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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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