After a ridiculous coach ride from Norwich, which included a two and a half hour delay in standstill traffic because a fifteen foot patch of freeway was being repaired, I finally made it to Manchester. I was tired, my luggage was heavy, and it was raining (what else is new?) but it was so nice to see a friendly face at the station.
I stayed with Nick, a friend I met at my London Orientation in September, for the next six days. Nick lives in Chandos Hall, a dorm about a fifteen minute walk from the city center, L flat. Words cannot describe how pleasantly surprised I was by Manchester and all it had to offer. The week was a blur of cigarette smoke, excessive amounts of wine, paper airplane making contests, and all around laughter. We spent late nights you-tubing and talking, mornings lazily sleeping in, afternoons strolling through the city and nights making dinner.
My favorite night by far was my last night there. Since a good portion of their flat was heading home for the holidays, myself and Nick included, we all decided to make a Christmas roast dinner. Now, this suggestion had been made earlier in the week and I had doubted that it would come to fruition but come it did and with what a bang. A hurried trip into town, against the wind and the sleet, we pooled our resources and bought two small turkeys, stuffing, parsnips, carrots, potatoes and an assortment of other holiday fare.
Two checklists, lots of peeling, chopping, boiling, dicing, mixing, washing, joking, picture-taking, cigarette smoking, music playing and three plus hours later dinner was on the table. And what a dinner it was.
With my first ever Christmas crackers and crowns and an enormous helping of food and alcohol alongside good music and great friends it felt more like home and Christmas than I have felt in a long time and I’m so grateful that I could be a part of the first, in probably a long line of, Chandos’ Christmas dinners.
I also spent a good chunk of time there meticulously folding and engineering paper planes. Much to my delight, they invited me in on their little craft competition. Each day Luke would visit each floor and steal the latest adverts, huge posters, flyers from clubs, warnings and notices from campus security–you name it, it was fair game–and bring them back to L flat’s kitchen as prized paper plane making goods. And what fit airplanes they made, bombers to stealth fighters to rocks that fell out of the sky, each taking his fateful turn releasing said planes out the window, hoping against all odds for a good flight. Most ended up careening into the side of the building or falling head over heels towards the ground but occasionally there would be a gust of wind, and a shout and off that little sucker would fly. Really, there’s nothing better than a well-executed flight. I’ll miss it.
I was only there a few days but I felt like I had become a part of their clan and was really sad to go and see them go. But what can you do? Hopefully I’ll see them again and we’ll once again attempt to fly monstrously ambitious kites and other non-aviation worthy things, like leftover turkey carcasses and bags of flour, out the eleventh floor window.