November 14, 2006 > Across The Pond
Across The Pond
Manchester was great, although it did rain…..a little, but only on the two hour drive there. As we arrived in the city we saw the enormous new Hilton Hotel towering over all the other buildings; a column of glass and luxury; just waiting for us to try it out. Along with other invited guests, we were there at what they call a “Soft Opening”. And what a fabulous weekend we had.
I tested the ironing facilities and kettle, sampled the amazing breakfast, (I’d have happily experienced this wonderful selection of goodies throughout the day.) and enjoyed the panoramic view over all of Manchester from the luxurious cocktail bar on the 23rd floor. We gave our opinions on the banquet - brilliant, and checked out as the 200 year old olive trees for the reception area were being wheeled in. Such an enjoyable and interesting weekend and now it’s fascinating to wonder which famous eyes are looking out from the cocktail bar, who is sleeping in the splendid Presidential Suite and which lucky tots are laughing at the Balloon Man during children’s tea.
Children here have just enjoyed an import from your side of the Atlantic that has become increasingly popular here - Halloween. The “trick or treaters” get a mixed reception on this side of the “pond”. Some view it as begging and can’t understand the logic behind encouraging youngsters to knock at stranger’s doors one night, while warning them of dire consequences the rest of the year. Some regard it as a time to vandalise homes and cars with eggs, flour and broken windows. But some do enjoy the innocent fun involved, and shopkeepers, with their increasing selection of costumes, brooms, hats, scythes, pumpkins and masks, love it!
We’re just about to celebrate our more traditional Bonfire Night. For hundreds of years, Brits have burned effigies of Guy Fawkes and repeated the tale of his attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James 1’s government. Fireworks have become more spectacular and explosive during the years. Dire warnings of the perils associated with circling a sparkler in the air make one wonder how we ever survived our childhoods of “jumping jacks” and “Catherine wheels.” Although in those far off days the ground didn’t shake and animals run for cover every time a “roman candle” went off.
Frosty mornings let us know Autumn (Fall) has arrived. Heralded in by Nottingham’s famous Goose Fair, the season that sees the trees turn to gold and children hunting for conkers, is now well established. Goose Fair has been an annual event in Nottingham from the times when geese had their feet tarred to enable them to make the long march- or waddle, from surrounding counties to be sold at Nottingham’s fair. Now, rides and sideshows are transported from all over the country to create this huge fun-filled event. As a child it was certainly one of the highlights of my year. I still remember the thrill of walking down the tree lined path of the Forest to the blaze of twinkling lights, cacophony of sounds and delicious smells of hot dogs mixed with candy floss and mushy peas. Every year meant a new fairy doll on a stick….far more important to me than being whirled upside down on the Meteor, or covering my eyes on the Ghost Train.
I’ve been back to Belton House, this time mainly to the sprawling and challenging Adventure Playground. With 5year old Georgia, I collected acorns (found later in the washing machine when Georgia’s jeans were washed), played “Pooh Sticks”….”Pooh Leaves” actually as we couldn’t find any suitable sticks, and took lots of photos. Using her father’s smart new camera snapped her clambering up fortresses, perching on top of towers and swinging over “ravines” to show Mum and Dad when we returned. “How were the photos?” I asked Tom later. “Great. Lots of pictures of gravel paths and your feet.” He smiled. He knows his mum and “new fangled gadgets” so well.
So, farewell for this month friends. Providing I can work my “new fangled computer”, I’ll be with you in December sharing the pre Christmas hysteria and jollity.