Aurevoir Manchester

Preping my return to homeland after a decade spent in this amazing city,  I have been extremely lucky to be involved with Manchester International Festival, working with the marketing team in the lead to the festival and as a festival fronteer as well during the 18 days of extraordinary works. All I can say is it was amazing!

I saw: Bjork on the preview night (pure joy), Dr Dee (confusing yet with stunning staging), Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (as expected crazy and wonderful – Dafoe is my hero), 11 rooms (different – loved hoping from one room to another, went about 4 times), Crash of the Elysium (scary and brilliant action packed play), Amadou and Mariam Eclipse (a unique  uplifting surprisingly very experience all in the dark, really enjoyed it), Alina Abragimova (second piece was a highlight for me), 1395 days with red and the projections at Whitworth Art Gallery (film was too long but interesting, the room with the film set up was incredible and the outdoor projections magicals), John Gerard led display (not for me), Audio Obscura (one of my favorite 30min) enjoyed some drinks at the festival sq and Bjork’s choir and few other bits and bobs.

I really enjoyed all the shows, some more than others but I overall thought it was a great success. I cannot wait for 2013!

The last few weeks have been incredible, making even more attempts at catching as much of Manchester’s spirit before returning to France.

Cycling around, visiting Chorlton’s eateries – went to Charango and was quite disappointed by the main but the rest was ok, not a transcending experience like walking the Inca trail though, drinks at gorgeous Hanging Ditch, enjoying soaking up the sun for Manchester Jazz festival, picnic/ing, dancing, breakfasting, shopping, lunching, cupcaking, chilling and dinning, the lot, amongst others. Full of Manchester me.

For those out there who thinks there is nothing to do in Manchester, open your eyes, you’re either lazy, boring or plain moany. Get your act together and get out there. There’s loads  for those who make the effort to find out.

Now, only a few more days and I am driving up from South of France and loading 10 years of life in a 9cubic m van. Interesting prospect.

I will certainly miss Manchester immensely and then Francunian will retire.

So cool Manchester gets a polar bear

Today as I was doing a little lunch jog, I thought I ought to check out Piccadilly Gardens as the anticipation had built since last night when the beast arrived.

A life size polar bar was to be carved out of  10-tonne bloc of ice. Brrrrr

BBC has a lovely video of the event!

No disappointment.

The crowd was there. Along with sunshine and good old Queen V overlooking the scene.

Men at work, carving.

Mark Coreth, the artist, and his team took a good 6 hours to complete the work. They are raising awareness of the effect of climate change through the not-for-profit arts organisation; the Ice Bear Project.

The event is linking with the launch of Manchester Museum’s Living World exhibition.

This, I thought, was a really lovely effort from Cityco, Manchester Museum and the artist’s organisation.

Manchester gets its B.Hive

Tonight was the Mancunian launch of B.Hive, Lynne Franks‘ brainchild.

B.hive is a feminine space to network and share stories.

Located on top of King Street, opposite Whistles for the fashionistas out there, B.Hive is a beautifully decorated and inspiring space.

The business lounge is located on the first floor of one of Regus’ serviced office.

A far cry from regular serviced offices, B.Hive offers women a gorgeously decorated environment. Very girly to say the least. White walls, inspiring quotes by Lynne on the walls, vintage lampshades, flowers and elegant furnitures. I personally really liked it. I thought it was a great space.

Membership schemes and hot desking available. Check their websites, it might just be the right thing for you!

Learning the art of meditation – Part 2

Second take on the art of meditation.

This time I arrived early to the class, doubled up mats and cushions, ready to take on the challenge to mind control and posture perfection. I was even hoping I would reach a peaceful state of mind and levitate today.

Sadly it did not happen. What went wrong?

Nothing really, just too much baggage apparently.

We got our energy flowing doing some kind of Tai Chi movements. It was a bit tedious as it felt they lasted for ages.

Once the energy got flowing, we got on our mats and cushions and got down to business.

Last week we learned two techniques for meditation: “Body scan” (a lot more  info out there) and “In The Present Moment“.

I found the latter quite difficult to get into and the same happened this week.

I struggled to just give my mind a rest based on the idea of present moment. My mind was racing. The complete opposite of what is intended. Not a great start.

After a quick catch up and reminder of last week’s objectives, we learn about the paradox of meditation (see week 2).

How can meditation be used as an agent to change? To get from stressed to calm? To get from anxious to relaxed? To get from A to B?

The secret of the paradox is not about getting from A to B but to learn to be more in the present situation and be aware.

After a well deserved tea break we get back to the mediation room and learn about The Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation.

Breathing used as help to control the mind.

It worked for me and helped me a lot as I managed to concentrate the whole time for the first time since starting the course. I might have found a way to empty or at least control the flow of my thoughts. Numbers! Who would have thought that?

This has given me great satisfaction and I felt I achieved something this week.

Looking forward to week 3!


No Future Club presented The Correspondents

Back in the days where tweed was in, flat caps and moustache and…

Hang on! Fast forward 2010 and the “hipsters” are out and about flocking Manchester.

You can find them strolling around the boho Northern Quarter; voted the Best Neighbourhood in the UK guys but don’t take my resident’s word for it. They’ve said it back in the days:



Man Con

Creative tourist

Place North West

How do

Manchester gov

So “November 2010 news” I realise but at the time I was on blogostrike so there you are, better later than never, n’est-ce pas?

Right, “let’s go back to our sheep” as we say in French, i.e. let’s get back to our topic in regular English!

No Future Club was presenting The Correspondents at The Ruby Lounge who I saw twice at Glasters in June. They are quirky and intriguing and also extremely upbeat which is always great for a good night out.

The gig was great. Despite a bit of a delay (it was snowing like mad that night), the band got cracking after some random acts of topless escapism and comedy. All good fun.

Tunes and mighty mix of various genres – a bit of electro swing/hip hip hip hoppey/jumble.

A really great venue, filled with great peeps having a fab time. Some lovely efforts with 50’s style hair and fashion. Fabulous!

Let’s bring back the 50’s I say!


Fascinating Hen Party in Manchester

Last Saturday I was cordially invited to celebrate my friend getting married.

The event was one of a kind. Indeed the lovely hens were to make fascinators.

Right, up to the mention of the event I didn’t even know what a fascinator was never mind making one but I love making things so this sounded perfect.

Organised by Simon From the World of Rags to Bitches in his new home at The Triangle.

Rags to Bitches is once again operating but this time focused on offering courses and organising events, like hen dos, as well as the online shop! I did a dress making course there in 2009.

So to go back to the event itself, my friend and I were slightly early, avoiding facing the students demo-ing outside. We made our way in anyway and had a chat with Simon.

I really liked the way the unit was transformed into a mixture of vintage furniture, fabrics, patterns, a gazebo and loads of lovely knic-knacs.

Cupcakes, drinks, home made sandwiches, crisps and even ‘Dreemy’ and ‘Roar’ where there to keep our energy and inspiration going. No Heston Blumentalism but nice simple snacks washed down by some bubbly amongst other things. No Dom Perignon but and nice and simple.

So after everyone arrived we got told to form 2 groups – one to make fascinators and one to go on a treasure hunt round the Triangle.

I was in the Alpha Hunters group and in teams of 3s we got off to find answers to our hints.

Not really difficult and quite fun actually, we swooshed the centre and collected answers, smiles and even a goody bag.

A few refuels of vino and 20min or so we were done and dusted.

Time for more vino!

Eventually the other 2 teams got back too and we carried on our chattering.

It took a chair and a loud voice for Simon to get some sort of order from everyone. The hens were happy!

Once the role got exchanged, we became the fascinator makers and they became the hunters.

Making fascinaors was easy as all we had to do was select fabric, cut it 1)for the outside 2)for the inside and chose the props – feathers, flowers, net, you name it… The lady Master of the glue gun would put it all together (health&safety first).

For some more pics of the results check Rags to Bitches blog.

It took us a good 2h to do all this and the fun was shared by all.

We then left the studio in a state of semi fashionistas devastation – fabric and props everywhere.

It felt right.

We then all went on, proud of our head gear to stylish high rise bar The Modern. Poor dinners didn’t know what hit them. A happy bunch of stylish hens!

What a great hen party with fabulous friends.

V x

P.S.: Love to my dear friends C&K. I wish you buckets and trucks load of happiness xxx

Gastro Club at The French (Midlands Hotel)

My oh my.

I have been following Gastro Club from its creation but have only been able to make it to the last one that took place early November at The French, the gorgeous restaurant located in the Midland Hotel.

The menu was school dinner inspired;

ham and egg

liver and onion

spotted sponge

That’s all we knew about it.

Here is what we got:

Premiere a Manchester

Peeps, be prepared to be taken by a Languedocien storm!

The Languedoc is coming to Manchester very soon with the Domaine Castan‘s delicious wines!

Yes, a selection of wines that breathes authenticity and terroir, hand crafted by Andre Castan in his indie winery in Cazouls-les-Beziers.

A complete range from sharp and aromatic whites to fruity roses and full bodied reds! There will be one for you!

We had a first shot at a tasting in lovely North Tea Power last month! More to come so watch this space!

Here are a few shots!

Cityco Open City

Week before last I took part in a Cityco event:  Manchester Open Photography Day.

A few groups lead by local professional photographers were dotted around Manchester.

My group, lead by Aidan O’Rourke was concentrated on Oxford Road, around Whitworth St West,  Rochdale Canal, Cambridge St and Great Marlborough tunnel.

It was a glorious, sunny day in Manchester.

Here are a few shots from that day!

The Palace Hotel - Oxford Rd

Corner House Extension - Whitworth St W

Corner House - Oxford Rd

Great Malborough St

Aidan O'Rourke (middle) - Our pro for the day

Cambridge St

Mancunian street art anyone?

Last week was the launch of FutureEverything. Sadly I was away the whole weekend and missed most events but I managed to go to the launch of the art instalation @ the Hive and got this little photo.

The exhibition is on until the 23rd of May so get down there n check it out.


FutureEverything Art work @ the Hive


Space invaders - One of many


Banksy or no Banksy? That is the question.


MEN at work

Before - Church St Market

After the work - Manchester Church St Market

After the work - New Church St Market

Walking around Manchester and facing random street art all around.

Common has ever changing interior deco – currently An apple a day by Dr Me is on. I personally like the cheeky approach mixing medical tools to common, everyday life. It’s on until the 2nd September.

Another little exhibition to check out!

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