Tuesday 15th July 2008
Woke up to a wet Worsley in the wain. I mean, rain. Went to the convenient newsagent for a paper. Set off at 0930 and had an uneventful run to Castlefield Basin in Manchester. Watered up at the sanitary station, winded in the arm and moored up near Owl, who had overtaken us on the way. To try to get some wi-fi for the laptop we walked up Deansgate to a Wetherspoon's pub, The Moon over Water for lunch. Having been assured that, yes, there was wi-fi, we ordered our drinks and food, and were then told, sorry, it's not working today. Oh well. After a not particularly memorable meal we walked to Salford so I could see my old university. The Maxwell Building, where I had most of my lectures, was still there, but with a fancy glass pyramid on top of the new reception.
the Maxwell Building, University of Salford
Next to the Maxwell Building. where the art gallery used to be, was a new glass and brick building, with a huge Salford Uni badge slapped over the front. Disconcertingly, the sign over the doors welcomes you to Salford Young People's University. Hmm. I wouldn't be very welcome now. Don't they take mature students any more?
From here we tried to follow the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal to its junction with the River Irwell. The MB&B, still only a dry depression as it was three decades ago, runs right past the university campus. We couldn't get down to it, and there didn't seem to be a towpath anyway, so we trudged around back streets trying to spot signs of it. Eventually we came upon the Middlewood development, where the canal, with a couple of locks, is being restored as the centrepiece.
the slab-sided Hilton Hotel building towering over a new section of the MB&B
looking from the Irwell towards the MB&B
Then we found the Museum of Science and Industry. Fascinating. I could have spent two weeks here, never mind the rest of the day.
The attention grabber, visible through the ground floor windows, was the array of old mill engines and other devices in steam.
Entry is free these days (hooray), and while Jan settled down with a cup of tea and free wi-fi in the cafeteria I looked at a few of the exhibits. Exhibits? That makes it sound stuffy. But they've made a good stab at making it non-stuffy: the engines in steam were wonderful on their own. And it was an ordinary Tuesday too.
And there were recreations of scenes from the past, brought to life with convincing projections of actors onto what I assume were glass plates, inside the case of what would otherwise be a boring static display. The museum itself is the site of the Liverpool Road terminus of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway, well preserved, with tracks still connected to the network; and with early railway era warehouses, looking like transplanted canal buildings.
Just a few minutes walk away was the boat. Back we went for a salad tea, eaten outside to make the most of the (by now) dry weather. After the morning rain the sun had actually shone: it felt fleetingly summery.
Grà on test - The September *Canal Boat* is out, and includes my boat test on *Grà* by Finesse Boats. It will be their Crick Boat Show exhibit.
17 hours ago