…….a greasy chip buttie and a chi chi chocolate muffin both consumed with equal relish this week in different circumstances but in a common state of contentment and friendship. The chip feast came at the end of super day of shopping and chatting around Manchester with an old friend from university days when a chip buttie at the end of a night out was a norm not a treat. It was usually purchased from a traditional chip shop staffed by the most miserable couple in East Yorkshire who had clearly never read How to Win Friends and Influence People or opened the cover of even the most basic food hygiene manual. I like to think they retired to a caravan in Bridlington and spent their twilight years in companionable sullenness reminiscing about the many nights spent snarling at intoxicated students whilst relieving them of the remnants of their meagre grants… Oh yes we come from the era of grants rather than loans.. happy days indeed!
Prior to our razzle round the fabulous and crowded Manchester Christmas Markets we enjoyed a rather more sophisticated repast having a long and excellent lunch at the splendid Rosso Restaurant after an hours wandering and lusting in the more exclusive retail outlets of King Street. Over lunch we discussed our current lives, our children, caught up on news of old friends and made plans for a university reunion weekend in Manchester next year.
Purchases stowed in the hotel, we attacked the markets and gluhwein with gusto, and experienced Big Society in action as two for one vouchers on hot cocktails were circulated between total strangers in the excellent winter bar marquee. We left two very happy young women sipping their hot vodka and cranberry with candy canes courtesy of our recycled voucher as we went in search of sustenance. Our quest brought us to the fast food establishment of choice, a splendid example of Northern Quarter eclecticism with a menu encompassing a whole array of game curries including venison and duck. But we are simple souls and opted for a purist approach, other than my friends insistence on garlic sauce, proving that we had come along way in 30 years… or maybe not.
Cycling wasn’t on the menu today, having risk assessed the wind speed coupled with the fact that the temperature was approaching that well-known indicator.. brass monkeys.. by common consent it was sidelined. Though there were several hardy souls pedalling away as we drove on a rescue mission to retrieve an abandoned vehicle left overnight at a rather overhyped and overpriced Ribble Valley establishment. Following the successful completion of the task we found ourselves enjoying great coffee alongside an indulgent chocolate muffin and a rather dry bit of banana bread in a cosy and welcoming local coffee shop. The food fare on offer was very different from the other evening but what was the same, was the overwhelming sense of contentment in good conversation common ground and understanding. My two snacks were with friends from different eras of my life, the food was a world apart in taste and style but what was common to both was that the food was secondary to the friendship. We meet new people all the time as we go through life and form new friendships, some last and some don’t, tastes may change, restaurants, chip shops and coffee places may come and go but if you find good friends along the way then hang on to them because it doesn’t matter where or what you eat but who you do it with.