the victoria warehouse …..

I had to drive the M54 to connect to the M6 and all the way back up North to get to Liverpool to go teach an hour of yoga at a city centre venue dedicated to the welfare of women. I finished there by 2pm and then quickly drove to my lock up where the last of my possessions are stored, needing to off load just some more items from the van because of the squash between me and my two dogs – it’s proving challenging to adjust with having them so close and reliant on me, awaiting my every move, my every thought, connected to them. It is verging on the suffocating, but it’s just the requirement to adapt i need to bring forward. We’ll be okay. The last two days i feel my impatience has subsided and so too has some of the inner aggression and anger.  Being made homeless can sieve all sorts of unconscious emotions to the surface.

Notwithstanding the situation i still have to move forward and fulfill some duties, one of which this day is to get to Manchester to go take a look at the venue in which i will be playing live music on thursday 24th October for the opening of the Science & Art Exhibition … i submitted my music some six months previously and was chosen from about 30 entrants to be the one who performs!  i’m taking the futurejack pack with me …

I arrive in Manchester about 4pm and meet with my contact.  The outside of the Victoria Warehouse Hotel looks like a prison, but just to the side is a wee entrance that has subtle enchanting qualities – some carved wooden seating. some plants, some metal sculptures … and then in through the massive heavy iron doors (which open quite easily compared to their size) and i’m in the large earthy brick-red reception with low metal pipe-lined ceilings, comfy red velvety pillowed seats and wrought iron tables n chairs, and then there’s Ganesha and Buddha and a library and a bar and a mini ‘movie theatre’ and it’s all so very welcoming. I immediately take an instant liking to everything about it.

I’m shown around further, where the exhibition is going to be installed and where we, futurejack, are going to play (right under Ganesha) – my contact is stressed and can’t spare me much time but that’s okay, i’m delighted to sit in the lounge area and take photos and then i lounge about that much that i decide to stay the night … i ask to see one of the rooms – a single – it’s clean, small, but has wi-fi, tv, shower, toilet, all of which are exceptionally clean and breakfast is included in the £39.99 price tag.

Once again, i’m safe for the night …. i head out to walk the dogs and find a wonderful long strip of grass alongside Manchester United Football Ground, and i walk past the Sir Alex Ferguson entrance and the dogs are happy and so am i.

I spend the night writing and motorhome searching.  I go down to the bar and buy a double Jack Daniels Honey which they charge me the super-duper price of £6.40 for and then for my dinner i order a very small bag of dry roasted peanuts (as they don’t do food, other than breakfast in the bistro) to which they charge me the superior fee of £1 …. i feel their bar prices are extortionate without the need to be.  But anyway, Nomad’s can’t be a chooser, can they?!

The sleepover = the single bed is lumpy bumpy but somehow comfy, there’s not too much external noise going on so a decent kip can be had although i did wake several times, again due to a bit of a chill in the air – the bed linen did include a duvet but again, probably a blanket on top would have been good….   the shower was phenomenal, really really lovely, and clean ….

Breakfast in the Bistro = hmmmmmm, well, it was cold, and the scrambled egg had been hanging around for a couple of hours i reckon … again, i rejected the hash browns, the beans, the toast but was given no extra in place so the overall brekkie was small (cos again the sausage was for the dogs!) … but what they did have were small portions of wrapped cheese and individual marmite sachet so a couple of them were pocketed in readiness for lunch, along with an apple and an orange from the fruit bowl ….

Checkout at 12 noon … that’s nice, no feeling of being rushed to get out!

Am looking forward to returning next week to perform and to (party!!) with the band afterward as we have been given x2 twin rooms for the night …. however it looks like there may be 7 of us needing a bed!!!  lovely jubbly

I give the Victoria Warehouse Hotel a sturdy 7 out of 10 reckoning they need to ease off on their bar prices a wee bit, offer a blanket in the colder months, ensure the Bistro knows when their hot plate isn’t keeping the breakfast hot and actually advertise the fact they have an in-house Yoga Studio and Spa more ….  i wanted to try both of these things but it seems there are limited yoga sessions and if you want to make use of the Spa then advance booking is definitely a requirement.


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the huntsman …..

My driving took me further into Telford and along more of those winding A roads … in my head i was saying ‘please just find me a place to rest my head and get a shower, get me somewhere suitable, kind of soon’ …  and then i thought of money, and put a price on my night, ready to pay around 70 quid if needs be ….  a couple of minutes more down the road and i saw a sign – Wellington House Hotel / The Huntsman Inn, i followed it.  Then i’m still driving down windy foresty road for another couple of miles and i’m flagging and then i see a fork in the road, to the left was a sign for the Wellington House Hotel and to the right a sign for The Huntsman Inn – I immediately preferred the thought of an Inn.  I travelled another 5 minutes through forest and saw a gorge and some rockface, all very awe inspiring, and then waving in the sky in front of me was the Union Jack Flag. It’s been a long time since sensing the emotion of relief, for some reason, it was so welcoming and gave me the comfortable thought of safety.  The Inn was delightful, i asked the bright pink haired receptionist (who i had to wait 5 minutes for before she realised i was there) and i enquired if there were a room and how much – to my absolute relief she checked her reservation book and said yes! a double room for £65 (inc.Breakfast) was available. She led the way and took me up very plush carpeted stairs and landing (and me with my wellington boots on!) and invited me to the room ‘Willowmoor’ …. enchanting.  Exceptionally sparkly clean, plush, inviting, absolutely everything i’d visualised in my head that i wanted for the night.  I jumped a shower and stayed in there for half an hour…. the shower gel ‘with extract of ginseng’ very frothy, bubbly and skin soothing.  The bar downstairs was dog friendly and so too was the park attached to the Inn.  When i took the poochies for a walk we came across some Radio twitching, morse coding fanatics who were celebrating 100 years of short wave radio – it was a blessing to hear the beep beeping and then the lovely nerds chatting their radio talk, and one even showing off his Russian linguistic abilities…..  one gentleman stopped to chat at me and tell me everything.

Back at the Inn i sat in the pub for a night of tweeting and facebooking and e-bay searching motorhomes.  I ordered some food – a starter = Duck Leg with Raspberry Confit and Rocket £6.95, a side (v.small) bowl of salad leaves £2.95, and a small bowl of mixed olives £2.50, was enough to satiate me, along with the two pints of Local Cider @ £3.50 each – overall the menu had variety, all starters ranging from £4.50 (for soup and a roll) to the duck and then main courses being between £9 and £16 … sweets were about £5 each with cheese and biscuits being £6.25 …

The night’s sleep – well the bed was definitely comfortable but the sheets were very thin along with a very thin blanket so i did wake up about three or four times feeling a chill.

Next morning, breakfast … the fayre was of good quality but very small in portion, considering i passed on the hash browns and the beans and the toast so there wasn’t much on the plate, one rasher of bacon, one egg, small amount of mushrooms and half a tomato … the sausage, i saved for the dogs (always!) …. however, the girl on duty couldn’t do enough to help and was considerate and offered extra tea and an alternative fruit juice when i didn’t want apple or orange …

Checking out – the director himself came to say his farewell to me, and what a handsome man he was!  he ensured i was given a 10% discount card for my next visit … ah, if only i could meet my future partner who looked like him and who was secure and settled in a fantastic business … the Huntsman Inn had works going on to the side of the property, having ‘Cottages’ developed, (but hardly noticeable as it was all covered up and so clean and well kempt) …. and he invited that perhaps when i next visited i could reside in one of the aforementioned dwellings …….. very enticing!

So, overall i give the Huntsman Inn a very rounded 8 out of 10 – a thicker blanket, a bigger hotter breakfast and a cheaper salad bowl would have earned them a rewarding 10!!!

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becoming a nomad ….

On Tuesday 1st October my life changed in a subtle way. With just twenty days to go before i reach the mature age of 43 i became homeless. My house that i had lived in for 9 years exchanged for a less than princely sum to be ‘tinned up’ and placed on ‘housing death row’ (one of 4 remaining) in the Edge Hill Redevelopment scheme.

There was nothing i could do, i couldn’t hold out any longer – it had taken all my strength and dignity to get to where i was on that upsetting day.  I was born on a Tuesday.  I lost one of my dogs on a Tuesday.  I lost a lover on a Tuesday.  Tuesdays are always a great day for me.

Hence, I left Winifred Street forever and prepared myself (well, thought i had) to a life on the road.

I’m still adjusting.

I’m pretty much free as can be though.

And i’ve decided to document as much of it as i can with a view to  A.  becoming a travel writer / columnist  and B.  remembering my tentative steps into Nomad’s Land.

Thus, the first night was particularly distressing and disorienting and yet liberating and ending up as a party at a friends’ house, well, my fellow futurejack band member’s home to be precise.  Me and the dogs (for those of you who don’t know me, i have two dogs, a bitch and a boy and they’re pretty darn well as full of character as a four-legged friend can be), anyway, we were welcomed with warmth and cheer and offered shelter for our first two nights.

Then i was given a reprieve and offered an outer city flat to ‘guard’ whilst a friend was away in Scotland (The Isle of Skye) planting trees.  8 days grace! me and the dogs were pretty lucky, the flat, although a wee bit cold, was gorgeous – had a massive back garden (although there were poison pellets placed around the vegetation and flower beds to stop the slugs and i think it was this that caused my little Lhasa Apso to have a very dodgy eye for 48 hours) but he recovered and we had a lovely time with a beautiful wild park two minutes down the lane and over the road!  In these early days of acclimatizing to nomadic wanderings i drank quite a bit, smoked more than i have in a good long while and found myself to be lacking in patience and being irked by ‘small talk’ from anyone who was asking after my welfare.  There were also grumblings of anger and aggression welling up in me.  Hmmmmm i could recognise these traits that i had not seen in more than a decade. Dangerous ground for me.  And all of these days took me up to Tuesday 15th October where, after rehearsing with my band, i decided to kip in the van with the dogs and then get off on my own thereafter for a few days, maybe til after my birthday on the 21st.  too many friends have been asking what I’m doing for my birthday – offering me parties and drinks and socializing – but i have done that all year and I’m feeling like i want to be alone.

So on Wednesday 16th i drove to Shropshire to look at a motorhome.  I’d been watching it for some time on e-bay – you see it’s my choice now to live on the road for a while, go visit cities across the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and then on to Europe, and hopefully take the band with me on occasion as to when we’re gigging and/or touring … always keeping Liverpool as a base, cos it does hold some splendid memories for me.  Well the motorhome i looked at, hmmmm, not really impressed and the thing that told me most not to purchase from this person was that they hadn’t even made the effort to clean the interior and when i went to have a closer look at the memory foam mattress sleeping area, there on top of the crumpled duvet was an even more crumpled pair of male boxer shorts … urgggggg – absolutely the last thing that would entice one to buy … there were old biscuit wrappers on the dashboard, some leaking in the shower room (which the guy said was down to the window being left open, a blatant lie, my detective skills told me it was something worse because the leaking water was coloured brown) and on top of this there were a couple more tell-tale signs that this seller didn’t have the same standards as I when it comes to a parting of ways with your assets.  So i left the guy with a firm handshake and told him I’d think about it.

After that i was tired. I had been driving a lot and not sleeping as well as usual and i just wanted a reprieve, to get a shower and clean of my grime and also to be able to rest my head in a comfy bed for the night.  I stopped at a Travel Lodge near the M54 Telford. I was hoping for a good start to my journeys but the guy behind the desk was crap. Without compassion, he said they didn’t allow dogs unless another £20 per dog was paid on top of the room rate and that they wouldn’t have them in this particular night anyway because of the workmen on site and the painting going on and when i said ok I’d leave them in the van he said ‘no, don’t do that, the police will be called’ – so, i spun on my Wellington boot heel and retreated (still in need of a pee – but luckily my pelvic floors kick in when i ask of them).