It was the twenty-fifth of May. Six months ago.
I was staying in Manchester at the time and on that day I would be heading off with my friend there to see the excitements of Southport, a place that we both appreciate. It's a bit like our kind of Blackpool. A Blackpool without so much noise and haste. A much quieter tourist town with a much better variety of ice cream.
We have walked through Blackpool together, past many of the tourist stalls on or near the sea front. They sell ice cream. It's true. And they show off about how many varieties they sell. Obviously each stall is content to not try to outdo any other stall in choice. Because they will proudly display signs about their eight varieties. Eight.
In Southport there are places with thirty varieties of ice cream and the whole set up feels a lot more clean too. And there are places that sell liquorice ice cream and the two of us are great lovers of the black stuff.
So on that day we were going there again. It was a great day. We took many photos of the things we saw. We took many photos of each other. And our faces are full of smiles.
Our day of adventuring in Southport couldn't start at the start of the day though because my wonderful friend had to work for a while in the morning.
We arranged to meet up at Salford Central railway station and catch a train there and I dutifully caught a bus to meet her. But this is me. I catch buses early. Giving plenty of time. In cast something goes wrong. Which with Manchester buses and Newcastle Metros isn't an unheard of situation.
I didn't want to be late.
In fact I was a little over half an hour early.
What to do? I could sit inside the station and try to read a book. Or I could take my over-promptness as an opportunity. To explore just a little more of the centre of Manchester. I wouldn't be able to explore much - and six months on there is a vast amount I haven't yet seen or experienced.
But I could see something. And something might be better than nothing.
So I didn't cross the road from the bus stop and enter the station. Instead I turned a different way towards the view from the bus as it heads up from the station into the centre of Manchester on its sometimes slow route to Piccadilly or Shudehill.
I only had minutes. And these photos are from the fruit of those minutes.
The Left Bank. Here you will find the People's History Museum which is worth visiting, some odd architectural combinations, and a cafe that looks promising for a drink sometime.
Heading out of frame to the left of photo you would find the law courts before reaching the junction with Deansgate, a very busy shopping street to the left and a slightly quieter street to the right - a direction that will also take you to some roman ruins, the current tallest building in the city, and to one of the canals and the start of a most excellent walk.
The statue - which I'd been wondering about since first passing it in October 2015 - is of Joseph Brotherton who was a social campaigner in the first half of the 19th century. He was also a prominent vegetarian and started the first vegetarian soup kitchen.
A photo below is of a Brotherton quotation, found in a nearby office doorway.
I'm sure the political and moral theorists among you could discuss the quotation at length.
The view from the bus. Or at least from the path passed by the bus.
I'm not going to talk about most of the following pictures. They're self explanatory. Views up the river. Views down the river. Views of bridges. Views from bridges. There may be plenty more of them. Blob Thing is currently posting about a walk we took along part of the course of the River Irwell - this same river. Not far downstream from here the river runs into the Manchester Ship Canal and that's that. It forms an important division here:
On your left, the city of Manchester.
On your right, the city of Salford.
Returning to the road running past Salford Central, I was still too early to meet my excellent friend.
So I walked the other way, through Spinningfields. Pedestrianised streets filled with bars and cafes and offices rising above. All quite normal and sociable. Plus there was this. Crazy golf.
And back to the Irwell again, crossing by another bridge.
I was glad to have walked along and crossed there because I looked down. To a section of path that had been closed, I think in consequence of the flooding at the start of the year. When walking along the Irwell in places you can still see rubbish carried by the flood, metres higher than the waterline stuck in the trees and bushes above.
And on the section of path I saw a couple of artistic endeavours that brought me some cheer.
Finally it was time to meet my friend. She was on time. So it was fortunate that I wasn't late.
We bought our train tickets and walked into the station. The view back down to the road is a good one.
There was a time that Salford Central had more platforms and more tracks. Any railway enthusiasts may know the story of the lines. Looking across the barriers at the station you can still see the course of the old lines.
So my spare half an hour had been filled profitably. There is often a great deal to see if we would just look. I was glad to have seen a little more of the two cities, Salford and Manchester. Just a very little. Six months later I have not walked along those paths again for there are so many more paths and roads to walk in the area. I am really only at the very beginning of my exploration.