Sunday, 18 September 2016

Manchester: For Summoning Demons, Turn To Page 63

Manchester, United Kingdom
February 2016
While at our house sit in Wardle, we took a day trip one afternoon to Manchester as it was so easy to reach by train. After a brief peek into the cathedral (underwhelming), we visited the John Rylands Library which is now part of the Manchester University Library. Upon arrival, we were informed that an exhibition was currently on about magic and superstition. Sweet! As it was a library, the exhibition pieces were incredibly old books - some were even handwritten as they were produced before the invention of the printing press. The coolest ones had hand drawn diagrams outlining strange rituals.
Once we had our fill of the exhibition, we went upstairs to the Reading Room, which was so cool! What you see in the photo above is just one of the many alcoves in this room.

You can see why Lonely Planet describes it as "less a library and more a cathedral to books". Each of those archways to the left and right led to an alcove like the one above. In one alcove we saw a guy at the desk with his laptop, typing away. What a great place to write! Perhaps he was using the library for research.

All around the Reading Room, famous writers and philosophers gazed down on us. I made sure to snap a photo of Gutenberg, as the library houses one of the rare Gutenberg bibles.
There was an interesting section on the Victorian Society, an organisation that works to protect historically noteworthy buildings. The information panels showed not only the Victorian Society's triumphs, but also their failures - the most devastating being the Euston Arch in London, which was a great big Roman-style arch that served as the entranceway to Euston railway station. Built in 1837, demolition of the arch was proposed during the redevelopment of Euston Station in the 1960's. The vice-chairman of the Society commenced fundraising to collect the £90,000 that would be required to safely move the arch to a new location, but sadly all attempts at conservation of the arch were thrown out and it was demolished. Now there are plans to rebuild it thanks to the Euston Arch Trust, but first the pieces have to be dredged from the bottom of the Prescott Channel, where around two thirds of the arch's stone was used as filler. Facepalm. Good on the guy who searched for the pieces for fifteen years. I cannot imagine the look on his face when he finally found where they were.

After standing for long periods of time in museums, galleries or libraries we like to stretch our legs and have a good wander about. Our ramblings took us through Chinatown, where ornaments from the Chinese New Year were slowly being taken down.

The lanterns continued to Albert Square, where the Town Hall towers impressively.

It was in this square that we first saw a Deliveroo. Picture this: we're resting our feet for a couple of minutes and sitting on a park bench near the Albert Memorial, a monument dedicated to Prince Albert, who was married to Queen Victoria. A decent number of people are milling about, some are tourists taking photos of the town hall (like us), some are nine-to-fivers on their lunch breaks, and some fall in the range in between. But this one guy rocked up and sat on the steps of the memorial with a big square backpack on. Not rectangular. Not with rounded edges. It was a legit cube on his back. It was turquoise, had an illustration of a kangaroo on it and read DELIVEROO. As we had never seen such a thing before, we stared at him and tried to come up with explanations. He didn't seem to be delivering anything, but perhaps he was just on a break. We later found out that it's a very popular company that will deliver food from a number of different restaurants that don't offer their own delivery.
Note: this blog post is not sponsored by Deliveroo. I've never used the service, though it does sound like someone made good use of a gap in the market. However, I'm still not sure why one of their deliverymen had to carry the delivery on his back, when usually the parcel is strapped to a scooter. Give that poor man a scooter!

Today's post was almost called: Behold! The Lesser Mancunian Marsupial and its Cubic Dinner Pouch