Archive for April, 2009

In which they encounter a bunny waiting for a tram

by Marie

We weren’t really zedding when this happened but we thought you would enjoy it, dear readers.

We were coming out of the Lowry Theatre, having watched His Dark Materials which was really very good.

I always feel strange leaving the Lowry. It is the job of theatres and cinemas to transport you to other worlds and I always get a little jolt when I return to the normality of the busy streets. The Lowry, itself looking like it has landed from space, spits you out onto Salford Quays, a weird slightly sterile environment with futuristic buildings and few signs of human habitation. It’s a place that that has been designed but not yet lived in.

We walked over the ship bridge, remarking that the lower decks would be a great place to launch a remote controlled boat. Ship bridge? I hear you ask. Well this isn’t the point of the story but it is a pleasing diversion: The Detroit Bridge’s original home and function was to allow rail access to Trafford Park but was moved to it’s present location 1988. The move required its flotation down the canal by pontoons and this required its registration as a ship. This enables me to to be factually correct when I tell people, “this bridge, it’s a ship, this bridge is” and it pleases me to do so.

big mechano set ship bridge ship bridge bridge deck

We arrived at the tram stop with time to think about running for the tram but didn’t (as my knee is still sore from last week’s urban adventure). It was going to Special, anyway and we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go to special. Many trams in the city centre are going to special these days which is fair enough but didn’t help my feeling that I wasn’t quite back in my own world yet.

Waiting on the tram platform, I saw a small dark shape scampering across the road, I pointed. “An animal of some sort, a rabbit or a rat or something”
“Rabbit!” Liam scoffed “far more likely to be a rat”
“Suppose” I said shrugging, What’s the statistic, never more than 10 feet from a rat in the city “…still there tho, see that dark shape”
“Shall I sneak up on it?” Liam wondered. I encouraged this and kept watch for the tram.
Moments later Liam is back pointing and gesturing enthusiastically. “did you see that, did you see that?”
I hesitate, not wanting to admit I’d been too busy thinking how sad the play was, to watch him sneak up on a rodent.
“Wabbit!” he announces incredulously. “A wabbit! What’s it doing round here? it was quite a nonchalant rabbit, let me get quite close but then ran off. Wabbit”

We sit and wait for the tram discussing where our furry friend might be living in the urban moonscape that is Salford Quays. “They like sandy soil to burrow in, there’s nowhere round here that’s rabbit friendly. What on earth made you think it was a rabbit from first glance?”
“it just had a.. dunno..sort of… wabbitty.. way of moving.” I finish feebly before jumping up. “there it is!”

We both creep away from the tram stop, me trying to get my cameraphone to come back on. Night mode, cameraphone, don’t make me laugh. Can’t take a pic of a rabbit when it is sat a metre away from you, twitching its ears, nonchalantly eating the grass that grows between tram tracks. Eating the grass that grows in between tram tracks! is there no better place for you to live, my furry friend? Our wabbit scampers off under a gate and sits beside a fence watching us watching it for quite a while. We worry in case our wabbit is someone’s escaped pet but we conclude that from it small size and leanness it looks less like a hutch dwelling wabbit and more like an urban – live by its wits – sort of a wabbit. Eventually it disappears into some wastleland – wasteland we had already observed someone had gone to trouble of fencing in and putting electric wiring on the top of the fence. Maybe it’s just really important we leave the rabbits alone.

We sit and discuss whether wabbits normally live in urban areas and whether anyone will believe us. Liam says he is going to google “urban rabbit” when he gets in. “You are going to find a myspace account belonging to hairy young men making nasty noises with guitars, I fear” Some lights appear. “Here’s our twam” announces Liam and I wonder how long before the bunnification of our speech patterns will wear off.

Back on the internet. I’m no wiser about whether it’s common for rabbits to live in urban areas, except they do hang about by the Arc de Triomphe, they live on roundabouts in Gloucestershire and they burrow under bookshops in inverness

I think you will agree, this is not the most bunny friendly sort of place:

harbour-city

The events in this post take place on page 93. Bunnies can be spotted and trams caught from square F5, the lowry can be visited in square E6

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April 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm 3 comments

In which they walk halfway across Manchester in the dark

By Liam

Since we started this weird hobby, we keep discovering new and exciting psychogeographical alleys to wander up. Manchester seems to be strangely full of people doing this stuff. So the latest new adventure was Urban Earth. The idea is to have people walk across big urban areas, taking a photo every eight paces and then stitching them all together into a big video montage of the journey. The routes are planned by some clever computer algorithm thing so that they take in a representative mix of the city’s affluence and deprivation. It’s all a bit strange and we approve.

So this last weekend, a bunch of people got together at teatime on Saturday on the North edge of Manchester, and walked across the city through the night, aiming to arrive near the airport in the South at sunrise on Saturday.  We joined in, but we were both a bit too lazy to do the whole thing. Marie made it to Blackley – very near Boggart Hole Clough – and I made it to the city centre, before leaving them to it.

It was a very interesting and different experience. Our fellow walkers were all lovely. The route took us through lots of quiet residential areas and strange alleys, even less likely places to visit than we would normally choose. The demands of taking a photo every eight paces and working to a schedule meant that we were moving along very briskly, rather than drifting whimsically wherever we fancied.

The really striking thing was the way people reacted. You’d have thought it wouldn’t be that unusual for a bunch of people to wander through the city streets on an evening, carrying rucksacks and reading a map. But we attracted crowds of kids and loads of people asking what we were doing. It was fun to tell them we were heading for the airport, but I particularly enjoyed telling little kids that we were going on an adventure.

It really brought home the fact that cities expect and enforce certain, limited behaviours and routines. Do something even slightly out of the ordinary, and you attract attention and discover exciting new things.

We can’t really do our usual meandering zedding report this time, but here are some statistics we gathered for your delectation, and the best of the photos I took. (You can see all our photos on Flickr.)

Angry dogs – 6
Derelict mills – 4
Curious children – too many to count

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Start of the walk at Shaw

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Subways

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Chimney with frill

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What does an abstract building look like, and what kind of services does it need?

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Manchester Sunset

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Walking over the motorway requires a cage

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This made everyone giggle for some reason

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Wonder what was happening in these warehouses at 11pm that required such bright lights?

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Manchester Fort looked eerie and empty, but my wobbly hands and camera night mode have changed it into something else altogether

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Why?

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While I was taking this photo, a talking lamppost warned me to beware of car thieves. Scared the bejesus out of me

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Reflections in the centre of the city

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They scare me. The one on the left is smuggling peanuts and the one on the right is wilting

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Fire exit? Where? Is this Torchwood or something?

Check out the Urban Earth ning for photos and videos from other people who were there!

Vital statistics
Map: URBAN EARTH: MANCHESTER
Location: From Shaw& Crompton station to Deansgate
Date zedded: 18 April 2009
A to Z: (approximately) page 57 squares 1F, 1G, 1H, 2E; page 56 squares 3D, 4C, 5C, 5B, 6B, 6A; page 55 squares 6H, 6G; page 71 squares 1F, 1E; page 70 squares 1D, 2C, 3B, 4B, 4A; page 69 squares 4H, 5H, 5G, 6G, 6F; page 83 squares 1F, 2F, 3E, 4E; page 82 squares 4D, 5D, 6D, 6C; page 95 squares 1E, 2E, 3E; page 94 squares 3D, 4D
Getting there: train from Victoria station
Squares this expedition: 37!
Running total: 83

April 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm Leave a comment

Fifteen minutes of fame?

Sitting at home recovering from doing half of Manchester Sunrise (proper blog about that later in the week), and found out to my delight that we’ve made it into the pages of the New Statesman. Looks like we’ll get a mention in a book too.

I particularly like this comment about online psychogeographers: ‘these bloggers tend to be collaborative and tentative, more willing to explore mundanity for its own sake. For them, the city does not yield up its psychogeographic secrets readily; sometimes a bus shelter is just a bus shelter, not a site of ancient or occult significance.’ 

Amen to that.

Liam

April 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm Leave a comment


Running Total

135 squares

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