13 August, 2014

Blogging Bloopers: When you're a Blogger but your Boyfriend isn't

"Just hold the camera."

"Hold it straight!!!."

"Now you're taking a picture of me, so hold it portrait style and make sure you get in some of this cupcake I'm eating.......NO, THAT'S LANDSCAPE!"

"Ahhhhh it's blurred, you need to take it again. No need for the flash, plenty of light in here. It's on automatic, it'll focus automatically, leave the lens alone."

"Seriously babe, I need a decent pic with me in it."

As much as I love my other half, he's not the creative type. Instead, he's the 'really awesome at science and maths' type, with a flair for cleaning our apartment in such a way, you'd think no one lived there. He does not posses an online digital life, has no Facebook or Twitter account (say what!?) and recently asked me "What's Tinder?". He understands that I write a blog and on a rare day he'll even read a post or two. He cannot comprehend my interest or passion for sharing my images, thoughts and experiences with total strangers and fellow bloggers on the world wide web and often gets more than a little irate when I reach for my camera before departing for another weekend or evening adventure. 

The majority of images shared on my blog are taken by me. I enjoy dabbling in photography and while I'm certainly no expert, it's part of the blogging process I love. Time after time again the images shared, document the experience we're having, the food we're eating the interiors of a lovely bar, but more often than not, I am absent from them. As well as being the blogger of the our relationship, I'm also the photographer. The person who captures our holiday experiences, nights out with friends and birthday celebrations. In all of these albums, the other half is captured in the best light, casually looking into the distance, laughing with friends or supping on a warm coffee with little ole me on the other side of the lens, part of the experience, yet somehow removed from it also.

In an effort to share more with you, dear readers, I've taken to teaching him a few photography basics.The rule of thirds, shutter speeds and natural light are ever.so.slowly becoming part of our daily conversation, but I've yet to get him hooked. Asking him to 'take a few pics for my blog' is still a bit of a chore for him but bless his cotton socks he's trying. 

He hasn't quite mastered the art of capturing a non-blurry image, but I love him for trying and for putting up with my endless requests. If anything, the images above serve as a reminder that writing and capturing images for blogging can be a long (but fantastically enjoyable!) process. That behind the blogger, there's often another person, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a bestie or family member putting up with your shameless image taking requests. Today, we salute you, photography skills or no photography skills!

10 August, 2014

Guilty by Association (GBA), Stevenson Sq - Manchester Cocktails #1

You could be forgiven for walking past GBA (Guilty by Association) and completely missing it or not even noticing that beneath the busy streets, lies a rather lovely and inviting bar underground. I had walked past it on several occasions, not for once thinking it was a bar but more often than not, assuming it was an office or a gallery space of sorts. It was the boy who told me otherwise. 

If we don't have a plan set in concrete for our weekends, we usually find ourselves strolling around the city, eating a few nibbles along the way and popping in and out of newly discovered shops, cafes and bars. It's become a little hobby. A game where we ask Manchester to surprise us. Manchester never fails and we win by getting to experience a whole host of culinary treats or sweet and tipsy inducing cocktails.

Recently GBA, became our Saturday place of choice. We made our way underground via the dark staircase and I honestly had no idea what to expect. I thought perhaps I would be greeted by a dark bar, low lighting, a space difficult to navigate through, however it was the opposite that proved to be the case.

GBA has the aesthetic of a bar 'right up my street'. Mismatched furniture containing some pre-loved car seats from automobiles gone by, exposed ceilings and a mixture of brick and wood paneling lining the walls. The art of creating a look that says we haven't tried too hard is indeed, a difficult one to master, but I love what GBA has achieved. It's a comfortable space and for the day that was in it, it was the perfect choice to relax for an hour.

Having chosen some pre-loved car seats to rest our legs, we made our way to the bar. I was quick to grab the cocktail menu and seek out a new potion to try. Manchester it seems, has given me the new confidence to say to a barman, "What do you recommend?". For you see, being a barman here brings with it a whole host of knowledge and experience. Many are well versed in the language of cocktail making, often creating their own signature cocktails and adding them as special on the menu that day. Being a barman here is a respected profession and there are competitions to enter and awards to win should you meet the standard of what makes a great barman or mixologist.

We got chatting to the GBA barman who happily shared his knowledge and clear love of making cocktails. I did my usual "There's so much choice here in Manchester" spiel and the boy eyed up the menu while I blabbed away. The barman and I got chatting about great cocktail bars in Manchester and he openly shared about the importance of including the senses when making a great cocktail and how different brain receptors work when using a variety of ingredients. It really fascinated me.

In the end, I chose 'Sassy Bitch', mainly because the barman assured me it was sweet tasting and that the alcohol wouldn't be overpowering. That's the thing about me, I prefer my drinks not to taste too strong, I just can't handle it. I like to know I'm drinking without knowing I'm drinking. The boy chose a jam based cocktail created by the owner of the bar and then I sat back and drooled over the skill of the barman as he prepared our drinks.

And it's the skill of cocktail creation that I'm fascinated in. The process and how barmen remember the exact amount of ingredients to add. The array of equipment and contraptions used to make the perfect drink. I love the finer details, like delicately pouring or adding a piece of mint on top, or in the case of my cocktail, a sweet raspberry and a sprinkle of popping candy. I love the choice of glasses they can be served in, Roberts cocktail was in a jam jar, a nod to the jam ingredient. I love it all and I want to learn more.

Excitedly we took our drinks to our car seats of choice and chilled out. Very kindly, the barman gave us two shot glasses of 'Sassy bitch', explaining he made a little too much and rather than let it go to waste, he made two miniature cocktails, complete with popping candy. I thought it was a sweet and generous gesture. I've discovered in so many Manchester eateries and bars that if you ask questions and take an interest, those on the receiving end are happy to help, often letting you try a little something in advance. If anything, it's excellent customer service.

As is the norm with us (and most couples I expect) we tasted each others drinks. The boys was delicious, not too overpowering, sweet but no so much that even he wouldn't be able to drink it. Mine was divine, just divine. The foamy froth melting away in your mouth to reveal a deep tasting cocktail which warmed me up. We chatted, relaxed and took in the surroundings. It was a number of hours before the night crowd would appear so the space felt chilled, peaceful and not packed to the brim with loud crowds.

With that our cocktails were gone. We did ponder purchasing a few more but decided to keep our pennies for another cocktail adventure. It seems that a new bar appears to be popping up every few weeks. Its hard to keep up, but it's a hobby we're most definitely enjoying.

03 August, 2014

Montpellier's, Back Turner Street - Manchester Eats #4

Here's the thing about Manchester. You can eat out every weekend for a year and still not visit the same place twice such is the variety of spaces and places to choose from. Tucked away on the little side street of Back Turner Street, you will discover Montpellier's cafe and bar. It's easy to miss but once found, it's a quaint spot with a nice 'lets just stay here a while' vibe and atmosphere.

After a month of sunshine and high humidity, the rain fell hard in Manchester on Saturday and we took solace in Montpellier's. From the outside, it was the kind of spot I needed it to be  in that very moment. Not too packed, no large crowds and no blaring music, a mini resting oasis in a dense urban jungle. Inside, there are seating areas next to large windows and an extended space to the left, painted in a calming purple which on the occasion that we visited had been reserved. There is also a basement level but we didn't explore this area choosing instead to sit at a vacant table close to the bar. 

Not feeling particularly hungry they boy and I decided we would share a board of cheeses, meats and relish complete with some crusty bread. Some water on the side and we were prepped to refuel and just be while the rain battered the cobbled streets outside. For our board of choice we choose a mixture of chorizio, parma ham, brie, piccollo cheese, sun blushed tomatoes, artichoke hearts and spicy sausage. As mentioned it was served with not one but two types of relish, both of which were smokey and sweet but really complemented our cheese selection.

When our boards arrived, we noticed a small bowl of olives and realized that by accident, we had been served these instead of parma ham, however after walking the bustling city, we opted not to say anything. It wasn't a big deal except for the fact we both hate olives. I will admit, I was really looking forward to the parma ham I just hadn't the energy to call back the waitress to ask for it to be exchanged. My bad. The chorizio however was a particular hit. One of my favourite things to eat, the remaining oil / sauce it sat in was the perfect dip for our crusty, warm bread. Despite the fact we shared a board, the meal itself was quite filling and very enjoyable. As the boy had quite the large appetite we don't normally choose sharing boards or platters, but in this instance it was the perfect choice.

If anything above, the image above tells me I'm in desperate need of a haircut and that my recent weight loss (Due to eating clean 90 percent of the time) is leaving me flat chested! (oh dear!) Fed and watered with smiles on our faces, we saw the rain had finally subsided and we gathered our things and braved the outdoors not before snapping these pretty chalkboards facing the entrance.
 I think these maybe Pinterest worthy.

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