Tag Archives: family

End of an era….. Start of another…

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I guess it’s more usual to write about the “firsts” in life.

I’m going to buck the trend here and write about some recent “lasts”.  Humour me….

After fifteen years all in….

I’ve made my last school packed lunch.

I’ve completed and signed my last permission slip for a school trip (Lord, I hated those forms!)

I’ve written my last note to a class teacher.

I’ve attended my last parent’s evening.

I’ve ironed my last ever school shirt – Hallelujah!!!!

I’ve driven to the school for the last time.

I’ve waved my Baby Girl off on her last school trip – prom.

 

It seems like only yesterday that I took her to school for the first time. Thirteen years have passed in the blink of an eye.

Back in August 2004, I took a tiny, shy, little, girl to school. (She was the smallest and the youngest in her class.)

Last Friday night, I took a petite, confident, young lady to school for the last time to attend the pre-prom reception. Proud Mama moment.

As I drove away, waving to her as she stood in line to board the bus that was taking them to prom, for a split second, she was that tiny, shy, little girl once more.

(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

 

It doesn’t matter how old they get or how tall they grow…treasure every moment

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When you have children, people often say to you to make the most of the time you have with them when they’re small.

Repeatedly, you’re advised to treasure every moment; treasure every memory; treasure every hug as they grow up way too fast.

Maybe I’m getting a bit sentimental in my old age (who’s old? Not me!) or perhaps it’s the fact that Boy Child is in the last few months of his teenage years or the fact that Girl Child is on the brink of leaving high school but I’ve bene reflecting on things a lot recently. (Lord, maybe I am getting old!)

I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural mother. I’m not a particularly conventional mother. I’m not even convinced I’ve been a good mother but they’ve both made it this far – whew!- and have grown into sensible young adults – well, most of the time.

I don’t think it matters how old they get or how tall they grow, Boy Child and Girl Child are still my babies.

I’ve watched them take their first tentative steps as toddlers. I’ve waved them off to school. I’ve made endless packed lunches. I’ve sat through countless dance shows, school shows, musical performances. I’ve been to dozens of parent/teacher evenings.

I’ve jumped in waves in the ocean with them. I’ve built sandcastles on the beach with them.

I’ve dragged them through numerous museums – they’ll thank me for it one day.

I’ve introduced them to my favourite foods, favourite films and books.

I’ve introduced them my eclectic taste in music.

But, possibly most important of all here is that I’ve let them make their own minds up about things.

We don’t always enjoy the same meals. We don’t always agree on which film to watch and they both disregard my thoughts on books. (I’ll be honest, that one winds me up a bit.)

As for music, Girl Child is still developing her preferences having journeyed through EMO, Swedish death metal to cheesy pop and, for now, a more indie band sound. Her tastes are more catholic than mine but we occasionally agree on a band or song.  Boy Child too has developed his own tastes and preferences but it’s safe to say we share a lot more common ground.

This was brought home to me earlier this week when I realised that with regards to music we’d come full circle.

Almost six years ago, accompanied by two of my friends, we went to see Iron Maiden at the SECC in Glasgow. It was the first gig he’d been to where we were in the standing arena. The mother in me was anxious to protect her baby boy in this crowd of thousands of rock and metal fans. I stayed close to him all night as we enjoyed the show together.  My friend even commented over coffee the following day how cute it had looked to see us both together, horns up.

Earlier this week, Boy Child and I went back to see Iron Maiden. This time they were  playing in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, next door to the previous venue. When we arrived about a hour before doors open, we detoured into the SECC to use the facilities and Boy Child commented that he hadn’t been there since the previous Maiden show.

As we stood in the queue, basking in the warm early evening sunshine, outside the Hydro, we counted up how many shows we’d been to together over the years. Twenty six, including the one we were heading in to.

A couple of hours later, as we stood side by side in the crowd watching the support band, Shinedown (love those guys), I stole a glance up at him. My baby boy was still standing beside me, smiling and singing, horns up. I smiled.

An hour or so after that moment, as we were being pushed and jostled and barged about in the midst of the mayhem at the front of the crowd, I realised the roles had reversed. We had come full circle. My Boy Child was protecting me, keeping me close to him and regularly checking that I was OK. My heart melted.

The childhood memories you make with your children are to be treasured.

The ones you make with them when they’re young adults are equally precious.

Treasure them all.

And, yes, we were both still standing together, six years down the line, horns up!

When All The Stars Align…

Ever have a day where all the stars align and everything falls into place? They’re rare, I know, but recently I experienced one of them.

Six months ago, I’d bought a ticket to a rock show and made the decision to set out on a solo adventure.

Those six months disappeared in the blink of an eye and, on the last Saturday in November, I found myself sitting at Glasgow Airport with a coffee and a cinnamon whirl, waiting for my flight to East Midlands Airport.

I was heading to Nottingham for the weekend. No, I wasn’t in search of Robin Hood or the sheriff. I was going to see Alter Bridge headline a show at the Motorpoint Arena.

Those who know me, know how much those guys mean to me, especially the front man, Myles Kennedy.

Those of you who are going “Alter who?”, Alter Bridge are a rock band from the USA, fronted by Myles Kennedy. (Look then up on You Tube!)

The flight from Glasgow to East Midlands was a hop skip and a jump on a rather small propeller plane..eek!!

An hour after leaving Glasgow I was sitting in the café at East Midlands Airport with a coffee and a panini for lunch, waiting for my American friend, Miss Janette, to arrive from Amsterdam. (Her devotion to Myles and all things RnFnR makes the rest of us look like rank amateurs!)

Bang on time, her flight arrived and we were soon in a taxi, chatting at a million miles an hour as we sped towards the city. (I hadn’t seen her for two years so we had a lot of catching up to cram in!)

The whole day almost came to a spectacular halt a short while later. Having checked in to my Travel Lodge home for the night, we set off on foot in search of the rest of the “AB Family” who were lunching at Annie’s Burger Shack.

Round the corner from the hotel we found a Kitty Café!!!

Both of us have Crazy Cat Lady tendencies and it took a lot of will power to drag ourselves past the Kitty Café and to resist the temptation of kitty cuddles!

Without too much bother we found Annie’s. (Gotta love Google maps!) Cue lots of hugs and hellos as we caught up with some of the members of our “AB Family.” It was a little surreal being face to face with friends I’d only seen on Facebook up until now. It really was an international family gathering!

Apart from a love of Alter Bridge, we all had one more thing in common. We were all doing the “Meet & Greet/VIP Package” before the show.

The city’s Motorpoint Arena was only a short walk from the restaurant and, by three o’clock, the AB Family gathering had expanded considerably. Some of these people have been following this tour, The Last Hero Tour, all over the UK and Scandinavia, having already followed it through the USA. I really felt like an AB lightweight but each and every one of them made me feel so welcome and a part of it all.

I’ll not bore you with a blow by blow account of the Meet & Greet but the whole experience was amazing! Even standing in the centre of that huge almost empty arena was a breath-taking experience. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to stand on that stage and perform in front of a sell-out crowd!

The Meet & Greet package allows you entry to part of the band’s sound check before you are whisked back out of the arena to briefly meet the band, when they will happily sign stuff for you. (“One item each” we were told. “And don’t talk to Myles. He’s on vocal rest.” I had three. I chanced my luck and got two signed. Huge thanks to Miss Janette for getting the third item, my CD insert, personalised and autographed.) The next part was a photo opportunity with the band. There’s no denying that it is all a bit of a conveyor belt that involves a lot of standing in line. There wasn’t much time to speak to the band other than to say hello and exchange a few precious words, including a few with Myles to wish him an early “Happy Birthday.”

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The final part of the deal is that you get priority entry to the venue for the show.

By five fifteen I was standing on the rail beside my new friend, Miss Monica and Miss Janette. Cue one of the best evenings of my life. The show was incredible! (You can read all about it on my sister blog, The525to Glasgow  https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/alter-bridge-at-the-motorpoint-arena-nottingham-261116 )

It was eleven o’clock before the last notes faded away and the lights went up.

The tired smiles on everyone’s faces said it all! The mad dash up the arena to the loo was hilarious. Six hours in one spot is a LONG time!

In the foyer of the arena and outside there were small pockets of AB family chatting and posing for photos with one another and with one of the support bands, Like A Storm.

A few minutes later we gathered again as an AB Family in the bar next to the arena. We’d picked up a few extra family members along the way. Tired and weary, and in my case starving (that panini at the airport almost 12 hours earlier had long since worn off), we sat and chatted, reliving the musical adventure we had just shared. We posed for “family” photos. We took photos for each other with various family members then the bar called “last orders”. It was time to head back to the hotel and bed.

There were hugs and kisses. There were some goodbyes. There were some arrangements made to meet up again in a few days in Glasgow when the tour reached the SSE Hydro.

A lovely member of the AB Family walked me most of the way back to my hotel. (Thanks, Marin)

Once safely back in my room, sleep refused to come. I lay snuggled under the duvet smiling to myself in the dark.

It really had been a surreal perfect day. It brought it home to me the combined power of social media and a common interest (rock music). Without those, none of it would have happened. Without the online interaction, I’d never have met these people. I’d have missed the opportunity to make new friendships.

Memories were created that will last a lifetime.

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Oh and by the way, I found Robin Hood next morning. (It would have been rude not to while in Nottingham) He too happily posed for a photo!

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Hero – who is yours and why?

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A small social media frenzy over the past twenty four hours about a certain band’s new album listening party and subsequent announcement of the album’s title triggered thoughts of heroes.

Does everyone have a hero or heroes?

Is there a difference between a hero and an idol?

What does it take to be your hero?

As is my usual want, my research began with the tattered family dictionary.

 

Hero – a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.

 

Idol – a person who is a greatly admired or revered.

 

My next  approach was to ask some friends and family members who their heroes are and why. This threw up some interesting answers and cast doubt on the 21st Century hero being male.

Two friends, who shall remain nameless, said it was their grandmother, mother and sister. Their reasoning was also pretty similar – strong, independent women overcoming the challenges life’s flung in their paths and who live/lived life to the full. Hearing friends describe these “Wonder Women” was heart-warming to say the least.

Only one friend said their hero was their dad but qualified their answer in that, as they grew up, they realised he was “just a man.” This was a response that resonated with me but I’ll come back to that shortly.

One person named three high flying, high profile business men as their heroes. The likes of Richard Branson to name but one. The reason for choosing these three gentlemen in particular was because their success has brought employment to thousands of people. Admirable qualities without a doubt.

One of the folk I asked said their children were now their “little heroes” as they had “all won the race for life.” (Think I know what you mean, Four!) I hadn’t thought of my own kids in that vein but I can see where the train of thought has come from. With the current state of the world we live in, all of today’s children are tomorrow’s heroes!

One friend said her husband was her hero. That one made me smile.

Another friend claimed to be too cynical to have any heroes. Such cynicism from one so young! 

 

So, how would I answer my own question?

 Like the friend I mentioned earlier, who said their first hero was their dad, I’d have to agree. Several friends may just have fainted from shock at that comment! Up until a month ago, I’d have disputed it.

I recently found myself watching an audio visual presentation at the Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club’s 150th Birthday Party and my emotional reaction took me by complete surprise. I was a mess!

My dad was a successful amateur oarsman in his day and seeing photos of him in his hey day along with the various crews brought back vivid childhood memories.

Many a  late Saturday afternoon was spent sitting on the front wall waiting to see if he’d come home from whatever regatta it was with more silver ware. I remember him and his friends attempting to set the world record for rowing the length of Loch Ness in 1976.  I remember waving him and his friends off on his epic 180 mile long row. In many ways these are bittersweet memories. Like my friend, as I grew up, I too realised that while he’s still my Dad he’s “just a man.” (He did take me to my first gig – Status Quo at the SECC Glasgow in 1986)

I swithered having read the dictionary definitions of hero and idol as to whether I’ve been answering this question incorrectly for years.

After some deliberation I’ve concluded that my answer is accurate. Despite my love of music, my hero is a sporting legend. He ticks all the boxes in the dictionary definition. Sadly he passed away in 2003 at the age of 52. He was greatly admired for his courage on many levels, especially the courage with which he returned to his sport after an horrendous accident in 1982. He left his sport in a far safer state than he joined it, having campaigned tirelessly for years for safety improvements and even, on occasion, improved toilet facilities! He was a household name, a “cheeky chappy” with an astute business mind. A family man at heart.

So who is it?

My all-time hero is the late great Barry Sheene, former world champion motorcyclist.

I could wax lyrical all day but I won’t. If you want to learn more about him then this link is a fair place to start https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Sheene

Yes, I have my musical idols, past and present, and countless other people whom I greatly admire for their various attributes, including some of the friends I quizzed earlier today, but my answer to the question remains the same as it has done for over thirty- five years. Barry Sheene.

 So who is your hero and why?

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(images sourced via Google- credits to the owners)

A little tale from a “special guest”

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I  thought I’d share something a little different with you this week.

I have a “special guest” contributor.

For the past few years this young lady has had a love/hate relationship with English in school. Last year, however, she found herself in a different class with a different teacher and, after a shaky start, he’s managed to “flick the switch  to On” and now she “gets it”.

The transformation of this young lady has been a joy to watch.

For years it has broken my heart that she was so dis-interested in reading. How could my own daughter not love books? The house is full of them! Now, she’s steadily devouring them…well my Harry Potter ones at least but it’s a start and a huge leap forward!

Recently, she had to submit an essay for her  English exam portfolio. We chatted a little about possible topics but I never really gave her any ideas or storylines. I never gave her any help worth mentioning. She’s always had a leaning towards darker characters so her final choice of topic didn’t surprise me. (Now that he’s got to know her, I don’t think it overly shocked her teacher either and I’m relieved to say that social services haven’t arrived at my door!)

I was given the chance to read the final draft of her essay  before she submitted it.  I was blown away by it! Now I admit, I am a little biased here but I’m her mother so I’ll beg your forgiveness.

With Girl Child’s permission,  I’m proud to introduce her as the first guest writer on my blog page. I hope you enjoy her short story.

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People deal with pain and loss in different ways. Some people go to therapy, some go to self-help groups filled with people dealing with the same issues, others bottle everything up inside until they can’t take it anymore and eventually blow their brains out with a double barrel shot gun between their teeth. However, I turn to my one true love. Heroin. Oh my sweet mistress dressed in brown. She takes all the pain away and holds you tight showing you only the good in the world.

It starts with a tatty old belt round the arm to make a beautiful blue target full of blood. When the needle goes in and the plunger goes down, your soul leaves your body. The mistress’ work has begun.

It is hard to describe what it’s like taking heroin. Normally, for me, it is like enlightenment. It feels like there is gold rushing through your veins, making you pure and at peace. The warm seas of gold fill you up and drown all the evil inside. It is the closest that a drug addict will ever get to heaven. After a few hours in heaven the mistress brings you back down to your pit of despair called reality.

However, with this hit there was no gold and no heaven. The gold seas were replaced with pools of tar. The evil was multiplying and pouring out of my eyes in the form of hallucinations. Heaven was replaced with judgement day.

The first hallucinations my mistress brought to me were of the past. My ex girlfriend, mother, father, younger brother and grandmother were having a family meal in my parent’s house. All around there were smiles and laughter. My family loved my girlfriend just as much as I did.

Soon the family meal melted into the floor and was replaced with a bath. The bath filled with water and so did my eyes. I knew exactly what was coming. The body of my ex-girlfriend appeared in the bath. Her body was as cold as ice and her skin was the colour of snow. She held a razor in one hand while her other wrist poured seas of rubies. Lying on the floor was a note. Her pretty curly handwriting wrote that she couldn’t cope anymore, that I was abusive, that she was scared of me and what I would do. She wrote that this was her only way out. It was after her funeral that my mistress found me.

My mistress then brought hallucinations of the present. The first to appear was my mother. She looked much older than I remember her being, she was breaking her heart crying. I could see she was holding a picture of me as a baby, tears fell like rain drops onto my smiling chubby face. She kept asking herself “where did I go wrong?”, as more tears came pouring out. I wanted to reach out and hold her, tell her I’m sorry and cry with her.

Like the others, my mother melted into the floor and was replaced by a man. My father. He was far from tears – he was stomping around my old bedroom tearing posters off the walls and breaking everything in sight. “I ONLY HAVE ONE SON!” My father always favoured me as I was the oldest. He always had such high expectations of me, and now I was dead to him. I wanted to help him tear everything down and erase every memory of me.

My mistress ignored my pleas for the hallucinations to stop and once again my father melted into the floor and was replaced by a 15 year old boy. This was my younger brother, James, he was sitting at a lunch table in school with his friends. They looked to be laughing and joking about one of his friends getting shouted at in English because his work isn’t as good as his brothers was when he was in school. James said, ” I’m so glad I’m an only child, no teachers have anyone to compare me to”. His friend turned quietly and asked, “James, don’t you have an older brother? Fred or something like that?”. My brother turned and said, “he died years ago”.

My own little brother was denying my existence. He told people I was dead. How could he be so cold and emotionless. I fought the bullies at school so they would leave him alone. I helped with his homework. I taught him how to ride a bike. Did I really mean so little to him?

My cruel mistress then brought hallucinations of the future. It looked to be a crematorium that appeared. There was a coffin, a minister and two figures sitting in the back. As the figures became clearer I could see they were older versions of my parents. This was my funeral. My mother was still crying her heart out. My father was so still and shed a single tear. “I’m so sorry for your loss”, said the minister. “Thank you, we only wish we had helped him sooner. He had so much potential, accepted into Oxford University to do a masters in theoretical physics. He could have done amazing things with that brain of his.”

I had never thought about it before. I was smart, extremely smart. I could have made them proud, but all I’ve done is disappoint them. I broke their hearts. I drove my girlfriend to suicide. I had killed the person I used to be.

My mistress finally released me and I was left lying in a puddle of my own self pity. I couldn’t live my life like this anymore. I had to get rid of my mistress for good. She made me a shell of who I used to be. This wicked temptress had worked her way into my life making me feel special just to turn and judge me for who she made me.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring – a Festival of Colours

It’s no secret – I hate winter. I loathe being cold, detest snow and hate the long dark days. (OK I concede that a wild winter’s night can be cosy with the heating on, candles burning and the curtains drawn tight to shut out the weather)

Spring is finally here! Winter is over for another year!

For me, one of the first signs of spring is the arrival of that first day when I am able to drive home from work without having to put the car’s headlights on. That always feels like a small moral victory.

Seeing all the spring flowers appear makes the world a more colourful place. Who can resist daffodils, crocuses and tulips?

Hearing the birds singing in the trees and bushes, bursting with buds, is a beautiful sound (Perhaps with the exception of that wee bird that sits out the back of our house going Twee Twee Twee at the top if it’s voice!)

Spring truly is something to celebrate!

Whilst I’m not a religious person Easter too signals the arrival of spring.

This year however an alternative spring festival has come to my attention.

In the salt mine, where I work in my “real world”, we work closely with colleagues based in India. This week we helped them to celebrate the Hindu festival Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours. We were all asked to come into work in colourful clothes – yes, I do actually own some clothes that aren’t black!

Curious to learn more about Holi, I did a little research that I thought I’d share with you all.

Holi is one of India’s most popular festivals and is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar. This year that fell on 23rd March. Holi celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It also traditionally celebrates the victory of good over evil.

There are several legends associated with the Festival of Colours.

The story of Holika and Prahlad is one of the most important tales relating to the history of Holi. According to legend, there was a time when the entire world was ruled by a demon king, Hiranyakashyap. He was ruthless and expected everyone to worship him. Prahlad refused to. Instead Prahlad was devoted to Lord Naarayana, also known as Lord Vishnu. This was a huge issue for Hiranyakashyap because Prahlad was his son. On numerous occasions,  the demon king tried to murder his son, only to be thwarted every time by Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashyap enlisted some help to deal with Prahlad in the form of a demon called Holika. Holika was believed to be immune to the effects of fire. She enticed Prahlad into her clutches and, once he was within her reach, she grabbed him, sat him on her lap and sat them both in a pit of flames. Holika soon discovered to her cost that she was only immune to fire if she entered the flames alone. The fire consumed her. Prahlad emerged from the flames unharmed. He later learned the Lord Vishnu had granted him protection from the flames as a reward for his devotion.

A second legend associated with the Festival of Colours is the love story of Radha and Krishna.

When Lord Krishna was young, he was envious of the Radha’s fair skin. (Radha was a Hindu goddess). In an attempt to express his feelings of love and envy, Krishna rubbed colour onto Radha’s face. This act of “colouring” another person is now considered to be an expression of friendship and love.

So how is Holi celebrated?

On the eve of Holi, as midnight approaches, many people build large bonfires and gather round them to sing and dance and spend time with family and friends. The fire symbolises the death of Holika and the triumph of good over evil.

A tradition drink called Bhang is also prepared and enjoyed during Holi. Bhang is made from a cannabis paste…I’ll leave that thought there.

The next day, the Festival of Colours continues with the throwing of coloured powder or coloured water as people dash through the streets of the cities across India. This is a lively celebration of respect, love and devotion to the deities, friends and family.

Different areas of India celebrate in subtly different ways. There are so many diverse cultures across this vast country that many celebrate in their own unique way.

Jaipur, a popular destination for travellers, centres its festival around elephants and upbeat music.

Delhi adopts a more modern approach and hosts a vibrant festival of food and music, designed for family and friends to relax and have fun.

After the recent tragic events, carried out in the name of religion, that are dominating the world’s news, the idea of celebrating a triumph of good over evil around a bonfire, with a drink or two and in the company of family and friends sounds like a good idea to me.

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 credits to the owners of all photos – sourced form Google Images

The Final UK Carnival of Madness show- memorable to say the least!

 

 

My Carnival of Madness adventure part two began with trains, buses, trains and eventually a taxi to our hotel for the night, handily situated right beside the arena.

Girl Child and I were off on a mother/daughter trip to Manchester!

The first train to Glasgow was uneventful. It was the slow train so it stopped at every lamppost but we got there. Girl Child decided she REALLY needed something from Burger King for second breakfast so by 9.30am she was happily scoffing a Chicken Royale burger …BLEURGH!

Stage two of the journey was a two-hour bus ride to Carlisle. I don’t normally travel well on buses and turn fifty shades of green within a short period of time however I survived this trip intact. We found ourselves in a very cold Carlisle station. Us and the rest of the population of Carlisle! Some steam train (I think it was the Flying Scotsman – I’m no train spotter) was due to pass through and stop at the station. In all the confusion we missed our train.

I’m too polite to repeat what my Girl Child had to say about that!

If in doubt, find some caffeine! We parked ourselves at a small platform-side café that was equally cold for lunch.

Our second attempt at catching the Trans-pennine Express was more successful and we were soon on our way, albeit an hour behind schedule.

I had booked first class seats so the journey was quite calm and pleasant and included free coffee! Never a bad thing.

We arrived at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station around 3.30pm. It was a zoo!! Eventually we found the correct exit and a taxi rank.  The late afternoon traffic was bedlam and it was just after 4pm before we finally arrived at our hotel.

Our fifth floor room was nothing fancy. It was clean. You know what to expect from a Travel Lodge room. Girl Child promptly claimed the double bed as hers….guess the single would have to do me.

We snacked on the juice, popcorn and biscuits that I had in my bag while we got ready to head out to the show.

The arena was only a short walk from the hotel but finding the way was like walking through a labyrinth. First time I’ve entered a gig via a railway station!

We made our usual pilgrimage to the merchandise stall (yes, Four, I was a naughty girl and bought more shirts and, no, I’m not telling you how many), had a quick comfort stop then made our way into the standing arena.

Another first here- the standing arena is accessed from the top level of the hall and down through all the seats. Following the queue, we zig-zagged our way down to the arena floor. The event staff were collecting in the tickets. I queried if we could keep them as souvenirs (I have every ticket from every show I’ve been to) The guy assured me we would get a ticket back on the way out at the end…oh….ok….

It was decision time- right or left hand side of the stage? We went right.

Manchester Arena is huge in comparison to others I’ve been in. (I believe it can hold around 21000) and the standing arena was sold out. By some small miracle we found ourselves a spot three or four rows off the barrier among reasonably short people and with a good view of the stage. Happy days!

Highly Suspect came on stage at 6.15, launching straight into a raucous set. There was a different energy about them compared with the Glasgow show and the Manchester crowd appeared to be enjoying them more than the Scottish rock fans had. I guess I enjoyed their performance a lot more too as I was finally getting to hear the entire short set…..that was until their front man “gobbed” on stage again Twice! Bleurgh! Would I still like to see them play a smaller show? Hmmm…the jury is currently out on that thought.

Next up were Halestorm who were in storming form! Lzzy was most definitely commanding this crowd. Mid-set Black Stone Cherry appeared on stage to do a meet and greet (was that Zach Myers in the midst of it?) then John Fred Young and the drummer from Highly Suspect stayed on stage to “assist” Arejay with his drum solo. Good hearted end of UK tour antics that the fans were loving. The set hadn’t altered much from Monday night’s show. Mayhem, Freak Like Me and I Miss The Misery rounded things off in raucous RnFnR style.

One of the best Halestorm performances that I’ve seen.

I had warned Girl Child about the tape that would play in between Halestorm and Shinedown’s sets. Yes, Manchester too was treated to the fifteen minute meditation tape. What the hell was all that about, boys?

The energy in the room evaporated rapidly.

Girl Child loves Shinedown so they were to be the highlight of her evening as it was her first experience of seeing them play live. They didn’t disappoint. Yes, Brent Smith wasted time talking too much and by going for a saunter through the arena but, in general, he seemed back on his game. I was enjoying seeing more of Zach Myers this time round. Love him to bits!

My heart swelled as I watched Girl Child sing and cheer, horns up, with a wide grin on her pretty wee face. I love to see her happy and enjoying herself.

Shinedown’s set was identical to Monday night’s with one addition. Brent Smith declared that as they were in Manchester they had better play something to keep the locals happy. They did just that by playing Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger before moving on to play Simple Man. Have I said how much I love that song?

Set closer Sound Of Madness nearly lifted the roof off the arena.

Manchester loves Shinedown!

Our long day of travel and rock music was starting to take it’s toll. Both Girl Child and I were wilting a little. Our backs were in agony and she was complaining her feet were sore from standing. My shoulders were aching. Cue the entry of the “rock’n’roll polo mints” and a Dextro tablet each. Gig survival kit!

We were both very thirsty by this point though.  We’d been there for about four hours by this time.

Manchester, you could learn a lot about passing back water to thirsty fans from your colleagues at the SSE Hydro!!!!

Not a drop of water was to be had. (Once, the security staff passed a large sports bottle along the very front row but nothing was offered beyond that) Very poor show, Manchester.

The curtain had again been raised to hide the stage changeover but from our vantage point we could see the stage crew working hard. Although why they were burning an incense stick in the machine heads on one of the guitars is beyond me….

Shortly before show time, the tape being played to keep the crowd amused played Slipknot’s Psychosocial. The crowd around us went wild and were in fine voice! We were revved up and ready to rock once more!

A few moments later than scheduled the lights went out, Black Stone Cherry began Me And Mary Jane. The curtain fell and the front of the stage exploded with jets from a row of air cannons blasting skywards. Rain Wizard and Blind Man followed. Explosive start to the show!

Like Halestorm and Shinedown before them, the boys from Kentucky were on fire tonight!

 

(I had started to write this on the train journey home on Sunday – my train of thought was de-railed by more unexpected travel issues – but more of that shortly)

 

Now where was i?

 

Holding On To Letting Go almost raised the roof! Awesome!

I loved the snatch of Roadhouse Blues in Yeah Man…..and then the evening took a downward spiral.

I noticed that Girl Child had gone kind of quiet. I asked her if she was ok and got a mumbled response. I put my arm around her waist and she didn’t immediately protest. She was on the point of collapse.

With my arm securely round her, I half dragged her to the side and signalled to one of the security staff, indicating that we needed water quick. She was given a few squirts from the communal sports bottle.

It didn’t help.

A few feet to our left Arejay Hale and Josh Hottinger from Halestorm stood watching the show – Girl Child never even saw them.

The security girl let us through the barrier and a supervisor directed us up the entire length of the arena to a corridor where there were toilets and a “bar hatch”. Manchester Arena isn’t the most modern or luxurious. I sat Girl Child down on the floor, propping her up against the wall and ran to fetch her a Coke in an attempt to get some sweet liquid into her.

It had a little effect but she was still not really with me.

An annoying little drunk came over to chat. Instantly the security supervisor was at my side chasing him. With the drunk duly despatched, the supervisor suggested we head to the first aid station.

In the background, I could hear Black Stone Cherry playing The Rambler – I could’ve cared less! My baby girl was my focus.

The first aid room was on the opposite side of the arena. I half carried her across the back of the hall as Black Stone Cherry belted out Peace Is Free (or was that Pizzas Free) accompanied by Lzzy Hale and other members of Halestorm.

The first aid room was basic beyond belief. The first aiders, although very pleasant, had basic knowledge and little in the way of help to offer me. I explained what had happened etc etc then asked if Girl Child could lie down for a few minutes with her legs raised. After about ten minutes (it felt like forever) she began to feel a little better and began to talk to us again.

I then began to fret about how I was going to get her back to the hotel. Was I going to have to drag her up all those stairs through the seating area again?

The first aider put my fears at ease and said, as we were staying at the Travel Lodge, he would bend the rules and let us leave by the “back door.”

To the strains of White Trash Millionaire, I helped Girl Child along the corridor and out into the secure yard where the tour buses were parked.

When we exited the gate I discovered the hotel was only about 100 yards away.

Once safely back in the hotel I ordered some food and drinks from the bar and eventually we took them up to the room with us. A combination of Irn Bru, Coke and fresh air had revived Girl Child and she managed to eat her meal.

My nerves were shot!

While she slept all night, I lay awake worrying about her.

Next morning, she was more or less back to normal. I was shattered!

When we went down for breakfast, the dining room was a sea of exhausted, hungover rock fans all wearing new band merch. I’d had one beer and about three hours sleep at best and I felt as rough as they looked!

Bags packed, we checked out and headed out into the sunshine in search of some retail therapy at the Arndale Centre.

After a medicinal stop at Starbucks for caffeine and a whirlwind shopping trip, it was time to head back for the train to Carlisle.

I’d spoken to the Big Green Gummi Bear earlier on and he’d very kindly offered to meet us in Carlisle and save us the two hour bus trip and forty minute train ride.

The train left on time. We had the entire first class carriage to ourselves. Bliss!

A bout an hour and three quarters later the train stopped at Penrith. The service was terminating there. Some poor individual had jumped under the train that had been in front of ours. Icy shivers ran down my spine.

A quick call to the Big Green Gummi Bear caught him before he turned off for Carlisle and he agreed to drive the extra few miles to fetch us at Penrith.

I don’t know when I was last so glad to see him!

As he drove us home, Girl Child chattered away. In the passenger seat, I finally relaxed.

We’d survived. From listening to Girl Child, I gathered that despite everything, she’d enjoyed her trip. Despite all the dramas, we’d both enjoyed a memorable weekend.

Perhaps not the mother/daughter weekend I’d envisaged in my head but most definitely one to remember.

Wonder where we can go next?

Man CofMManchester