New photo albums on Flickr

For the first time in a long while, I’ve uploaded photos to my Flickr photostream. These are mostly from various days out since August last year.

Speke Hall

Speke Hall

Speke Hall is a National Trust property on the edge of Liverpool – indeed, it’s next to the runway of Liverpool John Lennon Airport. It’s a Tudor manor house surrounded by well-kept gardens, which include a maze, a discovery trail and play areas. It’s just over and hour’s drive for us, and this was our second visit – our first was in winter 2019. Flickr album link.

York Gate Garden

York Gate Garden
York Gate Garden is to the north of Leeds. It’s quite small but well laid-out, and you can spend over an hour exploring it. There’s also the obligatory café and gift shop. Flickr album link.

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing

Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing 2022

Rushbearing is an annual tradition that takes place in Sowerby Bridge every year – normally the first weekend in September. Historically, it was the delivery of rushes to the various local churches; whilst this still happens in a ceremonial capacity, the parade also calls at many local pubs, and has various Morris and traditional dancing troupes joining in each year. Other communities in the Pennines have similar rituals. Flickr album link.

Hare Hill Garden

Hare Hill Garden
Hare Hill is another National Trust property – we’re members, and so we try to get our money’s worth every year. I literally have a spreadsheet tracking how much we spend against the annual cost of membership. This was one property that we hadn’t visited, that was also within driving distance for a day out – it’s in Cheshire, near Alderley Edge. There’s a walled garden, and a landscaped forest area. It’s not worth travelling for a whole day, so we also went to Nether Alderley Mill on the same day, which is nearby. Flickr album link.

Huddersfield Snowdogs

Huddersfield Snowdogs

Most towns and cities have had some kind of art trail, where they produce a series of white fibreglass models, have local artists and community groups paint them, and then place them around on a trail for visitors to follow. Birmingham had Cow Parade, Hull had Larkin with Toads, Liverpool had Superlambananas, Bristol had Gromit, and in September and October 2022, Kirklees, the metropolitan district including Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Holmfirth and Mirfield, had Snowdogs. We went to have a look at some of those around Huddersfield – here’s a link to the Flickr album showing a few of them.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Ring tailed lemur

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park is the largest zoo that’s close to us, being on the east side of Doncaster, and we had day tickets gifted to us last Christmas. This was a relatively short visit, as we were with friends who also had kids. Being a newer zoo, the zoo doesn’t have a huge variety of animals but those that it does have are afforded very large enclosures, and there are very good photography opportunities. It has the UK’s largest collection of polar bears, and a large pride of lions that were re-homed from a cramped zoo in Romania. Flickr album link.

Castle Howard Christmas

Castle Howard Christmas 2022 - 'Into the Woods'
Castle Howard is a stately home in North Yorkshire, and every winter they dress up their rooms for Christmas. It’s always a sparkling visual delight, and this year’s theme was the musical Into the Woods. This was our first visit – you have to book in advance, and it’s not cheap, but the tickets do include access to the rest of the site, including an excellent playground for kids. Flickr album link.

Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey Stables

Yes, it’s another National Trust property – Dunham Massey, near Altrincham to the south west of Manchester. This was our second visit; both times we’ve been in the winter, as it has excellent winter gardens. I advise getting there early; both times we’ve arrived in the afternoon and it’s been a struggle to get parked, even in winter. I didn’t actually take any photos of the house this time, but we did find out more about it as we went on the walking tour of the grounds. It’s notable as the property was mostly vacant for the 19th century, and so unlike many other stately homes, its grounds weren’t reshaped by the likes of Capability Brown. Flickr album link.

Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum (March 2023)

The Manchester Museum is based at the University of Manchester, and this year re-opened after a multi-year refurbishment and extension project. It’s one of our favourite museums, with a wide variety of exhibits, and very accessible for children. Our favourite part is the vivarium, which, despite it being a museum, has live exhibits – mainly frogs and lizards. Flickr album link.

Martin Mere

Martin Mere

Over in Lancashire, we had a day out at Martin Mere, a wetland area managed by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. The site is in two parts; one part has a visitor centre and some captive species of birds including flamingoes (and some otters), but the remaining three quarters of the site is home to wild birds. A large, enclosed bird hide lets you see the main lake in the mere, and it’s worth popping by when the staff spread bird seed out as literally thousands of aquatic birds descend – including hooper swans, if you visit at the right time of year. When we visited, part of the site was closed off due to Avian Flu but hopefully it will be open in full now. There were also a number of Lego models of birds, but we went on the last day. Flickr album link.

Hardcastle Crags

Hardcastle Crags and Gibson Mill

We’re on National Trust property again, although not so far afield – Hardcastle Crags sits just north of Hebden Bridge and is our closest site. In the middle of the site is Gibson Mill, which is open as a museum, café and shop, and is completely off grid – there’s no mains electricity, gas, water or sewerage. Its drinking water is filtered from the water, and it has composting toilets. Meanwhile solar panels and a hydroelectric motor provide electricity, and a wood burning stove provides heat. As we’ve recently invested in solar panels, I was quite interested to see how they were managing; when we visited, an additional generator was behind the back of the mill and they were unable to sell hot food. Flickr album link.

Manor Heath Park

Manor Heath Park Jungle Experience and Walled Garden

Manor Heath Park is one of Halifax’s public parks, and recently it has re-opened its walled garden and Jungle Experience, an indoor butterfly house with tropical plants. These photos were all taken on my iPhone 13 Mini, as it wasn’t a planned trip and I didn’t have my usual camera (Canon EOS 70D) with me. Flickr album link.

York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum

One of York’s better established museums, the Castle Museum is also one of my favourites, but I’d not visited since 2009. It includes Kirkgate, a recreated street of shops, and part of the old York jail which counted Dick Turpin as one of its more famous inmates. We whizzed around in a couple of hours thanks to a somewhat disinterested seven-year-old but you can probably spend longer. Flickr album link.

Murton Park

Murton Park (April 2023)

On the edge of York is Murton Park, which incorporates the Yorkshire Museum of Farming and the remaining stub of the Derwent Valley Light Railway. It’s a bit of mix of different things – as well as animals and lots of farm machinery, there’s a Viking village (which a re-enactment society were using) and a model Roman fort, which was being used by an American Cowboy re-enactment society. We last visited in 2018 and there’s clearly been an effort to expand the range of activities for kids, which is nice. Flickr album link.

That’s about 9 months of photos uploaded. I still need to do some tagging on a few images, but please enjoy. I am trying to use Flickr more, even though it’s not got the same community feel that it did in the early days. I understand its new owners, Smugmug, are trying their best but are up against a lot of technical debt – indeed, some parts of the site appear unchanged in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been a member.

New new new new new iPhone

A photo of an iPhone 13 Mini with iOS 15 showing the home screen

Last week, I bought myself a new iPhone 13 Mini. This is the fifth iPhone model I’ve owned:

  • iPhone 4 (black, 16 GB), bought in autumn 2010
  • iPhone 5 (white, 64 GB), bought in autumn 2012
  • iPhone 5s (white, 64 GB), bought in spring 2015
  • iPhone 8 (Product RED, 64 GB), bought in summer 2018
  • iPhone 13 Mini (blue, 128 GB), bough in spring 2023

As you can see, with each model I’ve kept it a little longer than the previous one. Before my first iPhone, I would generally keep a phone handset for 18-24 months at a time, and indeed that was the case with my first iPhone – it was on its last legs by the time I traded it in. Its replacement, the iPhone 5 laster a little longer but I had issues charging it after a while. The iPhone 5s laster slightly longer again, but in the hot summer of 2018 its battery started expanding and the back was coming away from the phone body, so I decided it was high time for a replacement.

I was hoping to get my iPhone 8 to make it to five years, and in late 2021 I even had the battery replaced to give it some extra life. Alas, this new battery was also starting to wear out – I would have to recharge my phone more than once a day to get through.

Whilst I could have had yet another new battery fitted, I suspect that Apple won’t support such an old model much longer with new iOS updates, and they were offering up to two years 0% finance on new models. I’m not eligible to upgrade with my current phone network, as I’m on a 2 year fixed SIM-only contract, so buying the new phone direct from Apple on 0% finance seemed like the best option.

Apple conveniently provides a Compare iPhone models tool, and so I was able to decide between the various models on offer to work out which was best for me. As you may note from the above, my purchases of the 5s and 8 were at times when physically larger models were available, but I’ve generally preferred the smaller iPhone models. That pretty much ruled out buying an iPhone 14, as there’s ‘mini’ version available – and it was also £200 more than the iPhone 13 Mini.

Apple also offers its iPhone SE range, and the current third generation is essentially an iPhone 8 body with iPhone 13 internals. However, that means a smaller screen, and Touch ID rather than Face ID, as well as a more basic camera, slower 5G, less water resistance and no support for MagSafe, when compared with the iPhone 13 Mini.

A photo of an iPhone 13 Mini (left) next to an iPhone 8 (right)

The iPhone 13 Mini is also slightly smaller and lighter (albeit by a mere four grammes) than the iPhone SE. Despite this, the screen is bigger, as the bezel is smaller – it doesn’t need to accommodate the home button for Touch ID.

As for the iPhone 14, as well as it being too large for my liking and more expensive, it’s not much of an upgrade. Again, there’s an even better camera, the ability to make SOS calls via satellite, crash detection and slightly better battery life, but the processor is the same as the 13 Mini and SE; the only benefit is one extra GPU core.

Having had the new phone for a week, I’ve appreciated the extra speed, and the convenience of Face ID which seems to work well, even when I’m wearing glasses. The transfer process from old phone to new also went pretty well and I was mostly up and running on the new phone in a couple of hours – some of which was spent installing iOS 16.4. The new camera is also great and I’ve taken a couple of photos with the ultra-wide aperture lens (giving a fish-eye appearance).

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this new phone going for the full five years. Whilst it’s always nice to have the latest and greatest device, I also appreciate the cost savings of not upgrading regularly. If everyone held onto their phones for several years, I’m sure there would be wider environmental benefits.