Return to Manchester (for a weekend)

I’ve lived in Chester for over 20 years. Moving there was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But…

I’m not from Chester, I’m from Manchester and that will always be my home.

Nikki decided she’d like to visit Manchester for a long weekend.

I couldn’t wait !.

We’d be staying at the Midland hotel. It really is nice in there, and since I booked with Travelzoo over a year ago, we got a fantastic deal.

Nikki had meetings all day, but I’d booked the afternoon off. Getting off the train, I had a walk around and then went to meet my old friend Nick in the Bank (a pub, we weren’t paying in cheques or anything !).

On the way, I was disappointed to see Debenhams closed down. I bought my first video recorder and various other thing here (my brother and I would meet each weekend and go to the cinema. Afterwards it would be MacDonald’s or Pizza hut, then we’d go and treat ourselves to something nice.

Another thing I was surprised to see, was Manchester Town Hall. It’s featured in loads of tv programs like Ripper Street, and Foyles war. It’s got a bit rundown, so they’re doing it up.

I hadn’t realised just how much work is involved. It won’t re-open until 2024 and portakabin’s stacked 4 high, tells you how many people are involved.

In the evening, drinks at the Midland and dinner at the black cat.

In the morning, breakfast at the hotel (someone we met in the lift, couldn’t run to the cost of breakfast, so he’d been sent out to buy MacDonald’s.

We’d decided to visit Media City.

When I was last there 15 years ago, it had the Imperial war museum of the North and the Lowry centre. I was disapointed to find that water taxi’s no longer run, so I took the same route my friend Frank led on my original trip.

Media city is on the Manchester Ship Canal. But the much smaller Rochdale Canal runs a similar route, so wandered along that for 3 miles.

A strange sort of telephone box entrance and we’re inside the IWM.

They had most of the original artefacts including this amazing Harrier Jump Jet (which are much smaller than you’d expect them to be with only a 25 foot wingspan).

The museum is specifically about War, and the impact it has on people. They are very specific that it isn’t a military museum.

But there are loads of interesting things in there. There’s a section on medical advances due to war. Superglue didn’t exist before the Vietnam war !.

A temporary exhibition about Aid Workers.

In this picture, an original Karimore Jaguar S75 rucksack.

From here, you cross a bridge to Media City, which is like an Island.

There were various things going on, but there was one specific thing I’d come here to see. The Blue Peter Italian Sunken Garden.

I’d seen it constructed as a child week by week and I was really upset when it was vandalised. When Blue Peter moved North, I heard that the Garden had moved with it.

I asked a few people working at a bar, but they’d never heard of it. Then I realised they were about 20 and wouldn’t have been born when it was constructed. They told me about a place called the Blue Peter garden, and this was it.

After all those years, I finaly got to sit in the sunken garden. It even has the original statue of Petra in the corner.

A visit to the Lowry art gallery, in the Lowry centre.

It has the largest collection of Lowry painting in the world.

Interestingly, my favourite picture by him is one of Piccadilly Gardens. That was commissioned and hangs in the Manchester Art Gallery (which I’d be visiting the next day).

Having spent the whole day exploring, we had some dinner, 2 bottles of wine and then decided to head back to “town”.

Looking down the ship canal at this amazing view. But I was shocked to see, some people had climbed onto the bridge.

I can only guess at what these idiots were doing, but one of them was clearly photographing the other.

If he’d tripped I wonder if the camera would have captured the last moments of his life. Some people are too stupid to be allowed out of the house.

Our final day in Manchester. We visit the Manchester Art Gallery. It’s a lot bigger than I remember it.

There were loads of cool pictures and installations. My favourite was this picture showing Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. I’d read about it and it sounded harrowing. This picture captured it perfectly.

Manchester’s “new” law courts. I remember when they opened, they caused controversy as the architect had modelled the buildings on filling cabinets. Not particularly inspiring.

The area of Spinningfields didn’t even exist when I left Manchester. As we wandered around, we were struck by the amazing buildings. You can see why Manchester is now considered Britain’s 2nd city.

We were heading for the People’s museum, but I stopped on the way to take this picture. A canal-side bar called the Mark Addy was a place we frequented in my youth (Mark Addy was a character from the book, The Manchester man).

It was tragically run down and abandoned. Quite sad really. I’ve heard since that it flooded several times (one one occasion, completely submerged), and 10 years ago finally closed.

Inside the peoples museum, there was loads of stuff about the history of politics in the UK, the Trade Union movement, Suffragettes and the Miners Strike.

Lots of interesting visuals like this one with Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher.

They also had the one used by Nigel Farage (the phony one that’s meant to look like immigrants coming into Britain, but was actually taken during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia).

But by far, my favourite thing was this. The famous “Donkey Jacket” worn by Michael Foot at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. He as pilloried wearing it at the time, but in reality, the coat was purchased from Harrods.

Sunday lunch and then train home.

There’s loads of other stuff I could have written about, but I’ve tried to pick the unusual stuff.

Looks like the Covid experience may be coming to and end.

The search for adventure continues…

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