Sunday, 30 November 2008

Thom's house

My good friend Thom moved away from Manchester today. He was the main connection in my life between Sheffield and Manchester, and now he has gone, to Chester, briefly, and then on to London. Last night I went round to his house to collect the Woody Guthrie CD I’d lent him, and for one last beer under his roof. I was glad Ed was there too.

I felt sad. With all the toys packed away, it didn’t seem like their house anymore. What happened to the bookshelves? And where had that breakfast bar come from? It was like looking at an echo of the place I knew, the same but fainter, distorted. Thom’s house was the setting for lot of fun times. I remember sweet potato and goats cheese mash and making a crumble one Sunday after the football. I remember playing the name game on the night that Owen was leaving. I remember a very spicy Chorizo soup. I remembered kissing Liz for the first time, the exact moment, in the yard. The pizza party, jerk chicken with Kier, watching The Warriors projected onto the wall. I remember chopping with Miriam one afternoon, as we waited for everybody else to get there. I remember taking Pippa round for mulled wine last Christmas.

“It’s odd how your situation mirrors mine,” said Thom. “There’s something therapeutic about putting things into boxes, don’t you think?” Thom’s house was a happy place for me, an escape from Everett when I wanted to bolt. I wish that I could get it out of a box when I need it in the future. That’s not how things work though.


Friday, 28 November 2008

Disappointingly predictable

Work was fucking shit today. I did loads of work, over the course of about six weeks, for an application for _____ for work, and my boss decided today, on the deadline day, that we weren't going to apply at all. For fuck's sake. I feel unvalued. I feel pissed off. I want a new job. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

"You're the worst dancer I've ever seen."

I can't remember exactly when I first went into the cellar bar in Withington. I think it might have been as long ago as December 2005 or January 2006. It was after I'd been to Woody's for Christmas, but before I'd started to drink at the bar at Gina and Sophia's. I bumped into Phil in the street, as he was carrying a chair, and he invited me down for a look. At the time, I think it was going to be called Alioli at the time. After Kate's party, I was invited to the eventual opening night through Facebook, and that was this evening.

I arrived, and it was empty. Ghost town dead. Nice, but deathly quiet. Kate was working - how nice to see her behind a bar in Withington again! Like old times, but with a twist. Soon enough Tag showed up, then Little Laura, then Kate Bell - a compendium of familiar Sol's faces. Steve was a bit surprised to learn that I worked in R___ S____, and that I had been for six months. I was catching up with Kate Bell, and he was shocked to hear the news. Have I been that bad at telling my friends about my job, I wondered. Blimey! Woody, Clare and Paul soon showed up, and we retired to a table (pictured above) for a chat. The general vibe from everybody was that the cellar bar was pretty good. Funky Dunk, Al, Megan and Chaw arrived later on, and we had a de-brief of the party from the weekend. Al thinks I'm a bad dancer. A very bad dancer. Ouch!

Everybody drifted off apart from Pippa. She came and sat with me as I finished my pint and, bless her heart, listened to me complaining again. It seems that everytime I've seen Pip recently I've ended up whinging to her about something or other. What an absolute saint she is.

Rock Radio Christmas Party

The lovely Rachel from Rock Radio came into work today, and reminded us about the party next Thursday. Must go!

Happy Birthday Chas

Have a drink on us!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

How weird is Ben?

On the way home from work, I drew out the cash to pay the deposit on my new place in Chorlton. As with paying the deposit on Emma’s place, I zipped the wedge of cash into my chest pocket, and strolled over to the house. Three hundred quid seemed oddly heavy in my pocket as I strolled down past the roughneck Nell Lane Estate. Eeek!

Becky seemed very nice, a little quiet, which is probably to be expected on a first meeting. She seemed to spark up a bit when I mentioned playing chess though, so we'll see I guess. Ben, on the other hand, seemed like a bit of a weirdo. He’s got a sort of nervous manner, and started off being a bit of a hard-ass about Rachael, the girl who’d just moved out, not handing her keys in. Not that big a deal, really. Maybe he was fronting up to show his sternness off to a new tenant. Odd. And then he was sort of off with Becky about some damp she’d pointed out. Again, no need really. He was maybe fifty, maybe forty-five. And then, the killer blow.

“So Ben, shall we sort out signing the contract then?”
“Erm… can you just put the money into my account and we’ll sort out the contract once it clears”
“Actually, I’ve got the cash now. In my pocket.”
“I’d rather you just transferred it, thanks.”

What if you rip me off, I thought. What happens then? Still, what choice did I have?

“Okay, what are your bank details.”

Why would he not want me to pay the deposit? Walking out of the house, I found myself trying to get my head around his weirdness. Carrying the massive pile of cash in my pocket was sort of making me tense too. Look at all those scallies on bikes on Nell Lane, not good. Did I trust Ben? If not, I’d have to start again with all this tedious house hunt bollocks. Could I be bothered to start it all again? I went for a thoughtful pint in the Railway, and then it clicked: he was waiting to find out whether Becky liked me. Could she live with me, he wanted to know, before he got me to sign up. Of course, that made more sense. And she would probably say yes to that, as she is secretly moving out soon anyway (secretly, as in Ben doesn’t know). So I went home and paid up. I really hope he’s kosher.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Cally and Ali

This morning I asked Liz if she fancied a pint, and she said she was busy all week. When I asked if she was around at the weekend, she explained that she was away with work in London for ten days, starting on Friday. I felt like such a prick. For the last few weeks, I’d been dead suspicious that Liz was deliberately avoiding me for some reason. No, actually it was because the biggest event of her working year was just around the corner. You dick! Doubt grows in the cracks between conversations, I guess. But I’m ashamed of myself too. What happened to assuming good faith? What happened to positivity? It’s been a tough old month, with all the flat bollocks going on, but I feel like I let myself down.

After work, I met up with Cally and Ali, who Milney introduced me to last week, and we went to the markets. Cally and Ali, who are Helen’s friends from Uni, are totally ace! We had hot buttered rum at the North Pole Bar, and then worked our way down through St Ann’s Square to Albert Square, then on to the Peveril for a couple with the end of the footy. We saw a man with tattoos all over his head and face playing the armpit bagpipes. The shipwrecked man from Monty Python sat next to him, playing the irish side drum, with a man whose quiff had escaped from the 1950s opposite playing guitar. Odd, but good odd.

Over the course the evening I called Emma and Nick to tell them about choosing Chorlton instead of Levenshulme. They were both dead nice about it. Emma even suggested that we should hang out in the future. Wonderful!

Tabulate your thoughts to process them more easily

Monday, 24 November 2008

M21 here I come!

Albemarle Road

“I’ve underestimated the speed of the 86 bus, so I’ve arrived a little early. Is it alright if I pop round earlier than we arranged?”
“Someone else is here at six, so can you come at six thirty?”
“Okay no bother.”

On one of the coldest nights of the year, I’d been asked to dilly dally in the street for half an hour before the appointment. Brrr! No thanks! Straight into the Horse and Jockey for a half of bitter and a read of the Economist, thank you very much. That’s better! As my beer was settling on the bar, I got another message – “He’s gone now, so you can come whenever you want.” Gah!

Of all the houses I saw, this was the most Chorlton of them all. The advert had said, “To share with a man and a woman into meditation and holistic therapies,” so I knew what I was getting myself into. One guy sat there, eating a pomegranate as he explained why the room was available, “Ralph’s a Buddhist, and – I mean, I’m a Buddhist too, just in a different tradition – and so he’s moving into a shared house with other Buddhists…” Carmen works as a carer for the mentally ill, and John is a jobbing actor, “…Only I’m not doing that much acting at the minute, so I’m doing other work a lot.” I don’t know whether it was the half a bitter that made me relaxed, or whether the flatmates were unusually tense, but there was a certain rigidity in their manner as we spoke. As is often the case, the person moving out seemed the most charismatic of the bunch. I quite liked the room, the lounge and the kitchen, but the people freaked me out a little. It’s a nice place, but they were weird, so no.

Sandy Lane

I was looking forward to this viewing above all of the others because the texts to arrange it had been the best. As with Oswald Road yesterday, I felt a bit of a drop in my stomach as I got to the house - the front door reminded me of houses on the Kingsway in Wellingborough, and there were single glazed sash windows. “Keep an open mind Dave, don’t judge it yet.” One lad is moving out, leaving three girls and a guy there, all of whom seem really sound. Mike is a recruitment consultant, Una is newly qualified nurse, and Heather is a PA for an urban developer. As they described the sort of things they got up to routinely – mocking Heather for her Bolton accent, drinking wine in the house, having a weekly house meal – I found myself seeing a happy parallel with the first year of Parsonage Road.

The house itself was rough around the edges, but nice enough. The lounge was a bit scruffy, a bit small, but very welcoming, very lived-in. The kitchen was similar, cosy, used, and friendly. There was a nice long garden, and a dining table by the back door. The bathrooms were set up like some kind of freaky optical illusion, adjacent to one another, and sort of mirrored in their layout. If you put the bridge of your nose on the frame where both doors met, and sort of crossed your eyes, they seemed to merge into one. I know because I did it. I’m sure it made the right impression. “The landlord is refurbishing it, bit by bit,” said Heather. The room was – and I know this is unfair – a bit of a state because the guy was moving his stuff out there and then. I was rather disturbed to see three single pints of semi skimmed milk on his bed, just sitting there. Weird. The room was quite dark too, and not as big as I’d seen elsewhere. It was the final blow.

While the people were really nice, to go into a Parsonage II would be a backwards step. While the shared areas were nice, I didn’t like the room. No, no, no.

I called Ben of Whalley Ave and let him know I definitely wanted the room there. I’ve arranged to meet Becky, the housemate who’s staying, on Wednesday, and then to sign the contract with Ben afterwards. M21 here I come.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Bad to poor, improving later

As I walked back from Kate’s in the morning, some clown whizzed past in a Ford Puma, through a huge puddle, and sprayed dirty, cold water all over me. What a way to start the day! I’d had about 3 hours sleep and I was cold and grumpy before I got splashed. Bah! And then I saw this billboard: -

- which made me smile and think of Liz. I decided to see if she wanted to go for a curry later on, so I texted her. I made it home by about ten, and slept solidly until I needed to leave for my 3pm viewing.

Oswald Road

The street runs from Croma and the precinct, up behind the Sedge Lynn and Pi, and crosses over Kate’s road. Brilliant, I thought. The houses were all quite nice too, but my heart sank when I arrived at the address. It was easily the grottiest on the street. I knocked on the door.

“Oh right, the landlord didn’t say anybody was coming round. Is he supposed to be here too?” Another rubbish start! The house was big, but dingy. The sofas were new-ish, but didn’t match the living room. The kitchen looked old. The person showing me around was very friendly, but I got the sense that the house was a bunch of individuals rather than a gang. The room was the second biggest that I’d seen so far, after the Chorlton Monastery, but it was tellingly rough around the edges - the curtain rail was nailed to a piece of unpainted wood above the window, for example – and I got the sense that the landlord wasn’t very attentive. I knew it was a “No” the second I stepped out of the door.

Whalley Ave

“Are you here to see Ben? Come in, he’s just a bit late.” Ben is the landlord, it turned out, not one of the flatmates. Halfway down Sandy Lane, it’s a warm little two up two down for three people. As soon as I walked in, I got a good vibe. “Cup of tea?” Yes please! Of those living there at the minute, two are moving out in the next month, so there’s a choice of rooms. The lounge is compact, but pleasant, the kitchen big and modern-ish, and the bathroom pretty standard. The location is great. Of the two bedrooms, one was pretty big, and the other was massive. The rent was very affordable, and the only complaint from the current tenant was that the landlord is a bit “hands-off” when it comes to maintenance. He didn’t make it to the viewing, in the end, but when he called afterwards he seemed friendly enough. I think it’s the one, but after last time, I’m trying to be cautious. I’m seeing two more places tomorrow, and I need to meet the other flatmate, but I think this could be it.

I felt quite sad that Liz didn’t reply to my curry invitation. Not a word. Being friends with an ex can be quite hard going sometimes.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Market turmoil

I met Pete, a policeman that I used to work with, after work for a few drinks at the German market in town. We nattered on about one thing and another. Pete is retiring to the South of France in about four years time, and I was glad to hear about how his preparations are developing. He’s looking at a well-paid retirement, thanks to his decent police pension, so he won’t need to work to get by. Work will be about passing time, so Pete has enrolled for a sports massage course. He’ll get involved with a local rugby club, or a cycling club, and spend a few days now and then rubbing down athletes. What a neat plan. What a great thing to work towards. How inspiring!

After a few drinks to many, I felt decidedly woozy, and staggered onto the bus home. Three teenage girls, none older than fourteen, were sat around me on the top deck discussing which colleges they wanted to go to. One was better for art, apparently, and another for science. Drunk as I was, I’ve forgotten most of the details. But each of them had a clear idea of what they wanted to do, where they wanted to do it, and why.

What do I want to do with the future? Find a new place to live, to start with. And then… Hmmmm.

Job wobbles

I managed to collar J for a not particularly reassuring chat about the restructure. Our team is one of four that make up a larger unit. The restructure involves combining our unit with two other units as the Big New Team (BNT) is formed, following the almost inevitable Royal Assent of the ______ Bill. Two very senior necks have already felt the tickle of the axe-blade, including the head of our unit. A proposed extension of my contract was informally approved at the last meeting of the smaller board that governs my team, about two weeks ago. But when the BNT forms, a Big New Board will oversee it and its actions, including my team. My contract was due to be formally extended at the next meeting of the smaller board. Now it might not be.

“I’ve got a list of things to sort out for the next [smaller] board meeting,” said J, “just let me just find it.” As we talked about some of the other strategic priorities on the list, I managed to sneak a look at it from across the desk. “Sorting out your contract is at the very top of my list,” said J. And it was, sort of. I could see my name, and it was at the top of the page from where I was sitting. Then again, I was looking at the list upside-down. Hardly confidence inspiring.

Time to find a new job?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Nick's room just isn't right. The downstairs layout is oddly divided by a staircase. Whilst he's done great things with the house, it isn't what I'm looking for. The upstairs isn't finished yet. The kitchen is going to be a building site pretty soon. The quickest route to the main street, which I walked down, is a bit scary. Nick is brilliant, but the house... it's a no I think.

On the plus side, a) it's 275pcm b)he doesn't need to know until mid December c) there's no minimum term. So it's a back-up I guess. But still... Hmmmm...

Back to square one, bleugh!

"We're having a restructure"

I came back from lunch and J, S and K were having a pow-wow in J's little office. "Important news," explained S, "We're having a restructure." Oh. Will it affect my contract, I wonder. As ever, J vanished before I could ask her. Meh!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The plot un-thickens

Thins, I suppose then. As it gets less complicated. I'd gone for Option 2, so I called Emma to talk it through. And things have changed a little.

The room at Nick's isn't ready yet, but it will be by mid-December, so I could move there directly instead of taking a two-month long sabbatical at Emma's en route. It means I'd pay less double rent in December, as I could stay at Everett longer, saving me about £150 compared to what I thought I'd spend.

I'm certainly interested, so I'm off to look at Nick's place tomorrow. Oh, a merry dance this is...

Reasonable argument

I'm still not sure what to do about the houseshare in Levenshulme, so I've broken it down rationally. I think this is rational, at least.

Option 1: Start again - look for somewhere else to live.

Good things:

- I’d only need to move once
- There are lots good people out there, not just the ones I’ve met at this house in Levenshulme
- I might find somewhere nearer my M20 friends…
- …or even find somewhere else in Levenshulme if I want to stay there

Bad things:

- It’s a massive hassle arranging viewings and meeting lots of new people, like a job interview every time
- Emma and Nick seem really nice, much more so than the other people that I met last week
- I was quite excited about being in Levenshulme, I'd already moved there in my head
- Potentially it means a longer stay at Everett, and all of its associated bad feelings

Option 2: Move into Emma’s, and then into Nick’s

Good things:

- Good people that I’ve met already, more good people likely to come through their friends
- New area, and the possibility for change, renewal, growth, that goes with it
- Rolling contract with Nick, open-ended on my part so flexible
- Rolling contract means if the bad things take over, I can look to move again in April / March
- Really cheap, and then getting even cheaper (driving lessons, etc)
- Nick’s is very close to Emma’s, so it’s more like moving one-and-a-half times really
- It’s a nice informal arrangement, which suits my uncertainty about job security after April
- The deposit is already paid

Bad things:

- Paying for December at both Everett and Emma’s would be more bearable if I wasn’t moving out of Emma's at the end of January, as it is it seems like a bit of a waste of money during December - I'd previously written paying double off as a fair way of making sure the room belonged to me
- Informal arrangement doesn’t legally give me much power
- Would living with a couple be difficult? It was okay with Tam and Ben, but this is a more grown up vibe.


Well, there are more negatives than positives for Option 1, and more positives than negatives for Option 2. But the points aren't equally important, so a simple head count isn't good enough. Hmmmm. I'm still not sure.

Still undecided about Levenshulme

Sleep hasn't resulted in any revelatory change of mind in either direction. Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Falling through?

Today my new landlady called and explained that a couple had looked at her house before I looked, but hadn't got back to her until after I'd signed the contract. They'd offered her a better deal than I could, so she was going to let them the whole house, rather than me a room. Did I want to move there for a couple of months, she asked, and then move into her friend Nick's house? The couple were moving in on 1st Feb.

Gazumped! I felt so sad! What should I do? Start again? Move there for a couple of months, then start again? Move there for a couple of months, and then into Nick's house?

Emma and Nick, I assumed, would be living in the same house as me, both before and after I moved between their houses. So living with them as a couple doesn't really come into my thinking. They're both very nice people - better than the autocrat in Chorlton (Chorlto-crat?), better than the 'wait out here' debt collection agency guy on Palatine Road - and Nick's is just around the corner from Emma's. So the area would be the same.

But then again, it's so far from all of my friends. But then again, is that a bad thing? Blank slate and all that... Hmmmm...

Let me sleep on it, I'll give you my answer in the morning.

Monday, 17 November 2008

North Pole Bar

I met up with Tracy to talk through all of the sturm und drang of the last week, what with the flat situation and my heart's delicacy. I was so pleased to talk to her.

Belle and Sebastian let me down a bit

I bought Kate the Belle and Sebastian BBC Sessions for her birthday. I was a bit let down by the Peel Sessions, but the bonus live disc made up for it. I bought a copy for myself too.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


I've been enjoying 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son on tumblr. I think the rule I would offer is this one:

If somebody offers an apology, accept it.

I try to.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Levenshulme stroll

I wandered around Levenshulme for a couple of hours this morning, around the furniture shops and takeaways of the area. There's a massive old pub near the north of the high street that looks like it was once an absolutely amazing place to party. Unfortunately, it's gone the way of the White Lion, Withington, and is being converted into something else. I took a peek at Highfield Country Park, and dawdled down to Didsbury past Cringle Fields, through Burnage and Ladybarn, and eventually past the old place at Parsonage Road.

Levenshulme doesn't have some of the things that Withington has, but there's excitement in the tabula rasa aspect of the place. I'm a little nervous about the idea of moving there, but excited too.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The next few months...

...could hold:

a car
a guitar
a bike
Batman books

Contract signed

I went to Levenshulme and signed the contract for the new house tonight. I noticed a wonderfully tasteful strip of Del Boy wallpaper in one corner of the room. I'm dead excited about the new place! I timed the walk to Withington on the stopwatch on my phone, 42:35. Not too long a walk, not really.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Levenshulme here I come!

4. Palatine Road shit tip

They kept me waiting outside for ten minutes before showing me in. The room was terrible - small, on the ground floor, right by the washing machine, with a wardrobe in the hallway - and the upstairs was grotty. "The dining table is normally over there, but we had a barbecue in September and we haven't moved it back yet." Right. It's November. That's just lazy. They showed me the whole flat before inviting me to take off my coat. That's just rude. They were watching Top Gear. That's just not very me.

Afterwards, I rang Emma in Levenshulme, and asked if the room was still available. It was. So I've taken it.


My colleagues S____ and J____ are very similar. Both brilliant, spontaneous and agile minded, but both scatterbrained and disorganised to boot. Working with them is both a challenge and a joy.

I woke up this morning...

...thinking "I want the Levenshulme house share." I'm going to one other viewing tonight on Palatine Road, and then I'll decide.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Flat hunting

1. Studio Flats, Clyde Road West Didsbury

A more depressing thing on this earth than a mangey studio flat does not exist. And the three flats I saw were grim. Old furniture, worse than the dingiest student houses I've known, bare white walls, and shabby furniture. Ick! I couldn't see my stuff making them much more desirable, even if I got really creative. To think of being in these pits at all filled me with dread and fear, never mind the thought of being there alone.

2. Levenshulme house share

"I know you," said the face behind the door, "have you been to this house before?" No, I hadn't. But I'd met Emma on the evening of the Folk Train. She came over and talked to Vinny and I at our table, about crisps. I stepped inside. "Okay, help me with this table now please." How bold! How down to earth! How direct! The house is lovely - a massive dining table ("Here we eat, do handicrafts") in a huge living room / dining room - and so is Emma. A piece of pear tart, a cup of tea, and a light hearted interrogation followed. The bed is a weakness - it's sort of a sofa bed, but I could get my own bed, I suppose - but that's about it. The difference in price between what I'm paying now and what I'd pay there would cover the cost of learning to drive. Levenshulme is a long way from Withington, but the chance for change and renewal that offers is attractive. A definite possible.

3. Chorlton monastery

It isn't actually a monastery. But the live-in landlady is very very very strict about what is and is not allowed to happen under her roof. No parties. No friends back after the pub. No leaving washing up after cooking. There were no toothbrushes in a jar by the sink, because they have a neat and special place in the neat and special cupboard. It was a beautiful house, but I felt afraid to touch anything. The people... well, I only met two of them, and one of those was the tyrant overlord, so I think the other girl was scared of stepping out of line at all. It isn't for me, this chairs-under-tables, sit up straight vibe, I thought. Great house. Terrible regime. Not a bloody chance.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Review meeting

The feared representative of the Department for ________ came to visit us at work today. We had a massive project review meeting, which was the last thing I needed on top of all of the stress of Monday’s news. Somehow though, it went swimmingly well. The project isn't just about me, I thought. And neither is this flat-share drama. I put out the batsignal, asking if anybody knew of anybody that needed anybody. Some helpful people came back and said, "Doesn't Clare have a spare room?" I couldn't help but smile.

Meeting Pip after work for pints was a great way to swing my thinking round - with the demonic envoy at work all day, I'd not really had much time to mull living arrangements over. And that's a good thing, I think. My viewpoint developed, and I came round to being more excited about the challenge of moving somewhere new, and less pissed off about it. Not entirely un-pissed off, mind, but much less so.

Monday, 10 November 2008

"Are you in tonight?"

“hey mate having a decent day? you in tonight?“

What an odd text to receive from Paul. He never asks if I’m in. What does he want to talk about, I wondered. Bills maybe. Toilet paper?

“There isn’t an easy way to say this mate. I’m moving in with Clare. I’m moving out.”

Ouch! Paul wants to be more grown up, he said. He’s not been happy at Everett for a while, he said. He’s sorted out other problems in his life, and he thinks moving somewhere else will make him happier, he said.

He was visibly uncomfortable as he explained this to me - tense, oddly upright and formal.

Clare’s landlord is quite flexible, he explained, so Paul would be able to pay half rent there until the contract at Everett was up. He’d been in touch with the landlord? Wow. How long has this been brewing, I wondered. Who else knows? I felt terrible. I called Pip, Kate and Liz, all of whom implored positivity on my part. But I struggled to embrace their recommendation. A couple of beers with Woody helped more.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

My family

Kirsty seems stronger, smarter, cooler and more responsible each time I see her. My pride in her swells as she stands up to dad, something my nerves don't often attempt. She's an adult, and a fine one.

Kiera, on the other hand, just gets worse. Stropping teenies are one thing, but were we ever that bad? Was I?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Very little can prepare you...

...for the overwhelming sense of weirdness that reigns when you see the face of someone you know on billboards all over the city. I'm all for TIF, but this ad just freaks me out.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Ingredients for a good fireworks night:

4 bottles of good cider
1 flask of mulled wine

10 sparklers
1 chicken, roasted
tonnes and tonnes of tasty cheese

The power of Sheffield

The conference in Sheffield today made me reconsider the grumbles I've felt about my job lately. That place is like the island in Lost. It does special things.

Congratulations USA

Change we've needed for a while.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Monday in Rivington

Kate and I both had today off work, so we decided to have an adventure. We met at Oxford Road station, and took the train to Black Rod, near Chorley. After walking through Horwich, we broke off the path and into the woods to try to find a waterfall. Making our the way up the stream, we leapt, stepping stoned, and slipped across the brook, until we came to this:

As we clambered down the steep sides of the valley to get a closer look, Kate came across the top part of a ring box. Someone had taken their partner here and proposed, we thought. How romantic! We raced small boats down the white water, and tried to take photos as they plummeted over the edge to their doom. None of my photos came out very well.

The climb to the tower at Rivington Pike was short, but bracing. A foal played in a field as we passed. We could see forever when we looked south. The low autumn sun reflected on distant lakes and pools that shined like puddles of gold. We ate cheese and chutney sandwiches in the shelter of the tower, attracting the attention of wet, waggy dogs.

The Pigeon Tower was Kate’s favourite part of the day, a tall finger of a building that looked like Lemony Snicket’s house. I wish we could have gone inside. We made our way back down the hill through the ornamental terraced gardens of Lever Park. In eighty-odd years of neglect, they’d fallen into disrepair. Parts of the viewing platforms and pavilions had been fenced off to keep the public safe.

At the bottom of the hill, we came to Lever Castle. "[It] wasn't begun until 1912. Only a small number of stonemasons and labourers worked on the site, and the build, slow in progress, was abandoned in 1925 after Lord Leverhulme's death. Lever Castle appears to have been conceived as a ruin of the imagination, a soft-focus Gothic set-piece on the edge of the estate that heavily romanticised it's version of Liverpool Castle which had lain since 1599 in utter ruin."

If you look up in the background of this picture, you can see Rivington Pike Tower in the far distance. Hide-and-seek doesn't work very well on a station platform like Black Rod - there's nowhere to hide.

Afterwards, we made toad in the hole. Glorious!