Sunday, 13 July 2014

Summer nights in Manchester

Balmy summer nights are cherished here in England's so-called "Rainy City." One downside of Manchester bordering the beautiful Peak District is that it brings a volatile weather front down from the hills, which means few Mancunians will leave the house without an umbrella, whether it's January or July.

So nights like Friday, when the mercury rises to 30c and heavens stay closed, are rare. 

Rarer still are bars, restaurants and likewise establishments which cater for them - and even those who do boast outdoor areas find them bursting at the seams with enthused punters looking to toast the novelty of drinking outside into the early hours.

Thankfully, when the office closed its doors on Friday evening, there was somewhere else I could escape to which offered both thinner crowds and more outdoor space than most establishments in the city centre.

For ten weeks this summer, a mill in the city's Northern Quarter is playing host to block parties catered by some of the region's finest street food vendors. 

The variety was crippling - 'Greek Chic' fries with feta and humous and 'La DolceVita' brownie pizza topped with 'good shit' from La Dolce Dolls, BBQ jerk chicken with coconut rice, dirty beans and bad boy slaw from Love From The Streets and burgers 'done the way Gandhi would want them (if he ate meat)' from Patty Smith's

Nothing could beat the offering from Diamond Dogs though. 

Mouthwatering chilli hot dogs topped with beef chilli, nacho cheese, jalapenos and Sririacha sauce in hand, my friend Jenny and I sat cross-legged on the pavement, dipping into a tray of tater tots, sipping pineapple caiprinhas and soaking up the sun. 

All in all, it was the perfect way to end the working week.

Up In Your Grill, Manchester

Diamond Dogs at Up In Your Grill, Manchester

Up In Your Grill, Manchester

Up In Your Grill, Manchester 
All pictures are by me. For more, head to my Instagram feed.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Through the woods we ran

At the moment, my favourite thing to do is to get out of my city centre flat and into open air to enjoy the countryside in Manchester and the surrounding area.

It's fun, relaxing, gets your blood pumping and better still, it's free. Plus, scientists believe that just looking at pictures of plants and trees can help with stress and improve cognitive performance.

It's particularly lovely at the moment as the flowers are in full bloom.

Lately, I've been exploring corners of the Ribble Valley with one of my best friends and her little boy. They live in a house that overlooks the picturesque valley which inspired the Lord of the Rings (Tolkien was teaching at neighbouring Stonyhurst College during the time he was writing it.) 

I've also been enjoying Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, where a couple of my friends live with their boyfriends. The towns, which sit on the borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire, have something of a cult hippy following and are surrounded by breathtaking countryside.

All pictures are by me.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Without Walls

Wellbeing seems to be having a moment. 

Mindfulness is being practiced by celebrities, yoga has become even cooler, running has been popular for the past few years now, increasing numbers of people in Britain at least are cycling post-London 2012,  and hiking - formerly the pass-time of bearded, middle-aged men in fishermen's jumpers and utility gear - seems to be next in line (albeit probably as a result of the same beards, fishermen jumpers and utility gear having already gone that way, thanks in part to brands like Oi Polloi and Herschel.)

So I wasn't entirely surprised to learn that Urban Outfitters has installed a new line of activewear and accessories in a handful of its California and New York stores. 

Without Walls sees Urban Outfitters taking one step closer to becoming a lifestyle brand. It reflects an active but swooningly stylish lifestyle, incorporating everything from yoga and Pilates to surfing, camping, cycling and hiking.

The result is beautiful yoga leggings in tribal prints, high performance workout tees, heavily waterproof macs, Navajo-print ponchos, sturdy but stylish rucksacks and printed hiking accessories. See below for my edit of the collection.

I must admit I'm completely lapping it up. In addition to a gorgeous selection of clothes that ensure there is no excuse not to get off the sofa and get the heart pumping, the website also features interviews with inspiring athletes and adventurers, and breathtaking photography from around the USA.

Meanwhile, the @gowithoutwalls Instagram feed is a haven for city dwellers like me who spend too much time inside at a desk, and not enough outside breathing in fresh air. Between images of store openings, it offers much needed respite from the concrete drab of the city, with photos of frankly ridiculous scenery.

Yokishop Flannel Short

Onzie Pura Vida Pant

Without Walls Ikat Jogger Pant
Vans X Seea Mohikan Women's Moccasin

La Vie Boheme Spiritual Yoga Mat
Consurvation Dolman Tee Shirt

Photo credits: The Without Walls website and Instagram.