Manchester, United Kingdom
It was a very quick train trip that delivered me to Manchester and into the company of my dear friend Tony. I’m just going to start by saying that Tony is one of my favourite people – he is refreshingly authentic, relentlessly ethical, an avid explorer and he lives his life deliberately and consciously as a force for good in the world.
We met back in the early noughties when we both worked for Elsevier in London but it wasn’t until after that time that we became even better friends via email and repeated visits to each others homelands. Tony is now living and doing good in Manchester with his delightful girlfriend, Charlotte who is also an angel of mercy (and I’m not just saying that because she let me stay at her place before she’d even met me)!
I was taken from the station directly to said flat which is quite simple gorgeous and decorated in the exact style I love – eclectic ephemera everywhere, each piece with a story to tell about a life well lived. I was introduced to Philip, the cat and despite my allergies, we got along well from the get go.
Tony led me into town where we had a coffee in a funky little art cafe before heading into Chinatown for a spot of grocery shopping. Ingredients in tow, we headed back to the flat where Charlotte was waiting to greet us. Some people take a while to warm to, not Charlotte – she welcomed me like an old friend, extending me so much good will and instantly embracing me in her generous spirit. If I had any qualms about imposing, she hugged right them out!
Tony whipped up a delicious Tom Yum soup which we enjoyed with French cider from their recent trip to France followed by the scrumptious revelation of la laitiere (a kind of milky, moussey dessert) from the same bounty.
Next it was off to The Bull’s Head for a pub quiz. We searched hard for inspiration for our team name but it evaded us to the point that I can’t even remember what we went with. We came in a respectable 3rd place which unfortunately won no prize other than the pleasure of having competed and spent the night in each others company… a free jug of beer would have been nice though.
Back home for a nightcap of more cider and introduction to yet another french delicacy – coulommiers on toast! With that, I was happy to lay my head to rest knowing Tony had a big day planned for tomorrow…