It’s been a couple of weeks since the lard bucket of dates and times that I call ‘my blog’ have been updated – but there has been a viable and believable excuse for my laziness. The Canadians have been visiting!!
By Canadians, I don’t mean all of them – there are 34.88million of them at the moment and we only have one spare bedroom - So we just had two of them coming over to see us – But the two that came are two very special ones –Namely Mr and Mrs Cowtan – Jon and Susan also know to Buffy as mum and dad.
It’s been 8 long months since we were waved off by Jon and Susan in Winnipeg as me and Buffy boarded the train to Toronto on our way to the UK, so we were both really excited and looking forward to their visit.
|Waiting at the airport|
They landed in Manchester at lunchtime on the 22nd of April after flying overnight via Minneapolis and Amsterdam. We were there to meet and greet them at the airport and even made them a special little sign. Then we started to show them around the city. Before taking them home to settle in we did the traditional thing of showing them around Old Trafford (The football ground, not the whole borough). We stopped by there on the way home and had a quick tour of the outside of the Theatre of Dreams (Nightmares this season!) stopping by to see the United Trinity statue and the Munich tunnel telling the story of the Munich disaster and the years that followed as United managed to build a new team and win the European cup in 1968. Then we took a very tired Jon and Susan home to get some rest.
|Under the Stretford End|
In the evening they had their first taste of a proper northern pub as we went down to the Fox and Hounds for Open Mic night. Buffy was singing as normal and they got to meet Elvis as he sang in his blue suede shoes. Jon even got up and played guitar for Buffy as she sang ‘I guess it doesn’t matter anymore’.
|Buff having a sing with her dad! Sweet.|
We continued with a tour around Manchester City centre the next day – Buffy showed them around Castlefield, Albert Square and the town hall and library – I joined them all later on and we visited the Royal Exchange, the site if the IRA Manchester Bomb, the Old Wellington pub, The Salisbury Pub a walk along the canal past the back of the Hacienda and finally a lovely big dinner in The Wharf pub. We even managed to fit in a ride on teh Manchester wheel in Piccadilly gardens. A really busy and fun day with a few good beers thrown in.
|In the library|
|On the manchester wheel|
On Thursday I was ‘ill’ and had a day off from work. The Cowtans went out and enjoyed themselves while I rested and in the evening we took them to the Urmston for pub quiz. Dave the quizmaster had added a few ‘Canadian’ style questions to make them feel at home but somehow we managed to get most of them wrong and made ourselves look a bit daft. We did manage somehow to come second though and took away our certificate of excellence wondering just how we did it!
|Dave meets Jon at the pub quiz|
The rest of the week was also really busy –A day at the beach on Friday with Taz was enjoyed by all – especially the dirty dog who needed a shower when he got home and couldn’t walk properly for a day or two due to the aching muscles in his legs. Friday night and a gig at the Ritz in Manchester. Buffy had been bought a VIP pass thanks to a present from Joel and when she went to get her pass it turned out that they had both Joel’s name and Buffy’s on the VIP list. I was there with her and was presented with my own VIP pass as they thought I was Joel. We went back out in to the rain where Jon and Susan were waiting and I gave the pass to Susan so that she and Buffy could get in early and grab a good spot whilst me and Jon waited in the rain. They actually managed to get some great seats and we had a good evening watching the band and then Susan and Buff got to meet them afterwards – whilst me and Jon waited in the rain again.
|On the beach with Taz|
|Jon taking in 'Another place'|
|Walk off the earth|
Saturday was a great day – We surprised Susan and Jon with tickets for United’s game against Norwich – it turned out to be Giggsys first match in charge after David Moyes was sacked. When we explained to Susan that we were actually going to the game instead of watching in the pub she became very emotional and actually started to shake. It was a real pleasure to take them both to what ended up as a fantastic 4-0 win for United and a date in eth calendar that all United fans will remember as Ryan Giggs led us to the win as interim manager.
|Yep - you are a menber and we are going to the game|
|The Cowtans in Manchester|
Next for the Canucks were a couple of days away to somewhere a little more downbeat – Skegness. We travelled eastwards through the peak district on a gorgeous sunny Sunday - stopping for a quick break in Chesterfield to walk Taz and take a look at the twisted spire.
|Twisted spire in Chesterfield|
|Look...we found a phone box!|
We spent the next two days in Skeg with my mum and dad - chatting looking through photos, enjoying a huge home cooked meal from my mum and a second big helping of food in the local chippy – Susan even trying out the mushy peas! Taz got another walk on a different beach and we enjoyed a play on the penny falls machines in a quiet Skegness amusement arcade as well as spending an hour wandering around the peace and quiet of Gibraltar point nature reserve and a trip to Boston with my dad where we visited The Stump - remarkably it was the first time I had been inside and it was awesome - I never knew it was built in the 1300's! Susan also foudn a working windmill - you dont get many of them around anymore!
Finally we returned to Manchester after a crazily busy first weeks visit to get back to work as normal whilst Susan and Jon took their little hire care away for a week’s holiday in The Lake District and Edinburgh.
While they were away me and Buffy completed all our paperwork and after 4 months are finally ready to send it all away and wait to see if I can get a residential visa for Canada. One of the last things I had to do was get a medical done at Bridgewater Hospital in Manchester. I was very happy to be told by the doctor that I seemed to be quite fit and was given 10 out of 10! Happy days!
Jon and Susan returned on the Wednesday after a week away and the last two nights were spent doing what we do best – eating and drinking in the pub! Wednesday was in Mr Thomas’ chop house in town - where we all really enjoyed a great northern style meal such as Manchester steak, black pudding and proper northern chips. Thursday we were at the Urmston again – once I finished work - but only managed to get 4th on this week’s quiz.
|Dinner with my mum and dad in Skeg|
|Me in a wig at Ingoldmells market|
|Enjoying Skegness together|
Finally, we took the two visitors back to Manchester Airport on Friday and after a final chat over a coffee they made their way through security on their way back to Canada – their little adventure wasn’t over yet though as we later discovered that their flight was delayed and they ended up overnighting in Amsterdam, whilst waiting for their connecting flight!
|Susan being given a tour of the garden by my dad|
|In the chippy!|
|Random passive aggressive message found in Skeg|
It didn’t seem like 9 months since we left Jon and Susan in Winnipeg and I’m sure that the next year will fly by until we see them back there again. It was great to see them both though and we had a great time showing them around Manchester and Northern England. I hope they both enjoyed it too.