Northern Soul

Days out

Benedict and Dominika Tomczyk-Bowen, image by Hazel Gibson

Bi-polar unicorns and claustrophobic clowns: Northern Soul attends Thought Bubble in Leeds

October 7, 2017 Comments Off on Bi-polar unicorns and claustrophobic clowns: Northern Soul attends Thought Bubble in Leeds

Picture this. It’s your first day at a new school. You’re a bit scared but you have an imagination the size of a meteor and loads of great ideas to make and draw worlds you want to share with your new pals.

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All aboard the flycycle

Landlines and Watermarks: Northern Soul chats to the brains behind art project, Water Works

September 26, 2017 Comments Off on Landlines and Watermarks: Northern Soul chats to the brains behind art project, Water Works

It’s December 2015 and West Yorkshire’s beautiful Calder Valley is celebrating Christmas. Then the rain comes.

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Just So Festival

Photo Gallery: Family Fun at Just So Festival

August 23, 2017 Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Family Fun at Just So Festival

Just So Festival, an annual festival for children and their families in Cheshire, took place last weekend.

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Glastonbury pod

Fleetneedles Forage does Glastonbury – the town

August 23, 2017 Comments Off on Fleetneedles Forage does Glastonbury – the town

My first trip to Glastonbury was to the festival in 1995 when the town was a passing blur before we joined the throng.

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Molly Orange Little Wonder Thread

Northern Soul chats to the brains behind Clown Fest about parody and performance

July 26, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Soul chats to the brains behind Clown Fest about parody and performance

Mark Winstanley and Alice Robinson are a right pair of clowns. Everyone who knows them says so.

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Review: Bluedot festival, Jodrell Bank

July 14, 2017 Comments Off on Review: Bluedot festival, Jodrell Bank

It’s been 60 years since the mighty Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank first started looking up towards the stars.

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Astley Hall

A Northern Jewel: Northern Soul visits Astley Park in Chorley

June 27, 2017 Comments Off on A Northern Jewel: Northern Soul visits Astley Park in Chorley

Despite modern appearances, Chorley is an ancient market town and, unlike many of its neighbours, still retains the original manorial park and house (although these days Chorley is probably best known for its housing estates and ridiculously high number of roundabouts).

I spent the first nine years of my life in Chorley living on a 1970s estate on the fringes of Astley Park. I have many happy memories of the grounds and the renaissance-style house. Returning so many years later, I was prepared for it to be a pale imitation of my recollections, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find it much improved.  

Astley Hall The walled gardens were just a shell in my day but now there is a thriving orchard, kitchen and herb garden with a gorgeous rose path. There are signs around the garden with clear emphasis on interactive education for kids. This is teamed with the Ghastly Astley series of workshops for schools entitled Plague, Potions and Pestilence which sounds fascinating, and I’m wondering if there might be room for an adult version. I would certainly attend.Rose Queen of Sweeden

The stable block next to the walled garden has been upgraded to Café Ambio, a far classier affair than the basic café of my youth. Although I’ll admit part of me was disappointed at the lack of Wall’s ice cream sandwiches and plastic drink pots of Vimto where you stabbed a straw through the lid. Part of the same stable block now houses the Chorley Remembers Experience, an exhibition charting the people of Chorley’s involvement in military conflict over the years. Complimenting this is the fascinating Evaders’ Garden, transplanted to Chorley in all its quiet solemnity from the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show. There is also a Family Research Centre and art gallery situated in the farmhouse within the park grounds.Astley Hall

Growing up I must have visited Astley Hall hundreds of times, but I don’t think I ever realised what a rare treasure the house is. Now in the final stages of renovation, it has been rejuvenated to give us a glimpse of its former glory. The ceilings alone are worth a visit with their part stucco creations resembling some fabulously ostentatious wedding cake icing. The great hall at the entrance is still impressively grand with the ornate carved staircase and painted panels. Meanwhile, the carved wooden fireplaces and rooms are just as beautiful as I remember and I can see now why I decided I wanted to live there when I was five. Fireplace, Great Hall, Astley Hall

The grounds have been revamped since my day too, with a Royalist Retreat for the kids and a toddlers’ play area next to the sports pavilion. In my youth, it was rounders in extremely soggy grass or a game of frisbee if we were lucky. There is still pets’ corner but I suspect that feeding the ducks on the lake is frowned upon these days. As a kid, there was the Chorley carnival in the park and a large bonfire with fireworks on Bonfire night. But now it seems there are events all year round such as Theatre in the Park and Chorley Flower Show.

One part of the park which I am relieved to say seems largely unchanged is the woodland. This was my playground as a child and it still retains its ancient charm. I was also pleased to see wild flower meadows dotted about which I’m sure will be worth revisiting in a month or two. All in all, Astley Park is something to be very proud of in these austere times.  It would be easy to allow gems like the hall to fall into wrack and ruin but instead Chorley Council and, I’m guessing, an army of dedicated volunteers have turned it into something very special and well worth the trip.

Happy visiting.

By Claire Fleetneedle

 

checkoutchorley.com/astleypark

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Naomi Kashiwagi at John Rylands Library for Manchester After Hours by Ben Williams - Copy

One night, one city-wide social: Northern Soul experiences Manchester After Hours

June 6, 2017 Comments Off on One night, one city-wide social: Northern Soul experiences Manchester After Hours

It’s Thursday night and I’m taking myself out on the town.

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Bakers Vaults, Stockport

Stockport is the best place ever because…

May 6, 2017 Comments Off on Stockport is the best place ever because…

…OK, so that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

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Sarah Bird & Rowan Hoban, Just So 2014

Wild Rumpus: doing things differently on the festival scene

April 19, 2017 Comments Off on Wild Rumpus: doing things differently on the festival scene

Sarah Bird, co-director of festival producer Wild Rumpus, shares the philosophy behind seven Northern festivals and how they are doing things differently through collaboration.

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