The Tour pt 14 - Ah, that’s better

Hello again! The title  refers, not to a verbal expression of satisfaction to a decent cuppa, nor to the conclusion of another activity between consenting adults, but to life in general and the tour in particular. After what turned out to be a disappointing stay in Bury, we are now sited just outside Chester. The sun has been putting in an almost continuous appearance, and the bangers, cooked on the new barbeque, procured last week during the incessant rain have just gone down a treat. We are here for three days before heading west across to Anglesey to sample the delights of North Wales.

So, back to last week. Wednesday morning was wasted sourcing and then going to get, a replacement power adaptor, thanks to the thieving scrotes at Rivington Services. We explored the possibility of getting the socket changed on the car thereby negating the need for an adaptor, but it was going to cost nearly three times as much. Not only that but by doing so we would have invalidated the warranty on the tow bar. Attentive readers - both of you then - will remember from very early on that we need to get the relay box replaced on our return. I grudgingly handed over twenty-five quid  for the adaptor mentally promising prolonged torture and a slow death to anyone who dared to nick it. Not that I’m bitter or anything!

Wednesday afternoon was spent in Bury. It’s famous market was in full swing. I didn’t know it was famous but the hoardings said so and it was a good market - you could actually buy useful stuff as well as the usual brightly coloured Chinese made tat that falls to bits after five minutes. Always mindful of supporting local traders where possible I bought a pair of sunnies. In Marks & Spencer. Oh well.

Thursday, and although the rain had arrived it was time to hit Manchester. The easiest and quickest way to get there was on the tram, from the centre of Bury. Incredibly, the car park for the tram station is free - there are no checks on whether it is actually being used for it’s intended purpose. So of course it was full up. We drove round it several times then spotted a space about to become vacant. So did someone else who had just entered the car park. A short bonnet to bonnet stand off ensued  until the other driver gave up, launched her middle  finger in the air and sped off.

For less than a fiver you can travel across the entire tram network all day, although from what I could see we were the only ones to approach the ticket machines and actually buy tickets.

Having traversed the town centre to the other end of the lane, we came back, swapped trams and went out to Salford Quays. A massive redevelopment has taken place here including shops hotels and offices. The most famous tenant is the BBC, who having relocated large parts of the service from London, now occupy several blocks.

Next up was Old Trafford, home of course of Manchester United football club. Now, I have no affinity to them but their success and worldwide popularity is undeniable. We were actually here a number of years ago. Our local football team at the time - Cambridge United - had drawn them in what was then the league cup. A couple of car loads of us travelled up I think, and got parked up down some side street just behind the ground. Now of course an team of wardens, clampers and tow-away merchants would be lurking in the shadows ready to pounce. Anyway, against a tin pot side, in a tin pot competition, they still managed to draw a crowd of over thirty thousand and the atmosphere was terrific. Of course Cambridge were trounced but the game was notable for being one of the first games that a certain Ryan Giggs played at senior level.  We took our pictures, hosted the brollies back up and went back for the tram. We had a quick look around the city centre but, having had enough of the rain, headed back to the site. We stopped for a meal at the local pub on our return. They had changed a couple of the guest beers which obviously needed sampling .

Friday. Rain, rain rain. And that was before breakfast. We abandoned any thoughts of sightseeing and instead went shopping for a bbq. I had actually ordered one on line - and paid extra for next day delivery to the site. However it never showed up and it transpired that the company had none in stock and weren't expecting any for a couple of weeks. Quite when they were going to tell me this, had I not rang up and enquired, I shall never know.

Well, we found and bought one, but that only killed half the day. In the afternoon we went to the cinema and saw a couple of films, pausing for a meal at Frankie & Bennies in-between.

Saturday and guess what? Yep, it was raining, though towards the end of the morning it showed signs of easing. We headed for the tram and again showed ourselves up as tourists by being the only ones to buy a ticket. It must be losing a fortune. Anyway, we got off in the centre and went to have a look at Canal Street, Manchester's’ gay ‘village’. Well, I’m sure on a nice warm evening it must be buzzing but on a cold wet Saturday afternoon it wasn’t. Having traversed the length of it we paused around the corner for a pint and a sarnie. Well, two actually. Pints that is, not sarnies.

Back in the city centre we skulked around a few shops, being transported - thankfully briefly  -to Planet Chav, sorry Primark. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Primark particularly and even have some Primark jeans - in black funnily enough. Ok, their clothes may be the product of child slave labour, but so is half the stuff on the high street. But it was just awful in there. Heaving with humanity - mostly - and nearly as many security guards, it was a cattle market and pig sty rolled in to one. We quickly abandoned the idea of buying anything - socks were the primary reason for the visit - and left. Vague hopes of firing up the bbq in the evening were dashed as the rain returned with a vengeance.

So, all in all a disappointing few days. Things could always be worse of course as the poor buggers in Aberystwyth will tell you. Indeed I could also have been running around delivering parcels and getting wet, instead of walking around sightseeing and er, getting wet.

Photo’s are scarce this time for obvious reasons, but with the weather on our side there should be plenty of opportunities for lens clicking this week.

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