Thursday, 7 December 2017

Selsey to Manchester (via Faringdon) to Selsey to Isle of Wight to Mumbai to Goa - Phew!

This blog entry is very late as we packed a lot of things into about three weeks - after which things got busy!


A ten day stay in Selsey gave us the chance to do some catching up with friends (something we seem to do a lot of!). Although it was November the south coast sunshine can usually be relied on and one jaunt in the sunshine was just along to the next coastal village to see friends Alan and Kim. Always good to spend the day with them – at lunchtime we sauntered down to the village pub for lunch with their friend Jane.


Next it was a very belated catch-up when friend (and superb professional photographer) Nick came along from Brighton for a short stay.


One little trip out with him was to one of our favourite spots at Bosham on the edge of Chichester Harbour. Bosham is famous for it’s daily intrusion by the tide. A good part of the village has it’s comings and goings very much affected by the sea.


With jobs done and friends caught up with in Selsey, it was back up to Manchester for another round of jobs to do and friends to catch up with. On the journey, however, we stopped for the most special meet up of all – with the kids!! We met at the Freke Arms outside Highworth for, what really was, a six birthday celebration and Christmas and New Year all in one. James, Vicki with Ian, Doug, then Frances with Kel. One can’t put into words what “the kids” mean to us so we’ll leave it at that.


Back in Manchester the partying started immediately. Soon after we got back an old friend Andy (well not that old!) came up with his partner Jimmy for a the week end. It had been many years since Andy’s last visit to Manchester and Jimmy had never been so the city had to be explored and various venues and haunts enjoyed.


Not to be left out of our social events and meet-ups with friends and family(hardly ever!) was our friend Cris. This was “Via” in Canal Street and Andy and Jimmy were behind the camera.


Apart from seeing the city on foot Manchester has the 47 story Beetham Tower with it’s Cloud 23 public bar and viewing area (on the 23rd floor funnily enough!). That’s it sticking out half way up.


Here’s Jimmy, Andy and Doug enjoying cocktails and the view.


This is an early evening view from Cloud 23 showing Deansgate running up towards the Cathedral.

IMG-20171125-WA0007_resizedFriends Pam and Geoff came over from their home in the Lake District for the last get together we’ll have until the end of March 2018 when we meet up again in a totally different part of the world. Its a very long tradition (almost 5 months now!) that when friends come to Manchester we enjoy a bottle of bubbly, or two, as a nice start to the day. Actually, it’s only two sets of friends (and the others know who they are!) and in this case we plumped for G&Ts with bubbly for later in the day.


Well, later in the day came and we didn’t get time for bubbly so we went for cocktails at Cloud 23 in the Beetham Tower. As evening set in the glass tables lit up to give James and Geoff the ‘limelight’ touch ……..


………. and Pam and Doug a sort of …… well, not sure really!


As the sun set and the city lights came on there was time for one more cocktail before our evening date ……..


……. which was a Champagne reception at Whitewall Galleries in the presence of our favourite artist, Fabian Perez. He does a UK tour every year and it was fortuitous that we could take up our invitation to his Manchester appearance. We had a few brief moments with him and, although we’ve met him in other years in different cities, it was in Whitewall Galleries, Manchester that we purchased our first work by him.


Doug’s friend Nick, who he’s known for nearly forty years, had a brief slot in his busy life and came to stay for a couple of nights. We decided to take him Blackpool to see the lights and the “Funny Girls’” Christmas show. It happened also to be the same night that “Strictly Come Dancing” had it’s Blackpool highlight show but they didn’t send us an invitation! As we’ve said before, and will probably say many times in the future, Cris likes to partake in all things enjoyable so here he is again with Doug (on tippy toes!) and Nick.


Nick’s a keen biker (and an airline pilot) and James is also a keen biker (in mind only!) – it’s been so long now he can’t even claim to be ‘between bikes’. So, when the road racing machines presented themselves in the arcade they had to have a competition. No prizes for guessing who won!


After an early dinner, and racing pretend bikes, we all headed for a guaranteed evening of great entertainment at Funny Girls. Nick, Doug (no he’s not drunk), Cris and James.


It was a terrific Christmas atmosphere and we even had a snow shower for authenticity.


Time was beginning to get short by now and we’d managed to achieve what we needed to do in Manchester so, after a last late night cabaret show, we packed the car and headed south through the night, arriving in Selsey at 4 in the morning! With just three days before our departure to India we managed a rare evening out on the Selsey scene – visiting the incredibly popular little Micro Pub in the High Street (only opened this summer). By chance, we met up with James and Liz and had the most terrific evening with them.


Having broken the last journey to Manchester to meet up with “the kids” we now had the chance to meet up with Doug’s parents. They were spending time on the Isle of Wight so we took the car across on the ferry and spent a really enjoyable day with them, and in the nick of time too, as the next day was our flight to India. Here’s Derek, Doug and Vilma.


After leaving Doug’s parents we popped in to see our dear friend Jonathan, who lives on the island. Usually we meet somewhere on “the north island”  (as he calls the mainland) during his frequent business trips.  You can tell this is a selfie – James hasn’t quite got rid of that selfie face!


After a great flight with Jet Airways, arriving in Mumbai and a connecting flight to Goa, our taxi driver and friend Joaquim met us at the airport. We were then met at the apartment we’re renting for three months in Candolim by Muz, the owner, who so very kindly presented us with two baskets of fresh fruit and got us settled in.


The next day we travelled over to Muz’s house, where we met his charming family,  ………..


……….. had some delicious traditional Indian food with them and then collected a scooter, which Muz had arranged for us to hire for our stay.


Back in Candolim it wasn’t very long before we started to meet up with our local friends. Two of whom are the lovely Bobby and Rebecca who got married earlier this year.


The next day, with scooter at the ready, we headed off to Panjim (Goa’s capital) with friend Manju to help us with the shopping. Although Muz had kindly stored a number of boxes of belongings for us there was still quite a lot that (Doug) needed to make the apartment our home for three months. Here’s Manju on his bike in the foreground (anything on two wheels is called a bike) and James just in front, getting the ferry across the Panjim River.


With most of the shopping done we headed for some lunch before the trip back to Candolim. James is not really harassed it’s Doug not waiting a second longer to take the picture!


That evening, as a thank you to Manju for helping with the shopping and finding shops which we hadn’t used before, we took him for dinner at Raju’s Happy Shed very close to our apartment and a very nice venue.


Manju doesn’t drink alcohol often but, as this was a rare day off from both his intense college studies and evening / night time work in a local bar, he indulged in a Mojito. His expression tells everything!


There are some wonderfully rural and tranquil parts of India but the road system generally isn’t one of them! We love riding our bike and it’s quite safe (fingers crossed) as long as you drive the Indian way and not the English way. Traffic jams such as this one on a junction going to Panjim which was locked solid with no promise of movement until someone started to intervene are rare ………


……. but this is fairly normal.


And this – getting on and off the Panjim ferry!


This a rare occasion when there’s enough room to turn your bike round on the ferry before it gets too full. If you don’t then you become part of the chaos during the unloading ceremony where you’re trying to turn round with everyone else!


The past pic, should go to Manju who’s so looking forward to other friends coming out to join us during our stay.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Northern Pleasures ….

On our recent trip to Ireland, to catch up with Doug’s sister and family in Cork, we took the opportunity to pick some sloes (a pleasure we thought we wouldn’t get around to this year!).c7eec74b-3848-4a74-988f-7307e40fc34a
So – now in jars, it was ‘picked in Ireland and recently brewed in Manchester’ (and may well be consumed in Selsey, who knows?
Well, autumn came with a vengeance on 21st October - the day we picked to go to Blackpool for the “Funny Girl’s” Halloween show.
Storm “Brian” hit the the country and the wind certainly blew hard on Blackpool seafront!
The tide was out during the daytime when we were there so the waves weren’t crashing against the seawall thankfully. The piers were closed and parents were hanging on to their children …….
…….. and it was ‘any port in a storm’ for us as well as other people! Here’s Doug and Cris (who wouldn’t miss an invitation to join us to go to “Funny Girls”)
The dear old Winter Gardens was a good place to hunker down from the increasing severity of the storm as the afternoon wore on.
Inside, even Eric and Ern seemed to be bracing themselves against the wind!
Having survived the afternoon in the company of “Brian”, the evening came and it was time for the highlight of our trip. “Funny Girls” was packed in an anticipation of what we had in store for the evening’s £8 entry fee (only £4 on week days!).
Almost immediately we struck up a delightful evening friendship with three people from Bournemouth. James, Cris and Doug with Roy,Tai and Gay, (their lovely adopted mum and Fag-Hag!). Oh, these things can get very complicated (!) but we had the most fantastic evening with these guys who were enjoying their first visit to “Funny Girls”.
There were seven cabarets during the evening – all headed by the indefatigable “Betty ‘Legs’ Diamond”.
You’ll notice there’s quite a lot of lolling about on people’s shoulders in “Funny Girls” - here’s three of the Manchester contingent doing just that!.
There’s quite often a minor celeb or two in the audience – this time we met up with Dan from Dancing on Ice.
The cabarets are extremely good and great fun ……
……… but the finale was literally ‘out of this world’ with it’s cosmic, space travel theme. And the costumes were incredible!
We didn’t stay over in Blackpool but drove back early on Sunday morning (poor James, going without a drink!). In Manchester and we soon had a visit from friends Peter and Margaret (think it was only a week ago we were together at their home!). They don’t live far away so it’s a quick train ride for either of us to get together (such a blessing and very normal in this narrow bit of the country). After the usual drink or two we ventured down to Spinningfields for lunch – the sunshine through the windows prevented a proper pic so this selfie (with James pulling his usual selfie face) has to suffice.
On our walk back home we popped in to one of the many fascinating old pubs the city has to offer. This one, in this amazing building, is “Mr Thomas’s Chop Shop” ……….
……… and inside, where you can eat as well, we enjoyed a few very nice gin and tonics proffered, like expensive cocktails, by the obliging barman. Its well worth a visit!
Halloween was bearing down on us next (not something we’re very excited about accept that Doug likes to carve a pumpkin or two) and he wanted to compete with friend Cris (who, incidentally had never carved a pumpkin before!) for the best attempt. James, who has zero interest in such things, was given the position of judge. Here’s Cris marking out his design …….
……… and here he is going for it like an expert!
James’ unbiased opinion was that Cris’ had the best overall effect. Not something that Doug was prepared to accept so they both decided to put it on Facebook and let friends decide. It was like the results section of the Eurovision Song Contest that night – waiting for the results to come in! Doug won by an extremely slender margin – of two!
This Manchester malarkey certainly is showing it’s benefits – we had a visit from friends Chris and Linda, who we haven’t seen for a year. They too don’t live far away so, another short train journey brought them to us and again, after the usual bubbly at home, it was to Albert’s Shed again for lunch.
After a short breathing space of a few days we drove up to stay with our Lake District friends Geoff and Pam and, after a painfully slow trip up there (it was Friday!) we went out to dinner that evening at a hostelry not far away. The food was splendid but, as always, the company was better.
On Saturday they took us on a trip to the northern end of the Lake District during which we passed  Windermere, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Thirlmere and Bassenthwaite Lake. An interesting point – Bassenthwaite Lake is the only “lake” in the Lake District. All the others are either “Meres” or “Waters”. This one in the pic is the lovely little Grasmere. Thirlmere is a reservoir which supplies water to Manchester 96 miles away.  
Our destination for the day near Keswick was the Lakes Distillery. Beautifully renovated from a dilapidated set of farm buildings it’s been open and distilling for almost three years. During that time it has been producing and selling vodka and gin but, as it’s primary product will be whisky and that needs to have been laid down for “three years and a day” before it can be called and sold as whisky, they are selling a blended product in the meantime.
We went on a fascinating tour of the distillery – learning all sorts of amazing facts before settling down to a little tasting session. Not being whiskey or vodka drinkers, and only drinking gin (for medicinal purposes) in watered down form, it wasn’t an easy task knocking back the various products that were put in front if us. But we did it nevertheless! Here we all are!!!!
After a splendid dinner party that evening back at Pam and Geoff’s (with several invited friends to join us) there was no time to lie in on Sunday morning as we were off down the road to Finsthwaite. There we enjoyed a three course breakfast at their annual Big Breakfast fundraising event for St Peter’s Church. We met up with quite a few more friends we’ve got to know in the Lakes over the last year.
Then, for several of us, it was back to Pam and Geoff’s to spend the rest of the day relaxing (James and Chris were caught enjoying the sunshine together in a lovely peaceful spot in the garden!).
During the splendid early afternoon sunshine Peter, Doug, Geoff, John, Chris, Geraldine, Pam (and James) all had tea and coffee on the terrace before retiring to the comfort of a roaring log fire for the rest of the day.
At about 8 o’ clock that evening we had to say our farewells, and a sincere ‘thank you’ to Pam and Geoff for their boundless hospitality, before driving down to Selsey and arriving in the early hours of Monday morning.