Another Place

I do like my art (especially sculptures; as proved here and here!), however I tend to get a bit freaked out by large statues (this post has some rather terrifying examples) – apparently it’s a thing (lots of people experience it – I promise!!). In particular, statues of people in / near water scare the shit out of me. I don’t know why. I’ve tried quizzing my parents but none of them seem to recall anything from my childhood that might have contributed to this fear – I’m not entirely sure I believe them, but so far they are sticking to their story!

With this in mind, I was a little apprehensive to visit Crosby Beach near Liverpool. Home to 100 ‘Iron Men’ as part of Antony Gormley’s public art work ‘Another Place’.

Spread over 2 miles of coastline, the statues stand at random points across the sand and water, submerged to different degrees depending on the tide.

Feeling brave, I wandered over to look at two of the closest figures. Close up, as they were proportionate to a ‘normal’ person, they didn’t feel so scary and it was actually interesting to see how the weather and water had affected each statue differently. Some were covered in barnacles, some were more mossy and others relatively untouched.

It was a sunny, bright day, packed with hundreds of people enjoying the uncharacteristically warm bank holiday weather. The shouts and sounds of people playing in the sand made the statues seem less freaky and more interesting.

That being said, the statues were actually more creepy from a distance, where the impact of so many still and silent figures could trigger the imagination into thinking they looked slightly closer than before……

I can imagine that if I was to visit on on a cold early morning, when the sounds are limited to the bird cries and sea, I would have a very different experience of the Iron Men.

Manchester is Buzzing

The bees have arrived in Manchester!

Last weekend, I was trying to come up with something exciting to do when I realised, the long awaited Bee Trail had arrived in Manchester and as the sun was shining, a treasure trail to find as many bees as possible was on the cards. So I roped Wandering Beeb into the trip and the hunt was on!

The Bees in question are part of the ‘Bee in the City Trail’ – 101 bees decorated by artists, communities and celebrities as part of a public art trail. The bee symbol has taken on a more prominent role in Manchester after the Arena attack and the designers of the art trail have recognised this in their giant bee sculptures.

Dotted across Manchester, the bees are all over the wider Greater Manchester area and part of the fun is finding them. A £1.99 app provided a trail map and information on each bee – proving a handy way of keeping track of the ones we spotted.

Whilst the art work involved in each bee celebrates different aspects of the city’s culture and history, I found the most beautiful thing about the bee trail to be the way it provided a route to exploring familiar parts of the city.

Walking around the trail, we found ourselves spotting other pieces of art in the city that we’d never noticed before. It’s easy to walk about a familiar place without actually taking notice of the surroundings.

Brightly coloured wall murals, changes to familiar artwork outside often frequented bars and subtle sculptures all sprang into life around us – usually hidden and forgotten.

We spent around four and a half hours walking around Manchester, following well-trodden paths that our boots could describe blindfolded. At each turn, we spotted something new, visited cafes and shops that we wouldn’t usually notice and stopped to watch an impromptu jazz performance, left over from the recent jazz festival. It reminded me of the walks I used to take as a kid, eyes wide and soaking up the movement of the city around me. It reminded me that we can quickly loose our sense of wonder and adventure in our home town, however we can find it again with a little push.

Sculpture Trails and Tall Trees: Renewal

One of the things I love most about travelling is the opportunity to get outdoors and experience nature. Sometimes a walk amongst the trees or by water is all that’s needed to reset, recharge and re-energise the mind.

On the way back from a weekend away for a friend’s wedding, we found ourselves passing Beacon Fell Country Park in Preston, UK and decided to spend some time exploring.

With 271 acres of woodland, moorland and farmland, there is plenty to explore. We chose to follow the sculpture trail which leads out of the car park, through the woods and up to the summit of the fell.

Views from the top of Beacon Fell

There were beautiful views from the top of the Fell – but be warned, it’s so windy up there! I was like a panda by the time we came down – I had more mascara on my cheeks than my eyelashes!

At the top of the Fell is a stone structure, marking where the Beacon would have stood. There is evidence that the Beacon was used as far back as 1002 AD. Historically lit to warn of danger (e.g. attacks), Beacons are also used to celebrate national occasions such as coronations of a new monarch.

Stone marking the site of the Beacon

Throughout the trail, there are numerous sculptures dotted through the forest by artist Thompson Dagnall. Alongside carvings of bats and birds hanging from the trees, a huge winding snake makes its way down the hill side. People were walking on the snake to make their way down the hill and it was a good test of balance to make it all the way to the bottom without falling off. Watching people tightrope walk down the snake was great entertainment: wobbly arms and legs all round!

Wooden snake sculpture at Beacon Fell

Alongside the wooden sculptures, there were also woven animals dotted throughout the forest. Unlike the bigger sculptures, they were harder to spot and this turned our walk into a bit of a treasure hunt!

Living art work of a deer in the forest

We found that the light changed drastically whilst we were there, creating a very different atmosphere throughout the day. From dark and mysterious to bright and magical, the tall trees filter the light, creating interesting shadows and patterns on the forest floor.

Interesting changes to how the light filtered through the Forest created some great photo opportunities

A fun place to visit, Beacon Fell is a excellent day out, especially if you like a little entertainment in your nature walks. It reminded me of the National Parks in America, which is great if funds are low and more local travel is needed.

Following our walk, it felt like all of the cobwebs (and the impending hangover from the wedding party) were blown away. I always feel renewed after time in the outdoors and it reminds me that being connected to nature is a good way of revitalising myself and recharging my batteries.

The view from the top of Beacon Fell

Although this trip was some time ago, just going through the photos has me longing for forests, hills and new places. Although the rain and cold weather is still here (in April no less!), it feels like time to dig the tent out and think about places to camp when the weather gets warmer.

Calgary Street Art

At the end of our trip in Canada last year, we found ourselves with a couple of hours to kill in Calgary before flying home.

We didn’t really have time to make a specific trip out to a tourist spot or take a mini city tour (something that can be a really good way of seeing places when you are short on time).

Instead we took some time to wander round the streets and soak up the atmosphere. Luckily it was nice and sunny, meaning we could meander round the streets fairly comfortably.

On our unstructured trek round the city, we found loads of interesting street art, as well as a festival celebrating different cultures.

Street festival in Calgary

A mix of culture, music and food was on offer and a band in the centre of the plaza had people up dancing, enjoying the sunshine.

One of the most interesting artwork we spotted was the Wonderland sculpture in downtown Calgary. This is a huge wire structure of a human head which shows different faces, depending on the angle it’s viewed from. As it’s on the main route to most places, its definitely worth a quick visit.

The Wonderland sculpture in Calgary

We stumbled on the metal horse sculpture as we were wandering through some of the shopping districts – it was great to see unique artwork in a public space and it created a talking point with other people who were stopping to look at the sculpture in more detail.

Metal horse sculpture in Calgary

It just goes to show that you don’t have to take a tour, pay lots of money or even have a specific destination in mind to get a feel for a new place. Sometimes, a simple wander around the local streets is all you need to discover some interesting sites and experiences.