Thursday, 19 October 2017

A Very Busy Couple of Weeks!


A short while back we went “over the river” (the R. Erwell) to neighbouring Salford to pay our respects at the funeral of actress Liz Dawn who played the invincible Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street. The press were out in force to cover the event but there was also a nice group of well-wishers in attendance. Very kindly, we were invited to join the family, friends and the many members of the cast in the Catholic Cathedral for the service. We declined the invitation with thanks though.


The next day we packed our bags and, from Leeds airport, took the four hour flight to Gran Canaria for a few days of sunshine and partying. Our transit from the airport to Playa del Inglis took us alongside some very barren but beautiful countryside.


The countryside soon made way for four or five days of “pool-parties” – which is a great excuse for keeping the body hydration up due to the hot weather. And for meeting up with friends of course!


The first party was Ricky’s Pool Party and, as Ricky’s bar is a famous drag / show bar in the Yumbo Centre, there was a lot of glamour around!


We were entertained by a number of drag artists during the afternoon and one of our favourites has to be Myra Dubois. ‘Myra’ likes to mingle with the crowd during her performance – something we had recently experienced ourselves when she appeared at Manchester’s Eagle Bar “Sunday Service”!


Two Manchester friends, Dean and Dan, were also out for the week long party and we met up with, and enjoyed their company, several times while we were there. Here we are at Ricky’s pool party – James, Doug, Dean (one of the acts without his wig!) and Dan.


Here’s Doug, with Dean, cooling off and “swanning around” as usual!


We enjoyed several more great pool parties but sadly the sunshine was rather absent!  A thick cloud of dust and sand particles, called a Calima, headed across from the Sahara and kept us company for last couple of days of our stay. 


Although blocking out the sunshine the Calima actually increased the heat to an almost suffocating degree and so the best thing for it was to stop and replenish the fluid levels!


On our penultimate night (night time partying starts from 11pm and day time partying starts at 1 o’ clock) we managed to briefly meet up with “the award winning, as seen on TV” Myra Dubois before her cabaret performance at Ricky’s bar ………..


……. where her performance went on so long (she herself described it as more of a prison sentence than a show!) but ended, eventually, with her noisy and deliberately shambolic portrayal of wicked!


Well, our wonderful but exhausting five days in Gran Canaria went very quickly and back in Manchester again we received a lovely invitation by canal friends Geoff and Mags to join them on their narrow boat “Seyella” for a cruise from Sale into Manchester. After enjoying coffee and croissants on board Geoff invited James to take the tiller for the two hour trip. Here we are having turned right at Waters Meeting and just passing Manchester United’s home ground at Old Trafford. 


Geoff with James (who hadn’t lost his touch with the tiller) ……….


……… and “us two”.


All too soon James brought “Seyella” safely into Castlefield basin where Geoff took over ……..


…….. for the mooring up.

32db8e95-2a36-47df-8e1f-88c85f7b4108 Geoff and Mags laid on a wonderful lunch of quiche, meats and salad and we all enjoyed the bubbly which we’d brought with us, and as always we had as many laughs as we could fit in the time!  Here’s Mags and James – what a brilliant pic!


We have to thank Geoff and Mags for the lovely cruise with great food and company. So lovely to see these people again.


Oh, and of course, we can’t leave out the gorgeous Meg – Bearded Collie and “captain” of the ship.


And while we were busy mooring up and having lunch our ‘friend’ from Gran Canaria, the Calima dust storm, had followed us home and was now keeping us company in Manchester!


Our next adventure took us to Westhoughton near Wigan at the invitation of friends Peter and Margaret to join them at home. They met us at the railway station and took us on a short guided tour of the village. The “town hall”, built in 1903 is a wondrous work of art in red brick and terracotta.


Also in the town is a poignant and heart breaking memorial to the Pretoria Pit Disaster at the nearby Hulton Colliery where an explosion took the lives of 344 miners on 21st December 1910 (3 days before Christmas!). 171 men are buried in the churchyard at Westhoughton and the others in various other churchyards and burial grounds locally. 


On a lighter note we arrived at Peter and Margaret’s lovely home to an afternoon of chatter, laughter and nibbles - all washed down by a good quantity of bubbly!


Time goes very fast when your enjoying yourself and soon it was time to walk into town to a delightful Chinese restaurant where there was a lot more chat and laughter. Afterwards Peter and Margaret walked us back to the station for the train home.

We have to say a big ‘thank you’ to P and M for their wonderful hospitality and for a fascinating insight into their local and family history.


Hot on the heels of our day in Westhoughton was a long planned visit to Manchester’s Palace theatre to see Joe McElderry in “Joseph”. We went with friend Sebastian who’s well on his own way to a career in acting and directing. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance and the stunning vocal performance of Joe McElderry.


At something like forty year’s old the show still enjoys enormous popularity.


After the show we held back at the stage door for a quick photo with Joe.


We met him briefly about four years ago in London and he’s still the same friendly bubbly guy who’s very happy to meet “his public”.

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Fleeting Visit to Cork.

As Doug was on the mend we decided to take a short sharp trip over to Cork in Ireland to visit his sister Dawn and her family. After the 50 minute flight from Liverpool to Cork it was predictably vey wet for the rest of our first day.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.39

However, the next day dawned bright and sunny and, as we weren’t scheduled to meet up with Doug’s sister until mid afternoon, we took the ferry across the river from Passage West, which was close to where we were staying, as it was the quick way to get to Cobh, which is Cork’s sea port.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.40

Cobh is famous for being the last port from which the Titanic sailed on it’s maiden, and ill-fated, voyage to the USA. The imposing Commodore Hotel here at Cobh was chosen by many of the First Class passengers for their overnight stay before embarkation the next day.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.44

The charming town of Cobh is dominated by the enormous St Colman’s cathedral.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.48

If you go to Cobh you have to visit the excellent Titanic Exhibition housed in the original White Star office building.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.49

The room which houses the main exhibition is quite small but cleverly done. There are many facts, photos and illustrations but the best is a video, of the most superb quality, showing parts of the ship on the seabed. The detail is amazing and it feels as if you’re there swimming around the wreck yourself.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.50

The other part of the experience is very well presented tour around the White Star building visiting several “sets” showing what life was like aboard the ship. We were taken outside to the balcony where the first class passengers could stand and look down at the third class people on the quayside below. Beyond the quay is the original White Star jetty from where thousands left to start afresh in the New World. It was known as “heartbreak quay” because so many people had to say farewell to loves ones who they’d never see again.  

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.54

The reconstruction of some of the ship’s interiors was very well done. This is one of the cheaper First Class cabins. Although the ship provided much better Third Class accommodation than previous liners, there were still only two bathtubs for all the Third Class passengers (roughly 700).

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.56

A view of the original White Star office building housing the Titanic Exhibition. 123 people left from here in April 1912 most of whom were Third Class passengers, and of those, 79 perished.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.57

Something we hadn’t realised was that “Titanic” didn’t actually leave from quayside at Cobh (called Queenstown at the time) but was anchored some distance away off Roches Point. Passengers had to be tendered quite some distance out to the ship.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.04.59

This is the view across Cork Harbour (with Spike Island in the middle) from the high vantage point of St Colman’s cathedral. The harbour is said to be the second biggest natural harbour in the world – the biggest being Sidney, Australia.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.04

Queenstown is also famous for being the main landing place for the survivors of the “Lusitania” which sank off the coast of Kinsale on May 7th 1915 after being torpedoed by a German U- boat during WW I. This striking monument remembers those who perished.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.01

James had just enough time to climb the steps to St Colman’s cathedral for a quick look around before we had to head back to meet up with Doug’s sister Dawn.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.07

Back in Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’ by the way) we met up with Dawn and family and visited the English Market ……..

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.08

…. where there was seemingly everything edible available for sale.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.13

As a vegetarian James was still interested in things that were ‘out of bounds’ for him!  ……….

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.14

………. even if some were presented rather dramatically!

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.15

After the market it was time to visit a lovely old watering hole down one of the many little alleys in Cork.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.16

The inside of which was dark and wonderfully atmospheric.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.17 (1)

On Saturday we met up with Dawn and family in the charming little town of Kinsale.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.17 (2)

Some lovely architecture can be seen around the town …..

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.18 (2)WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.18

…… but it’s beauty is mostly in the colourful presentation of the buildings.

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.19

The harbour is pretty as well, even in the rain! This side of the wall is the footpath - although it looks like an extension of the harbour!

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.18 (1)

Even some of the shops pay tribute to the weather!

WhatsApp Image 2017-10-04 at 12.05.17

This doesn’t quite show how vivid this double rainbow was but, despite the amount of water which fell from the sky while were there, we enjoyed our short visit ……..


……… and very much enjoyed the time we spent with Dawn and Connor and family.


After the short flight back from Cork, and a train ride from Liverpool airport, we arrived back “home” in Manchester in time to catch up with two lovely boaty friends, Russell and …………


……. Julie who were visiting Manchester on their narrow boat “Nauti Lass”. We last saw them two years previously in Gas Street Basin, Birmingham.


We met up twice over two days and finished the occasion by having a grand time in Zizzi. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we had with them and hope it’s not as long until our next meet-up.


Our latest excursion has been to nearby Chorley where we met up with our Lake District friends Pam ………..


…….. and Geoff. The four of us usually meet up at each other’s homes but, on this occasion, we chose to meet for lunch in the middle at a splendid establishment called “The Retreat” in Adlington close to Chorley.


The Retreat is a converted 19th century chapel, formally an Indian restaurant but refurbished, in 2016 at a cost of £1/2 million, into a very nice traditional English restaurant. We enjoyed excellent food, excellent service and, of course, excellent company. We spent a delicious four hours in Pam and Geoff’s company (yet again!) and we shall certainly be returning to The Retreat. Thanks, as always, P & G for your company.