What Makes Britain so Brilliant?

“A lot of things actually. Far too many to mention them all…” so said the 4-page Carling advertisement covering this morning’s free Metro newspaper.

Reading their list brightened my rainy Mancunian morning, so if you don’t mind I’d like to share it with you.

60 YEARS, 60 REASONS

Since it’s the Queen’s Jubilee (and we’re about to have a FOUR DAY WEEKEND to celebrate – Yippee!) here are 60 reasons, one for each year of her reign (shamelessly reproduced without permission…)

  1. Marmite. Mmm…yuck.
  2. Our devotion to our wonderfully gripping soap operas.
  3. Vivienne Westwood’s heels. It’s worth the pain.
  4. The Earl of Sandwich’s groundbreaking concept of putting a savoury filling between two pieces of bread.
  5. Glastonbury – mud and all.
  6. Our modesty – we never boast about how great we are, apart from today.
  7. The pound and our reluctance to adopt the Euro.
  8. The best selling music artists in the world are our very own: The Beatles.
  9. Our politeness – no matter how irritated we get, we are always too British to say anything.
  10. Kate Middleton and her sister.
  11. The Great British Summer (don’t forget the brolly).
  12. Driving on the left (the right way to do it).
  13. No matter where you are in Britain, you’re never far from a pub.
  14. Any excuse for a cup of tea.
  15. Curry, the unofficial national dish, with a pint of cold larger.
  16. We don’t moan because we’re miserable, we moan because it makes us happy.
  17. Our international language. Travelling abroad is a doddle.
  18. The Queen and her graceful wave.
  19. The Great British countryside, when you’re not stuck behind a tractor.
  20. Freedom of speech.
  21. Deep fried food. Fish, sausages, Mars bars… absolutely anything.

  22. Some of the very best museums and galleries on the planet. Free.
  23. The national tendency to cheer the underdog and ridicule the mighty.
  24. We apologise way too much. Sorry about that.
  25. Crisps. We eat more of them, in more varieties, than the whole of Europe put together.
  26. Shakespeare. When thou can understandeth it.
  27. Sir David Attenborough and his soothing voice on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
  28. British strawberries, perfect with cream.
  29. Our cobbled streets, watch your heels ladies.
  30. Chips with fish, or cheese, or beans, or pies, or steaks, or curries or in a sandwich. Chips with pretty much everything.
  31. We know the importance of a good queue.
  32. Beans on toast, brilliant no matter what your age.
  33. Courtroom WigCourtroom wigs. Our great way of making very smart people look very silly.
  34. Pantomimes. The jokes never seen to get old.
  35. No matter how cold it gets it will never keep us from our nights out.
  36. HP sauce. Chuck it on everything.
  37. The 3pm Saturday kick off.
  38. Cream teas. In case you’re wondering, Cornish is jam first, Devon is cream first.
  39. Jellied eels. And jelly. Though not necessarily together.
  40. Beer gardens. Because we love our beer and we love our gardens.
  41. Saying ‘I’m fine’ no matter how we feel.
  42. A love of mowing the lawn.
  43. Plugs with switches. Amazingly nowhere else seems to do this.
  44. Tolerating nearly everything, but banning hosepipes.
  45. Llanfairpwllgyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch in North Wales. Just wait till your sat nav tries that one.
  46. World Cup, 1966. We’ll be clinging to it forever.
  47. Egg and soldiers. Those brave and tasty souls.
  48. The BBC. The only time you’re not constantly reaching for the fast-forward      button.
  49. Our British seasides. Watch out for the seagulls.
  50. Archie Gemmill’s goal against Holland.
  51. Prime Minister’s Question Time. A no-holds-barred, public bashing for whoever’s in charge. Every week.
  52. The Full English breakfast. Served all day.
  53. The weather. Although we get less of it than almost anywhere, it’s still the major talking point.
  54. 99 FlakeThe 99 flake.
  55. Morris dancing. We know how to move it 15th Century style.
  56. Allotments. Our very own little patch of the countryside.
  57. Our love of everything pickled.
  58. Carry On films. Oooer Missus.
  59. Our talent. Be it our artists, musicians, directors or just dancing dogs.
  60. And finally…

(Seeing as the list was a Carling advert I’m sure you can figure their last one out).

Happy Bank Holiday / Queen’s Jubilee / Weekend everyone!

Do you agree with the list? What are your plans this weekend?

All comments are welcome 🙂

The Great Manchester Scavenger Hunt

Danger Moo-seWhen was the last time you went on a scavenger hunt? I think my last proper one was the Manchester Cow Parade in 2004. That is, unless you count the Manchester Art Crawl I attempted last year. Then of course there are bar crawls and Northern Quarter café crawls: Do you think they count?

The idea of scavenger hunts has played on my mind for several months now. One of my Day Zero Project challenges is to create a hunt of my own, or to take part in one at least.

(UN)INTERESTING OBJECTS

Poor PlanningManchester Confidential trialled a bizarre one last year: ‘A Tour of Uninteresting Objects’. The fact it claimed to be uninteresting made me very interested indeed. I hoped they would run the tour again and they did, as part of the Stairs WaterfallManchester Histories Festival, but I discovered it too late and missed it again. 

I’m not sure whether I would find the whole hunt entertaining but the name of it intrigues me. I already Diversionknow where to find these little gems… but like many Blockbuster movies I fear they’ve revealed all their best bits in the advertising.

GO TO THE MOVIES

Photo from USA Today of Hayley Atwell filming on Dale Street in Manchester.With a little research I’m sure movie locations could be turned into a hunt. It’s no coincidence that Hollywood keeps returning to Manchester to film: We’re told the Northern Quarter looks a lot like old New York. Captain America was filmed near Piccadilly Basin last year; Alfie was filmed near the old Smithfield Market a few years earlier; and Sherlock Holmes was filmed in-between the two, both in location and in time, with additional scenes at the Town Hall.

ARCHITECTURE

Beetham Tower by Dave Schofield

Photo: Dave Schofield

An Architectural Treasure Hunt took place alongside the Manchester International Festival in 2011. We are lucky to have eclectic and unusual architecture throughout the city centre to match Manchester’s rich and varied heritage. Most of the time all you need to do is look up.

We have our fair share of eye-sores too; Beetham Tower might be iconic but urgh! What were they thinking?

SPACE INVADERS

Manchester Town Hall, John Rylands Library and the Manchester Museum all offer mini scavenger hunts within their walls.Northern Quarter Space Invaider

Moving outdoors, Manchester city centre had 47 Space Invaders hidden amongst its streets. Unfortunately several have been painted over but I know where a few still remain. Using this map I’m sure I could find more.

BIRD BOX PARADE

Perhaps Manchester’s newest scavenger hunt is Farrow & Ball’s 50 bird boxes, which were painted and installed for National Nest Box Week. (14th to 21st February) I read that Farrow & Ball have a pallet of 132 colours for exterior paint so in my mind I visualised an array of brightly coloured, patterned and embellished bManchester Bird Boxird boxes, decorated to rival the Manchester Cow Parade.

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered all 50 boxes had been painted off-white. (Technically, they’re painted in ‘Pigeon’ and ‘Dove’ to follow the bird theme). I’m sure they had their reasons but I can’t help thinking it was a wasted opportunity. I’m not going to track down 50 white boxes but if they had been brightly painted, by members of the public or school children perhaps, then I might have given it a go. Maybe I should suggest it to them for next year.

YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS

So when was the last time you went on a Scavenger Hunt? Do you have any suggestions I should incorporate into my own hunt? I’m open to ideas.

All comments are welcome 🙂  

Mini Challenge (Win a prize!)

101 in 1001 LogoSince beginning the Day Zero Project on the 7th August last year I have completed 22 challenges.

Twenty-two Challenges!

In theory I should complete a challenge every 10 days, which puts me four challenges ahead of schedule. That’s not bad seeing as I didn’t complete any for two months in the middle.

(OK, so I progressed some of the longer challenges during that time, I just didn’t complete any).

COMPETITION TIME!

ManchestersArtisticSon has his own Project Day Zero List but he’s in a slump. In an attempt to motivate himself to complete his tasks he has posted a competition to let readers have a go at some of his challenges.

The 10 challenges are: 

  • 3. Have an art exhibition. (Even if it’s just in your own home). 
  • 9. Make and encouraging / motivational banner and anonymously put it up. 
  • 23. Interview someone and write a story / poem about their life / experiences. 
  • 25. Cook a soufflé. 
  • 26. Make some Street Art. (We’re not encouraging you to break the law!) 
  • 54. Go on a demonstration / protest and if there isn’t one make one. 
  • 66. Set off Chinese Lanterns. 
  • 70. List a hundred things that make you happy. 
  • 74. Complete a colouring book.
  • 95. Have a T-shirt printed which advertises HIS blog (ManchestersArtisticSon)

Readers who undertake the challenge should record them in an interesting way then blog about it, adding a link in the comments on his blog. Alternatively you can email the entries to him at admin @ Manchestersartisticson.

The submission which makes him laugh / smile / cry the most will win. (Be sure to read the small print!)

We have until Sunday 12th February to have a go.

None of these challenges are on my own list so I plan to attempt a couple at least, just to change the pace.

I’ve already bought a colouring book and some felt tips… Do you think it would be cheating if I completed the book then put the coloured pages on display? Hmmm, it probably is… although it didn’t mention that particular scenario in the small print. 😉

Beetham Tower by Dave Schofield

Beetham Tower by Dave Schofield

THE PRIZE

  • A 6/8 print of the picture of your choice from his 365 project at http://365project.org/chewyteeth/365
  • And “Nobody belongs here more than you” by Miranda July, which is a great collection of short stories.

Go on, have a go! It’ll be fun!

All comments are welcome 🙂

Cheery Cheap Weekend

Doing more with less challenge: Part 2

(Two ticks for the Day Zero Project)

Last week I was sent on a mission to see how far I could stretch £50 in Manchester. As predicted the answer is very far.

I had a non-stop day of activities planned for Saturday, which I estimated would cost about £45. When it came to it I barely dented the budget.

I enjoyed a full day out in Manchester for only £1.60.

OK, so I changed my plans slightly: I substituted eating out with eating at home and decided to drink coffee instead of cocktails but after a busy day that’s honestly all I wanted. Plus now I have £48.40 to stretch over February too.

Here’s how I got on…

The Manchester MuseumManchester Museum

The first place on my visit list was the Manchester Museum, the city’s very own natural history museum. Knowing it was all the way across the city centre, (walkable sure but I had a lot to fit in,) I hopped onto the free Metroshuttle (Green bus, number 2) to Chester Street and walked the remaining half mile along Oxford Road in the pouring rain.

Until recently it had been a shockingly long time since I’d been inside the Manchester Museum, 10 years at least. To be honest I felt a bit intimidated by it.

Set in the historical University buildings I half-expected it to be pretentious and inhospitable and I recalled wandering around totally alone looking through unmarked drawer after unmarked drawer. I remembered the Egyptian Mummies, a firm favourite, but as for the rest I remembered it being monotonous and gloomy. I expected it to be the same today.

I was so very wrong.

Family Friendly: Vibrant and Fun

I had read that the Manchester Museum is ‘family friendly’ but I was sceptical until I saw it for myself. I arrived to find a bright airy reception, bustling with young families and cheery commotion. For a few moments I actually thought I’d arrived just as a special children’s event was dispersing, but no, the museum remained that vibrant all morning and probably all day. There were children having fun and learning in every crevice of every room. It was delightful to see.

Manchester Museum for KidsI leisurely strolled though each exhibition, staring in awe at the animals and surreptitiously doing the challenges set out for children. I watched a girl draw the taxidermy animals and kicked myself for not having the foresight to bring a sketch pad myself.

Large Tusked ElephantEvents For All Ages

The museum has focussed heavily on children’s events in the past few years so now they are turning their attention to the adult programme. As I was planning my weekend I noted down activities I was interested in and found one that fitted in with my schedule:

Crafternoon Tea

I had hoped to take part in Crafternoon Tea, a social art and craft workshop where participants enjoy a cuppa whilst trying their hand at something new. I had earmarked £5 for the workshop but discovered I had gone to the wrong venue.

Crafternoon Tea is part of the Whitworth Art Gallery events programme, not the Manchester Museum’s. Ooops!, The Whitworth Art Gallery, which is also part of the University of Manchester, is a further 5 minutes up the road. Had I made enquiries earlier I could have dashed over there but by the time I asked I was already too late.

Fortunately the staff members I spoke with were very friendly and helpful so rather than laughing at my foolish mistake they encouraged me to try out the new adult events programme at the Manchester Museum instead.

Book Crossing

Before leaving to visit the next venue I sat opposite a dinosaur and registered a book with the Book Crossing website. People probably wondered why on earth I was juggling sticky labels, a mobile phone, a thriller and a still-sopping-wet umbrella.

Book Crossing means to leave a book in a public place so that another may pick it up, read it and do likewise.

When you register a book online you are given a unique ID number which you copy onto the bookplate (sticky label) inside the cover, along with the instruction to check out the website. You can then leave a note online for whoever finds the book and follows the bookplate instructions. Each new person who enters the unique ID onto the website is able to leave a message. Therefore, as the book is passed from reader to reader you are able to track its journey.

I discreetly left the book on the chair and made a swift exit. A week has passed and no-one has left a reply yet. I hope the book made its way into someone’s rucksack rather than into the ‘lost and found’ box. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you don’t. To learn more visit the website here.

Font Cocktail Bar

After leaving the museum I headed back down Oxford Road towards the Cornerhouse Art Gallery. On reaching the Thirsty Scholar I impulsively took a detour down the side street to Font Bar.

Being in the heart of Studentville Font prides itself on providing cocktails from as little as £2 each. Baring in mind a cocktail in the Northern Quarter, or virtually anywhere else in Manchester city centre might cost upwards of £6.50 (excluding happy hour offers) it was almost too tempting to resist.

I wandered in, wandered around and wandered out again. It seemed a good idea when I was heading towards it but I decided I should probably visit a few other venues before blowing the budget on cheap and cheerful booze.

Cornerhouse Art Gallery

The Cornerhouse ManchesterWhen I studied in Manchester I used to visit the The Cornerhouse Art Gallery during my lunch breaks. As I have neglected it since gaining full time employment I added the venue to my Day Zero List.

Although there are 3 floors only one exhibition space was open. Lost is Found is a group show of work from nine artists, all under 20 years of age, based in the North of England. The exhibited works were said to “find beauty in the redundant and discarded, explore past lives and find new stories in transformations and fleeting identities”.

I cannot adequately describe the exhibition so instead you should read this review and visit it for yourself!

Manchester Town Hall

I didn’t plan to visit the town hall but as I was passing it would have been rude not to!Manchester Town Hall is a Victorian Gothic masterpiece, designed by Alfred Waterhouse who also designed the Natural History Museum in London.

Often people don’t realise that behind those hefty doors is a relaxed and reasonably priced café where you can admire the décor over a variety of snacks or go all out on a three-tier afternoon tea.

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On weekdays you are allowed to explore the building by yourself (email me for a self-tour guide) or for a small fee you can book a guided tour of the clock tower. I couldn’t resist taking lots of photos.

As tempted as I was to sit in the town hall café I had promised myself I would visit Nexus Art Café as recommended by Manchester’s Artistic Son.

Nexus Art Cafe Statement of IntentNexus Art Café

I had heard there was a night café somewhere in the city centre but despite passing it almost daily it didn’t click that Nexus was that place.

Nexus Art Café is a community based charity, which hosts various creative events and remains open until 6 am at weekends to provide a safe venue for people making their way home after a night out. They’ll even phone for a taxi if you need one and feed you bacon butties whilst you wait.

Set in a basement on Dale Street, Nexus has a distinctive student vibe, similar to that in Common but without the alcohol. I took advantage of the free wifi by registering another book to the bookcrossing website, whilst sipping a coffee (£1.60) and curling up in a wicker chair.

Nexus Needs Our HelpSupport Nexus!

I regret that it’s taken me so long to visit this little gem, especially now I know it is struggling to stay afloat! One Night Café session costs £200 in overheads and they desperately need more support to keep on going. Click on the image left for more information or to make a donation contact support@Nexusartcafe.com

Feeling refreshed I left the bookcrossing book on the coffee table and handed our cups in at the counter. I had one last place to visit before going to home to raid the fridge.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre

As I made my way to Paramount Books on Shudehill I made a final detour through the Manchester Craft and Design Centre.

Set in the Victorian market building the Craft and Design Centre is the place to go to buy something handmade, unusual and bespoke. The two floors of contemporary studios sell paintings, jewellery, ceramics, interior accessories, furniture, bags, baby wear and more, or you can simply drop in to visit the café.

Whenever I visit I always linger the longest over Linzi Ramsden Ceramics. I find her designs simply stunning and struggle to find a favourite to purchase. If I could I would buy her designs in threes.

Paramount BooksParamount Book Exchange

After I allowed myself to be dragged from Linzi’s window I finished the day in Paramount Book Exchange near Shudehill station.

The moment I entered my ears were blasted with piano music. I mooched between stuffed shelves and crammed boxes looking vaguely at the titles but mainly marvelling at the jam-packed chaos. A few books caught my eye but I was repeatedly distracted by the random dolls and other paraphernalia squished between the spines.

I was tempted by a box of Sandman Dustcovers by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean until a fusty smell overwhelmed me. I thought the stench was coming from the girl next to me but in hindsight I realise it was probably the sofa.

In addition to old books Paramount Book Exchange sells vintage comic books, (and vintage porn!), LPs, CDs, DVDs, rare books and first editions. If you have the time to scrutinise the shelves and can live with the smell you’re sure to find a hidden treasure or two!

So that was last weekend. How are you stretching your post Christmas budget?

All comments are welcome 🙂

Something for the Weekend?

Do more with less challenge: Part 1

I need your help!

I’m usually quite good with money. I normally begin Christmas shopping around about the 1st of July. In all honesty I have occasionally started before then… around May time, sometimes even earlier. The January sales have intermittently provided a bargain or two but I’ve been banned from talking about Christmas shopping until the beginning of July.

The main benefit of starting early is that I can usually spread the cost. This time last year I checked my account and was delighted to discover a healthy bank balance. I had somehow managed to pay off Christmas before the New Year had even begun.

Not so this year. I foolishly left shopping until November and my credit card is still crying as a result.

Do more with less

I need to find ways to do more with less this January. I can swap the expensive options for something cheaper and stretch what little I have as far as possible, whilst still getting out and about and having a great time in Manchester.

There are so many free (or low cost) events and activities in and around the city centre, including numerous free museums, galleries and parks. All it takes is a little research.

£50 Challenge

I have been set the challenge of seeing how far I can stretch £50 in the city I love. I have a plan and if all goes well I have an activity packed, food and fun fuelled weekend ahead of me. I know what I can do with £50 but what would you do?

What would you do with £50?

I plan to tackle this challenge over a weekend but there are plenty of ways to save during the week too. In fact, there are more offers available on week nights than there are for the weekend. For example, if you visit www.vouchercodes.co.uk you’ll see a list of restaurants with money off offers which are valid from Sunday to Friday. One voucher I’ve downloaded for Sunday is 40% off at YoSushi in the Arndale Centre. Oh, how I love sushi!

Below are a few ideas of how to stretch your entertainment budget. I would love to hear your ideas and tips too. Please comment below if you have anything to add!

Frog And BucketFree Comedy

Subscribers to the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club newsletter can often pick up free tickets for Thursday and Sunday nights. All you need to do is respond to the email as and when it arrives – First come first served. If you’re quick enough your Thursday night can be spent laughing raucously at five comics; whereas Sunday’s audience will titter and groan as Comedians test out new material prior to going on tour.

I frequently attend and can recommend both nights. I don’t think I’ve ever actually paid to go there and I’ve seen several big name acts. Throw in a cheap pitcher of beer and you’ll wonder why you’ve never been to the Frog and Bucket before.  

Cinema Combo

I mentioned my £50 weekend challenge to a colleague and he suggested I combine my Spinningfields Yellow Card with Orange Wednesday at The Great Northern Cinema (AMC). The last time I checked Wednesday didn’t fall on a weekend but it’s a great weekday deal if it works!

My friend couldn’t remember exactly how much he paid when he combined the 2-4-1 offer with the discount card but he swears they only paid about £3 each. At that price I might start going every week.

Live Cinema – aka Theatre

I do love the cinema and I might be tempted to catch a film at The Cornerhouse or upstairs at the Black Lion but this week I’ve been curious to know what’s on at the Contact Theatretheatre:

I had hoped my £50 would stretch to a matinee at the Palace Theatre or at the Opera House, or even at the Contact Theatre (left) which in my experience is home to some extraordinary and mind-blowing performances.

However, my tip for this weekend is to check out the Library Theatre’s re:play festival at The Lowry in Salford Quays. If you missed the Manchester Fringe Festival in 2011 then you’re in luck as the re:play festival is giving you another chance to catch some of the best shows from as little as £8 per person

Amateur Theatre

Dracula PosterAs tempted as I am to revisit the performances from the 24:7 Festival I’m even more tempted to visit a panto. Yes I know people usually watch pantomimes on the run up to Christmas but reading about this one made me laugh out loud:

The Manchester Road Players are performing ‘Dracula – the Pantomine’ at The Edge Theatre & Arts Centre in Chorlton this weekend. For only £5 each it promises the ‘usual array of batty antics and bloodcurdling jokes’. Go on, admit it: You’re curious to know how they’ve turned Dracula into a panto! 

I could go on for hours telling you about offers and events I’ve found but I’m interested to hear what you have found too.

How do you plan to save money this January? How far could you stretch £50? Let me know your money saving hints and tips. 

If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

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.

Do You Love MCR?

I Love MCR… Then Join Us On Sunday!

Mancunians are being urged to come together in a show of defiance this weekend, following the chaos caused by rioters last week.

Anyone who cares for the city is being asked to come together on Market Street, one of the areas worst hit by last week’s violence, at 2pm on Sunday and raise their I Love MCR poster* for what is being dubbed ‘the Manchester Moment’.

Sunday’s ‘moment’ is expected to generate a party atmosphere, with music played out over loudspeakers as crowds gather to show their support. We want to send a message to the world that the region’s spirit will always prevail.

“This is a real opportunity to reclaim our reputation and show the world what real Mancunians are. At 2pm on Sunday we want everyone to come together and hold up their posters to show the world Manchester is back in business.” Coun Pat Karney, Manchester City Council Spokesman 

I LOVE MCR

The show of unity follows the outpouring of public pride that has been generated by the I Love MCR campaign, launched by the Arndale Centre and Marketing Manchester. The campaign’s aim is to show the world that the people of Manchester are proud of their city and united against anti-social behaviour.

Hey Little Cupcake Loves MCR

Hey Little Cupcake Loves MCR, with 50% of profits from these cupcakes going to ForeverManchester

More than 5,500 people have backed the campaign online, with people like me changing their profile photographs to display the logo. Now the logo is to appear on buses, billboards, lamp-posts and hoardings, in a defiant message to the looters that the city’s spirit is unbreakable.

Huge billboards have already been erected on Chester Road and the Mancunian Way, while the slogan has also appeared at Manchester Airport and in shops, businesses and private homes across the region.

FREE METROLINK!

To help Mancunians get to the ‘Manchester Moment’ the M.E.N. has printed a voucher today for unlimited free travel across the Metrolink network (all zones) on Sunday 21st August. The voucher is valid for up to two adults and three children under 16 between 10am and 6pm.

The offer is aimed at getting people back into the city centre and to boost trade in shops, bars and restaurants hit by the disorder.

WE LOVE MCR DAY

We celebrated with the Manchester Day Parade in June, just before the International Festival and now Mancunians are being encouraged to celebrate the city again:

The ‘We Love MCR Day’ is taking place on Friday 26th August, when Mancunians are being asked to wear or display the ‘I Love MCR’ logo with pride.

Expect street parties, discounts in shops, deals in restaurants and much more. A Facebook page has been set up for people to suggest ways of showing love for the city.

  • ‘I Love MCR’ t-shirts are available from the Arndale and online at The Manchester Store.
  • Free ‘I Love MCR’ wallpapers are available from ForeverManchester
  • * Posters are free in today’s M.E.N. newspaper or you can pick up one from temporary stalls in the Arndale Centre.

See you on Sunday! All comments are welcome 🙂

A Sad Day in Manchester

I hoped Manchester wouldn’t suffer copycat rioting. Lots of rumours and lies were reported via Twitter and Facebook on Monday night but nothing actually happened, so when reports started coming in again on Tuesday I was optimistic that they weren’t true.

Artwork by Emmeline Pidgen published by The MirrorI left work early in case the riot vans really were gathering on Oldham Street. I didn’t see any. I walked through the Northern Quarter without incident. Most shops, bars and restaurants had either closed early or pulled their shutters down with customers inside. Every snippet of conversation I overheard predicted a long and troublesome night. There was tension in the air and a sense of dread but as far as I could tell nothing was actually happening.

The quiet didn’t last. Sirens, tactical aid units, police vans and helicopters were out in force to add to what turned out to be a very noisy night. I didn’t see any trouble. I heard it. At one point we ventured outside to move the car to a more secure location; On seeing an ominous horde of hooded youths heading our way we retreated quickly to the safety of our apartment.

I spent half of the night on the phone reassuring family and friends that we were safe. The other half of the night was spent following the unfolding events on twitter.

Twitter: @wes078Wessel: Only in the UK could rioters in £100 trainers organising things on £300 smartphones claim to be in poverty… #londonriots #manchesterriots

The frustrating thing about last night’s chaos is there was no reason for it. They weren’t protesting about anything. People weren’t taking to the streets for something they believed in.

The city centre was flooded with bored kids who had seen looting and vandalism on the news; they wanted in on the action. They thought it looked fun. They thought they could steal ‘free stuff’ and get away with it. They weren’t trying to make a statement. They weren’t trying to change anything. They trashed our beautiful city, for fun.

Twitter: @Harrietgregory: Quote from Waterstone’s employee on the news: “We’ll stay open, if they steal some books they might learn something” #londonriots

I could go on but other bloggers have already summed it up for me:

Oneapostophe wrote:

“The ‘protesters’ in Manchester weren’t outside the police station, or the civil justice building, or the town hall. They were looting shoe shops and electronic stores and clothes shops and engaging in a series of acts of nihilistic destruction, simply because they could. That’s a crime spree, not a protest, and the fact that so many people – young people – apparently see smashing windows, setting fires and stealing stuff as a viable form of entertainment says something fairly unpleasant about our society.”

Jonny Opinion wrote:

“The evening’s incidents weren’t so much riots as spontaneous exercises in radical consumerism. Manchester is not a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It looks a little worse for wear, considering, but that’s how it made its name in the first place. No biggie. As one teenager, his sound bite looped this morning on BBC Radio Manchester forever, put it, “why are you going to miss the opportunity to get free stuff that’s worth, like, loads of money?”.

THE BIG CLEAN UP

The Manchester Clean UpIt didn’t take long for the people of Manchester to unite and start planning the clean up: @RiotCleanUpManc quickly claimed over 8,000 followers and arranged for volunteers to meet at Piccadilly Gardens at 9 am with gloves, brushes and bin bags to boot. I wanted to join them.

Meanwhile @NQStreetParty made plans for a fundraiser for businesses in the Northern Quarter which had been hit by the vandals (any excuse for a street party or baking contest). A similar fundraiser is being planned for Afflecks.

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

The quaintest development on Twitter and Facebook was the emergence of “Operation Cup of Tea”; a tongue in cheek Facebook group where people uploaded photographs of themselves staying in for a brew instead of ransacking the streets. How very British!

Twitter: @theleica: Apparently someone tried to use Facebook to organise a riot in Plymouth. Police RSVP’d as attending. #OperationCupOfTea

You have to love the British sense of humour.

Despite pockets of mindless thugs, who will hopefully all be identified and charged, Manchester is a very proud city with real sense of community. Shame on the idiots who thought they could damage our city and our reputation and get away with it. (And that’s why lemmings don’t have green hair – Oh wait, different conversation: The Code BBC2 at 9pm)

Were you caught up in any of the trouble? What was your experience of the ‘rioting’? Did you volunteer for the clean up?

Hellfire and Zombies

We all have zombie apocalypse survival plans, don’t we? We all take into account when choosing where to live how zombie resistant the location is; how we’d barricade the doors; where we’d get supplies. We all have cupboards full of tinned food and containers for catching rain water. It isn’t just me.

The Zombie Survival GuideLast night as I watched ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ I remembered an earlier conversation with a work friend: She had whispered timidly and nodded appreciatively as I reassured her there is nothing wrong with her 14 year old son wanting to read ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’. Oh yes, I’d heard of it. In fact, I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself asking to borrow it.

My non-work related friends and I discuss zombie survival tactics on a regular basis. You’ve got to. It’s not muggers and serial killers I’m watchful for late at night. I’m looking for warning signs of a zombie epidemic. My eyes are constantly peeled for the most efficient escape route. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen. You have to be prepared.

I didn’t say any of this to my colleague of course. She’s worried her teenage son is a freak; she doesn’t need to dwell on my idiosyncrasies as well. One thing I did confess is that I’m dying to do a Zombie Walk.

ZOMBIE-AID

Zombie-Aid advertised 2 zombie walks in Manchester last year, although I have a vague recollection that both were cancelled. I wanted to be blood splattered and ashen-faced locked inside the Arndale Centre, bumping the glass doors and groaning to get out. After all, the practice at fitting in could prove crucial.

Zombie Aid photo from CitylifeIt seems I’m in luck: Just last week Zombie-Aid announced the ‘Dead Island’ zombie walk will take place on Saturday 10th September. Fantastic! I’ve marked it on my calendar and plan to be there with gore galore: entrails hanging out, blood soaked clothes, possibly with a dismembered arm to scrape along the ground…

HELLFIRE

After every zombie walk the Hellfire, Manchester’s haunted restaurant, throws open its doors to welcome in the undead. Actually, it does that every day. Do you fancy using elaborate dragon cutlery to eat the ‘Belly of the Beast’, ‘Satan’s Crown Jewels’ or simply ‘Soup of the Dead’? At Manchester’s horror themed restaurant you can, for now.

Of course, you don’t have to dress as the undead. Whilst they prefer theme-appropriate attire normal clothes are acceptable too, as long as you promise not to gawk at those who take alternative lifestyles seriously. (Only the wall mounted ghoulish heads are allowed to gawk, which they do, right at you, the entire time whilst you are eating).

The Hellfire, ManchesterI’ve known about the Hellfire for years but I haven’t managed to drag anyone there. Now I’m on a deadline. I recently discovered the owner is moving abroad and the new owners might retire the horror theme. They’ve promised to honour bookings until Christmas but I don’t want to take any chances. Lou: Can we host our next book club meeting there?! Pretty please?

GATE HOUSE

The Gate House, Alderley EdgeWhilst we’re kind of on the subject, take a look at this house in Alderley Edge. Lovely isn’t it? It needs a lot of work but it could make an intriguing family home, don’t you think? What it doesn’t mention in the estate agents description is that it’s the gatehouse to a working graveyard.

Despite the obvious drawbacks for us Zombie-phobes (Kinemortophobia) it wouldn’t be very practical. You’d feel awkward having a barbeque with friends. Imagine the situation from your children’s perspective. What if you let your dog out for a run and it brought home a present? I had a look around a few weeks ago. There were fresh graves in the, ah-hem, ‘garden’. Are all estate agents this sneaky?

MONSTER HUNT

One final thing: Do you fancy taking part in a monster hunt? It’s free to play and there are lots of prises to be won from the Printworks. See the Monster Hunt website for details.

What is your zombie survival plan? Have you been to the Hellfire? Will you be joining me for Zombie Aid? All comments are welcome.

The Weekend Review

The first thing you’re told when starting a blog is that you should decide what your blog is about in advance, then stick to it. This blog is about Manchester. It’s primarily here so we can share information on what’s happening and what deals are available, yet, as it’s ‘a blog’ I’m supposed to write other stuff regularly too.

If I was constantly doing stuff (which I’d like to) I’d always have something to write about (which I don’t). I’m conscious that random posts are just spam. The Jazz and 24:7 Theatre festivals were going on around me, yet this weekend I chose to do nothing. Nothing exciting happened. Nothing to write about. Today’s post is technically spam.

Instead of writing a review or sharing an opinion today I’m just going to ask a question:

What did you do this weekend?

Here’s what I did and didn’t do:

  1. Didn’t carry a snake. Did attempt to but wasn’t allowed. Made do with stroking a yellow Burmese Python.
  2. Didn’t go to Heaton Park music festival. Didn’t eat 20 flavours of Ben and Jerry’s.
  3. Did read the God of Small Things – followed by a short story about maniac homicidal hedgehogs.
  4. Did listen to free Jazz, albeit from outside the festival tent, plus I’m pretty sure it was actually Salsa.
  5. Did declare my intention to do 101 challenges in 1001 days.
  6. Didn’t do the TV 21 burger food challenge.
  7. Did try the new Northern Quarter tea shop: Home Sweet Home. Mmmm, delicious.
  8. Didn’t watch the end of The Human Centipede. Discovered the sky box had auto-deleted it to make room for the F1.
  9. Didn’t watch the F1 qualifing. Didn’t watch the F1. What a waste of space that was.
  10. Did watch the summer sunset from Winter Hill. 
  11. Didn’t make kiwi bread.
  12. Didn’t watch lesbian vampire queen burlesque at the Lowry theatre.
  13. Was shocked to hear Amy whinehouse had died.
  14. Wasn’t shocked for longer then 2 seconds. (Poor girl)
  15. Did watch Schindler’s List.
  16. Did get woken up by 124 voice mail messages coming through on the mobile phone – one every 5 minutes beginning at midnight.
  17. Didn’t send off for driving licence. Did empty the dishwasher.
  18. Did water the tomato plants that are sprawling across the living room floor like triffids.
  19. Did have an impromptu picnic of sushi and blueberries.
  20. Did wonder what on earth I was going to write about for today’s post.

So that’s what I did and didn’t do this weekend. How about you?

What did you do this weekend?

All comments are welcome 🙂