Monthly Archives: August 2011

Markets and Bar San Juan


On Saturday our family visited with the intention of doing a bit of shopping at the markets on Manchester Road. We had a quick look round last month and thought they would enjoy it… and they did. Very much.

For anyone who is even newer to Chorlton than us, they are every 3rd Saturday of the month, just outside the Library. Lots of the stalls were the same as last time, but that didn’t stop me having a good look round again. My girlfriends parents bought meat, olives, some very ugly tomatoes (the uglier the better) and some plants. We stuck to what we know; cakes and biscuits. We tried some super chocolately cookies from a stall called Polka Dot and some caramel shortbread from Tea Hive. The friendly lady on this stall told us they are opening a tea room where Partytime Uk was situated. Very exciting news! Really looking forward to this opening. There are plenty places serving coffee on our doorstep, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so a proper tea room would be very welcome on this side of Chorlton.

The parents offered to take us out to lunch and we have been looking forward to the tapas at Bar San Juan, so that was where we headed. As it was really sunny, we wanted to sit outside. There was a table for 6 outside, but just as we got there one man sat down, so we had to squish round two bar tables and sit on stools. I was very much hoping it would be worth it! There wasn’t a wine list, but the waitress assured that the house wines were good, so a bottle was ordered and I also had a nice cold pint of Cruzcampo.

The table was pretty full before we even got our food, but the way it was served meant that we were very comfortable. There were small forks in a pimento tin on the table, we were not given little side plates, so we were all sharing from each dish.

We ordered about 10 dishes, including the albondigas, tortilla, patas bravas, choriza and white bait. There wasn’t one thing we didn’t enjoy. My favourite was the patas ali oli, as it was really heavy on the garlic, and I like that. Everything arrived bit by bit, which was great, because we could make room for more. I don’t know much about the history of this place, apparently it has changed hands, but the place really filled up as the afternoon went on, so I’m guessing it is still very popular.

It’s no wonder though. We found it very relaxed, with good service, good prices and a tasty selection of tapas. We do have one huge criticism though. When we went inside, heard the music and smelt the food, we felt like were were on holiday. It was such a great way to spend a few hours, relaxing, eating and drinking. I really felt like going for a swim and a snooze on the beach afterwards! Coming back down to earth and realising we weren’t actually on holiday was a bit of a let down!

Gem xx


Chorlton on a budget?


For one reason and another, not least because Pride is coming up, I have found myself on a bit of a budget…. and with a fair bit of time on my hands.

This afternoon I had a few hours to kill and I needed the ingredients for our tea, a few yawn worthy household essentials and I wanted cheering up. I set off with a tenner in my pocket, feeling less than optimistic. First stop was the Library.

I was so pleased to walk in and see the place looking alive. The computers were all full and there were people in every section, sitting at every table, just taking advantage of the facilities. I needed to update my details with them, so I got that out of the way and wandered round for quite some time, thinking to myself, I can borrow any of these books for free, so this budgeting can’t be too bad. I picked up a book about spending less and still being happy, read that for a while and felt good.

Next was the precinct for said household goods, which slashed my tenner in half in one go. I still needed food, oh and ingredients for cupcakes (family members coming over for coffee and I like to bake for visitors). At our last home, the nearest place for fresh fruit and veg was the Tesco extra, and that was a 20 minute walk away, so I’ve been trying to embrace the whole local shopping idea. I had no idea how much money I could save and how different it would make me feel.

For a start, everything seems to look and smell better when it is out of the supermarket environment. More importantly, everything isn’t in bags, so I can just buy what I need, which saves a fair bit of money.

After this I popped into the Barbakan. I had a sneaking suspicion this was the cheapest place for creme fraiche and I was right. (I’m a natural at this bargain hunting). Will probably have a lot more to say about this place soon. So far, just been for breakfast, but people have recommended I try the sizzlers…? Heading home, I realised I had everything I needed and I still had 70p! I couldn’t resist calling in Bittersweet for a pick and mix.

The false teeth were a-maz-ing! And I got some Catherine Wheels for my other half, otherwise I would have been in bother! Chatting to the man in the sweetshop, I realised I had a massive grin on my face and it stayed that way the whole journey home (approximately 2 minutes, but hey). Damn, it feels good to buy things from independent shops! I gained so much today, but feel like I gave something back. I’d had a lovely afternoon, instead of just heading to Tescos, grabbing more than I needed and driving home again. Somehow, my cakes this evening tasted even better than ever before…

Gem xx

ps. Any top tips for bargains, greatly appreciated!

Bittersweet – what a treat!


Some things can brighten up even the gloomiest of days… Today we visited Bittersweet, the new old school sweet shop on Manchester Road.  I’m choosing my words carefully here, because there are lots of ‘retro’ sweet shops at the moment, and I don’t think this place fits that mould.

Firstly, the quality produce on display means that you are tempted by much more than just wham bars and fizz whizz. There are  chocolates, trays of fudge and slices of nougat. Secondly, the attention to detail with the branding is lovely. Every jar of sweets has the shops own label on, so everything looks beautiful on the shelves.

They do also have a selection of penny sweets. These unsurprisingly don’t cost just the one pence, but I think they are reasonably priced enough that a kids will be able to call in and get a good selection with their pennies!

Some of my happiest memories of growing up are going to the sweet shop and spending *ages* trying to decide what to have, so it was nice to see the shop assistant carrying on with his jobs while we took our time. He was very friendly when we did get round to ordering, taking time to tell us about the logo design and generally making chat. Going to this shop is so much more fun than just grabbing something sweet at the supermarket. I will be back… probably far too often.

Gem xx

Oh, I almost forgot. We had sherbert lemons and liquorice. We were feeling very Harry Potter.