Category Archives: Nights Out

HOLIDAY IN HOWARTH

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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.

Coke.

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A DAME GOOD EVENING

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When you’re thinking about things to do – often going to gigs or the theatre – you come across things which make you think ‘shall we?’.  These are a long way from the ‘must get up at 8am on a Saturday morning and have three laptops at the ready for the on-sale’ moments and the Barry Humphries Farwell Tour was one of these ‘take it or leave it’ things.  Given that we were getting tickets for several other things, we decided to go for it – after all , we’ve never seen Dame Edna  and she never fails to amuse – and she didn’t.

A night at the theatre is always slightly marred when it involves going to the now very run-down Manchester Opera House and this one wasn’t any different – queues to get into the building, queues to walk down a corridor, queues for the loos and no sign of a queue, but just an unruly and uncomfortable scrum, at the tiny bar.  Anyway, settling in for the first half Les Patterson was funny enough – some complete belly laugh moments like his reference to new character Gerard Patterson (a very new Humphries creation and the ‘theatrical’ brother of Les) as ‘a v@gina-decliner’ – but then things took a turn.  As part of his farewell tour Humphries unearthed one of his earliest characters, Sandy Stone – a hauntingly-pale ghostly figure who has had a life of family tragedy.  Whilst this foray into dark humour was a tangent to the ‘in your face’ (literally if you were in the front row) style of Les, it put an enormous dampner on the mood.  A bad call Mr Humphries….but at least we’d pre-ordered a whole bottle of interval wine for the two of us, and OMG did we need it!

It’s fair to say that Dame Edna is timeless and Humphries freely admitted trotting out old material and tricks, but it worked as it all seemed so fresh.  This is clearly the character where he comes into his own and she hasn’t lost any of the wittiness and edge that has made her a household name across generations (Humphries first donned the purple wig and specs in 1955!).  Once the laughter got going pre-interval memories faded (although the ¾ pint of wine each helped too) and it was time for the tried and tested finale – Gladi-waving!  Following this, a rather touching final word from the man himself, with some lovely reference to his family connections to Manchester, and we were done.

All in all a mixed bag….’Should we have?’….probably, but once was enough and will definitely give the next Farewell Tour a miss!

Brandy.

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RETURN OF THE INTERLAW CARNIVAL

Next weekend is the return of the Interlaw annual Winter Carnival at The Ivy to benefit the Albert Kennedy Trust.

Last year was a fantastic. But you don’t need me to tell you that it was a fabulous star-studded evening… See for yourself.

With some great celebs already confirmed for this year’s party, make sure you stay tuned to find out what Brandy and Coke get up to.

Charlie Condou, Jane Hill and Sir Ian McKellen

Rylan Clark

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Robin Windsor

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Jodie Harsh

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OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

From the opening black and white credits to when the final curtain falls, this is a truly magical adventure.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the original Wizard of Oz film (and I truly hope that you are) you can’t help but fall in love with the land of Oz in all it’s technicolour beauty.

A prequel to the original Judy Garland film, Oz The Great and Powerful takes you on the journey of Oscar Digs (played by James Franco), a charlatan circus ‘wizard’ who’s hot air balloon is swept away to a strange place called Oz. He quickly finds himself at the centre of a battle between three witches as he tries to save the Emerald City and all it’s quirky inhabitants.

While the plot is somewhat predictable and we all know how the story will eventually end, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the journey. Twists and misdirection are sufficient enough to keep you suitably aroused.

The characters are marred by failing to develop past the usual stereotypes you’d expect from a Disney film such as the hero’s loveable and humorous sidekicks. But I defy anyone who does not shed a tear at the plight of the China Girl.

I went to see OTGAP at the Odeon IMAX and have to admit that it’s one of the most spell-binding 3D films since Avatar. Expect stunningly beautiful sets and jaw dropping CGI with all manner of objects flying in and out of the screen, keeping you literally on the edge of your seat.

Don’t expect any singing or talk about the Yellow Brick, and there’s not a single ruby slipper in sight, leaving plenty of scope for a sequel (in fact there are 14 books in the original series.) Fingers crossed eh?

A truly fantastic-ical film that’s well worth a watch.

Coke.

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PAM ANN-TASTIC

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‘Looooofthansaaaaaaa’ – the unmistakable potty-mouth of Pam Ann is something of a gay rite of passage.  Although she has a cult following amongst the trolley-dolley community, she has become a regular fixture on the Manchester scene since she led the Annual Manchester Pride Parade two years ago.  It was lovely that her opening words to the audience at the Manchester Opera House (they’ve still not found a mop and bucket to deal with the toilets, by the way) reflected how much she loved the City and its LGBT community.

Now, I have seen Pam live a few times, so I recognised a number of the gags.  However, I managed to refrain from heckling every punch line like the extremely annoying super-fan in the Stalls – who was only just about silenced with a very barbed ‘OK….you’ve had your attention, now shut the f**k up!’ from Pam.  It does have to be said that some of the ground she covers is standard….Virgin Airlines employ thick bimbos, Lufthansa hostesses are all Helga from Allo Allo and the collective noun for a group of British Airways Cabin Crew is a stable!  But it’s clever too because she manages to develop these stock gags a bit further every time I see her and keeps it current – and this show has some brilliant additional material drawing on recent news reports about  the apparent chaos that goes on in the skies

Where she really comes into her own – and where she also manages to plumb new depths of filth and inappropriateness (she’s not for the faint-hearted) – is in improvisation, which formed most of the second half.  This demonstrated that only the attention-seeking and stupid sit in the front three rows, but that’s good as it resulted in some great comedy for the rest of us neatly tucked away in the Gallery (or the Asylum Seekers’ Centre as she called it!).

All in all, a completely outrageous 2 hours of comedy which was the perfect antidote to a long week.  If you’ve not seen Pam Ann and you think you can take it, get involved!

Brandy.

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PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

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Brandy & Coke love the theatre, so when Priscilla hit the road to tour around the UK (particularly with Jason Donovan back in the role of Tik/Mitzi) a Friday night out was planned.

Setting aside the hellish experience of visiting Manchester’s crumbling Opera House – where we are fairly certain that the wine is bottled from the puddles of water to be found on the floor in the decay-ridden toilets – the show is impressive.   The costume changes are numerous and every one more extravagant than the last; there are some outstanding performances and, all in all, it’s a good tribute to the iconic film that Brandy & Coke have sung-along to on the sofa so many times.

Jason Donovan got the biggest cheers from the crowd and was a good sport when it came to the endless run of Kylie-gags that were added ‘especially for…’ him!  From time to time there were some dodgy Australian accents going on which made Brandy & Coke think that Ayr’s Rock was somewhere in upstate New York, but the classic Bernadette lines like ‘that’s the only bang you’re ever gonna get, sweetheart’, ‘Oh Felicia, where f**k are we?’ and ‘Just what we need  – a c*ck in a frock on a rock!’ saved the day.

Well worth seeing , though don’t expect the classic 70s track ‘Never been to me’ as it didn’t make it into the musical – shame.

Brandy.

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