Category Archives: Social

Autumn Update

I’ve not ‘blogged’ for a while now but don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up or stopped having adventures, in fact it’s partly because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to write any posts – that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, here’s a quick update on the story so far.

Two weeks ago, Lady Hughes and myself had a visit from my Brother Peter and sister Claire, over for the weekend from Dublin. We were really looking forward to this as we always have a great time with them, but it did pose the question of, what makes the perfect weekend in Manchester?

Now the answer will obviously vary, depending on your tastes and interests, but in the end we came up with a Friday night in the Northern Quarter, Saturday morning tram to Media City, Imperial North and the Lowry, then on to Castlefield and lunch at the Wharf. Stroll through Christmas Markets, meet up with both of my sons, Alex (and girlfriend Jade) and Elliott, and then onto Mr Thomas’s Chop House for dinner. Finished at the Molly House in Manchester’s Gay Village. Sunday was gentle (very gentle) recovery and prepare for their flight home.

We had a great time, but I must confess I did get very drunk on the Saturday and made a bit of a fool of myself apparently, so apologies to anyone I may have offended – I didn’t mean it, honest.

No photos I’m afraid (or perhaps, thank god), as we were too busy have a good time.

The week after I was invited by my good friends Mark and Andy to try the famous Ale Trail train. The idea is that you catch the train from Victoria Station to Batley and get off at each stop for a drink as there’s a recommended pub at each one. Lady Hughes decided to come along for moral support.

So we caught the bus into Manchester, and walked to Victoria Station to meet the guys at 3pm.

After a brief scare due to a fire on the track, and a quick warm-up pint at Victoria, we set off and were soon at pub number 1 on the list, the Station Bar in Stalybridge (great pies).

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We then progressed onto Greenfield and the Railway Inn, Marsden and the Riverhead Brewery Tap & Dining Room, and finally Slathwaite (pronounced Slowat) and the Commercial.

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At this point we all agreed it was time to head home. Due to a cancelled train, it was quicker to go on to Huddersfield and get a direct train back to Piccadilly than to wait for the next scheduled train back to Victoria.

Overall, we had a great time, but the actual pubs weren’t as great as I’d hoped, Stalybridge Station was probably the best. Also, word had obviously got around and there were a lot of people doing the same as us. This meant that when the train got into each station there was a bit of a sprint to each pub and get a drink. That being said, we did meet some great people and it was a bit of an adventure.

Would I do it again? Probably not to be honest, but I’m glad we did it at least once.

What else have I been doing? Well I’m writing a new screenplay, a dark thriller, and I’ve been doing a few more portraits. Here’s one I did a week or so back, Roy Keane:


Lady Hughes and myself have also joined a gym, so we’re ‘sculpting’ our bodies in readiness for next summer – at our age it’s a much longer job than it used to be.

Last week we went to Jon Ronson’s ‘Psychopath Night’ at Home (the venue, not our home, if that makes sense?). Great night and we even got to meet the man himself afterwards.

So, that brings us up to date I think. Next big thing is probably Christmas, so there’s something to look forward to.






Dublin with Ed and Helen

After much organisation and planning, we finally made it over to Ireland again. This time we were with my Uncle Ed and his wonderful wife Helen, both of whom had visited Dublin before, but not for a long time.

As there were four of us, we couldn’t crash at anyone’s house so my sister Claire managed to get us a deal on the Doubletree Morrison Hotel, right in the centre, on the banks of the River Liffey. It’s a beautiful hotel and the service was excellent (warm cookies while you check in!) so big thank you to Claire – you’re a star!

Taxi from the airport was a bit of an adventure as I asked to go to the Doubletree Hotel and it turns out there are two and our driver thought we meant the other one. It was only when he said that we had a thirty minute walk to get into the centre that it all came out, but he’d passed our hotel at that point – he said it was his fault, and I agreed. But no-one else did unfortunately.

I’ve never had a bad time in Dublin and this trip was no exception. We explored a few places in Temple Bar and met up with my brother Peter and my sister Claire on the Friday night. Starting in the Palace Bar where we somehow managed to adopt two drunken cockney golfers.

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The weather was grey and wet for the whole three days but we didn’t let it get us down. On Saturday we held Helen back from beating up a miserable bus driver who wouldn’t accept notes, even though it was the exact fare, and we jumped a cab to Kilmainham Gaol. This was the where the leaders of the Easter Rising were held before they were shot by firing squad. The subsequent outcry lead to Ireland gaining independence from the British, so it’s a fascinating place and very topical at the moment.

Once there we discovered it was fully booked – something about a centenary or something.

Never mind. Onto the National Museum with a special exhibition all about the uprising. It was here that Clare stood looking at an exhibit next to an Irish lady and a teenager with an American accent. The lady was explain the exhibit to the teenage girl, who then exclaimed “the British are such bastards!” Clare turned round and replied, “we’re very sorry”, to which a nearby Irishman answered, “apology accepted.”

I’m not sure what the teenager made of it all but we felt we’d done our bit for Anglo-Irish diplomacy – that’s that sorted, well done us!

Saturday night, we all met up at the Fallon & Byrne restaurant for a meal, again organised by my sister Claire- she really played a blinder on this trip, thanks again.

Food was great and the company even better. Once fed, we staggered to the Stag’s Head pub and managed to bag a table. More friends turned up and the Guinness flowed, it’s been a long time since I’ve had as good a night as that, over far too quickly.

Sunday, we checked out of the hotel but still had the day before our evening flight, so we visited Dublin Castle and did the tour there. I love a bit of history, so this was great. The castle is where all the Irish Presidents are sworn in and was suitably impressive.

Our last real taste of Dublin was the Brazen Head pub for lunch with my Irish Dad John and his wife Anne. This is apparently the oldest pub in Dublin and we just had one thing left on Helen’s list to tick off, so it was Irish Stew all round.

A quick hop back over the Irish Sea, courtesy of Ryanair, and we were back in tropical Manchester. Overall, a great trip, great company – especially Ed and Helen and all my family in Ireland, can’t wait for the next time. Thanks to Peter and Helen for letting me nick a few of their photos – if only I had a selfie stick of my own Helen.


Alex and Clare’s 71st Birthday Party

And so it was, that the stars conspired a great coincidence in our family. My son Alex turned twenty-one just two weeks away from Clare (his mother, my wife) turning fifty. Once this fact became apparent we starting planning for a party to celebrate both moments occasions in the Hughes household – two for the price of one, bargain!

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We wanted something a little different to the usual ‘room with a bar at one end and a dance floor at the other’, so we booked the upstairs at the Woodstock Arms in Didsbury. This meant we still had a bar, but there were various different nooks and crannies for everyone to find a space.

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Clare and I had been at an event where the DJ only played 40’s and 50’s music and we really liked it so we hunted him out and booked him.

My sister Bev is a marvel at making cakes and she did us proud with the two she made for us. One is themes on Clare’s diving adventures and the other is themed around the Manchester bee (symbol on the Manchester coat of arms and a tattoo Alex has) and music, to show Alex’s loves.

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We had a great turn out from friends and family, with relatives traveling from Ireland just to be there, so we’re very grateful. Many thanks to everyone who came, we really appreciate it.

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I handed most of the photographic workload over to my other son Elliott. Which gave us a chance to try out my new flash and reflector. I tidied them up a bit afterwards, but I think he did a great job, Here’s just a few of the pictures from the night.


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Pub Crawl No 3

Bit late with this one, but here it is anyway – Our third pub crawl round Manchester. Just like the first crawl, I was joined by my old friends Mark Hillyard, and for half the crawl, Andy Morrison.

The rules this time were, all the pubs had to be new to us, we each took it in turns to pick the next one and we each had a veto we could use if we walked into somewhere and instantly hated the place – luckily, this rule was not needed, actually I don’t think we told Andy about that rule, now I come to think about it.


Mark and I met in Piccadilly Gardens at three o’clock and proceeded to ‘Slice’ Pizzeria in the Northern Quarter to lay a foundation of food down in preparation for the beer to come. Great little pizza place this where you could select lots of different quarters, which suited us fine. It was also beer number one, a pint of lager to warm up the liver.


Leaving ‘Slice’ we met up with Andy and walked to Mark’s choice, ‘The Tib Street Tavern’. This pub was nice but busy as it had big screens with the football on. We managed to find a table and did our best to ignore the distraction of the game. This pub had a nice atmosphere, even with though it was busy, it was probably one of the more trendy pubs on our lists and the beer was good (pint number two) but it was still good to get away from the crowds and the football and move onto pub number three – my choice, ‘The Angel’.


‘The Angel’ is on the way to ‘The Marble Arch’ (see crawl No 1) and was recommended to me last year by a Catholic Priest we met at Angel Meadow. With such high praise, it was time to check it out.

Not the smartest pub, but good atmosphere, friendly staff and an open fire. Andy ordered a burger and chips and was pleasantly surprised at how good they were, and the price. I liked this pub, it seemed very genuine – if that makes sense?

Pub (and pint) number four was across Manchester to Deansgate and the ‘Knott Inn’.

It was starting to get dark when we got there and the pub was busy. Great selection of beers here so we took our pick and found a couple of square feet out of the way to stand in. Again, nice atmosphere, but this pub felt like the kind of place you meet up with your friends before going somewhere else. I told a story about travelling through Russia and a lady nearby became very interested – it turns out she was Russian, what are the chances of that happening eh?

It was at this point that we had to say farewell to Andy who had a previous engagement, so, dodging the traffic, we crossed Deansgate and made our way to pub number five, ‘The Cask’ in Castlefield.

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We approached the bar and Mark asked if they served food, “no mate, but there’s a chip shop next door. You can bring ’em in but take the fish away with you”. I got the drinks in while Mark went next door to get two fish and chips. Other customers eyed us enviously as we picked our way through the fresh cod and chips with our bare fingers (Mark forgot to get any forks). And soon we noticed more people disappearing before returning with white parcels just like ours.

Pub number six, ‘The Britons Protection’, just near the Bridgewater Hall. Beautiful Pub this, good atmosphere and friendly staff. Slightly strange layout here as you have to leave the bar and go outside momentarily, to get to the rooms at the rear. We managed though, and found a table to enjoy pint number six and contemplate our final destination.

Pub number seven, ‘The Temple’.

‘The Temple’ has had several incarnations. I remember it as a record shop in the eighties, but it was originally built as an underground public convenience, which is ironic because the loos here are the worst we’d seen all day. This is more a bar than a pub, but we were curious so we gave it a go and checked it off the list. Met some nice people, but it’s small, cramped and a little grungy, so we only had a half each and finally climbed the stairs out to catch our bus/train home and recover.

Overall, it was an interesting day exploring, I’m starting to feel now that I’m getting a bit of an overview of the most interesting pubs, and Manchester in general, though I’m sure there’s much more to find. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with the ideal pub crawl, with all the favourites, etc.

Watch this space.


Guinness and Blood

Early Saturday morning, Lady Hughes, my son Elliott and myself, found ourselves in Manchester Airport boarding the eight o’clock Ryanair cattle truck to Dublin.

To be precise, the eight o’clock flight was now technically the eight fifteen, as it was late due to an aborted landing because of strong cross-winds. The previous night we’d been hit by strong gales and though the wind had died down a lot I noticed the windsock on the far side of the runway was solidly horizontal.

So, it was windy and I was anticipating a bumpy flight.

As it turned out the flight over wasn’t too bad actually. It only takes about half an hour to get there and it was all relatively smooth until we were on our final approach. I watched through the window as the wingtips wavered and the engines changed in pitch as the plane adjusted to accommodate the gusts.

Looking back from the window I remember thinking we were still some way off landing and then there was a bang as the plane slammed down onto the runway. I think the pilot must have thought ‘I’m not messing about here’ and dropped the thing as soon as we were over concrete. I fully expected a handbrake turn as we got to the terminal, but hey, any landing you can walk away from is a good one right?

We were over in Ireland to meet up with my family. My sister Rachel was over from Australia and we’d booked the flights before Christmas, in the hope we could catch up with her, but it turned out she was away on the other side of Ireland so it didn’t work out that way unfortunately. Shame, but still we met up with my brother Peter, his family and my sister Claire, which is always good.

We were only over for the one night and we really just wanted to catch up and relax so this was the perfect trip. Elliott hasn’t been over to Ireland for over a year now, so it was great for him to see his cousin Layna, who is now running around with bags of character, whereas last time he saw her she was still a baby.

From the airport it was straight to Claire’s for breakfast and then went back to Peter’s. Later in the afternoon, we jumped the bus into Dublin, to the Science Gallery to see a special exhibition about blood.

This was more art than science and definitely kept everyone guessing. At one point Clare shouted over to me, “hey Chris, you’ll like this, it’s all about the Nazis!”. People turned to look at me, I think expecting me to be standing in full SS uniform. I muttered that I wasn’t THAT interested in the Nazis and had a look – it was actually an exhibit about the Nazis interest in blood as a way of telling whether you were from the ‘right’ racial background – so it was a bit interesting.

Another exhibit gave you the chance to have your blood tested and tell you what blood group you are. I didn’t know my blood group, so Clare sat me down while a young woman explained all about blood proteins and hereditary traits while stabbing me with a pin and squeezing droplets of blood out of my middle finger – turns out I’m B+ and Clare, Peter and Claire are all O+ – I take that as a sign of rarity and therefore added value.

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After the trauma of our collective blood loss we all felt it was only wise to find a pub and replace some essential fluids. Here’s Claire, Elliott and Peter, still in shock from the blood exhibition.

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Several pints of Guinness later we caught a taxi back to Peter’s and continued our treatment round the table until midnight.

The next day was suitably lazy with lots of tea and chat until it came time for our flight back home.

It was a shame we didn’t get to see Rachel, but she’s announced that her and Neil (her partner) are getting married, so there’s a wedding to look forward to, probably in Thailand – so there’s another adventure to look forward to.

Great to catch up with everyone over the weekend, a lot’s happened since we last saw them and we can’t wait to see them all again in April, this time over here – keep tuned for further updates.


Ice Bucket Challenge

Yes, it finally got round to me.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where you pour a bucket of water/ice over your head for charity, came into my life yesterday when my uncle Ed Borking nominated me, as well as my cousin Mark and my son Elliott.

Not being one to walk away from a challenge – actually that’s not true. I always walk away from a challenge if it sounds stupid. I’m quite happy to delete chain letters, refuse drinking games and shrug off those Facebook posts that ask you to re-post to prove you care about some horrendous injustice.

As I’m also getting on a bit now and less impressed by crazes and fashion trends, now I come to think about it, it’s quite unusual for me to actually accept a challenge, but for some strange reason this one has caught my imagination. I think it’s really impressive how social media has been utilised to raise funds for a good cause rather than just swap selfies – is it me or does that sound a bit rude?

So when the challenge came my way, I accepted. I think part of the charm of this process is that you have to be nominated. Someone has to pick you. It’s like joining an elite club, including lot’s of sexy celebrities, which always makes things more interesting – apparently.

Like all the best ideas, it’s simple, and at the time of writing it’s raised $50 million, which is very impressive.

I tried to do my challenge with a bit of style and humour – I hope you like it, oh and I also donated £20, which is the most important part lets remember.

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Manchester Pub Crawl No2

After the success of our Manchester Pub Crawl, the current Mrs Hughes had felt left out so last Friday we arranged another.

Clare and myself travelled to Manchester on the bus and started at the Sinclair’s Oyster Bar. The rules are that you must have one drink at each pub, last time Mark and myself managed six – not that we we’re trying to beat that of course. That would be stupid!

Sinclair’s was cheap but hammered as it was Friday afternoon and sunny, so the crowds were out.

Pub No 2 was next door – the Wellington, where I had a pint of Monty Python beer – quite apt as we were booked to see the (almost) live show at the Cornerhouse later in the week.

We then looked on my smartphone for pub number 3, which was the Ape and Apple. Once there we called my Dad who joined us – nice to have an expert guide. I liked the Ape and Apple, it was bright and breezy and reasonably priced.

Pub number 4 was my Dad’s suggestion, the Seven Oaks – so much for expert guide. This pub was small, dingy, expensive and the girl behind the bar looked annoyed at having to serve people. We were also sat under a huge screen showing the Golf. Onto number 5.

The Circus. This is supposedly the smallest pub in Britain with a bar that is barely three feet across (though they do have a couple of side rooms). This was nice, we met some interesting people and had a good time. One guy was asking if we knew anything about the Shakespeare book shop in Paris – I must have that look.


Pub number 6 was my suggestion – the Port Street Beer House. I’d visited this on the last crawl and saw you could get thirds of a pint tasters.


We selected four ‘thirds’ to share, including a spicy chilli beer matured in cognac barrels. Everyone enjoyed this one and we walked on to pub number 7, the Lass O’ Gowrie.

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This pub had recently been renovated and was lovely, in fact we decided to stop here and sit out on the balcony over the River Medlock to finish.


We met some nice people, had a chat, and finally called it a day, getting the bus home before all the clubbers came out to claim the streets.


Great day out, bit of a hangover the next day though.



Sarah Millican and Eurovision

I’ve been busy this week building my camera jib (see my Shining Tor blog), so no time till now to update my blog.

Last week’s adventure was seeing Sarah Millican at the Manchester Apollo. These were tickets generously given to my sister Beverley and myself from my Dad. In fact these were our Christmas presents from 2012. Yes, 2012!

Apparently, the 2013 tour was sold out, so ever-resourceful, my Dad got the tickets for the following year. I don’t know how long Sarah Millican books her shows in advance, perhaps you can already get a good seat for her retirement show?

The show was excellent, Sarah was hysterical but not many of the jokes can be repeated. Apologies for the terrible photo, but it’s hard to take a selfie in dark theatre.

Yesterday we held a Eurovision party for a few friends. Clare loves Eurovision and this was her idea. We printed off scorecards and settled down with a few beers and nibbles to enjoy the show.

Our friend Heather raised the question ‘what constitutes nibbles?

Not a meal obviously, but does it include hot food? Should nibbles always be cold and eaten with your hands? Heather suggested that nibbles was just a posh term for crisps – these are the high level conversations we often have, aren’t you jealous?

There was some debate on our scoring system but we were soon organised and ready to go.

Highlights included trampolining boy bands, dancers in hamster wheels, singers up ladders, trapeze artists, twins on a seesaw and Poland’s attempt to gain votes by  having two busty girls churn butter, or something, to distract from the song – my favourite!

Actually, amidst all the madness there was some good songs, Sweden and Netherlands were especially good.

Forget about the voting, it’s always a bit annoying, the winner was an Austrian drag act with a beard, singing a knock-off bond theme.

We had a great time, lots of laughs  and for once, I actually enjoyed Eurovision.

Until next time,



If I mention the film ‘Psycho’, what do you think of?

If you’re anything like me then you immediately think of the famous shower scene and Bernard Herrman’s powerful music that accompanied it. The music is a key element to this wonderful film and on Friday we got the opportunity to experience it live.

The Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester, showed the film, but with a live orchestra playing the soundtrack.

I was curious how this would change the experience of seeing the film. Would it enhance it, or would it distract from it. I was also looking forward to seeing the film with a live audience as I’ve only ever seen it on television or DVD and I wanted to see how an audience reacted to Hitchcock’s tricks over 50 years after it was first shown.

On the whole it was a great evening. The film stood up well, though there were certain elements that are now a bit dated and got a laugh, such as the psychologist at the end explaining everything in detail so the audience have no doubts what went on. There was also a scene where Vera Miles discovers a tiny fragment of paper that just happened to have the exact information that proved the victim had died in that room, even though the killer had scrubbed and mopped the room thoroughly- how lucky!

It’s actually a film that still manages to create a sense of dread, which all good horror films must do. The plot is still effective and the performances still hold up today.

The real surprise though was the music. Hearing it live was a massive difference, the sound of the strings filling the large space of the Bridgewater Hall was wonderful, yet you never felt torn between watching and listening. The two blended together beautifully.

Apparently Herrman used a smaller orchestra to keep the costs down, so there was no percussion or brass section, it was mainly done with strings. This adds to his achievement though as you never miss them.

I’d love to see something bigger with a live orchestra, something like ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ would be amazing. My only quibble is that the screen was a little small for the space and the dialogue echoed round the auditorium a bit, but these are minor points.

It’s a very strange feeling going home humming the accompaniment to a brutal murder.

Mother, what have you done!


Manchester Pub Crawl

Let me just start by saying, I’m not much of a drinker.

I know one or two of my previous posts have included pubs, so I don’t want you to get the wrong idea that I’m some kind of alcoholic. Yes, I’ve had a few dodgy nights over the years, but as I get older I’m definitely getting more boring when it comes to recreational alcohol poisoning.

The idea behind this little adventure is, for my friend Mark and myself, to try and explore  few of the best craft pubs in Manchester – according to the Guardian newspaper.  I think these have been chosen due to the range of local beers and real ales rather than decor, facilities or the whims of fashion, etc.  There’s ten pubs on the list but we decided to limit ourselves to six for safety’s sake.  We also decided to start at 4pm and try to be finished by 7.30pm so we didn’t get caught up with the Saturday night clubbers.

Meeting Mark at Piccadilly Gardens we braved the icy winds and made our way to pub No 1 – the Molly House in the heart of Manchester’s gay village.

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Nice pub though a little short on seating.  One pint each and we met a nice couple from Levenshulme who wished us luck on our intrepid quest and took our picture while we were still fairly sensible.

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Onto pub No 2 – the Grey Horse on Portland Street, passing a poor woman having a seizure on Chorlton Street while being attended to by an ambulance crew.  Different feel here, a bit cramped as there were a few City supporters warming up before the match, but the landlady Jackie was very welcoming and helpful giving us directions to the rest of the pubs while she held the front door open to let out some of the heat.  Not as trendy as the Molly House, but it had very genuine feel to it as a real Mancunian pub.

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Pub No 3 – City Arms.  Managed to get a table in the corner, which was lucky, considering how busy it was.  People were friendly and seemed interested in our adventure.  Mark and I felt it was important to supplement the beer intake with some balanced nutrition at this point to aid our endurance (athlete tip there), so two large bags of crisps were included at this point.

Now we had a bit of a walk across Manchester to get to pub No 4 – the Marble Arch, but that was probably a good idea at this point .

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This was probably my favourite pub of the night.  Bit of a struggle to get a seat, but lots of loud coughing seems to help clear people away.  This pub has it’s own micro-brewery so it offers it’s own range of award-winning beers.  Ended up with a lovely couple from Huddersfield, on a day out in Manchester, and another young couple  up from Birmingham with their own list of pubs to complete.

Cheeseboard and a chat, boosted our morale as we set off for pub No 5 – The Fringe Bar.

Very different mood in the Fringe Bar as it was very busy but we could only see about three women so there was a lot of testosterone in the air.  What there wasn’t much of though was hair.  Mark and myself were probably the only blokes that weren’t bald/shaven-headed in there – made us feel positively foppish!

Got talking to a couple of red-faced people next to us who were drinking bright orange cider which they told us was 12% alcohol.  They advised us to avoid the Northern Quarter as it was very expensive, but that was where we were headed for pub No 6 – The Port Street Beer House.

The Northern Quarter of Manchester is renown for being the trendy, fashionable end of the city, with more of a cafe society and the Port Street Beer House fits right in.  The clientele were noticeably younger and cooler, and the range of beers was so large they had a beer menu.  Luckily the bar staff were more than happy to advise you based on your taste and preferences.  I ended up with a strong dark beer with a chocolate/chilli flavour, very nice but I wouldn’t want more than one.

We managed to squeeze into a booth where we were quickly joined by a young couple from Salford University and a group of middle-aged people who had a tray of smaller glasses of beer which turned out to be a taster selection – something we’ll have to try another time.  Great conversation and lovely people.  The young couple came to Manchester as students and are now living the Manchester dream with a city centre apartment and the all the bars and restaurants of the Northern Quarter right on their doorstep.

Officially, that was the tour done, but Mark wanted to show me one more place – the Soup Kitchen.

Walking past the bouncer through a little doorway we entered, what looked like a large student cafeteria.  Long benches fill the room with a bar at one end and a kitchen adjacent.  They offer a wide range of soups and beers and we went for both, but after six pints, I’d reached my limit and left most of my drink to concentrate on the lovely tomato soup in front of me.

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The Soup Kitchen is a bit quirky but had a nice feel to it and I’d definitely visit it again.

Walking back into the cold night air we walked back to Piccadilly and off back home.

We finished at about 9pm, so we’d blown our time limit, but it was a great afternoon/evening out.  We saw a fresh perspective on Manchester and met a lot of interesting people.  It does raise the question, though about the last four pubs on the list – it’d be a shame not to leave the list unfinished wouldn’t it?

Here’s the route we followed: