It’s been almost two years since the last time I wrote a post. In that, I mentioned the fear of leaving old friends and starting anew. My final year did begin with similar anxiety – What would my new flatmates be like? How badly would COVID affect the year? And most importantly what would I do after leaving Lincoln for good?
Advanced Introduction To Finality borrowed a lot of themes from Community and how Jeff Winger managed to say goodbye. Well, to circle it back – If that previous post was about leaving the Study Group, this post is more about leaving Greendale itself. Saying goodbye to Lincoln and University as a whole.
Any worries and concerns I had about my new flatmates were washed away when within 30 seconds of arriving they had also begun insulting Tom for his age – One of the few surviving friends from previous years, at the ripe old age of 26 Tom was established as the resident OAP. The 671 lot did not make it feel like I was starting again, in-fact many of the things I had done with previous flatmates (such as games nights, pub crawls and flat meals) had already begun in the first few weeks of knowing them. One of the best things was that both Lucy and I made friends with them at the same time. This meant they were as much her friends as mine – Something that was very welcome as Lucy had been given the worst possible luck in her flatmate lottery 3 years running. Even when lockdown restrictions were put into place and the rule of 6 kicked in, Lucy was able to stay at ours thanks to
Paul Lamb The Invisible Man a flatmate who never actually moved in. The flatmate was so invisible in fact that towards the end of the year she managed to travel to Lincoln, enter the flat and move out the stuff she had left the previous year without seeing or speaking to any of us.
Speaking of lockdown, it was quite early into the year that restrictions were tightened once again. The University already had in place a multitude of regulations, including no face-to-face teaching and a capacity limit on the library. However, this was worse. This was serious. The pubs were closed. But did 671 let this setback ruin the year? Not. At. all. Game nights became more prevalent, pranks intensified (although I still count hiding my spices in the freezer as a war crime rather than a prank) and flat meals became regular, including a mighty Xmas dinner (In November).
One of the best things to return this year was the themed drinks nights with Sports Night and where ‘Anything But Cups’ made a comeback. However, becoming desperate for a night out in the pub we
To flash forward slightly, in the final few months of the academic year we decided to hold a competition to find out who the ultimate flat cook was. ‘Flat Come Dine With Me’ and its sister competition ‘Cocktail Come Dine With Me’ were born. ‘Flat Come Dine With Me’ would take place over 6 weeks where each week one of us would cook a 2 course meal (starter + main or main + dessert). The meals were scored by each flatmate out of 10 with the totals being kept secret until the very end. So the competition began in April and finished in………………… July. We misjudged how busy we would be in Dissertation season.
The competition was fierce with strict judging and only the highest quality of cooking on display. Going first meant it was a nervy few months wait to find out if my Indian Curry had impressed the judges. However, after the final meal, Robs Lamb Chops, the scores were counted and the results were in. I needed no lessons in grace and decorum. It was never in doubt. *
*In reality the sweat was dripping from my forehead as I narrowly beat Lucy by half a point.
The sequel cocktail variant of the competition was a much smaller affair decided on the night. Simple rules, one cocktail each, scores out of 10. Lucy stormed this competition with an inventively designed cocktail presented in a bucket and spade.
Lockdown 3? 4?
At the start of December, we once again found ourselves up shit creek without a paddle as we were thrown into Tiermageddon. Except this time it was different, we were told to get tested and go home ASAP. We all parted ways with the intent that we would be back in a few weeks and that Lucy would spend Christmas with me in Essex…by this point I should have learnt my lesson with the pandemic…
Cut to Christmas and further restrictions followed that meant Lucy was unable to visit and none of us were allowed to go back to university until the government advised. In total, I spent 3 months of our, already short, 9-month year stuck at home. Not the grand final year send-off I had envisioned. However, there was one silver lining to come out of this time period, it was the time that StraightCrates was born.
The Straight and Narrow in Lincoln had long been a favourite of ours and thankfully someone at the bar (who I will refer to as Jesus) came up with the brilliant idea to bottle their cocktails, sell them online and deliver them to anywhere in the UK. Many an evening was spent having virtual film nights with Lucy whilst drinking some of the Straight’s creations.
The Final Straight
Just before cabin fever set in Spring arrived, and with it came an easing of restrictions and a return to Lincoln in March. Most of March – April was spent in my “home away from home”, the University Library. It did get to a point where you would go to the library and see ‘the regulars’ like you would on a train or at a bar. It didn’t help that I had somehow bloated my dissertation from the required 10,000 words to 25,000. Most people have to trim down their essays. I was forced to commit global genocide against mine.
Thankfully at the start of May, my dissertation was over and with it so was my academic life at university.
In a normal year we would all head home around this time and it would all be over. However, due to us missing a considerable amount of the year from lockdowns (and an absolute desperate panic to not leave the student life behind) we decided to stay till the end of our tenancy in August. This led to a final few months of BBQs, Go Karting, a trip to Go Ape and James training us how to become world beaters in Ultimate Frisbee – 3 months later and I still couldn’t throw straight. The Go Karting was an entertaining experience, Tom took us to one of the Uk’s top outdoor circuits. He unleashed his inner Lando Norris and tore up the track whilst the rest of us competed for last place.
Despite all this, my favourite memories of that summer were the elation and heartbreak of the Euros. I was the only member of the flat who was into football. I had already been forced to celebrate Cambridge United’s promotion heroics on my own so I was determined to not watch the euros alone as well. Somehow…SOMEHOW Euro fever gripped 671 and I managed to get everyone belting out the national anthem by the second group game. We watched the final in the common room of our student complex and although football didn’t quite come home, it was great seeing people like James, Millie and Lucy experience the full range of emotions being a
Spurs Cambridge England fan involves. James even spent 20 minutes consoling a complete stranger post-game.
Before we knew it results day was upon us. We were all pleased with what we managed to pull out the bag during a global pandemic and went out that night to celebrate – It was probably the first and last time I ever saw James wear a shirt. In terms of grades, I achieved a 1st and Lucy got a 2:1, both of us were ecstatic but it was very much a bittersweet feeling for me. We had done it. Survived 3 / 4 years at university and come out the other side with a good degree. But this really was it. No more years to come back or more extra months to stay. Our time in Lincoln was coming to its inevitable end.
This takes us nicely to the end of this post and a chance to pay homage to the city itself. The places we met, drank, ate, sang, drank more, played games, danced, and drank again.
Best Tapas – Ole Ole Tapas
For a small city in one of the country’s most rural counties, it’s amazing how many tapas places Lincoln has. Almost all of them do exceptional food…well to be honest they all do but one of them won’t be mentioned due to their awful treatment of Lucy during a trial shift. Cicchetti’s and Bowl Full were brilliant places to eat but the best was definitely Ole Ole. A Family-run restaurant at the top of Steep hill that recently moved to a bigger and better location. On Christmas market weekend they serve tubs of patatas bravas with heaps of chorizo and litres of Garlic Aioli. This alone makes it number 1.
Best Bar/Cocktails – The Straight and Narrow
Our most beloved bar in Lincoln, the strait serves a huge range of cocktails and likes to mix it up with their themes throughout the year. During the pandemic, they fitted phones to each table so you could ring the bar to order, or ring other tables for a socially distanced chat. The menu was also turned into an Argos catalogue with the signature small pens to match. Notable mentions include Vice & Co and The Electric bar. However neither are good enough to win it for one main reason, I never had a bad drink at the Strait.
Best Burger – Kine
This was the toughest one to call. Many sleepless nights were had whilst deciding on this award. For about 3 years Huckleberry’s bar and grill had it in the bag due to its phenomenal pulled pork burger. But then on the very last week, right at the death, at the buzzer, just as the fat lady was singing, in the 5th minute of the 4 minutes of stoppage time, KINE ripped the golden carpet from under them. Only two words can describe KINE burgers. Ding. Dong.
Best (worst?) Drunk Food – Topkapi
<No photo will do it justice…or make it look appealing>
Topkapi became the golden word spoken at the end of most nights out. The saviour of all embarrassments/disasters that had befallen us on the night. Was it good quality? No. Did they ever have popcorn chicken in stock? No. Did it ever arrive in less than 2 hours? No. But being one of the only places open almost 24/7 Topkapi was our guiding light for almost 3 years.
THEE Best – Red Panda
This final award is for the place that I loved the most in Lincoln, Red Panda. Red Panda was a board game Café in the centre of town. You pitch up, find a table, and play a huge range of games – Paying for how long you spend there. The food was good and the atmosphere was always welcoming. We started going as a flat in our 1st year and loved it. From then on we began buying our own games and hosting our own board game nights. This was a tradition that continued right through uni and led to the great ‘Who gets to keep what’ debate of 2020. I introduced Lucy to the café when we first met and she grew to have the same love for it as I did.
Alas, I am very sad to write that there is no happy ending here. Red Panda was a casualty of the pandemic and had to shut its doors at the end of 2020. It is a huge shame that future students will never get to experience the intense rage you get ‘working as a team’ in dead of winter, or how violent games of Munchkin can turn. We truly loved it while it lasted.
Thats all He Wrote
I write this finale almost 6 months after finishing the rest of this blog. I simply couldn’t figure out how to finish it. A lot has changed in that time. Lucy and I both moved to Cambridge where I have a job as a software engineer, and she is working as a Marketing assistant. I have seen the 161 university group graduate and we have been all over the country visiting friends post-uni. It feels a long time ago that I waved everyone goodbye and moved out of Lincoln.
However, last week I was back for my own graduation and that made me realise that now was the right time to finish this post with a final few words.
I miss Lincoln a lot, even down to the walls/bushes I fell through trying to find shortcuts and Brayford Pool which I lost a bet to jump into in first year (which still hasn’t been fulfilled). Lucy and I both considered doing a master’s degree and staying an extra year. But in the end, we realised it was time to move on. Graduation bought all the memories back and really did feel like the final curtain. It was great to see everyone and sample the Lincoln nightlife again (nothing will ever quite beat Trebbles). I really felt like a student one final time.
I’m thankful for all the people I met along the way and can’t wait to continue this next chapter in my life with Lucy by my side.
University? Completed it mate.