Manchester attitude

By Liam

‘If it stopped banging on about its football teams and its bands and its shops and its attitude, Manchester has something that it can be genuinely, enormously proud of, something that it should shout from the rooftops. Manchester changed the world’s politics: from vegetarianism to feminism to trade unionism to communism, every upstart notion that ever got ideas above its station, every snotty street-fighter of a radical philosophy, was fostered brawling in Manchester’s streets, mills, pubs, churches and debating halls.’

– Stuart Maconie, Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North

Marie gave me this book as she wasn’t very impressed with it. It has its moments though.

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September 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm 1 comment

Meeting Manchester bloggers

Last night Liam and I enjoyed meeting lots of lovely people at a Manchester blogmeet. There was a moment when we wondered how one identified bloggers in a bar, what would bloggers look like? We tried the basement…ah ha..bloggers wear labels! We were warmly welcomed to the event by Kate from Manchizzle who gave us sticky labels of our own.

We met people from Forever Manchester (I like their badges) and Ray from Manchesterwide who had said Hello to us online previously.

We met Parklover, who has a lovely blog, she recognised me from our pictures of our ditch zedding which was bit weird for me, not sure how I’d cope with the dizzy heights of fame.

We enjoyed meeting Gill and I loved hearing about her bench project while Liam met Ben, another Midlander who had ended up in the Rainy city.

Mindy has very nicely linked to us in her blog about the event

We met Richard from The Asparagus who does not blog about vegetables, but about foreign affairs. I might add he does so very readably, since I spent a while not reading about Asparagus as I ate my crunchy nut cornflakes this morning.

We didn’t get a chance to meet myshittytwenties but I love her blog.

September 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm 12 comments

In which they go searching for a ditch

By Liam, because Marie has been working for 125 hours and isn’t up to typing

Running across a big stretch of South Manchester is a very, very long ditch. Legend (and Wikipedia) has it that the Nico Ditch, or Mickle Ditch, was dug in one night, by men who were forced to dig it at swordpoint. They were protecting Manchester from the Danes, who apparently lived in Stockport. South of Manchester. Vikings. Don’t ask us, it’s a legend. Each man had to dig a ditch and build a wall his own height. Marie reckons this must have made the wall pretty wonky in places. Then they had a whacking big fight, which apparently gave the areas of Gorton and Reddish their names (Gore-town and Red-ditch, geddit?)

Spoilsports – sorry, archaeologists – suggest that it’s highly unlikely that it was built in one night, given that Manchester didn’t have so many people in it then and it’s a very long ditch. And Gorton means ‘dirty farmstead’ and Reddish means ‘reedy ditch’, nothing to do with blood or killing. And the ditch isn’t V-shaped like a fortification, but U-shaped like a boundary ditch. Which still begs the question – why did they need such a definite six-mile boundary? They must really not have liked those Stockport Vikings.

We have become so knowledgeable about ditches, fighting and etymology because at the Word of Mouth storytelling event recently, Marie heard the story of the ditch. So obviously, she came back and asked me if I wanted to go looking for a really old ditch. And obviously, I agreed.

Some of the ditch is now under our old friends the Audenshaw Reservoirs. Some of it runs through Denton golf course, which might have been a bit of fun trespassing but a bit dull otherwise. So we decided to visit the bit that’s in Platt Fields Park.

Now, I’ve gone running in Platt Fields Park in all weathers, and never seen anything resembling a millennium-old ditch. Admittedly I hadn’t been searching for one, but still. So we set off to explore the park as thoroughly as we could.

We realise that this is a bit cheaty, since the ditch actually isn’t shown in the A to Z – although we knew it had to be in squares G5 or G6 on page 109. We did a bit of soul-searching about whether this was a proper zedding, and decided that we’re the Manchester Zedders, dammit, the trespassers extraordinaire, and we make the rules.

We did intent to navigate the park using the A to Z – it shows the paths and the lake and everything. But when we got there, we found the park had such abundant signage and mappage that we didn’t need the A to Z at all. Naughty!

The first thing we saw was some roses and a fountain that belonged to the Queen. Something to do with the Jubilee. The Queen doesn’t seem to care about her fountain much, as it’s run dry. The roses were nice though:

The Queen's roses

Then I insisted that we go and see the ‘Veterans’ Pavilion’. We imagined this would be some phallic war memorial thing. Instead, it was a grubby hut/church hall which appeared to have lost its bowling green. Dusty, neglected and locked up. With plaques on the wall inside proclaiming former victories of the bowling club.

I have to say this confirmed my pacifism. I don’t want to risk my life for Queen and country if that’s all you get when you get home.

I’m afraid we didn’t get any photos of the Pavilion because there were some boys smoking just outside and we didn’t want to make them nervous. Or angry or violent. We do seem to spend a certain amount of our zedding time worrying about the risk of violence from teenage boys. Probably unnecessarily.

After the Pavilion we found a load of strange berries. I had a vague recollection of doing something gross with similar berries as a child, and felt compelled to investigate them. We can report that whatever these berries are, they do burst almost exactly like zits. Eewwwww.

weird disgusting berries

Then there was a pretty avenue. Very Victorian/Edwardian feeling. We wanted to promenade down it wearing bustles and top hats.

nice avenue

As we progressed, we found a series of bright yellow arrows. They were very cheerful and they were clearly encouraging us to go somewhere, but we weren’t sure how. Or where.

arrow Where? more confusing arrows
The mind is willing, but the flesh is earthbound.

Later on, we discovered that the arrows were indeed cheerful and inspirational. They mark the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile. Later research establishes that Sri Chinmoy was a guru who died in 2007, and he was a dude. As well as preaching world peace and spiritual enlightenment, he lifted light aeroplanes, and practised long-distance running as a form of meditation. One of his followers went up and down Mount Fujiyama on a pogo-stick (and up and down, and up and down). So there are Peace Miles in his memory for people to run or walk on, in cities all over the world. We walked most of this one in our search for the elusive ditch.

peace mile

There were signs telling us not to feed the geese and ducks, because then they would poo too much and algae would make the lake all disgusting and poisonous. But we were more concerned about the frankly terrifying goose in the sign:

sinister goose

We are a bit afraid of geese.

Beyond the lake there was a nice, but sadly neglected, eco-garden for kids. This was a good excuse for me to arse about a bit:

the sensory gardens scary bird garden a nice path Marie on a sofa mini beasties

We particularly liked Wigglit the Worm:

wigglit the worm wigglit

There was a well-intentioned oven meant for baking pizzas. It had, of course, been used to burn Pepsi cans and crisp packets:

an oven for making pizza in

This plant had spikes on its spikes:

liam contemplates a spikey thing spikey thing

Next. we went off on a side-quest. We saw a sign saying that somewhere, we should be able to find a ‘teenage village’. I was keen to see what this could mean, although Marie insisted it would be like something out of Lord of the Flies. It turned out that the clever park people had noticed how teenagers like to hang around kids’ playgrounds in the evenings, perching on the roundabouts and drinking cider and copping off with one another. So they’d built the teenagers their own special climbing frame thingy, with little huts to gossip and flirt in, and platforms to show off on and impress girls.

Ironically, when we got there, the only user of the teenage village was a dad, playing on it with a little toddler. A kind of revenge/reversal?

Then, finally, we located the Mickle Ditch. Hurray! The bit in Platt Fields is not only a very old hole in the ground. Oh no. It’s a Scheduled Ancient Monument:

Mickle Ditch

It was fenced in, and I was all geared up for some trespassing. But then we found there was a gate to get in, and it was unlocked! This was a bit disappointing, but I dived in regardless. And got a nasty surprise. While Marie tried to photograph me standing in the old ditch, I discovered I was sinking rather rapidly, and had to scramble free in a rather blurry fashion:

the ditch Liam in the ditch

I can report that thousand-year-old ditches are full of really sticky mud:

ditch mud on Liam's shoes.
This never happens to Doctor Who when he wears these shoes.

Next, we went to the Shakespearean gardens, where there were some boys smoking weed:

shakespeare

Not sure why these gardens are Shakespearean rather than Elizabethan. Maybe something dramatic happened here. Actually, according to the A to Z, there should have been a bowling green here. Perhaps there was some high drama or tragedy involving the gardens, the veterans and their pavilion?

Just past the gardens was something described by the signs as a ‘cathedral arch’. It was indeed impressive:

mystery arch

We liked the fact that we couldn’t get past the fence to go through the arch, so whatever lies beyond remains a mystery. Even more of a mystery because the little sign, that should have told us what a cathedral arch is doing in the middle of a park, had been pretty comprehensively burned and vandalised. Post-zedding web searches haven’t helped a great deal, but it appears some wealthy toff pinched or bought a spare bit of Manchester Cathedral, perhaps in the 1870s, to display as a folly on his land.

Before leaving, we had hoped to drop in on the squatters who occupied Platt Chapel earlier this year, and see what leftfield/anarchist/artistic stuff might be going on. Unfortunately, it appears they’ve moved on or been evicted, taking their T-shirt factory with them:

neglected squat out of business

There was a last, dry, bit of Mickle Ditch for me to stand in, though, so I was happy:

Liam in a ditch

Vital statistics
Map:

Location: Platt Fields Park, Fallowfield

Date zedded: 12 August 2009

A to Z: Page 109 squares F5, G5, F6, G6, H6

Target square: G6

Getting there: Catch one of the multitude of 42, 142 or 143 buses down the Oxford Road. But be prepared for a long, bumpy, slow ride down the Curry Mile.

Squares this expedition: 5

Running total: 126

September 10, 2009 at 9:37 pm 1 comment

Iain Sinclair

By Liam

Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair

The writer and film-maker Iain Sinclair is, like us, a fan of walking in cities. With books like London Orbital, he’s brought a literary kind of  psychogeography to a wide audience. (Although he’s uncomfortable with the term psychogeography – he’s talked instead about ‘deep topographies’, which is a lovely idea – exploring the shapes and patterns hidden beneath what we can see.)

Anyway, we’ve had a couple of chances recently to hear more about his work. Firstly, he  came and explored Manchester. For a special feature in Corridor 8 magazine, he did a walk from Urbis to the airport – covering some of the same ground as the Manchester Sunrise walk we took part in. You can now download an MP3 and printable guide from the Urbis website – Listening for the Corncrake – and do the same walk he did. I particularly like the fact that there’s a children’s version of the map, with psychogeographical colouring activities.

I got to go along to the launch of the magazine and hear him talk about the walk, which was great. A different kind of approach from ours, laden with references to art, history and literature. As a Brummie who’s enjoying getting to know Manchester, it was good to hear another outsider’s view. (Sinclair is very strongly associated with London, particularly Hackney where he’s lived for decades.) And a lot of Manchester’s other urban ramblers were there in the audience too.

Then Marie and I both got to see him at the Greenbelt festival, in conversation with John Davies, the vicar who walked the M62. (There was a nice psychogeographical theme at the festival – Jon Bounds gave a couple of talks on why Birmingham isn’t shit and the 11:11:11 psychogeographical bus journey. We enjoyed his celebration of the crap, the mundane and the everyday.)

The conversation was really interesting, picking up strongly on the ways that walking and exploring can be a spiritual, transcendental experience. In a nice contrast with our attempts to get lost in new places, Sinclair does the same walk through the area around his home every day. He had some interesting things to say about it:

‘Simply by doing exactly the same walk every day my radar bumping off things confirms my own identity, and if something’s changed then I change with it. And also your whole body, all the molecules, are shaken up a little and doing that same walk every single day, quite briskly, really does clear my head, allows the night’s dreams and things to settle, prepares you for the writing of the day, and so in a sense I do regard it as a kind of walking meditation, as a kind of reconnection with London in every sense. Practically it might be thought to be be boring because you’re seeing the same thing every day but actually it is the everyday becoming transcendent in a very simple way.’

Good stuff. You can download the conversation from the Greenbelt website (together with another talk he gave about London Orbital), and it’s certainly inspired me to go away and read some of his books.

September 9, 2009 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

Manchester-themed graffiti

A lovely piece of Manchester-related graffiti and also a description of zedding:

Image007

August 6, 2009 at 7:30 am 6 comments

In which they discover some sandcastles, a hammer and a cheese bridge in Eccles

By Liam

Marie has long harboured a rather unusual desire to visit Eccles. A group rather charmingly called Freccles have erected a sign at Eccles station saying ‘Discover Eccles past, present and future’. This goads and challenges her every time she goes through on the train. I think she was spurred on further by the discovery that Dr Christopher Eccleston himself unveiled the sign.

So. We set off to discover Eccles in all three tenses. After a false start due to all the trams being cancelled for a month, we grudgingly got the bus. We were expecting Eccles to be the kind of place you should get to by tram. Freccles, of course, would tell us we should have got the train.

The first thing that struck us as we got off the bus was the ubiquitous smell of baking bread. Assiduous Googling has failed to uncover any explanation for why Eccles smells of yeast, so it must remain a mystery. Unless someone wants to tell us – answers on a postcard please.

Despite the enticing smell and the lovely invitation from Freccles, Eccles past, present and future was playing a bit hard to get. Nothing grabbed us immediately as we wandered around the shops.

Pub: Eccles past

Pub: Eccles past

Library past and future

We saw a cross with a plaque and hoped it might have some historical interest. But the plaque had been written by someone with a greater concern for pinpoint geographical accuracy than local history or folklore:

This cross used to be somewhere else

Well, that’s good to know. Just a shame we hadn’t brought a compass, or we could have gone and looked at the spot where the cross used to be but now wasn’t.

Shortly after the cross, we were distracted by a loud and insistent quacking. Many people would have ignored this, but we pursued it to its source. Which turned out to be a CCTV camera. We tried to video this so that we could demonstrate the quacking to you, but it didn’t work so you’ll have to take our word for it. Quacking. We can only assume it was unhappy about something, but we couldn’t work out what, so we left it to its quacking and pressed on.

Quacking camera

Being a little unsure what delights Eccles would have to offer us, we had assembled a shopping list of sites to visit, including a couple of requests. We like requests, and we haven’t had a proper one since Liz and page 39, so this was very exciting. If you have a curiosity in your district and no one else cares, and if you can find us, maybe you could invite us to come and look at it then burble whimsically about it.

Number one request came from Marie’s friend Julie from Knit Club. (Knit Club rule no 1: We do not talk about Knit Club. Or I don’t, anyway.) Julie passes two things every day on her way to work which appear to be giant sandcastles. She wished an explanation.

It took us some time to find them, but zedders cannot be foiled so easily. Here they are:

Sandcastles

Some mild trespassing into a church car park established that these are not, in fact, huge sandcastles. No, they are a grotto to the Virgin Mary in a priest’s garden!

Grotto

I’m not sure whether or not this is stranger than the giant sandcastles theory. We were particularly fascinated by the weird white figure or object at Mary’s feet. From this distance, it looked vaguely like a piglet. Clearly some obscure bit of church lore neither of us had come across before. I should note at this point that I restrained Marie from scaling the spiky fence to get a better photo. I’m getting better at trespassing, but raiding priests’ gardens in broad daylight is still a step too far for me.

On the way to our second request, we were distracted by some local points of interest:

Dolphin Stairlifts
For the dolphin who has everything…

Yay for chains!
These children are clearly saying ‘Yay for chains!’

Police station flats
I’d feel a bit strange living here, no matter that it’s now posh flats.

Chimney
Beautifully Lancashire skyline. That’s what we expected from Eccles.

Request number two also came from Knit Club. The knitter in question wanted to know why a large, and apparently historically significant, piece of machinery was displayed on the edge of a lorry park up a side street in suburban Eccles.

Well, we found the machine, and it is impressive:

Steam hammer

Post-zedding research established that it’s actually an example of the world’s first ever steam hammer, invented by Mr James Nasmyth.

Mr Nasmyth was challenged, a bit like us. Some people are challenged to find sandcastles, some people are challenged to invent big hammers that power Industrial Revolutions. We all have our contributions to make.

He invented his hammer so that they could forge the bits to make the SS Great Britain in the 1830s and 40s. Apparently, none of the existing hammers could lift up high enough to bash what needed bashing. Enter Mr Nasmyth. And for his pains, he now has several streets named after him in Eccles, and his machine displayed on the edge of a lorry park.

Well done, Mr Nasmyth!

Our final destination was also somewhat industrial. We had to walk down a canal to get there, which turned out to be the prettiest bit of Eccles so far:

Canal Narrowboat

We walked past a lot of men and boys fishing on the towpath. This prompted some discussion about hobbies. I have a friend who goes scuba-diving, and I always tell him I don’t like hobbies where the phrase ‘You might die’ must be used when describing them. I have now added  a second undesirable hobby-phrase: ‘You have to carry a box of maggots’.

Zedding. You probably won’t die, and it doesn’t involve any maggots.

After the canal, we struck off the beaten track in search of our destination. We saw these mysterious runes on the stones of a bridge:

Runes

I reckon Dwarves built it.

Then we got lost in what appeared to be a mangrove swamp. A mangrove swamp full of shopping trolleys, with a man drinking super-strength lager in a little grotto at the end. Perhaps he was a lager pixie.

Trolley Liam and trolley

Eventually, we got sight of our target: the cheese bridge. Otherwise known as the Barton Swing Aqueduct. This was designed by James Brindley, beloved of Birmngham. (I was very disappointed to learn on researching this blog that Mr Brindley wasn’t a Brummie at all.) When a Parliamentary Committee asked James some awkward questions about his plans for how two canals would cross over, he didn’t hesitate. He just called for a cheese and built a working model there and then.

It’s very clever. It closes in all the water with doors at each end, then swivels the big box of water around to make room for tall ships to go past. It is, however, not used very much now, and very very difficult to get to.

We got a nice glimpse of it from the road bridge further down the road – and also of the M60 crossing the Ship Canal in the other direction.

M60 bridge

We then had to scramble up a dirty alleyway to a derelict house, into a dead end, and round a corner, before finally emerging near the bridge.

Derelict house

Someone had obviously thought it would be nice to put a pretty pagoda and a picnic spot by this marvel of engineering. But that’s all gone the way of so many well-intentioned regeneration projects, and become a place for teenagers to drink cheap cider and break glass stuff:

Pagoda

The bridge was still there, though – complete with cranes to lower its special doors into place – and we even saw a barge go over it:

Swing Aqueduct

Swing Aqueduct

Door for Swing Aqueduct

Boat on bridge

While scrabbling around the scary alleys, we’d bumped into a man who turned out to be, not a murderous drug addict, but a bridge enthusiast with a very posh camera. So we got to share this sight with someone else. It doesn’t seem to be a sight many people are bothered with any more. Poor James and his cheese.

On the way back, we nearly got the chance to trespass into this impressive tower:

Tower

A workman left the gate open, but we chickened out of going in because he might have shouted at us. Shame on us!

So we made our way back to the shops, and went in search of a baker that would sell us Eccles cake, because it would seem wrong not to eat some as long as we were here.

During our search, we found a shop that sold a range of astonishingly tacky Catholic iconography – and cookers and fans:

Our Lady of the cookers

Jesus with a jewel in his cross

Cyber Last Supper and giant rosaries

It may not be clear from the scale of the photo, but those are the Biggest Rosaries In The World. They’re probably only ever bought by giant mutant nuns.

We also found a battered old mural. It’s called ‘Eccles Wakes!’ but I think it may have gone back to sleep:

Eccles Wakes

Alas, we had left it too late to buy Eccles cakes from the baker, and they’d sold out. So we went to Morrisons and bought them there instead. Doesn’t feel quite the same somehow. We brought them home and ate them while writing this. I can report that an Eccles cake is very like a pasty filled with Christmas pudding. Genius.

Vital statistics

Map:

Location: Eccles past, present and future (but mainly present)

Date zedded: 4 August 2009

A to Z: Page 91 squares H3, H4, G3, G4, F3, F4. E4, E3, E5, F5

Target square: F5

Getting there: There should be a tram but there wasn’t. We caught the number 33 bus from Piccadilly Gardens instead. Or you could go via Eccles railway station and look at Christopher Eccleston’s lovely mural. Freccles would like that.

Squares this expedition: 10

Running total: 121

August 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm 7 comments

In which they stand in the middle of a reservoir

By Marie

It was a drizzly Sunday afternoon, ideal weather for standing in the middle of a reservoir. Our destination, as regular readers will know, was this:

sc0005d0d4

We should perhaps say at this point that we didn’t know whether it was possible to get there, and google earthing beforehand is anathema to us. Liam disapproves of all pre-zedding research where I quite like it. On this occasion we met each other half way, metaphorically speaking, in Fairfield. When we were checking our route I discovered it would take us to a ye olde worlde weird religious community, and I likes Religious Communities.

We had a technical hitch when we got to the Whizzgo car. The thingmajig that reads the electric card dodad that lets us into the car had fallen off the windscreen leaving it lying on its back like a dying bug with it’s suction cups flailing in the air, millimetres too far away to register the magic be-beep. We rang them and they let us use the other little car. Presumably it had to be reattached, did someone from Whizzgo get to leave the call centre and come to the the northern quarter just to lick some suckers?

So we got to the Fairfield Moravian Community and parked up. Allow us to provide a quote for your edification:

Fairfield …was opened in 1785. It was planned and built by its own people. The village was self-contained and self-governed, with its inn, shop, bakery, farm, laundry, fire-engine, night-watchman, inspector of weights and measures, an overseer of roads, and even its own physician. There were community houses for sisters and brethren, who applied themselves to the varied work of the settlement.

The place was a hive of industrious and religious activity. The Single Brethren had a bakehouse, and every week-day a Single Brother rode out on horseback delivering bread. The Single Sisters had a farm and a laundry, did beautiful needlework and sent some to Queen Adelaide, pleasing her so much that she ordered more. In all this was a two-fold purpose. On the one hand they were supporting the community; on the other they had they had a definite religious mission; and even the inn was considered a place where gospel tracts might fitly be left. The little village was the home of law and order, peace and quiet.

Nowadays where there were once sleeping fields, pirates have moved in:

pirates on the moravian fields

The village was a sweet, sleepy leftover from another age. It actually looked like a model village, I kinda wanted to live there as I am excessively pleased by sash windows. However, one of the things I really like about zedding is when we get to discover some of the city’s story, some of the variety and humanity that makes Manchester what it is, and I love the bits where history seems to lurk in wait for us, showing us a brief picture of a bygone time. I wanted to go to Fairfield because the story of these people, building their own utopian dream, really appealed to me: a community of people who got to live and work with those who shared their values. But being there and standing where they stood didn’t show me anything, whatever powers smile on zedders had nothing for us in Fairfield and so we moved on.

old post box plaque nice terrace moravian college cross on the pavement moravian church church plaque terrace old house old lampost church

Now we thought that the only connection between our two destinations was that they were in the same direction but our post zedding research yielded fruit for us. Let us introduce you to our new friend John Frederick La Trobe Bateman:
bateman3
Good beard.

It turns out that Mr La Trobe Bateman was, as grandson of the Reverend Benjamin La Trobe, the former Moravian minister at Fairfield, an old boy of the Settlement school, and appears to have been involved in building every reservoir for 50 miles – including our destination today. According to our source, ‘The reservoirs are still in use, and at the time were the largest constructed in the world, and a model for other water conservation schemes. The reservoirs boast that they have never run dry.’ Reservoirs that not only look weird in the A to Z, but boast as well! Wonders never cease.

So on to the boastful Audenshaw Reservoirs. Liam got distracted on the way by this sign:
bending centre
Liam is confident that the humour in this will be apparent to anyone who was a little boy in the eighties. Nothing like a bit of retro homophobia to make a grown man giggle. But seriously, what do they do in there?

The reason that we were driving around looking at bending centres was that there was no obvious way to access the reservoir. We got out of the car in a rather lovely neighbourhood, the sort with nice gardens and nice net curtains a-twitching at us. Oh yes, we like to start our trespassing in a neighbourhood watch area, darlings, it just makes it more fun. Liam thought a little old lady may be on the phone reporting us as potential terrorists. “Yes officer they were taking photos of the reservoir, we’ll all be poisoned, poisoned we will”. I say even old ladies know terrorists don’t wear pink shoes.

So we traipsed up a back alley, past some smart garages and through a playing field. When we realised there was still a railway line between us and the reservoir, words were had between us as Liam sought to suggest that I, being the one carrying the map, might have noticed this beforehand. We began to feel this might be our first failed zedding expedition.

But we persisted – it helped that we found a bridge – and eventually found that, despite spiky fences and concrete barriers, enterprising trespassers had found a way:
liam by a gap
Just behind Liam, there, is a squeezable-through gap! Some graffiti artists had left a slightly vague and confused warning –
Do not...
-but we didn’t let that stand in our way.

We marched along the side of the reservoir, proud of our little trespassing selves, only to find that others had got there first. We first spotted a man with a plastic bag and a camera. Trespassing is less exciting when other people are doing it.

And we always keep our clothes on when trespassing, so we felt completely outclassed when we got to the join between two of the reservoirs, and noticed that teenage girls were swimming topless in there. Liam is now disappointed that so few of our zedding trips have involved women in states of undress, but for obvious reasons we didn’t get any photographic evidence. The moody-looking teenage lads fishing further up the reservoir appeared to be connected to the skinny dippers in some way, and we didn’t want to upset them either.

Anyway, this collection of three reservoirs does look pretty much as weird in realings as it did in the A to Z – like roads across the sea – and it is possible to stand in the middle. Result!
a lot of water me in the middle of a reservoir from the middle

And it does look rather odd on Google Earth too:
Picture 1

I need some caffeine and cannot drink over pooter, so I’ll hand you over to Liam:

Marie was charmed by these inscrutable bits of reservoir-related industrialness, which look like prototype Daleks:
early daleks
When you’ve invested many hours in knitting a Dalek, apparently they start to look cute.

We felt sorry for the nice reservoirs. Not only because they have no names other than ‘number 1’, ‘number 2’ and ‘number 3’. But also because four whole squares of A to Z – four nice, pretty, peaceful squares – are off limits to everyone except enterprising psychogeographers, skinny dippers, moody boys and men with carrier bags. Oh, and older teenage boys smoking pot, who gave us a mean stare as we were leaving.

We found out afterwards that good old Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are not even being used for the purposes for which they were intended – unless of course Mr La Trobe Bateman was a fan of naturism. They’re actually closed off so that a sailing club can be built here. Shame. Interestingly, the A to Z currently shows a sailing club on the far side of the motorway from the reservoirs. We had images of people waiting for a quiet moment to drag their yachts across, until we realised there’s another reservoir over that way.

Back at the car, we encountered this enigmatic message on a bin:
Mind that child
Is that a maximum speed for the bin? Its capacity for holding children? Enquiring minds want to know. If children are racing wheelie bins through the streets of Audenshaw, we want to witness it.

Lastly, we decided we had to go here and see what it was all about:
sc00285041

Disappointingly, it turns out that when they say ‘The City’, what they mean is ‘dull suburban street overlooked by a stack of cargo containers’:
"The city"
You live and learn. So we headed back to the real city for fish and chips.

Vital statistics
Map: 

Location: Fairfield and Audenshaw
Date zedded: 12 July 2009
A to Z: Page 98 square F5, page 112 squares D2, D3, C3, C2, D5
Getting there: We cheated and took a Whizzgo car, but you could easily get a train to Fairfield station. It’s also not far from the end of the Fallowfield Loop cycleway.
Squares this expedition: 6
Running total: 111

July 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm 3 comments

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