April 5 2014 and we left home in fine drizzle, although the morning had started with a promising sunrise. The taxi, driving as close to my river route as a car can, took us past a park shrouded by thick fog. The windscreen wipers slap, slap, slap as we passed through Woodmill then Wessex Lane close to the green bridge, blue bridge path and I could just make out the shapes of half bare trees through the gloom. We were bound for Manchester. Normally we’d leave from Southampton Central Station but weekend track repairs meant we were starting off at Parkway, next to the airport. It might have been easier to catch a plane.
April 5 2014
There’s no direct train from Southampton to Manchester so the first part of our journey was the familiar Southampton Waterloo one. The train wasn’t too crowded and we sat, ticking off the landmarks flashing past while trying to ignore the inane chatter around us. Once we’d passed Shawford station and then Winchester there were no more tantalising glimpses of the Itchen and, to be honest, I lost interest a little and turned to the magazine I’d bought for the trip. The next time I looked up we were at Clapham Junction, then the four towers of Battersea Power Station were whizzing by and we were pulling into Waterloo. No time to stop, just a push through the crowds to the Northern Line, down the deep escalator and crammed like sardines into the tube.
There was a brief snatch of sunshine while Commando went off in search of toilets at Euston and then we were on another train, slightly nicer this time. We settled in for a long journey, shared a sandwich and left London behind. I read a bit, dozed a bit and the miles passed by.
I woke as the train pulled into Stoke on Trent, an old fashioned red brick station reminding me of years gone by. Now we really were in the frozen north. Outside the window the countryside flashed past. Fields of yellow rape, trees and hedgerows, hills and valleys interspersed with towns, cities and villages. There were bridges and rivers, the odd sheep. I snapped photos through the window not expecting much. Mostly they were just blurs but some seemed to capture the moment.
Houses, factories and car parks announced we were coming into Stockport. After that things got quite industrial, tall chimneys, big brick buildings and streets of back to back houses. Soon we pulled into Manchester Piccadilly and an odd, half demolished tower caught my eye. There was no time to wonder about it though. The train had stopped and we were disgorged into the hustle and bustle of Manchester Piccadilly station. Our little Manchester adventure is just beginning…
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