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London: A gateway to the UK’s other cities

The majority of people that travel to the UK seem to settle for just seeing London. It’s a shame, because the UK has a lot more to offer than just the business capital of the world. One thing London can be extremely useful for is it can act as a gateway for extensive travel if you wish to venture out of the urban metropolis that is London.

London, Manchester

With direct bus routes and trains to practically everywhere in England, Wales and Scotland there are so many places that are attainable to visit – even if it’s only for a day trip. In England alone, the options available are boundless with cities like Oxford, Cambridge and York steeped in tradition. However, when it comes to recent cultural significance, Manchester could potentially be one of the most interesting options to consider.

Manchester has a vibrant nightlife, a bevvy of world-renowned restaurants ran by some of Europe’s most ambitious and creative executive chefs as well as a bustling music scene. It’s a cauldron of artsy types that have been making waves since the 80s when it was arguably the city’s most creative period.

The music scene…

Back in the 80s, Manchester was the home to the acid-house movement as well as producing some of the indie world’s most successful bands. The majority of which got their start as the famous Hacienda which was ran by Factory Records and indie band New Order. Unfortunately the site has now been turned into flats, but you can still walk round the region and take in what was the birthplace of many iconic British bands. Joy Division, New Order and Stone Roses all got their start at the Hacienda among others.

The Universities…

Manchester Metropolitan and the University of Manchester all add to the live entertainment offerings of the city. Built into the University of Manchester campus the various Manchester Academies host some of the best in new music and are worth checking out. In total there are 4 venues, which differ in size and host clubs nights as well that are open to tourists, locals and students.

Art Galleries…

Manchester has a significant amount of well-respected art houses that regularly put on exhibitions. Among the most visited is Manchester Art Gallery, which is located just off Princess Street in the centre of Manchester. It’s open 7-days a week between the hours of 10am-5pm.

The rich sporting history of Manchester…

Aside from its recognisable cricket ground, Old Trafford which regularly holds England test matches, the city is also home to two of English football’s most famous teams. Manchester City and Manchester United have an illustrious past with the latter being one of the most successful clubs in world football. Manchester United’s stadium holds 70,000 people and is a fantastic sight if you get chance to pass by the area.

Accessing Manchester from London…

There are direct trains and buses that run straight from London. If you are to get a train, these run throughout the day from London’s Kings Cross. However, this can be quite an expensive form of travel especially if you’re booking tickets last minute or during rush hour periods.

For alternative travel you could look at considering flying from London to Manchester. Many low budget airlines fly out of Heathrow and Gatwick directly to Manchester International Airport, which is considered one of the busiest airports in the UK. If you can find a cheap flight, this is probably the most efficient option as the airport is only a stones through from the city centre.

Summer Breaks in Manchester: Screenfields 2012

Pick a weekend between now and 26 July, book a few days leave and a room at any of the Manchester hotels – Screenfields is back for 2012.

Begin a spring/summer weekend in Manchester with an open aired film screening in the heart of Manchester’s Spinningfields square. Shown every Thursday night from now until the final screening, Notting Hill on 26 July, films change every week and are just 2 GBP per person.

A full programme can be found on the Spinningfields website, along with other information about the area.

If you’ve chosen one of the Manchester hotels close to Spinningfields, in the centre of the city, Hey Little Cupcake! is an excellent start to your days.

Located on Little Quay Street, next to Nando’s, this little bakery cum café sells the most delightfully charming cupcakes complete with the Teapigs cuppa of your choice.

Hey Little Cupcake! can also play host to private parties as well as pre-bookable scheduled sugarcraft and decorating classes.

The shopping opportunities surrounding the Spinningfields area are sensational. The estate is located just a few steps away from Deansgate with its House of Fraser department store and nearby designer boutiques as well as high street names. The Arndale Centre is a ten minute stroll away.

There is such a variation of dining options in Spinngfields, even the fussiest of eaters will be spoilt for choice. From basic bagel bars to wondrous meals at Wagamama, whether you want a light bite or a full meal, all bases are covered.

A little distance away from the square, other eateries and bars such as Browns Bar and Brasserie and The Hard Rock Café give some additional eating options for your stay. The clubs and pubs on Canal Street are fabulous fun, but for classier cocktails head to The Living Room followed by Bijou.

The best deals on Manchester hotels are online. Book yours now for your Spinningfields, Screenfields summer stay.

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Jamaica: Little Ochie Delivers Big Taste

Way down on the southwestern coast of Jamaica, just over the Manchester border from St. Elizabeth is a seaside restaurant called Little Ochie (not to be confused with Ocho Rios on the island’s north coast).

Started in 1989 by Evrol “Blackie” Christian, this little spot has become a favorite destination for Jamaicans (some of whom travel 2-3 hours to get there) and visitors alike who are looking for freshly caught fish and seafood cooked to order.

Little Ochie boat table
Boat Table

Strewn on the black sand of Alligator Pond as if they had been scattered by some unseen hand, are canoes – the primary means of getting the fish that’s served and sold here – that now have been raised off the sand, outfitted with tables and benches, and sheltered by thatched roofs.

Once you place your order, for fish or seafood, and decide how you want it done – steamed, jerked, fried or grilled – it is prepared and brought to your table.

FoodieTuesday Steamed fish with vegetables Little Ochie
Steamed Fish with potato, carrots, okra, bammie
Jerk Lobster from Little Ochie
Jerk Lobster

I’ve had the steamed snapper and it is delicious. The jerked lobster is to die for but if you visit between April 1st and June 30th, you’ll be out of luck. It is illegal in Jamaica for anyone to have or serve lobsters, whole or in part — this is so that the lobsters can breed and replenish.

You can also select sides: roasted breadfruit, bammie or rice and peas. While you wait for your order, grab a cold Red Stripe, rum and Coke or any drink from their extensive selection, or watch the fishermen push off or return from fishing.

Little Ochie Boats
Pushing out to sea

Little Ochie is more than a restaurant, it’s an experience that delivers big taste without breaking the bank.

Little Ochie,
 or 876-610-6566

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