Saturday, 17 June 2017

All Change! – a Northern “Crash Pad”.

It’s been a while since the last blog entry but there are good reasons for that. It’s been rather a hectic few weeks for us as, three weeks ago, we took ownership of an apartment in Manchester. We have always enjoyed our visits to Manchester and had great fun with what the city has to offer. We can now stay for longer periods and catch up more often with the friends we have in the area now that we have our own “pad”. It will also allow us to explore the north of England and Scotland a bit more than we have.


Our building is a bit unusual and stands next to the Ashton Canal (with the Rochdale Canal not far away either!)


We look down on the first lock of the Ashton flight ……..


…… and can see boats approaching – usually having just climbed the “Rochdale 9” lock flight from the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield. We have windlasses at the ready (should we be around) to help friends up through the Ashton Flight.


We had a welcome break from cleaning and decorating when an old friend of James’ contacted to say she was in the city with a friend. It was just a case of slinging on some ‘glad rags’ and heading off to Canal Street for a very long overdue meet-up with Jen (middle) and her friend Elspeth.


We took over the apartment only a couple of days after the horrendous suicide bombing at Manchester Arena where 22 people lost their lives. St Ann’s Square became the centre of the city’s grief and also the scene of the National ‘one minute’ silence for victims of the London terrorist attack just a week later.


We joined the many who paid their respects for all the victims of the two attacks ……..


……. and we were joined by a large contingent of police who also attended to pay their own homage.


St Ann’s Square became filled with tributes of all kinds.


On a lighter note we took a couple of days off from our labours and went up to Blackpool. Although very windy during our brief stay the sun shone through for us.


Blackpool hasn’t a great reputation these days but, in our experience, the town  and seafront are very clean and tidy and there are some interesting buildings and good architecture to be seen if you look around. The Opera House in the Winter Gardens is said to be the second largest in Europe.


The main reason for our visit was to attend the first night of “Funny Girls” summer season show. Housed in the old cinema it is (in our opinion again) the best value-for-money entertainment in the country. That evening we, and our friend Cris, were to enjoy a really good time!


But, before “Funny Girls”, we enjoyed a good walk along the seafront and around the town. Millions of £’s have been spent over the last few years on sea defences and marvellous improvements to the seafront – and Blackpool  can still boast three piers.


The new trams are a great improvement but we felt a little bit sad that the old, noisy, wooden ones were gone.


All the piers are in very reasonable condition but sadly not appreciated as much as they should be these days.


The flag atop the famous Blackpool Tower was at half mast as a mark of respect for the recent atrocities in Manchester and London.


The massive Tower, and it’s supporting building which holds the awesome and beautiful Tower Ballroom, the Circus and much more, is truly a national treasure.


The promenade is wide, clean but, on our visit, rather windy!


Walking out to the end of the Central Pier provides a marvellous view towards the north pier and the Tower. The vast beach area, at one time, used to be crowded with holiday makers ……..


…….. and the view to the south was equally deserted!


Well, Thursday evening came and our prepaid (£3.50) tickets got us in to the most hilarious and entertaining evening at “Funny Girls”. The main entertainer and choreographer, Betty “Legs” Diamond, hosts six or seven cabaret shows and ends with a stunning finale. Unfortunately on this evening (being the first show of the season!) the costumes hadn’t arrived so we were given a further cabaret. 


Betty’s boys and “girls” give a very energetic 10 minute performance for each cabaret.


The performances are basically a take-off of popular musicals and shows and Betty, the consummate performer, is very clever and very funny.


Between each performance we have time for chatting and socialising and an opportunity to request songs from the obliging, but rather sarcastic, DJ “Zoe” – seen here receiving a request from friend Cris.


Friday morning arrived after a wonderful and late Thursday night (!) and, before we left, we partook of a scrumptious Blackpool breakfast fry-up in the sunshine. A great end to a great stay.

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