A walk around Trinity

The boyf and I bought our first home last year, in the last remaining leafy corner of the inner city area, Trinity – a hop, skip and a jump over the river at Spinningfields and the mantelpiece from which Salford displays its best wares.

I spent a day wandering around the area (just 10 months after moving in) because I had a morning of work, and it was splendid.

I started with a coffee from Lupo Caffe,  a gorgeous little Italian caffè on Chapel Street, the main drag in Salford Central. Then, after a peak in the window of neighbouring Pencil Me In Shop, it was straight up Chapel Street toward Salford University campus.

A photo posted by Jordan McDowell (@jordanjmcdowell) on Jan 14, 2016 at 5:32am PST

It’s around a fifteen minute walk from the Manchester end of Chapel Street, up to the University where my final destination, the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, is situated and you pass some impressive sights en route. The old Salford Town Hall, for one, now swanky flats, sits within a pristine and pretty square with the New Oxford Pub nearby, all just around the corner from our home. 

Further up you come to the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford, Salford Cathedral, the first cathedral to be built (1848) in cruciforiam shape since the Reformation. It’s an impressive space, sparse and solemn like most churches, but surrounded by gorgeous gardens too.

Next door is St. Philip’s Church, Salford’s answer to St. Paul’s in London, with a striking dome shaped steeple.

As well as relics from the past, you pass examples of regeneration in Vimto Gardens, the beginning of a huge residential and retail regeneration of the Chapel St. drag, on the site of the former Vimto factory. Timekeeper’s Square is another resident complex, next to St. Philip’s Church is being developed right now too.

St. Philip’s Church, Trinity, Salford

Nearing the campus, you catch a sight of The Meadows, a expanse of greenery within the meander of the Irwell, before it scoops back around and trims the boarder of Manchester and Salford at Spinningfields and Trinity. It’s a nice sight, some green within the urban city environment.

A photo posted by Jordan McDowell (@jordanjmcdowell) on Jan 14, 2016 at 5:46am PST

Then, the University, and my destination for a spot of culture on a rare morning off when I had nothing else to do. The Salford Museum and Art Gallery is a lovely little spot, with some beautiful permanent displays in the Victorian Gallery and changed exhibits throughout, from pottery and paper-work to modernist painting and photography. Well worth a visit.

For me though, it was time to trundle back down the street toward Manchester.

Breakout Manchester

Being locked in an upstairs room, above a wine bar for an hour is honestly one of the most exciting things you can do with your mates in Manchester, right now.

Breakout Manchester are a two-site entertainment venue straight out of the ordinary, where you and select mates can test the very fabric of your friendship in an immersive experience akin to Crystal Maze. But, 10 times more amazing, because you’re not watching it on TV, you’re living it.

Breakout is made up of eight rooms, in their sites on Brazennose Street off Albert Square and High Street in the Northern Quarter, each with their own story and puzzle(s) to solve. They range from hard to the near impossible in difficulty and each room gives you one hour to breakout before you’re (locked in forever) declared the loser and have to take a humiliating mug-shot to tell all your friends on Facebook.


When we last broke out (and saved the world from annihilation, you’re welcome!)

To celebrate our wonderful friend’s birthday (which was actually in October…) the boyf and I took him and his hubby with us to play the Madchester room. Together, the four of us have broken out before, we played the Sabotage room last year – a then 4/5 difficulty rating that’s since been raised to 5/5 – which tells a Cold War meets 007 Golden Eye story that was absolutely hilarious and saw us break out with less than a minute to spare. 

This time, however, we were playing Madchester (5/5) and were subsequently locked in some sweaty teenager’s room, a teenager with an unhealthy obsession with all things Manchester. A bit like the room from that girl in My Mad Fat Diary.

Now, I’m not giving anything away – because that’s mean and I think Breakout Manchester would come round and lock me in a Chinese Puzzle Box and then paint it like a rubik’s cube and throw me into the canal. But, what I will say is – you don’t need to be an expert on Manchester for this specific room, just in the way you don’t have to be a war veteran to play Sabotage. It’s just the theme, not the nuts and bolts. What you do have to be good at, however, is screaming across the room at your best friends about how shit they are.

In the room, everything is a clue (unless, y’know it’s just the light switch…) and you can’t overlook a thing. You run around piecing pieces of the puzzle together and you have to keep each other in the loop so you can connect the dots on the things you’ve seen and done.

There’s a big screen on the wall too, that counts down from 60 minutes to 0, with increasingly hostile music being played to, y’know, make you feel right at home and positive you’ve got this under control. You can shout into the screen (or, actually, the camera above) and the game master person who runs your game can communicate with you on screen if you’re desperate for a clue, or to tell you go get down off the wardrobe because their liability insurance won’t cover them.

Yeah baby!

So, there’s us, running around like headless chickens thinking we were doomed with too many puzzles to solve and only 5 minutes left when we have a windfall and we’re all of a sudden, back in the game. We still had a bit too much to do, so started guessing the remaining answers to our puzzles to unlock the exit door, with two of us operating the door locking system. We guessed right and the door unlocked, but in our sheer excitement, the stupid thing locked itself again, I turned around and clocked the screen as the code was being thumped back into the door and we had 3, 2, 1 seconds remaining when the door flung open and we fell out.

I’ve never come closer to murder.

Book now.

This post was written with my disclosure policy in mind here.


Roma men X fashion

Stumbled across a magazine whilst visiting Salford Museum and Art Gallery on Salford University campus the other day, the cover of which caught my eye. Love v Style was the title, a fashion magazine I thought, so I rolled it up and carried it home.

Later, when I got around to looking through it, I found it wasn’t a fashion magazine as such, but a project as part of Roma Matrix, an EU Fundamental Rights and Citizenship supported programme, working with Salford University and the University of York. The magazine explores Roma identity, including that that of the community’s young men-folk and their approach to fashion and clothing.

Portraits, photographed by Vasile Dumitru, from the Roma Matrix project, of Roma men living in and around Manchester are featured, with a short synopsis outlining how they dress and how it impacts/conflicts with their identity as Roma men. 

It’s really interesting to understand a little of this community’s adoption of western, or as they categorise it, “English,” fashion and how it can often be at odds with the practices and expectations of the older men in their community too.

Felix, 20
“I like to look good. I really like bright colours lie yellow, blue and red because they make me feel good. My jeans are from Zara, and my shoes are from Emporio Armani. The belt is Hermes. I like to wear designer things and shiny things. My watch is shiny and stands out. The necklace I’m wearing is real gold – it from my dad, who used to wear it when he was a teenager. He still lives in Romania and gave it to me when he came to visit recently. I’m his oldest son, so this means a lot to me.”

Marius, 19

“Today I’m wearing a pink T-shirt from Hugo Boss, some Nike Huarache trainers and a yellow Stone Island jacket. I love to wear very bright colours because they make me feel comfortable. I try to dress in the English style. My trousers are Polo – they are sports style trousers. I buy all my clothes in the UK, from shops in town.”


Nicusor, 22
“I think clothes matter – you have to look nice. My dad and uncles dress a bit differently to me but with time everything is changing. I’m wearing denim shorts today. My trainers are from Firetrap and the bag is from Romania. I have tattoos as well: on my right are are my son’s names, Josef and Yanis.”

Florin, 21

“Clothes are important to me because I care about my looks and style. I get fashion ideas from the TV, from Facebook and from seeing people around. My jacket is from Zara and the bag is Gucci. I don’t wear the earring in front of dad and family as they don’t really like it – I just wear it when I’m out with friends.”

Ion, 18

“The way I dress is not that important to me – I sometimes buy clothes from charity shops. Today I’m wearing a Chinese suit jacket, some jeans, a pair of driving shoes and a gold necklace. My parents don’t mind the way I dress, as long as I look respectful. It’s the personality that counts to them.”

Vasile Dumitru, in self portrait

“I used to dress a bit more traditionally but I have changed my style. If I didn’t then my friends would laugh at me and call me old-fashioned.”


Ionel, 18
“My shirt is English style, I think, and the jeans came a bit ripped. My yellow trainers are by Polo, from Ralph Lauren. I think these colours go well together. I change my hair style quiet often. In my opinion you have to care what you look like. It’s important to look smart, to show Roma are respectable.”

 Adiran, 18

“Normally I wear brighter colours than this. I like clothes a lot and feel better if I’m wearing something good. I dress very differently from my dad, who often wears suits when he’s going out. Sometimes my parents ask ‘what are these clothes?’ but the fashion is changing among young Roma guys.”

Find out more about the Roma Matrix project here


When life gives you lemons

Tom Daley is fit. Like, y’know, with muscles and stuff.

He said it’s all down to one thing.

(years of disciplined training and Olympic sponsorship)



I’ve been doing this for a week know and I love it, it’s like a morning hug. It’s calming, nourishing and does honestly give you a nice boost!

Try it!


You’re gunna hear me roar

I just wrote this blog and then the bloody thing deleted it. I want to shoot something.

Sooo, as I was saying, I am aching all over because I, like the rest of the world, has decided to get back in shape after eating way to much cheese and drinking, to be quite frank, a disgusting about of whiskey, over Christmas. As I type this I’m drinking an Avacado, Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Pear and OJ smoothie and an attempt to appease my pickled body and dull skin into forgiving me my trespasses.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js So, as well as getting back into our gym, on our morning smoothie regime and curbing my enthusiasm for Irish Whiskey, the boyf and I are feeling a little more human.

But, we’re taking it further. In an effort to eat cleaner, we’ve invested in a bumper pack of lean meats and poultry from musclefood.com, your friendly online butchers who deliver in chilled packages, to your door.

Darren Cravens

Before you go all suburban on me, no it’s not GM, 3D printed meat-substitute from Romanian Horse farms. It’s British Red Tractor certified, RSPCA Freedom Foods accredited, Soil Association approved, good, honest meat. You get tonnes of the stuff too, filling our 2nd freezer to the brim and therefore forcing us to eat cleaner and more high-protein food as we get back into the swing of things.

But, I’m not finished, I’m going the whole hog. I’ve joined a boot camp squad too. I know, I’m like Madonna.

Fitness and lifestyle coach Darren Craven hosts a boot camp style, high intensity workout class our of Proper Gym in Ancoats and I’m going to be hopping over the city once a week for 3 months to partake in the classes, get my home-work for in my own gym and receive some one-on-one training too, all for the benefit of your entertainment on this here blog.

So, expect more from me on my training trails soon!

This post was written with my disclosure policy in mind here.