Richmond Tea Rooms

Richmond Tea Rooms is a brilliant place to visit if your imagination is in need of a bit of TLC.

I came here last week after my Cat Cafe trip with Lima. I’ve heard a lot about it – it’s an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant and bar, that also puts on drag shows. Amazing right?

I am all about nurturing your imagination. I think that if anything can be made immersive, it should be. It’s something I think the UK often falls short on – and that cities like Melbourne (talking about Melbourne again Fran? Not like you!) get 100% right. Our experiences directly affect how we behave and we approach our day to day lives. That’s why I believe that nurturing your imagination and giving it time to play, is key to maintaining an open mind and to generally being a decent and happy human being.

Anyway, all that aside, they also do GREAT finger sandwiches here! I had the Hatter’s Tea which costs about a tenner, and I definitely think you get your money’s worth for that. Here’s what it looks like inside:

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I enjoyed this place, really want to come back for a drag show! Another one to add to the ever-growing list!

Cat Cafe Manchester

I love cats!

Those of you who have been following me on social since the Melbourne days will know that just after I left Melbourne, a cat cafe opened there. This was almost more heartbreaking than leaving such a great city and a French boyfriend behind was.

Whilst I’ve found no Frenchies here in Manchester, there is now a Cat Cafe. Get. In.

I arrived early (standard) and lingered in front the entrance, not letting myself walk around the corner where I would have seen the cats. Delayed gratification.

The Northern Quarter reminds me a little of Fitzroy

When Lima arrived we marched right in. There are about ten cats at the cafe and they all looked very well looked after to me. For £11.95 per person you get a hot drink and an hour of cat heaven.
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The reason I love cats so much is because I think they’re absolutely hilarious. They love people who hate cats, and hate people who love cats. They literally don’t give a sh*t what others around them are doing.

I found out recently that there are cat yoga classes here every week too – normal yoga, but amongst cats. What a GREAT idea!
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It was an hour well spent, and we dragged ourselves away very reluctantly at the end. There were a lot of facial expressions like this one:



I think the cat cafe is a great place to come if you want to be somewhere relaxing – cats are relaxing animals to be around most of the time I think. It’s also a great place to come if, like me, you bloody love cats.

The Elk of Chorlton

Another great brunch spot in Manchester for you today, The Elk of Chorlton.

I took my brother here this morning before he left to head back to Yorkshire. I had smashed avocado and he had roast tomatoes with spinach and an egg. I like it because it feels cosy and also because it’s relatively small – meaning it never gets too overcrowded or hectic as some of the brunch spots I’ve been to in Didsbury can do. For the sort of food they serve and where in Chorlton it is I’d also say The Elk is pretty cheap!
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My brother paid a flying visit last night to see my flat and get a taste of life in Manc land. We went to HOME to see a play called Ghosts, it was not what I expected but very good!

It’s actually been a very hectic weekend. On Friday I had a CrossFit taster class followed by a few cocktails at Albert’s Schloss (a place I will blog about soon, promise!), and yesterday I went to the Imperial War Museum for a look around. It was fantastic – I’m hoping some of the photos on my phone are blog-worthy because I’d really like to write about it.

I’m going to another CrossFit class this afternoon (don’t ask me why I’ve squeezed two into one weekend because honestly, I don’t know).

Ziferblat, Edge Street

I’m writing this whilst actually in Ziferblat on Edge Street. A place I’ve been meaning to come to to for a while.

Here, you pay for your time rather than for your tea or coffee. It’s a great balance between cafe and coworker space, with the shared kitchen space creating lots of opportunities to get to know the people using the cafe with you.

I can see myself spending many a late evening here when my office eventually moves to the Northern Quarter. There’s something about being surrounded by background noise and people that makes it easier to focus!

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There are lots of cakes and biscuits on offer, as well as fruit and bread – you can even make yourself some toast. The idea is everyone clears up after themselves and pitches in to keep the place clear and pleasant. There are board games to play and lots of comfy, old chairs to sit in. I get the impression there’s a few Ziferblat regulars that come here – this is what makes it feel more coworker space than cafe.
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The perfect place for laptop club with friends!

East Lancashire Rail Ale Trail

A guy I work with called Mark is a Manchester tour guide in his spare time. A couple of years back he and a friend decided to set up a new tour just north of the city, taking you on the mostly volunteer run steam trains between Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.

It’s called the East Lancashire Rail Ale Trail and on Saturday we went on our own private tour, guided and led by Mark.

Essentially, you amble through the above towns via steam train, stopping at various pubs and breweries, with Mark chipping in occasionally to tell you about the history of rail, ale and the North. I had so much fun on this tour, I felt a bit like Miss Marple or Poirot at times, and it was really interesting to learn about the history of the trail.

My favourite info nugget of the day was the 1830 Beer Act. Mark told us the reason this act was introduced was to enable people to brew their own beer at home. Why did the government want people to drink more beer? To stop them from drinking so much gin, apparently it was a huge problem at the time. An interesting approach to tackling large scale alcoholism.

Now prepare yourself for lots of photos…

We had a pretty early start at Bury station, where Mark gave us a brief introduction and gave us an ale each for the first steam train trip.
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Mark in his element above there, and below two men who appear to be from the past and are carrying adorable enamel tea flasks! Mark told us that there are around 600 volunteers who all contribute to the running of this steam train service. 600! I was very impressed.
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Toby the pug joined us for the day and stayed on a steady cycle of boundless supplies of energy followed by complete exhaustion.
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We had lunch at a place called Owens. It was at this point that I really felt like I was on some sort of staycation, a festive one too (sorry guys but I’m probably going to start from now with festive chatter, I love Christmas too much not to!).

We slowly ate our food and spent a lot of time talking about travel – one of the rail ale trail-ers had recently spent two weeks travelling the West coast of America.

After lunch it was onto Irwell Works Brewery. This was a great little place! I even had a nice chat with an old man at the bar about good places to eat in Manchester. He recommended I try This & That Cafe stating that their curry is ‘magnificent’.

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Next up, my favourite photo of the day:
Just look at his weather pinched face! It’s a good job that the train was moving so slowly otherwise these photos wouldn’t have come out as well.

The next place we went to served a wide array of non-alcoholic drinks and sweet snacks. It is Britain’s last original temperance bar (and also goes by the same name). Frustratingly, they don’t have a website (I’ll be telling Mark to nudge them about this on Monday…), but you can find them at number 5 Bank Street in Rawtenstall – a short walk from the station.

They did the best milkshake I’ve ever seen – it comes with a donut sitting on top! I opted for ice cream, with cordial and a cookie, also a great choice.

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Eventually we made our way back to Bury and spent a good hour in the warmth of a pub called The Clarence, followed by a trip to Spoons just next to the tram station.

I was, quite frankly, sozzled by the time we got back to Manchester. Thankfully my colleagues saw sense and went home, meaning that I did too!

You can find out more about East Lancs Rail Ale Trails on Twitter. I highly recommend it for folk who live in Manchester or who are just visiting!