After starting the week in London, by mid week, I was Manchester bound to attend the launch part of the Anthologist at St. Peter’s Square. My brother and I traveled up by train which is my favorite way to travel. At first the scenery is just clusters of houses but not long after leaving the crowded towns that surround London, the landscape becomes much emptier. Endless green fields are dotted with sheep. As we approached Stoke on Trent we saw long narrow canal boats and that reminded me of a wonderful trip I took on a canal boat so many years ago. If I remember correctly, it took us a week from start to finish by boat. We then picked up a car and did the same journey back and it took us about thirty minutes. That’s the wonderful thing about meandering along in a canal boat. Your speed is about four miles an hour and you can even get off and keep pace with the boat. Back in the days when canal boats transported goods around England’s canals, horses walking along the towpath would pull the boats. At one point in our journey, we were side by side with a motorway, a canal and here we were on the train. The cars were in stop start traffic while we motored along at a great speed on the train.
I have never visited Manchester before so it was fun to explore a little before the launch party. I took a walk down some streets and came across this gorgeous building that made me think of my favorite store in London – Liberty’s. Boodles is also a great store if you’re in the market for some serious diamonds.
Shown above, you could hop scotch your way into the Anthologist. The 22 Bees Project were responsible for drawing this and everyone enjoyed trying to hop scotch in to the venue despite high heels. I saw bees everywhere and wondered about the significance and a little searching revealed this “The worker bee has a special meaning in Manchester, where it has been a symbol of the city since the Industrial Revolution. Traditionally, they represent the city’s energy and sense of community. Bees are featured in Manchester’s coat of arms and on many public buildings.”
Most of the people I spoke with were amazed by the gorgeous weather we were having all over the UK in fact. The temperature in London was probably not too different from Provence. Manchester was gloriously warm and sunny too and that was perfect for the party. Everyone was dressed up in their finery and enjoying refreshing cocktails. All of a sudden, a five piece brass band piped up. Their first song started really quite fast and people started moving along to the music as they realized that the brass band was playing Crazy in Love by Beyoncé. These guys were awesome as they made their way through everything from Toxic by Britney Spears to Sweet Caroline by none other than Neil Diamond. There’s a special place in our hearts in my family for Neil Diamond since we were raised on his music thanks to my mum playing it as she prepared dinner for guests in the hotel. Jillian and I danced and sang to Sweet Caroline as did the whole crowd and then the song morphed into “Football’s Coming Home”. The World Cup is never too far from anyone’s mind in England at this point. Everyone in the street was stopping to listen to this incredible band. Kids danced and so did adults. Then hedge man appeared. To be honest it was a lady in a hedge suit so let’s call her Hedgey. Hedgey danced along to the Back Street Boys with some unwilling and some wiling volunteers. She hugged people and just made everyone smile. I don’t know how they did it but they managed to play “Spice Up Your Life” by the Spice Girls. What a fantastic evening.
After a quick trip to lovely Manchester, we made our way back to London where the sun was still shining and everyone full of hope for the England team. Wimbledon is on at the moment so there are big screens all over London with people soaking up the sun in deckchairs enjoying the matches. By this time, I was heading over to airport to get my flight home where Bailey and Gary were eagerly awaiting my arrival. On arriving at the airport, things were looking ok and then I noticed that my flight was one hour and thirty minutes delayed. I went to hunt for a book but didn’t know what I wanted to read and instead I noticed a coloring book. Yes, that does sound a bit strange I agree. It was a Zen coloring book and since I figured I needed a bit of a Zen moment, I bought it. All I needed was some coloring pencils and luckily there was a Hamley’s pop up at the airport. I settled down with my book and coloring pencils and started to smile as I realized I was really enjoying this instead of getting frustrated at the delay. A man sat next to me and I could tell he was looking at what I was doing. “I don’t know how to knit” I told him “but I can color things in and my fight is one hour and thirty minutes delayed”. He told me he was Scottish and we struck up a bit of a conversation. His story was much better than mine. His day had started off from his home in Aberdeen where he had boarded a plane to get to his final destination of Budapest. Unfortunately, he ended up at the wrong airport and had therefore missed his flight. Not wanting to miss out on all the fun, he had taken a train to Brighton and had a walk along the pier. Of course, I asked him if he had had some fish and chips while he was at the pier because it’s kind of a British tradition. He had. All his friends were waiting for him in Budapest. I hoped he had told them and I asked him if he was going there later. He said no and told me what he was waiting for his plane back to Aberdeen. He too, was being quite Zen about the whole thing.
Finally, it was time to board the flight but I was still skeptical that we would be leaving. The flight next to us were ready to board their flight to Venice when they were told that their plane had landed in Stansted instead of Gatwick and Easy Jet was trying to find a replacement plane for them. They were sent back to departures to await their fate. Luckily, our plane did take off and with some “air traffic control shortcuts” and a speed of 500 mph, he made good time getting back to Marseille. I barely noticed the journey as I continued to color and felt like a kid again. By the time I got home it was around 11.30pm but I still jumped in the pool to cool off.
In the gite, a French family has been replaced by a Danish family and everyone seems to be enjoying the coolness of the pool. The cicadas are being the loudest insects on the planet as usual. Auberge de Lagnes has opened up the outside terrace and we had a lovely dinner there on Saturday evening. As we walked Bailey on Sunday morning along the canal toward the aqueduct, we encountered so many runners, cyclists and hikers. You can tell it’s summer because everywhere is so much busier. It’s nice to notice the seasons and to appreciate them. Summer is fun and busy and by the fall, everywhere just seems to settle down and get ready for the quietness of winter.
Thanks for reading!
Les Trois Musketeers x