One of the benefits of having a dog (and not having to go to the office every day) is that you are forced to become a pedestrian. I spent too much of my life outside of the house in the confines of a car—because of the need to commute, or get the shopping in quickly and so on.

Walking and being exposed to the elements makes you much more aware of the natural world. Because you’re not insulated from cold and rain, and because your attention is free to wander, rather than watch the road, you see things at more visceral level than before.

I’ve mentioned before that there is a particular spot on my regular walks with the dog that has a special attraction to me. I can’t really explain why  those particular trees from that particular position is something that I look forward to seeing whenever I go that way, but the fact is that I always take time to slow down and just watch those silver birch framing the willow.

And, of course, over the course of the last six months or so, I’ve watched (and photographed) the trees wake from their winter dormancy to full spring exuberance.

Here, then, are some pictures of the seasonal change in one particular stand of trees.

First prize!

I entered these pictures in a local competition – Capture the Canal – to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the opening of the Bridgewater Canal, and won first prize in the ‘Scenic’ category. I think that’s the first time I’ve won anything with my photography.

On rediscovering the joys of walking around

I’ve been doing a bit of walking around the backside of Manchester recently for my final project at college. Following the Bridgewater Way gives you a new perspective on areas that you thought you knew well. Distances change, for example – a long-ish journey by road is actually quite short along the towpath; five minutes by tram becomes half an hour on foot.

What you also see from these alternative paths are some stunning examples of the graffitist’s art. The illiterate scrawlings that pepper the well-travelled areas bear no relation to some of the stuff you can find in these out-of the-way places. Who would have thought that this sits underneath the A56 in Stretford:

Under the bridge

Lovely, vibrant colours and sense of joie-de-vivre. It has no point other than to exist, and maybe bring a smile to someone’s face and the secret knowledge that you’ve seen it, but all those thousands passing a few feet above have no idea.

If this project’s done nothing else for me, it’s persuaded me to explore the back ways and byways much more than I have before. You never know what little gems might be out there.