What. A. Weekend. For those wondering what on earth “flup” is, it’s my affectionate abbreviation of full up. Especially as, when one is flup, any abbreviation is good. I think I hit my awesome threshold at about 2.30pm, possibly 2.45pm today and it’s taken some sitting, some bathing and some cooking to bring me back to vague functionality.
With weekends like this it’s hard to know where to begin, but the simplest approach (and hence today’s preferred option) is straight-forward chronology so let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). The working week (which in itself had been rather marvellous) drew to a close as I donned my Big Red Boots and set out into the darkness to the train station for a trip down the line to Lancaster. This is now the second year I’ve ventured into Lancaster for Light Up Lancaster. Coinciding with the bonfire night celebrations which generally happen on the Saturday, Friday night sees a whole array of arts installations around the city centre to wander past, engage in, muse on and enjoy. My meander started at the Storey Gardens, an intriguing little walled garden just by the castle which I have often walked past but not been in to (they’ve only recently started resurrecting it). Lit up in various ways, the most haunting lights surrounded various plaques on the floor. Several of these were stone slabs with names of plants on, but somehow the collection of small red fairy lights around them and the size of them evoked the sense of a child’s grave. One was not a plaque at all – it was a tree stump. I found myself pausing and just touching this wet stump for a few minutes, reflecting. On what exactly I cannot quite describe, but it was memorable. Very interesting little garden which I hope to return to.
Led out on the other side of the gardens my obvious next step was the Castle. Another first – I’d never passed through the gateway into the castle courtyard partly because, until a few years ago, it was still an operational prison. More evocations and ponderances, I was lucky enough to arrive just in time to see an aerial performance (the muscle tone and core strength of acrobats continues to astound me) before stumbling across friends who had also been watching. Down past the Judges Lodges to Sun Square, the heavens opened and, although without waterproof, my trusty old overcoat kept me warm and dry (if only because it takes a matter of hours for the wetness to soak through). As did the aforementioned Big Red Boots.
The highlight of the evening (which, even as I say it, seems wrong – the experiences were so different but this one in particular was inspiring) was found in The Storey Institute. A fascinating building which, whenever I go in, I wish I had more reason to visit and this occasion simply added to that. A series of three rooms which, in a group of perhaps 50, the punters were moved through and got to witness a combination of stylised dance, drama and movement. My favourite saw the audience on either side of a long corridor and a group of performers spanning the length. Added bonus: I got my boot polished. Really struggling to describe the actual performance – part Hallowe’en-esque, inspired by the surroundings we were in, somewhat surreal – utterly brilliant. The cast / troupe were brilliant – although on departing the third room I found myself at a bit of a loss – I had no idea the end was to come so abruptly and in my dazed meanderings I managed to get separated from the friends I’d started the journey through the Storey with.
So I meandered, bought some tofu and headed back to Morecambe. Of course.
Saturday was a day catching up with a friend, inspired by a benefit gig one of my favourite artists, Beccy Owen, was doing for the Behind Closed Doors charity. But before the gig: Spa! I had managed to find us a good deal at the Bradford Cedar Court Hotel – which also boasts a spa. Now, my experience of hotel spas has ranged from great to pokey and ‘orrible but what greeted me at Cedar Court was utterly marvellous. Properly steamy steam room (with space to lie down but not too big), perfect temperature sauna (again with space to lie down), double height ceiling with interesting chunks of colour, a hot tub and, best of all, a “spinney thing”. I think the intention of said “spinney thing” was as a paddling pool for children however it had a jet creating a swirl in the water and was perfect size to lie down in and be spun round. Amazing! Not quite a plunge pool, but a novel way to cool down after the heat of the sauna or steam. I think I have found my new favourite spa. Huzzah! (And they do a day rate – even better.)
With it veritably bucketing it down, Clare and I opted to spend the afternoon in the spa catching up and musing on life. Then off to Otley we went for curry & a wonderful evening of Beccy’s gorgeous voice & music for an outstanding charity. Back to yon hotel, short lived fire alarm just after we’d turned our lights out (but not long enough after to be particularly disturbing and it was fairly swiftly silenced) for bonus excitement and a rather good night’s sleep.
Waking up to a beautifully sunny morning, some stretching and then an hour in the spa before Clare & I went our separate ways was a great end to our time together. She had work to get back for and me? I was off to Manchester for November’s Sunday Assembly Manchester. Their blurb? “The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that meets to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life. It’s a service for anyone who wants to live better, help often and wonder more.” And it’s pretty much what it says on the tin – I got to stand on a chair, have some interesting chats and do a handstand before leaving and heading off to Bistro 1847. I’ve not-quite-made-it to this particular vegetarian restaurant on several occasions and although earlier in the week there’d been a hope I’d manage to coincide this visit with my space-twin, visiting for a quiet lunch on my own was equally enjoyable. Being served three hunks of chocolate brownie for pudding (I had their vegan Sunday roast for starters – gorgeous little roast potatoes, a selection of veg and a really tasty “main” which I can only describe as a fat, filo-pastry covered carrot & chick pea containing thing like a spring roll but different) pretty much finished me off food wise, and walking into the Manchester Art Museum across the road finished me off mentally. At that point I was completely flup.
An utterly wonderful weekend, with lots of good humans, fantastic music and great food (ooh! I totally forgot – on Saturday morning before leaving Morecambe I had great fun putting together a picnic / foodie bag for Clare and me, all beautifully contained in my Where on earth is…Charney Bassett? cloth bag). And possibilities for more fantasticness in the not too distant future (a trip to Northumberland may be on the horizon). Hoozahrey!