I thought that I would finish off my little mini series of UK trip posts with part 6.
I had hoped to blog during my trip but I was way too busy having too good a time! I did Instagram some photos so I suppose these last few blog posts have been about putting some words to the images.
So my final destination was a couple of nights with friends in Manchester.
If you read Part 5 and wondered about the answer to the last question - I did take a slight wrong turn off the M60 and was on the way to Chester via the M56! I do it every single time! I even recognised the little side road to do a u-turn to get back onto the right motorway.
Anyway, I pulled up within five minutes of when I planned to be there and was greeted by three little furry faces and waggy tails. Little Murphy was a welcome sight as he is now quite an old chappie and just keeps hanging on....and on....!
Those teeny tiny little legs now need a bit of help to get up the steps from the garden and it was a comical sight watching him stagger up the ramp. Amber got a little impatient with his doddery approach and would push him out of the way just as he got to the top. Keep going Murphy!
My first evening turned into a late night and I eventually had to drag myself away from the kitchen table. What an absolute pleasure it was to just sit and talk with old friends. Sometimes the simplest things give the greatest joy. There was a lot of sitting and talking and catching up on this trip.
I know that my last blog posts have been a bit repetitive with the story of - "went here, went there, ate, drank and caught up with family and friends", but that's what I did! I completely indulged in it and it was wonderful!
I felt extremely grateful that I could take the time out to travel, to be there with my mum for her birthday and then have the luxury of some 'me' time to do as I pleased. How often does that happen....?
When I originally thought about this trip I toyed with the idea for quite a while. Mum's birthday didn't tie in with school holidays so I had to make a decision whether to visit for the actual date or just sometime during the year. The longest that I had been away from Sibs in almost thirteen years was 4 nights. How would I ever manage 4 weeks?
After quite a bit of deliberation I made the decision that I wanted to be there for the actual birthday and consequently this meant a solo trip. I had to work through my own mother guilt (it took a bit of time...) to eventually feel OK before I could then concentrate on getting a bit excited.
I was excited to rediscover a little bit of independence and to get another glimpse of the person hiding behind mother, wife and worker.
I did find her, and I even quite enjoyed her company!
The morning after the late night around the kitchen table enjoying the best prawn risotto ever, I left the car and took myself off on the tram from the suburbs into the city of Manchester for a day of being a tourist. It was a bit of a contrast from the rolling Yorkshire Dales of the day before and there were lots of people and they all seemed to know where they were going and wanted to get there fast!
First stop for me was a coffee shop with free wifi where I tried to Facetime Australia. I say 'try' as there was so much noise and bustle that I was quite conscious that I was shouting into my phone. It wasn't a great look....
I pottered around the shops - some pretty fancy ones too. I also took my own advice whenever I'm in a city and kept looking up above the shop fronts.
Walking between Harvey Nichols and Selfridges I spotted this beauty to my left. The Old Wellington Inn is the oldest building of its kind in Manchester having been built in 1552. Apparently the writer John Byrom was born there. The Inn was sadly damaged during the Manchester bombing in 1996 and repaired and re-opened the following year. Now I don't see anything like that in Brisbane!
After a bit of retail therapy I indulged in some culture and mooched around the Art Gallery. Again, I often find that I love the buildings as much as the artwork and Manchester Art Gallery was no exception.
After a full day it was off to a real pub for a quick drink before a meal at a local restaurant. (Yes, more eating and talking.)
The next day I took a walk around Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens and had a look at the Parsonage. There were some cute cottages with pretty flowers in the front gardens and around the doorways and I felt that I was walking through a Jane Austen novel. I hope they didn't mind me photographing.
I have written before about that feeling of disconnection when you first live away from familiar surroundings. (HERE) I don't think those feelings ever entirely go away. It does help that I am able to travel back home and re-visit all those important places and people though.
I guess it makes me realise that I've reached a point of understanding and acceptance and stopped trying to associate with just one place in the world.
I have two anchor points in different hemispheres.
On my first night home in Australia I opened a message from one of my oldest and dearest friends.
"Glad you're home safe. Whichever side of the world you are, there are those on the other side who miss you."
I have to write it in its original form as it sounds so beautiful in Welsh.
"Falch bo ti gatre'n saff. Pa bynnag ochr o'r byd wyt ti, ma rhai ar yr ochr arall yn gweld dy ishe"
I will admit to welling up when I read it. Having these two places I can call home does have its advantages but boy can it also mess with my head!
I'm already saving up for the next trip!