I seem to be getting all over the place recently: India one week, Normandy a few weeks later, and today finds me in Manchester. John suggested a trip up here when I got back from France last week, and I can never turn down a good voyage of exploration. Even though I was born and grew up in the north west, the truth is I don’t feel I have ever really explored Manchester; I don’t know it like I now know London. Moreover a further truth is I’m starting to think about places I can move to after London: almost ten years in a vast metropolis can be quite wearing. Thus I want to get a feel for how Manchester compares in terms of infrastructure, public transport etc. More to the point I want to see how much fun there is to be had up here.
My first impressions are broadly positive. After just a couple of hours here, Manchester strikes me as quiet and clean. I’m eager to give the tram system a try, but compared to the tube it’s probably a doddle. Yet what I am struck by most is the size the place, and how small and compact Manchester feels. City my arse!! Manchester is just a fairly large town with metropolitan pretensions. Or perhaps Manchester just still retains an intimacy and feeling of community which urban sprawls like London seem to have lost.