After spending over a week down south, I returned home for a few days and then travelled up north to Manchester.
The main purpose of the trip was to catch up with a group of friends that I have known for nearly 25 years. It has been two years since I last saw them – they were the last social event I had before the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, so I was looking forward to it.
I was staying with my mum for the weekend and we had a bunch of things planned around it. I was feeling quite smug when I left the house initially due to being somewhat organised for once, only to discover when I arrived that I had forgotten a whole bunch of stuff including socks, make-up and a phone charger. Who forgets to pack socks???
Socks quickly acquired, we went for a meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant on the Friday night. We’ve been going there for decades – I remember having my 18th birthday celebration there, I turned 40 last year and I couldn’t count how many meals our family has had there in between. I was delighted to see that one of the staff members, George, who greeted us during our earliest visits, was still there. There is one particular dish – a sharing platter for two – that both mum and I are obsessed with, so instead of ordering a starter and selection of mains we decided to treat ourselves and had one each without mains. It was fabulous – I couldn’t help but laugh with sheer excitement as they were brought out – but I was so full by the end I thought someone would have to roll me to the car afterwards.
Totally worth it.
The following day I got the train into central Manchester to meet my friends for a bottomless brunch at Turtle Bay in the Northern Quarter. It was so great to see them all and catch up properly on how they are all doing, and 3 1/2 hours felt like five minutes. The food was nothing special, but the draw of it was the bottomless cocktails – something that I took full advantage of. The volume of our voices got louder, the selfies got sillier – by the end I had drunk far more than I intended and my voice was beginning to feel sore from all the talking and laughing I had done. What I love about them is that we have known each other for so long that regardless of the amount of time we go without seeing each other, it still feels like yesterday when we last met – the conversation is fun and flows without even a hint of awkwardness. Many of them have known each other since primary school, we have stayed in each other’s homes, celebrated birthdays, hen parties, weddings, the birth of their children, been on holiday together (in fact, I was there when my friend met her future husband on our holiday to Crete when we were 18 – they have now been together for over 21 years and have two children). It’s a history that doesn’t need explaining to each other – we just carry on from where we left off.
I left slightly earlier than some of them as I was meeting mum on the other side of Manchester so we could go to the theatre. Rather inebriated, I carefully walked across the city while desperately trying to find somewhere for us to grab something quick to eat (I wasn’t hungry in the slightest but mum hadn’t eaten). We eventually found a table at Bill’s, during which I guzzled water and snacked my way through a small halloumi mezze in an effort to sober up.
We then went to see The Addams Family at the Manchester Opera House. I was lucky enough to see the show on the January Press Night at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham and completely loved it, so when I heard that it was closing a few weeks earlier than expected and it happened to be in Manchester at the same time that I was, I booked tickets to see it again before it ended. It was just as good as I remember – hilarious and brilliantly performed – it’s a shame that it doesn’t have a longer run.
On Sunday my mum and I got on the train to Birmingham. Last Monday was the press night for Catch Me If You Can starring Patrick Duffy and Linda Purl, so mum jumped at the chance to see ‘Bobby Ewing’ in the flesh on stage. We also met them outside the stage door and got our picture taken – they were friendly, gracious and fun to talk to – and then mum discovered that another one of the cast had been in seven Carry On films. She’s a lifelong Carry On fan (I even created a Carry On trip for her in 2016) and was gutted she didn’t say anything to him when he walked past.
And after six weeks of travelling up and down the country that will be the end of my shenanigans for a little while. I’m in the incredibly lucky position to be able to work from anywhere and decide my own hours, but after a three day trip to London, ten days of dog sitting down south, three days in Manchester, combined with working full-time and doing theatre press reviews, it has been a lot to organise and do in a short space of time. Not that I’m complaining, but I realised at the weekend just how tired I am, so I’m going to spend the next few weeks slowing it down, getting ahead instead of playing catch up, focusing on doing less but doing it well, and actually taking a day or two off and to do absolutely nothing.
What a month!
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