Three Days in and Around Manchester plus One Book

Manchester CathedralH and I visited Manchester two years ago to see friends and visit the Derek Jarman exhibition which we both loved. We had the much-restored Rochdale Town Hall in our sights this time, more of which later.  Our hotel was a stone’s throw away from Manchester Cathedral which looks more like a pretty parish church to me, surrounding by blossoming trees.

We nipped over the Pennines on Wednesday to visit our dear friend M who lives not far away from the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park. M treated us to lunch at YSP’s restaurant from where we could see the head of Damien Hirst’s The Virgin Mother although I much preferred to look at the lake behind. We quickly admired Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man, much more my cup of tea, before the rain set in making it too gloomy for photos. As H and I made our way back to the hotel, legions of Canal view (Manchester)Manchester City fans were heading for the evening’s match against Real Madrid. Sadly, it didn’t end well for them.

We took advantage of Thursday’s sunny start to wander around the city’s canals, home to numerous Canadian Geese several of whom weren’t too keen on us trespassing on their patch but The House of Books and Friends - Old Reform Club (Manchester)let us pass without argument. A friend had recommended The House of Books and Friends, an enjoyable and interesting pit stop for coffee and a browse, which once housed The Reform Club hence the grand function room at the back of the shop. After a wander around the People’s History Museum we headed back to the hotel to dodge the rain followed by an early supper with N at Dishoom where we had to shout at each other to make ourselves heard. Delicious food as ever, though.Frieze (Rochdale Town Hall)

I’d spotted some shots of Rochdale Town Hall on social media, fabulously restored to its neo-Gothic glory, and was keen to see it so off we went on Friday. We both shy away from guided tours but George, fresh to volunteering, wasn’t having Great Hall Roof Detail (Rochdale Town Hall)any of that and I’m glad he took us in hand, pointing out details we’d otherwise have missed. The interior has been meticulously refurbished, its Arts and Crafts motifs celebrating both Rochdale’s textile heyday and the natural world. The medieval style Great Hall on the first floor is stunning, apparently described by Nikolaus Pevsner as a room of ‘great splendour and simplicity’. I was amazed to find that the restoration project had taken a mere three years. An absolute gem, well worth a visit.

We thought we’d given ourselves oodles of time to get from the hotel to
Cover image for One Night, New Yoirk by Lara Thompson Manchester Piccadilly Station on Saturday, but the traffic was horrendous. We made it by the skin of our teeth, arriving home to a hungry cat more interested in being fed than saying hello.

And the book?  Lara Thompson’s One Night, New York centres on a revenge pact between two women, one of whom has followed the brother she idolises to the city to find him caught up in some dangerous shenanigans; the other wanting to avenge her sister. Set in Depression-era Greenwich Village, it’s very atmospheric but the story is spun out for so long it lacks suspense until the last few chapters.

Since getting back, I’ve been wondering where spring has gone and hoping it’ll be back soon.

17 thoughts on “Three Days in and Around Manchester plus One Book”

    1. It was my brother’s, too, so I remember it from the early ’80s. Quite a contrast! We crammed in the the John Rylands on our last morning but didn’t have time to do it justice. Never mind – we’ll be back. There are plan to open what looks like a very good restaurant at the Town Hall in May.

  1. How lovely! We had some time in Manchester a few years ago (oh, eleven years ago as it was before we got married!) – enjoyed the John Rylands and the art gallery, but I really want to go to the People’s History Museum.

    1. We scooted through the John Rylands having not left ourselves enough time. Definitely worth a second visit. The People’s History Museum has the bonus of an excellent cafe with a sustainable and ethical menu.

  2. As always, I enjoy reading your chronicles. What a wonderful and rich time you had! I’m curious: do you keep digital notes while you’re travelling, or do you keep a journal and create your post from that, or do you simply look at the photos and write about it from memory?

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