Well not totally different, as it still involved tea, cake and extreme exertion going upwards. However this was nothing to do with cycling, today I spent a lovely afternoon with friends climbing Manchester Town Hall’s awesome clock tower followed by an excellent afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel. Two Manchester icons steeped in history yet living and breathing modern life.
The Clock Tower Tour was an amazing, if slightly wobblylegged experience, but not to be missed, though we nearly did, big thanks to Sue and Steve from New Manchester Walks for sorting our booking (or lack of it). Having to sign a disclaimer in case we expired on the way up or down did cause a frisson of anxiety which blossomed into full-blown fear at the end of the health and safety briefing. Shrugging off minor details about not standing on trap doors we set off up the 330 steps of the tiny spiral staircase crouching and squeezing our way into the various chambers housing the workings of the clock.
The information from Steve was fascinating and anyone who likes mechanical stuff would notwant to miss being in the clock room as the clappers turned and the bells chimed. Climbing endless stairs and squeezing into almost hidden chambers we stood behind the clock faces - peered underneath Great Abel the largest bell, and finally ventured out onto the balcony with its amazing views over the North West.
The descent was slightly more terrifying, the constant turning of the spiral staircase leaving us feeling light-headed but more than happy. This especially as on the return to the clock room we watched the amazing mechanism swing into action and chime the hour.
Tea, coffee, sandwiches, and cake finished off our afternoon in good style with the reflection that there is nothing quite so wonderful as enjoying something new with old friends.