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These are a new discovery for me, having been an impulse buy that tempted me enough to make it into my basket when I was looking for a weekend treat. Each cardboard pack, costing £1.69, contains 5 individually wrapped bars so it is a bit easier to limit how much you have in one sitting than if you bought a big bar of cadburys or something as you can't 'accidently' break off an extra row of chocolate from the packet. It also means you could pop one in your bag for work I suppose, or in your kid's school lunchbox for a treat. Each milk chocolate bar is segmented into 4, each segment bearing the name of Moser Roth. Sandwiched between a generous casing of milk chocolate is what they describe as a 'lightly whipped creamy mousse filling' that I would describe as tasting quite like the filling of a Milky Way but possibly a bit more 'airy'. The milk chocolate covering itself tastes more like the European brands than like a Cadbury taste; I'd say it was quite close to the taste of Lindt chocolate, or maybe Kinder. I like the way with this bar you bite through the firm chocolate to get to the creamy filling inside and it gives a luxurious feeling to your treat, so keep it in your fridge and whip a bar out when you need a chocolate fix! Each 37.5g bar contains 222 calories which is somewhere between Maltesers and a Twix calorie wise. It is gluten free and suitable for vegetarians but may contain traces of nuts. The cardboard packet is of course recyclable. Moser Roth chocolate is made specifically for Aldi so hard luck if you don't live near one! The Moser Roth range also includes a bar with a noisette cream filling which I would assume is fairly similar to this one, and quite a selection of non-filled bars such as dark chocolate flavoured with mint or chilli and milk chocolate flavoured with orange or caramel pieces.
This seafront hotel is pretty old as it was built in 1864 but has been well looked after and remains in good condition, retaining original features but with a few modern touches. Our rooms, one double and a twin cost us £62 per room on the August Bank Holiday Sunday, although I can see from the Ramada website that Friday and Saturday night stays are more expensive than this. Fridays seem to cost £80 - £90 and Saturdays £100 - £125 which is quite a big difference! Also, we didn't have a sea view from either room and that would have cost a little more. The hotel also offers family rooms for up to 4 people and executive packages where you can pay extra for champagne and inclusive Internet and film access. Adapted bedrooms are also available for the disabled. The hotel is located on the seafront although it is actually well on the way to Hove, and a fair distance from the main pier and the town centre. It is pretty close to the West Pier but unfortunately there is not much left of that at the moment following a series of collapses and fires over the last 10 years or so and I think it had been pretty much abandoned for a while before that anyway! It takes around 15 minutes to walk from the hotel to the surviving Palace Pier and another 5 minutes or so to reach the Pavilion or the Lanes so it is not the most central location but decent enough, and we didn't mind the walk much ourselves to be fair, apart from when we got drenched coming back from the Pier on day 1! If you are arriving at the train station like we were, you just need to walk straight downhill towards the sea and turn right at the nightclub at the bottom, and then continue along the seafront past the Hilton and Holiday Inn until you reach the Ramada. I think it took us about 20 minutes or so all together so you may want to get a taxi if you are carrying a lot of luggage. In the lobby area as you walk in you can see the original staircase and a nice modern check in desk but I can't help feeling that they could make a bit more of this area. It looks like there have been changes in layout over the years and something about this ground floor seems a bit jumbled up but that's more of an observation than a complaint. Check in was nice and smooth. Our rooms weren't ready when we arrived at midday but we were led to a locked cupboard where we stored our bags until we returned to the hotel later in the afternoon. We also left our bags in there for a few hours on the following day after checking out (before 11am). The rooms themselves were very clean and spacious enough. There wasn't loads of free space but plenty to store your luggage and walk around the beds etc. There was an open wardrobe which looked a bit bizarre but made good use of the space, a table with a chair and a mirror above it and a TV in the corner that offered Internet access or films for an extra cost. Tea making facilities were provided and there was also a menu for 24 hour room service, although I don't know how hungry you'd have to be to pay £12 for a sandwich! There was also a trouser press provided and plenty of plug sockets. The lighting was fine, with lights behind the bed in addition to the ceiling lights. The beds were pretty comfortable and had a quilt provided which I much prefer to all those layers and layers of different sheets. The temperature was fine in the room (there was a radiator below the window for Winter which wasn't on obviously) and we weren't disturbed by any noise during the night. As I said, we didn't have a sea view; we were at the side of the building and just looked across to an adjacent building. The bathroom in our room was pretty small and a strange rectangular shape but, again, they had made pretty good use of the space and it looked fairly new and was spotlessly clean. There was a bath with an overhead shower which was nice and powerful, although it had one of those annoying shower curtains which keep sticking to you. There were enough little shelves around the bath for toiletries etc but the bathroom could have done with a shelf somewhere around the sink as well perhaps, and maybe a hook on the back of the door. Some glasses for water, a box of tissues and some nice little toiletries were provided: soap, shower gel and shampoo, although these were kept in a bit of a strange place behind the toilet, and the towel rail was also on the wall directly next to the toilet. Overall though, they'd done fairly well with the space and the bathroom was functional if a little claustrophobic! We didn't have breakfast at the hotel but it is of course provided for at an extra cost; I can't remember how much it was but we decided it probably wouldn't be worth it! Food is also available all day in their Arts Bar and Restaurant. The hotel also has meeting and conference rooms and a Victorian Ballroom for functions. Check out was very quick and overall our stay at the Ramada was pretty good. It may have been better to be a little closer to the centre of Brighton but it was nice to be on the seafront (obviously a sea view would make this even better!) There were plenty of fish and chip shops nearby not surprisingly, some bars on the lower prom within 5 - 10 minutes walk and it wasn't all that far to walk to the Lanes and town centre where you can find plenty of different restaurants and shops. I can't fault the hotel on cleanliness and we had a confortable and undisturbed nights sleep. If I was returning to stay in Brighton on any night other than Friday or Saturday I would definitely consider staying here again as I think £62 per room is a good price but I'm not sure it would be good enough value for money if I was asked to pay £90 or £100 for a Friday/Saturday night and I think I would look elsewhere.
This Manchester nightclub has been open since 1995 and until recently was run by the former Hacienda promotions boss Paul Conns. This year it was taken over by Aaron Mellor, co owner, with Peter Hook, of the recently opened FAC251. Since he took over the outside has had a repaint and I think there are plans to add an extra room but not much has changed so far which isn't a bad thing. The club is only open Fridays and Saturdays, probably because most of the punters don't have the luxury that students have of lying in on a weekday morning. You get a few students and youngsters in here of course but I'd say the crowd is mostly mid 20s upwards which makes it a bit more laid back, not in the sense that they're not up for it, but in the sense that you're not too likely to get punched in the face, groped at the bar or have someone throw up on you. It's only a small club so when you go down the stairs you are practically on the dance floor, an area bordered by a few pillars and adorned with a lone disco ball up above that always looks a bit out of place! The DJ booth is quite high up but there is a slight ledge that you can just about stand on to lift yourself up to speak to the DJ(s), or to knock their beer over yourself if you are me! Saturday nights are always DJd by Clint Boon and the music is mainly indie from the 60s to the present with an emphasis on the 90s, and a bit of late 80s/90s dance thrown in. If you know who Clint Boon is or listen to his show on XFM Manchester (4pm-7pm weekdays) you'll have an idea of what he plays. For those that don't know him he used to be in a band called the Inspiral Carpets in the 80s and early 90s, before moving on to his own project the Clint Boon Experience, to DJing in clubs and on the radio, and he also has his own record label and writes theme tunes for kids TV shows, and occasionally hosts daytime 'tea parties' with his wife. So he's a pretty busy bloke, and well know in the North West. If you're in the club you'll probably hear a few shouts of BOON ARMY from his loyal followers, and he's just an all round top bloke really, and you can rely on him to play decent tunes all night, that's in my opinion of course! Friday nights seem changeable at the moment. It used to be Dave Haslam a few years ago, then Boon did it for a while (told you he was busy) and they've had a few special nights with guest DJs recently; Tim Burgess (Charlatans) was in there in February and I think the guy from Gavin and Stacey (the less annoying one) DJd a few months ago for some reason. I didn't recognise the guy who was doing it last time but he played good music so it was fine! Drinks served at the bar include cans of Red Stripe and Strongbow, bottles of VK and all the standard spirits and prices are not too bad for a club really, I think you can get a zubrowka and apple juice for £2.50 if I remember right and the cans are a similar price. I'm sure I heard they sell Boon's real ale (that's something else he does!) in there but I forgot to check. If they do serve it that will be the only draught available which means you never have to wait too long at the bar as people can just grab a can or a bottle and go. It is £1.50 for Coke. The toilets are half way up the stairs and have always been ok when I've been in, better than most Indie clubs. The cloakroom used to be ahead of you when you got to the bottom of the stairs but it had disappeared last time I went, presumably as part of the work they plan on doing. It'll cost you £5(£4 NUS) on a Friday, £7(£6 NUS) on a Saturday. You shouldn't have to queue and the bouncers are friendly. There is no dress code so you won't get turned away for wearing trainers, or for wearing shoes, or for wearing a certain brand of trainers... Like I said, it's a pretty laid back atmosphere inside, people are friendly and just want to have a good dance and a good time. It gets fairly busy without ever getting too rammed so you can find a bit of space for yourself on the dancefloor. There are no seats anywhere so you just have to keep dancing! It is open til about 3am. You'll find the club (eventually) on South King Street which runs between Cross Street and Deansgate and parrallel with the bottom half of King Street. It can be a bit confusing, especially after you've had a few but you can always ask someone. It is in a central location so you'll have no trouble getting a taxi afterwards if you walk to the end of the street, or there is an official taxi rank nearby at the Printworks. There are other indie clubs in Manchester of course, 5th Avenue is one of the main ones but I started feeling too old to go in there when I turned 22! So have a good time if you do go, and tell Boon I sent you.
This family owned Greek and Mediterranean restaurant opened about a year go in the Printworks (If you don't know Manchester this is an entertainment complex in the city centre) and is a welcome change to the chain restaurants and bars and provides a different option. The owner Angelo Gabrilatsou (presumably Papa G!) is apparently the grandson of Cypriot immigrants who arrived in the North West in the 1930s and began by selling lace before entering the restaurant business in Bolton and Cheshire. There are some pictures of his family in the restaurant. Papa G's is located opposite the cinema so perfect for a pre/post cinema meal (service is quick enough for you to not worry about missing the start of your film!) It is nice and colourful inside with brightly coloured glass lightshades and painted walls and there is a mixture of booths (both small for couples and large for big parties) and tables. I'd say the decor was a mix between modern stylish and family friendly. They have an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant which I always think is nice and we were sitting close enough to see the chefs in action and were encouraged to see that most of them appeared to be Greek so should know what they're doing! The food is mostly inspired by Greece with a bit more of Europe thrown in here and there. We started with some warm pitta with a choice of 3 dips for around a fiver; we chose Houmous, Feta Chilli and Tzatziki but there were others to choose from too. There was plenty between 3 of us which made it pretty good value and a nice start to the meal. You can alternatively choose to share a Meze platter for around £12. Or if you're not willing to share your food there are plenty of individual starters including stuffed vine leaves, Mediterranean fish cakes and chicken wings. These were around the £5 mark. For mains, 2 of us had the vegetarian moussaka which was filled with thick chunks of mushrooms and aubergine and topped with halloumi cheese and was absolutely lovely. It was a very generous portion in a deep dish and served with a side salad (Greek of course) which was a nice addition. It cost around £9. Other mains on offer included various different Souvlaki skewers which came with fat chips, pitta and dips for around £13, burgers and pizzas for around £8 or £9, traditional dishes such as Stifado, steaks and a few pasta dishes, and I also remember seeing 'Greek Lasagne', whatever that is! Sides include fat chips, greek salad and mediterranean veg. Portions are very generous but if you can fit in a pudding they serve home made Baklava which was all I needed to know and managed to force down a gorgeous portion of the stuff after asking the waiting staff for a bit of a delay because we felt so full! Other puddings include pancakes with a choice of toppings, ice cream and Tiramasu. If you're there with kids there is a children's menu where they can choose a main, a pudding and a drink for £5.50 which is pretty good really, and there is also a mini library and activity books on offer to keep them entertained while they are waiting which is a nice touch. As for drinks, there are some European bottled beers and San Miguel on draught, a decent sized wine and cocktail list, all the usual soft drinks and a fully stocked bar with an impressive choice of spirits for a restaurant. The staff were all friendly and efficient. We got a nice welcome, service was quick without being rushed, and we were generally well looked after. The music was a mixture of uptempo Greek and pop and was just at the right volume to add a little to the experience without being intrusive. The restaurant wasn't that full when we got there but it was the middle of the afternoon (we missed lunch) and it started to fill up as we were on puddings with families with young kids who looked like they'd just been to see a film. Whenever I've been passing in the evening at weekends it always looks really busy and I did have to abandon going there one Saturday night before the cinema recently because it was packed full at around 6pm and we didn't have time to wait for a table. If you do arrive and have time to wait for a table they have a pager system where they let you take the pager away and it will buzz when your table is ready. This means you can go for a drink nearby while you wait which is a great idea. There is a promotion on until the end of this month (July) where you can enjoy a 3 course meal from a reduced menu for £14.99, or £19.99 on a Saturday. You just have to book a table through the following Manchester website: www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/Offers/ Excluding the offer, the prices may seem a little high at first but the portions are generous and the food freshly prepared so I think it represents good value. They are also on a par with most of the other restaurants in the Printworks such as Old Orleans (where we ended up the other Saturday) and Hard Rock Cafe. You could get a cheaper meal next door in Lloyds of course but I don't think it would be as nice! I think Papa G's differs from the other eateries in the Printworks in that you might choose to go here even if you weren't going to the cinema whereas the other eateries in the Printworks are mainly just for passing trade and I don't think the quality is as high. So overall I think it's a great addition to the Printworks. It's good to have an independent in there and they offer a really friendly (and tasty!) dining experience. My only criticism would be that I don't think they need the pasta dishes on the menu and should stick more to the Greek but I understand that in their location they need to try and cater to as many people as they can and so want to offer a range of dishes.
I'll start the review by telling you how much the hotel cost, so you can then decide for yourself whether you think it is worth it as you read through the rest! For a twin or double room it cost 85 Euros per night (per room) which at the moment works out as around £70, but if the Pound/Euro ever returns to nearer its previous value, it of course will work out cheaper. This places the hotel towards the cheaper end of Paris hotels. The hotel is located in the Bastille area in the East of Paris (11th Quartier) which, although not the most central location, is easily accessible. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area and a small supermarket just opposite, as well as a cheaper supermarket outside the nearest Metro. There are a mix of restaurants; some French, Italian, African, Lebanese etc and plenty of bars between the hotel and the Place de la Bastille which have Happy Hours that tend to run from about 5pm to 8pm offering cheaper pints and cocktails. I'd advise you to make the most of these if you are out for the night as, with the value of the Euro at the moment, drinking in Paris is even more expensive than normal! If you are after some local nightlife, Rue de Lappe, again located on the way to Place de la Bastille is supposed to be quite lively. Unfortunately, we didn't get to go there as we had plans to be elsewhere in Paris each night of our stay. We did go to Rue Oberkampf one night which is fairly nearby (we got the metro there but walked back) which is a street where quite a long stretch is lined with bars. It was actually fairly quiet when we went on a weeknight (until we found everyone in the latest opening club/bar!) but i imagine it is very busy on a weekend. The nearest 'sight' to the hotel is Place de la Bastille where the Bastille Prison stood until the Storming of the Bastille. The July Column now stands at the centre of the square, commemorating the July Revolution of 1830. Also on the Place stands the Opera House, and you can walk down the road to visit the Marais district, a Jewish area that contains a pretty square called Place des Vosges and the Musee Carnovalet amonst others. Other places to visit nearby include the Pere Lachaise Cemetry where Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Moliere and Balzac are buried amongst many others and the Promenade Plantee, a section of railway viaduct which has now been made into a green walkway above the city, stretching out to the Bois de Vincennes at the edge of the city. The nearest Metro station to the hotel is Charonne (Line 9), which is only 5 minutes away, and the hotel is also only around 10 minutes away from Bastille Metro which has a choice of 3 lines including Line 1 which will take you to the Louvre, Champs Elysee or Arc de Triomphe in under 20 minutes. The hotel has 41 en-suite rooms spread over 5 floors. We shared a twin room on the 3rd floor which was fairly small but I've found that to be in the case in every Paris hotel I've ever stayed in, and at least the bathroom was a good size. There was a chair and a dressing table with a large mirror above it by the window, bedside tables by each bed and a wardrobe in the corner. There was also a full length mirror on the door to the bathroom. There was a TV with about 5 French channels up in the corner and an air conditioning system that we found effective. The room was well lit, with lights above each bed as well as on the ceiling. The bathroom suite was clean and modern with a good power shower over the bath, a little glass shelf above the sink for your toiletries and plenty of hooks and rails for towels and washbags etc. A hairdryer was provided along with a socket for an electric razor next to the sink. There were little bottles of shower gel and shampoo provided and new plastic cups left each day for you to get a drink from the tap (the tap water tasted fine). Towels were changed each day if you left them on the floor, the bathroom cleaned and beds made. The beds themselves were pretty comfortable and you were given a sheet and blanket although we didn't need the blanket as it is summer! There were spare blankets in the wardrobe for if you ever visited in the middle of winter though. The one annoying thing is that the pillows were filled with feathers which meant I didn't use mine as I've got a bit of an allergy to feathers, so I'd prefer if they just provided foam pillows that everybody could use. Coffee and tea making facilities were not in the room but I did notice a coffee machine downstairs in reception which I assume was free to use for guests, and there was also a basket of croissants on top, I suppose left over from breakfast and handy if you missed it! Our room didn't have much of a view, it just looked out onto a fire escape and another part of the building. It didn't bother us but I guess if you'd gone there for a romantic break you might be a little disappointed. I don't think any of the rooms in the hotel would have much of a view, not of any particular Paris landmarks anyway, maybe just some general rooftops! Being on the inside of the building, we weren't disturbed by any street noise, although the section of the street outside the hotel seemed quiet anyway at night. Breakfast was included in the price and is served 6.30 - 10.30 which I think is very good as I can't imagine many people needing it any earlier or much later, although we did just miss it ourselves on 2 of the 4 mornings! Breakfast included cereals (corn flakes or rice crispies), fresh bread, croissants, biscottes, little cakes. There were little baskets with butter, marge, cheese spread, cheese, nutella and jams and also fruit salad, yoghurts and little fruit compotes provided. There was a toasting grill so you could toast your bread if you liked but this was the only hot breakfast on offer, and I think this is standard for France. There was a hot drinks machine so you could help yourself to tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and also a selection of herbal teas and a choice of apple or orange juice. So quite a good choice really! There was a lady down there (it was served in the basement below reception) clearing up and replenishing things etc but you were basically left to help yourself to whatever you wanted. In the reception area there were a few seats and a computer with free Internet, the coffee machine I mentioned before, and an area next to the reception desk where you could leave your baggage if you wanted to leave it there for a few hours after checking out on your final day. And of course there is the reception desk, behind which we found friendly and helpful staff each time we handed in/collected our keys who I'm sure would have been happy to answer any questions about Paris had we had any! We usually spoke in French to them all but we did check out in English, mainly through laziness, and the woman on the desk did speak fluent English. The check in/out process was quick and smooth. Check out time is midday but as I said, you can leave your luggage at the hotel if you are not leaving Paris until the evening. When we arrived back each night, somewhere between midnight and 5am, we just had to ring a little buzzer by the door and a member of staff came quickly to let us in. I'd definitely recommend this hotel if this is in your price range. I think the price is about right for the location and standard. There are no big landmarks on your doorstep and no stunning views but I think if you want that in Paris you have to be pay a bit more to get it! I'll knock a star off for the lack of a view from the window and the feather pillows, but would give it 4 and a half if it was possible.
The Marble is a red brick pub that was built towards the end of the 19th Century on Rochdale Road, about 10 minutes walk north of Manchester city centre (near the Royal Mail Sorting office). The pub is very traditional inside with tiling floor to ceiling, old inscriptions of what they serve up near the ceiling and black and white prints on the walls. When you come in at the front entrance the floor slopes ever so slightly downwards as you walk towards the bar at the end of the main room (it does this even if you are stone cold sober, honestly). There is another very small room behind this with a few extra tables, although this is just an overflow room really, and leads to the beer garden, which is nothing that special but nice enough in the summer. They've not made that much effort out there so your view is mainly of a load of beer barrels and a high fence topped with barb wire but there are a few tables on a little patio where you can make the most of the sunshine, when we get it! The pub contains its own microbrewery brewing various real ales including regulars Ginger Marble, Pint, Stouter and Manchester Bitter as well as seasonal beers such as Chocolate (in winter) and other taps that change regularly. They also serve some other guest beers and a cider, along with a few standards like Guiness and Carlsberg and all the normal spirits you'd find in any pub. They also seem to have a decent range of wines and plenty of bottles of foreign lager. Prices are fairly average I think for beer but the spirits seem a bit expensive, although I'm usually the only one in there not drinking beer! They also sell gift boxes of their beer in bottles and t shirts behind the bar if you feel like you need a souvenir! The pub attracts the real ale crowd for obvious reasons and gets very busy when the real ale festival is on at a venue nearby. There are also quite a few other real ale pubs nearby so I think some groups work their way through them all through the afternoon/evening! It's not exclusively full of this crowd though, it gets a fairly decent mix, with younger people also going in on their way to town and a handful of students too and is usually busy without ever being packed full. It's got a bit of a reputation for food too over the last few years and has quite an extensive (and quite expensive!) food menu up on the wall, including quite a few seafood dishes, steaks etc and a couple of burgers and sandwiches, along with the longest list of cheeses I have ever seen, which you can choose to have a small selection of, or to share a larger section between a group. There is a juke box in there with some decent tunes on it but for some reason they always have it on really quiet, even if you ask them to turn it up a bit. So if the pub has more than a few people I wouldn't bother wasting your money on it as you will barely hear your selection! There are currently no TVs in the pub (this may change during the world cup!) and I can't remember seeing a fruit machine. The staff are always friendly enough and will tell you about the beer if you ask. The Marble has another pub on Manchester road in Chorlton called the Marble Beerhouse and are soon to open another one on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter. You can also find their beers at a few other pubs in Manchester sometimes. So overall, it's definitely worth visiting if you fancy a traditional pub, especially if you like beer.
Since the London Eye was built in the year 2000, all the major cities of the UK seem to have gradually followed suit and built their own versions and Manchester is no exception. The Manchester wheel stands 60m tall and is located on Exchange Square in the original medieval centre of the city, now known as the Millennium Quarter, between the Arndale and the Triangle shopping centres and overlooking the Shambles pubs. Each capsule holds up to six people and you will not usually be asked to share, even if there are only two of you. Wheelchair access is available. The cost is £6.50 per adult, £5.00 for students/OAPs and £4.50 for under 16s. Family tickets are also available for £18.00 or you can book a private VIP capsule which comes with blacked out windows and champagne for £70.00 if you are planning something special! I presume if you book one of these you get it for longer than the standard 15 minutes! You stay on the wheel for 3 rotations and the wheel moves at a fairly slow pace, taking around 4 or 5 minutes for each rotation. When I checked the prices on the website it says an audio commentary is provided in the capsules detailing local landmarks although I don't remember this from my trip at all! As the wheel rotates you get to look down on to the Shambles, Manchester Cathedral, Urbis, the Royal Exhange Theatre, the MEN arena, Strangeways and the old Boddingtons Brewery as well as sights further afield such as the City of Manchester Stadium, and the Pennines in the far distance. I have only been on the Wheel in the daytime but I can imagine it is nice to go on it at night as well and see the city lit up. It is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, 10pm Monday to Thurs and 7pm on Sundays. We only had to queue for a few minutes to get on and the queue never seems that long as I've walked past so you should never have a long wait. And if the queue looks a bit long you can always have a drink in Sinclairs while you wait for it to die down! It was pretty windy when we went on, which made the ride a bit more interesting! The wheel does shut if there are very high winds or adverse weather conditions but it is very rare that you walk past and the wheel is not turning. I'd definitely recommend a trip on the Manchester wheel if you are visiting the city, or if you live there it is also good to get a different view of the buildings you may walk past or work in everday and it is just a bit of fun. If you want to find out more visit www.worldtouristattractions.co.uk/wta_wheel_manchester.php You can also get 10% off by booking via the above website.
This is a decent bar located on the corner of Thomas St/High Street in the Northern Quarter of Manchester which is odd by name and a little bit odd by nature. The interior has a unique design where anything goes really. There is a colourful padded bar to your right as you walk in, and above the various spirit bottles are crammed various little souvenirs collected from around the world. There is plenty of artwork on the walls, some of it by up and coming local artists. I'm not sure how to describe the decor really, but it looks like the owners have just had a bit of fun with the design of the place. There are quite a few tables in the bar on street level and an extra seating area downstairs (which is also where you'll find the toilets) with sofas and little pouffes (think that's the right word!) to sit on. There is a large screen down there too which is where they show films by aspiring film makers on certain nights and I think you get some free popcorn too! The downstairs area, although very small, is a good place to get a seat if you want to chill out for a bit as the upstairs gets packed on Friday and Saturday nights but not as many people seem to bother to venture downstairs. There are also a few tables outside on the pavement during the day time, which is nice if it is sunny obviously, although like a lot of bars since the ban they are often taken up by smokers. They have DJs on Thursday - Sunday nights that play a mixture of music really including a bit of soul/funk type stuff. I don't recognise many tracks myself and I'm not personally that into the DJs: I don't dislike the music it just doesn't add much to the atmosphere for me, but doesn't stop me spending a few hours in there! On other nights there is a jukebox in use which has some decent tracks on it. Monday night is quiz night. The bar is well stocked with plenty of spirits and lagers from around the world including bottles of cusquena, brooklyn and loads of others, and has Staropramen and Frulli on tap in addition to the usual Stella, Guinness and Becks. There is also usually 1 guest real ale on tap which comes from the Marble Brewery just up the road. Drinks prices are fairly average for the Northern Quarter, which means they are a bit expensive, but not prohibitively so. There is a promotion to get a bottle of house wine for £7 from 5pm - 7pm during the week, but I think that is all that is included in the 'happy hour'. The staff have always seemed friendly enough and I've never had to wait that long to get served. The atmosphere is pretty friendly and laid back in Odd, never exactly that lively but a fun place to have a few drinks and a chat. It's open until about 1.30 on Friday and Saturday nights which is the same as most bars in the area, and at least until midnight on other nights. And there is a handy takeaway next door called Hunters if you feel the need for a burger/kebab/pizza before heading home! Food is served in Odd during the day time including quite a few sandwiches, a couple of sharing platters and a few mains including fish and chips and roast dinners on sunday. Vegetarians are well catered for with some interesting sandwiches and I think there is some kind of falafel dish too. I've not eaten here for a while because last time I did the food took ages to arrive but I'll probably give it another go soon as I'm sure they've sped it up a bit by now, and the new menu sounds really nice! The owners of the bar also have a sister bar called Odder, which is located on Oxford Road in the student area which is slightly bigger but fairly similar. There is also another bar Oddest which is soon to open in Chorlton. And then I think they will have run out of names! I'd recommend a visit to Odd if you are out in Manchester, and there are plenty of other bars nearby if you want a bit of variety.
This train station is the biggest one in Manchester and had a major revamp around the same time as the Commonwealth Games in 2002 so now looks quite modern inside with its glass surroundings and well equipped interior. Transport The station has 14 platforms, with platforms 13 and 14 accessed by a bit of a walk, or you can use the long travellator. It's best to allow an extra few minutes if you are travelling from one of these platforms. The station runs regular services to Manchester Airport and Manchester Oxford Road Train Station, runs various local services and runs longer distance trains to locations including the South West and London, which now only takes just over 2 hours on the fast service. If you ever need to get a rail replacement bus these leave from the front entrance of the station and there always seem to be plenty of staff outside to point you in the right direction if you are unsure. The metrolink (tram) service is accessible down the escalators near to platform 9 and this can take you to places including Bury, Altrincham, Eccles and Salford Quays as well as Manchester City Centre and Manchester Victoria Train Station. Be aware that there are currently upgrades to the tracks taking place (2009) so the tram service is currently very disrupted in the city centre and towards Eccles although there are bus services replacing services that are not running. Outside the front of the station there are 3 different free bus services linking the station with various areas of the city centre and the other Manchester train stations. These run every 10 or 15 minutes and are handy for those who cannot walk too far, or if it is tipping it down! The taxi rank is accessed down the escalators near platform 9 and there is also a lift for those with buggys, wheelchairs etc. This is also where the short stay pick up area is located. If you are walking into the city centre it is only 5 or 10 minutes walk straight down Piccadilly from the main entrance: this leads to Piccadilly Gardens and then the pedestrianised Market Street. Information and Tickets All platforms are clearly signposted and there are lots of reliable screens for you to find out which platform you need to go to including 2 huge departure boards in the main entrance area which list the trains according to every destination so it is easy to find your train even if you have no idea what its final destination will be. There is an information window below the departure boards on the platform side which is usually manned by 2 people but sometimes there is a bit of queue for this at busy times and you may have to wait a few minutes. There is a ticket office with seperate queues for 'todays travel' and 'advance travel', where you can also renew railcards etc, although both queues always seem to be very long during the main part of the day so it is best to use the Fast Ticket machines to buy your tickets if possible. Most of these are located next to the ticket office, with 2 additional machines located down the first set of escalators towards the taxi rank. The station provides the standard announcements over the tannoy for train arrivals, platform changes etc and this is audible throughout the station. There are no ticket barriers yet at Piccadilly although there are sometimes manual ticket checks in place, particularly for platforms 13 and 14. Shops, Refreshments and other services The station contains various shops including a small Sainsburys supermarket, a chemist, an Accessorize, Tie Rack, HMV, 3 WhSmiths, a Burger King, KFC, Pasty shop, Upper Crust, M&S Food, 2 pubs and 3 or 4 coffee shops and a few other food places that change hands now and then but have included a Bagel place and a Millies cookies shop. Seating at these places is fairly limited (the odd table or two) with the exception of KFC and the large coffee shop which are both located upstairs and have large seating areas. Otherwise you will have to find a seat in the main part of the station but this is very difficult during the main part of the day, although there are a fair few seats located on each platform if you can stand the cold! The toilets are located near to the escalators and you will have to pay a small charge to visit (currently 20p or 30p - can't remember which) but they are well maintained and modern so I prefer to use these than some of the disgusting ones you can visit for free at some other stations. There is a change machine outside if you have not got the correct money. There are 4 or 5 cash machines in this area as well as another one down the escalators. There is a left luggage service located on platform 9/10 that charges around 6 or 7 pound for 24 hours. Overall this is a modern, clean and well equipped station.
Sinclair's has got quite a bit of history, dating back to 1720 when it was built next to The Old Wellington which is another hundred years or so older than that. They were both raised up 15ft in the 70s when the Arndale was built to avoid having to demolish them and when they survived the IRA bomb in 1996 they were moved piece by piece to their current location on The Shambles, near to the Triangle and the wheel. It's nice to see 2 pubs that are so old still thriving today and their new location means they are still really popular, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when they get rammed, inside and outside, with a mixed crowd. Sinclairs is very small inside with a narrow bar downstairs and a little snug leading off it and a staircase leading up to a second bar and some more nooks and crannies. Outside there are quite a few tables, shared with the Wellington, and it is the large outside area that attracts most people on a sunny day obviously. You do have to drink out of plastic 'glasses' if you are going to sit, or more likely stand, outside but this is the same in all Manchester pubs. It doesn't bother me but I know some say beer doesn't taste as nice out of plastic. The drinks at the bar are made by Sam Smiths and like all Sam Smiths pubs this includes the spirits and the soft drinks so they may have a slightly different taste than you are used to but the ones I've had are fine, and I know the organic larger is very popular. I've not eaten at sinclair's but they do still serve their famous oysters apparently and I've seen people eating things like sandwiches and fish cakes in there that look quite nice. There is a dress policy at the pub: no headwear or football shirts but it seems to depend on what day it is on how strictly this is enforced. Prices in here are fairly cheap and the staff have always been friendly enough when I've been in, and it has never took me that long to get served even when busy. I do enjoy having a drink here on a sunny Saturday afternoon or early Friday evening but the downside is that for whatever reason it does kick off outside here occassionally, usually towards the end of a sunny afternoon when groups of lads have been drinking for too long but I don't know if the pub can be blamed for this really as the bouncers seem to keep an eye out for trouble and most days it is fine anyway.
Don't buy this bar expecting authentic Turkish Delight - this Cadbury's version contains a pink filling that is sweeter and much softer (even if left in the fridge) than real turkish delight but I do still like the taste. The consistency is quite runny compared to the chewy texture you get with real Turkish Delight, like caramel if not left in the fridge, but the taste is reasonably similar to rose flavoured turkish delight, although much sweeter. The bar consists of a Cadbury's dairy milk bar filled with the turkish filling and has more chocolate covering the filling than you would get on a Fry's Turkish Delight, which i think is a good thing! The bar comes in standard individual size for about 48p as well as larger sizes including the 230g bar that is currently on offer at Tesco for 99p although the standard price for this size can now be up to £1.50. I'd recommend the bar as a nice treat although eating to much can be a bit sickly so its one to share!
This is a fizzy orange drink that tastes more natural than tango and fanta and contains bits of pulp which is why it is recommended to shake it first. It is not as fizzy as similar drinks, which is probably a good job seeing as though you shake it before opening! It has a nice orangy smell and taste and apparently contains a little lemon juice as well although this is not noticeable to me. This conjures up memories of summer holidays for me but I remember it being served in a pear shaped mottled glass bottle which are quite rare now, as Orangina is usually found in standard plastic bottles which is a shame as it is just not the same! There's something that just seems more appealing about the old glass bottles, I think because it made it different from other drinks, and it somehow seemed extra refreshing on a hot day when poured from a glass bottle. Orangina comes in the standard 500ml and 2ltr bottle sizes and is priced at about 80p and £1.30 respectively which is slightly cheaper than Fanta generally. Despite the plastic, I'd still recommend Orangina as a refreshing drink when served cold, when you want something with a slightly more natural taste than Tango.
The packaging of Planets make it obvious that these are a spin off from the Mars bar and offer the same kind of taste, just in a different form! The packet contains a (pretty much equal) mix of 3 different types of round little chocolates which include: Soft: filled with a lovely soft nougat just like you find in a Mars bar Crispy: a bit like a malteser only more crunchy Chewy: very chewy caramel The soft is definitely my favourite and the crispy ones probably my least favourite just because they are a bit boring but I think the 3 work well together and I enjoy the fact that you don't know which one you are going to get each time until you bite into it. They owe a lot to Revels as they follow the same idea of a mixed bag but I much prefer the 3 flavours in Mars Planets. They offer less variety than Revels but this also means that you are probably more likely to like all the flavours. You can buy Mars Planets in a 36 gram bag for about 40-45p (or 3 bags for £1 during promotions) and there are also larger 150g share bags available for about £1.75 (or 2 bags for £3 during promotions) There are fewer calories (178) in Planets than in most chocolate bars and if you fancy a bag of chocolate sweets these offer an alternative to the likes of maltesers and m and ms.
I've tried cheaper brands of hot chocolate but I always end up going back to Cadburys as it is much tastier than the rest. You make it with milk which makes it nice and creamy. I usually just stick a mug of milk in the microwave and then add the powder (3 teaspoons) but if I can be bothered I heat up the milk in the saucepan and pour the milk in on top of the powder. If you pour in just a little bit of milk in first and make a paste with the powder before adding in the rest this seems to make it taste even more chocolaty. A serving with semi skimmed milk is 165 calories which is quite high I suppose but it is not something which I have every night, just when I fancy a nice treat before bed or sometimes when I've just come in from the rain! The packaging is typically Cadburys: that purple colour that makes you think of Dairy Milk bars and makes it easy to spot on the shelves as belonging to them. Being Cadburys, the price is generally quite high but it is sometimes available in Quality Save for about 99p, and when it comes to Chocolate, i am willing to pay a bit more for Cadburys anyway. If you want a real treat you can add whipped cream and sprinkle a bit of the powder on top or even crumble a bit of a Cadburys Flake bar on top. Bliss!
This is a fairly basic but reliable little toaster. It's very light and compact so doesn't take up much room. Being small, it can only toast 2 slices at a time so if you've got a big family it probably wouldn't be that practical. It has temperature settings of 1 - 6 (the 2-3 setting is usually about right for normal bread) and also has a defrost button which is useful and a button to warm through toast you didn't eject straightaway. I've always found it to make toast as I expected and the slots are also wide enough for crumpets and bagels although not as wide as some on the market. It has a removable crumb tray which makes it easy to clean and the outside is also easy to clean and will not smear like those with a metallic finish. There are more advanced toasters than this on the market, with more settings, but if you just need a small toaster this does the job fine and its basic nature is reflected in the low price.