The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Monday 28 April 2014

Chemistry and Craft Beers - A novices guide to Manchester

Last weekend I popped my Manchester cherry and ventured there for the first time so it seemed only fitting that a city review was in order.  This will be useful if you are a) visiting Manchester soon and b) have a passing interest in food, alcohol, architecture or shopping.  If none of those appeal feel free to check out another blog or this is going to get rather tedious for you!

Lets start with one of the most important aspects of any city - the alcohol.  Craft beer fans should venture to Brew Dog in Peter St. or The Marble Arch in Rochdale Road.  The Marble Arch has a slopped floor and makes you feel more than a little inebriated on your first trip to the bar but that soon wears off.  Whilst personally I think craft beers taste like mouldy, sour, perfumed flower water, I’m told if your taste buds bend that way you’ll be in your element.

Talking of elements Spinning Fields is the place to be if you like fancy cocktails. Long Bar, The Lawn Club and The Alchemist are all within spitting - or spinning - distance of each other.   The Alchemist has a serious drinks selection and uses all sorts of chemistry contraptions to make their cocktails.  Some of the more pricey drinks come complete with dry ice or orchids frozen in cubes, however be warned, arriving after 7pm means you’ll wait around 20 mins for your drinks order.  Luckily this is a great place for people watching and the atmosphere and quirky cocktails make for interesting facebook photo updates if nothing else.  

Sorry, but if you don’t like alcohol at all I have nothing for you...

The food scene in Manchester borders, and the bowls right over, to the ridiculous.  

The Oast House also in Spinning Fields would be a great place for dinner if they took bookings for tables under 6 people.  As it is if you’re in a small group I recommend heading down there around 4pm and setting up camp as otherwise you'll have a snowball's chance of getting fed should you decide to leave it any longer.

When we were looking Artisan had no bookings for a Saturday night before 10.15pm (although it was massive didn’t look to be all that busy) so Reds, a BBQ restaurant with a serious reputation was another place we tried. Unfortunately in the queue, which fell out the door, we met people that had booked a table for 6.45pm.  As this was around 7.45 we moved on.  Recommendation: If you can book do, or eat before you go out.  

If architecture floats your boat the new Library looked amazing.  Or so I imagined it would from the crack in the cast iron metal doors that I peeked through.  Alas it’s shut on Sundays and so this is as much as I can tell you, the outside was pretty impressive though!


The Town Hall on the other hand was ridiculously grand – set at the edge of  Albert Square (not that one!) complete with seating area and a fountain this is a great summertime hangout.  The hall itself is at least partially open to the public, however when I was visiting it was being used for a wedding.  While I missed seeing a few ball rooms and sculptured busts it's easy to see why this is such a popular venue in which to get hitched, MTH puts all others I've seen to shame.  

Manchester is like a more compact London in the shopping sense.  It has Selfridges and Harvey Nicks, though both are smaller and less impressive as their counterparts in the capital, no offence meant to Manchester fashionistas.  However it does have some very cute independent galleries and a whole road of vinyl stores along Old St which was easily accessed round the corner from the larger shopping centres.

All in all a lovely place to visit, just don't try to leave when there are roadworks as it turns into that village in The Returned...


Tuesday 22 April 2014

Blog Block Post - Springtime Wardrobe

OK so we all know what this is.  A post put up so that the creative juices can start pumping again as last months blogging get up and go got up and went and I haven't posted for a couple of weeks.  This is decidedly ungood as according to twitter 'real' bloggers post 3-4 times a week, though I'm wondering if these bloggers are the kind that have a bit more spare time than I seem to?  But I digress, seeing as we are fully buckled into Springtime, I decided now is the time to swap over my wardrobe.

This week was the chosen one as I'd had a particularly unsuccessful shopping trip, sorry Oasis but this season's Jersey dresses are rather unforgiving of size 12 and ups!  The day passed by and if it hadn't been for one item from Lilac Rose it would have been wholly unsuccessful (unless you count lunch as a purchase, which I don't... cos you can't wear it) so I decided a wardrobe workout was in order.

And then I remembered why I love doing this, it's like shopping but without spending any money as you hunt through last years treats deemed 'too summery' to wear in the winter months.  Suddenly there are pastel and neon colours in place of dark shades, plus I found that the odd top bought over the last few months works well to update brighter outfits too.

Clearing out the dullness of a winter wardrobe is seriously cathartic, with the month I've had a real 'out with the old in with the... well still old but more summery and happy old' was called for (that's not going to take off as a saying is it?).  Everything earmarked to be worn imminently got a going over with my new Fridja steamer and I highly suggest you invest in one of these contraptions.  They are awesome for your inner OCD girl, who was having a ball watching the creases on cotton disappear.  Just make sure you don't empty the boiling water over your own wrist, stings like a bitch!
feckin' ouch!
I doubt you want to hear more about my ridiculous ability to harm myself, though let me know if you do cos I have a ton of stories like this one.  It's a wonder I've made it this far without accidentally getting dead. but again I digress...

One of the things I'm particularly proud of this Spring season is my idea to hang bags on the walls with little hooks, tidying up small spaces.  Sure if you hang them too high they fall down and take half the paintwork and anything below it off as well, but for the time being at least they look all neat.  Inner OCD girl has had a good day!

Shoes are (obviously) not to be left out here and mine are all on a shelf built by a giant at the top of my wardrobe.  Luckily a mini step ladder is kept to the side and makes it that much easier to sort and access (though yes I have bumped my head a good few times getting shoes in and out of their homes. Accident prone, though art named Thee Middle Sister!)   At least its tidier that way, though it has to be said, one of the best drivers for tidying your wardrobe has to be thinking it's a really good idea to put a blog post out about it.

Fingers crossed I'll think of something more interesting to waffle on about next time, otherwise  you could be subjected to the inner workings of how I organise my books by order of how many people die in them.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Ethically Challenged?

Ethical fashion has had a hard slog, it's more expensive than your average high street offerings and has a reputation for being a bit Boho. Not that there’s anything wrong with looking ‘all Cornwall’ as my sisters and I used to say, but personally, it's not my go to style.

It was a trip to Africa, working at an orphanage where the kids and workers there had pretty much sweet FA in the way of material possessions, that got me thinking about where my clothing and style literally came from.  When I started earning a decent wage and as my responsibilities are relatively low (I’m talking mortgage and magazines rather than raising a family) I decided to try and do something about it.

Not wanting my tops and dresses to have been made by 4yr olds in India, but equally unhappy with the shapeless or, if not unattractive, fairly mundane clothes I found that were fair trade actively looking for  ethically produced garments has been an uphill struggle. The list of shops I no longer frequent is getting longer and longer - so long Zara and Banana Republic its been emotional, so I was excited by the HandM Conscious collection.

First impressions were disappointing, the style of the collection seemed not to my tastes again, but then I found the Conscious Exclusive Collection and discovered that's a whole different bag of fish.  The pleated Ruffle top and Chiffon Dress are both romantic without being casual (or hippie-trippie as my sisters and I used to say.)

The website advises just how the items are ethical as well, for example my new belt is 'made of vegetable-tanned leather from cows reared for organic meat production on Swedish farms' cool huh?

That bustier silk top which may well slip into my basket as well is noted as 'made from organic hemp, mulberry silk and organic cotton' *Right hand reaches for credit card, Left had slaps it away*.


There's also an embroidered skirt and some beautiful shoes, both of which are looking likely to be  purchased that could be worn as work wear or summer outfits, and that's not even half the collection. I've not even touched on the gowns that are available. The long jacquard-weave dress may be £150 but any high end high street dress would be more and here you have the added bonus of feeling virtuous whilst shopping, a feeling I've not had since I bought my first pair of Toms. PS I looked up jacquard as had no idea what it meant, am still not completely sure but I think its what makes it all bobbly-looking.

While this may not be the perfect set for everyone, that a high street store has both bothered and managed to produce a collection like this makes me very happy.  Finally Ethical doesn't have to mean 'without style'.   The collection is available from tomorrow, race you to the website!

All Images Courtesty of HandM - approved via twitter!
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