Friday, January 15, 2010

Big city travels...

Headed over to Manchester for a couple of meetings and a bit of fun while M did her BBC thing. I like the place and, even when you're strolling about without much of a reason, as I was for the biggest part of the day, there's plenty to accidentally bump into. The John Rylands Library (pictured above, image fanatics) had been recommended as a place to discover but sod's law dictated that the building was being evacuated just as I walked towards 150 Deansgate. Finally got in, along with a couple of school groups. It took a while to get away from the young students and their complaints that "old dirty books are boring" but I finally shrugged them off (I bumped into 20 of them later, all sitting on and blocking my route down the rather grand main staircase as they sketched details of the building's Basil Champneys-designed Gothic innards) and enjoyed wandering about, although opportunities for the casual visitor like meself to get mucky paws on a rare book are limited by the glass separating the thousands of leather-bound volumes from dirty tourist types (the library is still a working academic library and part of the University of Manchester). I didn't need the toilet while I was there but, in retrospect and having read a little brochure I picked up, I wish I had had a go on a couple of bits of Victorian porcelain as "they are unchanged since 1900".

Victorian splendour is one thing, Mr Ryan's World Famous 2nd Hand Shop is something else completely. I have no idea whether Mr Ryan is still in business but there's something lovely about an outlet - and such a magnificent one at that - that sells hands and I'm very pleased that the franchise stretched as far as a second store. I asked a few people but nobody could tell me where his first Hand Shop was located.

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