Thursday, August 20, 2009
Stop! ... Rammytime
Okay. So, Ramsbottom is lovely place to live. I've only been living here for eight months and already have a hard time imagining hanging up my hat anywhere else round Manchester. You get the best of both worlds: living in what feels like a small, friendly town in the green Pennine foothills, within arm's reach of the big bad city. I know there are a few places like this about, and all have their band of loyal adherents, but I feel lucky to be here.
One thing has surprised me: I didn't expect it to be so happening around here. It'll take a lot to coax folks out of Rammy with all that's going on at the moment.
First, a long-overdue tip of the hat toThe First Chop. Less than a year old, this laid-back bar and restaurant is already feeling like a comfortable pair of old sneakers. The bottled beer selection is fantastic and they always have something good on tap. The food's just right for the place - simple but classy offerings made from carefully-sourced ingredients. Their pork kebabs with salsa verde have won my heart, and I'm trying to forget how devilishly good their chips with aioli are. Their music selection is wonderful, and they're great for the bambinos. All became clear when I learned recently that the owner came from the much-loved Jam Street Cafe, a South Manchester institution.
The Chop is at the centre of a resurgence in Rammy's nightlife, which probably needed a bit of a shot in the arm. It has always been good for food and now hosts an enviable array of eateries including Ramsons and Fishermans Retreat, China Cottage and the lovely Bailey's tea room, newcomers Chocolate Cafe, Sanminis and Buddha Lounge, and my latest happy discovery Thai restaurant Spice Garden which has been tucked away on Square Street for ages. And there are plenty of good independent butchers, greengrocers, delis and shops in the area. But after dark it feels much more like the traditional Lancashire Mill Town that it truly still is, "New Chorlton" hype aside.
Some upcoming events look set to shake things up a little. The first is Rammyfest, a free musical extravaganza unfolding over August Bank Holiday Weekend. Musicians including DJ Graeme Park and The Cordels will play in venues around town and busk outdoors. And the organisers are bridging the North-South (Manchester) divide with a handy charabanc between Chorlton and Ramsbottom to ferry folks to the festival.
The party has been organised to celebrate the launch of Ramsbottom Online, a new website set up to promote all things Ramsbottom and to act as an online hub for news and discussion about life in Rammy. They've got a blog up with some nice posts about the muy controversial new Aldi currently being built (amazingly the town's third supermarket) and the pros and cons of riding the Witch Way bus.
Next month, the big excitement is the long-anticipated return of the Ramsbottom Rhythm and Blues Festival, dormant since 2005, which Bury Met is bringing to the cricket ground the weekennd of September 26 and 27. Musicians include Matt Schofield Band, Otis Gibbs,The Ben Waters Big Band among others, plus food stalls and family activities.