All posts by Danny Moore

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SharpFutures Brand Refresh

So Google isn’t the only one updating their brand identity

Over the past couple of months, our Marketing and Design team have been busy working on a new, refreshed look for SharpFutures, building a new brand identity with all of our services.

We have rolled out some of our new brand identity across our social channels including Facebook and Twitter giving you a hint to how things will look soon once we fully launch.

Another big project that has come as a natural progression from the new brand development is a new website. The team are currently in the Beta stage of building a brand new website for people to get a real feel and understanding of everything we do here at SharpFutures. It will also give a simple navigation to the services we provide and an accessibility to our broad range of clients and affiliates.

Keep watching this space as it is all coming soon.

 

daysoff

Our favourite places to visit & things to do on a day off in Manchester

Last month the SharpFutures team compiled our “Best Places to eat in Manchester” blog, so next we’ve decided to write about our favourite places to spend a day out (or in) across Greater Manchester.

There’s quite a wide range of activities and places listed below so we hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoy visiting them.  All are easily accessible by public transport as well as bike and car – if you need to plan a route then check out the TFGM website.

If you have any further suggestions please Tweet us at @SharpFutures or email us at team@sharpfutures.org.uk – we’re always keen to find out about new destinations for a day off…


Heaton ParkIsaacHeatonPark - Rach McG, by Rachael McGuinness

I’ve only recently discovered Heaton Park which is a great (and free) day out, especially if you have kids. It was a lovely sunny day, we packed a picnic, football and off we went with our toddler.

We used the Margaret’s Road entrance and found free parking* inside and an ice cream van in prime position next to the brilliantly equipped kid’s play area. I think there was even a sand pit which we said we would go back to at the end of the day however we got so preoccupied with other areas we didn’t get chance to return.

We headed straight to the animal centre. It was great for a toddler and had just the right amount of animals; ponies, pigs, rabbits, chickens etc. Our son enjoyed laughing and shouting at the (now deaf) rabbits as they hopped around but wisely stayed away from the giddy goats. This kept him entertained for a good 30 minutes (I’ve realised parenthood is all about timings and countdowns to meal times and naps…)

The grounds of the park are beautiful, with rolling hills and brilliant views of Manchester and beyond. We settled on top of a hill and had a picnic followed by a bit of football. There is a lovely looking café on site too which was rammed and the cakes looked delicious but we settled for a Mr Whippy instead…

We finished the visit off with a little explore and a stroll around a lake. I feel like we only visited a tiny part of what the park has to offer so if this weather perks up we will be back again soon!

*parking is free Mon-Fri out of school holidays

Heaton Park, Manchester M25 2SW www.manchester.gov.uk/heatonpark


T-Rex - ElliMuseum of Manchester, by Elli Metcalfe

Now being the fashionista that I am (muffled laughter in the background) most who know me would expect me to state that my favourite thing to do in Manchester on my day off would be SHOPPING, spending copious amounts of money on clothes and shoes, most of which  I would hardly ever wear!

However, it may shock you to discover that I love nothing better than to browse the bones of dinosaurs, educate myself on Egyptology and visit a Vivarium or two! All of which is possible at the brilliant and interesting Museum of Manchester located on Oxford Road!

The Museum, first set up in 1835 now houses some of the biggest collections in the UK, everything from Earth’s sciences to Birds and insects and it even has a full-size skeleton on a T-Rex named Stan dating back 70 million years! The museum has everything you need and more and caters for both adults and little ones…plus it’s free to get in!

Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/


trafford-centre - Sophie

Trafford Centre by Sophie Hukin

My favourite place to go out for the day in Manchester has to be the Trafford Centre. It is a handy place to visit as there is loads of stuff to do all under one roof and is suitable for a family day out.

I love shopping and The Trafford Centre has to be one of the best places in Manchester for it. The shops have a variety of high street and designer brands so it is perfect for any price range. If you are with kids it is also a perfect place as there are various activities such as laser quest and an ODEON Cinema (Laserquest being my guilty pleasure). The choice of food places is unbelievable. Fast food hall to sit down restaurants to China town it is almost impossible to choose where to go! I recommend five guys as they serve delicious burgers with the best drinks machine ever!!!

Trying to fit everything in at The Trafford Centre could be difficult but the visit is well worth it.

Dumplington, Manchester M17 8AA http://intu.co.uk/traffordcentre


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Font Bar, by Lewis Marsh

The Font bar has become a recent favourite of mine; a place I tend to go on a day off with a friend or two to have a catch up, a get-together, or just to satisfy our thirst and hunger!

I was randomly introduced to this place on a meet up due to the great food and drinks at very reasonable prices! Their walls are decorated with local artists’ work which personally I think is a really nice touch!

It’s the little things you know…

From chalk written specials to a relaxing atmosphere through lighting and chilled music; along with great company of course, in my personal opinion The Font bar is worthy of your free time.

Along with all these positives it is also conveniently based only a 5-minute walk from Piccadilly gardens – This, of course, varies depending on your walking speed but either way it’s still relatively close by!

I prefer the daytime 14:00pm – 20:00 as the music played is chilled enough to have a conversation with the person you have gone with, I’m not saying I don’t like loud music (because I love it!) I’m just saying depending on your reasons for wanting to go it is best to be familiar with times.

New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP https://thefontbar.wordpress.com/


Whitworth - Dom

Whitworth Art Gallery, by Dom Corry

It takes a pretty magnificent place in order for me to be compelled to leave the comfort of my warm bed of a weekend that said… I do like ambling about without a direction and ending up in Yorkshire or something, but that’s besides the blog right?

A place in Manchester which really insights a sort of zeal and excitement in me would have to be, the fairly newly opened, Whitworth Art Gallery.

It’s one of those really woozy sort of gallery’s where by you don’t just look at the exhibitions and study them, you can actually wonder about them!!!

I like to call it the house dreams because every room kind has that feeling of super natural and surreal about it, as if every room is a different interpretation of your minds sleeping eye. There was one exhibition in particular which was called ‘Unmanned Nature’ by a fella called Cai Guo-Qiang and it was such an unusual massager of the senses, in the way that it sort of felt like walking in to a strange wilderness of visionary aesthetic and faded desert, one that might include a wise old man on a hill and a sign from the gods or something cliché like that, but it was quite an immersive and relaxing feeling really, there was even a little pond in there…a pond…In a room…that looked vaguely like a naturalistic interpretation of heaven…what on earth (note pun) is not to like?

What’s also a huge plus about this marvellous place is the fact that it’s so huge, so you have a lot more variation and in turn stay there for more than 10 minutes, also there are, like many galleries, constant                                                                                                                                                      opening which leaves you more to discover and guarantees a fresh experience each time you go. It is a grand way to use a Saturday afternoon in Manchester for sure and I’d say give it a try.

Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk


The Courtyard - Kerry

Courtyard by Kerry Parker

A good day out in Manchester for me would be Courtyard bar just off Oxford Road. The reason why it would have to be this place is because a couple of reasons!

I’m a bit of a cheap skate and I love it when I can get stuff that’s cheap but really good quality. The food menu is a typical British pub but it’s not very expensive. As for drinks they have a range from beers to cocktails! (Which if you know me – I love cocktails rather than drinking a pint of beer)

It also has two pool tables that don’t cost much to play. There is limited seating inside, but they have a huge back “garden” with plenty of benches and tables to sit around and most the tables have a heater for the more chilly nights!

The staff here are always really relaxed and aren’t afraid to jump into your conversation while your being served.

Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5SH www.courtyardmanchester.co.uk/


Printworks - Danny M

IMAX, by Danny Moore

My favourite place to be on a day off in Manchester lately is the IMAX based inside the Printworks in the city centre.

As a Marvel film lover it’s always where I end up going on a day off catching up on the latest Marvel blockbuster reliving my youth of comic books and super heroes. Within the walls is Europe’s second largest IMAX screen at a whopping 26m by 19m it’s the only way I can ever watch a movie anymore. The home TV just doesn’t quite cut it!

Another great thing about the location is that you walk out the doors after an action packed film and you find yourself in the centre of a number of restaurants perfect for grabbing a bite to eat straight after.

Printworks, Withy Grove, Manchester M4 2BS www.odeon.co.uk/cinemas/manchester_printworks/11/


matt and phreds neon - Dan Walsh

Matt & Phreds – Monday Jam, by Dan Walsh

Matt & Phreds is a live music venue on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter, they have regular and diverse artists playing everything from Salsa to Swing and have even played host to Adele in the past.

I like to sometimes go on a Monday night when they have a Jam session and open mic, one Monday is Blues, the next Jazz and the next is Funk and finally Soul until the next month where it all happens again!

It attracts a wide variety of interesting, talented and creative musicians and singers and is always led by a specialist accompanied by a house band.

There’s a great atmosphere, good selection of drinks and it is always packed (and if you get there before 7pm there’s also pizza available!).

Tib St, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW www.mattandphreds.com/


The Lowry - Rach Roth

The Lowry Outlet Mall, by Rachael Rothwell

The Lowry Outlet Mall is a large shopping centre located in the refurbished docklands of Salford Quays. The industrial area has been developed into a scenic and beautiful landscape. Only a 15minute tram from the city centre, it is the perfect shopping experience if you are looking for some peace and quiet.  The centre is made up of outlet shops from both big known retailers like M&S to independents that can offer a more personalised service. There are a variety of restaurants, bars and a cinema to keep you entertained. Salford is an area that has under gone under a lot of refurbishment recently and is home to MediaCity where the BBC is located. If you are a fan of Coronation Street then the shows stars are often seen shopping in the building

If you have a free day to spend in Manchester, The Lowry Outlet Mall organises some great events, and I highly recommend checking their website. The event I attended recently was The Lowry Outlets Food Festival 2015. The space around the shopping mall was transformed into a market that I’d describe as a food lover’s dream There was a range of stalls selling a variety of delicious foods including macaroons, sausages, home-made jams and of course a stall selling the classic Manchester tart.

A highlight of the day was the various workshops, conducted by celebrity chefs. Two popular guests were Paul Hollywood and Gok Wan. Gok is normally known for fashion but did a master class, cooking steamed scallops, Yuk sung, and chicken and prawn gyoza dumplings.

Paul is one of the star judges of the BBCs the Great British Bake Off, which I am a huge fan of. The event catered for children too and held its own kid’s cookery school, so no one was left out.

If you were looking for something a bit out of the ordinary you could grab a bite to eat at the Camp Cooks food van. It is exactly what it says in the name, and added some fun to the event

There are events happening all the time and are advertised on their website. The next event is the Waterside Food and Craft Market, 15th-16th of August.

Salford Quays, M50 3AH www.lowryoutlet.co.uk


Worsley Woods Parkrun - Shu-Ling

Worsley Woods, by Shu-Ling Li


“Remember everyone, our parkrun wouldn’t happen without its volunteers, so let’s give them a big thank you on your way around and we’ll get you off in 5-4-3-2-1!”

These are the words that have started my Saturday mornings for the past year and a half. Every Saturday at 9am I join my fellow Parkrunners along the Worsley Woods start line, bracing ourselves for another 5k run, come wind, rain, snow or shine. Whether you’re a jogger, plodder, sprinter or straight forward power walker, 5 kilometres in 17 minutes feels just the same as 5 kilometres in 40 minutes- we tell ourselves it gets easier but it doesn’t. You simply get better.

Yes it’s a struggle getting up and out of bed every Saturday morning when all you want to do is curl up under your duvet and pretend your Parkrun personal bests don’t matter, but they do! Nothing beats the exhilaration of knowing you’re only 150 metres away from the finish line as you sprint your way past friendly rivals and cajoling spectators, until finally you hear the timekeeper’s stop watch beep like a chorus of hallelujah as your time is recorded and you can at long last relax!

I first joined my local Parkrun after I entered the 2014 Manchester 10k, as an avid runner, this was the first official race I’d ever signed up for. Not knowing what to expect I knew I needed more practice than my regular leisurely jogs; where I could gauge my stamina and meet people with similar interests. Even if you’re not a confident runner, no one at Parkrun gets left behind. With an encouraging volunteer group there’s always a tail runner to guide you right back to the finish line.

What’s great about Parkrun are the people you meet along the way, I’ve met some really supportive friends that have helped run my times down from 24.48 minutes to 21.35 minutes in just over a year. I’ve even taken my dog along for the ride; who are more than welcome to join in and run alongside you! The fact that Parkrun is an entirely volunteer lead activity highlights just how many people enjoy being involved in the group even if they’re not running themselves.

Put it this way- if it took you an average of 40 minutes to jog 5 kilometres once every week that’s 2.8% of your entire day! Can you really not afford to spare less than 3 percent of your whole day for an activity that’s completely free?

Salford, M30 8AR
www.parkrun.org.uk/worsleywoods/


The RitzThe Ritz - Sally, by Sally Hirshman

I have chosen the Ritz becausethis summer I was lucky enough to be one of the stall holders at Heresy and Heelz’s ‘Alternative and Burlesque Fairs’ that was held at The Ritz.

On their website, Heresy and Heelz describe their fairs as bringing up to 70 stalls of ‘burlesque, vintage, rockabilly, gothic, alternative, fetish, steampunk, neo-Victorian clothing, accessories, jewellery and artwork’. A friend of mine creates gothic, Edgar Allan Poe inspired artwork, and as she was away she asked me to run her stall for her.

I’ve been to a few vintage fairs before and always enjoy exploring the stalls. There was also entertainment staggered throughout the day, which included burlesque acts, cabaret, aerial and pole dancers as well as a little tea shop with lovely home-baked cakes.

I’d heard a lot about The Ritz as a concert venue and nightclub (with sticky floors!), but had never been before. The setting is perfect for such an event, with its raised stage and 1st floor balcony which meant that people could gather there for a view of the day’s entertainment. I did get a chance to explore the other stalls and I treated myself to a gothic-flower hair piece as well as some amazing ‘Jaffa cake’ cake! The performers were all very good, particularly the host – Miss Liberty Pink, who did a very impressive rendition of ‘Hey Big Spender’.

More than anything, I think that spending the day at the fair opened my eyes to how big the alternative scene is here in Manchester. Each person I observed from my stall had a unique style, or else their own twist on one. There were Punks, Goths, Steampunks, fetishists and more. The next Alternative and Burlesque fair at The Ritz will be on Saturday 5th December 2015 from 12pm-6pm, and I would recommend that anyone looking for a fun way to spend a few hours on a Saturday drops in (over 18s only though!).

For anyone interested in visiting The Ritz, they constantly have concerts, club nights and even live wrestling on!

Manchester City Centre M1 5NQ http://theritzmanchester.com/


Taps - Kris

Piccadilly tap, by Kristian Baines

This small bar that has just recently opened has quickly became one of my favourite places to enjoy a drink. Be it before a day/evening out in Manchester, or waiting for the next train (sometimes even missing it). I find myself repeatedly returning to this venue.

Located just outside Piccadilly Train station at Gateway House, they possess a vast amount of different craft beer and ales available. There are alternate drinks available including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, so there is truly something available for everyone.

With a selection of 7 cask beers and 20 keg beers, there is always something to choose from. Due to the rotating of stock they have, there is always being something new for when you return. This is all housed in a calm and contemporary environment. One key design I particularly like is the massive chalk board which has all the beers available on the wall, giving you the feeling similar to being a child in a sweet shop with all the selection available. It’s due to all these aspects which make it an awesome place to just take it easy from the hustle and bustle of city live and have a good beer.

Gateway House, Manchester M1 2GH www.piccadillytap.com


Jump Nation - Vanessa

Jump Nation, by Vanessa Roth

On my days off I love going to Jump Nation! It’s the perfect place to let off some steam and just let loose. It’s the biggest indoor trampoline park in Europe and its right by Trafford Park. Whenever I go with friends we always have a fun time attempting to do backflips! I’ve also been with my little cousins who loved it (warning: do not give young kids sweets before letting them on the trampolines, because kids + sugar rush is a hectic mix!)

But seriously, if you want to try something out of the ordinary, I would highly recommend it for a good laugh!

Trafford Park M17 1WA  www.jumpnation.com


afflecks palace - Leroy

Affleck’s Palace, by Leroy Numa

Not only does it house Manchester’s biggest Alternative Shopping Emporium: – Affleck’s Palace but it has countless of little gems within it. Whether it be pubs, bars, Indie clothing stores or comic book stores, all can be found within the Northern Quarter. So whether it be a night out or you are just looking to try something new Northern Quarter is the place for you.

Another of my personal favourites is the Nexus art cafe located on Dale Street.

It is a small hip cafe that has an absolutely amazing vibe to it. My only does it look cosy and welcoming but it also has board games for you and your friends to play while you’re chilling and books for you to read if you are in your own.

Manchester City Centre M4 1PW  www.afflecks.com


GORILLA - Aleena

Gorilla, by Aleena Sharif

About the place…

This place serve food, have a couple of bars and is a small venue where they host events (I went to see Skream a couple of months ago). They also do private bookings/hire and have cool neighbours of other interesting places to spend your day- or night for that matter! (Dog bowl, Ritz, food places, more clubs etc.)

Atmosphere and people…

The atmosphere is good, it was packed with people and good vibes when I walked in- which is usually a sign that the place is popular! Although the prices may be slightly high for the food, they serve only the best and it is worth the price! It seems like this one of THE places to be for the urban people of Manchester. Gorilla have it all covered under one roof! The people and staff are really friendly, as well as helpful. The venue hall/club was relaxed and I was able to make it to the front of the crowd and watch Skream perform his house set. The staff were very friendly, they even invited me and my Brother on the stage! The staff would join in and blend in with the crowd- but always be there to help when needed. People were getting on the stage near the DJ decks and dancing, some started talking to me and there was nothing but good vibes! It wasn’t a struggle to get to a bar, as there was a bar both upstairs and downstairs inside the club area, and 2 or 3 bars in the front area! There was also a cloakroom for it you have goods with you and nowhere to put them.

The decor, first impressions and location…

The decor is cool! It’s cosy but contemporary, with a kind of urban industrial look to it. There is an upstairs lounge area with a mini bar which is like a loft, a downstairs main bar and seating area, a separate room with more seating and the club/venue hall. I love the grey tones with the wooden and metal furniture, it is just a nice place to be. It is situated in a good spot too! It is not far from the Dog Bowl and is positioned underneath the bridge on Whitworth Street.

You can pop in for a relaxed meal or night out- or book a special event taking place or hire it for your own usage!

Awards and what people say…
Winner of ‘The Best Burger in Manchester & nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards. And there’s a 700 capacity venue in the tunnel at the back playing host to bands, club nights, comedy and theatre. ‘Manchester’s only venue where the walls are covered with what look like the controls from a 1950s Spacelab’ The Guardian

‘It’s not easy to be this good at so many different things, but Gorilla manages to pull it off and then some. No matter what the day, the time, or the occasion, Gorilla has it covered. From the spot-on decor to the sophisticated drinks menu and creative food offering, there’s a real sense of quality that runs through everything that Gorilla does, which forms the basis of its entire appeal. One of the best bars in Manchester.’ Designmynight Manchester 

‘Should there ever be an award category, we already have the winner of Best Food & Concert Venue in Manchester.’ Manchester Confidential

Whitworth Street, Manchester. M1 5WW www.thisisgorilla.com/


Tandal_Hill_Country_Park - Kirsty

Tandle Hills, by Kirsty Harper

I have visited many parks and gardens over the years, due to my love of the outdoors and wanting to give my children a view on everything life has to offer, but I am lucky enough to say one of my favourite parks and most beautiful views I have seen is less than half a mile away from my home, Tandle Hills.

When you approach Tandle Hills Country Park you would just think you going down a very long suburban road with a park at the end, but it‘s not just a park.  I have always looked a Tandle Hills as a magical place for all ages no matter what the weather or time of year.

My favourite time to be in Tandle Hills is when it has been snowing, the steepness of the hills and the amount of them make hours of fun for any family.  I have made many memories there like the time when my son William and I went down a hill on a sledge, we picked up momentum very quickly, the sledge went in a different direction to where I aimed and I nearly took our heads off with a pine tree, oops!

The snow gets very deep too, so while I was having a snowball fight with my partner Paul he pick up the compacted remains of child’s ruined snow fortress and dropped it on my head, I was knocked clean over by the weight of it into a large snow drift and left feeling a little dazed. 

Tandle Hills also has a nature walk which is an adventure in itself, I think the full walk is around 1.5 miles and has some stunning views, you can see for miles around.  The amount of trees the park has makes it feel mystical, especially on a frosty morning.  The best time to be in the forest is in the autumn time, the rich colours of all the plants changing for the winter and the wonderful smells refresh you in a sometimes gloomy season. Remember to take your umbrella though.

The summer in the park is a relaxed a beautiful place to spend the day, the park with a giant slide that’s always got a cue to get on it, the café selling all the ice creams you’d want and the food is pretty nice too. I like to take a picnic though, it’s much more fun.   The rivers and streams bring all sorts of wild life out, the dogs love to cool down in them on a hot day.

I would be able to go on about this brilliant country park all day long, but the best way to find out is to take a trip, it will be worth it!

Country Park Oldham OL2 5UX

http://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/200393/parks_countryside_and_canals/708/tandle_hill_country_park


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East Lancashire Railway   by Tom Clarke

My recommendation for a day out in Greater Manchester has to be the amazing East Lancashire Railway – a volunteer-run independent railway that connects Bury to Rawtenstall.

There’s a variety of trains that operate on the line, from steam engines through to 1970s British Rail diesels, all travelling through restored stations up through East Lancashire.

Post-Beeching it’s a chance to visit places such as Summerseat and Irwell Vale by rail as well as the larger stops at Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.

You can purchase authentically traditional tickets and ride the trains all day between the various stops on route – the line runs most weeks of the year with special events around Christmas and throughout the summer.  You can get to Bury via Metrolink from Victoria or a there’s bus services connecting from all across Greater Manchester – the East Lancs Railway start point is just 5 minutes’ walk from the main Bury transport interchange.

Each station has a good range of walks and country pubs nearby but of special interest is the highly rated Levanter Restaurant in Ramsbottom, a back-street Spanish tapas bar that’s always full and deservedly so. Definitely worth checking out after a walk up to Peel’s Tower, which looks over Ramsbottom back to Manchester (you can make out some key landmarks on a good day). After a healthy tapas & red wine lunch then a visit to the world’s last Temperance Bar up the tracks in Rawtenstall is highly recommended.

You can then travel back along the line in super stylish carriagesWhat’s not to like?  

More info on The East Lancashire Railway can be found at www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk/


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Wythenshawe Park by Lauren Hira

Just 6 and a half miles South of Manchester City Centre lies Wythenshawe Park, my favourite place for a family day out.

Several miles of woodland / open field walks, an indoor horticultural center, 3 Grade II listed buildings (North Lodge, Orwell Statue, Wythenshawe Hall) a Horse-riding center, children’s playground, courtyard cafe and a community farm there’s something for everyone – our favourite being the fantastic all-ability cycling center – over 200 machines which anyone can ride & race each other around the 400m athletic track.

There are also tennis courts & Pitch & Putt (actually don’t bother with the pitch n putt, it’s pretty lumpy!) 

We can often be found scoffing a picnic, climbing trees or playing hide n seek in the courtyard gardens. There are also many seasonal community events such as spectacular firework displays, Shakespeare in the park & many school holiday actives for kids – check out event listings here.

Wythenshawe M23 0AB

http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_playgrounds_and_open_spaces/2242/wythenshawe_park

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Top 10 Places To Eat In Manchester

 

We’ve done the hard work for you… here is a list of your next 10 times eating out in Manchester. Our team have all gave their input and listed their favourite food spots in and around the city.

Fuel Bar, Withington by Dom Corry

Fuel - Dan WI was first introduced to Fuel because my band had played a few gigs there. They served us a platter as that’s what they tend to do for bands playing at the venue and it was, if I do indeed say so myself, absolutely  magnificent; fresh and filling.

The cafe is a vegetarian cafe, so people with a certain disposition for meaty taste buds might want to look away now or stop reading or whatever. I’m not actually a vegetarian myself (YET!! I have tried and failed numerous times…my time will come one day) but I am in fact a greedy guts and someone who quite enjoys tasting new things (believe it or not being brought up in New Moston , Hummus and Falafel aren’t foods you’d consider a massive part of your diet growing up, I’m sure I only found out about what on earth hummus actually was, when I was 16) so anythings will suffice and thus the platter itself, known as the “Veggie Mezze” consisted of a large plateful of Halloumi Skewers,Salad,Feta,Olives,Wedgies ,Pittas and Dips a plenty (The Dips that I can remember were Hummus, Horseradish and Salad cream) either way this was a bountiful banquet from the food gods. I savored every ounce of it and came back the next day for some more food!

On this day I had the Falafel, Olive and Hummus wrap, the taste of the olives massively compensating the texture of the falafel, all cooked  and served to perfection, and tasting amazing I washed it down with a nice strawberry Timmermans fruit beer (the apex of Lager and possibly human existence…barring its price) what you also have to bare in mind is that what I have actually had from the menu can surely only be the tip of the iceberg.

Other things on the menu that densely caught my eye were: the Chili Burrito the Quesadilla (Spicy beans,cheese and fresh tomato in a folded toasted wrap with sour cream) and the Falafel, Sun Dried Tomato and Pumpkin Seed salad Another Appealing factor which I would also say was one of the reasons I liked the place so much was its atmosphere, when I’m out eating or something I hate going to places that are hectic and relentless, it’s uncomfortable and you can’t enjoy your experience nor can you enjoy your food, with fuel it’s so relaxed and serene inside that I could happily sit there all day watching the world float along outside, eating some god damn marvelous food.

This is all I could ask for from a place a bit of clarity and calm whilst I eat and I’d gladly swap the “glamour” San Carlo or Rosso in favor of Fuel any day, for many reasons,but that reason in particular.

So yes I’d say that Fuel is my favorite place to eat in Manchester and I’d recommend you all go there, even if you don’t really enjoy vegetarian food I can’t see why you wouldn’t enjoyit’s breezy atmosphere!!!


Dimitris, Deansgate by Elli Metcalfe

dimitris - Elli's choiceMy ultimate daydream is to be sat in a little Greek Taverna on the island of Santorini, eating plates of tapas, watching the waves tumble in, whilst listening to a mandolin being softly played in the background.

Unfortunately… when faced with fulfilling this daydream on the rainy streets of Manchester, the challenge is a tough one! That was until I discovered ‘Dimitri’s’ a beautiful Greek Taverna and Bar located at the Campfield Arcade, Deansgate. A family run place, established for 24 years (and with good reason!) it has a friendly atmosphere, traditional decor, attentive staff, live music and comes complete with a heated courtyard at the rear, all of which contributes to why I choose Dimitri’s as my favourite eatery in Manchester.

But, of course, the main attraction is their tasty menu! Traditional meze and mains, including homemade hummus, mouth-watering Moussaka accompanied by fresh succulent salads. The hardest part is limiting what you order so your belly doesn’t explode!


Bem Brazil, Deansgate / NQ by Danny Moore

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My fave place to eat has to be Bem Brazil which has restaurants in both Deansgate and Northern Quarter. 
A restaurant that brings mass amount of different meats to your table, non-stop. What could be better?

The meat is barbequed to perfection and always really good cuts. Wouldn’t recommend it as a meal before going out as you kind of want to take a nap when leaving because you’re so full. A definite case of food coma!

It’s also the perfect spot if you have vegetarian mates as the veg menu is loaded with traditional Brazilian style dishes so its one to please a full group.

Already thinking about my next visit now…


Cachumba, West Didsbury by Lauren Hira

Chachumba - LaurenMy favourite place to eat is Cachumba in West Didsbury –  a beautifully designed intimate and simple restaurant with authentic Eastern furniture and décor all gently lit by candles and decorative lighting.

The food is a fusion of dishes from Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and is served in small tapas style dishes perfect for sharing. (Except for my son Harry who will not share his Red Cocoanut chicken with anyone!) All fresh, home-cooked, authentic and delicately spiced dishes, the flavours are a unique combination and keep us coming back time and time again. 

Our favourite thing to order is the Rice Table – a selection dishes such as Keema, Sri Lankan Prawns, Gujurati Veg and Mung Bean Daal, served with Koubz bread and rice. It would be an outrageous injustice not to wash it down with a fine glass of House Red or Cobra beer! (Harry excepted!)


The Parlour, Chorlton – Rachael McGuiness

The Parlour - Rach McI absolutely love The Parlour in Chorlton for a Sunday Roast – the best in the North West (yes, sorry mum). I especially enjoy eating here if it’s raining outside… with its 1940’s cosy interior and friendly staff, you really don’t want to leave.

Like a warm hug, their generous dinners are also full of surprises…delve underneath the mountains of meat and there’s always an array of seasonal vegetable delights. A little dollop of sweet potato mash here, red cabbage marmalade there, crunchy green beans, carrots, braised cabbage plus roast and mashed potatoes!Wash this down with a nice big glass of red or local ale…it’s one of our favourite ways to spend a Sunday. It’s also a special place to us.

We came here to celebrate our engagement and now we come back with our lively toddler in tow. And the best thing is, every roast comes with a gigantic Yorkshire Pudding! And I mean gigantic. And of course, homemade. Heaven on a plate.


Fuel Bar, Withington by Dan Walsh

Fuel - Dom's choiceFuel is a small, unassuming and unpretentious vegetarian café/bar/restaurant/venue in Withington, South Manchester. After the closure of Solomon Grundy’s and Indigo last year; it is now  the only place of it’s type in the area.

The food is cheap and healthy in very generous portions, with options to share large platters or just snacks.The beer, wine and soft drinks are all less mainstream brands and are much better for it.

It’s a nice place to eat in a relaxed atmosphere with original art on the walls and local acts playing live music and performing in the venue area upstairs.”


Turtle Bay, Manchester by Kirsty Harper

Turtle bay - KirstyMy favourite place to eat at the moment has to be Turtle Bay, when I say favourite I mean I have eaten there at least 5 times in the last 6 weeks! I have now got my partner Paul hooked which doesn’t help with my addiction. I think it has a lot to do with the lively atmosphere they have created so well.

The staff are super friendly and can’t do enough for you, even when the place is packed out. If you are a lover of spicy food you will love it here, the menu is not massive but I like that it’s not overwhelming with choices. I have never been disappointed by anything I have ordered and I am now making it my mission to try everything on the menu, but my favourite dish is the One Pot, our curry goat yum yum. Last but most certainly not least the cocktails are all 2 for price of 1 everyday between 11:30am and 7pm, you most definitely get your money’s worth.


Almost Famous, NQ by Sophie Hukin

manchester-burgers_almostfamousAlmost Famous is my favourite place to eat in Manchester as they have in my opinion, the best burgers in town.

As there are two Almost Famous’ in Manchester it shows that it is a very popular option for food. This is probably because the food is to die for and the cocktails are amazing and it is reasonably priced as a burger is around 8/9 pounds with sides being around 4 and cocktails being around 7. It would be wise to share the sides as the burgers are enormous!

My favourite Almost Famous to go to is the Northern Quarter as it is quite small and chilled out which is fab when you just want a quick bite to eat, more like a café style to the other one in the Great Northern which is massive and has a lively atmosphere.

I normally like to play it safe and get the ‘Famous Burger’ which contains a double cheeseburger, lettuce, onions, pickles, tomatoes, and famous sauce with a side of Bacon Bacon fries which are normal potato chips mixed with sweet potato ones covered in baconaise and bacon rain.  (See image attached). You also cannot miss out on the cocktails. ‘Bitch Juice’ is my favourite. 

Almost Famous is up there with one of my favourite places to eat and I recommend everyone to try it at least once. If you are a vegetarian then maybe this is not the best option for you as all burgers contain meat.


TGI Friday’s, Manchester Exchange Square by Kerry Parker

TGI Friday's - KerryTGI’s is one of my favourite places to eat because of a number of reasons. I love that it’s situated in the middle of the town centre and it’s a tram ride away from my house!

When you walk in, you immediately see the huge rectangle bar with bartenders creating and mixing drinks. The mood lighting is that it’s dark – but not dark enough so you can’t see your food! It gives you a feeling of privacy – which is great if you’re on a date!

The staff are always friendly and ready to jump in and help if you want anything.

There is so much to choose from food and drinks wise! The food menu alone is about 6 pages long! And they show plenty of pictures so you can see exactly what you’re getting! I go for the steak or ribs! Both you get with two sides and a sauce (I always choose Jack Daniels sauce as it’s so nice!)

You can order a bottomless soft drink for like £3 or order a cocktail from their extensive menu. And from the cocktails you can get a personal or one to share – I could drink one of their sharing ones easily by myself.

The food is always delicious and I walk away a lot heavier than going in! That is the reason why it’s my favourite places.


Barburrito, Deansgate by Lewis Marsh

Barburrito - LewisI have a few reasons as to why Barburrito is one of my favourite places to eat; this being that I LOVE burritos!

The food quality and taste is great and you are supplied with so many varieties/choices of what you can create, the taste combos are endless!

This is a place I will never get bored of as it always manages to satisfy my taste buds needs!

It is surprisingly tidy to eat, you are able to sit and eat or even chow down on the go without a worry of any unfortunate spilling/ripping accidents!

Along with the great food I have always received good customer service from the employees (I am very fussy when it comes to what I want on my burrito and they keep their cool and don’t get impatient). This is a good thing!


Umezushi, Salford by Tom Clarke

UMEZUSHI - Tom CWhen asked for asked to submit my one Manchester (or Salford) food recommendation for the SharpFutures blog  my immediate reaction was to go for the amazing Caribbean Flavas, located adjacent to Salford Central on Chapel Street. However, I’ve been recommending Caribbean Flavas to a few people recently so thought I’d pick something close by but maybe a little bit more obscure – Umezushi.

Umezushi is not a place you’d chance across easily – to say it’s hidden would be more than accurate. You get there by going under bridges, around corners and into a back street where the restaurant sits almost lonely amongst the debris of city centre living, occupying a couple of arches underneath railway tracks heading out from Victoria Station. 

But the challenge in finding it makes the sushi and drinks on offer even more satisfying. The place is small – maybe 20 covers maximum but the menu is varied and as an independent, free for the tired Yo! conventions that the rest of the cities’ sushi restaurants offer. The atmosphere reflects the care that you get in such an intimate space. Last time I was in I tried the platter pictured above. Everything super fresh, beautifully presented and easily the best sushi I’ve ever eaten in Britain, at least. Atmosphere lunchtime Saturday was relaxed – the temptation to stay and get into some of the (expensive) tasting menus is big. Sake too.

I’ll maybe do that on the next visit..


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Home Sweet Home, NQ by Rachael Rothwell

Home sweet Home is an intimate hideaway located behind Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter. I unintentionally discovered this homely spot trying to find some quiet during a N.Q street party. It was the perfect space to evade the crowds and I have been returning there ever since.

The staff are welcoming and attentive, which gives the venue a really friendly atmosphere. The furniture is a jumble of stools, chairs and tables of assorted sizes that add to its character and charm. Perfect if you are looking for a snug corner for some privacy. This same charm features throughout the decor and gives the feel that you’re sat in 1950s American kitchen. The atmosphere is relaxed making it the perfect place to catch up with a friend you haven’t seen for awhile, while bingeing on sugar and homely treats.

Over the years the menu has changed slightly, their current menu now covers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The first dish I sampled was there freshly baked cookies, which were served hot from the oven. It’s the small touches such as baking cookies to order, which make the venue stand out. I would describe the food as American style comfort food, prepared with high quality ingredients. One of my favourite things to do is to stop there with friends for a milkshake and a late night dessert from the cake cabinet. This often makes me feel that my eyes are bigger than my belly as it can often be hard to pick just one, but that full feeling is always worth it. Definitely a hidden gem if you have a sweet tooth.


Rump n Ribs

Rump n’ Ribs, Oxford Street by Shu-Ling Li

The first time I came across Rump n’ Ribs was on my regular bus journey home from work. Sat on the top of a double-decker we would trundle down Portland Street, meandering between tipsy clusters of nine-to-fiver’s; roguishly determined to make it to last orders, impatient black cabs blocking up parking bays and lairy students trying to re-live their fresher’s week.

The journey would always take me past a glowing horned-bull Rump n’ Ribs sign; guarding it’s rustic themed steakhouse amongst a busy metropolis. Through the windows I’d often see this modest sized restaurant bustling with hives of friends and couples enjoying their meals whilst sipping mocktails.

Being one of the few Halal restaurants of it’s type, Rump n’ Ribs was a great choice to invite my Muslim friends along for a birthday meal.
As soon as we’d stepped though the door, the restaurant’s manager Asif was there to welcome us in, a charismatic host that took the time to get to know us, keeping my friends and I amused as we waited for our table. Asif himself took our orders and
ensured our individual preferences were accommodated.
For a starter I chose to share the combo platter; a mixture of prawns, beef ribs, chicken wings and goats cheese on toast with red onion chutney; which I couldn’t fault! The wings and ribs were extremely well marinated with a lasting rich, smokey taste that complimented how tender the meat was.

What really outshone all the mains however was the restaurant’s gravy! The texture was perfect with an intensity of flavour that you could tell had been lovingly stewed for hours from the jus of all the buffalo ribs.

What strikes me most about Rump n Ribs is the quality of service from Asif and his team. When our mains arrived he even gave us extra side orders as an on the house Birthday treat. The second time we visited; which was more than 3 months apart, Asif even remembered that my friend preferred his side salad without tomatoes.

The quality of food and attentive service is what has kept my friends and I returning over the past year however if you’re looking to finish off your evening with a hearty serving of dessert, be warned, as Rump n Ribs portion sizes are so generous my friends and I have still never made it to the dessert menu!

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Last Dance Review – Dom Corry

Everything about this play is perfect. The conviction and throat grabbing  attention  that the script and the deliverance of it demand,  the small Kings Arms theatre in which, if you are lucky enough to be in the presence of genuine talent (which I gratefully am ), you are transported into perilous horror of  New York in 1983 into the homes of the tightest knit groups, into the minds of the most terrified, vulnerable and abandoned. ‘Last Dance’  is  the heart clenching story  of a close group of friends, ruptured by the Aids Epidemic in New York Focusing on Corey (Richard Allen, who gives an overwhelming and poignant portrait of his character) and his slow decline at the hands of the illness and at the hands of the government’s refusal to acknowledge Aids as an illness.

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His friends and family struggle to cope in the wake of the fact that someone that they love  so  intensely is dying, and it affects them all in different and coruscatingly complex ways, Corey’s Boyfriend  Peter (Ben Corry) does not know how to cope with the situation,his composure and ultimately his relationship crumbles at the hands of fear,whilst close friend Alan (Ryan McMyler) tragically fluctuates between reason, panic and desire, both Ryan and Ben’s Performances do perfect justice to the tangled and complicated yearning of their characters. Danny (Paul Worrall) and James (Lloyd Eyre-Morgan)  Diligently  try to maintain  calm and comfort among their fraying  group,with Humor and Guard Dog Loyalty and via the actors we are provided with a much-required release from the reality of the situation .   Continue reading

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Ditch The Standard Microsoft Word Template CV

Ditch the standard Microsoft Word template CV if you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t even bother with this unless you’ve been specifically asked for it.Sending uninvited, dull-looking CV’s will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

We do things differently in the Creative world and that’s exactly what we want to see – something different & creative.  We recently featured a very creative twist on a CV as seen below. You can find the previous blogpost here ‘Creative Approach of Presenting A CV’.

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If you must send a formal CV, make sure it’s a PDF not Microsoft Word – unless instructed. Follow professional guidelines and avoid common mistakes, there are numerous guides available all over the internet and at local careers outlets – notwithstanding this one for starters… CV TIPS

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CSI Manchester – BBC 5 Live

Recently, I got the chance to make my first visit over to MediaCityUK this week to the BBC 5 Live studios for the Richard Bacon Show. The show features a variety of guests from the fields of news, sport and entertainment with a typical audience for BBC 5 Live of 6.3 million listeners.

photo5Booths in Quays House – MediaCityUK

With the BBC relocating to Manchester, MediaCityUK is now becoming the nucleus of media in the north.  Being able to see it first hand was an amazing opportunity. Already being based at Creative Digital hub The Sharp Project I was already accustomed to walking in to a building and being hit with edgy, modern design and creativity but was very impressed with the look and feel of MediaCityUK. I was already aware that it was a huge site but it really overwhelms you when you are stood in the centre of new development buildings which are now housing the likes of BBC Children‘s, BBC Learning, BBC Sport, BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Breakfast and also the likes of Dock 10 and The Pie Factory.

photo4Myself and Ken Bagshaw in BBC 5 Live studio

I was there with some tenants from The Sharp Project who feature in a press piece on Digital Forensics, the tenants featuring were Glen & Adam from Aequitas Forensics, Jayne from Taylor Smith Forensics and Ken & Sean from Ev-iDen-Tial/3DSI .

  • Aequitas Forensics Ltd is an Expert Witness company offering services in the areas of Digital media, Cellsite Analysis, body fluids, DNA profiling and Firearm examinations.
  • Taylor Smith Forensics offer services covering all aspects of digital media including audio, cellsite analysis, fingerprints, body fluids, DNA profiling and firearm examinations
  • 3DSi provides expert witness services specialising in forensic geomatics, surveying, CAD and evidential presentation services
  • Ev-i-Den-Tial offer presentation of evenidential marterial to allow a greater understanding and recollection of vital evidence by jurors.

photo7 (2)Jayne Leponis, Ken Bagshaw, Adam McArthy, Glen Siddall and Sean Murphy live on BBC 5 Live

BBC 5 Live thought this would be a great topic for its listeners so invited a number of companies down from The Sharp Project who are experts in Digital Forensics. The theme – ‘CSI Manchester‘ had previously been distributed in print media for the past few months so radio was the final part of the journey.

I had been with this process from the beginning which started with  the distribution of the press release, then to go on meeting with the researcher from Richard Bacon’s show. I then got to witness and hear the show being broadcast live from the adjacent production room. It was a really interesting insight on the process of doing press piece and how all the different forms of media can be used as a communication tool.

Listen to the podcast here

Daily Bacon – June 9th, 2014 Forensics Special

Or listen to a short snippet of the interview below

Career-Path

Know your chosen sector inside out

Thoroughly research careers in your chosen area and be realistic about what you can expect. For example, don’t expect to clock off at 5pm if you want to design graphic content or photograph fashion shoots.

The Creative sector is notorious for long, unsociable hours, skipped lunch breaks and early starts. Be realistic and prepared to travel or work late to deadlines if that’s what your profession demands.

Mark Barlow from Applearn who are based at The Sharp Project comments “70% of our clients are based in Japan, it’s not unheard of for us to conduct conference calls at 4am, it’s what the business demands” 

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What is the Creative Digital sector?

#Creative:- : originality of thought or imagination

#Digital:- : involving or relating to the use of computer technology

Creative Digital companies make, move or manipulate Digital Content around the world. The European Commission considers the digital and creative industries the most dynamic emerging sector in Europe to work in and the most important driver of innovation in other sectors. Official statistics published January 14th, 2014 reveal that the UK’s creative industries are now worth £71.4 billion per year to the UK economy. With a growth of almost 10% in 2012, outperforming all other sectors of UK industry, the sector also accounted for 1.68 million jobs in 2012, 5.6 per cent of UK jobs.

With a sector showing so much growth, here at SharpFutures our aim is to empower and equip young people with all the creative and digital tools vital for success in this sector – and to advise of the realities and pitfalls. Creative work is often project-based and can come in ebbs and flows. To succeed in this industry takes determination, imagination and flexibility.

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It’s all about the Content

The first thing you need is a dedicated skill, ambition and an idea of the career path you hope to take.What are your strengths? What is your talent? Can you illustrate a logo or a design a website? Take stunning photographs, write compelling copy or create animation?

Whatever your skill, an absolute must is a digital portfolio. Whether it’s a showreel, blog, website, YouTube channel or any other audio / visual representation of your work, Employers or Clients want to see results, style and creativity. If you haven’t already got one, go and make one. There are an abundance of free tools available such as:

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and too many others to mention.

If you have got this far, you are already on to the next step…It’s all about the content…