Category Archives: Manchester

A weekend away

Hi blog, how I’ve missed you.  I have a list of half-written blog posts that I’ll complete at some point.  Anyway, it’s spring, the sun is out, daffodils are smiling at me from the window sill and I feel like I could actually finish a blog post.  Spring madness.  So here goes…

We’ve just had a big family celebration and have been up north for a birthday party and family meal.  The plan started out simple enough, with an intention to get the train on Saturday morning, meaning a 2 hour journey, rather than a 4 hour drive, stay in a premier inn, get a taxi to and from the party, walk to the family meal in town the next day and hop back on the train.  Easy.  We did this last year for another family celebration and it worked fine – for me.

However, OH is still having nightmare flashbacks from that journey as our youngest was travel sick on the train – all over daddy.  So, it was decided that we would drive.  Eight hours of driving in one weekend with three small people, two of which are travel sick, is always going to take the edge off a celebration, but not to worry, we’ve done this journey many times.  It’ll be fine.  I use the word ‘fine’ a lot – it’s a way of convincing myself it really is all fine.

The car element meant that the plans started to grow.  We were now going for two nights and staying in different houses, first visiting the in-laws, distributing Easter eggs to the many nieces and nephews, most of them are nearby and were coming to visit for a few hours before we set off to the opposite side of Manchester to my brother’s house, which has been newly fitted with electrics and has the bare plaster decor to prove it.  A busy weekend was getting busier.

Mid way through the car journey from south to north, we realised that neither of us had put in any shoes for the small people.  We’d put them in the car in pjs and slippers.  Now, a few years ago, I reckon I could have got away with just the slippers, but there was no way my little ladies were going to accept them as appropriate accessories to sparkly party dresses.  We now needed to fit in a visit to a discount shoe store somewhere in the itinery.  Found one.  £27 and three pairs of shoes later – which I’d had to hope would fit, as no one would come out of the car in slippers to try them on – we were on route to my brother’s house.  I’m feeling slightly mixed about the price of the shoes; on the one hand, amazing bargain hunting and they all fit, and on the other, I feel it’s safe to assume that whoever made them wasn’t paid the living wage.  However, it was an ’emergency’ although admittedly in a #firstworldproblems only way.  I got a loyalty card for the shoe store anyway.  This could so happen again.

Right, arrived at brothers.  Time to blow up four airbeds, unpack smart party clothes and shake out the creases.  The children were super excited at the blow-up beds and so his front room quickly became a trampolining arena.  I have no idea how none of them popped.   Some screen time was needed to calm them down, but he’s only just moved in and doesn’t have a great TV signal sorted yet – out came the Thundercats boxset.  the schedule started to runaway a little as we all got a bit caught up in the Thubdercats boxset. My children have been running around ever since shouting ‘Thundercats HOOOOOOO!’  Ah, one of the great catchphrases of the 80’s, I believe.

The double air bed was the last to be blown up and as we opened it, we realised why we’d got such a bargain online.  It didn’t have a UK plug.  The only adaptors on hand were the ones you take on holiday to convert a UK plug into an international one, not the other way around, for obvious reasons.  So, my brother has bought my grandmas house, which means we were able to climb over enough stuff in the spare room to find a mattress that we think once belong to my great grandma.  Having rescued it from the room and beaten the dust off, we then realised that we I hadn’t packed any bedding… Well, we didn’t need it last year in the Premier Inn.  We’d have to bring some back from the party at my parents house later.

Time to get decked out in party clothes, which is followed by the soundtrack of myself appealing to the small people not to drop food or drink on their clothes, wee in them, mess up their hair or rip anything.

Party time.  By now, my youngest two are bouncing off the walls – I mean actually bouncing off the walls, using sofas to propel themselves the highest.  I quickly nipped that little activity in the bud and whisked them into another room.  Twenty minutes later, all three had fallen asleep – before the food came out.  My shoulders can finally drop from my ears, and a few glasses of wine enjoyed – definitely more than was wise.  It’s tricky at a house party, people re-fill your drink without you noticing, and then I seem to drink more  wthout noticing.  Anyway, it was a lovely evening catching up with family and freinds that we hadn’t seen for a while, before the scooping up three sleepy children with a midnight feast from the buffet into a taxi home.  For bedding, we’d found a car blanket as a bottom sheet and borrowed a sleeping bag from my parents, as a duvet.  The sleeping bag turned out to be one I’d had 25 years ago and had the unmistakable pattern of the 80s: think dark grey background, with tiny polka dots, finished off with bright splashes of colour.  It’s from the time of Thundercats – this weekend had taken on an 80s theme.  So, not the comfiest sleeping set-up, but turns out I can fall into a deep sleep under any circumstances these days, so it was fine.

The next day began slowly, but with more Thundercats, and some dressing up as my brother is an entertainer / magician professionally, so the children were having the time of their life in his circus room.  A circus room is something every house should have, of course.

Next, it was time for more smart clothes for the birthday Sunday Lunch, bags needed to be re-packed, the children had to be coaxed out of the circus room, three airbeds were let down and rolled back up into the tiny bags they are meant to fit in, the car was packed and we headed out for a ‘leisurely’ Sunday lunch, before the long drive home.  Longer on a Sunday afternoon as it turned out.  We arrived home shortly before 9pm after five hours of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ and ‘I need the toilet,’ followed by ‘No, we’ve ages to go. Why don’t you go to sleep?’ and ‘Well, for Heavens sake, why didn’t you go at the services 10 minutes ago?’  We then unpacked and got everything ready for Monday morning, which would sadly be happening in a few short hours.  We climbed into bed, exhausted, shadows of the people we were on Friday night, and ready for the enquiries into how was our lovely weekend away.  It was lovely, I just now need a lot of sleep and have a laundry basket that’s threatening to take over the upstairs.  If I could just get to a place where I can close it by the end of the week, I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something.  But, Rome wasn’t built in a day, I think I need to keep my ambitions more realistic.

It’s taken me 4 days to finish this post.  I still can’t close the laundry basket.  It will soon be time to pack again for trips over Easter.   Must remember shoes, must remember shoes, must remember shoes…

I’d really like to sleep for a while longer.  Keep smiling at me daffodils, keep smiling.

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A life in Take That Concerts – Part 1

So, I went to see Take That last weekend.  It was brilliant – of course, and now I’m on a nostalgia trip down memory lane to the first time I went to Come on, Come on, Come on, Take That and Party.

All I’ll say is they put on a proper show.  I was confused when I first went to see another band, because they just stood on stage singing.  Where was the theatre? The spectacle? The imagination?  The magic? The floating jellyfish, flying bikes, giant, venue sized shadow puppet show and ball of fire suspended from the roof with a spinning acrobat inside?

Seeing them now makes me reminisce about seeing them as a teenager.  As a youngster, it’s tough not to be able to Do What You Like.  Growing up near Manchester, I remember, aged 14, my friends getting tickets to see Take That at the Apollo and my dad refusing to let me go as he was sure we would all get mugged, kidnapped or harmed in some terrible way.  My dad spends most of his time imagining people waiting around corners to mug, kidnap or harm us in some terrible way and reminds us that It Only Takes a Minute for something bad to happen.  Unless, Everything Changes I imagine I’ll be the same when my children reach an age where they want to go to concerts by themselves.  My friends went to the concert and were not harmed in the outing.  My dad was in trouble, I would Never Forget this omission in my teen experiences.

Thankfully, Take That then moved onto bigger venues and dad decided the G-Mex was in a much less dodgy part of town than the Apollo, so I could go.  I was more than Satisfied to go to their next three concerts at the G-Mex, then the post break-up tour at the MEN Arena, complete with it’s weeping Robbie fans, unsuccessfully Holding Back The Tears pining for their lost hero.  It was difficult for them, Once You’ve Tasted Love, it’s hard to forget.

For each of these concerts, I remember our little gang meeting up the weekend before to make our all important banner.  We managed the second and third rows at a couple of them, so were pretty sure there was a good chance the band members would soon be singing A Million Love Songs to us after spotting us in the crowd and noting our fabulous and witty banner with phrases like Babe.  Why can’t I wake up with you?  So clever.  What multi-millionaire teenage boyband could resist.  They did resist.  We ventured into town early on the morning of the concert, by metrolink, and joined the crazed gang of likeminded teenagers around the back entrance of the arena awaiting a glimpse, giving the boys every chance to whisk one of us away on a date, but it too didn’t work.  Every girl from Manchester thought the odds were in their favour.  These were local boys, they’d choose one of their own, for Sure.  We were all a bit miffed when the concert DVDs came out and they’d opted for the London concerts to be filmed.  If This Is Love, it was beginning to look like a rocky road.  At one point, we tried to start our own band ‘Get This’.  Unfortunately, ‘Get This’ never made it out of Lisa’s mum’s living room and into a recording studio.  I regret leaving the music industry culturally poorer from us never making a go of it, but there we are.  Too many broken Promises to ourselves.  I’m too busy now, the moment’s past and I feel I’d be Wasting My Time.  ‘Get This’ has already had it’s Greatest Day and is consigned to history for good.

And then that was that.  We could Pray, but it was over: Robbie left and the Take That era came to the sad end none of us could have predicted.  The Day After Tomorrow was a day without Take That.  How did it come to this? we thought.  But life went on, I finished my A-levels, discovered the delights of late 90s indie rock and went off to Uni.

And then, Could it be Magic?, Take That came back.  We just needed to have a little Patience.  Were they Back For Good?  

Turns out, I hadn’t moved on – Nobody Else had either.  Their song titles were now a bit more difficult to shoe-horn into a blog post, especially if you didn’t know anyone called Julie or were stuck trying to think of a reason to write about a Wooden Boat.  It was 2006 and I was in my late 20s.  I’d lost touch with much of the gang from school, but not Lisa.  She got a group of us tickets and this time we travelled into Manchester, not by metro link this time, but by limo down the Mancunian Way.  No loitering around outside a stage door with a banner now.  We were grown-ups with husbands and houses and some already had their own Kidz.  Life had moved on, but how lovely to relive those teenage moments.  I noticed that most of these fans were in their late 20s / early 30s.  There was the odd male, a boyfriend or husband, silently screaming SOS, not sure how they’d ended up at a Take That concert.  But then the boys came on stage, where they always did Shine best, and started to win over new fans.

I went to The Circus tour, also with Lisa, and then to the Progress tour.  We were all Happy Now.  This was the first time I’d seen them in London.  No limos now, we travelled by the Underground Machine.  There was now a noticeable amount of baby bumps and the trickle of male attendees had turned into The Flood of men that could now be seen, unashamedly in attendance.

Also, to prove that with age comes responsibility, pack lunches, picnic blankets and fold-up stools appeared from back-packs, looking like they were sat at home in The Garden.  Yes, we were out for a good night, but Hold On, there’s no need to queue up and pay those prices, or stand about for hours waiting for it to get started.  We needed our rest before the big event.  We’d had to get there early as we had standing tickets.

The band was now attracting the mothers of the original fan base.  Ladies in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s all excited and free from chores and responsibility for the evening.  Tonight, it was a Beautiful World for all of us.  There weren’t many teenagers at the Circus tour, but there were loads at the Progress Tour.  Clearly Take That and Robbie had been able to Reach Out to younger fans – or they’d been dragged along by overexcited mums and aunties.  Hard to know.

And here we are at present day – the 2015 tour.

To be continued…