Friday, 5 October 2012

Day in the city

On a warm and sunny September Saturday, I headed into Manchester to meet up with Bernie and Rachel. As I made my way across the city, I came across these Morris Dancers in St Ann's Square. There must have been some kind of morris dancing event that day as I'd already passed one group and another was waiting to perform.

The costumes of this group were particularly colourful - great hats! I stood and watched for a few minutes, enjoying the music and dancing. Further on in the square were second-hand stalls with some selling upcycled furniture. I love how, in the city, there are unexpected delights as you stumble across street performers, small markets and other events. Not that I'm a city girl but I do like to visit.

We were in the city to see the Faces and Voices exhibition at the John Rylands Library, which is part of the University of Manchester. The Library was founded in 1898 by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, and houses the University's special collections. It took 10 years to build and cost over £500,000. Mrs Rylands involved herself in all aspects of the building work whilst gathering amazing collections of early printed books and manuscripts. I'm full of admiration for this woman and what she achieved at a time when women weren't even allowed the vote.

From the outside, with its gothic architecture, the Library looks more like a cathedral. And that impression carries on inside with vaulted ceilings and corridors. This view is over the main staircase.

There are also stained glass windows like this one, the Theology window.

What most visitors come to see though is the Historic Reading Room. This photo doesn't really convey just how beautiful and impressive it is.

How about this one? Inside each of the alcoves are separate reading areas lined with leather-bound books. Can you imagine a lovelier place to study? The light glows off the wood and it has that wonderful old book smell.

Back downstairs we marvelled at the exhibition of papyrus fragments and tomb portraits, all dating from before 642AD. It was hard to believe we were looking at something so old.

On our way out we noticed this automaton by Keith Newstead. Put in your donation and away it goes. The Victorian lady lifts a cup of tea to her lips and places it back down. She repeats this a couple of times and then...

We all jumped and laughed in surprise! As a way to encourage donations it's very clever because, of course, we fed in coins over and over so we could watch the dragon again.

But our day wasn't ended there. The Opera House theatre was celebrating its centenary and was having an open day. There were backstage tours, performances, drama workshops and face painting. I couldn't resist trying on one of the costumes in the dressing rooms.

It was pretty heavy with the boning in the corset but had a fantastic full skirt just right for twirling. So I did! Along with doing various dramatic poses!

Finally, it was off to browse the shops and have a coffee before saying our goodbyes. The three of us really enjoyed our day out. Hope you did too.

1 comment:

  1. Loved all of this. Certainly I never had such a lovely place to study when I was in school. My favorite part though is the automaton -- hilarious!