“How much can you see in a day trip out to Manchester?”
“Like everything in life, Sharon – it depends on how much effort you’re prepared to put into it,” said Mum with not one ounce of drollness.
A flying visit to Manchester, or should that be a train visit as that was our mode of transport, to enjoy an end of the week day out treat.
It was Thursday. It was drizzling. It was dreary.
Exiting the train at Victoria, as opposed to our usual Manchester Piccadilly, meant being greeted by the city from a different vantage point. The Printworks food and entertainment complex welcomes you as does the National Football Museum.
We had spent several visits to Manchester over last Summer so decided to visit the places we missed on our previous visits.
“I want to visit my favourite place in Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens,” Mum says.
We walk there, watched the fountains and are greeted by evoking smells as there is a food market on – pasties, kebabs, burgers and Yorkshire Wraps.
“Look, the Yorkshire Wraps stand. Looks like the one from York,” I say, a tad too excited.
“In the Shakespeare Village. It was one of the food stands,” I clarify.
Mum breaks into a smile: “Oh god, yes! From one of our favourite places.”
We were transported back to York and the Rose Shakespeare outdoor Theatre with its Shakespearean Village selling food and drinks. A happy last Summer was spent there!
“Were you at the York Shakespeare Village?” I lean in and ask the vendor, a handsome bearded fellow.
“Sorry?” he leans over the steaming gravy toward me.
“Were you at the York Shakespeare Village?” I repeat. “Last Summer. Next to the outdoor Shakespeare Theatre. Selling Yorkie wraps. The best food stand in the Shakespeare Village. Yes?”
“No,” he said. “There’s loads of us Yorkshire Wraps,” he smiled.
We popped into the Harvey Nicks store – to use the toilets.
“We can’t go in just to use the toilets,” said Mum.
“Course we can,” I said. “Just act as if you belong there. To quote Jennifer Saunders in Ab Fab, when dealing with snooty staff, ‘You only work in a shop you know, you can drop the attitude.’”
“True,” nodded Mum as she walked ahead of me and let the doorman open the heavy glass door for us.
Surprisingly, the beauty department was empty so we were approached by every heavily made up counter assistant with offers to be squirted with the latest of everything. Of course, there’s only so many perfumes one can have sprayed on before one pongs – or gags.
Having been in this store many times, though strangely never with Mum, I know where to head for the ladies toilets – a sharp right to get to the lift, up to the bistro on the second floor and cut through the food halls before finding relief in the ladies.
The lift is like an art installation: circular mirrors adorned the walls.
“I don’t really want to see myself a thousand times,” Mum laughs. “Once is enough!”
But the lift is fantastic, I love it!
Having emptied our bladders, we walk back out Harvey Nicks, courtesy of the kind doorman again opening the glass doors and head to Sinclairs Oyster Bar at Shambles Square.
Sinclairs has historical significance, as its origins date back to the 16th century.
We aren’t put off getting a drink and sitting in its famed, popular beer garden by the large, burly bouncer guarding the latter.
We struggle to get through the single file, heavy doors.
“Where’s the Harvey Nicks doorman when you need him?” I pipe up.
We are hit by the smell of stale beer. The smell of a proper, old fashioned boozer.
“Reminds me of the smell when your Grandad used to come home from the pub,” Mum smiles fondly.
It is small and cramped with low-beamed ‘old England’ atmosphere.
“I don’t like it. It’s too cosy,” I say, wiping the beer spillage from my arm that the man I brushed past left.
“Look, the sun has come out for us!” enthuses Mum as we squeeze back out of the single file doors out to the beer garden. “I love it!”
Manchester, nice one.