27.

27.

Hey, welcome to the start of a new chapter.

It’s about time I caught you all up. Firstly where have I been for the past two years because clearly I’ve said I would come back in the past and then other things came up that was more important but I want to get better at that. Moving forward, I’m going to concentrate a little less on what everyone else in the industry is doing and a little more on writing and sharing things that I love. I’ve also been completing a degree in Fashion Retail & Enterprise and I would have been prepping for graduation this week but lockdown has had different plans for me. Anyway that’s a story for another day cause there’s going to be no neggy vibes here! Do you know how people say that to make the most of your degree you need to live and breathe it? Well yeah that’s what I did. For the past two years, I have done nothing else but work on myself and my career. If I wasn’t planning what I wanted to do for a module or writing an academic essay, I would be saying yes to all the opportunities I could. It’s been the best two years of my life but now I don’t know what to do with my time other than to reconnect with my love for blogging and I suppose I need to start applying for jobs like a true adult.

Another reason for my long winded absence is because I just didn’t feel like the July Journal was very me any more. It started out as a cruelty free beauty and lifestyle blog and although that is still one of my favourite things to talk about it’s not the most important thing anymore and that’s okay. I started that blog as a chapter of my life six years ago but I’m 27 now (as I’m writing this it’s actually my birthday week) and I have other interests that are so different now. Photography, sustainable living, saving money for a house, paying a lot more interest in topics happening around the world and fingers crossed, I’ll be entering the world of a grad job soon – things are just a little different. I know that I started to include more fashion posts but these days it’s what I love to talk about. I want to help you with some amazing things and give something back to you whether that be a weekly round up of things that I like or something a bit more meaningful like a tips and tricks post. This new blog is going to be all about me – a dyslexic, freelance digital content creator and Northern gal trying to make my way through the last couple of years of my twenties and moving on up to the thirties. A place where you can hopefully come to laugh, learn, listen and relate. It’s a place where eating a full share bag chocolate buttons in one sitting is completely acceptable. It’s home to a sprinkle of my life whether that be talking about body confidence or sharing an indulgent cheesecake recipe. That’s a skill I’ve learnt since being in lockdown, actually. This is where I am going to document my life in a series of diary entry posts kind of like a vlog but in a written format. I wanted to begin this new chapter with something that felt more me so hey, hello. Nice to meet you!

If you have stuck around from my old blog, you are probably wondering what is my next step other than starting to write again? Well in terms of my career, I’m taking the ‘making it up as I go’ approach. To be honest I think that is what the majority of us are all doing anyway.  I’ve graduated in probably one of the most toughest times that the UK has seen in many years so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself but equally I would like to earn a bit of dollar so I can start saving for a house. I’ve been looking for a job in social media and I’m also looking at an apprenticeship to give me some more experience. Until something comes along, I’ve set up YJM Creative – a platform for individuals, businesses and creatives to get in touch with me about social media management, editorial print design and photography services. Pop on over and have a browse if you like. Oh, and if you are interested in any of my services then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!  For employers, they can view my entire portfolio and shoots that I’ve done previously. As well as this blog, YJM is also my new baby too!

This week I’ve actually be taking part in the Prince’s Trust Exploring Enterprise programme where I’ve been learning all about writing a business plan. As part of one of my modules for university, I designed some desk pads specifically for creatives and dyslexics although I believe they can be used for anyone to stay organised. Well, now I’ve finished university I am looking at releasing them properly for people like you and me. I’ve used mine for such a long time now and find it really useful in planning my time and dumping all my thoughts into one place. If anyone is interested in hearing more about these then please do let me know.

Anyway I’m off to enjoy some birthday cake, a dog walk along the coast and finish reading The Hate U Give. I hope you are all having a lovely week and hopefully I will see you soon. I can’t wait for you to join me on my journey and I hope you enjoy reading along too.

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Budget Friendly Date Ideas For The North*

Budget Friendly Date Ideas For The North*

Does anyone else feel as though they have blinked and it’s now February later this week? I feel as though it has gone pretty quickly and usually January feels pretty bloody long! I also find that this month tends to make you feel a bit like you are in a downward spiral so what better way than to pick yourself up and go out for the day or night with your best friend, partner, family member or just celebrate some alone time. I thought I would share with you some of my favourite places in the North where I like to go to socialise and spend time away from doing University work which is all I spend my time doing these days

There are plenty of nice bars to sit with a group of mates to catch up in Newcastle City Centre. Eden is one of my favourites however the newest addition is Destination 1850. It opened late last year just in front of Central Station opposite Cafe Nero. I thought with it being right next to the train station which is full of all the hustle and bustle that it would be quite busy and loud but it was actually rather peaceful. Mr C and I were kindly invited* to try the place out for drinks and some food and I was pleasantly surprised. The bar has quite an antique feel to it with copper bar tops and feels as though it is keeping with the classic heritage that is around the city centre. The staff were fab and very attentive whilst the food was professionally plated up. Mr C had an Americano whilst I opted for the Virign Apple Mojito Cocktail that had a lovely combination of ginger ale and apple juice with mint leaves and wedges of lime which was quite refreshing. We weren’t really that hungry but I was eager to try some of the food that they had on offer so we got a selection of plates to share: Halloumi Fries with pomegranates, mint yogurt and coriander, Chorizo and Smoked Paprika Dough Sticks served with balsamic and olive oil and a Southern Fried Chicken Wrap that came with sweet chilli cream cheese, mozzarella, lettuce and red onion. I highly recommend it as a place to go for drinks before you explore Newcastle’s nightlife or as a bite to eat to miss the rush hour on public transport back home.

Next up is Lane7; a venue in the city centre next to the Centre for Life where you can go as a group for food, bowling, ping pong, mini golf, karaoke, pool and beer pong. I’ve been here a handful of times and it easy really affordable and a brilliant place to get together in a group to have a bit of a laugh. I went with a group of friends last time and my competitive side came out quite a bit. They have a place where you can get a bite to eat as well as being able to let your hair down with some alcoholic drinks. The prices vary however a game of bowling or mini golf ranges from between £6.50-£8.00 depending on the day and time. You can also get student discount if you have an NUS card too.

Sticking on the activity front, I highly recommend Ghetto Golf which is down near the Biscuit Factory. I’ve only been once for my cousins birthday but I’ve been trying to arrange for a group of friends to come back with me since. I think it does work out better if there is two to four people as they don’t allow more than four people on the course at the same time. Again, if you have a bit of a competitive streak then this is perfect place for you. The drinks can be quite expensive however I do believe that you are paying for the entertain of the golf course which is exciting to say the least. This would be the ideal place to come if you are wanting to go on a double date or with your girl group.

Other recommendations that I have include: a cinema trip, Tapas Revolution in Eldon Square have such nice food too and if you prefer to do something during the day then I can’t recommend The Great British Cupcakery or the Dispensary Coffee House enough!

Where’s your favourite place to go for a date in Newcastle? I think there is so many other cool places to go too.

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2020.

2020.

This time of year is always full of new beginnings and everyone asking about resolutions and goals for the next year. Usually I am the same, last year I set myself 19 things that I wanted to do which I will go on to talk about in a second or two, but this year I feel unusually different. I don’t want to set myself a whole load of resolutions that I may or may not achieve. This year I am going to set myself some goals of things that I want to continue to do and to improve on. I know this sounds a bit odd but there are things that I have accomplished in 2019 that I am proud of and this feeling is something quite different for me.

So the 19 for 2019 list was a bit over the top however when you break it down, I probably have completed about half of them. I’m not wanting to be all negative nancy on here anymore so I am only going to talk about the ones that I have accomplished rather than reflecting on the negative stuff. Last year I wanted to take more time out for myself and I have definitely done that. I’ve been to Carlisle, Manchester and Bellingham on my own. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and being in my own company something that I didn’t think I would ever be able to say. I also managed to tick off another goal too and that was to read at least six books. All you readers are probably thinking that is nothing but for a dyslexic, reading six books is quite an accomplishment. One of my favourites has actually been The Secret Lives of Colour. It has a whole load of fascinating but important histories of different colours. Just take my word for it, if you are a creative this is a must. Another resolution that I set myself was to learn how to drive and get a job. I realised at the tender age of 25 that I’ve not been the best at adulting since I moved back to the North East. Luckily, I have passed my theory test last year and I have a little part time gig to go alongside my University degree. Unfortunately music isn’t involved but I wish it was. Alongside the adulting front, I wanted to start thinking about my future career so I gained work experience within the fashion industry (another tick) and went on to finish my first year at University. In a nutshell that’s everything that I managed to tick off last year but guess what? I am okay with that.

Moving onto the “resolution” list for this year. Please take this with a pinch of salt because the more positive attitude driven Yasmina is only going to be looking at the good things in life these days and like I said earlier I just to improve on and continue doing things that I started on in 2019. So here’s the list of things that I hope to accomplish by this time next year:

  • save £40 each month – I managed to do this last year and it works well for me and my budget at the moment.
  • pass my practical driving test – I am still doing lessons and haven’t given up which is a huge thing for me. I am currently trying to just build up my confidence before booking it again.
  • go on holiday – I am already heading to Paris with my course but I want to celebrate my graduation by ticking off one of my bucket list places perhaps Amsterdam or Prague.
  • consistently post on my blog – for the past couple of years I haven’t been consistently writing over on The July Journal and in all honesty I miss it. I’ve said this a few times too. University is important to me however so is this. I graduate this year and I want to start thinking about my future. YouTube is something that I have always wanted to have a proper go at too but I never have because I have been scared of judgement but this year I do want to spend more time vlogging and creating memories and writing on my little space. I am not going to set myself any pressure but even if I can write one or two times a week about things that would be cool.
  • be a better version of myself – I started eating healthier and shopping more ethically last year and this year I want to continue on that track. It’s not necessarily to lose weight because I finally feel happy the way I am but it is to aid my positive mental attitude. As a fashion student, I find it important to try and source my clothing pieces a bit more ethically so I am going to try looking on depop and in charity shops before buying from the high street.
  • I want to enjoy my graduation – this is a big one for me. I am presuming most people look forward to the day they get to glam up in a nice dress, have a glass of champers and collect that scroll they’ve worked so hard for but for me I am dreading it. Graduation gives me all sort of fears which is why this is a goal for me.
  • I’ve upped my reading list to eight this year. Yes, eight books! If you have any book recommendations please let me know.
  • Finally, I released some deskpads that I designed (with the help of an illustrator) and I want to be proud of it. My shop is called The July Collective. You can find it on Etsy and it’s now a link on my header. I’ve got a couple of them left but if you want to order one then please let me know. I set it up as part of a module at University and I am super proud of them!

 

Images by Jess

Is there anything that you want to achieve this year? What’s your thoughts about setting goals?

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A Camera Roll Catch-Up

A Camera Roll Catch-Up

Well it has certainly been a hot minute but life has been rather hectic since the Summer. I can’t believe the last post was about my anxiety and how I coped in Manchester on my own for a week. I thought I would start my return back to my old little blog with a bit of a catch up through photos on my camera roll.

September started off with going back to University. My tutor asked me to do a couple of the things with the new Level 4 class including a talk sharing what they can expect for the modules and what I had done last year. It felt so overwhelming at the beginning of this year whilst I was trying to do them but when you look at my work laid out on a table in front of me I am so proud of what I achieved. I also went into a couple of their lessons to introduce them to InDesign and Illustrator.

I made a new friend this month too. Jess is another local blogger who writes at Jessie Loves This. You probably already know her because she is actually the insta-queen out of the two of us. We’ve met up a couple of times and have so much in common with each other which I love and find refreshing. Polly, the owner of Sighh, released new tote bags. I’ve featured the ‘My Everyday Tote‘ but my favourite is definitely the ‘Art Student‘ one. They actually fit an A3 notebook in there as well as the usual rubbish that I have inside mine.

I also went to the Alchemist for the first time ever. There was so many nice cocktails there but I had the Caramelised Rum Punch which looks a bit like the Butter Beer from Harry Potter. It tasted amazing! It was actually a really special date. I had been dating someone since the start of September and this was the night he asked me to be his girlfriend which so was cute. I’m not going to be sharing much of him because I like how private my love life is at the moment for the future references we will call him Mr C.

My cousins birthday is at the end of September and we surprised him with a trip to Ghetto Golf. I came 5th because I kept wanting to take photos instead of concentrating on golf. I absolutely loved the whole set-up of the place. You can tell that so much thought was put into making the crazy golf game really fun and entertaining. The drinks are a bit expensive so if you are on a budget I recommend having one or two to save on the old pennies.

Not much really happened in October but I decided to treat myself to some Dr Martens. I’ve been after them for a while now so I caved. I thought for the price it is going to be an investment. I’ve heard online that most people struggle to break them in but I’ve had no problem and I can honestly say that they have not come off my feet since. They are super comfortable and go with basically every outfit I wear. The ones that I have are the Vegan 1460 Felix Rub Off. They also do student discount if anyone is interested in them. At first I was a bit wary on how they would perform in the rain with them being a vegan friendly leather however I’ve not had any problems at all.

I was also lucky enough to go behind-the-scenes at Pink Boutique. Alice was really struggling for money so she lent £45 off her mum to buy a pack of six dresses. She recruited a friend for the model and listed them on eBay where they sold really quickly. She kept reinvesting the money and did that until Pink Boutique was created. She used her lunch breaks to post orders until it got too much. Alice teamed up with her mum, Jackie, and went full time at Pink Boutique using YouTube tutorials and a lot of googling to get her head around buying, selling, marketing, admin and finances. I would describe her as a Newcastle version of Sophia Amoruso and you all know that I love her. It was such a motivating trip and I felt so lucky to get the insider knowledge. Personally I’ve never bought from Pink Boutique before because I am not a type of person to dress up like the usual stereotypical Geordie gal however they do have some really cool trainers.

One of the reasons I’ve not really had the chance to blog much over the past couple of months is due to the amount of free time that I don’t have any more. Alongside my degree this year, I’ve been doing three different placements. One has been with S Walton Eyecare where I’ve rebranded their social media accounts and made a leaflet and the other two have been fellowships within my University. A fellowship is something that can give you experience whilst at University and you get paid for it. It is a bit like becoming a student rep for your course but it is targeted towards the one you’ve applied to. I’m so incredibly lucky to be doing two this year; the first one is the Fashion Retail & Enterprise Social Media one where I basically manage the instagram account for my course and the other one is with the social media and digital marketing team at Newcastle College. I’m thoroughly enjoying both of them and can’t wait to be able to work in industry to do this as my full time job. I’ve managed to interview some incredible people and some rather skilled and passionate students whilst doing my fellowships.

And in the blink of an eye it was November. November was an extremely busy month! There was an exciting launch which will be featured on my blog sometime soon and there was many good things. First up was the annual fireworks display on the Links in Whitley Bay. Without a doubt, November the 5th is by far one of my most favourite days of the year. I just love fireworks so much (but only when they are used and enjoyed in the correct way)!

I also had the chance to go to Leeds too. Leeds has been a city which was on my wishlist of places to visit for a while. I only went for the day with my degree but thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I was the only student from my class who went so it was nice to spend some time with new people. I fell in love with the different vintage stores and the street art was so cool too. I definitely want to go back to Leeds again to explore some more of it like the art galleries that they have there.

Durham Lumiere came back this year too. I remember going in 2015 where it was extremely wet and rather muddy. I only saw a few of the installations last year but this year I made the most of it. Mr C and I walked round the cathedral and stumbled across a rather interesting and unique musician who looped music. I think you had to be there to get the vibe of what was going on. There was some amazing installations this year but my favourites were: End Over End – a giant, glowing slinky toy, The Stars Come Out At Night – a revolving projection of stars, Spirit – fire alchemists that were in the grounds of the Cathedral, Echelle – a pink stairway into the sky and Mysticète which was a video projected onto the river water showing the story of a whale. Durham Lumiere only comes around every two years so it is a shame I won’t be able to see it until 2021 but I highly recommend going if you are into light and arty things.

In all honesty, I think I’ve struggled to come back because I feel like bloggers are on somewhat of a pedestal these days. It just isn’t like the good old days where you can write because you enjoy it. There just seems to be competition to provide the best photography and get the better brand relationships. Don’t even get me started with the numbers game! I don’t want The July Journal to be apart of that. This was and always has been just a hobby for me. I’m not the best photographer in the world and I’m certainly not the best writer but I want my blog to share aspects of me, my life and what I enjoy whether that’s a cool personal style outfit, a product that I’ve been loving or somewhere that I have been recently.

I love this little space on the internet that I’ve created and although many of you have probably unfollowed or don’t tend to catch up with my posts any more, I created this space for me and no one else. I’m going to really try my hardest to post a lot more on here because this is my favourite thing to do. And for those of you who still pay attention to The July Journal, please bare with me. I’m a year two undergraduate student with dyslexia who also has two placements and a 20hr job but let’s try and recreate my little blog again. I’ve got a couple more posts planned which I’m going to share in the next couple of days but if you have any requests of what you want to see over on these parts then please send me a tweet or an instagram DM.

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Anxiety

Anxiety

Anxiety has been a big part of who I am for such a long time. I reckon half the reason why us bloggers do our thing is because we want to share things with people that we can’t necessarily do in person because we are so anxious about speaking out but that is okay. After 13 very long years I have decided that it is about time to tackle this thing and learn some coping mechanisms on how to deal with Mr A. I don’t really know what this blog post is going to be about but I suppose I want it to be a post where you can all talk about how you feel whether it is a small success or a huge milestone. I want it to be a place where all the students can come and not feel as though they are the only ones struggling.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, hence the two week break, but I just couldn’t bring myself round to write it. If you follow me on social media then you would probably know that I’ve been to Manchester a lot this Summer. Primarily for work experience but my first placement involved me staying with my sister which meant I was travelling on public transport every morning and every evening for a week. Guess what? I didn’t have a panic attack or felt anxious even when the trains were like being in a can of sardines or when I accidentally got on the train to Liverpool Lime Street rather than going to Warrington Central. I felt completely fine. I took deep breathes when I felt nervous and if that didn’t work I listened to Headspace but not once did I have a full blown panic attack and to me that is something to give myself a massive pat on the back about. This kind of thing happens on the regular whilst in Newcastle. I can’t actually get on the Metro without having a panic attack which means I am limited to traveling by bus everywhere or going for a walk. Since returning, I’ve been on the Metro twice and just like in Manchester everything was fine. Nothing bad happened and I made it back home without having a panic attack or feeling anxiously sick.

The second week came about and this time I was staying in Manchester City Centre for a full week on my own. I knew I had people who I could meet up with but usually I hate being on my own. I really struggle to motivate myself and feel okay but in turn social situations frighten me as well. Anyway enough of that until later. Friday came around and I had managed to deal with being on my own all week and guess what? I loved every god damn minute of it! Of course, my work placement was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it but the biggest lesson I learnt was how to love my own company and the fact that feeling lonely isn’t too bad sometimes. I managed to read a full book. Shout out to Laura Jane Williams who wrote Our Stop. I started the Grow & Glow community project for my blog, I am slowly but surely managing to get through all the little tasks. I spent a whole day exploring and the biggest achievement of all is that I sat in numerous cafés and restaurants eating something on my own without feeling judged. To some of you reading this, it might seem like the every day musings but for me it is huge steps in dealing with my anxiety, overcoming certain situations and not having to rely on being with someone to make me happy.

I come back from Manchester and there is a house warming party with my friends and a handful of new people which I never met before and that made me feel super nervous and anxious. I had spent all week working myself up about it and I let anxiety over come me. I had two panic attacks on the Saturday morning and was sick with how nervous I was. This is the part where I think students who are starting their next chapter might be able to learn something from. So, I spent the week thinking about whether I was good enough to go, why does my friend want to invite me, people aren’t going to like me, I’m too fat and that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t go but I did drop off my friend’s presents. I came home and cried myself to sleep because I felt disappointed in myself and guilty. The following day I started thinking that my friends had started a secret group chat about how much of a rubbish friend I was but I know now that it was my mind and my anxiety telling me this and it didn’t actually happen. I felt upset and disappointed that I didn’t go especially after hearing how much of a good time everyone had and how chilled out it actually was. You are probably wondering what you can learn from this. Well, don’t let Mr A get the better of you. Anxiety is in all honesty a pile of shit and it happens to all of us at different stages of our lives. Some people know how to cope with it and others need a little bit of help. If you are faced with a similar sort of situation please try and beat anxiety and attend that event, especially if it is something with friends. I certainly wish that I did after reflecting upon the situation. If you feel uncomfortable you can leave, that was an option that I had. Freshers is such a big thing during September where a lot of students are pressured into going to social events and in my opinion, I would try and go to the ones you feel comfortable with even if it means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone just a little bit. If you give yourself that little bit of a push you might actually enjoy it. As for me, I am paying to speak to a therapist. I was in two minds on whether to admit this to the universe or not but I feel like in order for me to be able to deal with stuff I need that little bit of extra help. I want to be able to go to my friend’s Halloween party this year. I want to attend my graduation next Spring. I want to learn to deal with situations that will make me react in the way that it did the other weekend and be okay about going. I don’t want to miss out on things that could potentially bring me enjoyment any more.

Do you have anxiety? How have you managed situations? Let me know if you want me to update you once I’ve had a couple of therapy sessions.

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My Ultimate Guide To Manchester

My Ultimate Guide To Manchester

I’ve been to Manchester a fair few times now and every time I go I fall even more in love with the city. People who I speak to have described the place as ‘the northern hub for creatives’ and I couldn’t agree more. No wonder I plan on moving there after I’ve finished my degree! There’s so many cool places to visit and explore and there is also a wide choice of places to hang out and eat that is guaranteed to step up your Instagram feed. Anyway after another week down in Manny, I thought it is about time to share some of my personal favourites.

This post is written mainly for those living on a budget or students who are just moving into the area and don’t want to break their bank accounts however that doesn’t take away the quality of service from each of places mentioned.

Places To Eat

 

BAB, 14 Little Lever Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1HR

Dough Pizza Kitchen, 77 High Street, Manchester, M4 1FS

 

There are so many great places to eat around Manchester so it was pretty hard to narrow it down to a few places but here comes my favourites. Firstly you can’t go to the city without having a browse around the Northern Quarter for something to eat. My first option is BAB that is known for its kebabs and unfortunately I’m not talking about those greasy ones you get at 3am down the Big Market in Newcastle. I am talking mouth-watering kebabs that makes me want to book a train down to Manchester just for another visit. I usually get the Halloumi kebab which has a delicious sunblushed tomato and harissa purée. If you are into fries then I highly recommend the Greek Fries. They are topped with feta cheese, olives, tzatziki and chilli sauce (I remove this cause I’m not a fan of spicy food). Wilson’s Social is another recommendation if you are into Latin American style food. I went for a flatbread with stir-fried veg and again it tasted amazing but the star of the show was the pudding. Not only do they have pistachio and coconut ice cream available but the melt in the middle chocolate pudding was heavenly. They have a bar and outside sitting which makes for a great social night and if you are a not a big fan of alcoholic drinks I’ve got you covered. I had a Hibiscus Juice Drink which tasted delicious!

Next on my list is for all the pizza lovers out there – Dough Pizza Kitchen is the cheesiest place in the Northern Quarter. Like what I did there?! On a serious note though, they have a unique selection of pizzas to choose from and if you have a vegan in your friendship group they can eat there too. I went for the Goat’s Cheese pizza which has caramlised onions, tomato & olive tapenade, mozzarella and finished with garlic oil and chives. It was one of my favourite meals that I had eaten whilst I was doing my work experience. Another option is the BBQ Pulled Jack Fruit which comes with spinach and apple slaw – again this is equally delicious! If your brave enough you can add jalapenoes as an extra.

If you follow me on social media then you know that I spent a lot of time eating alone and some times McDonald’s just wasn’t cutting it so I popped along to Archie’s Diner one evening. They are a bit like Five Guys where it is like old school American Diner food. I had the Faloumi Burger with curly fries. It tasted so good!! They have such a hype on social media at the moment because they offer a BLK bun or a Pink one with any of the burgers. There are also a wide range of Waffles, similar to the oh-so-famous Creams, and milkshakes to choose from as well.

Other places I recommend checking out are: Turtle Bay for cocktails, Alabama’s All American Eatery for pancakes, Chapter One Books for a coffee, slice of cake and relax with a book for a couple of hours, V Rev Vegan Diner for a fully vegan restaurant and Liquor & Burn for a Mexican food option (their burritos are delicious!).

Things To Do

There are so many amazing things you can do in Manchester city centre that I could be here for hours sharing my thoughts but I am going to do my best to narrow it down. The first place I recommend is heading to the City Library and walk up to the first floor. You will come across a beautiful room designed for students, professionals or if you just want to go have a read of a book with nothing to disturb you. The architecture within the room is outstanding but I highly recommend taking some time out to explore all of the floors in the library. Before you leave, spend some time speaking to the tourist information advisors. They have A3 foldable maps that are so useful if you are visiting for a couple of days and want to plan a whole load of different things to do. If you tell them what you enjoy doing and whether you want free stuff or have a bit of a budget then they can recommend a range of different things to do.

Of course you have the Arndale Centre for your usual high street shops but I would recommend an afternoon browsing the Northern Quarter. Not only do they have some amazing places to eat but they have some unique shops to walk around. If you are into second hand fashion then get yourself along to We Are Cow (they even have a store near Piccadilly Gardens now), a kitsch gift shop option is Oklahoma and Fred Aldous if you are into the arts and crafts. Affleck’s is a cool, indie shopping centre in the middle of the Northern Quarter where there are loads of different little shops that sell a range of clothes, jewellery, accessories, prints and retro games.

HATCH is like Manchester’s answer to the STACK that has opened up in Newcastle. There are so many little stores worth taking a look into. You can have a drink and food whilst your there too. It’s like an evening in itself. My personal favourites are: Poppy K, Mindful Store and Bulb Flower Studio.

Another place you could go is a place down next to Castlefield called HOME. It’s a place for lovers of contemporary theatre, film, art and music. There is always something exciting going on. Whilst I was down in Manchester, I saw Blinded By The Light which is an amazing film about a student called Javed who falls in love with Bruce Springsteen music and dreams of becoming a writer. I don’t want to mention too much because I don’t want to spoil it but it is definitely worth watching. There is a café and a restaurant with the prices being affordable for students and people on a budget too.

Whilst you are in the Deansgate area I would also recommend having a game or two of crazy golf at Junkyard Golf Club. They have three different courses to choose from (or you could just do all three). I went for the Bozo one which is a dark circus and fairground. They also have retro cocktails that taste amazing!

There’s a number of free things to do whilst in Manchester too including: the Science & Industry Museum, People’s History Museum, visiting the Royal Exchange Theatre and John Ryland’s Library. If you like a good night out then there are plenty of areas to go for a drink including Deansgate, Canal Street and as mentioned previously, the Northern Quarter. Even the Odeon cinema gives you Stranger Things 3 vibes…

Do you love Manchester? Have you been to any of these places? Is there anywhere I should add to my list for my next visit?

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