Archive for the ‘Lancaster’ Category

The Carnival rolled into town on the back of strong feeling about protecting Lancaster from developers who propose to destroy green space and replace the unique feel of the city with more identikit big business shopping opportunities. Some of the notable causes today included opposition to the proposed Heysham ‘link road,’ protest against the almost unthinkably bizzare idea to put car-parking on the green space outside the priory and of course, the old favourite, the hideously dull, destructive and devestatingly disruptive Centros Miller proposal.

Visit the homepages of some of the various campaigns below and see the Carnival site for more info.

Carnival of Culture Homepage
It’s Our City – Opposing the Centros Miller Development
The homepage of Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe – central to the fight against the Heysham link road.

The day started on the carpark near to the old brewery site, central to the proposed redevelopment – in the background of the 1st picture is one of the beautiful old industrial buildings at stake.

Sound system on a bike. I want one of these for Christmas please.

Banners were hoisted, flags, whistle and shakey things given out and to the beat of samba drums, off the procession went – almost straight onto the ring road, past some bemused, but also many enthusiastic and supportive shoppers and drivers. I didn’t see any negative attitudes all day towards the banners or costumes, which suggests that the people of Lancaster are broadly supportive of the causes at the heart of this event.

First stop was Dalton Square, where, outside the town hall, the assets of Lancaster were auctioned off – Happily the winning bidder for three of the lots was ‘the people of Lancaster’ (hurray!), triumphing over ‘big business’ (boo!!!) but we were reminded that there was still much to play for and that as the links at the top of this page and on the carnival site show – there is much to oppose and fight for.

The turnout was excellent and colourful.

Big business bid for ‘the heart of Lancaster’ and Castle Hill (kudos by the way to the fella who presented this – excellent job in the humble opinion of this website)

The police must have enjoyed the play, because they video taped the whole thing – presumably to watch again later in the warmth of the police station and share a range of critical perspectives on the action.

Samba drums in Dalton Square – At this point the drums left us and it was off again, up onto the ring road and back through town towards the Priory.

Arriving at the priory there was music playing and more banners – It’s almost inconceivable that anyone could wish to concrete over such a unique and well used spot. The views from this place are stunning and the green spaces of Lancaster are a huge part of what makes it special – as an outsider myself, I love this place, partly because of the positives it has over many other places I have lived and I find it almost defies belief that anyone, let alone a church organisation (well, maybe that’s not such a big suprise) should seek to defile what must be one of the loveliest city centre sites in Britain.

Lets just imagine the thought process of those in favour of the scheme…

“I love our city especially Castle Hill – 800 yr old castle, historic priory, beautiful view, open space,, trees, long grass, birds singing, peace and quiet, cycle track, path down to riverside – it’s a lovely spot isn’t it…”
“Yes it is all of those things and more, a unique and irreplacable community resource …. but you know what?”
“It would be much better for everyone if we concreted over a big lump of it so a few people didn’t have to walk about 150 yards on one day of the week”
“Yes, you’re so right – Let’s do that then”

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When we arrived at the Priory entertainment came from lovely folky, eastern European flavoured music – possibly members of Balkanic Eruption? (let me know if you know…)

There was kite flying, with mixed results…

Then back of into to town again…

… heading to the skatepark for more drumming

The police also enjoyed the samba drumming and presumably wanted to record that to make the night of playviewing a double bill, though why they felt it quite necasary to record the skaters who happened to be at the park (some of whom were as young as 11 or 12) I don’t quite know. Perhaps they are planning to learn to skateboard as part of a new style of rapid response technique?

It was back to the start and mo’ singing mo’ dancing mo’ blowin’ whistles before the world and his dog (on a string, ho ho) headed to the pub for a post walk pint and to watch a reet good band… I only saw one of the acts at the Gregson Centre…

… because I went to see what was going on at the Park Hotel. It was a UV light treat with some lovely music and decent DJs and made a nice change to be honest from the regular Lancaster pub fayre. So well done them, and a huge well done to all involved in organising the Carnival – A great fun, exciting and educational day – more of the same next year please!


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North of Lancaster you can take a path up to Caton, via Halton and Crook O’ Lune – You have to go under the brutal 60’s archetecture of the motorway bridge.

The graffiti was of varying quality but some of was great! – These were my two favourite pieces, though a third really interesting one had been partially paainted over with the slogan ‘this belongs on a canvas’ scrawled over it. Sad.

I’m a sucker for a bit of dereliction – sadly the light was horrific as I tried to get this in a bit more detail but never the less it’s another building that probably won’t be here this time next year.

Another building that could have been demolished but wasn’t is the remains of Halton station – 43 years since a train passed here though.

On the way back we diverted via the pleasingly frozen Lancaster canal

One of my favourite things about living here is the view of the castle from all around

but god knows why this is here and how did they get it out of the window? – The RSPCA should be informed!

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Hey, it’s not all post indie, bhangra and dancehall here y’know…

This was my first time at the annual firework display and if the experience of walking in a large crowd through darkened narrow streets arround the castle wasn’t medieval enough for me, I don’t know what would be. It’s amazing that this half hour display is free and all credit to the council and whoever else is involved cos it was pretty spectacular, even if there was a few ‘incidents’ of burning firework bits dropping into the crowd. I hope no-one was hurt.

Anyway, here’s a few pics for you.

and finally….


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Three bands that got it loud at ‘Get it Loud in Libraries‘ – Lancaster Library’s fabulous and deservedly prize winning semi occasionally regularly excellent series of music nights. A big and alarmingly youthful crowd gathered squished in amongst the shelves in the music section and were treated first to Leed’s Sky Larkin, a three piece who made a pleasant but occaisionally icy sound which made me think a lot of the Delgado’s. To my mind this is a good thing… I can’t recall to much to say about them, which is sad but I definately felt their style was natural and not affected. Worst review ever so far…. Hang in there…

Next up were You Say Party, We Say Die who came across like some over excited poodles on helium performing crazy high school cheerleeder chants. They were (and I quote) ‘super excited’ to be here and they were indeed super exciting to look at with shapes thrown, speakers climbed and jumpsuits worn. I didn’t find any great revelation in the music which if I’m honest was a bit too wilfully brutal and primal for my pallate but then, nine out of ten for effort and a perfect ten for the name.
It was all a bit like watching the cast of fame perform the hits of Iggy and The Stooges whilst wearing the clothes from fraggle rock or something, but again, in a world that gives us a billion soulless ‘gang of four-lite’ acts then I’m not going to make a thing of criticising them. Go see them – They are very good fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun fun…..

And finally we had the aural and visual delight that is Los Campesinos, camp as a big camp full of people camping camply and all the better for it, they touched some reference points that I can’t ignore – Imagine Hefner playing with Bis and your somewhere there, but there was much more to this lot than camp twee musical self reference cos they had tunes and that too, lovely swirly synthy tunes, sparky bitter, witty tunes and sweet, twee, brilliantly toe curlingly fantasticly intelligent tunes. Bedecked in in a Sleater Kinney T Shirt, the frontman is a disarmingly engaging sweet thing and there were 7 of them all up to all sorts of glockenspiel pinging, violin picking and effects pedal fiddling. There was I think something quite sweet about this lot – The same thing that makes say B&S all the better for the way they tread on the line between smugly hatefully self indulgent and soul bearing genius and seem to come out all the more wonderful for it. Damn, man, they had a group hug whilst they sung a song to each other before going on stage and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band smile so radiantly at each whilst playing – Go and buy their music then. I reckons it’s pretty reet by me.

So, that was indeed that – Next up at the library is The Whip on Oct 24th whom I saw at Beatherder and Wickerman this summer and whom on both occaisions were quite good. For me, hopefully next thing will be John Cooper Clarke in Morecambe. Hurray for that.

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With hangovers stubbornly intact from an evening at the Gregson we set off on a head clearing wander along the banks of the River Lune. It was Saturday and so Lancaster City were playing against Wakefield FC at the Giant Axe (a game the Dolly Blues triumphed 1-0 in.)

Walking past the ground and under the railway takes you to the bottom of Castle Hill (where, for every step there’s a local boy who wants to be your hero, according to Belle and Sebastian) and a rather spooky grave…

The beauty of Lancaster centre is well illustrated by the view up toward the Priory – It’s hard to believe that this is a city centre location, as opposed to some ruryl idyll.

Moving on through the parkland past a strange site of two fully grown, rather portly men in full (rather dated) football kit, knocking a football between them, we come to the river and the former customs house, which is now a museum of Maritime stuff

The river here is quiet – There’s the excellent Wagon and Horses pub and some rather dull redevolopment but these incredably colourful flowers caught my eye.

Walking a bit further takes you toward the city centre proper and past the millenium bridge and the old Glasson Dock / dockside rail line bridge both of which are part of cycle tracks.

At one time, Lancaster was the UK’s 3rd biggest slave port (behind only Bristol and Liverpool) and a monument to the shameful past stands quayside. It’s a little hard to make out what exactly it’s supposed to be but the sentiment is fair enough.

At this point my hangover was getting to a pretty horrible peak so healthy refreshment was sought.

Imbued with the goodness of berries and stuff, we marched onwards – taking note of the handy reminder of what river we were on.

Lancaster does have some grotty looking bits to it – This underpass doesn’t quite fit in with the otherwise lovely riverside developments.

and the razor wire protecting the ‘Duke of Lancaster Regiment’ from joggers and dog walkers isn’t too pretty either.

Neither was this thing I found on the side of the river – I have absolutely no idea what it is – If anyone else does I’d be interested – It was just stuck there, entirely on it’s own on the edge of the river.

All that remained now, was too wander back – Past the ever intriguing site of a large warehouse with its door wide open.

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Pickled Image’s devised work Houdini’s Suitcase promises a dreamlike world, a piece of visual poetry and delivers pretty much on that pledge. An intriguing mixture of performance, puppetry and a rich soundtrack, the action centres arround an old man on a railway station surrounded by his suitcases. Each of the suitcases seems to hold a different aspect of his memory, much of which is taken up by macabre recollections of life as a circus performer.

The production has some lovely touches of dark humour, such as the King of Pain puppet, a figure who lives in fear of his own acts of self mutilation and a magicians hat that contains the fetid decomposed corpse of a rabbit. The circus segments are largely narrated by a static, ringmaster puppet and each of them work well, aside perhaps from a sequence in which a large dancing bear enters the stage and the action slows. As with all the puppetry sequences, there is a certain magic, but the huge bear moves a little too tentatively.

Where the production really takes on a magical aura is during the darker, more personal memories explored. We see the old man’s terrifying recollections of war, death and childhood illness enacted beautifully by a tiny sobbing child puppet, that later flew in the sky, footlit to cast a huge shadow accross the stage as anti aircraft guns and air raid sirens pierced the stillness. Most movingly of all was a beautifully worked section in which the old man discovers a dress in one of the cases and waltzes through his life and love with this dreath, spelling out passion and loss with dexterity and ingenuity.

In summary, this play offers a thoughtful meditation on the nature of memory and mortality. Though I might have liked a tad more energy from time to time and wished the macabre and vulgar might have been pushed a little further, I cannot offer to much criticism of a fun and highly inventive showcase of theatrical invention!.

Pickled Image Website + Pics

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After attempting and failing the herculian 30 minute walk to the park some 3 or four weeks ago our determination to reach our destination couldn’t have been greater and as such, we only stopped in one pub along the way and even then I had coffee. Least said about the “Red Mist” rasberry bitter my companion drunk the better…

The walk to the park is pleasent and the views of the Lune Estuary and Morecambe Bay are worth climbing the steep hill to the entrance for. Below you can see the view across Lancaster to the Ashton Memorial in the park.

The large allotments alongside the railway line are home to lots of veg, but also some lovely colours. There was a plan to expand them significantly, but a scheme involving the purchase of some unused school playing fields fell through, when Ofsted ruled that the school in question must create better sporting provision and therefore renaged on the agreement.

Over the canal to the pub…

…past a disused waterboard property – behind these gates are several boarded up stone buildings and rather oddly, a 1960’s house, also completely boarded up. Whether this property was once for waterboard employees, I know not, but the house itself seems rather too new to be abandoned in such a way…

…then on, up the hill to views of Lancaster and Morecambe and also South Cumbria and the lakeland mountains.

Williamson’s Park was a gift to the town from a local industrialist, in order to provide a place for recreation for Lancaster’s workers and commerate the memory of his beloved wife. The large site is a mixture of formal fountains, flower beds, woodland and lawns.

We took refreshment on the lawns underneath the famous Ashton memorial, a folly that dominates the Lancaster skyline

Here we spotted a friend with some dogs.

Moss (above) was a bit frightened of all the noises and kids in the park but Jack was more interested in his ball

After we’d been well and truly exercised by the dogs and soaked up some of the fine Lancashire sunshine, we went for a wander though the woodland to the rear of the park. Fenham Carr is a wilder section of parkland and on the way there we found some monsters and a giant’s watch!

Fenham Carr provides views to the Bowland Fells and shelter for lots of ferreting squirrals and birds.

We found a fascinating fallen tree, decorated with pennies, some of which were really quite old.

Coming out of Fenham Carr, we walked past the butterfly house (which as the name suggests, does contain lots of brilliant tropical butterflies) – As it was closed, I had to content myself with a photo of a crow instead.

As the sun was starting to think about slinking away to bed, we walked back down the hill

to the canal (well, to be honest, the pub)

On the way home we saw fireworks and were followed by a very friendly cat who I had to take all the way back to his house as he seemed lost after he’d followed us almost to ours.


Official Lancaster Council site of Williamson’s Park

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