Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cold Feet

Cold Feet is back! Many, many years on, with the kids more or less grown up and flown the nest (or safely ensconced in boarding school) leaving the grown-ups time to reflect and play. And have issues. And crises. Of the midlife variety, obviously.

To be honest, it's been so long that I can't remember much about the original series. I always get it muddled up with This Life. The cast all went on to great things, from Downton Abbey to The Hobbit. Apart from Helen Baxendale's terrible performance in Friends, which was a bit like the Cold Feet car crash that killed her

Fay Ripley has spent the past few years writing family cookery books. (Though her claim to be lactose intolerant on An Extra Slice made me wonder, does she really? Most of the recipes contain dairy.) Whatever their origin though, they are firm favourites in our house.

"I don't want any yucky carrot! Where are the chips?"

Anyway, yes, the crises. Speeding tickets. Dodgy deals. Depression. Stalkers. Young brides. Ageing. The fear of having wasted one's life. The need to be slimmer, fitter, happier, richer. All fairly textbook stuff.

Apart from the euthanasia. They just slid that one in there next week. Pete can't decide whether or not he wants a coffee after dinner at home, but had no bother picking up a pillow and smothering his mate. Thankfully, he arsed it up.

The car crash of life - Henry the Mini at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
So their Manchester is one of concerts and bars and canalside smooches. We may still be stuck in the messy kids bit that has happened since we last saw them and which has been conveniently left out (messy teenagers are way cooler), but it's still somehow cosy and familiar to be back in their midst.

The nearest we have got to mentioning distance of this new middle-aged Cold Feet world is a trip to Dunham Massey a few years ago. No cycling (and no cheating) for us though. It was the first day of summer, and we were en route to North Wales. It was a National Trust pitstop of a hot lunch and clean toilets and somewhere for a toddler to burn off enough energy for a nap. The rhododendrons were in bloom, and deer roamed the parkland.

There is still rain and traffic jams in Cold Feet land, which is what we were party to on a recent visit. I wrote about Manchester before, but it was from a near 25-year absence, which we rectified this summer with two trips across the Pennines. Admittedly, one was to catch a plane. But the second was to explore the region more thoroughly, staying with family in Wilmslow.

The mill maid fantasy?

There were great, vast places ending in Bank (Jodrell, Quarry). And then the centre of Manchester itself, where we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Which is quite brilliant. And what's more, free. There are fantastically enthusiastic explainers who taught us how to make a mini microscope and did a show about famous Manchester inventions, you know, insignificant little things like the aeroplane and the Spinning Jenny. There is a whole floor of kid-friendly experiments - magnetism, mirrors, friction, levers, optical illusions. There are steam engines, jet engines, railway engines, and flight simulators. And a Sinclair C5. The cafe makes fresh pizzas and even has a healthy salad bar. It's a top day out, which left us on such a high that we didn't mind the deluge that soaked us as we made our way back to the car to head to Salford Quays.

And Salford Quays, where there are the Lowry paintings of my parents' youth (Level Crossing hung above our gas fire), and the CBeebies of my daughter's. A friendly lady behind a desk in the BBC part of Media City gave our girl a CBeebies sticker, which just about made her LIFE.

Media City, Salford Quays

I tend to see the world through Dangermouse and Old Jack's eyes.
Not Topsy and Tim's mother's.

And then we went outside and found the Blue Peter garden, which just about made mine.

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