AD- Tile Giant X Victoria Baths

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know one of my favourite places in Manchester is Victoria Baths.

It won hearts on the BBC’s Restoration programme and my mum used to swim there as a young girl. It hosts pop up cinema events, weddings (here’s one I went to), vintage fairs and lots more. Last year they even managed to fill one of the pools and I went for a swim! I’ve also visited for a memorable travelling chair blog campaign here.

 

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I was thrilled to find out late last year that Tile Giant had paid a visit to Victoria Baths and had felt as inspired as I often do there. They used the Baths textures, motifs and colours to create a range of tiles.

One of the great things about this collaboration is that Victoria Baths get a percentage of each sale of the tiles too.

Which means the restoration can be continued, there is still so much work to be done!

vintage victorian tiles mood board green bathroom idea

I’ve created a mood board with a selection of the tiles, this is the type of inspiration I’d be looking at if we had a bigger bathroom. I’d use the subway tiles vertically and perhaps even have an ombre effect going on, as there is more than one shade of green tile. I love the green tiles at Victoria Baths and to be able to create my own version of it for a dream bathroom project would be amazing.

victoria baths tile giant vintage tiles

I’d fill it with natural textures and lots of plants, creating a lushly layered effect. Green on green, on green. The floor would be the Tile Giant X Victoria Baths Terrazzo style tiles, a timeless look in flooring.

The mockup above is the first time I’ve done one of these, I know it’s not perfect. I really wanted you to get a feel of what I would create.

Taking influences from the tones of tiled floors in Rome and combining them with the leafy greens. I imagine this bathroom would be somewhere I’d never want to leave.

terrazzo tiles for bathroom

Used here;

I’d love to know what you think of this range and my ideas?

To bring home a little bit of a grand Victorian building and live in it every day? Yes, please.

vintage tiles victoria baths and tile giant

Most Inspiring Places to Write in Manchester

It’s actually rare, as in once a year maybe, that I work on my laptop somewhere other than home.

But, I do carry notebooks everywhere, and I’ll happily sit and write free-hand for an hour or two providing the environment works for me.

So here are my top five places to write (digitally or by hand) in Manchester. In no particular order;

  1. Waterstones Cafe- to sit amongst all the books on the top floor of Waterstones on Deansgate with a warm drink and a blank page waiting to be filled is an exquisite feeling. The walls are literally (geddit?!) heaving with inspiration. I must admit the conversations I am unintentionally evesdropper of can be quite inspiring too.
  2. John Rylands Library/Central Library- either of these beautiful buildings is inspiring. One rather magical and gothic. The other a beautiful cross-section of the people of Manchester and the history you can almost feel in its walls.
  3. Leaf- I just love the layout of this tea rooms. There are nooks where you almost feel you are the only person enjoying the service. Housed in a former art gallery this is peaceful and perfect for writing but with the added bonus of table service and 50+ teas to choose from. You can also really spread out if you need to, great if you’re at the research stage of a project.
  4. The Art of Tea Didsbury- small but perfectly formed. Cosy and with great food, it even has a bookshop at the back if you need a quick bookish fix. It feels bohemian in here, almost as if from another era. Perfect for summoning your creative muse.
  5. Chapter One Books- this independent bookshop and cafe has typewriters dotted around, books as art and an ornate water fountain (a proper one, not one you’d find in an office) what more do you need? Oh yes, excellent coffee and cake, vegan cake too. The vegan charry brownie is delicious and has fueled me a few times when I’ve stopped by the spot in the Northern Quarter.

Where do you find inspiring?

leaf on portland street in manchester tea bar
Leaf on Portland Street Manchester

Northern Lights Writers Conference & Quotes on Writing

Last month I attended my first writers conference.

Held at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, the Northern Lights Writers Conference promised inspiring talks on the job of writing and the future landscape of being a writer.

northern lights writing conference manchester writing

The keynote speaker was Joanne Harris, known as @Joannechocolat on Twitter due to her arguably most well-known novel, that wound up as a feature film starring Juliette Binoche in 2000.

Now, this is the part where I have to admit I’ve never seen Chocolat (I’m not a Johnny Depp fan) or read any of Joanne Harris’s books. I do follow her on Twitter, she is remarkably down to earth and uses Twitter socially, as it was designed, which is hugely refreshing in itself.

I found her keynote encouraging and inspiring, the fact that she is from Barnsley and still lives there, I think speaks volumes about the sort of person she is.

Joanne is very quotable, here are some I noted down on the day;

  • On being before your time, “When it doesn’t fit into a genre, it can mean it’s just so new that publishers don’t get it”.
  • “Don’t settle into a comfort zone, you end up being trapped in one genre”. And in a similar vein, “Be afraid of the safe option. When there is a risk, there is a challenge and the personal rewards are greater.”
  • “Nothing that you write is ever wasted”.
  • When talking about why writers write when the income is most likely going to be low, “For something that sustains us, we are spinning straw into gold. Stories stimulate imagination, foster empathy and connection, make the reader ask questions about their world and allow the reader to feel unique again”.

Of course, the day wasn’t all about Joanne 😉 although I do plan to pick up a copy of Chocolat soon!

There were panel discussions on writers pay, performing your writing, writing for radio and pitching your idea to an agent. Some of these were on at the same time so I couldn’t attend everything, but the ones I did manage to get to were informative and useful.

On a personal note, I was fighting my imposter syndrome on the morning of the conference. But as it turns out, so was everyone else I spoke to. It was brilliant just to be able to talk about my book with a variety of people who were as equally thrilled to talk about theirs. Not giving too much away of course!

I believe this is the 5th Northern Light conference and I’d really recommend it. See you there next year?

 

Pin this to remind you….

joanne harris quote on writing

Cold Feet Filming Locations

Are you missing Cold Feet yet?

I know I am! I wish they’d make longer series’. If ever there was an advert for visiting Manchester, then Cold Feet is it.

If, like me, you are pining for a Cold Feet hit, then how about visiting some of the filming locations? Plan a pilgrimage to see for yourself where some of the scenes took place with my tips below.

I’m focussing on the most recent series in this post, Season Seven. Many of the locations also appear in previous seasons, like the homes where the characters live.

If you’ve not seen S7 yet then please stop reading! Come back when you’ve watched it as this article contains spoilers!

Cold Feet Homes

The homes of the characters in Cold Feet are such a big part of the show and its history. Most of the characters homes are in Didsbury. The exterior shots are filmed at properties on Kingston Road in East Didsbury.

Meanwhile, the interior shots of the characters homes are despite appearances, really convincing sets. At least, they are sets in S7, filmed at Space Studios in Gorton. I’m unsure of the early days of Cold Feet, let me know if you have info on this.

cold feet filming locations

I parked along this road when I was studying for my PGCE at the old Didsbury campus of MMU. Recently, on my way to yoga, I spotted the actual homes of the characters on an early morning wander down here. Unfortunately, there were so many cars parked around that I couldn’t get a good shot.

This home (pictured above) is a little further up the road, and possibly even prettier. There are a wide variety of styles of homes along Kingston Road and it’s very close to another filming location, yes you guessed it, my yoga venue!

Outdoor Locations

Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens has been used throughout the Cold Feet years. In S7 it features the gardens of The Parsonage (my yoga venue) for the very last scene of the series. Normally you are not allowed on the grass, but they obviously made an exception for filming.

didsbury manchester cold feet filming locations

The sunken square in front of Great Northern building is home to the vow renewal towards the end of the series.

The Whitworth Park & Gallery Cafe featured in the episode where Karens daughter, Olivia opts to have an abortion. This was one of many episodes that brought on the waterworks for me.

Adam gets drenched outside Oi Polloi on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter. And his office is a real, it’s digital media agency Social Chain.

Cold Feet Coffee’s, Cocktails and Pints.

Adam, Pete and David’s characters local pub is The Woodstock in Didsbury. It is somewhere I’ve never been but might visit now (for research purposes, obvs!).

Cocktail bars and coffee shops featured in this series, perhaps more so than ever before. Cottonopolis and Grand Pacific, are both locations for the Karen & co’s cocktail evenings. I can vouch for Cottonopolis, the cocktails are gorgeous and the food is unexpectedly outstanding!

Minimalist style, cafe Foundation Coffee House is where Karen has it out with her new diva’ish author.

A favourite spot of mine in the Northern Quarter is Chapter One Books, which features heavily in the season. Scenes filmed here include Karen meeting her new love interest (let’s call him Mr Beard), and the unicorn moment between Adam and Tina. The book signing is also in Chapter One and it’s a place we come to associate with Karen’s character.

Karen has a date with the beardy guy at Australasia.

cold feet victoria baths

Victoria Baths plays host to the book launch. Victoria Baths is everywhere at the moment, the Asda Christmas advert and of course Peaky Blinders too.

Jenny’s hotel is the Midland, although this doesn’t feature as much as in previous seasons.

So, now you know! Will you be investigating the Cold Feet filming locations I’ve mentioned?

I love spotting places that I know in the show. It makes me more emotionally invested!

where in manchester is cold feet filmed

 

In Support of Independents

Seeking out independent shops is something I love to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I do shop online too, but there is something very special (even old-fashioned) in visiting an actual shop, owned and run by actual humans. The personal service, for one thing, owners will get to know you by name.

I find the individual tastes of the shop owners are so vividly executed too. Through stock and merchandising, the independent owner creates their vision. So much so, that when going back into a regular high street chain, it can feel dull, dreary and despite their best efforts, and bigger budgets, boring.

Today I’m sharing three independents in the North West that are carving out their own places on the high street.

In a world where there are so many Goliath’s, I’m all for supporting the David’s. The Underdogs, the dreamers. The black sheep.

These shops that have been created with the hope and vision that we all don’t have to (or want to) buy from the same place, wear the same things or follow the same crowd.

Championing the maker, supporting the local economy and keeping the high street alive. There are so many high streets littered with betting shops and charity shops now. Indie’s will, if we let them, save us.

Featured indie shops

  • 49 Hilton Street/Beaumont Organic

Situated in the thriving Northern Quarter in Manchester (on 49 Hilton Street no less!) is the new home of Beaumont Organic. Before opening at number 49 this ethical womenswear brand was based online. Now they continue to sell their products internationally via the website and have a beautiful 3-storey shop too. Beaumont Organic create “contemporary conscious clothing”, the shop also stocks smaller products such as ceramics, candles and some gorgeous leather handbags. Because the shop is spread across three floors it is the ideal spot for workshops and events too, jewellery making and macrame are just a couple of the recent workshops they’ve facilitated with local makers.

49 Hilton Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 2EF and at https://www.beaumontorganic.com/

organic and ethical leather goods in MAnchester

  • Lomas & Lomas

Further afield but well worth a day trip is Lomas and Lomas in the beautiful village of Hayfield, Derbyshire. This is the brainchild of husband and wife team Sharon and Garry Lomas. Previously working in an office Sharon developed different side hustles to enable her to be more creative. Gary is a photographer and eventually, they came up with this idea that they could combine their creative talents in a photography gallery and homeware shop. All the homeware is developed from ideas, imagery and themes from Garry’s photography. They also sell ranges from local makers too.

The Old Butchers Shop, Market Street, Hayfield, Derbyshire SK22 2EW and at https://www.lomasandlomas.co.uk/

independent shop hayfield

  • Form Lifestyle Store

Back in the Northern Quarter again, and into Form which is housed in the sweetest building that feels so unexpected from where it is situated. It actually has a special heritage plaque outside on this row. It is the last surviving building of the one up one down type, built in 1787.  Again, this is the creation of a visionary couple. I love the holistic and artisan feel of this shop. There are loads of plants around the place and the most beautiful wrought iron spiral staircase leading to a workshop area upstairs. It feels like a real treat visiting Form, like a special secret place, but one that I actually think you should all visit!

6 Bradley Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1EH and at https://form-shop.com/

form lifestyle plant shelf pretty planters exposed brick

What are the local independent shops where you live like?

Do you share my views on the future of our high streets? Let me know in the comments!

in support of indie's