Our Radical Print Shop

Many of you have been asking why I haven’t written much recently. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say I’ve been insanely busy – Almost tearing my hair out kind of busy – I haven’t written or read anything significant in 3 whole months kind of busy – Exhausted, frustrated, you get the picture. (Do you think maybe I’ve just had a bad week?)

It is my hope that normal service will resume shortly but in the meantime it is with much gratitude and enthusiasm that I would like to introduce you to my friend Lobsters Are Cute Too.

Lobsters are cute

* Not an actual photograph of today’s guest blogger. Besides, don’t they only turn red after they’ve been cooked? Cooked lobsters cannot type, can they?

Lobsters (Is it rude to give someone a nickname without running it past them first?) is a fellow Mancunian (technically a Salfordian – Oooh so political!) who moved to Liverpool for several years (traitor) but has recently moved back to Sunny Salford. (Quick glance out of the window – yep, looks bright enough across the Irwell to call it that).

Lobsters (Tangents are quite distracting aren’t they? I should really try to cut down) has only recently starting blogging so check out her site and show some support. As an ex-full time creative practitioner / artist / arts industry employee, her blog is a conduit for releasing creativity so here is her guest blog reviewing a recent date with the Hot Bed Studio in Salford:

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So in a pre Manchester Weekender type of mood I went off to try out Hotbed Press’s workshop: The Radical Print Shop, taking place in an old Victorian (maybe) building full of studio’s and interesting looking workshops. Tucked back from the cross-roads where Liverpool Street meets Oldfield Road, just over the river into Salford, Hotbed Press is a studio group of printers, who also run courses and workshops.

My date (an old old friend in town for the labour party conference) for the evening was late. When I arrived, a tiny bit tardy myself at 6:30 for a 6pm start, luckily the totally relaxed attitudes made that whole drop-in workshop thing work really well. I’d been worried it would be more like a taught class and my lateness would cause fuss.

I established on the phone that she was also a teensy weensy bit tipsy, out drinking with a trade unionist in the afternoon I reckon. I decided that I was brave and went in on my own. 

After paying my £10 pounds I was directed to talk to someone who explained what was going on: There was screen printing, letter press printing and starting in half an hour the risograph machine would be in action.

I was told to not stay still, not try and compose too much, to mix my media’s as much as possible – delightful I thought, and wandered off to talk to someone in the screen print section of this impressively set up creative space.

With maybe 9 large vacuum beds, huge sinks and beautiful drying racks (I have a thing about these, seriously, ever since I was little, the way they click and slide and the way you turn down the sheets to tuck your work safely in) it was heaven.

ISay No To’ve not printed since Uni, but was allowed to just crack on with it. Screens with a selection of text and images were already set up allowing you to move round the room overprinting in a deliciously casual manner. (Screenprinting is all too often precision and tears when screens don’t line up properly).

There were studio members on hand dishing out advice and technique when desired and I quickly had something to show. So leaving these to dry I trotted off to watch a letterpress printing mini demo, where I was mid 3min whiz through the history of printing words when my halfcut mate turned up. 

BookmarksWe giggled, we chatted (there were more people arriving and the large room was abuzz with noise in a very active kinda way so it all felt totally natural). After she had put her coat and bag down I dragged her over to play at printing. We made bookmarks with the letterbeds – a type of printing I’d never done before and most satisfyingly tying me into a history of selfprinting selfexpressing women.  

Had all sorts of interesting jargon explained, including the origin of minding your P’s & Q’s and Uppercase and Lowercase, most patiently by the studio member / workshop leader. I cut up some of my screen prints and printed letters onto those, we did some more screenprinting, we shared some interesting opinions on men my friend may know.

Finally we came to the Risograph machine, looking like a photocopier but producing printed images in coloured ink more akin to a screenprint or etch, the endlessly patient Hotbedpressite manning it was patiently explaining how it worked and producing prints from collages people were making of their prints and drawings, mixed with newspapers and magazines. I got to be printed just as she’s swapped the colour from red to green and was more than delighted with the way my not so amazing collage looked when it had been run through the machine. 

Perhaps the most radical bit of my evening was the re-engaging with creativity and producing rather than just purely consuming. The text and images used all had a loose connection to ‘radical or ‘protest’ and though it was tempting to go with the purely decorative aspects of printing my final risograph print had a vague message relating to a couple of the ongoing questions in my personal life (personal is political, for me anyhow).

Anyhow I’m not going to make any claims for the quality or aesthetic value of my work, but I had the best time and my scientist politician friend enjoyed herself too and was amazed at what she produced.

Part of the reason I was there on Thursday night was that since moving back to Salford I haven’t been part of a studio group and I really wanted to test the water here. Decision made, as soon as I have the pennies I’ll be joining if they’ll have me.Print Workshop

Hot Bed Press run loads of amazing workshops. I’m pretty much saving up to go to one of their more expensive but amazing sounding courses, and will definitely be going along to any future evening masterclasses they run, which tend to be cheaper.

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The Radical Printshop is taking place again today as part of the Manchester Weekender at The Peoples History Museum and John Ryland’s library.

All comments are welcome 🙂 

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63 Degrees

LubyLou usually reviews books, (which you can read on her blog I Hug My Books), however she was so blown away by a recent visit to a new French Restaurant in Manchester City Centre that she couldn’t stop herself from writing about it.

As LubyLou’s own blog is dedicated to books, whereas Manchester Meanders is dedicated to all things Mancunian, here is Lou’s guest blog which I’ll admit made me salivate when I first read it!

What do you think of when you think of the Northern Quarter? Kitsch café’s like Cup? Grubby but cool bars like The Castle? Yes!

Elegant and sophisticated fine French dining? Probably not.

Yet thanks to the opening of a brand new French restaurant by the name of 63 degrees, Manchester’s Northern Quarter is taking a giant leap into the realm of fine dining and the result is delicious.

I recently became aware of this gem through friends. Situated on Church Street just next to Tesco and opposite Low Rider you could be forgiven for failing to notice it. But once discovered 63 Degree’s is hard to ignore. Decadent but graceful décor blends with simple but impressive style, all topped off with a menu that will literally have you drooling outside the door, desperate to go inside.

Pea Cream - 63 Degrees ManchesterI immediately did just that, booking a table for a Saturday. I wasn’t disappointed. The owners have managed to do a terrific job with what is realistically a very small space. The menu isn’t too overcrowded so choosing food was simple. Impressively the food came very quickly and we were soon tucking into our delectable starters. I had the Chesnut ‘cappuccino’ beech-smoked duck (£7.80) whilst my boyfriend tried the pea cream with mint, giant prawn with saffron (£7).

The pea cream came in an impressive martini glass with a giant saffron glazed prawn on the side. The vibrant green of the soup gave impressive colour to the dish whilst the addition of chunks of seafood in the soup gave texture and an extra dimension of flavour.

The duck was in fact a soup, which did give me slight reservations at first. I’m not a huge soup fan. However something about the daring menu told me I wouldn’t be disappointed and thankfully I went with my instincts. This was one of the best starters I’ve had in a restaurant in a long, long time.

The strips of beef Carpaccio on top were packed with more flavour than you could dare anticipate from such small pieces of meat and the sweetness of the chestnut soup contrasted them well.

63° chicken breast - 63 Degrees ManchesterFor his main my boyfriend tried the 63° chicken breast, morel mushroom sauce and gratin dauphinois (£14.80). It’s their signature dish. The chicken is cooked at 63 degrees on a low heat with the aim of giving unique flavour. Of course it also gives the restaurants name.

I only tried a little of the chicken. If I’m being totally honest I couldn’t taste a huge difference. It was beautifully cooked though and the skin was nice and crispy which may well have being helped by the special circumstances in which it was cooked. The dauphinois potatoes were however the star of the show, packed with so much mouth watering taste. Cheesy, creamy and perfectly crisp, it was all I could do not to lean across the plate and quite literally steal them from him.

Salmon dish - 63 Degrees ManchesterI’ll admit to some food envy on my behalf but I had more than enough on my own plate to contend with. I had salmon cooked on one side, black risotto and parsley foam. (£16). The salmon was cooked perfectly and the black risotto was plentiful, but it was the parsley foam that really made the dish what it was. Who would have thought a tiny little bit of foam could hold such stunning flavours? And it’s exactly that kind of daring and imaginative cooking that marks 63° above other restaurants in Manchester that are in this price range. To think such culinary delights can be found in this less than glamorous pocket of the Northern Quarter!

Pistachio Macaroon and Raspberry Pulp - 63 Degrees ManchesterThe dinner was wrapped up with a shared desert, by this point it was all I could handle. We had pistachio macaroon and raspberry pulp which was heavenly. Soft and fluffy on the inside, hard and crispy on the outside and laced throughout with big chunky raspberries. This desert was the perfect ending to the perfect meal. All of this plus water for the table and a bottle of rose came to a light £84 which I more than happily parted with.

Next time a special occasion crops up I’ll reconsider my usual haunts like Grill On The Alley or San Carlo. This intimately run family restaurant packs much more personality and magic than most of them put together. Well worth a visit.

So what do you think? Reckon you’ll give it a go? Check out the menu which I’m sure you will agree is imaginative and inspiring. Thanks to the staff whose politeness and attentiveness made this a perfect meal.

All comments are welcome 🙂

Cutaway

Christmas is nearly upon us, followed by the New Year a week later. Where did December go? With only 4 days left until Christmas you might be a little too busy thinking about last minute shopping, buying a turkey or wrapping presents to think about getting published…

…If however, seeing your own words in print sounds like the ideal Christmas present to yourself this should interest you:

Cutaway is an exciting Manchester based magazine which is looking for people to submit their own poetry and prose in the New Year to be published in the summer. (OK, so make that a belated Christmas present to yourself).

Here is Dave Schofield’s guest blog about Cutaway Magazine:

Ernest Hemmingway wrote:

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

I have a similar relationship to my writing as I have with food. Sometimes I can have a perfect meal and be content, sometimes I sit with a chocolate smeared face shouting ‘I HATE YOU!’ at the bathroom scales. Either way I need it.

And there just can’t be too many places to publish these days, since everyone says how hard it is to get in print. Electronic publishing / on demand / pdfs etc all make it harder on those who want to see their poem or story as an actual thing they can keep on a shelf – not just an email address they submit to and just get a link in return. It’s not quite the same. Hence Cutaway.

CutawayCUTAWAY

Cutaway is a new Manchester based literary fiction / genre magazine, looking for poetry and prose from around the world. We are open for submissions on January 1st, and will close to them on March 1st and publish around the beginning of May.

We expect a lot of submissions from the local area based on the vibrant literary scene – what with an abundance of local blogs, Bad Language spoken word nights, growing publishers like Comma Press and Nightjar Press, literature festivals galore and all the other events which evidence a glut of avid writers tucked around the conurbation – not to mention the recent flurry of activity with the poetically named NANOWRIMO.

You can check the website out for more information and our contact details, but take this as advanced warning – forget Christmas and New Year – get some paper and a pen and start scribbling.

To get an idea of what we’re looking for check out the blog posts on the cutaway website. Cutaway will be available for purchase on demand via Amazon and through selected retailers in Greater Manchester.

If plenty of Mancunian writers are inspired to join in there might be a get together at the launch in May next year in the Northern Quarter, with reading, drinking and lots of cheering and clapping.