Monday, 1 February 2010

A triumphant return to the North...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond after a GREAT day in the mother country. When I last left you, we were abandoning Brother Morgan and Mr. Ray, bound for London Euston. That is where I shall pick up tonight.

So JT and I took the tube up to Euston, where we were slated to pick up the 7 PM Virgin Service to Manchester Piccadilly. As we watched the boards update, the growing concern in the pits of our stomach was that, despite it already being 6:53, the 6:40 service to the SAME destination still hadn't arrived. Our spirits were momentarily uplifted by the fact that our platform suddenly came up. Thinking we were home free, we started moving to platform 6...

En route,we found ourselves swept into a vortex of humanity that felt something like being part of the last air lift out of Saigon. Talk about CHAOS - because the 6:40 was late, people were PILING onto our train like a scene from "I am Legend." OUT OF CONTROL. Luckily, my BRILLIANT wife had secured reserve seats for us. All the same, I still felt like a sardine wedged into a can.

That being said (and despite not running in "tilt mode"), the train rolled into Man-Picc just 15 minutes late, where we were greated by.....LADY CATHERINE!!!! After a quick hug, we caught a taxi (the guy was a right bastard, but he got us where we needed to go) and made our way to the Northern Quarter, where we had a FANTASTIC meal at the Market Restaurant.

This place was a blast. Serving wonderful comfort food and good wine, we had a nice time catching up whilst the girls worked their way through a butternut squash and goat's cheese bake (I opted for the venison casserole). The highlight came after dinner, when the waiter (who looked to be about 12 but knew more about alcohol that a pack of monks in the hills of Austria) offered us free liquers. I went with Creme de Cacao, JT picked up Chartreuse, and Cath picked up the winner of the night - a gin based vodka from Scotland that had been sitting in the guy's freezer for 30 years. This stuff has 2 other uses - peeling paint off the walls and serving as a substitute for nuclear fuel - WOW.

The next morning we popped up for some brekkie, including a French Press coffee treat (mom - you would have been so proud). After that, we caught the train for...wait for it...wait for it...CHESTER, BABY! That's right - the Taylor's went for a homecoming!

First stop was casa de Alison Lailey. There we met her fella Giles and saw her really cute place. 10 minutes later, it was out the door, over the bridge, and along the canal to complete a spiritual pilgrimmage of galcian proportions - lunch and pints at Ye Olde Harkers Arms. Two words for everyone out there wanting to experience spiritual bliss: Cheshire Cat - arguably the BEST BEER in the North.

We had a great lunch there before wandering along the wall (Puma - we did pass The Frog) and checking out the sites. It was a simply GLORIOUS day, filled with blue skies, and we made the most of the walk, taking in the race course, the town hall, the rows, the clock, and even the Grosvenor (Brother Dan - I didn't get a chance to ask our favorite Estonian waiter if he minded being called a donkey). After that, it was over to the Falcon for a couple of shady (and CHEAP) half pints before making the drive back to Manchester, where we had some DELICIOUS Indian. Let's just say I felt like a truly chubby bunny at the end of it (who saw that comin'...).

Sunday morning we woke up to....SNOW? Yep, we'd received quite a dusting the night before, and it was SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL. So after some breakfast, we rolled over to Heaton Park, where we were treated to a wonderful walk along the lanes, taking in the various outlooks and features of the landscape (plus it was the first time the "boot" had gone offroad - next step is Everest Base Camp). It was a great 2-3 hour walk, including a nice stopover at a petting zoo. Whilst there, I managed to get a group shot of me, Ray, Matt, and Sean - check it out.

After that, we rolled over to Urbis, the museum of Urban culture and lifestyle. There was a great exhibit about the rise of UK Hip Hop, and muffin and I felt our "thug life" (or BLOOD - VA - that's for you) roots. In fact, you can catch the new album, "Mo' Beat Downs 'dan a Oracle Governance Call" by MC Sammy T and DJ Jenny Fresh in stores this spring - here's a sneak peak at the album cover.

After that, we crossed off another big to-do for our time in the UK - the Manchester Wheel! Similar to the London Eye, this provides a spectacular view of the city. Given the GORGEOUS blue skies and great visibility, it was a real treat.

We finished up with a few pints of Kipling at the Old Wellingon before heading back to the station and saying by to everyone. However, in classic fashion, Sammy read the boards wrong, meaning that we didn't catch the 6:35 train (which we had tickets for) but rather the 6:55 train (which we did NOT have tickets for). The end result was me making an ass out of myself before finding that I actually WAS in someone's seat and then slamming my hand into a door so hard I was pretty sure I'd broken it. Yep - paragon of sophistication ladies and gentlemen...

All good, however, as we got home at a reasonable time and even had a nice curry at the Rajdoot. All in all, a VERY SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND!!!

Okay, that's all the weekend news that's fit to print. Time to type up tonight's installment!


Sam and Jenny

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