Manchester’s Libraries

Libraries are not generally what you’d consider tourist attractions. So, it surprised me to realise that we had visited four libraries during our three-day visit to Manchester.

Portico Library

Labelled bookshelves in Portico Library Glass roof of Portico Library Portico Library
The Portico Library is a tiny, glass-domed reading room, with book-lined walls. It was established in 1806, and I can imagine gentlemen of the day discussing business and politics in deep armchairs. The centre of the room is now crowded with display cases and cafe tables, which hides some of the grandeur of the space.

John Rylands Library

John Rylands Library Building Main Staircase in John Rylands Library John Rylands Library Main Hall
The John Rylands Library is magnificent and surreal. It looks like a gothic cathedral, and it is so unexpected that it feels like an elaborate movie set.

If your things-to-see list only has space for one library, this is the one to visit.

Central Library

Manchester Central Library Building Books line the circular walls of the Central Library reading room Exquisite clock in the centre of the reading room
The Central Library is a public lending library. The impressive, circular building tempted us in, and the modern renovation within was even more impressive. Along with the modern facilities, they have preserved some of the old features of the building; the domed reading room is exquisite.

Chetham’s Library

Grounds of Chetham's Music School Chained books in Chetham's Library Dark wood bookcases in Chetham's Library
Chetham’s Library is another tiny library, tucked away in the grounds of Chetham’s School of Music. The dark wood-panelled bookshelves open up into a room where Karl Marx once studied.

Manchester

I had never visited Manchester before. Manchester is city to the north of England and one steeped in history. Even with such a rich past, I know the city more through its modern place in culture – a place of music and as a counter-point to an all too often London centric country.

Being able to visit Manchester with Megan, who grew up in Australia, was a linguistic treat. Megan knows bedding and linen collectively as Manchester. This term for linen is used in shops and in general conversation in Australia. You will find a Manchester department advertised within a store and there you will find the bedding.

Taking Megan to a city so associated with a product was always going to be fun. There was of course no mention of the Australian interpretation of the name to be found. We did try to learn more at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The accents further north in Great Britain are also a linguistic treat. A few conversations ended with Megan looking bemused, wondering what had been said.

The city centre felt alive with young people. Nearby university buildings ensured this; students were visible everywhere we went. We happened to visit at the time of graduation ceremonies and twice found ourselves within throngs of proud parents and garbed up graduates.

We only saw a few brief glimpses of the centre and the city during our visit. From the train, the suburbs told a different story, long rows of red brick houses stretched out into the distance. It would be interesting to see a bit more of that world.

Manchester Piccadilly Station
Manchester Piccadilly Station
Glazed red tiles adorn many buildings
Glazed red tiles adorn many buildings
Manchester town hall and surrounds
Manchester town hall and surrounds
Walkways join council buildings
Walkways join council buildings
Staircase within Manchester town hall
Staircase within Manchester town hall
Corridor within Manchester town hall
Corridor within Manchester town hall
Manchester town hall's clock tower
Manchester town hall’s clock tower
Formal entrance to Manchester's Chinese district
Formal entrance to Manchester’s Chinese district
Boat locks within Manchester's city centre
Boat locks within Manchester’s city centre
Tram lines
Tram lines
Horizon dominating Beetham Tower
Horizon dominating Beetham Tower
Old Manchester train station
Old Manchester train station
Signage hints to a different past
Signage hints to a different past
View from the train over the inner suburbs
View from the train over the inner suburbs

English Language

I stared at this metro poster for minutes before understanding the intended meaning. I only paid attention because the organisation teaches English and felt I should understand the text.

"how douille houx doux ?" An unhelpful poster.
“how douille houx doux ?” An unhelpful poster. The business details are obscured.

The poster robs any easy meaning from the primary sentence. It does not scan quickly in either the English or French language. Thankfully the small print provides an answer.

Clever maybe but an effective advert?

As an aside, is the French phonetic translation of “do” really “douille”, why not the shorter “doux” twice?

Insects and Manual Focus

I have started playing with manual focus on the Canon PowerShot SX700. It is not the first camera I have had with this control but it is a feature I rarely use.

Even with excessive zoom, I love focusing in on the small and intricate.

These insect photos were taken during an evening walk in the nearby park. Look closely enough at any cluster of plants and there will be insects to be found and photographed. These photos were all taken with manual focus and some careful moving of the camera lens as close as possible to the tiny creatures.

For some reason, cropping the photos to a square just looks right.

A tricky photo as the wind swayed the stalk
A tricky photo as the wind swayed the stalk
A dragonfly stares back
A dragonfly stares back
Not perfect but fun
Not perfect but fun
An almost alien like world
An almost alien like world

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