Keeping Christmas Cakes Simple

Top tips for baking and decorating your Christmas Cake


Nothing screams Christmas is coming more than a bowl full of plump alcohol sodden fruit headed for the oven.

If the thought of baking your own Christmas Cake is a bit daunting, then fear not because I’ve got Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry up my sleeve to help.


Christmas Cake


Alice’s simple tips and fabulous recipe mean that this year you be eating your own cake on Christmas Day!


Over to you Alice ……

Alice Bodley


Vintage afternoon tea is what we are normally all about – fresh baked scones with jam and clotted cream, layer cakes, strawberry shortcakes and tray-bakes, all served on gorgeous vintage china.

But at this time of year we turn our hand to lots and lots of dried fruit, brandy by the jug full, white icing and red ribbons – yep its Christmas Cake time!



The smell of brandy soaked fruit will be hanging around our ovens for a while – we just love it!

It’s a busy time of year, but it’s well worth finding the time to bake your own, and it can be a much more straight forward task than you think. Follow our tips and ideas below to keep it simple.

And if baking and decorating your own is really not for you, we can always bake one for you! Get in touch to find out more


So a few baking tips that are a must for Christmas Cakes:


  • Use a good quality deep baking tin.
  • Make sure you double line the tin and then wrap the outside in a double layer of newspaper tied with string.
  • Use a mix of dried fruits – don’t just stick to the raisins, sultanas and currants you might have in your cupboard, try cherries, ginger, prunes and figs.
  • If you don’t want to use alcohol, soak your fruit in Earl Grey tea and pour two tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice over the top once baked.
  • Christmas cakes bake in the oven for a long time – as tempting as it is, make sure you don’t open the oven door until at least ¾ of the way through baking



Decorating your cake – some ideas to keep it simple:


The basics of decorating your cake are really very basic. Just get yourself some ready-made marzipan and ready-made fondant icing.

Start by laying the marzipan over the cake, brush with brandy and then over-lay the fondant. Use your hands to smooth the edges (we use a cake decorator’s tool to do this, but hands are fine for a home-made look).

Now you need to decide how to decorate it. At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we have come up with five different Christmas cake designs, each requires more specialist equipment and takes time.


Christmas cake


But here we have come up with a few different ideas that keep the decoration simple so that anyone can do it at home.

  • Tie a red or gold ribbon around the cake and top with a bit of holly (remove before you eat!)
  • Use a small star shape cutter to cut out some fondant stars. Lay around the edge of the cake and sprinkle some edible sparkle over them.
  • Buy yourself some Christmas figurines – there are loads available online and they start from as little of 94p! Just place them on top of your iced cake. So simple!
  • Press a star shaped cutter in to the fondant icing on top of the cake, fill the indent with edible sparkle, or ‘edge’ each indent with edible silver balls.


Easy Christmas Cake Recipe


And as for a recipe, there are loads out there, we’ve tried a few and give top marks to the one featured below.  It’s pretty much as simple as you get and produces a good quality moist cake. We have gone for a nut free cake batter, you can add almonds or any nut you like, just substitute exact weight for some of the dried fruits.




  • 1.2kg mixed dried fruit
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
  • 150mls alcohol (brandy, whisky or sherry)
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 175g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract




Mix together the dried fruit, butter, sugar, alcohol, zest and lemon in a large pan – heat to boiling point and then simmer for 10 minutes.


Christmas Cake ingredients


Leave it to cool for around 30 mins before adding the remaining ingredients.


Christmas Cake ingredients


Tip in to your pre-prepared tin and bake in the oven for 2 hours.


Christmas Cake Baking


Remove from the oven, prick some holes in the top and pour over another 2 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol. Simple!

Once it is completely cool wrap it in a couple of layers of cling-film (nice and tight) and pop it in a tin. Top it up with a little extra booze every couple of weeks.

When you are ready to decorate it remove the cling film and leave to dry the surface for 48 hours (in the tin). If the cake has risen in the centre just use a sharp knife to carefully remove the top and level it out.


Christmas Cake


Enjoy the baking – enjoy the eating even more!

Hope you have all have a very happy Christmas.


Alice xxx


Photographs: Alice’s Vintage Pantry




Other articles by Alice ……

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe









National Days November 2013

This month’s reasons to be cheerful


We’re back today with a daily dose of celebrations. Our regular guest blogger Victoria has been digging out the weird and the wonderful. Pick your favourite and choose your method of celebration!


Over to you Victoria ……



It’s the last month before Christmas, but in between all that shopping and wrapping make some time for a hectic November crammed full of National Days.

Take the opportunity to master that meat-free dish for the awkward Christmas dinner guests as November is a month long celebration of all things vegan.



Friday 1st November

Author’s Day: Whether it be picking up your favourite book or having a read of your local paper; show your appreciation of the hard working authors behind all of our literature.


Saturday 2nd November

Deviled Egg Day: Having only had my first fried egg last week; the concept of a devilled egg is a rather intimidating one. This weird creation involves a masher and some mayonnaise and mustard. Mmm, yummy!


Sunday 3rd November

Zero Tasking Day: Take advantage of the extra hour the clock change gives us and… do nothing.

Sandwich Day: It’s the lunchtime staple the majority of us rely on. Swap the boring cheese or ham for something more adventurous today.


Monday 4th November

Job Action Day: Are you still just the coffee girl at the ‘dream job’ you started 2 years ago? It’s time for a change!

Use Your Common Sense Day: Something I really should start doing more than just once a month!


FireworksTuesday 5th November

Gunpowder Day: I don’t think you need a reminder for this one – get the kids together and head out to a firework display in your local area.


Wednesday 6th November

Stress Awareness Day: Be more aware of the stresses in your life and take action to diminish them.

Saxophone Day: Release your inner jazz band.


Thursday 7th November

Men Make Dinner Day: Amen to that! Take a rest from the cooking and get your Mr out from in front of the TV and make him slave behind the stove for this rare opportunity.


Friday 8th November

X-Ray Day: The common X-Ray was discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Rontgen. X-Ray Day celebrates his massive achievement.


Saturday 9th November

Chaos Never Dies Day: So what if you have a chaotic life? Chaos Day is all about embracing the madness.

Remembrance Poppy


Sunday 10th November

Tongue Twister Day: She sell sea shells on the sea shore…it’s a lot easier to type that it is to say. Go on, try it!

Monday 11th November

Remembrance Day: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – we remember those that gave their lives so we can be free.

Origami Day: The stereotypical bird shape cleverly crafted out of paper actually symbolises peace. Show a little respect for the pure talent that goes into the art of origami.


Tuesday 12th November

Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies Day: This is a strange one! I think Anchovy Hating Day would be a more appropriate name but let’s roll with it.


Wednesday 13th November

Kindness Day: If you think the girl in the street looks incredible in that dress, tell her!


Thursday 14th November

Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life and find the time to clear your mind and enjoy a cuppa.


Friday 15th November

Clean Your Refrigerator Day: Have you got a bad case of fermented two month old vegetables lying in the darkness of your empty fridge? I know I do.


Saturday 16th November

Guinness World Record Day: Get involved and submit your attempts to be shown on the Guinness World Record Day newsreel. Previous years have seen records broken in the hundreds of thousands.

Footpath sign


Sunday 17th November

Take A Hike Day: Jog on then! Nope, I’m being serious- as well as the literal meaning of Take A Hike Day, it can also be interpreted as telling that certain irritating person to get out of your life.


Monday 18th November

Occult Day: A celebration of all things weird and wonderful including witchcraft and wizardry.


Tuesday 19th November

Mens Day: An appreciation of the male role within society and also a way of raising awareness for health issues specific to men.

Have A Bad Day Day: This could be more American in origin as Have A Bad Day was created for those working within customer services who tire easily of telling people to enjoy their day.


Wednesday 20th November

Name Your PC Day: Percy? Penelope? Poppy? I’m still struggling to come to terms with having to name my PC, it just doesn’t feel right.


Thursday 21st November

Use Less Stuff Day: Recycle and reuse is the message here. Don’t cause unnecessary waste.

Hello Day: Step away from the phone and take the time to actually visit your friends in person just to say hello.


Friday 22nd November

Go For A Ride Day: Whatever mode of transport you opt for, get out and experience the world today.


Saturday 23rd November

Fibonacci Day: This was a new word for me too. Fibonacci or Leonardo of Pisa is the man behind a complex number sequence heavily used in data processing.


Sunday 24th November

Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day: If you have one (I don’t), let the world see it.

Chocolate ice cream sundae


Monday 25th November

Parfait Day: Make your dream ice-cream sundae. I’m excited already.


Tuesday 26th November

Shopping Reminder Day: Christmas is on its way. Have you got all your presents yet?



Wednesday 27th November

Pins And Needles Day: Not the horrendous numbness we all experience from time to time, but rather a celebration of a 1937 play.


Thursday 28th November

French Toast Day: (Or eggy bread if you’re from up North) as if we need an excuse to indulge in this breakfast favourite.


Friday 29th November

Electronic Greetings Day: Take advantage of technology to talk to your friends.

Flossing Day: Something we often forget to do, but it’s great for our teeth and gums.


Saturday 30th November

Small Business Saturday: Make a change from the high street and supermarket and opt for smaller, independent businesses.

Computer Security Day: Stop ignoring the messages telling you to update your anti-virus and do it!



Another jam packed month – which ones will you celebrate?


Victoria x


Photographs: Free digital photos



Other related blogs:

National Days October

National Days September








The Mirror Ball Spooktacular

Halloween fun in aid of Forever Manchester


Anyone who was anyone descended on The Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester Hotel on Thursday for the Halloween event of the year.

Edward Scissorhands, The Joker, The Black Swan, The White Swan, Cat Woman and the entire cast of Ghostbusters were there, along with a plump woman with bat deely boppers she’d found lodged down the back of the wardrobe.

The latter would be me!


Forever Manchester Mirror Ball Halloween


Forever Manchester Mirror Ball Spooktacular


The imagination people had poured into their costumes was incredible as the grizzly and the ghoulish partied into the night to support Forever Manchester – the charity that helps Mancunians make positive changes in their local communities – the Mancunian way!

The Mirror Ball is the party child of celebrity ‘hair guru’ Andrew Trott-Barn who can be seen on ITV’s make over show ‘Star Treatment’ with Jane McDonald. Andrew launched the Mirror Ball after surviving a brain tumour and has donated the profits to Forever Manchester for the last two years.

Well done Andrew we say!


Forever Manchester Mirror Ball Spooktacular


Andrew felt that Manchester was missing a really fabulous Halloween party, so this time the Mirror Ball flung on it’s bat wings and got itself a cauldron!


Forever Manchester Mirror Ball Spooktacular


Have a look through the slide show below and see if you can spot a celeb or two!


alstaples's The Mirror Ball Halloween 2013 album on Photobucket



A big thank you to Forever Manchester Ambassador Daisy Whitehouse from PR and social media consultancy Down at the Social who invited 4Manchester Women to this fabulous event.

If you would like to make a donation to Forever Manchester to help them with their fantastic work right here in the city we love, please click here.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: © The Vain Photography | Carl Sukonik |

Disclaimer: We accepted two free tickets from Down at The Social. We were not asked to write about the event and opinions are our own.

















Winter warmers fashion

Hats, scarves, jumpers and gloves from


Now the clocks have changed and it’s chilly and wet, it’s time to turn to some cosy knits and Autumnal colours.

I’ve been a big fan of since they came to my rescue last Christmas with the perfect Christmas jumper. This year they’ve got even more choice. winter warmer


Here are a few looks pulled together from their AW13 range. Which is your favourite?


4MCRWomen's Boohoo Winter Warmers album on Photobucket



Pop over to and stock up on some new winter warmers of your own – and even better, there’s currently 20% off!


Boohoo 20% offer.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: is one of 4Manchester Women’s affiliate partners









Cultural preview – November

Theatre, music, cinema and arts – What’s On


Lorna McBride


We’ve got Lorna back on the blog today with her monthly look ahead at what’s coming up at the theatre and cinema, and the music and arts we’ve got to look forward to.

As usual she’s picked three things for each category with a mix of what’s happening this month, and announcements, where the tickets are expected to sell out quickly!


Over to you Lorna ……




1. Wanted! Robin Hood at The Lowry If, like me, you’re eagerly awaiting the next series of Game of Thrones (sad, yes I know) then get your men-in-tights fix with the Library Theatre’s upcoming production of Wanted! Robin Hood, on at The Lowry.

Written by award winning playwright Charles Way, this new adaptation of a classic is described as a ‘magical adventure’ perfect for families to go and see together. Preview showings are from 29th November.


November's theatre


2. Sweeney Todd at The Royal Exchange Shaving cream at the ready as Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street comes to the Royal Exchange for a month long run throughout November.

The grisly musical is put bought to us in collaboration with West Yorkshire Playhouse and is sure to be a sell out, even if it is minus Johnny Depp.


3. The Northern Ballet Theatre presents A Christmas Carol at The Palace Theatre, combining traditional ballet with captivating theatre to transport you back to the Victorian era of mean old Ebenezer Scrooge and plucky little Tiny Tim.  Performances are between 19th and 23rd November.





1. Captain Phillips Tom Hanks once again stars in a drama on the high seas, although this time there’s no Wilson to keep him company.

Captain Phillips is based on the true events of 2009, which saw a U.S container ship hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Adapted from Captain Phillips own book of his terrifying ordeal, there’s no doubt Hanks will do the brave Captain’s story justice on the big screen.


November's Cinema


2. Thor The Dark World at Route 66,  is a date night choice to keep you both happy. Your other half will be satisfied with the comic book inspired action side of things, while you can appreciate the brilliant acting (read hunkiness) of Chris Hemsworth.

See it at Route 66, Salford– Europe’s first drive in cinema experience between 1st and 7th November for an extra special night at the movies.


3. National Theatre Live’s Frankenstein at The Odeon Printworks Catch a National Theatre Live Encore Screening of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and starring Jonny Lee Miller.

This dramatic tale of a grotesque creature, cast out cruelly into the world by his creator, only to be met with horror, is showing at Odeon Printworks on Monday 18th November.





1. Stereophonics If the husky voice of Kelly Jones does it for you then Christmas just might have come early this year. Welsh rockers Stereophonics will be performing at the Phones 4 U Arena on Thursday 14 November. Grab tickets while you can.


November's music


2. The Magic Numbers, best known for their melodic tunes like Love Is A Game play at the RNCM on Thursday 28th November - an additional date added to their first ever acoustic tour. Ahead of their yet–to-be titled album release early next year, this is a really special chance to see an intimate gig.


3. Albert Hammond Jr Looking ahead to tickets just released, Albert Hammond Jr, one fifth of The Strokes, plays solo at Night and Day Café in the Northern Quarter on Sunday 8th December.

Another chance to catch a brilliant gig in an intimate setting, where you can actually see the stage without standing on your tiptoes / having to watch it via a big screen a million rows back.


Art / Culture


1. Christian Dior Exhibition If you’re already planning your Christmas party wardrobe then look no further than the Gallery of Costume’s stunning exhibition Christian Dior: Designer in Focus for your inspiration (until 12th January 2014).

The Grade 2 listed building, located in Platt Field’s park at the bottom end of Rusholme, holds the most significant collection of costumes in Britain – second only to the V&A in London don’t you know.


Exhibitions November


2. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air Head to Manchester Art Gallery in the city centre for a look at the new exhibition All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, curated by installation artist Jeremy Deller (until19th January 2014).

The exhibition looks at the impact the Industrial Revolution had on British Popular Culture – combining contemporary music, film and photography with a range of 19th century images and objects.


3. The People’s Business – 150 Years of The Cooperative exhibition at the People’s History Museum celebrates the history of a business which began in1863 as the Co-operative Wholesale Society in Greater Manchester.

Discover the surprisingly interesting social history and mission behind a business owned not by shareholders but by over 7 millions of it’s consumers.



Enjoy a busy cultural November!


Lorna x



Photographs: Royal Exchange Theatre, Palace Theatre, The Lowry Theatre, Wikipedia: Captain PhillipsThor the Dark World, Kelly Jones, The Magic Numbers, Albert Hammond Jnr, Christian Dior, All that is solid melts into air: Adrian Street and his father, 1973 (photo: Dennis Hutchinson) ©Dennis Hutchinson 2012. The Co-Operative Group


Other articles by Lorna

Cultural preview – October 2013

Review of Glamorous Amorous – The Ladyboys of Bangkok









Bonfire Night What’s On

Lots of places to see bonfires, fireworks and eat toffee apples


As usual there’s plenty going on in and around Manchester to get you in the Bonfire Night spirit. Here’s a round up of what’s happening to celebrate Guy Fawkes and his failed plot.

If there are any I’ve missed out please let me know and I’ll add them in.






Crumpsall Park Thursday, 31st October 2013,  Ash Tree Rd, Manchester M8 5RX Thursday, October 31, 7.30pm Fireworks. FREE


Debdale Park Thursday, 31st October 2013, Hyde Rd, Manchester M18 7LJ, 7.30pm, fireworks and bonfire FREE



Brookdale Park Saturday, 2nd November 2013, Droylsden Rd, Manchester M40 1PE,  7.30pm fireworks, FREE

Philips Park Sunday 3rd November 2013, Stuart Street Mancheser, M11 4DQ 7.30pm Fireworks FREE



Cavendish PTA West Didsbury Tuesday 5th November 2013, Cavendish Community Primary, Cavendish Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 1JG, 5.30pm bonfire, 6.30pm fireworks, ADULTS £2.00 / CHILD 50p.

Chorlton Green Treason and Plot will be taking over the annual fireworks display at The Horse & Jockey, Tuesday 5th November 2013 from 5.00pm onwards. Includes the launch of new Treacle Stout (tasters will be handed out), mulled cider and wine, bratwurst and black peas.

Heaton Park Tuesday 5th November 2013, Prestwich, M25 2SW 7.30pm fireworks and bonfire, FREE

Platt Fields Park Tuesday 5th November 2013, Platt Lane, Manchester M14 6LA, 7.30pm, fireworks and bonfire, FREE

Wythenshawe Park Tuesday 5th November 2013, Wythenshawe Rd, Manchester M23 0AB, 7.30pm, fireworks and bonfire, FREE





Buile Hill Park Tuesday 5th November 2013, Buile Hill Park, Eccles Old Rd, M6 8GL, gates open 6:00pm, bonfire lit at 7:00pm, fireworks at 7:30pm, funfair closes at 9:00pm. FREE

Toffee applesLittle Hulton Community Bonfire Tuesday 5th November 2013, Peek Park, Rams Street, Little Hulton M38 OEN, gates open 6:30pm,bonfire lit at 7:00pm, fireworks at 7:30pm. FREE

Prince’s Park Friday 8th November 2013, Liverpool Road, Irlam M44, funfair 6:00pm  – 9:00pm, bonfire lit at 7:00pm, fireworks at 7:30pm. FREE



Stockport / Macclesfield


Poynton Park Saturday 2nd November 2013, 6.00-9.30pm




Stalybridge Methodist Church Saturday 2nd November 2013 on High Street, food and hot and soft drinks, a ‘Best Guy’ competition, food and fireworks from 6.30pm, FREE





LOVE written in sparklers


Urmston Community Bonfire Saturday 2nd November 2013, 2-13 Chassen Road, Flixton M41 5DH, 5.30pm Bonfire 7.00pm, tickets available at local leisure centres

Altrincham Kersal Rugby Club Saturday 2nd November 2013, Stelfox Avenue, Timperley, WA15 6UL, 6.00pm-10.00pm

Trafford Centre Firework Display Sunday 3rd November 2013, Barton Square, M17 8AA Sunday, 6.00pm fireworks no bonfire, FREE

Ashton on Mersey Rugby Club Tuesday 5th November 2013, Banky Lane, Sale M33 5SL, 6.30pm

Bowden Cricket Club Tuesday 5th November 2013, South Downs Road, Bowden, WA14 3DT, 6pm – 10pm



Staying safe on Bonfire Night


Bonfire Night can be wonderful fun. It can also be very dangerous. Please read this Bonfire Night Safety Guide – thanks to @BonfireSafety


Have a brilliant time


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Free Digital Photos












Why mess causes stress

Workshop – decluttering your home and your mind


It’s a rainy day, the kids are off on half term, there’s mess and ‘stuff’ everywhere and you can’t find that ‘thing’ you need ……. Arrrrrgggghhhhh!


Stressed Woman

Does this sound familiar?

If you want to regain control of your home, space and sanity then this workshop has your name written all over it!


Why mess causes stress


Saturday 9th November 2013 (10.30am -12.45pm)

St Peter’s House, St Peter’s Church, Murieston Road, Hale, WA15 9SS

The cost is £8 and includes tea, coffee and biscuits.



The workshop is being run by professional organiser Amanda Manson of Orderly Office and Home and registered counsellor Judith Franklin from Good Life Therapy.

Clutter is a modern-day phenomenon. As our living spaces become smaller and our passion for purchasing increases, the onset of clutter in our homes is becoming more prevalent.

With that brings the additional stress of managing a home filled with more than is often necessary and the impact it has on not only our immediate surroundings, but on those people close to us as well.




The aim of the workshop


The aim of the workshop is to help people identify the causes of clutter in the home and understand its impact on their wellbeing.

Attendees will explore strategies to not only clear the clutter, but to maintain a more organised state for the future.

Alongside this, techniques to notice and manage rising stress levels will be shared.



Meet the experts


Amanda Mason


Amanda Manson of Orderly Office and Home is a Professional Organiser and member of APDO-uk (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers – UK).

She works with Clients in and around the Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire areas in their homes and office spaces to help them become more organised and efficient.



From cluttered spare rooms to over-spilling playrooms, domestic paperwork dumping grounds to confused office set-ups, Amanda has the understanding and practical ideas to help Clients achieve their goals.


Judith Franklin Good Life Therapy


Judith Franklin of Good Life Therapy is a registered and accredited member of BACP (British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists).

She works with her Clients from consulting rooms in Altrincham and Hale to help them through a number of issues; from bereavement, mid-life crisis, ill-health, depression, anxiety and stress to name a few.


Counselling offers a safe, therapeutic space where you can off-load whatever is on your mind. No issue is too small or trivial if it is affecting your ability to cope with everyday life.


Tickets for this unique event are available by calling 07754 069829 or 07961 488491 or by emailing


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Free digital photos, puuikibeach on Flickr

This blog is produced in collaboration with our friends at Orderly Office & Home and Good Life Therapy. We occasionally publish blogs funded by commercial partners.












The Vintage Manchester Awards

The best of the best 2013


I was beyond annoyed to miss The Best of Vintage Manchester 2013 Awards this week.

Husband Tris and I already had tickets to see The Feeling at The Academy. The first dance at our wedding was to I love it when you call  so skipping out was unfortunately non-negotiable. We did however do a pretty good job to of recreating some of our matrimonial moves on the dance floor!

But anyway missing Manchester’s most glamorous night of the year – Grrrrrrrrr!

Thankfully we had Victoria on hand with the perfect outfit to step glamorously unto the breach.


Over to you Victoria ……

Victoria Hepworth


Vintage lovers gathered in their hundreds last night for the glitz and glamour that was The Best of Vintage Manchester Awards 2013.

The event marked its second anniversary of this strictly Mancunian affair with a ‘Sixties Las Vegas’ theme, which was perfect for the new venue of Manchester 235 – the North’s answer to a Las Vegas casino.

The function room soon filled with guests dressed head to toe in their finest Vintage clobber.


For once it was socially acceptable to stare and admire not only the beautiful Sixties’ garments that were on display, but also the pure effort that had gone into everybody’s hair and makeup.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


After a windswept walk across Manchester resulting in lifeless locks, I can only say that I wish I had enlisted the assistance of Bethany Jane Davies – who just so happened to take the crown for Best Vintage Beauty and Grooming.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


It really was an event like no other, and it was like I had taken a step into a Tardis and rewound a few eras.

From the room decorations, to the choice of music which included classics such as Dream A Little Dream performed exquisitely by Miss Kiki deVille; all the way to Katy Perry’s Waking Up In Vegas, everything screamed Hollywood glamour.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


Credit must be given to event organisers Susan Earlam of Vintage Manchester and Rachael Adams from The Social Butterfly who both looked stunning and positively blooming in Susan’s case, with her baby being due in just two weeks’ time. Now that is commitment.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


I think my woozy head this morning speaks volumes about the hospitality!

Right from entering the door, we were presented with a (very large) glass of some unknown fluid. All the same, it was alcohol and it was yummy. After speaking to Dave, AKA The Drinks Enthusiast, I soon discovered that the drink was a splendid mix of Sprizatto (an Italian liqueur), gin, orange juice and soda water.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


We were served divine chocolate canapés from luxury chocolatiers Drop Dead Chocolates, which were presented to us by the lovely Laura who was dressed in an amazing Las Vegas showgirl outfit provided by the Royal Exchange Theatre.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


The star treatment continued as we were seated and presented with our own miniature boxes of the chocolates to enjoy while watching the show which started with a comedy bang as Kiki deVille did a brilliant job of calming the nerves of those who were nominated for awards.

In addition to Kiki’s fabulous hosting and performing, we were treated to acts by Suzie Sequin who teased guests with her Burlesque routine and Ginger La Rouge who showed us a use for a champagne glass that many have probably never even contemplated.


Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


The real purpose of the night, however, was the awards which marked the end of a brilliant night.


So without further ado, the winners were ……



Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 © Gareth Davies Photography


Best Vintage Fair - Vintage Village Stockport

 “This is quite something, two years running! Thank you so much for a fantastic event and for everyone who voted for us.”


Best Vintage Photography - HMS Vintage

“This is really important to me as we’ve won this within our first nine months of trading.”


Best Vintage Entertainment - Dr Sid


Best Vintage Beauty and GroomingBethany Jane Davies

“I just want to thank all of my wonderful clients. All of your creative spirit and imagination is inspirational.”


Best Vintage VenueSugar Junction


Best Vintage Event supplierVintage Afternoon Teas


Best Vintage Home and Furniture shopRose and Lee Vintage Living

“Two years in a row, thank you very much. The journey so far has been amazing. There are not a lot of things like this, so it is lovely!”


Best Vintage Attire – Miss Bamboo

“I’m so thrilled to be up here. We launched our website two years ago so what a great way to celebrate our anniversary. But the biggest thanks goes to Big Bamboo, who without, this would not be possible.”


Best Vintage Blogger -

“My periodical has only existed for just over a year so I do appreciate it.”


Best Vintage Newcomer - HMS Vintage

“I was not expecting that at all. To walk away with one is pretty amazing but two is bloody fantastic!”



Vintage Manchester Awards © Gareth Davies Photography


With the event organisers labelling this year’s awards as being an even bigger success than last year’s, we can only begin to imagine what will be in store for us next year.

Congratulations to all the winners and here’s to another year of thriving Vintage businesses.



4MCRWomen's Vintage Manchester Awards 2013 album on Photobucket

Victoria x


Photographs: Gareth Davies Photography, Victoria Hepworth



Other articles you might like:

The Best of Vintage Manchester Awards 2012












Manchester Science Festival 2013

A spine-tingling start for Manchester Science Festival


Many of science’s most important discoveries have taken place right here in Manchester – and the innovation just keeps on coming. The fact that Manchester has such an incredible science heritage is something to be rightly proud of. The fact that we’ve got a festival to celebrate it is even better.

The Manchester Science Festival starts today (24th October) and runs right through half term to 3rd November.

Manchester Science Festival.


We’ve been chatting to the team at The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) who produce The Manchester Science Festival (now in it’s 7th year) to find out what treats they’ve got in store for us.


Over to you MOSI ……

A 30m moving projection of a human spine on a warehouse and a record-breaking graphene sheet are part of the launch this week of The Manchester Science Festival in partnership with Siemens.


Spine Gina Czarnecki


An 11-day celebration of science


Visitors are invited to play, create and experiment with science through surprising installations, immersive science experiences and hands-on experiments in over 150 events for all ages at venues throughout Greater Manchester.

MOSI Director Jean Franczyk:

”Manchester Science Festival is the highlight of MOSI’s cultural programme, when we push the boundaries of science and work with our partners throughout the city to bring you the most thought-provoking events, exhibitions and experiments. Scientists and artists collaborate together to inspire us all about how science changes our lives.”


Largest exhibition of art about science outside a gallery


Gina Czarnecki’s image of a human spine and Luke Jerram’s dazzling glass microbes will headline 16 artists in the Victoria Warehouse Hotel for Synthesis – the largest exhibition of art about science ever shown outside a gallery.


Luke Jerram piece in Synthesis exhibition


Build the largest ever model of graphene


Visitors will join the Festival’s Citizen Scientist in Residence Aravind Vijayaraghavan from The University of Manchester to build the largest ever model of graphene (watch the video below to find out more about the wonders of graphene), while science communicator Nick Harrigan and his team of volunteers will help him build a fantastical Rube Goldberg machine to demonstrate the fun side of physics with vortex rings, seesaws and domino rallies!




The science of emotion


In artist Helen Storey’s unique installation visitors interact with real eyes to discover the science of emotion, while some of the most innovative and progressive architecture of the Antarctic is showcased in the exhibition Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica, which is organised by the British Council and curated by The Arts Catalyst.



Family science fun


A family programme features hands-on activities, such as Science Spectacular at The University of Manchester, which gives visitors a chance to learn about research, meet real scientists, and try out interactive experiments.


Child with van der graaf generator


Chemistry shows will entertain the crowds with the flash-bang side of science, and there will be comedy, quizzes, films and conversations to engage all ages about the big questions of science today.



What makes music catchy


A new Citizen Science project, #Hooked, will run throughout the Festival to find out the science behind what makes music catchy.




Music events and a special game to find the hooks of our favourite tunes will attract thousands of people to participate in this groundbreaking research.


Find out more


To find out more or download the programme for Manchester Science Festival visit

Follow the Festival on twitter @mcrscifest Like the Festival at

Share your photos on Flickr


Photographs: Manchester Science Festival












Review – Caffeine & Co

The little café in Longford Park, Chorlton


I love it when established names try something a bit different. Longford Park is one of my favourite parks in Manchester – it’s got chickens – what can I say!

We sent our regular foodie blogger Elaine and photographer Jenny down to Chorlton to give this new (ish) venture the once over.


Over to you Elaine ……



It was a lovely sunny autumn day in Longford Park (quite a relief after the weekend downpours) so my stroll through to Caffeine & Co was colourful and very pleasant.

I also think the park must have the one of the highest squirrel to people ratios in the country.

They seem quite tame though and happy to run about while you walk by.


Outside & inside


The cafe is situated near the centre of the park next to the play area and has ample picnic benches outside and cute little extendable tables inside like the one my Nan had in her kitchen.


Caffine & Co Longford Park


Caffine & Co Longford Park




The interior is bright and homely with a large counter displaying the homemade cakes and sandwiches and with an open kitchen at the heart of the cafe behind.




As Jenny and I were looking at the sandwiches on offer the nice young man behind the counter suggested we try two of the new fillings; chicken in saffron mayonnaise for Jenny and ham hock with homemade chutney for me.


chicken in saffron mayonnaise sandwich


ham hock with homemade chutney sandwich


All the breads used by Caffeine & Co are from a local baking co-operative and the ciabatta our lunch was served on was lovely and crisp outside but fresh and soft inside.

The ham hock had been cooked on the bone the night before and was lightly salted; the chutney was sweet and slightly acidic and gave the filling an interesting little kick. The chicken and saffron mayonnaise was sweet but we thought it could handle a little more saffron as it was quite subtle.




To wash down our sandwiches I had a pot of Lancashire breakfast tea, it was nice to get a pot of loose leaf tea and big enough for at least three cups too! Jenny had a glass of homemade raspberry lemonade, made with raspberries from their allotment.


Bags of tea




Keeping with the homemade theme we moved on to cake.

First up a firm favourite of mine Lemon Drizzle, soft moist sponge topped with a crunchy, zesty, zingy sugar crust.


Lemon Drizzle Cake


Our favourite however was the Chocolate Orange and Almond cake. Jenny hit the nail on the head calling it a “giant Jaffa Cake” it was topped with rich dark chocolate but the almond sponge was lovely and light.


Chocolate Orange & Almond Cake


It was good to see such a focus on local and homemade, and the café is clearly very popular – we saw families with children coming in throughout our visit.

If you live locally it would be part of a great family day out to the park, for those of us a little further afield there is also a Caffeine & Co in St James’ Square and a larger version due to open in Spinningfields aswell.


4MCRWomen's Caffine and Co Longford Park album on Photobucket



Caffeine & Co: Longford Park Bungalow, Longford Park, Manchester, M32 8DA

Tel: 07787 118578



Twitter: @caffineiandco


 Elaine & Jenny x


Photographs: McAvoy Photography



Other restaurant & café reviews:

Manchester Food & Drink Festival preview

Room Restaurant – City Centre

Didsbury Lounge – Didsbury

Salvis – Exchange Square, Manchester City Centre

The Parlour – Beech Road, Chorlton

Linen – Manchester 235

The Angel – Northern Quarter

Stock Restaurant – Manchester City Centre

The Oxnoble – Potato Wharf

Etrop Grange – Manchester Airport

Thomas Restaurant – Northern Quarter

Saffran – Trafford Centre

The Blue Pig – Northern Quarter

Yang Sing – China Town












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