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Inside Fūlbæchop, Bacup

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A view inside the ‘Chop… Rossendale’s best* record shop and another south Pennine gem. Established in 2012 by artist, DJ, musical encyclopaedia and all-round nice chap Michael Holland, Fūlbæchop is a unique and personal space: part studio, part exhibition area, part record shop. Its curious moniker comes from the Old English name for Bacup, and the shop itself reflects some of the historical and cultural influences on this part of the country, as well as Michael’s broad musical tastes and heritage. Obscure vinyl, limited fanzines and CDs sit cheek by jowl with hand-crafted artworks, firewood and textiles.

Bacup lies towards the top of Rossendale in Lancashire, almost at the head of the River Irwell which flows south to separate Manchester from Salford. It sits of the hinterland between urban and rural: a gateway to wild, raw and evocative moorland landscapes. Bacup’s sometimes described as the best preserved cotton mill town in England, and it has a faded, quirky character and an uneasy relationship with its industrial past: cotton mills and coal mining were the major employers until a couple of generations ago, and their loss has left a physical and psychological scar in the town’s fabric. It’s also left a rich legacy of beautiful buildings, interesting customs and a proud sense of identity.

Fulbaechop flyers

So perhaps it makes sense for a local lad to return to his roots and set up shop here, tapping into the past and trying to create something sustainable and innovative for the future. If Fulbaechop existed in a city, it’d be full of trendy trainspotters, earnest eccentrics and cool creatives; digging through crates, sharing stories and planning collaborations. In Bacup, it’s a hidden gem, adding a welcome splash of cosmopolitan outlook and progressive inspiration. Michael’s a one-man ideas factory, bubbling with enthusiasm and pride in his local area, and keen to share his diverse knowledge of music, and showcase his own and other artist’s work.

There’s not much passing trade on Yorkshire Street, but hopefully seeing Fulbaechop in 360° will pique some people’s interest and inspire them to take a trip across the hills from Calderdale, or on a short trip from Manchester and beyond. Well worth a visit in person, or online… chop chop!

*well, only record shop… but it’s a cracker

Say cheese! Inside the Leagram Organic Dairy in Chipping

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While taking a break in the wonderfully lush lands in east/central Lancashire, between the Hodder and Ribble valleys, we dropped in to the Leagram Organic Dairy. I’ve long been a fan of the excellent Lancashire cheeses they produce… sold on Todmorden Market (as you can see in this panorama)… and I’d wanted to visit the dairy in person for some time.

We had a great chat with Robert (Bob) Kitching, who’s a bit of a legend in cheese circles. Famed for his live cheesemaking demonstrations the length and breadth of the land, as well as regular media appearances, Bob’s a familiar sight in his magnificent cheese waistcoat. Here he is in action at the Fantastic Food Show in Blackburn in 2012, selling cheese as fast as he can.

Leagram Organic Dairy team at Blackburn

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Meet the meat… Porcus open farm day

I recently attended a ‘Food Inspirers’ open day at the Porcus farm, a wonderful sixteenth century barn on the moors high about Todmorden, as part a range of activities by Incredible Edible Todmorden. We watched (and tried our hand at) sausages being made, playful porkers frolicking in their free range pens, listened to the importance of proper porcine welfare, and heard about the occasional escaped pig.

It was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, and it certainly helped to engage the visitors and give them an idea of life on an ethically-run free range farm. Most people also left with some of the great bacon, sausages and pork on sale, inspired and enthused after seeing how much care and consideration goes into these pig’s lives.

You can read much more about the day in a great write up on Culture Vulture, and you can view 360° panoramas of the group, and Dan from Porcus making sausages by clicking the links below…

SJ from Porcus discussing the welfare (and taste) of their free range pigs

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Panoramic view of Dan from Porcus making sausages from their rare breed pork

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An early welcome to the Pleasure Dome

The day before the Royal Wedding was absolutely glorious: clear, warm and sunny across the country. I was up way too early, on the train from Manchester to London for work, but had spotted this funfair the day before and had resolved to shoot it. Fairground are rather odd places, and it’s rare to see them empty, so I left the house fifteen minutes early, fortified by coffee.

The first tremulous rays of dawn broke over the reservoir just as I arrived: I quickly set up my kit and snatched this shot without attracting anyone’s attention. I’m definitely not a morning person, but there’s something rewarding about being up early to see such delicate light and such an absence of people paired with such intense paintwork.

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Just in time: watching the sun sink behind the hills

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