120! Huh. Almost four months since we left. Winter is starting to set in. Which means it’s wet and chilly. I don’t think it’s gone down below 3 degrees yet. The days are growing alarmingly short (according to weather websites for both Waterloo and London, we got almost an hour less of daylight today than Waterloo will have, and it’s not even December yet!).
So, I finally sorted through the pictures I’ve taken for the past three weeks, including our mini-trip to Liverpool/Manchester at the end of October (30th and 31st). It seems anticlimactic to talk about it after this long. It was a nice trip. Quick, though. We barely scratched the surface of either city. In the end, Liverpool wins because of the waterfront, but Manchester seems like a cooler city to live in. We did not go see any football. Anyway, it was nice to get away and see a new part of England.
(More photos than strictly necessary from this trip here)
We walked through both cities. In Liverpool, we mainly stuck to the waterfront, and we had a quick-ish visit at the Museum of Liverpool (can I just take a moment to gush about how wonderful it is that the national museums here are all free to visit? It’s amazing! And it frees one from the obligation to take in more than you can process all at once – you go and see all that you can comfortably take in, and you can just come and see more another day. I love it! Granted, for our Manchester/Liverpool trip, this is less of an attraction, but for the London museums, it’s great! End of gush.)
Liverpool is a medium-sized city, with a long maritime history, owing to its geographical location. It’s busy and vibrant, and seems to have had a fairly recent redevelopment to encourage tourism and new residents. They also seem to be capitalising on the fame of a certain musical quartet from the sixties. Oh, and I had an excellent espresso at a place whose name I can’t remember. Dr. Thingo will tell you.
Manchester is a much bigger city, but, surprisingly, with a cosier feel. We ended up walking around looking for libraries. It sounds crazy, but they have some beautiful buildings here.
The John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester is a beautiful gothic building, donated, apparently, by a wealthy widow. There were exhibits, and activities for the kids, and of course books and the reading room above (where people were trying to work – sorry for disturbing!!)
We also sought out the library at the Chetham School of Music. It is the English-speaking world’s oldest public library, founded in 1653, but the buildings that houses it and the music school were built in the 15th century, as a monk’s college. It’s a drafty old building, full of dark hallways, and big halls, with large fireplaces no longer in use. Now it’s a boarding school for music students (I think the lovely lady who showed us around said they said they take the kids as young as 8. We visited the public areas, where the library is and where they hold recitals. The kids live in more modern buildings adjacent to these ones.).
We walked around, to see Manchester Cathedral, which had a cool garden area outside, in a spot that had clearly once been a road (the traffic signals are still there). There’s some construction happening around the cathedral, which is why the roadway is blocked off, so I’m not sure if the garden is permanent or not, but I thought it was a cool idea, even if it is temporary.
We also had some playground time (yes, even the grownups. Some of those spinny things are hard to resist)
Next up, lots of walking.