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  • Natalie Bradbury

Collecting rainbows

Throughout 2021, when travel outside Manchester was restricted for many months, I took a great deal of comfort from walking along the Bridgewater Canal near my home in Old Trafford, and around nearby Salford, which is just the other side of the Manchester Ship Canal (the water forms the border between the two cities).

I still walk along the canal to Manchester city centre several times a week, come rain or come shine. Reflecting the fact that the weather is becoming more extreme, it felt like there was significantly more rain than sunshine last summer and autumn – and often, both at the same time. Throughout the past year, as increasingly heavy downpours have alternated with spells of sunshine, I’ve noticed that rainbows have become a far more regular sight over the skies of Manchester.

I have started to collect the rainbows I see as I walk, storing them on my phone. These quick snapshots remind of a moment when a place I know so well, and my experience of passing through it, has been temporarily transformed; walking through a double rainbow, as the colours glitter on the wet pavement underneath your feet, is a rare and intense experience!

One day, I stopped on a footbridge over Manchester Ship Canal, which links Castlefield on the Manchester side with Ordsall on the Salford side, and observed a barely visible rainbow over the water. I am no poet, but this haiku popped into my head, fully formed:

A rainbow hanging On the small stretch of water Between two cities

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