Well it has been a busy week for my husband and I, one that we have been looking forward to for a while. Thus you get a slightly long and rambling post.
About 6 months ago I got a Facebook notification that one of my favourite bands, Epica, were going to be playing in Manchester. I immediately booked tickets and arranged my work schedule so that I could finish early that day. That was to be on Thursday November 12th.
Then we were invited to a family reunion with my father’s family. It would be on the other side of the country but we decided it would be worth the trip. So, again, I booked time off work and added it to my calendar. That was to be on Saturday November 14th. We decided we would take the train from Manchester (where we live) to Grimsby (where my parents live) on the Friday night and drive down to London with them on the Saturday, it would be considerably cheaper. We could then drive back to Grimsby with them on Sunday and take the train home again that evening.
A short while later I saw that another of my favourite bands were also going to be playing in Manchester in November, how exciting! I was a bit unhappy when I saw the date however: Friday November 13th. That would mean travelling to my parents’ house on the Saturday, getting straight off the train and getting into the car. But, I really love Garbage and have done for many years so I decided that it would be worth it. This time I booked to leave work early on the Friday and also booked off the following Monday to recover.
So, Epica on Thursday, Garbage on Friday,family reunion on Saturday and a heck of a lot of travelling.
Roll on November.
As it is near the end of the year my husband and I realised we had some holiday left to use before the end of the year so we decided to save our energy and book the days of both gigs off as well as the weekend and following Monday. Fun times.
Work disagreed. I had already promised to go help out our new Union rep in Nottingham, originally we had decided to do this on October 30th and make our recruitment/question day Hallowe’en themed. Then the date changed. Yep, you guessed it, it was now going to be right in the middle of our week off. On Friday the 13th I was heading to Nottingham.
I was also going to have to bake as we were tying it in with a Children in Need themed cake sale.
I decided to make some flapjack and a chocolate cake for the bake sale.
Flapjack is a wonderfully simple recipe, I used one from the river cottage website.
- 175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp honey
- 150g demerara sugar
- 250g medium porridge oats
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2 bags of dark chocolate chips
- Preheat over to 180°C.
- Heat together the honey, butter and sugar until the butter has just melted but the sugar is still grainy.
- Take off the heat and stir in the porridge oats and salt.
- Pour half the mixture into a greeced 8 inch square pan and press down firmly.
- Bake for aproximately 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edge of the tin and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack.
- Repeat with the other half of the recipe.
- When the flapjack has cooled cut each square into 8 pieces.
- Melt the chocolate and pour over half of each piece of flapjack.
- Allow to set.
For the chocolate cake I must confess I had some help from Betty Crocker but I think we can all agree I was pretty busy.
That evening we went to see Epica ^_^.
They had two opening bands Scar Symmetry and Eluveitie. I really liked the second one who used a lot of folk instruments like a hurdy-gurdy, a violin and various pipes. I am not keep on growling lyrics but enjoyed the instrumental parts and the female led vocals.
Epica were, of course, amazing. They seemed to be enjoying the show and each others’ company, which is always good to see. I particularly enjoyed the wearable keyboard which allowed the keyboardist to move around like the guitarists. I am still envious of all sopranos. We got home at about midnight.
Chris and I are in here somewhere. Photo from Epica’s Facebook page.
At 6:30 the next morning I was up and heading out for Nottingham, carrying a large chocolate cake, a bag of Union goodies and a big tub of flapjack. Several people commented on the cake so at least I know that it looked tasty.
My train was late so my ride at the Nottingham end had to leave without me. I could not call her because she would not have her phone at work. So I called my work and asked for the number for her office. They gave me one and I called it. I work in insurance, I got through to a soup kitchen.
So I tried again and was given a different number. This belonged to a rather grumpy man and was a private number. Oops.
Third time lucky I finally got hold of my colleague and got directions to her office. I decided that the easiest way to get there was to take a tram. I have been on trams in Manchester, Rome, Paris and various places in the Netherlands. I have never been on a tram that had special stop buttons and did not stop at every stop. I did not realise I had to press anything and so my stopped sailed by. I got off at the next tram stop, changed sides and caught the tram back again. This time I pressed to the stop button repeatedly. Again the tram did not stop and I watched my destination slide past again. I got off at the next stop and just walked. It seemed easier.
Overall the day was good. I answered a lot of Union questions, sold a lot of cake and came home very tired.
Which of course made it a perfect time to have a quick change and head out to Garbage!
My friend Kim came with us as well since she has very good taste in music. Garbage were playing up at the University in Academy 1. There was a gig in Academy 3 as well (a much smaller venue). Our gig had people of all ages but the other seemed to be mostly teenage girls. Kim and I had never heard of the band they were going to see and decided that we felt old (We are 29 and 31).
Garbage were fantastic. Because this was a 20th anniversary tour for their first album they played the whole album (out of order) and b-sides from the singles. It was also the chattiest gig I have ever been to with the lead singer discussing sex, sexism, how they met and all sorts of random stuff that came into her head. Again a really good atmosphere and we had a great time. If they are playing near you go and see them.
Once again we got home after midnight. No worries, we didn’t have to be up until 5am on Saturday.
Our train was supposed to be at 6:13. This would get us into Grimsby just before 9am giving us time to stretch our legs before heading down to London about 10ish. We got to Manchester Piccadilly train station at 5:50. Then our train was cancelled. The next train was not until 7:20 so we decided to go and get a cup of tea. A 7:20 train would get us there before 10am although we would not have time for a break between trips. I am not a morning person, as anyone who has ever stayed over at my house will tell you, but I drank my tea and kept my griping to a minimum. It may have escalated a bit as the next three trains by the same company were also cancelled. I kept checking ours on the website and it said it was ok but I was not having high hopes.
Still 7:20 came and a train arrived. Chris and I got on and started to get settled, we put our bags up on the rack… we realised that Chris’ bag was still in the teashop. Chris legged it back to get his stuff while I stood half on, half off of the train hoping he made it back before I had to start an argument with the train conductor. Thankfully he did and we settled down properly for our trip.
Now Grimsby is normally a straight through trip taking about 2.5 hours. That is when the train runs all of the way though. Ours got cancelled at Sheffield, still an hour and a half away from Grimsby. And there were no trains going to Grimsby that we could change to.
We decided to get as far east as we could on the basis that, if absolutely necessary, my parents could pick us up in the car if we got close enough. There was a train going to Scunthorpe, which is only half an hour outside of Grimsby. It was a local stopping train which meant it would take forever but it was going the right way. The national rail website also stated that there was a train running from Scunthorpe to Grimsby. It was also supposed to leave Scunthorpe 2 minutes before our train arrived. We asked if anything could be done about that. No.
I fell asleep on the Scunthorpe train, hardly surprising, I hope you will agree. When I woke up we were stopped at a platform that seemed to be in the middle of a field. I waited for the train to continue. It stayed suspiciously still. Then the conductor came on the tannoy, because of a problem with the tracks we were going to turn around and go back to Doncaster, one of the previous stops. Doncaster is an hour away from Grimsby. We called my parents who told us to get off the train where we were and they would pick us up and head south directly from there.
Now it was 9:30 – 45 minutes after we were supposed to have gotten to Grimsby – and the furtherest east we could get was a field in the middle of nowhere. Well, actually in the middle of Hatfield and Stainforth but I think that everyone who is not from there will agree that that is the middle of nowhere. There were horses in a nearby field and we did briefly consider seeing if we could borrow them to get a bit further east.
We eventually took shelter in a local Asda’s where they were kind enough to let me use the staff toilet. It also gave us an opportunity to stock up on junk food for the trip.
As you may have guessed my parents did find us and, after a 5 hour trip, we managed to find our hotel. From there everything was straight forward. The family reunion was a lot of fun and I did a lot of dancing. The trip home was long but uneventful (thank heavens). The sleep on Sunday night was deep and well needed.