Buxton is in the Peak District which is a lovely part of Northwest England, perhaps not as dramatic as the Lake District but still worth a visit. It's actually quite high above sea level, about 1000 feet around Buxton which is an old spa town with baths and a lot of beautiful and elegant Georgian and Victorian buildings. The weather doesn't look promising but that's pretty common for this time of year.
After a 40 minute journey, passing some pretty towns and high rolling hills we reached Buxton. We walked around a bit and then had lunch in a Wetherspoon's pub. The interior was lovely! Teal blues and whites and wicker furniture and the bathroom was so beautiful I even took a picture of it in all it's gleaming marble and chrome glory! Lunch was hot and filling and standard pub style food.
Alan and I did a little window shopping up the precinct and continued up a fairly steep hill to the Market Square where the Town Hall was. There were some pretty shops and one window that caught my eye was a violin store but the window display was all miniature instruments and cases. We walked back down past a hilly park to where the building that housed the baths is. Beside that is a long glassed in Victorian conservatory called the Pavillion Gardens that we had a gander though, mainly to get out of the rain which had started up in earnest. Behind it is the Buxton Opera House. We opted for a tea break at a café beside a very old hotel which may have been a manor at one time that claimed to have been a stopover for Mary, Queen of Scots.
We caught the train back to Manchester, suffering the high spirited noisy chatter of a group of teenagers who obviously travel to and from school on the train. We were on a time constraint which is why we couldn't stay in Buxton longer as we were going to the Royal Exchange Theatre tonight with John, Nikki and Annie to see Uncle Vanya by Checkov.
There was time to head to Bella Pasta on Deansgate before the play for a pizza. I've described the theatre in another review. The play was very good although we found our seats rather uncomfortable. We had tickets for the very top gallery which was cheap but you do miss some of the facial nuances. I really enjoyed the production. We thought most of the performances were excellent. There was a discussion with the director and some of the actors afterwards and we filed down to the main level of the theatre (and the comfy seats) to listen and join in. We all shared a cab home afterwards, and I was looking forward to stretching out in bed.
Today Rose and Malachy are flying over from Cork, Ireland so we were waiting for her call. Chris spent yesterday with Phil in Liverpool doing Beatles touristy stuff. They would be over later today. Rose called and we arranged to meet her and Mal about 2. We just walked around central Manchester, stopping for photos at the Chinatown arch and for coffee later on at Starbucks. Rose and Mal kept us in stitches of giggles all afternoon. Their Irish cheerfulness and devastating sense of humour began the weekend on the right foot! We had a look inside the Exchange theatre and wandered through the Arndale Center but we were all tired and there was a long evening ahead. Alan and I went back to the flat to get cleaned up and changed and shared a cab with Annie and Chris back into town.
Tonight starts off at the Kwok Man restaurant in Chinatown. We were 11 in total, including another two ladies that made the journey to Manchester. The Chinese banquet was tasty, the beer washed it down probably a little too well and the night was still young! We went to a nearby pub, the Old Monkey from there and stayed until chucking out time. John, Nikki and Phil left us here and Annie led the rest of us to a club. We didn't stay there long. The music got progressively louder to the point of pain and mostly it was rap music which didn't suit us in the least. Changing direction again we went to Copperface Jack's, a pub in the Palace Theatre. We gathered around in a boothand saw the night out. Most of us were well into our cups by the time we finally left at closing time and we haunted the wet streets for taxis along with dozens of other clubbers recently released from their places of "worship". I do believe Rose and Annie were yodeling on the sidewalks of Manchester at one point and I'm sure I heard Alan and one or two others burst into some song that I didn't recognize. We got back to Chorlton well after 3 but didn't go to bed for awhile so I guess it was around 4 by the time Alan and I faded into the bedrooms for a few hours kip.
Saturday was a pretty quiet day. I got up around 11, feeling not really too much worse for it. A large hot cup of tea *really* hits the spot this morning. Philip called in shortly after. He was his usual bouncy self, abetted by the fact that he had gone back to John's at a reasonable hour unlike the rest of us. Alan stumbled down the hall, having heard the door, and his internal radar led him directly to the kettle first and foremost. About a half hour later, someone knocked on the window. That would be Chris. He was definitely the worst of the four of us, but was upright so that's encouraging. Phil, Chris and I headed out to the grocery store to purchase snacks for Annie's party. Chris decided it was no good, he was going back to Annie's for another sleep. Phil and I found a "greasy spoon" café so I could have breakfast... brunch? It's after 2 p.m., what would you call it?
Alan was out by the time we got back so I dozed at one end of the couch and Phil watched the football match with the sound off. He took off back to John's for his tea after and Alan and I just puttered about until it was time to go to Annie's in the evening. The party was a quiet affair after last night's events and was a wonderful way to end my holiday.
Chris is driving me to Birmingham today to catch the National Express bus Airport link directly to Heathrow. I've got a room at one of the Sheratons for tonight and I fly out tomorrow at noon. We made good time to Birmingham so he drove me around the center of Birmingham a bit just to see the lay of the land Hugs and kisses and off he goes. The bus journey was about 3 and a half hours I think. I bought a return ticket on the Hotel Hopper and checked in. I turned on the television to discover that the U.S. and the U.K. had began the bombing of Afghanistan. I didn't leave the news on long. It's not really the sort of thing you want to be watching the day before you fly. I had a very expensive burger and chips in the bar at the hotel and watched television the rest of the night.
I thought I ought to get to the airport plenty early, not knowing what it would be like this morning. I expected it to be a zoo, but although there were lots of people, the lineup at the Air Canada check in was surprisingly short. I decided to check my carry on as well. I had three hours to kill in the airport and I wasn't lugging that around on my shoulder. The security checks weren't horrendous as I had expected them to be.
Did some shopping in Heathrow, always an experience! I decided to spend some of the cash I had left on a full breakfast which was probably the most expensive eggs, bacon and sausage I've ever eaten! I didn't really mind, though, I had no used for the cash and didn't want to save it for next time.