February 2009 - four weekends and four weekend trips

Published: March 2nd 2009
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and believe it or not, this was meant to be a quiet month …

First up was a trip up to Glasgow to catch up with friends Anthony and Iain. I’d been planning to visit Glasgow for a long time now, but sadly never got around to it until now.

Everyone raves about Edinburgh, but Glasgow is almost as good - the only thing missing is the stand-out beauty of Edinburgh’s castle and surrounding hills.

Sadly I only had one night in town but still managed a little sight seeing (some great, old buildings including the impressive Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum‎ where we had afternoon tea), an awesome home cooked meal and then a trip to the pub.

It was all too brief a trip, but I’ve already planned a return trip for my birthday in a few weeks!

The following weekend, my flatmates Aggi and Jo took a drive to the Peak District and I tagged along. The Peak District is a lovely area spaning a large area of north/central England and, again, was somewhere I’d planned to visit on my 20007/2008 trip but never got around to.

Our hike started just outside Macclesfield town - a mere 40 minutes from home, yet we were surrounded by farms, rolling hills and wonderful views.

Armed with a map and a rough walking guide we made our way through a 10 mile-odd up and down hike traipsing through farms, trying to avoid the sheep (and their copious droppings!).

Despite the mud, poo and cold (there was still some snow on the ground), walking through the hills was a delight - definitely Lord of the Rings country.

Tired, wet and messy after our 4 hour hike, the pub at the end was, well, heaven!

The following day I went to the Museum of Science and Industry (another repeat visit but a worth one, some great exhibits here) and the Art Gallery of Manchester for a special display of drawings by Leonard De Vinci.

Next weekend and it was a return to Scotland, this time to see my Canada travel buddy, Jen.

Having done most of the touristy stuff on my 2004 and 2007 trips, there was little need for sight-seeing (just walking around the city offers amazing views), but I did make a trip to Arthur’s Seat for some great views (and the strongest gusts of wind I’ve ever experienced), a lovely breakfast at Chocolate Soup café (a favourite from my 2007 trip) and burger, chips and peanut butter and banana shake (YUM!!!) at Wonderburger (another 2007 favourite)

There was just enough time for a little culture too: Scotland old and new at the Museum of Scotland; an interesting exhibition at the little ‘Stills’ gallery, a really cool ‘New Contemporaries’ exhibition of up-and-coming artists at the Royal Academy and slightly stuffier painting at the National Galley. We also checked out an ‘escapologist’ street performer.

After a mid afternoon pub (or two …) where we chatted to a couple from down south who just happened to have visited family in Perth a couple years back (small world) we then headed out to dinner.

Dinner was at David Bann, a vegetarian restaurant I also visited during my 2007 trip and couldn’t wait to make a return to. Classier than your average vego restaurant and an interesting menu full of tasty treats - our desert tasting plate was to die for!

Stomachs full, we headed just outside of Edinburgh central to Leith to catch up with some of Jen’s friends. One pub we went to was especially novel: they offered cocktails served in tea pots and little tea cups - high tea with a twist!!!

Back in the city we caught up with Jen’s cousins, drank more and somehow the night ended with Jen taking over from a street busker and doing a great version of ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries - so great, in fact, that Jen attracted a decent crowd and earned her keep!

Next morning we woke to a gloriously sunny day (still cool, mind you), had a quick breakfast at the Elephant House café (which lays claim to being the location that J K Rowling wrote much of the first Harry Potter novel) and then Jen drove me to her hometown of Eyemouth near the England/Scotland border.

Along the way we past a nuclear power station (!!!), lots of beautiful coastline and through the small towns of St Abbs and Coldingham (where Jen works).

We spent the afternoon at Jen’s ‘local’ and checked out the local postman come musician as he did a set of rather good cover songs. Being a small town, Jen knew everyone which was strange for a city slicker like me, but everyone was really nice.

For dinner we headed to Jen’s work (another pub!) for a few beers and a lovely meal before it was time to say goodbye, head for my train(s) back to Manchester, finally making it back to the flat at 4.30am (and I still made it in to work by 8am!).

February ended with a (very) brief trip to London to check out the Darwin exhibition (sold out so had a walk around the stunning Natural History Museum and the exhibits of mostly stuffed animals).

It was then off to Canterbury city centre (dominated by the Cathedral but I preferred the remnants of the several hundred year old Castle) and a hike through some lovely forest areas (think Wind in the Willows) to the tiny village of Chartham.

Gigs … believe it or not, only three gigs this month! First up was country sounding English singer Teddy Thompson, followed by a true yank, Peter Broderick who performed a variety of songs solo but with loops and other effects managing to sound like a full band.

Last was a gig by One&AZero featuring my mate Scott from - great to see Scott sing again and hear their new songs.

Well that’s all from me for now, March promises to be just as busy! Hope all is well back home.

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