Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Going Off The Rails in Ramsbottom

Thursday night saw the launch of Off The Rails, a new ladies' fashion boutique in the heart of Ramsbottom, Bury. Organised by Go:PR, the evening saw a range of celebs drop in to celebrate. The small but cosy Bolton St shop is the brainchild of Sally Lee.

On the night her store filled quickly with invitees, including Hollyoaks' Jazz Franks (Esther Bloom) and Magali Gorre from Real Housewives of Cheshire.

Also in attendance:

Hollyoaks' Kieran Richardson (Ste Hay)

Nikki Sanderson, Candice Stowe in Corrie, Dawn Bellamy in Heartbeat and Maxine Minniver in Hollyoaks.

Jess Cunningham, The Apprentice and Celebrity Big Brother contestant.

A fun night. Hope the store does well!


Monday, 17 September 2018

Joshua v Povetkin This Saturday- Come Watch

On the blog: a celebrity-endorsed launch of a clothing shop. In the city: 2 very different meetups, but for those it appeals to they'd be both hugely worth your while.

Friday Night: Manchester Depression, Anxiety and Bipolar Meetup drop into The Albert Square Chop House in Manchester for drinks, talking, maybe food and sharing advice. Just a chilled out evening getting to know others facing the same problems. 6.15pm onwards.

Saturday Night: UK's Anthony Joshua – current WBA 'super', IBF and WBO champion- takes on mandatory challenger, the Russian Alexander Povetkin. He's a former champ himself with a face like a wall, so he won't be a pushover for Joshua. Manchester Cool Bars will be watching this in Manchester's Genting Casino, the best place for fight fans. Huge screens and an enthusiastic crowd. ID essential!

Subject change: When in London I dropped into around 10 charity shops but only made one purchase: the rather original presentation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, in graphic novel form. It's my favourite of the Shakspeare plays, full of violence, backstabbing and insomnia- at least one of which I've endured a lot of myself.

There's a lot within Shakespeare that, without an academic explaining it, would go over your head. But having the story in comic layout allows you to picture what unfolds, and even if the double meanings and archaic terms have no glossary, you follow enough to take in the narrative. Good work from Oval Projects Ltd.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

London September '18

Last weekend I saw lots of famous dead people.

I dropped into London to see my sister and do some sightseeing, which included a tour of Highgate Cemetery, resting place of the rich and famous.

But first, I had a wander around Borough Market, eating a great steak at Black & Blue.

Later, as the sun went down behind The Shard, we stopped at The George Inn Courtyard,  to watch a unique take on William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Described as a 'musical take on Shakespeare, told by five actors and all manner of instruments,' The Three Inch Fools provided a take on Shakespeare to top The Reduced Shakespeare Society. During the performance the quintet swiftly whipped on jackets and hats, which were hung on hooks at the back of the set, to indicate a character change. The roles were carefully divided up so that, as far as I could tell, you never saw the same actor play two parts who talked to each other.

Me new hat

Or maybe you did. I dunno. Shakespeare is confusing enough, but A Midsummer Night's Dream is a particularly bizarre one, and when actors are chopping and changing roles every few minutes, your best bet is just to go along for the ride. In all fairness, they stayed in character, changing at the appropriate moments, pretty well.

You might also find them performing Hamlet. Well worth a look.

The next day we got the underground to Highgate, and booked onto a tour of the East Cemetary. A retired history teacher, head bursting with memorised knowledge, took us around the most notable of graves, including wealthy family plots, the first burial, and the resting place of Robert F Goldhammer, the founder of Dunkin' Donuts


The tour guide described how a population explosion, and the subsequent smell of Victorian dead bodies, meant that it was necessary to set aside land for burial of all the dead. Highgate, some miles from the city centre, was just the right distance for people to visit. The wealthier of locals started to buy up land, choosing plots and building family mausoleums for their dead.

This large Egyptian-style monument was used for a Hammer horror movie set.

The grave of murdered spy Alexander Litvinenko. The half tombstone indicates a life cut short.

His widow specifically asked for his resting place to be included in the tour so he would be remembered. The tour, packed with fascinating tales of London's history and tragic stories of bereavement, contained way more than I can recall. I strongly recommend booking on and letting the guide enlighten you.

After the tour we used the official map to track down a few other well-known graves, this time in the West Cemetery, which we were free to roam around.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams

Founder of Communism Karl Marx

TV Presenter Jeremy Beadle

Highgate may not be central, but after you've seen the main attractions right next to the Thames, it's well worth jumping on the underground and making your way out there.

Next up we dropped into nearby Portobello Road, on the way into Notting Hill, home of many charity shops and, coincidentally, 1984 author George Orwell. (Well, it was.)

The famous door from the Notting Hill movie. I refrained from stripping to my underwear and posing, ala Rhys Ifan's character. A bit disappointed that I saw exactly no famous people, but in all fairness I had been to Highgate Cemetery so I couldn't complain.

Moving on we find the Tower Bridge area, and the tower of London. Tower Bridge has a recently-installed glass floor, allowing you to look straight down onto the surface of The Thames underneath. Tickets for the tour get you into the entrance where videos will show you the history of the building- its construction and renovation- and who helped to build it, before taking you up a lift to the walkway area. Prepare to go weak at the knees as you look down into the water and up at the mirrored ceiling.


The ceiling


Authentic dodo skeleton, one presumes

Tower of London

The tide is high and I'm holding on

For panoramic views of the city it's a must.

Further along, we find the financial district with The Cheese Grater, this thing I'm going to call The Computer Speaker, a few projects under construction and The Walkie Talkie Building, atop which you'll find the Sky Garden Bar. We booked free online in advance, went through security fairly quickly and rode up in a high speed elevator to the huge observatory on the top floor.



Like Manchester's Cloud 23, serving time was a little long, but it's worth it for the views and decor- looking almost like the Australian Outback with it's array of plants and full-blown trees. The view may be one-sided, but it's still broad and hugely impressive.

That pretty much marked the closing of the trip to London. We ended on a high (if you'll excuse the pun). I still have a handful of other ideas for future trips.

Cheese Grater and Scalpel

'City Wing'

Intergalactic can of cold beer
Bank of England