March 31, 2015

The Cathedrals of Liverpool

One of the things I didn't realise about Liverpool before going there was that it has not one, but two cathedrals.  

There's the modern Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King at one end of the aptly named Hope Street, known locally as Paddy's Wigwam or the Mersey Funnel.  This cathedral is also rare in that it has a car park built underneath it, very convenient for worshippers.  You'll find a couple of photos of this cathedral below in which you'll see its unique style.

At the other end of Hope Street, there's the more traditional Liverpool Cathedral which is the fifth largest cathedral in the world.  It was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, famous for designing the iconic red telephone box (you'll even find one inside the cathedral!).

One of the highlights of my weekend was a trip to the top of the tower at the Liverpool Cathedral.  Public access to such vantage points are rare, so for a small fee I took the two separate lifts and climbed the 108 stairs to the top. It's not for the less-abled or anyone scared of heights!  But the views are spectacular, as you'll see below.  I'd love to return to do one of the Twilight Tower events - sunsets from the tower must be incredible.

Both of the cathedrals are so unique that they really add to the character of the Liverpool skyline.

This is the second of three posts about a recent trip to Liverpool - you can see the previous post about Shiverpool here.

The colourful entrance to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
Hope Street and The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King as seen from
the top of the tower of Liverpool Cathedral.
Liverpool Cathedral dominates the city skyline,
with the Metropolitan Cathedral distinctively proud too.
Staring up from the imposing entrance to Liverpool Cathedral is quite daunting.
After two lifts you reach the stairs which give a great view of the bells.
Understandably you're not allowed access when they're ringing.
After 108 steps of the staircase which clings to the inside of the tower you can look down
if you dare.
Even on a slightly hazy day you can clearly see several kilometres
across the city to the docks and beyond.
Looking down on the city it looks such a jumble of buildings.
You can also see famous sites such as the Liver Building, the Radio City Tower, and the Mersey river. 
Adjacent to the cathedral is the St. James Cemetery, built into an old quarry
and containing nearly 60,000 souls.

March 30, 2015

Shiverpool in Liverpool

This is the first of three posts from a recent weekend trip to Liverpool.  The visit was originally planned around a ghost hunt at the abandoned Newsham Park Hospital, but that was cancelled at the last minute leaving a free weekend with accommodation booked.  So lots of tourist adventures were done, including an evening with Shiverpool...

Shiverpool run theatrical ghost tours around the city, a very entertaining way of learning the dark past of Liverpool and its people.  No actual science or ghost hunting, just good clean and occasionally spooky story telling and fun.

The tour was focused on the Hope Street area and featured Lucy Carew, aka Chiller Black, and Samantha Hill as Chiller's sister.  One or more members of the Shiverpool crew lurked in the shadows from time to time too.

I'm delighted to say that Shiverpool liked the photos from the evening so much they've had a copy of them all, and even used them as part of their submission for the Liverpool City Region Tourism Awards!

I don't want to give away too much about the tour, or spoil the surprises for anyone, other than to say it was really excellent and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Liverpool.  And if you're in Oxford, then look out for Bill Spectre who does a similarly excellent ghost tour around the town.

An audience member is caught on camera red handed.
Spooky Samantha Hill.
Outside the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
known locally at Paddy's Wigwam.
Chiller Black gets the crowd spooked.
The evil sister lurks in the shadows.
Chiller does her Sebastian Vettel impression.
The tomb of William McKenzie, 'buried' above ground
after making a pact with the devil in life.
Just before a prank, which I can't reveal!
Chillers outfit is a perfect match
for the old Liverpool buildings.
More story telling in action.

March 19, 2015

Jisc Digifest15

I rarely get to combine my day job with my passion for photography, but this month I had the opportunity to do just that.  Each year Jisc run a Digital Festival, or Digifest for short, to engage with their customers and discuss the positive impact of technology on further and higher education and discover new tools and approaches.

My role for the event was to help out on the Fab Lab, an area dedicated to new technologies that may apply to education.  The star of the Fab Lab was NAO the robot from Rapid Education, who could be programmed to undertake a variety of functions, and for education could be used to interact with autistic children.  Also highly popular were virtual reality goggles and glasses from Samsung, Google, and Epson.

Augmented reality systems from Campus Interactive showed how it was possible to combine tablet software and a life-like dummy to undertake interactive medical training. The Open University demonstrated how their distance learning technologies could be used.

I ventured beyond the Fab Lab to get some photos around the event, as well as some some time lapse videos that you can find on the Just 10 Photo YouTube Channel.

Digifest15 was held at the ICC in Birmingham.
The main hall was filled with exhibitors, The Hub presentation area, and The Fab Lab.
An event app allowed people to share thoughts, photos, and gave the event a community feel.
Updates from the app, photos, and a leader board of top posters were displayed
on a massive screen at the entrance to the event.
Taking a timelapse with my Olympus OMD E-M1, clamped precariously
to a rail with a Gorillapod and further secured with my Joby wrist strap
and Black Rapid shoulder strap.
Virtual reality goggles from Samsung and Google were popular on the Fab Lab.
NAO the robot was the star of the Fab Lab.
NAO even had his portrait painted electronically.
Katy from Campus Interactive shows how augmented reality can be used in medical teaching.
Dave the Dummy arrived in a case, having spent a week with the Royal Marines.
A lively discussion on IT leadership at The Hub.
A camper van photo booth from Groovybooth provided some entertainment at Digifest.