You wait a long time for a big wedding anniversary but once you’ve reached the magical silver 25, they feel just like buses following each other down the road and seemingly travelling very fast.
So as March 2019 approached - five years after the silver one - there we were incredulously approaching our 30th (pearl) anniversary. 30 years – surely only old people celebrate pearl wedding anniversaries– can’t possibly be that many for us already?!
Suppose we had better make an effort to do something special (we thought!) – not party people, tied to a weekend, weather forecast not good; what were we to do?
Well, as you will know if you follow our ramblings (thank you all -it’s so lovely when it’s not just your Mum reading them!) our favourite activities always involve our walking boots and the cameras, but where could we go which would be a little special?
Somewhere in the midst of our deliberations we cast our mind back over 30 years and reminisced (while we still can!) about our first short break together; travelling to London on the train in the midst of December and once again (nothing changes…) taking our cameras along and snapping happily in all the big tourist spots. Those were the days of rolls of film, press your button and hope for the best not knowing whether or not the photo would be good until the envelope of prints dropped through your door weeks later. No selfies – you waited for someone to offer to take your photo and just hoped they didn’t disappear with your camera! And less photos from an entire holiday then we probably take in an hour now. Digital cameras completely transformed the world of photography. No longer do you need to think carefully about your shot and hope no one spoils it – instead just take 10 of the same group of people or view you’re bound to get one that’s good!
As we trawled though our envelope of photographs (another massive change when did you last fill a photo album? Or even print out a full set of your holiday prints?) it was hard not to feel a certain sadness at the speed of the years between. Two 21-year olds who blinked and woke up as two 52-year olds – happens to most of us. But then we thought why not return to London and recreate that first trip away together?
So, March 15th saw us catching a late train down to the big city, armed with a selection of our curling at the edges and definitely vintage looking photos, which we hoped to recreate!
Photo 1 took place on the train which was thankfully quiet! Of all the photos we chose these two were probably the worst for composition and quality. A heavily over exposed Chris looking like he wished he was anywhere else and me slumped on the chair (no wonder my back aches now!) with my 80’s perm in full ‘wildness’ (unfortunately I am blessed with out of control hair!) but we dutifully tried to recreate them and even managed, despite the dodgy Virgin WIFI, to post them to our social media. This was going to be easy!
Route planning became an important part of the holiday as we needed to make sure we revisited all the places on our photos, and it would appear that 30 years ago we went to some very strange places – two we couldn’t even work out where they were! Saturday morning's first stop was just off the tube at Embankment for a visit to Cleopatra’s needle and the two sphinxes who have sat there guarding it since the late 19th century.
Now this photo was the one I was most concerned about as on the originals we were sat in the arms of the sphinx! As this had taken place a long time ago, neither of us could remember if this involved a big climb and wondered whether either of us had the agility to actually get back up! No need to worry they were much closer to the ground than we had feared so up we clambered and started the surprisingly long process of trying to line up the shot.
During the morning we discovered lots of things have changed drastically in 30 years and not just the skyline! Lampposts had been replaced making it hard to work out where we had actually stood on the original! The road around Buckingham Palace now had a cycle lane and lots of traffic- in the interests of safety we decided not to try and stand in the original spot for that one!
Day one (after a 12 km walk) ended with lunch in a café overlooking St Pauls. Our one and only couple photo from our original holiday was taken on the top of the dome at St Pauls so it was time for some sustenance to give us the energy to make the very long climb to the top! Imagine our surprise (and disappointment) when we reached the halfway point of the very long queue to get in and saw for the first time the price - £20 each to get inside! Now as much as we desperately wanted to recreate our first photograph together, we were not prepared to spend £40 to do it.
Day two we spent inside the Tower of London where we had heavily photographed the first time! Once again some of the shots proved quite tricky as things did not look quite the same! We spent ages lining up one shot thinking a sentry box was causing us problems when actually we were stood in completely the wrong place.
We managed to revisit every location we planned to and recreate each of the photos we had pre-selected. Once we had got over the initial uncomfortableness of the task, I think we both started to enjoy it! Twice during the day, we were called ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’ when people realised what we were doing and our matching boots (yes, we do have matching boots) attracted their own comments (apparently also cute!).
There’s a lot more of both of us than 30 years ago, beards and grey hairs we didn’t have, ageing lines around our eyes (definitely laughter lines!) and one of us doesn’t appear to have changed their dress style at all, but we are basically still exactly the same people.
30 years of shared experiences some good some we’d rather forget. Two ‘grown ups’, one son in law, a daft but loveable German shepherd ‘grandpup’ and up until very recently a full set of parents. We still have the same friends who have been with us for a very long time looking exactly the same as they looked all those years ago (well definitely to us!) and we still love taking photos.
Recreating our past was a poignant and touching way to spend our weekend and who knows maybe we’ll be able to do it all again in another 30 years!
"You're my London Girl,
The way that you walk.
You're my London Girl,
The way that you talk.
Just the sound of your voice,
I ain't got no choice"
London Girl - Shane MacGowan, The Pogues
One of the greatest things we share is a love and passion for music. All sorts of music. Neither of us follow any genre and (hip) hop around between classical and rock, rap and pop, we even dabbled with jazz last year and thanks to the fantastic Hackney Colliery Band found it maybe wasn’t so bad after all.
That’s not to say we don’t have favourites and certain groups/singers who we would put some effort into seeing. Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters hold the record for the group we have seen the most - taking our kids to see them at a very early age and continuing that through the last 20 years!
We actively seek out new musical experiences from attending the world premiere of the Hacienda Classical when no one knew what on earth would happen (Happy Monday’s Bez was there – always unpredictable), to the combined skills of McBusted! We even enjoy the occasional ‘fake’ band – ticket prices are much cheaper to watch Fake That or the Tom Jones impersonator who morphed into Neil Sedaka during the interval (maybe one we won’t be revisiting!).
So when we heard on the grapevine that a brand new group – Manchester Baroque – would be holding their inaugural performance in Manchester – tickets just £10 and a night when we were already going to be in the city. Hardly difficult to make that decision!
Manchester Baroque have a catchy slogan ‘Old Instruments, New Ideas’. They are led by Dr Pauline Nobes, who specialises in historical performance and they aim to recreate some of the famous baroque concerts held in Manchester in the 18th century. (That meant nothing to us either!) One of us was quite familiar with baroque music and the other was secretly hoping it was actually some new style of rock music ‘ba-rock’! (time to get the black studded ankle boots out?!)
The debut concert took place in St Ann’s Church in the city centre to a sell out audience. The church was obviously picked for its historical connections and beauty, but maybe not for the view from the seats! Luckily, before the second half someone left early due to a fidgety toddler, so we quickly shuffled into their centre stage view (don’t think anyone noticed!) and it was time to get the cameras out (you should know by now we go nowhere without them!).
The concert consisted of 6 concertos and an introduction to the group and their aims. Not noticed by us until Dr Nobes pointed it out, was that the instruments were definitely ‘old’ (even older than us!), either genuine 18thcentury instruments or recreations. The Violins had pigs gut strings and the cello had no stand and was held by the musician between her knees– can’t imagine how uncomfortable that was! Most surprising was the flute which looked just like the recorder I used to play (very poorly!) at primary school.
We both really enjoyed the evening – the concertos were short and lively and played with great passion. Learning about the history of Baroque and the aim of the group's project was fascinating. This music would have been the ‘rock’ music of the 18th century I have no doubt! Don’t you imagine Mozart to be the Bowie of his day? The Aladdin Sane of the 18th century?
Whilst queuing for the interval toilet break (second issue with a church just 3 toilets!) several members of the very knowledgeable audience stated that Manchester has had a huge gap with a lack of Baroque musicians (not noticed that either!). Maybe Manchester Baroque have just filled that.
Visit their website to sign up for updates on their upcoming projects.
"No one knew what they was gonna do
But Tchaikovsky had the news
He said ...Let there be sound, and there was sound
Let there be light, and there was light
Let there be drums, and there was drums
Let there be guitar, and there was guitar
Let there be rock"
Emmeline Pankhurst is a very famous woman – have you heard of her?
Born in Moss Side, Manchester in 1858 she was named in 1999 as one of Time Magazines ‘100 Most Important People of the 20th Century’ and made the shortlist for the BBC’s 28 Most Important and Influential figures of the 20th century.
It’s hard to imagine a time when, if you were a woman, you were not allowed to vote and if it wasn’t for women like Emmeline Pankhurst there is every possibility that in 2019 it would still be the same. Described as a militant, she was introduced to the women’s suffrage movement from a very early age and went on to take a leading role in the fight for women’s votes.
On Friday 14th December 2018, exactly 100 years since the first women in the UK voted in a general election, a brand new bronze statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, created by sculptor Hazel Reeves, was unveiled in St Peter’s Square, Manchester. Chosen in a public vote (we have a lot of these now don’t we!) she now stands, forever immortalised, addressing the crowds from her chair.
Can’t help but wonder what she makes of the scene around her. The times have definitely changed since she last addressed the crowds in Manchester…
Timelapse Video Saturday 23rd February (in the strange summer temperatures of an unseasonal February!) St Peters Square Manchester
Life and other