taken in 2020 were with my smartphone and always in my area. This is the first time since 2016 that I haven’t made any trip outside Manchester. None of this mattered, in the end, as I took the best picture in my life with my phone a street away from my home!

Squirrel in Heaton Park, from September

The year started with storms, I remember there were two or three and they always happened at the weekend, so that that was no going anywhere for me. After that–well, you know. At first it was, need toilet paper? Pasta? Bad luck, mate.

It seems incredible now, but I did go to a concert this year. As in, a live performance by a singer. It was Halsey in Manchester Arena and it was back in March, before the first lockdown. Probably wasn’t very responsible, but hey, nothing happened.

My most streamed song of 2020 was the suitably titled Doom Days by Bastille (my inspiration for the short story The Journal). I also listened to the two albums Taylor Swift released this year, Folklore and Evermore.

It will be a while before live shows are back again. I also had a ticket for Phantom of the Opera, which was supposed to run for two months in Manchester, but like everything else, it was cancelled. Arts have really suffered with this and it’s not like the government cares; instead of supporting them they tell people in the industry to retrain. But don’t touch sports, oh no, not our precious sports, and even more precious football. Heavens help you if you anyhow endanger our football and our obscenely-paid footballers!

So what was I saying, oh yes, the annual recap… this year we were all staying at home and our new best friend was the streaming services. I remember that Disney+ launched here in UK just at the right time for lockdown.

Linda watches Star Wars

One of the TV shows that got much praise this year was Mandalorian. I’ve not watched it (yet), I’m not in the Star Wars fandom (they do have the hottest Latin actors though, Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal), however as I got myself a 12-month Disney+ subscription, I did watch the new trilogy and Rogue One. I liked Rogue One best, fabulous movie and might be one of my very favourites. As for the new trilogy, well, my first thought when I woke up the next day after seeing The Rise of Skywalker was: this should have been Finn’s story. John Boyega was right.

Star Trek premiered the Picard series and now we’re on Season 3 of Discovery, which has so far been the best. I thought the tone of Picard was a bit off, as if the writers were anxious (they probably were), but this can be easily overcome in future seasons.

This was also the first year in however-long that we had no Marvel movie released. We’ve been waiting for that Black Widow forever! But it’s good to have a bit of a break and hey, there’s still time to get into it, folks, if you haven’t done so!

Being at home and doodling

I doodle sometimes, I have almost filled my little A6 sketchbook. I once had a phase where I was drawing castles, and it seems I’m back in that phase again.

Tragically, I’ve not done as much reading as I should have done. I picked up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and it took me three whole months to get through it. Such a slog, also the title is a lie–she doesn’t really steal books. Spoiler, I guess, but who cares. It tries to be interesting by having Death as a narrator but it reads just like any other third-person limited POV, with a “I collected their souls” inserted here and there to keep up the appearance. I swear I’ll never read Holocaust fiction ever again. I’d rather watch a good documentary about it.

But on the other hand I rediscovered my love for Sherlock Holmes and even dedicated a post to the famous detective, which at 2600 words is my longest.

Another thing that happened in Manchester was, the big concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens was torn down. There is still a concrete wall, but that can’t be torn down because there is a coffee shop and a restaurant on the side of it. People hate them, I know they’re ugly, but for the purposes of my Gloomscapes series, I don’t mind a bit of brutalism. I’ve seen articles online calling the wall “Manchester’s Berlin Wall” and I’m like, can you just not. Nobody is getting shot crossing from Portland Street to Primark! Please. If there is criminal activity or drugs going on in Piccadilly Gardnes, that’s hardly the fault of the wall.

I end with one of my typical phone shot of something random or weird, Sam Call Me written by chalk on the gate to my local park. Well, there is a certain Sam that is close to my heart, so you can say that the picture is not as random as it would appear on first sight. I mean, not in real life, it’s the actor Sam Claflin, lol.

And that, my friends, concludes my second 2020 recap post.

2020 Recap

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Seriously

Sign on the floor in the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester.

At the entrance to my local park where I spent so much walking this year.

Sign at the door to my launderette. It makes it very clear.

Sign on the side of Selfridges department store, a popular spot for sitting. I mean the side of the store is popular spot for sitting, not the actual store. So they put the sign there for people not to sit there.

Narrator’s voice: nevertheless, they still sat.

Sign on the Metrolink tram.

Construction site. The sign is also concealing a wheelbarrow, which was parked further up the road, after the yellow barriers in the distance. You know how I love my wheelbarrows. See what this virus is doing!

2019 Recap

Last year’s Recap turned out to be quite a good post, so let’s do it again!

January, a foggy walk to the tram stop in the morning. Taken with my smartphone, this shot has not been edited and was not taken in black and white. I like my gloomy pics.

April, Heaton Park. Ferns and out of focus ducks. You know me and ducks.

August, Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester. My favourite type of shot, sun through the trees, with added pigeons basking on the street light. Pigeons became a new feature on my blog this year.

September, a weird photo of the fence around a new car park behind my house, with, again, out focus animal, my neighbour’s cat. Autumn this year has been really good on the blog, if I say so myself (and if I don’t, who will?), hence my choice of a Recap pic.

Much of my 2019 can be summed up in one word–Yorkshire! I’ve had four trips to places in Yorkshire (Leeds, York, Hebden Bridge and Haworth), which provided a good chunk of the blog this year. Aside from Yorkshire, I also enjoyed visiting Chester and Marple.

And I finally made tribute post for my favourite fictional character, Anne Shirley.

I’ve been to two anti-Brexit marches in autumn, one here in Manchester during the Conservative Party Conference, the other in London. Yes, I know we lost, but that’s not the point here. I’m glad I went and don’t regret a single second and would do it all over again. Strangely enough, it wasn’t looking so bad at first. Brexit was delayed three times. Then came the election. You know the result of that. I don’t know why it happened that way, how the Tories won such a majority, all I know is that I feel crushed–and I’m not the only one. (This also proves that any year-end reviews should not be done at the beginning of December, because so much can still take place.)

Elsewhere in pop culture, Game of Thrones came to an end (unpopular opinion, I was okay with the ending… but I’m not posting any spoilers here) and Marvel Cinematic Universe reached its milestone with Avengers Endgame, which became the highest grossing movie of all time! And Amazon Prime blessed us with the hilarious and brilliant Good Omens. The song of the year seems to be Old Town Road and I’m sure you agree with me that it’s a banger.

At the end of August, Extinction Rebellion organised a Northern Rebellion here in Manchester, where they took over Deansgate for the weekend. Half of the road was closed to the traffic and they set up stalls and stuff–and it was beautiful. It made me wish more than anything for a car-less Deansgate (the street has a lot of restaurants and there is also a giant Waterstones store). Apparently the city council said it could be done, if they found a different route for buses that pass that way.

Also, like, not to be that person, but I knew about Extinction Rebellion before it was cool. As you can see, my post of their sticker is from November 2018, when most people only heard of them in 2019. Ha!

Speaking of climate activism, I cannot not mention Greta Thunberg. She has so much courage, I couldn’t do what she does, I couldn’t put myself out there, especially not at such a young age. Keep going, Greta!

So here we are, end of the year and end of the decade. What will the roaring twenties bring?

I wish everyone happy and prosperous new year.

Autumn 2019 Collection

I decided to make a recap post of some of the nicest looking photos I took this autumn. I’ve been lucky with weather; even though we still had a lot of rain, there were enough dry and sunny days to take some good shots. Although you’ll see two of these were taken indoors.

An oak.

A bowl of apples, my favourite fruit.

A cup of pumpkin spice latte. Normally I drink black coffee only; this for me is a once-a-year indulgence.

Two collages. The top one is made from smartphone shots taken on a walk, the bottom one is pictures from Heaton Park this autumn.

Another smartphone shot; this is Cathedral Gardens with Chetham School of Music in the background and the fountain where ducks occasionally hang out.

And I end this with two shots taken around the Manchester Cathedral.

Have a good November!

2018 Recap

I’ve not done this ever but I had such a productive year of photography, I decided to post some pics from this year that didn’t make it to Some Photoblog. I will also look back to some of my memorable posts from this year.

A snail, snapped not far from my neighbourhood.

City Tower in Manchester city centre. Taken by my smartphone, from the Piccadilly Bus Station. I like this angle.

Radcliffe area, near Bury, north of Manchester. Not quite the moors of Yorkshire, but still offers a great scope for imagination, as Anne of Green Gables would say.

This is in the above mentioned Bury, away form the town centre. Proper farm area, I heard cockerels and everything!

Save the best for last, this is Formby. Visiting Formby was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. Here I am holding a pinecone, which I have actually kept and even used it in my autumnal and Christmas still life posts!

To say 2018 has been a turbulent year is not an exaggeration. The Beast of the East freezing conditions in February and March were followed by scorching hot summer (there was like four months, of no rain in Manchester and that happens, like, never). Climate change is here–so what are we gonna do about it?

Elsewhere, politically, I best not to even talk about it–but a huge shout out to Ireland, who knows how to do referendums right! (They voted in favour of making abortions legal, which is an issue I will never not feel strongly about, even when I’m dead in the grave.) I also went to two anti-Brexit marches, the second of which was attended by 700,000 people; an event I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Creatively for me it’s been the best year ever. I took over 1000 photographs between May and July, ran a dystopian series, blogged about Kindle eBooks, ducks and trees that look like Yggdrasil. Although I wish WordPress didn’t kill their Weekly Photo Challenge. That was not cool, guys.

So there it is, my 2018 end-of-year recap.

Raise your glasses for 2019 and let’s hope for the best.