02.01.2017 - 08.01.2017 7 °C
Right, back to work! Or back to the closest thing we’ve come to work in the past year, anyway… Monday morning found us being dropped at the Leeds train station with all our goods and chattels and making our way by train to Manchester. We stopped for a spot of lunch and a perusal of the shops before continuing to Macclesfield to commence our final spot of housesitting. Our host, John, was an Irish version of the Chief, so we felt right at home right away. John and Jane showed us how the house worked and introduced us to the routine of Cora and Skye, and 2 year old Ralph showed us how many olives he could eat in one sitting while his mother, Siobhan, finished packing.
On Tuesday there was the usual panic relating to passports, boarding passes and making it to the airport on time – but for a change, it was not our problem. We got to spend the day calmly watching DVDs, making soup (leftover vegies strike again) and just enjoying life. Simon really enjoyed the location of this latest housesit because it was directly across the road from the cinema. And so off he went to watch the latest Star Wars while I supervised the dogs snoozing. Tough gig.
Wednesday was just your average day, really – walk the dogs through the mud, go to Tesco (conveniently located just behind the cinema), and then head to the film society screening of ‘Adam’s Apples’ in the evening. Nothing like a good Danish black comedy to make life interesting. It was almost like being at a Corangamite Film Society screening, except that there was no supper afterwards. I missed my DJ’s sponge cake, that’s for sure.
We had the company of a plumber for nearly half of the next day – we learned what was wrong with the boiler (don’t worry – it was a pre-existing problem, not caused by our negligence!) as well as learning about everything that was wrong with the world these days. Once our plumbing was up to scratch, we took the dogs for a walk to Prestbury, a nearby village. The mud was nowhere near as squelchy this time because the ground was frozen solid. The disadvantage of that was that it was cold. The advantage of that was that it was much easier to walk on. Prestbury turned out to be a pretty little spot on the river with plenty of squirrels to excite Cora. Simon discovered the hard way that Cora had decided that she was MY dog when he tried to take the dogs around the block without me – Cora pulled all her 35kg of weight against him and refused to budge. We all walked home together with the sun setting over the hills of Cheshire. Pictureskew.
The next morning we headed off for our walk early, before the rain became too heavy. The route had become familiar already – cross the road at the perpetual green man, stop to scratch in the gardens, cross the bridge at the overpass, past the beauty salon called “Flabelos”… now I’m no marketing genius, but I’m pretty sure if I had a beauty salon it would not have the word “flab” in it. It didn’t seem to be putting off potential clients of Macclesfield though – every day, the carpark was full of fancy shmancy vehicles. Maybe flab means something I don’t know about… Anyway, past the flabby beauty salon and into Riverside Park where every man and his dog was walking his… err, dog.
We finally got around to being tourists and popped into the Heritage Centre (across the road, next to the cinema – do you get the point about our good location yet?) and were greeted with the stern reminder that it was NOT the Silk Museum. Still, we learned a little about the button and silk heritage of Macclesfield before enjoying the coffee and cake facilities.
On Saturday we upped the tourism ante and caught a bus to Buxton, a spa town in the Peak District. This would have been an incredibly scenic bus ride if it weren’t for the fact that fog was completely obscuring our view. Never mind. The fog was slightly less dense in Buxton, and we could appreciate the view from the top of The Slopes and we also appreciated the view of the leadlight roof in the shopping centre. There was also a chocolate shop (it would have been rude not to try something…) and some serious scaffolding going on around the old baths complex.
We strolled through the Pavilion Park, which had everything you could want from a park – squirrels, a miniature train (safely locked up for the winter), ducks, trees, and playground equipment big enough to handle ninks. For the record, the flying fox works perfectly well.
We found the Buxton Opera House, which led us on to the Buxton Tap House, an excellent facility serving delicious beers and equally delicious food. Again, it would have been rude not to try it… Once we had been fed and watered, we headed in the direction of Solomon’s Temple but were thwarted in our mission by some serious mud and a serious lack of path. Instead we opted for the clearly-defined main street and soaked up the Buxton vibe before catching the bus back home.
Team Lancashire popped in for a visit on Sunday – Rosie was very pleased to meet the dogs (and also pleased to discover that we still had chocolate left over from Christmas). We found a pub for lunch just down the road, and scored half price meals. Pretty much everything seems to shut down in Britain in January, and in a desperate attempt to lure people out of hibernation the White Lion had the brilliant idea of giving people 50% off all food in January. Winner.
We did some shopping and some cup of tea drinking with the Lancashires, and then we had to farewell them properly. Rosie got right into the swing of things, waving “byeeeeee!” with great fervour and enthusiasm until they were well out of sight. It felt strange to say goodbye and mean it – for the past year, ‘goodbye’ has really just been ‘see you in another month or so when we arrive back on your doorstep after visiting some randomly chosen European location’, but this time it was ‘goodbye until we all have enough money and annual leave to book flights halfway around the world’. I tried to console myself with watching episodes of Gladiators from the early 90s, but it didn’t quite fill the void. Sad panda.