Two blogs for the price of one today, due to the lateness of posting after the most amazing day I’ve just had. But more of that later. Well, to be precise, not two blogs, but one covering two days. You do, at least, get two photos today for enduring my rant.
Sunday was a typical Sunday for me, particularly now the Grand Prix is back. Lew and I watched the race together, another brilliant performance from Jenson Button and a well deserved 3rd place. He really has provided some of the best motor racing moments of the season, and surely it’s only a matter of time before he is world champion again. As for Lewis Hamilton, I’m losing patience with him. Once again he let’s his immaturity override his undoubted ability. Quite how and why Martin Whitmarsh tried to defend him after the race is beyond me. At least Lewis had the decency to admit the crash was entirely his fault later in the day.
After the race we went to Uppermill, the picturesque village on the very edge of the Pennines, a few miles up the road. Although the weather wasn’t brilliant, we walked along the towpath up the Huddersfield canal for a few miles. The engineering involved in building the countries canal network never fails to amaze me and the sight of the viaduct across the canal is one of best in the area. That’s saying something considering the wonderful countryside and landscapes. Considering that the canals were the main transport network of their day, I wonder if in 200 years time people will be going for their Sunday afternoon walk along the motorway?
After a walk back along the road, through Uppermill, we arrived at The Waggon Inn just in time to see David de Gea save Robin Van Persies’ penalty. The roar from the pub was probably as loud as from Old Trafford. Although we were confined to the only room in the premises without a TV, it wasn’t difficult keeping track of the score. Roars turned to laughter as the score increased. The news placards in Manchester today reflected the success and dominance of both the cities clubs – “Manchester 13 London 3”. A rare occasion when mutual success is celebrated on both sides. I had only planned a quick stop in The Waggon before going home, but Lew and I got talking cancer and so the stop off was extended to a couple of hours. There was nothing new to discuss, but I wanted to know he understood everything that had been going on, and would be in the future. I have no doubt that Lew understands everything and I’m sure he’s going to be a pillar of strength to me in the months to come. I want him to, and he will, make time to have a talk with Alana on his return home. They both have to come to terms with the fact that their chances of being affected by bowel cancer in the future have increased dramatically. It can’t be easy for a young girl of Alana’s age to come to terms with that. Almost 18 and she has her whole life ahead of her and has to get to grips not only with the effect of her Dad having cancer, but the genetics of the disease and how it might affect her. After staying far longer than we had planned, we left the Pub only to see our bus home some 500 meters up the road. Lew legged it, disappearing before me as I followed some way behind, limping and running at the same time, walking stick in hand. The kind bus driver must have seen us running up the road towards him, and by the time I arrived at the bus, some way behind Lew, the bus driver was laughing out loud as he informed us we had actually ran past a bus stop 300 yards down the road.
The day ended watching Muse recorded earlier from Reading Festival. Between the two of us we must have seen Muse twenty times and would certainly rank among our list of favourite bands. They looked and sounded terrific, less of the big stadium spectacular they have been used to in recent years, at the same time giving a superb musical performance with video, lasers and light show to match. So sad to have missed it, but great to be sitting here watching it with Lew.
Bank holiday Monday started with me getting up late, resulting in a mad rush if we were to make it into Manchester in time to see Jenson Button and his F1 car. The route he would be driving was from The Hilton hotel in Deansgate, up John Dalton Street to Albert Square, and back again. By the time we arrived at Albert Square, the place was heaving, our chances of seeing anything were zero, and it was the same in the surrounding streets. A little local knowledge goes a long way in these circumstances and a quick dash around the back streets got us an almost prime position opposite the former LNR warehouse in Deansgate. A short wait in the rain was worth it, as Jenson fired up his McLaren Mercedes and roared down Deansgate at what must have been 120 mph. The speed limit had been increased to allow for up to 70 mph, but there is no way this limit was observed. I have been to many grand prix before and so knew what to expect, but this was just breathtaking. The noise as it bounced of the buildings in Deansgate was tremendous to the point of being painful, the smell of high octane fuel filled the damp Manchester air as time and again he roared up and down to the delight of the tens and tens of thousands of fans who had turned up. We were just 20 ft away from one of the two special areas reserved for doughnuts, and Jenson didn’t disappoint. His allotted time for burning up Deansgate passed far too quickly, and the crowds around us dispersed as the rain came down again in true Manchester fashion. Rather than fight with the rest of the crowd Lew and I stayed back until the exit routes were clearer, and how glad we were that we did. We were now at the very front, as the announcement was made that Jenson wanted to do more runs up and down the streets of Manchester. This time we had prime position. The thrill and excitement was beyond anything I had experienced before. You could feel the F1 car cutting through the air as it passed time and time again, braking in the doughnut zone for the final time, only to stall the car, bringing the loudest cheer of the day. This came with the added bonus of Jenson jumping out of his car slapping hands with the crowd as he ran back to the start line. I hadn’t put Lew down as an F1 fan, even though he had grown up with me watching every race on TV, but he was as enthralled as me, and we left trembling and shaking, our eardrums still pounding, from the noise and thrill of what we had just witnessed. By the time we arrived back in Albert Square, we strolled into the VIP fan zone unchallenged, taking in every event, display and vehicle on show, even collecting a lanyards containing a fragment of the 2011 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-26. We’ll both treasure this and our photographs from the day for a long long time. Lew has some amazing video footage taken on his phone, I’ll remind him everyday until he gets it online.
We left, agreeing that today really was an experience of a lifetime, one that we were so glad we hadn’t missed. There is no way we would have made it had we gone to Leeds, proving that every cloud really does have a silver lining. The bank holiday weekend ended with me absolutely knackered. I really don’t have the calorie intake to justify the exertions of the last 2 days, but I would not have missed it for the world. The perfect distraction.