I did not start off house-sitting in Manchester. I started with a day in the fabulous city center and thought this is how I’ve always imagined Europe. The main commercial area is devoid of cars, just a wide mall through what was blocks of stores. Within that mall was a very large real mall, as we would think of one.
I managed to buy a heavy coat which I have been wearing since. The price was phenomenally inexpensive in what otherwise is an expensive shopping area. Yet, the area bustles with too many people, surrounded by trams, busses, and many hotels and restaurants. The city center is alive and vibrant and absolutely flowing with people.
Just down Piccadilly Street is the imposing Abode Manchester Hotel. Unlike the sleek modern facades of the shopping malls, this building is the epitome of the Victorian age. I went in at the early hour of 7:45 to ask if I could leave my bags until checking in that afternoon. Instead, they checked me into their one remaining room right away, a room worthy of a bridal suite.
I turned on my computer, only to find that I couldn’t get a Wi-Fi connection. The front desk staff worked two and a half hours to get it up and running. Very frustrating. They admitted to having a problematic Wi-Fi system. However, these guys and I became fast friends.
Off to Sit
My house-sitting hostess picked me up the next morning and off I went to East Manchester and a neighborhood of red brick row houses. She was leaving in two hours, which gave me little time to get acquainted with all the intricacies any house has. I spent the next three days WhatsApping her to learn how to work this and that.
My main responsibility was taking care of Midnight, a young, over-zealous Labradoodle. I needed to walk him at 6:00 and 16:00 for an hour each day. It was a workout for me, as he was very strong. He lurched at every cat and squirrel he saw, leaving me with a bruised finger one day. He sometimes was all over me and at other times wanted nothing to do with me. It was a challenging experience.
At the end of the week, I expected to leave early one morning after the hostess returned. However, she missed a flight and I had to stay on until my next commitment. The neighbors would take care of Midnight the rest of the day. My next commitment was a first for me.
A Wild Weekend
Back to city center and the hordes of people, as it was days from Halloween and the weekend of the Manchester City and Manchester United soccer game. This is probably the biggest single soccer match in the world. People come from Europe and elsewhere and the partying went on all weekend.
I stayed two nights in a Selena hostel. I had never stayed in a hostel before. I shared a room with three girls and a young man from Japan. He and I paled around together and had loads of fun trying to communicate. We worked it out, often having to use Google Translate. He began to improve his English while I learned no Japanese.
I had another six days without house sits, so it was time for me to have a vacation. Back up Piccadilly Street to the Piccadilly Train Station and adventuring south. That will follow next week.
As an aside, let me tell you that my English-teacher friend Debi solved for me the question of how to spell housesitting. She said, since sitting is a gerund, it should be spelled house-sitting. I will try to do that forthwith! Thanks, Debi.
Fact: All Norman settlements in the UK were named using the word Chester
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