Partying… at the Whip and Kitten!

Wednesday 8 December 2021

‘A Christmas gathering?

Why, I hardly dare utter the phrase! But in a week when stories of illegal 2020 lockdown parties in Downing Street rock central government to its very core, our work team also head out, though in our case is actually is, for our first festive celebration together in 2 long years. Our work meal popped onto the calendar last weekend; I’m blogging now because it took me this long to recovery from a rather drink fuelled evening… that ended up in The Whip and Kitten

So how does it feel to be out on a work event after all this time? Well firstly, fellow single parents, getting out of the house is still as much of a challenge as ever. I somehow manage to wash my hair, dust down my frock and root out a bit of lippy, whilst face-timing one daughter about some University issue, picking Small boy up from Youth Orchestra and hearing about my mum’s entire week as she arrives to take my son off for the night. ‘Is it really worth the effort?‘, I wonder, looking longingly at the comfy couch and thinking how much easier it would be just to collapse and turn on the TV.

Nonetheless, by 7:30 pm I am ready and, in my eyes every bit as magical as a horse and carriage, one of my colleagues draws up to give me a lift in their Ford Galaxy. And from this point forward, the trappings, the grind and the relentless routine of parenthood are very much cast aside. Beaming at her fellow passengers, another workmate fishes some pink cans out of a large bag,

“Gin and Tonic anyone?

It heralds the start of a lovely, and yes very merry, evening. Food and chat, drinks and even belly dancing for one of the group! And talk is of life and love and Christmas; all of which makes a fantastic change. The grimness of work throughout a global pandemic, has robbed us, in so many ways, of the chance to relax with workmates, to unwind and converse about things outside of the job, with its stresses and sometimes heartbreaking strains. I couldn’t be more thankful that I resisted the temptation of my couch and made the effort to come out, because socialising is fun, and, as the old adage tells us, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ for those times when we are feeling jaded, sad and blue.

Does that explain how we end up at The Whip and Kitten? It is certainly an eye-catching, with a-hint-of-sauciness name! Can I confess that I cannot recall how it happens, what the hour is, nor who is still left as we are shown to a table in the dimly lit establishment.

“Is it a burlesque place?” someone whispers in my ear.

Having since checked out their website, I think that yes, occasionally, they do invite various dance acts to perform in the venue, but also musicians and comedians. In essence, and certainly on our evening, it is a bar, I can assure you that the cocktails are delicious and hope I shall return soon.

I suppose that, however, will depend on new variants and Boris … I fear they may prove a more lethal concoction than my final Manhattan…

Reading week…

Sunday 14 November 2021

The university term reaches a ‘reading week’ for my Eldest and she finds time to pop home for a few days. What an unexpected treat …

Reading week, whose purpose universities inform us is “time to catch up on reading, do more in-depth reading, or prepare for coursework ” but often, according to, Eleanor Doughty writing in The Independent is “nothing but a poorly disguised trip home for a visit to Mum’s tumble drier…” was off the agenda in Autumn 2020. Fears over the rapid spread covid-19 cases a year ago lead to higher education institutions urging students to stay on campus throughout the term. Whereupon, as all ‘teaching and learning’ was online and ‘in your student room’ anyway, there was little to distinguish it from the normal working week.

Whatever its purpose, I am delighted to see the brief pause in lectures and seminars return and to have a couple of days with my lovely girl. We launch the weekend with the return of ‘Friday takeaway’, movie and wine. The following morning, after prepping her brother for his Chemistry mock exam next week, lunching with a friend and going shopping with her nana, my daughter announces that:

“We should do something on Saturday night!”

And so that is exactly what we do. My son already has plans with ‘the boys’ and so ‘we girls’ do cocktails, do food and do lots of chat. I drink far too much and find myself, I think for the first time I can recall, very publicly, ever-so slightly squiffy … on a night out with one of my children!!

I may have a banging headache on Sunday morning and I may resolve that I am never ordering a Negroni again…but it was very much worth it. As I wave my Eldest off on the train back to University land, I hope that she has had a bit if a break from the stresses and strains of term time because a weekend not spent cleaning, ironing, shopping and worrying about work has without doubt been a fantastic break for her mum! Do you know what… I might even forget the lesson plans this afternoon, open up my kindle and treat myself to a bit of reading too!

Long Island Ice Tea…

Thursday 29 July 2021

Was I the only one not to know about Long Island iced tea …

For the first time since January 2020, I meet up with one of my oldest friends for a day of cocktails and catching up. A momentous occasion, because simply getting to this point has been a true covid-endurance test. We tried last Summer but were hit by the Greater Manchester Lockdown. We tried at October half -term but were thwarted by both Lancashire and Greater Manchester being dumped into Tier 4. And since the ‘unlocking’, it has been an endless, sometimes demoralising, litany of burst bubbles and isolation orders. But finally…finally we are here and intending to make the most if it. And I have been given a top tip…

Yes, earlier in the week, I take my daughter and niece out for food and drinks. As I mention my ‘cocktail’ day plan they chime in with ‘student land’ advice,

When I was at Uni, if we did cocktails , my trick was always to start with a Long Island iced tea…” announces my niece confidently

Me too” agrees my daughter, adding as I continue to look confused, “It’s the same price as all the other cocktails Mum, but you get 4 alcohol shots instead of 2…”

So as my friend and I settle into a trendy greenhouse booth in a Spinningfields bar and peruse the drinks menu, I decide that I am going to give it a go. My friend checks out the theory

It does look lethal! It’s not 4 shots…it’s five!”

But,” I point out, “it is a ‘long’ drink…so it will last…

Whether it lasted a long time or not, I really couldn’t tell you. But we certainly have a lot of fun! I think, about an hour and half later, after much chat and tons and tons of laughter, we climb out of our greenhouse pod to find a leisurely lunch, with glass of wine. Then it is another bar, before we seek out a final ‘coffee and carbs’ to sober up a little before the tram and train rides home.

Such a great afternoon! I really do think that, to be a good mum, you need days when you forget about being a parent for a few hours and just let your hair down. It recharges the batteries and lifts the spirits like nothing else. And after a year and a half of pandemic, I am aware that I have been running low on such times. On the home-bound tram, another friend, I am due to see next week, calls and I tell her, with great excitement about my new cocktail ‘discovery’

Oh yes,” she replies “Long Island iced tea – completely lethal. I used to have one after work every Friday. Once had two .. and could hardly walk!”

The fact that I am clearly the last to this particular party makes me laugh out loud in my seat and I am a little too tipsy to care whether any of my fellow mask-faced passengers notice. After a grim 18 months of battling covid-19, laughter … and possibly Long Island iced tea…really are the best medicine…