My Favourite Date Spots in the North West...

Friday 18 March 2016

Hey everyone! Happy Friday! How are you? I'm not going to lie, this hasn't been the best week for me. Unfortunately the funding didn't come through for the project I work on leaving me in a bit of an unstable position job wise, but I'll save that for a different post.

Today I wanted to share with you some of favourite places to go on a date in the North West. My stress and worry started waaaaaaaaaaay before this week, and I'd probably have lost my mind if it wasn't for some much needed adventuring and date day and nights with the young man. We haven't been able to book a proper holiday and that is on the back burner for the foreseeable future, so afternoons exploring new places and switching off in old favourites has been a big priority for me lately. I think date days are really important not just for romantic relationships but for friendships and families too. Sometimes we forget to carve out dedicated time just to be with people and spare time gets filled up with chores and any time we do spend together can be taken for granted, ending up in the same old places and doing the same old thing. So if this weekend you're in the North West and looking for something different or special to do, here are some of the places and ways to spend time together the young man and I love...

Albert Schloss - Manchester
Putt and a Pint at Junk Yard Golf  and Albert Schloss - Manchester...
Last Sunday we met up in Manchester for an afternoon date. After a mooch around the shops we headed away from our usual haunts in the Northern Quarter and down to Albert Schloss the Bier Palace just off Deandsgate. This has been a favourite of ours since we came back from Berlin. This place is perfect for LITERALLY any type of date, if you're on a first date it has a wide enough selection of drinks to keep everyone happy, you can go on an afternoon and it still has a great atmosphere, they serve food (including waffles) and if you accidentally end up on a night out, then they have performers and live djs every weekend.

It's also just across the road from The Great Northern Warehouse, which along with a bowling alley, also now houses the Junkyard Golf Course, which is crazy mini golf at it's finest! We had so much fun on Sunday making our way around the 9 hole course made up of carboot finds, skip treasures and a slide big enough for grownups! Plus thy serve cocktails. And we all know, something ever so slightly competitive makes for a brilliant date (I, erm, 'let' the young man win). This place can get pretty busy, so it is best to book in advance!
Gorillas and Galleries in Manchester...
Disclaimer: this date doesn't involve actual Gorillas. For our second date the young man and I grabbed lunch at Gorilla on Oxford Road, and then wandered up to the Whitworth art gallery. Gorilla is one of my favourite places for food, especially when I'm eating vegan, as I can order a whole platter of sides and know that everything will be delicious. As are there cocktails and there sticky toffee pudding. All in all its a please everyone type of place, granted an art gallery might not be everyone's cup of tea, but in some ways that's what makes it a great place for a date.

I know very little about art - in the paintings and sculptures sense of the word - and neither does the young man, but that doesn't matter. I'm a big believer that you don't have to 'understand' art to be able to have an opinion on it, and with the collections at the Whitworth, your bound to have an opinion on at least something you see. The young man and I had quite a long conversation about a painting of a minotaur looking out of a window, I said he looked forlorn, the young man agreed, and when we came up with an elaborate back story for the minotaur together I knew we were two peas in a pod. I think doing something out of your comfort ones is a great way to spend a date, because it lets you find other areas of common ground. After our second date I knew we both knew very little about art, we were both a fan of instagramming things even when you're not supposed to, and we both had the same sense of humour - and the rest, they say, is history.

The Emporium, Clitheroe 
Castles, Cocktails and Pizza in Clitheroe...
Can you tell I love a good food based date? This one also included exploring somewhere new though! Clitheroe isn't too far from where I live in Blackburn and is a really gorgeous town. I'll admit I maybe over sold the castle to the young man a little, but if it was a nicer day we could definitely have spent much longer wandering around the park working up an appetite. As it was we explored the second hand book shop instead before heading to The Emporium for dinner. The Emporium is an antique shop / wine bar / pizzeria / restaurant, and while the clocks on the wall might not have been to our taste, the food definitely was!

After stuffing ourselves full of pizza we headed to Escape Coffee and Cocktail bar. Escape is one of those cocktail bars where they really know there alcohol, you won't find cheap vodka garnished with a sad lime, or a woo woo here! There menu is organised by spirits, and if you can't pick or nothing jumps out at you immediately, then the bar tender will make you something especially for you! They also sell Blind Pig Cider at a reasonable price, which the young man tells me is rare, very rare. Not only are the cocktails delicous, but the bar itself is PERFECT for a date, all soft lighting and comfy sofas (we had the upstairs all to ourselves) and if you need to redo your hair, then the ladies bathroom had a FREE hair dryer and pair of straighteners you could use. I'm so happy we found this place, as it's so nice to go somewhere other than Manchester for a night out!
Go for Brunch in Liverpool...
At the beginning of the year we headed to Liverpool for the weekend. I hadn't spent much time in Liverpool before but the young man went to uni there, so it was nice to have him show me around all the best spots. Of course the weekend involved drinks by the docs, pizza and coffee, but brunch at Leaf on Sunday morning really stood out! Brunch is perfect for a Sunday date, as lets face it, on a Sunday you can brunch at anytime, and you can also do it (oo-er) with anyone. You don't have to wear heels to brunch, and you can go hung over or still drunk and let the magic of pancakes or a full English basically do all the work. I'm sure there are places in Manchester that have an equally impressive menu as Leaf did, but what I loved about this place was the atmosphere, it was bright and bustling, and just made you feel at ease plus there was a tea selection to die for!

Cloud 23 at the Hilton in Manchester
Forget Cloud 9 and head straight for Cloud 23...
So I probably wouldn't recommend Cloud 23 for a first date, unless you were really trying to impress someone, and they aren't easily freaked out by pretty formal settings, but if you're looking for something a little bit special then afternoon at Cloud 23 in Manchester is perfect. We headed there for the young man's birthday last summer. Stunning views and food to die for, you don't have to get dressed up and it doesn't have to be a special occasion but there's nothing I love more than doing something fancy just because we deserve it! It's pretty pricey at £30 a head but if you're feeling flush or you want to surprise a special somebody (whoever they might be - boyfriend , mum, bestie) it's a really lovely afternoon. And you can take all afternoon, they don't rush you and there is more than enough food to keep you going I wrote more about our afternoon tea here.
Stretch your legs at Taton Park...
Another great way to spend an afternoon together is to head to a National Park or the like. Of course getting out in the country side is good for the soul, and it's always nice to do something that doesn't revolve around eating, drinking or shopping. We headed to Taton Park just outside Knutsford earl in January, and while it was still freezing and damp I wasn't going to let a bit of mud get in the way of enjoying a park full of Deer! We don't tend to bother with house tours when we head somewhere like this, we just like to stretch our legs and our lungs, chat and let the word pass by at a slightly slower pace than usual!

So there you have it, my favourite places in the North West for date days and nights. What would your perfect date involve, and is there somewhere you think I should try?

If you want to see a bit more about what I'm getting up to, I've joined snapchat, and I absolutely love it! You can add me on stephiej31 to see a bit more day to day stuff!

Live life & make your next date night a little special x

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