uk roadtrip day 06: manchester & quarry bank

During our last day in Brownhills, we picked up a hire car and drove north to start the roadtrip part of our travels. A little while later, we arrived ...

... at Rachel's in Manchester!

It was already evening when we got there, so Liam made us dinner and Rachel gave us a tour of the delightful and quirky (she both laughed and sighed while pointing out some choices that the previous owners made) house she and Fergus have recently moved into. Fergus was working abroad, so we didn't get to see him this time; all the more reason to come back soon.

There was gin!

And we snuggled up on the couch.

I know, I will repeat myself for every new place on our trip that I write a blog post about ... But it was just so bloody good to see her! And so nice to finally be in the same room. Just staying up until late, having cocktails and chatting.

The morning after we made brunch ...

... and then the three of us we went out for a daytrip to Quarry Bank. Rachel suggested it, of course, and it was the perfect day trip for us - beautiful and interesting, and full of engineering and machinery stuff for Liam. :)

This lovely lady was our tour guide at the Apprentice House (where the child workers lived in pretty awful condititions).

After the tour, we walked down to the mill ...

... where we got to see plenty of old machines working and spinning and ... I have no idea what all the proper English words are for what all the machines were doing. :)

And then we had cream tea. :)

After that we it was time to head back. There was a lot more to see - there always is - and I'll just put it on the neverending list of places to come back to.

Later that evening we went into town. Manchester, you're so ugly and so pretty at the same time.

We met up with a few lovely friends for dinner (what a delightful thing to be able to do again!).

And 2017-2018, when I first came here and met Jenny and Jo and Michael, felt both like ages ago - a different life entirely - and like yesterday.

And then we went dancing at Swing North!

Which was a delight in itself. Dancing with friends is such a wonderful way to reconnect, too.


Yes, pickled eggs exist. It's a pub thing, and apparently now also a Swing North thing. And it's absolutely disgusting.

After dancing we, of course, walked over to the pub for a pint.

There was nothing dark on - a general theme for this trip, in fact! It made me feel personally let down by the UK!

But, believe it or not, we had a great time anyway (I don't know what Kevin and Rachel are talking about but it looks interesting?), until at around midnight, I struggled to keep my eyes open and it was time to say goodbye for now.

Steve Winwood | Valerie

uk roadtrip days 04 & 05: brownhills

What is this? Did Liam and I go to some sort of baking class while we were in Brownhills? Well - almost! :) But first things first.

Our first day in Brownhills was the day of baby Magdalena's christening. And as we sat there in the little church I was thinking to myself: "How is life so strange? If someone had told me five years ago that I would be at a christening in a Catholic church in a small town in the Midlands (one that I'd never even heard of at that point - did I even know what the Midlands were?), and not as some sort of lost tourist, but as the baby's uncle's girlfriend - and that it wouldn't be strange at all that I was there. How would I have reacted? With wonder and excitement, I hope.

After the christening we went to Joelle and Ed's for some cake and chats and hanging out ...

... and we managed to get a family photo! So many people with all of Liam's siblings and their partners and children. (My immediate family has all of six people (my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, Liam and me. Liam's family has sixteen!) It was so so nice to see everyone again.

The day after Liam and I decorated cupcakes with Liam's mum, Anne.

It's her newest passion (/ obession) and she's got really good at it really fast (sounds a bit like someone else I know when they hyperfocus :)).

I got to choose all the colours! So I decided on a light cold pink for the roses and a dark burgundy for the tulips. (She can do loads of other flowers too, but these ones seemed ... the most doable for beginners.)

It was absolutely facinating to see her work! And very fun (and frustrating) to try it myself. :)

Ta-da! We did one set of roses each and one set och tulips each (Anne's are perfect, mine are wonky and messy, and Liam's are somewhere in between - exactly as expected), and Anne did the cream rose in the middle, of course. All in all we had a lovely day in Brownhills. And then we got to take the bouquet to Manchester and EAT IT. :)

uk roadtrip days 02 & 03: london

Our second full day in London!

We started with breakfast at Pret. Anna is the cutest <3

But this one isn't too bad either.

(Ryan is also cute but was sat too close to me, so no good photos there - such is life)

Next stop: London Transport Museum.

It can be hard to find a museum that fits both Liam and me, with our wildly different interests (Kristin: Things that are flat, colourful and well designed, even better with stories behind them! Liam: Things that do things!). London Transport Museum however covers both of our preferences beautifully.

Liam found a thing that does a thing. :)

And I found gorgeous graphic design with plenty of story behind it.

One of my favourite bits about the musuem was hidden London, about all the abandoned tube stations and what they are now (a protected refuge for bats!), about half finished engineering projects, about what it was like to be in the bomb shelters down there during World War II.

My other favourite bit was everything that had anything to do with design. :) The tube map itself (which I knew a bit about before because I'm a map nerd) and how it's evolved over time, the typography, the posters and ads, the infographics, and the different moquette (the fabric used for the seats on the tube) patterns. So good. I could have spent much longer there, but this museum is too big to take it all in in one go.

And the whole ground floor was filled with buses and trains. Just look at this beautiful one!

Liam's favourite was the tube train simulator. :)

I have a weakness for a good museum shop. This one was especially good! So I asked Anna and Ryan to pose with all the Elizabeth line merch. :) Liam bought a beautiful scarf with the Elizabeth line moquette pattern and I bought a puzzle with the tube map - obviously.

More moquette in the restaurant! :)

After the museum, we went for a little walk.


On our way back to Ryan and Anna's we ended up at this tap room, Mother Kelly's ...

... where I had a nitro porter that I can't remember the name of but that was absolutely lush.

And then we went back to Ryan and Anna's where we put all of this tasty food in us ...

... while we watched, and then had a loud singalong to, Encanto, a shared favourite for the four of us. :)

The day after we went out for a little walk

and looked at street art

and had arepas (omnom)

and looked at signs

and colours

and then it was time to say goodbye for now. Thank you so much for having us, Anna and Ryan - it was such a treat!

Liam and I originally had train tickets to Birmingham, but there was a national rail strike that day (which I fully support by the way) so we got bus tickets instead ...

... and a few hours later, we arrived in Birmingham, where we were picked up by Liam's kind brother-in-law Ed. But that's for the next chapter!

the Doobie Brothers | What A Fool Believes