I couldn't face dragging everything on the bus to the train station so we booked a cab which cost a lot more than I think it should have but sod it! The first class train seats are very comfy and there was free tea and coffee and bikkies.
When we got back to Salford and Graham's flat, we stopped in to see his dad for a bit. Later i got my photos uploaded to the computer and am fairly happy with them. We had something to eat and relaxed. I called home for Mother's Day and then set up a meet-up with the Manchester gang for Tuesday.
Monday has Sunshine! Blue Sky! I rarely see that in Manchester/Salford! The breeze is a bit chilly but so what? We got the bus in town and walked to the car rental place on Oldham Road. We have wheels for the rest of the week which will be nice.
Today's excursion is to Lyme Hall on the edge of Stockport out in Cheshire. (See review in this journal). Graham knows i like to poke around old houses and manors and look at the antiques, soaking up the history and he'd suggested this one. Good choice! It was a bit of a drive through Stockport and out the other side but it wasn't far from there. You pay for parking at the entrance then drive down the road to the car park and hall. There is even a little shuttle van that will ferry you up a hill from the car park to the front entrance of the hall if you want.
We ended up having lunch in the cellar cafe first which was quite good and then went through the house. They have people standing in each room that you can talk to and we found out some interesting things about some of the rooms. Unfortunately you can't take photos in the house. I hate when they do that! We passed a very pleasant few hours both in the house and walking in the gardens out in the sunshine.
On the way home, we stopped in and stocked up the larder at Sainsbury's and had a night in.
Tuesday was another really sunny day! Yay! Graham is a member of a national waterfowl wetlands trust. They have several sanctuaries around the country and there's a wetlands preserve about an hour drive away up in Lancashire at Martin Mere. We thought it might be interesting to go since we have a car anyway and get free entry with the membership. We had Google directions and the signage was pretty good and we didn't get lost once!
The WWT is a park and a wild wetland area. There are many, many kinds of rare birds from all over the world that are raised here. Their wings are clipped so they can't fly away and they are bred specifically to preserve the species. The wetlands/marsh side also attracts many kinds of wild birds at various times of the year. There are "hides" or little huts along the edges of the mere where you can sit and birdwatch. This is the kind of thing the keener enthusiast like to do whereas casual birdie type people like us prefer the park side.
We walked around the park with a bag of grain to feed the birds here and there. They were quite happy to see us with that, as well! They had several types of flamingos, one that was mostly all white and another that was pink. The colour comes from what they eat, like shrimp. There are many kinds of ducks, with all sorts of colours and sizes and geese too. There was a cage with some cranes, an African Crown Crane which had black faces and wiry fluffy feathers that stuck out around their head like a crown and bright blue eyes. One fellow was up by the cage and was popping his head up and sideways very quickly, looking for grain to be fed. We'd throw a bit in, he'd dart down to peck at it and then pop right back up. He was quite funny looking and so fast it was hard to get a good photo of him. I think Graham took some video of him, not sure.
There were some fluffy little black chicks, moorhens they were, and all swimming by their mums. Another area we went by had a bunch of grey speckled geese from Hawaii. They were very bold! They obviously knew visitors have food because they came right up to us looking hungry and hopeful and i even fed them handfuls right out of my hand! When we walked way, they started to follow us, looking for more. Cheeky!
Just after we'd got rid of all the grain, we walked by another pen and two geese came running at full speed from the back to the front, wings flapping out and looking frantic. They had their beaks right up against the fence and you just know they were looking for food, too. People always have food, right? How come you don't have any? Oh, we know it's in your pocket somewhere! We felt bad we'd already given the last of it out! Not like they were starving of course!
We had a really nice few hours including a pretty decent hot meal at the cafe in the main building. I thought it would be a nice day but it was really good, we enjoyed it more than we expected to.
We got back to Graham's flat about 4, i washed my hair and we got ready to go back out to meet our friends for a curry buffet at Nawaab where we'd also gone last year. We were a bit late but got there eventually and had a really cozy evening catching up with everyone! Food was excellent too!
The next two days were pretty low key. Shopping, errands, relaxation. We went to see the new Star Trek movie with a friend, too.
Friday we decided to drive out into the Peak Districk in Derbyshire to see the village of Eyam, the "Plague Village". It got this name after most of the village was decimated by the plague in 1665 but they isolated themselves and the disease didn't spread to the rest of the area. I've written a separate "experience" review about that. The weather today was overcast and it rained a bit on and off so we didn't end up staying in Eyam as long as we might have but we had a look round and explored a bit.
Down in the village, we saw a tabby cat walking towards us across the road and i reached down for a pat. Heard a voice behind us exclaiming that the cat had followed her... turned out to be the cat's owner! We chatted to her for a little bit and then we went our separate ways. I bought some postcards in the small post office before we left.
Saturday, my last day, was our day to go out to Bury to the huge market. The weather was alternately sunny and then a bit of spitting rain. Bury market is a mostly covered market, some indoors and much of it outdoors. It's one of the largest markets in the area and there's absolutely everything there! You can even get furniture and appliances in addition to the usual clothes, movies, and food and flower stalls. Makeup, toys, electronics, hardware, household items. We didn't buy much but it was fun looking.
Instead of having lunch there, we drove to a pub that's part of a hotel chain and it's near Heaton Park, a large natural park in the outer Manchester area. It's part of the Beefeater chain and the hotel is the Premier Inn chain. The food was quite good though, we both had burgers that were flame broiled and quite tasty.
That's pretty much it for the trip. I packed up when we got back and we drove to the airport Sunday morning, dropped off the rental car and Graham said good bye to me when it was time to go through security. Always the hardest part but we'll see each other again in the fall.