To begin with I considered booking myself into a random hotel room with a big, comfortable bed that I could fall face-first into and make like a dribbling sleeping beauty for an entire weekend. I'm sure that would have been lovely, but perhaps not a heap of fun. So when Little Sis suggested I go and stay with her in Manchester, I jumped at the chance. So that's exactly what I did just the other weekend.
And, oh, the bliss of a two-hour train journey with only a Starbucks vanilla latte for company. And, oh, the joy of seeing my sister's gorgeous smiling face underneath the departures board at Piccadilly Station. And, oh, the memories that came back from stepping back into a city that I love and that I used to regularly paint red - and ocassionally splatter with vomit - many moons ago.
It was amazing to see Lucy's new-ish pad in Chorlton at last. She took me for a stroll down Beech Road, which I instantly fell in love with, and we nabbed a window seat, sipped Manchester Grey tea and ate the best sandwiches I have ever tasted at a cafe called Serendipitea. We caught up while people (and dog) watching, and played 'hipster or fisherman' and Chorlton bingo (see Little Sis for further details), which I won when I spotted local celebrity resident Badly Drawn Boy driving a sensible VW.
Not only is Chorlton home to Little Sis, but some of my very best mates and ex uni housemates live in the area too, so a reunion pub crawl was arranged. Lucy, Jim and I began it in the afternoon. Oops. But, you know, amazing. A half of cider on a sunny afternoon is quite literally the taste of freedom. Then it was off for pizza and some serious catching up at Croma. I hadn't seen some of the guys for about seven years but incredibly it didn't feel like it. That's what it's like with your oldest friends, though, isn't it? It could have been 1999 all over again, just with better clothes and less alcopops. And less stamina too. This became evident when we headed onto yet more pubs and I couldn't stop yawning. Still, Lucy and I kept going til midnight, which I felt deserved a medal.
The next morning was blissfully lazy and I got my lie-in. Lucy and I nursed fuzzy heads while listening to 6Music and agreeing that Holy City by Joan as Police Woman is the song of the year so far. Then us and Bec, Lucy's best mate, went back to Beech Road for a carb-fest of a brunch in a restaurant that used to be a police station. The only criminal thing in evidence was the fact that it was almost time for me to catch my train back home.
And even though I was a bit hungover, I still came home bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Samuel seemed as happy to see me as I was to see him, and I felt refreshed and ready to take on another week of toddler challenges. That weekend was exactly what I needed, though. Forget a quiet hotel room. If you need a break and a chance to feel like yourself again, all you really need to do is laugh yourself senseless on a pub crawl with a bunch of people who you love and you've known forever. Thanks, sis.