Friday 22 May 2009

Bolton: it's really quite alright

Funnily enough having lived in Manchester practically all my life, I hadn't really visited Bolton that much until recent times. In truth it hadn't really registered on my radar. My first visit in recent years had been to the Council and another visit was for a Wedding at the Holiday Inn.

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.
High street shopping is good in Bolton, if you don't want to hike the trafford centre and Manchester City Centre. It's the usual suspects.

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 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.
I've have been told Bolton has a lively night life. I cannot possibly comment on this, but with the amount of bars situated in the area, I reckon it could be true.

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!

Saturday 16 May 2009

Warrington: it's a bit boring

Yes, I'm sad to say Warrington is a bit boring. A few Saturdays ago I spent a dull afternoon in Warrington and well it just didn't excite me.

What can I say in it's favour? The council went a bit mental on the street art - all shapes and sizes that makes life different. There is a fab art shop with lovely 1950s signage, stripped wood flooring and a fab ambience.

What else? Lots and lots of roundabouts. Ikea - a joy to women and a hell to men. Half way between Manchester and Scouse land. The charity shops are okay - nothing brillant, but nothing too bad.

And the down side? It's very flat and it resides in a 1960s precient hell.

I could waffle on for a thousand words, but really only less than two hundred words will suffice. It's dull, so don't expect much - jump on a train as Manchester and Liverpool have much more to offer.