I met up with a mate who happened to be in town and went on a bit of a pub crawl round Manchester city centre yesterday afternoon, the first time I'd been there since the beginning of 2020.
Before the start of the pandemic, I went into town at least once a week, a ten minute train journey through the south Manchester suburbs on which, having done it hundreds of times over the years, I got to know the order of the intermediate stations by heart and almost every yard of junction, siding and signalling we passed through. It was quite surreal seeing it all again yesterday.
The pubs we went to - the Piccadilly Tap, City Arms and Britons Protection - were all pretty much the same as three years ago, although the last seems to be imperilled not just by the ongoing dispute with its owner, but also the still expanding cluster of apartment towers at the end of Deansgate.
The most startling thing really was seeing the town hall encased in white plastic sheeting and Albert Square occupied by a mountain of builder's portacabins.
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