After a good lie in on Friday I got up and left Manchester, heading for Harrogate. I travelled on the National Express coach again, which although it was a little late arriving in Harrogate, was a nice comfy ride and an easy and cheap way to get there.
Nikki met me at the bus station in Harrogate (Nikki, is the doctor, who travelled wit me in Tasmania and then through Asia as well ending in Vietnam) She lives in Harrogate, but is staying with her new fella, Matt, who she was always talking about when we were travelling, even though they were only friends then – I suspected that they would end up together though!!
Matt lives in a nice little house in Wetherby with a really good view over some open countryside behind the house. Anyway, on the way there me and Nikki stopped to meet her parents and have a brew before picking up a fish and chip dinner from 'The best Chippy in Yorkshire', the Wetherby whaler, and taking it home to eat.
|Cool building in Manchester|
|The view from Matts house|
|Nikki 'measuring', her spare bedroom|
Matt seems like a good guy and after dinner he drove us all back into Harrogate where we spent the evening meeting a few of Nikki’s mates and having a few quiet beers and chatting in town. It was great to catch up with Nikki and finally meet Matt, plus its nice to have a really nice mellow night out in Harrogate.
On the Saturday morning, after getting up, me and Nikki went back into Harrogate to have a look around. I joined the army in 1987 and started my career at et Army Apprentices College, here in Harrogate, which is now the Army Foundation College, so Nikki drove us down there for a look around as well as stopping to see the 'Golf Balls', at Menwith Hill listening station and also having a look around Nikkis flat in Harrogate, which she is moving back into in a few weeks.
Harrogate has changed a lot since I lived there nearly 25 years ago, but it is still a really nice place and even has a postcard photo opportunity - A rectangular frame, with a bench below it, where you get a photo taken and it looks like you are in your own postcard – a nice touch, which me and Nikki did before I jumped back onto a bus back to Manchester. It was great to catch up though.
On the Saturday evening I spent a couple of hours watching the latest Winnipeg Jets game with my nephew Peter sharing my chair, before the kids went to bed and I followed soon after.
|Me and Nikki down the pub|
|Where I started my Army career-|
|Harrogate postcard photo|
Sunday and I was up and out for yet another run. This run was a little different though as I ran from my brothers house all the way to Old Trafford – Man Uniteds ground and back. It turned out to be a 6 miler almost exactly, but with a purpose and an actual destination to visit, I didn’t notice how long I had been running or how far I had gone. Th rest of the day was spent vegging out with the Nephews. Jo had a little bit of a cold, so instead of taking the dog out for a walk we watched the United match on the internet and cheered as they won 2-1 in the last minute.
In the evening and after the kids had gone back to their mums, me and Chris had a quiet couple of beers down at The Urmston – a pub just around the corner. It seemed that we were the only non-wankered people in there as everyone else was being loud and obnoxious. We joked that one drunk bloke looked just like a bus driver and nearly laughed out loud when a minute later he spoke about driving his bus tomorrow!! The other group in the pub were a husband and wife with their friends, who just took the piss out of each other and we suspect will end up in a bawling match or a fight when they get home. We did enjoy our couple of quiet beers though and slept well when I got home.
|A good run|
Monday was my trip back to Northampton, but it was a long day. I missed one bus into town by seconds and had to wait nearly 20 minutes for the next. Then the ticket machine was being used my a Muppet of a woman who didn’t have a clue what she was doing. The 1st train was ok, except for a woman arguing about her ticket with the ticket inspector, as she wasnt due on a train till 3pm and it was only 1pm. She eventually got sent back to Manchester to get the right train. Then the 2nd train was delayed by 20 minutes, arriving late in Northampton. Finally, the bus to Gareth and Tracey’s was really busy so I got off it early to get away from the crying baby and noisy kids.
When I arrived, I went straight to bed to catch up in some sleep and woke up when Tracey got home from work. Late in the evening the Internet decided to go tits up and still isn’t working now, the next day. I ended up watching The Jets lose 5-3 using the internet on my phone and not getting to sleep till nearly 5am.
Tuesday was a better day though. I went out and had a good 4 mile run, getting a phone call on the way around that told me my house has a new tenant who moves in in about 3 weeks!! Get in there! It was a good run too and when I got home I enjoyed a good soak in the bath and a couple of hot jam covered crumpets for a snack!
I am now over halfway through my trip home and thought I would write a little about what I think about being here....
UK, when I went away was home and felt like it, but nearly 18 months away have changed it a lot. Every bus, train and queue I have been in, I have been surrounded by Polish, Russian, Chinese or some other kind of foreign people. Maybe I notice more having travelled away, but I don’t think so. Quite simply, it doesn’t feel like England used to. Its not all a bad thing. Most of the foreign people seem to be nice enough people and just getting on with their lives, but there also seem to be more 'wankers' about – both English and Foreign ones. People also seem to be 'down'. I sit and listen a lotto other people talking on buses and trains and most of it seems to be negative – about the train, about themselves and about everything else. When people travel they complain about being skint or not eating properly or the weather, but most if the time they are doing things that the people at home couldn’t even imagine. I know these are hard times, a lot of people have no spare money and work really hard, but GET A LIFE. You don’t have to travel the world, but once in a while, get off your arses, get out of the house and go look around. You will see some amazing things and most of them for free.
I have less than 5 weeks left in the UK and have mixed feelings about leaving again. Me and my family are all getting on well and I will miss them again when I leave, but I cannot wait to get down to Heathrow, to get that excitement that builds up when I book in for a flight and then to see England fall away again through the plane window. I wonder if I will notice any more changes if and when I come home again....