Topics of conversation

I find myself talking about the weather a lot recently. We’ve had frost, high winds, days of rain and 22 degree heat – all in the last couple of weeks.

I also find myself talking about the traffic.

Deansgate interchange traffic during the day

Deansgate interchange traffic at night
Day or night, rush hour or not, the express way is rammed thanks to roadworks. Works which aren’t due to complete until August 2019!

I’m so, so glad I don’t have to drive that way to work anymore. Which is another thing I find myself saying a lot recently.

Last week, in pictures

Harrogate Turkish Baths, relaxation room
After another set of nights last weekend, I needed some rest and relaxation. The Turkish baths in Harrogate ticked both of those boxes. The building is absolutely gorgeous, having recently been restored to its Victorian opulence. We spent a leisurely couple of hours soaking up the heat and occasionally braving the bracing plunge pool. The tension I’ve been feeling in my neck feels easier and my skin, more hydrated. I’d like to back in the winter, the heat will feel extra luxurious when it’s cold outside.

Homemade chocolate cake with mum's homegrown grapes
Knowing that I love cake, my aunt baked her first cake in years. Chocolate, coffee cake with chocolate cream. Decorated with grapes from my mother’s garden.

The Midland Manchester, Royal Afternoon Tea
On Wednesday it was time for afternoon tea with Em and Han. Tea at the Midland has been on my Manchester to-do list forever and it was so worth the wait! We dined on crustless sandwiches and dainty pastries, whilst sipping endless cups of tea. There may also have been a glass of bubbles…

Alberts Schloss negroni sharer
The weather was so unbelievably gorgeous that on my walk home after tea, I rang husband and told him we were going out for dinner. We walked back into town, without jackets, and found ourselves at Alberts Schloss where we ate the most delicious German food. It was the best way to celebrate what will surely be one of the last warm days of the year.

Pot Kettle Black, Manchester. Wagon Wheel Brownie

We’ve had a quiet weekend, spent mostly at home or mooching around town. We started Saturday with lacklustre coffee and brownies in Pot Kettle Black – a shame since their main dishes are so damn tasty. A grocery shop, some time in the kitchen and an early night finished the day off.

Smitten Kitchen flapjacks
I made these flapjacks and they were insanely good. So good that they were gone by Sunday morning.

Caramelised Red Onion and Goats Cheese Tart
I also unearthed an unopened bag of red onions that went out of date over 6 weeks ago! They were perfectly fine however so I chopped them up and caramelised them, before throwing together some tarts with a block of goats cheese that has been living in the freezer for about a year.

Glamping in Blackpool

Glamping Pod at Stanley Villa Farm

Last summer, my mother-in-law kindly gifted us a Red Letter Days voucher for our wedding anniversary. We finally cashed it in this spring to go glamping near Blackpool and now, as we are almost nearing autumn, I am going through the photos we took on that trip.

It was a quick trip away, but refreshing all the same. A much needed reminder that time out in nature, even briefly, can be restorative.

We stayed at Stanley Villa Farm in a cute little house shaped pods although I think glamping is a wee bit of a stretch. The pods, whilst insulted, were still a little chilly over night. And the site is next to a working farm with accompanying working farm smells – which we mostly got used to. The toilets were those toilet/shower wet room combinations which I really dislike… because everything gets wet, including the toilet roll. Still, snags aside, we really enjoyed our stay.

We relaxed and read, but before long I started to think about my belly. After a quick, and probably uncharitable, Google search of ‘is there any decent food in Blackpool?’ I found The Cottage which came with Rick Stein’s seal of approval. It was a short car ride away and found it hidden on an unassuming back street. The staff were incredibly warm and welcoming and the food was delicious. Quite often, fish and chips can make me feel greasy and heavy but these tasted really clean and light. The fish was succulent and the batter crisp. Fluffy chips and a couple of slices of buttered, white bread rounded out the meal. Heaven, with a dollop of homemade tartare sauce.

Fish and Chips at The Cottage, Blackpool

We made our way back to the site for the night are were treated to the most insanely beautiful, pink sunset. There are fire pits outside each pod, with wood for sale on site and I wish we’d thought to bring some marshmallows to toast. Next time, for sure.

Sunset at Stanley Villa Farm

Morning came and we made breakfast. I think my favourite part of camping is cooking outside – there’s something so satisfying about breakfast cooked on a camping stove accompanied by a hot mug of tea to keep you warm before the sun fully comes up for the day.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Blackpool

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Blackpool

We drove home after breakfast (with a quick detour to Yorkshire to visit my poor uncle who landed himself in hospital), feeling satisfied and content.

Eating my feelings at East Street MCR

 

Last night husband and I went over to the new East Street Restaurant in Piccadilly Gardens. I wasn’t in the best mood, having sat through 10 hours of induction but as soon as a plate of food was put under my nose, my grump began to lift.

It was nice to spend the evening together since for the next sixth months, I’ll be working most of them.

Thank you East Street MCR for filling my belly and turning my frown upside down.

*we had the chilli chicken and the chicken satay which were tasty with a nice bit of heat, but the icey cool watermelon was my favourite. So simple but so delicious.
** food free, words and grumps my own doing

Over the weekend

We had our favourite Leeds couple over to visit this weekend.

Much food was eaten.

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I’ve had my eye on the Electro Brunch at Gaucho for a couple of years, but after hearing stories from colleague at work who went recently, I knew I had to make plans to get down there stat. The seating is for two hours and for £50 you get to feast yourself on bottomless food and drink. The french toast was actually a little disappointing albeit the most photogenic item on the menu- everything else however was excellent. The provoleta was my favourite.

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We slow walked over to The Gasworks where we were supposed to relax and digest, but somehow we ended up playing Shufl.

Most. Annoying. Game. Ever.

I could not get the knack of sliding those little suckers but it was strangely addictive. I’m already planning a return trip.

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We crazy golfed our way around Gary at Junkyard Golf.

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Had a much needed tea stop at Home Sweet Home, before going to watch Deadpool 2.

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And ended the evening with greasy pizza and chats.

30

Yesterday, I turned 30.

Hotel Chocolat Birthday Breakfast

The day started off with a tea and chocolates. Presents were unwrapped.

Black Sheep Coffee

There were pasteis, warmed slightly and topped with cinnamon. More tea, of course.

Eggs Benedict, Brunch at Fress

Brunch at Fress, with the most spectacular eggs benedict

The Smokehouse, Manchester

After some celebratory drinks, a subsequent 2 hour nap and phone calls with family, we ate ourselves into a food coma.

B is for Bridgewater Canal

Inspired by Roger Oldham’s ‘A Manchester Alphabet,’ I’m exploring this fair city, from A to Z. Read about my wanderings around Ancoats here.

Today’s post is brought to you by the ‘water taxi’ sign that I’ve passed on my way home from work, most evenings, for the past two years. I decided it was time to finally follow the sign and find out what these water taxis were and where they would take me.

Bridgewater Canal - waterfall

The waxis (that’s WAter taXIS), I learnt, leisurely glide up and down sections of both the Manchester Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal, stopping at points of interest along the waterways. Since Bridgewater starts with the letter ‘B,’ it provided the perfect opportunity for my next alphabetical exploration.

The canal stretches for over 40 miles between Runcorn and Leigh, with Manchester sitting at the heart of it. Commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, it was built as a means of transporting coal from his mines in Worsely, in to the city.

Bridgewater Canal - barges

My cousin came over for the day again and filmed our wanders, but I don’t think I’m going to invite her back. That girl is a rain magnet –  we had beautiful weather all week until she arrived on Sunday morning.

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Places we went, places you could go.

Mamucium, map
Strategically situated at a site overlooking the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Medlock, the Roman fort of Mamucium was built. Manchester was born here, in AD 79. Her first inhabitants, merchants and military. Today, you can see a reconstruction of the North gate and its ramparts, and walk around its foundations.

Mamucium

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, here
Liverpool Road
Open daily 10am – 5pm

I’ve only been to MOSI once since I moved here which is a poor show on my part. We started our visit by fortifying ourselves with cups of tea in the Warehouse cafe where we also had some really tasty pastries. We spent a couple of hours taking in the exhibits and could have stayed longer if not for our water taxi booking. The museum has a number of talks and activities on throughout the day and whilst they are aimed at youngsters, we found them enjoyable and entertaining.
Manchester Museum of Science and Industry - entranceManchester Museum of Science and Industry - Tim Peake spacecraftManchester Museum of Science and Industry - engine

Manchester Water Taxi, here
A thoroughly enjoyable 50 minute boat ride took us from Castlefield to the Trafford Centre. Whilst it might not be the quickest way to get there, it’s certainly more fun than sitting in a car. Keep an eye out on their Instagram page because they often post discount codes for tickets. Also, it took us a minute to find the boarding point because of the direction we walked along the canal. The stop is round the corner from Albert’s shed,  where you’ll see their sign. Or, if you’re standing outside Barca, look across the canal and you’ll see a duck house – that’s where you need to wait.
Manchester Water Taxi #WAXI - arrivingManchester Water Taxi #WAXI - all aboard

Old Trafford
Though I technically live in the red part of town, I’ve never actually visited the stadium. The water taxi stops here however which would make a nice day out for a football fan -unless, I suppose, you support city.

The Trafford Centre
We only paused here for a comfort break on this occasion but I’ve been enough times before that I have a favourite parking area and place to eat.* Though I still haven’t had my picture taken on the staircase in the food quarter. Maybe next time? But probably not – can someone please explain the appeal??

Worsley
We skipped the village on this trip as the clouds were fast turning grey, but there’s plenty to see and do, enough for a day trip in itself. Including the Monton heritage trail which is a really pleasant walk on both cold wintery days and warm summer ones.

The Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green, here
Opening times: Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun: 1.30 – 5.00pm

Still a work in progress as volunteers continue to build new exhibits, but worth a visit to learn about local history. The surrounding area was once full of collieries, long since demolished. Now the museum houses Lancashire’s only surviving headgear (the steel frame in the picture below) and engine house where you can find a winding steam engine. It’s a thing of beauty and they run it on a few days throughout the year – I wish we could have timed our visit for one of those days. Although I’m not sure I dare go back. Seemingly, the reverberations of my coins hitting the bottom of the donation box sent two pin-boards flying off the wall of the visitors centre and crashing on top of a collection of commemorative plates. It was a heart stopping moment and luckily nothing broke but jeepers! That could’ve been baaaaaad.**
The Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green - entranceThe Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green - machinery

*the Orient car park. Perfectly placed in the middle of the centre so you can do a full circle and don’t have to walk back on yourself. Plus you enter/exit through the food court. Park in the section on the right and go all the way to the back – you’ll find a space  there whilst all the lazy bums fight for a spot closer to the entrance.

**what actually happened is that the command strips had given up at a most in opportune moment, but I still feel guilty.

Last week, snapshots

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The most beautiful light at sunset. No filter required.

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What was supposed to be a shopping trip to buy a (very belated) birthday present for my father-in-law, turned into a leisurely dinner with some excellent ramen, and seeing the new Avengers film. Oh. My. Goodness. I loved the film! It was so good and I totally didn’t expect the ending. Although that’s not saying much, really. I never guess the twists in anything. Also, we still haven’t found a birthday present. Must sort that out ASAP.

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We took a quick trip to London on Sunday to see Hamlet at The Globe. Liked but didn’t love. The swapping of gender roles was interesting but the woman who played Hamlet was pretty flat and it felt as though she was reading, rather than acting, her lines. We’ve got a few more plays to see over the summer and I’m very much looking forward to them.

The weekend, snapshots

The weather over the weekend was amazing. We made the most of it.

B61EBA35-EB7A-46AF-A3BD-E2DE224D06EBAl fresco pizza at the new Rudy’s on Peter Street. The chocolate cake was also heavenly.

DCD13846-879D-4A2D-9409-4484BF05A5D5Impromptu barbecue at a friends house. We ate applewood smoked steak and sat outside until 10pm. I had bare legs and wasn’t cold.

1048AE26-2AE5-43D3-9EF3-7913F935E861Tea and pastries at The Warehouse cafe

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Canal walks