It always looks festive at Croma to me. Even on a summer's evening there are stylish lights and foliage that add to the drama of this wonderful 19th century building at 1-3 Clarence Street. Add some blue lights in December and there you have it- festive pizzas like the snow: deep pan crisp and even...
Croma's restaurants were designed by Italian designer and restauranter Enzo Apicella. Croma write that Apicella is "citied by The Guardian as one of five people in the 1960s who altered Britain's visual culture and opened up a whole generation's cognisance of pleasure, legendary food critic Fay Maschler said that he 'was responsible for ridding Italian restaurants of raffia-clad Chianti bottles and plastic grapes hanging on fabric vines'.
Enzo's knowledge of food and design has helped to establish Croma's personality, giving our stylish restaurants a real edge, alongside a comfortable dining experience."
The beautiful Manchester Opera House at this time of year hosts a theatrical genre that I dread - pantomime.
I have always disliked pantomimes, probably having felt embarassed and/or mystified by the slapstick, obvious jokes and enforced audience participation, ever since my childhood. They are always popular with many but I know I am not alone in my dislike! Bah, humbug...
The Opera House has in its 99 year history been a home to Luciano Pavarotti and The Covent Garden Opera (surely amongst its high points) but at this time of year it retreats (IMHO) to the level of its darkest days (i.e. when it was a bingo hall) and hosts a pantomime.
This woeful comedy theatre style has its roots in ancient Greece but took on its own peculiarly British traditons from the Restoration era from around 1717.
From www.manchesteroperahouse.org.uk/The New Theatre, as it was named, opened on Boxing Day 1912. Struggling to compete with other establishments, it was sold to United Theatre Ltd in 1915 and was renamed the New Queens [sic] Theatre. Between the years of 1916 and 1920, Sir Thomas Beecham chose to perform there on several occasions and it was in honour of this great man that, in August of that year, the theatre was renamed The Opera House.
...deep and crisp and even." Happy Boxing Day everyone!
We had a white Christmas here in the north-west last year (2010). Here is a view of Dunham golf course, bereft of golfers but with plenty of noise from tobogganists - led by pink-hatted Holly and followed closely by Tim, on their new, blue toboggans.
For non UK or British Commonwealth readers, Boxing Day (also St. Stephen's Day) is so called because it was the custom on that day for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year.
Stephen was a saint stoned to death shortly after Christ's crucifiction, as in the carol "Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen". King Wenceslas himself was a 10th century Duke in Bohemia, part of the Czech Republic, hence King Wenceslas Square in Prague.
The traditional celebration of Boxing Day included giving money and gifts to charitable institutions. The holiday may date from the Middle Ages (5th to 15th centuries). It could have started with the aristocracy of England giving Christmas gifts in boxes to their servants on 26th December. Or it may have been through priests giving the contents of churches' alms boxes to the poor on the day after Christmas.
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas. My Christmas Day photo is of a stained glass window at St. Ann's Church. The church is about 300 years old, with its consecration taking place way back in 1712. Its tower marks the centre of the city of Manchester.
It is named after three Anns: Ann, maternal grandmother of Jesus; Anne, Queen of England from 1702 until her death aged 49 in 1714; and Lady Ann Bland who founded the church.
An angel looks down upon the Manchester Wheel. The archangel Gabriel is believed to be the angel of communication and of guidance, helping us with our creativity in areas such as music, writing, and poetry. So the angel of bloggers perhaps? A Merry Christmas everyone!
The Royal Exchange Arcade. It's part of the Royal Exchange - a wonderful building and thriving theatre, which I shall post about another time. The Royal Exchange building and the theatre itself are reputed to be haunted. One of the ghosts is said to be that of the actor and founding artistic director, James Maxell. Another is that of a maternal Victorian lady, well dressed and with "a passion for drink".
Meanwhile, 10 minutes walk away is the Manchester Christmas Fair in Piccadilly Gardens, which I have not covered this month- this YouTube video does it justice, set to Silent Night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3Zu21isnws
There are so many Christmas trees on public display. Those in the shop fronts are there purely to grab your attention and your money and seem to me to be both insincere and soulless. Other trees, in churches, in art galleries and this one amidst the grandeur of the Town Hall, seem more genuine and embody the spirit of the season.
It's the first day of winter today and also our final look at the Manchester Christmas Markets. The markets close today and this photo finds us over by the craft and gift market at The Triangle, with some Christmas revellers also enjoying the festive views from the Manchester wheel.
So the Christmas Marketeers are about to leave town. The traders from Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lapland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Romanian Transyvlania, Spain and Switzerland (is there anywhere I've missed?) have to start their long treks back to continental Europe to get home in time for Christmas.
Kendals Department Store on Deansgate is lit up in a nice shade of purple for the festive season. My favourite part of Kendals is the Venetian tapas bar Chichetti, on the ground floor and winner of Best Newcomer award at the Manchester 2011 Food and Drink Festival. It's where the food hall used to be - which was pretty amazing, especially for gifts at this time of year. Sadly the Food Hall had already long been gone before San Carlos opened their Venetian tapas bar in the same area in 2010.
" 'Manchester has no more perfect example of a modern furnishings and textile emporium than that afforded by the great establishment of Messrs Kendal, Milne & Co.' Ladies Home Journal wrote some 120 years ago.
It was back in 1796 that John Watts, a Didsbury farmer, opened a family business on the corner of Deansgate and Parsonage, in central Manchester.
It catered for the elegantly dressed women of the era and proved so successful that by 1830, the shop, now called the Bazaar, had expanded into purpose-built premises across the road – the current Waterstones site. It was a covered market building and forerunner to the modern department store.
The concept flourished and on Boxing Day 1935 it was sold to three young managers – Thomas Kendal, James Milne and Adam Faulkner. The department store, specialising in the sale of regular goods and the discounted stock of bankrupts, re-opened as Kendal, Milne & Faulkner, with the first in a long tradition of winter sales, in January 1936. Almost two centuries on, current owners House Of Fraser, are celebrating its 175th year [in 2010] of trading."
The Bavarian strudel stall is doing a brisk trade whilst the windmill bar behind it dispenses seasonal cheer. Both are watched over by a statue of Oliver Heywood (1825-1888) whose family made a fortune through banking and slavery.
The Heywood family's bank was called Heywood's and was run between 1788 and 1874. The building they built in the 1840s is now a Royal Bank of Scotland branch, at 25 St. Ann Street.
The Revealing Histories website: http://www.revealinghistories.org.uk states that the bank "prospered in the Victorian period and Oliver was able to devote considerable time to assist charities and liberal causes in both Manchester and Salford. Education was a particular interest and he supported schemes ranging from the establishment of working men’s colleges to Owens College, the forerunner of the University of Manchester.
Heywood’s willingness to devote both time and money to improve the city was viewed as exemplary, especially at a time when many wealthy citizens were moving to the suburbs and ignoring such public duties. Heywood was a supporter of many progressive causes and it is not surprising to find him attending meetings against slavery, such as the one held in Manchester in November 1872 which was concerned with the trade in enslaved Africans in east Africa."
The cottages by Lymm village pond were looking especially festive in the snow yesterday. The name has Celtic origins and means a place of running water. It is probably derived from an ancient stream that ran through the village centre- maybe in this very spot. There is a Dickensian Christmas festival held in Lymm every December- 2011's was held last weekend, more at: http://www.lymmdickensian.org.uk/
Snow came in varying amounts to the north west yesterday, and Daisy the labrador enjoyed running about in it. However, this photo was actually taken this time last year.
It looks unlikely we'll have a White Christmas. I think I can recall four or five in the past 12 years: 2010, 2009, 2003, 2000 and 1999. I'm not 100% sure about the accuracy of the last three- would any locals like to confirm or correct?
Buy someone you love a French Citroën car for Christmas - yours to drive away and wrap at the French Christmas Market on King Street, until 21st December. Another bonus is that it runs on biscuits not petrol...
"Christmas hasn’t truly begun until you’ve sipped a heartwarming cup of glühwein and wandered around the nine festive markets, offering all kinds of wonderful food, drink, gifts, clothes, accessories and toys from the four corners of Europe and beyond. Stroll along and immerse yourself in the spirit..."
This stallholder travelled 1000km from the Black Forest in Bavaria, where Munich is the major city, to Manchester to sell its traditional Bavarian cuckoo clocks at the Christmas markets.
However, the stall is dominated by the wonderful Russian Matryoshka dolls. The first Matryoshka dolls were made in Moscow in 1890 and depict Russian peasant women in traditional dress.
With the Soviet dawn of perestroika in the 1980s dolls appeared depicting Soviet leaders from Gorbachev down to Lenin. These days you can also find versions of the Matryoshkas as fairy tale figures, sports players, The Simpsons and The Beatles. I am pleased to report that only the traditional Matryoshkas were on sale here.
There's a cute video of two of the Christmas markets at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SustfvoRAVI It reminds me of an independent low budget romantic film, with the bashful young woman, the soundtrack and the angles of some of the shooting.
In the 1980s a giant inflatable Santa perched precariously on the roof or clutched the clock tower, sometimes with a sledge and reindeer. Either way, the gargoyles on the roof often took exception to having their space invaded and would present Santa with a slow puncture or two.
Looking down from the Manchester Wheel back in December 2005. The long brown stone building is Victoria station and the glass building was then the Urbis museum, built for the Milliennium and which celebrated cities around the world. The restaurant on the top floor, The Modern, was a good place to dine. Closed for the past couple of years, the building is due to reopen as the National Football Museum in 2012.
The building work to the top of the photo is now the so called Green Quarter- "...a self-contained urban oasis, combining 10 cutting-edge apartment blocks, business accomodation, hotel, leisure and retail facilities set against the precious commodity of lush landscaped open green space. Its close proximity to Victoria Station, the MEN Arena and The Printworks will heighten its appeal to people who value the convenience factor of a lifestyle on their doorstep."
A stall selling handcrafted bags (peace symbols are optional), hats and strings of lights at the World Christmas Market on Brazennose Street.
The Manchester Christmas Markets are rated in the World's Top 10 by US travel guides Frommer's, as confirmed in this interesting interview with Anya the glühwein stall owner. It was recorded as the markets set up last month and broadcast on local radio station Key 103 at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5kOCYz9RgE
Part of the Christmas tree in Albert Square, with the Town Hall clock tower behind.
The square is named after Prince Albert (who was first cousin and husband of Queen Victoria) and who is considered to have introduced the German tradition of a fir tree at Christmas to the UK. This occured from 1841 when he had one brought over from Germany for one of the many palaces that the British Royal Family reside in. The idea took off and the tree became an annual feature in more modest homes of the 19th century.
Deer spotting is a fun and easy pastime at the three largest National Trust properties in Cheshire. The thousands of acres of grounds at the stately homes in Dunham Massey, Lyme Park and Tatton Park are home to many deer. There are approximately 5,000 to be found at 12 National Trust properties throughout the UK.
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) as illlustrated here can be found at UK National Trust Properties in Calke, Charlecote, Lyme, Studley Royal, and Tatton. Fallow Deer (Dama dama), can be seen at Attingham, Belton, Calke, Charlecote, Crom, Dinefwr, Dunham Massey, Dyrham, Lyme, Petworth, Studley Royal and Tatton.
This recently unveiled monument of Fryderyk Chopin stands in Deansgate at the edge of the city centre's main shopping district. It marks the occasion when the Polish genius performed in Manchester in August 1848 at the Gentleman's Concert Hall, despite his failing health. Chopin died not long afterwards aged 39.
The Polish Heritage Society conceived the idea of a monument. Commissioned by The Chopin Memorial Monument Committee and The Polish Consulate, the sculptor is Robert Sobocinski, a Polish artist from Poznan.
The work depicts Chopin at the piano gazing across at his muse Baroness Aurore Lucile Dupon. Carved into the work is an eagle in flight – the symbol of Poland for over 1,000 years – and a battle scene symbolising the Polish fight for freedom. The bronze monument measures 4 metres high and 2.5 metres wide and is set on a sandstone plinth.
The Manchester Christmas markets are amongst the biggest and the best. They are in full swing now, having opened on 17th November, for the 13th year. Independent stallholders come from all over Europe to sell their wares alongside local craftsmen and women.
Travel guide Frommer’s travel named Manchester as one of the top 10 Christmas market locations, alongside Barcelona, Vancouver and Dresden.
There are nine markets at eight sites in the city centre this year containing dozens and dozens of stalls. We start today at the French Christmas Market in King Street and partake in a cup of seasonal French vin chaud. Just around the corner you can have the Germanic equivalent -gluhwein, or if you are feeling particularly Anglo Saxon about your choice of warm festive tipple, a cup of wassail (mulled cider).
Dawn over the Hacienda apartments (left) as a commuter train trundles along the railway viaduct.
The Hacienda nightclub opened in 1982 and closed in 1997, with dozens of groundbreaking acts playing there including Teardrop Explodes, A Certain Ratio, Echo and the Bunnymen, Jah Wobble and The Invaders Of The Hearts, Gregory Isaacs, Orange Juice, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Bauhaus, Gil Scott Heron, Psychedelic Furs, Simple Minds, The Violent Femmes, Madonna (in her early days-1984), New Order, Everything But The Girl, James, The Smiths, Blur, The Stone Roses...
The club was demolished and replaced by the Hacienda Apartments in 2002. The blue boards of the building on the right have now been there for about 20 years- I had thought they were temporary patching up for when the Olympic committee came to inspect the Manchester 1996 and 2000 Olympic bids (back in the early 1990s) but apparantly they are permanent, as the building has now been empty for two decades! The turret is part of the City Road pub.
Hang gliding is a spectacular way to see the Peak District, but rather them than me - I'll stick to walking. The Peak District Hang Gliding Centre has been operational since 1974:http://www.peakhanggliding.co.uk