Wednesday, December 11, 2019

This thing of ours - so lucky

I've said before how much I cherish our trips to the football with two of my lads. The rock on which this is built is partly our bond, but also the underlying foundation of football culture in our country. Sometimes it can be toxic and repellent, but for the most part we need to remind ourselves that it is a collective pursuit of a common good and something unifying in a time of division. Afterall, all living is meeting, and we have a really good laugh along the way.

We had a great fun day out in the sponsors lounge at Stoke with a mate and his business colleagues, who generously let the lads present the man of the match award to a gutted Joe Allen. He's probably our favourite Stoke player, though that's particularly for his international performances as the Welsh Xavi. 

Then the next Saturday, on the train home from our win over Derby, three lads from Finland got on my horrible Northern Rail train home at Manchester Piccadilly. They'd been to Everton v Chelsea, they were then heading for Norwich for a game the next day to see the Canaries Finnish striker Teemu Pukki. Clearly they were on the wrong train, having been as confused as I often am by Platform 13, and I so hope they managed to get to Carrow Road eventually. But in that short space of a journey to Stockport we talked about so much, mainly Shefki Kuqi, Stockport County and next year's European Championships, the first major tournament Finland have qualified for.

"You are so lucky," one said, while his mate shuffled anxiously through the Trainline app to find another route across our rail network. "To have this football culture in your country. We have nothing like this." He's so right, we are lucky.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

New blog feature - Manchester lunches - and the first winner is... R&V

I've started a new feature on this blog and on Instagram. Manchester lunches.

It's not a fine dining extravaganza, but where I might go in the middle of the day, either with someone I'm externally engaging with (it's my job, afterall), or catching up with one of the sons.

I picked my best one each week through November, which included Tampopo (quality but pricey and in a poor location), Cafe Istanbul (solid and filling) and VietShack in Ancoats, which did a spectacularly spicy and dirty plate of Viet fries.

But the best all round lunch of this month was a new discovery, R and V on Oxford Street opposite Churchgate House, HQ of the Greater Manchester Mayor and other 'family' institutions. I went with a politician from one of the Boroughs who highly recommended it. He wasn't wrong. The ciabatta was a decent base for a Brasilien chicken salad sandwich with pineapple, cashews and salad. Really fresh and tasty. Another major plus was the space downstairs with a really chilled ambience.

The comments on the post also suggested that the owner really knows what he's doing and has the respect of some decent foodie types.

I’m getting quite militant about this now, there really is no excuse for eating crap at lunchtime in the city centre.