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August 13, 2006


1:07 PM
Perhaps our best night in England. We stayed with a wonderful new friend named Louise in good ol' Manchester. We ate the most delicious VEGAN roast of our lives and are in awe of the kindness displayed by her and her housemates. This whole experience has me dizzying in hopes of trying to be Vegan as 7 years ago I managed 11 months with the big V, but swore it off as it seemed impossible as I traveled to foreign lands, but who knows....maybe this is the kick in the arse to give it another go. Regardless, the experience of yesterday was quite amazing.

We got a late start yesterday. Add on the fact that we got lost finding the local train that was just minutes away and we were already at 1 PM. Finally, we head to Manchester Picadilly. Really no plans except to walk, explore, and walk some more. We followed the foot traffic and just headed towards the center of town. A busy Saturday as people of all ages filled the streets. Louise had told us about a great restaurant called the Basement. "Cheap eats", she said and all vegan. So we decided to find it. I had vague directions which I should have taken better note of, but we actually stumbled upon it quite easily and headed inside. Imagine an artsy cafe with a strong leftist political slant. You know the type right? Well, add free internet access with 5 computers, books, zines, and t-shirts for sale and of course food. I ordered the soup of the day which they didn't have a name for, but they said it was a root based ginger something type of deal. But it was delicious. Add a ham and cheese melt and a small salad all for 3 pounds. Both Hiro and Chris got the chili with rice and salad. 4 STARS!! If you're ever in Manchester, go there. The staff were friendly and I felt good about spending my money there instead of SUBWAY which I've given so much to in the last 3 weeks.

More exploration put us in a tented area which boasted some kind of festival. It was MANCHESTERS free festival. Offering a bunch of activities for free, so we looked over the days events and saw that the local cinema had movies all day. But what movies?? We checked the map, headed out, got lost of course, and then found the theater along with a simulator ride that was also "free" as part of the festival. Hiro and I waited in line as Chris investigated how the free movies worked. Yes, we were excited to try the ride. Totally free, but the generator was spilling some awful fumes. Less than 15 minutes in line and I was feeling the effects. Chris came back with three tickets to FUN WITH DICK AND JANE. He said everything else was sold out including both GREASE and GREASE 2. How amazing would it have been to see GREASE on a big screen. But with just a half hour to go before the movie, we decided to get out of the carbon monoxide line and get a good seat for the movie. WOW!! Again, the thought of free had us smiling. We went in and they had movie props on display including Star Wars characters and people dressed up as MATRIX dudes running around with guns going after the girl character. What's her name???

Theater 2 is where our final destination would be. A huge cinema as we got great seats right in the middle. I splurged and spent nearly 7 pounds on Popcorn and a large Cola. The popcorn was perhaps the saltiest I'd ever tasted in my life. But I still managed to finish the bag along with the help of Hiro. Yuck.. I can still taste the salt. Add the Peanut M and M's that Chris got and I had just filled my body with the worst crap imaginable. Why???????????????

No matter how hokey Jim Carrey comedies are, I still enjoy them. The simple pleasures in life are just that and his movies are always the same. Very predictable, but entertaining enough for me. A chance to sit in a movie theater was much needed. And that was pretty much our day. Walked back to the train station and headed back to our hosts home. Now we're just an hour away from London where I will play the last show of the tour. I've enjoyed my time here, but I can't wait to get back home and see Monica. Be well.
Peace, mike park