Out & About

Top City Centre Study Spaces

As exam dates and coursework deadlines approach you’ll probably find yourself spending more and more time at a desk studying.  This could be in the library, at home or in the Learning Commons; however it’s also a good idea to escape campus now and again and treat yourself to a change of scenery.

Learning in different environments can improve our abilities to retain and recall information, and spending time in a variety of locations can help refresh our weary minds.  Manchester city centre has an amazing selection of study spaces, including cosy cafes, trendy bars and historic libraries, so why not explore and give some a try?

Here are 5 of my favourite city centre study spaces:

  1. North Tea Power

36 Tib Street, Manchester M4 1LA

One of Northern Quarter’s most highly acclaimed coffee shops, NTP is a favourite haunt of young-professionals and students.  With award-winning espresso, a great deli and a chic, relaxed atmosphere, this space is great for enjoying the classic Northern Quarter culture whilst making the most of their speedy Wi-Fi, plentiful power sockets and cosy corners to work in.  The large workbenches are a great place to mingle with other coffee lovers and get motivated by those around you.  If you’re hooked by their delicious teas and coffees you can by the beans in bulk too.

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  1. Central Library

St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD

As well as being one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, the beautiful Central Library is positioned in the heart of the city, next door to the Manchester Town Hall.  Here, you can browse the UK’s second largest public book collection, have a quiet study session beneath the Pantheon-like dome of the Great Hall, and make use of their extensive archives.  There are miles and miles of book shelves both above and below ground, and also  a huge selection of fiction which you might struggle to find in your typical academic library.

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  1. Fig and Sparrow

20 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JA

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F&S is a cute coffee shop tucked away on Northern Quarter’s Oldham Street, and offers artisan coffee, loose-leaf tea and a big selection of tasty treats, as well as selling teapots, candles and other trinkets.  F&S can feel quite intimate due to its small size, but it’s also well-lit and airy, and its large tables which you can share with others, give the place a nice warm community vibe which I find very motivating.

  1. John Rylands Library

150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EHpic4

John Ryland’s in one of the University’s finest cultural assets and is also one of Manchester’s architectural highlights.  Built in the late 19th century, you can marvel at the Neo-Gothic building style whilst being nestled amongst dark wood bookshelves, red carpets and ancient texts.  The main reading room is a beautiful space illuminated with stained glass windows and old-fashioned lamps, and captures a quiet tranquillity that’s a wonderful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Deansgate Road outside.

In this cathedral-like atmosphere it’s easy to imagine that you’re centuries in the past, however the omnipresent UoM Wi-Fi and aroma of espresso in the entrance hall make the most out of old and new.

During your study breaks, explore the Harry Potter-esque halls and check out the exhibitions spread about the library, which often cover art, literature, linguistics and history.  My top tip is to come here in the week – tourists flock here on the weekends!

  1. Last, but not least: Foundation Coffee House

Sevendale House, Lever St, Manchester M1 1JB

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FCH is my favourite study spot.  Its minimalistic décor, spacious layout and big windows provide plenty of natural light and lots of space to spread out your notes. Its chilled-out music also really helps getting my brain into study mode.

FCH also offer a wonderful range of coffees, cakes, smoothies, sandwiches and breakfasts, with vegan and gluten-free options  – I’m a big fan of their brownies.  FCH combines the airy lightness of an art gallery with cosy coffee shop sounds and aromas, producing a fantastic study space which you can enjoy with all your senses.

Top 5 coffee shops & tea houses

Caffeine is many students’ antidote to mid-term assignments, late night studying and dissertation writing. And while coffee plays a big role in work efficiency, so does the space that you study in. So why not combine the two?

Manchester has a great number of independent coffee shops and tea houses, which provide the perfect environment to study in. Here are the top 5 coffee shops and tea houses for you to check out.

  1. Ziferblatzifeblat

A unique spot where you pay for the time you spend there and you can have all the tea, coffee and cakes you can eat! The café aims to provide a relaxing and motivating space for customers. There are areas for group study sessions or smaller tables if you want to study on your own. I find that it’s a great place to concentrate and study.  I find it a great place to manage my time and not procrastinate.

23 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW

  1. Earth Café

A great place for vegans and vegetarians! Earth café serves 100% vegan and gluten free food, the only dairy is in hot drinks as an alternative to soya. They also serve freshly made veggie meals every day, if you want to grab a bite too. I usually go for a juice or smoothie with a piece of chocolate cake.

16-20 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ

  1. Nexus art café@NexusArtCafe

Nexus art café is a creative community space which promotes emerging creative artists. It is a calm and homely café, which is great when you need somewhere comfortable to write those essays! An exclusively alcohol free venue; the menu includes drinks, sandwiches and soup of the day, there’s something for everyone to pick from when you need refuelling. The café also regularly holds gigs and exhibitions, so do visit of that interests you!

2 Dale St, Manchester M1 1JW

  1. The Anchor Coffee Housepic4

Just a 10 minute walk from the University! The Anchor coffee house is a great space to focus in and grab something from their range of coffees, bagels and snacks at the same time. Registered as a charity, money earned by the coffee house goes towards a greater cause, so when you grab a drink you’re doing your bit for the community too!

508 Moss Ln E, Manchester M14 4PA

  1. Fig + Sparrowpic5

Half coffee shop, half lifestyle store; Fig + Sparrow serve a range of teas and coffees, with a small breakfast, lunch and cake menu. A perfect little stress-free place, where the staff are incredibly welcoming. I find it a great place to relax and study at the same time. It’s also a great place to have group study sessions. They also have a store, which you can check out when you visit the café!

20 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JA

So, there you have it, my top 5 independent coffee shops and teahouses! All of the places listed are just a bus ride away from the University and are easy to find as well. Go check out the spaces and grab a hot drink, a snack and a book! Where’s your favourite spot? Got any suggestions? Please leave a comment!

Tasnim x

The experience of a lifetime with Study Aboard

When the applications for study abroad opened in the autumn of my second year, I was at a loss about what to do.  One of the main reasons I chose to study at Manchester was its amazing study abroad opportunities and strong global links.  From past experiences, I knew that I loved international travel and I understood the many reasons why study abroad would be fantastic and hugely advantageous to me.

For a while, I couldn’t decide whether to apply, especially because I was loving life in Manchester and the thought of leaving that behind was heart-breaking.  I’d amassed lots of wonderful friends, was involved in some amazing student societies and part-time jobs, and was having the best time of my life.  To turn my back on all this seemed crazy –could I ever have it this good again?

After much torment, I finally concluded ‘just do it!’ and applied.  It’s wasn’t like Manchester was going to disappear anytime soon, and I knew that good friends would always be there for me, no matter how far away and no matter how long I wouldn’t see them for (I’m getting all soppy and sentimental now ❤ ).  My top study abroad destination was the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, as it ticked all my boxes: excellent University, amazing outdoors activities like skiing, canoeing and hiking, and a beautiful modern city surrounded by beaches and mountains.

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Me snowshoeing with new Canadian friend Cora in the Rockies

A few months later I was stood in the Atrium of University Place squinting at the list of student numbers who had been approved for study abroad.  I stood there for about a minute glancing between the list and my student card with my student number on it.  After about the tenth check all doubt had been stripped away and the mental meltdown commenced – I WAS GOING TO CANADA!!!

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Beware of bears!  Hiking with Canadian friend Nicole (now one of my best friends)

I arrived in Vancouver late at night in early September, and promptly fell asleep after travelling 7312 km.  I woke up at 5am (1pm UK time) and went for a stroll around the city centre.  Within an hour, I had observed sunrise over Coal Harbour, strolled through soaring pines in Stanley Park, watched seaplanes land, breakfasted on coffee and bagels, and dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean.  I’d never fallen in love with a place so instantaneously in my life.

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Vancouver sunset

When term began two days later I put far less effort into attending the UBC welcome events than I did in Manchester.  Having already done welcome week once before, I knew that partying with a load of strangers wasn’t the best way of making new friends. Instead, I took my time and got involved with a couple of the student societies and got to know my course-mates.  Within a couple of months, I’d met dozens of great people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, had many good friends and had comfortably settled in to UBC.

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Some friends at the Richmond Night Market

Over my 10 months living in Vancouver, I’d been lectured by world-leading academics, made amazing friends for life, and picked up my high school French by talking to French-Canadians.  I’d learnt to ski, sea kayak and ice climb, and had been on adventures across western Canada and the USA.  In short, it was the most incredible year of my life, and I feel silly for having so many doubts before I applied!

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Learning to ice climb

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Eating oysters with my canoe buddies – caught by us on the beach!

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One of my buddies on one of our canoe trips

In addition to having loads of fun, I’d developed my problem-solving skills and confidence by integrating into a new country, become far better at networking and getting to know new people, felt more competent as an independent individual, and also learnt lots about myself and many life lessons.

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Climbing in Squamish near Vancouver

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Mountaineering in the Valhallas with Nicole

When I returned to Manchester my old friendships were as strong as they ever were and I settled back in immediately, feeling invigorated from my year away and ready to enjoy Manchester again with a refreshed mind.  My boosted confidence helped me discover a love of meeting new people, and now have more friends and connections than ever.

Of course, some less lucky people have less of a good time as I had initially, and often settling into life in a new place takes different times for different people, but most universities have support services, lots of student activities and events to help you make friends and make the most of your year away.  Also, the Manchester Go Abroad office will always be there for you if you have any problems or would like advice.

My study abroad was the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve come back with bags of wonderful memories, great friendships and new skills.  My year away has truly improved me as person, and I couldn’t recommend study abroad any more.

So what are you waiting for? Apply and have the adventure of a lifetime!

5 Reasons why you should work at a Summer Camp!

By: Mary Johnson

I admit I was once a cynic amongst the converted… Those tanned, cheerful folk, returning rejuvenated from THE ‘best summer ever’. However, after experiencing it all first hand, I can truly say that spending my summer as a camp counsellor was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

So, if you’re still sitting on that white picket fence about it, trying to decide whether or not committing to a summer State-side is for you, let me give you a few reasons and a gentle shove in the right direction…

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1. The Friendships

Without a doubt, the bonds you make at camp are unique. Complete strangers become your colleagues, your room mates and your confidants, all in the space of orientation week. You see each other at your best and your worst; first thing at breakfast as you race to the granola bar, to last thing at night before you close your eyes, agreeing that the fan must definitely stay on. It’s like an impossible recipe for friendship to get wrong!

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The kids aren’t such bad company either!

 2. It will be Beautiful!

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Most camps are situated in some of the most stunning, well preserved locations in the country. As a sailing counsellor, I got to enjoy the crystal clear spring-fed lake that we were so fortunate to call our waterfront. N.B. Free up that iCloud storage in preparation for the hundreds of photos you will no doubt take of everything around you…

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The commute to work – It’s no M6 but it’ll do

 3. It’s Pretty Straightforward

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One of the things that really appealed to me when applying, was the seamlessness of the application process. There’s a great range of recruitment companies out there, ready and eager to get you employed (and take a cut of your earnings…) That said, if you’re in it for the money and less so for the experience, you may want to rethink your summer plans! #notfo’golddiggas I personally went through Camp America and found their VISA and staff application processes really straightforward.

4. FOOD

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In most cases, 90% of the food you have is lovingly made on site by your camp’s kitchen staff. However, the rest of your culinary decisions are at your full discretion on days and evenings off and depending on the local eatery scene, the possibilities can be endless… Think ice-cream huts serving virtually every flavour under the sun and endless ‘soda’ refills on trips to the cinema! *Bumps up health insurance in preparation of type 2 diabetes*

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The Maine event: lobster

 5. The Authentic American Experience

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Before coming to camp, I had never stepped foot on American soil (bar the embassy) and I can’t think of a better way to have first experienced it! From the amazing welcome I received and the total immersion in all things American, including late night Walmart trips and Fourth of July fireworks, to my after camp travels along the East Coast, it was all amazing!

 My only regret is not doing it sooner!

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Land ahoy! Next stop, Camp 2017!

6 reasons to travel while at University

By: Cristina Jiang

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

Travelling is a good way to spend your time with family and friends, but it also is extremely valuable in your personal development. In fact, when you travel you gain essential skills and valuable knowledge that will stay with you your whole life. As University is a time to learn and explore, here are the top 6 reasons why you should travel while doing your degree.

  1. Long holidays

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As students, we have about 160 days of holiday in a year, so it’s the perfect time to travel before committing to a job and a family. In fact, when you start working, you will be entitled to only about around 28 days’ paid holiday (self-employed folks out there, I envy you!), Life won’t be as carefree as now, so take advantage of it and go explore!

  1. 16-25 railcard

If you want to travel around the UK, why not apply for a 16-25 railcard? It only costs £30/year and will get you all over the country for 1/3 of the price. Buy “advance” tickets and you’ll get to London for just £14.50 and to Edinburgh for £12.20! What are you waiting for?

  1. Travel around EuropePic2

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sonta

If you are an international student or you just want to explore the continent, this is the time to do it! With over 50+ countries and diversity in cultures, Europe is a fascinating place to explore. Your destination is just a short flight away and for a fairly cheap price. You can find really good deals with popular low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Flybe, Jet2.com and many more. When flying back home to Italy, I always book my tickets in advance and compare prices across different airlines, to get the best deal possible. Sometimes you can find some really crazy deals, such as Ryanair flights to Hamburg or Brussels for only £9.99. So get booking!

  1. Interrail


“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Pic3Unlike flying, Interrail is an incredible way to see the country as you drive by! You can hop off the train at any moment and explore as many cities as like. All you have to do is purchase the train pass and you’ll be eligible for unlimited rail travel within 30 countries for a maximum period of one month. Backpacking through Europe is an unforgettable experience that you’ll be telling your kids in years to come.

  1. Volunteering

 “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” – Eugene Fodor

Do you want to travel AND raise money for a charity? You can join one of the Universities’ charities and travel across Europe, while helping others! In the past, our Students’ Union Raise and Give (RAG) society has taken part in a Jailbreak fundraiser. The idea is that you have 30 hours to get as far from Manchester as possible, by any means possible – for charity. Past Jailbreakers have ended up in Berlin, Paris, New York and even Hong Kong!

There are so many ways you can make your travels more meaningful; take time from your summer holidays and volunteer. Spending your holiday in Manchester? No problem, there are countless numbers of charities that you can join, such as Cancer Research UK Society (CRUKSOC), Unicef on Campus and WaterAid Society. Personally, I am a member of CRUKSOC and every year we organise open 5-a-side football tournaments to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Being part of the events does not only mean I’m helping others but also means I can develop and build new relationships. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to also pursue my hobby as a photographer and video content creator as I take photographs and videos of the events.

More info about volunteering at the University here

  1. Global Graduate

“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” – Matthew Karsten

Being an outstanding student is no longer enough.  Nowadays, employers are seeking “global” students that possess a wide range of skills, including adaptability, global knowledge and cultural agility. Big companies often look for employees that are flexible to move around the country, to fly for business trips or to work abroad. The Global Graduate scheme is how you can get ahead!

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The programme offers 32 undergraduate students the opportunity to visit one of the seven host cities across the world – Hong Kong, New York, Singapore, Toronto, London, Paris and San Francisco to go and gain experience in the industry. It’s an opportunity to both practice and develop your existing skills, to start building your professional networks and to increase your understanding of your employability. The best part? It’s completely FREE. Want to hear from one of our Global Graduates? Read here for Alasdair’s experience in Hong Kong to find out more.

Into the wild with University societies

By: Jake Jones

Looking for some adventure in your life?  Keen to escape the urban sprawl and get into the wild?  The University’s large number of outdoorsy student societies makes it easier than ever to get out of the city and try something new.

Many choose to get involved with the outdoorsy clubs to relax and unwind from their studies.  As well as being a great chance to exercise, travel and enjoy some natural beauty, spending time in the outdoors has been proven to help reduce stress levels and improve mental wellbeing.

Many of Manchester’s students turn to the outdoorsy clubs for a dose of adrenaline to shake off the work-week.  Thrill-seekers can choose to spend their weekends climbing snowy peaks, kayaking down roaring white-water rapids, and exploring ancient underground caverns.  Manchester has something for everyone  – this article introduces a few of the most popular.

For hard-core hikers and those seeking picturesque views:pic1

The University of Manchester Hiking Club (UMHC) is one of the biggest University clubs, and has trips every weekend exploring the mountain regions of the UK.  UMHC travels far and wide, from the tranquil waters, lovely villages and green rolling hills of the Lake District, to the rugged, wind-swept wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.  The club caters to people of all levels of fitness (provided they have an appropriate coat and boots!), so whether you want a relaxed walk in the nature or a big 20 km day of summit-bagging and scrambling, UMHC has something for you!  UMHC also has fell-running and climbing groups, weekly socials and pub nights, and is very popular with international students as a way to travel to the more remote parts of the UK.

To find out more about UMHC, check out their Facebook page

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For vertical thrill-seekers:pic2

For those who prefer their mountain climbing to be on the more vertical side, the Manchester University Mountaineering Club (MUMC) is the first choice.  MUMC has weekly trips to Manchesters’ many climbing walls, such as Rockover and Manchester Climbing Centre. It also organises an annual winter skills trip where you can learn the basics of winter climbing and other mountaineering techniques.  In the warmer months MUMC also run climbing trips to the Peak District, as well trips to Wales.

Interested? Learn more about MUMC here

For aquatic adventures:pic3

If you’re more drawn to exploring the rivers and rapids of the British countryside, the Manchester University Canoe Club (MUCC) runs trips kayaking all over the UK.  MUCC is suited to all abilities, from beginner paddlers to white-water warriors, and have gentle river trips as well as technical white-water adventures.  If you’re new to kayaking,  MUCC have skills sessions as well as weekly canoe polo practises, socials and circuit training.

Check out the society Facebook here

To discover the world beneath our feet:

For a truly extraordinary subterranean experience, the Manchester University Speleology Club (MUSC) can introduce you to caving, where you can explore underground rivers, marvel at spectacular stalactites and abseil into ancient caverns.

Society Facebook page

For social city running:

For some mid-week outdoors recreation, Run Wild puts on weekly runs around the city’s parks and footpaths, as well as participates in races such as the Great Manchester Run (10 km) and the Manchester Marathon.

Society Facebook page

For a chilled out day slacklining:

If you’d prefer a more chilled-out day in one of Manchester’s green spaces, the Slackline Society is a great way to hone your balance and core strength whilst enjoying sunshine and nature.

Society Facebook page

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Getting involved with the UoM outdoors clubs has brought me health, happiness and friends, and is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

 

Life Outside the Oxford Road

By Joe Pusey

If I had a penny for every time I heard “the busiest bus route in Europe”, I might be able to pay off my student loan early but trust me, if you go out onto Oxford Road on a typical Monday morning it’s not hard to see why. It runs from the very centre of Manchester southwards through Fallowfield, Withington and Didsbury, and encompasses both the UoM and MMU campuses. It can’t be denied,  Oxford Road is the hub of student life at the University of Manchester, and it’s easy for students to end up spending almost every waking hour of their degree there, myself included!

As well known as it is, Oxford Road isn’t all there is to Manchester.

So, here’s a quick roundup of the top five places in Manchester that a Magic Bus won’t take you.

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1. Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

This fantastic- and more importantly, free museum is only a short walk away from2 Deansgate and Oxford Road stations.It is well worth a visit for anyone with even a passing interest in science, technology, or the history of Manchester – with a separate building dedicated to a vast collection of industrial machines!

Manchester City Council has also announced  development of St Johns Quarter and the surrounding area into a new creative and cultural hub, so there’s never been a better time to spend an afternoon surrounded by science and tech.

2. Castlefield

An area of Manchester just beyond the MoSI that’s a great place for the culture vultures,
with the HOME cinema complex, the Gallery and more coffee shops and bars than you can shake a stick at. Castlefield is made for  the cold January afternoons – perhaps after exams, or just for an escape  from the hustle and stress of the inner city. A pumpkin spiced latte and a walk on the cobbles could be just what the doctor ordered after weeks of fun-free revision!3

3. People’s History Museum

Possibly more relevant than ever in these troubling times, the People’s History Museum in Spinningfields hosts one of Britain’s largest collections of political materials, dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. There are permanent exhibitions on the fight for democracy and life after WWII, temporary fixtures on the history of the LGBT+ rights and civil disobedience. I found the new installation on the history of civil disobedience in Syria to be the most engaging; an exploration of one of the most complex proxy wars in human history with a real relevance to the increasingly troubled atmosphere in the West.4

4. Chinatown

Back towards the city centre, Chinatown is an ideal area for students who want to see a slightly different side to Manchester. Centred around the traditional Chinese arch on Faulkner Street, the neighbourhood- the third largest Chinatown in Europe- plays host to a wide variety of Asian and Far Eastern eateries and shops, with my personal recommendation being the Oreo Milk Tea at the Happy Lemon.

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5. Affleck’s

Originally a department store, this building in the Northern Quarter was converted to an indoor market in the early 1980s and has grown into a mecca for alternative culture- ideal for perfecting that authentic Fallowfield look. We’re talking  costume shops, tattoo parlours, cereal cafes and boutiques  catering to almost every imaginable interest. Maybe plan your visit once you’ve budgeted out your food and rent money for the semester – it is easy to get carried away here!

Manchester Vegan and Wellbeing Centre, is worth an honourable mention, a new vegan wellness hubinside the Three Minute Theatre opened on February 1st. There are cheap and healthy eats along with cooking workshops – perfect for anyone with a New Year’s resolution to eat well

There you have it, my top five picks of where to go outside of Oxford Road. None of these places are more than a short walk away and all of them will add an extra dimension to your time in Manchester. So while you’ve got the opportunity, why not go explore? What are your favourite spots in the city?