As I mentioned the other day, my teenage daughter and I are about to embark on our Grand University Open Day Tour. One of our stops takes us to Manchester, a city I have never visited before but am looking forward to exploring. Fortunately it is too far from home to travel there and back in a day so we will have time to explore beyond the confines of the university campus while we are there.
An overnight stay will be required, so am checking out Hotel Direct for somewhere to rest our heads. I would love to stay somewhere like The Lowry Hotel – perfectly positioned by the river with stunning views and offering a real sense of luxury. This visit is a practical one, but I am also looking at our Uni visits as a really fabulous way to spend some special Mum and Daughter time together in the last year I have her at home, so I also want to make sure we have a lot of fun along the way.
Now it is time to plan what to do with our free time to give us a feel for the city that could be her home for the next few years. Of course Manchester is famous for a few things, so we could start there:-
My entire knowledge of Manchester life is pretty much based on watching Coronation Street as a kid. I am not certain this gives an accurate picture of contemporary Manchester, but I am not sure I can resist a visit to those famous cobbled streets and the Rovers Return. The tour allows you to:-
- Walk down Coronation Street on the famous cobbles and have your photo taken in front of the Rovers Return.
- Visit some of the interior sets where key scenes were filmed, never before opened to the public.
- See exclusive props and memorabilia from Coronation Street’s history.
- Get a first hand insight into how the show was made.
Sounds great doesn’t it!
Manchester and football are inextricably linked. You can take a tour of Old Trafford including the dressing rooms and the chance to walk through the players tunnel and emerge onto the famous pitch – can you hear the roar of the crowd?! Now, I am an Arsenal fan, but I would still find the museum interesting, though I wouldn’t perhaps be as excited as my Dad was when he did the tour as a life long Man U fan earlier this year – apparently he didn’t stop grinning like a little kid all the way round!
The Science Bit
I am a bit of a science geek, half the time I have not a clue what they are talking about but I love astronomy and space and Manchester University’s own Professor Brian Cox. Manchester has a Science Festival coming up shortly. In it’s 8th year, it aims to bring together a blend of art, make-it workshops, performances and big experiences for all ages – inviting visitors to immerse themselves in science, ideas and innovation.
If stargazing is your thing, then arrange a visit to the Godlee Observatory. Located in a tower at the top of one of Manchester University’s buildings, it still uses the original 1902 telescope and, if the weather obliges, provides great views of the heavens and across the rooftops of the city itself.
There is also the Museum of Science and Industry to check out – the museum promises to take you on a journey through Manchester’s heritage with sights, sounds and even smells – what better way to get a feel for the place than by following it’s evolution from the world’s first industrial city to 24-hour party capital.
And OK, hands up it isn’t exactly proper science, but my geek side would love to visit the Legoland Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre. Aimed at kids from 3 – 10 (though I am a big kid so I still count!) you can tour the Lego factory, go on rides, test out your building skills and learn new tips, try and design towers that will withstand earthquakes and all manner of other educational and creative fun stuff.
I can’t think of Manchester without thinking of Lowry’s paintings, and I can’t think of them without humming the classic song Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. If you are a youngling you will have no idea of what I speak, but when I was 5 I adored this pop song tribute to Lowry and his work. I love his paintings and would have to chalk up a visit to The (eponymous) Lowry at Salford Quays, which houses the largest public collection of his works in the world.
My daughter is a classic teenager and loves her shopping, growing up in a small town she feels utterly deprived of the chance to do a decent bit of clothes shopping, so I know the Arndale and Trafford centres are going to be perfect for her. However I love a bit of a nose around quirky and interesting independents and a good rummage through a vintage shop, so my shopping time would be better spent in the Northern Quarter – it is rumoured to remain virtually chain free and contain my perfect mix of vinyl, vintage and cool bars.
Manchester is the home of some incredible music. The Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, Oasis and far more – so many mighty musical acts hail from this great city. Manchester Music Tours offer a selection of bus tours of the city’s musical history. I would have to plump for The Smiths tour personally, which takes in places from the lyrics, artwork and gig venues from one of my favourite ever bands – I can see some serious selfies going on here (prepares quiff especially!). The same company also run tours specific to Oasis, The Stone Roses and Joy Division – as well as a more general Manchester Music Walk covering a whole range of the musical history of the area. This sort of tour would be the perfect way for me to see some of the more unusual sights and I know I would find it fascinating.
OK, so now I want to move to Manchester too, there is far too much to squeeze into our whistlestop visit, but luckily if she chooses to go there I will be back plenty of times over the next few years,
Love Miss Cisco XXX
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