12.05.23 — Journal

My Birthday in England

A couple of weeks ago was Saturday the 29th of April, the day before my birthday. That warm afternoon here in Madrid, Sara and I had arranged to have some lunch on a terrace near my house before I left to celebrate my birthday a sizeable distance away. It was a lovely little catch up and one last blast of sun before I headed off to the UK for a week.

As we finished up our lunch, the waiter then showed up with a couple of pieces of cake decorated with candles and a little “Happy Birthday” plaque, something that Sara had planned and sorted out in advance. She’d also bought me a present, two lovely surprises which ended the fun meal as I had to head off to grab the train up to Madrid Airport.

I wound up arriving rather early, but that just meant I had time to enjoy an ice cream amongst the bright colours and pretty architecture. The flight was then as smooth as ever and I was at my parents’ house before midnight so we had a bit of time to chat before bed.

The next day was then my actual birthday! This meant a trip to Manchester, where we were met by Ellie and her partner Johann. We indulged in a bit of shopping and some impromptu piano playing before heading to San Carlo’s for a lovely meal together as a family.

This may be the first ever photo where me and my sister actually look alike.

The meal ended with yet another surprise birthday dessert, this time a tiramisu which the San Carlos staff brought over after seeing my ugly birthday badge that Ellie bought me and obliged me to wear. I guess in the end it wasn’t such a bad idea!

From the restaurant we headed up to the Northern Quarter and sat down in a cute little café for some coffees and dessert (for those who hadn’t been presented with surprise tiramisu). It was a chill way to end a busy day wandering around the wet streets of Manchester. It’s not a pretty city, but I do enjoy how chaotic it is!

Manchester is pretty ugly, but that’s what makes it so pretty.

This is a stolen shot taken whilst some gossip was being shared.

Upon leaving Manchester, I hopped not into my parents’ car but rather into Johann’s with him and Ellie. This was because we’d arranged for me to spend the night and following day in Sheffield with the two of them, my first visit since I nipped over while Ellie was studying as an undergraduate.

We visited her flat so I could drop my stuff off, headed to Tesco to pick up some food for later, and then wandered down to a local pub to have a drink outside as the weather was being surprisingly un-British: dry and not too cold (warm would be an exaggeration on my part).

After a quick drink at the pub, where I’d brought along a huge blanket to wrap myself in, the coolness eventually descended and we headed back to Ellie’s. We prepared a big platter of bites and settled in for a night chatting, snacking, and drinking some Appletiser out of champagne glasses.

The next day and it was time for us two siblings to do something together. Ellie had made a reservation for us to have brunch at Tamper Coffee, which was funny as it’s where I went with her last time but we’d no idea until after the fact (and when I searched for the blog post) because they’ve rebranded and changed locations since then!

I can confirm that they were still as good as ever, even if this time I grabbed something different instead of their famous banana bread. I enjoyed some poached eggs with pulled salted beef, with Ellie opting for a sweet brunch in the form of some very impressive (and equally delicious) French toast.

Another sibling selfie seeing as we don’t often have the chance to take one.

Once back at the flat, we rested for a short while before grabbing the car up to the Peak District. This area of outstanding natural beauty is just twenty minutes drive from Ellie’s place, which is a real luxury for someone living in the centre of a city! Sheffield is great.

After struggling for parking for a while – it would seem that the whole of Sheffield had the same idea as us – we finally parked the car and went for a wander around. This took us over the top of a dam and offered some lovely views over the water.

These water inlets have always unsettled me, as cool as they are.

From the peaks, we hopped back into Sheffield for a late lunch at my favourite pizza place in the UK and another place me and Ellie visited the last time I was in her city: Proove. The pizza was as excellent as ever but did make me fall fast asleep in the car ride over to Leeds afterwards!

In Leeds I bade goodbye to Ellie and Johann before hopping on a train back over to Burnley to rejoin my parents. The next day was also a bank holiday here in Spain, so me and my mum had arranged to spend the afternoon shopping and munching around the Trafford Centre, a huge shopping centre we used to visit when I was young.

This we did in lots of style, stopping for toasties, cocktails, and eventually a pizza in between our wandering around all of the different shops. It was a lovely day out and a great chance to catch up with my mum.

The next day I was back at work, but I disconnected in time for me and my dad to also have a catch up, this time in the form of a walk around the countryside. We came across all sorts of interesting tidbits, from some young lambs to an abandoned house and even a random little hut in the middle of a stone wall circle.

For tea after our walk I went out to the Usha with Abi and Danni, where we had an absolute blast of a time catching up, opening my presents, and brainstorming future plans and trips as well as a little personal project we’re working on together. The three of us together are always a nuisance, we wound up laughing all night and then causing chaos in the car park!

To end my time in England properly, Amber then came to pick me up and take me over to her place in Rawtenstall after I finished work on Friday. We didn’t have time to faff around for long though, as we were then met by Jess so that the three of us could head over to Manchester together for an evening at the theatre!

The three of us had a lovely tea and a great catch up before the show began, with laughs and non-alcoholic cocktails aplenty to keep our energy levels up. The show was then fabulously devastating, touching on topics such as end-of-life care and dementia. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience!

To cheer ourselves up we wound up blasting S-Club 7 and the Vengaboys in the car all the way back to Rawtenstall, where we stopped off for some ice cream before Jess headed back home. I then spent the night in Amber’s wonderfully cosy house.

The next morning the two of us had a long chat in our pyjamas, I packed my bag, and then we headed just downstairs from her house to have some delicious brunch at a local Turkish restaurant. I then had a shower, picked up all my bits and bats, and Amber saw me off as I grabbed the bus back over to Manchester.

I then spent a rather relaxing evening in a (once again) drizzly Manchester. I had a snoop around some more shops (even though my bag was full to burst), grabbed some lunch at a little Italian café, and eventually wound up in Piccadilly Station to grab a train onwards to the airport and my flight back home to Spain.

I hope that it’s evident from all that I got up to and the fun photos that resulted that I had an absolute blast back in the UK. It was lovely to spend my birthday with family and friends in a way which made the most of the four-day weekend courtesy of Madrid’s public holidays!

I did Gijón last year and Manchester this year, so now it remains to be seen where I spend my birthday next year…