sampling the new nightlife in manchester

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sometimes there is nothing nicer than getting out of london and spending a few days back home.

during my last visit to manchester for a very special birthday, i was introduced to the alchemist on new york street, a second and much larger bar of the same name, from living ventures.

it opened two months ago and already seems to have proved itself as a ‘must-visit’ venue.

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unlike the spot at spinningfields, the space is huge and boasts a 360 degree island bar, patriotic leather couches and a large restaurant space.

executive director head chef john branagan, who is responsible for the amazing australasia eatery, is at the helm of the business, so i have high hopes for the food. just a quick glance at the menu made me drool.

while we didn’t dine, our party did sample plenty of cocktails, which proved very popular indeed.

the alchemist new york street, best bars in manchester, new bars in manchester, living venturesthe alchemist new york street, best bars in manchester, new bars in manchester, living venturesporn star martinis proved to be the tipple of choice and they perhaps went down a little too well… soon shots were being ordered. the short drinks came in adorable tiny science beakers, an example of the attention to detail.

vintage movies were playing on a wall in the restaurant while the windows covered in fairy lights and both helped to create an elegant ambiance for the evening. who isn’t a sucker for a bit of twinkling? i know i am.

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situated on peter street, it appears that lots of people had the same idea and we had to queue to get in. after some feet tapping, and a bit of whinging about the cold from me (well, rather a lot), we were granted entry.

the bar is another large space with a strong cuban influence (the clue is in the name) rum is practically on tap and there is a cantina offering spanish- inspired food. the retro music is the real usp of the bar – our group couldn’t get enough of the big band tunes.revolucion de cuba, manchester, new bars in manchester, peanut buttered, peanutbuttered.com

one friend, who had been suffering with back problems all evening couldn’t help but get up and bust out her fancy footwork to rock around the clock, turns out the track helped to loosen the troubled area up.

if you are looking to dance, or rather jive, the night away to 50’s and 60s rock and roll then this is the place for you.

the morning after the night before called for a big breakfast and i was taken to the cutest little cafe, home sweet home, in the northern quarter.

the hearty american diner-style dishes, proved to be the perfect post night out cure, plus the space is just gorgeous, with thoughtful decorations adoring the walls.

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although i had the eggs and salmon i was lusting after the huge milkshake, which seemed like a full meal on its own.

alex ordered the breakfast waffles (who knew poached eggs and bacon went with what is essentially a desert?) while nat opted for a sandwich.

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it might have been a quick trip back home but it was certainly an eventful, and thoroughly enjoyable one. plus it didn’t rain a drop during my entire stay.

anyone who hasn’t been to manchester really should. speaking of which, i believe i need to drag andrea up there sometime very soon.

we’d love to hear from you – tweet us at @peanut_buttered or @sarahfitzm or you can follow us on facebook here

skyfall collection

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who else is excited for skyfall? have you seen it yet? we’ll be getting our daniel craig fix in the next couple of days, once there is breathing room in the cinema again. in the meantime, we’re making like a style savvy mi6 agent with some nails that m would be proud of.skyfall collection, skyfall trailer, opi 007 special edition, opi james bond collection, skyfall, daniel craig, berence marlohe, 007 manicure, peanut buttered

skyfall collection, opi 007 special edition, opi james bond collection, skyfall, daniel craig, berence marlohe, 007 manicure, peanut butteredto celebrate the latest bond instalment, and the franchise’s 50th anniversary, opi have released a to-die-for special edition set of 007-themed polishes, named after all the films. we were sent a selection of the divine skyfall collection to test out.

the seductive ‘skyfall’ shade is a dark and mysterious maroon. sophisticated and autumn-perfect, and teamed with smokey eyes and a plunging gown, you can channel bérénice marlohe’s sévérine from the latest film.
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we were also sent a fabulous frosty red ode to ‘die another day’. punchy and with a metallic sheen, this little minx shade will be perfect for christmas.
one of my favourites from the collection is ‘live and let die’ – a jet black that shimmers with gold in the most luxe of fashions.
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finally, we tested out the brilliant ‘tomorrow never dies’. this fun shade is an intense purple that reminds me of the colours i painted my nails with when i was a pre-teen on school holidays – in the best possible way.
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…. so we had a little fun photographing the shade….
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some of my other favourite shades from the collection are the colourful glitter of ‘the living daylights’, a rose-hued silver in tribute to ‘the world is not enough’, a hot pink shimmer for ‘you only live twice’, and a stunning rich plum ode to ‘casino royale’.
opi have also released an extra special limited edition gold leaf top coat with 18ct gold, in tribute to ‘the man with the golden gun’. if you want to get your bond on, you can check out the collection in full here. this collection has us shaken and stirred.
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if you haven’t gotten to the cinema yet, here is a little daniel craig to perk up your afternoon. don’t say we don’t spoil you. enjoy! xx
we’d love to hear from you – tweet us at @peanut_buttered or @andreamagrath or you can follow us on facebook here
(additional images: mgm, columbia pictures)

cowley manor in the cotswolds

cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredthe weekend before last i hauled the bf out of london for some enforced relaxation. i confiscated his phone, banned emails and even a mention of anything work-related was forbidden. he needed a break. we set off for the cotswolds on friday evening, leaving the crowds, stress and pollution of london behind.cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

we arrived at the utterly gorgeous cowley manor quite late, so once we were settled in our room we changed into the big fluffy white robes, raided the minibar and called down for some movies from the dvd library. we tucked ourselves into the decadent king size bed and watched movies with a dinner of chocolate truffles, cashews, and candy floss washed down with red wine.cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

on saturday we slept in as late as possible before making our way down for breakfast. cowley put on a good spread: eggs benedict, smoked salmon and scramble, fried eggy bread with maple syrup, full fry-up, porridge, omelette, bacon butties and dippy eggs with soldiers are on offer on top of the usual pastry, fruit and cereal selection. yum. we went to town.cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredwe walked off our breakfast with a long stroll around the stunning grounds. the manor provide a rack full of colourful hunters available to guests to traipse around the forest in. manicured lawns give way to leaf-strewn paths, muddy hills and streams popping up at every turn.  the colours this time of year are breathtaking: the deep green dotted with bursts of fiery golden leaves as the landscape transforms for the colder months. cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

the afternoon was spent in the spa. clad in our fluffy robes again, we made full use of the steam room, sauna, and outdoor pool – there are few things i love more than taking a dip in the misty, enveloping warmth of heated water in bitter cold weather. in between treatments we read and snoozed in loungers by the cosy indoor pool. i had a luxurious foot treatment, facial and full body massage with herbal hot compresses – the most wonderful, comforting treatment. i booked my stressed out man in for a ‘cloud 9’ treatment, which involved  a blissful combination of massages including aromatherapy, qi, reflexology and acupressure. it seemed to work wonders, as he emerged two hours later in a dreamlike, slightly dopey state.cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

later we had an early dinner at the hotel restaurant, and afterwards moved, wine glasses in hand, to the sitting room where we spent the rest of the evening playing connect four, monopoly and scrabble. there is an ongoing argument over who actually won scrabble due to some creative license regarding the rules, and the english language, on my opponent’s part.

sunday was another late lie-in, followed by a lazy breakfast over the papers before checking out. we stopped off for a wander around nearby cirencester, a gorgeous old town with an endless park, before making our way back to london in the late afternoon.cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

the thing i loved most about cowley manor were the details: the current issues of vogue,  gq, vanity fair and wallpaper in our room. the gourmet minibar offerings. the full-size bottles of toiletries in the bathroom (how i hate dinky little tubes of shampoo). hunter wellies for guests to use. a huge bath big enough for two. a choice of soundtrack for your spa treatments. so many seemingly tiny details that made our stay so much more enjoyable and relaxing…cowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut butteredcowley manor, cotswolds, best spa hotels cotswolds, weekend getaways near london, costwolds hotels, downton abbey, best country hotels uk, c-side spa cotwswolds, peanut buttered

the manor itself is stunning – old and grand enough to allow me to indulge my downtown abbey fantasies, with enough modern touches for a comfortable and luxurious time. we stayed in the stable block, which is a ten second walk to the main house and closer to the spa, with a more peaceful atmosphere.  i couldn’t recommend it enough for a weekend of fresh air, peace and quiet, and total relaxation. i’d love to head back during the depths of winter for a snowy weekend.

we’d love to hear from you – tweet us at @peanut_buttered or @andreamagrath or you can follow us on facebook here

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