Don't look back because....

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Monday, January 16, 2006

"'s a tragedy that his...", said Adam, and so yet another round of raucous laughter broke out. I might have done a lot, and seen a lot since I last saw these guys but rarely, if ever, do I laugh or relax as much as in their company. Thrown together by the hands of fate more years ago than we'd care to remember, at a defining point in each of our lives, a handful of university friends are still in touch. Contrary to popular belief we have grown up in the intervening years and each gone our own successful ways, but on the rare occasions we get together we seem guaranteed to switch onto a mutually shared wavelength and light a touch-paper that results in constant amusement and semi-constant alcohol consumption.

When I arrived on Thursday night after several hours on plane and train, a walk to the hotel had seemed in order. 5 minutes down the road I was increasingly concerned that I'd arrived at 10.30pm in a ghost town where I swear you could have heard a pin drop. Concerning, because apart from the brief summer influx of tourists in Snowdonia, the major industry in this town is from jobs related to the university and student entertainment, and yet there wasn't any sign of student life here apart from the eerily dark, deserted lecture buildings. I'm sure it wasn't like this in my day.....

Apart from seeing my old friends, one of the highlights of this weekend was actually seeing places and doing things I'd never done in the 3 years I'd lived here. The area around the Victorian pier and Menai Straits can provide the most beautiful views. If nothing else, it was proof that when you focus on one or two objectives you can become very short-sighted and your perspective can become very narrow.

This determination to explore a little found 3 of us bent into a howling gale on the mountain side above the beautiful Aber Falls. I'd forgotten quite how windy it gets in North Wales, but there'd been no sign of this "breeze" when we'd agreed to extend our original 8km loop. A look at the arrow shaped trees was a give away, and for all that we were knackered the views were spectacular. There was certainly no way we were going to argue about it because the wind was often too strong to allow conversation and we were dead on our feet after 15km that felt more like 50! Our pre-walk preparations and purchase of drinks, jelly babies, chocolate peanuts and mountain bars had been no match for the North Wales elements!

A few rather random things also happened this weekend that cannot be written about except in the random fashion that follows:

- We made a new acquaintance, Mr C.R.Yptosporidium. Aka, a rather nasty water borne disease that gives you dodgy guts. The unfortunate inhabitants of North-West Wales have had to put up with boiling their tap water for the last few months. It helps if, when you go into your hotel room, you read the notice about this fact before brushing your teeth with Cryptosporidium infected water too!

- We went back to our old, now uninhabited halls of residence. It was kind of funny, kind of sad. They were rough-looking when we were there, but perfectly serviceable. Nowadays they still look the same, so one can only assume that subsequent generations are made of lesser stuff, hrumph. Truth is, the near vertical climb up the hill nearly killed us old B*******s so one can doubt that students of today who don't want to live there might just be smarter than us.

- Unbeknown to me there is an old Roman Camp in Bangor. However, closer inspection of the public signage indicated that it was founded by the Normans. I'm no history genius but I believe there was roughly a 900 year gap between the two invading the British Isles, Romans first...

- We tried so hard to stay out of the pubs for as long as possible on Saturday. There really isn't much to do in Bangor town, affectionately though we all remember it. You can't believe how difficult it is not to go to the pub. And so, until 12.45 we were dry, and then the football started and we were still drinking pissy little bottles of foreign beer. By 5pm it was pints of ale and packets of pork scratchings. Vintage weekends start with trying to stay out of the pub!

- The Student Union. What happens when half a dozen 30-somethings makes up at least 5% of the population of the cheap Student Union bar? I swore blind I wasn't going to go there heforehand, but like some dark star it drew us in, and to be fair I had a decent time thank you very much.

- Shahin Temple. The Shahin Temple is a very special place where yea shall never go before midnight and where you will eat atrocious but nutritional food. A Chicken Kebab is so good for you, honestly... It's even better when the chicken isn't properly cooked, right? Bangor has more than one dark star and Shahin's is another which we - and nobody - can do without.

- "Bloody 'ell, I won't be 'ome b'fore 6 o'clock," griped Victor Meldrew. We must be getting old, cos we (well some of us) whinge like goodness knows what when we're hungover. Somehow, I wasn't hungover, but I knew well enough to keep quiet at this point even though people were ripe for winding up. You see, that's what growing up is really all about. Forget buying houses or having kids, it's knowing when your mates are on a short fuse and you shouldn't gloat about feeling good.

It was a weekend full of laughter:

All this said, the defining moment of the weekend for me came whilst sitting in the pub (surprise!) watching the football results, when the conversation turned to when we would next get together. An annual event was suggested and welcomed until we started to ponder the realities of organising ourselves. In recent years, it's been easy to see each other at weddings or christenings, but neither is imminent so the unmarried amongst us took some abuse about getting hitched and the married ones some abuse about procreating (obviously not in such genteel terms). It's like having gone full circle 10 years on: Beer, Football and Women... Amazing what a university education brings you isn't it? That, and lifelong friends of course, for which I'll be eternally grateful.

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