Tower of London poppies in Liverpool

Art at its best is not hidden from view in a private collection - and not so abstract that it fails to capture the imagination of the public. Art has the power to draw crowds, affect lives and leave a lasting impression on those who engage with it. And on those measures last year’s Tower of London poppy installation is one of the most powerful pieces of art in living memory.

The installation, called Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red, was created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper. A carpet of 888,246 ceramic poppies flowed around one of London’s historic attractions to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. Millions of visitors came to see it, queuing for hours for a moment of remembrance and inspiration.

Now the poppies have been sent out to the four corners of the country as part of the 14-18 NOW project, a series of art commissions designed to mark the four-year war that claimed millions of lives.

From Saturday 7 November, some of the poppies will be on show in Liverpool at St George’s Hall, right next door to Lime Street station. Weeping Window, a section of last year’s London installation, is a cascade of thousands of poppies and will flow from the facade of one of Liverpool’s favourite old buildings. The poppies are on show throughout the day and night, though visitors are advised to arrive between 10am and 6pm for a closer look. Access to the poppies will be limited on 8 November for the city’s Service of Remembrance.

The poppies are at the heart of a ten-week event called Who Will You Remember? This programme of performances and participatory workshops will reintroduce visitors to the part Liverpool, its people, and its buildings, played in the First World War. One of the highlights sees Liverpool poet Levi Tafari lead workshops inspired by the stories of black soldiers after demobilisation. The workshops take place every Saturday in November at a venue to be confirmed on the Culture Liverpool website.

Also scheduled for November is an hour-long walking tour, Stories in Stone, that guides visitors around some of the city’s most famous landmarks and starts at St George’s Plateau at the poppy installation. The walk tells stories of wartime Liverpool through the eyes of writers such as Wilfred Owen, Charles Dickens and Beryl Bainbridge. They take place at 2pm every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 November. Tickets cost £5 for adults. To book call, Deborah Mulhearn on 0151 707 0729.

Image copyright @ Beata Moore

Grand times in Manchester

Manchester loves good food. From high street chains to independent eateries, there are so many places in the city that you could dine somewhere different every night for years before returning for seconds. But few meeting and eating places are as spectacular as the recently revamped, Corn Exchange.  

Grand doesn’t quite cover it. This magnificent Edwardian building is built around a spectacular atrium. And it’s now overrun with eateries catering for pretty much every tastebud. Step inside your restaurant of choice and you’re bathed in the natural light shining through the inner dome. It’s really rather heavenly. And the food is pretty divine too. 

As well as staples such as British and Italian, diners can sample food from Vietnam, South America, the States and beyond. Some names on the door will be familiar, while others promise brand new experiences. 

Revisit great chains such as Byron - try the B-Rex burger, but hold the barbecue sauce and you will never look back - and Pizza Express, home to the unparallelled Francesco Mazzei Calabrese. Or head to up-and-comers such as The Cosy Club, where heartiness and a warm atmosphere come as standard. With a side of beer-battered onion rings and triple-cooked chips. 

One of the latest additions to an ever-expanding menu of dining destination is Wahaca. This beautiful, bright and colourful restaurant evokes the vibrant street markets of Mexico which are the inspiration for the food. Tacos, tostadas and taquitos are among the grabbable street fayre that makes this a perfect lunchtime destination. But when the night draws in, the grill is fired up for favourites such as British beef steak rubbed in latin flavours. 

The Corn Exchange is just a few steps from Victoria Station - itself recently reopened after a £44million refurb - and therefore right in the heart of bustling Manchester. With Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and the Arndale Centre on the doorstep, it’s also the perfect place to count the cost of your Christmas shopping spree over something fizzy.

Prohibition Bar opens in Newcastle

As cocktails go, this one is shaping up to be rather tasty. With a nod to the forbidden cool of the prohibition era in the name, this Wednesday-to-Saturday venue has added underground appeal by being located in the arches of a railway bridge.

Opened in October, Prohibition is just across the iconic bridge from Newcastle’s city centre on the up-and-coming Gateshead side of the Tyne, home to the Baltic, Sage and some fine pubs.

Built into Prohibition’s DNA, like the mortar between the characterful bricks that form its walls, will be a passion for performance. Owner Mitch Mitchell is planning a roster of acts evoking the glory days of vaudeville, music hall and cabaret. An in-house piano will accompany a range of performers. Expect jazz, blues and everything from magicians to burlesque performers to top the bill.

Mitch has been inspired to continue a tradition established by Balmbra’s Music Hall, the famous old venue featured in the lyrics of The Blaydon Races, Newcastle United’s adopted anthem. Itself under refurbishment in Newcastle’s Cloth Market, Balmbra’s used to pack them in for comedy shows and stage acts.

Prohibition will be just as welcoming, but expect a touch of glamour thanks to an interior designed to replicate the snug cabaret-bar feel.



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