Manchester is one of my favourite cities, if not my favourite. Last year, Jake and I had our first weekend away together in Manchester to see Catfish and the Bottlemen at Castlefield Bowl but we didn’t have much of a chance to sit down and have some nice food and a drink somewhere, but this time we most definitely did.
We headed to Manchester at 1pm on Friday and grabbed a Subway to fuel our journey to the Travelodge. We eventually got there after going to the wrong Travelodge first, I mean, why name them so similarly? Manchester Arena Travelodge and Manchester Arena Central Travelodge? Come on. But the room was lovely and I’d even had a little discount code online to get it a wee bit cheaper.
After glamming ourselves up a little, we took a 10 minute walk into Deansgate to The Botanist. My Mum and Dad rave about this place after their visits to Manchester, and so I had to book Jake and I a table to see what all the fuss was about.
Walking inside we were greeted instantly and shown to our table; a quiet little space away from the main bar which would gradually become more and more busy as the night went on. The décor was beautiful and fitted with the botanical theme; shabby chic cupboards filled with bits and bobs and quaint white wooden chairs. Even the loos matched the theme with plants draped above the mirrors behind large vintage sinks.
The menu had a huge variety of choice, but Jake and I were just looking for a light bite, and so Jake went for cheesy chips and I got some sweet potato fries which were seasoned with peri peri salt so had a really nice kick to them. We also ordered a portion of pork crackling, which comes served with chilli and spring onion and a little wheelbarrow of sweet apple sauce and I can honestly say it’s the nicest pork crackling I’ve ever had (sorry Mum).
I was spoiled for choice with The Botanist’s extensive cocktail list so I asked the waitress for recommendations and she was happy to help. I wanted something gin or vodka based with fruity flavours; the waitress recommended a Peach and Apple Pot. Ketal One Vodka, apple juice, lemon juice, fresh rosemary and peach syrup. It came served in a little terracotta plant pot with dainty little flowers on top. When the waitress brought it to the table she poured something into it onto dry ice which made it smoke – I really love when presentation and thought of flavours goes into a drink because it makes the experience 100x better and it also means, as a student, you don’t mind paying £8 for a drink when it’s beautiful.
After an incredibly successful first trip to The Botanist, it’s safe to say Jake and I will be returning to have a go at a main, because if the starters and nibbles were anything to go by, they’re going to be divine.
We got a taxi to Castlefield Bowl, where Blink 182 had rescheduled their Manchester Arena gig after the tragic terror attack. Support came from The Front Bottoms (childish inappropriate giggle), followed by Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls. FT&TSS made a lovely little speech about Safer Gigs For Women, a charity they work with that aim to make gigs a safe place for all, where everyone is respected and no-one is a victim of abuse, because ‘this is a punk rock gig; this is our church and we leave that shit at the door.’
Castlefield was a sea of 90s kids, all together in a venue to enjoy the music of a band they grew up with. Travis Barker is one hell of a drummer, that’s for sure. The entire night just had a nostalgic feel to it, even the new stuff makes you feel like you’ve known it forever. All my favourites got played, from All The Small Things to What’s My Age Again, along with Sober and I Miss You, which Travis had dedicated to the ladies. There was a video projection on the back which flitted between the gig and blink videos, which meant little short-arse me had something to look at too. Towards the end of the show Mark Hoppus invited a newly-engaged couple on stage and announced that the guy was going to play bass on the last song… what? He bloody did it though. A phenomenal finale saw Blink walk of the stage and Travis Barker’s 13-year-old son Landon perform an epic drum solo, I mean, he was taught by the best right?
On the Saturday we got up and went for a good old traditional ‘Spoons Breakfast in Printworks which set us up for a spot of shopping. I picked up a vinyl book in Urban Outfitters for £1, yes, a quid; as well as a new Rimmel mascara and the Labyrinth soundtrack on vinyl, my all-time favourite movie and the beautiful vocals of my hero David Bowie. Jake bagged himself a navy Fred Perry tshirt because one can never have too many Freds; it’s a really nice piece and not a typical Fred Perry t-shirt like the ringer t-shirts or the crewnecks – it has the twin tip around the collar and sleeves which is a really nice touch. Oh and of course we went and took our obligatory photo booth selfies to go with our collection of Manchester photo booth selfies, despite Jake’s protests (typical boy, he loves it really).
I have to say I’ve had a really lovely weekend, visited some beautiful places, dined in a gorgeous restaurant and saw the classic pop-punk Blink 182, all in the best company.