Manchester Sans Mad

For some reason or other, I’d never been to Manchester before this weekend. Never been to Liverpool, either. I’d been to Chester (man) and Blackpool, but not their big brothers.

Visiting a place for the first time with a five-year-old, and specifically for that five-year-old, is an odd experience. I haven’t done any of the general wandering around to get my bearings that I otherwise would have, so haven’t seen many of the supposedly nice bits yet. Instead, after getting off the train at Manchester Piccadilly, which is surrounded by a jumble of nondescript buildings, we caught a cab to our hotel and then two buses out to the Trafford Centre, the neo-Victorian shopping mall where the Lego Show has been held. Along the way we passed Daniel Libeskind’s striking Imperial War Museum North and the new BBC buildings, but haven’t visited either. On our bus trips up and down Oxford and Wilmslow Roads we’ve been travelling along the “Curry Mile” of Rusholme, which has left Mint Royale running through my head and my tastebuds tingling, but we haven’t eaten there—we ate at Pizza Express last night and the hotel restaurant tonight so that we could avoid scary spices and stick to the bedtime routine. Manchester’s famous nightlife is just up the road, but for this trip it might as well be on the Moon.

But never mind: the Lego, and especially W.’s reaction to the Lego, has been worth it. Two full days of it seem to have satisfied him, so we might get to see something else before we catch the train back tomorrow afternoon. I don’t think it’ll be the War Museum—or, as one of his nursery friends told him it was called, the National Worm Museum (in memory of all those worms who have given their lives for us...). Maybe it’ll be some of the fancier Victorian buildings of the West End. I hope they’re fancier, anyway; so far, Manchester reminds me of the dingier parts of Glasgow or London. But I’m sure my limited exposure to its non-Lego charms isn’t doing it justice.

6 May 2012 · Journal