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Qype: Chocolate Bar in Bolton


If, like me, you love chocolate, you are used to going into various chocolate shops in the UK. I’ve been to a few, in Manchester, in Wales, and in Scarborough. They were very good in their own way, but I wasn’t quite impressed with chocolate. Either it was too sweet, or too hard, or the chocolate construction was too elaborate to be enjoyable.

But when I saw Chocolate Bar across the corner from The Whittakers of Bolton my feet went there by themselves… and, by George, I wasn’t misled! I only tried their chocolates, although they do cakes, too. For £6 I bought 12 different types packed in a lovely box, from chilli dark chocs through truffles and cognac cherries to marzipan. I was going back to Manchester on the bus… and I couldn’t stop eating them until none was left!

The shop was set out to emulate the French chocolate shops, and chocolates are imported from the Continent, which explains the really fine quality. The shop has only been in business for a few months, but, provided they sort out their website, this promises to be a long-awaited addition to Bolton and to the British chocolate business.


Qype: Costa Coffee in Bolton

BoltonEating & DrinkingCafes & Coffee ShopsCoffee Shops

Out of all Costas in Greater Manchester this has to be my favourite, although I’ve only discovered it recently. The cafe is conveniently located right opposite Bolton’s impressive town hall, and you can drink your espresso either in the street or inside, gazing at the fountain by the town hall’s staircase.

The main reason I am reacting so ecstatically to this Costa is their staff and the swiftness of service. The baristas are attentive, polite and smily, and even when the cafe is busy – as it happens with any cafe between 1 and 2pm – you don’t have to wait for ages for your coffee. The interior design and ambience contribute to the effortless style and relaxed atmosphere.

And did I mention that their latte was the most delicious and smooth latte I’ve had in a long time?


Qype: Walsh’s Ye Olde Pastie Shop in Bolton


Either I am unlucky, or Ye Olde Pastie Shop has really been out of business for a very long time… in fact, in all time I’ve been going to Churchgate. The pastie shop was established, according to the plaque, in 1667, and sits right opposite the famous Olde Man and Scythe where the 7th Earl of Derby spent the night before execution.

Even if the shop is no longer in business, the building itself is a fine example of 17th c. urban architecture.


Qype: Bolton Town Hall in Bolton


I don’t go to Bolton very often these days, but every time I visit this town I take time to admire its splendid town hall. The original building was opened in June 1873 by HRH Prince Albert. Known as Albert Hall, it saw the first recital of the organ in October 1874.

Sadly, in 1981 the original Albert Hall was destroyed by fire, but the rest of the building was saved and came back to life as the new Albert Hall and Festival Halls. It now contains several function rooms, as well as the tourist information centre.

The building is dominated by the impressive tower clock, beneath which sits a portico entrance with white frieze. A grand staircase is flanked by fountains and lions. Opposite is a War Memorial.

Bolton Town Hall stands in the middle of the town’s life. It is surrounded by the bank, a plenty of shops, a court, a taxi rank, with a bus interchange just across the road.


Some Flickr Pointers

I noticed that Flickr link in my Lijit widget wasn’t working. I corrected it but I thought I’d use the opportunity to give you a peek at my “private” Flickr life.

I started using the site in 2007, partly because of Robin Hamman‘s paeans. I’ve loved photography already but as with blogging it took overcoming a certain inner hurdle to start putting the photos up for all to see.

I love Flickr; in May, during Futuresonic Festival, I even delivered a talk on Online Photography; and before then in January I wrote a lengthy article on how (not) to use Flickr. Working as a Social Media Manager, I notice, of course, that nobody uses Flickr as they “should”, myself including. But it’s good to strive to use it better.

Flickr is an ocean, deep, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous. They upped security and safety levels, and you can always ask to take you “to kittens” but chances are, you will keep looking. I don’t think it will be totally bad if a young person stumbles upon the imagery of sexual kind. My concern is whether or not there will be a sensible adult with them to explain things.

As for me, I was amazed when last year I got followed by the multitudes of leather fans. I love leather clothes, so this season I don’t even have to try to be fashionable. But to have your own self-portrait in leather pants and hand-made sweater accumulating views and comments was something different.

My experience of Flickr has been great, all the more so because for the second time a photo I took was included in Schmap City Guide. In 2007, one photo was featured in Schmap Liverpool Guide. In 2009, another photo (which you will not find in my personal photostream) got included in Schmap Manchester Guide. It was made at one of the events where I went as my company’s employee, and it is credited to the company.

So, by way of giving a few pointers to what you’re going to find if you visit my Flickr:

All sets, and particularly Knitting and Lake District

Carmarthen Cameos (South Wales)


Bolton (a Lancashire town in Greater Manchester county)


North Wales

Castles (only Welsh so far)

Museums, Art Galleries, Exhibitions (Beck’s Canvas, Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum)

Concert and Music Events (Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand, Toshio Iwai)

Russian Places (some of my childhood places)

York (I loved the city, will go again some time)

Yorkshire: Leeds and Scarborough

Lancashire: Oldham, Blackburn and Blackpool

Merseyside: Liverpool and Southport

Cheshire: Chester, Altrincham, Warrington, and Stockport

Midlands: Birmingham

Public Lectures (Slavoj Zizek rules!)

Festivals: Futuresonic, Manchester International Festival, Text Festival

The photo above is Cleopatra’s Needle from London 2004 set.

My Trips to Bolton -3 (Bolton’s Hidden Gem, St Andrews Court)

As you probably know from my previous posts, I like visiting Bolton. In fact, I have been visiting it regularly since my first visit to Manchester in 2002. Back then I didn’t go farther than Bolton Market Hall which dates back to 1855 (left, courtesy of Bolton Revisited). The inside of the building may remind you of a train station. Back in 1855 it was said to be ‘the largest covered market in the kingdom’. Thanks to the townsfolk petition in the recent years, the Market Hall has been spared closure and is currently being renovated. I loved visiting Morelli’s Cappuccino on the terrace, where they brew one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever drunk, complete with a chocolate heart on top of the foam. Morelli’s are still running, but these days they’ve moved to the ground floor, which admittedly has taken away some of the beauty of the pastime there.

Last time I went to Bolton was this Saturday, and, upon leaving the bus, I crossed the road and walked down the street, and then I turned right, into a quaint cobbled street. I knew exactly where I was going, but the route I took was not the usual one. I had some free time before my appointment, thus I wasn’t afraid of getting lost in the unknown quarter of the town.

As I was walking down this cobbled street (which name I don’t even know), I was looking here and there, and suddenly there was this little quite street on my left, and there I saw this building. I couldn’t stop by, but I gave myself a word to return to this street on my way back.

The building houses St Andrews Court, adjacent to Crompton Shopping Centre. If you mentally project the view in this picture to the right, there will be Crompton car park, and the old building faces the entrance to the parking place. But it is so easy to never look into the street where St Andrews Court is located and so to pass it by that we can certainly call it Bolton’s Hidden Gem, as a parallel to Manchester’s St Mary The Hidden Gem.

The building boasts a very unusual tower, which was what attracted my attention to it in the first place. Although from the first glance St Andrews Court looks to be located in an old church’s building, on second thoughts it is unlikely. The tower looks nothing like a bell tower, not only because it doesn’t actually have a bell, but also because it is very small. And secondly, the back of the building has got this peculiar stained glass window. If you look at the picture, in the third from the bottom row of symbols you will see a horseshoe on the left, and the initial ‘A’ on the right. I’m struggling for the meaning of the middle image, but perhaps it is a fishing net? At any rate, my second guessing is that the building may be a guildhall.

What is most interesting is that I am also struggling to find information about St Andrews Court on the web. I know that if I bury my head into books on local history at Bolton Library or even Manchester City Library, I will find some information. But despite the fact that several local history portals are currently present online, hardly any of them mentions the original purpose of the building where St Andrews Court is now located.

Nevertheless, the place has got this magical aura, and I don’t think it has to do anything with the fact that I have only just discovered it, that I know little about it, and that for these reasons it appears to be mysterious and unique. On the left you can see the picture of a walk between the court’s building and the edifice next to it (it’s made of red brick and these days has got a blue-and-white visor above the shop window). The walk is apparently called Bowker’s Row (the image is a courtesy of Bolton.org.uk), and to me it looks like an entrance to a rabbit hole.

Needless to say, if you have any more information on St Andrews Court, feel free to share it with us via the comments.


My Trips to Bolton-1

My Trips to Bolton-2 (Ye Olde Man and Scythe)
Bolton Revisited
Our Treasures‘a gateway to the hidden treasures of Bolton and Bury Art Galleries and Museums’
St Mary’s The Hidden Gem – a website dedicated to Manchester’s St Mary’s Church, affectionately nicknamed The Hiddem Gem. St. Mary’s (The Hidden Gem) was founded in 1794 in the centre of what was then, the poorest quarter of Manchester . It is now thought to be the oldest post- Reformation Catholic church founded as a church in any major centre of population in England. The Relief act allowing Catholic churches to be built again as churches was passed in 1791. The building of St. Mary’s was begun in 1792. This makes St Mary’s the Catholic mother-church of the whole of Greater Manchester

My Trips to Bolton -2 (Ye Olde Man & Scythe)

When I went to Bolton a week ago, I didn’t manage to take any decent shots of Ye Olde Man & Scythe, one of Britain’s oldest pubs. (Don’t tell me anybody that North West of England is not worth of visiting or inhabiting). The reason was that there was a van or a truck standing right in front of it, and obviously I didn’t feel so generous as to photograph the vehicle.

Thankfully, a week later it was completely different. There was no van, or truck, but there were a plenty of people walking past.

Some people were even attempting to chat up a young girl (who you can see on the right), oblivious to the fact that she was a mannequin. I must admit: every so often I fall the victim of mannequins. I mistake them for real people. The first time it happened in Moscow, many years ago, in a sportswear shop, when I needed an advice, and went up to a well-dressed young man, who confidently stood at the entrance to the sportswear section. My eye-sight was not perfect then already, so it took me to come up close to the figure to realise that I was intending to speak to a dummy.

This fairy, however, wasn’t a very simple fairy. She was very airy, for which reason, I believe, she had a ‘Mop&Shine’ stood between her feet – to keep her base down to earth.

This fairy was not the only one who was inviting you under the pub’s roof. Another airy creature was gazing from the window in the room above the entrance. You can see her on the very first picture in this post, but I tried to get a closer look at her.

The pub, as some of you may know, had existed since 1251, and was partially rebuilt in 1636. The bar inside the building shows the end of the 1251 wall.

Two views of the sitting space in the inner yard. The right picture was taken from the walk between the two buildings, and gives you a peek at the leaden barrels of bitter in the pub’s cellar.

I think some of the visitors were quite amused to see a girl in a red coat, with two bags (yes, I did some shopping, as well), first snapping pictures outside the pub, and then walking in and continuing to snap inside the building. One of those people were looking out of the window while I was trying to get a better shot of the female figure in the room above the entrance. I might not have walked into the building, but he looked like a pub’s owner, so I thought I’d come in and ask if he minded me taking pictures of his property. No, he wasn’t the owner, but he didn’t mind, and neither would the owner, he said. So, I carried on taking pics, my conscience being cleared.

Oh, I forgot to say why I ended up going to Bolton for two weekends in a row. First, I’m working full time in Warrington these days, and commuting between Manchester and Warrington takes me three hours in total each day. Needless to say, I don’t have much time to go anywhere after work during the week. And when I went to Bolton on the 10th, at Whitakers I found the buttons for the coat that I knitted. And then came a severe test to my math skills, or rather to my occasional absent-mindedness. I knew there were seven button-holes, but the buttons were being sold in pairs. So I bought three pairs, knowing all the while that the coat has got seven button-holes. Thus, a week later I had to go to Bolton again, to get another pair of buttons.

My Trips to Bolton -1

There may be something good about visiting an optician. The visit (and the news of your becoming more shortsighted after three years – as if I expected a miracle to happen instead!) may inspire you to take a bus and to go in almost any available direction.

I did this on the last two weekends. A week ago I went to Bolton after I underwent a test at the optician. I wasn’t upset by the news, as it was quite exactly what I thought it would be. I ordered new lenses to my glasses. It wasn’t raining, and it wasn’t very cold. And of the spur of the moment I took a bus and went to Bolton.

I’ve been to Bolton before, but most of the times I didn’t have a camera with me. On the occasions when I did it was a bit of a pain to have the photos developed first, and then to scan them. But last December I got a new phone for my birthday, with a good camera in it. So, now I’m taking pictures whenever I see something worth of commemorating.

This is what Bolton looked like on February, 10th (the picture above). Although I never got caught in the rain, there was some light drizzle, and the town was sober and silent.

I see a very subtle irony in the picture on the left. They may debate ad infinitum, which of these two – prostitution or journalism – is the oldest job on Earth. But if we consider both as institutions, then religion and Church are just as old. And there is something ironic that the buildings of the two these oldest social institutions are located so close to each other.

(Almost) the same spot looked like this a week later:

I must admit, though: I liked The Bolton News building. When you see it from its narrow side, it doesn’t seem interesting. But if you only walk a little down the street, you’ll see it differently. I don’t know about you, but it reminded me of a ship. And this ship is headed towards the church. I know some of you will find it natural. As for me, I’ll take a pause.

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