11:11, 11/11/11

Confirmation bias, spirit guardians, Nigel Tufnel day, your 40th birthday (you know who you are), Armistice Day or just the ninth binary date of the year?  What does the date of 1’s mean to you?

There are a lot of people that I know that hold the time 11:11 in some kind of esteem, some temporal awe and claim that whenever they look at the clock (a digital one of course) that it displays 11:11.  For me this is nothing more that confirmation bias, you are looking for it so as soon as you see it you remember it and it confirms your theory.  The fact is, because you are holding 11:11 in some form of regard, subconsciously you are looking for 11:11 and the frequency that you are looking at the time will peak in the lead up to 11:11, then once you have seen it the belief is confirmed.  You probably don’t even remember that you looked at the clock at 11:08, 11:09 and three times during 11:10.  How often have you just looked at the time, then someone immediately asks you what the time is and you have to look at the clock again.  Is your memory that bad?

Still quite a cool date though.

So what have we been up to in the last couple of weeks?  Well as the East Coast of the U.S. received it’s first dumping of snow (New York City’s heaviest ever October fall) we were experiencing a mild end of October which continued into the beginning of November.  This was most welcome for my 2nd cousin Charlotte who was married to Paul Eccles on the 4th November at Salmesbury Hall just on the outskirts of Preston (Lancashire).  When we first received the invite I was concerned that the weather could play an unwelcome part in the ceremony but I need not have feared and although the Lancashire countryside can be unforgiving during the winter months it was perhaps a little too early to cause any issues for the wedding party and the rain held off until after the ceremony and most of the photos had been taken.

As Preston is 220 miles away we decided that we would head to Lancashire the day before the wedding and spend two nights away from home.  We had initially thought that we would drive to Nanny Fran’s and spend the previous night in West Bromwich and then head in convoy to Preston.  However we decided that trying to get ourselves and the girls ready while Nanny Fran and Aunties Mary and Liz were also trying to get ready and then drive to Preston was perhaps asking a little too much.  Far easier to concentrate on just getting ready on the morning of the wedding and not then worry about the drive and checking into the hotel and all that entails.

Thus having just come back from a fortnight off work I took another couple of days off for our petit sojourn.  We left the moor a little late (we always do whenever it involves packing with the kids!) and headed north.  The girls were fed and watered and laden with toys to keep them entertained on the journey.  We also gave Éowyn a packed lunch in case she felt hungry along the way.  In true Bagnall style she had eaten most of it before we have even made it to the motorway – that’s my girl!  Fortunately the traffic was light and the girls fell asleep so we were able to make good time.  We arrived in Lancashire in the early afternoon and decided that we would head to Blackpool for a couple of hours before checking into our Preston lodgings.

Blackpool was as tacky and dreary as one would expect for early November and although the weather was kind (I have seen what the Irish sea can do to the promenade at Blackpool) it still felt desolate and depressive.  However as the night closed in and the illuminations were switched on then Blackpool came to life.  We were only in Blackpool for a couple of hours and didn’t really see it at it’s best however we are considering a holiday either to, or near, the Fylde coast for our summer break next year.

Our lodgings for the night was the Preston Central Travelodge and I only mention it for the fact that it ranks in one of my top ten worst car parks.  (Rest assured I don’t actually have a top ten worst car park list and it certainly isn’t laminated!).  The rooms are what you can expect from a £19/night hotel but the car park is veritable challenge.  After negotiating either the ramp (to the 1st floor) or the tight ground floor entrance you are confronted with a forest of metal pillars (all decorated with a variety of paint scuff marks) and 90° turns.  My only regret is that I never actually took a photo to show you, but please be warned that should you ever find yourself in Preston and decide to stay in the night at the local Travelodge and you are driving the car park is something you may not want to negotiate more than once.

Despite the basic nature of the hotel, Éowyn thought it was a fantastic adventure.  This was due in no small part to the fact that our room was on the fourth floor.  This meant that we had to take the lift and for a three year old that enjoys pressing buttons that is the best thing in the world.  She insisted on operating the lift and not only was it fun it was a little educational too with her making sure that she knew what floor we were heading for and whether we were going up or down in the lift and pressing the relevant call button.  We also told her our room number and encouraged her to find it.  It is important to find the education benefits and the game in the mundane, whether you are a three or ninety-three (think Mary Poppins and A Spoonful Of Sugar).

Charlotte and Paul’s wedding was excellent, Salmesbury hall was a beautiful venue.  It is a 14th century manor house on the outskirts of Preston and an ideal one stop venue for the guests with the ceremony and reception all held within the house and plenty of photogenic spots within the grounds, especially with the trees dressed in their autumnal garb.  The hall was closed to the public for the day which was nice to have the venue to the wedding party and we did not see any of the supernatural residents while we were there either.  Both of our girls were very good and before the ceremony Éowyn kept asking where the Princess was (i.e. the bride) and if she was a Princess who was the hansome prince?  They were both very good even through the speeches (although Éowyn did start heckling the groom’s speech with ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!‘ part way through, Amélie just joined in with the clapping).  However the excitement of the day was far too much for them and they only managed to last until the Bride and Groom’s first dance, before we had to make our excuses and head back to that car park!

We headed back the next day, breaking the journey up at Nanny Fran’s before tackling the final four motorways and home.  I was working the next day so there wasn’t any time for relaxation on these days off, time to book some more I feel.

I will leave you now with the photos

Peace and Love