It easy for routine to slowly creep in, isn’t it? The ‘eat sleep work repeat‘ thing can start to feel suffocating and a change of scenery is occasionally needed to blow away the cobwebs.
Last Friday, Adam had booked us a room at the Victoria & Albert Marriott hotel in Manchester as a belated Valentines Day treat. He’d also spoken to my lovely Dad and arranged for him to come and look after the kids for the night. The prospect of some rare quality time together was incredibly exciting and I couldn’t wait for the chance to escape for a little while.
After work, we made the short journey into Manchester and arrived at the hotel half an hour later. The reception was beautifully decorated – I had to resist the urge to do the cliche ‘blogger thing’ and take pictures of every single detail! Upon check-in, however, we discovered that car parking was £17, which came as a bit of a shock on top of the substantial cost of the room. The joys of the city, huh?
Realising that we didn’t have many other options at this point, we reluctantly paid for parking, along with another £20 for breakfast the next day, and headed to our room on the first floor. Our accommodation was small but pleasant. I particularly liked the bare brick and wooden beam features, giving the room a cosy yet modern feel.
Adam had also booked us a table at the trendy Australasia restaurant for 6pm that night. I slipped into my gorgeous Joanie Clothing dress and began to get ready. As I curled my hair with heated tongues, I somehow managed to burn my forehead, resulting in a very obvious red mark. Nice one Lisa! We eventually made it out of the room in one piece and jumped in a taxi to Spinningfields.
We were greeted by friendly staff and asked to take a seat in the bar until our table was ready. I’m usually a low-key ‘ burger and milkshake’ kind of girl, so the super modern vibe, high-end menu and painfully cool decor made me feel rather out of place initially.
Flicking through the cocktail menu, I was actually surprised at how reasonably priced it was, averaging £8-9 per drink. I opted for a Rose and Lychee Martini and Adam picked a Classic Mojito. As we moved over to a booth, I managed to bang my head on the low lampshade, attracting unwanted attention from bemused onlookers. I told you I was more of a burger joint kind of girl…
After a twenty minute wait, we were shown to our table by our server. Located in the middle of the restaurant floor, I actually had to move the table itself in order to squeeze onto the wicker chair, thanks to the seating area being so compact. Not remotely embarrassing (!) and I wasn’t a fan of being at eye level to the other diners elbows due to the elevated flooring layout. Next time, I think we’ll be requesting a booth instead.
I slowly began to acclimatise and ordered another cocktail before choosing our food. Instead of one set meal, I decided to ‘go local’ and try a few smaller dishes instead. These consisted of avocado and mango sushi rolls, seared teriyaki beef and steamed edamame beans. Adam went for the tempura crab, squid and black cod with chips.
I have to admit, the food alone managed to redeem every initial reservation that I’d had. It was absolutely beautiful and cooked to perfection. The service was second to none and I’m looking forward to writing a dedicated post on Australasia soon. We also enjoyed a dish each from the dessert menu before heading back to the hotel at around 9pm. Rock and roll!
After sleeping for over eleven hours solid, we woke up refreshed and headed downstairs for breakfast. This was a buffet style meal and had a vast range of items on offer, from fresh fruit and yoghurts to a full English. We both enjoyed a full plate of eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, mushrooms, beans and toast with fresh filtered coffee as we planned the day ahead.
As a child, I spent a lot of time in Manchester City Centre with my Dad and sister, exploring the Castlefield area and various museums. Adam had never visited the Museum of Science and Industry before, despite living in the city for several years, so I insisted that we had to rectify the situation immediately!
We began our little adventure at the Air and Space Hall. This beautiful building instantly brought back happy childhood memories for me and we spent an hour or so looking at all of the aircraft’s and vehicles on display before moving over the main museum across the road. Entry is free but given that they are a charity and rely heavily on donations, we didn’t mind leaving a small token of our appreciation at the till.
We explored the various halls, from textiles to locomotives and the rich broadcasting and print history that was created in Manchester. There was so much to do and, even though I have seen it all many times before, it was still a lovely way to spend our morning.
The only thing that left me a little sad was the closure of the Gas Gallery. This was one of my favourite areas of the museum and is such a loss to the overall experience. I consoled myself in the gift shop (I have an odd obsession with them) and came away with a few little souvenirs.
After stopping for a caffeine fix, we wandered over to Deansgate and decided to take a look inside John Rylands Library. I have to admit something here; despite being a bookworm and lover of architecture my entire life, I’ve never actually explored this stunning building before. I must have walked past it a thousand times!
I was truly in awe of what lay inside. This neo-gothic wonder is littered with stone arches, stained glass windows and home to an array of books (obviously). Think Beauty and The Beast meets Hogwarts and you’re on the right track. As Adams enthusiasm begin to dwindle, he kept asking when we could leave the ‘Book Museum’ which made me giggle! You can take a boy to the city but you can’t force him to be cultured, eh?
We stopped at Wagamama and indulged in a spot of late lunch; their Korean beef hirata buns, chicken ramen and fresh juices are unrivalled! We’d intended to pop into Hey Little Cupcake! for a sweet treat afterwards but found that they were closed for a private event. To prevent me turning into a sugar-deprived monster/petulant toddler, we settled for a slice of truffle drip cake from Home Sweet Home instead.
Adam and I had decided to call it a day after this, however, I spotted a sign for a vintage kilo sale in the Old Granada Studios (right opposite the hotel) so of course, we had to go for a look around! The idea is to fill a clear plastic bag with clothing, then simply pay per kilo. Being my reluctant accomplice in this shopping mission, Adam initially declined a bag for himself but once he saw the rails full of retro polo shirts, he soon changed his mind.
After an hour of browsing, I came away with a cute polka dot dress for myself, along with a few vintage Adidas hoodies for Lucie (who knew that my own childhood fashion would once again be cool in 2017) but my converted husband managed to bag himself no less than twelve items of clothing, from brands such as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Fred Perry and more, all for the grand total of £40. It’s safe to say that we’ve decided to go back again next time!
Being a tourist in our own city was such a lovely change of pace and gave us time to truly appreciate the places situated right on our doorstep that we often overlook. It was so refreshing just to get out, you know? To enjoy a night away together for the first time since we got married, to talk and laugh without the pressures of being at home or knowing that we have to be up at 6am for work the next morning. In fact, we’re already planning our next adventure as we speak!