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…

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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:
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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!

Talking About Blogging

When I first moved to Manchester, work sent me to a conference in Hulme organised by Online Seller UK. At that event I became acquainted with the organiser on Twitter.

A few months later I ended up meeting him again when I went to one of his Google Analytics workshops (highly recommend these by the way, I learnt a lot of very useful stuff!). He asked me if I’d like to speak at one of his upcoming meetups, which are small scale networking events – mini-versions of the conference I’d attended initially.

I ignored the lump in my throat and said yes. I really want to get better at public speaking, and it’s no secret that I would really like to do a TED Talk one day. You have to start somewhere and start small!

Last week the date finally arrived and I spoke for about ten minutes on how I got into blogging and how it has impacted (i.e. become) my life, rounding up with a few reasons why it’s very good for business.

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I used a picture of Leandra Medine as the backdrop, one of my long time blogging heroes, and even managed to work in a bit about Junkaholique too. It was a proud moment and not actually as scary as I anticipated – I will definitely be looking for more opportunities to do stuff like this.

What really pleased me was that people asked a lot of questions at the end; I think they found my story very interesting, so that’s good! You can learn more about the Online Seller UK meetups here, and thanks to my friend Jayson for taking these pictures so I could blog about it!

The Real Story

I feel excited writing this, because I feel just like I did when I first discovered the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne.

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I’m a little gutted I only discovered that Manchester Literature Festival was happening a few days before it finished, but at least I managed to squeeze in one event. It was organised by The Real Story, which is a collective that celebrates and supports non fiction writers here in Manchester. This made my ears prick straight away, because my Kindle is non fiction.

It was held inside the International Anthony Burgess Foundation building, which is a stone’s throw from Oxford Road. The room filled up quickly and to kick off we listened to three different writers read their non fiction stories. I loved all of them. The first one, which was about a flooded town having to strip and hollow out all of the damaged properties, was very immersive. The second was about a folk gig, and it reminded me very much of my own writing style. The third was about the night a guy acquired a stalker, and had everyone laughing out loud.

After a short break, we then listened to a number of non fiction essays by Horatio Clare. I was blown away by Horatio’s writing, he is incredibly talented.

I really enjoyed this event, it’s given me a real boost of motivation for my own writing and also made me believe that I can and will get better at writing if I keep doing it. The Real Story have another event coming up in December so I’ll be keeping an eye on their website for that.

The Indian Tiffin Room

Last week I met with Lima of Fashionicide to do a shoot. Afterwards we decided to get dinner somewhere nearby and settled on The Indian Tiffin Room just next to HOME.

The menu here is Indian street food, and the decor is very cool. We also sat on a table next to Sunita from Corrie!
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I ordered a chicken biryani, I loved the presentation of it and the taste but I would have liked a slightly larger portion! I could have eaten more after I’d finished quite easily (but then I do have a big appetite).
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The Indian Tiffin Room is a good place to go mid-week. It was still nice and busy – but not so much that we couldn’t find a table. Although the portion size was a little small for me, the meal itself was really good. In fact writing this is making me hungry!

The Monsal Trail, Peak District

On Sunday I cycled the Monsal Trail, which weirdly I’d never heard of before.

The Monsal Trail is an eight mile railway track that has been converted into a nice flat path, running through the Peaks between Buxton and Bakewell. Although, it doesn’t actually start at Buxton, it starts a few miles away from Buxton – so don’t turn up to Buxton with bikes expecting a short trundle to the start of the track like we almost did!

It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday, and didn’t take that long to cycle to Bakewell and back either – probably around two and a half hours in total.

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As I eventually realised at the end of the day, the tunnels are named according to the sights that are nearby, so it’s worth stopping at the tunnels! Above and below is the Headstone viaduct, which leads you into a tunnel called Headstone Tunnel (see?). It was quite a steep climb, but worth it for the view, so I’d definitely recommend stopping off here.
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We initially got the impression that Buxton was ‘alright’ (i.e. a bit rubbish), but thankfully our taxi driver recommended a place callde Buxton Tap House, which turned out to be a great little pub with a vast menu of craft beers and ales.
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We spent a few more hours drinking and eating falafel before catching a train back to Manchester. A great day! I will definitely be doing the Monsal Trail again, only I might invest in some padded leggings because sitting down was quite painful the following day.