There’s nothing quite like a business trip to break up the mundanity of the working week.
I know some people dread corporate trips.
Forced conversation, icebreakers, networking. These are words synonymous with the frightening concept of ‘organised fun’, throwing ordinary working Joes outside of their comfort zone and into a novelty situation where the social rules of how to act are thrown up in the air. Peeling name badges with bleeding permanent marker and tiny cups of sterile tasting water, fresh from the cooler. An appalling buffet lunch and that one guy who’s intent on giving his business card out to every single person. As a side note, if you’re still using business cards in the 21st century you need to have a long hard look at a calendar and then at yourself. Seriously.
Conference weirdos aside, I’ve always taken a rather optimistic approach to these corporate days out. After all, this is an opportunity to visit another part of the country, eat for free, stay in a hotel and maybe even make some new friends – and best of all, you still get paid for the privilege.
With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Health & Safety seminar on my schedule and I was even happier to discover that I’d have to take a mid-week trip out to Manchester for it.
If you’ve read my blog then you’ll know that I have a soft spot for the North of England. It’s an affordable, friendly and down to earth part of country that I always enjoy spending time in, so I was more than happy to hop on a train this week to spend an action packed day and night in this iconic city.
After indulging in an early afternoon beer on the train from London, I felt in a congenial mood. The first 3 hours of the day were scheduled for the aforementioned Health & Safety, after that I’d thought about walking around a few galleries or even taking in a museum, but things didn’t go quite as I’d planned.
Corporate training seminars are usually painfully boring. The instructors are usually falling asleep as they talk through their spiel for the thousandth time in their lives and the recipients of the thrilling oration are never that far behind them. This, however, was an altogether different experience than the one I was expecting. Not only did I leave the seminar having actually learned something (step ladders are dangerous, always seek assistance) but I also ended up making some friends to spend the rest of my time in Manchester with.
Like many of the other Northern cities, Manchester has seen an explosion in new bars and restaurants opening, leaving visitors with a huge choice to suit all tastes.
With my new friends in tow we started out at the bar of The Pendulum Hotel. Just below where we’d all met, we sipped on cool pints and discussed the pros and cons of living in the South. The bar in this otherwise unspectacular hotel, is something of an oddity. Full-length windows line the walls looking out onto a courtyard, a strange architectural choice that made me feel like I was staring down into some kind of military parade ground. All I’ll say is conservatories and windows in Manchester have never looked so stylish.
Although I’d like to say that those drinks led to a raucous night out on the town, this didn’t quite happen. Instead we all slowly slipped into a state of jovial drunkenness which naturally led to an early night.