Category Archives: Manchester

The ten best things* about Manchester

(*Disclaimer: I haven’t been out much in the past year, what with the Nipper and all, so this might not be terribly current)

Let’s start off with a bit of Manchester love:

10. Teacup & Cakes, Thomas Street. Everything you might require in a tea shop: proper loose leaf tea, fish finger sandwiches, pie, and oh god the cakes. And Mr Scruff’s tea. I love, love, love this place, except when I am on a diet.

9.Oklahoma Cafe, High Street.  Why yes, I think I will have one of your milkshakes and then spend the rest of my lunch hour frittering away my hard-earned cash on your lovely trinkets, thank you kindly.

8. Cornerhouse, Oxford Street. I will confess, sometimes I go to the Printworks, have a large glass of cheap white wine in Lloyds and then watch an animated film whilst eating a week’s worth of calories in Ben & Jerry.  This fills me with shame. Going to the Cornerhouse for a glass of wine, a pizza, and (usually) something more cinematographically challenging and inspiring makes me feel infinitely more sophisticated and cultured than I in fact am.

7. St Ann’s Church and Square. Sneak out of a concert rehearsal at the church and sneak in a swift vat of wine at Tom’s Chop House. Drink gluehwein and eat bratwurst at the Christmas markets. Have a latte in Starbucks whilst pretentiously pretending to write your novel. Sidle into Space NK, look at the pretty things and sidle out again without buying anything. That’s how I roll.

6. Bridgewater Hall. It was a toss-up between this and the MEN but the Bridgewater tips the balance for the best gig I have ever been to (Elbow and the Hallé), also for not being at the arse end of Victoria Station. 

5. Manchester Town Hall/Albert Square. Beautiful neogothic building (I know FA about architecture but bees mosaics in the floor and stars painted on the staircase ceiling do it for me). Great for weddings, speaking from personal experience. Also, Albert Square great for drunkenly dancing across with your new spouse the day after your wedding, before retiring to the Midland Hotel (again speaking from personal experience).

4. Cuba Cafe Bar on a Saturday night. Over 30? Been drinking at Sam’s all day (see no. 1)? Drunk enough to think you can dance? Not drunk enough to embarrass yourself in front of young people? Cuba Cafe is awesome – soul, motown and rock’n’roll if I remember correctly (I had drunk an enormous of wine), cool decor and an over-25s policy. Best Saturday night out since the Brickhouse closed down. 

3. Northern Quarter. OK, this is a cop-out non-specific entry, and bits of it can be a bit too cool for school, but no visit to Manchester would be complete without including this eclectic, bohemian mix of bars, restaurants, shops etc. It also has a wool shop. (I told you I wasn’t cool).

2. Location location location. Another cop-out entry, but where else in the country can you access, so easily, all of the following: Scotland, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Wales, the Peak District, even (gasp) London?

1. Sam’s Chop House. This has to take first place. Proper wine, proper wine glasses, proper pub, proper food, and Lowry at the bar.

What I have missed? Answers on a postcard please… (or just comment below).


Hello blogosphere

First, a confession: this blog is entirely self-serving. I am slightly concerned that the transition, albeit temporary, from fourteen hour days at work dealing with relentless emails, phonecalls and, er, lunches, to what appear to be twenty four hour days at home changing nappies, watching endless repeats of Friends and eating toast, might cause me to completely lose my already tenuous grasp on reality without something vaguely intellectual and constructive to do when the Nipper is sleeping and H is at work. I have therefore done what it seems all sensible parents do, according to Mumsnet, and started a blog, to keep the grey matter fresh and to maintain a healthy interest in things going on outside these four walls. (I should clarify that in doing so I do not harbour any delusions of being offered a publishing deal, or taken on as a columnist for the Independent). (What am I saying? Of course I do).

Having said all that, I do appreciate that writing about the day to day minutiae of my maternity leave might cause me, or indeed anyone else foolish enough to read it, to gnaw off an arm out of boredom, unless I make at least a vague attempt to shoehorn it all into some form of niche. So: the plan is that I will blog about things I like, and on occasion things I don’t like, all  from a northern perspective.  This is in part for the unremarkable reason that I am northern, and I live in the North. The concept of this blog has also evolved from my perennial frustration at what I perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be the ubiquitous southern bias in the lifestyle sections of the weekend broadsheets and the national media generally. I do understand, thank you so much, that this reflects the demographics of the nation, but I am increasingly wildly irritated by the lifestyle divide that is perpetuated in the printed press and the reluctance of, for example, BBC Breakfast News to acknowledge the existence of a landscape north of Milton Keynes (examples to follow in subsequent posts to avoid a premature descent into relentless ranting).

What this blog is not (I hope):

  • An “eee by gum it’s grim up north” whine. It certainly can be; I have done my time in grim Lancastrian market towns populated by B&M Bargains and frightening teenagers in hoodies, waking to find a pint pot of piss on the garden wall, or a kebab on the car windscreen. I am sure there are parts of the South that are equally charmless to live in, if not more so. However, I think Manchester is sound in every conceivable way, and that life in the village in which we currently live in the Peak District is, on the whole, not at all grim.
  • A twee, chintzy “isn’t-life-funny-in-the-provinces-but-deep-down-christ-I-wish-I’d-moved-back-to-London”-style journal. I don’t own an aga, or a labrador,  or a Land Rover (actually I wouldn’t mind any of those); I don’t socialise with the vicar; I don’t bake cakes; I don’t hunt; I am terrified of village social events. I like where we live because it’s beautiful, and you can walk out of the front door and be climbing a hill within 15 minutes.
  • A yummy-mummy, know-it-all, smug, self-satisfied exposition of how much more I know about things than anyone else.  Nor do I profess to be at all cool, or have my finger on any sort of pulse.
  • A true “you know nothing, Jon Snow” rant about the inequity between North and South. I recognise and respect that the issue of the North-South divide carries political and economic ramifications about which I know next to nothing, and about which therefore I don’t intend to write (much). However, I do reserve the right to talk about it in a shallow, superficial way, and to make further Game of Thrones references at every conceivable opportunity.

So if you, like me, are an older, professional, working parent, perhaps daunted as I am by the changes parenthood brings to your professional identity – or even if you are none of these things – think of me as your northern correspondent, idly rambling on about things in the hope that a snippet or two might distract you.  And if you like what you read, or even if you don’t like what you read, please do comment; I always love to hear that I’m awesome/a twat etc.



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