Wednesday 1 April 2015

A Day Out in Manchester.

Manchester has seen a huge growth in tourism in recent years. If you approach the city through the eyes of a visitor you perceive it very differently. For this reason, London for me is a wonderland of fabulous restaurants and glamorous cocktail bars. We exit Euston wide eyed and childishly excited in a way that we'd never do if we lived there. Everyday drudgery and the mundanity of commuting takes over like it has in Manchester. I've lived here since 1989 and Mrs B has been here all of her life.
But what if we pretend we are tourists for an afternoon? What would we do?
We begin at the newly refurbished Whitworth At Gallery. The fifteen million pound revamp has done wonders for the space. They've opened up one side of the building including the café which extends right into the park itself so you can have coffee and cake amongst the trees.
I started out my working life as a commercial painter/illustrator, so naturally I make a beeline for the Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon's but there is a lot to see here. We also enjoy Johnnie Shand Kydd's photographs of the 'Young British Artist' set on holiday in Greece. For me however, the real star of the show is the actual interior itself.
We head on down Oxford Road into town. We always approached the city this way as a student so it seems the most fitting. We lunch at the newly opened Hawksmoor. I can't quite stretch to steak prices today as good as they are, so we share a Chicken Poutine Barm (wonderfully mucky) and a Hawksmoor Burger each.
The burgers are very good (and pink) but I'm not getting quite as much of a pure meaty flavour that I'm looking for. I think next time we'll order some bone marrow to dribble on for extra richness. The stilton is most definitely the winning cheese topping. Surely this is the most handsome dining room in Manchester and it's extremely busy on Friday lunchtime proving that Mancunians and tourists will stretch their budget if the restaurant is as good as Hawskmoor is.
I'm ashamed to say that I've never visited The John Rylands Library before but it won't be the last time. Again it's the grandiose Victorian Gothic interior which is so impressive rather than one specific element.
The huge lunch however is slowing us down, so we finish with a coffee at Pot Kettle Black in Barton Arcade just off Deansgate. I've always loved this elegant Victorian iron and glass arcade. There's no need to visit a chain when there are fine independent cafés like this one around and it's busy which will hopefully bring some life to this undervalued space. (There is also a very popular looking Barber shop but I've not troubled the hairdressers since the 90's).
It's so easy to take living in Manchester for granted but taking some time out to appreciate it as a visitor with fresh eyes is such an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. And it didn't rain either.


  1. This was me in 2008 moving to the north for the first time
    Great post!

  2. Fab post! Really want to give the art gallery a visit!