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This is really really long. I just started writing and it got out of control.
Unlike most people at the meet, I have lived there and have a friend that lives there so I was at an advantage to start off. I arrived on Wednesday night after work, my friend met me at the station and we walked back to his apartment. There I convinced him to come with me to meet up with Luis and Andrea (Luis' sister) for some drinks. We met them in a bar, had a few there and then stopped by co-op to pick up some more before heading to Luis' flat. We hung out there until something like 3am playing cards (I won a lot) before walking back to my friend's place.
Thursday morning we strolled into town hung over and walked around the Arndale for bit. I rang Luis and it turned out I was pretty much right next to him so I went and met them having their breakfast while my friend headed home. After polishing off both meals they hadn't finished and waiting for Andrea to come out of Topshop, we headed over to Luis' flat and then over to meet Bezman.
Later, after I again kicked ass at cards, we headed over to the karaoke place to check it out and book a room. Luis, Andrea, Bez and I had a meal in the restaurant and then reserved the small room for the following night. We walked back to Luis' before heading out to meet Keith and James, then...went back to the flat, I think. James and Keith live and work together and met through Newgrounds, isn't that a beautiful story?
All six of us went to the Karaoke that night for a taster session. It was good fun but I wasn't drinking a lot and didn't feel like singing. Eventually I agreed so one and I though Keith had handed my slip in but then about 30mins from the end it turned out he hadn't so I didn't get to sing at all. We all headed back to Luis' and then I walked back to my friend's house.
Friday was when it moved from being friends meeting up and hanging out to a proper Newgrounds meet with new people and old regulars hanging out.
I was up pretty late and headed over to the Print Works to meet up with everyone. Everyone had just finished breakfast/lunch (let's say brunch) and so everyone headed into the Arndale. Luis was looking for somewhere for us all to sit but the Arndale doesn't really offer anywhere nice so we ended up in the food court. This was where I kept finding myself leading a hoard of people that didn't know their way around. After we had hung out for a bit and Kieran had turned up, we all headed over to Premier Inn so people could drop things off, collect things or just hang out.
We were hanging out in Dean and Jawdyn's room waiting for Luis and a few others to go over to his place and get themselves sorted. This was actually pretty awkward to start with because most people there didn't really know each other much and we were all just sitting in this silent hotel room. We even accidentally lost Sam and didn't notice he was gone for 10-15 minutes which seems mean but Sam doesn't say anything irl so it's easy not to notice he's missing. Everyone relaxed eventually when Bez cracked out Jungle Speed, a great ice breaker but people weren't as interested in the awesomeness that is The Settlers of Catan. Personally, I think it is a much better game but it is definitely not as crowd friendly, only allowing 4 players maximum and games take an hour rather than 10 minutes. After James won, through a stupid mistake I made (Still bitter) we realised we didn't have a huge amount of time until we had to head over to the karaoke place and still needed to eat. James, Keith and I asked at the desk for the greasiest place nearby and they directed us to this awesome place where we got a 16" pizza to share (and free garlic bread with cheese). We then headed over to meet Luis at his flat because James wanted to change and get showered. James and I decided that we wanted to get some predrinks drunk so headed over to my friend's house at the same time Luis left for the karaoke place.
We decided to play drinking Catan which got us started on the drinks but actually took a LONG time. We made it to the bar at midnight, I immediately put the same song in as the night before (Ace of Spaces) and went and said hello to people. I ended up talking to Sam pretty quickly and had an extremely difficult time trying to get answers out of him and basically just talking shit at him all night. My song never did come up, or I missed it. At some point I was dicking around with James and he smacked me really fucking hard in the face. I think it was years of pent up aggression towards me, I hope it doesn't catch on. He hit me square on the ear and actually partially deafened me until sometime the next day...dick. I lead some people back to town and then gave directions to the Premier Inn before me and James headed back to my mate's.
Saturday was a fucking shit morning followed by and awesome evening. James and I picked up some disgusting chicken and chips on the way over to meet everyone at the eye. The details I had been given were: meet at 2, minibus at 2.30 and head to Chill Factor. We arrived just before 2.30 and then waited over an hour for LilJim, midway through Luis took a taxi and left so no one really knew what was going on. When Jim arrived it turned out we didn't have a minibus at all and had to work out some new transport method. After an internet search on Keith's phone, he told me that Piccadilly station had a bus going to it. It was about 20 mins away so we set off. Jim and others who had book ski lessons or luging got a taxi and then everyone else followed me to the train station. When we got there we found out it wasn't Piccadilly station, it was Piccadilly gardens (Damn you, Keith). We had to walk back the way we had come 10 minutes. The entire time it had been raining and my shoes are shit so my feet were soaked. Eventually got to the right place and the bus arrived pretty quickly to take us to Chill Factor, which was another 20mins from the bus station.
When we finally arrived, I realised 20-30 people had gone to this place miles out of the way so that half a dozen could go skiing or whatever, while the rest sat in a bar. I was kind of fed up here.
Then it turned for the better as we headed to somewhere Tony had been called the Kyoto Lounge which was fucking awesome. People have gone into more detail elsewhere but it was basically just really chilled out place full of alcohol and video games. No one was really playing anything to start with so I went and asked about the prices. The guy offered us a really good deal so I went around collecting money from everyone. I think a lot of people didn't really know what the money was for, they were just following the crowd so it wasn't too tricky but it's still a pain dealing with a large group sometimes. Once it was all sorted, it was a really really good night. I played L4D2 in 3D and some TF2. Never played either before so that was cool. Can't recommend the place enough.
Sunday I walked over to Luis' for another game of Catan with James, Keith and Oliver. Keith did not take kindly to losing at all (James and I tied for the win) and accused us of all sorts of crimes. A few others turned up and then most people headed for the station.
Just made my train and then back to the mundane.
Some general thoughts and comments-
It was awesome being up north. I'm from Sheffield and I lived in Manchester for a year a couple years ago so I knew my way around all the places we went. I basically ended up doing what Tom (superflashbros) does in London, guiding everyone around a lot.
Bez doing monastic chanting to The Bad Touch was really funny and utterly embarrassing.
"Now it's time for something different" the people genuinely thought he was retarded I think.
Hilarious conversation on Thursday night in Socio Rehab with the bartender when we asked him about Friday and Saturday:
"Yeah it's a really great atmosphere because we don't let in groups"
"No groups? We have a pretty big group"
"Oh well no group of over 3 guys"
"We're gonna have over three guys, a lot over"
"That's fine, if there's girls too, no problem"
"Possibly no more girls" (We had Andrea with so 3:1, not a terrible ratio)
"Well, you seem nice so just tell them Jonboy sent you and you'll get in"
I only had one homecooked meal and that was full English, everything else was takeaway or restaurant food. That's really unhealthy!