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GREETINGS FROM MANCHESTER on a sunny July Sunday. I thought it would be fun to go out and about in the car and take some photos on a watery theme. Most of the pictures in this Newsletter update were taken today on the Agfa E-Photo digital camera, featuring locations in five different Greater Manchester districts. In the picture below, Salford is across the canal to the left, and Trafford it to the right.

YESTERDAY I uploaded my Whitworth St virtual walk from Piccadilly to Oxford Rd, using a new format pop-up text window, again revised on Tuesday 13 July 99. You can also go from Oxford Rd to Piccadilly if you haven't done so already. Also read George Greatbanks recollections in the early July Reader Messges.

Whitworth Street runs east-west from London Rd, next to Piccadilly Station to the junction with Oxford Road , Palace Theatre and Palace Hotel.Whitworth St is lined with educational and commercial buildings, many constructed during the boom period following the opening of the Ship Canal in 1894. The magnificent Old Fire Station, sadly unused at the moment, was built in 1906, and is palatial in style and proportions. Equally impressive is the UMIST building dating from 1892-98, with the massive and imposing extension opened by Prince Phillip in 1957.

The MMU Aytoun Library across the road is a piece of white and plate-glass 1990's hi-tech, while just across the street is the ornate red-brick Shena Simon College, with its roof adornments recalling the Bates Motel.

Further along Whitworth St you'll find a succession of imposing warehouse buildings, most of which are being converted into flats. This area for me has a strongly American feel - and reminds me of parts of New York. Like the street of the same name in south Manhattan, nearby Canal St has been transformed from a run-down warehouse district into a stylish area of bars and nightclubs. I'll be featuring Canal Street in a coming Eyewitness update.

AND NOW a few news stories that caught my eye the past few days

A FURORE broke out in Oldham in connection with a book about the history of ethnic minorities in the borough during 150 years. The author is reported to have said that ethnic minorites should adapt more to the host country. Predictably his comments were criticised as being racist. But did he mean that ethnic minority communities should switch to fish and chips as their national dish and give up their religion, dress and language? I don't think so. He was probably pointing out that some sections of ethnic minority communities are disadvantaged through, say, lack of knowledge of English.

Eyewitness says: People shouldn't jump to cricitise if a comment appears to go against the prevailing political trend, particularly if it's taken out of context. Here's a member of an ethnic minority a couple of weeks ago proudly displaying his national flag - Pakistan had just won in the cricket at Old Trafford. I took the photo in Rushome. Yes, long live chicken korma, onion bhajis and pilau rice!

2 extra pics from today: Trafford Centre fountains and horses on Werneth Low

SNO WORLD NORTH WEST, nicknamed "Sal Moritz" an exciting new winter sports complex, is to be built on vacant land just across the Irwell from Granada Studios. It will house 2 ski-slopes with (machine-produced) real snow, a multiplex cinema, shops, nightclub, fitness centre, drive-through restaurant and petrol station. Amazing - the question I keep asking is: Can Manchester really sustain so many leisure attractions? Already under construction are the Printworks, the Great Northern, the Gateway Centre, the Lowry Centre, the Triangle (alias Corn Exchange). We already have Granada Studios Tour and a thriving club and cafe-bar scene. If they're all successful, Manchester will be the pleasure ground of the north, but will Prince Charles consider switching from Klosters to Sno World North West?

THERE WAS A NEAR-MISS INCIDENT at Manchester Airport at 8.45am on Monday. An incoming Delta Airlines MD-11 was just 200 yards apart from an Air 2000 Boeing 757 which was just taking off. Co-incidentally, a BA 747 bound for Hong Kong came within 200 yards of a Korean cargo plane over China this weekend. Scary, but I wonder about the real extent of the danger. I reckon that driving along the Mancunian Way at rush hour is still a riskier enterprise than taking a passenger plane. And on Friday I witnessed two hazardous maneouvres by taxis. A black cab did a sudden u-turn on London Rd near Piccadilly Station, forcing the 192 bus to brake suddenly. I saw another similar incident later the same day.

CONCERTS AND FESTIVALS over the last few days: English National Ballet performing Swan Lake at the MEN Arena. Also at the MEN Arena, Alanis Morissette. The Caribbean Festival took place in Alexandra Park yesterday. Yesterday and today, the Tameside Canal Festival was held at the Portland Canal Basin (above). It was also graduation week at Manchester University. This was the scene there on Thursday afternoon

EVERYWHERE I WENT on my photographic tour through Greater Manchester today, I saw blue skies and summer outfits. I decided to go for a long spin as the Eyewitness in Manchester mobile unit (Fiat Cinquecento) has just been taxed, insured and MOT'ed for another year: For those interested in comparing figures: Road tax for a car sub -1100cc: £100, above 1100cc: £150; insurance (for me) £300; MOT £30.78. The price of petrol is creeping up again - I saw 71.9p per litre on Cheetham Hill Road - the cheapest around is on Ashton Old Rd Openshaw 68.5p a litre (= US$5 a gallon).

YES, IT'S BEEN SWELTERING in Manchester over the past few days - great weather for sitting out in Castlefield (above) and sipping a nice cool pint of beer - it's difficult to imagine that only last Tuesday, there were flash floods in Walkden. Yesterday and today were gloriously sunny and hot - sometimes a bit too hot. Are we getting a proper summer? Yes, I think we are! Next update in a few days.

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
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