Halloween happiness …..

My beautiful friend again gave me her sofa for the night before Halloween, and we spent the evening along Lark Lane, in Keith’s wine bar to be precise. It was lovely because i’d started the evening at the Lark Lane Artelier run by Alex Corina – there was some kooky artwork on show; being the opening night of their Christmas exhibition. Well well worth a visit…. i made some new friends and met a couple of artsy pals too. We drank red wine, chatted artistically, enthusiastically and even futuristically.

 

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Then i met my favourite Harpsichord player and we ate at Raga’s across the lane. Unbelievably hot stuff!

Then we went to Keith’s and got stuck in over a bottle (or two) – of good red wine.

There was some fantastic live Jazz being played and the atmosphere was particularly chilled.

On my walk to Keith’s i spotted something fantastic in a little shop window and thought to myself, that could make up part of a great Halloween costume …

The night continued on to be a great one, with lots of red wine drinking and then some happy threesome partying back at the flat (meaning three people having good solid banter and drinks and nibbles) !!!

Thus, i returned to the Lane the following morning (Halloween itself) and purchased the very wonderful mask i’d seen – and prior to getting to that shop and upon when i jumped out of the boogie bus, in another shop window i saw the best accompaniment to that mask and immediately went in and purchased it ….

So here’s how i went to the Lomax Liverpool for Halloween (via Brink and a bit of an acoustic slot)

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aha! and i’d booked into a local motel so as me and my wonderful drummer could party and then go get a couple of hours worth of zeds before we had to go our separate ways into the madness thereafter …

Personally Halloween came and went in a particularly laid back way – the quality of costumes seen at the Lomax was gruesomely brilliant and there were lots of live performances …. WE, futurejack, played in the downstairs cellar bar and it was horridly enjoyable.

Back to the motel. Lots of chatting and a couple of Gin Toddy’s ….. and then some zeds zzzzzzzzzzzz

 

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crabwall manor hotel …..

Even after a hefty night of mixed drinking there were no hangover problems in the morning.  I woke around 9am, took the dogs for their morning walk and returned to drink hot water and fresh lemon.  It’s a wonderful thing to not have to contend with the hangover and i put my ability for this avoidance down to the fact i made a disciplined effort with my general health and well-being from an early age.  At 18 i began swimming regularly and continued this for 13 years and at the age of 24 i found Yoga and i know it’s this combination (along with 30 years of dog walking) that have given me the opportunity to enjoy drinking without the shitty next morning syndrome, well for some, it can last more than a couple of days to recover after a boozy night.  Anyway, check out Yoga and the art of breathing (Pranayama), it’s crucially amazing.  So, my Sunday starts positively and, it being the eve of my 43rd birthday i decide to book myself into a hotel/spa in Chester.

A bit of surfing of the net leads me to find Crabwall Manor Hotel. The photographs look stunning and i can’t help but be steered toward the ‘Junior Suite’.  That’s it, decision made. Booking.com and it’s sorted.

Check in time is 3pm. I leave my friend’s house at just after midday and stop en route to give the dogs yet another walk.  Nice little park, sun is out, trees are green, brown, red and gold as is the floor at their base. The air is crisp and my world feels calm and sparkly, and the two dogs, well, they’re in their element.

So we gets to the Manor Hotel (right next door to the Crabwall Residential Home) and the drive in is welcoming and looks quite awe-inspiring. Loads of trees and autumnal colours. I park up and head for reception.

A two night stay in the ‘Junior Suite’ is a little over two hundred bucks so when i got inside i was a wee bit surprised at the welcoming desk and the woman sat behind.  Maybe it’s me being horrid but she looked a bit flustered and windswept!  and there was no dress code (i.e uniform or smart suit etc).  She did however smile at me in welcome and i gave her my details. She recognised my name and said she’d put me in room 6 and that it was a nice room.  It became apparent soon after that there was a bit of a to do going on as another member of staff wafted in with walky talky and the woman had to make a call to inform a the gentleman at the end of the line that his girlfriend had not handed their door key back, it seems that he then hung up. In between this i asked if the room had wi-fi and she said, ‘yeah probably’.  Probably is not a word i warm to, unless of course it’s used in conjunction with a rather tepid beer. Anyway, that didn’t instill confidence in me. Plus, i know i was trying to get in my room before 3pm check in but she was having none of it. Instead, she got me to fill in a form with my details, morning call time preferred and profers a cheap and nasty biro that has the end missing from it.  Then she smiled again and steered me toward the Spa. So, i thought okay, i’ll go with this and grab the opportunity for a steam, sauna and swim – lovely!

Aha! within just ten minutes a bit of a u-turn – not so lovely! apart from one of the fitness instructors (who was very easy on the eye) – well, i’d gone up to the desk and said i’d like to swim and steam etc etc and i had to sign in and it was then i was handed a towel – i took it in hand and felt it’s age at the same time as seeing its threadbare demeanour, i actually felt sorry for it, that it still had to work at such a late age in its lifespan.

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I made my way to the changing room. I felt impending gloom and i got changed wishing i hadn’t chosen this venue to spend my birthday in. I wanted to go to the loo.

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I tiptoed to the shower and got myself a bit wet, in preparation for the steam room.  I was totally disappointed as soon as i stepped into the (small cubicle sized) room, feeling that there was definitely more steam coming off my mate’s kettle than there was in this space. I gave it 7 minutes and hadn’t broken a bead of sweat so i thought ok, i’ve still got the sauna to try. I go into that (small cubicle sized) room and sit down and then i lay down, knowing, this is going to take some time.  Fifteen minutes on and i have a thin-film of glossy perspiration on me. Resigned to the fact that this is as good as it’s gonna get i think to myself, at least there’s the jacuzzi. Now this was the funniest one for me because i reckon there’d have been more bubbles if i’d have farted in the damn thing. I made do with a twenty-minute swim (the photographer had made the pool look amaaaaazing on the website) – it was okay in reality.

So i dry my swimsuit as best i can with the hairdryer and then give myself the once over because i’m still feeling sorry for the towel. That done i head back to the desk to sign out. I consider complaining but decide against it – i must be running a temperature cos that’s not like me to not air my disappointment.

Back at reception the lady is still looking a bit askew.  I’ve got 10 minutes to wait until 3pm because she is adamant in not letting me into a room/suite before the given time.  The chap from earlier (with his walky talky) returns and i ask him if Room 6 has wi-fi, he gives me the same response as she, ‘probably’ and i return with the point that it was stated on the booking form that wi-fi was available in all rooms.  They look at each other, look at me and then by the time it’s 3.05pm they’re putting me in room 10. Walky Talky guy leads the way, whilst telling me there’s a bit of a problem with Room 10 in that the kitchen fan gives off a buzzing noise : constantly (well he said it stops when the kitchen closes but i found that to be untrue as it didn’t stop at all for the duration of my stay – but it was kind of comforting in a low down buzzy type of way). Anyway, he unlocks the door and invites me in.   Wow! bingo! I like it.

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and the green phone! well how smart is that (but it didn’t work) as i found out the next morning when there was no wake up call and then i see it’s 9.30am and breakfast ends at 9.30am so i jump up, throw on my track suit and cap, no wash of face, no early morning stretch, no brushing of hair or sweeping away of eye grits. Go to reception where another smiling face (and better dressed and groomed) lady greets me and i ask where the morning call was? and she apologises and says she’ll make sure i get a breakfast so i race out to the dogs (who spent the night in the boogie bus) and get them sorted with a nice little twenty-minute walk in the pissing down rain – and we’re all happy!  Luckily i’d spotted the rain and kitted myself out with cagool and Wellington boots so it wasn’t that bad.

Well anyway, back in the room and i strip off to my morning knickers and vest cos i just want to chill on my birthday morning.

I had enjoyed my birthday eve, just sitting off on a big fat couch with plumped up cushions watching comedy tv and writing and surfing the net and speaking with friends via text and instant messaging and drinking tea and eating biscuits, yeah it was nice … would have preferred to not have to jump up in the morning like a wild’un.

Then there’s a knock at the door and its breakfast, served by the receptionist!

ooooh, there’s a silver lid on my plate … i’m high on anticipation

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Breakfast Cost = £10

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and thankfully, it came with a very small eyelash on the edge of the plate – nowhere near the food.

I’m still sitting in my cartoon print knickers and star print vest when there’s another knock at the door, i’d almost finished my brekkie (remembering i leave the sausages for the canines!) .. so i answer the door, opening it just a smidgen so my state of undress remains hidden – it’s an engineer?!  i’m like, ‘i’m eating breakfast’ and i shut the door.

It’s only later that i go down to reception, see the same guy and he asks if he can get in the room to check the phone lines – that’s when it becomes clear as to why i didn’t get the wake up call, there’s me thinking it’s because of the changeover of rooms, cos i was supposed to be in 6 and then i ended up in 10.

Well i’ve had a bit of enough now and decide to complain and i speak to the receptionist and tell her that i’ll show her the photos i took in the Spa to prove it wasn’t the best experience.  She apologises profusely and offers me to talk with the Spa manager – ‘what can he do’ I say, ‘i can’t use the facilities today because they weren’t good yesterday’.  But it turns out she sends him up to my room anyway and it turns out the manager happens to be the eye candy instructor i’d spotted first thing on entering the Spa.  So we have a chat about what happened and i show him the photographs and he offers me a complimentary half hour back and neck massage (cost £40) – ok, nice, thanks.  Massage turns out to be okay, the therapist (Sarah) was absolutely lovely and really amiable and professional (but i’ve had many a massage and have been spoilt by the creme de la creme of experts!) so i’d probably give her a 6.8 out of 10, no disrespect to her effort, i’ve just had much better.  And, because i smelt wax in the air of the therapy room, it reminded me of my underarm situation, so, back at the Spa desk i ask if there’s room to fit me in for a quick hair removal. I’m led back to the treatment room and i say to Sarah, ‘i’ll have to pop back up to the room after to get my card to pay’ and she turns and says, ‘we’ll give it complimentary cos i’ve heard you’ve had a bit of a time of it so far’ …. So, underarm hair removal = £10.

I spend the day pretty much same as the day before, chilling out, typing, writing, checking all my birthday messages – 8 texts, 1 phone call, 17 facebook messages and 168 (and counting) facebook timeline posts.  I got 3 cards (but i have no fixed abode and have taken myself out of the social scene for the last three days).

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Just another quick addition, i opened one of the windows in my room – had to jump up to sit on window sill, looked out and saw this ….

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and there were some massive Koi Carp swimming about in there …. (this is the Caldwell Residential Care Home)

I’ve got a couple of hours left here in my ‘Junior Suite’ so i’ll sign off.  An early start is set for tomorrow as am heading further North to Leeds for some filming on Emmerdale.  I will be playing the role of a ‘Talent Contest Audience Member’.

 

http://www.crabwallmanorhotelandspa.com/home

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.

OM

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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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