Surprise surprise

Surprise surprise

Are you a fan of surprises? Do you feel comfortable completely relinquishing control?

I’ve never been a huge fan of surprises myself. I think a lot of it was a safety mechanism – being in charge of what I do and when and where was a way of avoiding nerves or fear. Lately though I have been allowing others to lead the way, and I’ve actually quite enjoyed it. Matt totally planned out the itinerary for New York back in June, and came up with a fair few ideas for Boston before that too.

Saturday 22 July was a day full of surprises, planned by Matt, based around things I love. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and while nothing groundbreaking, he did a fantastic job picking out some unique activities.

We began the day lazily but by lunchtime had arrived at Church Brow, Bowdon, where we called at a pretty little cottage whose garden and outbuildings contained antique and secondhand stone and metal artefacts for use outdoors. All very appropriate and inspiring for my delving into garden design. I came away empty handed (having gone by bus aided this).

After that we wandered up past the church on the hilltop to a small village green besides which stood two gorgeous-looking pubs. We opted for The Stamford for a couple of pints, although we only withstood the outside seat for one of them due to the clouds scooting overhead frequently. It was also pretty nice to witness groups of devout Jewish people wandering by, enjoying each other’s company as they left the South Manchester Synagogue just up the road.

We walked off the calories from the beverage, heading into Altrincham centre via some lovely looking terrace cottages and town houses, catching the tram all the way through to the terminus at the Etihad Stadium. I was very perplexed – was there an event on in the ground that I’d not heard of?

Not at all – Matt led us round to the entrance to Philips Park and showed tickets to get us into Jurassic Kingdom, an animatronic dinosaur event set out in the greenery. Some of the information displays were missing or incorrect (erm, why is that diplodocus labelled as a brachiosaurus?), and it got a bit overwhelming with the number of under-10s running under the cordons to pull on dinosaurs’ tails or stick their heads in the dinos’ mouths! Despite this, it was such an unexpected plan, and totally appealed to my inner geek that loves dinosaurs. It turns out Matt saw how much I enjoyed Jurassic World when we watched it the other week and felt inspired.

Things went slightly awry then, as we went to catch the trams back through to Manchester centre and then on to our final secret stop. We were informed the trams weren’t running to Etihad Stadium stop due to “an incident”. We had a walk along the canal which, in spite of my jeans being too tight (too many crisps and cakes it seems!), was better than you’d think. Some interesting sights en route.

It turns out all trams around Manchester had been suspended indefinitely. Fortunately our all-day tram tickets were accepted on certain bus lines and we managed to get to the last surprise: West Didsbury for cocktails at Hula and delicious tapas at Pinchjo’s. It was only my second ever visit to Pinchjo’s, but I was sad nonetheless to note a “goodbye” party and farewell messages for the last weekend of July. The waitress explained to us that it shall be re-opening in August however, just under new management and a new chef, as the old chef-proprietor is leaving. I’m eager to see what the “new” Pinchjo’s will be like.

I also had to get a quick shot of The Metropolitan‘s grand vintage d├ęcor before we caught an Uber back to Matt’s…

If you have little ones in the family and an opportunity to visit Jurassic Kingdom, definitely give it a go – or just pop along if you’re a dinosaur fanatic too!