And today we are off to Manchester...
Wake up time this morning was 7am. HA!!! I’ve been awake since 5.30am but tried to sleep a little more knowing we were going to have quite a big day ahead of us. You see today we were off to undergo the medical for Andy’s visa to enter and stay in Australia. So we needed to be in Whalley Range in Manchester on time for 11.30am.
|Ooooo thar be witches|
So early that morning, we wandered off down the road to the bus stop. OMG!!! SQUEEEEEEEE!!! The buses here are awesome. We caught “The X43 Witch Way” bus to Manchester. And to fully appreciate this bus you have to see it. Firstly it is a Pullman style double-decker bus with full leather seating, yay; we don’t often see them in Oz. Secondly, there are decals of witches on a broomstick on the side of the bus, on the front of the bus and in random other places on the inside of the bus. And today our bus driver was to be the wonderful Steven, who I am sure thought I was quite odd for wanting to take photos of both him and the bus.
|The wonderful Steven|
We arrived at Chorlton Street bus station in Manchester with a good 70 minutes to spare. It was raining and it was cold, so we headed for the nearest pub (Yates’s Wine Lodge) for breakfast. It was lovely and warm inside and people watching through the glass windows there was awesome. There were girls getting out of cabs, trying to keep their hair dry with the umbrellas they brought, only to give up in disgust when the wind kindly blew them apart and or turned them inside out. There were so many discarded umbrellas around Manchester’s streets that day and now I know why.
Did I mention it was cold? And wet? Even the security guard working at the pub agreed with me on this and he was obviously a local.
From the pub we jumped into a black cab to head to the hospital in Whalley Range. Now this hospital (Spire), obviously a private one (ex Bupa), and not dealing with sick people, was amazing. Just walking into the lobby was an experience for the senses to behold. This could have been any high profile business, nothing about it said hospital, except for the sign out the front. I must say however, the receptionist’s greeting was as warm as the Manchester weather we were presented with this day.
|Oh not again!!|
Having found our way to the hospital, it was a case of everyone up to the waiting room to wait for the medical to begin. We met a few other people up there for much the same reasons as us too. One lady commented saying, “Wow, you are going all out in getting the accent right for your medical”. All I could do was reply “I wasn’t here for the medical, Andy was”, which soon made a lot more sense for her.
I got to sit in on Andy’s medical as a chaperone, a decision he is probably now regretting. The nurse who did his preliminary testing was a scream. He was very brave and didn’t cry when he had blood taken, but I think he had the nurse convinced he would feint at the sight of his own blood. When she measured him for height, Andy received the greatest shock of the day. Apparently, he is now 3 full inches shorter than he was in the mid seventies (obviously minus the platform shoes and Mohican haircut then). I was killing myself laughing and generally not being helpful at all. I think the “you are shrinking in your old age” thing went down less than brilliantly. So still not helping apparently, I tried the angle, “maybe you shrank in the wet”. Then to add insult to injury, being 3 inches shorter than he thought he was, now put his BMI out of the curiously appealing range and into the obese quick go on a diet department. So now instead of being a strapping slightly overweight 6’2, he was a clinically obese 5’11 dwarf.
Did I mention I was still laughing here?
Next, he was supposed to pee in the jar before we saw the Dr, but he needed something in the region of 20 odd pints of water in him before anything like that was going to happen.
|Really? All this for a urine sample?|
We had this lovely South African Dr who had a very very dry sense of humour. Andy stripped down to his (I love Australia) boxers and the Dr shook his head at the Australian flag on them. The testing involved quite a thorough physical exam. Testing for things like hernias, reflexes, going through your whole medical history etc. The blood test was for HIV screening and if Andy had had tattoos, he would have also been tested for hepatitis. After a good seeing to and going over, the Dr sent Andy back to his nurse for his much awaited urine sample before sending us down to x-ray. The Dr also told Andy that he would have to pee in front of the nurse so that they could make sure it was his urine they were testing. I think stage fright was now setting in although Andy maintains he was quite looking forward to spending some time with her. The nurse killed herself laughing when I grassed him up and told her. The Dr had set him up nicely. They were all taking the piss.
We toddled off down to the x-ray department and while Andy was being bombarded with gamma rays, I was left alone looking through plastic surgery pamphlets. No wonder this place didn’t look like a hospital, it was simply respite care for the world’s under-worked but wealthy house wives. The place was more like a day spa with the bonus of added surgery options thrown in on the menu. And while it might be nice to dream of the perfect surgically enhanced body, I think I’ll just stick with what I have for now.
Back into Manchester and time to go exploring...
Chorlton Street bus terminal is situated within Manchester’s gay village. The only real give away for me was a bar named “Queer” and another bar that had a drag show in it. But for the most part it was just gay friendly cafes and restaurants. We also went for a wander through close by China town, which was a little disappointing as it was just a few Chinese restaurants and shops hiding behind a large pagoda. I guess it was different to the China towns I am used to seeing in Sydney and Brisbane. Maybe there really isn’t as big a Chinese population in Manchester?
One of the biggest highlight’s of Manchester for me was the buildings here. Seeing 200 plus year old buildings, butted up next to modern architecture was almost criminal, but if you focus on the historical buildings and their attention to detail in every facet of their construction, it was easy to forget the less than impressive new buildings. The town hall was just divine. I think we spent about 30 minutes just photographing this building alone. Unfortunately, so much of it wasn’t open to the public, but what was, we explored: The mosaics on the floor, the paintings on the ceiling, the leaded light windows, the marble pillars, the spiralling stone staircases, all of them just exquisite.
|Inside Manchester's Town Hall|
Click here for the full Manchester Album
We also went for a wander through the Manchester Art Gallery on Mosely Street. We opted to look at the classical art vs the more modern art because quite frankly, the modern art was sometimes just that little bit too obscure for my liking. Art to me must be something that awakens the senses and takes you into the world of the artist creating the work. I spent some time sitting in front of one painting which for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, but it was a painting you could truly lose yourself in. An elderly gentleman came up to me and started telling me all about this piece of work and how it had only just recently been returned to the gallery after being repaired. Apparently someone had slashed the painting as an act of vandalism and it had been removed for repair. If indeed this painting had been vandalised, the restorers are worth their weight in gold because you cannot tell it had been damaged at all.
One very curious thing about Manchester was the little “bee” symbol in all of the street furniture. It seemed to be (no pun intended) everywhere in Manchester. I still don’t know what it means. Even looking on Google didn’t give us any real answers. So if anybody knows, please educate us all via the comments box. Thanks.
Anyway, after nearly 5 hours of walking around Manchester, it was time to jump on our bus and go back to the sticks of Rawtenstall. The trip between Manchester and Rawtenstall takes little over 30 minutes in total, the journey itself giving you a wonderful scenic tour of the outlaying suburbs of Manchester. Places like not so sunny Salford, Jew city central Prestwich, Whitefield, and Bury.
Back in Rawtenstall, we stopped in at the other supermarket giant ASDA (now part of Walmart). Now if I thought Tesco was huge, I was now looking at a 2 storey version of it. There was a whole lot more stuff in this store than you could ever hope to need. One level dedicated to food and one to clothing, household goods, electricals and everything else. I am now starting to think I may be allergic to shopping as my yet to be defeated jet-lag snuck up again on me in here. The same as it did in Tesco, all out of the blue and then BANG!!! I was down and out for the count again. We did manage to get some food for dinner however and I could not believe the sheer amount of different foods on offer and how many of these were premade meals. Does no one here cook from scratch anymore?
Back home and back into bed for a couple of hours reconstructive surgery and I was almost back to normal again. On the whole, the day in Manchester was just magical and I didn’t even get to explore 0.5% of what there is to be seen. I am hoping to maybe fit in another day there before I go. Minus the wind and rains would be nice.