Monday, 22 September 2014

Temple

Shortly after getting on to the northern arm of the Bridgewater today we passed the towpath entrance to the Trafford Centre.


I thought it must be a national monument – but it turns out it's just the biggest shopping centre in Europe.

Some of it outside, most of it inside, and the architecture based around classical themes with statues, mermaids, frescos, columns and alcoves.


Even the bridge over the road between the two major centres was done out in the same way – just imagine if this caught on among motorway service stations!


Half way over the bridge was a piano which had been used somewhere by Elton John, merrily playing tunes to itself, controlled by an iPod.


I think this is the most grandiose temple to consumerism that I have ever seen. My best beloved didn't mind it too much, and might have appreciated the opportunity to stay and browse a bit, but I found it all a bit too much (though the toilets were some of the best you'll find outside of a quality country hotel)  – and what did those Roman statues have to do with anything! Anyway, we had an appointment with an aqueduct.


Trusting something that looks like this as you approach it to take you safely over the ship canal might justifiably be thought a bit foolhardy.


However, the rust and the things growing in all the wrong places weren't really noticed as we fired off our cameras again and again to try and capture something of the experience of the crossing.


So we made it safely across and through the more seriously scruffy parts of Salford, appreciating also some of the work of urban regeneration that is going on – even though it must take for ever. And there were some intriguing sights along the way.


Who knows what this lighthouse is doing at Parrin Lane Bridge?



But the reason for these structures in Worsley are more obvious. This is at the entrance to the Duke of Bridgewater's coal mines, and the underground canal network via which they brought the coal out on boats known as "starvationers" because of their looks. It's not hard to trace our contemporary consumerism back to the industrial revolution in which he played a significant role in these parts.

So eventually we came out into more rural parts, and tied up near Boothstown for the night. Don't think the pub will be too noisy on a Monday evening. Any Man U supporters around here will be drowning their sorrows quietly, I suspect.

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