A Long Easter Weekend

Three things, just in case you were wondering:

1) I made it through Lent without eating any biscuits/cookies, except for that one I dreamed that I ate and then was very confused and felt guilty about it.

2) I did a 5K run this weekend, 2:25 faster than my Race for Life one last year. I wasn’t pushing too hard, mostly wanting to make sure that I could. Having looked at the graph provided by my Nike+, I think I’m a freakishly well-paced runner.

3) I still haven’t heard anything from Peace Corps.

Easter weekend was wonderful. The boy and I both took off of work on Thursday (Friday and Monday were holidays here) and travelled up for two days in the North. My lovely boy, as you may or may not know is a staunch Northerner, from Lancashire (NOT Yorkshire. They lost the War of the Roses, you know) and wanted to take me up there. I wasn’t complaining, as I’ve seen so little of the rest of the country, and had never even been to the West of the country before. We stayed two nights in Manchester in an AMAZING hotel and went to Liverpool for the day on Thursday.

I have to say that I liked Liverpool best, but mostly because it has such an interesting history. This being the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade and Liverpool’s role as the biggest slaving port city in the country, there was a fair amount of that to be dealt with. The city later became THE hub for immigration to both Australia and North America and both of these histories were the subjects of good exhibits at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Oh, and it played another huge role as the headquarters for the Atlantic shipping and protection thereof during World War II (and also had to put up with loads of bombing). The waterfront and a bit behind are all part of a World Heritage Site (me: “tick!”) and are amazing. The Three Graces (the Liver Building, the Cunard Building, and the Port of Liverpool Building) really are spectacular and wonderful embodiments of the wealth and importance that trade brought to the city. According to Wikipedia, they’re Romanesque, Italianate, and baroque respectively, and all built around the turn of the 20th Century (the first turn, not the second). I especially loved the Liver Building with its Liver birds on top. The best view had to be from the ferry ride that we took along the Mersey, during which we were both a bit cold and the boy complained about going ‘soft and Southern.’ Bless.

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Me in front of the Three Graces

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The Liver Bird

That night we went to see Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Manchester Exchange, le Boy’s favorite theatre in the Whole Wide World. It’s a very cool space, with a theatre that looks a bit like a lunar landing craft crouching in the middle of the old corn exchange. The theatre itself is in the round and incredibly intimate (although I did feel a bit like I was being strapped in for a Disney ride) and the renovation of the hall was incredible. They managed to preserve the feel of the place and its beautiful, period touches, but also to integrate this new, vibrant arts feeling with colored glass in the skylights and funky chandeliers. Also, they had Magnum bars at the interval, which reminded me of Niger (and what doesn’t?)!

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The Manchester Exchange

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The Theatre in the middle

I was a little worried going into the play, because I don’t know anything about Virginia Woolf and hadn’t read any of her work, but that didn’t matter. I was, as I always am at well-written sniping domestic drama, of The Lion in Winter, which is high praise indeed. There were times when the events on stage were just so uncomfortable that you wanted to be able to jump up and get a drink, just like the characters seemed to do all through the play, and get as smashed as Honey so that what was going on wouldn’t a) seem real or b) matter. I connected with Martha’s vulnerability: I feel like I know what that means, needing to put a tough front up so that you can’t be touched or hurt, but being devastated when someone figures out how to defeat it. And I was worried by George: I don’t want to be one of those people who seem to show promise and then end up going nowhere. And I do know that I want someone to love me who understands me that well and with whom I can be challenged (hopefully not in such a psychologically manipulative way) for the rest of my life. It was a good night.

We spent most of the day on Friday wandering around the shopping area of Manchester. Manchester’s legacy is as a town of the industrial revolution and of industrial uprisings, neither of which I’m especially well-versed in, although the boy did his best to fill me in. I was really impressed by the downtown, most of which underwent extensive renovation after the IRA detonated at 3,000 ton bomb in 1996 (the Royal Exchange was near the blast site and needed extensive work). The shops were the same (if not a bit larger), but definitely less stressful than London. We also had a wander to see the outside of the library (the largest in the world when it was built) and town hall (which proves itself to be an amazing double for the Palace of Westminster in movies and on tv). Sadly they were both shut for the bank holiday. I really regret not letting myself be talked into the Museum of Science and Industry (although, frankly, can you blame me for not wanting to find out how the cotton machines worked), because we MISSED the Doctor Who exhibition. Woes! I’m already angling to go back. It was lovely.

The lovely weekend was capped by a morning spent watching the BBC Parliament rerun of the 1992 Election Night returns (dorkitude at its best) and seeing John Gabriel Borkmann at the Donmar…where we just happened to be sitting in the middle of the Earlham study abroad group. That was WEIRD! (and cool).

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