Altrincham: Shady Streets, Italian Sopranos, and Tiramisu

I do love strolling little known streets and taking ad hoc trips to unknown places. Living close to what they call “transport links” makes a huge difference, as well. When you only need to walk 3 min. to the place where there will be trams, buses, taxis and even trains you do feel like you’re almost obliged to travel. All the better for me, as you may guess.

So, on Saturday I was waiting for a home delivery, which was not delivered due to the store’s not supplying my full address. With the bookcase assembly then being postponed, I wandered around the flat for a short time, before deciding to go to Altrincham.

I’ve never been to Altrincham before – except for a short visit in 2005. I was a BBC’s People’s War story gatherer, and on that day we were meeting the war veterans during the annual Flower Show at Tatton Park. A free bus service operated between Altrincham and Tatton Park, so I took a tram from St Peter’s Square. I had a glimpse at Altrincham’s buildings while on the bus, but it took me three years to get to walk in the town’s streets.

On Saturday afternoon the town looked and felt deserted. I recalled a visit to the old Russian city of Vladimir: I went with a group of friends during the weekend, and although the trains were fairly busy, the city was silent and calm. Altrincham was very much the same, except for its silence was almost magical. I also remembered a short stay at the Shap Wells Hotel, “ideally situated to explore the English Lakes, Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and the Scottish Borders”. The silence was nearly deafening for a convinced city dweller. Likewise, in Altrincham I caught myself on a thought that I could probably stay in one of its houses over a weekend, but I would hardly be able to live there.

While they commonly say that Russia (or Moscow, for that matter) is a place of extremes, it isn’t quite true where parks are concerned. Like London, Moscow boasts many a leafy public garden, park, and even Botanical Gardens – if you follow this link to page, you’ll find out that there are 5 such Gardens in Moscow alone. From where I lived in Moscow it would take me to travel literally to the other end of the city to visit the main Botanical Garden – and indeed, it would take more time than even to travel from Manchester to Tatton Park (assuming that you live in the city centre). I suppose what makes the difference (or what makes me feel the difference) is that in Moscow (or London) I could experience the leafy shade, smell flowers and marvel at the many shapes and colours of the trees without leaving the city, whereas in Manchester I have to hop on a tram or bus to go to what is effectively another town. In case with Altrincham, the town is already in another county (Cheshire). So, as far as parks and gardens are concerned, capital cities seem to be the places that blend the urban lifestyle with suburban setting. Perhaps for me, if Manchester wanted to do something to its city, it would be parks and gardens rather than a casino.

My wandering around Altrincham was fairly short, although I successfully added a few streetlights for my growing collection. You can see all the photos I took on the day in Altrincham Flickr photoset. Then I thought it would be a shame to leave such a lovely town without dining there. In the street where I walked there were a few Far Eastern eateries, but it’s becoming more and more of a commonplace to go to such places, so I wanted something different. Noticing an invitingly looking passage to Kings Court was a good start. Don’t get me wrong now, to go to an Italian restaurant is also a commonplace, since too many people appear to like Italian cuisine. But I couldn’t resist walking into The Sopranos. I was sat at exactly the table you see in the picture on the left, and I had a delicious fried goat cheese for starter, and then a breast of duck in cherry sauce, with a glass of wonderful full-bodied Chianti.

And then Sopranos became the first ever place in my life where I had two desserts. At the end of the meal I had a single espresso and a tiramisu… and this was the best tiramisu on my memory! I was trying in vain to prolong the pleasure, but it was next to impossible, thus eventually I had to double it, by ordering another portion of dessert.

There was something lovely about being called “signora”, and talking to Giorgio the chef about his long walk in Tatton Park, and then listening to the chef’s humming to himself, and then to the Italian music. Just as I was leaving, “Solo Tu” by Matia Bazar came on, which I was able to recognise because I have already seen the embedded clip on YouTube. A weekend trip to Altrincham became an unforgettable tree-gazing, tiramisu-tasting, Italian-feeling affair – something I would certainly love to relive one day.



4 thoughts on “Altrincham: Shady Streets, Italian Sopranos, and Tiramisu”

  1. Hi Julia, Thanks for your comment on ArtsWom (have only just seen it!). I’m glad to see you’re going strong and we were able to leave at least a mark on some areas of the internet.Wishing you all the best,Seb


  2. Dan, thank you. It’s very easy to get to Altrincham by tram, so make time and visit the place. Craig, thanks so much for the website! Just shows that the first-time visitor didn’t see half of the town. 🙂 I’ll have to go back to survey it properly. Seb, Great to hear from you! As I said, the idea with asking those 10 questions to other people (non-actors) was great, and the response I had was very interesting. And I did ask a few questions to one of my favourite Russian actors during an online meeting he had with his fans, particularly the one about the least favourite sound. Turns out, he doesn’t like the noise of dental drill!! I’m so glad that I’m not a dentist – and that I’m not his dentist!! :-)) I hope it goes well for you too! Keep in touch! All the best, Julia


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