Category Archives: Days Out


It’s been a couple weeks since I blogged about my foray into professional teeth whitening. If you remember I signed up for Enlighten treatment at Smile Stylist in House of Fraser Manchester.

My moulds took about seven days before they were ready for collection and they came with two syringes full of carbomide peroxide (which needs to be kept in the fridge.)

The first stage of the process is pretty straight-forward:

  1. Brush your teeth
  2. Apply a small amount of gel to each tooth area in the mould
  3. Press mould firmly against teeth and leave for one hour
  4. When complete, rinse thoroughly.

I’ve heard rumours about how uncomfortable this can be and how sensitive your teeth are afterwards. Fortunately I’ve experience neither of these side effects. In fact, the only thing I’ve found bothersome is not drinking red wine for two weeks!

After the first session my teeth looked instantly whiter.  I continued to notice small improvements for the first few days but then it seemed to plateau. I’m now ready for the final stage, which takes place at the dentist’s and uses a laser to really get those teeth glowing white.

Once this is complete I’ll post some lovely before and after pictures. Bet you can’t wait eh?


By Michael Travers


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It’s amazing how many people have not heard of Malham Cove – and I was one of them.  It seems to be off-the-beaten-track for even some very well-practiced walkers and countryphiles, which means it’s not full of hordes of tourists, but given its sheer stark beauty and amazing history, it’s difficult to understand why.

You get to the Cove itself by walking about 2 miles up from the pretty little village of Malham which has plenty of parking (free and otherwise!).  As you get closer the sheer scale begins to dawn upon you and eventually, if you walk as close in as you can get, which we did, you are faced with an 80metres high sheer limestone cliff face.  This was once a waterfall – fed by a glacier that was  2km beyond the top of the cove in the moors and started melting some 50,000 years ago. We were taken aback by this story as it looks like someone could have turned off the tap at the top a few weeks ago! As you move towards climbing up to the top, some very well-thought out and carefully placed interpretation boards tell you more about this fascinating story – so, the last time water (anything like a waterfall) was seen coming over the top was in the early 18th century, and that was due to a particularly wet winter!

The walk to the top takes a bit of effort – something like 400 roughly hewn steps (but that’s part of the fun, as it doesn’t feel like a theme park!) – but when you get there the view is absolutely stunning across vast swathes of Yorkshire below and further moorland beyond which would have been the site of the original glacier that fed the waterfall.  All of this enhanced by the less natural site of climbers scaling the limestone and some fell-runners trying to look impressive, but just look bonkers, frankly!

A fantastic morning’s adventure – but don’t tell everyone as they’ll spoil it!!!


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Planning the perfect weekend away is harder than you think. The careful of balance of location vs. driving distance; activity vs. tranquillity.

After much searching we chose a beautiful looking B&B in the quiet town of Howarth in the heart of Bronte Country. Ashmount Country House promised ‘luxury accommodation set amongst some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK.’

The hour long drive from Manchester took closer to two in Friday night rush-hour traffic, but we still arrived at the reasonable hour of 7pm. Greeted with a super-friendly welcome we were shown to our stunning room, Suite Dreams 21, situated across the road from the main house.

Elegant and well finished, the room really did feel luxurious, and the window-side cast iron bath and four-poster bed gave that ‘wow’ factor.

Back in the main house there’s a stunning Drawing Room to relax and enjoy the Honesty Bar. A word of warning here… It’s only the following day when you check the book do you realise just how honest you can be!

Breakfast was a hearty affair with a wide selection of hot and cold food available. Service was efficient and friendly, even first thing in the morning. The restaurant at Ashmount is also worth a mention. The food served in the evening was fantastic, and the intimate dining space really added to the homely atmosphere.

In terms of location Ashmount is perfect. Just a minute walk to the centre of Howarth, and from there it’s only a few paces in any direction before you’re in the heart of the moors. We chose a walk to the famous Bronte Waterfall, which, despite a minor hailstorm, was most refreshing…. even after a night in the Honesty Bar!

There’s not much else to do in Howarth apart from visit the Bronte museum (which we didn’t) or pop into a few tourist shops (which we did.) But if you’re looking for a relaxing break, Ashmount is a great choice – beautiful location, fantastic accommodation and a quick, easy drive from central Manchester. Highly recommended.


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travs teeth2“You can have a brace, if you really want one?” the dentist said. At 14 years old I thought I had enough issues to deal with so politely declined.

Nine years later I paid £3,000 to a private dentist to correct that regrettable decision. Now my teeth are pretty much perfect.

But years of coffee and red wine (and more red wine) have taken their toll and my smile lacks that Hollywood sparkle. I’ve tried various home treatments from the Internet but nothing’s had the results I wanted.

With a Birthday and holiday looming, action had to be taken.

I made an appointment with Smile Stylist at House of Fraser Manchester. With celebrity clients such as Catherine Tyldesley, Michelle Keegan, Shobna Gulati, Georgia May Foote, Jorgie Porter and Ray Quinn you know I’m in safe hands.

The Enlighten treatment I’ve chosen has the power to lighten your teeth up to 16 shades through a combination of home and in chair treatment.  Sounds perfect.

My initial appointment was quick and painless. After a brief consultation and a few photographs, an impression was made of my upper and lower teeth. While as this wasn’t exactly pleasurable, it was completely painless and over before I knew it.

In seven days my moulds will be ready to collect and I’ll be ready to start my at-home treatment.

For a front row seat to all the action, make sure you stay tuned. I’ll be documenting my progress and of course the final results…


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Contrary to popular belief, not every Sunday morning for Brandy and Coke involves a brain-haemorrhage-inducing hangover.

OK, so on this occasion, I was feeling slightly light-heading after one too many glasses of wine the night before. But nothing a co-drydamol and pint of water couldn’t fix.

With the weather looking OK (as far as Sunday morning in Manchester ever can be) we decided to stick to our plan for a ‘civilised weekend’. Adorned in thermals, fur hats (faux of cause) and woollen scarfs we set off to The National Trust’s Lyme Park.

It’s a straight-forward drive from Manchester city centre so we arrived shortly before 11am. A £5 entry fee rewarded us with a CD featuring the history of the park and a family quiz **yawns**.  I press –PLAY- and my hangover returns with a vengeance –STOP-.

The park is vast. If I’d listened to the CD I’d be able to tell you exactly how big. The ‘map’ provided to us on entry would be more accurate if drawn by a visually impaired three year old so we had to explore rogue. We walked and walked, over hills and mountains (it seemed) through woods, over roads, across footpaths with little sense of direction.

After three hours (and getting slight lost) we returned to the car invigorated and refreshed.

The park was beautiful and felt very rural at times. I’d highly recommend visiting for some fresh air, light exercise and to escape city life, without needing to travel too far.

On our way home we stopped for lunch at The Red Lion in Disley. We were pleasantly surprised by the modern décor and clean interior (unlike most pubs located near to National Trust sites) The ‘famous French onion soup’ was delicious, although small in stature, and the Sunday Roast well proportioned and tasty.  However, we were forced to question the discretionary 10% service charge which topped the bill at whopping £10 for a meal that cost only £50. Bad maths or subtle swindle, you decide.

Civilised day out. Achieved.


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Taurus Bar has been a popular venue for the gay community for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember it hasn’t changed at all.

But it’s never been the aesthetics that’s attracted people to Taurus. Far from it.  It’s friendly atmosphere and welcoming service that keeps you coming back time and time again (not to mention Iain and Polly.)

So, when Brandy and Coke heard that Taurus had re-opened after a refurbishment, we just had to check it out. So, armed with some trash-magazines, off we went for a leisurely Saturday lunch.

If you’ve been to Taurus before, don’t expect to return to see a multi-million pound makeover.  But the changes that have been made make a big difference.

New lighting and furniture coupled with a fresh lick of paint really helps to open up the room and give a real sense of space.  Everywhere looks cleaner, fresher and ready for a bustling year of business. Sadly, like the Great Wall of China, the aertex walls remain stubbornly in place.

The food and service, as always, were both above par.  We also used our Canal Street Card to purchase Happy Hour prices of lager and wine, leaving us with a bill that was easy on the purse strings. We left a few hours later stuffed and slightly tipsy. What more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon?


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