Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Blimey! We Forgot to Blog!

Crikes! – it’s been nearly a month since the last one. James had his birthday at the end of August, that was nice. Then September arrived and now it’s almost gone! Nevertheless, we’ve had a great month – we went up to the Lake District (not very far when we’re in Manchester) to visit friends Geoff and Pam.


As James made many visits to visit the Lakes many moons ago, it’s always a nostalgic delight for him wherever Pam and Geoff take us. On the Saturday we went to Grasmere where we had a delightful light lunch by the river …….


….. and then for walk around the tiny village, popping into the ‘world famous’ Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread shop, before a trip into the churchyard to pay our respects to William Wordsworth and his family.


On Sunday, with Geoff and Pam, we met up with friends Chris and Pete for a long dreamed of visit to Morecambe. The wonderful Winter Gardens Pavilion, just one of several “musts” along the seafront, is a real delight.


The interior is undergoing a very long restoration by volunteers. They’ve been going now for almost thirty years ……….


….. in a valiant and tireless attempt to bring the majesty back to this Victorian edifice. There is a lot more to be done but the place is a real testament to the love which the people of Morecambe have invested in one of it’s finest buildings.


The foyer is has been renovated very nicely but stunning ceramic tiled staircases are out of bounds and can only be viewed from the ground floor.  James is sure (and we should have taken a pic!) that in the original entrance mosaic floor someone has spelt “Pavillion” with two L’s! A very permanent reminder that we all can make a mistake!


Very close to the Pavilion is an ice cream parlour with it’s original Art Deco interior. A real gem!


A little walk along the seafront and we reached our next point of interest – the commemorative statue of Eric Morecambe! This lovely centre piece just has to evoke something very deep in the British psyche, and it most certainly lifts one’s spirits!



Haha! It just has to be done!


In fact, we all did it! (pic kindly taken by Pam!) and after this we all spontaneously burst out with a rendition of “Bring Me Sunshine” – and if you can’t remember all the words (shame on you!) they’re written on the steps leading up to Eric’s statue.


There are many stars inlaid into the frontispiece of Eric’s tribute site but this one stood out as a real record breaker!


Back along the seafront, opposite the lovely old railway station (now no longer used as a station) was our next port of call ………


……. the very well restored and refurbished Midland Hotel. A magnificent Art Deco example standing proudly with it’s back to the sea.


The restoration has been carried out very well with the beautiful staircase being the centrepiece to building.


We stopped for a drink to recharge the batteries and soak up the atmosphere. Doug, Pam, Chris, Geoff and Pete.


There are a few works by Eric Gill around the hotel. The very kind hotel manager allowed us into one of the rooms to view this frieze of Morecambe Bay. Here’s us with Chris, who with husband Pete, is a great devotee of this hotel.


Here’s all of us again, still ensconced in the hotel, having another drink. Chris, James, Geoff, Pete and Pam. With Chris’s expert knowledge and the kindness of the manager and one of the house keepers, we both had a wonderful tour of the hotel including a couple of the superb penthouse apartments. 


After a delightful time in Morecambe (and our delight was certainly not dampened by the wet Sunday afternoon!) we all journeyed a few miles the other side of Lancaster to The Mill at Condor Green for a lovely late Sunday lunch. An additional pleasure to the meal was that we were sitting right next to the Lancaster Canal – a stretch of water that we didn’t get to cruise when we had “Chance”.

Together with Pam and Geoff we also had the pleasure of having dinner one evening at the lovely home of Chris and Pete for which we say a big thank you. We also have to say a terrific thanks for, once again, the marvellous hospitality of Pam and Geoff.


Leaving the Lake District on Sunday evening, we made the journey south to Selsey for a couple of weeks. We needed to be around for the replacement of our conservatory roof which was badly damaged in a hale storm (Selsey’s normally glorious weather occasionally has a sting in it’s tail!). We, of course, delight in being so close to the sea and to enjoy our wonderful beach – which, apart from Lifeboat Day each year when there are literally thousands of people around, always looks like this!


One slight dampener on the previous three weeks has been that Doug has undergone three emergency operations – one in Manchester and two in Chichester.  He insisted on going ahead with the arranged weekend with friends Pam and Geoff in the Lakes, for which we are so very grateful to them for their help and understanding. Doug’s parents, Derek and Vilma, came to see the “convalescent” and this was his first walk out for quite some time. He’s now on the mend and beginning to face life head again!


We’re now back in Manchester for a while, as we have a short sojourn coming up, and, as James was in desperate need of a hair cut, he thought he’d go for a short one to match to upcoming event !!!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Manchester Pride 2017 and a Birthday Celebration.

Well, August Bank Holiday came round again and that meant the biggest party weekend of the year. It was Manchester Pride! This year was our first as “plastic northerners” and things felt very different for us. We weren’t on our annual 2 week visit to the city, living on “Chance” in Castlefield Basin, but we now had our own “crash pad” to go back to.


This year we viewed the parade on Saturday near to the glorious Midland Hotel. We missed the first few entries but luckily got there just in time to see the very popular Coronation Street float. (that’s not the Midland Hotel behind though!)


We paid a little more attention to our own appearances this time. Doug sported a magnificent hair piece (bought in India and the only one around!) and James’ hair was also pink but rather outdone by Doug’s colourful barnet. 


This year’s Pride theme was ‘Class of 2017’ and there were quite a few entries representing school years.


Many entries were old favourites – the Outdoor Lads being just one of them. (and that IS the glorious Midland Hotel behind this time!)


Pride is Manchester’s party time and thankfully the sun shone for us and it was warm enough for some of the parade participants!


Pride is all about acceptance and diversity and the transgender community is just one group in the parade that’s always cheered and whooped! 

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The Fire Service excels each year in it’s presentation. This year the most fantastic paint job on one of their tenders.

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Occasionally, with all the fun and excitement going on, it was difficult to see the difference between the enormous crowds and the parade.


The police contingent was heralded by their superb marching band and the city’s Police Service always gets the most amazing reception.


Every Pride parade has an entry which has obviously been fashioned by the gods!


Some entries are very ingenious and effective.


There’s that fabulous hair piece again!


Standing in a different part of the city this year we got to see different things and one of them was a release of thousands of balloons.


After the parade (which lasted two and half hours!) everyone with a wristband (purchased up to a year ago!) headed for the Gay Village centred around Canal Street to meet up with friends. We hadn’t seen Olly for quite some time so it was good to chat again.


A close look at this pic and you get some idea of what Manchester’s biggest party weekend is like!


After a quick catch-up with a few people in the village we headed back home, where our friend Cris joined us to to do a little more dressing up ……..


…… before heading back to Canal Street for one hell of a party!


All weekend, one of the street’s best bars, put on the most wonderful daytime entertainment. Here’s a friend of ours, Christopher Jackie Kibbler (Jackie Love to her friends!) comparing on Bar Pop’s outdoor stage.


We first met ‘Jackie Love’ on a Caribbean Cruise last year and not in Manchester where you’d perhaps expect. It’s a small world!


In the frenzy and excitement of the weekend, it took us two days before we caught up with friend Seb. It was Monday by this time, and the the last day. At the Centre Stage where we spent time together and listening to  ………… 


……. the incredibly talented Danny Beard. His superb vocal range, great presence and personality made for a terrific performance.


Oh yes! Nearly forgot – “Take That” popped in to say ‘Hello’ as well. How about that then!


Well, the weekend was nearly at an end. Monday night came and it was time for thousands of us to attend the vigil. Canal Street was beautifully decorated for the Pride celebration ……….


……. and, in the evening, it looked it’s best. (and look at the crowds – four days of partying and still a sea of people.


Sackville Gardens soon filled with thousands of people for the candle;it vigil at 9 o’clock. the hour was spend in thought and consideration for those who’d lost their lives due to an AIDS related illness and for those who are still living, and managing their lives, with HIV.


Additionally this year we remembered the 22 people killed, and the hundreds injured, in the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena earlier in the year.

It seemed that the city pulled the stops out this year with this, it’s annual (Pride) celebration of unity, acceptance and love. It was said at the vigil – terror tried to divide this great and vibrant city but, instead, it did the opposite. It brought a close community even closer together.  We had another great time over the four days.

Hard on the heels of the Pride weekend came James’ birthday  and our wedding anniversary. It was a real treat that Doug’s sister Dawn flew in from her home in Ireland for that weekend.


Here are the two siblings – peas in a pod?


Cris joined us and we all went for a celebration meal in Zizzi  ……..


……… before hitting the village for a few drinks. We’re on the roof terrace of G-A-Y in Canal Street here ……….


………… and then on to ‘Via’, where James took the chance to use the massive “throne” chair. Dawn had a splendid time visiting some of her old haunts during the time she was at Manchester University a few years ago and another good weekend celebration was had by all of us!