David Holding takes a wander through Victorian Bolton in his book ‘The Dark Figure: Crime in Victorian Bolton’ so I thought I’d stroll through the 21st Century version, for good and for bad.
Second, some goods.
- Skaters yell to each other. Despite the heat and brightness of the day, they wear long sleeves and beanies and there isn’t a single t-shirt or pair of sunglasses to be seen. We watch as they zoom about, but we’re mainly looking at their facial expressions – pride, cool, nonchalance… The joys of being young.
- We park in the multi storey where weekend parking is free, and we manage to find a spot on the first floor. It’s never happened before.
- Thirsty, we flop into a café for a much-needed drink. I can’t place the accent of the man who takes our order, but he’s so friendly and recognises us from our previous visits. He asks about the family and gives us each a toasted teacake on the house.
- We spend two hours rummaging round X-Records and emerge with music, DVDs and a pretty funky Led Zepp-inspired shirt. I absolutely love the friendly organised chaos of this place.
- We decide to eat at the Cherry Moon café, just up the road. It is a place for gamers of all types, for comic book fans, and for diners who like good food. We certainly go mad for their halloumi fries, and my crushed avocado on sourdough toast is superb. Yep, this has to be the coolest and friendliest place ever. Oh, happy days.
- A community police officer smiles at us and comments ‘Isn’t it a beautiful day?’ If he’d been wearing a bowler hat or flat cap I’m sure he would have raised it for me. ‘It’s certainly warm, I reply. ‘I think the lions are happy’. I gesture over to the distinctive town hall step statues, and note the affection for the town’s people in the officer’s eyes. ‘Good job. We don’t want hungry lions rampaging round Bolton. We have enough problems.’
- We do our fish and vegetable shopping in the covered market. The place is clean and bustling and the choice is fantastic. We purchase Caribbean curry to accompany the fish, and I suspect the man dishing out the chickpeas is the cheeriest person in the whole town. We leave, arms clutching food bags and faces glowing with anticipation of our evening meal. It feels like Christmas.
- We take a trip round the museum and gallery and discuss the photographic exhibition and Egyptian displays. Another two hours happily spent. We don’t call in at the aquarium this time, as we need to get home.
- The roads are busy, but I’m astonished when a pedestrian stranger leads us from the car park and onto the road. He holds up the traffic with a grin, and waves as we drive away.