Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Northern Comfort

Any discussion of where "the north" begins has to take account of Cheshire. It's sometimes referred to as "The Surrey of the North" but that description only really applies to the southern suburbs of  Manchester that are in the county and even there the big money is in the hands of Premier League footballers rather than bankers and stockbrokers these days.

The southern half of Cheshire borders Shropshire and Staffordshire and is very much "Midlands", but Marple, in the north-east of the county is definitely "North".  You can stand on the top of Bridge 2 of the Macclesfield Canal in the town and look down towards the cityscape of Manchester, Capital of the North (sorry Leeds, Newcastle etc). Just a few metres further on, atop Bridge 1 the view is of the Peak District Hills and the Pennines in the distance and you can't get much more northern than that. Or so I thought.
But that was before last Sunday afternoon, when as I stood contemplating these views a brass band began to play!

It was Besses O' Th' Barn (Brass) Band (and you really can't get much more northern that that) giving a Sunday afternoon concert in the garden of the Ring O' Bells pub. Even better, with AreandAre being moored opposite said pub we could sit on the boat and hear the whole concert in comfort.  We chose not to go up to the pub garden for only two reasons - the howling gale and the torrential rain showers! And now you really can't get any more northern!

In case you were wondering Besses O' Th' Barn is an unprepossessing suburb of Salford, on the tram line to Bury. Both it and its fellow Salford suburb "Irlams O' Th' Height"  appeared on bus destination blinds when I first went to Salford in 1969 and I really did feel I had come to "The North". Sadly the many changes to routes and timetables since then have seen both of them eliminated as termini, although "Besses" as the locals call it does have a tram stop to its name. ("Irlams O' Th' Height" is known as "th' 'ight" but has no tram).

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