Suddenly the day had arrived. The morning of Daughter "P's" graduation ceremony, a BA honours in Education, what a magnificent achievement. She had achieved a 2:1 while working full time in a demanding job role where she supported young children with special communication needs. At the same time she was also bringing up her own family, with I must say, a lot of support from her very loving husband.
Today was her special day, a day I am sure she always remember, as too will her mum and I. We were so proud as her name was called out and she walked across the stage in the traditional cap and gown, to accept the award bestowed on her by the University.
We set off early to allow plenty of time to drive into Manchester, the route on the Google map had seemed very simple and straight forward and indeed it turned out to be so. The last time Mrs Pecker and I had driven into Manchester turned into a nightmare. Not the actual driving in but attempting to drive back out. By the time we were ready to leave on this occasion, it being winter it had turned dark and begun to rain heavily. What had previously been a relatively easy route was subject to much disruption due to extensive road works. The heavy congestion and poor visibility soon found us heading further into the city centre with no idea of where we were going. One and a half hours later and we were headed for Bolton, that is the opposite direction to where we should have been going. eventually we were able to follow signs leading to the M6 which we did eventually reach. From that day up until Monday and the graduation we had not ventured into Manchester again.
This time as I said earlier, the road was easy and we were able to access a car park relatively close to our destination, "The Bridgewater Hall". We had plenty of time to spare, but now we could relax knowing that we had indeed arrived safely.
After checking out the hall and getting clear in our minds how and where everything was laid out, we set off towards the town for lunch. A matter of yards from the Bridgewater hall we came to the "Table to Table" restaurant set beneath the Premier Inn. It looked quite appealing and the menu seemed to offer plenty of choice that would satisfy our gastronomic needs. Indeed it did, good food and good service, and at a very reasonable price, perfect.
With our bellies filled we returned to the hall so that daughter "P" could be fitted with her robes, then made our way across to the town hall where the official photographers were located. The photos are a bit pricey, but it only happens once and although we would be taking pictures with our own cameras it is reassuring to know that at least one photograph should be perfect.
The afternoon we spent waiting for the preliminaries to the event to get under way and finally it was time for the ceremony to begin. A very grand affair, steeped in ritual and tradition and most of all a celebration for the achievements of all the students receiving awards today.
Finally it was over and we made our way back to the car park. The weather had been kind to us all day and although at times the sky had appeared to be filled with rain, each time we walked in the open, the rain never materialised. An easy drive back out of town heading towards Wilmslow and then we were home safe and sound at the end of the perfect day.
I still remember the occasion though now some thirty years ago when I had volunteered to drive my dear Mother-in-Law to Birmingham where she had been chosen to audition for the Nicholas Parsons TV show, "The Sale of The Century". She insisted that we started out in plenty of time to get there. I thought that beginning the journey at 08.00 for an audition at 14.00 was a bit over the top but I went along with it.
To shorten a long story I will simply say that we were stuck on the motorway for most of the day. We discovered later that a lorry carrying vegetable oil had overturned on the carriageway and in addition to clearing away the vehicle they also had to remove all traces of the oil from the road surface. When a motorway grinds to a halt and you are between two junctions, there is no where to go, and nothing you can do about it. We arrived at the hotel where the auditions were taking place at 17.00. All the TV people had packed up and gone home, the auditions were over.
Poor Mother-in-Law, poor me, I had spent a whole day enclosed inside a car with her, no escape, no where to go. It is said that trauma often causes one's mind to block out certain events that were particularly disturbing and erase them from one's memory. I believe this to be true because of that day I remember the beginning and the end but nothing of the bit in between. A perfect day - Not.