So on Thursday we headed off to the North-West to visit Jo & Chris for the weekend. We set off a little later than originally intended (as always ... ) but that worked out OK as it meant we definitely got there after they were both home from work, rather than having to hang about in the car looking a bit suspicious ;) We'd brought our new keyboard for Rock Band 3 with us & RB3 itself, so the first evening was spent playing that. As indeed was some of Friday night, and some of Saturday morning ... I think RB3 was a bit of a hit ;) We also got in some The Beatles: Rock Band on Friday night, and quite a lot of Rock Band 1 on Saturday night too! And still found time to introduce them to the Playstation Move stuff we'd brought up with us, including the sword-fighting (Jo channelling her inner ninja for that :) ).
There was also much good food, and much wine & a mini-beer festival of local beers that Jo had been able to get hold of - Wincle Beer Co's Undertaker, Sir Phillip, Wincle Waller & Wibbly Wallaby; Storm Brewing Company's Silk of Amnesia; Beartown Brewery's Bruins Ruin; The Bollington Brewing Co's Happy Valley, Bollington Nights & Bollington Best. I think my favourite was the Undertaker - a nice dark beer :) And there was also a sneaky G&T rendered perhaps a little less sneaky by the volume of its offering ;)
We also found the time to fit in some Egyptian stuff! On Friday J & I went to the Tutankhamun exhibition that's in Manchester at the moment. Definitely worth a visit if you're near enough & are into Ancient Egypt. The thing that sets this exhibition apart is that instead of displaying the actual artefacts it consists of some very well done replicas of the objects from Tutankhamun's tomb. The attention to detail is spectacular & it was like seeing the real things, only you could get closer to them and take photos (and they're not in Cairo, so rather more convenient to visit). The first room of the exhibition has a potted history of Ancient Egypt, putting Tutankhamun into context, & a little about the history of the archaeology, putting the discovery of his tomb into context. Then you're funnelled through a couple of brief films, followed by three re-creations of what the rooms of the tomb looked like when Carter discovered them in 1922. That was pretty neat to see - we've got a book with the photos that Burton took documenting the excavation, but obviously they're in black & white, and somehow don't convey quite how packed full of things the rooms were. However that bit of the exhibition was probably my least favourite - you were taken through in their time, not your own, and had to listen to the audio guide things to get the most out of it. The audio guide in general unfortunately didn't do anything to change my mind about such things - not much more info than was on the labels for the bits with labels or what there was was stuff I already knew, some woeful mispronunciations of words such as "sarcophagus", and a very amateur sounding attempt to dramatise the info into a "conversation" rather than a lecture. I didn't listen to much once I was past the films/room reconstructions. I'll freely admit that I'm not the target audience tho, being somewhat picky and already knowing a lot about Ancient Egypt & Tutankhamun ;)
But that was my only negative thoughts about the exhibition. After we were through the films etc there were then 3 large areas with replicas of the objects spread out and well labelled, so we could look at them at our leisure. This started off with the large golden shrines that were round the coffins. We'd seen those in Cairo, but they're in not-very-clean cases there, and you can't get right up close and have a real look at them - and the labelling in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is close to non-existent. Of particular interest was the second shrine, which had engravings on the outside of a funerary text that's not known from anywhere else (doesn't mean it wasn't on every Pharaoh's second shrine, as this is the only example that's ever been found). There was also the sarcophagus and the coffins, with a replica mummy in the innermost coffin with the mummy bands on it. And then on to the funerary goods - including things like chariots and thrones, as well as statues of gods, shrines for the internal organs, etc. I think we spent over 3 hours going round all the items in those 3 rooms, and taking hundreds of photos too.
It really was an excellent exhibition :)
As an aside to that day trip - we also went into the Barton Square part of the Trafford Centre, which takes tacky to whole new levels. From the faux Greek/Roman statues, to the large "gilded" fountain of mermaids & dolphins and nymphs, to the self-playing piano, it was a sight to behold. Awesomely, awesomely tacky. Oh, and I nearly forgot the Egyptianesque obelisks, the Romanesque eagles on the guttering, and the old-fashioned fairground carousel. The mind boggles, it really does.
And on Saturday Jo took us to the West Park Museum in Macclesfield - which has a small Egyptian collection, due to the travels of Marianne Brocklehurst in Egypt in the late 1800s and also of the items she was given from excavations by the EEF to whom she was a donor. A small, slightly odd, collection of artefacts but cool to see nonetheless :)
Photos from the weekend will be coming soon(ish) - mostly of the Tutankhamun stuff, but some of beer and the shopping centre.
A good weekend, good company, good food & drink, interesting things to see. (And I always feel bad about how little there seems to be to say about the social side of weekends like this compared to the museum bit - but it was fun, we hung out & talked & played games & generally enjoyed ourselves :) ).