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I haven’t been myself of late, I haven’t slept for several days, but coming home I feel like I designed these buildings I walk by

-Station Approach, Elbow

We’d left the flowers in the restaurant. Tulips, ones picked out by the florist by St Anne’s Square. Purple. Served with a mother’s day card, and forgotten in our bustle to get to nearby cocktails with our names on them. I hot-stepped back to the restaurant on a retrieval mission. Mum, nana and sister on the other side of the road waiting, the rare Mancunian blue sky cut into by the clean stone edges of the library behind them. Reappearing through the doors, flowers aloft, they cheer.

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Queuing, rain drizzled, hoodie-hems bunched into my fists. Never leave the house without a brolly, mate. The cars that steam by tear through puddles, shoring onto our ankles. Merchandisers and touts call out to fans, and I pick up a new habit of always buying a knock off tshirt at gigs. The black doors open, and we have our tickets in hand, giddy.

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On the sixth day, God created Manchester

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Every weekend, without fail. No texts, no promises, no arranging. You just turned up, sometimes bringing in a new person. That’s how the group got bigger, swelling week on week, as our gaggle of teens became a crowd. We’d drink Kick, play tinny bands from our phone and occasionally slope off to snog someone. Pooling money to get cider, the high whispers and sharp crackle of skateboard wheels behind.  1pm, Saturday, Urbis.

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Alright, are kid?

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We’d try and wag the train. One of us fooled the inspector by pretending to be asleep, but it only worked once. Mostly we’d pull into our platform, subvert the one way system, and therefore ticket inspectors, by heading upstairs to the MEN Arena foyer. Maybe we’d nip into McDonalds while we were there. The foyer had a separate exit, so we were clean sailing and £1.40 up. My heart would be in my throat the whole time. They blocked that route years back.

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My first ever concert. Nana won tickets on a Key 103 competition, and I had agonised over what to wear. Some girls from year six would be there, and not understanding the size of the arena I thought they might see (and ergo, judge) me. The music was so loud I covered my ears at first. Later, wired by the dancing, I whispered to my sister how much she would have loved it from my bottom bunk.

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I miss your eyelashes and the streets where I grew tall, I miss getting piss wet through, getting to yours and getting warm

-The Opener, The Courteeners

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Return of the Maki with Sushi Shop

I’m obsessed with raw fish. Ceviche, carpaccio, gravadlax, tartare. If anything raw and fishy features on a menu, you can bet you bottom dollar, first born child, Twitter passwords, whatever, that I will order it.

Maybe it’s the texture, or how every bite feels like a packful of flavour and delicate in equal measure. Or maybe it’s that it makes me feel like a fancy bish. Whatever the deepset psychological root for my cravings, all this makes me a natural swooner for sushi.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I need no persuasion to get excited by sushi.

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Sushi Shop, the loved South Kensington sushi joint, invited me to check out their new collaboration with famous Brooklynite tattoo artist, Scott Campbell. Tattoos and sushi might not seem the most obvious matching, but there’s definitely something in there about masterful precision, beauty, etc etc. Stick with me.

They have come up with this gorgeous box- absolutely stuffed to the brim with sushi- that looks cool and sounds fancy when you order it. I got to watch one of their master sushi makers- a dashing bloke with a history in those fancy French kitchens and years developing his love for Japanese food- give us a whistlestop tour of how you make maki and nigiri effortlessly.

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I absolutely devoured the box- it’s got about 40 pieces in there so definitely one for sharing. And for those ink-inclined, there’s even a little transfer of Scott’s designs, so you can tat while you snack.

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Cooking with Comté, hon hon hon

Since career jumping into the world of wine (metaphorically and literally, splish splash) I’ve been flexing my new wino buff knowledge. I am enoteca-wisdom defined, hic.

I mean, well, obviously I’m not. I put my bra on one boob at a time like everybody else. But if you know me, you’ll know that a little naivety doesn’t stop me from full force barrelling my way into any ‘well actually‘ or ‘did you know‘, which leads me to this glorious statement: Did you know that certain cheeses are protected by law?

Similarly to how you can’t get Champagne from anywhere other than the French region of Champagne, and wagyu beef from certain cows in Japan; authenticity, tradition and quality is closely controlled for certain cheese. Comté, one of the first cheeses to be ‘awarded’ such protection, invited me down to a cookery class (At the Saturday Kitchen studio! Can you believe it! I’m James Martin!).

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First up was an introduction to the four different varities Comté, followed by a cookery course from the Michel Roux Jr school. The idea was to show off the versatility of Comté, which in practice meant a buttload of cheese on a Wednesday night and some pretty wacky dreams.

The food was delicious, as any three course cheese fest should be, and all swilled down with some lovely vino.  Due diligence was given to ensuring each and every dish had the maximum amount of Comté in there- when it’s handcrafted by over 2,000 local farmers as a cooperative and literally protected by law then you’ve gotta make the most of the stuff. It’d be rude not to.

I heart Comte 1

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Wake up call in Krakow

Of course, we didn’t expect the roof to fall in during the night. Nothing could have prepared us for the freak 4am wake up call. The night before, drunk and not used to the Polish cold, we had whacked the heating up to the highest setting and conked out on our beds. The heat and humidity of the room had gotten a little too much for the ceiling plastering, and it gave up the ghost in a dramatic middle of the night exit by crashing down with an almighty bang.

To say we shit ourselves is to completely undersell the synchronised fear of god that flashed through Emma and mine’s mind. It is the middle of the night, we have been discussing the finer points of the Taken plot all day and we were only half joking when we lavishly barricaded our hotel room’s front door, and we are one hundred and ten per cent about to be fucking kidnapped. Well, we weren’t, but we couldn’t tell for sure just yet because in the blackout darkness Emma had frozen, rooted to her mattress like she had literally turned to stone, so couldn’t outstretch her arm to turn on the only light.

‘What the fuck was that Farrah’. A low, deep urgency.

‘I don’t know Emma, turn the fucking lamp on’. She reanimated, hand shooting out of her duvet to scramble at the switch. Nothing, just the room staring back at our alarm. The radiator that lines the wall is pumping out heat with such determination that the air is thick and soupy. Looking at the pile of smashed up plaster on the floor, in our sweaty, panicked daze, I don’t think either of us were convinced that it wasn’t going to come to life and murder us. Eyeing it with suspicion, we settled back into our beds, and fell back asleep with the light on.

Silly, dazed and breathless laughter the next morning, we swept up the plaster and got ready to start our next Krakow adventure…