Living It Up In Manchester

Trip Start Feb 21, 2006
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16
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Trip End Jul 20, 2006


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Friday, March 31, 2006

Hey All,

We made it back into Manchester, even after a little struggle with missing a train and then getting lost. Missing the train was apparently my fault, because I didn't tell Ami that her watch was slow, I'm not too sure how that works, but I just laughed when Ami said it. I think its the lifetime rule for men, women are never wrong and if they are its your fault. We eventually made it back to Phil and Chris' to pick up our packs, after walking in the rain for about 40 minutes. We were going to stay with Wayne my Cousin, my Dad and Wayne pretty much grew up together. Wayne lives in an area south of Manchester called Cheshire, near Knutsford, its a beautiful area all, traditional English country side. With lots of very large and old estates where the nobility have frolicked, played and ridden their horse's for hundred's of years. Their house is called the "Garden House" of the Tabley estate, there is a website with the history of the estate: http://www.tableyhouse.co.uk/. They have 8 acres here and there must be hundred and hundred as part of the estate, including 2 lakes. Every year they hold a big professional horse race here; yes the gardens are big enough to accommodate an event of that size, its on a week after we leave so unfortunately we will miss it.

It's incredibly peaceful, relaxing and spiritual at their house, well that's as long as the kids are asleep. When they are awake there is always something going on, but their kids are great. Leilia is 9, I have actually met her before about 8 and a half years ago, but we were both too young to remember it. She can be incredibly mature for her age, some time I think she must be 14 or 15, but she is still 9 at heart. Although she is incredibly good at thumb wars (For those who don't know the game you are missing out), I am still yet to win. If you look at some of the photos that Hugo has taken of her she looks almost 20. Then there is Hugo a cute little 5 year old who says he is turning 10 next year as well, he cant be outdone by his sister. He also likes older girls, apparently his current girlfriend is in the same year as Leilia. Both Hugo and Leilia are the same in that they talk like an adult, I didn't know a 5 year old could hold that much of a conversation. They are both great fun, but get them together and they have an incredible amount of energy. One day were mucking around playing at the house, for a good two hours, followed by lunch in Knutsfrord, then we went to Tatton Park (http://www.tattonpark.org.uk/attract_home.htm), which as about 1000 acres, we had them running around the park for a good hour and a half. Back to the house for another half an hour, by that stage I was exhausted but they were still going, I ended up falling asleep on the couch while the kids were playing a game, they tried to wake me but I was out like a light. I have no idea how Claire can keep up with them everyday, Claire calls it her daily exercise because she is going all day, I certainly don't think I can keep up with them, you need an incredible energy level. I have new respect for my parents and for everybody who has had kids, and have also increased the time I would consider having them to at least 15 years....

When we arrived in Manchester were lucky enough to be picked up from our house in Manchester by Waynes PA, Camila, and taken to their house. We met up with Wayne and Claire then went out to dinner, to a local Italian restaurant in Knusford, it's a small quaint town however it has about 50 great restaurants, so Wayne and Claire love it. Wayne also has his local pub in Knutford, the White Bear, its within walking distance of their house great for a night out. We had a great time at dinner, with Claire and I hitting the wine. Back home, we sat up chatting, and another bottle of wine....You may think by looking at the photo's that Wayne is raving mad with his new replica gun and cross-bow, but its not the case. They are just the only photos that I took that night. Wayne had just recently found a SA80 replica. It's the rifle used by the British services, he is incredibly proud of his purchase, it only fires BB pellets but it still looks and feels like the real thing, if someone ran at you with it you would probably shit yourself and run away. It was at some point after these photos were taken that I probably had a little too much to drink, and strated telling dirty joke and highly embarrassing stories about myself. Consequently, I am sure that Wayne and Claire know far more than they would like to about me, but hey they are family so anything goes. They will now just be able to rib me forever, it's a model way of meeting your relatives for the first time as an Adult, get hilariously drunk and tell them dirty stories....

The next day we spent relaxing and exploring the local area, I went out for a drive to Macclesfield in the car that Wayne had lent me. Nothing less than a Range Rover, it had sat nav which was a lifesaver, otherwise I would still be driving around the English countryside. Later that night, Claire walk in the conservatory and told Ami and I that we were going to see Man United tonight. 15 minutes later another 2 of my relatives had shown up and we had to run around to get ready, literally, we didn't realise that when Claire said we were going to the football in meant....Now. Wayne's company has a Box at the United Ground, and we are incredibly lucky to see a match as 99.9% of all United supporters have never seen them live. We went with Graeme Spencer and Gary Bardsley, Michael's son and their respective partners. We had a great time, United were playing West Ham, not an especially strong team. However, it was still great to see the game, you aren't aloud to drink when the game is in progress, and as we arrived just as the game was starting, we missed the pre game drink and dinner. Gary knowing we were going to be a bit late, snuck a flask of Vodka in to the Box, so we were drinking Vodka and Coke for the first half.

I had actually sat in the same box about 8 and a half years earlier, the last time I had been in England, with my Dad and Uncle Roland. I saw a United and Chelsea match, and it was surreal to be back because its one of those incredible vivid memories that I have from my last trip. It was amazing that the area hadn't changed at all the box was almost identical, at the end of the first half we left the box to pick up our drinks. As the people in the stadium can't drink, we have to go to a bar out the back to drink at half time, there was still 2 minutes to go in the game, and as we picked up our drinks Rudd Van Nistelrooy scored. It turned out to be the only goal in the game, which we missed because we were getting a drink, still saw it on the TV. It was a great time, but I was exhausted after such a big day and I fell asleep on the way home in the car, which was a slight problem because I was on the only one who knew how to get back to Wayne's house. So every now and again I woke up and said were going the right way, I have no idea if we were but we arrived home safely.

We had a great time staying with Wayne and Claire, they are incredibly down to earth and genuine, with a little bit of eccentricity thrown in to keep things interesting and off centre. They have a beautiful family and they really enjoy life. It was great to stay with them and I really have to thank both Wayne and Claire for their hospitality, it will be a highlight of my trip.

Mal
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