I have friends all over the place, partly because I can't seem to settle anywhere for very long (even though I hate moving) but mainly because I'm an impulsive little thing who ends up doing random stuff and going randomer places. This weekend I was visiting a friend I'd made while working in Manchester in a shoe shop for six months before leaving for Australia. I'd met up with said guy in China as well while he was teaching English. Random.
Friday - After a four and a half hour train journey I arrived at my friends house to be greeted by a huge dog (who I would later find out was a minor local celeb) and a very excitable teeny tiny dog called Paris. We got Tibetan takeaway (I now know I don't like tofu) and headed out into the local area of Chorlton with the dogs in tow.
What: For my shame, I can't bloody remember
Ok, this was my first beer, I swear, and I can see the pump clip in my head but I cannot remember the name or the brewery. It was blonde and had a plain picture, like a blonde square. I got three pints for less than a tenner (no, not all for me) and I was really thirsty so the information slipped my mind. The Nip & Tipple (what a name!) had a decked outside area where the dogs could have some space and we could smoke and drink and talk about anything we liked which ended up being what crazy people will do to 'keep their man' (even when he's a bit of a loser) and the nightmare of having to listen to people you know have sex in the next room. Among other things.
Where: Pi, Chorlton (just assume Manchester from here on in)
I remembered to take a photo of the pump clip in this bar. The bar was also called Pi and it did indeed serves pies. Pieminister pies at that. In fact, so cool was this little place that I remarked (probably more times than my native Mancunians would have cared for) that it could have been in Norwich. Small and kooky trendy looking, with random music-themed pictures on the wall and a stripped back bar (from memory) it was a an awesome place to sit and people watch. I was yet to witness the fame of my giant canine companion, but that was to come.
Where: Oddest, Chorlton
What: Not sure, my friend got the beers in
I know, I know, I'm a rubbish beer blogger, but my mate was taking the piss about the fact that I wrote a beer blog for no reason and I was also overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming to talk to the dog. The staff at Oddest knew him and brought out sausages. Groups of pissed students stopped to stroke him and have their pictures taken. One woman sat down on our table and talked for about twenty minutes about her dogs. Having giant breed dogs from a young age means I am never that in awe when I see one, but clearly my friends Husky Malamute cross was genuinely something of a local icon. It wouldn't have been a problem if people kept it brief, desperate was I for a catch-up with my friends, but it didn't stop. It got to the point where one guy said 'Can I come and sit with the cool people?' and then asked 'Can I just say one thing before you tell me to sod off?'. I didn't really hear him so just told him to sod off. He didn't. Then he asked if he could take my picture. I declined.
My favourite thing about Oddest, apart from the fact it served decent beers, stayed open late and was within walking distance of my temporary home, was the reclaimed doors inside.
I'm slowly turning into my dad.
Saturday - Slept like the dead (especially after some takeout beers and talking crap in the garden to finish the evening off last night) I was presented with tea and, after my protests last time that breakfast at the weekend should always include bacon, a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon. Win.
Where: Mono Bar, Chorlton
What: Rose Wheat Beer, Ticketybrew
It started to rain (welcome to Manchester!) so we dashed into a pub. To make up for being a crap beer blogger the night before, I chose a pint while my friends stuck to caffeine. I love everything about Tickety Brew. From the satisfying sounding name to the pump clips and finally the beer itself. I'm not normally a fan of wheat beers, and chose this one by accident, but it was unusual but not in a try-hard way, with a slight kick in the aftertaste. Friendly bar staff, a (I want to say) Primal Scream themed mural and cheesy cassette tapes on display in the loos, Mono bar was another awesome spot for a beverage. Had the rain carried on and my friends not been so hungry, I probably would have stayed all afternoon.
After a quick pit-stop at Barbakan Deli for Polish sausage and potatoes we wandered around the shops, then stopped from another pint. Or two.
Where: Horse & Jockey, Chorlton
What: Two Hoots, Joseph Holt
I prefer independent pubs and generally try to stay away from big chains but the Horse and Jockey had dry seats outside and a beautiful view of the green. It also had Two Hoots on tap, which I didn't know was a Joseph Holt beer, but I knew I liked it. There was a steady stream of children running around, which never bodes well for me, and then my friends started to try to set me up with one of their friends. Time to head home for food and prepare for the evening.
Where: Fringe, Central Manchester
What: Platinum Blonde, Maypole Brewery
Fringe, I'd spent an afternoon in there before and had an actual grownup discussion with the barman about sparklers. As we walked through the bar to grab a seat outside, a pump clip caught my eye. It was called Platinum Blonde and had the cheesiest pump clip, like an Eighties music video, I knew I had to have a pint. It wasn't the best to be honest, not a bad beer just lacking flavour, a bit watery.
We changed tack for our second pint, something slightly darker, and as my friend put them down on the table I asked what he had chosen this time. "No idea, but it already tastes better than the last." It did, but that doesn't help my blog because I still don't know what it was. Off for our final bar stop.
Where: Band On The Wall, just over the road
What: Wainwright, Thwaites
Just as we left the bar, it started to rain. So we queued in the rain, tried to roll soggy cigarettes and hide under one tiny umbrella. As we walked into Band on the Wall venue, tickets in hand, a security guard grabbed my wrist and began to slowly turn my arm around. I looked at him with mild shock and he said 'just admiring'. Ah, I'd almost forgotten how people think it's ok to grab people half their size and look at their tattoos.
After locating the second bar, with half the queue, I ordered two vodkas&, and a pint of Wainwright's. The beer was ok, nothing super special but totally drinkable - to be honest I was just glad to have an ale option. Some music venues, despite the large numbers of ale drinkers who like live music, still only offer StellaBecksCarling headache inducing lager. We watched Mr Scruff who was slightly disappointing. All he seemed to play was the same style of tracks or, as my friend perfectly summed-up, 'Seventies porno music'. We stood in the corner of the smoking area and talked crap. I was reminded the following day that I said I had no desire to see my friend naked. I don't think he was offering, seeing as he's very happy with his girlfriend and she was with us at the time, but it just gives you an idea of how random our conversations were.
On the way home, having not really danced at all and feeling very let down by that fact, we grabbed a cab. As we started to chat about the evening, the cab driver cranked up the radio. So loud in fact that there was no possibility of conversation. I'm fairly sure we weren't still talking about nakedness but whatever we were talking about, the cabbie decided we weren't going to talk about it anymore. The doors were shaking it was so loud.
Home. Happy dogs. Cup of tea. Sleep for hours.
Sunday - I went home Sunday, after breakfast at Oddest Bar, but as I didn't drink a drop on Sunday, this is where my Manchester beer blog ends. I am only a dinky thing and, while I can keep up (or outdrink) the best of them, occasionally I need a break. Green tea and an evening of sofa slouching awaited me, as well as my own happy cats.