Manchester 2011 – Day 1

We got up this morning to find a dry and sunny day awaiting us. Last-minute packing and chores done, we caught a 476 bus to Euston station where we arrived with enough time in hand to consume our usual breakfast (porridge, croissants and coffee) before boarding our train on platform 6. Our reserved seats are at the end of a carriage. This has the advantage of easy access and exit, and enables us to keep an eye on our luggage, but the disadvantage that the seat has no window, meaning that we have to peer between heads and over seat backs to see outside.

Manchester Piccadilly
Manchester Piccadilly
We arrived at this station and also departed from it on some of our trips

As we run north, the clouds gather and by the time we reach Stoke-on-Trent, it is raining determinedly. We are also behind schedule having earlier been diverted onto the slow track for a while because of line problems. Fortunately, this is not a courier run but a holiday so delays, though a nuisance, can be taken calmly.

The train did not manage to make up its delay and we drew into Manchester Piccadilly station around 11:25. By now, we were glad to see, the sky had cleared and the sun was shining between clouds.

A figure reclines...
A figure reclines…
…atop a building in Manchester

Because we had luggage and were uncertain of the direction to take for the hotel, we treated ourselves to a cab. In the advertisement, the hotel, the Holiday Inn, claimed to be in a central location though the address, 888 Oldham Road, did give us pause for thought. As the cab proceeded, it became clear that the hotel was further out from centre than we had been led to believe. That is quite an important consideration if, like us, you do not have a car but are obliged to use public transport.

The Holiday Inn
The Holiday Inn
The hotel is not “central” as its publicity claims

As hotel rooms go, this one is satisfactory, though the mood at reception was perfunctory and not particularly welcoming. The layout is obviously designed for people with cars: the entrance is around the corner from the main road and you have to walk across the car park to reach the main entrance. Because of its bleak setting in an apparently deserted industrial zone and the tall iron railings around the perimeter, we refer to it as Stalag Grimshaw, after the name of the nearby Grimshaw Lane bus stop.

Spot the fake tree
Spot the fake tree
A metal tree stands in Piccadilly Gardens

We got settled in, made tea and had a little rest. The makings of tea and coffee are provided but we always bring our own, so I was able to enjoy a mug of good strong Russian Caravan! From the stop near the hotel, there is a bus roughly every 10 minutes which takes us into town. Depending on exactly where you want to go, the journey is about 5 to 10 minutes. Though it is a nuisance having to take the bus each time (and again on our return), we have endured worse on other occasions.

River Irwell
River Irwell
A view from the Albert Bridge

We reached town at about 1:15 and looked around for lunch. We plumped for PizzaExpress which currently has a lunchtime offer of two courses for £10. The waiter was everything that the hotel reception was not – welcoming, friendly and helpful. Other people we have met have also been cheerful and amiable so let’s hope that is a trend set to continue.

After lunch we did as we usually do and went for an exploratory ramble, seeing what there was to see. We had been to Manchester before so some things were familiar to us and some were new. Manchester, like several other cities we know and appreciate, runs a free bus service in the central area. In fact, Manchester does better than most by providing not one, but three free routes. These buses offer a good way to explore the centre.

Whigs and Tories
Whigs and Tories
Politics and the people at the People’s History Museum

Our ride took us near the People’s History Museum so we went in and visited it. The theme of the museum is the struggle to achieve civil rights and decent living standards for the mass of the population against the jealous retention of wealth and power by a corrupt minority. This was rather appropriate for me as I am currently reading Emmeline Pankhurst‘s account of her struggle for women’s suffrage, My Own Story, which is closely interlinked with the theme of the museum.

Banner of the Suffrage Atelier
Banner of the Suffrage Atelier
The Atelier, founded by artists in London, ran from 1909 to 1914

We asked whether we could take photos are were told that we could as long as we signed a disclaimer saying we would not sell, or make copies for sale, of any photos. We then asked if the photos could be posted on my blog. I was asked write on the form, under "Purpose" that the photos were for my blog. However, the assistant also said I should be careful because some items on display were covered by copyright. That was hardly helpful as there is no way for me to know which are so covered and which are not. All I can do is post and hope that my usual copyright notice covers all eventualities.

The Co-operative Society
The Co-operative Society
A display celebrating the foundation of the Co-operative Society

The message that I draw from the museum – and from Emmeline Pankhurst’s book – is that we are extremely fortunate to be living in the aftermath of those struggles and to be enjoying the life that those campaigners fought for, often bitterly, and at great cost to themselves. There is, however, a darker message that we ignore at our peril, namely that these gains are by no means irreversible – take a look around the world and see many cases of their being undone – and that corruption and selfishness are still rife in the corridors of power. In the spurious name of "security", government has already undone many of our hard won freedoms and will continue to do so unless we stand firm against this.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs
The Tolpuddle Martyrs
Is there a lesson here for us today?

After the museum, we returned to the centre, stopping occasionally for tea or coffee, until we felt it was time to return to the hotel. We then had a decision to make: should we have supper now and then go back to the hotel; or go to the hotel now and come out again later? I was not hungry but neither did I fancy coming out again later. What should we do?

SilverTiger at work
SilverTiger at work
Photo by Tigger

Tigger then pulled the rabbit of lateral thinking from the hat: we went into a small supermarket and bought food to take back to the hotel. Problem solved!

Now all I have to do is upload and catalogue my photos, put on charge our menagerie of electronic devices, and then I can relax and look forward to further adventures tomorrow.

Lion face decorations
Lion face decorations

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to Manchester 2011 – Day 1

  1. Peter says:

    Here in the US the Right are determined to remove both union representation and collective bargaining, and the right to vote. Efforts are already under way in many parts of the country and it’s scary how much support those efforts are garnering.

    One proposal is to limit the right to vote solely to land-owners and business owners, as they have demonstrated some supposed commitment to the country (???). All others would lose it. Can you imagine such a situation?

    Putting “the Right” into perspective: the whole of the British political spectrum, from far Left to far Right, fits within the Democratic Party in the US. This makes the Right in the US – the so-called GOP (Grand Old Party) – so much farther to the right than the worst of the UK’s Right that it’s off the scale. The “Tea Party” is even farther to the right than the majority of the GOP.

    It’s odd that Wikipedia classifies the GOP as “centre right” because I have never come across anyone who thinks that label applies in this day and age.

    It’s scary just how much support the Right’s policies get, even as the majority of citizens are having their rights eroded by the Right.

    • SilverTiger says:

      It’s very easy to fall into the trap of seeing those with whom one disagrees (or whose problems one simply cannot be bothered to consider) as “troublemakers” when they start to air their grievances. From there it is but a step to see them as people who don’t deserve the benefits of democracy.

      By and large, I think the unions are pretty unpopular in the UK because when they campaign about their grievances they inevitably cause inconvenience to the rest of us. Many people could be persuaded that it would be a good idea to reduce the power of the unions or disband them altogether.

      That, I know, is just one small element in a bigger picture but it is easy to see how such sentiments, driven by resentment, can be generalized.

      If people understood what a long and hard struggle, involving immense suffering and many deaths, it took to achieve the rights and freedoms we have today (and are in danger of losing), perhaps they would think differently. We are like the sons of men who struggled and became rich: while they understood the value of their riches, we just take them for granted, not realizing how easy it is to fritter them away.

  2. WOL says:

    I’m not going to get on my soap box about civil rights, or I’d be here all night! Manchester looks to be an interesting city with a variety of archetectural styles, including your favorite (not!) the glass box. I see Tigger was able to photograph you from your good side — LOL!

    • SilverTiger says:

      There were some “fishtank” designs but either I was in a good mood or it is the case that there are not the same kind of monstrosities as have been inflicted on London. The Manager city council perhaps has a better aesthetic sense – or is less able to be bribed – than its opposite number in London.

      Tigger definitely photographed me from my better side. Actually, she often photographs me from the front as well and seems happy with the results. Maybe she is biased… 🙂

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