The three months since I last posted have been incredible ones. At first I was simply preparing to leave for university, wondering if I would like the people on my floor, how many friends I would make, if those friends would be genuine ones. It was exciting, enticing and absolutely terrifying all at once.
Then, suddenly, I was in the car with my dad, driving down across the border into England with the boot and back seat filled with my things. Pulling off the motorway to go into Durham I saw a large painted sign hanging off the fence of the East Durham College. The large black and red letters read ‘Should have gone to Collingwood!’. We both laughed and I felt welcomed before I had even arrived.
Being a collegiate university, Durham has many faces and communities, both in college and inter-college ones. Collingwood is relaxed, friendly and a tad eccentric with a reputation for being the loudest, most vocal college. More signs painted in black and red were hung on the lane into college, welcoming the freshers and reassuring their parents that they would be looked after. The fresher’s week that followed was a whirlwind of activities and parties, new faces and umpteen repetitions of ‘Sorry, what was your name again?’ as our memories struggled to cope with matching so many new people to their names, courses and origins.
The weeks began to disappear as we learned those new names and the personalities behind them. Some faces became those of acquaintances, the people you say ‘hi’ or ‘morning’ to in the corridor, others became the faces of floor mates and friends. We all settled into the routine of lectures, tutorials and seminars, which days we needed to wait for a friend to get back before lunch, the days another friend would be absent from dinner.
I found a group of friends and our evenings gradually formed a pattern of movie nights or nights out. We swapped clothes and ideas, one discovered I had never seen an entire episode of Friends and immediately sat me down to start from the beginning. We clapped in time to the opening tune and I have a feeling at least two Friends posters will go up in our house next year.
Suddenly it was the end of term and we were sitting down to the college Christmas dinner. We pulled crackers, put on the hats and sang along to the Christmas songs flowing from the speakers. We laughed and took pictures and enjoyed the best meal the kitchens had produced all term. I looked round the table and suddenly felt very grateful I had taken a year out between school and university. If I hadn’t I would not have found such an amazing group of people. They make me laugh and smile, they throw their arms around me and squeal in my ear that I’m ‘so cute’. Sometimes they debate a little to hard over the smallest of issues, get a little too excited or blurt out the most inappropriate (though hilarious) things but they’re my friends and I wouldn’t swap them for anything or anyone.
Now I’m back home, my friends have scattered to various corners of the country and the globe, one getting on his flight just in time and another winding up stranded in London as Heathrow closed its doors. It’s a little strange to be home and without the group I’ve spent so much time with but it’s also nice to be back in Edinburgh and back in our kitchen.
Red cabbage is something that reminds me of family and Christmas. Not every teenage girl will smile and bounce across the kitchen when she comes home to see her father chopping red cabbage and apples into a pan but I do, regularly.
Dad’s Red Cabbage
2 large onions, chopped
small knob of butter
large spoonful of caraway seeds
3 apples peeled, cored and chopped (preferably 1 bramley and 2 coxes)
half a large red cabbage
Fry the onions with the caraway seeds and butter until soft in a medium sized pan then add the apples.
Shred the cabbage and add to the pan. Once hot turn the cabbage over until slightly fried.
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar then pour in hot water until half way up the cabbage and bring to boil.
Add the nutmeg (roughly a ¼ nutmeg or until the smell rises out the pan when stirred in) then turn down the heat and simmer until soft (1 – 1.5 hours).
Season with a little salt and pepper before serving.
Ruby, thank you for your comment on my last post. Opening my email to that message was like an extra little christmas present.