The Hop House

The Hop House is at 10 Higher Road, Urmston

The Hop House is at 10 Higher Road, Urmston – photo courtesy of the Hop House.

The Hop House is a new bar at 10 Higher Road, Urmston, which offers continental beers, wine, champagne, artisan foods, tea and coffee to Urmston’s thirsty carousers.

In spite of its name, and the prevalence of beers on the menu, the place has the feel of an old-fashioned gin parlour, with an eclectically designed interior (leopard-print walls, mismatching chairs – the kind of thing we’ve been missing in Urmston for far too long …) and a cordial atmosphere of gregarious cheer.  It’s the kind of bar where you could easily strike up a conversation with the people on the next table.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of beer at the Hop House - photo courtesy of the Hop House.

Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of beer at the Hop House – photo courtesy of the Hop House.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, there’s plenty to choose from at the Hop House, but it was the jam jar cocktails that caught my eye.  Now, everybody knows that drinking from a jam jar is probably one of the ten most fun things to do ever; it’s right up there with tree-climbing, star-gazing or reading in bed with the electric blanket on.  The Hop House have taken this a step further and added actual jam to their jam jar cocktails.  As I may have said before, I am more or less teetotal, but I couldn’t resist a Jamble – a blend of gin and blackcurrant jam and … well, it matters little what else was in it.  I enjoyed it: it tasted good and it felt super-efficient, a drink for a busy wo/man who doesn’t have time to consume jam and gin separately.

Jam jar cocktails from the Hop House - photo courtesy of the Hop House.

Jam jar cocktails from the Hop House – photo courtesy of the Hop House.

The Hop House has been open for less than a month but when I called in the other night it was very busy, though not in a terrible, help-me-I-can’t-move kind of way.  It’s just a stone’s throw from Urmston train station and the main bus stops so it’s easy to get to.  If you have visited the Hop House and enjoyed the experience, click through to their Facebook page and let them know.


The Prairie Schooner: New Bar on Flixton Rd, Urmston

Delicious mulled cider from the Prairie Schooner, Urmston.

Delicious mulled cider from the Prairie Schooner, Urmston.

Newly opened on Flixton Road, Urmston, the Prairie Schooner is an independent micropub (what a very fine word that is!) and bottle shop.  And what is a “prairie schooner”?  It’s the name given to a covered wagon used by 19th century migrants settlers across America.  Yes, the kind you’d see on Little House on the Prairie.  The name is purely metaphorical, and relates to the pioneering spirit behind the venture; it’s not a theme bar.

Situated opposite Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge, the bar is warmly lit and cosy, yet far bigger than it looks from outside.  It has a three-sided bar and plenty of seating, with has a relaxed, comfortable ambience.  This is a space that can equally accommodate genial gatherings of friends, intimate rendez-vous for two or solo cogitations at one of the window seats, where you can watch the comings and goings of Flixton Road.

I’m more or less teetotal but the mulled cider smelled so festive I couldn’t resist giving it a try.  It was deliciously spiced and wonderfully warming on a winter’s day.  My husband and I reflected that we could easily spend hours in there and we shall certainly return.

Watch the comings and goings on Flixton Road from the window of the Prairie Schooner Taphouse.

Watch the comings and goings on Flixton Road from the window of the Prairie Schooner Taphouse.

I shy away from listing pubs and bars on here because it’s often unclear whether they are independent or not (many are linked to breweries in a kind of franchise-like agreement), but the Prairie Schooner Taphouse is clearly an indie operation.  The Prairie Schooner Taphouse specialises in real ale from local microbreweries poured by the pint straight from the cask. They also stock a selection of traditional cider and perry, fine wine, prosecco, single malt whisky, small-batch gin and old-fashioned soft drinks all made by independent producers.

The Prairie Schooner Taphouse is at 33 Flixton Road, Urmston.  Children are allowed on the premises till 6pm and dogs are allowed at quiet times.  Visit Prairie Schooner Taphouse’s website for details of their opening hours.

Reiki Healing in Urmston – a guest post from Gabby Mottershead

Gabby Mottershead from Urmston is a Level 3 Reiki Healer (Master and Trainer). From Monday 17th March she has been offering treatments at Esteem Salon, 58 Gloucester Road, Urmston, M41 9AE. Appointments must be pre booked.

Gabby Mottershead offers Reiki healing from Esteem Salon in Urmston.

Gabby Mottershead offers Reiki healing from Esteem Salon in Urmston.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a tremendously powerful holistic healing system that can help someone to deal with problems of any kind, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual and often succeeds where other treatments have failed. Reiki is safe to use anytime and anywhere.

So who can benefit from Reiki?

The answer is anyone, It can be given to adults, children. Babies even whilst in the mother womb. Family pets and plants can also benefit.

What happens in a Reiki session?

A Reiki treatment will normally last about an hour. The Reiki treatment is carried out fully clothed, as Reiki channels through to the person’s energy field with or without obstruction. 

The therapist will stand behind you and place their hands on you, starting at your head; this will last for several minutes at a time. There are various positions on your face, head and shoulders. Depending on the length of the treatment, they will then move position and lay their hands on your torso (avoiding any private areas), and then move on to the feet.

What you feel may differ from person to person, you may feel heat, sometimes, Reiki can also be experienced as quite cold, emanating from the therapist’s hands. Both theses feeling are noticeably different to someone simply having cold or hot hands. Most often during a treatment the energy is experienced as warmth. Others feel a mild tingle, throbbing, or pulsing sensation. A Reiki treatment is a spiritual practice because it works directly with energy or “spirit.” There is no pressure applied.

A Reiki session may sometimes bring up emotions or memories of experiences from your past, some of which you may have forgotten about. This is part of the Reiki healing process and is there to allow you to release and grow. We are only reminded of these feelings and events because we are strong enough and ready to face them again.

For Reiki to work, it is not necessary for you to feel the energy. The energy goes where it is needed and will work on whatever energy level is needed. Reiki heals on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels to bring harmony and balance into your life.

Some people may fall asleep during a Reiki treatment, or they may feel the effects a couple of days later when things start to change and fall into place.

For further information – check out Gabby’s website


Setting up your own business? Some points to consider

Working for yourself is empowering and stressful and kind of exhilarating.  Once you have tried it, you probably won’t ever want to go back to working for someone else.  But self-employment is no game: a bad day at work can cost you money; a series of bad days can threaten the roof over your head.  So before you go ahead and set up your dream business, there are a few points to consider.  Some of them are listed below:

1.  It’s not about what you want to do

Do what you love - but don't expect to make a business out of it.

Do what you love – but don’t expect to make a business out of it.

Let’s suppose you enjoy building matchstick models.  Everyone says how lovely your models are.  You give some away as gifts and people are delighted to display them.  They rave about them. You spend hours and hours on your matchstick models, so much so that you decide you want to follow your passion and use your talents to start up a small business selling them.  This is the number one error made by business start-ups.  Very few people can make a living from something that was once their hobby.  It really doesn’t matter how talented you are or how beautiful your matchstick models are, nor how many thousands of followers you have on social networking sites.  If there isn’t a demand for what you are selling, you won’t be able to make a business out of it.  On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy your area of business you won’t be able to make a success of it.  Do what you enjoy: but only if it’s a viable business.  This brings me to my next point:

2.  Do you need to run your business part-time or full-time?

Don't give up your day job to sell crocheted owls.

Don’t give up your day job to sell crocheted owls.

All businesses take time to build up so it sometimes makes sense to carry on with your ‘day job’ if you can.  This doesn’t apply to businesses such as cafes and shops, which really need to be open at times when people expect shops to open (Monday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm, as a general rule).

3.  Staffing is a huge luxury

At the inception of your business it is imperative that you do as much as you possibly can yourself.  This is partly because nobody will ever understand (or care about) your vision quite like you do and partly because staffing is expensive.  If you want good, reliable staff you need to pay them properly – and that’s a moral AND fiscal imperative.  Starting your own business always, always costs more than you think and every penny in wages comes out of your turnover.  You probably can’t afford to employ staff in the beginning.

4.  You have a new boss

You can win at running your own business - but only if you plan carefully.

You can win at running your own business – but only if you plan carefully.

The biggest revelation about self-employment is that you now work for … your customers.  Your customers are not like a boss; they don’t need to follow employment law or company guidelines.  If they don’t like your product or service or disagree with your prices, they can go elsewhere.  They’re not obliged to be polite to you or reasonable in any way.  This means that the ability to build a good relationship with your customers is very important.  Are you a people person?  You’d better be!

5.  You won’t make a profit for at least a year

Your business will not make a profit for at least a year.  Many businesses do not make a profit for two years or more.  Some never make a profit.  Turnover (the money that comes into your business) is completely different from profit (the money that is left over when you have paid your running/ manufacturing/ making costs).  You need to know this before you start out.

6.  Location can decide the success or failure of your business

Location may be key to the success of your business.

Location may be key to the success of your business.

Location is absolutely key.  First, consider whether you need premises.  Premises are a good idea if you need passing trade or if you need customers to come and see your goods or talk about your services.  Your matchstick models do not need shop premises.  Instead you could find shops that might want to stock them, sell them at craft fairs or at Urmston Market or sell online.  Online selling, by the way, is not an easy option and often requires considerable investment.

If you do need premises, try and make sure they are as visible as possible.  My own business is on Urmston’s main crossroads.  Thousands of cars and passersby see our signage every day. Avoid deserted side streets and take a good look at several properties before you rent.  Avoid being tied in to a lease for years on end.  Remember point number one above: it’s not about what you want, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve found a great location because it’s very close to your house.  You need a location with great footfall and close to other businesses that are thriving.

You don’t need a MBA to start your own little business but you do need to consider whether your business is viable, whether you can afford to strike out on your own and whether you’d even enjoy it.  I have been running my own business for close to six years.  I am uniquely qualified to advise on starting your own business because I run one of the most successful independent tuition centres in the country AND one pretty unsuccessful baby clothes business, so I do know the pitfall and the peaks of running one’s own business.  I hope to work mainly for myself for the rest of my career, but it’s not for everyone.  Is it for you?

Darby’s Coffee & Arts Lounge – a new café on Flixton Road

Opening today: a new coffee bar and arts lounge in Urmston

Darby's Coffee & Arts Lounge is open at 60 Flixton Road, Urmston.

Darby’s Coffee & Arts Lounge is open at 60 Flixton Road, Urmston.  Photo courtesy of Darby’s.

Darby’s Coffee & Arts Lounge is a new coffee shop at 60 Flixton Road,Urmston – on the site of the original Lily’s café.  The newly bedecked and prettified lounge is open from today (Monday) and, Urmston Independents predicts, will quickly become a favourite spot for sophisticated Urmstonites, art-loving families and common or garden coffee-heads.

Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge promises something a little bit different.  An upstairs seating gallery will be the main display area for a range of crafts, artwork, photography and music demos from local, independent artists.   All this lovely artisanship will be available to buy direct from Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge.

Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge is now taking bookings for its Valentines Day afternoon tea event (taking place at tea time this coming Friday) and from Monday 17th they will be running an official ‘opening week’ with freebies and special offers.  UPDATE: Darby’s official ‘opening week’ has been postponed, but the cafe is up and running and open for business (February 17th).

As well as Illy coffee, panini, homemade soup and all the lunch and breakfast items you would expect, Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge will offer school run lunch boxes for children.  Particularly harassed parents might occasionally go to Darby’s Coffee & Arts Lounge for breakfast before school and pick up lunch there as well.  Sounds like a good plan to this occasionally lazy mother!

To book a Valentine’s afternoon tea or to find out more about displaying your art/ crafts/ music, you can get in touch with Darby’s Coffee and Arts Lounge via Twitter, Facebook or by calling 0161 748 2323.  Independent Urmston businesses need your support: make a point of calling in to Darby’s Coffee & Arts Lounge.  Small business success keeps more money in the local economy and a diverse range of independent businesses is known to put a bit of oomph in local house prices.