It’s quite an experience having an entire cricket field below the balcony of your hotel room.
But then staying at the Old Trafford Lodge is an experience for any traveller, cricket fan or not.
With the sun splitting the sky we happily sat on our balcony sipping cold beers as we watched Lancashire take on Derbyshire. The whole experience was a treat for any cricket fan but the electric atmosphere that surrounded the game would draw in even those who are not fans of the sport.
Next door we had a group of avid crickets fans keeping us company, one of them the father of a Lancashire player. I’m not a cricket fan but I think Lancashire won that night.
We matched the cricket match on the first night of our stay in sunny Salford.
And it’s just a quick flight from City of Derry airport to Liverpool (40 minutes) followed by coach to Manchester.
Possibly the easiest way to get around Manchester is by tram. At Shudehill where get got off we took a direct tram to the Old Trafford stop, just a stone’s throw from the hotel and close to the famous Manchester United Old Trafford football ground.
After a night watching cricket, we decided the next morning to take ourselves for a walk along the Salford Quays.
With sun beaming on the canal, it’s easy to see why the BBC has agreed to relocate so many of its divisions there. Known now as MediacityUk the area is bustling with a real cosmopolitan feel. On every corner you’ll find an outdoor bar or an opportunity to try out some watersports.
We found out that Granada studios are set to complete their relocation to MediaCityUK soon, so in the months to come you could find yourself running into a cast member from Coronation Street at Salford. I had my own hopes of bumping into Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoigne) but sadly on this occasion it was not to be.
The redevelopment of the quays has breathed a new sense of life into this area. On many of the side streets you’ll find the locals jumping into the water from the overhead bridges to cool down.
It’s well worth taking a boat trip along the canal with the Manchester Cruises to get a real sense of the size of the quays. And if you have a look at some of the history books on board you might just learn a thing or two about the original use of the docks and how the quays were once bustling with the shipping industry.
If it’s a bit of shopping you are looking for then the Lowry Outlet shopping centre should be experienced.
However, inside you might not find as many well known brand shops as you’d like.
But the outside of the outlet is a joy to behold selling fresh bread, juicy burgers and handmade soaps.
One of my favourite trips on the day was to the Imperial War Museum on the quays.
On an extremely hot day, the cool interior of the building provided a welcome relief from the high temperatures.
It’s not unusual to expect a museum to be a bit on the boring side. But with a history spanning from the First World War right, the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001,and the war in Afghanistan it’s clear the museum has stayed right up to date. One of the most interesting parts was the Big Picture Show which is shown every hour. The shows reveal powerful stories that reveal how war shaped lives, from a soldier’s last letter home to the twisted steel of New York City’s World Trade Centre.
I even found a poster from a civil rights march in Derry in 1972, which goes to show that no matter where in the world you travel to, you most likely will find a piece of Derry history. And best of all admission is free - all visitors are asked are to make an optional donation.
For a few pounds you can take a trip to the North Airshard – a 100ft tall viewing platform. I found this distinctly underwhelming and wouldn’t recommend a viewing.
But of course no trip to Manchester would be complete without a mention of the famous LS Lowry and a trip to the famous Lowry Gallery. Fortunately during our stay - the gallery was showing the ‘Unseen Lowry’ collection.
You might be surprised to find that Lowry did more than paint matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs. Some of his earlier work on oils are really quite surprising, and towards the end of his life much of his work was done through sketches.
If you find a picture you like you can buy your own copy of a sketch at the Lowry shop. During our stay we only ventured into the heart of Manchester once.
Proving that the quays have it all, a perfect place to stay.