off to salford

Exactly a week before I gave birth, Raspberry and I headed over to Salford, just outside the Manchester city centre. It was a bit of an impromptu trip. Knowing that I was likely to be house and Liverpool-bound for at least several weeks, I desperately wanted to go somewhere. Sort of a last hurrah before the baby arrived. That was probably my primary reason for going to Salford. The other reason was because I wanted to see an exhibition by Sarah Greaves at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, in which she embroiders on three-dimensional objects such as sinks and doors. As someone who embroiders map borders on paper, I thought that was unbelievably cool and I really wanted to see it for myself. The museum also has a gallery, Lark Hill Place, whereby they’ve recreated a Victorian street. Raspberry said she was interested in it, so off to Salford we went.

I was surprised by how small the museum was. I suppose that might be because I’m used to larger museums and from the website description, it seemed like it’d be larger. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Raspberry and I navigated through some of the other exhibitions, although nothing really jumped out at me as being exceedingly interesting. We went into a gallery filled with old paintings and sculptures — neither of which really interests either of us as we’re more into contemporary art — and Raspberry did a scavenger hunt there. Art galleries seem to like offering scavenger hunts for kids as a means of being interactive, but personally I find them rather trite. Raspberry is often interested in doing them but after the fact, she typically couldn’t be bothered with the pieces on display.

I really did enjoy the Sarah Greaves exhibition though. Embroidery on a toaster! On bread! On a fridge! On a bathtub! On a dresser! On a door! On a chair! I could barely get enough. While I marvelled over the embroidered objects, Raspberry busied herself making her own logo in the tile and pottery gallery. Thank goodness for strategically placed activity tables.

The Victorian street recreation was cool, but we were disappointed that we couldn’t enter any of the shops that lined the street, which was very dimly lit, probably to preserve all the vintage objects behind the windows. Despite my disappointment, I did think all the vintage stuff was wonderful (I’m such a sucker for vintage). I went from store to store, photographing the objects while Raspberry seemed a little bored. “Just let me look at this for a minute!” I kept telling her, so I could buy more time to oooh and ahh over everything and take pictures. I tried to show her how cool some of the stuff was, but unfortunately, whatever it was could only engage her for a short duration. She was, however, quite taken by an old washboard and what resembled a metal plunger. I had no idea what the latter was and surmised that maybe it had something to do with clearing sewage in the street, but the person working there explained how it was meant for laundry, to push down on the clothes to squeeze out water. Ohhhhhhhh. Raspberry also busied herself trying to lift weights for an old scale while I took about a thousand pictures of the items lining the shelves of an old general store.

Because of the museum’s size, we’d pretty much seen everything we wanted to see by mid afternoon. I’d actually thought we’d be there all day, but this is also me forgetting that my five-year-old can’t spend hours upon hours in a museum. With time to spare, I made the spontaneous decision to head over to the Manchester city centre, to Fred Aldous to get a photobooth picture done. We had done one in September, with one of the exposures showing my pregnant belly, and I’d wanted to get another one done but didn’t get the chance to until that day. We spent a good chunk of time in Fred Aldous, perusing and coveting all the fantastic items on the shelves, as we waited for the water in the photobooth to reach the optimal temperature. Because it wasn’t quite at the proper temperature when we went to take our first strip of pictures, the guy working there very kindly gave us money to do another. Not one to turn down free photobooth pictures, I happily bundled Raspberry into the booth and we planned each of our silly facial expressions. It would’ve been nice to have been able to do a bit more in Manchester, but being 39 weeks pregnant, I mostly just wanted to get home. It was one of those rare times I didn’t try to cram in as much to do as possible just because we were somewhere different.

The Salford museum and art gallery was just all right. We might go back again way into the future if there’s an interesting exhibition, but I’m happy to just say we’ve been there and move on. I am, however, looking forward to the next time we go to Manchester (as always) and definitely looking forward to taking Ares into the photobooth at some point.

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