This great vegetarian restaurant has been running in Totnes for at least 20 years. It has a warm relaxed atmosphere with some communal tables. In the back, there is a pretty garden and a children's area. There is a great selection of organic, seasonal food, including a large variety of casseroles, quiches, soups and salads at lunch time. There's also wonderful choice of gâteaux, wheat-free munchies and yummy puddings, plus fair trade coffees, teas and a good variety of organic beers and wines. The Willow is open from 10am until 5pm and again in the evening. Wednesday night is curry night (very authentic) and Fridays is live music.
87 High Street
Tel: 01803 862605
Harrods, a magnet for the tourists. Whatever you think of the store itself, the Food Halls are a wonder in themselves and not to be missed! They are historically Listed in their own right, due to the wonderful decorative wall tiles.
The selection of food and wines are among the best in London, and not always as expensive as you might think. And make sure you visit the wet fish section, truly spectacular!
Harrods Ltd, SW1
Nearest tube, Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line).
Two museums, right next door to each other, and a great way to occupy all of the family.
The Natural History Museum is wonderful before you enter it, a beautiful example of Victorian extravagance. Plenty to see and do, especially the dinosaurs; be warned though, the animatronic T Rex is very real and great for scaring small children! There's a decent little coffee shop, although it was a bit disturbing eating chocolate cake sat next to Chi Chi the Panda!
The Science Museum is more modern, although the exhibits go back some way. All kids will love the 'Launchpad' area in the basement, all hands on, noisy, messy and great fun. The Deep Blue Cafe does a decent lunch as well.
Both museums have regular exhibitions as well, although these will have an entry charge; usually well worth it though. There is also an Imax Cinema in the Science Museum, any of the underwater or outer space movies are good value.
The best independent record shop in Manchester specialising in world music, country, folk, jazz etc. Nick and Simon are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and happy to order if it's not in the shop. Stop being lazy and ordering on the net and come here instead!
61 Thomas Street
0161 833 0003
If you want a two-hour-long, food/beer-sozzled route to see a Manchester City game, as well as a chance to feed some geese, this is my dream route to my seat in the East Stand lower tier from Piccadilly Square: from Piccadilly, with your back to 1960s megalith, Piccadilly Plaza, you head up Tib Street to the YADGAR curry house. If you're veggie, you can get rice and three curries for £3.00 - same price as a pint in some of the Northern Quarter bars. £3.90 and you get lamb or chicken toppings too. Best tarka dhal in Manchester.
After that, you could go further up Tib Street and drink in Centro and then have another pint in the Copper Kettle, a pub whose restoration ran out of money - look at the ceiling on one side of the pub, and then the other. One side was restored, the other remains as it was when the building was almost derelict. However, if you choose to hit Great Ancoats Street at this stage, all there is from there is street and no canal. Instead, after Yadgar, I suggest you go back towards Piccadilly and locate the Mother Mac pub, on a side street off Oldham Street. This, I imagine, will remain like something out of Victorian times even long into another era in which Manchester aspires to make its eastern central section resemble a damper, rainier New York.
From Mother Mac's, you could stock up on samosas at Marhaba, one of the other remaining low-price curry houses in the city centre, or maybe buy some bread and head towards the canal - there's an entrance on to the towpath on Ducie Street, which is the road bearing left as you reach the ramp leading towards Piccadilly Station. Once on the canal, the geese are very 'people-friendly' - in other words, mind your fingers.
Continuing up the canal, you'll reach steps at Great Ancoats Street. Following crowds towards the ground, my final stop is the Bank Of England pub. It's not just a no-frills pub - it's a no-stitching-at-all pub. The toilets are signposted by a male and female pointing figure silhouette shapes, but the male silhouette says 'women' on it and the female one 'male' - everyone turns the wrong direction the first time, like one of those psychological tests where they write 'blue' on a red-coloured board. Once you've survived this delightful obstacle course, remember, you've still got a football match to watch, and the return leg into town afterwards to negotiate. As is often said of Manchester City, it's the 90 minutes in the middle that ruins the experience.
Between Manchester Piccadilly and Sportcity.
It's a beautifully carved wooden memorial to the Manchester volunteers who went to Spain in 1936 and 1937 to fight the Fascists who had overthrown the democratically elected government there.
I love the beauty of the carvings and the poignancy of the meaning of the memorial.
The fact that so many ordinary folk from Manchester felt so strongly to travel hundreds of miles to another country in order to fight against Fascists and in doing so risking their own lives really makes me question my own life and whether I would have had the bravery to do the same.
Somehow I think not.
In the Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square.
An irregular club night, it's one of the best clubs going with four rooms and musical madness: be it indie, electro, dance or sometimes just plain cheese. Also features live bands. Hurrah for clubbing hedonism!
Legends, Whitworth Street, Manchester.
Despite its location in Newcastle, Mangos is truly a world class restaurant, world class in the authentic Chinese sense. You could as easily be in New York or San Francisco or Hong Kong... until you walk out the door that is. Fantastic dim sum, particularly after midnight!
43 Stowell Street, Newcastle;
tel: 0191 232 6525
South Indian food of the highest quality. Be prepared to queue as this place is very busy with locals.
They do 6ft dosas! Try their Chilli fried idli with lemon rice - my favourite. The food is spicy but really tasty - and it is cheap cheap cheap. All dishes are fabulous. It’s a veggie restaurant and 100 yards down they have a non-veggie one. The veggie one is better - and this from a confirmed carnivore. Service is average but the food more than makes up for it. Feels like you are actually eating in India. Enjoy!
Various locations in London - East Ham, West Croydon, two in Manor Park and two in Wembley. For more information see www.chennaidosa.com/contactus.htm
Recently refurbished, this is one of London's best museums. It has huge displays on such topics as the history of cruising and interactive exhibits like the ferry piloting simulator. The cafe round the back is rather nice too. A walk across the road will take you into the old naval college, whose chapel has a superb painted ceiling.
Park Row, Greenwich; tel: 020 8858 4422;
The Central Library has a beautiful main reading room and free internet access. A good place to read, study and reflect. It's possible to take a tour of the building. The haunted yarn given by the librarians sounds like they've seen the opening scenes in Ghostbusters one too many times.
College Green, BS1 5TL;
tel: 0117 903 7200;
Being a maritime city, what better way to travel than by boat?! Take one of the regular ferries from the centre (by the fountains) and see the new docks developments, The SS Great Britain and The Matthew before getting off at the Nova Scotia pub for a pint of proper cider (or whatever you want!).
A 1950's former tea-packing factory now home to a hub of Bristol's artists. It's a pivotal part of the city's artist-led initiatives and is due to be completely refurbished with new gallery space, a reading room and a cafe bar by early 2007. They produce a critical journal and commission works around Bristol entitled 'Spike in the City.' Over the May Bank Holiday weekend each year they host their Open Studios event allowing the public in beyond the galleries. The opening Friday night party for Open Studios is a boozy glut of trendy art types and a lot of fun.
Before Goldie Lookin Chain sprang on the scene with their über ironic 'joke hop' there was the Bristolian hip-hop of Parlour Talk. Their album 'Padlocked Tonic' is a first-rate blend of varied beats, great scratching, humour, rapping in Bristol accents, and a big dose of funk - West Coast this ain't, rather West Country.
More than just a second-hand books and vinyl trader. This shop also sells a range of hats and acts as somewhere you can find out about left-of-centre events going on in Bristol. The profits from their Banksy print t-shirts go towards local NGO Kiptik which supports development projects in the Chiapas region of Mexico.
82 Colston Street, BS1 5BB;
tel: 0117 933 0909
An acronym for All The Tea In China. This is a cafe inspired by visits to San Francisco and by a desire to 'make tea sexy.' They have an array of fresh teas that aren't straight out of a Twining's box bought at the supermarket. All the teas are for sale from the shop to take home. They also cater for coffee lovers.
115 Coldharbour Road, Redland BS6 7SD; tel: (0117) 909 0357;
Cheap and cheerful pizza and pasta restaurant on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park. Friendly people, massive pizzas and noisy as hell on weekend nights. Pizzas cost about seven quid. Avoid the horrible pub next door though.
131 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3PX; tel: 020 7263 2114;
Nearest tube: Finsbury park
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