Albert Docks, Ashbourne, Bills Restaurant, Blue Pills, Brother and Bones, Chester, Cote Brasserie, Knutsford, Liverpool, Manchester, RavenEye, Red's True BBQ, Rival Sons, Sheffield, Sheffield Winter Garden, Shrewsbury, the Malmaison, The Mersey
I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t had a great summer compared with previous years and while autumn is my favourite time of the year it would have been nice to see the sun a bit more, considering that we’ve just had our garden landscaped so that we could sit out and enjoy the weather. I think I can count on one hand how many times we sat out and enjoyed a cool drink or ice cream. Oh well, hopefully autumn won’t let us down.
For me autumn is always jam packed full of activities, but it’s also a time to reflect back on what I got up to over the summer and this year we spent time going on as many day trips as possible as well as enjoying as much live music as we could. We spent time in some of our favourite places like Manchester, Chester, Knutsford and Shrewsbury as well as discovering some new favorites in the shape of Liverpool, Sheffield and Ashbourne.
As usual we spent our time walking, viewing the architecture and discovering new restaurants. Only now as well has having lunch or dinner out we’ve taken a fancy to going out for breakfast, which is something we picked up on our trip to America last year. Pancakes and streaky bacon have been featuring heavily of late!
Liverpool: Back in June we spent the night in Liverpool at one of our favourite hotels having found a good overnight deal and we were struck by how amazing the architecture is in this beautiful city.
Luckily the weather was kind for us so as well as enjoying a nice walk along the Mersey and around the docks we also managed to pick up some great bargains in the sales.
There has been a lot of redevelopment in recent years in the city centre and there are some really great shops to peruse and wander around.
Knutsford: After leaving Liverpool we then stopped off in Knutsford as it’s a lovely little town with some great pubs, cafes and restaurants. However, the main reason for us visiting was so we could go to our favourite supermarket. I know that sounds a bit indulgent, but Booths reminds me of the Lakes and the quality of the food and drink is well worth going out of our way. So while my husband browses the beer, cider and wine aisle I’m usually busy loading up the spicy pineapple chutney, Garstang blue cheese, garlic nan bread and fluffy potato cakes. Visiting Knutsford is also a good excuse to see if The Bath House (another Lakeland shop, can you spot a theme here?) is having a sale so I can pick up some cheap bath products.
Sheffield: We recently visited Sheffield for a gig and although I spent three years studying and living in Barnsley I realized that in all that time I had only ever visited Sheffield City Centre once. As students we spent most of our time in Meadowhall, but it was really good to go back and explore more of the city and again Sheffield has some beautiful buildings.
The Sheffield Winter Garden is one of the biggest glasshouses to be built in the UK and is a really cool place to hang out, enjoy a coffee, do a little craft shopping or admire the steel works in the museum.
Ashbourne: Ashbourne is a new discovery and while it’s not the biggest town to visit, it’s a pretty little place to spend the morning browsing antique shops, expensive clothes shops or to simply enjoy a coffee. We came across a brand called Lexington and although the quality looked amazing it’s not going to be on the shopping list anytime soon as the checked shirt that caught my eye retails for £125… ouch.
If you’re visiting Manchester or Liverpool then I can recommend the following restaurants.
Buttermilk and blueberry pancakes with streaky bacon and a rich mocha is the perfect way to start the day. Or if you fancy lunch you can’t beat their lunch time deal of 3 courses for £12.
On a recent trip to Manchester we discovered a smart little French brasserie offering a lunch menu of 2 courses for £10 or 3 courses for £12 so of course we couldn’t refuse. We also discovered they have French Toast on the menu so I can see a breakfast rendezvous happening soon.
This is another new find after we came across the restaurant by accident last weekend and it was purely nostalgia for our American/Canadian trip that dragged us inside. Me for the burger on a brioche bun and the husband for the best beef ribs he’s ever had (The Flying Pig in Gas Town). A truly epic burger and definitely worth a visit just to see the massive onion rings!
As well as getting in plenty of shopping – as the summer sales were in full swing while we were visiting most places – we were also lucky enough to see four amazing bands over the summer.
Rival Sons rocked back in town in August and so we enjoyed our second show of the year rocking along to Secret, Torture and Electic Man to name but a few of their songs. The guys are due to record their new album shortly before they head back out on tour with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath so it’s going to be a long wait till they’re back headlining their own tour.
We also managed to see a Swedish rock band called Blue Pills for the second time this year. Lead singer Elin Larsson has the most incredible voice and they put on an awesome show and even the fact that it was a Wednesday night didn’t put a damper on things.
We were also lucky enough to see British rockers RavenEye. I’d never heard of this band, who only formed in 2014, but after seeing their dynamic performance back in April before the last Blue Pills show I was ecstatic to see them return to support Blue Pills again in July. A successful European tour supporting Slash has been extended and this exciting band is now heading over to the USA and Canada in the coming weeks with Slash. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they’re back touring in the UK as I’ve become a big fan.
And finally last weekend we caught back up with Brother and Bones who we last saw opening for Temperance Movement a couple of years back and they’re even better than we remembered. The new album is getting some serious play time both in my car and on my phone at work!
What’s been the highlight of your summer?