Long Time NO blog, but I’ve been to Maastricht!

Well we’ve just come out of busy period for the Cleary household hence the reason for a lack of posts. But I suppose you’ll forgive me for being busy?

The first thing to report is that we’ve had a week away from work following on from the Easter break which was enjoyable even though it was busy.

The Easter break started off with my Dad, brother and I having a long awaited afternoon out visiting some of the pubs of my home town of Altrincham. We called in the ‘Old Market Tavern’ as our first stop and had a couple of beers. The pub was not busy but there was a small gathering which gave the place an atmosphere. Our second pub was the ‘Orange Tree’ and was not busy at all! In fact we were the only ones in there for a while apart from the landlady. The bar had by the looks of things had an extensive refurbishment that had smartened the pub up no end. Again we had a couple of beers here while dad mixed the round up with a coffee. Our third and final pub was the ‘Malt Shovels’ and it looked like it had not changed at all in the 25+ years since my last visit. It was the most busy of the pubs we jaunted into on the Good Friday afternoon, however the beer was not at its best and after one pint went back to the bar we forced the other one down before having a whiskey and then heading home to some fine home cooked food at mum’s.

Easter Saturday was a quite day, before we had a busy Easter Sunday with Michele’s parents coming round for a tasty leg of lamb. Lewis was not around as he was busy working.

Easter Monday we had a visit from Sam, Matt & Harry. As the weather was warm and sunny we sat in the garden relaxing, however my son-in-law to be can’t be idle and he was soon busy weeding in the back garden. Which he shamed me into helping him out. After a while the weeding took second place and we played with Harry and his toys. Later that afternoon we made plans for the Tuesday with a trip to Southport.

Parking in Southport is usually an easy thing to do if you park on the beach, however the beach parking was closed so we had to park opposite the beach in the larger car park. This wasn’t a bad choice as it was far cheaper to park here than it does at the beach! It was a mixed day for the weather as there was a large amount of sea fret coming ashore in the morning so we elected to walk along the front. We stopped for lunch at one of the many ‘fish & chip’ shops expecting it to be reasonably priced but how mistaken was I, just short of £30 for 6 of us (4 adults, Josh and Harry, who didn’t have anything ordered but picked off our plates)! Following lunch we wandered the main shopping street before heading back towards the beach for a spot of beach combing with Harry. The weather had improved significantly and we had some warm sunshine warming us up. Harry, Matt, Josh and myself then trawled the beach looking for shells and we were very successful with our haul of large sea snail shells that Harry took home to wash and clean in his bucket.

Wednesday involved a trip to the orthodontist to get Josh’s brace fitted before Michele and I headed off to the cinema to watch the latest instalment of Fast and Furious while Josh caught up with his mates as he’d already seen the film.

Thursday and Friday we were off to our friends caravan at Flookburgh near Grange-over-Sands in the South Lakes. The weather for the 2 days was fantastic and again we were bathed in sunshine.

Thursday we took the canoe out onto Lake Windermere at Fell Foot. The only one not to get in the canoe was Michele as she’s not a water baby at all. Following an afternoon on Lake Windermere we headed off to The Sawn Hotel & Spa for a well deserved pint. On the way back to the caravan we called into Grange-over-Sands to collect a Chinese meal for us all before having a kick-about with the boys. The kick-about was interrupted by Warren and I watching a most fantastic sunset, unfortunately I was unable to get any photos as I’d left my camera at the caravan. The only way to describe the sunset though was the most perfect colour of orange and red ball dropping quickly over the horizon. Back at the caravan that night we settled down with a couple of beers before everywhere was plunged into darkness as the whole caravan site had a power failure.

The power failure was not cleared by Friday morning so we used the BBQ to cook the bacon for the traditional breakfast. Adam and Joshua elected not to join us four adults for an exploration trip further in to the Lakes as they wanted to go swimming and hopefully the power would be back on for them to play on the xbox later in the day. So off we headed towards Lake Coniston, which is one of my favourite lakes in the Lake District. After a walk around Coniston village and a coffee by the lake we headed over towards Chapel Stile were we had a late lunch in Wainwrights Inn. The food and beer was fantastic. This was walked off with a short walk along the River Brathay. The weather and views were fantastic with clear views of Lang Howe and Silver Howe at the back of Chapel Stile village. On the way back to the caravan we took a detour to Lake Windermere and used the car ferry across from Far Sawrey to Bowness-on-Windermere. After packing the car up at the caravan we headed home.

English Lake District books

The weekend that followed was a lazy weekend as I was due to be away the week after in Maastricht with work!

The trip to Maastricht was a long journey for me as it started at 06:45 with a taxi to Wigan for the 07:09 train to London Euston. There were no direct flights to Maastricht from Northern Europe so it would have meant a flight to Brussels and then a train journey to Maastricht. However the partner from our London office that was accompanying us to Maastricht decide that driving was the most cost effective option available to us, hence the train journey to London. As soon as I got to Euston I had a short walk to St Pancras for the second train journey of the day to Ebbsfleet International train station where I was to meet up with my colleagues. We then met up with a director of Callisons at Ashford International train station before the drive to Folkstone for Le Shuttle to France.

We finally made it to the hotel after a 12 hour trip door to door for me relativity unscathed except for having to try and close a sliding car door at about 70km/hr on a motorway in Belgium as the door had not closed properly!

The Hotel was called Kruisheren Hotel and it was absolutely fantastic, it was a converted church that had been converted very sympathetically. As soon as we got there, there was no slacking as our Dutch colleagues were already in the bar waiting for us to arrive, so after a quick bag drop, wash and change of shirt we were in the bar sampling the local beers (Sjores a Dutch light coloured beer with a splash of dark beer) and snacks called bitterballen these were an excellent accompaniment to the beer. Once we’d all arrived in the bar and cleared a couple of rounds we were then off to a restaurant called Le Bon Vivant for a fantastic meal of truffle mouse, mackerel, lobster bisque, fillet steak and the cheese board to finish. All of this was accompanied with some very nice red wine, a couple of extra beers, a bottle of vintage port and a glass of Scotch Malt. Following the meal we headed in to town to a small bar where we stayed until about 02:00hrs before heading back to the hotel for a long awaited sleep!

I was first down for breakfast the following day before we all came together for our pre arranged meeting in our Maastricht office. Part of the meeting involved a site visit to the European Head Office of Sabic which had been designed by our Dutch Colleagues. The building was a very modern design with a fantastic open atrium which gave the place a light and airy feel to it. Following lunch I had a separate meeting with the CAD guys in the Maastricht Office, which dragged on a little longer than expected, but it was well worth it. We then had the reverse trip accross Northern Europe to catch our train back to the UK. This time we were dropped off at Ebbsfleet International train station for the train back to St Pancras, unfortunately I was not in time to catch the last train back to Wigan and had to stay overnight at Euston Thistle. I think the young lady at reception took pity on me when I checked in as I looked tired from the trip and she kindly gave me a room upgrade. I was on the 09:30 train from London Euston back to Wigan however as is the usual case for me there were problems and we had to change trains at Euston as the one we were on wasn’t going anywhere! This delayed my trip home by 30 minutes so not too bad!

Maastricht books

The couple of weeks that followed were non eventful except for fight and an election. I also managed to grow a beard between Easter and this point!

The long awaited fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao was televised on Sky TV for the sum of £19.95. We had a houseful of seven, 19 year olds as well as three, 15 year olds all wanting to watch it with me! They were not too noisy as Michele did go to sleep while the older lads were outside in the garden with the BBQ and chimenea until the fight started at about 04:30/04:45. The fight went the way i expected with a points win to Mayweather as he never let Pacquiao get into any rhythm.

The run up to the election for the UK was a longer wait than expected even though the exit polls had the Conservatives ahead and expecting David Cameron to regain his Prime Minister roll. The announcement finally came on Friday afternoon that the Conservatives had won by majority. So another five years of Tory control which albeit suits me doesn’t suit all!

As I’d mentioned earlier between Easter & the day after the boxing, about 30 days I’d grown a beard. As much as I liked it most people that I met didn’t and i was told that it put about another 10 years on my age, so off it came to the delight of Michele.

Well I’m sure you are all bored to death with this mamoth post so I’ll now leave you in peace & quiet until the next one which I promise will not be too long off in
the future.

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