“Manchester, the belly and guts of the nation.” George Orwell. Apparently, in Manchester they do not get hung up over which is England’s second city – Birmingham and London can sort it our among themselves!

Well, I don’t know about that. I do know that we had a pleasant few days in Manchester city – and, yes, it did rain, but not too much. We stayed in the Youth Hostel which is a stone’s throw from the Museum of Science and Industry and one day we went to Media City UK by tram. Highlights for us included the world’s oldest “intercity” passenger station, namely Liverpool Road which is situated in the MOSI. You may know that the first regular passenger service ran between Manchester and Liverpool on that line from 1830 to 1844.

We also made a point of visiting the “Blue Peter” garden which is next to the tram station at Media City. Children of a certain age and fans of “Blue Peter” would understand. It was interesting enough but smaller than we imagined. Worth a look if you are passing through – we were en route to the Imperial War Museum North which is several minutes’ walk away.

The architecture of the IWM (North) is worth a mention. It looks, at first glance, a bit disjointed or haphazard. It turns out that the architect took inspiration from imagining a shattered globe and taking some of the pieces to make the building. The sense of war belonging to a broken world is written into the very shape of the museum. Meanwhile the inside tells some of the history of war and conflict as it has been experienced particularly during the 20th and early 21st centuries. If you are looking for details of military campaigns and scores of maps you will find those few and far between. This museum does not celebrate military victories as such; it is more of a social history where issues of justice and of peace collide. Among the items to note are the cross and the twisted girders from among the ruins of the Twin Towers of New York.

We did visit the Lowry Gallery during our wander round the quaysides but it was being refurbished and few pictures were on display. Perhaps we’ll get a better view another time.

A mention should be made of the Bollywood Masala restaurant near Deansgate. I enjoyed probably the nicest chicken korma I have had for a long time and the crispiest “family naan” ever.

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