Thursday, 7 September 2017

Manchester Pride 2017 and a Birthday Celebration.

Well, August Bank Holiday came round again and that meant the biggest party weekend of the year. It was Manchester Pride! This year was our first as “plastic northerners” and things felt very different for us. We weren’t on our annual 2 week visit to the city, living on “Chance” in Castlefield Basin, but we now had our own “crash pad” to go back to.

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This year we viewed the parade on Saturday near to the glorious Midland Hotel. We missed the first few entries but luckily got there just in time to see the very popular Coronation Street float. (that’s not the Midland Hotel behind though!)

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We paid a little more attention to our own appearances this time. Doug sported a magnificent hair piece (bought in India and the only one around!) and James’ hair was also pink but rather outdone by Doug’s colourful barnet. 

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This year’s Pride theme was ‘Class of 2017’ and there were quite a few entries representing school years.

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Many entries were old favourites – the Outdoor Lads being just one of them. (and that IS the glorious Midland Hotel behind this time!)

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Pride is Manchester’s party time and thankfully the sun shone for us and it was warm enough for some of the parade participants!

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Pride is all about acceptance and diversity and the transgender community is just one group in the parade that’s always cheered and whooped! 

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The Fire Service excels each year in it’s presentation. This year the most fantastic paint job on one of their tenders.

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Occasionally, with all the fun and excitement going on, it was difficult to see the difference between the enormous crowds and the parade.

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The police contingent was heralded by their superb marching band and the city’s Police Service always gets the most amazing reception.

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Every Pride parade has an entry which has obviously been fashioned by the gods!

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Some entries are very ingenious and effective.

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There’s that fabulous hair piece again!

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Standing in a different part of the city this year we got to see different things and one of them was a release of thousands of balloons.

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After the parade (which lasted two and half hours!) everyone with a wristband (purchased up to a year ago!) headed for the Gay Village centred around Canal Street to meet up with friends. We hadn’t seen Olly for quite some time so it was good to chat again.

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A close look at this pic and you get some idea of what Manchester’s biggest party weekend is like!

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After a quick catch-up with a few people in the village we headed back home, where our friend Cris joined us to to do a little more dressing up ……..

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…… before heading back to Canal Street for one hell of a party!

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All weekend, one of the street’s best bars, put on the most wonderful daytime entertainment. Here’s a friend of ours, Christopher Jackie Kibbler (Jackie Love to her friends!) comparing on Bar Pop’s outdoor stage.

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We first met ‘Jackie Love’ on a Caribbean Cruise last year and not in Manchester where you’d perhaps expect. It’s a small world!

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In the frenzy and excitement of the weekend, it took us two days before we caught up with friend Seb. It was Monday by this time, and the the last day. At the Centre Stage where we spent time together and listening to  ………… 

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……. the incredibly talented Danny Beard. His superb vocal range, great presence and personality made for a terrific performance.

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Oh yes! Nearly forgot – “Take That” popped in to say ‘Hello’ as well. How about that then!

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Well, the weekend was nearly at an end. Monday night came and it was time for thousands of us to attend the vigil. Canal Street was beautifully decorated for the Pride celebration ……….

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……. and, in the evening, it looked it’s best. (and look at the crowds – four days of partying and still a sea of people.

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Sackville Gardens soon filled with thousands of people for the candle;it vigil at 9 o’clock. the hour was spend in thought and consideration for those who’d lost their lives due to an AIDS related illness and for those who are still living, and managing their lives, with HIV.

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Additionally this year we remembered the 22 people killed, and the hundreds injured, in the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena earlier in the year.

It seemed that the city pulled the stops out this year with this, it’s annual (Pride) celebration of unity, acceptance and love. It was said at the vigil – terror tried to divide this great and vibrant city but, instead, it did the opposite. It brought a close community even closer together.  We had another great time over the four days.

Hard on the heels of the Pride weekend came James’ birthday  and our wedding anniversary. It was a real treat that Doug’s sister Dawn flew in from her home in Ireland for that weekend.

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Here are the two siblings – peas in a pod?

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Cris joined us and we all went for a celebration meal in Zizzi  ……..

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……… before hitting the village for a few drinks. We’re on the roof terrace of G-A-Y in Canal Street here ……….

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………… and then on to ‘Via’, where James took the chance to use the massive “throne” chair. Dawn had a splendid time visiting some of her old haunts during the time she was at Manchester University a few years ago and another good weekend celebration was had by all of us!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Lazy - Days in Gran Canaria

A couple of weeks ago we took ourselves off on a last minute booking to Gran Canaria. Play del Ingles to be precise. Doug wanted a bit of sunshine (which had been sadly lacking in the UK) but we’d forgotten that it was, in fact, high summer in the Canaries and it was HOT!

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Our little complex of “adults only”  villas was extremely well cared for and was the nearest thing to “Benidorm” we’ve experienced! Lol.

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Being summer (and very hot) in the Canaries it’s termed as “low season” so nowhere was very busy.

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We were situated about 20 minutes walk from the centre of Playa del Ingles so we got good exercise doing it twice a day. Everywhere is perfectly manicured ………

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…….. and, with all the plants and trees trimmed and watered …….

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…… it felt rather like walking through a botanical garden. The watering, we found out to our cost, is done automatically in the late evening just when we took our walk back into town for some ‘night life’. It’s a bit of a shock when you walk into the sprinklers in the dark!

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Between Play del Ingles and the beach is an awesome area of dunes which stretches for a long way. Walking across them to the beach is not recommended in the temperatures we were experiencing. According to the digital display in the town it was 37 C at 7 o’clock one evening. That would put these dunes at well over 40 C at mid day.

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One of the main attractions at Play del Ingles is the Yumbo Centre. It’s basically a huge hole in the ground filled with shops, eateries and large open spaces for recreation. 

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At night (11pm onwards) it comes alive with bars, clubs and cabaret venues with lots of loud music and partying. This was our view at ‘Mardi Gras’ bar as we relaxed and supped our aperitifs before the clubs opened at eleven.

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People were able to walk around in a much cooler temperature during the late evening and eating al fresco was a real pleasure.

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With clubs opening at 11pm the partying went on until 4 or 5 in the morning and it was an incredibly friendly atmosphere. We met people from many countries who’d also flown in for a week of “night life”. This is Tommy from Poland – an international hair stylist, of all things, and a real character. 

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The bar staff also added greatly to fun and vibrancy of the night and this one – Mark, was just one of the amazingly nice guys that supplied the lubrication for our partying.

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We dined out twice at La Gustera. A wonderful restaurant with friendly staff and excellent food. The attire is very informal – sadly dictated by the heat!

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Think this must have been an early selfie as we look decidedly pasty. Not so by the end of the week!

Well, we had a very lazy week in the sun. Sleep all morning, beach in the afternoon, a quick evening kip before dinner then party all night. Living life on the edge occasionally just has to be done.

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Flying back to Manchester was so simple. We’re just a twenty minute train ride to the airport which meant, with just hand luggage, we were back indoors, unpacked, washing on and in bed in just over an hour after landing. As soon as we got back we were in time to catch up with friend Regu who was in Manchester on business. We had a few drinks and dinner at the newly opened “No 1 Canal Street”. Great food and company and we hope to catch up again with Regu soon.

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Yesterday we took a quick trip to Chester. Its a while since we’ve been to this charming walled city. Normally we’d have travelled by narrow boat but this time we had to find a car park. (That’s Doug in the pink shirt.)

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A view looking towards the famous clock.

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Chester’s charm is enhanced by the numerous raised arcades and walkways in the timbered buildings.

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Close by we found somewhere for a spot of lunch. The Victoria Inn – a lovely interior fit out.

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Here’s a pic of us, in one of the pub’s little cubby-holes waiting for lunch, taken by ……..

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……… the lovely cheerful barman John. It’s a small world – just chatting to him and we find we have a number of FB friends in common!

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It’s a dreary pic but James wanted to take a photo of the canal as we left to find the car park. We’ve travelled into Chester many times on both our boats “Spirit” and “Chance”.

Next event – Manchester Pride bank holiday weekend!