Living on an island, Guernsey, the big cities in the UK can become a bit of a shock and when I first visited London I hated it as it was so crowded and compared to my home people had so little manners that I never wanted to go back again. I liked the idea of the city though and having loads of big shops so when I discovered Manchester I absolutely loved it, the people were friendly, the city has great shopping, a good vibe and it is not so crowded or pushing and shoving busy like London is.
My first visit to Manchester wasn't even intentional but I am so glad I made that decision. I remember in 2008 I was pestering my gran and anty to help me buy tickets for the Dancing on Ice Tour as my mum had always wanted to go. We had little knowledge on the best cities to see it in at the time as until this show we rarely travelled to places in England other than to see family. We ended up choosing Manchester as London is expensive and I hadn't heard great things about Birmingham and I am so glad we chose Manchester although we didn't know what to expect.
On our first trip to Manchester we went straight to the Trafford Centre from the airport and I remember a friendly taxi driver telling us all about Manchester and how great the shopping is there. I think the Trafford Centre is great for shopping and I have always liked the food area as my mum and I always argue about where to eat when we are away. We then went to Manchester Arndale which is where we spend most of our time shopping nowadays. There are so many great shops there, my favourite being the disney store. One thing I love about shopping in Manchester is that people are so friendly and I enjoy chatting to the staff whilst paying, which I would never do at home, and they genuinely seem interested.
Other than shopping and watching shows I haven't really done anything else in Manchester but there are so many great shops there's never the time. I think there is a great vibe in Manchester and whenever I have been to a show the crowds are so much better and more enthusiastic there than anywhere else I have been. For the first time this year I went to Manchester just for the sake of it and although we did see a show I just wanted to come for the city.
Most of the time we stay in the city centre now when we visit but this is brilliant as it means we are always close to the shops, theatres and our favourite place to eat Yates.
Manchester will always be my favourite city because the people are so friendly and welcoming and it has a great atmosphere, I'll take any opportunity to visit.
I grew up in the suburbs surrounding Manchester, moved away for University and have now been back and living in the city centre for a few years, I feel well placed to offer a review of life in the city, both for residents and visitors.
The general feel of the city is one of friendly, good natured hustle and bustle. It isn't as impersonal or as crowded and busy as London, but still has the feel of being a busy metropolitan centre. Manchester has a real sense of its own identity, but that identity is diverse and welcoming, the locals brush shoulders with people from all over the world and you'll (almost) always be welcomed with a smile!
Here's a brief guide to the best that Manchester has to offer a visitor:
Manchester has plenty to offer the serious shopper, whatever your style or budget. We have four large department stores; Debenhams, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Manchester institution Kendals, there is also a John Lewis in the Trafford Centre, the humongous out of town mall. The Arndale Centre (newly refurbished after the bomb in 1996 and looking better than ever) has pretty much every high street store you might want to visit, as well as a thriving market hall. The Northern Quarter has a great range of offbeat boutiques and second hand shops along with the iconic Affleck's Palace, a Mecca for teenage subculture types. The higher end, slightly posher shops are centred around St Ann's square and King Street. Basically, whatever you want to buy can be found in Manchester city centre, and its all within walking distance!
While no city can rival London when it comes to art galleries and theatres, Manchester is no slouch when it comes to culture. With the long standing Palace Theatre and the Opera House bringing the biggest and best of the touring productions to the city, the Lowry, the Library Theatre and the Royal Exchange all put on a wide range of performances from plays, to comedy, to dance to opera. The City Art Gallery and the Whitworth both have great permanent collections as well as regular excellent temporary shows. The Manchester Museum is a miniature version of the British and Natural History Museums and is well worth a look, if only for its old fashioned, slightly eccentric charm. The Science and Industry Museum is great for families, especially the interactive areas that kids will love and the displays of old fashioned planes and trains. Manchester is also a hub for non-traditional art forms such as street performances and events such as the Cow Parade.
Manchester has a brilliant array of restaurants to suit all budgets and all tastes. There are several branches of most popular chain restaurants in the city as well as great independent ones. Chinatown is the place for Chinese food (well obviously) and for karaoke in the evening! Rusholme, home of the 'curry mile' is where to head for Indian food, and the Northern Quarter can meet all your vegan, gluten free, organic meal requirements! Like all cities Manchester also has a vast array of fast food outlets and casual cafes, so there really is something for every occasion!
We Mancunians have a reputation for going out in winter wearing outfits that make no concessions to our freezing wet weather, and this is pretty much completely true! Manchester has a real buzz evenings and nights, especially at weekends but you can find a great night out any day of the week! If you want to go dancing there are plenty of clubs playing all sorts of music from dancey techno stuff to metal. There are many live music venues ranging in size from tiny bars with barely room for a stage to the huge M.E.N Arena. Most bands stop off at Manchester on their tours. There are many many bars in Manchester, from quirky Northern Quarter drinking holes with Doctor Who memorabilia on the walls to swish Deansgate lounges where you might just catch a glimpse of a WAG! The Printworks is a purpose built 'evening grown up playground' with restaurants, a cinema, bars and nightclubs, its not for everybody as its a bit soulless but if you want to be able to stay under one roof all evening that's the best place to go. There are also plenty of good old fashioned 'old man pubs' with excellent dukeboxes and real ale, but they tend to be hidden from view so ask a local for a recommendation!
There's no congestion charge here, yet, so you can drive right into the city but parking can be an issue. The car parks that are connected to the big attractions (The Arndale, The Printworks etc.) tend to be very expensive but if you go off the beaten track just a little bit there are cheaper car parks on random bits of land all around the city centre that are much much cheaper, generally safe and only a few minutes walk back into town. The Metrolink tram system runs through the centre of the city and links the main train stations of Victoria and Piccadilly, Manchester also has about a million buses, including a free citylink service that pootles around the city centre from 7am to 7pm.
WHERE TO STAY
There are hotels here for every budget, from Premier Inns and Travellodges to backpacker hostels to the luxurious Midland and Lowry Hotels favoured by visiting celebs.
Manchester has the largest student population in Europe, apparently, mostly concentrated around the three Unis along Oxford Road, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and The Royal Northern College of Music. There is also Salford University just a few miles away and many colleges of further education. The Fallowfield area is student central, the population seems to be about 95% student! There are lots of bars and restaurants in the student areas and many of the central clubs are geared around student nights during the week in term time, notably 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Manchester is a brilliant place to be a student, accommodation is cheap, its easy to get around the city and the nightlife is brilliant, the unis have good reputations too!
Manchester is well known for its vibrant gay community and its gay pride parade every summer, which has grown and grown over the years and is now a huge colourful spectacle to rival London or any other. The centre of gay Manchester is undoubtedly Canal Street, home to an array of bars and clubs to suit all tastes, the surrounding area is known as the gay village but the whole city is gay friendly and some of the first civil partnerships were performed here.
So, you probably guessed, but I love Manchester! The city has some beautiful architecture and some wonderful people, you can find nearly anything you might want here and everybody is welcome. Manchester is a a great destination for a weekend away with the girls or the boys or for a day trip with the family.
I was born and grew up in a little known place called Irlam, strange name I know and if I had a penny for every time I was asked"wheres that?" I would surely be rich by now.
Well, it's in Lancashire approx seven miles from Manchester, the inhabitants of Irlam are split into two groups the rugby lovers who tend to have Warrington as their chosen capital and the footie lovers who choose Manchester, I am of the latter group and of the "red" side of town as oppose to the richer blue side of town.
Thought I would enlighten you a little on the delights of our fair city, Manchester.
Manchester is the third largest city after London and Birmingham and is located in the North West.
The city centre is easily accessible by car, bus, tram, train and National Express Coaches. I tend to travel by tram as when they are working they are a fabulous if a tad pricey form of transport and by the time you have found a parking space and paid the extortionate parking fees it probably works out cheaper by tram. I also find tram travel doesn't "drain" me like car and bus travel does as I suffer with very severe M.E.
Unless you have been a cave dweller for the last *! years most of you will probably know Manchester has a varied and vibrant music scene and has produced some very famous bands~
The Stone Roses
The Happy Mondays
Oasis~(not always the best advert for the behaviour of Mancs, I will say no more)
10CC~ three of them came from Manchester.
To name but a few.
Music venues are The Manchester Evening News Arena(MEN), The Apollos still going strong and of course The City Of Manchester Stadium home of Manchester City and Old Trafford has hosted a couple of concerts the last few years and of course Old Trafford Cricket Ground is always a popular venue.
The Bridgewater Hall boasts a fabulous venue for classical and jazz music and also proves very popular for "Speech Nights" for the grammer schools and "Graduation Ceremonies".
It's also the home of three orchestras, one being The Halle.
It's constructed on "large springs" so the building moves slightly, this is to enhance the acoustics, and protect the sounds from outside noise , if you wish to read more take a look at www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk
The club scene adds a vibrant side to the city with of course the famous or infamous Hacienda. My best friends family owned a club approx 6 doors down from the Hac so we benefitted from the overspill of their customers who couldn't gain entry and we also got friendly with the bouncers and were able to nip in every now and then. Simply Red actually played at our club in their very early days and had to pay us as the attendance was so low.
The good old Ritz deserves a mention with its famous "grab a granny nights" yes I know, enough said on that one.
The club scene has changed now offering a new choice especially because of the highly over paid footballers wanting to splash their cash and we host more "up market" clubs ie Ithaca, The Circle Club and Panacea.
The more "cool" area Im reliably informed is The Northern Quarter.
We have all the big hotels~ The Midland, The Hilton housed in the Beethan Tower, not the most elegant structure in my opinion. The Radisson Edwardian (got a family wedding to attend in Nov~ expect a review), The Malmaison, along with the compulsory Travel Lodges.
There are numerous art galleries and museums~ Museum of Science and Industry, The Manchester Museum attached to the University. The Manchester Historic Association will give you more information if you need it, www.manchesterhistoric.org.
The Town Hall in Albert Square draws alot of visitors and hosts a large amount of weddings and special dinners, infact Im attending a family wedding there in Nov and when we had a tour round, it's fabulous, like something out of Harry Potter I thought.
Central Library is a feature in St Peters Square as it's a round building which houses a library and an excellent theatre underneath aptly named The Library Theatre.
We also have The Royal Exchange Theatre (my favourite) it's located in the beautiful Great Exchange Hall (I feel a review coming on for later).
The unique design I feel adds to the whole theatrical experience as it's a seven sided, structure with glass walls, suspended from huge marble pillars, if you can picture a large space capsule on legs, thats what it looks like. The circular stage is in the centre so where ever you sit you are less than nine metres from the stage this makes you feel part of the performance and you miss nothing.
The only draw back is when there's a performance on if a mouse so much as sneezes in the great hall the sound reverbarates around the whole building and theatre, that said the acoustics are fabulous as long as all present mices are gagged.
We also have The Palace and The Majestic in Manchesters Theatre Land.
As you would expect we have a massive choice of restaurants offering every cuisine you can think of and probably some you wouldn't dream of~
Choice Bar and Grill
We also have the draw of China Town and if you crave a curry just outside in the Rusholme area we have "curry heaven", Indian restaurant after Indian restaurant as far as the eye can see.
Shopping has defined areas~
King Street offers an abundance of Designer shops such as~
Red or Dead
Boodle & Dunthorne Ltd
We are now proud to host Harvey Nichols and Selfridges (about time if you ask me) in Exchange Square another more upmarket choice of shops which leads to the nearby Triangle, a small shopping complex housing the likes of~
The new and much improved Arndale Centre offers a large food court with all the usual fast food outlets and a massive range of shops from
Holland and Barrett
Far too many more to mention but if you wish to know more~ www.manchesterarndale.com should help.
We also have Market Street, Deansgate and St Annes Square all with a variety of shops, coffee shops and restaurants, bars etc for your perusal.
The Big Wheel has also become an almost permanent fixture and never fails to delight young and old alike with its amazing views from the top extending far and wide.
Manchester changed as a city 13 years ago when the bomb went off on a busy Saturday in May, as I sat nursing my brand new baby son ( a couple of weeks old) the devastating news filtered through and I remember the panic on my midwifes face as she said her daughter was in the city centre.....
After using our phone Im glad to report the old teenage can't get out of bed syndrome had struck and her daughter was still thankfully tucked up in bed.
The bomb certainly stirred things up in Manchester and as usual "good has come from bad" in that our city is much improved in areas that really did need improving a drastic way to make changes I know, but we didn't really have much choice, at least it lead to something positive and of course it helps that no one lost their life amazingly.
I know I have a strong connection to my city as Ive worked there 3 times in my life, infact the first being my first ever job, now thats special and my did I feel grown up, trotting off to work in the city.
In later years I ran a pub, a proper pub, I could tell you some tales from that place, so again I got a completely different view of Manchester and the people who live, work and visit there. In fact I met my other half in my pub, breaking my golden rule of not dating customers, but it's lead to 2 gorgeous children so I suppose it was a rule to break.
My last job within the city was in a health food store in the Arndale which offered the delights of chasing shoplifters, weaving through the heaving masses of shoppers on a busy Saturday, all good fun! We caught quite a few and got the goods back.
The last part of my review shares with you my favourite events, The Christmas Markets.
Albert Square and St Annes Square are transformed into an Alpine resort with small log cabins offering a multitude of gifts from all over the world including food and drink the only thing missing is some snow, now that would really complete the picture for me.
The markets started on a very small scale a good few ago with a German Market now it's snowballed(ha ha) and it has spread further around the city to Exchange Square and Piccadilly and Brazennose Street and is a European Market.
In fact you have to book at least a year in advance if you want a stall and at weekends we have the addition of British stalls, sooo much is on offer you could probably do almost all your Christmas shopping from these stalls.
It transforms the city into a buzzing happy mass of shoppers and workers alike eating, drinking, chatting and warming to the glow that Christmas tends to bring. The twinkling coloured lights amidst the cold frosty air of a December evening really is a sight to behold and it gives the air of an experience shared between all that attend, strangers or friends, it some how doesn't matter, there's none of the usual rudeness, pushing and shoving, everyone seems to take a step back and chill. I wonder if they pump something into the air or if it's just good old Christmas Magic.
The markets have proved so popular we have them throughout the year now, one in May and one in August to name a couple, they are not on the grand scale of the Christmas ones but they are adequately large enough. There's definitely some attraction to markets for most of us, I don't know where it stems from....
So there you have My Manchester, hopefully a different view from others and I hope I have convinced you to come take a peek one day.
It's not all about football( though that's very important to alot of us), or shopping or "Shameless", it's a beautiful, vibrant, colourful city with lots to offer and a friendly, warm,(wet at times, suppose Ive got to put that in) welcoming vibe, or it has in my opinion anyway.
Of course I have to award us 5 stars since 10 are not on offer.
Thanks for reading my review.
I like going to Machester as have they alot to offer. They have a huge shopping bit in Piccidilly including shops like Primark,TK Max, Boots etc. There is also the Arndale shopping centre further up full of shops. Its all very modern in the town and kept quite clean .
They have a metro link that is like a bus but its a tram and goes all over. It is very busy in the centre as theres the MEN close by and very popular for shops.
They have some great concerts in Machester alot of big acts go there to perform and the MEN is quite popular for these. It is very large and has seating and standing available. Its always clean here which must be a hard job as theres that many poeple! The staff are very visible and happy to help with any problems.
Manchester also has a large airport that flies everyhere. They have alot in the airpoirt from shops to places to eat. It is very large the airport and they have many internationsl flights. They also have hotels around the airport very convinent for travelling. There are many ways to get to the airport car, air, train, taxi and bus! All very well signposted so you know where you are going.
Manchester has lot of places to stay from hotels, bed and breakfasts and travel inns.
Manchester is very easy to get to wether you go by car, bus/coach or train. It is surrounded by motorways so wherever you are travelling from it doesnt take long. There are many train stations all through Manchester so again wherever you are going to in Manchester there is usually a station very near.
Manchester also makes a great night out as there is a wide variety of clubs and pubs for everyone.
Great place to visit wether for shopping, gigs, weekend breaks or just passing through.
Mancheter is a vibrant and fresh University town. I have been going to Manchester University for two years now and i am just about to enter my final year. At first i didnt really enjoy Manchester as it was just so big and there were so many different things to do that i just wasnt used to. However i have really learned to love it. The centre of the city is a cool place to go out and have some beers. There are just so many bars and pubs that there is no end of choice. In the winter aswell there is an ice skating venue, which i unfortunately broke my leg on. I live in Fallowfield and i suppose it has grown on me really. It is pretty cool there are litterally thousands of students and it is imposible not to meet some really top people. If you are considering Manchester as your University i would definatley reccommend to. FUN FUN FUN.
I actually visited Manchester on Saturday with a German friend who wanted to do the whole 'tourist thing'. I'm SO glad I got to experience this, although perhaps there wasn't a huge amount of things to see.
We went to the art gallery first, and spent a very long time just walking around in there. I thought the exhibitions were great, because they included enough to be sufficient, but not enough for you to be getting fed up of more of the same. There was a nice exhibition of interactive art, and I even got to participate in one by tying a little note to a suitcase saying where I wanted to travel too. But don't take your young children in to listen to the ghost story- I'm nearly 20 and it terrified me! Oh, and the buttons were fascinating, and that wasn't sarcasm, they really were interesting.
We went into chinatown, which I found a little boring. And although we walked past the wheel, and had a coffee looking out at it at night, I didn't get to go on it. This was because of the price, £6.50 for an adult. I thought this was pretty reasonable but my friend thought it was expensive. But it looked lovely anyway... :(
The real highlight was the shopping, I thought there was a massive amount of shops, and plenty of places to stop for a coffee. We stopped at a place called Cafe Rouge near the Printworks, and were actually asked to leave! We had finished our drinks and were just talking, but within minutes a waiter had come out and asked if everything was alright (which was a massive hint). And then a bit later he came to ask for the bill, just at the point when we would have ordered more. So don't go there if you like to have a chat and people watch (its a prime location for that), because the waiters rush you a bit, even when its not busy at all.
I thought the city was just lovely, and there were maps on pretty much every main street corner (which didn't stop us getting lost but that was just us). One thing that was quite annoying was the amount of big issue sellers who actually hassled you. I ALWAYS buy a big issue, and usually find the sellers are friendly, but for some reason in Manchester it isn't like this. This actually left me feeling incredibly guilty that I couldn't buy a copy from everyone, and even the seller who I did buy it from hassled me while I was trying to find the change. This is something I've not experienced before.
Overall the trip was a nice day out, and I would actually consider travelling there to go shopping again, even though Stoke-on-trent is much more convenient in terms of transport.
I came to Manchester as a university student in September 2002, I'm not going to portray myself as a wet-behind the ears country bumpkin type getting his first taste of city life, lost in the cosmopolitan rush and confused by the city dwellers and their attitudes and strange-ways (awful pun). I lived in Cheshire and for most part it is a rural haven filled with some really posh folk and lots of sheep and cows. In Cheshire there is a town named Warrington, I have the misfortune of hailing from such a place, for anybody who has never been, don't please, I beg you, it's full of small-minded idiotic working class folk and faux middle class who are so smug and annoying that it's beyond belief. I had to escape, Manchester after the bombing was being rejuvenated and re-shaped, and it really felt like Manchester was the place to be. I did not want to go South, so I decided that since Manchester had a course I wanted to do, I would go to university there and later go South for an MA. I arrived in Manchester and was unimpressed, that was until I wandered the city centre and had actually been to places, nightclubs and restaurants and such. You see dear reader Manchester is a fantastic place to be right now, it is forging ahead with a wonderful new identity or brand if you will. The city centre is an Architects heaven with some beautiful old buildings clashing with the new modernist flourishes that are being erected left, right and centre. Manchester feels like Barcelona, it really does. No it's not got mullet haired anarchists and Gaudi architecture, it does however have the same energy, the same joie de vivre. About forty-five miles away in the western direction sits an old archaic city known as Liverpool, it is currently attempting to fool Europe with its rather silly claim of being a 'city of culture', the fact that Liverpool lives in the past and constantly goes on about the fucking 'Beatles', it hasn't got a c
hance. Manchester is a quietly confident place, it doesn't need labels and certificates to tell people its great, a lot of Mancunians know their city is changing and becoming a really great place to be. A friend of mine from London actually told me that even though London a shithole it still has a lot going for it but Manchester's easily the second best city in the country. Before the bomb in 1996, Manchester was a derelict post-industrial wasteland, I would have loved this, pre-1996 bomb Manchester was home to such wonderful music as The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Fall and New Order. Manchester's musical heritage is possibly in the top five places of great music in the world and they don't bother naming streets after the likes of Ian Curtis, Liam Gallagher or Tony Wilson, no Manchester looks forward to the future and is constantly searching out new music. In most clubs and pubs in the city centre there is a plethora of live music from jazz, hippity-hop, rock, indie and dance. MY TOP FIVE PLACES IN MANCHESTER 1. THE CITY CENTRE Take a walk around the city centre and just marvel at the architecture, there's the Bauhaus influenced Peter House in St. Peter's Square, the neo-classsical Public Library, the modernist Urbis building next to the Printworks, the new fantastic glass structure next to the M.E.N. offices on Deansgate and several grand old Victorian buildings scattered around. The fusion of old and modern give the city a really futuristic look, at night neon lights shimmer and glow making the city feel alive and I often feel like I'm in the film 'Blade Runner', especially when walking through China town. 2. MANCHESTER CITY GALLERY This place has got some amazing artwork including Jack the Ripper suspect's W. Sieckhert's 'Jack the Ripper's bedroom' along with stuff by Flemish artists, medieval etchings, Francis Bacon,
Max Ernst and loads of post-modern art which is rather naff but interesting anyhoo. My favourite though is the Adolphe Valette, a French artist who taught at the Manchester Art School and is now incorporated into Manchester Metropolitan University, which is where I study. Valette's soft but rather grim impressionist paintings are wonderful to look at and an entire room is devoted to him, so check it out. 3. THE LOWRY CENTRE, SALFORD This place is fucking awesome to behold, a post-modernist silver structure that houses theatres, art galleries and concert halls. I love this place especially when it is lit up at night. The Lowry centre is home to the largest L.S. Lowry collect in the world and though I don't particularly like him except his horrific portraits with their consumptive red eyes. I am off to see Kurt Weil's 'The Seven Deadly Sins' in June and I can't wait! The Lowry also has in the vicinity the Imperial War Museum which is an grand structure in itself and also a huge shopping outlet. The place is great for a day out so if you are in Manchester take the tram from the centre, on the eastern line and get it to Salford Quays it costs around 1.80 return. 4. PUBS AND CLUBS 5. THE CORNERHAUS/FAB CAFÉ/KIM-BY-THE-SEA It's not spelt like that but I half expected it to be with its intellectual and sometimes pretentious vibe, saying that though THE arts centre of Manchester is a cool place if one wants to impress with one's knowledge of Iranian cinema or post-modernist sculpture. There are three cinemas here along with a crap restaurant, art gallery and a bar with silly chairs and Friends-style sofas. You can often catch some idiot in a turtleneck reading Proust and drinking mocha-latte's minus the foam, but I find the place endearing simply because there's nowhere else like it in Manchester. Famous film people come here, Danny Boyle, Quentin Tarantino and Eddi
e Izzard have all given talks and stuff here, so it's rather exciting sometimes. Another smashing place is Fab Café, a science-fiction themed café on Whitworth Street, it shows films and the décor is geeky, it's all Star Wars posters, Dr. Who memorabilia etc. Another cool place is a little café just outside the city centre named Kim-By-The-Sea in Hulme on Old Birley St, the décor is wonderfully idiosyncratic, plush red velvet drapes mixed with polka-dot doors and William Morris wallpaper, it is a reasonably priced venue and offers vegan, veggie and meat dishes and a truly exquisite steak dish. It is run by ex-university students and is a great place in which to have a coffee, a chat or a meal at night. The owner's are barking mad and this gives the café a truly unique approach and atmosphere. I highly recommend this place it really is so different from other places in Manchester. I will write my next review on this place I like to so much. Manchester is also to the dismay of its 'cool' residents as 'Madchester', the place does invoke a sense of hedonism and this is because many of its nightclubs are wicked cool. Being a poor student I cannot really recommend all the big posh clubs where all the rubbish actors from Corrie go to and overpriced footballers chat up council estate slappers. My favourite place to hang is the student pub 'The Thirty Scholar' on Oxford Rd just passed the train station and under the railway arch. It's got a good atmosphere, drunken pretentious students and people wanting to be the next Noel and Liam, for a good laugh, turn up on a Thursday night to witness the open-mike night, some of the performances are highly entertaining and deeply dreadful. Manchester is a really good place to see a concert, go to the theatre, eat food, see architecture, have a laugh and get drunk in. I hope you visit one day, I know my review is a little light on how to's and
where are's but my intent was to review the vibe of the city and try and get people to understand that London is not the be all and end all of England. Mancunians are not friendly and I love that, one thing that grates badly is when one is in Liverpool and Scousers are over-friendly, usually because they are going to mug you. Avoid the areas Moss Side, Longsight and Wythenshawe and Manchester is pretty safe but always be on the look out late at night for muggers and pissed up weirdo's. Manchester has got a thriving student population of something like 50,000 so this makes the place a little intellectual and chilled out compared to other places. It also has a Spanish Institute and this explains all the Spanish people you will see wandering around, it's a cool place, I hope you visit.
This review is part of the HOMETOWN challenge where members are asked to write about any aspect of their home town - or a town they'd like/not like to be their home town. You can find all the participants by going to: http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/internet/internet_sites/dooyoo_co_uk_in_general/_r eview/426988/ I thought I would do Proxam?s My Hometown challenge However I have already written an opinion on my birthplace Dumfries so I thought I would write one on my adopted home town and current place of residence Manchester. This is actually very appropriate as it is three years to the week that I packed my bag, waved goodbye to my parents and moved down to Manchester. Where Is Manchester? Yes I know this sounds a silly question but I may as well be thorough! Manchester is in the North West of England in the very south of Lancashire. It lies on three rivers the Irwell, the Medlock and the invisible rerouted Irk. When talking about Manchester I could actually be talking about three different areas. If I was being very precise I could be talking about the city centre. I could also be talking about the larger area covered by Manchester city Council. This spans from Mosston in the north to Didsbury in the south. Finally there is the metropolitan area of Greater Manchester hat is huge. It covers Manchester, Tameside, Oldham, Rockdale, Bolton, Bury Stockport, Salford and Trafford. His review will be talking about the city centre and to a lesser extent the areas just south of the city centre such as the university?s Rusholme and Fallowfierld as these are the areas that I know well. How big is Manchester? Manchester is the third biggest city behind London and Birmingham and has a population of 438202. A short history of Manchester Manchester is actually quite a historic town. The Romans colonised the area know known as Castlefield and built a fort there. This area was known as Mancunuim. T
here is also a very small medieval area centring on the cathedrals and the Hanging Bridge. Little survives of this area but there are two pubs Sinclair?s Oyster bar and the Old Wellington that date back to the 16th century. However until the eighteenth century Manchester was something of a backwater. The Indu strial Revolution changed Manchester?s landscape and fortunes completely. It became known as the Cottonoplolis due o the trade in cotton through the city and the number of cotton factories that sprang up around Manchester. It was one of the most famous cities in the world and its population soared. With this came a divide in living standards as the merchants lived a lavish lifestyle and slums spring up around Manchester. The worst one was Little Ireland which was located where Oxford Road Railway station is. There is still a plaque that commemorates it. The other bloody reminder of Manchester?s past is the Free Trade hall in Peter Street which is now sadly boarded up and will be turned into a luxury hotel. This is where the Peterloo Massacre took place in. 1819. The massacre happened when a meeting was called for political reform. Due to the Riot Act troops were called in and a bloodbath was caused. It was nicknamed Peterloo as it was compared to the Battle of Waterloo that took place the previous year. How can I get to Manchester? Easy. There are regular trains and national express coaches and here is an international airport that also has a rail link to the main train station of Manchester. Piccadilly Railway Station has been revamped for last years Commonwealth Games as has Chorlton Street Bus Station and they are both totally improved. Manchester city Centre Landmarks The Town Hall This is an impressive Gothic building to show the amount of civic pride the Victorian Mancunians s had for their world famous city. Central Library Sitting next door to the Town Hall this surely must be my
favourite building in Manchester. It is an Art Deco inspired 30s building and I unique as it is circular. I love sitting in the various specialist libraries such as the language and literature one. Manchester Cathedral This may not be the moss impressive cathedral but it is interesting. It has a b rand new Visitor?s centred hat is based around the newly uncovered that has uncovered the Hanging Bridge an old medieval bridge that used to connect the town and the cathedral. Urbis This is a new museum of urban life. It I has an impressive modern building but I was not that impressed with the contents and exhibits inside the building.] Cheethams School. This is one of the earlier buildings near the cathedral and is now a specialist music school. I love o sit in cathedral Gardens and look around as you have contrasts from the 19th century Victoria railway station, the mediaeval cathedral, and the 1960s tower blocks of the CiS buildings and the ultra modernity of Urbis. Manchester?s Culinary delights. Manchester I a great place to eat out. It seems to have every type of cuisine under the sun. There is a Chinatown with loads of Chinese restaurants, shops and a lovely Chinese Arch. Near where I live is a road called the Curry Mile. It is full of Indian restaurants, jewellery shops and sari shops. It is quite a fascinating place to visit. If you like Italian there are number o nice little eateries. Try Leoni?s near the Town Hall. We have always had a good meal there. Cocotoo on Whiworth Street is great. It is situated in an old railway arch n has the most beautiful ceiling paintings including a miniature version of the paintings of the Cistean Chapel. If you want something lighters such as a snack I can also recommend a few good places. The Dutch Pancake House near the Town Hall is wonderful and doe massive filled pancakes. Café Pop in the Northern Quarter does great veggie fare and has love
ly cheap home made cakes. Finally there is Zest. This is a smoothie bar and does lovely really fresh smoohies and juices and their coffee is not bad either. Manchester Cuisne Boddingtons Vimto Eccles Cakes Do not ask for a roll. It is either a barm(cake) or a muffin depending on whih part of Man chester you are from. Shopping There is something for everyone in Manchester. There is Market Street and the Arndale Centre that have your typical high street stores. The Arndale Market is worth a look and has a really good fish stall. If you want somewhere posher head to the areas around Deansgate, King Street and St Anne? Square these are the top end of the high street and minor designer labels. The Trainable shopping Centre is aimed at the same market and is housed in he old Cotton Exchange. For those of you with ultra expensive tastes there is the new Harvey Nicks and Selfridges. For those who enjoy a more bohemian and interesting shopping expee4irncego to the Northern Quarter. This is an area beloved of the mosherss and other youth groups. Affleck?s Palace is always worth a root. Pop Boutique and Oxfam originals have some lovely retro bargains! Outside of the city centre is the Trafford Centre. I personally o not like it. It seems over hot and you can get most of the stuff in the city centre anyway. Head south of the city centre to Rusholme for a sari or try Longsight market. Yes there is the dodgy clothes stall full of jumpers and tacky clothing but there are also good fruit stalls and a great fish stall. Sport Manchester is renowned for its team Manchester united. No visit would be complete without a tour of old Trafford though I have to say I have never been. There is also Manchester City who I would support I I did support football but I hate it. Manchester has also benefited from loads of new sports facilite3s due to the Commonwealth Games such as the new Stadium, and Melodrama. There
is also the Aquatics Centro that I use very regularly. For those who enjoy a flutter there I the greyhound track at Belle Vue which is east of Longsight. Cultural Activities. Yes there is more to Manchester than flat caps and whippets. We have a number of theatres that have everything from obscure p lays to the big musicals. There is the Bridge water hall that has frequent classical concerts. There is also the Lowry Centre in Salford Quays that has art exhibitions and cultural things such as ballets and plays. In the centre of the city there is the City art gallery. This is award inning and very child friendly. There is also the Whitworth Art gallery on Oxford Road which is part of h university. Museums There are a number of Museums in Manchester. I have not visited all of them. I must get to the Jewish Museum in Cheetmahm Hill north of the city and there is supposed to be a Police Museum. The main Manchester Museum is linked with the university. It is an old fashioned museum that is trying to change and has the usual animals, fossils and mummies. A more exciting museum is the science and Industry museum. The museum is situated on the site of the world? first passenger railway station. This has some great hands on exhibitions and the space and flight gallery that will please all boys big and small. For the girls there is the Museum of Costume in Platt Hall that is located in Platt Fields Park just past the Curry mile. This has some lovely exhibits going back the 16th century but is only open at weekends unless you have an appointment The Pumphouse Museum is a social history museum and is not for everyone as it does feature trade unions heavily. It is trying to bring in more interactivity. Entertainment and Nightlife There are a number of cinemas to choose from. I depends on personal choice. The Filmworks is luxurious and where the Man United football players go but the Ode
on is more old fashioned and especially cheap on Mondays. The Cornernhouse shows more art house stuff Pubs and Clubs. There is certainly something or everyone in Manchester whether you want an old fashioned boozer or a trendy place. You just have to pick the right place. Deansgate, peter Street, Deansgate lo cks and the Printworks are for bright young things who like to party, wear very little and do not mind getting ripped off with drinks prices. I tend to avoid these areas. Oxford Road, the area round UMIST and Princess Street are more student friendly. A few of my favourite places are in this area. Try the Lass of Gowrie or the sand Bar for some good company and some nice drinks. The Lass has its own micro brewery. Another one to note is Fab Café on Portland Street. It is a cult TV and film bar an is open late and does not change to get in after 11 like most places. When I go clubbing I tend to frequent small basements and attic clubs. They seem to be more relaxed and a funkier more individual crowd. I can recommend Smile at the Star and Garter, Voodoo lounge at the Retro Bar (I am biased as my friend is the DJ) and Tiger Lounge at Slice. I must mntion the gay Village. i t is a vibrant nd fun plce although i have not been there that much Manchester is pretty toerent of different ways of life apart from the number of smll minded people in the areas surroudning Manhcester that have voted int he BNP Live Music. There are a number of venues to go to. I have not to been to all of them. The university and the Academy are always good for gigs as is the Roadhouse and the Night and Day Café. The MEN Arena has all the biggest names as does the Apollo Manchester lingo Scally- ruffian, cheeky guy Shedhead- a stupid person Top- fantastic wonderful I have never stayedin a hotel in Manchester but I hear Malmasion is good as is the Midlnd Hotl where Rolls met R
oce and Posh met beckham I hope that has given you an insight into Manchester. Any more established Mancunians let me know if I have missed something vital out!!
Take the train to Manchester Piccadilly. If you must start from somewhere, then pick somewhere in Yorkshire. Say Huddersfield or Leeds, that way you get to ride up through the Colne Valley on the train, one of the best jouneys I know. Passing places with names like Slaithwait, Linthwait and Marsden (the locals pronounce them as "Slowit", "Linfit" and Marzdin) and finally through the long, long tunnel that connects the White Rose with the Red. It's thirty minutes of sheer beauty from Huddersfield to Manchester. If you prefer 30 minutes of shit you can use the M62. Leave the train and set off down the hill towards Piccadilly square with its shops and its bustle. As you join London Road, instead of following it towards the square, turn right onto Ducie street. It leads away east, into a far less savoury part of the City. However at this time of day (lunchtime) you have nothing to fear except the odd beggar or perhaps a hooker, plying her wares behind China Lane. Some of the lasses get up remarkably early in this part of the world. I hope you are hungry because we don't have far to go... Head along Ducie street for a block and turn left into Dale street. This is the same Dale street that bisects the Arndale shopping mall, right where an IRA Bomb blew away the heart of the city some years ago. But that is a mile or more from here at its lacklustre southern source. The street is home to a series of forbidding nineteenth century mill buildings. We are entering the Cloth Area and while the buildings and surroundings are bleak, you will see more Mercedes, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces doubled parked here than you will anywhere else in the city, with the possible exception of Old Trafford on a match day. You can smell the money being made. Everywhere, vans and trucks are being unloaded and loaded, always under the sharp eyed gaze of well dressed individuals, mobile phones apparently glued to their ears.
Many are quite clearly of Middle eastern or Asian extraction and they are natural traders. Their fathers and their forefathers before them must have made their living in much the same way. I am going to take you to one of the places where they eat their hurried lunches, snatched from the hurly burly of the working day. After a few hundred metres look for an alley on your right called China lane. Walk down this narrow canyon next to the JD Williams Mail order building and turn left onto Hilton Street. There's a pub on your right called "The Crown" and it serves a fair pint of Boddingtons if you fancy an appetiser. As Pubs go, it's as rough as a Badger's bum, so just be polite, drink your beer and don't draw attention to yourself. You'll be fine. Onward bold pilgrim. North up Hilton street, across Newton Street and Lever Street, and we're almost there. Hilton street does a strange thing at this point, it becomes Stevenson square for a little while before reverting to Hilton Street once more. A lot of the people who work in the area are Moslem and so, over time, a series of Halal eating places has sprung up just for them. Unfortunately, over the last few years they have become very popular with the "suits", however we are going to one of the less well known. It's also the best, in my opinion. You get to eat Asian food as the Asians eat it and not the Anglicised pap you get in your local "Indian". These places are not "restaurants" in the way that you might think. For a start, most of them are closed in the evening. In the main they open around eleven in the morning and close around five. Their natural English equivalent would be the "greasy spoon" cafe's that we all know and love. In the Manchester cloth area there about a dozen of these little curry cafe's. They are all very small, the largest boasts around ten tab
les. Most of them h ave "open" kitchens where you can watch the food being prepared and without exception, they are all scrupulously clean. The one other unusual thing about them is that they all have a wash basin situated in the dining room itself. This allows patrons to wash their hands both before and after food. You'll see why this is important shortly. Hilton Street, without warning, becomes Thomas street which, in its turn, ends rather sloppily in a hotchpotch of little alleyways and back streets. Central Manchester's equivalent of The Shades. We aren't going quite that far. Thomas street has a multi-story carpark on the left as you enter it. Walk past the car park and turn left into the little alley called John Street that runs behind it. There on the corner of yet another alley on the right, you will see a little curry shop with a big blue sign above it that announces to the world that it is the "Kabana" It's the best curry shop I know. The smell hits you as you walk in the door. A wonderfully savoury, yet aromatic delight. It smacks you in the stomach like a two-pound lump-hammer. Ignore the menu hung carelessly on the wall, it doesn't mean a damn thing - you can have what they've cooked or go hungry. The place is always jumping. Mobile phones going ten to the dozen and guys running back and forth to move their cars as the "yellow peril" walks by. A big jovial guy with jet-black skin waits at tables and warns customers when the parking wardens are about to swoop. They cook the food continually so it's always fresh. You can have a bowl of curry or perhaps a kebab cooked on the open range - no, not one of those disgusting electric thingies - they make these kebabs by hand. They take fresh raw keema and they mold it onto big steel skewers which they place over red hot charcoal. The locals call 'em "dog turds" because of the way they
look when they come off t he fire. With a little mint raitha and a dab of fiery chili sauce, they are to die for. If lamb doesn't take your fancy they will cook you marinated fish or chicken in the same way. It's all gorgeous. They always have at least four different kinds of curry; Lamb, Chicken, Keema and a vegetable (usually a mixed veg of potato, spinach and dahl or channah). On Wednesday, they have a special which is curried Quail on the bone. Yes, I know it sounds like nonsense but they really do! It's bloody marvelous if you can put up with all of the little bones and you don't mind getting totally messy. Take a bib on Wednesday! My favourite is the lamb. I sit here salivating in a sad parody of one of Pavlov's dogs as I recount my tale. On alternate days they cook dahl (lentils) or channah (chick peas) as a veg accompaniment and you can have a "dob" (as they call it) in the bowl with your curry if you wish. The chick peas go particularly well with the lamb. The friendly owner will fill your bowl in front of you at the counter. You can have rice or popadums if you want but they're generally regarded as being a bit effete - The locals don't eat them. Furthermore, because both are a pain in the ass to cook they have them pre-prepped and they just warm them through in the microwave. Your choice but I wouldn't bother. The lamb is just that. Bite sized chunks of meat in a thick gee-based gravy or sauce, depending upon your class roots. Nothing else. Just lamb. On Wednesdays they have two variants, you can have it on or off the bone. All other days they just do it off the bone, which I prefer anyway. But how to eat it? This can be a bit daunting if you aren't familiar with local etiquette. Knives and forks, although available from a tray in the corner, are somewhat frowned upon in the Kabana. You are encouraged to eat "commando", which here means
with your fingers, and in par ticular, the fingers of your right hand only. Watch the regulars. The lamb is ordered with chapattis and eaten by tearing off a chunk of the unleavened bread and using it to wr ap and scoop up a piece of meat from your bowl. Which brings me nicely to the piece de resistance of the Kabana and indeed, all of the eateries in this little area of Manchester; the chapattis. When you think of chapatti you probably conjure up an image of thin insubstantial soft thingies which they fold into four and place next to your plate. Think again. The Manchester items are the XR3i nutter bastards of the chapatti world! These buggers have attitude. For a start, they are as thick as a Nan bread. Thrown against the side of the Tandoor, they come out with a crisp, in places brown, exterior and a beautiful soft interior. They are about the size of a dinner plate and if you were to hit someone with one of them then that unfortunate would almost certainly require immediate medical attention. They're a paradigm for the cosmos! They arrive piping hot on a plastic doyly-cum-tray sort of thingy and you can't touch them for a few minute because they will burn your fingers. Best to have something to fill in the time while they cool. I usually have a "salad" while I'm waiting. Served on a little plate it is a melange of fresh tomato, a little lettuce and two kinds of raw onion, one plain, the other marinated. The whole thing gets a big spoonful of mint raitha poured over it followed by an equally big spoonful of hot chili sauce. It is quite simply orgasmic. The crunchy texture of the vegetables blended with the cool-hot contradiction of the yoghurt and chili just has to be tasted to be believed. Get that down your neck bonny lad! By the time you have finished the salad the chapattis will have cooled enough for you to tackle the lamb. You can use your left hand if you want, but the local
s will look down their noses at you if you do. The tradition of "Clean hand, dirty hand" dictates that you only use your right. There is a trick to resting your right wrist on the chapatti to hold it in pos ition while you tear of a bite sized piece with your fingers. The locals make it look easy and it has the added advantage for them in that they can continue to do business on the mobile phone with their left hand! Once you have your piece of chapatti you can do like the regulars and drop it over a piece of meat in the bowl. The trick then is to pick up the chapatti and the meat, all in one deft motion, and pop it into your mouth. Whenever I have tried this I have always ended up with curry all over my shirt. Instead, I use a spoon in my left hand (sort of acceptable in a "Ha! - look at that clumsy twat" kind of a way). I fold the chapatti into a kind of scoop in my right hand and then spoon meat and sauce into it from my left before shoving the ensemble into my eager gob. The first bite is heaven. The chapatti and lamb simply explode into the most massive savoury hit inside my mouth. Sure its curry-warm, but it isn't hot in the "give us one them bum burners Abdul" kind of way that you might be used to. This is far more subtle. More than anything, you taste the lamb. This is LAMB! Capital letters. It just blows me away and I eat it in rapt silence. No conversation with this dish. "Leave me alone. I want to enjoy every morsel!" The chapatti rapidly disappears and I use all of the remaining small pieces to wipe around the bowl in order to finish every last drop of the sauce. I push the bowl away with a sigh of contentment. Finish with a glass of water and a visit to the washbasin to wash the remaining flower and curry from my hands. OK, I admit it, I am an addict. I simply HAVE to have at least one of these curry hits a month or I begin to go cold turkey. The st
uff is wonderful. The chicken is just a s good but always a little hotter than the lamb. I would rate it at about a Madras level of hotness as compared to the lamb which is more of a medium curry by regular Indian takeaway stand ards. If you are ever in Manchester you simply must give these unique curry shops a go. The only other town that I know which has anything similar is Bradford, but even there, they seem to have left their roots and gone more up-market. The price? To plagiarise the Barclays bank advertisements, you can't put a price on the moon or the stars. But this particular piece of Nirvana will cost you about four quid. That's right, four quid, - and they smile when they take your money. You don't even mind the pissy Manc weather on the way home.
This month the 17th Commonwealth Games come to Manchester and the city will host the largest multi-sport event in the UK since the Olympic Games were held in London in 1948. I am hoping that this will act as a guide to the city not only in terms of its suitability for hosting such an event, but also as a guide to what is such a widely diverse, changing, and somewhat recovering metropolis. Manchester has suffered in the past, what with the decline of many of its chief industries right through to the more recent plight that resulted from the IRA bombing in 1997. The character of the city though, is reflected in the way in which the city and its people reacted and recovered to become what is one of the most exciting cities in Europe if not the world. I have sat and watched Manchester change before my very eyes in recent years – a new building on the horizon, seemingly having sprouted overnight; new road networks developed in a variety of areas; an excellent ring road motorway making all sides of the city easily and quickly accessible from all sides of the city; two major railway stations newly refurbished; a Metrolink tram system which, although the city failed to meet its deadline to extend the system to Sportscity in time for the games, covers an extensive area; and an international airport developing gradually, growing in size and stature constantly (with a recently built 2nd runway and new plans to build a fourth terminal). These developments have been endured by local people for what has seemed like a lifetime on occasions, but it has been to our own, and now the rest of the worlds' benefit. The city is now ready as a result of all this improvement and regeneration to host the Commonwealth as its guests not only for the duration of the Games but beyond that as well. So for the visitor coming to Manchester for the first time, what can you expect? Well just about everything! Shopping - From the regular high street shops found in the Arnda
le and on Market Street to classier locations around St Annes Square and Deansgate, from Marks and Spencers and Harvey Nicholls (still being built) to Department Stores such as Debenhams and Kendals. Then theres the Trafford Centre a couple of miles out of the centre easily reached by bus - youre spoilt for choice! The splendour of the various museums (go to the Urbis - you cant miss it, its a huge glass triangular building) libraries, galleries, monuments and town squares can keep you busy in the day if you not a shopper. At night there is something for everyone. If you want a quiel night at the pictures then go to the Printworks, where youll also find bar/restaurants and theme pubs. You can go to numerous bars on Deansgate, Castlefield if you want a classier setting along the canalside or Canal Street (or the gay village) which has a friendly, carnival atmosphere all year round. There are comedy clubs (I highly recommend Jongleurs but make sure you book a ticket in advance), theatres (the Palace will always have a big production on), concert venues (the Apollo or the University Academy) and clubs scattered all round the city - You couldnt possibly get bored! And just in case you were wondering where you would sleep for the night after all that - Me ma does a cracking fry up and charges minimal rates! No seriously Manchester over the last 2 years has seen in excess of 15 new hotel developed and thats aside from the numerous that were already standing. In such a short opinion I cant possibly do the city justice but trust me Ive lived here all my life and the place is just getting better and better. You'ld be missing out if you didnt experience it as it really is a dynamic place to be at the minute. I hope you enjoy it if you come - and give us a wave while youre here!
Wrote this for Jill before i get moaned at ! I couldn't find another category where it went, (should be one called "a favorite thing" in my opinion, but M'cr in general will do coz it's where i live and play)! OK Jill, you asked for this ! When I was a teenager, many years ago now, I hated everything. I was more like Kevin, (Harry Enfields TV prog), than those squeaky clean kids on the Oxo advert ! I appreciated nothing, everything was dull & mundane. Even people who were nice to me were often met with scorn. I put all this down to hormones and a broken home and continued to behave like a total arsehole feeling justified. I got even worse when I started to hang around with a total w*nker when I was doing A-levels at college. I got into drugs and started to associate with very unsavoury people, even my personal hygiene suffered as I lost my self-respect. Ok that’s the sob story over now ! I would not change the things I have done in my life even if I was given the opportunity, I believe the things you do make you who you are. I like who I am these days, but don’t believe I would be the same person if I didn’t have my past to help me draw conclusions in life. So, who am I now ? Well, I’m one of the most laid back people I know, I like to chill out with a fat spliff, I enjoy going to the gym in an attempt to get bigger, but the most important thing in my life are my friends. My mates, following college days, are carefully chosen, they are the best damn people I could ever imagine knowing. In no particular order : 1) Big Dennis – Larger than life body builder, heart of gold if I ever saw one. He would die for any of his mates (although he’d probably kill first). 2) Dave – aka Pegz, brought up in a similar environment to myself, except he’s one of five brothers, reminds me of a cross between myself and Bruce Lee, abs
olute nutter, doin’ well for himself in his own business. 3) Howie – The daddy, we all look to Howie as a father figure he’s been married 30 years (happily), and lives by the motto “If it’s f*ckin’ fun, do it”. Helped me out of more sh*t than I care to imagine ! 4) Azza – Don’t know what to say about Azza the poor sad muppet ! Only that he is my bro, despite all his flaws I love the guy to bits ! Ok, I have more friends than this, but these guys are special, they are my life’s blood, they pick me up when I’m down, if it wasn’t for these people I may never have progressed from the sad former years of my life. Me & the chaps all have a common interest, Jillys Nightclub (Manchester). Once a week, on a Saturday, we all go out and go wild at Jillys, it’s the best damn club I know, (I’ve done a lot so I should know !), it aint a big place but it has an awesome atmosphere, I know loads of people in the club and love the mix of Mental and rock that’s played in there ! I doesn’t sound like much and I won’t go into all the details of what I get up to when I’m there, aaaaaaaahhhhhhh, single life ! I find the simple things in life are the most rewarding, all you need is a set of friends that you love and trust and somewhere to go out and lose yourself every once in a while ! I love my life it gives me so much when I ask so little of it, it’s my favourite thing ! As me and the chaps would say : Life is peachy ! "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're mor
e than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August."
Manchester City Centre is great - but don't go round telling Mancunians that, they're big-headed enough as it is! Some might like to sneer that the Commonwealth Games which the city is about to host is a pretty irrelevant sporting competition in the big scheme of things, but does Manchester care? No, it's too busy having the last laugh. It has a great new stadium plus a plethora of other sporting facilities in the east of the city and the city centre has been treated to cosmetic surgery amounting to millions of pounds. And that's not mentioning a fresh injection of new tourist attractions, such as the spectacular-looking Urbis museum, the revamped Manchester Art Gallery and the iconic Imperial War Museum North. The city's main shopping street, Market Street, has been tastefully relandscaped as has the previously shabby Piccadilly Gardens, a key transport hub where seediness has been replaced by a superbly designed new park where the only-slip up is a huge concrete wall on one side - an odd choice. What makes Manchester city centre a really enjoyable place to walk around is its size and layout. A plan in the 1950s to demolish most of its Victorian buildings and erect a series of tower blocks stretching from Piccadilly down to Oxford Road never saw the light of day because Manchester was in decline and didn't have the means to carry it out. Meanwhile, Birmingham was booming and carried out similar plans (comprising a series of ring roads). How Manchester must be grateful for the timing of its decline, and how Birmingham must rue its former good fortune! No ring road means Manchester feels bigger and busier than its Midland competitor; block after block of robust street architecture, with some of the most memorable cityscapes - not necessarily the prettiest - in the country. There's no end of streets and lanes to explore, and it's a pleasure to get lost, except for when it's raining - which is very often,
sadly. No ring road also means plenty of room for the city centre to expand outwards and plenty of space for quirky, independent businesses, great pubs and cool bars to call home. Check out Afflecks Palace and the Colloseum, grungy shopping complexes at the gateway to the Northern Quarter, a down-at-heel but still interesting part of the city centre. It is oddly remindful of New York, as is the (tiny) Chinatown area and (increasingly dull) Gay Village. Elsewhere, the city sports a shiny, scrubbed European feel. This flukey, lucky place was blessed with the best IRA bomb ever, in 1996. How can a bomb be "good", let alone "best"? Don't worry, it's no longer taboo to speak in such a way about the Manchester bomb - it killed no-one and destroyed what was by far the ugliest, most depressing part of the city centre, enabling planners and architects to start afresh. The post-bomb masterplan is nearing completion. Urbis is part of it; and Cathedral Gardens is lovely, framing the historic buildings around it very well, while successfully offsetting Urbis. There's lots of so-so new retail architecture, the Royal Exchange Theatre's been refurbed stylishly, but the new Exchange Square doesn't really work for me, and the Triangle is a terribly bland shopping centre compared to what was there before. The loveliest part of the city centre is King Street, St. Ann's Square, Albert Square and that general vicinity - much of which is positively genteel. But I prefer the brasher parts of the city centre further south and east - more energy, more inspiration. Even in these areas, the general quality of architecture is very good, some superb mercantile builidings (most of which seem to house lofts and apartments - again more good fortune, as many of these were empty and threatened until the city living boom came along at just the right time and rehabilitated them.) Further south, Castlefield and Dean
sgate Locks is a canalside area more reminiscent of Birmingham. If arriving by Piccadilly Station, it's worth getting the tram to the G-Mex Station, exploring this area and then working your way up by foot, perhaps using Deansgate and then deviating at whichever points interest you. So, as a Birmingham resident, should I be envious of Manchester? After all, most people now think of it as the Second City, and not Birmingham. And most people prefer Manchester city centre as an 'experience' to Birmingham city centre. What do I think? Well, at the moment the competition for Second City status is all sewn-up - with Manchester the current winner. Overall, I too prefer Manchester city centre to Birmingham city centre, simply because it's more cohesive and more vibrant. Birmingham is very good at set-pieces: Manchester has nothing quite as impressive as Birmingham's Victoria Square, or the Mailbox or the Custard Factory, nor suburbs quite as plush as Edgbaston et al. But what Manchester city centre does have is a consistent look and feel; one doesn't have to go scurrying around abysmal areas to get to the good stuff, as the visitor to Birmingham has to. Manchester is less fragmented; it is not a city of bits and pieces, and this will enable Manchester to withstand Birmingham's challenge when the new Bull Ring and other developments are finished. Because, ultimately, "you can't beat real streets". If there is something about Manchester I'm not keen on, it's the minority of chippy Militant Mancunians who bear a grudge against London and who plug and namedrop their city excessively, as if expecting a round of applause when answering the question "where are you from?". Mancunians have an almost demented civic pride that leads many Mancs to firmly believe it is the finest city in the world - which is all very well, but too often this results in an annoying arrogance and insular
ity. Comparing Manchester to London is fairly futile, and the greatest city in the world it almost certainly isn't. Ignore the nasal boasting, and enjoy the buildings and bars instead. Finally, if you're expecting a mention of football, music, etc... well, that's a whole other story. Read Dave Haslam's book 'Manchester, England' if that's what you're interested in. It's a fairly thorough account.
While I was making my way to the night bus last Friday night / Saturday morning I realised just how much I love the city I live in. Maybe it was taking advantage of the £1 bottles of beer at 42nd Street, maybe it was being asked directions by a gorgeous girl or maybe it was just being able to walk into town knowing that my every musical whim would be catered for. I came to the conclusion that it is by far the best city on earth. Manchester is as diverse as someone could possibly imagine. Hundreds of different cultures each adding their own part to the town. You’ve got everything from the Chinese offering cuisine to the Irish offering entertainment. If ever there were a city that came to life at night then Manchester would be it. There are clubs on every street meeting every possible taste. For example there’s a part of town called Princess Street, for locals it’s just off Piccadilly Gardens. Well Princess Street plays home to Satan’s Hollow, which is perhaps the most diverse club I’ve ever come across. Satan’s Hollow It’s open every night of the week each time offering something different. You’ve got everything from Indie Vs Pop on a Wednesday to Metal Vs Punk on a Monday to Hard House Vs Trance on a Saturday. What’s more is that the club offers, for a £10 entry fee, a free bar throughout the night. If this wasn’t everything, it’s even open until 3 am weekdays and 4 am at weekends. There’s even something known as Tranzgressions that are on every other week. The opening hours are 4am to 12 midday and are advertised as Manchester's largest official hard house and demonic trance after party. Nice if you like that sort of thing. Just remember your glow sticks. Never threat through, they do sell them inside including UV gel and an array of other ‘weird’ things. An example being the hallucinogenic shot called Speed Demon that is on sale for
£1 a go. The club itself is relatively small and the queues outside are sometimes a little long. The security are quite strict and have a ‘clubbers not scrubbers’ rule which means smart casual dress code, definitely no Rockport. Expect refusal of the free bar if you look wasted and even to be escorted out of the club. The club has somewhat of a reputation of being a trouble spot but I’ve never experienced it. Plus going off the size of the bouncers I’m pretty sure if it ever kicked off they’d have it sorted. Just to re-iterate my point about Manchester being so diverse, if you walk across the road from Satan’s Hollow there’s a Jazz club facing it. My friend and I stumbled in one Thursday night but left pretty quickly as it seemed a little eerie. By this I mean there was nobody in the bar whatsoever, no bar staff or customers, just one old man wearing dark sunglasses playing piano. So, we left. The décor was quite nice though. Gay Village Down the road from Satan’s Hollow you have Canal Street, which is famous for it’s gay population and clubs catering specifically for them. I’ve only been down here once and it was quite a pleasant atmosphere if you’re not put off by the drag queens or huge men in tank tops. There are something like 20 bars and clubs in the space of about ¼ of a mile. Including Bar 38 and the comedy meets nightclub Jongeleurs. As I say, only visiting once I’m not entirely qualified to give a fantastic review but for the time I was there, I enjoyed it. I’ve heard tales of being refused entry if you don’t look gay enough. I don’t really believe it, I’ve always been let in, hmm I wonder what that says for me though? If you continue walking down the same street you’ll find, tucked away 5th Avenue which is the ultimate in Indie / Alternative club. It’s open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, F
riday and Saturday offering mostly the same kind of music every time. 5th Avenue I’ve been every day and Fridays are by far the best. The entry price is a little steeper than usual. £5 for gents as opposed to £1 most other times. However if you happen to be the proud owner of an N.U.S or a leaflet that you can pick up quite close to the door, you can get in for £2. Women are treated quite nicely in that they get free entry before 11pm. Drinks are always cheap no matter what day you go. You can get everything from 50p on a Monday night to £1 on a Friday. I don’t think it goes much over which is great for the students it aims to attract. Students are the core audience so if you don’t get along with them, stay away. Especially if you don’t like Parka wearing, Ian Brown mopped hair students, as when I Am The Resurrection comes on, this is all you’ll be able to see. Speaking of the Stone Roses, if any fans are reading, yes they play the full 9-minute version. The DJ claims to take requests although in my experience he just sticks to his own set list. It does change depending on how many people are in the club though. If it’s particularly full then it’s mainly indie as advertised. If it’s not so full expect more of a diverse mixture including everything from the Charlatans to Rage Against The Machine to the Prodigy. If you’re dance fan then Manchester can cater for you too. There’s hundreds of clubs offering entertainment for the arm waving madmen amongst you. One of the only real ‘club’ clubs I’ve experience and somewhat enjoyed although spending my duration in the toilet throwing up is Infinity located next to the Midland Hotel just off St Peter’s Square. Infinity Infinity is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday again like most other places offering something different each time. The night I went, T
hursday it was quite cheesy pop with the occasional dance tune mixed in. Entry fee depends on what time of the night you arrive but I don’t think it goes over £5. When I went it was a little empty and I remember being asked if I wanted to sell someone drugs, not being a drug dealer or having any drugs in my possession, I declined. Drinks were a little cheap but I imagine if it were fuller it would definitely be a fantastic club. I’d recommend a Monday night, although never seeing for myself it’s school uniform night. Just up the road from Infinity and proving Manchester to be the diverse capital of Britain is Rock World. Rock World By far my favourite club and despite its flaws (price of drinks, too much metal etc) it is a really good place to go. What’s more it opens at 9 and shuts at 7am on a Friday. Its open Thursday, Friday and Saturday each time proving to be quite metal orientated but the occasional punk and hip hop slots make it what it is. There are three different rooms each having their own style and DJ. There’s a classic metal room, a Goth room and a main room that tends to play everything mainstream. Every room has its own bar but the drinks are a little expensive. Its £2.50 on average for a pint and expect them, more often than not to be flat. I tend to stick to cans although a Red Stripe will cost £2.65. The music is not all that varied and the DJ's in the main room are quite reluctant to take requests unless they know it will fill the floor. But the have a decent taste and more often than not it’s bearable if not enjoyable. So there you go, some of my recommendations proving that Manchester has it all. I could spend hours writing more… but I won’t. So if you live here, check them out. If you don’t come on down. We’ve got two train stations and a hell of a lot of hotels.
I have lived in Manchester all my life and I can happily say I think the city is great. The people who think it’s a dump have probably only been to parts of it, how can you say the Trafford centre is a dump? Ok some of the city is centre such as the Arndale is dive but they are going to be modernising it soon. The shambles near M+S is great and you could be anywhere in the world. The public transport is very good, I have to wait about 2 minutes for a bus to go into the city centre which ain’t bad. I admit some parts of manchester has poor transport but if you live in the main student areas such as Chorlton, Didsbury, Fallowfeild, Rusholme and Withington then you will have no problem. If you have never been then you probably won’t know that areas like Wheatherfeild don’t really exist and its mostly modern housing now. However I live in a small terrace and its worth £110K. In some areas such as Didsbury you can pay upto 250K just for a flat. To pubs can be expensive but there are loads of them especially in the student areas listed above. The Trafford centre has got to be the best shopping centre in Europe. And by the way it doesn’t rain in Manchester more than anywhere else in the NorthWest.
Manchester. Bit of a dump really, isn't it? Chances are that's what a lot of you are thinking, but really it is nowhere near that bad..... I'm not a native (thank God...) but I've been here for over a year so I know a bit about it - enough to write this at any rate. There are lots of areas to the city, from everso lovely Chorlton (I have to say that so I don't get thumped by certain people who live there) to the infamous Moss Side, not forgetting Withington, Didsbury, Rusholme, Castlefield, Fallowfield – the list goes on. Since this category claims to be "Manchester in General" though, I'm going to forget those areas and concentrate on the city centre - the most important area after all, since that's where I live.... Manchester is a pretty diverse place to live in. Where else could you make a 12.5 minute (I've timed it) trip to work and in that time walk past 2 universities and through China Town and the Gay Village. The restaurants are diverse, the shops are diverse and the people are diverse, but somehow they all manage to co-exist in (mainly) perfect harmony. Shopping in Manchester is not as wonderful as people make out but then I'm biased since working in a shop puts me off venturing out in my off hours. There are a number of decent areas though, including St Annes Square, Deansgate and the Triangle which offer "quality" establishments like GAP, Calvin Klein, Molton Brown and so on, as opposed to the terribly tacky and pretty much totally revolting Arndale Centre, home to Quarters and many a Pound shop. For eating there're typical northern Cafes, along with places offering Italian, Indian, Chinese, French,Spanish, Korean and other nationalities I can't remember. Prices vary depending on the area, with Deansgate being more expensive than Piccadilly, and the Corn Exchange area pricier than Oxford Rd. Drinks wise you have to work hard to avoid the students. Dea
nsgate Locks and Oxford (through to Wilmslow) Road are their typical haunts, but since many of them (us?) want to avoid the normal crowd on occasion, even specified "safe" areas for non-students, like Deansgate Proper, can have the odd influx of the drunken academic types. Manchester will be hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2002 (big whoop) and as a result lots of the locals (not me, I hasten to add) are attempting to get fit and feel all sporty so they’ll blend in. A new swimming pool has been built for the water based competitions, and the G Mex over near Deansgate is going to be turned into an indoor sports haven for many of the other events. Before the preparations for the games though, there were already many pools and gyms and leisure centres in and around the centre, although from looking at many Mancunians you’d never guess….. Transportly speaking, Manchester is home to the busiest bus route in Europe which is most fun – usually busses wizz by every 3 seconds, but whenever I need to travel on one of the dreaded things it’s always a good 10 minutes before one appears (and even then it’s always expensive Stagecoach and not lovely Magic Busses, sob….). We also have a metrolink service – aren’t we lucky – that links Eccles, Altrincham, Bury (and soon Salford) with the central areas. There are 3 main train stations – Oxford Rd, Victoria and my next door neighbour Piccadilly from where trains depart to London and all other major cities (along with some cr*ppy little towns) on a regular basis. If you’re driving, motorways run practically into the centre itself, and of course there’s Ringway just outside the city if you fancy flying. What else does Manchester have? Well there’s a canal they pulled a few bodies out of last year (next to the oh-so-imaginatively-named Canal Street made popular by the quality drama, “Queer As Folk”) and
a couple of decent theatres. We saw Oh What a Night at the Palace last year, and went to watch Snow White with the kids at the Opera House (although whether or not we’ll be allowed back in this year is a good question), and both were decent enough venues. Granada have their main studios here, and the BBC seem to have taken over a corner of Oxford Rd with their lovely brown building too – both offer free audience tickets although some of the shows filmed up here leave a little to be desired. Manchester has more students per square metre than any other European City, mainly due to the fact we have so many unis and colleges, including UMIST, University of Manchester, Man Met, Salford (just outside the city since it’s, erm, in Salford, but still counts for these purposes), Royal College of Music, Northern Ballet Theatre and so on. So there you have it – busiest bus route, famous nightlife, lots of students. What more could you want from a city? No, on second thoughts, don’t answer that…