Monday, July 28, 2008


It's kind of like I've been on vacation from blogging, but now I'm actually going on vacation to Vermont, for two weeks. When I return there will be news of a wildly exciting online literature project, frenzied blog awards anticipation and - hey! - more frequent blogging. Honest injun.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Which is about food

So there are good restaurants and bad restaurants when you have a baby, and which ones turn out which way is often a surprise. The Three Fishes in Mitton seemed like a good idea for a baby-friendly outing - a country gastropub run by the Northcote Manor folks. We've been before and liked the food. But with a kid we didn't feel welcome. Ended up shoved into a noisy table by the door, and our server got majorly pissy when asked to keep my food warm while I fed the bambino. He was so rude about it that a woman at a nearby table actually complained. And now I don't really want to go back there, like, ever.

But now that the wonderful Food by Breda Murphy has opened just down the road in Whalley, I'll be hitting that instead when I'm in the Ribble Valley. We had a really good meal there last weekend. My chicken salad had generous pieces of perfectly cooked Goosnargh bird with grapefruit, cashews and an interesting selection of greens and herbs. They also do a mean orange cake.

I was a little worried about our dinner with some visiting family at The Market - I adore the restaurant (above), but wondered how the somewhat fancy place would react to an 8-week old baby. We were treated like royalty - seated at a table in a quiet corner, cheerfully supplied with a pitcher of hot water to warm our bottle and even a cloth so we didn't get our table wet lifting it out. They kept dinner warm without being asked, and were generally lovely about the baby - made us feel like they were glad we had brought her in. They've started opening for Sunday lunch, by the way.

Love Saves the Day has opened a third outpost on Dale Street. It's in that weird, smallish concrete building right next to the Piccadilly Basin car park. It's tiny, but quite nice and stocked with plenty of goodies, a bit more like their Deansgate deli than the minimalist one on Thomas Street (which is soon to get a refit, I hear.)

The long-awaited (okay, at least by me) bagel place in the Arndale Centre has opened. Hilariously, it's called Bagel Nash. Yeah, like Nash Bridges. It's probably too late to tell them the right way to spell nosh. Haven't tried it yet, but they seem to have about a hundred different kinds of bagel sandwich going on.

Oh, and Jay Rayner actually gave a Manchester restaurant a positive review in Sunday's Observer. He really liked The Modern, the new place at Urbis.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New blogs: The Summer (yeah, right) Edition

Hey there, it's time for another update on the newest blogs in and around Manchester.

First up isn't really a new blog, it's been going for a while unbeknownst to me. It's the blog of author Helen Tse, whose memoir about growing up Chinese-Mancunian family bears the same name as her family's Chinese restaurant in the Northern Quarter: Sweet Mandarin. Unsurprisingly, that's also the name of the blog. You can keep up with book news and read extracts from the memoir too.

Next is Booncunian, who calls himself "The Manchester blogger." Here is a guy is really into the new Batman movie. I mean, like, REALLY into the new Batman movie, to the point where I'm wondering if the studio is paying him to write about it. If not, man, you're missing a trick there.

Here's another work-related blog by a rather disenchanted Mancunian worker bee. It's either called Wage Mule or My Boss is An Idiot But He Pays My Wages. I'm going to go with the former until adrvised otherwise, because it's shorter.

A new photo blog: Summerseat Views chronicles the changing seasons in this lovely village outside Rambo. It's not updated that often, but the quality of the photos more than makes up for that. That up there is a sample.

Solepower is a group blog "dedicated to the culture of sneakers/trainers. As we have all lived in Manchester all our lives there will be lots of reminiscing about Manchester culture."
is a network of 12 websites providing community-based information for Manchester. They've also hooked up with the BBC to help devlop media talent in Manchester and Salford. They're doing some really interesting work in helping people get rolling as community reporters, essentially neighbourhood-specific bloggers who write about what's going on in their 'hood - check out B of the Blog (Beswick, Clayton and Openshaw) or Roblog (Hulme). It looks like they're working with both new and existing bloggers as they've also signed up Lady Levenshulme to represent her domain. Content manager Jessica describes their approach thusly on her MyManchester Editor's Blog:

"When you hand the cameras over to the people who actually live here, the stories are so different. We’ve got loads of content on our website from people doing really interesting, really positive things in Manchester, which never make it into the news because they’re not going to sell, but they actually paint a much more realistic picture of what’s going on in our community. Whether its a young people’s anglers club in North Manchester, a refugee talking about their experiences, or a report of a local event, its real news and real issues from real people."

Sounds right on to me. Kinda similar to what the BBC Manchester Blog was doing, but more localised and a little more directed - I look forward to reading lots of good new neighbourhood blogs. If you're interested in getting involved, they're looking for more community reporters, so get in touch on their website.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

From here to maternity

Well, I didn't intend to take maternity leave from this blog, but we moved and our broadband took its time getting hooked up. Anyway, all is well with me and baby Molly. Let me get up on the soapbox for a minute: We had a home birth, and if anyone is thinking about doing this but is a bit scared, just do it. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I also highly recommend the book Spiritual Midwifery, the ace documentary the Business of Being Born, and getting a doula for your birth. A doula is kind of like a mother's helper, a wise person who knows loads about birthing babies. Our doula was Antonia Segura Walker, and she was wonderful.

Having this tiny sidekick makes me look at Manchester in a whole new way. Before, I was most interested in whether a cafe had decent coffee, good food and free wireless and wasn't filled with jerks. Now I just want a baby changing station, dammit.

I've become inordinately fond of the Arndale, because it does have brilliant facilities for those with child, and is filled with all manner of changing rooms and feeding rooms (though they don't exactly roll out the red carpet for men in the changing room, as we found.) Breastfeeding is another issue. So far I've tried it in Barburrito, the Costa in the Arndale Waterstones, and Starbucks, with no problems. I don't know what I'm expecting, since no-one seems the least bit fussed, but you never know. I don't think I'd be in a hurry to get the boob out in Piccadilly Gardens, say. If anyone knows of any particularly bf-friendly places in Manc, give me a shout.

Anyway. That's enough about babies now. No, this is not turning into a mommy blog. Next post I'll be back to telling you all about the exciting cultural events that I can't go to. Sheesh.