My Favourite Places

It’s August and the theatres are quiet in Manchester.  In fact, if you like theatre, you’re probably in Edinburgh, or about to go.  But I’m still in Manchester, fulfilled by everything Manchester had to offer in July (and working) so I thought this was a good chance to go through some of my favourite places – places that aren’t theatres or site specific locations.  You do want to know more about me, don’t you?

20140726_112549-1I love to cook, so I don’t go out to eat anywhere near as much as I could, and when I do it tends to be street food. Favourites include Mumma Schnitzel, ¡Arepa Arepa Arepa!, anything at Levenshulme Market, and Ginger’s Comfort Emporium for the best ice cream anywhere. If it’s more formal, then it’s got to be either Tampopo or HOME. That’s about as formal as it gets; probably why I’m not a food blogger.

But I do love a pint, and pubs are a great place to write, meet and watch people. I can’t keep away from Mr Thomas’s Chop House near the Royal Exchange which still does a mean pint of Guinness, and which is a great place to relax after a play. For specialist craft beer it’s got to be the Marble Arch, although the equally superb Knott Bar always has an interesting range. And for different people and stories, you can’t beat the City Arms near the Town Hall. For a night out, I love the Whiskey Jar, even if my Scottish roots would question the spelling.

IMG_5426For a quiet coffee, Pot Kettle Black in the Barton Arcade combines quality with ambience. And great soup. For tea, Proper Tea opposite the Cathedral is hard to beat for just being a great place to sit and watch the world go by, with the equally impressive view of the Cathedral.

If I want to write, and I’m trying to resist the temptation to go to a pub, I’ll always head to the main City Library. I love the way that the dynamics of the Reading Room change throughout the academic year. And the main hall of the Royal Exchange can’t help but inspire the writer in me. A real oasis of calm in the midst of a busy city.

For art, the recently reopened Whitworth Art Gallery would grace any European city, and is a stunning building that always impresses. Just down the road the Museum of Costume is a little visited but fascinating collection of what we’ve worn through the ages – good for inspiration for period plays. I often drop into the Holden Gallery for its innovative exhibitions, and of course the central Art Gallery is putting on the most amazing exhibitions now; there’s always something you love and something you’ve never seen before.

IMG_5641I run, and in the city my favourite stretch is the canal between the Rain Bar and Trafford Park (despite occasional diversions). Hard to believe that this is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the world. If I want something greener, it’s a short tram ride to Sale Water Park.

You can’t live on theatre, but you probably could survive on music. Despite the large number of quality venues around Manchester I have two favourites, the Deaf Institute and the recently refurbished Albert Hall. Great venues, huge atmosphere and an eclectic mix of artists.

And finally, if I want to get away from it all, there are so many beautiful places around Manchester . To name just a few, the Peak District (any or all thereof), Alderley Edge, Crosby Beach and all the wild moorland around Blackburn.

Normal service will be resumed in September.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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