METAL BAR…There was a time when shipping containers were used solely to export products around the world – when seeing one of those ugly metal boxes anywhere other than on a boat or stacked up in a shipyard like a game of Jenga for giants would have had you scratching your head. These days things are very different. Shipping containers are the pinnacle of versatility. Carlisle has a business park made up of the things, while Hatch, on Oxford Road in Manchester, provides restaurant start-ups with corrugated metal homes to test out their ventures. 

Cin Cin on Church Bank in Darwen wants a piece of the action, too. The cocktail bar has submitted plans to redevelop land next to the watering hole with a shipping container bar as the centrepiece. Gone are the days when purchasing alcohol directly from a shipping container would have got you arrested. 

CYCLOPS Junction

CYCLOPS...It may look like a street scene coloured in by a toddler who lost his tarmac-coloured crayon up his nose, but Hulme’s Cyclops junction is set to revolutionise the cycling experience for pedal pushers. Forming part of the £13.4m Manchester to Chorlton cycling and walking route, the Cycle Optimised Protected Signals junction, due to complete next week, is described by Manchester City Council as “trailblazing”. It is hoped that the junction will allow cyclists to negotiate the Royce Road junction more safely and help ease tensions between bike riders and motorists who sometimes struggle to see eye-to-eye.

Len Grant Book

GRANT FUNDING…After 30 years behind the lens, stalwart of the Manchester photography scene, Len Grant, is releasing a book packed with some of his most memorable work. While the rest of us have been looking back mournfully through photos of past holidays during lockdown, Grant has been sorting through his vast collection of snaps and compiling his latest book depicting Manchester’s regeneration over the last three decades. If you have a couple of quid spare, you can help get the book off the ground. 

Altrincham FC Fanzone

An artist’s impression of the fan zone at Altrincham FC

BOYS DONE GOOD…Football is back. Kind of. As former Celtic manager Jock Stein once said: “Without fans, football is nothing.” Thankfully, there has been plenty of footy-related news off the pitch to distract us from the uninspiring return of the socially distanced Premier League, empty grounds and the walking calamity that is David Luiz. Marcus, or should that be Daniel, Rashford gave the Government a lesson in compassion, Altrincham FC set its stadium expansion plans into motion and little old Barrow, relegated from the Football League 50 years ago, finally returned to the fourth tier of pyramid after its fellow National League clubs decided it had waited long enough. 

Peter Skelton Paintings

MAD SKELLS…An elegant background has never been more important in this age of back-to-back Zoom meetings. Too minimalist and you’ll be accused of lacking a personality, too clustered and you’re a slob. Encyclopaedia Britannica and Nietzsche: pretentious. My Story by Wayne Rooney: thick. Striking a balance has been an ongoing saga these past few months but Peter Skelton, consultant at Avison Young, has nailed it. By eliminating books completely from his backdrop and instead opting for a couple of pieces of of his own art, he succeeded in providing a blend of intrigue and sophistication to distract people from the fact he had forgotten to put a tie on. 

Manchester Airport Seven Brothers CGI December 2019

Seven Brothers plans to open a bar at Manchester Airport in October

BREWERY BROS...That first slug of a pint in an actual pub with actual mates is going to be something to cherish. Virtual parties and boozy Zoom quizzes were fine for a while but they have had their time in the spotlight. Pubs and bars up and down the country are preparing to reopen, albeit to a limited audience, as lockdown restrictions ease and we, the thirsty public, can’t wait. One popular Manchester beer maker, Seven Brothers Brewery, has plans grander than merely reopening, though. The bar, which has sites in Ancoats and Middlewood Locks, is looking to expand its operations to cope with pent-up demand for the sesh, and is crowdfunding to make it happen. 

The Salford brothers want to open Beerhouses in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester Airport. So far £205,000 from 245 beer-loving investors has been raised.  

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