Asleep on a Sunbeam: Manchest-arrr is boiling.

Woah. I mean, seriously, like, totally, woah. Manchester, what the hell is that super bright white and yellow ball in the sky that makes everything go really hot?

The end of the world must be near, because the unspeakable has happened: For the second time this year already, Manchester has seen a spell of sunny weather. And by that I mean not just the usual sunny and grey and humid half-arsed Mancunian “meh” attempt at summer, but scorching hot sun, upper 20ish temperatures, bright blue skies, and not a single cloud, in best continental end-of-May-beginning-of-outdoor-swimming-season tradition. It’s taken four years in this city for me to witness this kind of weather, and my mind is genuinely blown.


In search of some cooling on this particularly hot weekend, we went on a little excursion down to Chorlton Water Park. I wasn’t expecting to find any particularly nice spots (location is everything for me!), but after we had cycled round the lake a couple of times, we did indeed find a nice shady bit of grass, right next to the water on the southern side of the lake. I never thought I would say this, but for the first time in years, I didn’t actually miss the continental European summer – sun, water, ducks and trees made me feel like I had just stepped out my parent’s front door*. After a failed attempt to complete the Big Issue sudoku, I decided to not bother doing anything and promptly fell asleep in the grass, while my companion was taking fancy macro pictures of fireflies.

An hour and a mildly sunburned shoulder later, I awoke from my comatose sleep. We could no longer resist the call of the one sunny day staple we had yet to devour: Ice cream. Thanks to impressive Twitter research skills, my companion had already found out that Ginger’s Comfort Emporium had parked up on Beech Road that day – only a short bike ride away from us. I had sadly missed out on Ginger’s tasty treats at the Ancoat’s Ice Cream Festival mess last year due to massive queues, but we were much luckier this time and found the van calmly waiting for our arrival. What happened next is all a little blurry, but it involves rhubarb crumble ice cream, rum, lime & ginger ice cream, extreme deliciousness, and an owl, and culminated in me spending my last £3 on quintuple chocolate caramel banoffee brownies. Or so.

What a day.

* Well, and walked around 30 minutes up that bloody hill to get to a lake, but let’s just stick with the short version for the purpose of nostalgia, yes?

Something About Airplanes: A day out at the airport

Back in June, when the weather was all nice and sunny… haha, just kidding, of course it wasn’t. Anyway. Back in June, I spent a day out at the airport. As you do.

There are many British stereotypes lingering in the minds of Germans, ready to surface and be proved true whenever you do something that could be considered slightly odd. A penchant for weird hobbies is one of those stereotypes, and, no offense, but you Brits do like to confirm them on a regular basis. Rolling cheese down a hill and chasing after it in a potentially fatal race? Check. Playing a game that lasts over several days, incorporates lunch and tea, with inexplicable rules, where half of the team on the pitch don’t actually seem to participate? Check. Check. Check. Check. A drinking game that has actual rules and standard-sized equipment you can purchase from the shop? (Okay I know, beer pong is an American invention, but popular enough here in the UK). Check. And finally, spending hours in a crowded car park watching planes take off and landing, while you’re equipped with a radio, expensive binoculars and even more expensive cameras? Ch-omg-eck.

Back in the olden days, plane spotting made some kind of sense: those flying things were miracles of modern engineering, flights were hardly affordable, tons of metal defying gravity was something unusual and unbelievably exciting. And while the latter certainly is still the case, I cannot imagine how anyone could get a thrill out of watching planes driving around the runway and noting the different types of planes while taking photos.

The Airport Hotel is a pub popular with plane spotters, as it is conveniently located right next to the runway, with its spacious beer garden only separated from the huge machines by a wire fence. As we went there on a Sunday afternoon it was completely packed out with spotters and families alike. The beer garden had a rather bizarre fun fair meets playground meets military training feel to it, as children were playing on the bouncy castle and the swings, waving the toy machine guns their loving parents had bought them at the nearby stall, while plane spotters with giant binoculars and radios were gathering at the fence. Probably the only place in the world where parents are happy to let their children run around in close proximity to men with binoculars.

Unfortunately the food ordering process (order on the kitchen door, then wait for the cook to come out and shout your number) was a little confusing and the food leaving the kitchen didn’t look particularly appealing (ok, it looked awful), so we only had a quick drink while watching the plane spotters. Every takeoff was preluded by the approaching of the plane, then turning to have the turbines point right at the beer garden while causing storm-like hot wind – this, and the deafening noises, made me wonder why on earth anyone would want to spend more than a few minutes in that place, let alone a family day out. I have yet to understand the appeal of planes.

Minimize Me! Day 4 & 5

I’m still on the minifood! And still alive, obviously. I skipped breakfast on day 3 and had a random selection of mini foodstuff for lunch (mini sub with a tiny little sausage shaped smoked cheese, cherry tomatoes, a small can of lemonade…) – the real highlight of the day however was the afternoon which was filled with teeny tiny little mini versions of biscuits. Along with my mini cup of coffee, I had the smallest chocolate digestives and incredibly realistic mini jammie dodgers, which are just adorable. Mini biscuits = mega win.

My rather lovely dinner consisted of an omelette with mushrooms, (over)cooked in a ridiculously tiny frying pan, and a ramekin full of salad.

Danger Bear!!

Overcooked omelette on a saucer. I could probably call this art. The shot glass contains water, not vodka… just saying.

After dinner I decided to decorate the remaining cupcakes with butter cream frosting – can you possibly imagine how many mini cupcakes you have to eat to feel sick? Oh boy.

They did look pretty though – pink, green and peanut butter (yes, that’s a colour. Peanut butter.)

Unsurprisingly, my breakfast the next morning was nothing but a small pot of Petit Filous (pictured after I had eaten it… my blog is thrilling isn’t it!) and a mini cup of coffee.

Lunch was boring (tomato soup and a mini quorn sausage roll… or 2 mini quorn sausage rolls, if you cut them in half!), so we’re moving straight onto after work drinks – it’s Friday after all! I had (after a couple of real size pints I must admit) a tiny little half pint of Kronenbourg from a lovely little glass which tried to look just like its bigger brother. Aww.

Thanks to Josh’s left arm (pictured) and the fabtastic Clare (of Words & Fixtures-and-so-many-other-places-on-the-webs-where-people-write-things-fame… that’s what people actually call her!*) who I bumped into on my way home and provided rather marvelous company for the duration of this tiny drink. Seriously, you should go out and party with Josh’s left arm one day, he’s hilarious.

Eventually I made it back home and got ready to assemble not one, but TWO mini burgers. TWO EFFIN BURGERS. Complete with tomatoes, lettuce, cheese and gherkins. Mini gluttony strikes again.


I want a girl with big hands and a tiiiiiiny burger.

Tonight, The Bear will appear in your dreams.

* No it’s not.

Minimize Me! Day 2 & 3

Due to external circumstances, I wasn’t able to post day 2 and 3 of project Minimize Me earlier – apologies.

I have been eating almost exclusively mini-foods in the past few days, but I am nowhere near starving. The great thing about eating tiny things from tiny plates and tiny bowls is: you can always have seconds. And thirds. And fourths. The other day I ate FIVE CUPCAKES. Okay, they were about the size of my thumbnail each, but hey – five cupcakes! I’m wallowing in mini-gluttony! Also, I can eat so many different things in one meal, which is simply fantastic for someone like me who can’t make any decisions (I am overwhelmed by large supermarkets and could easily spend several hours trying to decide which yogurt I want to buy – too much choice really isn’t good for me).

I have been looking for something to put in the pictures to show the scale of my foods – and finally found The Bear. The Bear – the heraldic animal of Berlin – is about the size of a finger, as you can see in the pictures (modelled by my very own pink sausage hands). It usually resides next to our TV, but it will go on tour with me this week to pose with my meals – dream job.

The Bear.

Day 2 started with a healthy meal of mini-cornflakes (from the Kellog’s variety pack) and mini-chocolate soya milk, followed by a tiny apple. The apples were labelled ‘family apples’, which doesn’t really make any sense to me.

The lunch pictures didn’t turn out too well, so we’re skipping straight to dinner – mini casserole with mini dumplings (mini dumplings!!) and tiny beans lovingly cooked by the boyfriend, served on a saucer. His flatmate must have thought I was mental when she saw me eating from it. I have also noticed that it is extremely hard getting the right level of dilution for cordial if you drink it from a shotglass.

Brekkie time again – more super-strength cordial (it was vile.), coco pops (oooh!), mini strawberries and a tiny pot of fromage frais (The Bear decided to crash at the boyfriend’s last night and didn’t turn up again until lunch). Seriously, those pots of Petit Filous are so tiny, they only give the RDA values for TWO pots, as if no one was ever meant to eat only a single pot. Hint: making them twice the size might solve that problem.

Lunch for champions. A mini-breadroll with jumbo fake ham which makes it look like a flying saucer, cherry tomatoes, mini cheese from the mini cheese selection, a tiny little can of coke, an even smaller box of raisins for pudding, and the ironic star of the show – a quorn sausage roll.*

So here’s the deal with the sausage roll. The pack says: 12 mini sausage rolls*. I counted them – there were only 6. But it didn’t seem like anyway had taken any sausage rolls from the pack (hey, everything is possible at the Sainsbury’s in Fallowfield). The solution: the explanation to the * tells you that there are “12 sausage rolls when cut in half”. Excellent marketing!

Will we soon see “12 Mars bars (when cut in half)”, “2 loaves of bread (when cut in half)” and “12 bakewell slices (when cut in half)”? Wait…I think I’m onto something here.

* By the way: they taste awful. Don’t bother.

Jesus Fucking Christ.

I usually don’t post news here, as there are many other sites that do it so much better, but this one got me quite upset. Only today it was reported that Wythenshawe Park, which I wrote about last year, was the target of some shockingly sick vandalism. Some time on Sunday evening / Sunday night, they broke into the aviary located in the park, beheaded 18 birds (seriously, what the fuck?), threw them around, poisoned a carp in a pond with fertiliser, chopped down trees and smashed windows, causing more than £10,000 of damage, according to the BBC.

One way to spend your bank holiday weekend, I suppose.

The BBC has some more details on the case, and the police (0161 856 4546) and Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) ask anyone who has any information to come forward.

Giant chicken will come and get you. Yes, you.

Running Off With The Fun City Girls: The Great Manchester Run 2011

Okay, here’s the deal: I run 10 kilometres, you give me loads of money for that, which I then give to a charity of my choice. That makes sense, right? Wait, what do you mean, what’s the point of me running at all? Well, it’s… you know… oh just give me the money already, will you!

Sponsored charity runs are a completely alien concept to Germans. I had to explain the idea to my family several times, mumbling something about ‘challenge’ (“Why? You run all the time anyway don’t you? What’s the challenge in that? And why should we give you our money?”) until I finally resorted to the ‘give me your money and you’ll be on my wall of fame’ trick.

I signed up for the Manchester 10k run in January and started training quite enthusiastically…for about a week. Then I realised that 10k wouldn’t be a big deal anyway and went back to doing my usual runs round the block and in the park. I forgot about it completely for a while until about a week ago when I was planning the upcoming weekend and started to panic: I won’t be able to make it. I’ll get really ill before the run. We’ll be late. I’ll oversleep. I’ll have to go to the loo every five minutes. There will be torrential rainfalls. We won’t be able to park anywhere. I’ll pass out for no reason.

Fortunately, the mighty Jogger Swan King took me under his wings, and the whole ‘I’m going to run 10k as fast as I can’ affair turned into ‘we’ll run 10k with a guy in a 7 ft swan costume and have fun’. Our team partner Dr Maha was suffering from an ankle injury, so we decided to take it easy on the day. Dressed up as the Swan King’s hipster bodyguards (think Bjorn Borg ca 1975 meets Michael Cera in Juno meets the 118 118 guys), sporting hot pants, white socks and co-ordinated ponytails (mine left, Dr Maha’s right), we rolled up to the great event in the loveliest Manchester weather: freezing cold, drizzly rain, icy wind.

After the much needed warm-up with Mr Motivator*, the guns went off and we embarked on a leisurely jog joining 40.000 other runners, down Portland Street, then Chester Street, to the Man United ground, and back up along Deansgate, to the finish right in front of the Hilton. Here’s the highlights of the day:

  • At km 1 I realised I needed the loo.
  • At km 2 we whooped for at a runner wearing a giant giraffe costume and the Swan King high-fived loads of kids.
  • At km 3 we had our first ankle-pain-induced walking break.
  • At km 4 we went past a band playing ‘Chariots of Fire’ by Vangelis (click the link and you know the song!), pretending we were running in slow motion.
  • At km 5 we started swearing at people on the side who were eating chips.
  • At km 6 we stopped for a little dance to the Stone Roses in front of Clint Boon’s stage.
  • At km 7 we yelled the Super Mario Bros theme tune at two runners dressed as Mario and Luigi.
  • At km 8 the Jogger Swan King had a little jig with the dixie band. I also finally found the loos.
  • At km 9 I got utterly confused because people were shouting my name at me, until I realised that it was written on the race number on my chest.
  • At the finishing line the announcer praised the Swan King, mentioned my name, we high-fived and collected our medals and goodie bags from the army.

Oh, what fun we had. If you see someone walking round Manchester with a medal round their neck, that would be me.

I raised an okayish £333, Mr Swan King managed around £500, both for the Red Cross, who welcomed us in the Charity Village with bananas, crisps, iced tea, mini mars bars and custard creams worthy of a children’s birthday party. (THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED, YOU’RE SUPER AWESOME!)

Due to tiredness I’m actually lacking sarcasm, so here’s my completely honest and filthy cliche conclusion: despite the weather, the atmosphere at the run was great, the other runners were nice, and we really enjoyed it. And OHMYGODIWANTTODOITAGAIN.NOW!

Next year. Next year. And I’ll up the fancy dress. Oh yes.

* It wasn’t Mr Motivator, but I really wished it was.

Der Herr vom Filmressort: Videos from Manchester, for Manchester

Forget Manchester’s buzzing Digital Media scene. What do all these creative people know about life in this city? The real talent lies with the students, the drunks, the angry people, the crazies. If you search a little on youtube, you come across all sorts of videos from Mancunians, capturing some of the most bizarre aspects of life in Manchester.

Gaff’s off license is a popular booze vendor in Fallowfield – just across the road from Owens Park, the biggest student halls of residence in town – that’s famous for… pandemonium (both the halls and the off license to be honest). This video features a tribute to the shop:

Speaking of Owens Park, the ‘Owens Park Tower Challenge’ seems to be a popular past time with students. The challenge comprises of downing a shot on every single one of the 18 floors of Owens Park Tower – and not being sick. Hint: the gentleman in the video fails this last part.

Aaah, crazy bus lady. Good old CBL. While I often find her amusing, I sometimes find myself silently swearing at her when she’s holding up the bus, arguing with the driver whether he’ll let her on, while I’m running late for yet another meeting. Here she is, talking about… not quite sure what.

Manchester isn’t exactly known for it’s marvelous weather, quaint little streets, lovely parks or its cleanliness. This video, most likely brought to you by a angry non-Mancunian, captures the situation quite well:

And finally, here’s a comment on the crime rate in Manchester. I watched it several times and couldn’t stop lauging: Robbery at Manchester International Festival