Having recently returned to the NWTN fold after a few years in the professional-networking wilderness, I couldn’t think of a better occasion to connect with the group than the annual Festive Social. On registering my interest with event organiser Kate in advance, I was reminded of the two conditions of attendance: wear something festive and bake something for the buffet.
Thus, clad in my faithful party shirt and clutching a parcel of homemade (plant-based) sausage-and-stuffing rolls, I made my way to the venue – the rather magical House of Books and Friends in central Manchester.
Shortly after I arrived, the festivities started in the form of a two-part Christmas quiz. Part one was a set of Christmas-themed, pub-quiz-type questions, while part two was suitably fitting for a roomful of language geeks (ahem: professionals!): a couple of dozen festive greetings from around the world, and we simply had to identify the respective language. Sound easy enough? It wasn’t!
After a brief interlude during which votes for the various baked goods were cast (hold on: no one said there would be judging!), we gathered around the table for a festive game of pass-the-parcel. Lovingly prepared by chair Laurence, there were more than enough layers for everyone to get at least one turn at unwrapping either a forfeit (count backwards in a foreign language, decline something grammatical in your target language, mime an Xmas movie etc.) or a piece of Manchester memorabilia (bee-festooned coasters, keyrings and pens).
With the parcel duly decimated, it was time for the all-important results announcement. My team was pleasantly surprised to have won the quiz. Then my sausage rolls were crowned the best bake, beating all manner of other scrumptious seasonal treats with a stonking four votes! A total curve ball! The best dressed vote (quite rightly) went to the unrivalled cuteness of a mother and toddler in matching Christmas jumpers.
There then came the more serious matter of awarding bursaries for physical and virtual attendance at the 2024 ITI conference and the party was already over. Overall, I spent highly enjoyable afternoon with a splendid group of people and I look forward to the next opportunity to catch up with the NWTN.