One day, I look forward to walking the length of the Transpennine Trail, but for now, I’ll just be happy to come across the short section that passes through Northenden. No doubt, a highlight for many a long distance walker from Southport to Hull.
But that’s in the future. This week, as usual, we stayed pretty local. Out on a walk one day, Liesel sent a message asking me to pick up some painkillers from the pharmacy. Both the pharmacies in Northenden were closed, so I jumped on a bus that stopped at exactly the right time, thinking that wherever I ended up, I’d find one that was open for business. And yes, of course, I realised I should do more of these mystery tours, it’s a good way to get to know the wider area.
On this occasion, I was taken to Sale where indeed I was able to buy what I needed. I also saw a massive bee.
Two of them lovingly carved from an old tree. And by coincidence, the same bus driver took me back to Northenden.
Liesel and I went over to see the family between gym and swimming. No, not us, it was Martha at the gym and William who went swimming later.
Martha would make a good cowboy and I can’t help feeling most westerns would be improved if they rode unicorns rather than horses.
Jenny and Helen took me out for a couple of hours to go shopping. I haven’t worn a suit for many years, probably decades, but the time has come to find one that fits. We visited a place called Peter Posh where I expected to be served by someone like Mr Grainger from Are You Being Served? with a tape measure draped around his shoulders. But no, a very helpful, and patient, young lady helped out. I tried on two suits and a waistcoat. In my mind, I’d built suits up to being the uncomfortable uniform of office work, of business men making things worse for the rest of us. So I was surprised to find that these ones at least were actually quite comfortable, and nobody laughed as they said I didn’t look too shabby.
So, good luck, Mick, at the next job interview.
Helen’s birthday rolled up as it always does just after Christmas, and how fabulous it was that she was here to celebrate with us this year. She and I went for a nice walk at Dunham Massey. We found some footwear here and there, just part of an activity designed presumably for children.
The rose garden was spoiled by the stench of bonfire.
How disappointing. I know the gardeners are all volunteers and we’re very grateful for all their hard work, but there better ways to dispose of stuff you don’t need, especially green waste. We said hello to the robins as we wandered round. Or was it the same robin following us? I keep forgetting to take a bag of mealworms with which to feed them.
On one path, we passed someone familiar to me. I didn’t pester him. But Count Arthur Strong later confirmed that he had indeed been at the same venue. As he said, he’s like the Scarlet Pimple, here, there and everywhere!
Liesel and I attended Helen’s party in the evening but I think, on the available evidence, Martha and William were more excited than she was. We all enjoyed the party food and I can now reveal Helen’s best present.
Let’s hope these snacks all make it through customs when she goes home. In other words, let’s hope the customs officials aren’t hungry.
Liesel and I drove to Heald Green where, for the second week in a row, she took a PCR test for Covid. A negative result means that she can fly to Alaska. While waiting, I found a couple of frogs. I didn’t realise these amphibians were still adorning the streets of Stockport.
The weekly Wednesday well-being walk in Northenden has resumed, and nine of us had a very pleasant stroll through the woods and around the streets. We stood outside the café with our coffees: sitting inside in a large group didn’t seem a good idea.
In the evening: pizzas again. A second opportunity to wish bon voyage to Liesel. In the morning, I jumped on the boxes to squash them before putting them in the bin.
It was so cold on Thursday morning, we had to scrape ice off the car. I took Liesel to the airport. She’s off to Anchorage to see her parents and her friends and to enjoy all that a deep Alaskan Winter can throw at her. For the rest of the day, I donned my chauffeur’s cap as I was quite happy to help Helen with her various errands.
Helen and I drove to Heald Green where she took a PCR test for Covid. A negative result means that she can fly back to Australia. While waiting, I renewed my acquaintance with a couple of frogs.
Next stop was Lester and Brown jewellers in Poynton where the High Street looks very slippery. The jeweller had taken an old brooch that neither Jenny nor Helen will wear, and made a pair of earrings for each of them, and as far as I can tell, he’s done a very good job.
Next: Next in Handforth Dean where Helen returned a dress and picked up a new one for Martha to try on.
Next: Create-It in Cheadle to pick up some mugs designed by the the children.
Next: Greens in Didsbury for lunch. Just a couple of other parties here in the restaurant and the food was, as usual, delicious.
And finally: Card Factory back in Cheadle where a couple of balloons were inflated: a dinosaur for William and a Unicorn for Martha.
Even though we’ve been living here in Northenden for over three years, I still used Google Maps all day. I don’t yet have a comprehensive mental map of Greater Manchester in my head. I’m sure it will come.
If I’m saying goodbye to one of the ladies in my life, it’s only fitting that we have pizzas. And so it was that we all met up at Pizza Express for a farewell meal. I won’t be having the hot jalapeño dough balls again. Steam blasted from my ears, and my nose didn’t stop running for ages. Incredibly hot and spicy. Helen was due to fly out from Manchester early in the morning so we said our goodbyes here.
I still can’t get over the wonderful surprise of actually seeing her here for Christmas.
To lose one woman in my life, Mr Worthing, maybe regarded as misfortune. To lose two in the space of two days looks like carelessness. I think that’s from The Important of Being Earnest.
Liesel arrived safely in Anchorage and is already taking advantage of the very slightly different weather. Flying with Covid regulations and face masks adds an extra layer of anxiety to the whole travelling thing, but that’s something we’ll have to live with for a while.
Earlier in the week, I’d pre-recorded and sent off the first radio show for Wythenshawe Radio in its own right. Unfortunately, due to events outside my control, on Wednesday evening, the previous week’s show was broadcast instead. Which is a shame, because it was a special one for Helen’s birthday. The correct show was released into the world on Friday afternoon. And I’ve uploaded a copy here if you’d like to catch up. There’s a news bulletin at the halfway point, but I left that out: nobody needs to hear the news more than absolutely necessary.