On the Friday morning after checking out I headed back to the coach station in Liverpool ready to make my way to Manchester. Stopping by the pub for a coffee while I waited for my bus. I enjoyed all the early 2000’s R&B club tracks that were playing too. By the time I arrived I just chilled out a bit, did some work, and ended up having an early night in.

On Saturday however, I got up and ventured out and about. I decided to go for the 50 minute odd walk into the city, heading for the Manchester Art Gallery. It was nice just walking around and exploring the city. The gallery was pretty good. I was drawn to check out this piece by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Astarte Syriaca (1877). It depicts Astarte who was an Ancient Middle Eastern goddess. She could be likened to an earlier variation of Venus. There was another woman near by and I was just waiting for her so I could snap a pic of the painting. She apologised once she realised that I was waiting, of course I said no worries. She then let me know that this was the piece in the gallery that she had to come look at every time she visited. I loved hearing that.

After the gallery I went to find something to eat and just walk around a bit. It was starting to rain a bit so I thought I would walk a little bit out of right in the middle of the city to try to book a ride back to my accomodation. It just kept raining and that was getting tricky, so I just kept walking instead. Which has seemed to become my thing. The rain eventually stopped mid walk back, and I just dried off once I got back.

By the time I got back it was almost dark and the fireworks had already started. It was Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night) and I had a fantastic view of some pretty explosions from my window. The city of Manchester had decided not to put on a big event this year due to the cost, but whoever was near me was keen to put on the show for the whole night. They were going off in the street opposite me and by later in the night even directly from under my window. I have never experienced fireworks for 6-7 hours straight or so. I ended up trying out ordering from Uber Eats for the first time too. I ordered myself in an Indian feast and caught up on some tacky Netflix, while watching fireworks out the window.

I just did work on Sunday as I knew I was going to have the next few days off from looking at the computer properly. So I stayed in my room, mainly in bed, and just chilled. I had also ordered more than enough food the night before so I didn’t even need to leave for supplies. I got my accomodation money worth. It was a decent room to chill out in.

On Monday I checked out and went to catch another bus again. This time I was Leeds bound to catch up with Callum. Cal was also one of the backpackers from 10 years ago, however he was more than a backpacker. He stuck around for a year and a half and was a solid part of the crew! There was a delay with the bus and I ended up getting in about an hour later than I expected to, but Cal came and met me when I arrived in Leeds and took me back to his hood in Pudsey, just outside of Leeds.

It was so amazing seeing him and just feeling like no time had passed. We had quick catch up chats as we grabbed a drink before getting back to his house when the girls were getting dropped off. The girls being Cal and Georgie’s daughter Nelle and Bea Georgie’s daughter. Both of them were friendly and tired. Our meeting was pretty brief. Cal I continued to enjoy catching up until Georgie got home from work and it was then an absolute pleasure to get to meet her! After catching up for a few more hours it was time to hit the hay.

There was also a dog, Booshka, and cat Bozo in the house. Booshka was adorable and reminded me so much of Max. They look strikingly similar. I got up to say goodbye to the girls before they went to school as they were sleeping elsewhere for the night and I would be leaving the next day. For brekky, Cal cooked up an amazing English brekky feast, and then Georgie, Cal, Booshka, and I headed out to go for a nice walk.

Once we got back I discovered that there was a love of board games in the house, and so we quickly got to playing games. Georgie had to go to work but we had plans to catch up afterwards for dinner. Cal and I just hung out, chatted, watched some telly then headed out to check out an exhibition on that Georgie had mentioned. Unfortunately the exhibition she thought was on had ended the previous Saturday, but we did get to check out some other local artists who participate in the arts programs in the area.

It was really just a lot of reconnecting, chatting, and catching up being squished into a short time frame. We went and met Georgie after work at this great little pizza place near by, the food was delicious. It was then back to spend some quality time together before bed. Cal had work in the morning, so we said our goodbyes. Georgie was working from home the next day, so we managed to get a couple hours in co-working before she kindly drove me to the bus station as it was time for me to head to Scotland.

It was so amazing to catch up with Cal and meet his family. Even more amazing to just connect and feel so comfortable there too. I keep finding it interesting, awesome, and incredible how easily it is to just reconnect with people after so many years. Also meeting new people as part of that experience and it also just feeling comfortable and easy. It was sad that this was a short visit but as I have already been planning my return we got to say see ya for a much shorter time. (fingers crossed).