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

52 WORDS

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:

CLAIM A PLACE IN HISTORY

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)

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 🙂

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 🙂

Accidental Activist

Monkey and a Shrub

Monkey and a Shrub: Guerrilla Gardeners in a Manchester Protest in 2007. Photo borrowed from the BBC News Website.

Last week I wrote about my intention to create a secret garden somewhere in Manchester city centre. Guerrilla Gardening certainly isn’t new but I’m a newbie at it. In my blog I mentioned NQG: Northern Quarter Greening group who have been guerrilla gardening throughout the city centre all year. They are true Guerrilla Gardeners: Many mornings I woke up to find an empty patch of land was suddenly filled with bedding plants to liven up my walk to work. I intend to join them, if they’ll have me.

I published the article on Saturday. Two days later I received an email that should have thrilled me: BBC Radio Manchester had been in touch to invite me to be interviewed on air about taking part in International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I’m a wallflower. I like to stay in the background and never take centre stage. If you read this piece you’ll know how painfully shy I was growing up and how it took years to crawl out of my shell. They say everyone gets 15 minutes of fame. I don’t want it.

ABJECT TERROR

The few people I told about the interview were ecstatic. They went beyond enthusiasm and excitement; they were bouncing off the walls with delight. I on the other hand felt abject terror. The more people delighted in telling me what a fantastic opportunity it was the more I felt myself withdrawing into my shell. I felt sick. I was shaking. The idea of speaking on the radio absolutely petrified me. I have never ever wanted to speak on the radio. I knew it was a privilege to be asked, but as for actually doing it – Not in this lifetime.

DECISION TIME

The fear lingered for hours. My colleagues wouldn’t let the subject drop. Whenever I managed to put it out of my mind for a while someone would bring it up again. I kept telling them “No chance. I’m not doing it. Nothing you can say will talk me into it” and then I thought about my Day Zero List.

Number 83: Agree to do something I really don’t want to do. Being interviewed live on the radio is something I really, really, REALLY did not want to do.

So I agreed to do it.

Beswick at BreakfastI tentatively emailed the producer. My hands were probably shaking as I typed. I enquired what they expected from the interview and whether it would be live or [fingers crossed] recorded so if I screwed it up we could start again.

The next day I received an email giving me a get out of jail free card; the producer told me it would be live (Sorry!) and that their reporter Kevin would take good care of me. Or, if I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t have to.

WAITING

Sometimes the anticipation is the worst part. Every day this week I have had an internal debate over whether to go through with it or whether to pull out. I could feel panic rising within me whenever I thought about it. I had already agreed and didn’t want to let anyone down so I knew I wouldn’t pull out, but knowing that I could and life would go on was comforting.

I needed this week. If on Monday they had asked could we interview on Tuesday I couldn’t have done it. I needed this week to calm my nerves and convince myself it would be OK. It didn’t help that I felt like a fraud: The NQG group have worked hard all year and here I was, a newbie, coming in and stealing their thunder.

ILLEGAL

It didn’t help that guerrilla gardening is illegal either. Was I really going to publicly announce my plan to engage in an illegal activity? It’s hard to imagine being prosecuted for having civic pride and wanting to improve the look and feel of your neighbourhood but it could happen.

THE DAY BEFORE

Yesterday I still didn’t know whether it was on or not. I had suggested a time and a place for the interview but there had been no solid confirmation. Was I relieved that I might not have to do it? Hmm, I was unsure. For days I had been brainwashing myself into thinking I could do it. Did I feel cheated at loosing the opportunity? Yes, relieved but cheated.

My challenge was to ‘agree to do’ something I really didn’t want to do. I had ‘agreed’ to do it. Would the fact I didn’t actually do it mean that it wouldn’t count? It’s hard to imagine another such opportunity which would make me recoil in fear, as per the challenge, short of a TV interview that is.

At about 2 pm my phone rang. It was Kevin, a BBC journalist, my interviewer. Challenge 83 was back on track.

THE NIGHT BEFORE

Last night I met Lou’s book group in Matt and Phreds. It was my first visit since the smoking ban was introduced. It was much brighter than I remember, but as I discovered Thursday night is salsa lesson night, so the lights were on. I’d been expecting darkness and jazz.

Before I arrived Dave informed the group of my impending live humiliation. I struggled to drink just 2 bottles of beer or to eat the delicious pizzas. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but was the deal: Buy 2 bottles of beer get 2 bottles of beer plus 2 pizzas free? What a bargain! I’ll go there again!) What I really needed was an alcohol free early night.

SHOWTIME!

I was woken up at 2.30 am and again at 5 am, after which I couldn’t get back to sleep. Feeling groggy and sick with nerves I found I had developed a cough in the night. It was as though my body was fighting me every step of the way telling me to pull out; cancel; abort.

Kevin from BBC Radio Manchester

Kevin from BBC Radio Manchester

At 8.30 am I met Kevin at a secret location. We chatted about a lot of things on the run up to the live slot – mainly to calm my nerves. We talked about Manchester Meanders and about being shortlisted for the Manchester Blog Awards. (Thank you to everyone who voted for me. I really appreciate it!) We talked about Manchester’s events and the Day Zero Project. We talked a lot about Guerrilla Gardening, after all that’s why we were there.

We ran through the procedure of the interview: Kevin told me how he planned to introduce the piece and the type of questions he was going to ask. We had 3 or 4 ‘dress rehearsals’ so I wouldn’t be frozen with terror and revert to nodding silently when it was time to speak on air.

Nerves came in waves. Whenever Kevin needed to adjust the microphone or test the equipment, or when he listened to voices in his headphones, I felt the butterflies taking flight. I hopped from one leg to the other and took slow deep breaths.

When Kevin started his introduction for the final time (It’s going out live!) I had to make a conscience effort to ignore the microphone and look at Kevin: Look at Kevin; Talk to Kevin; Ignore everything else. Just as it started a man walked past less than a metre from us. [Ignore him Sammy! Ignore him!]

At 8:59 am it was all over. I wasn’t traumatised. My voice didn’t shake ludicrously as I expected it would. I didn’t make a complete idiot of myself, I don’t think.

We didn’t cover the ground we’d planned to cover. In fact, I’m not entirely sure we talked about International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day (this Sunday) which was the whole point of the interview. I think I mentioned NQG and The Secret Garden but I’m not sure.

From the initial email we expected the interview to last 10 minutes but during our ‘rehearsals’ the slot was pushed back by 5 minutes, cutting the interview time in half. Kevin expected it to last 3 minutes. The studio overran slightly and as they had to play a jingle at a specific time exactly the final interview probably only lasted about 2 minutes. We might even have been cut off at the end. I have no idea what I did or didn’t say in that time.

The interview is available online but I haven’t listened to it.

I’m not sure if I want to.

I’m going to give you the link now but you have to promise to be kind. OK?

The interview was on Beswick at Breakfast on 07/10/2011. Our interview was right at the end of the show.

As I accidentally became an activist for guerrilla gardening please show your support by planting tulips this Sunday for International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day!

Challenge 83: TICK!

All comments are welcome. 🙂

N4 Guerrilla Gardening

The Secret Garden (Full Cover)I recently purchased a 1958 copy of The Secret Garden by F. Hodgson-Burnett at Barnardos on Piccadilly Approach. It isn’t an original but I couldn’t resist the 50 year old copy with its faded cover and browning pages. (Three shillings and sixpence!) Despite its aged appearance it was calling out to be loved.

I normally buy books, read them, then give them away but this one is a keeper: I devoured it in one afternoon. I should have read it growing up but for whatever reason I didn’t. I would have loved it as a child.

I vaguely knew what it was about of course, in the same way I know the plot of the 1997 film The Titanic. (I know it is going to sink so I haven’t bothered to watch it). This book is called The Secret Garden and the name says it all.

GREEN FINGERED

I’ve always loved gardens. I would play for hours amongst the trees and bushes as a child. I had a few secret gardens of my own growing up. All I needed was a shady spot between overgrown plants and a garden fence, or a hidden arch inside the bushes where the leaves didn’t grow. If adults couldn’t see me it was mine.

There was also a magnificent clearing behind my grandparent’s house in Wythenshawe which no-one owned and no-one loved. I would scale the fence, which was twice my height, clamber over the neighbours rubbish (notorious fly tippers) and play amongst the weeds and wildlife. If only I had read this book as a child. I could and should have done great things with that garden!

The Secret GardenA PLACE OF MY OWN

Since reading the book I have decided I want a garden. I grow vegetables and roses in my city centre apartment but they have a tendency to take over and block out the light. I want a real garden. There are several parks and patches of grass nearby which I could sit out on when I want to. But I want a secret garden.

I WILL have a secret garden.

BENDING THE RULES

Whilst walking to work one morning I remembered a story I heard in school: The teacher told us about a village that petitioned their council about an ugly brown roundabout in the middle of a busy road. The villagers asked the council to plant up the roundabout but due to lack of funding the council refused. The villagers asked if they could plant it up themselves but again the council refused. They said the road was too busy, that it wouldn’t be safe and that they would prosecute anyone who stepped foot on the roundabout.

Undeterred, the villagers drove round and round the roundabout whilst their passengers threw seeds out of the windows. After a couple of months the roundabout was bursting with colour. Isn’t that a great story?

AN IDEA BEGINS TO GERMINATE…

So I’ve decided to do a bit of Guerrilla Gardening of my own. For the past week I have been eyeing up patches of unused land on my way to and from work. I might start carrying packets of seeds in my pocket ready to disperse when no-one is looking. The only thing holding me back is the forthcoming winter. Spring is probably a better time for sowing seeds.

I need to put more thought into the location too. It needs to be somewhere I pass regularly so I can tend to it daily on the sly. I also don’t want to tread on the toes of the lovely people at The Manchester Garden City Initiative, who have been busy all year planting vegetable patches on disused land in the city centre; or on the toes of the equally lovely NQG: Northern Quarter Greening group. who are helping to make the Northern Quarter a better place to live, work and play.
NQG.org.uk

Photo with thanks to NQG.org.uk who both planted then published photos of these flowers on Church Street.

They’re doing a fantastic job aren’t they? If you’ve been in the Northern Quarter this summer you must have seen all the new planters and greenery. Both schemes are as much about creating community spirit as they are about growing fruit and vegetables or  planting flowers. Anyone wanting to volunteer or pledge support for the initiatives should contact them through their websites using the above links.

INTERNATIONAL TULIP GUERRILLA GARDENING DAY

Whilst I contemplate enacting my plan, I have one other little scheme in mind: Sunday the 9th of October is International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day. How could I possibly resist! I love Tulips for their simplicity and elegance, plus they’re ideal for guerrilla gardening because they should bloom for several years without any maintenance.

Next Sunday (the 9th) I will be heading out with a trowel and bulbs in my backpack (the hoodie and balaclava are optional) and I will be secretly planning tulips wherever I can. Come on, who’s with me? Wherever you are, we have some secret gardening to do!

(For more information on Guerrilla Gardening take a peek at this London blog. International Sunflower Guerrilla Day is on the 1st of May, so put that date in your diary too).

All comments are welcome. 🙂

Defective Baking

To be honest, I knew it wasn’t going well when it turned green. I’d followed the instructions exactly: It said “gradually add a few drops of blue food colouring (don’t add too much or the cake will look green.)” Well excuse me, but any yellow mixture is going go turn green if you add blue. It couldn’t be helped.

The Gingerbread House’s Battenburg turned green. Did I really expect mine to go differently? No. I looked at her photo and knew mine would go the same way. In hindsight I should have used white butter instead of yellow butter. When I was in Tesco’s surreptitiously buying a kilo of the stuff it just didn’t occur to me to peal back the wrapper to take a peek inside.

So my cake batter was green. Not the nice bluey-green Gingerbread House managed to achieve. Mine was more of a sickly pea-green. At least it didn’t curdle when I mixed the sugar, butter and egg. Oh wait, yes it did. The recipe said “If the mixture looks like it is curdling add a spoonful of the flour”, so I did. It didn’t help.

I probably should have used a proper cake tin. Instead I used a flimsy latex one from The Pound Shop. You’d think I’d have taken more care when putting it into the oven. It nearly ended up on the oven door. I caught it, just in time. I balanced the flimsy square on my left hand, the edges drooping on three sides threatening to overspill, whilst my right hand battled the oven rack.

Grabbing it with both hands wasn’t much better: the cake flopped into a V shape redistributing the mixture once again. (Note to self: Use a baking tray in future). I scrapped the mix back into the ‘tin’ and popped it in the oven.

I shouldn’t have opened that bottle of wine. I was home alone and baking on a Saturday night. I knew it was a mistake but I did it anyway. I thought I deserved it at that point. It couldn’t get much worse, could it? …

…That’s as far as my diary entry went for Saturday night.

I meant to finish writing about my disastrous Union Jack Battenberg and post it in a blog. I also meant to write about the wonderful chocolate / vanilla marble muffins I successfully scraped together. (Number 44: Tick!) The recipe said they were cupcakes. Who am I to My Chocolate Cup Cakesargue? If I’d known they were muffins I’d have used a muffin tin instead of a Yorkshire pudding tin, then maybe they wouldn’t have spread out and covered the tray. They still worked out well, considering. They look good though, right? They tasted good.

I also meant to write about the “Northern Quarter Loves You” festival which took place over the weekend. (2 day, 3 stages, 30 bands etc.) I wish I had the time to tell you about sitting outside Centro Bar on Tibb Street listening to J.P. Cooper and chatting with a fascinating ex-pat Mancunian who nearly died in the Boxing Day Tsunami, but survived with just one leg amputated.

I wanted to tell you how much I loved seeing Manchester come together like that: having fun, eating, drinking, dancing; and I wanted to debate the idea of having a NQ festival monthly, bi-annually or annually.

I just don’t have the time. Not this week. Instead here are some photos from the Northern Quarter Loves you festival.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you didn’t go – You missed out. If you did go – Tell me about it. 🙂

All comments welcome. 🙂

… P.S. We’re looking for a Canadian themed venue in Manchester for our next book club. Any ideas?

P.P.S. My cupcake photo isn’t suppost to be part of the slideshow but I don’t know how to remove it without removing it from this page completely. Just ignor that one! :-p