laurie_robey and I went in to Manchester proper today to meet up with Paul of Cthulhu and do a little bit of tourism. After saying our goodbyes to the staff and remaining attendees of Confuzzled (Love you guys! Thanks again for everything!), we took a cab with barberio up to Manchester Piccadilly (Starbucks, hooray!), and from there winded our way to Fanboy, a very nice little RPG/organized play shop in Piccadilly Gardens. We browsed about for a bit until Paul wandered in. I didn't recognize him at first -- the last picture of him I saw came with a beard, and without it he looked suprisingly young. Once I heard that distinctively familiar voice, tho, I knew!
Paul introduced Laurie and I to the shop co-owner/co-founder, and the four of us stood around chatting for a good half-hour about gaming, history, the nature of Call of Cthulhu, and anything else that came to mind. The shop owner was apparently quite put-out that there had been a convention in Manchester and he hadn't known about it -- Matt Lion, if you're reading this, you might want to poke him about sponsorships. ;)
Then we headed to a very slick, corporatey (or 'executive' in the local lingo) restaurant and bar, where we grabbed a corner booth, ordered a few drinks, and I interviewed him for Short Story Geeks. We then sat and shot the breeze about Lovecraft, gaming, podcasting, and so on until Paul realized he was getting overdue to go home (to let Mrs. Of Cthulhu into the house, among things), so we all walked back to Manchester Piccadilly and said our goodbyes. (Aww, we miss ya already, Paul!)
Then, out of morbid curiosity, we decided to try a U.K. KFC ... turns out it's surprisingly close to the home-bred ones. Go fig! Unfortunately, I then made a critical tactical error: I hailed a cab.
You see, the cab we'd taken from the hotel to the train station had cost something like £7.50. I had approximately £18 left on me of the £100 I'd acquired at the beginning of the trip, and my figuring was that at that rate I had just enough to get back to the hotel, to get from the hotel to the airport in the morning, and have £1-2 in coins left as a momento. However, much to my chagrin, the ride back to the hotel cost £14.10. While going to the hotel desk to get our keys reactivated (apparently a recurring problem at this hotel), I asked them if there was any way I could just buy £10-20 to be sure I had enough to get to the airport, but they replied that they didn't do money exchanges, but that we could get to an ATM machine by walking roughly a mile to Northenden on the far side of the river. In Manchester's defense, it only lightly rained on us all the way there, instead of downpouring on us.
Anyway, that's all sorted out now, and under the right circumstances (i.e., not when I was already tired from a long day and worried that I wasn't going to be able to get to the airport and get home to my kittehs) it would have been a nice walk. Fortunately, I had a treat left from my con schwag bag: a Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate Frog, which I brought down with me to the bar to eat while I wrote this post.
Laurie's checked us in electronically, and once this post is done, we're going to head back up to the room and pack ... then it's bath (never did get the shower working), bed, and up at 4:30 a.m. or thereabouts to get to the Manchester Airport. On the whole I've had a very nice trip and I'm glad I came ... but I'm also glad to be going home. :) I love you, U.K., but blimey, I want to have ice in my drinks again!