Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Young Explorer Guide to Manchester

Now that we have been nominated for a snazzy blog award, in the 'Best City or Neighbourhood blog' category no less (Vote for us please!), we reckoned it was time we started being better at talking about where we live and how great it is. If only to try and secure a few more of those crucial votes (Vote for us please!).

Here's a map we put together of places that we think are nice and in Manchester. I think you might be able to add things yourselves? I dunno. Have a go. We have probably missed loads of cool stuff, too, and our choices are probably very predictable, so your input would be gratefully received! Feel free to leave comments, tweet, facebook or email (young explorer zine at gmail dot com, innit) us with places that you think people should know about.

See yer!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Haiku Salut and Sausage Gloves

Some people who read this blog mighn't even know that it's the online face of the Young Explorer zine (Buy here or here), which we aim to "publish" every 3-4 months or so. We've made three issues so far and we're currently in the final stages of preparing a fourth one, which is going to be about "the past".

The second issue, with the theme "collecting", is pretty much sold out now. I think we have one spare copy knocking about if you're quick. It had some good stuff in it! Phil Elverum talking about his book collection and swearing (once) and some nice illustrations and the world famous Haiku Salut talking about collecting gloves.

As we no longer have (m)any copies of the second issue to flog, we thought we'd post up the Haiku Salut bit so you can all see what you missed out on.Bits in []s are where we've changed the print article slightly so that it makes sense/reflects the fact that time has passed since the thing was written. Here it is! (Under the line!)

Haiku Salut are a Matlock based trio who make vaguely French sounding instrumental pop songs. Their wonderful debut EP 'How We Got Along After the Yarn Bomb' was released on 3" CD by Team Strikeforce last year and their first ever full length album 'Tricolore' [was released a few months ago and is a thing of beauty.]

They're well worth seeing live, too. The entire performance seems to be on the edge of catastrophe much of the time, which makes it even more exciting. I'm sure there's never any danger of anything actually going wrong, but there's so much instrument swapping and general excitement that their music seems almost unbelievable. Keep an eye on their website and go and see them if you can!

Anyway, as the theme of this issue of Young Explorer is about collecting, we asked them if they had any collections that they'd like to talk about. A couple of weeks later I received this in our email inbox.

A short tale of Haiku Salut and their journey of collecting things, or lack of, accordingly

We had initial reservations about writing a piece about a subject we felt little kinship with. Yeah, we have a collection of books - the Murakami books, the books that smell of old people and Sophie's selection of philosophical books about Mars, robots and time travel. We also have a small band collection of vinyl, The Beach Boys, Shirley Bassey, The Shins. There is also Louise's minor gaggle of bumbags and the extensive gallery of pictures of our dog in woolly jumpers[*please see below for picture of amazing dog], sunglasses and/or goggles. 

But... something wasn't quite right. It felt contrived. Worthless. These small collections wouldn't really tell a story about us. They would pale into insignificance beside other collections of it's kind. It was then that Gemma remembered the triumphant age of the sausage glove years and everything fell in to place. 

The story begins early spring, or late autumn of any year you'd care to choose. On the way home from the pub Sophie noticed a lone abandoned sausage glove (A workmans' glove with sausage sized fingers). This sparked a discussion regarding the absent owner's possible loves, fears and hopes. We passed the sausage glove by and wandered on home. 

It was then we started noticing sausage gloves everywhere, the clock was always 11:11. Soon the sausage gloves began to come home with us. Eventually the collection was getting slightly overwhelming and laws were passed to curb its growth. If two sausage gloves were found within ten feet of one another they would be considered a pair with the potential of being found by their previous owner and were not to be touched. We agreed that enough was enough when Louise brought a sausage glove back from Japan. The ultimate sausage glove.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sea life month #2: Whale of a Time!

Remember way back in August when we were going on about it being 'sea life month'? Well, here's the second in the series. The 'month' part of the title is redundant, really, as it's been over a month, so just ignore that bit.

Anyway, I have always been a big fan of sea mammals. Dolphins? Amazing (Although Liz thinks they have an attitude problem). Seals? Brilliant. Manatees? So good I even recorded a naff song about them. My favourite TV show as a child was Sharky and George! Aside from Liz's aversion to dolphins, which she attributes to them being "attention seekers", we're both agreed on how cool they all are.

We both think whales are great, too. So we've done a mini zine about them that you'll be able to buy soon! It's called 'Whale of a time!' and contains some nice illustrations of whales that Liz did and a bit of vaguely amusing/informative writing that I did. Here's some sneaky preview images for you to have a look at:

Always keen to develop any merchandising opportunities, we've done some temporary tattoos too! Whales tend to be quite large, so we thought it'd be appropriate if the tattoos were too. They'll be available soon and they look like this:

And we're doing some shrink plastic whale brooches that followers of our Instagram will have caught a glimpse of recently. Keep an eye on our Twitter and our Etsy page to find out when all these neat things are available! Speaking of Etsy, we've curated a list of really nice whale related things that have nothing to do with us. You can have a look at it by clicking here

Tell us about your favourite sea based mammals, please! Do you agree with Liz? Are dolphins "attention seekers?". Answers on a postcard, (Or in the comments section or on Twitter) please.

See yer


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Fig + Sparrow and Brownie Owl!

Our favourite place to get coffee in Manchester is Fig + Sparrow on Oldham Street. We like it to an almost creepy extent.  We were initially drawn in by the amazing gift shop at the front of the café (They sell dead nice homeware things and other great stuff) - and we still probably buy something or other every time we go in - but it's the coffee and cake that we go for now.

Do you remember when it was really hot a few weeks ago? That was kind of alright, wasn't it? But in a way it was pretty unbearable too. Thankfully we were able to go and sit in Fig + Sparrow next to a fan and cool ourselves down with some lovely iced teas and coffees. Look how their cold drinks come! Cute, eh?

The breakfast pots they do are pretty brilliant as well. You get a jar of yoghurt and some chunks of chocolate brownie on the side and then you mix it all together and you're in heaven, basically. Sadly I don't work in town so going for breakfast every day is not really an option. But if I did...

Speaking of the brownies, wow! They're made by The Brownie Owl and they're probably the best brownies I have ever eaten. I'm always a bit 'okay then' about brownies. A brownie is a brownie. Like a jam tart, I'd be happy if I was given one but probably wouldn't choose one if there was anything more fancy on offer. But these brownies are actually incredible.

We were lucky enough to win some Brownie Owl brownies in a Twitter competition, so we had a whole box of them to munch on (With a fair amount of restraint they still only lasted about two hours). Here's the exciting news as it was announced!
We enter the lottery every now and again but very rarely get a number. This was like the food equivalent of hitting the jackpot. Look how tasty they look...

...and then times that by 100 and you're somewhere close to how good they tasted. They are probably on sale in other cafés in Manchester but we haven't bothered to find out where. A coffee, a brownie and a table at Fig + Sparrow is the best way to spend your afternoon.

See yer!