Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024

With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started at St Paul’s Square and finished at St Philip’s Cathedral. Along the way we could photograph interesting views of Birmingham. The walk went down Ludgate Hill, over the Pedestrian Bridge towards Church Street finally arriving at St Philip’s Square affectionately known by locals as Pigeon Park.  The call went out a week before on social media and on the evening a group of photographers assembled outside St Paul’s Church.  A list of some interesting places and buildings had already been circulated on our social media channels. Many of these suggestions were taken up by our band of photographers. I usually have my iPhone and my Fujifilm x100vi on any city walk. I just find these two cameras so useful to tell the story of the streets as they are easy to carry and use. They also take good pictures.

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The walk started with lovely warm sunshine and St Paul’s Square looked good in the evening light.  As we moved down Ludgate Hill towards the Birmingham Canal, the sky clouded over but it did not stop us taking pictures of our favourite Brummie locations.   

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Steps on the canal

The canal passes underneath the BT tower. There is graffiti and concrete posts yet the canal locks blend in well with the surroundings. Further along, the pedestrian bridge is always a favourite photography location. The light was dimming so it was possible to practice a few long exposures of the traffic passing underneath.  

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As we approached St Philip’s Square along Church Street, we could see the recently installed Big Wheel lit up against the late evening light.  Then came the rain. Just as we reached the square, the heavens opened and we got very wet.  Some of us were fortunate as we had brough a water proof coat or umbrella. Others were less lucky.  We first thought that this was going to be a miserable end to a good evening of photography.  After the initial heavy downpour, we saw that the rain had created reflections on the surrounding pavements. The Big Wheel was lit up in different colours, and the resulting images with the reflections gave a range of interesting effects.  Also people were walking past with umbrellas casting their shadows in the puddles. The picture opportunities were unending. After a while no one minded the rain or the fact that they were soaked through.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Part of the ramp from the bridge. Not the best part of Brum.

Those of us that were left behind after braving the rain finished our walk at the Wolf pub on Constitution hill. During our well deserved refreshments, the IgersbirminghamUK team planned our next adventure.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
The Wolf Pub

This are my own pictures from the @IgersbirminghamUK walk. If you want to see the pictures of all the other talented photographers that took part then follow the link #igbUK_meet_sq2park

The walk back from the Wolf pub to Snow Hill station was short but interesting and here is a set of five pictures showing how the light and reflections after the rain can create a wonderful range of colours.

Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Looking across the street at Old Snow Hill
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Warm lights on Water Street
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Under the arch
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Lights and reflections on Lionel Street
Square to Park, IgersbirminghamUK Instameet walk, May 2024
Puddles at Snow Hill Station

If you have got down to here then there are other IgersbirminghamUK meetings to read about on my blog. Enjoy reading about our activities. The team at IgersbirminghamUK look forward to seeing you at one of their future meetings.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024

On the Regent’s Canal, sitting outside having lunch at the Ragged museum and life is good.  The sun is shining and sitting back watching people rowing on the Regent’s canal.  This spot in Stepney is a favourite place of mine for photographs.  On the bridge with its spikey railings, one has a wonderful view of Canary Wharf.  The juxtaposition of old versus new is quite dramatic.  Before sitting down for lunch with Peter who was accompanying me on this recent photographic walk, I took a picture down towards Canary Wharf and posted it on BBC Weather watchers.  The picture was featured on the lunchtime news and by then I knew then it was going to be a good day.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
On BBC London Lunchtime News
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Under the bridge
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Boats alongside the canal
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Over and under the bridge

Limehouse Basin is always active and with the DLR trains passing overhead and the buses and traffic nearby. the place is buzzing.  We walked around the basin taking pictures of the sights. At one point as Peter was talking, I managed to get his attention and we looked down towards the lock gates.  There was a heron patiently waiting for their catch of the day.  The spot has water rushing in from the basin and this was the place to fish.  Herons are beautiful creatures but lethal predators and several fish were caught whilst we were watching the bird.  The Limehouse basin has everything you wish for in photography. There are reflections, symmetry and colours around the canal basin and we lingered in the area for a time.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Boats and trains in Limehouse Basin
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Reflections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
… and more selections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
A heron just waiting for the moment.

The basin links with the Thames and the path through the town houses leads to the Canary Wharf estate.  The tide was out and the river bank was accessible so  I went down to the water’s edge and then looked back.  There was a great view of the tall skyscrapers reaching for the sky overlooking the Thames. These high rise buildings reminded me of New Age sentinels that are keeping watch on everyone.  

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
The skyscrapers of Canary Wharf
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
People living amongst the giants.
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Canary Wharf station
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Red in-between the carriages.

The private owners of Canary Wharf have put much effort in promoting artwork around the site. This is much better than having to look upwards as there is an awful lot of skyscrapers. Whilst some of the architecture did look interesting, there is an overwhelming feeling that the steel and glass is very repetitious.  One of the high points was the “captivated by colour” tunnel designed by Camille Walala which proved to be a great place to take pictures of people.  I stood centrally and lifted by camera up to get some good views of the tunnel. A group of lads came through and had a great time acting up for the camera.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Colourful circles
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Time waits for no-one
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
A story in the tunnel

Walking through the estate there were several reflections of the buildings in the water that provided good pictures. I did look up at the occasional skyscraper did catch my attention as seen by my pictures.  Our final destination was a favourite pub of mine, the Gun.  The pub is on the banks of the Thames overlooking the O2 arena.  There is a lot of history attached to this Grade II building not least that Horatio Nelson secretly met his lover Lady Emma Hamilton when he was in London.  We sat down in the outside Gin area and compared notes on our pictures. The view over the O2 arena has changed since I last visited with ugly blocks of flats suddenly appearing and obscuring the view.   A long day walking and taking photographs and yet another chapter to my London Times. Finally a picture of Alfie and Bill who were sitting next to us and asked us for a picture of the two of them. Whilst I had a train to catch, Peter stayed on for the golden hour which is always good with the light catching the glass and water.

Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Motorbiking
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Water and skyscraper reflections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
The oppressive nature of all the building taking place in Canary Wharf.
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Legs and reflections
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
The Gun
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Alfie and Bill taken at the Gun.
Regents_Canal_Canary_Wharf, May, 2024
Under the flight path

Hope you enjoyed this blog and there are more “London Times” Blog entries and you can start with the one below.

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024

Emerging from a tunnel under Islington, the Regent’s canal begins its journey through Shoreditch.  The canal is wide with a spacious towpath. Many runners and pedestrians take advantage of the scenic waterway as it passes through the east of London.  There are many narrowboats along the way each with their interesting names and individual colours.  

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Joining the Regent’s Canal from Colebrooke row
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Pedestrians on the towpath
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Travelling towards the tunnel under Islington

Several roads pass over the canal allowing views up and down the waterway. Iron arched bridges spanning the canal, rumble as commuter trains pass over them. Old industrial buildings sit on either side of the canal and many are converted to city living whilst others wait for progress to overtake them.  There are cafes, pubs and restaurants with people sitting at outside tables taking advantage of the mild spring weather.  Along the way there are small recesses around the bridges that have been made into communal gardens.  I particularly liked the bird boxes put up on the canal bridge wall.  For the photographer there are lines, reflections and opportunities for street photography.  The buildings offer a range of architectural styles and the boats often spring surprises with the way that people have either painted them or the objects that they have collected on their travels.

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
On the look out.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
A building and a boat.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Typical view of this section of the Regent’s Canal.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Colourful Graffiti on the buildings.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Hope you find what you are looking for.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Beware of the dog.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Beware of the leg!
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Canal bridges provide reflections and shapes.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
The Bird boxes look very cosy.

Yellow was a theme of my walk.  I just seemed to find lots of yellow objects as you will see.  They were either single, in twos or multiple!  

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
The yellow let’s you know where you are.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Two yellows
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
I hope you are counting how many yellows there are.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
I did well with this one getting three yellow’s into the picture ( or are there more?)

My walk started at the Colebrooke Row entrance in Islington and finished at Queensbrooke Road turning around to go back to the A10.  There were so many pictures and here is a final finish to my pictures featuring one or two of the eating establishments on this stretch of the canal.

Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Table with a view
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Old buildings, new beginnings.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Food preparations.
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
More bridge picture fun
Regent's Canal, Shoreditch section, March 2024
Boats, boards, lines, geometric shapes and colours.

This is just one of many photographic walks that I have taken on the Regent’s canal in London. I have mapped different sections of the canal as it leaves Paddington basin on its long journey across north London to Lime House Basin. There are many parts still to discover whilst revisiting those that have already been photographed. I have added some further links below and I wish to thank Peter Thompson for showing me this part of the canal. Please visit Peter’s Website for some amazing travel photography.

For further photography of Regent’s Canal

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023

Birmingham Botanical Gardens have been an important part of my life in Birmingham. I have attended many student balls and other celebratory events at the Hospitality suites. When I was President of the BSSPD Dental society I held my annual dinner at the Botanical Gardens during Spring 2013. The after dinner speaker that evening was Birmingham’s very own Don Maclean. We held our pre-dinner drinks on the London Terrace. Other memories include attending the Luminate night time light show during a previous Instameet. However I have not taken the opportunity to view the gardens in more detail. Therefore, I was so pleased that IgersbirminghamUK approached the Botanical Gardens to arrange a photographic Instameet. The Gardens were very enthusiastic about the idea and we agreed to visit in the Autumn when the leaves would be turning colour.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Exotic flowers in the GlassHouses
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Koi carp pretending to be the Meg.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The architecture of the Glasshouses

We arranged to meet on a glorious Saturday Remembrance Day morning. There was a good number of IgersbirminghamUK photographers attending the meeting and our first duty of the day was to observe a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock. We then entered the gardens and met Sara the CEO. Sara was so welcoming and enthusiastic about the Botanical Gardens. She gave us an introduction to the charity and then outlined the future vision for the Gardens. There are exciting and ambitious plans to remodel the site. Sara showed maps and plans of what would be done over the coming two to three years.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Sara, the CEO, pictured in the Glasshouse.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details in the glass house.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The London Terrace
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The beauty of Autumn.

IgersbirminghamUK instameets begin with an introduction and a group photograph. Once this is completed then we are free to go out and explore the gardens. I always get caught up with talking with other Igers photographers and forget to take the photographs. Catching up with people is part of the social activity of an Instameet. The glasshouses is the first area that you encounter when entering the gardens. I spent time photographing the beautiful Koi carp in the fountain area. The narrow corridors and the layout of the plants make this area very attractive and bring you close to the plants. I forgot to capture the beautiful circular window onto the gardens but many others did not. This is one of many reasons why I will return as there are so many different features to see and photograph. Leaving the glasshouses, I had an audience with the residents of the Terrace aviary. The birds were very talkative. You get pulled along when visiting the gardens and the London Terrace naturally guides you along with its wide embracing veranda and views. Here you have to stop and take in the beauty of the scene. The rolling bank of the lawn leads your gaze out to the Lawn Aviary and the Band stand. The sunlight was bright and lit up several trees whose leaves were turning a golden brown. The light captured and intensified the colours. I found myself stuck in the area around the bandstand just taking photographs of the scene unfolding before me.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The bandstand.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Leaves everywhere.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details at the Aviary.

I looked at my watch and realised that I had only seen a small part of the Gardens. I needed to move on. The Lawn Aviary is one of the buildings that will receive a major make over and the architectural design is captivating. I look forward to when it is receives an upgrade. Walking thought the Aviary, I dropped down the bank to Wilson Walk and came across the Urban garden area. Whilst this area requires renovation, for a photographer the place was full of strong shadows and light. There is some neglect and overgrowth of the plants and this appeals to my photographic eye. Another area where I found time slowed down for me was the Rock Garden and Memory pool. Water always creates reflections and the Rock pool offered many different views. Walking back via the colourful Acer trees was a treat and I slowly realised that I had done a full circle as I arrived back at the London Terrace. After browsing through the shop and stopping to say thank yous, my final pictures were of the entrance arches. I am unsure whether these will still be around after the renovation and I took several pictures of them against the sun to create diffraction effects with the light.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
A door in the shadows.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Reflections in the Rock Pool.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details on the bandstand.

Time to go back home and process all the pictures that I had taken. A big thank you to Birmingham Botanical Gardens for allowing us to visit. These are my pictures of the event and there were some fantastic photographs from other members on the Instameet. The way to find these photographs is to follow the hashtag #igbuk_meet_botanical on Instagram. You may need to delve into individual photographers’ accounts to see more pictures due to the nature of the dreaded Instagram algorithm. You will be rewarded with some beautiful views of the gardens.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The entrance arches to the Botanical Gardens.

The IgersbirminghamUK team have visited other sites and places and you may wish to follow the links below to see what takes place during our meetings. You are most welcome to attend our Instameets.

These are some of my blogs on our visits to other sites around Birmingham with the IgersbirminghamUK team.

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With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023

Queen Mary University of London is on the Mile End Road and adjacent to the Regent’s canal.  Part of the campus borders the canal and there is easy access from the University entrance.  I was at QMUL for a conference but took the opportunity to explore the tow path.  My first tow path walk was in the early morning and took me down to Limehouse basin and onto the river Thames.  My second walk was northwards up to Victoria Park and took place in the late afternoon.  Both walks allowed me to photograph people, boats, wildlife and buildings along the way.  This is my photographic account from those walks.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Underneath Mile End road running northwards.

From QMUL to Victoria Park.
 
There was a break between presentations and the evening dinner which gave me the opportunity of exploring the northern part of Regent’s Canal from the Mile End Road to Victoria Park.  This was another busy stretch of the towpath and Mile End Park is also adjacent to the towpath.  The first interesting feature was what is known as a portrait bench which features three well known figures.  The statues are in cast metal that then rusts giving an authentic look to the artwork.  There was a casting of Ledley King, a professional footballer who grew up in the area and spent his entire playing career at Tottenham Hotspur FC.  Nearby is a statue to Sylvia Pankhurst, the suffragette campaigner who worked on improving living conditions for destitute mothers.  Finally there was a canal horse commemorating the animals that towed boats along the towpath.  The park was lit up in patches as the sun broke through gaps of the high living flats on the other side of the canal.  There was more art work with the Bow Bottle and fish tail sculptures further along in the park.  These random pieces of work are intriguing and add to the charm of the canal.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
A working canal horse.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Sylvia Pankhurst and Ledley King in the background.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The Bow bottle


There was an interesting cut called the Hertford Union Canal.  This short canal links up to the Lee Navigation in Tower Hamlets.  The start of the canal looked attractive but my walk was to carry me past this canal to the nearby Old Ford Lock. 

Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The canal on a late September afternoon
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The Hertford Union Canal Cut
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Peace at last on the canal.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
The Old Ford lock
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Boats and reflections.

The area has been renovated and with the low sunlight highlighted the beauty of the place.  I then encountered Victoria Park where many people were enjoying the sunshine on this hot September Day.  Although I only touched briefly on the park, I came across the bridge at Bonner gate. The bright blue painting of the iron work contrasted with the greens and darker colours of the canal which was in the shade.  Other interesting features I saw were the Dogs of Alcibiades and have a fascinating history.  The statues were donated by Lady Regnart in 1912.  I got lost in the history of the dogs that were described on the accompanying board.  Victoria Park looked inviting but time pressed on and there was a conference dinner to attend.  The park was also full of police as they searched for an escaped prisoner and so I left the beauty and the noise retracing my steps to QMUL.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Lazy sunny afternoon in Victoria Park.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Sun rays and railings.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Bridge details near Bonner Gate.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
Canal in the shade.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to Victoria Park, London, Sept 2023
One of the Dogs of Alcibiades, Victoria Park.
Dogs of Alcibiades
Enjoying the towpath.

To follow up this blog, please read my earlier accounts of my walks along the Regent’s Canal.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023

Queen Mary University of London is on the Mile End Road and is adjacent to the Regent’s canal.  Part of the campus borders the canal and there is easy access from the University entrance.  I was at QMUL for a conference but took the opportunity when time allowed to explore the tow path.  My first walk was in the early morning and I followed the canal down to Limehouse basin and onto the River Thames.  My second walk was northwards up to Victoria park and took place in the late afternoon.  Both walks allowed me to photograph people, boats, wildlife and buildings along the way.  This is my photographic account from those walks.

From QMUL to the river.

I was up early for this walk and was moving on the towpath by 6am.  There were still many people out and about at this time.  The day before had been hot and whilst there was a morning coolness temperatures were forecast to rise above 30oC.  There was a slight mist around the canal which diffused the light.  Several species of birds were moving around in the water.  The canal was heavy with algae and the ducks made tracks in the green covering.  There is a mixture of old industrial decay alongside both modern designs of buildings.  I took several pictures of the juxta positioning of the buildings and where the canal was algae free caught their reflections in the still water.  

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
A chimney is part of the old industrial heritage along the canal.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Colourful old narrowboat
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Millionaire row
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The algae adds a green foreground whilst the shine buildings of Canary Wharf are lit up by the early sun.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Wildlife coping with the canal.

On the streets there were abandoned hire bikes.  Colours were appearing as the early sunlight started to reach the taller buildings.  I soon reached Limehouse basin and this coincided with the sunrise.  The area has lots to see and quick decisions were made as to the best place to stand for the photographs.  I used my phone to take a few quick pictures that let me quickly see and plan the pictures with my Fujifilm x100v.  One of my first pictures worked well and set the standard that I needed  for future views.  

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Abandoned bike.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Limehouse Basin
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The sun rises over the basin.

After spending time photographing the sunrise , I made my way along the final part of the canal to the Thames.  This area is very popular with local commuters due to its proximity to Canary Wharf.  The quality of housing is of a higher standard than where I started in the Mile End Road.  The journey does take you through a range of housing.  The Thames looked good in the early morning light and I took several pictures around Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Kitchen restaurant. I followed the commuters as they walked along the road and then onto the pedestrian walkway next to the Thames.  This was a chance to practice some street photography as sharp contrasts between light and dark were created by the sunlight rising between the buildings.  

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The Thames in the early morning sun.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Looking out towards the Thames
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Sunlight.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Running the Thames walkway.

After a while, I realised that I had a conference to attend and I made my way back to QMUL following the Limehouse Cut. This took me past the Sea Mission and I eventually caught up with the Regent’s canal again.  The light had shifted and therefore there were different takes on pictures that I had taken on the way down.  One picture that I enjoyed taking was of two swans who were tucked into a recess of the canal wall.  The picture with the reflections in the background shows the beauty of this canal.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
On the cut and through the railings.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The rush over the cut.
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
The majestic “Mission” building
Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Swans on the canal.

My final picture is of black and white architecture. I saw this block of flats as the canal turned after a railway bridge. The reflections immediately caught my eye. I converted the picture to black and white and I was pleased with the result. I entered into the weekly #fsprintmondays competition organised by FotoSpeed on Twitter and the picture made the top 4 for that week.

Regent's Canal, QMUL to the Thames, London, Sept 2023
Black and white architecture on the canal (with reflections)

If you enjoyed this blog then there is an earlier account of my photographic journey from Kings Cross to Camden along the Regent’s Canal. This waterway has such a varied landscape which makes it ideal to satisfy my love for photography.

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.

I enjoy a photographic walk with my Fujifilm x100v camera around the streets of Birmingham.  The early hours are best when few people are around and about.  This series of photographs begins at Eastside where the HS2 works are taking place.  Digbeth was next and I returned to Birmingham along the canal exiting again near to the HS2 works.  

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Digging holes and barriers around HS2

What is there to tell you about my walk?  No surprises, as building in Birmingham has not finished and HS2 is still digging and putting up barriers.  I took a few pictures and was interested to see BBC midlands covering the HS2 disruption in the evening news.  Why is HS2 taking so long and why is there so much disruption?  I do get upset with the blasé way they are undertaking the HS2 works.  I am sure it will look wonderful when finished but is it worth the upheaval and time taken.    
The latest BBC item puts HS2 under the spotlight.

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Curson street station awaits a HS2 upgrade.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The empty Woodman pub awaits customers but when will they return?

Digbeth was quiet for a Monday morning and since the pandemic there is less footfall during business hours. The nightlife is always busy but there is a definite change in activity during the day.  My next observation is the encroachment of high rise living around Digbeth and the loss of character with the demolition and neglect of buildings.  

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Micheal Jackson on a furniture shop door.

There are several brownfield sites around the area that will become large skyscrapers.  Other signs of change include the former Typhoo tea building which is starting to see activity around the relocation of the BBC to the building.  Change may not always be positive and one of my pictures is outside what was the DigBrew entrance.  Sadly this excellent brewery has ceased trading and artwork from the street artist Tempo33 marks the spot.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-66199790
Don’t go there.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The former Typhoo building soon to become the BBC Midlands Headquaters.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-66199790
Don’t park here.

There is much chaotic colour around the streets of Digbeth and the morning sun brings out the light and shadows.  The canalside is another area in Digbeth that is changing with several buildings undergoing renovation.  How this change will progress will be interesting to document in future months. 

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
I’m late for an important date. (street art Tempo33)
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Colours stuck to a wall in Digbeth.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Cryola’s wonderful street art is still attracting attention.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Standing in Liverpool Street looking up Fazeley Street.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
Birmingham Canal Navigation through Digbeth
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The details under the Great Barr Street bridge.
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The Fox mural by Annatomix still impresses
Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
View of the canal buildings with Birmingham in the background.

My final picture was taken on my iPhone as I went past the Selfridges building.  I went low and framed the iconic discs in the background.  I was in luck as a woman walked past although she was confused by what I was doing.  The picture turned out well but was also a reminder not to attract undue attention during my street photography.

Eastside and Digbeth, July 2023.
The Selfridges Crossing.

Returning to the HS2 theme then there are more stories about the construction on my blog.  I have been documenting 16 acre wood and the damage caused by HS2 around Balsall Common since 2020.  Here is my account of this part of the HS2.

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With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.

Maxstoke Castle is very distinctive built in red brick with all the requirements for being a castle on the checklist. There are walls and towers with a large moat circling the building. Inside there are living quarters and gardens. Maxstoke is said to be very unusual because the castle is still the same as when it was built in 1345.  During the English Civil War the castle was used as a garrison by the Parliamentary troops and did not sustain any damage.  Situated near to Coleshill in the green belt between Birmingham and Coventry, Maxstoke castle is now privately owned.  I learnt that there is a strong connection between Maxstoke and Packwood house which happened when there was a marriage between the two families in the 18th Century. Most of the information about the castle can be gleaned from the internet. However what really fascinated me was the majestic appearance of the castle and I was very keen to photograph the place.

Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Looking up at the front towers of the entrance.
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Detail of the house in the central courtyard
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Roses and windows

The castle opens up for one day a year for local charities which this year were the Coleshill Parish Church
restoration project and the National Gardens Scheme. The day was very hot and when we arrived, there were queues outside the entrance. We were advised to return in 20 minutes so we took time to stroll around nearby Shustoke reservoir. When we came back to the entrance, we were initially worried that we would not get in again but lucky the gates opened. The entrance to the castle is very photogenic as the trees lead you to the castle and the view opens up to show the grand architecture. I moved to the left and found a view which captured the reflections of the castle in the moat with the water lilies creating a foreground feature. Once we had stocked up with drinking water and cake, we began exploring. My grandson immediately noticed the damsel files and dragonflies darting around the edges of the moat. There was a lady painting the castle in watercolours and I am not sure how she kept her concentration with all the questions from passersby. Inside the castle, there was a chance to see the various treasures in the house but the queue was long and there will always be next year to prioritise this when visiting. Instead we wandered around the castle admiring the gardens and the views.

There were many people at the castle and there was an eye catching group of Seam Punks who were dressed in bright clothes. They just love having their photograph taken with the castle as a backdrop. I enjoyed the day even though the sun was strong creating difficult shadows for the camera.

Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
View of the moat
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Climbing roses on the castle walls.
They were more than happy to have their photographs taken with the castle as a backdrop.  I enjoyed the day even though the sun was strong creating difficult shadows for the camera.
Queues for the house tours.
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Noah holding a Steampunk ogre (pic by Katie Morgan)

On the way out, there was a display of MG cars from a local owners club. The two yellow MGs looked amazing although the others did not disappoint.

Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Noah, my grandson with Teddy Bear and a red MG.
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
MG sports car
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
MG sports car decked out with Union Jacks.

If you like my pictures and blog then keep a look out for the open day next year. The castle is worth visiting and as mentioned the entrance fee helps several local charities. As a family, we enjoyed the day and my grandson loved seeing the damsel flies, pretending to live in the castle and seeing the sports cars. He even got to hold one of the Steampunk ogres!

Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
Visitors to the castle.
Maxstoke Castle, Near Coleshill, June 2023.
The long entrance driveway to Maxstoke Castle.

You may wish to read my visit to Kenilworth Castle which is not so far away and owned by English Heritage.

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With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022

Several mornings during July, I ran into Kardamena from where I was staying.  My hotel, Acti Beach, is around 2 miles away from Kardamena.  Getting up early and watching the sunrise develop during the Golden Hour is an unforgettable experience.  Two years ago I was here in August and the sun rose over the sea. In July, the sun rises behind the mountains. Therefore I saw the sun start to rise by the golden colours appearing on the white buildings of the town as I ran towards Kardamena.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The rising sun creating shadows on the walls of the whitewashed buildings.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The sun appears from behind the mountains.

I run with my iPhone13 and I was able to stop for a few minutes and capture the golden rays. The fun is getting back to the hotel and seeing what the results are like.  These pictures were taken on different mornings and when posted on my social media, they received a positive response.  I certainly want to get back to Kos in the future and experience more sunrises on this beautiful island. This is the last of my Kos Island sequence and hope you enjoyed them.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise on the sun loungers at Malibu Beach
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
A view of the sunrise from a jetty at Kardamena.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise in the harbour with golden rays on the Pirate ship.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The day begins.

Here are my links to Kardamena and Kos

I love Kardamena 2022

Reach for the sky

Back in 2020 when I first visited Kardamena

And where it all started with my daughter’s wedding on the beach in Kos


Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK

With the famous spaghetti junction turning 50, the event has led to a flurry of media and photographic interest.  A rollercoaster of activity. Such a landmark event has already led to Heinz releasing a limited edition yellow-themed tin of Spaghetti pasta celebrating the anniversary  

I, also, found myself getting caught up in this rollercoaster of a celebration of the motorway junction.   Following on from my recent visit to the junction, IgersbirminghamUK organised a photographic meeting for the week of the celebrations.  Just under 40 photographers arrived on a Sunday morning to be briefed on the planned photographic walk under the M6.  The group photograph was a popular picture and was even featured by the national IgersUK Instagram page.  All the photographs taken during the walk may be found under the Instagram hashtag #igbuk_meet_spagjunction.   There are some very good pictures that show the relatively unseen world underneath the Spaghetti Junction.

Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
IgersbirminghamUK participants
Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
The quietness of the canal with the Junction in the distance (selected for the BBC England’s Big Picture).
Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
A view of the columns holding up the Motorway.
Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
Nature is reclaiming the area underneath the Spaghetti Junction.

The events of the meeting were recorded by the BBC and the report by reporter Laura Mcmullan featured interviews with me and other photographers.  Following the publication of the BBC news item, I was invited by the University of Birmingham to write an article on what lies below the Spaghetti Junction from a photographic viewpoint.

Although I was busy with the organisation of the meeting, I did have time to take a few pictures myself as featured in this blog.  I wonder what the place will be like in another 50 years.  Meanwhile, I know that I will be passing over the Junction in the future as I hurtle in and out of Birmingham.

Further links
BBC Midlands Today provides an account of the IgersbirminghamUK meeting
What’s underneath the Spaghetti Junction, Damien Walmsley, University of Birmingham.
My previous blog on Spaghetti Junction (50 years on) with more pictures.
Englands Big Picture 22nd May to the 29th May (my picture of the Spaghetti Junction)

Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
The flyovers tower above you.