(Beautiful South)

Thoughts on leaving Manchester.

I’ve now (successfully) completed my project in Manchester; the client’s signed it off as complete and is happy.

As a contractor, I guess that’s as good as it gets.

Now, after spending four days a week for two and a quarter years in the world’s first industrial city, I figured it’s appropriate to consider the things I’ll miss:

My colleagues – spending two years in any company tends to ‘embed’ you, and I was very fortunate to have made some good friends and enjoyed some good times.

Manchester’s Northern Quarter – a really ‘buzzing’ bohemian atmosphere, some great bars and restaurants serving some excellent food and drink, specifically:

Having a ‘local’ bar (Terrace on Thomas Street) that serves Thornbridge ‘Jaipur’ on draught – still my favourite British beer

Having a local Beer-Monger (Beermoth on Tib Street), great beers stocked and sold by knowledgeable guys, Jeremy and Scott

Awesome food at Almost Famous, Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn, This and That, Solita, The Blue Pig

Being five minutes’ walk from Manchester’s Arndale Centre – while I’m not in any way a shopaholic, it’s sometimes convenient to have a massive shopping complex on your doorstep.

Similarly having a 3D Imax cinema five minutes away.

Virgin trains – it’s almost impossible to imbue rail travel with any sense of ‘glamour’, but Virgin come close.

The Holiday Inn Express (HIX) – again, while far from glamorous, the HIX is clean, convenient, has fast WiFi and a great team of staff who became my surrogate family for three nights a week.

Manchester’s Christmas Markets – okay so it was only for six weeks each year, the majority of what the stalls sold was tat, the gluhwein was watered down and overpriced, and the food both over-priced and barely edible. But it brightened the City streets and provided a welcome excuse to a wander round the city on a cold December evening. That said, I’m thinking that Val and I might make a weekend trip to Manchester later in 2014 to visit the markets.

The flipside, things I won’t miss about living away, are much easier to list:

Missing my two favourite ladies – Val and Layla our Burmese cat

Living out of a suitcase

Dining alone

Living on takeaways

Hotel beds

Beggars – As well as the guy I christened ‘the scowler’ who sat next to the ATM opposite the HIX, it was a rare evening when I wasn’t accosted by at least one beggar. The highest tally was six in one evening, but that included one guy who approached me on my way out and on my way back.

Manchester’s weather – it’s not called ‘the rainy city’ for nothing. As the Beautiful South sang “If rain makes Britain great, then Manchester is greater”

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So now I am actively ‘seeking my next challenge’; hopefully one that doesn’t take me away from home for extended periods.

There’s a gallery of some of my Manchester photos here.

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