Saturday 25 June 2016

Rediscovering Manchester #3 Common Bar // Museum of Science and Industry

Despite living in Manchester most of my life, I've never felt particularly bonded with it. I prefer the other two cities I've lived in, Liverpool and London, and I've never felt like a true Mancunian; despite being very proud of being Northern.

But I'm back here now, and here I'm staying for at least the foreseeable future. So I decided I would give Manchester a chance; I would visit places, revisit places, wander around, try and get a feel for the city I've called home for over 20 years. And because I never do anything without an ulterior motive, I figured this would also make an excellent blog post series. This is the third of my Rediscovering Manchester posts.


This edition comes with bonus Americans in the form of friends Lili and Sarah, who were on Study Abroad programmes until last month and who came to visit me for a few days. We headed to Common bar for food as they had good veggie options. Common underwent a refurb in early 2015 and has quite a minimalist, modern theme now, vaguely Scandinavian and there was definitely a nice casual, chilled out vibe to the place. 

I ordered deep fried pickles and fries with a side of soured cream. I know, I'm like incapable of ordering a proper meal anymore. It was super delicious though; the batter on the pickles lacked some colour but was nice and crispy and the fries were properly seasoned and delicious. There was enough of both that I had enough to share and felt full afterwards. 

I had a hot Vimto to drink, mostly so my American companions could try it. I forgot how much I like hot Vimto! I approve of any Mancunian eatery that has this fine beverage on its menu. 

I've seen so much about the cakes at Common which are made by a company called Blawd. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with the selection on the day we visited; there were no brownies or doughnuts, clearly the day after a bank holiday is not the day to go. All the cakes had something I don't like (Coffee, cardamom and walnut, lemon, elderflower and white chocolate, carrot and courgette) which admittedly is at least part down to my fussiness. I ended up opting for a coconut macaroon (not to be confused with a French Macaron) which was fine, but coconut macaroons are never going to be groundbreaking. 

We then headed to The Museum of Science and Industry, which I haven't been to since I was a kid. We got a little lost and walked the long way there but it was nice to see a bit more of the city. I love the outside of the building because it's so industrial - perfect for an industrial city! The front part of the inside has been completely redone since I last went, and is an homage to the technical side of Manchester's history which I really liked. The back room is all about Manchester's textile history because of course Manchester and its surrounding areas had lots of cotton mills during the Industrial Revolution. I liked the interactive elements of this area, and the mill in the middle of the room is a nice touch--they have daily demonstrations which we sadly missed. 

We moved upstairs to the experiments room, which is the thing I remember most about from visits as a child. A lot of the experiments are actually still there, which was very nostalgic, though some are looking a little shabby now/weren't working. It felt a little sparser than when I was a child and was a bit more open plan whereas when I was a child there were lots of black partitions separating parts of the floor which I always really liked. But I'm also much bigger now, so naturally the space would feel smaller. We had lots of fun trying to solve puzzles and things. 

We also visited the Air and Space hall, which I always loved a child. Full of old planes and cars, the hall is full of Mancunian vehicular history such as the Ford Model T, built in Trafford Park, and Rolls-Royce, which started life in Manchester. 

Visiting the museum was such a trip down memory lane for me; my family went all the time when I was a child but I hadn't been back for well over a decade. It was sad to see parts of it looking a little worn, but great to see that it's still a fab trip out with a lot to offer.