Yesterday, Ash turned 25! Normally, we go to London for the night to celebrate his birthday, but this year, we settled on a different city - Manchester. Ash supports United, so we bought tickets on the local supporters club coach up to Old Trafford on Saturday morning. It's pretty handy as it picks up 5 minutes from home. After 5 hours on the coach, we arrived in Salford at about 12.30pm, and bundled off to find some chips...our priorities were in check ;) Ash took me to a pub where blokes stood around in groups singing football chants and hitting bins as percussion... not exactly my idea of a good time, but sort of fascinating to watch! We had a couple of drinks, then headed to Old Trafford for Manchester United vs Crystal Palace.
As we walked up the stand to our seats, I remembered that I had emailed MU to ask for a birthday announcement on the scoreboard... so I dropped a hint to Ash and we sat with our eyes glued to the screen for the next few minutes. I was convinced that we'd either missed it because we had been at the pub for so long, or that they didn't have any spaces so it wouldn't go up. But then, there it was! I was pretty chuffed to be honest... ;)
The game itself was alright - Man U won 1-0 which is the main thing! And my new favourite, Juan Mata, scored the goal. We piled out of Old Trafford as the whistle blew, went back to the coach to collect our belongings, and used the ever reliable Google maps to find out hotel. We ended up walking about 2 miles through Salford. The traffic was gridlocked so a taxi would have cost a fortune and we wouldn't have got there any quicker. Luckily, it wasn't raining, so we enjoyed the walk and took in the local area. We arrived at the lovely Ainscow Hotel just after 6pm, and headed up to our room to freshen up before dinner.
I booked the hotel through Late Rooms for £99, and used Quidco for 10% cash back. It was such a bargain, as the booking included cocktail vouchers, Wifi and breakfast! The bar was lovely. I ordered a Rasberry Mojito, Ash went for a Butterscotch Old Fashioned. We chatted to the bartender, and booked a table on Ash's phone for Carluccio's in Spinningfields. Dinner was nice too. We talked over a bottle of wine, and then enjoyed the stroll back to the hotel to rest our tired feet with a rum and coke from the bar and Jonathan Ross on the telly.
The next morning, after a little lie in and a big old breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we walked about a mile to Salford Lads Club - somewhere famous with Smiths fans around the world. Ash really wanted to visit, and I'm glad we went. It was definitely a tick off our bucket list. After posing for a few photos, we headed back towards town and the Arndale Centre. I dragged Ash around Primark, we sipped on Christmas Starbucks, explored Affleck's, stopped in a few record shops and then went for lunch at the Hard Rock. If a city has a Hard Rock, I will always visit to buy a Hurricane glass for my collection!
Time passed quickly over lunch, and we found ourselves rushing back to the hotel to pick up our bags. We used Uber for the first time to get a cab to Piccadilly station and can highly recommend it. Within minutes of clicking 'Request a Car' on my iPhone, our driver turned up. And I loved that there was no exchanging of money or tips, as the payment details are all stored on the App. (Uber is currently only in London, Leeds and Manchester in the UK, but if you want to try then sign up using this link for £10 credit!)
We had a 3 hour train journey between us and Bristol, so we watched American Hustle, which I had downloaded on the Sky Go app before we left home. I don't know what we were expecting of Manchester, but the city certainly delighted us. I can sense another visit on the horizon very soon.