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

 

maluka, the beach & life modelling …..

Tuesday brings with it the fact that i have to get off my recovery sofa and get back into the brutal world.  I’m still under par but i have a commitment made and unless i’m dead, i always try to honor my engagements. Firstly I walk the dog (i only have one dog for now, as my other is being tended to by a friend, giving me an ounce or two of reprieve) and lucky for us the sun is out and it’s a bright autumnal morning. Once Karma is sorted I then jump a shower, freshen up and get into some comfortable clothing.

I’m hungry but have no food in close proximity and i’m decidedly going to treat myself to a breakfast of egg n bacon, that’s all i want and so i jump in the Boogie Bus with Karma and we begin our journey toward the tunnel (i have to be in Hoylake for my engagement).  I’m looking for a cafe en route but for some harsh reason, one does not present itself.  I’m waning with hunger but decide to get across the water and find something that side.

Oh and I do … as i drive toward Hoylake I espy a couple of little cafe’s but nowhere easy to park, and then, i see the chalkboard on the pavement, like the peripheral view i see of the ‘brasserie’ and shake a quick left into a side street and park up fast. Any longer and i reckon i’d have been chewing on my dog’s tail!

I walk into the beautifully quaint brasserie at about 11.40am (the chalkboard having said that breakfast is served till midday) so luck is shining for me and i ask the girl if chef would be kind enough to just cook me eggs n bacon.  She’s helpful enough, although it did seem for a moment that perhaps they couldn’t swerve from the set menu, however there’s not one single other customer in, so really, they’re glad for the meagre custom i bring.

Anyway, breakfast is ordered ….

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(cost = £6.60 / maybe expensive for a breakfast, but worthy of it)

and i am delighted !!  the best eggs i have had cooked for me, ever! probably!   oh joy, i felt as if someone was definitely looking down on me and saying, ‘there you go girl, enjoy’ …. and i did

The place is called Maluca (which in Portuguese means ‘crazy’ supposedly) … it’s a fantastic little place with an amazing bathroom …

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the size of the tap had me in awe!

and it’s child friendly i’m reckoning….

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Now i’ve got about 40 minutes to kill before the Art commences …

So, i take my beautiful Karma to the beach …

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she absolutely loves the beach!

it’s a fair bit windy and chilly but it’s sure getting rid of the cobwebs.

We walk as far toward the turbines as i could and then i espied a wonderful boat and just as i was about to photograph it a man began walking all over it, at first i felt he would ruin my shots, but then he added to them, and then it turned out he was the guy who made it … we spoke and he filled me in on a couple of bits of its history … it’s known as the ‘The Grace Darling’ …..

https://www.facebook.com/TheBlackPearlNewBrighton

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an exhilarating experience, and one that i would certainly not have enjoyed had i found a cafe in Liverpool …. the winds that blow you off route are definitely some of the best …

A quick brush down of the sand and i head to the hall where the Life Art Session is to commence …

I’m well looked after, always, by this group and there’s always some fantastic results emerging..

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Now my quest is to find a bed for the night!

futurejack visit manchester …..

Me and Two Pints wake up around the same time … 11am, so we’ve managed to get about six and a half hours kip.  We sort ourselves out pretty sharpish as i want to get on the road for about 12.30pm – i’ve arranged to collect my mate Mr Corner and head to Cheadle Hulme for about 2pm to go check out a racetruck before arrival at the Victoria Warehouse Hotel in Manchester for around 3pm…

Me and Twooey need a proper start to the day so after walking Karma we then stop off at the Whistlestop for …..

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breakfast done we jump back into the Boogie Bus and head for Mr Corner Pickup and then the M62.

All seems good and timing just a little behind. I’m heading for an Industrial Estate on Cheadle Hulme without a Sat Nav or even A-Z, possibly a recipe for disaster?  Ok, so i get a bit stressed and smack my steering wheel a couple of times, my passengers becoming a bit quiet, what can i say, i haven’t practised any Yoga for a couple of days and my patience wanes. Together we get through it and finally find the location, only to have a near miss crash by another less than capable driver who doesn’t check their mirror and turns a left into the front of my vehicle.  I scream out loud and reckon it’s my scream that they hear and therefore apply their brakes, by this time i’ve applied my brakes and Two Pints, who’s sitting in the rear of the Boogie Bus ends up getting a Bass guitar, Electric Guitar in hard case and a couple of drums in the back of her head.  Luckily enough she still had a bit of scotch in her from the night before so felt no pain, only a tad of bewilderment for a nanosecond.

We all pile out and check the racetruck (it’s a very quick viewing as i’m running behind on time by now)!  immediately i know it’s not for me so i shake hands, tell the sellers i’ll be in touch (which i did to tell them it was a no) and we all pile back in the boogie bus and head for our gig.

A bit more stress in finding the way back, note to myself to practice Yoga again very soon. Lucky for me my friends are very understanding.

We arrive at our destination pretty upbeat considering my earlier stresses.  Now onto the good stuff, we unload, set up, soundcheck and all is very very good. We check in, undo the scotch and have a swift nip or two before going back down to the bar to meet up with the rest of the crew.

Futurejack are ready to gig!!!

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We all had an absolute ball

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Stayed up all night and the three of us even done an impromptu cover of our own song ‘in my way’ in the shower!

Breakfast was at 7am to which there

was Goddess Naomi and myself only present

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8am … the single bed was calling, and so too, the Sandman!

You can check out more photographs and video snippets on our facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/futurejack

little miss yorkshire 2013 ……

waking up nice and early after having just four hours sleep in the wonderful king size bed, marks the end of the birthday hotel treat – time now to hit the road and head further north to Leeds, the ITV headquarters to be exact .. for today is Emmerdale filming. Within half hour of motorway driving things come to a standstill, with a ‘car park’ type view ahead i switch off the engine and concentrate on some meditative breathing.

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It was a three car accident, they get moved to the hard shoulder and we can finally pass (after a 45 minute standstill).  I’d left with plenty of time in hand, but now, it was going to be a close shave to catch my call time of 10.30am.

Remarkably i reach ITV headquarters in Leeds at 10:45am (the dogs took up the fifteen minute lateness else i’d have been bang on time).  As soon as I get to reception i’m wishing i hadn’t agreed to this. There are about 50 of us all herded in and i know this is going to be a bit of a dull filming experience (it always is when there are loads of people – and this is an ‘audience’ scene, so we’re just a herd of cattle really).

There’s me thinking we’ll be filming in HQ too but no, alas, we’re bumped into 2 mini buses and driven out 40 minutes to Ilkley Town Hall .. (this puts a bit more of a dampener on my day because my dogs are back in the van and i know we’re probably going to be on set until 6 or 7pm and i have futurejack rehearsals starting in Liverpool at 7.30pm and timing is not adding up) – but hey, that feeling of ‘trapped’ness’, it hurts more if you tussle with it, best to give in and stay calm.

So, we’re all bundled off the bus. This is where i am….

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This is how i’m feeling …..

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This is what i am involved in, filming for Emmerdale …

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It’s about midday by now and we’re ushered into a back room where i sit off for about an hour, before one of the runners comes in and says, ‘we’re going to break for lunch now’ … to be honest, it hasn’t been a hard graft at all, in fact, i’ve done nothing other than mooch about, and now i’m going to be fed …

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i forgot to take a picture before i ate it!  but it was Salmon and rice and broccoli and i got some Stilton and beetroot and rocket on the side!  very good food, the caterers were quite exceptional i thought …. didn’t catch their company name though else i’d definitely have given them a good plug!

Anyway, about an hour later, we’re shipped back on board to go 2 minutes down the road, back to the town hall

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The rest of the filming goes pretty well (albeit i am really bored, and i realise i’m not good as simulating the cheering of contestants in an american style pageant come talent show) …. i find it somewhat creepy that parents could ever allow their pre-pubescent daughters to dress in skimpy leotards and tutus and tiaras with ploughed on make-up and glitter and false eyelashes to parade around for the ego sake of smug satisfaction of the self.  Per se, I do believe this was the case that Emmerdale writers were acknowledging/highlighting, (but to be honest it would be better not to promote this in any way shape or form, ever).

And so it was, ‘that’s a wrap’ called at about 6pm after much clapping, cheering, oooooohing, ahhhhhhing and moving around seats of the auditorium to make us look like an audience of hundreds rather than the forty to fifty we were …. i mostly hid behind my hands – if i don’t believe in something, i cannot pretend to, so admittedly this shebang made me feel dead uncomfortable, the whole time worrying about my dogs and getting to futurejack rehearsals but you know, time can sprint ahead and before i knew it i was back with my dogs and i spared them some precious moments before the drive back to Liverpool – i gave them a pack of salami between them, but my little Lhasa gorged it all so quickly, he promptly honked it back up, to which my cross-breed dived in and munched …. my day couldn’t get any grosser.

The drive home, another motorway pile up, more car park traffic jams and i finally arrived at rehearsals at half past nine, without my guitar so had to use my drummer’s which had to be mic’d up and my head was falling apart and i wasn’t in the best frame of mind, but we got an hour together and another friend arrived to my rescue and took me home to his flat where i could bathe in a hot bath, get a pint of snakebite and curl up on the couch for the night.

Tuesday was done and dusted!

 

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

a rainy start ………….

Notwithstanding not really having slept properly i jumped up from the sofa at 8.05am and deftly folded, plumped, smartened and tidied where i’d rested, then just as sharpish i gathered together my bags and the dogs’ bowls. The three of us padded toward the front door – the two dogs sniffed at my mate’s bedroom door as we passed it by, both wanting to say their goodbyes i’m guessing – but i had one aim and that was to leave quickly so as not to get a parking ticket for having left the van in the ‘resident permit parking’ bay (from 8am to 6pm). Feeling pretty washed out from having no morning freshen up, it added little zing to the day that, when i opened the front door to the flats, i was greeted with fine falling rain that was showing no signs of stopping. Me and the dogs jumped into the ‘Boogie Bus’ (my affectionate name for the Vito) and departed.

I took the dogs to a nearby park. Still in my clothes from the previous day along with wellington boots and cagool, at least i was dressed for the weather.  Dogs sorted i then asked myself what the day was going to be? drive to Lancaster to view a motorhome? drive to Spalding to view a motorhome? find somewhere to get a shower and wash? i decided to stop at the place i detest the most, McD’s so as to use their wi-fi.  I went in the one nearest the M62. Bought a large cup of tea for 99p (feeling too sick of habitually saying the word ‘coffee’ – which, up until three or four years ago i had hardly ever consumed) and then took a pew. Opened up my laptop and joy of joy, it was dead, no battery life. I sat with my head in my hands for a couple of minutes. Then took a couple of rounds of deep breaths and wondered what exactly i was doing with my life. I drank my tea, it was brown water but fascinatingly enough it tasted perfect for my given situation.  I had some fitful thoughts passing through my head, unclear as to whether they were snippets of my dreams or actual conscious requirements for the day ahead. Lost as to what to do i decided that mostly, i really wanted to get clean and be sheltered for the day so i sent a bit of a plea to my good friend in Chester asking if i could make use of her home for the day. And i sat and waited for a reply. Luckily enough she quickly came to my rescue and said ‘yes, of course you can’ via text messaging.

Thus, my spirits lifted and i jumped the boogie bus and made haste for the M62.  The journey started off challenging as the freeway toward the M53 junction was closed (for landscaping) and i had to follow a diversion, so once again, i was driving around not knowing particularly where i was in my daily attempt at living. However, to my relief, some fifteen minutes later i found myself on a stretch of road i recognised and once again, i was en route.

Safely landed in Chester, i walked the dogs as the rain petered out. My good friend had left me a key and so i let myself in and immediately cleaned myself up and settled with my re-charging laptop and hopped on to surf the net in my quest for finding a ‘house on wheels’, (which is becoming a chore now) and is messing with my ‘balance’ in life.

I sat on the sofa for most of the day, my friend returning home a couple of hours after my arrival – we chatted a lot as it had been a couple of months since we’d last met – we made plans to go out for dinner.

So two days after the lunar eclipse I felt no closer to having any understanding of what my life means in the here and now, other than to learn how to bite the bullet and get on with it.

‘I’d read somewhere ‘Think about it this way: An eclipse is the most powerful tool the universe uses to affect change. It will illuminate a situation in a new way so that we view it differently. Events move on fast forward at eclipse time, but it is important not to jump to conclusions, as all eclipses have a second act. Additional information related to the topic that comes up now will be revealed later, within weeks. Be patient, and take time to reflect on all you hear.

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the chester fields ……….

For the first time in possibly about nine days, i put on some make-up. My mate was dressed up and ready to go. My fashion styling right now has taken a turn into the realms of ‘alternative strange’ because it really is a test to one’s ability to ‘dress out of a suitcase from the back of a van’ on a day-to-day basis. Anyway, my friend said i looked okay and i can trust her on that one because she is a smart dresser herself and i know she’s not a ‘yes person’ just for the sake of it.

She drove me ten minutes up the road to her ‘semi-regular’ haunt of a ‘high-end’ restaurant/bar. Half past seven and already it was pretty busy. We sat off in the bar area for pre-drinks, mine a bombay sapphire and soda, hers a gordons and tonic. Then comes the time to get our table. Once seated i take a look around and there is some great quirky artwork, trinkets and china dog ornaments (one of which had his photograph taken with another diner).

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We ordered Rioja (purportedly with hint of vanilla and coconut!) from Spain – could grasp the vanilla but unsure as to whether the coconut was there or lucidly longed for because it had been mentioned.  My friend went for the beef, i chose lamb shank .. and we didn’t have to wait too long for our dishes to arrive. Absolutely beautiful food. I had mashed spinach, broccoli spears and green beans too… all of which were cooked to a superb standard and worth the £16.50 price tag.

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With dinner done we returned to the bar to carry on with our drinking. The bottle of wine having been happily swigged and opened the taste buds for some further glugging.

My next choice was a ‘Countryside Old Fashioned’ a deep bourbon with a spoonful of sugar (a special blended sugar of cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and some other secret spices) and plenty of ice, which, the very chatty and knowledgeable Gareth (our bartender) whizzed round and round with his long-handled spoon, the result of which was an amazing tasting ‘cocktail’.

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My friend played it safe to be honest and stayed on the Clavijo Rioja (@ £7.95 per 250ml glass!) …  My next choice was a regular glass of ‘safe’ Prosecco…

and then Gareth, seeing that we were having a good time, edged us toward trying a favourite of his (and easy to make he stated) .. The Hazel Espresso, and yes, it was the perfect ‘cold coffee liquor’ (without the mound of fresh cream that can leave a heavy floating feeling in the belly), instead, it was a concoction of sweet strong smooth easy (far too easy) drinking cocktail.

I’ll have another thank you very much.

Then i tottered off to the little girl’s room.

Five minutes later i’m back sat at the bar.  Gareth made his way round and was heading through the thinning crowd, and me being the jester that i am, said ‘oh you needn’t have bothered’…. cos he was carrying what looked like a cake for someone …  turns out it was for me, my friend had quickly pleaded them to do something toward a birthday gesture for me …..

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Continuing with the wonderful hazel espresso, i was bought another by a regular (Phil), who, by this time had started conversation with my friend and kept up being part of our late evening at the bar (right til the end in fact as we were the last to leave).

My nightcap at the bar was an Evan Williams Honey which absolutely laughed all over the JD Honey which has recently hit the supermarket shelves. My well-informed bartender imparted the fact that the Evan Williams was a lot harder to purchase – else you go to Amazon where you can find it in plenty.

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Me and my friend changed out of our kitten heels into our snugg boots and walked the B road curbside back home.

I chose to sleep on her plush cream sofa for the first couple of hours until realising that i was bent double, internal thermometer rising, and having very strange dreams about being bitten on the arse by a dog whom i knew was going to bite me and which i was a bit fearful of but my love of dogs had made me less able to move away from it…  and then there were other vicious dogs too but who turned out to be harmless … and there was a big house with a room in which when i touched a tap on the wall, the plaster all fell away and crumpled into a neat pile to the right of where i was standing. After which, several men, some of whom i thought i knew, some i didn’t, all begin to congregate in the house.

I sat upright, picked up the high tog duvet (must have been that causing my hotness) and snuck upstairs to grab another couple of fitful hours on a ‘princess’ mattress size bed.

the burger saga ………

So i had a wonderful time just beyond three hours from room checkout at the Victoria Warehouse … sat in their wonderful reception/lobby surfing the more often than not less than glamorous realms of ‘motorhome/caravan/race truck’ search world. Then i had to leave – i couldn’t really sit there all day. I gave the dogs another fast paced stretch past the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and back again, by then the good-looking lads were erecting marquees in the car park (probably in preparation for the opening of the Science & Art Exhibition – is it really going to be that big? Zac Dingle is joining us …. are futurejack really going to play in front of a good few hundred peeps?) nice!    According to my notes, i’ve planned to head toward Lancaster, Lancashire – so i need to get back on the M602, M62 and then get onto M61  – where did i go wrong?   the rain started to fall, time was fast approaching ‘rush 3 hours’ – was probably about 4pm and the queues on the motorway were forming … i turned onto the M60 ring road toward Preston, should have waited a bit further along the M62 to get onto the M6 and then wound back up toward Bolton … ok, so i got it wrong and then it went pear-shaped from there – ended up roving between Warrington and Newton (A49) doing a round robin times two! and decidedly stopped at the B&Q and Burger King exit.  Was a fair bit hungry since i’d had nothing but an apple and two cheese cubes plus a wee marmite pack since breakfast, more than 7 hours previous …. this incited me to do something i’d not done for possibly more than 12 years – i entered the Burger King, and i had in mind the fact of eating a burger (i rarely rarely rarely ever eat beef) … i approached the till with an iota of hope and looked at the tempting tantalising photography on display – so i made a decision and ordered the ‘sandwich of the day’ for £3.99, a double cheeseburger, fries and drink – ‘can i get a coffee rather than cold drink?’ … ‘yes’ replied the overweight server.  I only had to wait about three minutes for the goods – because it wasn’t too busy i’m stood there anticipating some fresh cooked scran.  ‘You want any ketchup or mayonnaise?’ i was asked by the assistant, I declined.  I took my tray to a seat swathed in sun and sat down.  Already i was feeling a bit less trusting in the fayre in front of me – for one thing, it was a lot lot smaller than the photograph depicted … the fries kind of fell, broken, out of their shitty little cardboard box,  … and then i unwrapped the tightly squeezed burger king paper from around the squished squashed putty roll that purportedly encased a double cheeseburger and bacon … i was gripped with hunger –  i took off the top part of the roll to reveal, brown bacon, sloppy sick cheese and a deflated burger …. i got up, walked back to the assistant and said ‘i can’t eat that, give me my money back please’ … he looked astonished, perplexed even, went off to talk to someone at the back of the shop and then returned with till key and opened the till and gave me back £2.31, retaining the money for the latte that i had in my hand.  I returned to my van, over the next ten minutes, drank the latte, which i then realised was just sloppy slushy shit milky tasting crap which gurgled in my alimentary canal for the next half hour making me feel less than sporty … my parting words to the overweight server were, ‘it’s little wonder i haven’t been in an establishment like this for more than a decade’ – and i believe it to be true, i will never ever venture in one again. . . til the day i die, (unless of course i am in dire need of a shit – cos they have useable toilets). So i sat off in their car park and made use of their free wi-fi for another hour or so and then decided to head to Lancaster.  I took the wrong turning off the roundabout and ended up toward Liverpool again where huge motorway car park queues still equated … i’m quickly realising that being on the road well and truly reminds me i have no home, and i’m just chasing my tail … how long is this going to be my fate?  i took the next exit slip road (toward Warrington/Newton A49 for the 3rd time) and then done a quick zip back round to the services adjacent to that roundabout …. ahhhhhh, lovely, here, i find myself in the refines of a Starbucks Coffee Station and a KFC.  I let the dogs out for a brief respite in the kerb and then head in to the services to try find some food.  I use the toilet, so the pelvics are relieved after a good few hours exercise….  there’s a WHSmith and, according to my no/low carb diet I find some Pepperami and hey presto, lucky for me, there’s a New Pepperami ‘Wideboy’ … fatter than your usual Unilever pork sausage snack and certainly fills my gap!  i sit momentarily in a ‘life on the road’ haze … then i notice the KFC menu and their ‘Wicked Bucket’ and ‘Variety Bucket’ and ‘Boneless Bucket’ … wondering how many thousands and millions of chicks have had their beaks spliced at birth to stop the pecking habit of a lifetime … my eyes avert to the vendors of the said fast killed smothered in gluck, food, absolutely all of whom are grossly misshapen from their skeletal birthright – a disgusting and shameful indictment on the human being. Then i see the ‘Welcome Break Gaming’ and some petty gambling machines and a little bit of ‘Save The Children, Pudsy’ fund.  Grief strickens me as i walk back to my van.  I have absolutely nothing better to do than greedily take more of the free Wi-Fi from this soul destroying part of the earth and continue my search for a motorhome ….  and remember, this is a day of a full moon/eclipse .. a time of opposites, Aries (aggression and charisma) and Libran (indecisiveness and partnership), absolutely scattered!   and the rain continues to fall and the arteries of the motorway ease and i feel i’ve made the decision to drive through the dark skies further norther toward Lancaster and prepare for a searching saturday to secure a moving roof over my head ….

Alas, another wrong turn on the long winding cat-eyed road and i’m led back to Liverpool.  At the mercy of a friends’ sofa I retreat for the night with a cut price salad, some mixed feta/olives and a large bag of twiglets, and a bottle of Isla Negra Reserva (8/10) ………

I’m about to curl up for some fetal sleep, with the hope that i take the right road in the morning.

 

 

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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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