A couple of weeks ago myself and the boy ventured to the wild North to pay a long overdue visit to his family, and while we were up there, took the opportunity to pop over to Manchester to see our awesome friends Maddy and Dev. I was proper excited to see what Manchester had to offer, considering this was my very first visit to the ‘rainy city‘.
We arrived late on Sunday afternoon and had a potter around Chorlton, where our lovely hosts reside, and went for some awesome pub grub at Horse and Jockey. To walk it off and wash it down we took a stroll to sink a pint of craft ale at the Beagle, which reminded me a bit of a better version of the Lounge in Bedmo – the decor was cosy, it wasn’t too packed, and the bar staff were lovely and chatty. So far, Manchester = 1, Bristol = 0.
Up bright and early in the morning, we had a breakfast treat of homemade cinnamon rolls, and perused this lovely Manchester adventure map that Madz lovingly put together, with all of her favourite places to visit, drink and eat on it. Not wanting to waste time in our adventure, we waved goodbye to Chorlton and set off for the centre.
A short stroll from Maddy’s abode we hopped on a tram (TRAM!!!) to the city centre, with our expert tour guide offering some history about the area. It zoomed over industrial parts, past the canal and all the new renovations, and made for a pretty interesting journey. Trams are something that Bristol seriously needs to get on board with, what with our atrocious bus system and all. Manchester = 2, Bristol = 0.
First stop was a brew at Teacup Kitchen, so we could figure out a plan of action for the day. Owned by Mr Scruff, this Northern Quarter favourite is a little pricey (we’re talking £4.50 a cuppa pricey), but was well worth the money. In fact, some poor students came and sat down at the table next to us and decided to share a sandwich, and when it arrived there was definitely plenty for two.
We opted for a bite to eat each – Tom had some kind of mushroom-avocado-egg invention, while I plumped for a rosebud tea and the most adorable scone I had ever eaten. Manchester = 3… oh, you get the idea. My scone was super crumbly, and the jam is their homemade rose and strawberry invention. Delish.
From here we decided to have a bit of a nosey around the rest of the Northern Quarter, and so popped over to Pop Boutique, for a little slice of vintage heaven. On first impressions it seems to be well stocked but a little small – despite the awesome barbers at the back – but downstairs hides a humongous treasure trove of vintage goods, including some gorgeous fugly 70s homewares. Got to love a bit of ugly tat. Tom got well into it, and ended up buying a biker jacket, while I sadly left empty handed.
A moderate walk away from the Northern Quarter is the Museum of Science and Industry, which we decided to stroll along to next. If you’re a history geek like me, then you will of course be interested in Manchester’s rich social history and industrial heritage. If not, you might want to skip this part.
This place is vast. There are several warehouses each housing a different attraction, my favourite of which was the whole room full of trains (TRAINS!!!), the history of the Manchester to Liverpool railway, or the interactive section of the museum, which was definitely for kids, but was full of adults. It reminded me a little bit of the awesome At-Bristol, with puzzles and science games for everyone to get involved with.
The best part about this though, is that this museum is completely free. We made a donation of a fiver, and spent a good few hours there exploring all the exhibits. It really is worth a visit if you’re up North, especially if you’re visiting with the kids.
After walking around a museum for a good few hours, we were pretty famished, and so walked back in the direction of the city centre to indulge one of my all time ultimate life goals…
WE WENT TO TACO BELL!
I’m not entirely sure how many of my readers are American, who will be looking quite questionably at my over-proportionate levels of excitement. There are only three Taco Bell’s in the UK, one of which is in the Manchester Arndale food court. I wasn’t expecting haute cuisine, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at the acceptable standard of the food – I know I’d definitely choose this over a McDonalds any day of the week, if only for the churros. Mmm… churros.
After all of our Taco Bell excitement, it was back to the Northern Quarter for a bit more shopping and a beer before catching our train home. I went to a delightful little shop called Oklahoma, packed with the most adorable trinkets and collectables, and bought a mini bee-house which is now proudly hanging in the sunniest spot in my garden.
We decided to tick another spot off our adventure map, and settled on Cane and Grain for a beer, which was excellent. Their selection of meaty dude food treats looked absolutely immense, but sadly we were too stuffed with Taco Bell to make room in our bellies. Next time!
As the day drew to a close, it was time to trek back up to Piccadilly and catch our train back home. We had an absolutely brilliant 24 hours (or thereabouts) in Manchester – massive thanks to my lovely pal Madz for letting us stay, the fab map, and all the awesome recommendations!