P1120652While New York has everything I could ever need, it’s lacking one thing: Some of my favorite Brits. So today, after landing in Heathrow, I hopped on various trains to Manchester to catch up with one of them, Lauren.

While Manchester was the best option because it’s midway between my family home and hers in Glasgow, we also chose it because we both love it. I lived there for six months a few years ago when I worked at the Manchester Evening News (which was my first foray into serious blogging) and I loved my time there – the people, the friends I made, my little neighborhood, the stories I covered. In fact, it really started to bother me how London-centric people are after I moved there because I was constantly reminded how much Manchester has to offer.

Unfortunately, Lauren and I only had a few hours there before we had to head back to our respective ends of the country. But after a catch up and some lunch, we decided to wander around one of the Christmas markets outside the Arndale, the city center’s shopping mall. I was surprised it was here this early – until I remembered that it’s been weeks since I started my festive preparations.P1120661 P1120666

We avoided the furs stand and instead admired gifts and decorations – before getting a stash of fudge and heading to a central area where a huuuge wooden nativity scene spun. Wooden soldiers, wise men and Mary turned above a German Bier Halle.P1120653 P1120665 P1120655 P1120654 P1120663 P1120664 P1120668 P1120670 P1120671P1120657 P1120658 P1120656 P1120672 P1120675 P1120677 P1120684 P1120682 P1120683

A wish tree

A wish tree

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P1120681If my memory serves me correctly, there is also a huge German Christmas market in Albert Square, where I necked mulled wine a few years ago. See a full list of what’s where here.

Then we escaped the chill for a coffee – and Lauren snacked on some sweet crumbly Scottish tablet (you can take the girl out of Scotland etc etc). I also caught up on the local news from my old rag. I still miss it!P1120686 P1120687

While the market was lovely (I’ll welcome anything Christmassy) and my cherry-flavored fudge was delish, the real treat was getting to say hello to Manchester again. And even better than that? Getting to see Lauren.

Thanks for trekking all the way to see me Loz!P1120688