More northern tales

Trip Start Oct 08, 2007
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Trip End Nov 02, 2007


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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hello again from the chilly north.

There's a very picturesque mist on the green outside. Its after midnight and I just got in after another night on the wine here in Knutsford. The Travel course rolls on its merry way, and I'm sure it will take some time for my liver to recover.

Last weekend I visited Manchester twice, once on Friday night returning Saturday afternoon, then back again Saturday evening and returning back to Knutsford via a lovely afternoon in Chester. I've gained a fair bit of travel blog material along the way.

It was my first trip to Manchester and rather liked it, but I wouldn't go overboard. There were the usual chain stores everywhere, but a definite Mancunian air about. The streets were more spacious than London and those crowding the pavement had a slightly different look, walk and style about them. This was both positive and negative depending on which part of town you're in, and what time of night.

I started off by meeting an old STA Travel London colleague in a bar who had made the move north to work in the Manchester branch. He was very happy with the decision and pointed out all the happy, outgoing people around saying that was the major difference. In London they are all miserable, here they are happy, period. Can't argue with that? Well, a bit of a generalisation, so it depends on who you hang out with in London, but I'm sure they're not all miserable are they? I then moved on to meet up with Clare which was the point of my going there, and she was working for the weekend on an NZ Trade show on the Immigration stand. She got to stay in the Marriott so I snuck in and took advantage of the 4 star comfort.  Its a perk of her job in a way as she gets paid for thr days and the travel, plus gets to see another part of England. She seemed to enjoy the experience, and I'm told helped out many Brits looking to make the move south.

Next morning I checked out Manchester in the daytime. I noticed the old and new styles of architecture sometime clashing violently, and will provide photos to prove it later on. It still has remnants of the grimy north in the backstreet's which gave a sense of place. The most noticeable being in the northern quarter where all the boutique style cafes inhabit, and then the funky alternative bars and clubs come alive at night which we discovered on Saturday night.

So to wrap up, it was likable enough, but I would'nt live there. Too small, and overall too mainstream. It dead flat and in grid format which takes most pf the personality away from the place that tries in vain to survive. Once Saturday night hit it almost dies completely when all the trashy drunk mini skirt girls came out despite temperatures below 5c. All in all it was a messy scene not far away from Auckland viaduct but on a much larger scale, and even more trashy, juvenile and generally stupid. I know I'm being a complete moaner and they were only kids out having fun, but even when I was 16 I  had no interest in being that wasted and fitting into boring norms. However focusing on the positive the alternative bars in the northern quarter were much more up Clare and my street and we felt comfortable there. Still one block doesn't makith a city.

I'll do another blog from Chester later which will be much more positive. Of course I won't really be in Chester anymore, but it helps for the photos which will come along next week.

I've only got one further comment to add from Knutsford in that I actually did get up and perform last Thursday at the pub open mike night. I was mostly Bob Dylan covers and I earned myself a round of applause. I don't quite know how I did it, but all the egging on from my course mates in the background had a lot to do with it. Actually one of them is a Kiwi, and wanted a crowded House song so I did a late encore with 'don't dream it's over' to which one of the organisers chimed in with lead guitar. It was great fun in the end, and has filled me with a massive boost of self confidence. How my voice sounded out there in the back I don't know, but as I could see the whites of the eyes of everyone in the place it didn't look like anyone was in too much pain so that's something.

Ciau for now.
Ian
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