Recently, since the move to Swinton, my latest visits have been for shopping and I have to admit I like it.
I've been mainly parking at the market centre. Apparently it had been a covered proper market for years, until it had a makeover and moved Debenhams in (a minus point really) and lots of high street chains (another minus point). They have an odd parking token system and I always get lost trying to find the carpark. I could us other car parks, but it's right in the centre and in truth I'm a bit lazy.
They have a nice big square in Bolton that is surprisingly grand for a Northern town. The last time I was there it was a very sunny day and it happened all the nutters came out. Then again northern towns will always have it's fair share of the mentally unstable.
There are some fast food stalls in Bolton like 'Wraps 'n Rolls' and the big sausage stall in the square where the young girl serving was more interested in checking out the local talent rather than serve customers. Fair do's - I would do the same if I was 16 and from Bolton.
The charity shops were okay too and lots of them too. The books were relatively interesting (my specialist interest) and there seemed to be interesting records for my other half to purchase and resell on the internet. Go to http://www.vinylnet.co.uk/ and support local record shops and my other half. Anyway Bolton does prove my theory of poor working class areas have the best, most resaleable musical taste. Believe me posh areas like Wilmslow and Alderley Edge have really shocking musical donations to charity shops, which you couldn't shift in a month of Sundays.
Another thing I loved about these charity shops were the people working in them. It amused me some old ladies in Scope objected to the MCing by some young people outside their shop. They wanted to find their loud hailer to block it out.
I liked the fact Bolton still has an old stylee independent department store called 'Whitakers' and the book shop 'Sweetens' opposite. I really liked 'Sweetens' - there is something I love about independent book shops and this has a lovely quirky feel that doesn't hide it's witchcraft section away in far flung corners of the shop and has a darn fine self-help section, which I am addicted to. They should have a serious gold star for still being in existence.
Obviously there is a Starbucks, which has some sixth form lad with a bad white man afro - not a good look that he will regret in years to come. My other half like the fact they do rather good extra chocolate milk shakes. It's in the market hall, which is nice. There are plenty of other coffee places on offer, but if you want a soya, decaf, caramel machiatto, it's good to go.
The recession has definately hit Bolton with some empty shops units including Woolies, but on a sunny day it had a good number of people knocking about and the cheap shops were buzzing.
Bolton is a surprising alright kind of place, which I didn't expect. It has decent shoping, an excellent theatre and didn't scare me in the slightest. Go on - do a random trip to Bolton!