John Rylands Library


Trips & Adventures – 17 January 2019

After dining at the Moon Under Water, we took the short walk along Deansgate to the John Rylands Library.

Although the Library was named after a man, it was founded by a woman. Enriqueta Rylands opened her Library in 1900 as a gift to the people of Manchester 18 years before some women achieved the freedom to vote. Its collections contain previously unheard stories of women from around the world.

The current exhibition is “The Women Who Shaped Manchester”. The gallery showcases a variety of items from poems, letters and books to handwritten manuscripts. Together they tell remarkable stories of how women have been perceived and sought to challenge the status quo.

Too little ink has been spilled telling the stories of exceptional women from Manchester’s past – from the mill workers to the protesters who galvanised the streets. We delved into the sepia-tinted days of 19th and 20th century Manchester seeing the city through the words and actions of extraordinary women. We were amazed by their feats as they paved new paths with their dedication and determination.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph the exhibits as some were sensitive to light. One extraordinary letter was from Winston Churchill where he was clearly worried that women would disrupt a meeting at the Free Trade Hall. He wanted the women to sign an agreement confirming best behaviour or be excluded from the building!

We read Emmeline Pankhurst’s stirring letter that speaks for those prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of equality. The exhibition captures the passion and strength of these pioneers, and we were inspired by the Women Who Shaped Manchester.

We had another opportunity to dress up. I’m thinking of changing the name of the group from “Out In The City” to “Hat In The City”.

We also looked at the reading room and historic toilets in the basement before retiring to the café for refreshments and cakes.

Yorkshire Museum, York


Trips & Adventures – 10 January 2019

The day started well – the Northern Rail train arrived early (!) – and the day continued well. We travelled comfortably from Manchester, enjoying some refreshments, and arrived in York at about 11.40am.

Peter had been a resident in York when he was a student in the mid-1960s, so he acted as our guide. We headed for the York Arms that, back in the day, used to be a gay pub (apparently only on a Wednesday when there was an R in the month).

The York Arms is a traditional pub and we settled in one of the back rooms with an open fire and without muzak. The food came in super-sized portions and was served on large plates. It not only tasted great but was very reasonably priced. The sticky toffee pudding tempted us but we had to admit we were too full.

Stuart coming out of the closet

We posed for photos outside the York Minster before making our way to the Yorkshire Museum to view the Jurassic World Exhibition. There were some hands-on exhibits and Peter impressed us with his expert knowledge of ammonites and crinoids (sea-lilies). The largest ammonites have reached over three metres across. We handled a bone from the neck of a pterodactyl which was possibly 130 million years old! The greatest fun was putting on the virtual-reality glasses and feeding tree branches to a dinosaur.

We also viewed the various exhibits from Roman times when York was known as Eboracum to more modern times, as well as the library and reading room. We always take an opportunity to dress up:

Our final stop was Bailey’s Tea Rooms where we managed a cake as well as our tea and coffee.

Three queens go to see Queen


Trips & Adventures – 3 January 2019

We were heading to the Odeon cinema to see “Bohemian Rhapsody”,  the story of the life of Freddie Mercury (lead singer of pop combo Queen), but we stopped off at one of the oldest pubs in Manchester.

The Briton’s Protection has stood proudly on the corner of Lower Mosley  Street and Great Bridgewater Street since 1811 and is famed for its enormous whisky collection. The pub grub was also pretty good and was washed down with a pint of Yakima Gold – they also house an extensive range of real ales.

This is a conversation pub – there is no “background” music – and we reminisced about pubs with flagged flooring, spittoons and sawdust. We debated the big issues in life like why there was no apostrophe in the pub sign – “Britons Protection” – and we resolved to correct this iniquity.

In the corridor leading to the larger rooms at the back of the pub, there is a mural of the Peterloo Massacre. This is the only place in Manchester to commemorate the 1819 protest for parliamentary reform, in which 15 demonstrators were killed and 700 more injured by the sabre-wielding cavalry who charged the 80,000 strong crowd.

It’s not hard to see why The Briton’s Protection has been voted Best Pub in the Pride Of Manchester Awards for two years on a trot.

It’s only a short walk (but unfortunately up a lot of steps) to the cinema, but we found comfortable seats waiting for us and we settled down to watch the feature. The film was fabulous. Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury) was depicted as a talented showman and perfectionist but the film didn’t shy away from showing his arrogance and extravagant lifestyle.

We learnt a lot about Freddie but the biggest surprise was that one member of our little party came out of the closet as the owner of all the Queen albums on CD!

Christmas Meal at Midland Hotel


Trips & Adventures – 13 December 2018

The Midland is a Manchester institution. Walking through the main entrance we soaked up the history, relaxed in the sleek style and lounged in the luxurious surroundings.

The Midland Hotel is:

  • where the world believed Mr Rolls met Mr Royce. Oh dear, that’s a myth, but what a story;
  •  It’s where Churchill scoffed 16 oysters and a bottle of champagne – and that was before dinner;
  • It’s where Hitler kept the bombing planes away from so that it could be the Nazis’ North-west home once they had invaded;
  • It’s where George Harrison was refused admission because he wasn’t wearing a tie;
  • It’s the famous Edwardian railway hotel built on the site of the house from where the magistrates sent the troops into the Peterloo Massacre, and the site of the concert hall where Chopin was slow-hand-clapped;
  • It’s where the great and good – Derek Jacobi, Princess Anne, Martin O’Neill, Nigel Havers, Ed Miliband(!) stay when they come to Manchester; and
  • It’s where Out in the City held our Christmas meal!

What more can I say? The Pinot Grigio was very nice and everybody enjoyed their meal. There are lots of pictures to view here

Altrincham markets


Trips & Adventures – 6 December 2018

Before we report on the visit to Altrincham markets, I would like to thank Sonder Radio: we had a special event on Wednesday, 5th December – a taster session called My Story, My Music. Like the radio show “Desert Island Discs”, we shared songs and explained why they were meaningful to us. They will come back on 27 February 2019 to play back some of the recordings which will have been turned into a podcast.

Tony recently attended a week’s radio course and here is a short video:

Altrincham is eight miles south west of Manchester city centre and was established as a market town in 1290. It is now an affluent commuter town with a number of great shops and was winner of the Observer Food Monthly Best Market Award and a finalist in the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards.

Old Market Place, Altrincham

As usual we looked for the local Wetherspoon’s pub for lunch. The Unicorn pub takes its name from one of Altrincham’s old inns – The Unicorn Hotel. An original Saxon settlement stood on this site. More recently, it was a stopping point for coaches. Its wayside inns included the long-gone Red Lion, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops came in 1745, and The Unicorn Hotel. The Unicorn was originally built by Lord Delamer, in 1849, as Altrincham’s first town hall.

After dining, we spotted Tasty Records, an independent vinyls record shop which opened in April this year, just across the road from the thriving market area. Having had our foodie fix we decided to fill our vinyl boots with purchases of Joan Armatrading, The Eagles, The Monkees and Junior Delahaye.

Following a visit to the market we were spitting feathers so headed for the Old Post Rooms. Unfortunately, they were being renovated and only sold kitchen cabinets and dresses, so we ended up at Gran T’s Coffee House, which had very cosy armchairs, and where an egg timer is provided to time the perfect brew. Quite delicious.