... but yesterday, I ended up in Manchester and Stockport.
It wasn't particularly planned and I certainly hadn't planned what I was going to do while I was there, not that I was up in the North West for that long.
Upon arrival at Manchester Piccadilly station just after 12.30, I did a terribly modern thing. I asked my mobile phone to tell me where the nearest galleries and museums were. It came up with one called 'Cube'. Having vaguely heard of it, and having checked its website to make sure it was open, I wandered along to Portland Street taking photographs as I went.
First of all I came across Canal Street. Now sometimes I can be a bit slow on the uptake but even though the street was deserted I didn't need a tourist guide to tell me that I had inadvertently discovered the throbbing Gay heart of Manchester, At least, that's what it looked like to me.
Halfway down Canal Street is Sackville Gardens in which there is a statue of Alan Turing who some acknowledge as the "father of modern computing". I nicked the quote from Wikipedia, so being a lazy blogger assume that that fact is 100% correct!
Anyhow, the whole area was almost deserted. I guess from the number of bars, clubs and restaurants that the area is usually humming - mind you it was 1.00pm so probably the opposite side of the clock to when the heaving throngs put in an appearance.
I then wandered along the the Cube gallery (top picture). The shop was open, but the gallery was closed. Anyhow the nice man in the shop gave me clear directions to the nearby Manchester Art Gallery, which I spent an hour walking around. Jolly good it was too.
Avoiding the trams, I then walked back to the station via Piccadilly Gardens and a rather imposing statue of Queen Victoria. The gardens didn't look like gardens - I just assumed it was a pedestrian plaza covered in snow.
I then took a 10 minute train ride to my original destination of Stockport.
I hadn't really known what to expect of Stockport, but once I found the centre, it was a surprisingly eclectic place with a reasonable shopping centre, roads and bridges at multiple levels and the fantastically imposing Plaza theatre. It was, I believe, originally a cinema - it certainly looks that way.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to visit the Hat Museum - how good an advert is that chimney!?
Unfortunately I never did locate an Aquarium. The original purpose of my visit up North had been to see some sharks - Sale Sharks were due to play Saracens yesterday. Unfortunately the match was called off mid-week. As I have mentioned, my lack of fore-sight meant that my train tickets were non-refundable, so I decided to go anyway.
I different way to fritter away a day!
Despite the weather seen across the UK over the last week, each train in each direction was bang on-time leaving every station. Well done Chiltern Railways and Cross Country Trains.