A soundtrack for the Summer…

Monday 22 August 2022

Well, I may not have stepped onto a plane this August but I have certainly covered a few miles! Well done to Windsor, my trusty Toyota, for doing most of the work and hip hip hooray for ‘Heart 80s‘; pumping out nostalgic tunes from the car dashboard and providing the perfect soundtrack for the holiday season…

Heart 80s … why so perfect? Because, as I look back on the last 4 weeks, I realise that I have spent an awful lot of it with those I first met in… the 1980s! Just the sort of symmetry to make my mathematical mind happy and to inspire me to write this week’s post as an ode to some of my oldest pals…

It is first to dear university friends (known since the mid 80s) in the North East that I voyage. Here we ‘make it a night to remember‘ in the pub quiz followed by a day of drinking ‘red red wine,’ and also sampling the fizzy, white and rose varieties at an organic wine tasting. We ‘walk this way‘ and that way and many miles through the glorious local countryside, where the fields of corn, barley and wheat just take my breath away. And finally, be it a ‘green door‘, brown door or even a solid steel fortification, nothing and I mean nothing, is stopping one very competitive friend from breaking it down in a determined quest to wrestle us out of an Escape Room within the allocated hour!

After several happy days, I head home whereupon, accompanied by a fellow classmate from sixth form (slightly earlier mid-80s) we go ‘running up that hill‘ and also wrapping ourselves in 4 sets of blankets to watch an exuberant but unspeakably chilly outdoor production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at a local riding centre. Whilst I would recommend the incredible Illyria theatre company without hesitation, I could almost swear I heard the Bard himself chuckle ‘Oh Lord what fools these mortal be!‘ as the wind freezes hands to the point where picnickers cannot even release them from the covers to hold a glass of prosecco !

Thereafter however, comes the heat. Aside from a brief flit to Middlesborough (furniture drop for my Eldest) and a trip to sunny Stratford for Promdress daughter’s birthday, the ‘long hot summer‘ just passes us by, in a sweltering week of deckchair basking and ‘cool pool’ froth in the garden not-so-hot tub.

And before long, my next visitor arrives, a teacher training bestie from the late 80s. Now ‘girls just want to have fun and that is exactly what we do. Courtesy of this sunniest of Summers we are able to sit out until late to drink and chat and also spend a delicious day in the bars and cafes of Manchester.

But then….‘C’mon‘ calls Windsor ‘It’s time for me to hit the road again!’

Indeed it is! Nicknamed a ‘long distance lorry driver‘ by one witty amigo, on account of my holiday travels, I find time to whirl along the motorway to deposit Small Boy in Wales and then set the satnav for ‘a town called ...‘ London! Yes; I drive to London – eek! I am terrified. I am bamboozled. I am ‘ultra low emission zone’ charged and navigationally challenged. I have nightmares about taking a wrong turn and seeing the monopoly board come to life from my car window.

But with the trains on strike it is the only way for me to catch-up with great uni friends, some of whom I have not seen for over 5 years. So I go for it, get there in one piece and then enjoy ….

I am a ‘west end girl‘ with lunch and a mini-reunion at the elegant Wolseley in Piccadilly plus a stroll around a (very brown) Green Park. Then it’s the cultural delights of the Southbank; ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders‘ at Tate Modern before an afternoon at the Globe for my second dose of Shakespeare this Summer.

My final day veers a little more off the beaten track at Trinity Buoy Wharf. We go primarily to hear the ‘Long Player‘ a 1000 year piece of music composed by Jem Finer, once of the Pogues. Not only did my friend and I see the Pogues (together) at Glastonbury back in 1986, but I further relish in coincidences, realising that, by utter chance, it was also a location used in the Netflix film, Rogue Agent, which I watched with the teens just 4 days earlier… spooky! The site is even more than Long Player too, with arty workshops, a museum honouring Faraday, who conducted experiments in electric lighting for lighthouses there in the nineteenth century, the Floodtide music installation plus .. one of the quirkiest cafes I’ve stopped at for quite some time. A terrific find.

And it is there that my August 2022 travels end. Windsor and I point the compass north and we duo of Wild Rovers speed merrily up the motorway home.

Great times, great company, great 80s soundtrack, great Summer …

London Town

Sunday 20 October 2019

There is no better way to recharge the batteries than a change of location and after a terrific weekend in London, I feel like a new woman.

It’s the start of half term and the teens are away with their dad, leaving me free to hop on an Intercity train and head for the capital. It’s a change of place and a change of pace and it a few days to just be myself rather than an overstretched and sightly frazzled single-mum.

In under 2 hours, I am at Euston, meeting an old Uni friend and catching up over coffee. Armed with our Oyster cards, we head to Tate Britain for Mark Leckey’s O’ Magic Power of Bleakness exhibition. Leckey’s ambitious and theatrical show, takes us on a nostalgic trip through his younger years, and as contempories, his nostalgia matches ours and we lounge on the floor letting the clever images wash over us and feeling the year roll back, until we are teenagers again too. I really enjoy it and reminiscing about my childhood, with someone else who was also alive at the time is the perfect way to remind myself that, much as Iove being a mum, there is also a side of me that’s…just me!

And over a two day trip, London just seems to exude effortless style and endless opportunity. There’s great food, great cinema, great art, great strolling along the elegant streets and great striding through the muddy paths of the glorious Hampstead Heath. Above all there’s great company. It is a rare luxury having someone to talk to about everything from work and kids, to books and art. My Uni friends are a clever bunch and I do miss the College climate of learning and knowledge. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back and do some more study one day?

But that’s for some distant day, in the future. It’s ‘back up North’ that I’m heading now on the 16:17 from Euston. Mark Leckey’s familiar yet forgotten images of the the 70s, 80s and 90s remind me of how easy it is to overlook the happy memories stored in the ordinariness of the everyday, when you have the right people in your life. And even as we leave the bright lights of London behind and head for the less inspiring facades of my corner of the North West, rejuvenated by my short break, I am looking forward to being home again.