A Saturday night I had at Red’s True Barbeque, Lola Lo and Whim Wham Cafe

Christ, I’ve not updated this blighter in ages. I’m sure my legions of readers have been beside themselves.

So, thought it was only fair to let you know what I’ve been up to - in particular a night out where I went to three (three!) places I’d never been before. So here we go.

Red’s True Barbeque

I actually went to this a good few weeks ago, and could’ve coasted along on a ‘new hype’ wave if I’d gotten round to doing a bloody blog.

Anyway, I really loved this place. The food, of course, was good - sticky, meaty goodness (see below). I had some sort of combo platter with ribs and wings, and I split sides of chips, grits and cheesy Texas toast or something (which was the best bit of the meal!) with my mate. Notice the token celery. I didn’t realise it was £16ish until the bill came. I’m not a smart woman. Suppose it was worth it.

Anyway, food was good. There was also a wide variety of American beers, many of which I’d never heard of before, which is always exciting.

But the best thing about this place is the atmosphere. The deep South/religious zealot/dive bar vibe makes you feel like you’re sitting in a scene from True Blood. You can easily convince yourself you’re in a corrugated iron box in the middle of a desert. I wanted to order a drink from the bar and have the bartender slide it over to me. Then I’d neck it, slam it down on the bar and break a pool cue over a stranger’s head. (Not really).

On a stranger note, I was really impressed by the toilets. They had sliding windows (which you couldn’t see through - an important detail) between cubicles to create a ‘confessional’. Exactly what you need when you’re pooping.

The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but I was a bit nervy about having my camera out in the toilet.

I’d absolutely love it if these guys opened a bar like this. I would drink there all the time and get rowdy.

Lola Lo

I don’t know why my friend and I decided to go here, as it already has a reputation as being a bit wanky (a tiki bar where you can book VIP booths? Please).

However, by some twist of fate, we found ourselves here.

It really helped that it was about 7pm, but it was nice and civilised and the ‘Deansgate Locks’ crowd had yet to arrive. And we discovered it’s half price cocktails EVERY DAY until 10pm.

I found the cocktails a bit hit and miss (Good Time Girl was very tasty, though) but you cannae argue with half price cocktails.

Whim Wham Cafe

While in here, my friend insisted I have a picture in front of the drapes. Apparently, the drapes in this place are good enough to photograph. It’s a bit like your grandparents’ living room, with flowery wallpaper, doillies and, yes, drapes.

It’s also full of people who really, really want to be their own grandmothers. But each to their own. The cocktails were small and classy, much like the venue. I liked it, but it’s not really my scene.

If you fancy a nice chat though, the music is lovely and inobtrusive.

A chilled evening at Odd Bar - the Northern Quarter

I was royally excited this month because, after all my months of sporadic blogging, I was invited to review food at a bar. I was asked to come along to try out Odd Bar’s new menu, and I happily obliged.

I was really nervous to be honest, because I wasn’t sure of the ‘rules’ - was the meal free? Did my boyfriend get anything free? What about drinks? How do I introduce myself?

After a bit of initial confusion (not their fault), the staff at Odd Bar quickly put me at ease. The service was relaxed but attentive and the atmosphere was perfect. Dim lighting, quiet music and lots of people having nice chats.

The menu was fairly casual too - burgers, sandwiches, burritos and the like. I went for the Odd Burger Extraordinaire (juicy beef burger and Montery Jack cheddar piled high with salad) and boyf had the P.P.P Burger (pulled pork smothered in Jack Daniels with MJ cheddar and Peri Peri coleslaw).

Here’s mine:

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It was absolutely delicious. The burger itself was huge, tasty and juicy, the salad was crisp and the cheese (with some kind of weird sauce on) added an extra dimension. I loved every mouthful, which is high praise as I easily get bored of meals.

Boyf really enjoyed his, too. He let me have a bit of the pulled pork and the Jack Daniels sauce gave it a real barbeque kick.

It was pretty funny because we were sat next to the window, and could see Almost Famous’ old headquarters. These burgers were so much better than the one I had there, served on an actual plate and with much less wanky hype and queuing.

If you’re looking for a casual after-work meal, Odd Bar is the perfect place to go, and I reckon it’s also a good shout if you’re meeting up with old friends for a nice chat before Christmas. The staff are friendly, but leave you to your business to enjoy things at your own pace, and the food is top notch for a reasonable price.

This was all finished off by their special honey & vanilla cheesecake. It was heavy after the burgers tbh, but I ate it all!

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What a lovely time I had at Odd Bar, and will definitely make an effort to pop in there for a drink when I’m passing in future.

We then went to Apotheca and had some lovely cocktails (boyf unintentionally got the girlier one… again)….

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Fab evening!

Hot yoga (60 minutes) at the Yoga Lounge, Manchester

So, tonight, I made myself go and do some yoga. I’ve never really done ‘proper exercise’ in my life. This is illustrated by the picture of my top below:

To be fair, it had been on the floor in the shower.

I fancied yoga because I’m not competitive, I hate running, and I like the idea of exercise that focuses on mental wellbeing. And involves sitting and lying down.

I chose the Yoga Lounge in Manchester because it’s pretty near to my work, and they seemed to know what they were on about with this ‘hot yoga’ thing. Basically, they heat the room to 38 degrees, then you do yoga there.

The studio is nice, clean and simple. I was a bit surprised that the changing rooms and showers are communal, but I don’t mind other ladies’ butts and I’m assuming they care about mine. Though considering the popularity of the place you’d think they’d have more than 4/5 showers and bigger changing rooms.

Aaanyway, moving on to the yoga - which is what’s really important.

As soon as you enter the studio, the heat is intense. You may be expecting heat, but it’s the kind of heat you experience on a sun lounger on holiday.

This is when I knew it would be a challenge. However, even though there are a range of abilities in the room you are encouraged to go at your own pace, try as much as you can, and rest if you need to.

I had a go at pretty much everything, though I knew I was very sloppy. I was still getting twisted and stretched out and tensed up, and could really feel it. Sweat was dripping off me onto the floor though, and this is my face after:

This picture does not convey how purple I was. I’d had a shower by this point.

I found that yoga takes a lot of concentration, and I think once you have the basic strength and knowledge of the moves, it’s mostly not letting yourself flop out of the poses.

I am looking forward to developing that kind of mental strength and determination even more than I’m looking forward to being stronger and more flexible.

I have terrible posture, but even with one lesson I could feel my body stretching in ways it never had before, loosening up, and I’m positive that my posture will improve over time.

Now, after the lesson, my muscles feel tired but they also feel better. Like I’ve really done something good for myself. I also feel calm and chilled, not at all tired.

It will take a lot of commintment to convince myself to go back next week, to sweat, wobble and struggle in that room.

But I think I’m definitely going to keep it up.

My week eating LoveMindis Heat ‘n’ Eat Curry Pots

I’ve been sporadically updating this blog with my drivvel since March but, until a couple of weeks ago, nobody had sent me any free stuff.

Shame on you all.

However, this all changed a few weeks ago when I got an email from LoveMindis saying they’d like to send me some free curry. Nice. 

So when six of their Heat ‘n’ Eat curry pot ready meal things arrived, you can understand my excitement. You may also be able to understand why I chose to forego my usual sandwiches for the week and eat curry for lunch. Every. Day. 

It all got off to a good start when I quickly grabbed a ‘Chana Masala’ out of the fridge on Monday morning, purely because I’ve never had a chana masala before.

When I got it to work, I realised it was a veggie curry with chickpeas in.

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Chana Masala on a tangerine plate. At my desk.


However, it was just lovely. I ended up really glad I got it for free, because I’d never order it in a takeaway or restaurant, and it turned out to be really nice. I tried something new!

On the packaging (you may be able to see) it said ‘Nice & Spicy’, which is a pretty good summation. It left a nice tingle on my tongue. And chickpeas are good in a curry, who knew?

Day two, Tuesday, was chicken masala. 

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 The perceptive among you will notice it says ‘Very Hot!’ on the packaging. And while it wasn’t ‘very’ hot, it was definitely hotter than the one the day before. I suppose if they made it too hot, people would complain. 

Along with the spice, there are quite a lot of flavours in this one. I’m no food critic, so I can’t tell you which flavours. But there are flavours. 

The chicken was nice, soft enough to cut up with a fork (I’m too lazy to use a knife) and there was a fair amount of it. Not loads, perhaps, but more than you get in some riggy takeaways. 

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Notice that all these meals are eaten at my desk? I work well ‘ard.

Day three, and curry every day wasn’t quite as much of a novelty anymore. At least these curry pots contain a good amount that fill you up, but not so much that you end up uncomfortable. 

With my appetite, I could eat them for lunch but it’s not quite enough for an evening meal. Maybe I’m just a fatty.

Anyway, this chicken tikka was alright. I think Mindi’s have got it right, their curry pots are tasty but don’t take any risks. That’s what you need to appeal to a really wide target market. 

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By Thursday, I was definitely a bit sick of curry. i know that’s my own fault, though, for eating one a day.

Did I mention they went off on the 9th? That was Wednesday. I still ate this one, though, and ate another today. Don’t worry, Mindis, I won’t sue you if I die of food poisoning. The blame is all on me.

Anyway, I’m not the biggest fan of korma, but this one was nice. It tasted exactly like a korma you’d get from a restaurant, which is a compliment considering it’s a ready meal.

As I’m running out of things to say, I don’t know how you’re meant to eat these out of the pot. They’re so hot when they come out of the microwave! Suppose you’re meant to leave them to cool but I’m impatient.

Also, when I recieved them, I immediately contacted one of my friends who can’t eat gluten - because all the pots make quite a big deal of the fact that they’re ‘gluten free’. She informed me that basically all curry is gluten free. So it’s a bit redundant that they put it on their pots as a selling point.

I ate another chicken masala one today, but I’ve already reviewed that one. And another chicken tikki one back at home… 

Overall, my week of curry was a nice change. Microwaving them every day in work’s kitchen attracted quite a lot of interest, so all my workmates know about Mindis, and my blog, now.

There weren’t any pots I didn’t like, and you can tell that they’re made from good quality ingredients. They’re quite generous with the meat/other protein sources, and they do taste like something you’d expect in a restaurant.

However, I doubt I’ll be popping to Booths so I can continue my one-a-day curry habit. Back to butties!

They would be good for people who fancy a treat at lunch, or small-bellied people who can’t be bothered cooking tea but want something tasty. 

Thanks for the free curry Mindi. 

One of my favourite places in the world: the Swinside Inn

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to one of my favourite places in the world - the Swinside Inn, in the Lake District.

I love it for a few reasons. For one, it’s an 18th century coaching inn and drinking ale in the oldest section is just awesome. 

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Obligatory dog in picture


Like, this is where you eat your meals, and sit, and drink, and chat. It’s just the best atmosphere. There’s also a newer area (the Refuge Bar) with a pool table and massive tellies for all you folk who like your modern touches. 

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No dog in this picture, I’m afraid.

Once you get up to the rooms everything is fairly basic - but nice. You get everything you’d generally need, but nowt fancy. Nicely presented.

The best thing about the rooms, though (at least the ones at the front of the building) is the view. This is the view from the ‘Causey Pike’ room - which is a view of Causey Pike, incidentally: 

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Obligatory dog and mum in picture


You’re also only an hour’s walk(?) to the top of Catbells - and views like this:

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Dog looking really shifty, here.


My favourite view from Catbells:

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Mountains are mint.


The food at the Swinside is also absolutely fantastic. Proper pub grub, made really well, and lots of it. I had pate to start, and they actually gave me the correct pate:toast ratio - which almost never happens usually.

So: great food, good drinking, great walks, great atmosphere, great location… but the real reason I love the Swinside?

I’ve been going there since I was really little. It’s just been in my life since I can remember! Each visit seems to correspond with different stages of my life too, like:

  • Going as a really little kid and ‘accidentally’ falling into the stream in one of the surrounding fields (read: jumping in while nobody was looking and pretending it was an accident)
  • Going as a tween and lamenting the fact that the phone signal was shoddy. I NEED TO TXT LOL.
  • Going as a ‘young adult’ (i.e. now) about to make my next fantastic career move, and really enjoying my time with my parents and my dog. Dad beat me at pool three times in a row. I was actually kind of gutted that there was (sparse) phone signal, and even wi-fi. It’s nice being ‘cut off’ from the normal world sometimes. I also had my very first lucid dream (possibly due to the pitch dark, quiet nights?) and it was AWESOME. 

Swinside, I love you. I’ll be back. 

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Demonstration of me loving the Swinside.

This is a bit of a weird post (especially as my last review was about a metal festival) but I thought it might help someone. 
Basically, I bought this Nivea ‘In-Shower Body Moisturiser’ because it sounded a bit innovative an’ all that. It’s a good product but the way they tell you to use it isn’t actually the best way. 
It’s actually best if you put it on wet skin and then leave it on when you get out of the shower and let it dry naturally. Well soft skin! However I see why they tell you to rinse it off because it takes ages to soak in and dry, especially in your sweaty cracks (like your… er… armpits). You need an extra ten minutes or so where you can’t really sit down or touch anything.  
Basically, you could just use a bog standard moisturiser and put it on wet skin, if you wanted to. Frugal beauty tip for you there.

This is a bit of a weird post (especially as my last review was about a metal festival) but I thought it might help someone.

Basically, I bought this Nivea ‘In-Shower Body Moisturiser’ because it sounded a bit innovative an’ all that. It’s a good product but the way they tell you to use it isn’t actually the best way.

It’s actually best if you put it on wet skin and then leave it on when you get out of the shower and let it dry naturally. Well soft skin! However I see why they tell you to rinse it off because it takes ages to soak in and dry, especially in your sweaty cracks (like your… er… armpits). You need an extra ten minutes or so where you can’t really sit down or touch anything. 

Basically, you could just use a bog standard moisturiser and put it on wet skin, if you wanted to. Frugal beauty tip for you there.

A few bands at Devilution Festival, Wigan

My mateys Purge were set to play Devilution Festival in Wigan last Saturday, so I thought I’d go along and have a look. First thought: why were there hay bales everywhere?

Purge played a good set. They always do. If you’ve never read my reviews of them before (where have you been?) you can find some in older entries on this blog. The new songs they’ve added into the mix show how the band is growing and progressing into something really, really interesting. When you consider how easy and fun Purge’s music is to listen to, its complexity can be quite surprising. They make their grungy, punky, infectious sound seem positively effortless.

So Purge: they put on a great show. Shame there wasn’t really anyone (except the die-hard fans) there to see it. I was wondering why there was nobody there - perhaps it was early in the day? However, later bands helped me come to the conclusion that it just wasn’t Purge’s type of festival. It was a heavy metal festival at heart. (Yes, in Wigan).

The band before Purge - Invane - hinted at this with their ‘soft hard-rock’. Their playing was mostly structured and coherent, but perhaps lacking inventiveness (not to sound patronising - but perhaps this is something that might come with time). That’s not to say that the set didn’t have its moments: like their cover of ‘Careless Whisper’. For me, weirdly, this was the best song of the set and the vocalist’s ability really came through. His singing was so flawless it sounded recorded. The vocal harmonies with the guitarist actually detracted from some of the songs - he was powerful enough alone. Sounded like the dude from Alter Bridge, actually. Their cover of ‘Man in the Box’ by Alice in Chains was another highlight, with some challenging moments that they tackled well. I couldn’t help but think, though, that a different song with Layne’s more soulful vocals might’ve been more appropriate. Anyway, keep at it, lads - your enthusiasm was really evident and nice to see. Am I being patronising, again?

Before we left (sorry, I am a bad reviewer) I caught Degeneration Fuzz's set. I'm pretty sure before they started playing the introducer said “It's good to finally see a girl on the stage!” - which was rather funny, considering that it was actually a hairy lad. I think the band were one player down - so fair play to them for coming on and playing a good set. These guys were pretty much pure grunge, like the 90s come back to haunt us. Tormented vocals and distorted guitars. The bassist really had his moments - I remember thinking “whoa, this guy's mint!”, but can't remember what he was doing, specifically (again, bad reviewer…). The singer/guitarist sounded like Kurt Cobain with a sore throat (a compliment) and he occasionally took it upon himself to throw himself to the ground and flop like a fish. I wasn't sure whether there was meant to be an element of comedy/self-mocking to their set - I kind of hope there was. 

Now… I have left the best until last. Purge, I love you, but you were just not right for this festival. You know who was right for this festival?

OCE-FUCKING-ANIS…. Oceanis.

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A (quite frankly) poor camera-phone picture of Oceanis. I need to start bringing my SLR to these things - and to not get so drunk.


When I got home and looked them up, I learnt that Oceanis played this year’s Bloodstock Festival (New Blood stage). I was there, and I’m genuinely gutted that I - and all my metul mates - missed them. 

There’s only one word that accurately describes this band: unhinged.

I had seen the singer earlier in the day, when he very politely talked to us while getting equipment out of the van. On stage, however, he turned into some kind of terrifying demon-man. He periodically left the stage, wandered around the room and squared up to people. He stood on random objects and beat his chest as he growled (and occasionally squealed) into the microphone. The rest of the band stayed obediently on stage, pounding out the heaviest sound I’ve heard since Bloodstock.

They were described as having influences from ‘Mastodon, Lamb of God and Gojira’, which made me pretty excited. However, although I heard some of those references in their music, they had a sound that was all their own. It was almost unrelenting, overwhelming heaviness that left me with a permanent involuntary grin (or perhaps a terrified smirk?). 

This crushing heaviness was interspersed with moments of respite and clarity, and these different sections were woven together seamlessly. 

This is the sort of thing I love: metal that a band has really thought about. Songs that are crafted to be unexpected - so you’re never sure what’s going to happen next. They took influences from some of the best bands in the genre, but this set was their own.

It felt as though a much bigger, more famous band had ‘treated’ a smaller, more intimate venue with their presence. They really commanded the room. It was kind of mad that there weren’t more people there to see it. 

I would pay to see them again, and I’d encourage many of my friends to come with me. 

Welcome to my first (slightly) negative review: Milan, Worsley

Every evening on my way home from work, I go past Milan in Worsley - and I always think it looks really nice. Posh an’ that. I noticed they had a ‘2 course for £10.95’ deal on a Thursday, so I apprehended the boyf and convinced him to go there with me last night.

Now, anyone who’s been reading my reviews knows that I am no critic. In fact, I am relentlessly determined to see the good side of everything I do. But, if you’re reading this: welcome to my first (slightly) negative review.

I’d booked for 8.15, and I think we got there a bit early - so we were told it was very busy and we’d have to wait 15 minutes. No biggie. The boyf decided to go to the bar to get us a couple of Peronis, and this is where things started to go a bit wrong.

But first I have to tell you a bit about my boyfriend. He is a young man with long-ish curly hair and a beard. He was dressed nicely, with a t-shirt, sandy coloured jeans and clean Vans-style trainers - but he does not look rich. Neither of us do.

And I think that’s honestly the reason why he was stood at that bar for a good five minutes (doesn’t sound long, but it is) without anyone even acknowledging he was there. There were five different people behind that bar during that time too. I appreciate they were really busy and getting people’s orders ready, but an “I’ll be with you in a minute” wouldn’t have gone amiss. At one point, a middle-aged lady approached the bar and was only there seconds before somebody came over to see what she wanted.

He was finally served, though, and the bartender said he’d bring the beers over. When my boyfriend sat down he said “How do they know that I’m not a food critic or something?” The he paused for a second, looked at me, and said “Wait a minute - you’re a food critic!”

I’m not a food critic. But I do have this blog to air my views of everything I do. And here are my views of Milan:

As I said before, I am not one to judge anything harshly. We were sat down pretty quickly after that, and I was hoping for everything else to go smoothly. It didn’t, though, really. Here are a few weird things that happened:

  • We were walked past a number of nice tables with a lot of space, to a table in the corner. This table was at an angle to the corner of two walls jutting out into the room. This meant that I was sat on one side of the wall, and boyf was sat around the corner on the other side of the wall. There was a corner jutting out between us! To further illustrate that this was a silly seating arrangement that had just been shoved where it’d fit, the corner of the table had been bashed into the plaster of the wall. So it was stuck in a big gash in the wall. Not the best table in the house…
  • We had beers, so said we’d delay ordering other drinks for a while. So they took away the wine list and our wine glasses. We had to ask for them back later.
  • It wasn’t clear what was and was not included in the ‘2 for £10.95’ deal, so we avoided it (to be fair, we should’ve probably asked)
  • The menus were written with poor grammar and it was really hard to decide what we actually wanted (this is our fault, though)
  • When we were actually ready to order, I asked if we could have the wine list back so we could order wine at the same time as our food. They brought the wine list and glasses back, and then disappeared again before we could start ordering our food
  • The lights kept flickering brighter and dimmer
  • The family on the large table near us kept talking behind their hands and looking at us

I am a pretty chilled out person, but was slightly perturbed by this disorganised service and un-ideal seating arrangement. It just needed a little more thought and consideration put into it. I would’ve forgiven them everything if the food was good.

But the food was not good.

The starters passed without incident (I had goat’s cheese, he had meatballs) but the mains were more problematic. Boyf ordered the sea bream and was really unhappy with it. He let me try some, and it was flavourless and watery. I don’t eat fish, so I can’t say, but he said it was undercooked. His roast vegetables were crunchy - so not really roasted at all. I understand we could’ve complained, but didn’t really see the point. I actually felt really sorry for him, he looked so unhappy with his meal (that cost like £16). 

My joint of lamb was more enjoyable, but it came with a really strong juice that masked and overwhelmed the flavour of the meat - instead of complementing it.

In summary, we’re both glad that we didn’t choose to go to Milan for a special occasion. It was ‘alright’ with some annoying elements. It was particularly annoying to see the waiters fawning over all the other tables while we seemed like an afterthought.

If you are a young person looking for a special night, but you don’t look rich, I wouldn’t recommend Milan. Instead, go somewhere that actually cares about you, no matter what you look like - and a place where the food is better. In fact, go to La Perla in Boothstown instead. 

I miss Snowdonia…

August bank holiday weekend 2013: 12 awesome things I’d be doing in Manchester if I was actually here

I’m off to Snowdonia this bank holiday for some camping, mountain climbing and god-knows what else. Really excited to get away from it all, stand at the top of Snowdon, look up at the stars, drink lots of ‘morning beers’ and all that stuff.

However, I’ve been wondering what I’d do this bank holiday weekend if I was still in Manchester - so I’ve put together my ‘dream weekend’. I can’t make it to all these events, but hopefully they might inspire some of you. And, of course, in reality if I did everything on this list I’d end up very tired, very poor and very drunk by Tuesday.

Friday 23rd August

Well, Friday day is taken up by work (boo!), but the night would be all mine. If I could, I would almost certainly be heading for a night out. It’d probably start in TV21, with me eyeing the life-size Alien and Predator with awe/fear whilst clutching a Budvar.

I’d probably plan on going to other cool places like Cord, Hula Tiki and NoHo - but I’d realise it was getting really late and I have to get to Mint Lounge before midnight (£2 entry).

There are undeniably ‘cooler’ nights out in Manchester (Gorilla, Black Dog Ballroom, Sound Control) but, I’d argue, none as fun as Top of the Pops at Mint Lounge. I always dance my head off in there and evolve from a well-made-up young woman to a sweating mess. It’s really dark in there, though, so it doesn’t really matter. My drink of choice in here is Modelo (with the occasional Veddett and Quilmes thrown in if I’m feeling adventurous/I have enough money). Chart hits from the Sixties onwards - you can’t really go wrong.

Or, in an alternate timeframe, I’d be in Satan’s Hollow downing £1 Carlsberg.

At about 3am I’d hop on the 39 to Leigh to witness a whole new part of my night out - and often by far the wildest. There’s usually people vomiting, urinating, shouting and fighting. Ah, Leigh.

Saturday 24th August

On Saturday, I’d want to wake up and get straight back into Manchester. I’d want to go to the Museum of Science and Industry for their Brains: The Mind as Matter exhibition (on until 04 January 2014). It’s free and has REAL BRAINS.

I’d probably want to go to Don Giovanni’s to eat. They’re doing a 50% off deal if you pre-book, but it’s only available until 5pm on Saturdays.

I’d then head to Fountain Street in the Northern Quarter to meet for Jonathan Schofield’s ‘Tour of Uninteresting Objects’ at 3.30 (it’s £8 and I think you have to pre-book). It’s a tour of weird things you never really notice in Manchester. It sounds boring, so it must actually be interesting. 

Of course - this is what I’d plan on doing. What I’d probably ACTUALLY do is stay in bed and nurse my hangover, eating bowlfuls of cheesy pasta and drinking lots of water. But a girl can dream.

I generally dislike Saturday nights out in Manchester (pervy office workers out in force) but let’s pretend that it’s not going to be packed and unpleasant.

I’d like to head to the new Bierkeller (yay German beer) in… the Printworks (shudder) to down a stein of beer on a bench.

Now, let’s pretend that I am sober enough to drive, or have a driving licence, or convince somebody to drive me to Route 66 drive-in cinema in Trafford Park. It’s £18 a car, so we’d stuff a few people in. There’s nothing good on, except the Conjuring (which I’ve already seen) so I’d probably end up settling for We’re the Millers - just because I really want to try this cinema.

Sunday 25th August

Sunday would be a more relaxed day (comparatively). After all the alcohol consumed so far I’d definitely want to head to the River Bar and Restaurant for their Sunday lunch deal: 3 courses and a cocktail for £19.95

I’d then pop into the Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter for the clothes swap. I have loads of clothes I don’t really want - and like the idea of swapping them with something else for nowt. It’s £3 to get in and on from 12 until 7. Last time I went to a clothes swap I ended up with a t-shirt saying ‘Sit on my face and party’. Mint. 

I think I’d fancy some comedy after that, and there are two options. At the Frog and Bucket there’s the 'Laughing Cows' night - which is all female standup for £7 at 7pm. It’d definitely depend on how fragile I was feeling though - so the alternative is Quippopotamus at Fuel in Withington at 8pm. It’s free.

Then, obviously I’ll be fancying more cocktails… so I might’ve taken advantage of the 2 for 1 cocktail offer at the Alchemist (Spinningfields) from 10pm.

Monday 26th August

Quite frankly, if I actually did all of the stuff I’d listed above I’d be a broken woman by Monday.

However, I’d probably try and fit in £10 burger and bowling at Dog Bowl between midday and 3pm. I’m not 100% sure that this offer is valid on a bank holiday, though, so I’d have to check.

Would I actually do all of this stuff?

Not a chance in hell. In fact, even just writing it all down has made me feel absolutely exhausted, poor and very hungover.

I hope you’ve found something to do over this bank holiday weekend in Manchester - but personally I’m very glad that I’m going to be having a chilled weekend in Wales!

Just saying hello!

I’ve decided to “come out”, as you will. I started out Tweeting and blogging anonymously as the Manc Reviewer, and it was nice for a while. The fact that nobody knew who the hell I was meant that people often thought I was more knowledgeable/ important than I really am.

Really, though, I’m just a weedy twenty-something girl called Helen from the Manchester suburbs. I’m a professional copywriter by day, and I blog about my antics in Manchester when I can.

So what’s changing? Well, nothing much. You’ll just know who’s writing when I post my next blog or review. I’ll probably also be branching out in my reviews to include more mundane details of my daily life: film reviews and the like. Don’t worry, you can ignore them. And I’ll still try to go to as many gigs/festivals/clubnights as I can. And remember, I’m more than happy to listen to bands’ new singles. 

Here I am!

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BLOODSTOCK 2013: metal musings and reviews

On Thursday 8th August, strange things started happening in Derbyshire. 

Catton Park, usually full of dog walkers and families (I assume) suddenly became full of different creatures altogether. These creatures trudged in, adorned in black, laden with strangely-shaped packages. I’m talking, of course, about moshers - arriving at the 2013 Bloodstock Festival.

Soon, the idyllic park was strewn with litter and pop-up tents but thronged with happy, friendly people who were all united under one worthy cause: METAL.

The proceedings got to a good start for me with a trip tosee 4 DJs of the Apocalypse in the Sophie Lancaster tent. The beer was cold, and there was dancing women in their underwear and fire and everything. At some point, for a reason I can’t really explain, the aforementioned ‘DJs’ decided that the crowd didn’t REALLY want to see these beautiful ladies writhing around to metal tunes. No. What they REALLY wanted to see was some hairy men strutting around onstage and playing air guitar. They proceeded to stay there and block everyone’s very pleasant view pretty much for the rest of the night. Sigh.

The next day I pulled myself from my lair and made my groggy way to the arena, where Death Angel put on a good performance that I didn’t pay much attention to. It was impossible to dress for Bloodstock this year because the weather would alternate between boiling and then very windy and cold. 

After running to the tent for my jumper (METALLL \m/) I managed to catch a bit of Ex DeoI was pretty excited because I’d heard they dressed like Romans. Turned out they weren’t even wearing helmets. I was disappointed. 

Oh, there were people having sword fights at random points throughout the festival:

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As you do. 

After this it was time for Municipal Waste who, in my opinion, put on the first ‘professional’ performance of the festival. They had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. Their songs are short, energetic and almost exclusively about drinking. They don’t take themselves too seriously but they were committed to putting on a good show. I saw a number of things during their set that I’ve never seen during a gig before, like:

  • A dude crowdsurfing. In a wheelchair. 
  • A man walking through the crowd holding up a Lionel Richie LP.
  • A ‘wave of death’. MW must be bored of the ‘wall of death’ so they proposed that as many people as possible should crowdsurf to the front instead.

Next up: to the Sophie Lancaster stage for Xerath:

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Fuuucking hell. If you’ve never heard Xerath’s music before, it might help to imagine the following:

It’s an unspecified time in the future. Clouds hang low and swollen in a red sky. Darkness reigns. Everything is quiet. The trees are dead: burnt. Humanity is all in one big line, advancing one step at a time into the ground. As we descend into hell all we can do is nod obedience to the unrelenting force that’s pushing us down there. 

This is seriously what was filling my head during Xerath. I’ve never felt a band with such power before - and I don’t just mean their music. They simply dominate. It’s like a boot pounding down on your soul until all you can do is submit (very 1984). The singer, for example, treated us like dogs seeking his approval. At one point he even turned his back on us after ordering us not to start a wall of death until HE. FUCKING. SAID. SO. Of course, we obeyed. I’ve never been so intimidated in my whole life. IT WAS FUCKING AWESOME. In short: they’re crushingly heavy and have awesome stage presence. Go see.

An unspecified amount of time spent chilling at the campsite, then: King Diamond. I’d been told by a few of my friends that I shouldn’t bother going because “they’re shit.” I’m glad I ignored them, though. For starters, here’s a poor picture of their set:

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They’d really gone over the top with the decoration (I was joking that they must think Derbyshire is dead rough. I’m funny, me). The best way to describe King Diamond is a ‘rock opera’. Most of the music is standard - but enjoyable and played well. The vocals are what’s… different. The singer communicates in this high-pitched squeal/scream that can get very irritating very quickly. It’s all part of the illusion of weirdness, though, and I enjoyed it.

Now, this is where it gets very, very exciting. I’d traveled to Bloodstock that weekend to see my good friends BETRAEUS play the Sophie Lancaster stage (and the Jagermeister stage - but that’s for later). 

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Look at them go. Watching Betraeus is an experience that incites a range of emotions. There’s melodic breaks, jazzy interludes, RELENTLESS SHREDDING and poundingly heavy riffs - all mixed together. Once you think you know where the song is going, it changes direction. These four lads from Manchester turn into a force to be reckoned with onstage, and they keep the crowd mesmerised from start to finish. If Xerath pound you relentlessly into hell, Betraeus beat you down, pull you back up to tell you everything’s going to be alright, then laugh evilly as they push you right back down again. 

Gojira on the main stage impressed, as always. Apparently they were missing some of their kit but I doubt most people would’ve noticed if they hadn’t mentioned it. I was a bit tired from Betraeus, though - and the sound where I was stood wasn’t great - so I didn’t get as into it as I should’ve. Poor form from me there, really. 

Did I mention this mint dude that was cruising round in his wheelchair that was decked out as some kind of Nordic war ship? No? Here he is:

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Did I also mention the guy whose lovely long hair got stuck on a fairground ride? The ride operator had to come and unscrew parts of the seat to get him free. It was funny, and the ride was absolutely incredible. I screamed like a bitch. Here it is: 

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Anyway, on to Lamb of God. They played a great set that was interrupted because the goddamn barrier was breaking apart. The crowd waited patiently for about 20 minutes while it was fixed: eager to continue moshing to LoG. The way I’d describe their music is “like somebody got the groove, then took a chainsaw to it.” They were pretty much exactly as I was expecting.

It is with a heavy heart that I embarked on the last day. I set off to watch Bossk. All I knew about them is that they were ‘rate good’. And that they were! Their sound is progressive: it builds and meanders, drops and then builds again. Eventually it all comes crashing down with crushing aggression, with agonised screaming vocals (which weren’t to everyone’s taste but I thought worked). It put me in mind of a mountain forest in Norway. We’re hunting a stag and it’s just started to snow. We keep spying the stag as it flits through the trees. Then a fucking bear comes when you least expect it and RIPS EVERYONE APART.

This was followed by Exodus and Devil Driver which didn’t really stand out to me.

Then Betraeus, again, on the Jagermeister stage. 

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They were originally meant to play an acoustic set, but decided to go FULL METAL instead. They drew quite a crowd during their short time onstage and everyone was cheering and headbanging along. They threw a few covers in, which entertained everyone but weren’t really needed: their own material was enough to get our attention. At the end of the set they gave out some free CDs, which disappeared in literally about 30 seconds. It was like Black Friday in America or some shit, with people scrapping over the last ones. If you didn’t manage to grab one, get yo’self over to www.Betraeus.com

Anthrax put on a proficient but unmemorable set - although an upside down cross did appear in the sky at one point, so they must’ve been doing something right. 

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We decided to watch Dying Fetus instead of Slayer that evening. I saw a completely naked man wandering around without a care in the world - hugging uncomfortable people. I was quite amused that security didn’t really make an effort to stop him. Live and let live - and let your penis dangle free! There were also people headbanging so hard I was worried about them damaging their brains. It wasn’t exactly my type of music but it was certainly a good show: relentlessly heavy.

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Random picture of the pretty sky that will not fit elsewhere in this review. 

What really makes Bloodstock special is that the punters might not be the most attractive, but they look out for each other. They chirp “Hallo!” as you walk past. They just want to have a good time and ensure everyone else is having a good time too. They are different people but they all love one thing: metal. And that brings them together more powerfully than you might guess. Bloodstock is one of the only festivals that really feels like a community.

The nightlife wasn’t great this year, with the exact same thing on in the Sophie Lancaster tent every night. But the real buzz was in the campsite, with people laughing until the wee hours and getting merrier and merrier. I didn’t see a single fight. All I saw was bin jousting:

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Oh, and I sneaked into the VIP area. It was pretty shit. 

Sun Dish Caribbean Restaurant, Tyldesley - a review

On Saturday (3rd August) the boyf and I were considering getting a takeaway. He mentioned that the new Caribbean restaurant in Tyldesley (Sun Dish) offered a takeaway service. We looked at each other for a minute and then both suggested (pretty much at the same time) that we should just go up there for a meal. So we did - and here’s what we thought:

 

Atmosphere

Walking in there gives you a really positive first impression. The walls are painted in bright but simple colours (greens and the like) and there’s artwork dotted around. Lots of references to Bob Marley! The music playlist adds to the chilled atmosphere, featuring reggae legends like Barrington Levy. Unless my memory has gone bonkers (which is a possibility) I’m sure I heard a reggae version of Cher’s ‘Believe’ at one point - which briskly got turned off (I was quite enjoying it, though!).

It was busy in there but not packed. All the tables were nicely spaced out. They could’ve fit more people in there, but it’s good that they didn’t.

Service

I’d been in a couple of hours earlier to book, but we still had to wait for a table for about 20 minutes. This was no trouble though - and it’s to be expected in the opening few weeks of a restaurant’s life. We just had a pint of Red Stripe and enjoyed the atmosphere. I sort of wish I’d got one of the amazing-looking cocktails.

I personally really loved the service. It wasn’t ‘lick-your-arse nice’ (a good thing) but it was by no means lacking. The young woman who served us (who had AMAZING hair) just seemed genuinely interested in whether we enjoyed our meals and everything was OK for us. She checked on us periodically but not too much. When I was ordering (curried goat) I asked for plain rice - but she said ‘would you not like it with rice and peas…’ which I took as a hint. She was right, though.

Food!

So - so far, so good. Now, on to the food! I had the chicken soup to start followed by the curried goat. The boyf had a beef patty in pastry (I think?) also followed by the curried goat.

The starters were nice, mine flavourful with a hint of warm spice - with big chunks of chicken and vegetables. His was a bit weird, the pastry was quite sweet and it contrasted with the spiciness of the meat. He loved it - so it was obviously a good combination. I imagine some people might object to it, though, because it’s a bit different.

The goat was just delicious. We couldn’t fault it. It was soft and tender and fell apart in the mouth. It worked really well with the rice and peas (thanks waitress!). It was just comforting, tasty food. We were really ashamed that we couldn’t finish it (it was so filling) but we assured the waitress that we’d be back to try again.

The presentation was nice and simple. It looked good but looks didn’t take priority over taste.

Price

Overall we were really happy with our experience at Sun Dish. We’ll definitely go again, and we’d recommend it to anyone who fancies a nice meal and a good chill in Tyldesley.

It’s pretty cheap, too. For two courses each, side orders of rice and a bottle of red it was just under £40. Definitely not too shabby.

Get to Sun Dish, people! Support this great new business. I know I will be. 

A quick cinema tip that could save you £100s per year

I have a Cineworld Unlimited card (£15 a month for all-you-can-eat films!) and I love it. I went to Leigh yesterday to watch Now You See Me - which wasn’t my choice, incidentally, I would’ve much preferred to see World’s End. It’s a right crock, but it was ‘free’, so hey.

When I handed over my Unlimited card, the lady behind the counter asked if I had an Orange Wednesday code as well.

Turns out, if you have an Unlimited card AND an Orange Wednesday code, you can bring a friend in with you on your Cineworld card - for free! Only exception is with 3D films, where they’ll have to pay the extra ‘3D fee’ and for the glasses if they don’t have any (about £2.50 in total).

Me and the boyf both have cards, but we were saying, in theory, we could cancel one and just come on Wednesdays - and both get in for free every time. So instead of paying for 2 cards (about £360 a year) we’d only be paying for one (about £180 a year) and both get to see all the films we want.

Though that’s a big saving, we’re probably not going to do that. For one, cinemas on a Wednesday are a cluster-fuck - especially if there’s a blockbuster out. Secondly, I really can’t get over what a kind offer that is by Cineworld - I doubt anyone has ever expected to get in for free on someone else’s Unlimited card, even on Orange Wednesdays, but it’s a service they offer.

£15 a month isn’t that much to us, and we’re happy to pay it because we love going to the cinema whenever we want without worrying about the cost. But I thought I’d let you all know, in case it’s something you ever want to take advantage of in future.

Cheers Cineworld! Best cinema ever. 

A few photos from my lovely, chilled-out evening at Manchester International Festival at Albert Square. If you think it looks mint - it’s because it is! I went on Saturday night and the atmosphere was so relaxed (dunno what it’s like during the day though…). Beer prices are what you’d expect in town really.