The allergic tales of two sweet homes

On July 20th, I went to Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter, it was a hot day and I was going to Madlab to play werewolf. I asked for some food to take away, as I was going across the road to play werewolf with others. Take away was fine but when I showed my allergy sheet, there was the usual shuffle from the server saying they needed to talk to the manager.

I stood there while the manager came over and she looked at my allergy sheet, taking it away to run past the chef. I explained trace was fine and I have eaten there many times including 3 weeks ago with no problems. The chef had advised that I have my chicken non-breaded as the fryer was used for fish, everything was great.

However this time around I was given back my sheet and told by the manager, they could not serve me anything on the menu. I questioned this with total disbelief, surely there is something I can eat on the menu, even a salad? No I was told, our policy has changed and we can serve anything to you. Changed in the last 3 weeks? She told me yes, and asked me to leave.

To be frank I was so upset and pissed off that I thought, I’m leaving and screw Home sweet home! They lost a customer and I only stopped short of tweeting about it because I knew there was a good chance on the July 22nd, I’ll be at the Home Sweet Home in the great northern. I wanted to see how the same company could justify its self, by hiding behind some piece of policy.

July 22nd came, I walked to Home Sweet Home in the great northern, met up with work colleagues. Ordered a cocktail and some food, showing them my allergy sheet. Server calls the manager, manager shows the chef the sheet. This time the manager comes back and recommends a few options with a couple changes. She recommends some kind of chicken salad and I said ok, not expecting much. What came out was incredible (wish I took a picture of it). It was chicken, salad, cheese, peppers and some other bits. It was positioned on the plate nicely and looked/tasted incredible. It was so obvious the chef had taken the creative challenge and jumped at it. It was amazing…

I later explained how I was turned away from Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter only 2 days earlier due to a policy change. The manager knew nothing about this policy change and apologised for the northern quarter restaurant. I made sure to give an extra large tip that evening, and told the manager and server to please tell the chef thank you very much for making a plain sounding salad, look and taste so great.

I do understand the stress someone with an allergy can bring to a restaurant but turning them away and refusing to even bother is just shocking, especially since the EU brought in strict guidelines (why are we leaving the EU?). It’s not like I had gone to a fish bar and expected to be served. Home sweet home is (their words) the home of the legendary cheeseburger toastie. I’ve eaten there many times and it just happens that it wasn’t long before too (under a month!)

My allergies are long but not so bad, there are many people far worst than myself. I tend to avoid vegetarian and vegan food because of the nuts, peas and beans. Heck if I can survive Japan with only one allergic reaction, home sweet home I can find something on the menu which I can eat! I’m very tempted to go back to the northern quarter one and see the reaction this time around!

Shame on the northern quarter for such a shocking response… Being turned away from eating is just bad news! Not even trying and almost being pushed out the door is just terrible!

Top 10 tech hangouts in Manchester

Madlab

Inspired by The next web and Martin’s Tweet for the Top 20 tech hangouts in new york city. I thought well I’ve not really done one for Manchester’s geek/tech scene. I’ve done some posts for top first dating locations which seems to get a lot of search engine referrals. Heck I’ve even talked about coffee shop clashes.

So here’s my list of the top tech hangouts in Manchester…

  1. Madlab
    Go there anyday almost anytime and it will be full of geeky/tech interested people. Its amazing the diversity of people and interests.
  2. North Tea Power
    Although a coffee shop, its usually full of people on laptops working away on startup ideas and new types of projects. Excellent coffee with plentyful types of tea. Owners are lovely people and take their coffee seriously.
  3. TechHub Manchester
    You heard of Techhub, well its the same formula just in the north of England. Of course this is where serious tech startups go to be taken seriously by investers of all kind. Its not the kind of place you can just rock up but they do have social events including Silicon drinkabout every Friday evening. There is also a Northstar Cafe (thanks Angie) below which you can sometimes find tech people and its only 5mins from Piccadilly Station.
  4. Takk
    New on the scene, and forms part of the new Northern Quarter or new Piccadilly Basin area. Putting the old Drip coffee to shame and taking a clues from North Tea Power. This rapidly is becoming the coffee shop work and be seen at. Now if only they can sort out the opening hours, like NTP.
  5. The Classroom
    The coworking space which is along side bakerie’s pie and ale store. This coworking space is membership only but pretty cheap if you want somewhere more social to work but not have the hassle of ordering coffee every hour or so.
  6. Common/Home sweet home
    When Edge street wasn’t so cool and didn’t have street lighting (I still think it doesn’t?), there was a bar with the full title, a place called common. Common has been around for years and hosted many social events in the past. Right next door is home sweet home which has established its self as a great place for the more chilled nights out. Of course both face Madlab, so its easy to go from Madlab to Home sweet home to Common in one evening/night.
  7. Castle hotel
    I am not a fan of the castle, but if you want to find techies, hipsters and digital folk, the castle hotel is a must. People seem to like it a lot while I always wonder where the cocktails are. But I’ll give it something, it certainly attracts tech people in the know. Oh and I have no idea if it really is a hotel or not.
  8. Cornerhouse
    The cornerhouse cinema is one of those places which is full of art people but you sometimes find an event which attracts tech people. Its generally a very cool place and one of those places which really attracted me to live in Manchester all those years ago.
  9. Kim by the Sea
    Just around the corner from Manchester’s Technology park, I’ve been there a few times and each time theres a mix of hippies, artists and technology people. Nice big portions and earthy feel which makes a difference.
  10. Terrace
    I haven’t seen it yet, but Madlab and terrace have come together to do a co-working space of there own. Meant to be a nice space, a little better than the classroom I hear. Terrace is of course another cool bar, usually quite loud not ideal for a chat

 

A good time to be in New Islington?

From the Manchester Evening News via Steve on Twitter,

An ambitious plan for a multi-billion pound regeneration around a new-look Piccadilly station can be revealed by the M.E.N. Town hall chiefs want to unlock the rewards of the planned High Speed 2 rail link long before it arrives – in a regeneration bonanza dubbed the ‘opportunity of the century’. Planners want to create a new ‘gateway quarter’ modelled on Amsterdam and New York.It would be centred around the new HS2 terminal – and a grand new entrance plaza replacing the existing front of Piccadilly station.

The plan would also include:

  • A leafy boulevard linking London Road with east Manchester, ending in a park on Fairfield Street – creating a green corridor between the Medlock Valley and the city centre.
  • A ‘Spinningfields-style’ business centre between Great Ancoats Street and the Rochdale and Ashton canals.
  • An ‘East Village’ of waterside homes, shops and offices in Piccadilly Basin.
  • 10,000 new homes between Piccadilly and the Holt Town area of Bradford.
  • New homes, green spaces and offices on the former Mayfield Depot site.
How Piccadilly station could look after the arrival of HS2

Sure there will be some kick back on the plans but honestly from Piccadilly Station to Great Ancoats Street is pretty poor. Heck part of it is the red light zone. I do wonder about Piccadilly Basin which currently is a nice quiet part of the city but as long as none of the Northern quarter is taken over, I don’t have much of a problem.

If the plans go ahead along with the new retail park which will include a cinema, it will be a great time to have bought at Islington wharf.

Manchester Werewolf Chapter with Larkin about at Barcelona bar

Manchester Werewolf chapter

Wednesday we had a very successful night of werewolf

I didn’t have my DSLR with me, so I only captured a few low rez photos of the action. Almost everything just worked…

Working with Larkin About (remember that ARG) was a great success and I’m sure the reason we got different players is simply because they were involved. The Location was great because the bar owner really wanted to help make it a successful event. He (Mike) even said next time he will happily do service to the circle, so people don’t even have to leave the game to get drinks. Its also staged happy hour when we’re playing, so cocktails start off at 2 for £5 and rise to 2 for £9 a few hours later. And to be honest the cocktails are actually not bad at all. I was drinking Cosmopolitans (as I do) and they were actually much better than average. Not quite the quality of NoHo, Scho Rehab or Aphotica but not far off.

Barcelona bar is a great venue with the slightly raised platform where we were playing werewolf and the space around it for people who were dead (as such) or just people not playing… The raised platform isn’t exactly round but its good enough to fit a good number of people looking at each other.

Playing the Thing to start the proceeding was a inspired thought, because it meant as people joined us, they could also just join the next round. In the end we played the thing then 2 different games of werewolf.

Everyone really enjoyed themselves and we played till bar closing time…

Werewolf closing stages

Only two slight negatives

  1. Not having food and consuming a ton of lovely cocktails (yes someone had to do it). Barcelona bar is due to start doing pancakes, and I had thought they were doing them already. So assuming I would be able to grab a sandwich somewhere I thought a savoury pancakes might work. Next time I’m sure they will be up and running in this area
  2. A lot of the regular players from MadLab, BarCamps, etc… didn’t turn up, which was a shame. However we did have a ton of new people and we even roped a couple in for a small drink, into the game actual game.
Anyway we’ve decided to do Werewolf on a bi-monthly schedule. So look out for details of the next game in January 2012… Thanks to everyone who turned up, and remember I am never the werewolf…

The end of #Startupbar, for now…

Startup flyer 1 at Arcadia BarStartup bar AB RemixStartup flyer 3

It started so well but ended quickly when one of the 4 owners of Arcadia bar decided to give it up… Unforgeable we’ve were talking to the owner who decided to pack it in…

So that means no more lovely ladies doing there make up as they start there friday nights… (you got to love Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr) I’m sure they will be back in the future…

Now the future of Startup bar is in doubt but fear not, its not over… We’ll be looking for a new venue to host Startupbar… Till then you can sign up to the growing community on Facebook.

Manchester’s first Northern Quarter street party (a R&D viewpoint)

The Official Northern Quarter Street party

Manchester’s Northern Quarter was transformed into a massive street party for the northern quarter hipster crowd yesterday. Billed as an alternative to the royal wedding It was all over the press which was great [men][guardian][cubicgarden].

With the help and support of Madlab, the BBC North ran a gaming wonderland during the street party.

The gaming wonderland included 2 wii’s running wii sports and a early glimpse of BBC R&D project called Virtual Maestro or Kinect Orchestra.

Wii Bowling

On the wii’s we had bowling running and the scores of everyone who played was put on the board just like they do on top gear with lap times. We had a total of 40 players put up there scores over the hours of play. Ages ranging from 8 to 55, but the winner of the day was Rachel Norris with a high score of 188 over 10 rounds. We will be contacting Rachel with her prize. There was some controversy with some of the players as they claimed a score of 210 but as it wasn’t seen by any of the team, we had no choice but to question it. So maybe Helena Rice will also receive a slightly lesser prize too.

Conduct

Virtual Maestro, an installation we’re developing with the BBC Philharmonic. Using a Microsoft Kinect and some custom code, a person is able to ‘conduct’ the BBC Philharmonic in glorious HD video and 3D surround sound using nothing but their arms to control the tempo and dynamics of the piece…

Conduct

The Virtual Maestro or Kinect Orchestra will be back soon for the Manchester International Festival in July. But at the street party it went down very well with lots of people trying it out. Lots of photos can be found on Flickr. On the version we removed the HD video and 3D surround sound but it didn’t stop the public interest in the system.Conduct

As Max said in the r&d blog post,

As well as being brilliant fun for the public to play with, demos like these are a great way to illustrate some the technical work that happens here at the beeb.

Not only did we have lost of interest in the bowling tournament and the virtual maestro, but we also had people asking about BBC R&D, Madlab and BBC jobs.

Although it was a bit of a solo effort (no disrespect to Andy, Nicole, Hwayoung and Dave as there help was great and very much needed) it was worth it. We had maybe about 150 people come through our ground floor madlab space, which isn’t bad for a bank holiday.

Northern Quarter Street Party

Fussion Dance and Rhythm UICA Street Party 8-8-09 10

Coming to Edge Street on the 29th April 2011, a 1940s-style street party celebrating the Northern Quarter. Featuring bunting, cake, punch and so much more.

Northern Quarter Street Party wants YOU! There’s lots of ways to get involved. Want to set up a stall? Bake a cake? Make some bunting? Have an idea about something you’d like to do or see? We want to hear from you!

Follow us on twitter: @NQStreetParty

Get involved here: nqstreetparty@gmail.com

An idea which came out of Social Media Cafe Manchesterlast month was the Northern Quarter street party, an idea of Carole Keating. I was tempted to get involved but thought better of it because I don’t fancy the stress of the event specially with only 1 month left.

I’ve been giving Carole my expertise in setting up barcamps with ultra very low budgets, and so somewhat getting involved but at much lower level that I’m use to.

Carole’s doing a great job but theres so much left to do and not a lot of time to do it in, so I’m seeing what the BBC can do to help. If that link up works, then I can be a little more involved.

Anyhow, I’m sure there will be lots more to say in the very near future.