Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

What to do for a weekend in Manchester 

Manchester is a thriving city, brimming with things to do and places to see. However, getting around the UK can be a bit of a nightmare at the best of times, trains may be slightly quicker but prices are extortionate. So, I opted for a cheaper – and in my opinion – far more comfortable alternative. If you are wondering¬†what to do for a weekend in Manchester, read on…

Departing Oxford just after 8am, I boarded my National Express coach to Manchester. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised, all National Express coaches come with leather seats, air conditioning, power sockets and toilets as standard. They ever offer a downloadable entertainment system VUER for free, which offers films, TV programmes and magazines.

VUER, National Express to Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

If you have ever been on a long coach journey before without a charger and toilet –¬†and I have –¬†it is not a fun time. The coaches are modern and comfortable, with adjustable leg rests, spacious seats and supported head rests –¬†just perfect for a little mid-journey snooze.¬†With a brief stopover to switch coaches in Birmingham, we were off again and before you know it, we were in Manchester, ready to explore the sights.

We arrived in Manchester city centre at around 1pm and were ready to kick start our weekend of cafes, culture and cocktails galore. Here are my top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester:

Top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

We needed an infusion of culture so headed to the Manchester Art Gallery. The gallery is spectacular, housing an assortment of classic and contemporary pieces. A particularly interesting exhibition space was dedicated to the relationship between art and mindfulness.¬†And Breathe…¬†allowed guests to stop and pause for a moment, appreciating the connection between the two.

Afflecks, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Afflecks, Manchester

You could spend an entire day in and around the Northern Quarter, soaking up the area before strolling through Afflecks¬†indoor market and many a quirky shop. There is lots of retro, nostalgic and vintage treasures to be found and bought in Afflecks. It’s a lot of fun to rummage around the many shops and I have to admit, it¬†reminded me of Camden Market on a much smaller scale.

John Rylands Library, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

John Rylands Library, Manchester

The John Rylands Library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, and is housed in an impressive Neo-Gothic building. Step inside, and you will discover its grand history and architecture, alongside its vast collection of treasured books and manuscripts. We were lucky to stop by as the Women Who Shaped Manchester exhibition was on. It detailed the journeys of incredible women, past and present. Women who used their wits and determination to overcome many a societal challenge.

National Football Museum, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

National Football Museum, Manchester

I am not a fan of the great game but the National Football Museum is impressive. My other half was delighted, heading around the various exhibitions and it was a highlight of his trip. Inside, discover a diverse range of worldwide memorabilia and interactive skills-based challenges. The penalty shoot game ever featured the old Wembley goal!

Starters, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester

The eXchange Food and Drink Lounge is a rustic restaurant that does not fail to impress. Within, discover a restaurant area, bar, sports screens and even a kids area. Perfect for all the family, the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge offers incredible dining, spectacular cocktails and an evening of chatter and memories. Read my review of my experience here.

The Liars Club, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

The Liars Club, Manchester

While in Manchester, we proved to be frequent patrons of The Liars Club. It is a tropical tiki bar with an enviable selection of global rum and a vibrant and funky interior. The cocktails were incredible and good-value for money. You could lose hours sipping away listening to Reggae tunes aplenty. They even offer a two drinks for £10 happy hour on weekdays!

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester

Sunset by Australasia is an Instagram dream. It offers a  stunning pastel pink and gold interior, alongside an outside terrace embellished with vibrant flower wall and plush seating and cushions. Sunset by Australasia is gorgeous Рbut the cocktails are even better. So, grab a frozen Prosecco sorbet blend and let the world go by for a few hours.

Sugar Junction interior, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sugar Junction, Manchester

Sugar Junction is a coffee, cake and cocktail lovers dream. This vintage¬†venue in the Northern Quarter offers lots wholesome and homemade produce. I had a cake (gluten free, which was a nice touch) alongside pink lemonade –¬†which was beautifully decorated. My other half opted for¬†a rather filling and well presented sandwich, which was accompanied by chips. You can enjoy breakfast, brunch throughout the day and afternoon tea – or a cocktail or two, if you feel inclined.¬†

Home Sweet Home. Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Home Sweet Home, Manchester

Looking for the best pancakes in town? Home Sweet Home offers an American breakfast and brunch in a cosy and quirky location. The pancake stacks are huge, doused with fresh fruit, cream and sauces – there are some savoury¬†options too, don’t fret.¬†Do be wary though, if you get there at the weekend and are looking to quash your¬† comfort food cravings, there may be a bit of a wait.

Bees in the City at Manchester Cathedral, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Manchester Cathedral, Manchester

We spent some time in Manchester Cathedral, appreciating the many Bee in the City¬†bee’s dotted around its interior. Although Manchester Cathedral is rather small, it was as expected, beautiful. It is the perfect place to take a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

So, if you are looking for a fabulous UK city break, look no further! There is plenty of things to do for a weekend in Manchester.

You can book your next journey to Manchester (or the rest of the UK) with National Express here or give them a call on 0871 7818181.

National Express travels to over 900 destinations nationwide and offer thousands of tickets for £5 or less (plus a booking fee). The best bit? Travelling by coach proves to be the most environmentally friendly form of public transport!

Where would be your first stop in Manchester? Have you traveled via National Express before?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with National Express

Cocktails, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester | The LDN Gal

eXchange Food and Drink Lounge Manchester review

On a busy Saturday night in central Manchester, we headed for a bite to eat at the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge Manchester.

Leaving Chinatown nearby, we swung onto Portland Street. As we entered, we were greeted with smiles and welcomed to a large restaurant with a stunning interior and relaxed ambience.

We set ourselves down within the rustic eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, adorned with dim-lit hanging lights, well-spaced solid wood and industrial legged tables and mismatched chairs embellished with plush cushions.

The retro chic style of¬†eXchange¬†Food and Drink¬†Lounge, gives way to a charming environment with a sleek cocktail bar, sports screens aplenty and a children’s play zone to its far end.

Interior, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester | The LDN GalInterior 3, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester | The LDN Gal Interior 2, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester | The LDN Gal

So, how did I find the food at eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester?

Cocktails in tow –¬†I personally recommend the Bramble –¬†we scanned over the varied and tasty menu. There’s¬†many a chef’s special to be seen.

To start, we delved into red velvet king prawns (the most Instagram-worthy prawn starter ever to be created) and halloumi fries with salsa, the gooey cheese with its battered crust certainly made an initial dent in our appetites.

For our mains, we welcomed the mixed grill platter for my other half and the cauliflower roulade for myself, a roasted vegetable and bean cassoulet with a flaky crust and sumptuous vegetables in a tangy sauce. It’s safe to say, Ryan devoured his platter, commenting that the meat was cooked to perfection alongside the deliciousness of what he presumed to be triple cooked chips.

Dessert was a push but we indulged ourselves further with specials including chef Chris’s chocolate brownie and Matty B’s bakewell tart.¬†These homemade desserts were spectacular. The brownie was moist and rich, accompanied by tangy raspberry sauce and a chocolate cup filled with vanilla ice cream.¬†The bakewell tart was just as delicious, with a crumbly base alongside a fruity and soft interior.

Mixed Grill and Cauliflower Roulade Mains, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester | The LDN Gal Brownie and Bakewell, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester | The LDN Gal

So, what did I think of the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester?

Overall, I found the food, interior and staff of eXchange Food & Drink Lounge to be exceptional. I have to say, the vegetarian options were sublime, the food was delicious, well-presented and generous.

The evening was quite simply spectacular. You are welcomed to a warm and relaxing environment and the hours seemed to be lost as we chatted away.

With full and happy stomachs, we concluded the evening with a final round of cocktails and headed home for an early night ‚Ästgo wild for the night eh?

The eXchange Food & Drink Lounge is perfect for couples, friends and families, be it a place to stop for dinner, to catch the game or to have a few cocktails among peers. Take a peek at their food menu here and step away from the madness of the city for a few hours.

Have you eaten at the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge? Which item from the menu tempts you? 

Stephanie xox

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This dining experience was exchanged for an honest review 

Why I'm over the blogger follow/unfollow game | The LDN Gal

The follow to unfollow saga: the ugly side of blogging

If you blog often, you will know exactly what I am talking about here. The follow to unfollow game is a tedious affair to say the least. So, here is why I’m over the blogger follow to unfollow game.

So many bloggers work so hard to organically increase their following and engagement, interacting with others in their niche and producing killer content time and time again.

The follow to unfollow saga is simple. Select bloggers will follow on mass, await for you to follow them back and then remove you by unfollowing within 24 hours. Most go unnoticed and almost cheat others out of a follow.

Follow to unfollow on social media? You are part of the problem…

If you have experienced this, it leaves you feeling a bit rubbish. Blogging is as much about content as it is community. If you love someone’s content, you follow them to read, embrace and even share it from time to time. However, the follow to unfollow saga diminishes the blogging community and this mutual respect, tarnishing organic growth.

Of course, you don’t have to follow others back that don’t speak or relate to your interests, that is absolutely fine. But for those who follow just to unfollow again – it’s really not cool.

Instagram tends to be the social media platform that falls victim to the follow to unfollow game the most. Leaving many a blogger keeping an eye on their social following each week through third party tools that track unfollowers. It isn’t a numbers game but it’s never nice to see your counts dip up and down relentlessly.

If you love your community and fellow bloggers, share your fabulous content, engage with others and follow with intention. It’s really not all about the numbers and quality should always trump quantity.

#rantover

What do you think of the follow to unfollow saga? Have you fallen victim to it?

Stephanie xox

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Blue tartan check trousers Topshop | The LDN Gal

Boohoo Oversized Shirt – Topshop Trousers – Zara Heeled Boots

OOTD: Blue Tartan Check Trousers with Topshop

I have to admit, this weekend gone was fabulous minus the little bit of drizzle. Me and the better half finally got some quality time together and decided to go exploring in Oxford for the Oxford Open Doors event.

Oxford Open Doors is an annual event that allows people access to many an Oxford University treasure across the city, with free entry to its many beautiful buildings.

We decided to take a stroll through Christ Church, enjoying the cathedral, Tom Quad and great hall –¬†with many a lovely photo opportunity.¬†

So, what did I think of the blue tartan check trousers?

This weekend also allowed me the perfect opportunity to embrace my Summer-meets-Autumn wardrobe with these oh so gorgeous Topshop blue tartan check trousers.

I love these trousers for three main reasons – any many more, let’s be honest. One, they are vibrant as, the blue stands out beautifully against the contrasting red and yellow. Two, they are high waisted and thus super cosy and a flattering fit. Three, tartan – it’s Autumn, so tartan!¬†

Teamed with a Boohoo oversized shirt and Zara heeled boots, this OOTD defines bright and bold meets smart-casusal. It is perfect dressed down in the day or up at night. These blue tartan check trousers are an all-day transitional dream.

What do you think of these blue tartan check trousers from Topshop? What’s in your autumn wardrobe?¬†

Stephanie xox

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Spellbound exhibition witch, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford - The LDN Gal

Spellbound exhibition, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, features a quirky and eccentric collection of oddities, thwrawt in superstition. The exhibition illustrates over eight centuries of magic, ritual and witchcraft.

As a country, we have always been wary of magic and Spellbound illustrates this fear, showcasing many a mystical and fascinting object and artwork to entice discussion and reflection.

It looks at our ongoing and emotional relationship with magic, superstition and ritual Рever avoided stepping under a ladder or putting new shoes on the table? 

Within Spellbound, discover a collection of “spellbinding stories, fascinating objects… from crystal balls and magic mirrors to witch bottles and curse poppets.”

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft exhibition

Exhibition highlights include a witch in a bottle, a heart in lead and silver casing and a copy of The Discovery of Witches by Matthew Hopkins, 1647.

You will explore the history of magic, ritual and witchcraft over 800 years. The objects and artwork on display highlight people’s superstition, witches practice and the tools used to eventually condemn them.

Magic and the unknown has always historically caused people to be fearful, and when married with religious views, it was linked closely to devil worship and ultimate despair.

Once inside, you will discover Medieval texts, binding jewellery and crystal balls, as well as magical objects aplenty alongside contemporary art instillations. If you are a fan of magic, the supernatatural, the cosmos and the occult, this enchanting exhibition is for you.

To book tickets for the magical Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, please take a look here. The exhibition runs until the January 6, 2019.

Are you fascinated by magic? Which exhibition highlight would you be most intrigued by?

Stephanie xox

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LOTD fashion trends 2018 | The LDN Gal

Five lotd.com fashion trends 2018

LOTD.com is relatively new on the scene but their vibrant, affordable and trend-savvy collections are starting to have some serious impact.

This online store features everything a girls wardrobe needs, following the trends closely to suit any personal taste or style.

LOTD is also purse-friendly, allowing fashionistas to get their hands on the latest clothes without fear of dipping into that dreaded overdraft.

It‚Äôs this fast fashion and conscious price point that really seals the deal for me, it makes fashion accessible for all ‚Ästand we need this in the marketplace.

The online fashion brand regularly has sales, runs a host of competitions and really embraces their customers through their bright, friendly and inclusive social media channels.

Trends lotd.com are killing right now

Each week, LOTD has a host of new items in. Here are five reasons why LOTD.com are killing fast fashion:

LOTD floral trend 2018 | The LDN Gal

The floral trend

Flirty floral prints never fail to make a statement. Go all out with a floral jumpsuit or add a touch of summertime to your outfit, teaming your floral clothing with a simple tee or jeans. Dress the trend up or down, be it at work or for cockatils with the girls one evening.

LOTD cycling shorts trend 2018 | The LDN Gal

The cycling shorts trend

So, is it me or does every girl seem to be rocking cycling shorts right now? These comfy, cute and oh so practical bottoms can be worn wherever you fancy. Plus, they make your legs look incredible. It’s a win win.

LOTD prints trend 2018 | The LDN Gal

The prints trend

Prints are everywhere at the moment. Every girl needs a vibrant dash of prints in her wardrobe to brighten her day. So, think floral, checks, paisley and baroque and add some bright and bold patterns to your outfit of the day.¬†¬†One particular print that is hot on everyone’s lips bodies at the moment is stripes.

LOTD bodysuit trend 2018 | The LDN Gal

The bodysuit trend 

Bodysuits have had a makeover and are the starting point for many a gorgeous outfit choice. Go sultry with floral lace, get quirky with asymmetric necklines or go all out with padded details. Opt for a high neckline in the daytime and get daring with a plunge at night.

LOTD denim trend 2018 | The LDN Gal

The denim trend 

Let’s be honest, who could live without denim? The denim trend¬†is on fire at the moment, with the traditional skinny, bootcut and mom jeans getting a makeover. Think embellishment with distressed elements, patches, sequins and cut-outs galore gracing our go-to wardrobe staple.

Use the code TREAT50 before the end of Sunday 9 September, 2018 at LOTD.com for 50% off site wide*.

*excluding sale, naturally

Have you shopped at LOTD.com yet? What is your favourite trend at the moment? 

Stephanie xox

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