We had crossed the Pennines by train on a pilgrimage to see the poet rock musician Patti Smith.
We'd already seen her perform an acoustic set upstairs at The Millennium Galleries in Sheffield in 2010 with the gradually darkening sky and cityscape visible through the galleries' vast plate windows. She moved like a panther, her hands playing out the stories of her poetry. In this gig she was to appear with her band and deliver the entire Horses album.
In Manchester we were also due to meet Spooky's niece, Elizabeth, to celebrate the end of her finals over a meal on Rusholme's Curry Mile. We had also planned visits to The Manchester Museum and The Whitworth Gallery.
But first we lunched down a backstreet in the city's gay village, near Piccadilly station.
The Richmond Tea Rooms occupy a former cotton mill but their decor could not be further from this industrial past. Pillars and wooden floorboards are disguised by a dream world theme from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Everything is candy coloured and Spooky thought it a "bit girly". Animals and birds burst from wallpapers, cushions and fittings and chandeliers dangle from the ceilings. Lewis Carroll, or Charles Dodgson to use his actual name, would probably have approved of the location in this reactionary city. Born in Cheshire, he wrote political pamphlets in addition to penning poetry, lecturing in mathematics and practising photography.
I expected to find a giant white rabbit somewhere among the ornate chaos of flowers, vintage china and giant playing cards. There was none, but the waiter pointed out rabbits lurking on walls and seats everywhere. I just had to look a little harder.
From pink menus we chose Dragon Well and Jasmine Green tea, and to see us through the museum visits, a mushroom omelette with chopped herbs and a Tweedle Dum Croque Madame.
We ate them to the crackling tinkling sounds of jazz age hits, watched from the wall by a portrait of the young Dodgson.
Mid way through the lunch, an email arrived from the PR for Hurtigruten, who was sorting out our next trip to Norway, to say the dates we had hoped to travel on weren't available. This meant we had to check flights and match up new dates and the flurry of email activity made carrot cake necessary.
We didn't manage to resolve the departure date for Norway, but satisfactorily full, left the tea rooms to make for the museum.
En route we were distracted by the newly-refurbished Central Library on St Peter's Square and a quick detour proved much longer than anticipated.
The ground floor has been converted into a buzzing, interactive archive space with records of Manchester's social history displayed electronically and in the form of original documents in cabinets, such as records of the occupants of workhouses and photographs of the back-to-back slums.
Upstairs on floor one is the silent reading room lined with leather tomes. An ornate gilt clock stands in the centre of the great hall and a quote from the Old Testament runs around the rim of the dome ceiling.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her, she shall give of thine head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory she shall deliver to thee.
There is a small display dedicated to Anthony Burgess, which includes first editions of his novels since Burgess studied English at the University.
The library, which opened in 1934, was modelled on the colossal Pantheon in Rome and inspires similar awe as well as a thirst for knowledge.
At the museum in the old redbrick part of the University, we only had time to pop into a temporary exhibition on the statues of Rapa Nui, which includes the Moai Hava, one of the smaller 'half statues', and the Vivarium, where we watched four tiny orange rainforest frogs smaller than my thumbnail playing out a love drama on the rough bark of a log.
We had to miss The Whitworth Art Gallery, but as we walked down Oxford Road towards Rusholme, I showed Spooky The Faculty of Arts where I studied French and a quadrangle of grass where I would revise in the sun.
Rusholme has flourished into a destination in its own right.
Traffic calming islands have been introduced in the centre of the Wilmslow Road and dozens of restaurants Indian and Arabicfight for custom where once there was a handful of small Asian grocery stores. In between, Arabic jewellers with their intricate gold dazzle. And pastry shops add neatness and colour with their cubes of pink and green marzipan.
After meeting Elizabeth and her boyfriend, Tom, and a fish tikka which was far too big for me to finish, we took a taxi to The Apollo.
Patti Smith astounded her audience and critics alike. She would have approved of The Richmond Tea Rooms as a lover of Rimbaud's visionary poetry.
Perhaps she took tea there before her anarchic and brilliant performance.