Last weekend, I played tourist in my own town. Manchester has so much going on, it’s easy to live here for years and still say, ‘oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to go there, I heard it’s good’. Add that to the new things that are opening all the time, new pop up shops, restaurants, gigs and art nights, and you could stay up all night every night and still not see the whole city.
On this occasion, we started with the Makers Market. This is a regular event that tours round parts of Manchester, including the Northern Quarter, Spinningfields, Didsbury and more recently, Chorlton. There’s a good mix of food and drink vs other arts and crafts, and all the traders are excited to talk to you about what they’ve made… and share some samples. I had a pumpkin samosa with sweet potato fries on the side (carb heaven) to wash down some amazing rhubarb gin tasters. There were loads and sweet treats, cookies and brownies, but not much for the vegan sweet tooth waaaa.
I’d only recently been complaining that all my jewellery is cheap, years old and is getting a bit tarnished. I don’t really have much ‘grown up’ jewellery. I like the unusual, but not too gimmicky – which is why I found and fell in love with the Nordic Muse stand. Based on geometry and using a combination of metals it’s really simple and really striking. I treated myself to a little gift from me to me.
After nosing our way around every stall, from Beauty and the Beast style rose-in-glassware necklace, to paintings and postcards of local artists, we crept our way out of the drizzle and to Pot Kettle Black on Deansgate. The only thing missing from the Makers Market was vegan brownies (*sigh*) and after seeing just about every other brownie variant there I had a hankering. I like good coffee, and though I don’t pretend to know much about it, if you tell me you love Starbucks, I will judge you. The guys at PKB are lovely, knowledgeable and do a great brew if real coffee. The whole experience is considered, with your espresso served with a wafer and lemon water, and it’s all situated in the grand Barton Arcade, just off Deansgate. As it was a Saturday afternoon, we went for espresso martinis. Yes, they have an alcohol licence. Ready to take your money.
From PKB we went culturing – I’d never been to the John Ryland’s Library even though I must have walked past it more than a 1000 times. Even though it’s a functional library, you can visit as a tourist to see the exhibitions and the architecture, it’s not just for taking out a book and sneakily checking out the vaulted ceilings. Anyway, at the moment they have an exhibition on magic, demons and witches through history, as well as history of printing. After years of living here and never having stepped inside it didn’t disappoint, with gargoyles on the walls, artwork on show, and a scrap of paper from the earliest copy of the New Testament ever discovered, dated between 2 and 3 AD. I’m not religious, but that’s pretty cool. Free entry too guys. And their gift shop is full of macabre, weird and wonderful stationery, candles and books.
As we left, the rain kicked in again (classic Manchester) and we moved on to Nexus Art Cafe in the Northern Quarter, which is also home to the Salford Zine Library (not in Salford). A zine, in case you don’t know, is basically a self-published magazine. The library has more than 1500 on all sorts of topics, typically a5 and printed in black and white for ease of self-publishing. Check out some of the titles and topics on their site.
Anyway, we were fortunate enough to get the Nexus tea garden to ourselves – even though it was raining (still), there was a covered section which was perfectly dry. While we sat there, a church choir were singing across the way, which felt very surreal.
Final stop was Dough. I’ve written about Dough before, they’re great for catering to every dietary requirement you could possibly have, but they’re just not actually that great at the dough part, which is ironic. If you like a very thin & crispy pizza you’ll love it. But I’m more of a chewy dough gal.
I’d love to hear your recommendations on best things to do – the more unusual and undiscovered the better! Bonus points for vegan brownies. xxx