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Exploring Manchester’s Independents


Manchester Fred Aldous

My Big Bruv, Dan, betrayed his Yorkshire roots a couple of years ago and moved to Manchester, but since I’ve got a little soft spot for the city myself, I have forgiven him. He lives near the airport too, so I’ve got a guaranteed hotel room and taxi to the airport for those early morning trips I’m always taking. He’s a pretty awesome Big Bruv.

My favourite thing to do in Manchester is explore the independent scene, which is far better than the one here in Leeds, so I headed over there last week to show you round their awesome small businesses. The spending money was kindly gifted by, so I could really show you the sights, but of course all my opinions are my own. If you don’t have your own Big Bruv bed and breakfast, check out their hotels in Manchester.

Manchester Indie Magazine Shop

Manchester is huge compared to Leeds, so there are lots of different areas to explore. My favourite, though, is the Northern Quarter, full of kooky shops and indie cafes and bars you could spend more than just a day out here. Grab a coffee at Fig & Sparrow to set you up right for the day and check out their range of gifts inside.

From Fig & Sparrow you can shopping spree the entire of Oldham Street, from Cow Vintage to Thunder Egg for all your clothing needs. If you get thirsty you can pop into Night & Day Cafe for a couple of beers, but be careful how many you sink as it may make those pennies slip out of your purse far too easily – not that I’m speaking from experience.

Piccadilly Records has a whole world of music for your ears, ranging from indie, to synthpop and reggae, all the way down to cosmic and “weirdshit”. The staff are totally great, too, which I find a luxury in some record shops. No one is too cool for any of your music tastes.

Manchester Craft Art Shop

Then onto Magma, the mecca for my English Literature schooled Big Bruv who can spend hours exploring the indie magazines in there. My favourite is their range of odd business books and beautiful illustrated books for kids, though. I bought a really fun copy of “How To Swear” with a bright yellow cover.

When you’ve exhausted Oldham Street, there’s more to see nearby in Afflecks – the Debenhams of Indie. Afflecks in a rabbit warren of independents and small businesses. Sprawling through the huge building is a bead shop, jewellery, ice cream parlour, another location for Thunder Egg (if the store didn’t have your size!) and piles of vintage clothing.

Manchester Mackie Mayor Pizza


Finally, my absolute favourite place in Manchester has got to be Fred Aldous, the indie God of craft shops. We have a Fred in Leeds, but the one in Manchester is it’s huge older brother with floors of gifts, paints, books, tools and a laser cutting studio in the basement. You could literally spend hours here and a fortune.

When you’re all tuckered out you can head to Mackie Mayor for a feed and some cocktails. Sadly I was starting to get the flu by this point in our trip, so I enjoyed a fresh homemade lemonade there instead and a giant pizza drizzled with honey called ‘Save The Bees!”. Those Manchester folk love their bees.

Have you been to Manchester? What are your favourite independents? x xx

posted by onetenzeroseven in Travel and have No Comments

SkyPod vs General Admission at CN Tower, Toronto

CN Tower, Toronto

A question we were asking ourselves during our trip to Toronto was whether it was worth it to pay the additional $12 to get access to the SkyPod at the CN Tower. We tried to look for opinion online, but we couldn’t get a definitive answer so the only way to find out was to give it a shot! So… SkyPod vs General Admission at CN Tower – which is better?

Despite our trip being at the end of September/Early October the day we set aside to go up the CN Tower was glorious sunshine and clear blue skies – unbelievable luck! We did visit out of season though so there were barely any queues, but I have heard it can take a couple of hours during the Summer.

Is the SkyPod worth it, CN Tower

CN Tower, Tallest Building For 30 Years

The extra $12 might not seem like a lot, but general admission to the CN Tower is already $36 per adult (approximately £21) so it’s on the pricey side, especially if there’s a group of you. However, the view from the CN Tower is hands down the best view of a city I’ve seen so far – due to it’s insane height (it held the record for the tallest free standing building for over 30 years until the Burj Khalifa was built in 2007!) it towers above the vast array of other tall buildings in Toronto, leaving the view completely clear for miles and miles.

View from CN Tower, Toronto

Outdoor Sky Terrace at CN Tower

General admission tickets gain you access to two observation levels – 1122ft and 1136ft above the ground. The higher, LookOut Level boasts two walls of floor to ceiling windows which are pretty incredible. The entire floor is inside, for those of you that feel a bit wobbly about heights.

The lower level has two attractions – the Glass Floor with clear views all the way to the ground below and the Outdoor Sky Terrace where you can really feel the breeze! It might make you feel a little more unsafe on this level, but the outdoor terrace is completely covered with mesh panelling and the glass floor is strong enough to hold the weight of 35 moose!

The Glass Floor at CN Tower Toronto

The Glass Floor is disappointing at CN Tower, Toronto

Even out of season the Glass Floor was absolutely packed with people standing, laying and playing around on it so don’t get your hopes up for getting a great photo. The area is quite small (just 256 sq ft) and there is no queuing system so it’s a bit of a free for all and the lighting is so dim so that taking a decent photo is really hard with the contrast of the bright daylight outside. Not a fan. The Outdoor Sky Terrace was OK and it was fun to really feel the height due to the feeling of the wind on your face and the street noise from below, but the mesh covering spoils 95% of the views.

The Edge Walk at CN Tower, Toronto

SkyPod vs General Admission at CN Tower, Toronto

Access to the SkyPod is from the LookOut floor and you can purchase tickets before or at the LookOut level, allowing you to shoot up another 33 storeys to a smaller observation deck. The SkyPod felt a lot more exclusive than the general admission areas and it’s angled windows allow you to see straight down underneath you as well, giving a brilliant view of the Edge Walkers on the roof of the 360 restaurant below. We spent most of our time here and I definitely recommend it if you’re not a fan of crowds and like to take lots of pictures. There’s also two hidden ‘porthole’ type windows at either side of the elevator that offer a really unique view of the city below as well as another circular window straight opposite the elevator when you exit onto the SkyPod floor.

Angled Windows in the Skypod at CN Tower Toronto

View from the SkyPod at CN Tower

So what’s the verdict on SkyPod vs General Admission at CN Tower? You can’t see much further from the SkyPod than you can from the LookOut level, but the angles of the window allow you to see a different side to the panoramic views that you don’t get below. If you’re obsessed with city views like I am, I definitely recommend paying the addition $12 for the SkyPod, but if you’re just looking for a quick visit to say you’ve been then it might not be for you.

The CN Tower is next to the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto and costs $36 for general admission, with some extra options available.

Loves x xx

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posted by onetenzeroseven in Toronto,Travel and have No Comments