A week in Manchester.

The city I live in has been opened up this week, as my Love got a job in the same building. It means after work, I no longer rush to flee the city, but I waltz around it, with my hand in his, exploring.

Manchester is a city ripe with potential. It’s at the point where soon, it may dramatically change. The run-down buildings and old mills the city is identified by are quickly being picked up and renovated. The transport system is changing. The main street is changing. The buildings are changing.

Here’s a week in Manchester, the city I’ve called home for the last 15 months. A week involving three meals out, a cinema trip, a theatre trip and an evening of drinks. I seem so sociable.

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There’s definitely something here that I haven’t seen anywhere else – a sort of unique patriotism. Whether it’s the football, or something else; those from Manchester have a unique understanding of this city, and consequently, a connection that it’s hard for outsiders to get in on. Luckily, half the people in Manchester are outsiders too and we can ponder this together.

One of my favourite parts of working in the city centre is just wandering at lunch time. Heading down new streets and coming upon familiar but unique sights like this:

I find this city to be young; probably due to the universities and colleges within the city radius. There’s more than 100,000 students from Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, nearby University of Salford and the University of Bolton. Added on to that, you have The Manchester College, Royal Northern College of Music and more. Because of this, there’s a diversity of youth which matches the diversity of Manchester. Each suburb or borough has a totally different feel. You can be lost in different pockets of culture as you walk into the city from the outskirts, there are areas where you’re able to see streets of shops without a sign in English. In the city centre, there’s Chinatown, the Spanish quarter, the Northern Quarter, Ancoats, the start of Curry Mile,  the Gay Village; each are areas with their own feel and their own people.

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There’s also a lot of art here. The Whitworth reopened last year and the Manchester Art Gallery is free to enter. Both of these are very good. Apart from that, there’s great art and street art everywhere. Just last week I was walking through a snicket and looked up to see this:

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Lots of smiles.

In Manchester, it seems the one type of food you can be guaranteed is something American. Most places in the Northern Quarter have their menu focussed on US-fare such as wings, hot-dogs and burgers, but there’s a pleasant and pertinent selection of veggie food. We finally had chance to frequent acclaimed Greens in Didsbury last night and it was gooood grub. A very good pre-Valentines. Didsbury itself is a wonderful place with two arms – the established East and the independent-and-proudly-so West. What I know Didsbury for most is it’s incredible foods – I still remember eating at Volta during my first weeks here and I recall the greasy spoon where we got a coffee whilst we hunted houses. Food is a big part of my life, memories are made over meals, new tastes, smells and cooking is a great way to collaborate and truly understand new places and other cultures.

This week, we also went to Evelyn’s for a brilliant veggie burger and smooth tofu fingers:

And we also went to Changos for veggie burritos. Evoking memories of our first few months here where we’d get a burrito on route to the studio before we brought the studio home.

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Manchester is full of good food. I’ve gained a load of weight since I got here and I’ll happily give Manchester’s food scene the blame. That, rather than my sedentary job and lack of willpower to decline free biscuits (sigh).

At least with all this sampling, I know where to recommend for people visiting. I could compose a neat list of favourites by price and by cuisine. For that, I’m proud.

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Also this week, I went with some colleagues to see Wit at the Royal Exchange. My God. It was fantastic. In the least morbid sense – it had the most beautiful portrayal of the moment of death, and a heartbreakingly raw and honest portrayal of cancer throughout. Hats off to Julie Hesmondalgh who stunned everyone there.

I also went to Cineworld to see Spotlight, which was a great film, but lacking an ending I thought. I’d give more away but I don’t want to spoil it. We went to Cineworld after Greens and a walk through Didsbury, a suburb I love, before returning to our suburb. One to talk about after I leave perhaps.

In the next weeks, what to do? More theatre – definitely more theatre (a trip to Contact perhaps), a visit to the Manchester Museum (there’s a dinosaur), a literary talk at the Anthony Burgess Foundation, and perhaps a handful more meals out (but more salads out this time.) One of the best things about Manchester is that there’s ALWAYS something going on. It’s not too bad is this big city. It’s familiar, it’s been eye-opening; it’s been closer to home. It’s been a learning experience.


 

Today’s 52 Weeks of Gratitude was “the city you live in”. We’ve made some good memories in Manchester, but it’s not felt like home as much as I wanted. I wonder if this will change over the coming weeks. I’ve got more exploring to do, that’s for sure.

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