Posts Tagged ‘markets’

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Monday, November 24th, 2014

This time last year, my friend Pooja and I noticed a tall(ish) tower being installed in Spinningfields as part of the Manchester Christmas Markets. We were instantly excited by the potential fun that the red and white helter skelter offered us and vowed that we would slide down this tower of joy.

Sadly, despite the helter skelter being in Spinningfields for over four weeks, we never made it down. And so, when we noticed its return for this year’s markets, we were at the front of the line and waiting with our money before any little kids could get in our way. We were so early, in fact, that it wasn’t open yet, and we had to come back the following week.

The moment finally arrived – last Monday at 4pm, Pooja, her husband, Jonathan, and I met to take the most anticipated rides of our lives. There was a slight drizzle, which meant that the guy in charge hadn’t bothered to wax the end of the slide. “You’ll either stop on the way down and have to shuffle yourself to the end, or you’ll come straight off the end or sumfin,” he said. But due to the less than perfect conditions, he was offering us two rides for our £2 entry price. What a champ!

Pooja and I went up first, leaving photography guru, Jonathan, to record our descents. The climb to the top was cramped and screaming ‘Public Liability’ but we made it to the top and I suggested Pooja went first. I figured it was only fair that she propel herself down a slide first seeing as I had walked on fire before her. Pooja’s super slim figure fit easily onto the very narrow slide and I watched pondering what I would do if I got stuck half way down. Pooja made it safely to the ground so it was my turn and I then realised that wearing a skirt to go on a slide wasn’t the smartest choice.

And off I went, zooming down the surprisingly fast slide, flying off the end to a sudden halting stop. IT WAS AWESOME! I was then particularly pleased that we were allowed two turns, although the second go was slightly less exciting than the first.

Helter skelter

WAAAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOO!!!! Photo credit : Jonathan Pow/jp@jonathanpow.com REF : POW_141117_2346

Pooja and I celebrated – we had finally fulfilled our plan of going down the Christmas helter skelter, even if it was a year later than planned. The three of us then wandered off to the Christmas markets where we drank disappointing glühwein and stole pieces of Jonathan’s not-so-great curry wurst. And that’s where my Christmas spirit ends.

Manchester Update

Friday, November 14th, 2014

I feel that I haven’t written a general “This is life in Manchester” update in sometime. As I am currently at a loose end with a desire to write something but a disinclination for that to be anything work related, Manchester has become my topic for this here post. It is like to turn into a ramble with no clear point or purpose and will therefore also be a clear insight into the nonsensical workings of my brain. Good luck, dear readers.

Date: 13 November 2014
Current time:
3.51pm
Weather: 
Windy and overcast but not raining. And it isn’t that cold, really. These are all very positive things.
Amount of sunlight left remaining in the day:
Not a lot. What is sunlight?

I am currently sitting in a room above one of Manchester’s hippest hipster bars. The same hip hop tunes that have been playing on repeat for the last month are continuing strong from the speakers in the bar below. I’m not sure how many more times I can hear that he is killing her softly with his song without turning to similar violence.

Winter is, thankfully, taking its time to arrive. Talk about town includes, “Gosh, it is unseasonably warm, don’t you think?” with most people not having pulled out their winter jackets yet. It won’t last, of course. Particularly not now that the Christmas markets are opening on Friday and people will be wanting to wander around outside.

The Christmas Markets are apparently going to be bigger and better than ever before, which I take to mean that instead of four over priced fudge stalls owned by the same company there will be five. And it will not be physically possible to walk across Manchester without being forced to walk past stalls selling tacky christmas ornaments and novelty hats. Step outside and you will instantly smell like a german sausage. Yes, I admit that part of me enjoys the sights, smells and fairy lights of the markets, but that’s the same part of me that wanted to go to Blackpool. Give me an hour and I will want to leave.

Santa statue

Mega Santa takes over Manchester.

Every weekend, the city centre seems to be getting busier and busier with the main shopping strip, Market Street, becoming a human wave of shoppers. In September and October it was the sudden influx of students that ruined my commute to and from work when suddenly I was having to dodge hundreds of students carrying pillows and staring at their mobile phones as I tried to walk home. Now everyone is getting into the ‘Christmas Spirit’ and is out shopping for Timmy, Susan and Pedro’s christmas presents. One day I want to walk down Market Street in a very straight line and see how many people I manage to walk into. It would be the ultimate game of Chicken and I think I would score quite highly.

On a more positive note, the warm temperatures have meant that while the sun doesn’t get up until after 7am and has disappeared by 4.30pm, the weather has been remarkably good. My morning runs haven’t turned icy yet although I am having to avoid running along dark canals in order to not be murdered.

With two months and 17 days left on my visa, time is rapidly disappearing. But the closer my imminent departure gets, the keener I am to stick around. Yes, Manchester is dark, dirty and drizzly, but I like this place. It is growing and changing and becoming a seriously cool city. So the plan is to next year become one of those annoying pillow-carrying students and walk up and down Market Street bumping into people. Mostly because students in Manchester get a discount on almost EVERYTHING and I love a bargain.

Surprise Birthday Wrap

Friday, August 29th, 2014

My birthday Two-Or-So-Weeks have begun in the form of delicious food. My friend and fellow Classroomer, Alam, surprised me with a halloumi and falafel wrap and a piece of carrot cake from the Veggie Kitchen at the Manchester Markets. Alam is always teasing me with his delicious cheesy wraps and so, to celebrate my birth, he went and bought me one. It may not be his Audi R8, but in my world a cheesy, chickpea filled wrap with a slab of cake is WAY better. Thanks, Alam!

Mmmm… birthday wrap...

Mmmm… birthday wrap…

Mmm… birthday carrot cake...

Mmm… birthday carrot cake…

 

Getting Down With Corrie Street

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

When I moved into my first apartment in Manchester, I discovered I was located down the road from Granada Studios, home to England’s version of Neighbours, Coronation Street. It took me some time to work this out and I would often wonder why large groups of teenage girls were hanging around outside a gate every day. Turns out they were Corrie-Spotting.

Practically Warner Brother Studios

Practically Warner Brother Studios

My next cross with Coronation Street happened while working at Artisan. Frequently stars of the show would come in for a meal and be served by an Australian who was completely oblivious of their fame and possible fortune. It wasn’t until a manager or fellow staff member would say, “Jess! You have the Corrie table!” and they had explained to me what exactly they meant that I discovered I was delivering food to someone of GCI (Great Cultural Importance.)

I have since shifted to the other side of Granada Studios and Coronation Street has packed up shop and moved to the shiny new ITV studios in Media City. However, for the next few months, ultra fans can go on a tour of the original set and see where Harry met Sally and Sally met Ryan and they had an affair before discovering that Ryan is actually Harry’s long-lost brother (I made that up.) For people like me who just want to see the really cool warehouse building located inside the Granada studios, there are artisan markets being held over the next few weekends inside the studio grounds. I ventured to the markets on both Saturday and Sunday of this last weekend and checked out the wares on sale. It was the usual mix of handmade jewellery, over-exposed photographs of Manchester and homemade cakes. The stall holders were holding on to their tents for dear life as the wind picked up – hopefully the weather improves over the next few weeks.

Great building!

Great building!

I managed to stand next to what I believe is an important Corrie location, although to be honest I have no idea. My new housemate has been trying to introduce me to Coronation Street but my extreme dislike for really bad television/acting means she has a lot of convincing to do.

The local Coronation Street pub

The local Coronation Street pub

Christmas in Manchester

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

According to the calendar, there is only one month to go until Christmas. I’m in a slight state of denial about this as I am not entirely sure where the rest of the year has gone and I am avoiding facing the arrival of 2014 and the fact that it is about time I grew up. But I can’t deny the red, green and silver tinsel and Santa overkill in every shop window I walk past. Maybe it’s just a phase…

In the same week as Bonfire night, I attended a second lot of fireworks to mark the turning on of the Christmas Lights. Leading up to this potentially momentous occasion, I had witnessed cherry pickers and electricians attaching strings of lights to lamp posts at various points throughout the city. My expectations were great – soon the city would be covered in glorious oh-so-pretty sparkly things that would bring festive joy and endless happiness to young and old. I went to the light-turning-on ceremony at the Town Hall with my friends Damien and Eli and we pushed our way through a crowd of teenagers and old people to find a good viewing spot to watch ex-winners of X-Factor perform LIVE for our entertainment. We patiently waited through the average singing to finally count down to the pushing of the Lights-Are-Go button by James Arthur (X-Factor winner, 2012). Three… Two… One…

Waiting patiently for James to push a button.

Waiting patiently for James to push a button.

Not only did lights apparently turn on, but fireworks exploded from the roof of the Town Hall and we witnessed a ten minute display that consisted of the same fireworks over and over again. My favourites were some horizontal flames that spurted out from the side of the clock tower. Once that was over, it was time to go home, and as we walked away, my friends and I asked each other – where were the Christmas lights?

Boom! Bang! Whizz!

Boom! Bang! Hiss!

It would seem that Manchester City Council has spent most of its Christmas money on markets (there are nine market areas across the city) and a giant, fat Santa who sits menacingly in front of the Town Hall. There are some gold winged-star things attached to most lamp posts and some very funky (this is sarcasm), flashing-pixel Christmas tree things down the pedestrianised King Street, but that’s about it. However, since the installation of hundreds of wooden huts for the Christmas markets, things have improved. Now there is definitely a festive Christmas vibe spreading across the city and everyone is loving the hot wine. It now takes me 10 minutes longer to walk home from work as I have to go through at least three Christmas markets, dodging people carrying collector mugs filled with dangerous staining glühwein.

Wooden tower of Christmas wonder

Wooden tower of Christmas wonder

I’m not a complete Scrooge – I have been one of these festive revellers and I do enjoy a good cup of warm, spiced wine myself. I also have to give Manchester two thumbs up for their markets – while there is a lot of repetition of stalls, they are of a much higher quality that Paris’s Champs Elysées. Nothing will beat the markets in Germany and eastern France, but Manchester has put in a fine effort. So here’s to more overpriced glühwein and bratwurst – Merry Christmas Month to all!

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

 

It’s How Long Until Christmas?!

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Dear Father Christmas,

All I want for Christmas is a very clear sign involving flashing lights and someone handing me a piece of paper with lots of detailed information outlining what I am going to do and where I am going to live next year. And maybe some sort of delicious cake to eat.

Thanks!

Love Jess xx

So apparently it is already December and Christmas is a mere three weeks and one day away. That, of course, means that 2013 is four weeks and one day away. My natural instinct to count down days and reflect on the previous year etc. means I am now going into slight panic mode as I realise that I have some fairly major decisions to make within the next few weeks. I had been feeling a-okay with my “Holland or England” concept but now that isn’t even really definite enough as visas need to be applied for and apartments found. It is true that it doesn’t matter where I end up, I can always move. But the idea of moving all of my stuff multiple times appeals about as much as someone stabbing me with a fork so I’d kind of like to get it right. Or, at least, not completely wrong.

Anyway, that aside, the Christmas festivities have sprung throughout Paris with decorations and markets coming alive across the city. On Saturday evening I met my friend Chuck on the Champs Elysées and we wandered through the Christmas markets drinking vin chaud. The markets were as commercial as I expected and I didn’t actually look at any of the stalls apart from the man selling hot spiced wine. The decorations down the street were quite pretty and you can’t help but feel somewhat happy and festive as you walk past fairy lights, wooden huts, ice skating rinks and people eating churros. The cold winter air certainly made it feel Christmasy.

Christmas markets

So many people on the Champs Elysées

A decorations throughout Paris are fairly simple – lots of fairy lights which I always think are the best lights to have. If it were up to me, one hundred helicopters would fly across the city and dump huge lengths of fairy lights over buildings and streets, creating a web of twinkling stars. So pretty. The decorations on the Champs Elysées are a bit sci-fi and look like aliens have wrapped laser beams around the trees but at least they’re simple. There is a distinct lack of religion in the decorations which I find quite interesting. No Jesus or Marys hanging from lamp posts here.

The other day I was wandering aimlessly through Paris and walked through Place Vendôme, near the Ritz. There were some intriguing Christmas decoration statue things that appeared to be reticulation pipes stuck together at angles and then covered in sparkly fairy lights. They improved as it got darker, but in the day light they looked quite average. It is somehow pleasing that even in a city like Paris, their Christmas decorations are just as tacky as Perth’s.

Christmas decorations

Jaunty.

Still no sign of snow in Paris and I’m not getting my hopes up this year. I still REALLY REALLY REALLY want a white Christmas but I don’t think Sheffield is going to deliver. It did snow when I was there in April so there is a chance. But I think it will require a Christmas Miracle or lots of soap suds.

Christmas Market Time

Monday, November 28th, 2011

The Christmas Markets have arrived in Paris, with young Audrey Tautou (of Amelie fame) turning on the Christmas lights along the Champs-Élysées last week. Tom and I dared the crowds on Saturday afternoon and elbowed our way through, mostly in the hope of finding a warming Nutella crêpe. We had been out walking all day heading from our house, down to the river, a quick duck into Sainte Chapelle, and then towards the Grand Palais. It was bloody cold and my hands were falling off so I needed something to warm them up with. We found the solution:

Vin chaud and crêpes

Hand warming.

Vin chaud and crêpes. Ahhh… I love Christmas in Europe. I hate it in Australia because of the excessive commercialisation and the too much food and too many presents. But here there is something more festive and REAL about it, although the Christmas markets in Paris really disappointed me as they are largely commercial stalls selling awful mass produced goods that are ugly and tacky. Plus, our Nutella crêpe was made using Nutella substitute which just did not hit the spot. Then I saw the vin chaud lady pouring more wine into the urns to heat up and it came straight out of a giant cask. It was essentially goon with spices, and it was all pre-mixed. Nothing real here.

I will go and have a better look at the markets when it isn’t a Saturday afternoon. I think a Monday morning when everyone is going to work with a depressed look on their faces is probably the best time to check them out.

The Letters of Paris

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

At the end of this week the Mairie de Paris is hosting a writing festival with conferences, discussions, performances and talks called Paris en Toutes Lettres. It looks like it would be an amazing event if I could understand what was being said AND if I wasn’t going to Madrid tomorrow. TYPICAL. Something interesting happens as I am leaving. Of course, this would be more of a problem if going to Madrid wasn’t going to be a fantastically amazing experience! Madrid sits high on my list of “must visits” largely due to the rumours I have heard about amazing art galleries and delicious food. Tom and I are spending five days there and our friends Rom and Coup are joining us. It is going to be much fun and we are preparing ourselves for the Spanish lifestyle of long sleep ins, late lunches, afternoon naps and then tapas, drinks and dinner until the wee hours of the morn. Sounds all a bit exhausting really… I’ll let you know how I go.

The last week has been a lot of fun – Mum and Dad came to visit and I showed them around my favourite Parisian haunts. We avoided most of the tourist sites and instead explored the outer areas where most tourists dare not venture. A highlight was discovering (thanks to Tom’s current obsession of markets) a world food market that is held in Belleville twice a week. It is HUGE. It stretched at least three blocks down the main road of Belleville and there was stall after stall selling fruit and vegetables, spices, cheap clothes and even toiletries. Bargain prices and plenty of “ALLEZ! ALLEZ! ALLEZ! KILO DE TOMATES! UN EURO! UN EURO! UN EURO!” By the end it was all a bit exhausting and I was quite pleased to get out of there. Tom and I have purchased a wheelie trolley to take to the markets so we’re now true blue market goers.

Milling Away

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

York, oldest town in Western Australia and the centre of the universe. It sure was buzzy on Sunday afternoon as I headed there after a weekend in Brookton with a group of friends. We went to the York Mill, an ex-flour mill that is now an art and furniture gallery, cafe and weekend market. I had been meaning to pop into the markets since they opened and was somewhat disappointed by the lack of fresh fruit and vege stalls. The stalls were largely local arts and crafts with a few jam and chutney stalls. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particularly exciting either.

I have been to the Mill cafe on a few occasions and have enjoyed some pleasant lunches and afternoon teas there. They have, however, attempted to upgrade with the recent addition of the weekend markets and I feel this has let them down in the food department. The menu is made up of mostly large, hot meals and prices range from $11-$18. I chose a roast beef baguette, hoping for some nice locally baked bread. I think it probably was baked locally but it wasn’t nice. The beef was tasty but it was served as an open sandwich and so become quite cumbersome to eat.

Baguette

Roast beefs

Most of the others chose burgers which were also served an an ‘open’ fashion and so you had to perform a miraculous task of joining the bun ends together in order to eat it. The feedback from all parties was that the food lacked flavour. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either.

Tom and I shared a scone with jam and cream for dessert which was tasty and fulfilled my scone craving. My friend, Alex, had a piece of chocolate mudcake which was a large slab of not-so-great chocolate cake that was more spongey than fudgey. So none of us were particularly overwhelmed by the food, but it is probably the best option in down-town York.

Scone

The saving scone