I'm running on empty, with a chronic sleep-deficit, so when I was informed I had to attend an all-day meeting, I decided to go the preceding day. I had to fast in the morning due to blood-tests and had slept badly, so was feeling jaded as I prepared. I left work mid-afternoon and cycled to Euston. It was sunny, but I couldn't hang about as I'd cut it a little fine as usual. I just made the train and settled down for a fast but uneventful journey – the Virgin trains have really improved over the last few years. I arrived in Manchester in time for a cycle round the city before I checked in at the Palace hotel.
The last time I'd been in Manchester was with Chris, nearly a year ago, and it reminded me of just how much I miss her and our relationship – it was probably the happiest time of my life. Tonight it was St Patrick's Day too, and we always went out for a Guinness – this time I'll settle for a small Irish whiskey, raised to absent friends. But time moves on and so must I.
I always enjoy staying at the Palace Hotel. It has bags of character.
My room was stifling, and none of the windows opened, so after speaking to housekeeping, they offered me a new room.
However, they didn't show me to a new room.
No, it was a suite, The David Livingstone Suite in fact, with a huge sitting room with a three-piece suite nearly lost in the centre.
It reminded me of the Galle Face Hotel in Sri Lanka in its faded magnificence.
Half the windows didn't open, one of the remote controls (there were two televisions) didn't work, and the carpeted floor was uneven, but this all added to its charm.
The staff were very friendly too.
After relaxing with a cup of tea, I went down for dinner.
There was a Manchester Restaurant Week menu on offer, in aid of Cash for Kids, so I chose that.
I started with wild mushrooms on focaccia with a fried duck egg.
For the main course I had a duck leg with chicken supreme, accompanied by a glass of Hardy's 'The Riddle' Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon from South-Eastern Australia.
For dessert I had a baked Eccles cake with banana fudge ice-cream and toffee-macerated minted bananas.
After dinner I luxuriated in a hot bath and was in bed before 10:30. I took a Zopiclone to ensure a good night's sleep, and slept for over eight hours. I woke up with a muzzy head, but felt better after another soak in the bath.
I was reasonably abstemious at breakfast, with fruit followed by scrambled egg, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, beans, hash browns and fried bread. Then I had toast with a Danish pastry and more tea.
Hmm, not quite as abstemious as I thought. Anyway, it set me up for the day. My budget completely blown, I headed off for the office and my meeting.
The meeting was long but productive, and after a lunch of a banana and a coffee, we continued, until I rushed off for my train home, which I caught with a few minutes to spare. My journey home was not wasted, with five poems finished before I hit Euston and this report started.
I wasn't sure of the route by bike from Euston to Victoria, so set my Tom-Tom, put it in my pocket with the volume on full, and started cycling. It was liberating to abrogate responsibility for the route, and I dutifully followed instructions – deviating once when I thought I knew better. I didn't. Unlike most human navigators, it didn't swear at me or complain, but recalculated the route almost instantly, and led me to the station, where I caught a train by the skin of my teeth.
I was home by 20:30, leaving me time to post this report and my poems before stumbling into bed.
updated Tue 17 Mar '09 give feedback...
: : © Mike Bliss 2011