Posts Tagged ‘things to do in manchester’

I am almost 40 weeks pregnant. For anyone who isn’t pregnant and thus doesn’t count a life in weeks, this means my baby is almost cooked. She’s due tomorrow. I was convinced she’d be early, just like Milo, and I’ve been expecting her arrival since January. But she has given me an early warning that I am not to presume anything at all about her: that she is her own person and will make an appearance when she is good and ready.

I haven’t the heart to tell her that the medical profession may see it differently. If she doesn’t get a wriggle on soon it’ll be the Oxytocin drip for her; a tidal wave of chemical hormones designed to dislodge her no matter how bloody-minded she feels like being.

God, I’m good at creating bloody-minded children. I should get some sort of award.

I keep thinking, too, that Things Are Happening. I spent most of yesterday on the verge of tears, unable to settle to anything, and experiencing some impressive Braxton Hicks (practice contractions) that went on through the night. And this morning, instead of a slow ramping up of pain: nothing. Nadda. Back to square one. I feel like I’m going to be pregnant forever.

To take our minds off things we decide to go to Manchester Museum. The place is mobbed: buggies, children, harassed-looking parents, and wild, waddling women with a glint in the eye that says ‘mess with me at your peril’. And that’s just the three of us.

We scoot around the dinosaur section, say hello to Stan the T.Rex, decide that we would quite like dinosaurs to still be around – even if it means the occasional human ends up as dino fodder – and look at Milo’s latest interest: the solar system. For the first time in my life I not only know the names of all the planets but the dwarf planets too, and a fair few of their moons. I am thinking of naming my daughter Eris or Ceres. Or, if she doesn’t bloody well hurry up, I may just call her Uranus.

Blood sugar reaching perilous lows, we head to a chaotic café for lunch. I join a queue that snakes along the length of the cafe, wincing periodically as the air is sliced by the jagged voices of hungry children. After a while, I tune into the conversation of the couple behind me.

‘It’s terrible,’ hisses the man, and my ears prick up.

‘All those coats.’

The woman next to him murmurs something placatory.

‘No, but honestly, all those coats and bags and… and stuff, just everywhere.’

The man is muttering, his voice a pent-up, vicious whisper that indicates it’ll take more than a latte and double chocolate muffin to cheer him up. 

‘And the chairs, just pulled out with all those coats hanging off them. I mean, would it hurt just to pull them in a little, to be a bit more tidy?’

I am so confused I turn around and eyeball him. He meets my gaze blankly. And when I turn back round he carries on berating the people in the café for the apparently heinous social crime of taking their coats off while they eat.

At this point the woman behind the counter spots my enormous pregnant belly and beckons me over.

‘You don’t have to queue,’ she says, ‘we can’t have you standing there like that.’

I am whisked to the front and, just this once, being so close to my due date does apparently come with benefits. As I am waved to the head of the queue like gestating royalty, the look of outraged horror that contorts the face of the coat-hating man behind me – well, put it this way: it’s a look that made me laugh so much I’m hoping its recollection will see me through the un-funniest parts of childbirth.

Above: Help, mummy’s cross again. Simon and Milo make a run for it.

Ratings. Babychanging facilities: Yes. Cafe: Kids’ menu but be warned: it’s expensive and very busy at weekends. There’s a free picnic area on the top floor if budgets and space are tight. Buggy-friendly? Yes, although you can also park your buggy in the foyer (they also have lockers for coats and bags). Cost: Free. Worth it? Yes.

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‘Waters. Waters wheel,’ says Milo, splashing in his bath after a day out at a Cheshire stately pile.

He says it with a slight furrowing of the brow, making it apparent that he’s not talking about the murky waters he’s splashing about in.

‘You mean today?’ asks Simon. ‘The water wheel we saw today?’

Milo grunts and nods at the same time. He never says yes.

‘It’s funny how articulate he can be when it comes to saying no,’ I say as I stand in the doorway and watch, ‘but grunting is as good as it gets when it comes to the affirmative.’

‘Dory,’ says Milo, studiously ignoring me. He still has his serious face on.

Simon obeys the royal command and begins to tell a story. It goes: today we went to a big park in daddy’s car, and we saw lots of deer, and loads of deer poo, and then Milo went down some steps and saw a giant water wheel. Milo nods when Simon gets to this part.

‘Waters wheel,’ he says solemnly.

The wheel in question is part of an old sawmill, fully restored and powered by the rushing, gushing water of the stream outside. The sawmill itself is old and cramped; to get to the waterwheel you have to first descend a set of narrow, slippery steps and duck through a darkened doorway.

When Milo first saw the wheel, he jumped: it could be described as of the dark, satanic mill variety. But when the object proved to be benignly inanimate, and not at all like the big scary monsters that litter children’s literature, Milo was hooked. Simon and I were dragged to see it three times – that’s why, presumably, it stuck in Milo’s mind after we got home.

As I stand in the bathroom, it strikes me that having kids is something of a sci-fi science project. First there’s the whole oh-god-I-have-an-alien-in-my-belly part (better known as pregnancy). And then there’s the Alien Resurrection part when the bugger comes bursting out (also known as childbirth). Anyone that reckons either of these things is ‘natural’, by the way, either hasn’t done it or is just plain lying.

Anyway, then there’s the bit after all that, the fun part. The part where they grow up and a fully formed little person emerges. Like the one sat in the bath right now, earnestly learning how to tell a good tale. The story of the ‘waters wheel’ now joins that of the broken ball and the one where the cake shop had run out of cakes (I don’t know who was more upset – me or Milo).

There’s a part of me that hopes that these stories, or perhaps the slightly less mundane ones at any rate, will be taken by Milo and moulded into the stories of his childhood, the ones he’ll tell his own kids when I’m long gone, the stories that he will embellish until they become part of our family folklore.

We all do it, don’t we, make up stories out of real life? Or perhaps it’s just me – and my boy.


Ratings. Babychanging facilities: Yes. Cafe: Yes. Buggy-friendly? In parts – lots of steps and rough ground, though there is a buggy park if you’re going into the stately home. Cost: Garden only, £6.50 per adult, £3.25 for kids, family tickets £16.25, free for National Trust members. Worth it? Yes, though take your own picnic – we almost had to get a second mortgage out to cover the cost of lunch.

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