Hello, Manchester.

Isn’t it remarkable how much can change in just a few days. This time last week I was in Paris, carrying large boxes to the Post Office and saying goodbye to my friends. I had a wonderful going away party on Wednesday night with so many of my friends coming to wish me bon voyage. It is moments like this that make me realise how lucky I am to be able to have so many friends in so many different parts of the world.

Now I am sitting in an almost-sunny room in my ‘cousin”s house in Swinton. Ahhh Swinton. Centre of the universe. Well, it is a neighbourhood/town within Greater Manchester and is therefore great. I surrounded the word cousin with inverted commas as my relationship with Lesley is quite complicated. Her grandmother was my great grandfather’s sister. Her great grandfather/mother were my great-great grandfather/mother. So you could say we’re close. We do share a love for Volkswagen Beetles so we are obviously related.

I arrived in Manchester last Thursday afternoon, having dragged, carried, lifted and shoved one large heavy suitcase, one small heavy suitcase, and one heavy backpack from my apartment in Paris to Gare du Nord, onto the Eurostar, then from St Pancras station in London to Euston Station, onto another train, and then through Manchester train station to Lesley’s car. We then had to drop the hood on Lesley’s convertible Beetle to get my bags onto the back seat. The transfer of my worldly possessions from France to England went relatively successfully and I am very pleased with my bags and would like to give a big tick of approval to Burton for my large suitcase and the Taiwanese manufacturing company that made the small 10 Euro case.

Leaving the Récollets.

Leaving the Récollets.

I only had to have one argument with a snooty-nosed woman on the train to Manchester who wasn’t impressed that I was rearranging the tiny bag rack on the Virgin train (Useless. Utterly useless.) and that I was therefore touching/moving her bag. She reminded me of a high school English or Economics teacher who has been doing her job for too long. Grumpy grumpy grumpy. Anyway, I made sure to be as polite as possible as loudly as possible and to point out the fact that her bag would be significantly safer if it wasn’t squashed underneath my very large suitcase. I’m reasonably certain that I had the rest of the train passengers on my side.

Since arriving I have organised a SIM card, opened a bank account and am in the process of signing a lease for an apartment in the city. Things are coming together very quickly, largely thanks to the superb organisational skills of Lesley. She is very good at reminding me to call real estate agents. And organising theatre tickets. In the next month I am already going to see two shows, plus a movie and my social calendar is full. Sure, I am mostly hanging out with people over the age of 60, but they’re seriously cool over-60-ers. I love it.

So this is my news so far. As I look out of the window the sunshine has disappeared and been replaced by rain. I have had three beautiful sunny days so far but now the dreary drizzle is returning. It wouldn’t be England if it didn’t rain.

Old building. New building.

Old building. New building.

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One Response to “Hello, Manchester.”

  1. Philip McVey says:

    Really? Drizzle? In Manchester? You will have no doubt have heard the adage by now Jess; if you can’t see the Pennines it’s about to rain. If you can see the Pennines, it’s already raining. And Virgin Trains. Oh yes.. how very useless. Hope you have a wonderful time up north Jess, it’s nowhere near as grim as it’s made out to be. The Peak district, the Trough of Bowland, The Dales, The Lake District… and lots of other places with the definite article attached. Aye oop, a’m comin’ over dead nostalgic, like 🙂 Oh, and don’t let the insane rivalry between the two towns put you off; Liverpool is well worth a visit.. and a mere 39 miles away. There’s a great book on the north called Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie that is as good a read as any on the subject. And please, please, please don’t become a United fan. Please.

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