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Archive for the ‘Being an honorary Mancunian’ Category

After dinner sit a while, and after supper walk a mile.

Posted by shinymac on July 9, 2008

Alex and I decided over the weekend that if we’re going to continue having guests over to stay, we need to put up some kind of instructions up for the bathroom, because for some reason, people find it difficult to deal with.

First of all, my poor mother almost knocked herself out by knocking off the shower screen!
Then this last weekend, Krista did the exact same thing, although the fact that she called it the shower “door” is probably the reason behind it. It’s not there to open, it’s just there to block, although even that doesn’t really happen, seeing as when Krista had a shower, it was dripping through the kitchen ceiling!

Aside from the bathroom falling apart, the weekend was lovely, and full of exquisite food and great company!
We met John and Krista at the train station, and headed straight to The Northern in the Northern Quarter for some dinner. Mmmm mmmm mmmm – deeeelicious, and HUGE portions! Even the kids had “Light Bites” but their plates were massive!

Then we headed to the Manchester Art Gallery for the Lauren Childs exhibition (Charlie and Lola, and The Princess and the Pea), which was lovely, and Marley and Evie loved it.

Once Alex had sorted Zoe’s birthday stuff, we then went to the Slug and Lettuce and had a nice cold drink, which felt so well deserved after all the traipsing across the city we had done.

Later at home, after Zoe, Alex’s sister had arrived, my belly was still so full from my huge dinner, yet Alex insisted on getting a takeaway, but I just couldn’t even stand the thought of eating anything else, so I passed.
Instead I had some toast, and some cigs, and I was quite happy with that, despite the aromas that filled the house, and the grateful noises of the curry-eaters. I did have a little bit of naan bread, dipped in some kind of biryani sauce just to stave off any desire for a full on curry.

We watched The Constant Gardener, which actually made me cry (the bit where the 4 year old little girl isn’t allowed on the plane! Gosh – I broke my heart!), and which I desperately need to watch again to get all of the little details, and headed off to bed late and a little merry from wine.

Sunday brought Zoe’s departure, and we lazed, looking at villas on the net, and old photos which caused amusement, then suddenly boredom too, so we called it a day. I decided that a Sunday roast would be a good idea, so Alex and I headed to Tesco with just one child in tow – Evie. Marley wanted to stay with John and Krista, and it felt so strange being a 1 child family for half an hour whilst we bought chicken and desserts.

I whipped up a right feast, and cared not about how much fat was involved, because as James Beard (American Chef) once said “A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.” and I did not want to be that tart! I hurt myself by eating far too much, but it was so delicious, and roast dinners have always been my favourite. I remember having suspected appendicitis at around 8 years old, and I was more gutted about not being able to eat a Sunday dinner than the pain. It was probably my kidney looking back on it now, but more of that another time!

Later that night, Alex begged me to do the nachos grande I’d promised, so I had to whip up a supper once the kids were in bed, and again, it was polished off and appreciated.

This time, we watched The Wind That Shakes The Barley, and I was surprised how brilliant it was.

So it tired me out really, but I did manage to squeeze in 3 runs (not cricket ones – but down the canal ones), so that makes me feel better about all the food we managed to consume!


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It’s all a case of trial and error….

Posted by shinymac on March 22, 2008

Any regulars to this site (do I even have any of those? I really am not sure! One would be nice, two would be fabulous, and even 3 would be amazing, so if you are one of them – thanks, again!), may have noticed over the last few days that I keep chopping and changing my mind with regards to how this site is going to look.
I just can’t seem to settle on anything and stick with it at the moment, and this is something that is reflected in my choice of home too.

Lately, I have been wanting to move somewhere new…… again. I have lived in approximately 12 or 13 houses or flats in the last 9 or 10 years. Ridiculous? Yes. On the run? No, it’s not really that exciting I’m afraid. It’s more to do with the fact that this is how my life has been from day 1. Being a soldier’s daughter, we would live somewhere for 3 years, then move. Then live somewhere new for a year, then move. Then live somewhere new again for 2 years, then move, and so on and so on. You get the picture. Because of this, I think I have some kind of “new house and new area craving” disorder, that impels me to have itchy feet, and forces me to want to go somewhere different.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Manchester, and I have no intentions whatsoever of moving from the confines of the city, but, I would move to the next little town along from where we currently are, tomorrow. I want the excitement of opening the box marked “bedroom” to see what’s in it, and leaf through my memory box and old photos, whilst pretending to be putting things away in new places.
I want the thrill of going out and discovering the area, whilst getting a little lost, and that sense of achievement when you can find your way home for the first time.
I want the neighbours to ask if we’ve just moved in, and to tell us where the best parks are within walking distance.
I even want to apologise for the excitable children who were up late last night because they thought the Easter Bunny was coming.

Despite all of this, and despite the fact that on my way home from work tonight, the town was crawling with police again (it’s a Friday thing here I think!), I do love it here. I love it, even though the building society has been robbed at knife-point twice in three weeks. I love it even though I feel nervous walking home at night. I love it even though there are rats at the tram stop (yes, I saw another one at my local tram stop recently, which I forgot to write about. I will get round to it though, promise!). I do simply love it. I just crave new things, new places, newness!

Maybe I just need a holiday?

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Late night shopping may be retail therapy for you, but it certainly isn’t for kids!

Posted by shinymac on March 20, 2008

Many of my posts tend to begin with the sentence; “Last night on my way home from work”, or at least they seem to, to me anyway. But, this time, it needs to begin with this, because I do not know where else to begin!

So, I was sat on the bus, waiting for it to set off, glancing at my watch, and rubbing the big lump that had appeared on my hand from bashing it (accidentally) on the corner of the till drawer, and patiently waiting for my digital watch to change from 29 to 30 so the driver would put his foot down and get the hell away from the hell that is the Trafford Centre.

Just before he closed the doors, on walked two girls, sporting two large earrings each, and pushing two prams. One had a tiny new-born baby who was sleeping soundly in his cosy little den, and the other was a girl, about 2 years old who was wide awake and smiley. Now, bear in mind, this was at 10:30 at night, and from a shopping centre, not from like a hospital or an emergency doctors or something, where it would kind of be acceptable at that time of night. Their buggies were laden down with shopping bags, mostly sports shop ones, so they had selfishly dragged these poor kids out late at night so that they could do a spot of shopping.

Now, I am all for taking babies out for night time walks during the early days, when no matter what you try, the child will not sleep, but this is before you’ve had a chance to establish a decent kind of routine. And, my children, to be honest, never really had a proper routine until very recently, when Alex knuckled down and instilled a strict 8pm bedtime into them, in preparation for when they start school in September. But, we would never have had them out at The Trafford Centre at night, just because of a bit of retail therapy! It’s so wrong!

As the bus set off, the little girl was wriggling and trying to get out of her pushchair, and her young mother got her out and sat her on her knee, talking to her friend using foul language in front of the child, and saying how “f*cking naughty” she was. Then the next minute, she was kissing the soft hair of the two year old and telling her she was a good girl! Talk about mixed messages! The poor child did not know whether she was coming or going!
So, the remainder of my journey was filled with the sounds of high pitched squeals, the sound of “NO! Shut up you little sh*t”, and in complete contradiction “Mummy’s little angel, good girl”!

As I got closer to home, the mum went to put the girl back in her pram, and as she fought against the child’s struggle, the child made a noise that sounded like this: “Kur”. The mother recoiled in shock, and exclaimed in horror; “she just called me a cow! I can’t believe she just called me a cow! Little sh*t! It’s because I call her a little cow sometimes, she’s got it from me! I am shocked, I can’t believe it! She called me a cow!”.

And as I got off the bus, all I could think to myself was, well really, what else did you expect? And, I felt like such a good parent.
I realised that it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter how many Easter eggs you can afford to get them. It doesn’t matter that you’re not there every night, reading their stories at bed-time.
What does matter is that you are consistent, that you give them love, but discipline them when they are being naughty, but that you do not contradict yourself all the time. It also matters that children have a good night’s sleep, and you can’t afford to be selfish when you have kids. How this girl expected her child to be on her best behaviour when she’s getting her to bed at midnight each night, is beyond me. It matters that you do not call your children “cows”, because that is simply disgusting.

(Incidentally, the big lump on my hand went down, and is now replaced with a shiny bruise.)

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Wedding dresses and robberies

Posted by shinymac on February 22, 2008

Last weekend we went into Manchester shopping with a surprise £100 we had received from our solicitors as they were archiving our file and noticed we were owed it. We discovered a great little shoe shop with a load of Adidas trainers, and as you may or may not know, this is a bit of a passion of mine. Adidas Originals – I love them! So, I was very happy to stumble upon this great little find, hidden away in an arcade off Deansgate, and all at good value too.

This is the collection I intend to add to in the future:


Whilst in this Arcade, I also spotted a cute little wedding boutique, and in the window of said cute little wedding boutique, there lay before me (or stood before me, seeing as it was on a mannequin), a lovely Candy Anthony/Dolly Couture style dress, with a difference. It had black fanned out straps over the shoulders, which kind of spoilt it for me, but the dress itself, without these straps, which were kind of braces style, as in they went right down to the waist, was absolutely gorgeous, and only confirmed that this is the kind of dress I need. Not that this really needed confirming, as my mind has been pretty much made up from the start of my (not really getting anywhere) wedding plans.

Last night on my way to the tram stop to go to work, I was strolling along with the children, amidst the sound of sirens and the usual hustle and bustle of end of the working day time.
We reached the bank in Sale, and I used the cashpoint, not realising at the time that the bank was closed…early.
I looked around and saw there were police everywhere, talking to people in the streets and hastily noting down the conversations.
We went into the shop for me to get some change for my tram fare, and people were nattering in the shop, phrases such as “it’s terrible” “even if they do catch them….” and “can’t believe it’s happened here”.
So, I did what any other ordinary, run of the mill, nosy as hell and dying to know what’s going on, person would do in that kind of situation. I forgot the old rule that you shouldn’t talk to strangers, and I asked one of them what exactly had happened out there.
“Some bloke’s robbed the bank with a knife!” I was told by one lady.
“It’s terrible.” Stated another.
“Can’t believe it’s happened here.” I heard.

Well, I have to say, I felt really uneasy then, heading off to catch my tram, with my kids in tow, and realising that had we left the house some 15-20 minutes earlier, which really I should’ve done, to ensure I was on time for work, we would’ve been caught in the middle of it. And furthermore to this, the bank steps are a bit of a playground for my kids whilst I use the cash point. They run up the steps, and then down the ramp, and pretend they’re on a fairground ride. They could’ve been there whilst this crazy armed robber ran out with his loot!
Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, and I held their tiny little warm hands extra tight all the way to work.

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A Manchester Day

Posted by shinymac on February 5, 2008

Wow, I’ve left it almost a week since I last wrote here, but forgive me; I have been a busy busy bee!
I now have the worst cold in the world, so it will take me longer to write today whilst I keep having to stop for sniffle and tissue breaks. Eww.
This last weekend was great! On Friday night, I had to struggle home in the snow after work, and walked into the house looking like a snowman. I also had no grips whatsoever on my boots, so skidded and slid all the way home, especially down the little hill from the tram stop. It was fun, but I kept looking around nervously for people waiting to ambush me with snowballs. Thankfully no-one did. Phew.
Saturday morning came and the kids got packed up to go to their grandma and grandad’s over in Hull, along with winter clothing and wellies. I got to work (in my leopard print wellies, which I changed upon arrival into some black ballet style flats) an hour and a half early due to having a preference of getting a lift rather than catching the bus! Oops.
Krista and John came back with Alex, and I met up with them outside Afflecks Palace where Alex had bought me a present, a ring with a Scrabble letter on it! Unfortunately though, he couldn’t get an S for my name, so ended up presenting me with an O. We came up with some suggestions as to what it could stand for, and the best I think was Krista’s “Oh so special” or something along those lines.

We followed the strict instructions of our bellies rumbling and went straight to the Printworks for some food, deciding on Old Orleans, where I had some kind of chicken meal, that was so not worth it’s price, but it filled a gap.

On from there, we went to Urbis


and had a good nosey around the Factory Records/Hacienda exhibition which is soon closing, and we so wanted to squeeze it in. It was brilliant, and I was happy to see that even Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy) got a few words in on some of the videos (especially as he’s a real favourite of mine).


Time wasn’t on our side by this point, so after Alex had prised me away from the Urbis shop where I had my head stuck in a book called “Manchester By Air” for a good half an hour, we had to head home to meet Rob and Gemma who were coming over for the NME Awards Tour gig that evening.

They were waiting outside the house in Rob’s car as we appeared around the corner, and I introduced myself to Gemma, who seemed nice and everyone came inside to get a drink and get ready for the night. I took longer than most (it’s my age!), and in the meantime, Alex took Rob and Gemma to get some food at the pub in Sale, whilst John and Krista waited for me. We went to meet them, and after a couple of beers, headed into Manchester on a perfectly timed tram journey.

Once at the Academy, we were shocked at the length of the queue (and the average age of the queue-er as it even made Krista feel old, and at 21 that’s no mean feat!), so we headed into The Oxford (formerly Hogshead) for a couple, where we spotted Mark Radcliffe (or is it Riley?) from Mark and Lard fame. Alex and I were just telling everyone how we’d seen him in there several years before, when he appeared! Alex wanted to go and have his picture taken with him, but I talked him out of it and told him to play things cool with “celebrities” as it’s just embarrassing.

We headed over to the Academy, but we’d missed the Ting Tings, and Alex and I were gutted. They were one of the bands we were most looking forward to seeing, but we trampled on in anyway to the sound of Does It Offend You, Yeah? who I thought were brilliant, in disagreement with the majority of the crowd who were shouting “Get Off” and were chucking shoes into the faces of the band. Extremely rude, but I shimmied and bopped to the electro-pop madness whilst those around me looked on slightly questioningly.

Next on were Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, after quite a lengthy interval, and they were more than worth waiting for, even if to just eye up the cute indie mod-suited boys with funky hair and skinny legs which dwindled down into their pointy, shiny shoes. Lucio Starts Fires was amazing, and the crowd responded well to them, so it upped the anti, ready for The Cribs to come on and let rip!

After an even longer interval, The Cribs came on, and Ryan Jarman was on form acting like a loon and ripping off clothing. After dedicating a song to the “4th Jarman brother who died just over 2 weeks ago”, he revealed his torso and stage-dived, only to reappear several minutes later (all limbs intact – how do they do that?), and finish off the set.
Suddenly, I felt someone fall into the back of me legs, and I turned round to see it was a girl. It took me a few moments to realise, it wasn’t just any girl, but Gemma! She’d fainted, and Rob acted like a true hero and carted her outside whilst I went to get her some water from the bar. All at the same time Johnny Marr appeared on stage and he and The Cribs fired into The Smiths’s Panic, and I was so glad I’d volunteered to get the drink, meaning I managed to catch this moment!
John was ecstatic, Johnny Marr was one of his heroes, and he managed to catch it too, with a smile so big across his face!

I took the drink outside for Gemma, and something really strange happened. Earlier in the night, we’d been stood next to a guy who looked exactly like Darren, my ex-boyfriend. It wasn’t him, I heard him talk and his voice wasn’t deep enough, but in the first few moments of seeing him, I felt nstantly nervous.
Well, whilst walking towards the wall where Rob and Gemma sat huddled, Gemma in Robs jacket to keep warm, I walked past 2 faces I recognised from my past. One of them was drunk and shouting and looking like trouble, whilst the other one looked exasperated and stressed out, along with upset. The drunken bloke was an ex of mine, although not Darren, and the exhausted girl was his girlfriend who I had also known in the past.
I don’t particularly like smugness, but at that time, I felt a little smirk rise across my face as I turned and saw my beautiful Alex following me outside, not drunk, and not shouting, and not looking the least like trouble. How lucky I felt to be rid of connections with people like him, and to have my nice, normal people in my life who cause me little stress.

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Rats to rejection

Posted by shinymac on January 30, 2008

I never told the whole story about the park visit yesterday. Evie (one of my 4 year old twin girls) suffered rejection for the first time in her tiny little life! From a boy! Milan (Antonia’s little 2 [almost 3] year old), was taken under the wings of Evie and Marley (my twins), and they showed him the slide, sat next to him on the swings and played monsters with him. At one point, Milan reached up towards Marley’s hand and held it as they started to walk to the big slide together. Evie noticed this, and ran over, holding out her hand towards Milan. Neither Milan nor Marley noticed her, and they continued on their quest towards the slide eagerly. Evie froze. She slowly turned around towards us adults and her lip quivered, her shoulders shook and her forehead became a little furrow of lines, “Milan won’t hold my hand!” She cried. I gently explained that they didn’t see her there, but you could see she felt rejected and alone. They all went on the slide, and Marley, being sensitive and kind, said they would wait for Evie, but her and Milan accidentally went down the slide without her. Poor Evie was left heartbroken and desperate. I had to tell her to play it cool! “Play hard to get Evie!”

I also haven’t mentioned what happened last night yet have I? Ugh, make sure you are not eating food of any kind!
On my way to work, I noticed a lady rummaging through the bin at the tram stop, and she didn’t even stop when I arrived to buy my ticket. I was quite taken aback with this. At first I thought perhaps this lady had dropped something in the bin, and then I realised I’ve seen this girl doing the same thing before. She’s a known drug addict around these parts, and she was desperately raking through. Goodness knows what she was trying to find. Food? Money? Drugs? A ticket someone has accidentally thrown away?

Then, on the way home from work, I was waiting at the tram stop, alongside a goth who was heavily engrossed in his ipod and his book, and alongside an elderly gentleman, who, to be honest, I was surprised to see out and about at that time of night on his own… I wonder if he thought the same thing about me? Anyway, there I was standing on the platform, when I saw something move quite quickly on the other side of the platform… it was huge, so my first thought was “wow, squirrels are staying up later these days!”, until I realised the tail was far from bushy, and it was indeed no squirrel. It was a RAT! I pointed it out to the elderly gentleman, and we watched it together for a few minutes as it scrambled about hunting for food, and sniffed the shelter for clues. Suddenly it darted off super-fast, and a girl came walking along. We both hoped that the rat didn’t come back and frighten the poor girl! It was a lovely shared moment, and for the first time in ages, despite the rat which had made my hair stand on end, and my skin crawl, I felt safe.

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