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January / February 2010

It’s Men United…

What’s a girl to do when she stuck in Manchester with her daughter for two hours while the boys go to the footy…Thank heavens for the shops…

Manchester, home of the Red Devils, the university where my husband, Jim and I met and the city that spawned a music revolution producing bands such as The Happy Mondays, New Order and of course, Oasis.

Last weekend, the Bradens made a family trip over to Manchester armed with waterproofs – it rains almost as much as it does in Belfast - enough luggage for a week and of course, the essential travel accessory to ensure peace and harmony amongst families in airports, taxis and on early mornings....the Nintendo DS!

The DS is our seven-year-old’s equivalent to a baby’s dummy. Any situation which may involve waiting, sitting still or being quiet can be managed with a game of Super Mario or Lego Star Wars.

The seven-year-old in question is our son Jude who was the main reason for our Mancunian venture. He’s a ‘Man United’ fan and for Christmas, like Charlie Bucket winning a golden ticket to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, Jude received tickets to Old Trafford. The match was on Saturday afternoon against Burnley, so they were in with a good chance of winning.

We arrived at our hotel on Friday night and checked into our adjoining rooms. Lucy and Jude had a good look round their bedroom and exclaimed with excitement that there was a TV on the wall and a fridge in the wardrobe, not to mention the ‘free’ bottles of water!

Lucy is our eight-year-old daughter and she was also very excited about the weekend but has no interest in football. She loves travelling, especially if it involves flying. However, she was rather put out when the lady at the security desk in George Best Belfast City Airport asked if she could look in Lucy’s bag. Lucy replied with an adamant, “no”!

Anyway, on the Big Day itself, Jude wrapped up in his Man United scarf and hat and he and Jim made their way to the bus stop to catch the bus to Old Trafford (all part of the fun). Off they went, men united.

So what are a couple of girls to do on a Saturday afternoon in a city where there’s a Harvey Nick’s and Selfridges? Yes, Lucy and I hit the shops.

I probably always imagined how nice it would be to have a daughter to go shopping with, trying on clothes and sharing opinions. One minute that thought is a daydream and before you know it, there she is, nearly nine with her own very definite opinions and ideas! It was a lovely way to while away an afternoon and there was a real buzz about the town on a busy Saturday in Manchester.

Well, Man U won, three-nil, phew! Jude was in awe of the event and the biggest crowds he could ever have imagined. His smiling face and the sight of him jumping up and down on the spot telling me all about it were such a lovely sight to greet me back at the hotel.

We flew back on Sunday, back home, Nintendo out of bounds again until next weekend, Lucy happy to be back in Belfast after finding Manchester too big and busy...home sweet home!

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