two days in manchester

september 9: manchester picadilly station. i was going to walk to my hotel, but my weary, traveled body decided on the tram that jennie recommended–two stops to st. peter’s square. but after attempting the tram and falling on the steps, i collected myself and decided to take a cab outside the train station. when in doubt, take a taxi.

at the midland hotel my tour group introduced ourselves in the lobby. then we went to suzi’s room for show and tell. her special guest, cathy hay of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d showed her intricate work. they brought corsets and dresses–i didn’t realize everyone would have deep knowledge of sewing clothing, costuming, and reenacting. i felt a bit out of place and at the same time intrigued. we broke for bedtime. my roommate emily’s flight was delayed so i was alone in our hotel room. i fiddled with the shower controls and washed away the travel and took a melatonin pill to help me sleep. zzz…

september 10: i had breakfast with the south carolina ladies: jeannie, raquelle and heather. they were genuinely friendly and helped me feel welcome. our english breakfast included eggs, grilled tomato, mushrooms, beans, sausage and “bacon.” we gathered in the lobby to take a tram, train and bus to styal to see Quarry Bank Mill (a cotton mill from the late 1700’s). we took a tram to manchester picadilly station and then a train ride to manchester airport. we missed our bus and waited for the next one. i learned more about jeannie and the 1860’s balls and reenactments–cannons, camping out, men in costume doing the walks–i never knew this all existed!

when we arrived at the mill, we had a group lunch. emily met us there. she was bright-eyed and cheerful. we were glad she arrived safely. lunch included sandwiches (cut across on the diagonal), tea, nettle soup (eh, i’ll pass), and dessert. cathy pointed out the millionaires shortbread while nancy noted the demarara sugar for our tea.

the greg family owned the mill which opened in 1784. we saw the huge water wheel that powered the plant. parts of the exhibit reminded me of north and south by elizabeth gaskell. we saw cotton bales, looms, machinery and block printing on fabric. some of us toured the apprentice house where children (who worked at the mill) lived. they were there from 9 to 18 years old. we saw how they slept in hay bed/boxes. the guide described how they were locked in at night to prevent running away.

after the tour we returned to manchester via bus/train/tram. i walked and explored manchester. i went to boots and bought my friend’s dove soap (she says it’s different than the american dove soap). i used an atm and got cash–it worked! for dinner, emily and i headed to arndale mall and ate at the food court. i liked emily instantly. we strolled more and discovered a nicer part of the shopping center. we walked back to the hotel in the rain. good thing i had my rain hat. later that evening i skyped my family and they “met” emily.

september 11: we traveled by tram and bus to Platt Hall near manchester university. we took turns so that half of us viewed the clothing gallery while the other half got to study and look at clothing from the 1800’s. thank you, suzi! the plan: switch places after lunch. the clothing gallery upstairs was organized by time period. we saw regency dresses and really beautiful embroidery. the south carolina ladies took many pics of the 1860’s clothing on display. i was enamored with an 1850’s white cotton dress with a purple floral design and lovely gathered pleats. * swoon*

jennie guided some of us to the Whitworth Art Gallery for lunch. after lunch i stayed to walk through the west african art exhibit–robes and textiles worn by african chiefs. i strolled back to platt hall. oxford road turns into wimslow road. i saw numerous indian and afghani stores. back at platt hall my group examined the clothing. there was so much handiwork in each piece. it was really quite unbelievable. here we are touching and examining 200 year old clothing.

we returned to the hotel to leave for our drive to bakewell in derbyshire. yay, the english countryside!

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