We bought two day passes and caught the Metrolink tram to Salford Quays, to see where it was and what it was like, as one of the possible places I might work is there. On arrival, we saw a sports team of five ladies, who I assumed to be a netball team. The Quay is a piece of urban renewal, similar to Wellington Queen's Wharf or the Baltimore Inner Harbor. There is greenery, lots of new office buildings and in a setting built around old but rejuvenated canals. The Erie Basin is dominated by the Victoria Building, which is undoubtedly a piece of Elizabethan (the second) architecture. Some wag had chosen to name the three basins Erie, Ontario and Huron. We spent a while there before going on to Eccles. Eccles is the end of the Metrolink line. It is a little town, most famous for Eccles Cakes, but these days their town is in terminal decline. Scarcely anything remains but pubs along the main street, supported by bookmakers and charity shops. It's a place which has lost its way, and is as bleak as any place I have been.
From there, we went on to Altrincham, where we were to be staying. Now, that's quite a different proposition. It's buzzing and alive, and as we walked up from the station to out hotel, we saw a bridal party and a hen party. All the ladies at the hen party were wearing shocking pink shirts with "Emma's Hen Party" emblazoned on the front.
We set off up the main street in search of food, looking at restaurants of all types. We finally settled on an Indian restaurant, which isn't really too much of a surprise, and dined on their unusual set menu. After the meal, Viv was given a rose and we were both given complimentary liqueurs. Remarkable.
An early night was followed by a fairly early morning. A thoroughly full breakfast before we set off to look at one of the more ethnic areas, where we found lots of different shops quite unlike what we might find here, but more like places like Small Heath or Naenae. We walked round an Asian supermarket and bought some things you just can't get here.
Then we went into central Manchester for a contrast, and looked around the Arndale Centre, a major redevelopment since it needed rebuilding after the 1996 bombings. Manchester Cathedral and the unusual Urbis building (a tall glass triangular exhibition hall) both were graced with visits before we went off to Piccadilly for a train home.
In fact, our train only took us as far as Warrington, from whence there was a rail replacement bus to take us to Liverpool Lime Street. And from there, another rail replacement bus to take us to James Street. Home from there. A quiet evening, until we had to set off to Birkenhead to pick up Chris on his return from northern France at 11.15pm.
This morning, a service for TEAR Fund, with a so-called "hunger lunch" afterwards. But "decent middle class white folk" have no idea what a hunger lunch means: there was far too much bread; masses of cheese, peanut butter and pate (all fine sources of protein) and tea and coffee.
Home after lunch now; Matthew will be home from Poland soon, I expect. But for me, more coffee...