This weekend I thought I’d try something different with my Hasselblad 500cm. It’s hardly a point and shoot type of Camera, but I wanted to give street photography a go. We headed to Bury Market, where neither of us had been before but we knew there’d be some interesting shots to take. Didn’t go massively well, quite a few of my images came out blurry where I’d tried to move too fast. Great fun giving a new style a go, though….
This weekend we took a little drive out of Manchester to discover the Manjushri Buddhist Temple in Ulverston, Cumbria. We’re so lucky that within an hour of leaving the city, we can be driving along the beautiful A590 surrounded by greenery and the peninsulas of the Western Lake District. Nestled on the flat coast just through the tiny village of Bardsea is this beautiful spot. Just driving into the car park you’re hit with a real sense of peace and quiet.
The temple itself is built in the grounds of the old Conishead Priory, which built for Christian monks hundreds of years ago before falling into disrepair in the late twentieth century. Now, though, the grounds bustle with Buddhist monks and dog walkers, taking a stroll through the woodlands and down to the beach, or sipping freshly brewed coffee in the cafe. After picking up a book in the bookshop, we visited the temple. Once inside you have to slip off your shoes, which just adds to the slow, peaceful atmosphere of the place. It was empty when we went in, so we took a pew and enjoyed a couple of quiet moments. We spent a couple of hours here but time really slowed down, it felt like we’d been there all day. And with it being such a short drive from our home in Manchester, I think we’ve found our new sanctuary.
I visited the Victoria Baths a good few years ago whilst I was at university, back when it had just won a little bit of funding but was still unable to open to the public. Armed with my camera and a cheeky donation I was allowed in on my own, and managed to take some photographs for a documentary I was working on. Unfortunately the laptop I worked on back then died and I have no images of the baths left – just a bunch of negatives that I’ll probably never get round to scanning again. This weekend we found out there was a vintage home fair at the baths, with just a £3 entry fee… we didn’t buy any vintage furniture, but were more than happy to pay £6 to have a nosey around the building. The whole place was open for wandering, including the caretaker’s flat upstairs, and the both of the empty pools. My partner was visiting for the first time, and was blown away by its beauty. Such a stunning hidden gem in our city, and well worth a look if you get the chance. I only had my iPhone to take pictures this time, but managed to recreate some of the shots I took first time round.
A couple of weeks ago we were whisked away to the Eternal City for a weekend. This was a trip what was a long time coming for us – having bought the travel guide back in 2014 with the best intentions of booking some flights. Alas, it was well worth the wait.
Upon arrival, we soon discovered our hotel was in the perfect location. Nestled away on Via Flavia close to the Roma Termini Station, the Royal Marcella Hotel was quiet enough to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, but central enough to be able to walk right into the heart of Rome. Even better, the hotel had a stunning little roof terrace serving up coffee and pizzas, with absolutely breath-taking panoramic views of the city, including the iconic dome of St Peter’s Basilica over at the Vatican.
First things first, we grabbed a pizza to go from Pinsere, a cute little pizza deli on the corner opposite our hotel. The option ‘to stay’ meant to stand at the bar and eat with friends, but eager to see the city we got our spinach, cheese and raisin pizza packed up to eat on the road. Soon, we’d stumbled across the Spanish Steps and then the Trevi Fountain, before heading back to a local restaurant close to our hotel where we enjoyed fresh risotto and tomato and mozzarella Caprese.
The next morning only one thing was on our minds – the Coliseum. We thought it best to start at the very beginning of Roman history, and this magnificent building did not disappoint. We got there super early to avoid the queues and were lucky enough to be able to walk straight in. After taking in the structure, we headed over the road and spent a few hours wandering around the Forum, where the amount of history was dizzying. Thoroughly sore-footed, we headed back to the hotel roof terrace for an afternoon of sun catching before heading to Rome’s Hard Rock Café for an Italian burger.
Another day and moving onto another era of history, we pounded the pavements down to the Vatican City. Spotting the queue to enter St Paul’s, we joined onto the end and waited
just over an hour to get in – apparently a drop in the ocean compared to normal waiting times! We bravely bought some tickets to head straight up to the Dome itself, taking the lift for the first leg of the climb, then wobbling our way through some very tight staircases to the top. The views were just unbelievable, and we even enjoyed a spot of espresso on the roof terrace. After heading back down and exploring the actual Basilica, we went to find the entrance to the Vatican before realising we’d make a terrible mistake! We didn’t know that once in St Peter’s, you can’t enter the Vatican. So we headed around the corner and joined the back of ANOTHER queue, this one taking us two hours to get through. Again, seeing the Sistine Chapel was worth it, but it was so insanely busy in there – we couldn’t quite believe that so many tourists were allowed in at the same time!
After heading back to the same restaurant we visited on the first night (I wanted to try the homemade ravioli – it didn’t let me down!), we enjoyed some drinks back on the roof terrace as the sun was setting over the city. To top off a stunning trip, our taxi driver the next morning took us right through the heart of the Coliseum on the way to the airport. Saying goodbye to Rome on a quiet, sunny Sunday morning is something we’ll never forget.