Friday, 22 November 2013

Virtual Tourist Manchester's Christmas markets Meeting 16th November 2013

I was awake about 8.10 and as Ashton Hill hostel has a kitchen with a kettle & microwave, I had some tea & porridge for breakfast before going to meet the Virtual Tourist group. I went out about 10am & walked to Starbucks opposite Albert Square. It is here where we have met for the past few years. I had a gingerbread latte. 
I joined Kirsty & Adds & other people from the group while we looked around  the stalls around the town hall. I also bought a "mulled wine" in a seasonal mug. Later I met Lia & Jeff, who were also interested in visiting the Lowry Gallery in Salford. So we decided to go together. We took a Tram 1023 to Salford Quays, then walked around the former dock area. Near to the BBC Media Centre there is the Lowry Arts Centre which as an arts centre which hosts concerts & other event. Also in the same building is the LS Lowry gallery which contains the largest collection of LS Lowry paintings & drawings, many of which are landscapes of industrial Lancashire in the mid 20th century. In addition there is an area set for special exhibitions & in November 2013 the Lowry gallery also hosted as "Performer as Curator" an Alison Goldfrapp exhibition. Alison Goldfrapp is well known as a musician in the electronic & synthpop genre & has several hits in a career since 1989. Alison performs under her surname with Will Gregory. Her albums have sold well. Alison is interested in art, fantasy & fairytales, and examples of there were included in the exhibition. There were also excerpts from films including:-
The lost highway by David Lynch
The Wicker man (Britt Eckland singing)
"Hansel & Gretel" a silhouette cartoon made by Lotte Reiniger
& videos of songs that Alison included in an early album. 
Annabel & Jo (films by Alison Goldfrapp)
The art centre gas an excellent shop of Lowry art memorablia & a cafe/Tea shop which serves fair trade hot & soft drinks, cakes & sandwiches.
At 15.10-15.20 Tram 1072 Media centre to St Peters Square. I went to meet up with the group again, and walked from St Ann's Church to the Cathedral area among the market stalls in New Cathedral Street, I also took some time to listen to talented musician girls, one playing guitar & both signing in harmony. Among the songs (covers of recent hits) they sung were "Girl on Fire" & "Story of my life" I also wondered arpund the cathedral & surrounding streets until meeting the VT people outside the Old Wellington, another Nicholson pub, in a distinctive Elizabethan house. Here Virtual Tourist had a table booked for 5pm & we settled to good food & beer. I had chicken & mushroom pie with fresh vegetables & chips. I also had apple crumble with custard. 
Later we went to a typical "backstreet" English town pub called the "Wheatsheaf" Hotel. The pub was very crowded, but served real ale & there was also a "disco" specialising in Tamla Motown & Northern soul music. We all chatted & stayed until about 11.45pm. 

Virtual Tourist Meeting in Manchester part 1

After the concert the previous night , I returned to the hostel. I arrived in to the bar area when there was a karaoke evening. I also met two Australians who were staying in the same room. The following day I was awake about 7.30. St Christopher Hostels serve a Complimentary breakfast of Tea, juices, muesli & toast with cheese, ham, jam..
After breakfast I took the Central line to Oxford Circus & Bakerloo to Marylebone. I then travelled by train operated by Chiltern to Birmingham Moor Street (10.15-12.08), walked across Birmingham centre to New Street from where I travelled on a Cross Country voyager to Manchester Piccadilly. On arrival into Manchester I went by tram 3008 to Victoria Station, an example of a fine Victorian rail terminus, where also trains from all over Northern England & beyond arrive and depart.
Ashton Hill Hostel is a ten minute walk from this station. The hostel was built in 1908 & is a grade 2 listed building, previously used as a woman's hostel & a hotel serving passengers who wanted to be near Victoria railway station. I was warmly welcomed by Rebecca on reception who also showed me my room, the kitchen & bathroom facilities. I stayed in the hostel & had a cup of tea & scone, before I went into the centre & as arranged I met Virtual Tourist members in the Bank, a Nicholson pub which like many Nicholson pubs is in a splendid building. I first met Dao, then later more members came including Kirsty & Adds, Gill, Sarah, Sue, Lia & Jeff. After having a drink we went to the Red Hot House World Buffet. This is one of several "buffet" style places, and has "sittings" & we were booked in for 7-9pm. There a buffet "stations" each of which specialises in a type of food, Chinese, Thai, TexMex.. as well as "stations" to collect starters & desserts. Drinks had to be collected from a bar on another floor. After eating well we moved to a Wetherspoon pub called the "Moon under the water". Here I had some beer & chatted until about 11pm, when the pub became more crowded and they started playing LOUD music.