England - Manchester
Posted on Sep 07, 2005
After our week in London, we took a train to Manchester, where we met up with my relatives. My dad's cousin Sharon and her boyfriend Kevin picked us up from the train station. I have to say, Manchester hospitality beat that of London quite considerably! After a quick driving tour of downtown Manchester we went over to Debbie's house for a splendid dinner on the back patio and got to meet Debbie and her sons Daniel, Tim and Sam for the first time.
The next day Sharon and Kev took us on a tour of Manchester, including the Museum of Science and Industry. Some of the first railroads were made here, and the original rail yard and station is actually part of the exhibit. Kev was very knowledgable about Manchester's history, and told us about how they dug a canal to the Irish sea to circumvent trade tarrifs in Liverpool during Manchester's textile boom. We also saw the Library Theatre, a magnificient old building in downtown Manchester.
That evening we went to Blackpool, which is a lovely little town on the coast. Interestingly enough, we saw a television program on the world's top amusement parks after we got back, and Pleasure Beach ranked 6th IN THE WORLD! Blackpool is a nice little town, but I have to say, if Canada's Wonderland doesn't make the list at all, Pleasure beach shouldn't be on there at all. We did however enjoy a great view of the town from Blackpool Tower, and the beautiful beach.
Aunt Mary booked us a day trip to Wales to visit Caenaferon and Snowdonia, which was great. Despite the long drive in and traffic, we thought the Castle was great! We climbed around the various turrets and halls for hours, reading about how the castle had been beseiged many times, and how Charles was named the Prince of Wales there. After the castle we had just enough time to find a great welsh bakery and bought an obscene amount of goodies and meat pies which we ate on the way back (in addition to the sandwiches Sharon sent us with - turns out exploring castles is hard work).
We also took a day to visit York, which was fantastic. Thanks to Sharon and Kev for suggesting the free tour - it was fantastic. A local group of volunteers puts on a great little site-seeing tour which showed us little nooks and crannies we'd never have found on our own. The middle-aged gentleman giving our tour did a fantastic job of showing us parts of the city from each of the major time periods. We enjoyed walking the city walls, apparently among the best preserved in England. Yorkminster Cathedral was also great - you can actually go underneath it and see which stones in the foundation were part of an earlier church, and still older ones remaining from a Roman Legion that had once stood there.
My Great-Aunt Mary and Uncle Gerald had us over to their lovely house for an afternoon and took us out to lunch at a nearby pub. Aunt Mary and I had some great mint lamb and Nicole and Gerald had sausage and mash. Mary remarked after we'd been waiting a quite a while for our food, "what's taking them so long? You'd think they're roasting the lamb right now!" Turns out they were, and it absolutely delicious. After lunch we went out to Jodrell Bank, the world famous radio telescope only a few miles from their house.
On the way over, Mary took us for a driving tour of the neighbourhood where my Nana and Grandad used to live before emigrating to Canada. My Dad and my Aunt Carol also lived there for close to a year, before moving back to Canada. The stories I've heard from my Nana about running to the bomb shelter duing WWII and what Aunt Mary told us about how the neighbourhood had changed over the years made an otherwise standard looking neighbourhood one of the highlights of our trip.
Thanks again to Sharon and Kev for everything you did to make our stay comfortable and to show us around. And to everyone over there: Please come and visit us in Canada whenever you can... I'm sure you'll have a great time!
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