Walking through Birmingham a couple of months ago, I passed through this open space on the way to my destination. The modern tower rearing up above the treeline was quite striking, I thought, so I made the picture. It’s got several layers to it: the foreground grass, the people, the trees, and then the rising architecture beyond, which I though looked interesting.
I’ve posted many photos taken along the Tranbs Penine Way on this blog, mostly because a section of it – the southern spur that leads to Chesterfield – is only half a kilometer from my home. The photo today shows the very first time I saw the starting point (or, I guess, the finish if you travel the other way) for the main east / west route. This post marks the easternmost point at Hornsea on the Yorkshire coast beside the North Sea. The far end of the trail lies in Southport in Lancashire on the edge of the Irish Sea.
I’ve never been to Southport before, but perhaps a trip will be in order someday – I do like seaside resorts after all, and it would allow me to pair up both ends of the trail.
I like this picture – of Birmingham New Street railway station’s main concourse – because there’s a lot to look at. The people going about their business, looking at the departures board, chatting, eating, drinking – even riding a bicycle! It’s like a slightly less busy Where’s Wally (or Waldo, for my American friends) scene, or perhaps something from a Richard Scarry book, but with humans instead of animals (although wouldn’t it be great if Lowly Worm was found in there somewhere?). It’s a busy, busy world indeed.
The building in the foreground is a branch of the Wetherspoons pub chain, but the towers and dome behind are part of the Turkish baths. The light falling on the buildings looked nice, so I made the shot.
Photographically, I find that empty shopfronts can be an appealing subject. There’s something there, some story around how the situation came to be, a small piece of history turning over, that I find interesting.
I don’t know what this shop used to be when it was still trading, although I expect it was a clothing store – that low shelf looks made for a display of manequins. But now it stands empty, waiting for a new tenant, a new business, new hopes of success and flourishing trade, a shop full of customers exited over the wares and eager to spend their hard-earned cash on what they find.
But for now it sits empty, the afternon sun illuminating the dusty interior, a void waiting to be filled. Paint has begun to peel on the exterior facade and, in a telling sign of the times, a discarded face mask lies raggedly on the floor before the entrance, taunting the reflection in the door glass of a rubbish bin just across the street.
Sadly it seems that fallen businesses like this are all too common nowadays, ever since the 2007/8 financial crash in fact. Enterprises that, for some reason or other, couldn’t survive and now stand empty, or replaced by discount shops, nail bars, vaping stores, or retail branches of one of a multitude of charitable organisations. I’d love for a thriving retail industry to return – not just the identikit retail chains that now seem to populate every town and city, but an interesting range of independent and interesting stores, the sort that really draw people to a place, that make you want to travel to other towns where they have new and fascinating retailers different to the ones at home. I’m not sure it will happen – I think online shopping may have dealt a terminal blow – but I can hope.
Today is the second day of the heatwave that’s hit the UK. Record breaking temperatures have been recorded, with the heat reaching over 40 degrees Celcius for the first time since records began. As I sit here typing this, a fan blowing hot air across my sweaty face, it’s around 33 degrees inside the house. Thankfully the weather is due to change overnight with a cold front pushing in from the west. This will take us down to the frigid depths of the low-twenties if the forecast is to be believed. Thursday morning may see the mercury only reach the high teens! I can’t wait.
I had to visit Birmingham yesterday for a business meeting and was not looking forward to the trip. However, despite taking longer than expected and being beset by signall and point failures on both legs of the journey, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. The train was air conditioned to a reasonable level, as was the building where the meeting took place, so it was really only the bits on foot between air-conditioned venues and modes of transport that were uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I was still very happy to get back home – even if the house was hot as a sauna!
I’ve taken a bit of time back this afternoon as it was really uncomfortable in my office today and I wasn’t getting much productive work done, and spent the time flopped on the sofa watching TV shows with a fan blowing on me. Occasionally I would drench my head with water and then let it evaporate away for the pleasant cooling effect it produces.
I’ve literally only turned the PC on just not in order to write the blog, and will probably switch it back off again straight after I’m done – it just acts as a glorified heater otherwise, especially if I’m not actually using it, so I might as well reduce the heat and electricity use.
It’s been oddly quiet when I’ve looked out the windows today, it reminded me a little of when the pandemic lockdowns were taking place. Today’s photo feels illustrative of the way it has felt.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m travelling for a business trip today (on one of the hottest days in UK history!). I might be delayed in getting home so I’ve broken out* an emergency post and scheduled it to publish automatically.
So please enjoy this photo of a couple of old-fashioned shop fronts that I shot in Harrogate last month.
Here in the UK (and a large portion of western Europe) we’re encountering a heat-wave. It’s been making its way north over the past few days and is scheduled to reach the UK proper tomorrow and through into Tuesday. Current forecasts are that there’s an 80% chance of the previous high temperature record being breached, with a 50/50 likelihood of the mercuryy topping 40 degrees. Here in Sheffield where I live, the forecast if for the heat to raise to the high thirties. By way of comparison, the average July temperature in Sheffield is 21 degrees C.
I’m not a big fan of hot weather. Warm summer days are ok, but I really don’t want the local temperatures to be hotter than those in the Mediteranean or North Africa thank you very much. The UK is not equipped for such temperatures – buildings are designed for temperate conditions and few are equipped with air-conditioning. UK homes are also build predominatly to retain heat because, let’s face it, it’s chilly quite a lot between autumn and spring, so they do not fare particularly well when it comes to keeping their occupants cool.
We curently have four fans blowing in various rooms in the house. The living room is actually still quite comfortable – a benefit of it’s north-facing window at the front, and the fact that I’ve kepy the blinds shut at the back – but I suggest that even this room will become uncomfortable as the temperature rises. Upstairs will be worse, and I expect at least a couple of uncomfortable night’s sleep until the weather breaks on Wednesday.
I normally work from home but, by sheer bad luck, I have to travel to Birmingham tomorrow for a work meeting – only the second time I’ve travelled for business since before the pandemic. There is likely to be trvel disruption caused by the heat, especially when I’m coming home, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is at a minimum – I really don’t want to be trapped on an un-air-conditioned train carriage!
I might schedule a quickie blog post in advance for tomorrow in the even that I’m delayed!
Wish me luck (and cool weather)!
The photograph today seems apt – an ice cream shop in Harrogate, albeit one that was closed when I visited.
The last few days I’ve noticed a lack of enthusiasm when writing for the blog, resulting in a number of rather concise posts. I’m not sure what is causing this apart from, perhaps, having too many other things to do.
Because I write these posts ad-hoc and rarely with any planning or forethought of any kind it’s very east to just bash out something quickly so I can get on to doing something else, and I suspect that this probably shows.
I’ve had this sort of fatigue before, and I think my daily posting regime is to blame for this. But the daily routine is also the thing that keeps me posting – I think that if I stop doing so every day then the gaps between posts will grow longer and the number of posts will dwindle, which I don’t want to happen.
And so I will get these periods of low-input from time-to-time where I need to push on and break through the creative barrier.