The GardenDespatches from The Satyrs’ Forest

Posts tagged as “shopping”

Affleck’s Palace: tidbits from Manchester

A stairwell covered in music posters
A statue of Frank Sidebottom

It has now been over three months since i visited the city of Manchester. What once was a vivid memory has been obscured by the fog of ever-ticking time. But there is unfinished business to be dealt with — so let me sing to you, dear reader, of Affleck’s Palace.

Cottonopolis’ pop- and counter-culture mecca found its place in a bourgeois defunct department store; its hollowed husk has been stuffed beyond recognition with dozens of stores over four floors, from fashion to cassettes to Hatsune Miku–themed fizzy pop.

An anime-themed bubble tea shop

It’s an absolutely disorienting place to get your head around. The meme up in Newcastle is that the Grainger Market is an Escherian nightmare where nothing is ever where it was last time, but Affleck’s is a whole other level (three of them, in fact). Stairs lead to more stairs which lead to corridors which somehow lead back to the same stairs. It took me five goes to find the cassette tape store, and when i did, it was closed for a fag break. It’s the sort of place where a non-specifically foreign woman who you never see again sells you a cursed trinket that brings ruin to your family.

A bath bomb store covered in bamboo  and tie-dye cloth

I can only tolerate hippie shit in small doses, and, thankfully, this little bath-bomb dispensary was the perfect small dose. Incense sticks? Tie-dye decorations? Sure, why not.

A shop selling various LGBT-themed wares

This shop claims to be Europe’s largest LGBT specialty store, which i’m sure is true, if only because half of Europe has the same attitude towards gay and trans people as a moderate Westboro Baptist.

A wall stocked full of funko pop vinyls
Bad and naughty intellectual properties go to Funko Pop Jail, where they belong.

And if counter-culture isn’t your thing, there’s enough stalls hawking Disney merchandise to keep you occupied. (I clapped when i saw the thing i know!!!)

I hardly even remember getting in or out of the building, which leaves me at a loss for how to end this post. Maybe it’s more of a feeling than a real place — you just wake up one day, teleported inside, and have to complete a vision quest to buy a cone of rose-flavoured ice cream to find out how to leave.

Eulogy for a food court

I was on my usual city constitutional the other week when i noticed that my favourite bubble tea place1 had shuttered. Hm, that’s odd, i thought. Last time that happened was lockdown. Don’t know why they’d do it again. I assumed they’d be back again swiftly, and went on with my day.

Then the week after i noticed that the entrance to the über-hip shipping-container food court of which it was a part was blocked off. Hm, that’s odd, i thought. Ah, well. It’s probably just construction. These things happen all the time.

It was only yesterday that i saw the crane lifting one of the shipping containers away and realised something (other than the container) was up. Sure enough, one quick google reveals the flashy new development that’ll be taking its place — originally it was going to be mixed-use, but covid crunch caused them to scale back to the thing that covid really, conclusively proved was absolutely 100% necessary and in demand, definitely: offices.

“Pilgrim’s Quarter” is part of a broader redevelopment of the neglected Pilgrim Street, which may or may not include a pedestrianisation — i don’t know; it’s all in jargonese and i can’t make heads or tails of what Enhancing The Public Realm is meant to mean. (Or, for that matter, why they’ve misspelt it as “Pilgrim’s Quater” on the official brochure.)

The permission slips are all in place — so here’s to you, Stack. You might have had some exorbitant prices (sorry, Korean place, but i’m not paying £12 for a few chicken wings and fries), but otherwyze you were a shining beacon of small businesses in the city centre — you were too good for this world. *Pops open a bottle of champagne*

Some nice local businesses at Ponteland market

A table filled with alkin goods and crafts

The family and i went to a local food-and-craft market at Ponteland’s garden centre this morning. I thought i’d send letters of recommendation for some of the stalls.

Urban Bakery, from Gateshead, make the most decadent cinnamon buns i’ve ever had.

The Alnwick Soap Company produce wonderful soaps inspired by the scents of rural Northumberland. I plumped for the ginger-and-grapefruit and cedarwood-and-juniper myself.

Mrs B’s Kitchen, from Durham, sells jams, conserves, chutneys, honey, sauces — all the things you ever need in the top drawer of your fridge. (I got the rhubarb and raspberry.)

Hops and Dots, of Bishop Auckland, make “accessible craft beer” with Braille on the labels.

Wilde Farm, of Ponteland, are ostensibly running the whole thing, and sell... you know, farm things. Carrots, veg, burgers, sausages, turkey — you get the idea. They’re currently taking orders for the winter holidays.