84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester

Elizabeth_Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell was a renowned author of the Victorian era (1810-65). Some of her noted works include Wives and Daughters, North and South, Cranford and even a biography of her beloved friend Charlotte Bronte titled The Life of Charlotte Bronte.

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Taking a quote from her novel, North and South, I would continue further into my post.  She wrote “Oh, I can’t describe my home. It is home, and I can’t put its charm into words”.  And definitely one cannot describe the charm of her home – a remnant of all the descriptions of a Victorian era home- long after the era itself has gone forever. It is said that those involved in literary and artistic passions live amongst us, they are immortal. In a similar way, Gaskell’s house has made her, her works and those of her contemporaries immortal. Elizabeth Gaskell lived with her husband William Gaskell and four daughters in 84, Plymouth Grove Manchester. Thus, it would be out of question to live in the same city and not visit her house which has now been turned into a museum. The house is open to visitors only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.  It is run mostly by eager and enthusiastic volunteers and maintained by donations and collections.

The first words with which I was greeted were “You can touch anything, you can sit on original furniture’s and Yes, You can photograph anything and everything.” The house looked just as I had imagined a Victorian Era house would look like. A walkway leads to the main door. On my right was a little library and on my left was another study room. A little further on was the drawing room or commonly called parlour in those days followed by an elegantly decorated dining room. A staircase leads us upstairs where, from time to time different exhibitions are held. Another staircase leads us down to the basement which has a little café and a bookstore. A door from the basement also directs us towards the garden.

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Staircase leading to the second floor

Each of these rooms need an elaborate explanation to actually understand the success of the museum in upholding the look and essence of the Victorian era.

The Library

Complete with floor to roof long racks of books, a fireplace and a study table.  The library window overlooks the beautiful street outside and I could make out where from inspiration crept into the mind of this great literary figure. The walls were adorned by photographs of the family.

The Study

The study had a history of Gaskell which would give a visitor some background about the author and her life. It had some original clothes worn by the author.

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Parlour

The Parlour literally transformed me back to the days of Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility and the list can go on. Right on entering the room one finds the traditional piano. The room had a cosy setting with a fireplace in the middle with a beautifully decorated mantelpiece, sofas, long curtains tied around the middle with strings hanging off the windows and a small study desk. The room was fully decorated with antique wall clocks, table clocks, tea sets and pillows. Even smaller details like a quill on the study table were in its proper place.

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Dining

The dining room had a large six- seater dining table.  The table had hand woven table cloth on it, complete with silver cutleries and china dishes. The wine glass was even filled with liquid (I am not really sure it was wine, didn’t taste it). There were cupboards equipped with tea sets, plates, cups, bowls etc. A mandatory fireplace was in position. A huge framed photograph of Elizabeth hung on the wall.

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A little further onto the dining room was a small table overlooking the garden. This table had original manuscripts of the author’s publications and letters. There was also a printed version of the original letters and manuscripts to make it easier for the visitors to understand. I was particularly interested in two  letters- one  written to Charles Dickens by Gaskell and one  written by Dickens to her (I must say Dickens had a better handwriting though).

 

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Charles Dickens 
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Dickens’ letter in print

 

Café

The café had a lovely ambience. The fact that I was drinking tea at a place where literary legends like Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Florence Nightingale had set foot was an honour in itself. It is more like a visitor’s library and a bookshop where you can purchase the works of Gaskell and other authors. Alternatively, you can read a book while sipping tea or coffee and relax for sometime.

As we (My parents and I) were about to leave this warmly place, one of the volunteers gave us another surprise. She asked us to ring the doorbell, which was antique and old. It looked nothing like modern day doorbells and sounded a bit different too. After my mother rang it, she smiled and said “ You have now joined Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, who stood in the exact same spot years ago ringing the same bell .’’

MY AVERAGE LIFE AS A MANCHUNIAN

Most of the time when I ping my friends over Social Media sites, the first question they ask is how am I spending my days in Manchester. So I thought let me describe my normal days, in this post. Here, I would mention that I have classes only two days a week and the rest of the five days are usually spent at home when I am not going out to explore the place with friends.

SUNRISE OVER BEETHAM TOWER
 My mornings begin the last, that is after my father has gone out for work and after my mother finishes her breakfast and starts chatting with some of her friends back in India. I happen to open my eyes at such a time. Of course I have never seen the colourful hues of sunrise here except for once but I could not capture it though my lens (maybe it would be my next New Year’s Resolution). The first thing I do is check my phone and later proceed to have my breakfast after a quick wash.

DOGGIE
 While I eat breakfast, I get to see my neighbour taking their bull dog for a walk. The dog seemed cute until I managed to make him angry by switching on my camera flash right at him. Since, then he has mood swings when he sees me. Some days I am non-existent and other days I am fortunate enough to evoke a little wag from him. But it is for sure that this dog will not shake paws with me EVER!

THE NEXT DOOR CAT
 My other neighbour, who I have no clue about, owns a cat. After a lot of research I have managed to figure out that it is a British Semi-Longhaired black cat. This cat does nothing but sit at the window staring at something. It is only when it rains that I do not get to see him.

After breakfast comes my daily routine of going to the garbage dump at the basement and to the letter box.

WATCHING TV
 Thereafter, I sit on the couch with my laptop and watch the television and improvise on my blogs when I am not writing my assignments. This takes most of my time and I head for lunch. After lunch it is T.V time again.

The evenings are mostly kept for household shopping for which I go to the Manchester ARNDALE. After shopping I usually make a stop at the Hasty Tasty Pizza which stocks some of the best takeaway pizzas I have ever tasted.


With the rain clouds hovering above our heads most evenings see a shower here. After shopping we are mostly stuck in rain and have to brave the heavy rain and wind to come back to our apartment again.

Subsequently, it is laptop time where I sit with my laptop, watch CID or listen to songs till dinner is announced.
After dinner, I go to sleep.
Most of my days are spent like this. When I wake up here, it is already afternoon for my friends back home and by the time I am free in the evening, it is midnight for them. I can’t remember how many days has it been since I last heard their voice. It is mostly email and Facebook or Whatsapp chats nowadays where we reply as and when we are free. But behind the veil of glamour and beauty of this place, there is a night of darkness and loneliness that this place possesses. It is not that I am having a bad time here, I love this place and my friends here, but I also long to be in touch with my friends back home; to know where they are now, what they do, to meet those who I have not met for years, to take part in festivals. Durga Puja and Diwali just went by, but the noise and the lights never reached me except for in the colourful photo messages sent by my friends.

So, for all the people back home who think I have become a Biletiperson, you guys probably have a life that I envy a lot. Life is not as full of glamour as it seems to be. It is, in fact, really difficult and sometimes tests your patience and limits to endure against the weather, the place, the dark gloomy nights and your inner demons. To end this post, I’d rather quote Iris Murdoch “We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.”

My life My Way

I have always wanted to travel and experience new cultures, arts, cuisines, communicate with people and most importantly explore the unexplored paths. Thus for all my friends who love travelling just the way I do, this blog is dedicated to them. Let this be a communicative platform where we can share our experiences and learn about new places.

People think going out on a tour or a vacation is an adventure or an experience. But we often forget the small incidents happening with us throughout the day . Truly, if one changes his/ her perspective of viewing the world , then adventure would be everything that happens to them from morning till night. One need not go out of station all the time to discover new places. One can do that by staying right in their home town . It has often been seen that the love of another place makes a person know less about their city and more about the one they are fascinated with. Let us know equally about both and in details. Thus my aim from here would be to take up different places and discover the possible adventures that one can have in those places.

Lastly, a point which I strongly believe in is the fact the God’s greatest vehicle is attached to the human body- the legs. It is through walking that one can truly discover new places and explore roads that they can never forget. . .

I leave on this note hoping to bring something new very soon.  . . . . .