Manchester (10th & 11th August 2010)

I’m just back from a trip back home to Manchester and, once again, I’m struck by just how much I love my home city! This feeling was made even more apparent to me as the main purpose of the trip was to show Joseph just how fantastic good ol’ Manchester is.

Joe told me whilst he was on his round-the-world vacation (which I’m not still jealous over, honest! :P) that he’d never been any further North than Coventry – which came as a bit of a shock to me! Thus it was very quickly decided that we had to introduce him to the land of pies, ale and Corrie once he’d got back.

I had been looking forward to the trip for ages, so it really couldn’t come quickly enough for me, I couldn’t wait to be back home. The mechanics of the whole trip only cost £24 each – and that was for a hotel room and return trains, bargain!

I’d love to say we got up to loads of touristy things that would make you sit on the edge of your seat, but time really did fly by, and to be honest, we were both enjoying each other’s company, so we both felt that it was good to just relax, get away from the stresses and bustle of London without external distractions and stuff. T’was perfect! 😀

Within 30 minutes of us getting in to Manchester, we decided to lunch – and of course I’m a total sucker for Holland’s Cheese and Onion Pies, Chips and Gravy. I ended up dragging Joe around half of Manchester City Centre trying to find a chippy that hadn’t yet gone out of business, and clearly my northern tastes were far too exotic for the poor chap, as he clung onto his highly priced Pret sandwich for dear life! (he’s clearly a bit of a soft Southerner at times heh!). When I did manage to get him to at least try a chip with a little bit of gravy on it, he screwed his face up much in the same way as he did when I took him for a gin once at Yard Bar and he sat there forcing himself to drink it and kept trying to pretend he liked it heh! Bless him! 😀

We had tea at Strada Spinningfields on the Tuesday night – which was delicious. I should confess at this point, I had the same meal as I had on my birthday…. which was also the same meal that I had seven days earlier when I went to lunch with my friend Andrew on a trip into Kingston, ha! I think we all would agree that the exact same meal three times in ten days is a little extreme, right? 😛

After Strada, we headed off to Cloud 23 – which is based in Beetham Tower / the Hilton Hotel – and has some truly spectacular views over the Manchester skyline. I managed to conquer my fear of heights temporarily (ok, so I reckon that the absolutely gorgeous but thoroughly lethal threesome of ‘Northern Lights’ cocktails that Joe and I shared may have been what actually conquered this fear heh!), and we had a seat on the window, overlooking all of South Manchester – which is where I was born/brought up. Perfect!

The only surreal thing about Cloud 23 were the gents toilets – I have never urinated to such a fantastic view before! The entire side wall of the bathroom was a huge glass panel and I really had to make sure I kept my concentration until I’d finished heh! Hopefully there was nobody on the ground or looking out of their window and using binoculars or anything 😉

Once we’d finished our cocktails, we headed into the Village and I introduced Joe to the wonders that are the £1 shooters at Baa Bar!

Managed to talk him into trying my favourite of them all, a Traffic Light, without realising that they taste heavily of banana, which isn’t a taste that he particularly likes heh. I felt guilty for a good 5 minutes, which is quite a long time for me to feel that way heh!

Via Fosse was, of course, a must – every visiting gay surely gets taken here, usually whilst still moderately sober, so that we can show off a little, right? A round of two Strongbow Extra Cold for £5.80? YES PLEASE! We also headed up to Queer for a very quick one as they were closing by the time we got there (midnight), and we’d missed the ‘Trannyoke’ – much to Joseph’s dismay, I’m sure heh!

Poptastic was the plan for ending the night, and my first time doing it in several years – I used to work there about 6/7 years ago, and it’s so reassuring to see that so little has changed! I had pegged Joe as being one for wanting to be spending the whole night in the Indie room (which, to be fair, I do quite like as well), however I was chuft to find that he wanted to stay in the Pop room and seemed to know the words to so many songs that I didn’t think he’d ever know (ha!). I’d not been dancing in so so long, it was such a euphoric feeling at times, I loved it! I had wanted to stay for the obligatory Christmas song that always gets played, accompanied by fake snow, however we were both rather tired and happily left around 2am. (Of course, I sang Christmas songs all the way back to the hotel to compensate, heh!)

On Wednesday morning we had a lie in, which was marvellous, as I’d not had a proper lie in for weeks! For a late breakfast / lunch we went over to Greggs, and Joe promptly spent the rest of the day exclaiming at just how many branches of Greggs we have in Manchester heh! (we counted around 9 in a square mile heh). I always love watching people exclaim at how cheap things are in Manchester, but this time the joke was on me – I made the Greggs woman add it up again as I was so sure she’d undercharged me for my order, ha!

Thanks to common interests, I finally got to go see the John Ryland’s Library over on Deansgate – I’d been once as a schoolie, but had not been as an adult, and so not since the huge refurb they did a few years ago. So glad we went, the architecture of the building was amazing!

Joe and I also went over to peruse the Museum of Science and Industry for a bit – I was slightly dismayed to find much of it to be closed whilst they were renovating some of the spaces, however we managed to see the Air and Space Hall, the Gasworks/Sewers and the Power Hall – so the better bits anyway! That must have been my 4th visit this year!

The afternoon was rounded off by tea at Via Fosse – I was greedy and over-faced myself with a huge mixed grill – and was very thankful when Joseph followed suit, which made me feel a little better heh. I do like eating there, even though it’s all corporate chain food.

All in all, a really fantastic and memorable trip, I had such good fun and it was great to spend so much time with Joseph! We didn’t argue even once, despite our best efforts to try to simulate a ‘play’ one between us heh – he’s genuinely just too lovely to argue!

As always with me, there’s a song that I will probably associate with this trip, and this time it’s Carla Bruni – Quelqu’un m’a dit:

Of course, this is in no way due to the slightly depressing subject matter of the song, but just because it’s such a beautiful and lazy melody and if you were to watch elements of the trip on a movie, this is probably the sort of lovely arty melody that they’d play over it! Came on whilst I was having a shower on Wednesday morning and it clicked with how I was feeling and whatnot 🙂

I’m going back up to Manchester in two weeks, this time for a longer period (5 days, Bank Holiday weekend), and so if anyone’s going to be around the City Centre, do please look me up / ask for the dates I’m around!

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About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

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