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We love our dogs in the UK. They are our loyal companions with who many of us share our lives. Sadly not me as no one is home long enough to be a companion to a dog. There were lots at Pride yesterday.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Carl Austin-Behan and his husband, Simon Austin-Behan, were leading out the parade. They married last year. I’m not sure what his husband’s official title is, he will have one, Lord Mayor Consort maybe? The Lord Mayor position in Manchester is a ceremonial one in the city. Next year we will get a Mayor of Manchester who will have a lot of real power and the money to do stuff the city needs doing.  Carl Austin-Behan will do important work for the people who elected him but, as Lord Mayor, there’s a lot of tree planting and ribbon cutting to be done wearing his ceremonial robes. They are red and I suspect someone had these pink ones made for him for Pride. Or they might have been rented from a theatrical costumiers I suppose. He’s had an interesting life having been sacked from the RAF for being gay (things have changed a lot since then), he won Mr Gay UK and then went into politics. He also worked in ASDA Hulme I discovered. Since he’s become Lord Mayor I’ve not heard a word said about him being gay, the city has just accepted it. They had brought their dogs, two Maltipoos (not sure what they are) called Scrappy and Oleg. Quite what Scrappy and Oleg made of it all I’m not sure. An extra long, extra interesting walk through the city with hundreds of thousands cheering them?

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The Lord Mayor’s attendants and his coach.

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The theme of the Pride Parade this year was ‘Once Upon A Time….’. People chose different stories to portray. Here’s Cruella de Vil in her car….

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Followed by 101 Dalmatians….

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When I saw ‘Grey Pride’ coming along Peter Street I thought that it was going to be out and proud senior citizens. Well they’re was none of it. It turned out to be about Greyhounds. These incredibly fast dogs are raced in the UK. But once they begin to slow down and are no longer of use to their owners they are often put to death. A few years ago it was revealed how some owners did it. I won’t put it here but it made me shudder when I read about it. There was a public outcry about it and, supposedly, it has stopped. Groups like this one try to rehome retired greyhounds.

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Dogtrust, likewise, try to rehome difficult to place dogs with loving owners.

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And finally, just when I thought I’d seen it all, we now have guys who like to dress up and behave like puppies. They woofed and barked at us as they went past. 

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Having been in the city centre on Friday I really had no intention of going in on the Saturday. But, having discovered that some friends from ASDA were going to take part in the Manchester Pride Parade, it would have been rude not to. So it was a dash home, quick shower and change, drive to Chorlton then tram into the city and I was there by midday. The tram was packed with people heading into the city for the parade. A lot got on in Chorlton which will surprise no one in Manchester. It’s a big event and people come out in their 1000s to watch. One of the ASDA people who lives in North Wales thought it would be a small affair on a short route supported by a few family and friends. He was taken aback by the ten deep crowds along the entire route that swelled to a vast throng as the parade approached the Canal Street area.

Here they are in the holding area on Liverpool Street in the Museum district waiting for the parade to begin. My favourite one is my good friends from the personnel department, Lousie and Sarah, doing their best ‘drag queen pout’ for the picture. Colleagues from other stores assumed, these two married to men with children, were an item.

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I went off to find a spot where I could watch the parade. I ended up on Peter Street between the Midland Hotel and Central Library. If you are going to have to wait you might as well have something nice to look at. Here are the ASDA colleagues in the parade. 

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I had an early finish today so went into Manchester city centre to buy some clothes for the Autumn. If not I’d be wandering round in rags and tatters. I knew where everything was that I wanted because I’d seen the things on previous trips. So it was just a matter of picking them up. And cutting through NEXT I saw a pair of boots for the winter I liked so I snapped them up. 

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Manchester is gearing up for the Big Weekend of Manchester Pride, the big celebration of LGBT culture in the city. It’s a huge event in the city and tomorrow there will be a huge, noisy, fun parade through the city streets. When it was started it was confined to the traditional ‘gay’ area around Canal Street. Now it’s a city wide event and, as I wandered about, same sex couples were confident enough to show affection and walk hand in hand free of fear of censure. I’m proud of my city for its attitude.

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The Marks & Spencer’s store had filled their Market Street windows with rainbow balloons.

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Two guys enjoying Expresso Martinis in the sun under a rainbow flag outside Duttons on Albert Square. These two have never known a time when they weren’t able to express themselves freely and have always been able to sit in full view of the rest of the city knowing that they are accepted. And if people are narrow minded enough not to accept them at least they understand that it isn’t acceptable to to make them feel uncomfortable. 

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The HSBC Bank on St. Ann’s Square showing its support.

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Stores across the city were showing their support.

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At the Deansgate Castlefield station I spotted the Rainbow Tram.

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There’s been a market on the same site in Altrincham since 1290 when Edward I gave a charter to the town to organise one. It was a great honour and not every place got one. In those days everyone shopped at a market and you had to be quick as they weren’t on everyday. I’m not sure when stand alone shops came in. Probably in the big towns like London where there was a demand for goods and services more often than the market was held. Gradually shops took over and the weekly markets became events where you could pick something up cheaply. As the country has got richer, they declined, becoming the province of the poorer people in society. A few years ago it looked like they might disappear altogether. 

But, of late, they have had a renaissance. The popular ones have changed their purpose, becoming farmer’s markets or markets specialising in crafts and the like. Altrincham used to be a great place to shop. It’s in the wealthiest part of the city surrounded by places with tree lined streets lined with £million houses. Altrincham should benefit from its wealthy inhabitants but it has fallen on hard times. People jump on the tram and go into Manchester to shop. Either that or it’s into the BMW and off to the massive Trafford Centre. Compared with those places, Altrincham looks tired and old.

The local politicians have decided enough is enough and there is a lot of regeneration going on. Goose Green is good to visit and the old market area is wonderful. The old market building has been turned into a foodie paradise and is always busy with people enjoying food with friends. It’s been a huge success. And the outside market has been turned into one that specialises in high class food, antiques and crafts. I was there today and liked this stall selling things that your four legged, doggie friend might like. 

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These tiny gardens around some of the trees on busy Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton are always a pleasure to see. And typical of The Chorlton vibe. The guy in the picture looks after them but someone else, one of his neighbours, plants them out. In spite of being on a busy road, they suffer little damage. Most people are very respectful of them and enjoy them. I say ‘most’ because the guy who looks after them told me that, occasionally, he comes out and finds that one of the sunflower heads has been decapitated in the night, probably he thought, by some drunk on the way home from some bar.

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I love the colour of these sunflowers. I must plant some up next year. They are usually yellow but these have an autumnal, rust colour that reminds me that summer is coming to a close and in a few weeks it will be Autumn. I do like Autumn and the run up to Christmas but it’s sad to say goodbye to Summer.

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Between my two visits to the Maker’s Markets I had a wander along trendy Beech Road, the beating heart of übercool Chorlton. It’s where Chorlton hipsters, the LGBT crowd, the yummy mummies, the affluent young professionals and the BBC crowd gather to eat and drink in the pavement cafés, watch well heeled Chorlton go past and put the rest of the world to right. They read The Guardian so they know how to do that. When they are not doing that they can buy themselves something they don’t need but want at one of the interesting stores. Or buy clothes in places where, when asked where they got it,  they can say ‘Oh this? I found it in a little store I know on Beech Road.’

Chorlton likes to recycle to save the earth. Which is as well because they each have the carbon footprint of a small third world town what with all those trips to to their cottages in Abersoch to sail and surf with the Cheshire Set, or indulge in mountain climbing and hiking at their places in the Lakes. And when life in Chorlton gets too stressful (the decorator has painted the kitchen in the wrong shade of eau d’nil….again!) they simply have to fly to Spain to get over it at their friend’s villa on the nice side of Marbella. There’s a shop that takes old, discarded bits and pieces and turns them into new useful and beautiful things. I liked the bike and loved the ducks and the chickens.

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On of the most favoured eating spots for the Chorlton crowd is The Lauderette. It used to be one when the area was poor and bedsit land for students. Now it’s a trendy restaurant on the, possibly, trendiest street in the city. I always enjoy their ‘A’ boards. I don’t do FACEBOOK, but if I did my status would be ‘Pizza’ or, possibly ‘Prosecco’ if they had that option….

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And this is the most persuasive arguement yet to tackle global warming…..

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Some more pictures of the inaugral Maker’s Market in Chorlton. It was in the usual place outside the Chorlton Library where the pavement is wide enough to put up stalls and still leave room for people to pass and look in comfort. This market was bigger than the usual ones they have here and spread as far along Manchester Road as the Sedge Lynn pub and the Co Op Funeral Care building. I thought that was it. I wanted to try a coffee from the Coffee Cranks but I’d just had one at the Post Box Café so I went for a wander along Beech Road and returned via Betty & Butch. I bought my coffee and then spotted that the market was also on the other side of the library in the playground of St. Oswald’s Primary School. More stalls, more music and, sadly, more rain!

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I noticed that the Maker’s Markets people are starting another new market, this time outside the Lowry Centre on Salford Quays across the basin from Media City. With all those people living in expensive apartments it’ll do well there I think. And it might be a place to do a bit of star spotting. TV stars have to eat like the rest of us? Or do they send their people out to see the market and report back on the experience so they can enjoy it vicariously?

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And in September they are having a market on Spinningfields that will specialise on dog products and treats. We love our dogs in the UK and are quite happy to spoil them rotten. I’m definitely going to that one.

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In the meanwhile, some more pictures of Maker’s Market Chorlton. 

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The Maker’s Markets, that run markets in some of the pretty, Cheshire country towns like Knutsford and Sandbach, and the leafy suburbs of Manchester like Cheadle and West Didsbury have finally turned up in Chorlton. What’s taken them so long I wondered? Chorlton loves a good market and these are some of the best. So on Saturday I wandered down to check out the inaugural one. It wasn’t the best of days weather wise, with frequent nasty showers but, between them, Chorlton was out enjoying it’s new market.

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I took a lot of pictures. I have posted before about the little coffee trucks that turn up at various events. They open up to reveal a complete coffee shop making delicious coffee. I even spotted one serving up Prosecco at the Jazz Festival. But I’ve never seen one of these. A three wheel bicycle that converts into a coffee shop. It’s run by the Coffee Crank’s Co Op from Fallowfield and they cycle it around the city to events like this. The guy who rides it about wasn’t the biggest guy ever but he must have been strong to move this safely through Manchester’s busy traffic. They have a regular coffee truck for events far from the city.

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I bought a delicious Coffee Mocha. It was only when I got home I noticed this sign of the side of the coffee making machine. It talked about ‘suspended’ coffee which I assumed was some new type of coffee. They are always coming up with new types of coffee it seems. If you click on the picture below you can read that it is an idea rather than a coffee. The idea being that when you buy a coffee you buy a second one that can be given to someone else who, for whatever reason, needs a coffee and doesn’t have the wherewithal to buy a designer coffee. Cool idea that I will buy into next time I come across this company. Who knows, I may need one myself one day.

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Ginger’s Comfort Emporium had one of their little bicycle ice cream carts here as well. They are based in Chorlton and make the most delicious ice cream including my personal favourite, Chorlton Crack, a vanilla based ice cream flavoured with salted caramel. If you are ever in the city, search it out. Sadly the weather was favouring a hot coffee over an ice cream on Saturday.

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There’s always music at a Maker’s Market event. This red headed guitarist was entertaining the visitors from under his much needed gazebo. I liked his sign.

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Kate, who runs the slightly worryingly named, deadthingsbykate.com,  has a bit of a ‘Game of Thrones’ vibe about her, looking something like Emilia Clark’s character, Daenerys Targaryen. Not a bad thing to look like to be honest. Cool hat as well.

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I was a bit worried about her stall, it featured an awful lot of dead creatures and I like my creatures alive and doing their usual creature things. She is a expert taxidermist and the creatures on her stall, and her shop in Macclesfield, are all brought to her by people who have found them bereft of life already. What she does gives them a second life.

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I also liked this stall seeking cacti in upscaled, old tin food cans. I’ve seen them before at other markets. I must point them out to my friend, Pete, who grows many cacti and sells them on the terrace at the Post Box Café. I love the bright colours and paints used on the tins.

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Yet another building scheme is beginning. This time it’s the Hotel Indigo just near Victoria Station. It was planned sometime in the Jurassic period but, because of the massive redevelopment of Victoria Station, the new Chetham’s School of Music building and the new tram line across the city centre, this congested part of the city couldn’t take another project.

All those three are finished now and so Hotel Indigo is set to go. They are using the Victorian City Buildings (oldest office building in the city apparently) as the entrance and the public rooms and building a circular tower for the bedrooms. It’s nice to see something new and circular in the city centre. This is what it will look like with Victoria Station on the right and the Hanover Building on the left. The empty space has plans for offices and apartments here.

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In this picture the City Buildings are under tarps being worked on…

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In this picture the building under tarps is the beautiful Edwardian Baroque Hanover Building. It belongs to the Co Op and has been mauled over the years. They are taking it back to its Edwardian splendour but with 21st century technology carefully factored in. The Hotel Indigo tower is going on the space in front of it where the scruffy, semi derelict buildings were demolished last week. There’s an awful lot of projects starting up in the city at the moment. In spite of our uncertain economic future, which will come right in time of course, Manchester is still seen as a great place to invest.

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Manchester isn’t known for its hot climate. Considerably closer to the North Pole than the Equator, we consider ourself lucky to have the odd sunny day. Indeed, we are advised to take Vitamin D in the winter as we don’t get enough. The sun helps us produce our own supply apparently and we don’t see it very much in the winter. It’s amazing we haven’t all got rickets. 

We are restricted in what we can grow as well. Plants that do well in London, 200 miles to the south on the dry, east coast, don’t thrive in Manchester. But you might be surprised what we can grow, given a little tender loving care.

Yesterday I called in on the Post Box Café in Chorlton. I went in for breakfast and coffee. My Dig The City Garden is still here on the terrace. It changes with the seasons. I’m not concerned that it doesn’t look like it did in St. Ann’s Square last year, I like to see how it develops.

Pete, who helped with my garden and is very into tropical plants, has planted it up for the summer with bananas! They will never fruit this far north, summer just isn’t hot and long enough. But with regular feeding and watering the leaves do look spectaucular. When there is a danger of frost, Pete will have to take them back to his house and put them into his heated glasshouses to get them through the winter. I’ve only seen bananas growing twice before, once on a trip to Egypt where they like the Nile Valley and the other time was in a garden in the French Quarter of New Orleans. And now here in Chorlton. 

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He’s planted around the bananas with tropically coloured inspired planting.

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