09.05.18 — Travel

Liverpool, Leeds & London

So now that I am back in Madrid and one year older, I bring you this update on how my life as a 23-year-old kicked off! As I mentioned last week, I did have big birthday plans, and so I have just returned from a whistle-stop six-day tour of England! Before leaving, I had a nice little birthday send-off at work, as we all clubbed together to buy food and beers for an aperitivo, after which I was eased into my return to England with a sudden downpour…

A hearty lunch
After the downpour

Anyway, enough with the preamble – let’s get straight to the hectic six days I spent back in the motherland!

After a frantic morning moving through Madrid, I landed at Manchester Airport before I could even catch a breath. I headed outside only to be greeted rather nonchalantly by my mum, who didn’t even bother to look up from the text she was writing! Whoever received that message should feel rather humbled, you are clearly more important than a son who lives thousands of miles away…

All joking aside though, it was lovely to see my family again, and especially lovely that I had been brought a bag full of snacks and throat spray (I had woken up with a nagging sore throat which plagued the trip, but enough of that.) After no time at all driving and catching up, we arrived in Burnley and headed straight for item number one on my agenda: going to see my grandma.

We had to leave her all too soon though, as me and my mum had a joint hair appointment, after which she dropped me off at Burnley Youth Theatre so I could be reunited with my ex-colleagues. It was lovely to see everyone there again, and a little bizarre to be back in my old office less than 24 hours after leaving my new one at Erretres!

Once I’d worked up an appetite, I hitched a ride with Bam, who dropped me back off at home for part of the trip I’d been looking forward to more than I probably should have: mum’s cottage pie. After I inhaled the delicious meal, I stopped for a chat and a quick gin and tonic before heading to bed for a relatively early night, as the next day I had an equally busy plan lined up.

The cottage pie to end all cottage pies

The morning after I was up (relatively) bright an early and in the car with my friend Abi for a trip to the lovely city of Liverpool, which I last visited with Kevin quite a while ago last year. Once we’d arrived, we met up with my sister Ellie, who I’d arranged to meet in Liverpool as she’s currently at university in Sheffield. I think in organising myself and everyone else for this trip I got a taste of what it’s like to be a mother!

Nice street art in Liverpool

Once we were all reunited, we headed to one of my favourite areas, Bold Street, and settled in a little café for a slap-up lunch of sandwiches and bottomless chips – a deal not to be sniffed at! It was a delicious start to the trip, and as the weather was holding out quite nicely, afterwards we sauntered down to the docks for a while.

A delicious lunch
Ellie loves avocado

My sister really is a big fan of avocado.

Down at the docks

Once down there we had a wander along the riverside, passing plenty of kooky street food places along the way. After a quick trip to see the Liver Building, we (perhaps inevitably) found ourselves in a bar for a cheeky 2-for-1 cocktail deal.

Increasing levels of Britishness
Drinks with Ellie and Abi

All too soon we had to leave the docks and head back into the city as Ellie had to catch her train, but that didn’t stop us all from grabbing some delicious waffles along the way! Once I’d waved Ellie off at the train station, me and Abi headed back to Burnley, where I had to endure the obligatory rendition of “happy birthday to you” before we all treated ourselves to a slice of chocolate cake.

Approaching the train station in Liverpool

The next day I was once again on the move, this time to visit all my university friends across the border in Leeds. Before I waved my mum and dad off at the train station, however, there was one more thing on my list of must-eats which we hadn’t squeezed in: fish and chips. For this there was only one place which would suffice, Grandma Pollard’s in Todmorden, where I enjoyed mine with a side of mushy peas – I seem to have developed an addiction after years of being indifferent to them as a child…

A delicious British feast

I arrived in Leeds quite late, and so made a quick visit to my friends’ house to drop off my bag, as Em and Lincoln had been so gracious as to put me up for the two nights I spent there. After another rushed taxi journey to the city centre, I was soon once again reunited with (almost) the entire graphics gang!

Back at our usual haunt

As per tradition, we soon found ourselves having a drink or two at Belgrave, catching up and joking around as we always did – even through the stresses and trials of our final year of university. The general consensus was that even though we had a lovely time at university, we were all pretty glad to be free of it and in the big bad world of adult living.

Because we’re all now living in said adult world, none of us could really stay out late as everyone had to work the next day – everyone except me. I had a lovely lie in the following morning, before ambling to my friend Pippa’s house, who I’d arranged to wander to campus with for a catchup over some lunch.

Back on campus

Eventually we decided that we didn’t fancy going anywhere in particular on campus, and so we descended into the centre of Leeds, where we made a pit stop at Trinity Kitchen for burritos and then McDonalds for milkshakes. As Pippa was heading into her last few weeks of intense final year work I had to let her go sooner than I would have liked, but I still had a trip around Leeds Docks to make and a couple of design shops to visit, so it wasn’t all too bad. Even the sun had shown its face, which made for an extra-special treat!

Down by the docks
In one of my favourite shops
Wandering through Leeds' arcades

That same night heralded my last night in Leeds (are you beginning to get a sense of how hectic this whole trip was?), and so I headed out with Em and Lincoln for a lovely walk to one of our favourite pizza spots. After we’d gorged ourselves on plenty of fresh sourdough delights, we grabbed a bottle of wine and had a relaxed evening in, catching up and laughing about all the nonsense that we used to get up to at university.

On our way for pizza

Once more I couldn’t afford to stay up too late, as I had a 6am start to be in Leeds train station for a train I really couldn’t miss – as on Saturday morning it was time for me to head down to London! Emily was the only person missing from our graphics reunion in Belgrave as she now lives and works in the big city, and so I’d arranged to spend the weekend down there with her.

Arriving at London King's Cross

Once I’d arrived and we’d been reunited in her lovely neighbourhood of Fulham Broadway, we wasted no time in heading straight back out to visit a couple of places that I’d requested: the Design Museum and the Lush Shop on Oxford Street. After we’d paid the two a visit and I had bought myself a little something in the Lush shop (a very little something as my hand luggage bag was already bursting at the seams), we nipped back to Em’s place for a snack and to meet her housemates.

Spot the Em in the fountains
Inside the Design Museum
A cheeky apertivio at Em's house

As a little gesture of thanks for letting me crash at her place, I’d brought Em some chorizo from Madrid, which went down well – maybe a little too well as we found ourselves heading out for a very late tea, and even then we couldn’t finish our pizza!

The next morning, and after a breakfast of delicious cold pizza, we headed once again into the city centre. By now it was Sunday and the last day of my tour of England, but things weren’t set to slow down, as through some stroke of divine luck it just so happened that our friends Sophie, Joe and Rhea were also in London!

Em and Rhea in Covent Garden

Needless to say that we’d all arranged to meet up for some delicious lunch, and do so we did, stuffing ourselves with delicious Bao steamed buns until we could eat no more. After this we found a pub with a little outdoor terrace, and so we plonked ourselves down, ordered some drinks, and let the alcohol and conversation flow.

After our delicious lunch
Letting time pass us by in the pub

I was quite upset then when the time came for me to begin making the long journey back to Madrid, but after a round of hugs and farewells, I found myself back in the chaos of journeying from Soho to my bed in the south of Madrid. After two tube trains, a very expensive airport transfer train, a one hour delay and two hour flight, and then three metro trains which I thought I would miss because of Ryanair’s delay, I eventually made it to my flat at 3am and within ten minutes I was out like a light.

I could now moan about how a mere 5 hours later I had to be up and ready to head to a client meeting as I’d rather stupidly not taken another day off work to rest and recover, but I’d like to end the post on a happy note. A crazy busy trip it may have been, it was a delight to see everyone again, even if rather rapidly due to my timetable. I’d say that next time I’ll have to go a little easier on myself, but anybody who knows me will know that that just won’t happen.

All that’s left to say then is a huge thank you to everyone who rearranged their timetables to see me, and especially to the two Emilys and Lincoln who let me crash at their places. I hope to be having people over in Madrid soon, but regardless of that I’m currently trying to sort my summer holidays out after having had such a great time back in England!

I’ll be back again soon with more shenanigans from the Iberian peninsula, so don’t you all be going anywhere!