Walk with eyes raised to take in the Victorian confidence of the buildings of the world’s first industrial city. Italian Renaissance palaces, Dutch gables, Greek temples, Gothic pinnacles – they’re all here. End up open-mouthed in Alfred Waterhouse’s town hall in Albert Square.
Manchester is too flat for great views. But the town hall tower always offers a lofty welcome as you head down hill on Bury New Road. There will soon be wonderful vertiginous views from the top of the Beetham Tower, a 47-storey (157m) hotels and apartments block now rising at the end of Deansgate.
Town Hall Extension (off St Peter's Square), Lloyd Street; tel: 0161 234 3157
The digital festival is a month long series of events covering digital art, technology and design. dSCAPE, a three day digital showcase, opens the festival and treats its audiences to a peek at the most exciting work in the industry. This is Brighton at its very best and it shows why the city has a reputation for being full of creative people. All that fresh air must be good for them!
A great pub sitting on Preston marina at docklands, 4 real ales including Tim Taylor's Landlord and 2 guest beers. Fantastic reasonably priced food, home-made pizzas and sizzling fajitas a speciality.
Facing the marina at preston dock; open all day everyday.
A genuine free house, selling 6 real ales including 4 ever changing and unusual guest beers & Budweiser Budvar on draught; regular beer festivals, live music upstairs, home-made lunch-time food.
On Fylde Rd (10 mins walk from the railway station), opposite 53 degrees music venue and Preston's student union.
The residents of this market town know a good thing when they see it: the Mulberry is always full. It must be the enormous portions, the fresh seasonal food and excellent value. Start with wild mushroom tart, served on square, elegant crockery; finish with hot chocolate brownies or a sundae straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Veggie options are creative and the potato dauphinoise is not to be missed. At lunch a mere fiver will get you a huge ciabatta stuffed with whatever you want, plus chunky chips and salad. You won't need much else for the rest of the day.
11 Raymond Street
Tel: 01842 820099
"The Thai cafe" is what we affectionately call this treasure. Once a kitchen with communal tables in a Thai food shop, it has now moved two doors away, leaving more room for diners. The food is exquisitely fresh and beautifully presented, and the service is excellent. Watch your order cooking — the kitchen is visible from the restaurant — and learn how to cook it yourself: the chef gives lessons. A friend who moved to Spain daydreams about how her order might be flown to Granada. I dream of the hot sour soup with mushrooms, and the prawns and long beans in oyster sauce.
320 Upper Richmond Road, SW15
Tel: 020 8789 8084
Walk up to the Cross in the centre of Chester at noon and you'll see a jolly bloke wearing old fashioned clothes and ringing a bell. He's the town crier; Chester's the only place in the UK to have had a continuous tradition of town crying, and he and his wife share the job. He'll give all the latest news on Black Death, local hangings and news of the the Boston Tea Party that's filtering from across the pond - and on occasion he'll even read out council notices. Great interaction with the crowd and super for kids.
The Cross, where Eastgate St meets with Westgate St and Bridge St.
It might just look like a site full of muddy puddles, but it's worth checking out the archaeological dig down by the river. They've explored further down than the impressive remains of a big Roman amphitheatre (a semi circle is still visible) to find signs of much earlier habitation - there are guided tours, best to check when with Tourist information.
A sweaty cavern tucked underneath Oxford Street, the Music Box is famous for two of the best regular nights in Manchester. The first Saturday of the month brings Mr Scruff's 'Keep it Unreal' night, with funky electro in the front and Scruff's customary tea room in the back. On the last Saturday of the month, the Unabombers take over for 'Electric Chair', with an acid house theme drawing in a more mature crowd from the Hacienda era.
65 Oxford Street, www.themusicbox.info
String quartet in residence at the University of Manchester; these Brussels-based musicians give some of the most exciting concerts around, from classics (Beethoven, Schubert) to twentieth century and contemporary composers you won't hear anywhere else in this country. They're also doing a complete Shostakovich cycle in November.
Martial arts club offering kung fu and tai chi classes. An inclusive atmosphere with no macho egos. Genuine traditional Chinese martial arts from a school with fantastic teachers and unbeatable lineage.
Brighton Youth Centre (Tue 7pm-9pm)
A brilliant, FREE and (for not much longer!!)largely undiscovered night in the heart of the city that caters to all good music tastes. Be it discerning pop, funk, cosmic disco, electric-soul, hip-hop, acid RnB, country and good old rock 'n' roll, the DJs seem to provide it all in one breathless set!! Highly recommended.
New Wakefield Street (off Oxford Road by Thirsty Scholar)
They post their irregular dates on:
Imagine a converted Labour Exchange which brews its own multi-award winning beer on site, with a devoted all-age clientele in spacious, comfortable surroundings and place a wonderful Thai kitchen upstairs in its heart (you can see the chefs working as you savour a pint at the bar) - sounds almost too good to be true. It's very good value too and the service is excellent.
Lovely local Thai with friendly service and a large menu that includes lots of vegetarian options. Great Pad Thai, Nasi Goreng and curries. When we lived in Cheltenham, we used to go every week - now we miss it!
12 Suffolk Road, Cheltenham GL50 2AQ; tel: 01242 260 666
Great Japanese restaurant. Not some run of the mill sushi bar but a classic place serving great food. Sushi/sashimi is great and their other dishes are also very tasty. Best Japanese food I have had so far.
62 Market Place, Warwick
Tel: 01926 493 318
This Vietnamese restuarant in Hackney serves the best Vietnamese food in London by a mile and very cheap. The goat in lemongrass and chilli is sublime. It's also a BYO so you can stuff yourself for under a tenner.
251 Mare Street, Hackney, London E8 3NS
The best fish restaurant in London, owned and run by the family who also have the fishmongers next door. Completely unassuming in unfashionable Finsbury Park - if you don't know about it you'll never go there and that's part of what makes it so great.
101 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3P;
tel: 020 7272 9719
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