Tuesday 30 June 2015


We'd not left enough time yesterday for a visit to the John Rylands Library, so that was our aim this morning before setting out. Of course, we're always open for distractions, and I indicated to my best beloved that we were in plenty of time, more or less as we passed the entrance to Castlefield Market.

Dark and gloomy and closed it was, but near the inner entrance was an open barber's shop. It seemed fortuitous in view of the state of my curls, and the price list suggested I wouldn't be paying all that much more than in our village. So in we went.

David did a great job, and charged me only £8 – whether that was due to my advanced years or the good crack or whether he just took pity on me I don't know, but I was well chuffed.

Then it was off up Deansgate to the John Rylands building – part of the Manchester University  Library.

My particular interest was in Papyrus \mathfrak{P}52, the earliest known surviving fragment of the New Testament, known as the St John's fragment, and containing just a few words from John's gospel.

In the library you're allowed to take photos of the rooms, but not to point your camera at the exhibits. So I took a  photo of the Rylands Gallery, and it just seems to have centre stage the case containing the fragment. Ah well, they do sell postcards with a picture of it, so a snap of one of those will have to serve.

It has writing on both sides, and so was obviously part of a "Codex" – a book. They have dated it to around AD125 on the basis of the handwriting style – it's incredible to be able to look at something from the New Testament penned that early.

The library building itself is a Gothic flourish.

It was also interesting to discover something of John Rylands the man, and his third (Cuban) wife who created the whole project after his death.

Well, after all that it was back to Erin Mae and time to pack up after our weekend in Manchester. On the way we passed this…

 Do you think it's the only bank to be blown up in Manchester?

So we said farewell to Castlefield basin – I backed out as the bottom end is notoriously difficult for winding.

On the way out we found the city centre cruise boat Emmeline Pankhurst obstructing the navigation, and found it was negotiating its way into the lock leading down to the Manchester Ship Canal. It's the first time we've seen the lock being used.

Down to Stratford Marine for water and a pump-out, then up to the swing bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal.

I discovered that the local boating fraternity call the bridge the "tank" because that's basically what it is.

Up through Worsley and past its surreal miniature lighthouse.

On to the junction where stands a fine house, and the tunnels from which emerged the boats carrying the Duke of Bridgewater's coal.

And what should we meet, as we turned left just there, but the only boat coming the other way all afternoon. And a hirer, at that.

Fortunately the helmsman seemed pretty experienced, and we negotiated the meeting so as not to meet.

As UK readers will know, it's been a hot day. We seem to have fitted a lot in. It's been nice to tie up, have a cool shower, and think about making something interesting to eat while we catch up with the tennis.


  1. Yes, but what does the fragment say?

    1. It's incomplete sentences from John 18. The Wikipedia article gives a good summary.