Posts Tagged ‘Manchester’

Oops.

Friday, December 4th, 2015

So another month has passed and I am now three months into My Life in Manchester Part II. Every day I think “I should write a blog post” and then I do the copious amounts of uni work and work-work instead. I have decided to take a little time out to write about little old me again. I miss writing my blog posts and I’m certain you miss reading them. Ha!

Uni is seriously great. Never before have I been so excited about the fact that I have to write a 6000 word essay. It would appear that studying something that you actually love is really rewarding and inspiring – even if it does involve group work. My poor group members have had to deal with “grumpy old Jess” as their team leader and have had to learn what my frowning face means. Next Saturday, however, the class pop-up exhibition that we have been working on for the last semester is going to happen. I’m terrified – there is huge potential it is going to be dreadful. However, I am lowering my expectations so that I will be pleasantly surprised, and anyone who is planning on visiting the exhibition should do the same.

rain

Rainy day blues

Winter has been trying to arrive over the last couple of week. It has been raining a lot which doesn’t do much for moral – lucky the Christmas markets are on! Not. I have managed to escape them this year as I no longer live in the centre of town. Saying that, I did manage to find some festive cheer the other Saturday and I bought myself a hot, giant stroopwafel. It made me love Christmas just a little bit.

I really shouldn’t leave this blog writing for so long because I have lots of things to talk about but my inner professional writing nerd knows that no one really wants to read long blog posts. So I’m going to go now. I promise to write again soon.

Two-month-iversary

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Today I have been back in Manchester for two months which currently seems like the longest two months in the history of time. So much has happened in those 60-something days that it feels like I have really been here for at least a year.

Things are settling down nicely now – I have steady work, uni is really great, I’ve been going out lots and continuing to have many adventures. Fun times!

University of Manchester

Blue skies at the University of Manchester

Last night my housemate, Alice, and I went to the Royal Exchange to see the latest show, Pomona. It is a dark and gritty tale about an underworld that exists beneath Manchester and an abandoned plot of land called Pomona. This area actually exists and I used to run past it when I went along the canal towpath, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if organ harvesting really was happening underneath there. Anyway, it was a great night of theatre and if you like swear words, sexual references and a bit of blood and gore then this is the show for you!

On the weekend I went for a walk in Delamere Forest in Cheshire with Garden Boy (Jon) to make the most of the autumn colours and to forage for mushrooms. The trees are incredible at the moment although some recent rain has meant the footpaths are now covered in very soggy leaves that are making their way through the soles of my boots (because, of course, yet another pair of my shoes now have holes in the bottom of them. Bah.) It was nice to get out of the city and wander through some woods, although I did keep pointing out to Jon that this supposed “escape from the city” did include seeing lots of other people and hearing the motorway. We also didn’t find any mushrooms which I entirely blame Jon for. Calls himself a Garden Boy…

Delamere forest

All the pretty leaves.

And in other news, I have signed up for the Manchester Marathon in April next year. Oops.

Happy Pumpkinween!

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

If there is a vegetable in this world that I truly love, it is the humble pumpkin. So orange, so misshapen, so delicious with cheese. So despite my passionate dislike for all over-Americanised holidays, I do enjoy the increased number of pumpkins in supermarkets at the moment thanks to Halloween.

Last night, my housemate, Alice, and I got into the pumpkin carving spirit and made ourselves some jack-o’-lanterns. We combined this with making delicious spiced pumpkin and chickpea soup, using our little jacks’ innards. After long days at work, the soup was our main focus, but after eating, watching some First Dates and fuelled on chocolate, we got our knives out.

Alice went for delicate and detailed while I took out all pent up frustrations and used the hacking approach. This was my first ever pumpkin carving experience and it was surprisingly easy to do. The end results have turned out well and I am very pleased with Herman, the Spooktacular Pumpkin. He may look scary but on the inside he’s just a softie.

Halloween pumpkins

WooOOOOooooOOOooOo!

Inspired

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Last week, poet Lemn Sissay was inducted as Chancellor of the University of Manchester. He has become a hot topic (appearing on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs means you’re really made it in the world) as word gets about town about how inspirational this guy really is.

Adopted out as a baby and raised by a family in Bolton who later disowned him, he has had a rough life and yet brings a refreshingly positive and pragmatic outlook to life. Through his poetry and his work, he pushes the ideas of equality and belonging.

On Friday night, I went with my cousin, Les and housemate, Alice to see him perform as part of the Rochdale Literature Festival. I fell in love with him (how could you not with a smile like that) and his ideas, beliefs and his words. I don’t normally go for poetry, but the passion with which he spoke resonated with the entire audience. It was sad, beautiful and uplifting all at the same time.

I recommend listening to his inauguration speech which I think I will bookmark to listen to whenever I am doubting my decision to do this Masters degree.

Also check out his poem Inspire and Be Inspired. 

Sloe going

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

The weather in the UK has been remarkably awesome over the last few weeks. England has been basking in glorious sunshine and I have been able to wear skirts and have my legs out a few times. Yesterday delivered once again with sunshine and 17 degrees – perfect weather for my friend Jon and I to go foraging for sloes.

You might remember Jon from previous environmentally-related activities such as worm charming and chicken racing. He’s back, this time encouraging me to dive into bramble/nettled filled hedges along the banks of the Mersey river in order to collect sloes.

For the Australians reading this, a sloe is a mini-plum that looks like a potentially deadly berry. Turns out they don’t kill you, they’re just extremely tart and don’t make good eating. But when left to ferment in a bottle of gin with a heap of added sugar, they make an excellent alcoholic beverage. They also make you tell terrible jokes such as, “Geez, Jon, why are you working so sloely?”

At 5pm, Jon and I headed to Chorlton water park (that’s British for ‘park with lake’) and threw ourselves into the prickly growth along the river. There weren’t that many sloes which meant we really had to dig/get scratched to reach them. I received my first ever nettle sting which was as unpleasant as one would expect it to be.

How sloe can you go?

How sloe can you go?

Once we had collected a sufficient number, we searched for wild horseradish and rose hips but both were either difficult to obtain or underripe. So with our sloes, we headed to Morrisons to find the cheapest gin available.

Back at Jon’s place we began the sloe gin making process which essentially involved putting sugar, sloes and gin in a bottle and then shaking it. The hardest part is the waiting time – I can’t drink it for at least 2 months. So sloe… Stay tuned for more sloe jokes in December.

The beginnings of sloe gin

The beginnings of sloe gin

Back in the Manchester Groove

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Guess where I am, kids! Row M, position 1 of the reading room spiral at Manchester Central Library. My favourite room in the city has welcomed me back, providing me with ergonomically inferior seating in a deliciously silent setting.

Central library

I took this photo the other day. I have since moved.

Currently in my direct line of sight is the arse crack of a man who looks weirdly like Sir Pubert Gladstone (oh good, he just changed positions so my eye balls aren’t hurting quite so much), and earlier I was sitting opposite a guy who was eating away at the skin of all of his fingers. He had to occasionally mop up the blood he was discharging with a dirty tissue. The library attracts all sorts.

I have been in Manchester for over a week now and I am feeling surprisingly settled. It is much, much, much easier to move to a city that you are already familiar with and that is home to people you have already met. I don’t have to start from scratch this time and I know where to go to buy the best value avocados. I have been able to catch up with some of my friends and I am no longer having to whinge to Sir Pubert via text messages. Now he is just a £1 bus ride away and I can nag him in person.

I am living in an area called Victoria Park which sounds fancy and once was. It used to be home to some well known and well to do folk – Mr Charles Dickens used to come and visit on occasion. Of course, that was then and it definitely isn’t now. It is now home to a largely student population and people whose incomes will only let them afford to live in student-like housing. Loads of character and plenty of potential. The apartment that I am sharing is in a building called The Gables which I am certain must have some sort of interesting history. It is next to a pub called The Rampant Lion which has recently reopened as a hotel/pub/trying to be fancy Halal Italian restaurant/beer garden/coffee shop/downstairs Middle Eastern restaurant/take away food outlet. The building is nice, the garden is nice, the beer menu is terrible.

Rampant Lion

View from my apartment window looking at the back of the Rampant Lion

The last week has mostly involved attempting to register for university but discovering that it is harder than it looks, and so doing some writing work in the library instead. On the weekend, I made use of the Heritage Open Days and visited a few historically and culturally significant buildings that were open to the public for free. This included a trip to Halifax with Sir Pubert, continuing our tradition of weekend outings involving a picnic lunch.

England countryside

England sure knows how to do ‘countryside’

Halifax wasn’t great, but the blue cheese, walnut, tomato and onion chutney sandwich that Sir Pubert made me certainly was.

Sandwich in Halifax

Yum.

Stories From the Sky

Monday, September 7th, 2015

The last few weeks have been somewhat manic – my decision to run a marathon, turn 30 and move to the other side of the world turned out to be quite the challenge. I don’t regret it but next time I might reconsider doing so many physically and mentally strenuous things all at the same time.

I am currently writing to you while flying somewhere over the Indian Ocean. If the plane goes down now I’ll try and float towards Jakarta. That seems to be the closest land mass. I have already watched two films – Aloha and Frozen. You’ll be pleased to hear that both ended happily and resulted in me tearing up a bit in the lovey-dovey moments. It’s my old age.

I had the beef for dinner. We apparently get another ‘light dinner’ later. I’m likely to get yet another one on my next flight from Abu Dhabi to Manchester. Great. Three dinners. Normally I’d love this concept but when it comes in a foil container and you’re not entirely sure what you’re eating, it is slightly less exciting.

I figured I’d take the opportunity of me not doing anything to catch up on some blog posts so that people may or may not read them later when I have a chance to upload them. So here we go. Let’s catch up, friends!

Sun vs Snow

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Apparently it is cold and snowing/sleeting in Manchester. It isn’t here.

Blue skies in Perth

So sunny. So blue.

AARRRGGGGGG!!!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

I am currently faced with two options.

  1. Retreat to a corner of the room, curl into a ball and consume all of the chocolate that I have in my house.
  2. Vent in a public arena (eg. my blog) while drinking a soothing cup of tea and eating an almond biscuit. And chocolate.

While you may not want to hear about my woes, I feel I am making a wise decision and that by the time I have finished writing this soliloquy I will be less stressed, less frantic and able to move on with my life. Good plan.

Today is Monday. On Friday I leave England. That leaves Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to pack my life into small boxes, throw away half of what I own and repeatedly ask myself, “Do I really need this?” This morning I booked a courier, Parcel Hero, to collect two boxes that I am sending to Australia. This involved much swearing as the website continually sent me to the wrong page, a trip to the bank to cancel three payments that I hadn’t agreed to, and a terrible online chat service. While Parcel Hero was about £30 cheaper than any other courier company, part of me was thinking that maybe paying the extra for use of a website that wasn’t put together by monkeys would be a better option.

The courier man was then supposed to collect the boxes between 4-6pm this evening. At 3.15pm as I walked into my apartment, I received a call saying he was coming at 3.30pm. Good service except neither of my two boxes were sealed so the lucky guy got to stand around and watch me handle a frustrating roll of sticky tape.

And so half of my belongings have been rolled out the door and now I have to deal with everything else that I am either storing in Manchester or throwing away/donating to charity. Hence why I am now writing this and not doing that.

I have just said goodbye to three of my workmates who have become good friends over the last couple of years and tonight I am having a little farewell shindig. While I know I am coming back, I absolutely hate goodbyes and despise this part of my chosen flighty-lifestyle where every couple of years I pack up and leave the life I have built and the friends I have made. Things will change in the next few months and when I return people will be working in different places, they’ll have different friends, they may even be living in Australia. So my goodbyes this time are “I might see you in a few months”s. Or I might not.

My almond biscuit is no more and I have finished my cup of tea, so I had better get back to reality and do some more packing.

Getting Dirty with DIY

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Over the past few months I have provided you with updates on my DIY adventures with Sir Pubert, his renovator’s delight townhouse and visits to B&Q. I have really enjoyed being involved in the renovation project – staining floors, installing flat pack kitchens, having arguments with customer service managers at IKEA, and painting more ‘white on white’ than you could possibly imagine.

This week I felt like Dale Kerrigan from The Castle. The pride he felt about digging a hole was on par to my personal delight in my attempt to rebuild a door frame.

Here was the problem – the new door was too small to fit the existing door frame, therefore pieces of timber needed to be cut to size and attached the original frame. Sounds simple enough except my lack of confidence in my measuring, cutting, drilling and screwing abilities meant that it seemed like a big deal. I like to say that I’m highly skilled with power tools, but the truth is closer to me being good at watching other people use them.

Anyway, having declared that it wouldn’t be my fault if I messed it up, I brought my Dad to the forefront of my brain and tried to think about what he would do in this situation. Measure twice, cut once. Achievable. Use the appropriate tool for the job. Not so much. However, through some sort of DIY miracle, I managed to measure, cut and install a new frame without requiring any second measurements, additional cuts OR having to buy an entirely new door frame. And that was even while using an inappropriate cutting tool, a blunt pencil and a drill with a dying battery. The two ‘handymen’ were hogging the good drill.

door frame

That’s a sexy frame.

It is the most beautiful door frame in the house and it now has a freshly painted door hanging from it. I’m very pleased with my efforts and feel I have learnt valuable skills. I have also recently learnt how to use calk and window sealant and how to force open a PVC window if the lock is broken. I also know that painting white walls/doors/skirting boards/door frames with more white paint is one of the most mind numbing jobs available. That must be why I always have to do it.