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Posts Tagged ‘trip’

It’s now early February and I’m nearing the end of my sixty fifth birthday celebrations. After the UK celebrations, I decided I would spend two months in Spain. That time is almost up.

It’s been a fabulous stay, with friends popping in from time to time and a break (a big break) from the UK winter weather.

Following the celebrations at home, we set off on 12th December to stay in the Premier Inn at Heald Green, close to Manchester Airport. We arrived here in Torreblanca on the 13th https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/winter-201617/ and spent the Christmas and New Year period on our own, mainly just Sharon and me. Early on, she took me for a great day out in Malaga, on a food tour https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/malaga-food-tour/ . See also: http://devourmalagafoodtours.com/

We also went for lots of walks. For example: up and down the hill lots of times; to and from Fuengirola, Los Boliches or Torreblanca (quite often!). We also caught the train to Torremolinos and walked back to Benalmadena a couple of times.

I’ve written elsewhere about our walks up and around the hills behind the apartment for exploration. See:

fullsizerender-3Michelle came up from Gibraltar one day before Christmas and we took her up to Mijas before deciding it was too cold up there and coming back down to Los Boliches and eating in Mason Salvador. She came up to see us again early in the New Year and we took her for a day out in Malaga. As in all the subsequent visits (with JT, DT and Tony, as well as with Martin and Lin), we visited the marina, the castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro) and the city itself, sampling some of the places Sharon and I had enjoyed on the food tour.

Sharon had to return to the UK for a couple of weeks on 12th January and while she was away, friends came over and stayed with me.

3-amigosJohn (JT) came out to visit first and we went more or less straight down to Gibraltar to see Michelle (his daughter) and we spent the day there with friends and shopping. Michelle cooked a delightful Pork Fillet Wellington for dinner – splendid.  John’s brother David (DT) came out on the Sunday to stay in 916 and Tony (TT) flew in on the Tuesday; so, there was quite a crossover of friends whilst Sharon was back in the UK. We ‘did’ Malaga again and walked up to Mijas (twice, once with JT and Dt and again then, with TT – we also walked back – which nearly broke me J )

Most evenings we ate out, but one rainy evening, the weather was so bad that we decided to come straight back and ‘eat in’. This was probably the best meal of their stay; we had all sorts of food, DT cooked steak, I cooked Tortilla and we emptied our fridges of other cold foods and salads (and beer).

three-amigos

Sharon arrived back the same day that Lin and Martin arrived to stay with us for a week. During that week, we had trips to Mijas, to Malaga and to Gibraltar where Michelle, again did us proud. She drove us onto The Rock and gave us a magnificent tour, showing us viewing points and time to see the marching re-enactment of the ceremony of the keys. http://www.visitgibraltar.gi/event/re-enactment-association-saturday-march/187. We had a late lunch in La Linea before setting off back before it was too dark.

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So that’s it. All visitors arrived home safely and we depart on Sunday.  Back again soon.

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The Australians set off home again today. I will drive them to the airport shortly.

This will be my seventh trip to Manchester Airport in just over a month – I’ll be there again tomorrow too!

My brother Andrew and his partner Debbie have been with us since June 1st. They came direct from Perth via Dubai and were met with rain. They have endured a month of rain, always noting that back home the temperature is still in the 20’s despite it being winter over there.

They accompanied me on my trip to Glasgow at the beginning of the month and whilst I worked [this is what I did] they visited Luss on Loch Lomond. They visited York and Bridlington one weekend with my other bother Peter and his wife Linda. They liked York (even in the rain) but thought that Brid was dire! Seventeen fish and chip shops on one road apparently! I wouldn’t know, it’s years since I went to Brid.

They also spent a great deal of time with our parents, staying with them occasionally, driving them around sometimes and organising family get-togethers.

But the most memorable part of their stay, for me, was our trip to Spain. [I’m not sure I will ever complete that particular journal]. We were only there for five days but what a five days. We had sunshine, sea, sand, views, trips out to Gibraltar and Ronda – all in all a jolly good time.

It will be sad to see them go, Australia is such a long way away and getting to see them depends on Sharon’s ability to get away from the straightjacket that dictates academic holidays. But we have enjoyed having them with us and look forward to seeing them again – whenever.

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Sharon and I have just completed a long bank holiday weekend break with the delightful Karen Ford and her partner Dave. We started in Whaley Bridge and finished in Nantwich (two places I’d never been before).

Why? Because they are both ardent narrow boaters and they had asked us to share the experience of life on the canal with them.

We’ve both enjoyed it thoroughly, but I have experienced a number of varying emotions en route.

First of all, I’ve always enjoyed camping and after Sharon and I met we moved up from tents to caravans; owning an old four berth at Home Farm in Stillingfleet, near York. We got rid of that some time ago though, because we never found the time to get over to York and our summers seemed to be becoming filled with trips to America. Therefore, the ‘special’ (some might say cramped) canal boat arrangements were not a surprise to us and in some ways – looked forward to!

But life without a road map has confused me completely.

We travelled by train to Whaley Bridge and almost picked up a £1,000 fine. I’d bought an open return from Huddersfield to Manchester and thought I’d buy singles then to Whaley Bridge. However for reasons too mundane to go into here, we arrived in Manchester just as the train was about to pull out. When I asked the conductor for the tickets, I was told that it is now an offence to board a train without a ticket, if where you board is a manned station – a potential £1,000 fine for non compliance. The fact that we would have missed the train by going to the ticket office was no defence, apparently. Anyway, he was a nice ticket collector who only told us that, and didn’t try to get the fine from us there and then.

By now, the rain that had threatened in Huddersfield had set in and there was no sign of Karen and Dave (due to my failure to clarify which hour my “We’ll be there at ‘half-past'” referred!) We eventually met up at began our journey down the Macclesfield Canal to Bollington, where we planned to stay the night. We had a few pints in the Dog and Partridge on Wellington Road there.

On Saturday we passed by Macclesfield and headed for Congleton. On this stage of the journey we had our first experience of working the locks. The weather was mainly ok; overcast and damp with sunny periods just about sums it up, so we were outside most of the time. This energetic outdoor life suited me fine! It’s been a very long time since I’ve been to Congelton and I can’t remember now why or how often I visited there in the dim and distant past, but I think that I’ll visit again, the town had a nice feel to it. Known as ‘Beartown’ http://www.mybeartown.co.uk/ Congleton does indeed boast a number of colourful bear statues around the place – something unique and attractive. The night we were there it also boasted a Jazz and Blues Festival – which was cool. Because of this, we didn’t manage to get any dinner that night but settled for extra beer and cheese and biscuits later back on the boat.

Then came Sunday and a day full of locks! Apparently ‘heartbreak hill’ used to be known as the ‘Cheshire Locks’ and I’m told that there were 28 of them between joining the Trent and Mersey at Kidsgrove and stopping for the night at Wheelock. Until this week, I’d thought that Kidsgrove was near Birmingham so it underlined my growing disorientation – I was sorely missing my map! Furthermore, I was surprised to find that we were only about eight miles from Stock on Trent – totally confusing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trent_and_Mersey_Canal

http://www.canaljunction.com/canal/trent_mersey.htm

http://www.jim-shead.com/waterways/Articles.php?wpage=91

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvT9AvwbgP4Wheelock was like visiting Royston Vasey. One pub was closed and for sale, another was too scary looking to enter as it seemed to be full of Tattsyrups and the third (the nearest) was heaving! It seemed to contain the entire population of the village as they celebrated ‘Cyril’s 40th (sic) birthday’! But they had Bombardier on tap, so we stayed there for a couple before retreating to the boat for a lovely dinner (cooked by Karen), a game of cribbage and a fitful sleep – as the village celebrated Cyril’s fortieth (not sure he wasn’t at least ten years older though) with singing and fireworks right through to the early hours of Monday (3.30am!)

Our journey to Nantwich on Monday was a little easier on the back and arms but took some time to complete. It was still overcast and cloudy as we passed the salt mountains at Middlewich but turned sunny for a while as we turned up the Middlewich arm of the Shropshire Union Canal and headed towards the two hour wait before the lock just after the B5074 Church Minshull to Nantwich road. Nine narrow boats were backed up in front of us and despite help from the Canal Society (they were working the locks and selling marmalade) it still took a while! There was a similar delay at the next lock, but we lost some of the boats in front as they turned up the Llangollen Canal.

Bank Holiday Monday evening in Nantwich was quiet. We had Chinese – a story in itself and a few beers in the Oddfellows Arms on Welsh Row.

We had a train journey home, laced with luck and good connections. There had been plenty of disruption on various networks and someone had jumped on the line at Guide Bridge (Trans Pennine – Manchester) – hence our train from Nantwich was late. However, we walked off of that at Crewe and onto a local train bound for Manchester. We walked off that at Piccadilly and onto a delayed Hull train. I’d thought it was delayed by a few minutes (and therefore still on platform one) but apparently it had been delayed by over an hour! We arrived home no later than originally planned. Excellent.

It has been a wonderful few weeks. Thank you Karen and Dave.

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April has been an absolutely cracking month so far. It started with lots of ‘meeting friends’ and driving to Glasgow (reported on my EduVel blog) and hasn’t yet finished: there’s much more planned. The weather has been unseasonably brilliant.

girl skippingBecause we have Sharon’s mum Pat staying with us until almost the end of May, Steven and Rosie popped up the other weekend to stay with us and to attend the Wake that was planned in Honley for Steven and Sharon’s aunt (Pat’s sister – try to stay with me). Betony joined us for what was a really pleasant afternoon in the sun. No one wanted it to be a morbid affair although many had missed last week’s funeral in Scotland. And it wasn’t.

It was a great pleasure having Steven and Rosie stay with us, but as soon as they had gone Emma and the girls came round for a fabulous afternoon playing in the garden. I’d just cut the grass and hidden some chocolate rabbits in the garden, so we spend some time looking for those, before playing hide-and-seek together. I’m not sure that Charlotte quite gets the ‘hide’ bit, but she loved the ‘seeking’ bit. This was a lovely day.

Then on Thursday last, Maundy Thursday, Martin and Lin came along to stay with us for Easter. We had a few beers at the Commercial in Slaithwaite after they’d arrived before coming home for dinner. On Friday, after a relaxed morning we set off with a picnic for a drive around Holmfirth and Upperthong before returning home and walking up to the Golcar Lily for more beers and dinner.


Beer Train Trip

On Saturday we had planned to meet John and Carol in Slaithwaite before all six of us set off on a day-long train ride. We rode to Stalybridge first of all and then had drinks at the Station Bar (and in town) before catching a train to Greenfield, where we alighted once more – this time to The Railway, just across the road from the station. Its namesake in Marsden was the next to welcome us. Once again this pub is right outside the station and like all of the others we visited, serves a selection of Real Ales – which of course if the real reason behind the trip, although we also ate (after a fashion) here. Next stop was Slaithwaite and The Commercial. Here we met Joanne and Paul with their kiddie Florence. There’s a train from each village every hour. So once we’d caught the 17.04 from Slaithwaite to Huddersfield (our next and final port of call) – we’d been on the go for five an a half hours. In Huddersfield we avoided the two on-platform pubs and visited The Sportsman and The Cherry Tree, before going to Kebabish for a right nice curry.


The following day, we were invited to John and Carol’s for a barbecue, something you can’t usually plan even a day in advance, but the weather held well and we had a brilliant afternoon with all of yesterday’s crowd as well as Debbie and Ian.

Martin and Lin left yesterday and we picked Pat back up from Brighouse where she’d been visiting over Easter.

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