Yesterday my old (as in known her for 20 years, not old as in elderly) bessie and me went for some girly time in my old home town of Manchester. We lived there for 13 years, most of that pre-kids but we also had both kids there too. Adam still works there, so he knows all the cool places to go. We planned a full-ish girly itinerary (nothing too tiring as I am 30 weeks’ pregnant and it was SCORCHIOTASTICLY hot). But we wanted to do a bit of shopping, have lunch, a few drinks to cool off dotted through out and a bit of culture too. Here’s what we did.
Coffee (and a quick bite) at Fig and Sparrow Manchester @figsparrow
I’d already eaten that morning but Geraldine had avocado and seeds on toast (they have lots of nice healthy food on the menu and amazing coffee) whilst I enjoyed a heavenly decaf (rare) cappuccino at this trendy but not annoyingly so cafe. Watch the world go by and sit in the window. They also sell bits and bobs. A great place to begin the day.
Vintage shopping at Oxfam Originals @oxfamoriginals
From there we literally crossed the road to the amazing Oxfam Originals. This store has been here FOREVER. It was one of the first vintage shops in Manchester. Anyway, it’s got some amazing stuff. As soon as we walked in we picked up tons of bits – and that’s often not the case, for me anyway, in vintage stores. I picked up a vintage Wallis dress, a vintage homemade skirt, a pussy bow necked top (all for under £20 which goes to charity – winner winner! Geraldine tried on some incredible stuff but ended up buying a vintage Jaeger blouse.
Peruse vinyl at Piccadilly Records @piccadillyrecords
I mean, I don’t even have a record player, but it’s nice to spend 10 mins or so looking and soaking up the vibe in here, pretending to be a hipster vinyl collector, you know. It does feel like a very cool MCR institution – and if single it strikes me that it could be a wonderful place to meet a muso man (or woman). Just sayin’!
Buying arty books in Magma @magma_mcr
We popped across the road to look in Magma, another well-known Manchester shop that sells arty books, prints and other cool bits. I picked up a Little People Big Dreams book (LOVE that kids’ book range, all about inspirational women) this one about the life of Emmeline Pankhurst for Bea (read it to her last night in bed), and a sticker superhero book for Artie.
The Northern Quarter is FULL of cool businesses, cafes, florists, restaurants, butchers even nowadays as more people move to the area! Just having a mooch is well worthwhile, there are so many snappable shop fronts and lots of interesting grafitti and murals.
Cooling off with a drink in Oak Street Cafe Bar, in the Manchester Design and Craft Centre
All the above places are on the well-known Oldham Street. From here we took a short walk to the Manchester Design and Craft Centre, which is home to lots of lovely art shops, jewellery designers and more. Great if you want to pick up something special for a bit more that you will not find anywhere else – we got our wedding rings designed here! Oak Street Cafe Bar in the centre is so lovely – and a great spot to feel cool on a rare hot day like the one we experienced. It’s kind of semi inside and semi outside if that makes any sense.
Lunch at hot new communal food hall eaterie Mackie Mayor @mackiemayor
Oh this place is really good. I loved it. Adam had told me about it – and I was very excited. We weren’t disappointed. It’s a Grade II listed market building that’s been transformed to a chilled out, child-friendly (there are lots of high chairs, plus a small play area that is really just a few blankets and toys on the floor – but still, it’s appreciated), communal eaterie. The idea is you choose from the stalls – there are pizza, fish (we went for this, see below), Asian (Bao buns – alas my newly diagnosed gestational diabetes meant I couldn’t try these!), steak – and lots more. Plus several drinks places too. There’s an outside area, a buzzing inside with an upstairs seating too. It’s fab. Go see it for yourself is all that’s left to say. Oh apart from this – we have the same lights in our house. Felt rather chuffed over this.
We stayed here for a good while, me enjoying decaf coffee whilst Geraldine had a glass of wine. It’s that sort of place; the atmos is so nice you could sit for hours just chatting.
Being cultural (and very hot) at Manchester Art Gallery @mcrartgallery
Then we finally headed to Manchester Art Gallery, normally a favourite of mine – and well worth giving over an hour or two or your time to, especially if it’s your first time. But on this ocasion I have to be honest, we didn’t stay long at all as I was DYING of the heat. C’mon, I’m hugely pregnant, gimme a break! I felt quite ill at this point so we headed to the closest air conditioned place, which just happened to be…
… Selfridge’s (to shop like we have more money than we do) @theofficialselfridges
It was BLISFULLY cool in here. Ah I do enjoy wafting around a posh department store as though I could easily afford that £1000 handbag (as if). Still, in this opulent mood I invariably always buy something I shouldn’t. In this instance it was a small bottle of Jo Malone English Pear and Freesia perfume to celebrate our upcoming wedding 5th anniversary (I wore it at our wedding).
At this point Geraldine and I parted, I on my way to the train station after a long but very enjoyable day of mooching with lunch (after a quick dip in Cath Kidston on King Street). I had such a lovely day – so good to get some time with girlfriends and no kids for a change.
Do you get to Manchester very often? Where are your favourite spots to go?