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Essential Journal

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Postcards: Manchester, UK

For a wheels edition of our regular travel feature, we quizzed patrons of surf and motorcycle brand Deus Ex Machina and cycling lifestyle titans Rapha for tips on their respective neighbourhoods


What is Manchester’s best kept secret… that you’re willing to share?
It’s not necessarily a secret but if you’re a city centre dweller then FOLK cafe/bar in West Didsbury feels like a secret place. The staff and customers are second to none and all are welcome. It offers fantastic food by day and an incredibly vibrant bar in the evening. Manchester is a city where the people make the place and this place is certainly made by the people who frequent it.


What’s a bar or restaurant (or both) that best captures the spirit of Manchester?
There is only one that comes to mind, a bar called Temple (formerly The Temple of Convenience). It used to be an underground public toilet and can be entered by one of two street-level staircases. It is a bar where once inside, day or night, you are hidden away from the grind of city life and with art on the walls and an unreal jukebox, you basically never want to leave. Temple is a bit rough around the edges but hey, so is Manchester.


What’s the best cycle route in Manchester? What’s the best one that takes in the surrounding countryside?
There is one deep in the heart of the city called the Fallowfield loop that crosses South Manchester. It crosses many wonderful neighbourhoods and is eight miles long. Part of a disused railways line, it links the affluent area of Chorlton with Fairfield to the east of Manchester. It provides a green-lined path where you don’t need to worry about cars or traffic. for me, the best ride is from Levenshulme night market down the ‘floop’ for a drink in Chorlton on Fridays in summer.  


What’s a neighbourhood that’s transforming for the better?
‘Levenshulme is on the up’ is something I have been hearing for the last 20 years, I grew up there and have heard this statement so many times from various people. Now in the last five years it has seen everything from independent beer places to bakeries open up. It’s soon to have a cycle-friendly cafe known as Stations South.


When is the best time to visit?
Manchester is best in the summer.
It rains a hell of a lot here so when the sun comes out people really express themselves (some a little too much) and any available green space is full of people enjoying the sunshine.


What is a tourist trap to avoid and the essential alternative?
Deansgate locks and Printworks are nightlife tourist traps that are often overcrowded and lacking in class and atmosphere. There are far better places that embody the spirit of Manchester. Places like the Northern Quarter capture the creativity that this city has to offer. Bars like Common, Soup Kitchen and Port Street Ale house are joined by new bars opening all the time. Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter is an old market hall now converted to a food hall with beer, pizza and coffee.

Interview by Davey Brett