10.12.22 — Journal

A Week of Theatre

As I alluded to a couple of posts back, I’ve just had a rather busy but lovely week. After work last Friday I had a quick chat with Pedro, packed my bags, and then headed up to Madrid Airport to catch my habitual flight back to Manchester.

The main purpose of this weeklong trip we will come to shortly, but the working week was an odd affair in Spain. Thanks to a couple of national holidays I had both Tuesday and Thursday off, meaning I’d have to work on Monday, Wednesday, and then Friday. Quite a strange one!

After getting rather confused and telling my mum that I was arriving at 10:30pm and my dad that I was arriving at 00:30am, I eventually landed bang in between the two times I’d quoted at 11:30pm. We headed home and I got a decent night’s sleep in to kick off the weekend.

It was very nice to be back in the green room that I designed as a teenager.

On Saturday I headed over to Bradford to visit my grandparents, after which we headed back home for a roast dinner with beef and homemade Yorkshire puddings that my mum had confected for the occasion. It was all rather delicious, but the Yorkshires were definitely the star of the show!

The next day I headed into the centre of Burnley for lunch and a catch up with Abi and Danni. We headed to Ellis’, an American-style burger joint located in what once was a pub that we used to go drinking in quite a lot in our student years. It was quite odd to be sat having a civilised meal in a place I’d before associated with tipsy cocktails before hitting the clubs!

Not wanting to break tradition, I ordered a bright and fruity cocktail as I waited for Abi and Danni to arrive. Yes, the tables had turned, and I was the one who showed up on time for once! Once they arrived, we ordered some food and enjoyed some lovely burgers and sides.

The next day I was back at work from the cozy warmth of our back room. Once I’d finished at about 5pm, I changed into something a bit nicer than my dressing gown and Amber came to whisk me off for a few hours together. We headed up to a local gastropub and had a catch up over a lovely evening meal.

Amber looking cheeky and festive before all the shenanigans began…

Of course it wouldn’t be a meet-up between me and Amber without some drama. This came when I first ordered a vermouth, something that they weren’t sure if they had in. I ended up having to explain how to make a martini, which I then didn’t enjoy as I was complaining about the olives. They just weren’t the same as the ones from Mercadona!

I also caused further confusion when I asked for some olive oil for my starter and then requested that the two flavours of ice cream I ordered for dessert didn’t touch each other on the plate. They wound up bringing me them in two separate glasses and it looked like I’d ordered two desserts: what a nightmare!

We had a great laugh, and I left a nice tip for all the confusion I’d caused. I forgot which friend it was that made the observation, but it is true that I very rarely order something straight off the menu. Nightmare, so I am.

The next day I was back working from home, after which we’d another evening activity organised. My mum, dad, and I prepped the car and then drove over to Todmorden, where we visited the Gordon Rigg garden centre to buy our Christmas tree. I also wanted to have a snoop around their festive displays, in particularly the room where they always set up their huge selection of decorative Christmas lighting. It’s something I’ve always loved doing since I was a child: it’s not Christmas without a snoop around Gordon Rigg’s!

The business of choosing a Christmas tree – which can often be a drawn-out affair as me and my mum search for the perfect height, girth, and fullness of branches – took a matter of seconds this year. Heading into the outdoor area where the trees are displayed, my dad grabbed one that he liked the look of. This caused the tree next to it to fall right on top of me, and I jokingly remarked that instead of me choosing the tree this time, it had chosen me. We then had a good look at the fallen tree, decided that it was actually rather nice, and reserved it to take home later.

It couldn’t have been easier!

The next day I was up and out early in the morning, as me and my mum headed back over to Todmorden. This time we headed to the train station, where we picked Ellie up ready for our day together as a family. Outside of the Christmas period, the four of us very rarely have the opportunity to meet up all together.

The reason for our meeting was a rather special one and the reason for my visit in the first place: we were off to see The Lion King: The Musical! Me and Ellie had bought my mum and dad tickets to see it for last year’s Christmas, so it’d been almost a year of waiting, but the big day was finally here.

We headed off to Manchester around midday, heading first to the Christmas markets and then for a spot of present shopping. We had a good wander around Affleck’s Palace, an awesome old mill full of kooky independent shops that my dad has taken me and my sister to visit many times over the years.

Sometimes I think Manchester is ugly, but it has its charm.

With many floors of all sorts of second-hand wares and weird and wonderful things to see, I wound up losing the three of them. Once I’d seen all I wanted to and made a few purchases I knew exactly where to find them though: up in the top-floor restaurant munching on some of their legendary chip butties!

The views from Affleck’s Palace were nice in the afternoon sun.

From Affleck’s, we walked further into the Northern Quarter, Manchester’s cool independent district and my favourite part of this great city. We payed a trip to Fred Aldous, a stationary and arts supply shop that’s been going for years and where my dad wanted to recreate an old photo of me and Ellie.

We saw some funky coloured posts in the Northern Quarter.

We’d eventually to head back towards the centre of Manchester and to San Carlo’s, a fancy Italian restaurant that mum had booked us all in to have a meal together. She was calling it an early tea, but I saw it more as a late lunch. Either way, it was a lovely meal of a lovely prawn starter and then some fresh pasta.

Dad and Ellie opted for some desserts, but I was more than happy to grab some Cadbury Orange Chocolate Buttons as a sweet snack on my way to the theatre. That I did as we were arriving at the Palace Theatre, where we eventually took our seats and waited for the show to begin!

Mum and Ellie had seen the show before and so had advised us that the opening with the “Circle of Life” was an emotional rollercoaster. I still wasn’t prepared for how impactful it was, though. It really set the tone for the rest of the piece, which was a fabulous spectacle of puppetry, singing, and dancing!

With the show over we headed home in the bitter cold of the Manchester evening. It had been a lovely day in Manchester as a family and well worth the logistical nightmare of getting us all together. I’d come in from Spain and Ellie had taken a complex train journey up north from the middle of nowhere in the south of England where she’s currently working on her PhD placement.

The next day I had another day off, so me and mum headed down to Crowwood, the local gym and leisure centre that she’s a member of. She’d got a pass for me to join her for the morning, so I headed into the pool and swam lengths for half an hour. I may have missed my lessons this week, but I was determined to do at least a bit of swimming!

From there, I headed out for lunch with Karen, the creative director of Burnley Youth Theatre, the place I used to work and where I took my first steps in the design world. We had a lovely catch up after all these years, and I then accompanied her to the theatre itself to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening.

In a stroke of sheer luck, I’d chosen to go on the day of the VIP preview of the Christmas show, which meant that lots of ex staff members had come back for the day to see the biggest event of the Burnley Youth Theatre annual calendar. I had a great time catching up with everyone and the Christmas show was an absolute hoot!

If you’re in or around Burnley, I’d definitely recommend going to see the Wizard of Oz. The show has been specially rewritten and reinterpreted for and by young people, and I guarantee you’ve never has so much fun whilst navigating the Emerald City. You can get tickets here!

Friday soon came around and I was back to work again, but this time I finished at 2pm UK time and my crazy afternoon was just about to begin. I packed my bag, headed out the house, and began my long journey over to Leeds. This begun with a walk though the countryside which surrounds my house and up to a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. It was a pleasant if cool walk, and I wound up meeting some rather friendly sheep along the way!

I eventually made it to the bus stop and made the journey over to Todmorden, where I then changed to a train and made the last leg of the journey over to Leeds. There, I met up with Danni for tea and to head to the Leeds Playhouse. I’d yet another piece of musical theatre to see, you see, this time being Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

It was –3°C when I arrived in Todmorden and I was not happy.

This Roald Dahl classic is one of my all-time favourite stories, so I was very excited to finally get the chance see it live on stage. Needless to say that it didn’t disappoint one bit, with a great cast and some fabulous visual effects telling the funky albeit somewhat dark story of Willy Wonka and the five children.

Once the show had ended, I accompanied Danni to the train station and grabbed myself a taxi up to Em and Lincoln’s place. I arrived there quite late, so we had a quick catch up before we were all wilting and very ready for bed. It was great to catch them even just for a few hours after their wedding just a couple of months ago.

The next day we woke up, took their dog Lando out for a walk, and then headed down into the centre of Horsforth for breakfast. We had an absolutely lovely meal. I tried a rather fancy hot chocolate and some equally fancy poached eggs, but it was all over way too soon as I’d to bid them farewell amongst the news that Manchester Airport had closed both of its runways due to the sudden heavy snowfall.

These poached eggs with bacon and black pudding were glorious.

This brings me to the here and now. I’m currently sat in my usual sport in Terminal 3 of the airport, waiting patiently for my delayed flight to be assigned a gate. I’ve kept a cool head about it all, though – I’m just happy that it hasn’t been straight up cancelled after all the chaos this morning courtesy of the unpredictable British winter weather!

I’m sure I’ll be publishing this now back in my cozy flat in Madrid, but for now I leave you with the dulcet sounds of some screaming children that have done nothing but drag themselves across the floor and throw themselves headfirst into the windows. I really should have brought my noise-cancelling headphones over with me…