Saturday 11th July
We had nothing planned for this morning, just a bit of food shopping and cleaning, so we had time for a relaxed coffee and a read of the paper. After an early lunch we walked up the Rochdale to Oxford St where we got a bus down to the Whitworth Gallery at the University. Once more the locks were full to overflowing.
This must be daunting for first-time hirers attempting the Cheshire ring – it’s not just the size of the locks and the thundering water, it’s also that there’s another, and then another …..
The bus was free as we have our Devon County Council bus passes for crumblies! The gallery was free too. The rooms are spacious but some of the presentation of the pictures was really poor. They have a large room of watercolours, some by artists we’ve all heard of like Turner, Constable, Lucien Freud, Stanley Spencer and Picasso, but they are hung in great groups from the floor right up to the ceiling. So people with dodgy knees can’t see the lower ones and those under 6’ don’t stand a chance of seeing those at the top; add to that the low light levels for the preservation of the works and it’s not very satisfactory. There was a performance going on in one room of choral music by Arvo Part, a Finnish conductor who has collaborated with the artist Gerhard Richter. There was a huge queue to go in and see the artwork, but we listened for a while from outside, and then went off to walk round the park sculpture trail.
The strangeness of some of these matched the oddness of some of the modern art inside. This is called Flailing Trees by an artist called Metzger. It is made of uprooted willow trees, plunged upside down in concrete.
It is ‘Metzger’s protest at human brutality against nature’ ….. he has been pretty brutal himself I would say. Nearby is ‘Snowman’, made of bronze and therefore everlasting. Rather nice carrot nose and button eyes, and surprisingly not vandalised in any way. The park is closed at night so I suppose that helps.
There were other sculptures, but we were more taken with the magnificent trees in the park, some very old with beautiful bark.
It was almost 2 miles back to the boat, and we had no intention of walking back along Oxford Road which is very busy. But we missed our stop on the way back, not having a clue where we were, and ended up nearly back at the City Library.
The rain held off till we got back, and we ate on board. When the rain stopped we took Meg up to the park by the Roman ruins for a game of ball and a free listen of the gig by Noel Gallagher’s band High Flying Birds (part of the Manchester International Festival and no, we’d not heard of the band!) The moorings by the YHS were available but the rest was all fenced off, as was the entire area around the arena and the Roman Ruins nearest to the canal. We could hear pretty well from the park up by the White Lion and Oxblood pubs. The music was all very samey, very like Oasis, and we got fed up after a while. The White Lion garden had a very shouty man in it though so we went back to the Wharf for a pint. I asked for some water for Meg and got a couple of biscuits too, which was good! We couldn’t really hear the music though – work is being done on the paved area nearby and the workboat has a generator running, even though it’s Saturday evening. It must be very annoying for the people moored nearby. Glad we’re round the bend and out of earshot!