We have now taken it upon ourselves to get up nice and early on a Saturday morning to explore the streets of Manchester while it is quiet and still. If you’ve not read where that crazy idea came from you can catch up here.
This past Saturday was no different (being that is it only the second week that we have done it… but that’s not the point!) and we headed out at the break of day to explore and wander different streets to our usual passage. You see, it is so easy to slip into habits of where you go and how you do it that you end up missing out on so much more that is going on. Plus, from what I have learned, you can live somewhere for 15 years and still have SO MUCH left to discover.
The idea is to do something different and hence discover something new and different – it opens your eyes to new things and as such creates new ideas/opportunities/places and spaces for you to live your life.
You need to get out there and start looking in places that you haven’t before. Turning a corner and adventuring in the side streets. It’s about following your nose and your curiosity and playing with the spaces around you – remember the kind of things you’d do as a kid! Yeah, do that sort of thing!
Alan Turing Way
So anyway, we were heading to explore around the Manchester International Football Academy and the Manchester City stadium. We pass them so often in the car but have never really taken the time to explore by foot. So off we trundled to have a look around and to cross the bridge that we watched being constructed, what seems like many, years ago!
It is amazing what you find when you start to look at things from a different angle. I remember a magazine game (in Take a break) from when I was a child where they would take a macro photograph of something and get you to guess what it was – I think it was called “Look at it this way” – and it really does come to mind when I’m out exploring. The architects and planners expect us to use spaces in a certain way so they design them for us to look from those angles. Yet, when we look upwards or from another way, we can find beauty that they never even expected – like the amazing symmetry in the picture above – so much more exciting than the side of a bridge – however architecturally complex it may be!
It was a great choice to visit the Academy as we could cross the bridge and be taken straight to the City ground for the next part of the exploration. I loved seeing the road from the bridge as usually I am underneath it in the car, peering up through the sun roof!
Manchester City Ground
…and urban wandering is not about discovering things that other people will like, it is a personal journey of discovery where you choose where to go and what to see, you discover the things that are important to YOU and that is what makes it so exciting and special. Yes, of course you can share it with other people, but the process is personal and internal. The things you capture in your memory and your camera are just yours – like my giant ‘S’ (I love anything that is ‘S’, as you would imagine with my name being Sarah)
The other reason for visiting the City ground was that I have a secret mission from a good friend of mine in Australia (all will be revealed in good time!) and I was doing some exploring in preparation for it. I love a good challenge and getting some planning in will help to make it more exciting. I can’t wait to receive my pack of details… eek!!!
Rather than heading straight to town, we decided to zig and zag through the streets and see where we came out. We discovered the Mersey River path, Sustrans Route 62 which we will be exploring very soon – keep your eyes peeled for that post – and along some more of the streets we take for granted through the screen of the car, some of which you may recognise if you’re from Manchester or have passed through.
It is really quite amazing to see how many disused buildings there are in the city, yet some of the well kept ones (or heritage ones) are being knocked down for building new flats. I’m all up for regeneration, but I do feel that preserving the Manchester heritage architecture is very important too. I remember in Malaga, I saw regeneration there and they would keep the facade and modernise the insides, hence preserving the look and feel of the area. I have no idea why Manchester can’t see it that way – but that there is a whole other story!
However, when you start to head back towards town you will find that there are more of the mills that are still in use. I love the circular style of a lo of the cotton mills (I used to work in Fourways House on Hilton Street, which is a fine example of preserving old buildings) and to see one in a pretty original shape – that I could go inside – was great.
We then followed the road over into Ardwick to explore around the streets towards that side of the city. To my surprise, I discovered that there used to be a cemetery next to the college which was where John Dalton was buried! Just goes to show how much can be hidden in the urban environment. It was then turned into a park and now looks pretty disused, unfortunately. It did get us wondering whether they exhumed JD and where he is now. I know that his eye (now a small piece of leather) is contained in the safety deposit box of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society!! (FACTOID!!)
The Manchester College building looks something Harry Potter-esque and is so stunning. I could photograph it all day in different lights in different angles and still not get bored! (don’t worry, I’m not going to bombard you with pictures! They might appear in other posts though!)
From here we followed the road down, passing by the Eccles Cakes factory towards the Apollo – stopping to say hello to the two young kitties that live in the garage there – awww! I didn;t manage to get any pics of them as they were pretty skittish!
The Apollo – a place of memories of numerous gigs (my favourites being the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Mika – odd combo, I know!) I never realised how unusual the building is until when we inspected it on Saturday – bits here and bits there – original Art Deco bonded by a bit of what looks like 1950s (this is purely guesswork, as I haven’t had chance to do any research on it!) block building. Still, I love how the plants are growing into it and making it become even more part of the Manchester urban landscape.
To Piccadilly we go
This route took us down underneath the Manc Way, by the side of the Macdonald Manchester Hotel and Spa and towards Piccadilly station – where in the relaxed Saturday morning spirit, I was able to capture some pictures without the bustle of people.
Our journey didn’t really end there as we went on to explore and treat ourselves to breakfast in Chez on Sackville Street and then a bit more wandering until we nipped home to do some gardening and ‘home stuff’ then back out onto Oxford Road to explore our old walking areas from Uni and to find out more about the Science Week goings on.
I really do enjoy the early morning walks, you can discover so much more about your city when there are no people around – nobody blocking the view! I recommend you give it a go – get up earlier than you usually would, while the streets are still quiet and head out to explore. I know you’ll find something new to enjoy. Please do share with me what you find I love to hear from you and learn about your discoveries.
Keep walking, urban wandering and exploring!