The trip was a long time coming. Since Mission Beach we didn’t know if we would make it or not. On a good day we were going and on a bad day were weren’t. Only two weeks before our departure day the decision was really made to go. The original plan was to go for 3 to 4 weeks taking in Ireland and London as well but because of Adrian’s back we cut the trip back to just two weeks. Adrian made a quick trip to the doctor to explain we were going away and asked for a script for pain medication. Then we had the fun of packing. We have been following the sun so we haven’t needed anything warm. Knowing we would be heading off we had been keeping some winter clothes under the bed so out they came. Adrian and I always have different ideas about packing. I want to take everything with me but Adrian only wants to take the basics. His theory is ‘if I need it I will buy it.’ My theory is ‘why buy it when I already have it. I just need to fit it in.’ His bag ended up weighing about 15k while mine came in at 23k and I thought that was really good for me. I will have you know I needed everything in my bag and them some; I just couldn’t fit it in with all the winter coats and jumpers. I used those bags that you squash the air out of to make all the jumpers and coats fit but still the bag was really full.
We landed at Manchester and moved thought the system very quickly. We had hired a car but to get to the pick up spot we had to catch a bus. We really knew we were in England in the middle of winter when the doors of the airport opened up and we walked outside. We made it to the bus stop before diving into our suitcases to get our warmer coats, gloves and beanies out. It wasn’t long before we were at the car hire place and had all the paperwork done for the car. As we were leaving Adrian asked if they had a map of the area (you can get a GPS system for the car but that costs you more.) The lady smiled and said yes. She pulled out a map and drew circles on it showing where we were and where we wanted to go then handed Adrian the map of Great Brittan. Great. It was a big help. Not. When we got to the car I put my hand out for the keys and Adrian told me he was the only one allowed to drive. What? It cost more to have a second driver so Adrian nominated himself as the sole diver. I was somewhat surprised. I had been doing all the driving for the last four months and now in England I wasn’t needed anymore. We headed out with Adrian behind the wheel. It did feel a bit funny being on the other side.
Yes we did get lost going to the hotel but we eventually arrived. Everyone for the wedding from Australia was staying at the same hotel. We all met up for drinks then moved on to dinner in the hotel restaurant. I said ‘Hi’ to everyone then sat quietly in the corner, which isn’t really like me at all.
To start with Adrian was going to hire a suit. We had been looking at prices to hire suits in England to the cost of buying one and it worked out cheaper to buy. On our first full day we took ourselves off to a large shopping centre in the hunt for a suit.
No we didn’t get lost driving to the shops. We probably would have if Adrian’s daughter hadn’t lent us a GPS system. The shopping centre was very impressive. We were greeted at the front entrance with two stone dogs. It was a sign of what was to come. There was even a section of the centre set aside to be a ‘China Town’ filled with restaurants.
With so many shops it was a hard looking for a suit. Unlike Australia it seemed every men’s clothing shop sold suits. With not knowing the shop names we didn’t know if we would get a bargain or not. After looking as several shops we walked into a hire place so we though we would check out how much the cost would be. Just a white shirt was priced at £35, so back to looking for a suit we went. By mid afternoon when were had almost given up, we found one. Great I could get some shopping in for me then. Well I could have if I wasn’t ready to call it a day. We decided we would come back on another day for a relaxing shopping day.
With all the business done we could go site seeing. We chose to catch the train into Manchester.
As we stepped off of the train we were hit with a typical post card picture of England.
The Shakespeare public house has an interesting history. (There has been a pub on the site since 1717.) The pub is not as old as it looks only being built in 1923 in the Tudor style. An original Tudor building would have been built between the 15 and 16th century. A mixture of clay, sand and dung would have been smeared into and over the wattle (a woven lattice of wood) to make the wall. The walls then would have been painted with lime wash to make it look white. The wooden timbers would have likely been coated with black tar to help protect them from rotting.
It isn’t all bad news, even though the building itself was built in 1923 some of the carving and other ornamentations come from a building that was demolished in Chester and thought to be 17th century. The building has low ceilings and most of the furniture is made from heavy wood giving it and authentic look. The Shakespeare was was original ‘The Willington Inn’ and built in Chester, it was moved the 40 miles to where it now sits in 1928.
The Shakespeare is said to be one of the oldest pubs in Manchester. The pub is said to be haunted. The ghost of a girl has been seen running thought the rooms. Some say she was a barmaid who was lighting candles when her dress caught alight and she was burned to death. Another story said she was a barmaid who was raped by the chef. He then killed her to keep her quiet and the hung himself out off remorse. To add some truth to the story, marks made by what could have been a rope are still on the beams in the cellar where it is said the chef died. His ghost haunts the pub as well but he hasn’t been seen as often as the barmaid. Whether they died while working in the pub in Manchester or the ghosts moved with the pub when it moved to Manchester is not clear. Either way it makes for a good story.
We had a quick look inside just to say we had been there and moved on.