The ten to eleven train from Greenfield, change at Stalybridge, then take the bus or the connection to Picadilly. We opted to carry on by train. Until two went through full, no room for any more. Half an hour behind schedule. We'll get the bus. 'How long does it take?' 'Forty minutes.' 'When is it going?' 'When it's full.' Gee, not going well. We'll walk up to the main road, see if we can get a taxi, there's none down here. None on the main road either. 'I'll ask this bloke.' 'Get the bus to Ashton, then the express. Don't get a bus to Manchester from here. Goes round all the bloody houses' ' Is that it there? A bus was stopped at the lights which was also, unusually, the bus stop. Thank you mister driver for letting us on. I forgot about my pass. A bloke with a pony tail told us to get the 16 at Ashton bus station. And we did, to Picadilly. Still forgot about my pass. James was not impressed when I eventually remembered.
Now an hour behind schedule. Hour and a half to kick off. James has a pub in mind. It's up by the Opera House, Spinningfields. Could we find it? No. Nice weather for walking aimlessly. James stopped a taxi. Spinningfields. We saw the signs, the taxi man sounded confident. Pound a minute. Could we find it? No. Outside the Science Museum a bloke gave us the right directions. Surrounded by high rise modern glass and concrete stores, offices and flats. An Oast House, with rusty corrugated iron roof, selling real ale. Health and Safety, building regs, whatever, suggests the roof would be for show and there would be slates underneath. But there on the inside, a corrugated iron roof. Two pints of Cumberland ale, no time for food, the Eccles tram. Full but lighthearted. Full bladders too which were emptied down a side street. NE stand, Old Trafford. It's like climbing a bloody mountain. Just in time for the haka.
One sided game, muted crowd. Left with 15 minutes to go with lots of others. New Zealand must have been embarrassed. Much easier journey. I say that but it was still mega crowded. One lady seriously annoyed as she had a reserved seat and the guys sat in it couldn't move. James lifted up her luggage onto the rack. The last piece was shopping and out fell a bottle of wine, slap and broke on the table. Glass and wine everywhere. Nobody hurt, children crying, soon sorted out with chocolate. The lady had to cope.
A pint of Landlord on Stalybridge station, start of the 'Ale Trail', full of men in groups getting stuck in to the real ales.
Funny old day, but we saw the haka.