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We got back yesterday from our post-Easter city break in Manchester. Manchester is the largest English city that neither of us had previously visited and had more than enough to keep us occupied.

We travelled up on Monday afternoon, stopping at Fletcher Moss park and botanic gardens towards the south of the city (pleasant for a wander on a warm afternoon, although parking was a bit tricky). We then headed up to the house we’d rented in the Stretford area, bigger than we really needed but a way of getting private space and also off-street parking. The fish and chip shop I’d planned to visit turned out to be shut (Bank Holiday and without its own website to check on) but the local Co-op provided an excellent pizza for dinner.

Tuesday was tram day and we walked to Stretford tram station to set off for the city. My highlight of the day was the Manchester Art Gallery. I’ve missed having a large gallery nearby and it was great to dwell on artworks, including well known pieces and some that were new to me. I’d go back there again but not to the place we had lunch (The New Emperor Restaurant on George Street). What we’d hoped would have been a dim sum feast turned out to be a complete disappointment. The place had relatively good average review score but lots at either extreme; we’d have been better sticking with the ‘go to the place with a queue’ strategy. Thumbs up for The Lost Dene pub, which restored my faith in the hospitality sector and I did get my fish and chips on the way back (and I posted my drawing from the cathedral on Wednesday).

Wednesday was bus day and we started off at the John Rylands library which, sadly, didn’t have the fragment of John’s gospel on display during our visit. Having a bus pass meant that we could reach places the trams don’t go to and we rode down to the Whitworth gallery (a particular highlight turned out to be the cafe – designed as a glass box projecting over the neighbouring park). Lunch was down the famous ‘curry mile’. That was much quieter than we expected – probably a side effect of it being Ramadan – but Jaffa, a ‘mediterranean’ restaurant came to the rescue with a great meal. Afterwards, we headed back to town for more exploring before catching up with a former colleague of Jane’s over dinner.

Our last day gave us a chance to visit the most recently opened RHS garden at Bridgewater. It still has some more growing to do but it’s got some good bones in. We look forward to revisiting but might leave it another year or two to grow up further. We’ve seen new areas in other RHS gardens but, at the moment, everything is at that ‘just getting established’ phase.

Anyway, that was our trip to Manchester, at least in overview.

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