About Me

Sunday, 12 March 2017

My Northern City

A northern lass, my nearest city is Manchester. A city I love dearly. Powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and commercial hub for the now defunct Lancashire Cotton and Textile Industry, these days Victorian grandeur sits side-by-side with modernity.

Catching the train from Horwich Parkway, it takes around thirty minutes to reach Manchester Piccadilly, the city's biggest railway station, whose electronic boards and crackly announcements signal national as well as local trains. Yet, as I arrive, on a dull, overcast Saturday, the station seems quiet and suspended, like the woman on the bench between trains. 

 I take the tram to the Northern Quarter, passing from one side of the city centre to the other courtesy of one of Europe's best tram networks. As a nation, we abandoned trams in the late 40s and 50s believing  them to be an old-fashioned method of transport. Prompting light hearted entertainers Flanders and Swann to develop this daft little ditty:

  Last of the trams

In the 1980's Manchester, always a forward thinking city, reintroduced the tram making it easy, along with the free metro shuttle buses, to get around. I am lulled by their gentle swaying motion and soft choo-choo whistle, alerting pedestrians to be aware trams are passing through the city's streets.

The Manchester Metro
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 Stepping off at Shude Hill, I make my way to the somewhat trendy Northern Quarter, where hipsters mingle with Stag and Hen parties at weekends and where the fa├žade of the old fish market has been conserved as a wall around blocks of recently built apartments.

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Walking through the narrow streets and back alleys ...

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...I soon arrive at my destination...-

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Manchester Craft Centre
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...and my favourite jewellers

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RA Designer Jewellery

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where I purchase two pairs of earrings and then amble back across the city toward King Street, with its imposing architecture.

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Sadly, as I make my way across the city, I notice far more homeless people than I have noticed for many, many years, since the 1980's in fact and wonder how much this has to do, as in the 1980s, with having a well established Conservative government. See the person wrapped up in a blue sleeping bag in the doorway in the photo below.


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I make way my way to Waterstones on Deansgate, where I get carried away and buy five books before settling down in the cafe for a piece of flap jack and a large Americano
(Although I have posted on a Sunday, I will forward this for T is for Tuesday via Bluebeard and Elizabeth, as I work on Tuesday making it difficult to post a longer entry on that particular day.)
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Finally, I head for Manchester Victoria Station, which has recently undergone further modernisation (I am old enough to remember when they changed the access to the platforms in the late-mid 1980s; I preferred it when there were tunnels rather than overhead steps but they must have had their reasons.) The new upgrade is very much in keeping and effective, giving a smarter feel to the station and a more space for the busy tram stop. As part of the refurbishment, the tiled wall map of the old  Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway has been restored, as have the old shop fronts.
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I read one of my books on the train as the not so dull, dull day turns to evening as I travel homewards.


Related posts:

Second visit to London

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A virtual journey to the Dove at Hammersmith

Invited to share a drink with The Altered Book Lover. I  decide we should go down to the Thames at Hammersmith. Cutting through the quieter terraces that lead from busy King Street to the river, we take a detour up river along the Mall as far as Chiswick Eyot and back again. The early spring air is sharp but the sun is shining and we are warm enough so long as we walk briskly 

Just before we reach the narrow passage way, which houses our destination, we spot a sign outside the annex of a large Victorian villa and spend half an hour admiring the designs of C19th fabrics at the William Morris Society.

Then, cosy inside the annex of the tiny hostelry, we look out over the pier and watch the muddy river forever flowing to the sea and wonder at all the history it has silently witnessed.