A whirlwind trip last January to Manchester...
It was a pleasure to meet Bruce Mee and Khalil Turk again to share dinners and ideas!
Manchester is an incredible city with a charm reminiscent of the times of the Industrial Revolution, an era that has always fascinated me and in which here I have fully immersed myself surrounded by the typical brick buildings. Looking for that ambience, I found the Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel, named after Queen Victoria and her husband, which fits this style perfectly. The hotel occupies a former warehouse between Water Street and the river Irwell. It had been constructed in 1844 to accommodate goods that were being carried along the Irwell-Mersey Navigation. By the way...if you go there, the hotel is more than recommendable in all aspects!!!!
The first night there we went for dinner at a wonderful Indian restaurant. Khalil is always in charge of choosing the dinner and meeting places and I must say that he always chooses very much to my liking! Khalil, Bruce and I hadn't seen each other since August, so we had a lot to talk about!
But I will never forgive either of them for convincing me to walk back to my hotel from the restaurant instead of in the taxi that I wanted to take.... I agree that it was a 10-minute walk in great company and I agree that it would have taken longer in a taxi... but I have never been colder in my life. The walk took forever with a cold and wet wind that only seemed to affect me. I was completely frozen despite my scarf, coat, gloves, woollen pullover and boots...and I was told it was a mild evening. I think that if they come to Madrid in July or August, I will invite them for a walk at three o'clock in the afternoon. .... :-)
The purpose of the trip was, above all, to sign the photographs that were going to be sent with the first CDs (pre-orders). Mission accomplished and with great pleasure! I spent a very relaxing time in a Stockport cafe in front of a giant cup of peppermint tea and Bruce, who was patiently waiting and helping me to place the photos I was signing. Stockport is a small and lovely town about 15 minutes from Manchester. I only spent a short time there, but from the little I saw I thought it was very nice. It is certainly a very friendly place to live.
Our next dinner was in an Iranian restaurant where I also enjoyed typical Iranian dishes, again in great company. We were treated wonderfully and the food was delicious. I was very surprised that they didn't sell anything with alcohol in it.... I never or hardly ever drink it anyway... but it's still curious! There I met Bruce's best friend of 30 years, Jason,... and you can blame him for Bruce removing one of the tracks from the album: one he thought didn't fit when he was the first to hear it some months earlier while sharing a car with him to a science-fiction festival during a 5-hour drive away. Amazing how fast he can speak English! He's a great guy and a lot of fun, which, being Bruce's mate, doesn't surprise me at all.
As I was returning to Madrid the next day and I hadn't had the chance to see much of Manchester, Khalil offered a night tour of the city in his car. It is a beautiful and lively city...full of students, with a young and relaxed atmosphere. After the tour, poor Khalil spent a lot of time in the car stuck in a traffic jam because of people leaving a mega-concert (I don't know whose) at the Old Trafford football stadium, which is next to the Marriott Hotel. Next time I go there I hope to see the city in more detail.
On my way back to Madrid, at Manchester airport I went to look in a magazine shop to see what magazines they had there...I bought Classic Rock because there was an article about Mike Oldfield and saw (and read) a great review on 'Kiss in a Dragon Night' ...and then I came across Rock Candy, which I started to leaf through and...Oh surprise! There was also a very good review on the album as well as an advert on another page... What a weird and wonderful feeling! I was more than happy to take them both with me and I was entertained for the whole flight.
A very well-spent whirlwind trip in great company, which I will be repeating very soon!
Love to you all,