Hey gang, just boarded the 2128 service back to St Pancras and am waiting to begin the journey home. If you’re the sort of person who likes a little zest in a blog post, you might want to tune out now cos this one will be a little on the tame side alas.

So when I jumped off the train desperately attempting to upload this blog post by finagling the last of the free wifi, it was a little after 11. The station was pretty much the same as the last time I was here aside from a little renovation work. In my 34 years of existence, I don’t recall Nottingham station to ever have changed apart from the introduction of security barriers. Oh I’m sure there’ll be a few anoraks who can tell me what exactly has changed in that time but to me, de nada.

Thought I’d begin my day with a brief stroll through Broadmarsh Centre (aka Westfield Nottingham). Last time I was here, I recorded that this centre had been hit pretty hard by the recession. Many of the former shop occupants had still gone and in their place were cheapo bargain stores. Well, it’s nice to report that some of the real tatty places had moved on and there were slightly better stores in their stead. However, it wasn’t exactly the bustling centre which challenged Victoria Centre for supremacy in the 1980s. It’s main problem is that it hasn’t found a large tenant to occupy the feature store which used to be an Alders, prior to that a Co-op Department Store. Until that happens (and I think they should work really hard on M&S up the road), they stand no chance.

Wandered up past Market Square, swung by Game and picked up three bargains (two games I used to own: New Zealand Story Revolution and Star Wars Fatal Alliance + Great Giana Sisters) and then carried on to Victoria Centre. That’s still a little busier although the shoppers weren’t exactly armed with carrier bags full of goodies, even during the lunch peak. Oh the cafes and other eateries were heaving; you can’t come between a Nottingham person and his/her cup of tea. I dunno, I guess I just don’t see a lot of hope for the city. The industry is gone, the Internet has an ever increasing share of the retail sector. People weren’t smiling around the city – it was really noticeable. The only happy looking person was the man selling me cakes to take round to the Ancient One’s house. Though he kept calling me sir – I’ve never felt comfortable with that form of address.

Speaking of cake, it was a fancy cupcake stand, kinda like Lola’s in Selfridges but actually, far more creative in design. Johnnie Cupcakes (he said reaching for the box). They had this beautiful giant cake of…well…I can’t say as I dare say it violates copyright law. They had 12 cakes for £18 so without thinking, I bought 18 of the suckers, meaning to say 12. I paid for my mistake though rather than apologise and ask him to put some back. That’ll teach me to read the signs properly.

Swung by the shop where my sister works and completely surprised her – was totally rewarded by the dumbstruck look on her face but alas I didn’t prime my iPhone in time. That was fun. After calling into a few clothes shops in a desperate search for either a black hoodie or a black zip up top, I decided to call it quits and I made my way down to New Basford. The walk up Mansfield Road is a bit of a challenge but with a heavy backpack and a heavy carrier bag full of stuff, it was even more difficult. Still, I made it without waving down a bus which was pleasing – kinda like my post work walk come early.

Made a lunch of a couple of cheese salad cobs (in Nottingham, it’s a cob) washed down with a Fentiman’s ginger beer, then a Crabbies. Caught up, watched daytime television (who the hell gave Alan Titchmarsh a show I will never understand) and waited for my mother to arrive which she did a little after six. Unfortunately, Helen goofed and let it slip I was in town so there was no shock value to be had. Gah! Again we caught up, such as we could – there was in depth Newspaper analysis going on y’know. And I found out that she’s joined the denture brigade.

Nuff said.

That was pretty much it, walked back to the station, boarded the train, here I am. Why did I come here? Complete spontaneity. I wanted something to do, I had an idea and I acted on the impulse. Behaving totally within character and I was in a good mood, I thought I could handle a trip up north. As I said in my Berlin and Brussels travelogues last year, sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than just walking around, observing people going about their every day business and seeing the heartbeat of urban life. It’s a simple hobby but a fascinating one. There’s much to see, to think about, infer and consider.

So in terms of a birthday, it’s not perhaps the most exciting, action packed of days. But I did exactly what I wanted, made a few people happy and had cake. Is there anything more to be said than that?

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