Monday, 15 November 2010

Some pictures of Manchester

It was Jenny's birthday the other week and we'd been talking for some time of arranging a day out just for the hell of it.  Initially this was going to be London - take in a concert or something, visit an art gallery, find a nice restaurant for dinner and catch a train home around 10.
Then Jen decided a weekend in Manchester would be better.  She's from there, so it makes sense, and we could go to the Lowry centre amongst other places.

There's slightly more to this saga.  About 25 years ago I was working for a London based company who hired me out as a computer consultant to Barclays Bank in Knutsford.  My employer had a deal whereby if you were working away from home for more than 3 months, they'd pay for a dirty weekend for you and your partner, and my boss recommended that we stay in the Britannia Hotel in central Manchester.  It was brilliant, with the most amazing staircase which, at that time, was painted in pale blue and gold.  We had a nightcap sitting in a settee on one of the landings, just gazing at the staircase and watching the world go by.

So of course, we had to stay there this time as well.  The staircase has now been painted magnolia, which is not as wonderful, but it is still the most amazing structure.

On Saturday morning we wandered around the centre of the city just for Jenny's old times' sake, then caught a tram to the Lowry Centre in Salford.  The Lowry Restaurant in the centre is excellent, and we had very good lunch before going into the actual gallery.   Over the river from the restaurant we could see the tower of a lifting bridge reflected in the windows of a modern office block.  This is one of several photographs I took as the light changed.

The actual exhibition was a little disappointing.  The well-known style is nice enough, but I found that I quickly reached saturation point and several rooms of Lowrys were more than I wanted.  Jenny had hoped there'd be more very early stuff, before he developed his matchstick figures style, and I was hoping for more of the later seascapes.

After that we did the Imperial War Museum, which I suppose was our penance for having such an otherwise terrific weekend! We kept

snapping away as dusk fell, and I was particularly pleased with this end-on shot of the new swing bridge they're building there.  The previous photo of it was taken from the viewing platform in the IWM tower, just so you can see what the arty-farty photo is about.

In the evening I'd booked us a table in The French restaurant in the Midland Hotel.  I had looked at a sample menu online, so I knew when I booked that it was going to be seriously expensive, so I just hoped the quality matched the price.  It did.  We started by sharing a quail dish, accompanied by a half bottle of Sancerre, then Jenny had a lamb main course while I had beef fillet steak, with a bottle of claret to wash it down.  All simply delicious and while we didn't come away thinking we'd found an absolute bargain, we nevertheless thought we'd had good value for money.

On Sunday morning we went to the Manchester Art Gallery  although we could only allow ourselves an hour there, which wasn't remotely enough.  We found a room dedicated to Adolphe Valette who was a French artist who taught at the Manchester School of Art in the early part of the 20th century.  Among his students was one L S Lowry.  There was also an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, some of which featured in the TV programme about that group not long ago here in the UK.

We decided to idle gently back home across country, so around midday set out down the A6 , stopping for lunch at a pub, then continuing down through Chesterfield and Mansfield to Newark.  There, we picked up the A1 and headed south and home, where I'd taken the precaution of buying in a half leg of lamb so we could have a roast dinner.  Lovely!

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