Two things conflict with my drive to a more sustainable life – my love of travel and despite decluttering, still finding the very occasional item I feel I must have. Today I failed on both counts. We were driving down to Gatwick for our flight to Sicily tomorrow. Amazingly we avoided two accidents on the M6 which happened after we had reached the M42. A red soft top Ford Mustang brightened up the motorway in the midst of all the HGVs. James decided to stop at Bicester Outlet Village with the intention of doing some early Christmas shopping. Needless to say we did not really see anything for anyone’s present but enjoyed a walk in the sun, our picnic lunch and a break in the driving. Despite saying that I did not really need any new clothes or shoes, I wandered into LK Bennett and spotted the dress. A black long-sleeved sequin evening dress which looked just fabulous. The rail only had very small sizes but as I was about to give up when the shop assistant said she had other sizes in the back. I could not resist and attempted to justify it to myself by saying it was to replace one worn out evening dress and one that no longer fitted. This photo is not quite the same as it as mine has no train but you get the idea.


The M25 was not too busy and we soon found the airport and our hotel. Now it’s time to relax before final preparations for the flight tomorrow morning. There will be no need for eveningwear on Mount Etna.

Art, Shopping and Comedy in Manchester

We set off mid morning to visit the Whitworth Gallery which has been reincarnated and it is several years since we had last been there. There were familiar Turner and Blake watercolours and many works by Cornelia Parker, Thomas Schütte and Cai Guo-Qiang with which I was not familiar but enjoyed seeing them and appreciated their many different modes of execution and communication. It gave me lots to think about and as soon as time and weather allow I will be out in the studio working on some projects of my own. The only irritation was the lack of information labels next to the works (it does detract from the display) but the information sheets provided seemed to run out and once you had waited and obtained one, then had to figure out which wall (A, B or C) then find the number of the painting before identifying it and reading about it. Slightly too much effort I thought.

Cornelia Parker Room for Margins from Turner paintings  (1 of 1)

Cold Dark Matter Exploded Cornelia Parker Whitworth Gallery March 2015 (1 of 1)

Thomas Schutte Whitworth Gallery March 2015 (1 of 1)

Then, it was into town for a coffee stop, some shopping and a late lunch in a burger joint. In Waterstones I grabbed a sofa and delved into a guidebook on the whole USA for the sections on states which do not appear to have easily obtained guidebooks of their own but which we will pass through on the Lincoln Highway (e.g. Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska) to pick up a few tips. We headed back to the car to move it over to near the Opera House and the late afternoon sun was just picking up the big wheel looking back from Oldham Street.

Sun on big wheel from Oldham St 3 (1 of 1)

On Dale Street some Canada Geese were swimming on the canal.

Canal near Dale St March 2015 (1 of 1)

Canada Goose on Canal near Dale St March 2015 (1 of 1)

We then had a drink in the Old Grapes while James got even more depressed watching Scotland lose to England (Ireland had lost earlier in the day). On the pub wall was a picture of Winston Churchill with Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand – only in Manchester. At the Opera House we saw Omid Djalili who was very entertaining and also challenging. I had heard Farsi spoken in the foyer and when he asked, there were several Iranians in the audience. I hope to see Iran on the London to Sydney overland trip at some point. However, our journey at the end of the evening was the 25 miles or so back home.