Travelogue Canada 10: Preston

November 2009


let’s set the scene for pre-preston to get things into context…

thursday night went south. then further south. tres typical considering the guest list. was a laugh tho, including beers, stories old and new, nostalgia, giggles, jagerbullets, photos, snacks, haircuts, cider, towel capes, seeing the whole of the moon, brandy (?) and OJ, leftover lamb, rocky horror picture show and much much more ’til 4 in the morning.

unsurprisingly thursday morning was a dog show. and the first morning i had to wake up with an alarm at 07h30.

faye and i trotted down to the corner shop which, mercifully, is on the closest corner to the house, making for a 3.5min round trip including acquiring the shopping – bread and tins of All Day Breakfast. yes, finally sampled it. although was a different brand so it had ‘egg omelettes’ instead of ‘egg nuggets’ and didn’t have the ‘chopped pork’ so this still remains a mystery. the verdict? it’s like tinned beans, but with bits in with a different texture to the beans. not unpleasant, but not something you’d crave (distinct from craving for tinned beans).

felt a bit better of brekkers, but this clearly isn’t saying much. the (usual and inevitable) teary farewells as was once again parted from some of my favourite people in the world 🙁 fortunately, retained custody of faye, who accompanied me to the tube station and all the way to stockwell, where we parted way none too soon as was suffering from an extreme bout of claustrophobia from being squished on the tube with too much clothing and luggage and not enough space or air. was all too rushed a farewell from the last of my merry london friends, but probably for the best in that more time probably just opens the door for more trauma.

took a moment or 2 to catch breath, regain normal body temperature, attempt composure, realise 2 out of 3 was god enough, and head for Heathrow. largely uneventful and, for once, had planned so much buffer time, that arrived and 15 minutes ahead of time and headed for the check-in counter.

am not sure why they bother with the self-serve check-ins seeing how much time the baggage check-in takes anyway – had plenty of time when i started in baggage queue and left with 5 mins until boarding closed… with my backpack which i’d planned to check-in but they made me keep since my suitcase was overweight. got to the security queue at the gates and realised that i had all my toiletries in my backpack as this was the bag i was using for the weekend so as not to have to repack my suitcase.

what a process!

they emptied the toiletry bag, individually bagged the liquid items (which i still don’t understand seeing as the bags are clear and the toiletries can still see each other, so surely if they’re the aggro types they’d find a way to still box each other??) and put them through the scanner. everything passed except the body lotion. maybe because it wasn’t rose-scented aqueous cream which we know is the lotion of love…?

this mission left me VERY late. high-tailed to the gate – typically the furthest gate possible – complete with PA announcements telling me of last warnings and such other totally unhelpful things. so very almost missed that flight.

was hot, bothered, tired and miserable by the time i sank into my seat. fortunately a relative empty flight so i had my own row and could whimper softly to myself with no obvious loss of dignity.

was yet another delight to be told that the flight was to be delayed because some starter function on the plane wasn’t working (very reassuring) and they had to wait for some outside unit to come and start the engines. of course, said miracle starter was busy starting another plane (again not assured that there are so many flying machines out there requiring the AA) and by the time the starter thingie was ready we’d lost our take-off spot <sigh> ended up taking off after we wwere scheduled to land in manchester! (which sounds a lot more dramatic than it is seeing as it’s a half hour flight). managed to grab a nap en route, which did me a world of good.

my cousin, mikayla, fetched me at the airport and it was a giggly and excited reunion with lots and lots news (from the 16 years – yes, half a lifetime! – since last we were in the same place at the same time) to catch up on, making the drive from manchester to preston feel a lot quicker than it is (or should have been in my unfortunate state).

back to mikayla’s to chill and couch a bit while she went off to fetch her daughter, Isla (2,5 years), and whizz past her goddaughter’s birthday while i showered and tried to regain personality.

was a gloriously chill night in, with couch, telly, easy company (Mikayla, her other half Dave, and Isla til her – very envious – bedtime at 19h00) and perfectly-spot-hitting curry take-aways.

saturday we did some grocery shopping (still excited by the prospect of finding a new weird and wonderful that we don’t get at home) and some banking for me and then headed off to visit our great grandma – a spirited little (literally, she’s like a tall midget!) old lady who turned 99 in june! i don’t remember her really, having only seen her when i was an infant and then for a quick visit in 93, but i’m glad to have touched base with my namesake (the middle one i don’t talk about) nonetheless. and a bonus to be there during the ‘Birds of Prey’ matinee.

was a bit of a family reunion all in all as marie and paula (my father’s mother’s sister’s daughters, so technically our second cousins although they’re mid-30s so feel more like cousins) came as well along with paula’s 11 year old son, brandon (a strapping lad who looks more mid-teens). lots and lots to catch up with them not having seen paula since 1998 nor marie since 1977 (!!!)

we retired to McD’s (light snack: deli sweet chilli chicken sandwich and Caramelicious McFlurry) and more chatting and catch-up. as usual, no problems with conversation flow or speech speed, so i think that we’ve covered more ground than the amount of time normally would allow! :o)

Saturday night we were off to a tapas dinner. just mikayla and me, with dave dutifully staying home to babysit. was awesome. so well suited to my indecision by being lots of bits of lots of stuff. we narrowed our choices to end up ordering:
– fillet (medium rare) with mushrooms and stilton cheese
– king prawns in garlic butter
– sweet chilli chicken breasts with extra chilli
– black pudding with chourico and caramelised red onions (was unsure about this one, but M’s insistence proved right)
– honey-glazed baked baby potatoes
– ciabatta with garlic oil and balsamic (that was interestingly so thick it was more the consistency of runny bovril)

was a great 3-hour+ dinner catch-up. nice and leisurely. and excessive. and yum.

resolved to call grandmother this morning to try and go for a visit. no answer, left voicemail. no reply. so, better option: go for breakfast (at least we know we’ll enjoy that!!)

after that will pop past great grandmother to drop off some lillies and then it’s off the airport (again) to get back to london (again) and head for home. am super-ready – even though i’ve had a blast – after a mammoth trek of a holiday!