Thursday, 11 February 2016

A Morning in Bolton

This week the feeling that we should do something with our one weekday when we don't have our Granddaughter became intense enough for us to pile into the car and trog off down the M61 to Bolton.

It's several years (decades) since we looked round Bolton's shops and market and I couldn't for the life of me remember where we used to park, but we followed signs for a car park and turned up behind a short queue of traffic along a narrow street, only to find ourselves waiting for our turn to turn round in the entrance to the now closed car park and re-trace our wheels a bit. Surely it can't be that hard to take signs down when a place closes, but evidence in almost every town suggests that it is in fact one of the most difficult things in the world...

Anyway we eventually parked in the multi-storey car park near the Victorian covered Market Hall. The entrance and exit involves a double helix spiral road affair which is quite exciting. The idea is to stop at the top and guess which direction you are facing compared with your entry to the ramp... Even better, this car park gives visitors 90 minutes free parking! Well done Bolton!

Our exit from the car park on foot led to the first floor of a shopping mall attached to the Market Hall. There were lifts but no apparent stairs to the ground floor (they are further along the mall) but a large Debenhams store was at the nearest end of the mall. We nipped in there and I fulfilled Miss Franny's expectations by rejecting all the shirts as either boring or tailor fit - which my body isn't... It's butcher's dog fit in case you are interested...

We utilised one of their escalators to descend from the first floor down to what is described as Floor 1 rather than Ground Floor so Miss Franny (who is wary of escalators at the best of times) insisted against my protestations that we go down to the Lower Ground Floor which would better be described as basement and we had the excitement of travelling both down and up an escalator to escape.

We had a latte in a Costa and I wondered for the millionth time why we are all so enamoured of extremely strong coffee that adds to corporate profit, sells far too big portions that we have now come to think of as normal and has led to the scarcity of small family-owned cafes where the owners actually smile and are pleased to see you, rather than minimum wage employees who see you as an interruption to their conversation. I still think the best coffee is a heaped teaspoon of Nescafe in a mug which is then filled with hot milk. It takes about 10 seconds to make. In all the mock Italian places a cup of coffee takes so long to make that at least two people have to be involved and despite their best efforts takes forever. My aunt still likes to have a coffee, visit two shops and then have another which was a common thing in the 1960s, but nowadays means that you have got through several buckets full after a couple of hours... Tiny Pyrex cups and saucers - and a price that doesn't empty your pocket in one fell swoop: that's the answer!

It's February and we didn't expect it to be warm outside, but Bolton is quite a pleasant town centre and the Town Hall is worth standing to look at for a few minutes. I had no camera and no, I had no sketch pad either. I did the above sketch from a photo found on the Internet this morning. HB pencil on A4 yellow paper.

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