Two years on, and I've finally got my big break! I've never made a secret of the fact I have always wanted to write for an established Manchester based publication, it's just been a lot harder to get my foot in the door than I had ever imagined. The last few months have been eventful to say the least? I separated from my husband, or maybe I should use the phrase 'consciously uncoupled' as we have remained friends and are sharing the responsibility of bringing up Jeanie. I also had a bit of a health scare, going through Red Skin Syndrome and withdrawing from all the steroids my skin had become addicted to from a lifetimes prescription for my 'eczema'. On recovery, I've eliminated my food intolerances from my diet (most of the time!) in order to minimise any triggers that could initiate a skin flare. I've also picked up Martial Arts again (I used to practise Shotokai Karate as a kid), this time Aikido with Marple Aikido, Lancashire Aikikai. And I'm feeling healthier than I have done in years.
Career wise, I had taken a break from writing since the end of 2015 when all this was going on, but had been getting itchy feet towards the end of June and knew I wanted to start writing again. I emailed the obligatory enquiries, did the rounds so to speak, and I think it was right time, right place this time round. I Love Manchester got back to me the next day, and here we are one week on and I have my dream job! I'm absolutely thrilled and will be giving them a hundred percent; food, drink, the arts, lifestyle, events; you name it, I'll write about it. My new signature does say Writer (whatever you want), a bit of in-house miscommunication that seems to have stuck... So if I'm not writing on here, just visit the I Love Manchester website to see what I'm up to, or pop into The Bay Horse as usual as that will always be my other baby!
One Year On
So its been an eventful year and I can't quite believe how far I've come. My Manchester Diary has been an amazing learning process; from designing this website and loading the posts and photos, including my very first post at Cane & Grain in July 2014 to my last entry this July, Barcelona in 20 Photos, and plenty in between. Finding the discipline of actually sitting down to write and knowing when I'm at my best, the morning after the event the night before ALWAYS!
In terms of other publications, I began writing for Now Then Magazine, a free arts, culture and politics magazine published in Sheffield and Manchester. My first entry was in their September 2014 printed edition and I've contributed most months since, covering a wide range of topics my favourite being the re-launch of Whitworth Gallery. It's a shame Now Then is no longer in print as it was beautifully put together and I'm a bit old school in that I like to have an actual physical magazine to hold, and read. Editor Ian does a fantastic job putting together the magazine online each month, and he has definitely helped me improve my writing and my style.
This January 2015 I launched my own column, FIND ME, in VIVA Lifestyle Magazine; my monthly column to find the best food and drink products in Manchester. It has given me the chance to get to know many venues well, their owners and PR companies that support them, the managers and staff, and what products they offer. The column was an idea I had worked on for a while, and a chance meeting with VIVA EMS meant it actually came into fruition and I'm now in my ninth month. What I love about VIVA is that it's online so very relevant; but it also has a printed edition every quarter which means it reaches a much wider audience and supports all the hard work online. There are also a group of very strong women running the publication which I love and am extremely proud of.
I have taken a photography course with Manchester Academy Of Photography to help with my photos as I am working on my visual as well as written content. I truly believe to engage readers in this day and age articles need to be visually stimulating. There have been a few ups and downs with trying to progress and find more regular paid work; but after a lunch review at Café Football with my marketing manager Louise Adkin, here I am one year on, Food Editor at VIVA Lifestyle Magazine.
What a fantastic opportunity, I'm going to give it everything I've got. Manchester won't know what hit them!
Here's to my next year...
I’m calling this site my food & travel ‘online diary’; I’m with Anna Wintour all the way who ‘refuses to call anything on her site a blog’ as I thoroughly hate the word; it’s so very ‘blah’ and also the term blag springs to mind with which I want no association. My goals are simple; to begin with to just start writing within a field I have gained experience in over the years; long term to make a living from writing about my two biggest passions, food and travel.
I came to Manchester in 1991 to study a BA (Hons) in Three Dimensional Design/ Interior Architecture at The Manchester Metropolitan University; tempted by the likes of The Stone Roses, The Smiths, 808 State, New Order, Tony Wilson and the Hacienda, and this ‘Madchester’ scene I’d heard so much about. And Manchester didn’t disappoint; I fully immersed myself in the clubbing and nightlife the city had to offer. On leaving University I decided to stay in Manchester and began working not in my chosen academic field; but in the industry I had spent so many of my evenings becoming acquainted with over the course of the previous three years; the world of bars and clubs; and restaurants soon followed.
For nearly twenty years now I have worked within this industry; bartender, waitress, cloakroom attendant, door host, assistant manager, manager, promoter, operations manager, financial director and finally owner and shareholder having opened (and closed) a few bars and restaurants of my own. The industry has become my life; it can be a very tough business but also a very enjoyable, rewarding business; there are many highs and lows and you learn to roll with it.
At the end of last year I made a conscious decision to ‘downscale’ as the level of commitment and time required was taking over a bit too much with little work/life balance. I still own The Bay Horse with my business partner Nicky, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter; it was our first and now longest standing business having launched in October 2004. Our original concept of a laid back local boozer with good music has never changed although the venue itself has had one or two facelifts over the years. We intend to have a big 10th Birthday Bash this October with a few major changes to the site itself so we’re both looking forward to that.
And now with the addition of My Manchester Diary, I intend to spend a good few hours every week researching, experiencing, tasting, viewing, and writing about all that Manchester has to offer. I might also get to see more of my family and keep a better eye on my daughter, who has just turned 8 (going on 18!), as I aim to include them whenever possible; wherever this takes me….
P.S. I have been very privileged to have travelled quite extensively with both family and friends over the past few years (some of my most memorable photos from my favourite destinations are attached below) and I have always kept photo albums as diaries which have been the inspiration for this project. So now, whenever I do travel further afield, ‘My Manchester Diary’ will be sure to come too!