Been on site nearly a week now, we’re all set up and back to work. Our day off happened to fall on a day when North West Electricity planned to turn our power off for a few hours to do some work off site.
Kettle filled, fridge flicked to gas, time to decide what to do. Do we want to sit in burning gas to keep warm or pull our big coats on and head out? Decision made, time to go out. I’ve been reluctant to wear jeans and boots, since we got back from Lanzarote and I detest wearing socks but the time had come, I had to bite the bullet and wear jeans, socks and boots. It’s cold up north. It’s actually not that bad but we’ve decided to head into Manchester and I guess I’m going to look weird in shorts and sandals.
Heading out of site we take the scenic route through Burrs Country Park. Due to the lack of power the pub and the cafe are closed, the amount of cars tells us the Country Park might be busy. I’ve no idea who the dog belongs to that snook onto my photo, cheeky little thing.
Despite being popular with dog walkers and a mother and baby rambling group this morning, I’m amazed by how much wildlife we see. Robins, blue tits, ducks, moor hens even a heron by the side of the river.
Out of the Country Park and onto the cobbles, past the Jersey Girls Ice Cream Parlour and towards the mill. Just before the mill on the left, a public footpath and cycle lane point us in the direction of Bury town Centre. I’ve always joked that this path is quite nice and that it follows a nice stretch of the River Irwell, no shopping trolleys or other junk, today I’m proved wrong. A nice silver shopping trolley stands strong against the current.
Back onto pavements, we’ve made it to Bury. Past the East Lancashire Railway Station, which is closed today.
Pausing to take a look at Sir Robert Peel’s statue. Born in Bury, he served as Prime Minister twice in the 1800s and is known for having founded the Metropolitan Police Force which is where the names ‘Peelers or Bobbies’ comes from.
And so, to Bury Interchange, home of buses and trams. To be met by red barriers and a member of staff who informs us, ‘Trams not running, have to get a bus to Whitefield.’ Despite sounding local we haven’t a clue of how best to follow up this instruction. He points us in the direction of the bus and tells us to purchase a ticket that will give us bus and train travel.
£4.90 tickets safely tucked away and we settle ourselves on the top deck of the bus. It’s absolutely donkey’s years since I sat upstairs on a bus, we don’t really have buses were we live and the very occasional one that you might see certainly isn’t a double decker. All very exciting but oh how I loathe public transport. The toddler on the seat behind us has the worst cough and the old boy at the back is regurgitating phlegm in the back of his throat, whilst two young girls gossip loudly about this, that and everything, oh the joys of public transport. Off the bus and down to a packed platform of people waiting for the tram. In it rumbles, standing room only with just two carriages.
Into the city centre, vibrant and buzzing. Apart from taking a couple of photos of doors I completely forget to take any photos. It’s a trip down memory lane. My first proper day of work was here, sweet 16, McDonalds on Market Street, training ahead of opening the store in Bolton. The store on Market Street has long since gone, the building is still there but we aren’t quite sure which one, we settle on the Barclays Bank building and hope we’re right. heading down towards Piccadilly Gardens our rumbling tummies announce lunchtime. A row of street food stalls sending out aromas of spices calls out to us. We settle for jerk chicken with rice and a side of salad and coleslaw. Perched on a bench, surrounded by the fattest pigeons, we tuck in.
Back on a tram and we’re heading down towards Salford Quays, another trip down memory lane. This is where The Boss worked just before we moved south. It’s gone from a run down industrial area to a very cosmopolitan part of Manchester, home to ITV and the BBC. The building he worked in is only just recognisable having been given a huge facelift, no longer home to soap and toothpaste but a very trendy office block and cafe.
On we plod, down towards Media City. The two big television channel buildings dominate the side of the Manchester Ship Canal where a plaque, part of the Salford Wharf Centenary Walkway, informs us that 34,000 hands shifted 52 million tonnes of land excavating the 36 mile canal.
Popping into Quayside, we wonder how the shops manage to stay open here. It’s like a ghost town. We are in search of a comfy chair and a hot drink oh yeah and a wee, it’s our age. The shops might be quiet but the coffee shops are doing a roaring trade. Coming out of the loo I see a Ping Pong Parlour is also busy, play for free, just purchase a ball and you’re good to go. Despite it being free, we don’t play, I’m knackered and basically my hand, eye coordination is crap and I’m pretty useless at any kind of sport, so I’m sparred the humiliation and we just watch for a little while.
Time to go, this is the longest, most active day since I was discharged from hospital and I’m feeling done in, cream crackered! Back on the tram to Manchester, change for Bury, thankfully they are running direct and we don’t have to get the bus. We fall into a seat and stare at the passing back streets just as it pulls into a stop, the platform is awash with teenagers straight out of school. Oh the joys of public transport. Back to Bury and our walk in reverse back to site. Happy to see the lights go on in the Brown Cow and the door flung open just as we pass, the electricity is back on. I can’t wait to get the kettle on.