Manchester – My First Weekend

Following my post at the beginning of July listing the places I need to see while in Manchester, this has been the first opportunity I have had to tick off a few items. As Lauren had a couple of days off work she decided to come and stay saving me the 200 mile trip home. The client I am working for at the moment has very kindly booked me a serviced apartment in the city centre. Unlike hotels, these apartments are block booked, in my case for an initial six weeks, which gives me a perfect base from which to live and explore. It also means that I can have visitors.

After a long week, and with the weather being horrible, Friday night proved literally to be a wash out. We did meet up for lunch at Costa, but by the time I got back from the office in the evening I was soaked through, and so, after a quick 5 minute walk to the local convenience store, it was a lazy night in front of the telly.

Saturday was to be busy; with so many places to visit, a decent, if a little late, breakfast was in order. Bill’s Restaurant, just off Deansgate, proved to be perfect; check out Lauren’s blog for her review.

After breakfast, we headed towards the Arndale Centre as there were a couple of things we needed. This brought us into contact with two, unexpected, things. First was a demonstration in support of the people of Gaza; rather loud and with the use of some inappropriate phrases, it past by us relatively quickly for which we were both rather thankful.

The second was “Dig the City”, Manchester’s Urban Gardening Festival which was made of up of a large number of small gardens created right in the street. There were vegetables, flowers and even a crazy golf course! There were many really clever ideas which could be adapted easily into any town centre garden.

Manchester1

Next we headed to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). Housed in five former railway warehouse buildings, MOSI covers everything from the sewers below our feet, through the industry which made Manchester so rich, to the planes which fly over our heads. The museum also houses the oldest railway station in the world with a full size steam engine taking visitors on short rides through the site. One of the buildings which was clearly a former railway maintenance shed housed a number of engines and carriages which have been, or are currently being, restored to their former glory.

There was so much to see at MOSI, which I think we found a little overwhelming. We also found that so many of the exhibits were not labeled, and the route through not particularly well defined, so that we seemed to drift with little direction through items which we didn’t understand. As such we left earlier that anticipated and with a sense that we had perhaps missed out on much that the museum had to offer. Highlights were without doubt the buildings and railway tracks themselves.

2014-08-02 14.57.01From MOSI we followed the back roads into Spinningfields and round past the numerous shops and restaurants the area has to offer. Our destination The John Rylands Library.

I am not going to say much about this building other than to say you really MUST go in. The entrance is in the new part at the back of the original library which fronts on to Deansgate.

The building is a masterpiece and incredibly atmospheric, particularly on a gloomy or winters day as the light outside fades and the shadows escape from their hiding places.

Next, more food! This time The Handmade Burger Company, another absolute gem of a place. A good selection on the menu both for meat eaters like me and vegetarians like Lauren. I had the Lamb and Mint burger and it was superb.

So that was Saturday. Sunday started with another trip to the Arndale Centre as I needed to collect something which I had ordered on-line a few days before.

My apartment is situated on Princes Street which had been completely closed off to traffic, and in parts to pedestrians, for the Go Sky Ride event which apparently saw 12,000 cyclists on the streets of Manchester!

A quick breakfast at Costa Coffee and it was on to the Peoples History Museum.

Now I’m not a union man, or a member of any political party, and so when I read a little of the history of this place I wasn’t too sure that it would be worth the effort. The collections were in part provided by the Trade Unions and the Labour party, and so I was expecting history to be written in a particular way; I was very pleasantly surprised. The museum was incredibly interesting taking you through the changes from the majority having no say in their own lives let a lone the running of the country, the Peterloo Massacre, the Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and so on through the wars and the ultimate universal suffrage which we enjoy today.

A special exhibition is on until the 1st February 2015, looking at the effect of the First World War on the people who went to war, those that stayed behind and how their lives changed on their return. Entitled “A Land Fit For Heroes and the Working Class 1914-1918” it is well worth a look.

Finally to round the weekend off we took a drive out to Salford Quays so that I could show Lauren the Imperial War Museum, Media City and the new Coronation Street studio.

A great weekend; some interesting places visited and some even better food eaten. More yet to see during my next weekend in Manchester.

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