It has become a family tradition to meet up with my sister Sabena and her partner Gary for a city break at the end of March; this year's destination was Manchester.
The weather was distinctly Mancunian, but it would be foolish to go to the UK's North West at this time of year and not expect grey skies and rain.
Claudia's nearly as tall as her auntie these days.
Another beautiful visitor; I've never seen a swan diving like that before, its feet were enormous.
I lived in Salford between 1989 and 1992, just as the Quays began to be developed but before MediaCity existed.
I didn't care for much for Manchester at the time; I found the city a hard place, edgy and intimidating, and it never felt like home.
Revisiting it after many years (and since it's a mere hour away on the train, I really don't know why I haven't been back more often), I can appreciate the grandeur and vibrancy of the city centre.
The Town Hall is a magnificent example of Victorian Gothic.
Albert Square is named for Prince Albert, who has a memorial there...
while his missus is in Piccadilly Gardens...
crowned by pigeons and smelling of wee, poor old love. (Some things don't change, Piccadilly Gardens is still a bit rough.)
Hands up who can do an impression of Gladstone?
There are interesting architectural sights galore...
reminders of the city's political past...
and lovely public art works to admire.
The Central Library is gorgeous...
and so is the majestic Midland Hotel...
where we couldn't afford to stay, but we did manage to have a coffee and pretend to be guests for the purposes of photo-taking!
That's a commemorative plaque in the background showing Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, who were introduced to each other in the Midland Hotel in 1904.
We all adore spending time with Beanie and The Bloob!
1970s cotton maxi skirt - vintage fair
Denim jacket, top and scarf - charity shopped
Boots - retail
I'd better leave the rest of our Manchester adventures for another post, and get going with a massive blog reading/commenting catch-up...
I'm horribly behind!