City Love: Manchester

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I’m a coastal girl, a small town coastal girl. This is my comfort zone. It’s where I grew up. Where I’m raising my kids. Where I am happy.

But I do love city life…

I love being a city tourist.

Last weekend I visited Manchester, for work related stuff. It was sunny, it was gritty, it was buzzing… I loved it.

I had to navigate my way from Victoria station to the conference centre on Lever Street. Anyone who knows Manchester would tell you this is a piece of piss. But for me, the girl who gets lost in a camping shower block (not once – but twice!) this was a challenge.

The distance was 700m, I’d memorised the street map from Google  I had some map thingy on my phone. I was organised. And guess what? I did it! I got there.

But that wasn’t the best bit. The best bit was walking through Manchester’s Northern Quarter and falling a little bit in love with this city.

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I don’t claim to know much about all our cities, but I do know that every city I visit is full of such a mixture of life I could sit and watch it slowly tiptoe into the streets and then burst open all day long.

We all know London is pretty special as a city right? But there is something about the soul in northern cities that blows London out of the water.Northern souls that put the charisma into a city.

Manchester isn’t a pretty city; it’s gritty, dirty and busy with promise. Just like the Manchester accent, it hits you somewhere else, that you weren’t expecting.

I found myself on Thomas Street on a sunny afternoon. I’d passed vintage clothes shops and second hand book shops with speakers blaring opera music into the street. I’d narrowly avoided being trampled by a tram and just missed out on being the landing mat of a “jump artist”, but eventually I was strolling among the Northern Quarter, watching cafes and delis spill onto the street and catching sight of the city’s sub cultures celebrating their subtlety in record shops and specialist art shops.

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The charm of city exposed itself outside bars and bistros. Wooden tables were overflowing with chalk boards, funky teapots and coloured glasses. Different accents, unusual laughter and foreign language filled the air. The young, old, trendy, reserved and outrageous flowed from indoors to outdoors, off the kerbs and into the gutters. Pockets of culture exploded into the open and I very much wished I was  part of it.

I wish I had taken out my* tab2 and captured some of the buzz in snapshot. But I was too busy enjoying it, absorbing it, drinking it and breathing it.  I don’t get to cities much, I have to get my fix when I can.

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*Not mine, my 5yo’s sons.

** Click on the pictures to find their original web page

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