Friday, 4 July 2014

Monty's Pizzeria & Bar: A Fresh Face In Salford.

I'm a proud Mancunian & a lover of all things local. I eat local, shop local and try to support local businesses. This week I stopped by a new place in Salford that I've been meaning to try for a few weeks now.

Years ago some parts of Salford were thought of as no-go zones, where a fear crime forced house prices to plummet, leaving many people trapped in their homes in negative equity. So in 2003 property giant 'Urban Splash' came up with the idea of turning hundreds of traditional Victorian style terraces into fresh modern homes, and with the help of local authority and other agencies work begin on what was to be a multi-million pound regeneration of the Langworthy-Seedley district that was to stretch far beyond the 108 'upside down houses' now known as Chimney Pot Park. There are now brand new local shops on Langworthy Road, both primary & secondary schools have been demolished and rebuilt and there are modern community centres offering classes & activities for all. What more could an area need?

Despite the great changes in Langworthy, there were still few places you could go for a casual drink, where the surroundings were equally as vibrant as the homes built within it. Local couple 'M&M' decided that if no one else was to invest in the idea, then they would... as so arrived Monty's.

Monty's, which is less than 2 miles from both Media City UK & Manchester City centre, is a small contemporary pizzeria on Langworthy Road that offers great food, a variety of drinks including specialist bottled beers, and a warm atmosphere. Named after the couples' beloved dog, this place has been created for the community. 

We visited on a Wednesday to try out their midweek deal, 2 homemade pizzas and a bottle of wine for £20. A deal that is well worth its cost. We chose the Corleone from the specials board which was topped with prosciutto, mushroom & bacon, and one from the menu topped with prosciutto, rocket, sun blushed tomatoes and parmesan. The dough is thick but light, and with a decorative swirl of balsamic to finish they were quite simply, a delight.

After enjoying our pizzas & large portion of Olives to start, it would've been rude not to try a dessert, even if it meant we could only manage a shared one, so we stretched our stomachs to squeeze in this amazing chocolate brownie ice-cream sundae!

Monty's don't have 'house wine', even on their 'deals', so on recommendation we went for a bottle of 2013 Douglas Green Sauvignon Blanc which went down far too easily. So easily in fact that we actually had 2! 

Their chalkboard bar displays their small cocktail menu, humorously named 'Tiki Bugger' and contains a rather Salfordian sounding 'Sex Ont' Beach'. I tried the Mai Tai, which after all that wine was quite refreshing.

After our meal we sat on the benches outside the front of the bar with the owners, and learnt how Monty's came to be. It was fascinating to hear the story of a young couple who feel like their area has so much more to offer than the reputation it's struggled to shake off over the last 10 years. They took a risk by opening Monty's only 3 months ago, not knowing how it would be perceived by the local people in a bid to bring more life to this ever-changing area of Salford. For that, I wish them the very best of luck in the future... and I for one, will be definitely be visiting again soon.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

YSP: Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a place that I've been meaning to visit for some time now, and today I finally ticked it off the list.

It took just over an hour to get there (driving from Manchester) and the weather was great. With our picnic packed away and Dora safely on her lead we set off around the park with a map in hand. (Available free from the car park!)

The grounds are largely used for sheep grazing so dogs must be kept on their leads at all times, there are also some parts where dogs cannot go at all so we did have to miss a bit of the experience, mainly where the cattle graze. Nontheless there was plenty for us to see, and if you feel like you want to add some culture into your walk this is the place to be!

Each artist is introduced with signs around the park and their individual sculptures are clearly labelled and explained to provide a full education of the work. Some are striking, others quite bizzare, but interesting all the same.

There are several different pathways to follow and so you can pick your own route around the park, and with a chapel and a couple of different galleries open to the public there is plenty of variety too. Some of the walkways take you through beautifully well kept gardens - an ideal place for your picnic, but if you didn't pack your lunch don't worry, there are 2 caf├ęs to chose from too with a selection of gorgeous looking cakes and other snacks.

I won't share too many photos as I don't want to spoil your experience but here is a sneak peek of what's on offer:

Think you've seen it all before? Probably not.. YSP commission different artists throughout the year so some of the work available to see here changed quite often. You can check out their website for information on what's on throughout the year.

The car park is huge and is controlled by ANPR cameras (automatic number plate recognition) which is pretty impressive, it's zaps you on your way in and all you need to do is visit one of the pay machines at any point during your visit and tap in your registration number. The machine wil calculate your parking cost..which is a maximum of £8 for the full day. It's much easier than having to go back to the car to 'pay & display'.

We really enjoyed our visit to YSP and we will definitely return later in the year to see how it changes, especially if this lovely weather decides to stick around!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cheshire County Show

I woke up this morning and realised I had nothing planned at all, part of me considered laying in and just taking it easy for a day but then I looked outside and saw the sunshine and before I knew it I was up, showered and in the car, on my way to Cheshire County Show in Knutsford.

The traffic management on the roads around the show ground was great. The ground was really well signposted and they have a dedicated lane for show traffic on the main road to avoid congestion to other road users. The parking is also really well organised with several huge fields full of volunteers assisting the organisation of a LOT of vehicles! Oh and parking is FREE!

The tickets are prices at £17 for an adult, £8 for a child between 5-15, £14 for students & Oaps, or £35 for a family ticket which allows entrance for 2 adults and 2 children. Kids under 5 go FREE, as do Dogs!

I initially thought that £17 was a little on the pricey side, but once I got into the show ground and realised how big the show actually is, £17 was really money well spent, and after all I'd already got free parking and free dog entry for Dora! I arrived at 12:30pm and left at 4:30pm & although I saw a bit of everything I could have easily stayed for longer! Note to self for next year: get there earlier.

I didn't bother with a programme as I knew I wouldn't really have that much time and if I'd have seen the full list of events I'd have been gutted that I couldn't do the full 2 days! I did however how a sneak peak at the one being read by the lady sat next to me at the main ring, and they were very comprehensive with a full show ground map inside too. The programmes were being sold for £3.50.

Here is a photo of one of the many map stands dotted around the ground so you don't get lost!

The list of exhibitors is exhaustive but there truley is something for everyone. From the most recent fast car, to a range of a tractors, fairground rides for young and old, food vans a plenty (and that includes a champagne & pimms van!), home DIY stands, Stabling & garden equipment, everything equestrian related you could dream of and plenty for dogs too!

Are you feeling tired by all of that?? I hope not.. Because there is so much more to mention. There are shows to watch for dogs, pigs, goats, cattle, poultry and even EGGS! Yes, eggs. 

Not to mention the thousands of horses that enter various shows at Cheshire Show each year. We watched side saddle, heavy horses, young stock, pony club games and show jumping - and that only covers a few of the classes available to see!

There were so many other things to see at Cheshire Show, we saw a rather educational ferret display, an impressive Police dog sisplay and an awe inspiring motorcross stunt show!

There are wooden benches around all of the arenas and some under cover tiered seating at the main arena all of which have a great view. There is also plenty of space for you to sit with a picnic blanket like I did whilst I ate my strawberries & hot Belgium chocolate!

Dora & I had a great day out today and would recommend Cheshire County Show to anyone! It's on tomorrow (18th June) too, so what are you waiting for? Get Out And See Stuff! 

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Friday, 13 June 2014

My PBs

I decided to create a page specifically for my Personal Best times. Not because I'm a show off, I really don't have anything to show off about... I've created this page to keep a track of my personal achievements to give myself something to aim for. I really believe that you can do anything that you put your mind to, you just have to know what your aiming for...

2 miles -  18 mins (4/4/14)

5k - 32:24 (20/3/14)

4 miles - 43:36  (25/3/14)

10k - 1:22:24 (30/3/14)

Meet the team with 3 days to go!

We only have 3 days to go now until we start our Run To Remember in the memory of PC Nicola Hughes!

Team mix & match have been doing differing levels of training for this challenge, whether that's practice runs, long walks or even aqua aerobics we have all been counting down the days and preparing ourselves for the coming 125 day feat!

Chill Factore - Snow Fun with Kieran!

I know it was ages ago but do you remember when it was Christmas? Well I promise it will be here again before you know it!

Back in the December days of festivities I took a trip to the Chill Factore in Manchester to see the big man himself in his grotto, whilst taking advantage of a session of sledging with my nephew! What a fabulous day!