TinaCortina's Blog

Musings of a Tgirl

10 July 2010~Sparkle x5

Hi girls

I’m learning that if you don’t post quickly, you don’t post.  I had a lovely Saturday night up in Soho (London) earlier in the year, my wife and I meeting up with friends Penny, Gabby and Erin.  But then, I never got to post about it!!   Shame really as we had a great night ending at Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club.  As the regular reader (thanks Anna) will know, I like to write detailed reviews to use as my own memory jogger.  Maybe I will post more another time.

I’m not just into posting what I’ve done.  But I do like to use an event to make me think a little bit more about what I do and why I do it.  SPARKLE was a good case in point, so along with the feedback questionnaire already published, this is what I did and my impressions.


SPARKLE is a weekend ‘celebration of everything transgendered’ held annually every year since 2005 ~ 220 miles away from me up in and around the Canal Street, mainly gay enclave in Manchester (North West of England), while I am in the South! . While most events are in and around Canal Street, the hotels are all close-by as is the chinese quarter and all the shopping you could possibly want.

This year, the weekend coincided with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone very close to the M40 (motorway) which was closed northbound on the way up.  It was not a happy journey up or down, both taking well over 5 hours despite my macho (boy racer) driving anything up to 100mph whenever the opportunity (rarely) arose!

But despite the distance SPARKLE is an event well worth going to.  The beauty of it is that it is literally a weekend, we take Friday off to travel up, then up to 48 hours spent en femme till one of the final events which is the Sunday Lunch in Villagios on Canal St.

Most of the organised events, eg singers, bands, comedians, tranny of the year comp etc are in the ‘park on Saturday’, while the  conference seminars were held this year at the close-by Manchester Institute also on the Saturday.  Aside from this I’m only aware of a welcome party and evening meal on the Friday, then a closing meal Sunday evening, but that is plenty.

Indeed we enjoy getting away from the actual location at times.  SPARKLE is an event to build your weekend around; thankfully it doesn’t have to dominate it.

Thankfully no netball this year (well not that I heard of it) but anyone wanting to find out more should visit the main Sparkle site, the Sparkle Flickr group for pics,  as well as my own flckr sites

http://www.sparkle.org.uk/                   http://www.flickr.com/groups/sparkle05/

~ Pic of me taken on Canal Street on the Sunday just outside Spirit and Villagios. Hmm, maybe it shouldn’t have been quite so big, and a bit tight in places, lol!

You will have a flavour of what I did from the feedback form, but it is the drawn-out aspects I like and by writing them down, I re-live them!

Friday night

After dressing, we go the hotel bar before going out.  Little Yang Sing just up the road in Chinatown, Manchester.  Really excellent, meal.  I sampled several of our appetisers and all 8 of our main courses.  Several bottles of wines and £35 a head.  Service really excellent.  Great start!

We had organised our SPARKLE weekend around meeting up with good friends Astrid & Sandra and Davina & Jackie.  Unfortunately D & J were forced to pull which is a great shame.  That now means Astrid & Sandra are the only ones of our group that have done all 6, but they do live 150 miles closer!!

Astrid is always left to organise us and she did a good job there.  Her friends Leanne ( a policeman in real life apparently!) and geogirl C’, + Mar0lynn (who has transitioned and is an IT consultant) and her bio-girl friend ‘Y’ and finally ‘Della Delight’ an old compadre from past ventures out further down South, joined us for much frivolity.

By the way did you notice how I surreptitiously slipped in these new terms for genetically born girls.  Apparently gg for genuine (or genetic) girl or rg for ‘real’ girl are rather passe/ offensive to some.

Easily offended I say.  You can call me what you like and some have been known to!

Anyway, back to Friday night.   Now Marolyn ‘only’ drinks champagne, well that opened my eyes!  And she is a bundle of fun, very loud in the nicest possible way, intesting to talk to and be with.  Her friend Y was M’s first girlfriend 25 years ago and they have recently re-discovered each other since M came out!!

Leanne is also something of an extrovert, love short skirts and winding up Sandra, but seriously she and her friend ‘C’ who she had only met on Tuesday were lovely and I hope to meet both again.

After our Chinese we all went to Cloud 23, cocktail bar at the Manchester Hilton.  It seats only 200 and you have to pre-book, unless I guess unless you play for Man U!  Anyway we didn’t see any celebs but we had a fabulous time with cocktails and champagne and time flew by until we left at about 1:30am!


We had no definite plans, beyond doing some shopping at a Chinese supermarket.  Apparently we had run out of everything we had bought last year.

Astrid was helping with the seminars, introducing the speakers, so after meeting up with Sandra, we wandered down to the Manchester Institute.  I spend an entertaining half hour chatting to artist Lee Middlehurst and partner Liz and the tboy that had taken the FTM photos in San Fran ~ interesting.  I placed my bit of CD on the Audrey Hepburn CD collage and signed my name very prominently.  Always good to boost the price when raffling I thought.

I didn’t get to go into the conference room, but it held 200 and I thought the general facilities were a lot better than previous years at the Manchester Met and half the price apparently.  I guess I saw about 50 or 60 listening to Vickie Lee.  I gather there were less for the afternoon sessions.

My wife, A-M, Sandra and I idled down to Canal St and had a scrumptious lunch (shared a pasta and calzone pizza, a bottle of wine for £20!), and then onwards to the park.

Canal St itself is a long straight road (surprisingly) running along a canal.  The park is right in the middle and is a bit of an oasis in good weather.

There were massed of stalls, selling, or informing, and a huge throng watching activities on the stage.  The acts I saw were excellent, but just wandering around gives the best opportunity for people watching, and spotting friends.  Some interesting sights as always, but I’m not sure we are worse than the general gay crowd and different is interesting, that is what I say.

Eventually we headed back to the hotel and I grabbed a quick nap before contemplating what I might wear to the ball.  I took plenty of choices, but had worn most at previous sparkles.  Anyway I settled for a long black gown with silver sparkly bits, rather apt for sparkle I thought.

The Ball was at the Place Apartments, where we had last years welcome party.  It is large and spacious and on 3 levels. I gather 230 tickets were sold and it was a sell-out.  The buffet were poor but the music was excellent.  I was expecting the band to be Manchester based, but that was only the lead singer ………….  I’d been dancing for a while when I recognised the base player as someone I knew locally from Hampshire, Fabuliss and Surrey Swans.  Hello DeeDee, what a co-incidence.  We spoke to XX and his lovely wife Liz later and they have promised to let us know if they play down our way.

We left just before 2, but A-M and I had a hell of a night when we got back!


Under instruction to get up early and go get the breakfast.  This is serious stuff as a tranny as you ned to shower and reapply your mountains of make-up.  I planned to go to Sainsbury to buy some Danish Pastries but ended up in a McDonalds buying take-out muffins coffee and orange juice.

We then had to pack and do boring things like paying and then luggage to car-park  (2 trips, guess who had the most ‘stuff’), then back down to Canal St in the sun.  A drink on the patio then set meal, 3 courses for £10 at Villagios.  I have to say I thought all the meals and taxis (never more than £5, even after midnight) were excellent value and either reflect the intense competition, the economy or a combination.

Anyway, the lunch was fun.  Usual crowd + I ended sitting next to Mimi (doctor married to psychiatric nurse!) and Marolyn.  Sandra was next to me and was good fun.  I had to do quick change upstairs before going to fetch the car.  Astrid and Sandra gave big hugs as we left and promises to get together more often.

We were shattered when we got home about 8.  I even missed half an hour of the World Cup final, but then I was too busy unpacking to really watch it.

Both A-M were exhausted and it wasn’t long before bed.  I guess these jaunts get harder as you get older, but I had a good time and I’m pretty sure A-M had a good time also.

I guess too she has mixed emotions about a trip like this.  She can’t talk about it to friends and family and all weekend she was taking phone calls from people and she was having to ‘white lie’ about what we were doing.  Thats is the shame of it but it can’t be helped.

I’ve spent long enough writing the above so for now I will say g’night, but I may return to this subject of how such weekends affect both of our emotions.

As usual, if you have got this far, many thanks for reading


TinaCortina x


July 13, 2010 - Posted by | musings of a tgirl, sparkle | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Tina,

    I knew we would have a great read when Sparkle was over. So glad you had a super time,

    Anna x

    Comment by Anna Arendt | July 15, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: