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).

Fields, Manchester & Frost

Last weekend my friend Dave drove up from Northampton to see me and my folks.  I last saw him a week before I flew over to Melbourne, so a catch up weekend was due.  As well as eating and drinking ourselves into slight comas, we wanted to pack in a few other activities as well, including a run, a visit to Manchester and a walk through England’s green and pleasant land.

I have missed running through the English countryside so much.  It was great to have a beach to run alongside in Australia, but the concrete gave me shin splints and the high runner-traffic was a little irritating.  Lots of grass and no one in sight is much more up my street.

On Saturday we were up with the birds to get over to Manchester.  Our local butcher’s still have some left over pork pies made especially for the run up to Christmas, it was only fair that we took some off their hands.  Quite literally the best pork pie I’ve had in years.  Cranberries on top, turkey and stuffing in the middle, pastry absolutely perfect.  Dave was beside himself.  (Yes, we had pork pie for breakfast, what of it?).

 

Once off the train we got stuck into the markets.  I love Christmas, I’m hoping against hope that we actually get some snow before the New Year.  Manchester is a very architecturally impressive city, and I love the abundance of very old, traditional pubs everywhere.

More mulled wine please

 

Plum flavoured ale that unfortunately tasted nothing like plums
Coffee at Blue Daisy

Saturday evening was spent with my folks having dinner at Relish in Doncaster.  A day of steady drinking following by a night of steady drinking meant I woke up with quite the hangover.  Undeterred Dave and I had another early start and took ourselves off to Clumber Park.  This is a great place for families, dog owners or people like me who have a hangover to walk off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five miles and a Sunday roast later Dave was heading back down south.  A great wintery weekend that has well and truly got me in the festive mood.

Gin Palace, Melbourne

I really love gin.  Gin and tonic, sloe gin and bitter lemon, gin and cranberry juice, gin and orange juice.  Among my favourites are Tanqueray, Hendricks (this one always with cucumber, not lime), Bombay Sapphire and Beefeater.  So when some friends invited me to join them at a bar called Gin Palace a little part of my life was immediately completed.  In true Melburnian style, Gin Palace is tucked away down an alley called Russell Place off Little Collins street.  The only marker is the rather small ‘GP’ sign above the door which sparkles at night.

It’s a great bar to visit during winter with it’s cushions and cosy armchairs.  When you first walk in it’s easy to presume this place is pretentious, but trust me it isn’t.  The staff are lovely and very down to earth, and they’ve got enough knowledge to whip you up a gin surprise that isn’t on the menu.  The menu itself feels somewhat like a beautifully presented short story book.

Leigh perusing the menu …. ‘Hmmm, so much gin so little time!’

The amazing cushion bath, I was VERY tempted to hop in but I held back
The main interior

The first time I came here I’d had a couple of glasses of wine and didn’t want to mix so I asked for a non-alcoholic cocktail.  What came back was a totally delicious twist of a ginger julep.  This time round I started off with a Tanqueray and tonic and then moved on to the cocktail list.

As you can see, the decor is very fancy schmancy, but I think it really works.  I loved the picture to the top left – it sparkles.  If you ever come here be sure to pop through the door you can see in the above photo just beyond the man in the blue top.  Through there lies a beautiful courtyard area lit up by fairy lights, along with a big, wooden piano as a centre piece.  Just so pretty.

 

I personally find it mildly irritating when you go to a nice cocktail bar and all of the cocktail makers are men and all of the floor staff are women.  So I was really pleased to see some women behind the bar here.  All the staff were incredibly friendly and professional at the same time – they will bring you round a tray of water if you’re sitting down for a while.  I like that, you feel looked after.

 

Look at the luscious sofa!

My cocktail was an aperitif and also extremely strong.  I didn’t manage to drink it all (I’m a low tolerance kind of person) but it was delicious!  Had I not already had a couple of drinks I would have finished it off no problem.

The prices here are a little higher than the Melbourne standard, but not extortionately so.  I feel it’s the sort of place to drink less and savour the gin flavours anyway!  Well worth a visit if you’re short on time in Melbourne and want a night out with a bit of city luxury.

10 Russell Place
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9654 0533

 

Reasons To Love Social Media

I love social media.  There, I said it.  I love social media.  When I hear people groan at the word twitter or ask ‘What exactly is Pinterest for? It’s just pictures isn’t it?’ a part of me winces, the other bites my tongue.  When social media is used in the wrong way, it can be humiliating for those involved and embarrassing to witness.  For example, when the owners of Amy’s Baking Company appeared on Kitchen Nightmares, their Facebook page soon began receiving comment after comment from reddit users.  Anyone who knows anything about the internet in general, knows not to react to trolls.  They reacted – read here.  That is probably the only lesson anyone will ever need in how not to use social media.

But when it’s used in the right way, when each tweet, pin, like and all other manner of shares leads to a beautifully orchestrated masterclass in good PR, when companies and brands really hit the nail on the head, it’s brilliant.  There are three perfect examples of this, and they are three reasons to love social media.

The first is the Bodyform response video, it’s an oldie but a goodie.  A guy posted a sarcastic and tongue in cheek comment on the brand’s Facebook page, accusing their advertisement campaigns of painting a false image around that time of the month – read here.  Bodyform responded quickly and brilliantly with this video:

The second is even more brilliant.  I saw this on Twitter about a year ago and it took me about three days to get over it.  An image was shared on Imgur, a site which pretty much showcases the internet’s most viral images and memes of the moment.  The image contained a thread on a Facebook page, a Facebook message and a photo of two guys at the Eiffel Tower at the bottom.
The Facebook thread was extracted from the Thomas Cook Facebook page, where a guy called Thomas Cook had written to the holiday provider.  In a nutshell he asked them for a free holiday to Paris for providing them with free advertising through his name.  Thomas Cook responded, not offering him a free holiday and providing him with a link to their website.  While it’s great they responded to him, they missed a golden chance to win big internet points.  Now that they hadn’t given him a free weekend in Paris the gates were open for their competitors to step in and do so instead, which they did.
The next Facebook extract was a message from Low Cost Holidays to Mr Thomas Cook, telling him they would like to give him a free holiday to Paris for him and a friend since he had just been ‘Thomas Crooked’.  The photo at the bottom was of him and his friend on said free holiday.  Massive publicity win for Low Cost Holidays, and massive publicity fail for Thomas Cook.  Snooze you lose.
The Imgur link was shared throughout Facebook and Twitter etc (I can remember retweeting it from someone myself) and the entire internet.  Social media PR done exactly right!  See it on Imgur here.
The third and final example is the best by far and has nothing to do with PR, just the power the internet has to reach people.  You might have already seen this picture of this Sikh lady, named Balpreet Kaur:
This image found its way to Reddit, where users began shaming the woman because of her appearance.  One user in particular shared the image with the caption ‘i’m not sure what to conclude from this’.  As things escalated and the insults mounted, Ms Kaur caught wind of the Reddit ripple on Facebook and sent a personal response to the guy who originally posted the photo.  My favourite part is this:
“My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.”
Her response was heartfelt, kind and so incredibly good willed –  read it in full here.  After this really beautiful response, the guy who originally posted the photo on Reddit sent out an apology to Ms Kaur and to the Sikh community:
“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.
/r/Funny wasn’t the proper place to post this. Maybe /r/racism or /r/douchebagsofreddit or /r/intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit’s been in the news alot lately about a lot of cool things we’ve done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn’t 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.
I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.”  

I’m pretty sure that at this point the Internet itself sat back in its chair and sighed ‘My work here is done’.  So there you have it, three perfectly good reasons to love social media.

Pin It Forward UK

About eighteen months ago I joined Pinterest.  My friends described it to me as a place to bookmark, or ‘pin’, things that you like and things that interest you.  I was hooked immediately, I installed the pin it button on my toolbar right away and began pinning absolutely anything and everything that tickled my fancy.  From pretty colours to interior arrangements, and from fashion items to motivational quotes and even recipes.  You can literally pin anything.

Pinterest is now taking on a very large life of its own and is about to launch a new website in the UK.  Like all good social media networks, the Pinterest team have contacted a number of bloggers recently and got them on board to help spread the word and generate new users in time for the launch.  I was absolutely delighted when I received an email from them last month asking me to take part.  To be involved in such a wonderful demonstration of how important the blogosphere is these days, and to be involved directly with one of my favourite social networks, is a wonderful opportunity and fantastic experience.

I certainly use Pinterest just as much as any other social network, but it gets used in a different way.  I feel that Pinterest is centered around ideas, inspiration and motivation.  Just a few weeks ago I went to the hairdressers and in the chair next to me a girl was on her phone searching through her ‘Hair Ideas’ board on her Pinterest account, in order to show the stylist what cut she wanted.  So much less hassle than cutting up a hair magazine!

Similarly, my friend Emily used Pinterest heavily last year for inspiration (or pinspiration, say it with me…) whilst planning her wedding.  She got some great ideas for her hair, shoes, the cake and dress from the site.  The best bit was with us girls all living in different parts of the UK at the time, we could all see her ideas on Pinterest and let her know what we thought, or even find our own pins that we thought she’d like.

Pinterest is fantastic for planning.  I’m currently living in Melbourne, whilst enjoying the city I’m quietly saving pennies so that when I eventually leave this wonderful place I can do a bit of travelling yet again.  Whenever I begin to lack the travel bug spark I pop on to Pinterest and add a few beautiful images to my ‘Planet Earth’ board, immediately feeling full of wanderlust once again.

Follow Frances B's board Planet Earth on Pinterest. On this board I pin images of places that I want to go to, have already been to or that just remind me of why I love our planet.  It can be delicately and quaintly pretty, or vastly amazing and inspiring.  That raw wonder and appreciation is one of the many things that makes travelling so worthwhile. In addition, Pinterest is also a brilliant tool to use if you’re a blogger, brand or company because the images always link back to the web source.  All you need to do is click!  Even Topshop have a pin it button on their website, so that if you see a dress you like but want to come back to it you can pin it to one of your boards for future reference. I use Pinterest because it’s fun, inspiring and very addictive.  If you don’t have a Pinterest account and would like to join all you need to do is follow this link to the new site.  Then make a cup of tea (or coffee … or gin, whatever), sit down and have a good old peruse of my boards to get some ideas and get the (pin)ball rolling.  If you would rather have a look first to understand a bit better what Pinterest is, go to my profile here for a gander. Now obviously I’m not the only blogger Pinterest have asked to help spread the word about their UK launch.  If you’re a seasoned blog reader you will probably already have noticed a significant ripple of posts about Pinterest recently, and right now I’m passing on the torch to the next one.  Isn’t the internet exciting?! Tomorrow make sure you visit Steve Whitty’s blog Midlifewanderlust1965, he’s one of the next in line to demonstrate why you should join Pinterest.  You can find his boards here. Good luck and happy pinning! Visit Frances B's profile on Pinterest.