My Manchester in 52 words

Our balcony overlooks the Northern Quarter; a heritage site, the original Victorian centre. Red brick buildings and rooftops interspersed with flourishing trees give way to high-rises beyond. I glimpse the Pennines and wind farms in the distance. I smile. Sometimes we watch fireworks or glowing paper lanterns. It’s peaceful here: Quiet.

SammyDee, 23 Feb 2012


NQLovesYouEdgeStreetChris Smith and Liz Peel from Finding Manchester are embarking on the mammoth challenge of visiting 52 Manchesters in 52 weeks in 5 continents. It’s a fantastic project inspiring people to reach out and connect with other communities around the world, as well as encouraging people to share their own experiences closer to home.

Chris interviewed me at the Manchester Museum earlier this year, so Manchester Meanders could be ‘placed into the Manchester Box’. This ‘Box’ will travel with them around the world help them explain what it is like to live right here, right now, in Manchester UK.

Contact Chris Smith

Follow Finding Manchester on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m already in the box but there is an opportunity for you to get inside the box too: by entering the 52 word challenge.

The challenge is simple…In 52 words, what does your Manchester mean to you?

You’ve read my first attempt at the challenge and you can read a few more of my ideas below.

But first, here are the rules:


The competition is open to everyone. Thirteen entries will be selected from each of the four age groups, so there will be 52 winners in total.

Entries can be short factual stories, poems, parables, songs or anything else as long as they are exactly 52 words in length. (For simplicity, hyphenated words count as two words).

The winners will claim their place in history by having their reflections entered into the Manchester City Archive Repository for perpetuity. How often does an opportunity like that come along?

Will you write something? Go on, try it. How hard can 52 words be?…

Here are three more of my quick attempts:

When I joined the Duck Race I imagined real ducks, not yellow plastic rubber duckies. I should have guessed. How could they herd thousands of birds along the River Irwell? They’d fly away, surely? Spectators line the banks of Spinningfields, laughing, watching them bob. We cheer for wind to float them along.

SammyDee, 23 Feb 2012

Manchester’s first Duck Race was held on a scorching hot spring day. There was barely a breeze so we cheered for 40 minutes getting sunburned whilst they barley moved 10 meters. At one point they even moved backwards.

Manchester Duck Race

Photo: Thanks to MEN Media

The Duck Race is a fun but bizarre family-friendly day out with decent Manchester based prizes. Sponsoring a Duck costs from just £1 per duck (more for businesses) and the money raised goes to a children’s charity. This year they DID herd real ducks! (Technically, they were geese). Did you sponsor a ducky?

Whose idea was Pub Golf? A cocktail here, a pint there: I don’t normally mix my drinks. I’d rather sit and chat if I’m honest. It’s a good way to see new bars I suppose. Drink up: next venue. An eight-hole ‘course’ and I’m seven over par. The costumes are overkill.

SammyDee, 23 Feb 2012

Pub Golf is on my Day Zero list but I’ve been putting it off. I’m fully resigned to the idea of coming last: Who wants to get so drunk they can’t stand up anyway? It’s the [optional] dressing up, having a giggle with friends and visiting new bars that counts. I will play it, one day. Probably.

Festival season again: So much to see and do! Parades, Markets, Street theatre, Concerts: I want to do them all! I plan the weekend meticulously. It’s the only way, I think. There’s never enough time. I’ll probably get side tracked as the crowds swallow me up. I rarely stick to the plan.   

SammyDee, 23 Feb 2012

Manchester Galleon at the Manchester Day Parade

Manchester Day Parade

Regular readers will know my my plans change frequently. (Fantastic Frantic Festival Season, the £50 weekend challenge and my attempt to follow the Art Crawl are a few examples). It’s good to have a plan but you don’t have to stick to it. Plans get you out of the house and into scenarios where you can be spontaneous. Does that make sense?

So, in 52 words, what does your Manchester mean to you?

All comments are welcome 🙂

(Enter the competition here)


Frantic Fantastic Festival Season

Manchester is bursting with festivals and activities this October. Why do the organisers insist on squeezing so many great things into just one month? There’s so much to do and so much to see – There really isn’t any time for our day jobs.


The 14th Manchester Food and Drink Festival has commenced with an overwhelming selection of treats in store. The Festival Hub is once again in Albert Square with a range of activities taking place daily.

It kicked off at the weekend with Oktoberfest and the Real Ale Festival, plus a chocolate
festival and a chilli eating contest. There are deals and offers all over the city so check out their website and my events page for details.

Manchester PrintworksAround the World with The Printworks: (14th and 15th) Aside from the numerous events in the Festival hub I’m looking forward to the Printworks International Food Market, which brings together food from across the globe courtesy of their 12 restaurants. There will be free tasters throughout each day (Yippee!) along with free entertainment and performances.

Floating Feast / A Taste of Modern History: I am also tempted to try the feast on the
to celebrate the launch of “A Taste of Modern History”, a historical recipe book journey through North West cuisine.

You get to travel on a specially chartered boat along the Irwell towards the Manchester Ship Canal, whilst enjoying a welcome drink and three-course meal based on the recipe book, which features 22 dishes inspired by the history of the region. At £48 per person it’s a bit steep but I like the idea of it.

MANCHESTER FEAST MARKET – 5th to 16th October

Running alongside the MFDF is the Feast Market in Saint Anne’s Square; a new annual market designed to bring together Manchester’s many food heroes under one roof.
Whilst MFDF brings together international cuisine this event capitalises on the huge resurgence in interest in traditional British food and ingredients, showcasing some of the region’s best farmers and producers.

Squirrel Food

Eek! Could you bring yourself to eat a cute little squirrel?

Amongst the appetising treats on offer there are local cheeses from Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese, pork pies with unique fillings, scotch eggs, pasties and chutneys from The Crusty Pie Company, and wild venison and boar, ostrich, goat, and squirrel from Natural Game.

For those with a sweeter tooth, Duerden’s Confectionery is selling fudge made in Burnley from the same secret recipe for three generations. Meanwhile, the English Rose Bakery is producing French macaroons and Airyfairycupcakes will be selling a wide selection of traditional baked goods.

For the more exotic pallet, Mango Rays will be cooking fresh chicken and mango kormas, whilst the Lion Rock Company will be dishing up classic Sri Lankan food, including kotthu and vegetable roti.

Two fantastic food festivals are taking place on my doorstep: Oh how I love

LITERATURE FESTIVAL – 10th to 23rd October

Manchester SermonThe 6th Manchester Literature Festival commenced on Monday, providing unique and
imaginative opportunities for audiences to experience high quality live literature.

Events are taking place in a range of prestigious and atmospheric venues, including this year’s festival hub, the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. (I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t realise that Burgess, author of the infamous A Clockwork Orange, was Mancunian!)

Other events are taking place at 22 locations around Manchester, including Chetham’s
School of Music
, Contact, The Deaf Institute, Imperial War Museum North and MadLab See the full venue list here.

My personal highlights for the Literature Festival are:

Poems of the City: 20th October – A Guided Walk with Anne Beswick.

Blurb: “Discover the people and places of Manchester in poetry. Green Badge tour guide Anne Beswick takes us on a journey of some of the city’s most significant buildings and streets and introduces us to the work of essential poets such as Allan Ahlberg, John Cooper Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, John Ormond, Lemn Sissay and Mike Harding. Forget daffodils and plashy brooks and think rain, football, cathedral building and revolution!”

For me this is just an excuse to find out more about the city.

Poetry Take Away: 22nd October at Whitworth Art Gallery.

Blurb: “The World’s First Purpose-Built Mobile Poetry Emporium comes to Manchester. Staffed by a rotating cast of the UK’s best poetry chefs, The Poetry Takeaway specialises in the production of free made-to-order poems. All delivered and performed to you, the hungry yet discerning literary consumer, within ten minutes or less. So be sure to take time to indulge your poetical taste buds at this truly unique experience!”

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? I’m dying to hear what they come up with!

Manchester Blog Awards: 19th October at The Deaf Institute.

Having been nominated and shortlisted for the Manchester Blog Awards this one had to be on my radar.

Blurb: “The Manchester Blog Awards celebrates the city’s best online writing with author and blogger Socrates Adams reading from his new novel, Everything’s Fine (Transmission Print), plus readings from the finest Mancunian bloggers, the announcement of the winners of our new life writing competition, The Real Story, and of course, the star-studded awards themselves.”

Good luck to everyone involved!

THE MANCHESTER WEEKENDER – 14th to 16th October

Lip ServiceThe Manchester Weekender is forty-eight hours of art, culture, music, film, food, festivals, literature, walks, politics, poetry, photography, theatre and spectacle all wrapped up into a single weekend.

Hurry and you can still get a place at An Exhibition in a Day, a photography masterclass with renowned photographer Len Grant or The Hysterical Historical Tour, a promenade
theatre piece celebrating Manchester’s famous women from theatre duo Lip Service.

COMEDY FESTIVAL – 17th to 30th  October

In this years Comedy Festival there are over 240 shows in 30 venues across Greater Manchester. Comedians taking part include Rob Brydon, Jimeoin, Peter Kay, Paddy McGuinness, Stephen Merchant, Andy Parsons and Tommy Tiernan.

Check out their website for tickets and keep and eye on my Events and Deals & Bargains pages for freebies!


I love the Manchester Science Festival; I’m a big kid (and big geek) at heart!

Walking on CustardCustard Walking: I actually emailed the organisers of the Science Festival to ask if they would let me walk on custard for them. It’s a non-newtonian fluid (a substance that
can act as both a liquid and a solid) so you really can walk on a pool of custard as long as you don’t stop moving.

Unfortunately they replied that it was very messy when they tried it previously and so they’re not going to do it this year (“science is meant to be about progress, hey?”)

So they’re not doing it this year, however, the lovely scientist did send me a recipe for
making my own ‘Oobleck’ at home. Does anyone have a paddling pool I can borrow?

Zombie Science 1Z: With that disappointment aside, I’m delighted they are having a spoof lecture on the real science behind the undead: Featuring live demonstrations and an online exam certified by the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies (ZITS)Theoretical Zombiologist, Doctor Austin will teach how zombie outbreaks might occur, their effect on humans and most importantly, how to stop them.

Science is cool! (Geek!)


IN THE CITY – 13th to 15th October

For £20 you can buy a wristband for the In The City Live strand to enjoy 200 bands (the best in underground and emerging talent) at 20 venues across the city. You’re almost
guaranteed to see stars of the future.


In their 4th year, the GNCC Fair provides cutting edge contemporary craft to buy from over 140 selected designer-makers in ceramics, glass, jewellery, interior and fashion textiles, wood, silver and more. Chat to the makers, buy their goods or commission pieces directly at the fair.

Castle Armouries ProjectionBURY LIGHT NIGHT – 14th October

Bury town centre promises you’ll witness the strange to the spectacular on Bury Night Light when venues across the town invite you to enjoy a mix of arts, music, performance, workshops, tours and more. Amongst other festivities expect giant wandering birds, illuminating projections and charming lantern displays.

Phew, October is one exhausting month!

If all that wasn’t enough we also have Halloween to look forward to, in all of its commercial grandeur!

All comments are welcome. 🙂