We gave in to the pull of the Christmas markets. The night was mild and dry, it could have been late August.
To get there we cut through the city’s famed Gay Village, pausing before this billboard in appreciation:
My five year old gazed up at it, brow furrowed, obviously of the attitude that this went far beyond the remit of superheroes.
We drifted through the jostling throngs at the markets-the European markets. The smells of Dutch cheeses and German knockfursts mingled with other carefully chosen geographical and cultural totems.
My children wrinkled their noses in disgust at the sight of a roasting pig, but this was soon forgotten when they realised that they stood beneath the moving head of a lethargic reindeer. I thought it looked more like a Moose, but given that its name was Rudolph I ceded the point.
Rudolph moved its head from side to side, maybe in disapproval at our unchecked gluttony. The children laughed; conversation was loud and warm, fuelled by a final mug of hot Glühwein before deciding to call it a night.
As we made our way through the gamut of male and female, young and old, our French student turned to me and said “I think I am falling in love with the women of Manchester.”
I told him that if he was thinking of starting a relationship with one of them, he was leaving it a bit late: he was flying home to France in the morning.
But he was taking with him this final, Mancunian night: a night with a fostered family, full of strangers and beautiful women, casual British peculiarities and familiar hints of home.