A wonderful reunion … and lots of sightseeing!

It was so incredible to walk out of Manchester airport [after flying from Malta] to see my gorgeous friend Louise [and her husband Tim] after 30 years. We have had the pleasure of staying with them for 9 days and have had the most sublime time. It was just wonderful to finally meet Emma and William [their children], and just so lovely to see her parents again.

Such a fabulous thing to be ‘on holiday’ with them [Louise and Tim] and have our lives organised in the most enjoyable way. Of course the first thing we had to do was have a pint at the local (Ring O Bells, Warrington) and this led us to have several pints, in several pubs over several days!

Day two – saw us heading to Yorkshire to see Louise’s parents, and of course for a pub lunch (Hollins Mill, Sowerby Bridge). I used to visit Louise in Halifax when we were here in 1986-1988. Colin and I were lucky enough to have a holiday on Louise’s parents canal boat, so we visited their new boat and remembered the wonderful holiday we had with them [it was only two nights, but it is a memory that we always talk about – if anyone will listen ๐Ÿ˜‚]. We were so excited to hear that Louise’s parents are coming to New Zealand later this year – our first booking!!

On Wednesday evening I went with Louise to volunteer at CareUK which is a charity that distributes donated items, to refugees in Syria and Greece and any local people who require support. The amount of items donated is staggering, but it creates a huge job for the volunteers to sort it. I was pleased to be able to do a couple of hours to help out.

Day three – up and at it early as we were heading to Carlisle for the day. The train trip from Settle to Carlisle is a reasonably famous trip, so after dropping Will at school we beat a hasty retreat up the A-something and an M-something [motorways]. When Tim put the details into the SATNAV it said we had plenty of time to catch the 10.22 train! But after getting caught in a snarl up on the M-road it took our arrival time out to 10.26am! After breaking away from the hold up and the madness of the Manchester traffic we made great time heading north. As we took our last exit from the motorway system we had 6 minutes to spare at arrival, BUT we [well Tim] inadvertently found ourselves back on the motorway again. After a bit of a diversion we were back on track but on all these gorgeous country lanes. We did a bit of rallying [at one point flying I think!] making up time, then getting stuck behind a hay truck before finally arriving at the Settle Station with about 3 minutes to spare ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The train trip up to Carlisle is about 1.5 hours through the Yorkshire Dales and the North Pennines. The scenery is stunning and this trip, complete with tunnels and the famous Ribblehead viaduct was just so beautiful. Of course the awesome company and refreshments on the way made it a wonderfully relaxing trip [especially after the madness of catching the train!].

After a walk in and around Carlisle we of course stopped for a pub lunch (The Apple Tree, Carlisle). We did a bit of shopping before heading back to the train, for the trip back to Settle. Well we had not long got underway when there was a delay on the track. Our 1.5 hour trip ended up being 3.5 hours!! Of course every time the train stopped, it was in places where we couldn’t see anything and by the time we finally got back it was dark!! A little bit frustrating but the complimentary wine was a nice touch and of course it gave us more time to catch up. It was a wonderful day out.

Day four – had a lazy start to the day and then went for a walk in and around where Louise and Tim live. It was cold and it did try snowing but we braved it and really enjoyed exploring their neighbourhood. Pork Pies and mushy peas for lunch followed by a relaxing afternoon and endless cups of tea.

Then it was ‘glad-rags’ on and out to the Village Hall, Appleton Thorn for a sneaky pint before a wonderful dinner at La Boheme. This was their treat, for our 30th wedding anniversary. It was such a special dinner with exquisite food and just wonderful to be sharing a celebration with them.

Day five – saw us head to Bradford to the Science and Media Museum which was great. It has displays from all sorts of media, including film and TV as well as its own movie theatre and the wonder lab science exhibits. I really loved all the old photography / equipment here. There was a fascinating ‘installation’ of the terms and conditions for our media devices in the “Never Alone” which showed you how we are connected all the time. The terms and conditions for FITBIT, Facebook, Insta and Snapchat take hours to read so they just give you the option to select “I Agree” but you basically sign your life away!! A very thought provoking concept, to see it printed out onto scrolls and hung on the walls with some reaching the floor! I couldn’t get a good shot of it, so I burgled one from online (nothing is safe!!)

Believe it or not, from here we headed to the New Beehive for a pint before the ‘boys’ went of to watch Bradford play [they lost 4-0] and the ‘girls’ went shopping for essential items for the charity. A quiet night in and a movie was the perfect way to end the day.

Day six – exhausted! I forgot to mention that I arrived with the beginnings of a head cold! I stayed in bed until at least 11am (missing church!!) but managed to get myself together to travel with Tim, Will and Colin, to meet Louise and Emma at the pub (Egerton Arms, in Little Budworth [circa 1797 – it has been an ale house for most of this time apart from a couple of stints, the most recent in 2008] – top photo) for a delicious Sunday lunch. This is the quintessential English Pub with a lovely atmosphere and great beer ๐Ÿป

Day seven – Today we headed of to Chester – what an absolutely beautiful city. We walked around the fortified walls which were built in the 1st century by the Romans, stopped for a beer (at the Bear and Billet – the building is circa 1664) and then lunch at the Albion (which had wonderful posters and memorabilia from WWI). With a fascinating medieval feel to the place and all the gorgeous Tudor buildings, together with the River Dee and the absolutely gorgeous Cathedral, Chester was an absolute delight.

After a wonderful day in Chester, we visited friends of Louise and Tim’s for a drink in The Plum Shed [circa 2018]. Mark very kindly welcomed us into his garden bar. What a fabulous ‘garden pub’ it is. Colin was uber envious and I feel a garden bar may be on the cards when we get home. If I could Trip Advisor it I would say … a gorgeous modern bar, with an exceptional host and wonderful decor. A wonderful place to gather with friends and enjoy a tipple or two! ๐Ÿป

Day eight – we headed to Liverpool on a cold and grey day and visited the Albert Docks which is a fabulous place. With the river Mersey and the canals connecting here it is a busy ara which I am sure in the warmer months is bustling and vibrant. The Royal Liver Building is pretty impressive (when it was built in 1911, it used to be the tallest building in Europe) with its huge (18ft) copper Liver Birds [called Bella and Bertie] atop watching over the city and the sea.

Of course, the famous four were from here!

The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral was next on our ‘to-do’ list. Built in 1967, it is known locally as the ‘Wigwam’. It was originally designed in a ‘traditional’ design, but after WWII there was not enough money to finish. They finished the crypt in 1941, which is underneath, and then finished the building in this modern design. It is the largest church in the UK and seats 2,300 people.

Day nine – saw us packing up and getting ready to head to Wilmslow to look after ‘Benson’ the cat. Louise [now with my cold – friends share] and Tim are back to work. We weren’t expected [in Wilmslow] until later in the afternoon, so we took ourselves for another walk. It had been snowing, was pretty cold and grey but we ‘rugged-up’ and arrived home quite a while later to have a later lunch, before Tim very kindly took us to our next ‘Mr & Mrs Smith assignment’.

So Benson the cat is a super friendly, sassy kitty-cat and we are in a lovely apartment, not to far from the train station and shops. We are here until the 12th of February, so will be exploring the greater Manchester areas.

So that is the news, not quite up-to-date but as good as it gets for now!!

“Wherever you go … it becomes part of you somehow”

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