Prestwich Beer Festival a.k.a. BeerPrest 2016

Beer fesitval

First up, truth time: I don’t drink beer. At all. But when you’ve got a brilliant community event like Prestwich Beer Festival on your doorstep – and a husband who very much enjoys a pint – you show up.

Returning to the Longfield Centre for the third year in a row, three-day booze fest BeerPrest draws folk from all over with its impressive range of pumps. We left our little lad with a non-family-member babysitter for the very first time (eeek!) to head to the launch night.

Given the aforementioned disclaimer, I’m afraid there’s nil I can say about the quality of the beery tipples on offer, but I do know that there seemed to be an awful lot of them, that most had pretty ridiculous names (Nutty Slack, anyone?), and that they seemed to be going down a treat with the crowd.

And praise be for this year’s addition of an artisan gin bar for me and all the other non-pint drinkers; my Williams Chase Seville Orange made a very lovely change from your bog-standard Gordons.

We supped our drinks while snacking on yummy Tampopo Thai crackers – not bad for a Thursday night spent just a short walk from our own front door. Unfortunately, given that we were on a pretty strict time limit (babysitting curfew), we weren’t able to catch much of the evening’s entertainment, but we were there to see Tony Walsh a.k.a. Longfella struggling a little to keep the boisterous crowd quiet enough to appreciate his poetry…

Nice one, BeerPrest – long may you continue.

In praise of Prestwich Hardware


This blog post is about what I believe is one of Prestwich’s finest yet often taken-for-granted shops.

Being a homeowner means that, more’s the pity, I occasionally need to sort myself out with a bit of amateur DIY kit like a picture hook or a radiator key. But, although I can shop with the best of them, I hate B&Q with a fiery passion; the endless aisles of overpriced equipment make me feel massively out of my depth, it takes forever to find what you need, and the terrible muzak they pipe through the place makes the whole experience even more torturous.

That’s why Prestwich Hardware has become so vital to our household (and my sanity).

Given that it was based in the same block, I’d been a bit concerned that Solita was going to edge out this lifesaver of a shop entirely – but instead it’s moved to a new, snazzier site over the road.

It might not have anywhere near the square footage of your average DIY superstore, but Prestwich Hardware is literally packed to the rafters with nuts, bolts and other handy bits. The friendly lady behind the counter has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the shelves’ contents and can help you find what you’re looking for in a matter of seconds; she’s always been very tolerant of my total cluelessness and has helped solve several of my totally uninformed bulb queries.

Normally, I’d link to a website or Facebook page here, but refreshingly Prestwich Hardware has absolutely no online presence.

Like the many other independent businesses round these parts, you imagine this shop must very much rely on the repeat custom of Prestwichians to keep going… So use it or lose it.

A plan for Prestwich high street: time to have your say

Prestwich high street planI’m aware I’m a bit slow on the uptake here (it takes much longer for topical goings-on to reach us here in ‘New Mum World’, dontcha know), but the big news round these parts lately has been the proposed changes to Bury New Road and the adjoining streets.

I think we can all agree that Prestwich high street isn’t currently a particularly nice place to loiter – cars are either speeding through or queuing solid depending on the time of day, and I can attest to the fact that the uneven, narrow pavements are especially tricky with a pram.

Bury Council have put forward two proposals to try and improve things; in brief, both would involve taking the main road down to one lane in both directions, widening the pavements, and adding cycle lanes and bus laybys; proposal 2 also includes the addition of a north-bound bus lane.

I know that the plans have proved contentious with many Prestwich folk, particularly the bits concerning the narrowing of the main roadway and the proposed road closures.

We’ve all got our own opinions on the best way forward (and I’ll not muddy the waters by jibbing in with mine here), and that’s why it’s so important to have our say via the official channels… And, as it’s nearly Christmas, if you haven’t done so yet, now’s the time!

You can visit the ‘A Plan for Prestwich High Street’ page online to read more about the proposals and tell the Council what you think of the schemes; you’ve got until the 30th December to get your views in there.

You can also give your thoughts in person by visiting Prestwich Library before 23rd December – council staff will be on hand at certain times if you’d like to discuss it with them or have any questions.


All The Shapes preview

All The Shapes door

Just a very quick blog to spread the word on the aceness of Prestwich’s new café bar All The Shapes.

Based in the former tanning salon on Warwick Street, this place is in a similar vein to Cuckoo but with more of a family-friendly, daytime focus (and real ale on tap, which husband was very happy about).

I popped in for a sneak preview on Sunday and, while the smell of fresh paint hung heavy in the air and they’re not fully ship-shape just yet, you can see that All The Shapes is going to be a very valuable addition to the village.

The ground floor offers a generously-stocked bar, coffee machine with all the bells and whistles, and plenty of room for prams (v. important for me nowadays), while the upstairs space is light, bright and ideal for bigger gatherings. And if the absolutely beautiful, homemade cinnamon parsnip cake with lime flavoured cream cheese icing that I had is anything to go by, the food is going to be awesome too.

There’s a lovely, chilled vibe about the place, and the owners were really welcoming – a few pics from my visit below.

I’ll be heading back for food very soon and will write up a proper review then, but in the meantime, they’re open from tomorrow onwards for a dry run before the official launch party on Friday.

All The Shapes barAll The Shapes ground floorAll The Shapes first floorAll The Shapes order

Prestwich Little Free Library

Prestwich Little Free Library

I came across a brilliant new local scheme on Facebook the other day – one that’s especially appealing given that I enjoy a good read.

Some clever, community-minded lovely has set up a Prestwich ‘Little Free Library’ network. There are currently three ‘libraries’ dotted throughout the village (you can find a map of their exact locations on the Prestwich Little Free Library Facebook page); these colourfully decorated cubbyholes are filled up with donated books. The idea is that you join in by taking one to read, and then return one later to pay back the favour.

Elliot and I had a little trundle along to check out the one nearest to us recently; the box was easy to spot and was full to the brim with books, mainly ones for the kiddies. We had a sift through and eventually claimed a parenting guide offering advice on getting your baby to sleep through (an issue that’s especially pertinent to us at the moment…).

Inevitably, there have been some problems with vandalism (some people suck) and making sure the libraries are waterproof enough to cope with the Manchester weather, but we hope that the faith and generosity of the person behind the idea will ultimately be returned in kind by the good people of Prestwich.

If you’ve got any unwanted books languishing in a cupboard that you’d like to swap for a new read then get involved.

Inside Heaton Hall

    Heaton Hall sign

Now that the long-neglected Heaton Hall is finally being renovated, it’s in a fit enough state to occasionally open for visitors. Last weekend, we headed there to take a guided tour run by the Friends of Heaton Hall group as part of the recent nationwide Heritage Open Days weekend.

As we’re always mooching around the park, finally getting to venture behind the metal fences that ring the building felt pretty special. The handful of rooms we saw during the 30-minute tour were actually in a much better state than I expected them to be, decked out with polished wood and extravagant gilding, with only the occasional sign of damp or peeling paint creeping in.

Heaton Hall downstairs room

Most of the original furnishing and fittings have long since been auctioned off, so the majority of the rooms stand almost totally empty – but in a way this actually helps you to get a better idea of the impressive scale of the place.

Our Guide was at pains to point out that they now believe much of the décor that was installed around 30 years ago is historically inaccurate; all the gold and clashing pastel shades do look a bit gaudy. Still, there’s no denying that it’s a very grand building which, with a bit more work and investment, will be truly spectacular.

Here are a few more pictures I took during our visit. If you’d like to take a look around yourself, keep an eye on the Friends of Heaton Hall Facebook page for news of the next bout of tours.

Statue in Heaton Hall entranceHeaton Hall staircaseHeaton Hall music roomHeaton Hall ceilingHeaton Hall fireplace

Solita Prestwich

Solita Prestwich exterior

There have been sky-high levels of anticipation surrounding the opening of Solita Prestwich, a fair proportion of which has been emanating from the direction of our house, it has to be said…

In January, the news broke that the folks behind the popular eatery (which is famed for its especially calorific, burger-dominated menu and the fact that it’s almost impossible to get a table at the Northern Quarter branch on a weekend night) would be opening their third outlet right here by amalgamating the old Aumbry and Bombay Cuisine sites into one mega restaurant.

The fitting-out hasn’t been an easy job – see the Solita Twitter account – and, with the building in a much worse state than first thought, the launch date has been pushed back and back. Over the past few weeks, I’ve regularly been trundling the pram along Bury New Road to have a nosy at the progress they’ve been making, and when I found out the grand opening was finally imminent, I kept a keen eye on my inbox waiting for the email that’d allow me to book a table for the soft launch.

Lucky for us, I was quick off the mark and managed to snag us a spot for a 50% off lunch a week and a bit after the opening. At the appointed hour we’re one of the first in, but the rest of the tables soon fill up with others keen to indulge in a bit of Saturday lunchtime carb-loading (when everything’s half the normal price, you’re pretty much justified in ordering twice as much as you usually would, right?).

My husband points out that our table towards the back of the restaurant is mere feet from where we would have sat when we last went to Aumbry, but the space has been so totally transformed, I can’t picture what was here before.

Solita Prestwich interior

No doubt you’ll have seen plenty of pics of the most notable interior feature – the ceiling of neon towards the front part of the building – already; it’s bloody awesome. The back part of the restaurant, which offers booths and long tables suitable for bigger parties, is a bit more stripped back design-wise but it’s clear that a whole lot of love – and money – has been poured into making this place all-round impressive.

We go ‘full burger’ ourselves by ordering Solita’s most lauded starter, the cheese burger spring rolls (they taste just like, well, cheeseburgers squished into a spring roll), followed by Bacon Double Cheese (husband) and Walk of Shame (me) burgers. Mine’s just what you want from a burger: huge (I have to dissect the tower of sauce, beef, bun and molten cheese in order to actually be able to fit any of it into my mouth), meaty and just the right amount of greasy. I have sweet potato fries on the side; Solita’s version are crinkle cut which seems to help them retain their crispiness better. It’s all immensely satisfying and, of course, just a bit guilt-inducing – but then you don’t come to a place like this if you’re weight watching.

Solita Walk of Shame burger

If you didn’t manage to get a table for the soft launch yourself you can still get through the door before the official 7th September opening as the basement bar is open to everyone. Plus Solita have also been offering up last-minute tables over on Twitter if you want to try your luck there.

Manchester Bee Company

Enamel bee badges

You’re no doubt familiar with the fact that the worker bee has been a prominently used symbol of Manchester since the Industrial Revolution – look closely and you’ll see they’re dotted all over the city, from the Town Hall’s mosaic floors to the street bins.

But what you might not know is that there’s a Prestwich-based crafter who runs her own business making stylish homeware bits and bobs that have the critters crawling all over them.

Manchester Bee Company offers everything from cards and keyrings to baby blankets and dog collars. Anita’s stripped-back but eye-catching designs give the bee prominence and/or shine the spotlight on other famous Manchesterisms, making them perfect gifts for proud Mancunians.

Manchester Bee Company keyrings

I’m desperate to get my hands on one of the enamel pin badges that she’s been selling lately (see main picture) but they’re so lovely that each new batch has been selling out within minutes of going on sale. If you fancy one yourself, keep your eye on the Twitter or Facebook feed to be the first to find out when they’re available again (wearing one of these beauties is certainly a less painful way to show your allegiance to your city than getting one of the worker bee tattoos that seem to be so popular recently…).

In the meantime, you can buy the rest of the range from the Manchester Bee Co Etsy shop. Or if you’d prefer to pick something up in person, local stockists include Rose & Lee Vintage Living and The Stables at Heaton Park.

BBC filming in Prestwich


You might have noticed lots of chatter about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall around Prestwich lately, as the foodie TV presenter is apparently in the area filming with the BBC.

Information on the programme itself is a little bit scarce, but, according to this video of Hugh at the launch event which was shared on the Prestwich People Facebook page, it’s all about “the things that we buy and the things that we throw away”.

I emailed the production company Keo Films looking for a bit more background on the project, but unfortunately didn’t get a response. You’ve got to assume, though, that Prestwich has been chosen as the setting because of the infamously stingy but ground-breaking bin collection schedule we have to suffer around here.

Both a Twitter and a Facebook page with the moniker ‘Wastenot Prestwich’, which seem to have an association with the programme, have popped up, and it looks like lots of locals are getting involved with the filming. (If they’re offering up any tips on how to get to the end of the three-week period without our grey bin being full to burst, I’m definitely interested in hearing more myself!)

I haven’t spied Hugh yet but, according to The Church Inn’s Twitter feed, he’s already popped in for a pint at the pub. So be sure to keep an eye out for him, and also give those social pages a like or a follow if you’d like to be kept informed on what’s going on.

Prestwich Pilates & Yoga opens

Prestwich Pilates & Yoga equipment

Just a quick blog to spread news of an exciting opening here in Prestwich – we now have our own Pilates and Yoga studio.

Located in the lovely Bank House Studios building on Warwick Street, Prestwich Pilates & Yoga offers a wide variety of classes for different skill levels (obviously, the mum and baby yoga class is of particular interest to me at the moment).

It’s being run by the same people behind Natural Balance Pilates in Ramsbottom, and is all kitted out with the latest equipment and a serene vibe – you can bet it’d be a lot more peaceful exercising in here than in the Longfield…

Definitely worth investigating if your wellbeing’s on the wane!

Prestwich Pilates & Yoga interior

Prestwich Pilates & Yoga machines