- Arrival at Old Trafford -
Travelling up on Easter Saturday, we alight at Manchester Piccadilly station to find that our Metrolink tram connection is being replaced by buses. Stagecoach are operating the substitute service and we board the bus bound for Altrincham, passing Deansgate and Trafford Bar en route to Old Trafford. Unfortunately we missed the designated stop for the stadium and ended up in Stretford instead, although it wasn't long before we were safely settled into the hotel at the cricket ground (albeit with views of the car park rather than the pitch).
- Chorlton Library -
Our Saturday evening destination was Chorlton, a bustling village area with a thriving real ale scene. The local library caught my eye, as did the neighbouring Sedge Lynn Wetherspoons housed in an old billiard hall. A chip supper gives me chance to tuck in to a steak and kidney pudding and there is beer to enjoy at the Spread Eagle (Holt's Bitter) and the Dulcimer Bar (Cromatry's Ghost Town Porter).
- Manchester United -
Sunday morning and before the cricketing action commences we seek out the 'other' Old Trafford, this being the world famous home of Manchester United Football Club. The stadium is monumental in scale and has been besieged by a small army of Japanese tourists. Statues commemorate club legends including Sirs Alex Ferguson, Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton while there are poignant tributes to those that lost their lives in the 1958 Munich air crash.
- Play Underway -
To the cricket then and the game begins with Lancashire winning the toss and choosing to bat. Home opener Paul Horton makes a valiant 83 but his departure in the afternoon sees a collapse from 193 for 4 to 247 all out, despite some beefy boundaries from captain Glen Chapple. The Bears reply is off to a solid start as Varun Chopra and William Porterfield see us through to the close 63 without loss.
- Peveril of the Peak -
Manchester City Centre gets our evening attention on Easter Sunday, journeying across on the 256 bus via Hulme (but not Stourbridge!) I was particularly keen to sample the Peveril of the Peak, an unspoilt gem of a boozer on Great Bridgwater Street complete with an exquisite tiled frontage and signage from the long-gone Wilsons Brewery. Stephen gets his gammon fix in the Waterhouse and we finish in the one-roomed Grey Horse where the Hyde's Original takes my fancy.
- Trafford Bar Metrolink -
Into Monday and another morning walk, this time along Talbot Road where I simply had to photograph the Trafford Bar Metrolink Station overlooking the corner with Seymour Grove. The building itself appears to be closed so access to the tram platforms is down paths to either side.
- Old Trafford Bell -
Having stocked up on supplies from the Tesco store next to Trafford Town Hall, we settle back in at The Point stand for more cricket. The first session sees Warwickshire building steadily on their promising start of the previous evening, Chopra and Porterfield taking their stand to 127 before the latter departed for 77, his highest County Championship score for some time. Glen Chapple snared Chopra lbw for 52 with the last ball before lunch, and the afternoon became an attritional affair despite Ian Bell making 75. Bad light later on means the close of play score is 316 for 9, a useful Bears lead although not perhaps quite as commanding as it might have been.
- Metrolink at Altrincham -
The tram system is back in full operation following the earlier engineering works so we make use of it for a ride out to Altrincham - the 12 minute frequency gives a regular, reliable service long into the evening. Altrincham seemed rather quiet albeit it was a Bank Holiday Monday and a Manchester City match night. The railway station is being redeveloped into a new interchange and there are further building works as a new hospital takes shape. We admire the town's market hall before sampling the Old Market Tavern followed by Costello's Bar, the Dunham Massey brewery tap at Goose Green.
- Stretford Station -
Tuesday 22nd April and our final day in Manchester is also a rather damp one, with play delayed due to persistent (if not particularly heavy) drizzle. We fill in our time with a wander back to Stretford, noting a large shopping mall, the Bridgwater Canal and the local Metrolink station. Lunch is a full English trading bacon and toast for Stephen's unwanted hash browns and black pudding.
- Cursed Covers! -
The rain continues into the afternoon, meaning the Old Trafford covers are an increasingly frustrating sight. A pint in the Bishop Blaize (a Wetherspoon's near the football ground) kills another hour or so, and our patience is finally rewarded when play resumes at 16:45. The Bears added just 8 to their overnight total, James Anderson bowling Oliver Hannon-Dalby to leave us 324 all out. The Lancashire openers then made untroubled progress through to 46 without loss and we made our way homewards in full expectation of a drawn fixture.
Back at Piccadilly we just had time for a quick half in the Bulls Head (a Marston's pub with an ornate bar counter) before catching our train. It was great to see some cricket again and to get to know Manchester a little better in the process - the city certainly made a good impression. As a postscript to our visit, the match continued into Wednesday and did indeed finish as a draw, but only after a tense finish that suggested we'd missed most of the excitement - never mind, you can't have everything!