Days away have changed somewhat since I first started to visit the place. It's a good thing. My friend has got a lot busier with something that is her passion and which she could have been designed and built for if humans were designed and built for different purposes and roles. I'm very proud of her for the way she's created something that is good, something that helps other people, something that is needed.
But it does mean that when I'm there I'll see less of her than I once did. And that means I have to occupy and entertain myself much more than I used to. That's okay. We have some time together still. When I started visiting last year I would have found it very difficult to occupy myself so much. I found Manchester big and busy and anxiety producing and had no confidence to not get completely lost and worried and generally confused by the place. Over the course of the year I've got more used to the place and more used to how the pieces fit together. There's still a lot of scope for getting lost but I have much more confidence there now.
So what to do when I have to spend the day alone in Manchester?
On a day of fair weather that's easy: Take myself somewhere and have an adventure. So I've just finished posting about a day spent wandering round reservoirs. I've got plenty of plans for places to see. In the sunshine a day alone is no problem.
What about a day of rain? That's been a worry for me. Especially if it's a day of rain on which I am not able to stay in the house. What should I do? On this visit to Manchester I solved my problem. My worry has gone. It wouldn't have been solved though had I not had the moment of total clarity I wrote about a month ago.
I know now: On a rainy day when I can't be in the house I can spend much of it writing. And I have found what is for me a perfect place to write. It's the Wolfson Reading Room in Manchester Central Library. This place.
It's quiet. It's light. There are no distractions. There are enough plug sockets. And there is free Wi-Fi.
What more could a woman want if she has to use some hours on a rainy day in Manchester?
As I return to Manchester later this month and then again next year there will be rainy days on which I can't be at the house. At all. On at least some of those days, The Wolfson Reading Room will be my very happy home.
It spoiled me though. It did. It spoiled me totally.
When I got back to Newcastle I wondered whether I could find an equivalent place to write. Somewhere I could make it a joyful discipline to visit regularly. Somewhere just as silent. Somewhere with just as little distraction. And plug sockets. And Wi-Fi. And no cost to be there.
I hunted. I found nowhere. I asked for advice. There was nowhere. There are libraries with silent rooms in Newcastle. But the University doesn't offer membership unless you have an academic or specific research reason to be there. And the Literary and Philosophical Society costs £120 a year to join which is more than I can afford just to have a quiet room to write in. Unfortunately they don't have a membership option for people who haven't got lots of money. There is one for people who don't want to borrow books from a library. Maybe I should ask about that.
Fortunately I have a home here so really have no excuse not to write. It would just be nice to be able to allocate a day each week, perhaps more later, to going to a specific place to write without faffing around for half the day and then realising I've done very little and then getting despondent about the whole thing!
Grateful to have been able to return to Manchester after a six week absence.
It's been too long but that couldn't be avoided.
Here is the view from the front window of the Megabus before leaving Newcastle.
Grateful to be able to spend a bit of time with Amanda.
But only a bit of time. I had to be elsewhere for most of the day. Grateful to have found somewhere good to sit and write. There will, I suspect, be more days sat in this room.
Also grateful to have found an awesome cafe, The Wonder Inn, to have a drink in that afternoon. Very awesome. So awesome that a weird organisation called the Sunday Assembly has chosen to meet there.
Grateful to have survived the rotten weather and come back with lots of charity shop purchases - six items of clothing and seven books - for £8.49.
Grateful to be looking forward to an evening with Amanda. In the quiet. Our first in a while.
The photo is of one of five elephants that live in Notlob.
Grateful to spend the day with Amanda. Grateful for good charity shops, good lunch, the exciting V bus routes, and a bit of madness.
Also for buses bearing registration plates such as this one. Deep joy!
Grateful that the journey back was easyish. I spent it behind the driver of the Megabus because I had been struggling rather while waiting for it.
Grateful for an adapter bought in a crappy shop while I was away. It means I can finally use my snazzy moving colours light bulb.