B is for Bridgewater Canal

Inspired by Roger Oldham’s ‘A Manchester Alphabet,’ I’m exploring this fair city, from A to Z. Read about my wanderings around Ancoats here.

Today’s post is brought to you by the ‘water taxi’ sign that I’ve passed on my way home from work, most evenings, for the past two years. I decided it was time to finally follow the sign and find out what these water taxis were and where they would take me.

Bridgewater Canal - waterfall

The waxis (that’s WAter taXIS), I learnt, leisurely glide up and down sections of both the Manchester Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal, stopping at points of interest along the waterways. Since Bridgewater starts with the letter ‘B,’ it provided the perfect opportunity for my next alphabetical exploration.

The canal stretches for over 40 miles between Runcorn and Leigh, with Manchester sitting at the heart of it. Commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, it was built as a means of transporting coal from his mines in Worsely, in to the city.

Bridgewater Canal - barges

My cousin came over for the day again and filmed our wanders, but I don’t think I’m going to invite her back. That girl is a rain magnet –  we had beautiful weather all week until she arrived on Sunday morning.

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Places we went, places you could go.

Mamucium, map
Strategically situated at a site overlooking the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Medlock, the Roman fort of Mamucium was built. Manchester was born here, in AD 79. Her first inhabitants, merchants and military. Today, you can see a reconstruction of the North gate and its ramparts, and walk around its foundations.

Mamucium

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, here
Liverpool Road
Open daily 10am – 5pm

I’ve only been to MOSI once since I moved here which is a poor show on my part. We started our visit by fortifying ourselves with cups of tea in the Warehouse cafe where we also had some really tasty pastries. We spent a couple of hours taking in the exhibits and could have stayed longer if not for our water taxi booking. The museum has a number of talks and activities on throughout the day and whilst they are aimed at youngsters, we found them enjoyable and entertaining.
Manchester Museum of Science and Industry - entranceManchester Museum of Science and Industry - Tim Peake spacecraftManchester Museum of Science and Industry - engine

Manchester Water Taxi, here
A thoroughly enjoyable 50 minute boat ride took us from Castlefield to the Trafford Centre. Whilst it might not be the quickest way to get there, it’s certainly more fun than sitting in a car. Keep an eye out on their Instagram page because they often post discount codes for tickets. Also, it took us a minute to find the boarding point because of the direction we walked along the canal. The stop is round the corner from Albert’s shed,  where you’ll see their sign. Or, if you’re standing outside Barca, look across the canal and you’ll see a duck house – that’s where you need to wait.
Manchester Water Taxi #WAXI - arrivingManchester Water Taxi #WAXI - all aboard

Old Trafford
Though I technically live in the red part of town, I’ve never actually visited the stadium. The water taxi stops here however which would make a nice day out for a football fan -unless, I suppose, you support city.

The Trafford Centre
We only paused here for a comfort break on this occasion but I’ve been enough times before that I have a favourite parking area and place to eat.* Though I still haven’t had my picture taken on the staircase in the food quarter. Maybe next time? But probably not – can someone please explain the appeal??

Worsley
We skipped the village on this trip as the clouds were fast turning grey, but there’s plenty to see and do, enough for a day trip in itself. Including the Monton heritage trail which is a really pleasant walk on both cold wintery days and warm summer ones.

The Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green, here
Opening times: Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun: 1.30 – 5.00pm

Still a work in progress as volunteers continue to build new exhibits, but worth a visit to learn about local history. The surrounding area was once full of collieries, long since demolished. Now the museum houses Lancashire’s only surviving headgear (the steel frame in the picture below) and engine house where you can find a winding steam engine. It’s a thing of beauty and they run it on a few days throughout the year – I wish we could have timed our visit for one of those days. Although I’m not sure I dare go back. Seemingly, the reverberations of my coins hitting the bottom of the donation box sent two pin-boards flying off the wall of the visitors centre and crashing on top of a collection of commemorative plates. It was a heart stopping moment and luckily nothing broke but jeepers! That could’ve been baaaaaad.**
The Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green - entranceThe Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green - machinery

*the Orient car park. Perfectly placed in the middle of the centre so you can do a full circle and don’t have to walk back on yourself. Plus you enter/exit through the food court. Park in the section on the right and go all the way to the back – you’ll find a space  there whilst all the lazy bums fight for a spot closer to the entrance.

**what actually happened is that the command strips had given up at a most in opportune moment, but I still feel guilty.

A is for Ancoats; a Manchester A to Z

roldham_a-spread
{photo from here}

‘A is for Ancoats

A dreary place is Ancoats,
‘Tis full of smoke and fog,
The lassess wear shawls on their heads
Their feet are shod with clogs.
‘Tis really not a pleasant place
Upon a rainy day;
We have to start with Ancoats tho’,
For Ancoats starts with A.’

 A Manchester Alphabet, Roger Oldham

Canal Walk Ancoats{summer in Ancoats}

Last year whilst wandering around Manchester Art gallery, a favourite pass time for lazy Saturday afternoons, I came across a wonderful set of illustrated short poems by Roger Oldham. Written in 1906, A Manchester Alphabet depicts in humorous verse, scenes from daily life in the city.

As I read each passage I reflected on my own memories of the places and things he wrote about. T is for Trams – every time I have to navigate my way across the tram tracks in St Peter’s Square, unsure of exactly which direction I can expect a yellow behemoth to come chugging toward me, it flits into my head that Gaudi met his demise under one such vehicle. C is for Chorlton – home to the best kebab in Manchester, has to be eaten in the car even though last time you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it again because they are drippy little buggers and the juice gets everywhere, making your car pong of onions until the end of time.

I’ve lived in Manchester for six years now and as seems to happen when you settle in a place, I find myself frequenting the same parts of town, the same restaurants, the same bars. I was inspired to make my own Manchester Alphabet and use it as an excuse to explore more of the city I call home.

And then, in typical Jasmin fashion, I did nothing about it for over 12 months.

Hallé St Peter's
{Hallé St Peter’s}

I visited the city a lot in the years before moving here and back then Ancoats was just a place that had some sneaky free parking (no longer, damn you yellow lines), not somewhere I would spend an afternoon hanging out. These days I know it as the place to get the best pizza in town (more on that in a second) but beyond that, the area is still a mystery to me. It seemed fitting that Ancoats should be my first stop in this journey.

In typical Manchester fashion, as Oldham wrote, it was a dreary day. No matter, in lieu of a shawl I had an umbrella and a bobble hat.
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I invited my cousin along for the day. She’s a clever and creative little bean who enjoys making videos so I thought it would be a fun bit of bonding time. I was right, we had the loveliest (and greediest) of days and I’m super proud of the video she created of it.

Some notes on the places we visited

Mustard Tree, here
110 Oldham Rd, Manchester M4 6AG
Opening times: Mon – Sat: 10am – 4pm / Sun: Closed

One of three charity shops for the Manchester based charity. They aim to tackle the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness by empowering people through education and employment, and providing provisions to those in need. There was a decent selection of cheap but good condition clothing and homeware. I bought the blue jumper in the video (Topman, excellent condition) for a couple of quid and it has been in heavy rotation since.

Ancoats Peeps, here
Ancoats PeepsAncoats PeepsIf you look close enough, you might just find a brass eye piece staring out at you from an unassuming wall. There’s no explanation as to what you’re looking at or map to find any others but if you so manage to spy one, go ahead and peer through. You might see something, or you might see nothing.

Ancoats Coffee Co. here
Royal Mills, Redhill St.
Opening times: Mon – Fri: 8am – 6pm / Sat: 9am – 5pm / Sun: 10am – 5pm

Housed in an old cotton mill by the Rochadale Canal, is The Ancoats Coffee Co.  I confess, I didn’t have any coffee here, but the tea was good. The brownies looked intense but we didn’t get to try one since we were going to eat soon.

Rudy’s Pizza, here
Cotton Street
Opening times: Mon – Fri: 12– 3, 5-10pm / Sat: 12am – 10pm / Sun: 12am – 9pm

Canal Walk Rudy Pizza

Yes, I have been here before, but it’s the best pizza in Manchester so there was no way I wasn’t going to take the opportunity to visit.

Elnecot, here
Blossom Street
Opening times: Mon – Thu 5pm–11.30pm / Fri 12pm–11.30pm / Sat – Sun 11am-11.30pm

Elnecot Sticky Toffee Pudding
Honestly, the thing that drew me here was the gigantic neon ‘toilet’ sign that glares across Cutting Room Square. I went for a pit stop and I stayed for pudding. Perhaps that’s their trick? Lure you in with the promise of facilities and keep you there because you spy six things on the walk down to the loos that other people are eating which you must try for yourself.

Their sticky toffee pudding was one of the best I’ve ever had and I am forever indebted to my pathetic bladder for leading me to such deliciousness. My cousin had the chocolate fondant and it did that amazing oozy thing when you slice through it. Heaven.

Ancoats General Store, here
Great Ancoats Street
Opening times: Mon – Sat 7am–11pm / Sun: 8am–11pm 

Newspapers, apples, water, craft beer, Thursday evening street food events, coffee. All bases covered.

Cha-ology, here
Great Ancoats Street
Opening times: Wed – Sat 2pm–7pm / Sun – Tues: Closed

I was so disappointed to learn they had moved to a reservation only system. It’s on my list to return – if you take a look at their website, you’ll understand why.