Feb. 12th, 2017

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Sunday was an incredibly lazy day of doing chores, nothing overly exciting, but we did get back in the early hours of the morning after an interesting 24 hour stay in Manchester.

We went over there on Friday night with a list of intentions, but circumstances dictated that we didn't get round to doing many of them. We had hoped to go to a local fetish club called Club Lash, but work overran and by the time we had checked in to our hotel, it was touching 11pm. As a consequence, by the time we would have got to the club (which wasn't in the city centre) the event would almost be over and thus we felt it wasn't worth bothering with. This was a shame as we have been aiming to go here for the best part of two years, and the winter months are always the best as the hotels are more reasonably priced. I was quite disappointed as this isn't the first time that work has interfered with my social life and I feel that things may soon be coming to a head there. All of this made me terribly depressed and the train journey across the Pennines was done in some kind of daze, not aided by my irritation with the uncouth yob who was cutting his fingernails on board, letting the nail shavings descend onto the floor.

By the by, we did end up going into central Manchester and trying a number of bars, including the fantastic Cafe Beermoth in the financial district, which served a good range of beers across their 17 taps. They also had some really nice spicy pork and apple snausage, as well as some blue cheese infused ones, while we also got to sample a newly launched beer called Santa Muerte, a chocolate and vanilla porter. They had a wide range of Mikkeller's Spontan series in the back, but they don't offer takeout, meaning we had to miss out this time, even though there were two beers there that we had not had before. Cafe Beermoth was slated to close at 12:30am and it was thinning out about half an hour earlier, so we departed to go to No 10 Watson Street, another craft beer emporium on the other side of the city. Manchester is deceptively big - bigger than Leeds certainly but with wider roads giving the appearance it's larger than it actually is. As a consequence, we got from one side of the city to the other in about fifteen minutes. Along the way, we just so happened to walk past BrewDog, so we decided to drop in for a beer as they had a few new ones out this week. Alas the Cloudwater collab was out, and the Vermont IPA died as she was pouring it, meaning we had to settle for the new Born To Die offering, which was resinous and perhaps overly dry. While we drank, we played chess, with Wolfie and I pretty evenly matched, although I had to concede as we had finished our drinks and he had a Queen advantage over me (while I still had one Bishop). This partly came about because the bar refused to serve me draft beer at 1:02am even though they were happy to sell takeaway bottles. I've never been refused service in a BrewDog so anally, perhaps it's a Manchester thing I don't know. Either way, we left the bar a little disgruntled, crossed the road and headed to No 10 Watson Street, which was open until 2am but the bouncer on the door said that they had decided to close early as there were so few people inside. Fair enough, so we headed back to the hotel.

We had intended to go to the Manchester Meet on the Saturday, but we failed to set an alarm, meaning we slept in until the early afternoon. We had booked late departure in the hotel, so we could check out at 5pm, and as we had packed a range of fetish stuff, we decided we might as well use some of it that afternoon. As a consequence, we didn't leave the hotel until 4pm and didn't get to the meet until going on 4:30pm after we had grabbed some food at Subway, where we were greeted with a fight between a pissed bloke in a stripy top and a burly bloke as we walked up Canal Street. The pissed bloke then decided to pick on a homeless person before trying to get into the furmeet venue, with the bouncer on the door stopping him. As a result of this, he then decided to phone 999 and insisted he had done nothing wrong, before swearing at the operator on the other end of the phone. Meanwhile, as he was stood between the entrance to the bar and the street, I didn't really want to cross the rubicon, which was just as well as there were a number of furs to talk to outside, despite the grey, cold and damp weather that afternoon. It was good chatting with Skapup again, albeit briefly, while in the end we just spoke with most of the Leeds crowd who had come over. I am not really a huge fan of Canal Street and the furmeet venue in particular after events which happened there eight years ago, so I wasn't overly bothered about missing much of the meet, but in the end I didn't need to go inside as we had an enjoyable hour chatting in the street. I do feel a bit bad that we missed the opportunity to make more friends in Manchester, particularly the ones who had been messaging me on Twitter, but in the end we were busy doing other things and the events on Canal Street that afternoon really didn't sell the Meet to me anyway.

We met Tommah at the meet and he told us he was heading to a local sandwich shop called Northern Soul he highly recommended, so with little else to do we decided to join him with a number of others in tow. Fen, with whom we had arranged to have drinks after the meet, was also there while we bumped into a limping Patter as we walked up Canal Street meaning most of the people to whom I had spoken prior to the weekend were now with us. Enteirah found us in the place, which did some excellent toasties and mac and cheese, with me opting for the latter having had a Subway sandwich just two hours before. Ent's Croque Monsieur was undoubtedly the highlight though as it looked so perfect. The place was a tiny kitchen set inside a deliberately ramshackle shed, with an arched corregated tinned roof and dusty old benches and tables. It was most excellent and a place definitely worth visiting again when next we are in the city. After our meal, we opted to go to the Thomas Street Brewhouse to grab some more ales, with our number decreasing as the evening wore on. In the end, there were only four of us - Patter and Fen along with Wolfie and myself - and so we decided to go to the Port Street Beer House for a nightcap. Well, I say nightcap but it was only 8pm yet Fen and Patter wanted to head home so we decided to go for one final drink before returning to the hotel to pick up our bags ahead of getting the 9:26pm service to Pudsey. It was quite difficult getting a table in PSBH but a troupe of ladies were just leaving, meaning  a booth became available. They were really nice and chatty, with them expressing sympathy over Patter's broken metatarsal, which was the reason for his limping and being on a crutch. It was a nice final drink overlooking an M&S home sense store, but the atmosphere was convivial and we were amongst good friends, friends that we really should see more often. We made a mental note to visit Manchester more often, not least because of its kink scene, which is far far superior to that in Leeds, much to my frustration.

We just caught the train to Pudsey, which was in an absolute state as we departed, with bottles and rubbish littered everywhere. This wasn't the worst aspect of the journey though, as about fifteen minutes in, a group of five entered our carriage, with one of them complaining they had been assaulted further down the train. The guard was very apologetic but this resulted in an hour dissection of the incident, followed by police statements being taken at Halifax, where the train was delayed for about ten minutes. The alleged perpetrators came bundling down the carriage at this station, offering to shake the victim's hand, before they had their date with PC Plod. In the meantime, we just drank beer and watched it all unfold, before resolving to get out at Bradford for one final drink. There were two reasons for this - the early nature of the night (it was still only 10:45pm) and the opening of a new underground complex of bars called Sunbridge Wells. Based in the catacombs under the city, this is a marvellous new addition to Bradford, with five bars of varying types along with a number of small stalls and concessions. I was a little worried about getting our two bottles of beer we had bought from BrewDog in Manchester the night before past the bouncers, which is why we drank them on the train, but they were very friendly and let us in. The first thing we saw as we walked up the long corridor leading towards the main atrium was a nice lady selling pork pies, and she told us about all the varieties she had, including the open top ones she was selling. I went for a regular pork pie, which was absolutely delicious, as Wolfie showed me around the various things inside as he had visited while I had been in SE Asia in December. The main bar was quite loud, but we did have a quick drink there, deciding to avoid the nightclub as that was even louder. The range of beer there wasn't great, while we couldn't get a seat in the 1920s speakeasy either. However, after exploring the warren of stairwells and rooms inside the catacombs, we did notice there was space at the gin bar so we parked ourselves by the door and I went up to order. The guy behind the bar sounded exactly like Luna, but was very knowledgeable about his gins. Wolfie ordered a cocktail called a French 75, not realising there were gins and tonics too, while I opted for a rather dry gin as my first. Later in the evening, we both got a second gin and tonic - Wolfie with a gingery one and me a pink gin with strawberries and blueberries. Both of these were delicious and for £7 each, quite good value. We stayed in the venue until 1am, with the atmsophere comforting yet electric, but the door constantly being left open by people was a bit annoying. The guys behind the bar were all really attentive though and were genuinely interested in our experience, so it will definitely be worth going back. Wolfie and I had a good chat, although a small argument did ruin things slightly, before we grabbed a taxi shortly after 1am to go home.

October 2017

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