Archive for December, 2017


I’d been wearing my favourite jeans when I had my fall 9 weeks ago. I’d bought them from GAP a couple of years back and they were developing nicely. They were good with sports shoes and a sweatshirt but looked equally good with a pair of dress shoes and my wool/cashmere overcoat. Before they put my dislocated ankle back in place they had to cut them off me. I was high on gas and air and I don’t know what pained me more, the manipulation of my joint back into position or the ruining of my jeans. So while I was in St. Ann’s Square I visited the GAP store and replaced them. I fell lucky and there was a sale on with a whopping 40% off!

It also gave me a chance to have a first look around the Christmas Markets. By now I’d usually have visited them on several occasions but this hasn’t been a normal Autumn for me. Here are some random pictures from the market in St. Ann’s Square…

And a few more taken in King Street…

Top of my list of things to do yesterday was to get my haircut. My favourite place, BarberBarber, in Barton Arcade, off  St. Ann’s Square has been off limits for two months. We considered various ways of getting there but being thrown out of a moving (albeit slowly) car outside Barton Arcade on the Deansgate side just wasn’t feasible with a broken ankle. I was taken to a local place where they tidied it up a bit but I’m used to the attention to detail you get at BarberBarber. It’s never a chore to go to BarberBarber, much more an experience. And I love the sense of theatre of the place. The guys dress in a particular way and how they cut hair, shave guys and dress beards attracts the tourists outside who stand and watch and take pictures to show off to the folks back home in Houston, Tokyo, Sydney etc….of this piece of old England that looks as if it’s been here for ever but has, in fact, only been here for a shade over 4 years. Don’t let that put you off  though, if you are in the city, it’s well worth a visit to experience it, but only if you are a guy, it’s a guy only place ladies. And, before, people get all uptight about that, I can show you places in the city that are women only businesses where men are barred from entering as well.

I was pleased to see that Johnny, the owner, was working there today. I was one of the original customers when it first opened. The first time I met him he actually kept the shop open late for me one evening so I could have a haircut. Good customer service there. He’s always dressed in his trademark ‘Johnny’ style and he didn’t disappoint today with the shirt either. He’s a busy guy these days but, if he’s in actually barbering, he tries to make sure he cuts my hair. He always has the prime chair by the window which delights the tourists. We had a good chat (Johnny would call it ‘craic’ he is from Ireland) on a range of subjects from Father Christmas (Johnny isn’t a fan of the one he met on the steam train that runs from Bury up to Ramsbottom) to Brexit (not a fan at all). He’s opening a hairdressing academy in the new year, above this barbershop in Barton Arcade. And he has two new barbershops in the pipeline, a second one (not counting the Tommy Guns ones he bought) in London and a second Manchester one in the upmarket suburb of Hale.

I was watching this lad getting his hair cut. He was going the full ‘Peaky Blinders’ with the close shaven back and sides and the longer, floppy hair on top. He’d certainly pass for an extra in the show. If you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders, find it and watch, it’s a violent, bloodfest joy of a programme. I got talking to the guy next to me who turned out to be his dad. They were down from Ulverston in the Lake District and had come for the weekend to do some shopping, visit the markets and enjoy the vibe of the city. His wife and the lad’s girlfriend were off elsewhere having their hair done. The dad had twins in a buggy. His son was 18 and the babies were three months old. I wondered if this had been planned or was a joyful accident. Dad said at the moment the 18 year old is more of a worry but the two three month olds are causing the most lack of sleep. On the plus side the lad is getting lots of practice in with his new brother and sister for when he has some of his own. I don’t think Johnny had realised that someone had smuggled a female person onto the premises either. And, I ended up looking a bit Peaky Blinders myself. I just need to work on my Cillian Murphy chiselled cheekbones (one of my personal trainers must have an exercise for that) and the ice blue eyed stare.

 

Jimmy, my personal trainer, has sorted out my gym routine so I went in early to try it out. It went well but the part of the cycle really defeated me. I told Jimmy and he said he will scale it back for next time. I hope he remembers.

After the snow yesterday, we’ve had one of those ice cold, blue sky December days. I decided on a bit of an adventure. I drove over to Chorlton to find Eddie at the car workshop to say thank you for rescuing me after the accident. He’s been in Ireland when I’d last called in. It was good to see him and thank him for helping me out. He had been amazed at how calm I was when my foot was obviously so badly hurt. To be honest I couldn’t feel any pain, probably due to the shock and adrenaline pumping through my system.

With the weather being so good, apart from the worrying ice patches here and there, I thought I’d go into the city centre. I needed a good haircut and wanted to visit M&S. I did get the haircut but I got distracted by the Christmas Markets which I haven’t seen of course so far so Marks will have to wait. I thought I’d go as far as St. Ann’s Square but ended up in Albert Square. It was a lovely winter day and the markets were busy enough to be buzzy but not so crowded that they become unpleasant, like they can be at the weekends.

I took this picture that I was pleased with. I liked the Victorian Gothic spires of the Town Hall tower and the Albert Memorial and then the reindeer on the roof of one of the market chalets. All against the cold blue of the sky. I just wish I’d left a little more sky between the memorial and the reindeer. More pictures soon, I’m back!

As I haven’t been out and about properly for nearly two months I’ve not seen how the city has been developing. Driving to Chorlton, there were low clouds and a bit of drizzle which restricted visibility. Later on the clouds lifted and the sun came out. I drove through the huge, complicated roundabout road system near Manchester United’s stadium. Those who know it will realise that, after driving along streets with a restricted view you suddenly get a spectacular vista that stretches from Media City to the city centre.

I had my breath taken away by the view towards the city centre where the two towers (of a total of four planned) of the Owen Street development have made a real impact on the skyline. They’ve really grown while I’ve been stuck at home. One of the ones currently being built will be a few floors below the height of the Hilton Tower and the second one will be Manchester’s new tallest building, at 64 floors, 17 floors taller than the Hilton.

Not my picture. I found it on the Manchester section of Skyscrapercity and they found in on Twitter somewhere. Thanks to both for this stunning picture. It must have been taken on one of those cold, frosty, brilliant blue sky days we had last week when the east of the country was snowbound but we had the sun. The new tallest building is on the right with the Hilton Tower sparkling in the centre.

It could be that normal service is going to be restored on my blog. After a two month (almost) hiatus, I’m out and about again. I have to say I was a bit naughty about it. I said I was going to a local sports store to get some new trainers for when I go to the gym on Monday. My existing ones are a bit tight on the damaged foot so I decided to buy some new ones, half a size up. That done I really needed to get to my opticians on Seymour Grove to pick up some new glasses I’d ordered just before the ankle incident. They had offered to send them but I really wanted to go in so I just carried on driving to Old Trafford. The optician was at their other store but would be back at 1pm so I went into nearby Chorlton, where all my recent travails began. Here’s the place where I slipped on the leaves. No one has cleared them away yet! I didn’t risk it by wandering down there again.

I wanted to see Eddie who either runs, or works in, this little car workshop just by where I had the accident. He, and one of the customers, came to my aid when I slipped, organised the ambulance and kept me calm and comfortable while I was waiting. Unfortunately, Eddie was over in Ireland attending a family funeral so I didn’t get to see him. He’ll be back on Tuesday. But the rest of the guys who worked there knew all about me it seems. I’ll go back again and see him. 

I went to the Post Box Café and treated myself to some of their delicious Eggs Benedict and coffee. By this time home was texting me wondering how long was it going to take me to choose a new pair of trainers. I said it would be a while to get a pair that were both comfortable and supportive of my ankle.

I wandered along Wilbraham Road to Cocoa, the artisan chocolate shop and café where they make the chocolate treats on the premises. I got some to enjoy while we watch the Strictly Come Dancing quarter final this evening. I saw a few things that would be good as Christmas presents as well.

Chorlton is lucky enough to have a range of independent shops including Out Of The Blue, the fishmongers. I loved the way they have painted their window.

A bag I saw at the Chorlton Art Market. It seems the local cats, operating out of the Horse and Jockey pub, are running a cartel in catmint! You don’t mess with the Chorlton Cat Cartel!

Before I headed to the opticians to pick up my new glasses, I treated myself to a glass of Pinot Grigio in ODDEST. A simple pleasure that I’ve not been able to enjoy for over two months. It was very satisfying. The bar was its usual self but they did have some new staff. I was served by a guy who was channelling his inner Tommy Shelby with his Peaky Blinder cap at a jaunty angle. 

I checked my blog. I had a message from someone else in the city who’s just suffered from a broken ankle. It seems we have the same doctor. Her operation was just last Wednesday and she was doing what I did at that time and searching the Internet to see how long it would be until her ankle would be back to normal. Her search had brought her to my blog. I’ve gone from operation to being able to get about, with some restrictions still, in just 7 weeks. I hope she has the same speedy recovery, if not faster.