It’s easy to neglect a city when you live in it. You get stuck into your everyday routine and forget to look around, or to explore it in your own time. This year has involved plenty of trips away for me – a lot more than I ever anticipated and with one thing after another, I’ve barely had time to think straight (I should add this is just the way I like it ?). I’ve been to Egypt, Dubai, San Francisco, France, Portugal… and spent so many weekends in London and other UK cities.
But one thing I have missed, is spending time appreciating Manchester. Attending Manchester events and doing Manchester things. So as we had a free weekend coming up I decided that Mo and I would reconnect with our home city, treating it as we would a weekend away. If you are actually thinking of a weekend break, Manchester is a fantastic place and there are plenty of hotels in Manchester for you to check out. Here’s a taste of what we got up to:
Grab a desi breakfast at Dishoom
A firm favourite in London, Dishoom has been trying to break into the Manchester scene for nearly four years apparently – trying to establish themselves at the very iconic Masonic Hall. Well the wait has paid off, as the interior suits it perfectly. Mo and I dragged ourselves out of bed and headed straight there in the morning as we definitely wanted to kick our day off with their legendary breakfast. Chai on tap, Indian omelette for Mo and I went for something new – kejriwal a couple of fried eggs on chilli toast with masala beans. With great service and a great atmosphere, a cracking start to our Sunday.
Batting Balls at Base
There are so many unusual things to do in Manchester, but I had no idea that hidden under the arches near Victoria station lived a small American style batting cage and hang out, Base Bar. 25 quid bought Mo and I a batting cage to ourselves and after ordering a couple of drinks and simple demo, we got straight into it. I went first – and in my first round I (accidentally) managed to hit the final ball. Needless to say I was not impressed and the same thing happened with Mo. Hmm… this wasn’t going as planned and boy it was a lot harder than we thought!
Round 2, determined to beat this ball launching machine I started to engage my brain and fully focus on the task, I needed to get better quick. Mixing up stances and positioning and BOOM I found the sweet spot. The sound of the bat when it actually strikes the ball properly is pretty satisfying and soon we were both smashing through, becoming quite addicted as we waited for those 10 second balls to fire forward.
Should you try it out? Yea! for sure! A great hidden find.
Experience the real cheese at Northern Soul
A few weeks ago we had a dear family member over to stay and whilst cooking breakfast, her daughter from London rang and as we all chatted on loudspeaker she couldn’t believe that as a Manchester resident we hadn’t tried Northern Soul. I was surprised too when I thought about it, because I’ve often walked past and thought – you know what, this place sells grilled cheese toasties and that right there is one of my all time favourite meals.
Well we decided to right that wrong… ooh it was WORTH IT. Turns out this place has featured on TV, won awards, it’s pretty famous in Manchester world. We ordered two classics – cheese toast and I opted for the mac ‘n’ cheese toastie (yes mac ‘n’ cheese IN a toast?!?!). We took a seat at the front so we could watch them cook and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying our hot cheese sandwiches and instantly knowing we will return to try out the rest of the menu.
Christmas markets are back
I’m pretty sure I don’t need to remind you that Christmas is here which means the markets are back! I have a love-hate relationship with them – On a night like tonight where we’ve got all the time in the world, it’s dry, we’re wrapped up warm… there’s a lovely atmosphere around the city and Mo and I stumbled across some great stalls – one’s with handmade objects and stories to tell. We bought a few items, which we love and hope our gift-ees will appreciate it too. Make sure you factor in some time to wander round.
Grab a hot drink at Grindsmith
After hours of wandering round in the cold, you’ll need a cosy corner to warm up and what better place to do that than Grindsmith on Deansgate. Specialist coffee and cakes line the counter, we placed our order and parked ourselves in a cosy nook as we relaxed after our busy day. The service is great, there’s plenty of variety in seating arrangements – whether you need to get some work done, relax or simply catch up with a large group of friends – Grindsmith caters to everyone and makes sure the coffee is on point.
Catch a concert at one of the largest seated arenas in Europe
A fact I learnt recently on my trip to Lisbon, The Manchester Arena was up until recently, one of the largest seated arenas in Europe. I was shocked to learn it’s capacity outdid the o2 arena in London, and is only second after the recently opened ‘U arena.’ Yesterday, after winning a competition, Mo and I went over to enjoy an evening of pop at the Hits Radio Live concert.
I’ll be honest, I’m not great at keeping up to speed with current pop music and wasn’t expecting to be blown away by it. I don’t know if it was because we made our entrance at the tier by the stage as James Hype was warming up the crowd and we walked in to a sea of lights and the arena buzzing but wow the arena looked SPECTACULAR. The evening went from strength to strength as act after act came out and really gave the audience their all. Although the age demographic here was probably a fair bit younger than Mo and I – there’s something quite amazing about live music and honestly the staging, the audience the whole atmosphere from start to finish was electric, it was a really inspiring end to what had been a lovely day out.
I forgot just how much I love Manchester and I’m so glad Mo and I had the chance to take time out of our quite busy schedules to not only make time for each other, but to make time for our city. It’s funny, because as we wandered round Mo spent the ENTIRE time naming shops and restaurants that used to live here and are no longer around – showing just how much the city has actually changed and that we need to stay in touch with it so we don’t miss out.
Bottom line – Manchester absolutely ROCKS.
(By the way I’ve shared the whole day on insta if you fancy watching how it all went > JSC stories)
*** Thanks to Hotels.com for contributing to our spending money for the day, must stress that of course as always all views and itinerary planning was my own! I spent time researching exactly what would entail Mo and I having a great day out together in the city. Tickets to Hits Radio Live were as mentioned in the post, were tickets I had won in a competition some time ago. ***