Valley of Lights, Todmorden

After severe flooding hit the Calder Valley twice in rapid succession this summer, the local communities reacted brilliantly to this devastating challenge. Businesses and individuals pulled together, demonstrating the indefatigable local spirit and individual outlook which characterises the upper valley, bringing together neighbours and strangers alike.

With many residential and commercial properties affected for months by the floods, it’s been a tough year, and collectively the area deserved a reason to celebrate their achievements since… and let their hair down. Fast forward six months and cue the Valley of Lights; a unique initiative spearheaded by Totally Locally, supported by Calderdale Council and creatively led by Handmade Parade. Embracing the pool of talent, enthusiasm and skill of hundreds of artists, performers, producers, retailers and members of the public, it’s an event spread over ten days in the three towns worst affected by the flooding here – Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.

Designed to celebrate the Upper Calder Valley; its people, its creativity, its uniqueness and its hundreds of small businesses, it combined community initiatives with a series of spectacular performances, outdoor markets and displays. It’s a gloriously welcome way to usher in the start of the Christmas period, and the switch on of the lights in each town.

It was Tod’s turn first on Saturday 24th November, and as luck would have it, the heavens opened just before the start of the celebrations. Ironic considering the heavy rain in the summer. However folk round here are hardy and won’t easily turn down the excuse for a celebration and performance… especially one designed to showcase their triumph over the natural elements. Besides, we do parades and parties well around here, such as the Pollination Parade early this year.

After the Christmas Lights switch on, performers and musicians led a Lantern Parade around the town, before a spectacular fire finale in at the Rose Street / Bramsche Square site. Tod Market stayed open late, with both regulars and local artist makers selling their wares, encouraging shoppers to spend their pounds close to home. Musicians and street performers weaved among the heaving crowds, raising smiles and spirits through the rain.

Meanwhile there was a spectacular wharfside flotilla along Fielden Wharf on the Rochdale Canal, featuring lit-up inflatables by Spacecadets (you can view some panoramas of their work from Preston in 2006 and the Lowry, Salford in 2007 respectively). Live music was performed by Daniel Weaver from an open narrowboat: you can just spot him through the crowds during the timelapse video above.

Friends and food clients alike, local food heroes Porcus and the Bear Café set up stall to warm the hearts (and bellies) of the brave souls who ventured out in the rain. I set up my trusty GoPro and recorded a (very soggy) timelapse video of Porcus serving up their homemade rare breed sausages, while I tried out my new DSLR in wet weather conditions. All in all it was damp but delightful night, perfectly showcasing the diversity and distinctiveness of the local area, and making people rightly proud of what they have and hold dear!

Paella and panoramas at Nigel Haworth’s Fantastic Food Show

I’m never one to shy away from the call of good food, and at an event where several of my clients were taking part, the invite was just too tempting to resist! The event in question was Nigel Haworth’s Fantastic Food Show at Ewood Park, Blackburn; probably the North West’s premiere event for producers, distributors and food lovers.

We’ve worked with Levanter before, photographing them at various events, and what really fascinated us was their presence: the banter and salesmanship around their artisanal Spanish produce, the skill and timing in making and serving those giant paellas, and Joe’s superb guitar skills. So we agreed to film a timelapse video to capture the whole experience. The busy crowds on the day loved the fragrant, vibrant mix of colours and aromas, as well as the tastings of charcuterie on sale; and long queues formed as each paella was ready to serve.

I also shot a series of linked 360°panoramic views, featuring Foodlink NorthWest, Incredible Edible, and Port of Lancaster Smokehouse amongst others, which you can view below. Hope you enjoy the show as much as those on the day did!

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

Keeping it local… Made in Tod

Keeping it local, I managed to make the most of a brief window in the weather and shoot a couple of panoramas on my doorstep in Todmorden this weekend.

Panoramic view of Todmorden outdoor market

(Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser)

Firstly, the outdoor market under some welcome blue skies. We’re lucky to still have an active indoor and outdoor market, unlike many similar-sized towns nearby. Although it faces increased competition from faceless supermarkets encroaching on the area, Tod market provides a great selection of goods & foodstuffs for local consumers. Campaigns such as Incredible Edible Todmorden have proudly promoted locally produced and sourced products, tying this in with greater awareness and action about the welfare and sustainability of foodstuffs.

The panorama below shows four traders, all of whom sell superb fresh local and regional produce. In the marquee you can see local free range pork farmers Porcus serving up one of their amazing rare breed hog roasts, and as you pan around you’ll see Paul the fishmonger (bringing fish direct from Fleetwood), Christine from CN Produce (who sells Porcus bacon and sausages amongst other regional delights) and Hazelwood’s greengrocers. Definitely the best place to shop in the town… totally local, and great value!

Incidentally, here’s a timelapse video I shot of a previous Porcus hog roast in Rawtenstall last year…

Secondly, inside Todmorden’s glorious Victorian Town Hall (which I originally shot back in 2008), was the annual Made in Tod show, organised by Todmorden Business Association to showcase local companies and producers. The event was well attended, and I decided to take capture this panorama from high above the exhibitors, using an aerial pole rig. I particularly like the ‘mirrorball’ view below, which provides a unique perspective on the event…

Panoramic view of the Made in Tod show 2012, inside Todmorden Town Hall

(Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser)


Mirrorball panoramic view of the Made in Tod 2012 show



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

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser

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

Click/tap the image above to view a panoramic 360° view of the scene in your browser