When we first got together, weekends away used to be a huge part of mine and Jamie’s relationship. Fast forward a year and there’s a mortgage, gas, electricity, water and wifi to worry about. It’s fair to say that recently, ‘us time’ has taken a bit of a back seat. Aside from the occasional date night, we steal quality time between eating tea, preparing packed lunches and heading to the gym.
I brought Jamie James Arthur tickets for Christmas but had to rearrange our original Birmingham dates for a show in Manchester. On Christmas day he opened framed James Arthur lyrics, a fake ticket that I’d photoshopped and a note telling him about a surprise 2 night stay in Manchester.
We headed to Manchester on Saturday morning, from Birmingham it’s a pretty straightforward route up the motorway. The weather was beautiful, sunny with a slight breeze, the perfect spring day. We arrived around lunch time, left our car at the hotel and headed into the city centre to grab some lunch. We stayed in Deansgate and so it was a 15/20 minute walk into the centre of town, surrounded by glass office blocks and traditional, red brick buildings.
What I love the most about Manchester, is the combination of modern and traditional architecture. I love how glass, steel and cladding looks, sandwiched between red brick, stone and marble.
Late Saturday afternoon, the sun was still out and it really felt like a summers evening. On the way back to our hotel we spotted an area currently undergoing development called First Street. There was a cool, brewery-come-bar off the main square, with ping-pong tables, bean bags, deck chairs and loads of other seating areas outside so we decided to make the most of the evening sun and stop for a drink. From inside the Gas Works Brew Bar, you could see the brewery, and there were loads of different home-brewed ales to sample.
On Saturday night, we headed back to First Street and to the Indian Tiffin Room, a fab little Indian street food restaurant. We hadn’t booked but they managed to squeeze us in last minute and I’m so glad that they did, we ate the most beautiful food, accompanied by cocktails. If you never stray from a Chicken Tikka, this isn’t for you, but, if you’re a little more adventurous, I’d highly recommend giving the Tiffin Room a go! We shared Samosa Chaat, a ‘smashed’ samosa and Chilli Paneer to start, then Jamie chose Butter Chicken while I tried Lamb Kashmiri, everything was amazing!
After dinner, we headed to a fab little bar called the Liquor Store, tucked away behind the Gas Works Brew Bar, voted best inner city bar in Manchester! If you love music and cocktails, this is the place to be. The staff were great, dancing around, singing to each other and being attentive, after working in hospitality myself, I love seeing bar staff that actually enjoy their jobs! My favourite cocktail was ‘Like a Virgin’, Grey Goose Citron vodka with rhubarb and raspberries, delish!
On Sunday, we took a famous Manchester tram to Salford Quays. Again the weather was beautiful and so we walked miles around the quays and Media City where we had a peak into the Blue Peter studios. There was also a food market on, with pizza, samosas, gourmet burgers and hot dogs, cakes and live music.
James Arthur’s gig was on Sunday night so we found an ice cream parlour between our hotel and the venue and had waffles, cookie dough and gelato for tea. After joining the world’s longest queue to get into the venue and another huge queue at the bar, James Arthur eventually came on and was incredible!
On Monday morning we headed back into the city centre to hit the shops one last time before we headed home. We didn’t really spend much time shopping given the number of shopping centres in Manchester, but the weather was too nice to be inside! I couldn’t leave without popping into the huge Primark and picking up a few bits, though…
Our last stop was at the Alchemist for brunch before we headed home. We have an Alchemist in Birmingham but neither myself nor Jamie had visited yet so we thought we’d give it a try… we weren’t disappointed! Jamie opted for a hoisin duck wrap while I went for smashed avocado, poached eggs and bacon on toast. We then shared fries, sweet potato fries and coleslaw, along with some cocktails, Jamie’s non-alcoholic cocktail was actually way more fun than mine, which I managed to spill most off…
I love exploring new cities. Manchester is one of my favourites, along with Liverpool. I love the contrasting buildings and was surprised at how much housing is available right in the city centre in comparison to Birmingham.
Our weekend in Manchester was fab and I’m already looking forward to the next weekend break. Bath is next on my weekend wishlist, maybe I’ll plan a visit for my birthday in June.
Have you been on any weekend breaks recently?What’ss your favourite city to explore?