2022 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield

2022 IN PICTURES – JUNE

Two football matches, two concerts and a trip to Newcastle. That was June.

It was Windsor Park-Limelight on a rotating basis, with Del Amitri and Feeder being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s matches against Greece and Cyprus.

At the end of the month, I went to North-East England (and a bit of Yorkshire), although the only photo adventure was a trip to Jesmond Dene in Newcastle,

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Del Amitri live at The Limelight

Del Amitri live at The Limelight Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Cyprus

Northern Ireland v Cyprus Photo Album

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene Photo Album

HARTSHEAD PIKE

Having really got into hillwalks during Lockdown, I now intend to attempt one everywhere I go.

I had been to Manchester many times, but I had never attempted one when visiting the city. It was time to remedy that.

In Manchester for three days, I had planned on going up on the Thursday morning, but dull skies and rain put an end to those plans. I needed the weather to be dry for this trip.

It didn’t look like that was going to happen as I got up on Friday morning.

As I went for a stroll around Manchester, the sun burst out, so I thought why not?

Unfortunately, the train from Manchester to Mossley is only once an hour. Not ideal.

Especially as I faffed about wandering around Oxford Road and missed the 10.55am training, meaning I had to wait until 11.55am until the next train.

My flight home was 8.15pm, so I still had plenty of time to work with.

Don’t worry about me, I had a copy of Metro to occupy me.

I wish we had Metro in Northern Ireland. I just love Rush Hour Crush.

Can people walk into Pret without getting horny?

So, where is Mossley?

Just twenty minutes from Manchester, sandwiched inbetween Manchester and Huddersfield.

I did my research beforehand in terms of directions.

Go past the football ground, then look for a pub called The Billy Goat.

I headed upwards from Mossley Train Station, then saw signage for the football ground, followed it.

Hartshead Pike isn’t the most signposted place in the world, I took a bit of a hunch to go up one street, and by fluke I found The Billy Goat.

The starting point for Hartshead Pike is in the Car Park of this pub.

Getting to the top isn’t particularly demanding, around half an hour.

Just walk up, turn left at the field, walk across a field, then turn right onto a road until you pass a white house and there you are.

When you get there, you get some spectacular views of Northern England, and it leads into more pathways such as Oldham Way.

It was definitely worth making the effort, an enjoyable trek.

As I had mentioned previously, I have been to Manchester so many times, it can be a bit samey, so it’s always good to try something different.

There are still plenty of more walks in Greater Manchester, so hit me up with suggestions.

I was beginning to regret missing the 10.55am train, or even being even more prepared and taking a gamble on good weather and getting the 9.55am train.

Even though I still had plenty of time before my flight, I would have loved to have had more time to explore to other walking routes when I reached Hartshead Pike.

I would definitely go back up if the opportunity presented itself when having some spare time on a trip to Old Trafford.

On the way down, I managed to slip when taking a photo, mastering the Down Dog position, and even managing to take a video of myself.

I did delete it, destroying the evidence. And no, I won’t be posting it here.

With Manchester to Mossley being a once an hour service, it was unsurprising that the return journey was only once an hour.

I walked into Mossley Train Station to see how long to wait until the next train to Manchester, there was a drunk woman, who was so drunk, she thought she worked for Network Rail and started giving me timetable and platform information. Very helpful.

It turned out I had over half an hour to kill, so I headed to The Gillery for a lite bite.

I’m not planning on becoming a Pub Reviewer, but I give this a thumbs up.

Just as I give Hartshead Pike a thumbs up, even if there is a sense of regret that I didn’t have time to explore more of it.

Although I did explore a lot of it.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER CANAL WALK

Wanting to try something different on my latest visit to Manchester, I headed for a canal walk at Sunset, to see what it was like.

My starting point was somewhere I had walked past a lot, but usually to make my way to Ancoats for some Street Art photos, Ducie Basin on Ducie Street.

Curious, I started wandering along to see where it led me. I’m always curious to explore places i’ve never been to before.

I had some time to kill, so why not?

Believe it or not, I do pay attention sometimes.

I didn’t know where I was, but I did see signs to say I was on Ashton Canal, and then Rochdale Canal. I also went past New Islington Metrolink Station.

This walk was time bound. Thirty minutes out (and then thirty minutes back obviously) and see where it takes me.

Between you and me, I was slightly over my time allocated, but when you’re enjoying yourself, rules can go out the window.

Dogs loved me, or so I thought.

Two of them were getting friendly with me.

I thought it was my camera that attracted them, but one Dog Walker suggested that it might have been the way my has were postured, that it gave the impression that I had biscuits.

Sadly, I had no biscuits.

There were lots of bridges on the route, which was nice.

It meant there was something to work with when I was taking photos, I could take photos of a bridge and from a bridge.

The walk had a strange juxtaposition of images, old and new Manchester.

Newly build skyscrapers on one side, with derelict factories on the other.

Not all of the factories were out of use, one of them was being used for a band rehearsing.

There was also fallen leaves lying around as the sun went down.

So much symbolic imagery.

As I walked along, I wondered would this lead me to Old Trafford?

That would have been handy as I could have done the walk again the following night.

Nope. It actually led me to the City Of Manchester Stadium.

Even though I wasn’t in need of it, it really perked me up, taking a chance on somewhere I hadn’t been before, combined with some spectacular views.

It just goes to show how good a lovely walk can be, even if it doesn’t take you where you want to go.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER STREET ART – OCTOBER 2022

Having been to Manchester many times, it can get a bit samey.

Not when it comes to Street Art, especially if you haven’t been in over a year.

However, I do know where to go, which helps.

As soon as I arrived, it was straight to Northern Quarter, Ancoats, Oldham Street and Tibb Street.

While I was in the middle of snap snap snapping away, there was a torrential rainstorm, which meant I had to seek refuge in Affleks.

Thankfully, it didn’t last all day, so I was straight back out.

When it wasn’t raining, the weather was quite nice, so I headed out and got as many photos as possible.

With the main areas completed, I remained on alert, in case I spotted some pieces, which I did, one around the back of Piccadilly, and then another on Oxford Street.

It was great to be back in Manchester again and getting snaps of Street Art the city had to offer, although I didn’t get a chance to snap some Street Art in Pomona Wharf.

Photo Album

Manchester Street Art – August 2021

Manchester Street Art – January 2020

Manchester Street Art – November 2019

Manchester Street Art – May 2019

Manchester Street Art – January 2019

Manchester Street Art – November 2018

Manchester Street Art – May 2018

Manchester Street Art – December 2017

Manchester Street Art – May 2017

Manchester Street Art – February 2017

Manchester Street Art – November 2016

Manchester Street Art – May 2016

Manchester Street Art – January 2016

Manchester Street Art – November 2015

Manchester Street Art – May 2015

JESMOND DENE

Now that we are able to travel, barring airline strikes, rail strikes or staff shortages, I now incorporate a walk or a trek into my travels, no matter where I go.

When I was in Newcastle, I decided to take in Jesmond Dene, based on the online research I did in advance of the trip.

Jesmond is what Jedward would have been called if Edward was called Desmond instead.

It wasn’t the easiest place to find, but I did manage to make my way back to Jesmond Metro Station without having to ask for directions.

I get the feeling it’s the kind of place that becomes easier to find the more you visit.

Trying to compare it, it is a lot like Colinton, on the basis that it is very flat, unlike Cregagh Glen.

The day I arrived, it was roasting and bright, which added to it, a really joyous walk through a wooded valley.

If you don’t believe me, the local dogs seemed to like it, going for a swim in the water before splashing some of it on me as they got out.

My visit was timebound due to spending most of the afternoon exploring Newcastle City Centre, twenty minute in which would obviously mean twenty minutes back.

That soon escalated to thirty minutes each way.

It was well worth it, and an enjoyable way to spend a Monday teatime.

Photo Album

NEWCASTLE/YORK/DURHAM

It wasn’t quite a last minute deal, more 80th minute or 85th minute if you want to use a football analogy.

I had some Annual Leave to use up, so booked a three day block Monday to Wednesday on the last week of the month, and then try to find somewhere to go.

That’s the third year in a row now, I think this might officially be a tradition.

In 2020, it was with the intention of basing myself in Bray to head to Dublin and try to blag a ticket for a Euro 2020 Last 16 match.

As we all know, we were all in Lockdown by this point. My hotel cancelled on me, not that there was any football to go to anyway, I was tempted to just go to Bray anyway but the decision was made for me.

Fast forward a year, and i’ll try again.

This time, Dublin lost it’s hosting rights for Euro 2021.

No football, no problem, I can still go to try for a relaxing break by the sea.

Except, my vaccination jab was scheduled for this week (I got a second date when I booked my first whether I wanted it or not) and there was no way out.

So, I rescheduled my Bray trip to August and went to North Down Coastal Walk and Blackhead Path, making the most of the warm weather.

2022, third time lucky for a late June trip to Bray?

And Bray Wanderers were playing a home match on the Monday night as well.

Not for £600 for two nights in a hotel. I decided to give that one a miss.

It’s like i’m destined never to go to Bray for a few days in late June, especially if it involves going to a football match.

So I looked around for a cheap deal, and got flights to Newcastle for £60 and a hotel in Newcastle Quays for £120 for two nights at two weeks notice.

I’d been looking at this trip for a while so why not go for it?

I could use Newcastle as a base to check out York (one hour away) and maybe sneak a trip to Durham (fifteen minutes away) while I was there, depending how things went.

It had been a while since I was in Newcastle, a couple of decades let’s just say. All I remember from the trip is being driven past St James Park and visiting Metro Centre.

Not much lead-in time, but still a lot of excitement as I headed to Belfast International Airport for the relatively civilised departure time of 9.55am, which was full of Culchies, reminding me why I usually travel at 7 or 8am.

Newcastle Airport was straightforward to navigate, straight onto a Metro system which has you in the City Centre in just over twenty minutes.

My hotel was in Newcastle Quays, which I assumed would be close to the City Centre.

It was, ish, but not as close as I hoped it would be.

If I ever do visit Newcastle again, i’ll definitely look for somewhere closer to Central Station.

Despite the not ideal location, the hotel room had a bath.

When you live in a house that only has a shower, this feels like a luxury.

I wasn’t going to spend three days in the bath, Newcastle needed exploring, off I went into the City Centre, taking in Eldon Square.

The highlight for me, was Grainger Market. I absolutely loved it.

No matter where I turned, I seemed to stumble into some independent store I absolutely loved.

Stumbling into things seemed to be a bit of a theme.

I went walking and saw a sign for a shop called Back Page Football.

I’d seen this online and wanted to visit it.

I wasn’t looking for it but was happy to stumble upon it.

It is a football shop. Everything you want, shirts, books, DVDs, programmes, etc.

I found it a bit pricey, especially the programmes, so I left it, but it was nice to have a browse.

From there, I could see St James Park, so it was rude not to have a look.

There was a crowd of people there to welcome Sven Botman, who was rumoured to be signing for Newcastle.

He eventually signed on the Friday night. I hope they weren’t camping out for four days.

From there, it was back on the Metro to visit Jesmond Dene.

As a result of Lockdown I, i’ve gotten really into Hillwalks and Forest Walks.

Now, when I travel somewhere, I make an effort to go for such a stroll.

Making use of the internet, I settled on Jesmond Dene for my stroll.

Not really a hill, but a flat woodland area with some great views and photo opportunities, similar to Colinton.

It’s not the easiest place to find, very little signposting from Jesmond Metro Station, although I found my way back no problem.

One of those places where it becomes easier to find the more times you go.

When I did get there, it was worth it, taking in my surroundings.

There were quite a few doggies going for swims, some of whom splashed me when they were drying themselves.

By the time I arrived, it was teatime, so my visit was going to be timebound a I would need to get back to Jesmond Metro Station, have something to eat and get a bit of rest in my hotel room.

I had planned for twenty minutes out and then, obviously, twenty minutes back.

That escalated to thirty out and then thirty back. I was glad I did.

I did intend of sitting in my hotel room watching TV and not moving, but with it still bright and being right beside Gateshead Millennium Bridge, I decided to head out and hope to get some sunset photos of Tyneside.

The photos were not, I didn’t get the red skies I was hoping for though.

Tuesday was set aside for a day trip to York. It would have been rude not to as it was only an hour away, especially as I had never been to York before.

Newcastle and York having done Edinburgh and Glasgow the previous month, you probably think i’m trying to work my way along the East Coast Mainline.

Doncaster next then.

What did shock me was the price of the train, over £30 for two one hour journeys.

I was probably a bit naive not to book online. It’s a cultural thing. I’m so used to just walking up and purchasing a ticket.

The thing is, I didn’t want to commit to a timeslot. I might have wanted a lie-in on the Tuesday, or I might have fancied a bit of time in Newcastle City Centre before heading to York.

I’m just flabbergasted by over £30 for travelling the distance between Belfast and Ballymena.

Train travel in England is a totally different experience.

Once you see a Burger King on a platform, Great Victoria Street isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Compare the two main stations to any city in England and you start to feel embarrassed.

There are even pubs at train stations.

Some people wouldn’t make it to the platform for Coleraine away if they had that in Northern Ireland.

I headed straight to York Walls when I arrived in York.

To be honest, I found York Walls to be a bit underwhelming.

At least Derry’s Walls, you can see most of the city.

York’s offering was not as spectacular.

Having realised I would just be walking around in a circle, I decided to get off and take in the delights of York City Centre, starting with The Shambles.

As well as The Shambles, I also took in Bootham Bar and Goodramgate.

York as a city is very pricey. It feels like most shops you go into, are designed too get as many pennies as they could out of Tourists, of which there was a lot.

The place was rammed, which surprised me as it was a Tuesday.

Nothing big happens on a Tuesday, I thought it would be off-peak.

Nope, the city was rammed with busloads at both ends of the age scale, Pensioners on coach trips and Schoolkids on school trips.

I’m sure the Schoolkids will have enjoyed the Museum Of Chocolate. Yes, an actual thing.

Yorkie is named after the city, which is also the birthplace of Kitkat.

As a result, York refers to itself as The City Of Chocolate.

And now you’re dreaming of an actual City Of Chocolate, like Homer in that episode of The Simpsons when Springfield Power Plant gets sold to a German company.

Despite the pricey nature of a lot of the shops and attractions, I definitely would go back to York.

Tempted to make a weekend of it, use it as a base to explore North Yorkshire such as North York Moor and Dalby Forest, as well as doing some of the things I didn’t get a chance to do in York due to only having one day to visit, such as walking the canal and going on a boat trip along the canal. Or finish of walking along York Walls.

And, of course, a trip to a match at the LNER Stadium, if there was one on.

The problem is, York isn’t the easiest place to get to from Northern Ireland.

It doesn’t have an airport, so you have to fly somewhere else and then make your way to a train station from there.

Manchester Airport has a direct train service, but that is two hours away.

It looks like the best bet would be to fly to Newcastle, get the Metro into Newcastle City Centre and get a train from there.

I’m genuinely surprised there isn’t a direct bus service from Newcastle, Doncaster/Sheffield or Leeds/Bradford.

After a lovely day of weather, it got dull and dark when I arrived back in Newcastle, so there would be no trying to get sunset photos for a second successive night.

Wednesday would be my last day, so I decided to turn my double header into a triple header by heading to Durham.

It was only fifteen minutes away, so why not?

Although £8 for thirty minutes on a train seemed a bit excessive.

I got off the train and headed down the hill to the City Centre and had a choice, left or right.

Right won, and it led me up a street full of charity shops. Naturally I had a look.

I even scooped a bargain, a Radio 1 25th Anniversary mug for £3.

From there, I headed to Wharton Park, which was a nice walk, very green and serene.

I couldn’t help but think i’d made the wrong decision, so I headed back to see what would have awaited me if if I had taken the option to go left.

From there, I headed to Walkergate and Durham Market, a very enjoyable stroll.

If I was hoping things would be a bit quieter after York the day before, I picked a bad day as the city was packed due to graduation ceremonies.

I’d managed to wrap up Durham in a morning, which was handy as I headed back to Newcastle at lunchtime, so I could take in a final bit of the city before getting ready to head to Newcastle Airport.

I was toying with the idea of going to Gateshead International Stadium (it has a Metro Stop beside it) during my final hours on Tyneside.

It would have been rude not to visit a football ground that was easy to get to, but I didn’t have the time.

I was also tempted to visit Barnard Castle, but my eyesight was perfectly fine, so I didn’t need to.

So, it was time to head from, from Newcastle Airport, which is possibly the shittest airport i’ve ever been to.

An impressive achievement considering i’m a regular user of Manchester Airport.

Where do you start?

Lack of seats, lack of shops, vending machines that don’t give change.

It didn’t even have a Water Refill Station that I had become used to at LNER’s Hubs at Newcastle, York and Durham.

And to top it off, I got stung for £24 when boarding because the wheels on my suitcase were deemed to make it too big for cabin baggage.

Despite the fact it didn’t happen in Belfast, or indeed any other time i’ve brought the bag onto the plane.

To make things worse, it was the smallest bag on the carousel when I went to pick it up.

The delay caused by having to collect my baggage meant I narrowly missed a bus and had to wait over twenty minutes for the next one.

A bit of a shit end to an otherwise enjoyable trip.

I definitely do plan on taking in Newcastle and York again, more likely York.

St James Park Photo Album

Tyneside Sunsets Photo Album

York Walls Photo Album

Wharton Park Photo Album

Durham Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August’s football watching began with Linfield in Europe. Yay, but not for long after defeat to Fola Esch.

The following week, I was at Old Trafford for the first time since January 2020 to see United take on Leeds.

Finally, the new Irish League season began at the end of the month, with Linfield taking on Crusaders.

Linfield v Fola Esch

Manchester United v Leeds United

Manchester United v Leeds United Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

2021 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, while I was there, I took the opportunity to check out Street Art. Might as well, seeing as it was my first time there in two years.

Later that week, I did something else I hadn’t done for a long time. Not as long, just over eighteen months. I am of course referring to going to a concert, in this case, Lightning Seeds at The Limelight.

That was then followed by two road trips for Linfield away games, to Portadown and Crusaders.

Sandwiched inbetween that was another road trip, this time to Ards to get some Street Art photos, with a recent event having taken place.

It was a month of doing things I hadn’t done for a while. This time, going on a flight.

The destination was Gatwick, but not to go to London, but Brighton instead.

So many photo adventures, where to start?

Street Art in Brighton, of course. Also, a walk along Beachy Head, OMD in concert, and some sunsets while I was in Brighton.

Back home, a return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville.

Two days later, I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans in concert.

The month ended with Linfield matches against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Ards Street Art

Ards Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Brighton Street Art

Brighton Street Art Photo Album

Beachy Head

Beachy Head Photo Album

OMD live at Brighton Centre

OMD live at Brighton Centre Photo Album

Brighton Sunset

Brighton Sunset Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

2021 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August is usually a busy month. It didn’t have a trip to Edinburgh as usual, but it did have a trip to Manchester to see United take on Leeds, and of course, get some Street Art pictures.

The week before that, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Fola Esch in the Euro Conference League. The less said about that the better.

Towards the end of the month, I took in another trip, this time to County Wicklow, getting pictures of the Bray To Greystones Walk, Bray Head, Bray Harbour and of Street Art in Dun Laoghaire.

On the final Saturday of the month, I was back in Irish League watching mode, seeing Linfield take on Crusaders at Windsor Park on the opening day of the season.

Linfield v Fola Esch

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Leeds United

Manchester United v Leeds United Photo Album

Bray To Greystones Walk

Bray To Greystones Walk Photo Album

Bray Head

Bray Head

Bray Head Photo Album

Bray Harbour

Bray Harbour Photo Album

Dun Laoghaire Street Art

Dun Laoghaire Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders