So, I was enjoying my late lunch at ODDEST when a call came in on the work phone. Could I dash into the city centre, find two people, entertain them for a couple of hours and then get them to where they needed to be? Easier said than done last night in Manchester.
On Sunday the first named storm of the winter, Angus, had rattled in from the west off the Atlantic. We thought it had something to do with all that hot air coming out of Mr Trump. They had a bad night on the southern coast of England and London got a bit blowy. But up here in Manchester, apart from the rain, we got off lightly. Angus roared off into the North Sea towards Denmark and Sweden. But he had a sting in his tail in the form of a line of rain belts that trailed behind him. This train stretched across the country from Cornwall to Northumbria and Manchester found itself under it for an entire day.
The rain was phenomenal and by the time of the rush hour the tram system had been cut in half with Cornbrook Station out of action. In the eastern suburbs towards the hills there was flooding and more chaos on the tram system. The trains stopped running to Leeds and Sheffied. And the wealthy denizens of Didsbury and Cheadle were on high flood alert as the River Mersey was threatening to overwhelm the flood defences and were told to prepare to abandon their expensive homes. And had I known it, as I enjoyed my lunch in ODDEST, they were watching the flood defences in Chorlton as well. The buses were packed and the roads were coming to a standstill.
Fortunately, I know that part of town well and was able to wind through the quieter residential streets and got as far as the big ASDA in Hulme. From there I got onto the Mancunian Way (almost at a standstill) and got off at Cambridge Street. I found the entrance to the new carpark at HOME and parked in there. Won’t be doing that again, it was outrageously expensive.
I did find my people and we did attempt a wander around the Christmas Markets as they had wanted but we gave up as the rain was torrential and the smallholders were calling it a day. I got them to have a drink in an old fashioned Manchester pub which they enjoyed and I delivered them to their theatre to see the play they had booked. I hung about a bit after that waiting for the traffic to die down, rescued the Mini from its expensive parking and went home.
Some pictures of the decorations in the Arndale Centre. I like them. We went in to get out if the rain.
I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting this blog the last few days. I’m really busy at work. When I’m not actually in the office I’m working at home so when I do get some Tom time, the last thing I want to do is to pick up my iPad and start again. It’s not been helped by work actually uploading more stuff for me to do without asking. I think I’ve achieved a certain amount and when I log back on there’s more to do. At least it will be reflected in my Christmas bonus. Well I hope it will be.
I got up early this morning with my targets set and by 1 pm I’d reached them! I think I’ve done about 70% of the work I’m supposed to, so am well on course to finish on time by a week on Wednesday. I’m trying to clear Thursday this week so I can slip out. As I’d done well today I decided to slip out (again) for a cheeky glass of Pinot Grigio and some late lunch. I know! On a Monday. I’m on a slippery slope.
I went to one of my favourite informal dining places, ODDEST in Chorlton. To go with the wine I went for some of their ‘small plates’. I had Crispy Pulled Pork Parcels with Soy and Sesame, Spiced Lamb Koftas with Mint Yogurt and Grilled Rosemary and Smoked Garlic Marinated Halloumi Cheese. And some skin on fries to mop up any residual juices. It was delicious.
I was a bit irritated on Friday night to discover that work had downloaded a lot more work to me than I had expected. True, I have to the end of the month to do it but I’d already worked out my daily schedule and to keep to it I’d have to do a bit more almost straight away to keep me on track. So I got up ridiculously early on Saturday morning (6am) and by 11am I’d caught up. Go me! I then fired off an email saying that I expected this extra, unexpected work to be reflected in my Christmas bonus. Always good to do this sort of thing from a position of power I think.
Having caught up I was able to get out and about and do a few things I needed to do in Chorlton and Altrincham. Nothing onerous, just organising a few things for Christmas. I had a bit of a wander around Chorlton to see what was going on and see if there was anything that would be of use over Christmas. On Beech Road I like to check out the ‘A’ boards outside Launderette, the restaurant/café bar that has been put in what used to be a public lauderette. They are always witty. Here’s yesterday’s offering. They didn’t disappoint.
There was a sign on the gate into Beech Park.
I had Beech Park all to myself this morning. The weather wasn’t brilliant and people were busy on the Saturday morning errands. The park still looked lovely as the Copper Beech trees are taking on their autumn colour. It’s a shame there wasn’t some sunshine. That really brings out the colour which looks wonderful against a blue sky.
This sign was on the gate to the children’s playground. Adults seem to want to keep the kids and dogs apart. I bet the kids and dogs would have a great time together.
I was heading to the Chorlton tram station to catch the tram into the city centre. The route takes me past the Post Box Café. Pete, who helped me with the Dig The City garden, was unloading his plants to sell on the terrace of the café. I’ve not seen him since mid July as he took August off. He’s been touring around and having family time.
I helped him get the plants off his van and set up his stall. He then had to go park the van and he wanted to check out some competition at the other market. So I got to man the stall. It was warm and sunny and people hadn’t seen him for a while. He had lots of new plants and while he was away I did a fair amount of business, taking about £35. So my first try at running a stall wasn’t too shabby.
Coffee Cranks were at the Maker’s Market in Chorlton as well with their coffee shop on a bicycle. I had a delicious MochaLatte and bought an extra one to be banked for someone who really needs one. When not selling to the well off, hipster, Chorlton crowd, Coffee Cranks have a pitch at New Bailey in the city centre, by the river in the shadow of the corporate glass towers of Spinningfields. They sell coffee to the workers in those towers I suppose but also get a lot of the homeless of the city visiting them. They give them the coffees other people bank. It’s a bit disconcerting to think that such poverty exists in the shadow of such wealth.
The guy on the right, in the blue shirt, was the guy who built the coffee shop/bike. It weighs about 300kg and is easier to drive back home as, if they have a great day, all the weight of the water and milk will have gone.
I’d spotted this wonderfully customised VW Camper Van surrounded by beautiful wooden things at the August Maker’s Market in Chorlton. I was sheltering under a canvas canopy away from the rain and it was so bad that as soon as it eased I made a dash for the car without having a proper look. I was pleased the camper van was back yesterday and I could have a good look.
I met Carl who makes the wooden things, everything from fairy doors to great sturdy garden seats. He’s an interesting guy. He also has one of the firmest handshakes on a guy I’ve ever come across. Must be all that working with wood. He’s ex military and told me he’d been in Iraq and Afghanistan, both tough postings as we are all aware. He’d then been a defence consultant. I’m not sure what one of those does but I imagine it’s not the sort of thing you talk about. There will be security concerns I guess so I didn’t ask.
Carl is now out of the army and has put that side of his life behind him. He lives somewhere near Northwich and makes things from wood. Some of it is recycled wood that gets a new use. Some of it is new wood that is sourced ethically from the woods and forests (like Delamere) in Cheshire. He makes big things from the large pieces but any off cuts are used to make the smaller things. Pieces too small to make anything are used to fire the wood burner in his home. He now takes the Camper Van round the markets selling his products.
Some pictures of his products. I’ve had a think and some people will be getting some of these things for Christmas. And, hopefully, we will be ordering a garden bench after Christmas to replace one that’s seen better days.
His company is called RoadODenDrons and you can see his work on his website…. www.roadodendrons.co.uk
Yesterday was warm and pleasant in Manchester. September is a good time to visit England. Just as the kids go back to school, the sun comes out and we have warm, blue sky days with cool, Autumn nights. I headed out.
But this week has been a little crazy weather wise. On Tuesday, warm winds from the south (I’m talking Africa here) brought temperatures in the 90s to the city. It was the hottest September day for 105 years in Manchester. Then some damp air pushed in from the Atlantic and it got stuck over the city. Manchester felt like a city in the Tropics by the afternoon, hot and sticky. Of course the inevitable happend and, just as the rush hour was getting underway, there was the mother of all storms. In about 2 hours we had the entire September rainfall total. Across the city scarily dramatic forked lightening hit buildings and trees. They lost count of the number of strikes. The airport closed for fear of planes being hit by lightening landing or talking off and no one complained as no one fancied taking off into it. Trains and trams and cars ground to a halt as streets and roads became rivers as the storm drains were overwhelmed. The city went on flood alert. Over at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City had to postpone their important game against German team, Borussia Mönchengladbach. The rain was so intense and there was always the chance that one of those multimillion £ players might be struck by lightening. They played the following day and City won 4-0.
The picture is Market Street, one of the city’s main shopping streets, temporarily turned into a river. Not my picture, I found it on TWITTER. I was safe at home by this time.
But yesterday September was back to its pleasant self; warm, blue skied and sunny. I went to Chorlton to visit the Makers Market there. The August one was affected by rain but yesterday was perfect for visiting an open air market. Here are some pictures.
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.
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.
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.
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….
And this is the most persuasive arguement yet to tackle global warming…..
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!
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?
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.
In the meanwhile, some more pictures of Maker’s Market Chorlton.