Jon Ashcroft

Weekend in Manchester

31st January, 2017

In a vein effort to extend this blog well past the realm of tech related posts, I figured I’d get the ball rolling and post my first ‘lifestyle’ blog post on here – and what better way to start with our recent trip to Manchester?!

I had the pleasure of visiting Manchester this weekend with my girlfriend, a city that neither of us had been to before – safe to say , I think that we’re both in love. The city itself is so vibrant, full of atmosphere, culture and identity, something that I think my hometown Birmingham is lacking, but slowly headed towards.

Our stay was from Friday to Sunday, which gave us plenty of time to explore the city and actually experience it, rather than a flying visit where you struggle to cram everything into one day. I must admit, I was a bit worried at first – there aren’t exactly many ‘touristy’ things to do in central Manchester outside of museums and some landmark buildings (please correct me if I’m wrong)!

That being said, we did pay a visit to the fantastic Manchester Art Gallery – which hosted a ‘Modern Japanese Design’ exhibition, featuring some unique furniture designs, as well as many classic COMME des GARÇONS and Yohji Yamamoto clothing items. I also especially loved the Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers exhibition – an intriguing eye opener into the identity of Britain.

Photography Feature Wall at Manchester Art Gallery

I feel as though I should definitely mention how architecturally beautiful the John Rylands Library is – it’s worth a visit if you’re ever in Manchester, the place is literally (and I hate to use this comparison) like Hogwarts – filled with intimate hallways, a vast array of historical books, and a grand stunning hall (is it a hall?) where they supply you a mirror to look up at the roof, just in case your neck is sore.

In terms of food and drink – Manchester really, really thrives here! We enjoyed Thai at My Thai, Indian Street Food at Bundobust, Burgers and wings at Walrus, as well as brunch at Fig & Sparrow, a speciality coffee shop in the Northern Quarter, which I wholeheartedly recommend.

I do wish that Birmingham had more of these independent, or small-chain, places to grab a bite to eat or drink – don’t get me wrong, the ones we do have are great, but we could always do with more.

Which leads me to the Northern Quarter. Our hotel was actually on the south border of the Northern Quarter, so we were able to quickly make our way there and explore. the Northern Quarter is what I think Digbeth should strive to be.  It’s overflowing with amazing street art, a variance of independent stores and eateries, and it actually has foot-traffic. It felt like there was an actual presence of culture there; one I can only dream of for Digbeth. Maybe we’ll have that one day.

Our visit here has reinforced to me just how important our local independent stores are, and that we need to support them in any way that we can. It’s safe to say that this year, I will be searching for more in Birmingham, and hopefully discovering more in new cities in the UK.

Overall – Manchester was pretty awesome. Great art, great food, great shops, and most of all – great company. I can’t wait to go back.