My Week In Happy: Life after love and good people making great things happen

Panorama of Salford Quays facing towards Lowry Arts Centre

Spot the panorama drama.

Life after love

When iconic songstress Cher asks the somewhat rhetorical question, “Do you believe in life after love?”, I sit back for a moment and think, “Yes, Cher. I do”.

It need not be love in the usual pop song romantic sense that I’m thinking of, more of the end of one chapter and the start of another. Yes, I am sad about my cat Cosmo’s passing, but that didn’t stop me getting down the gym first thing on Sunday morning and finding this beautiful tranquil scene that you can see above.

Good people making great things happen

On Friday night I popped down to The Umbrella Cafe in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter. Because I was courageous enough to make my very first visit to the cafe by myself it gave me the chance to meet the fabulous trio of women to brought the idea to life Debbie, Michaela and Helen.

The venue has got off to a great start with Lizzie Allan’s Addictive Comedy night proving especially popular.

Manchester Girls Geeks are also doing brilliantly, if you’d like to find out more about us and learn how to create and edit Wikipedia pages we have this great event happening this Sunday (23rd November). You can sign up for the workshops here.

And finally, I don’t really talk about my day job on here that often, but today I attended an excellent conference organised by the Tinder Foundation (nothing to do with the dating app) on making sure no-one is left behind as services increasingly move to digital.

It was so heartwarming to hear about the many different approaches to getting people online and skilled up, but the cherry on the conference cake was when the winner of an iPad Air donated it to another delegate so that they could use it as part of their own digital inclusion project.

I enjoyed the Digital Evolution conference so much and met so many kind and good people that I thought it was time I put together a little gallery.

My Week In Happy: Addictive Comedy and BarCamp Manchester


It’s been a hectic couple of weeks so this going to be a super quick round-up of what I’ve been up to. There’s lots going on in Manchester so I’m just going to share a couple of things I’ve been involved with this lately.

The Umbrella Cafe

This is the only ‘dry’ i.e. alcohol-free bar in Manchester (not to be confused with DRY on Oldham Street).

It’s hosted by Nexus Arts Cafe on Dale Street and offers an inclusive space where people, who are abstaining from alcohol for whatever reason, can relax, eat cake, dance, laugh and drink pop (or tea, coffee etc).

I heard about this place a few months back and, as I choose to be alcohol-free, it’s arrival in the city’s fashionable Northern Quarter was very welcome. I already wrote a bit about it in ‘Where the magic happens‘.

Full house

Filled to the rafters for Addictive Comedy at The Umbrella Cafe

I was back there on Friday to celebrate Helen’s birthday and called in for a night of ‘Addictive Comedy’ on Saturday. Yes, it seems I’ve become hooked on the place…

It was lovely to see Lizzie Allan, Ali Khan and their guest playing to a full, and naturally buzzing, house.

BarCamp Manchester

For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘BarCamp’ format, it’s basically a two-day event where people show up and get the chance to grab a slot to talk about whatever they are passionate about.

Also referred to as an ‘unconference’, no talks are scheduled in advance and everyone is welcome to take a session. However, there’s no pressure to speak if that’s not your thing – you can still listen, question and contribute in other ways.

Because I tried to do too many things last week I only lasted for the Saturday. Some people actually choose to sleep over at the venue, but for me there was no contest between a sleeping bag and my comfortable bed at home.

The event was splendidly organised by Ian Forrester and team, and hosted by SpacePortX – and despite the name is not an alcohol-driven event.

I do wonder what Josh has done with the video of Ian and Tim's chat

I do wonder what Josh has done with the video of Ian and Tim’s chat

My person highlights were Ian’s candid chat with Tim Dobson about dating deal breakers and Hwa Young’s session on detective storytelling rules (watch her talk about this at Ignite Liverpool earlier this month).

If you’d like to know more about BarCamp Manchester  and how you can look at some pictures on Flickr or catch up with the Twitter action on the hashtag #BCMCR

I’m keeping it brief this week, but I wanted to share again my mantra as a friend reminded me of it today.

Why wait for someone else to set the scene when you can run the show yourself?

My Week In Happy: Where the magic happens



"Where the magic happens" in big bubble, "Your comfort zone" in smaller, separate bubble.

After my holiday, I went back to the Ashtanga class at my gym with renewed enthusiasm for my practice, and even managed a headstand!

Because I love this diagram and know it to be true I am sharing it again with you lovely people.

Last Saturday, I summoned up all my courage to pop my head round the door of newly launched alcohol-free venue The Dry Umbrella in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter (MFNQ).

I was knocked out by the warmest welcome ever – and got invited back to a comedy night (more of which below).


As a qualified City Expert for Google Local Manchester I get to go to some of the cute and quirky events they put on from time to time.

I this occasion I was joined by friends @angieokchan and @Frimkron and also got to meet up with fellow City Experts +AdrianLunsong, +IanBotterill, +ChrisBrads and the ever fabulous Chrissie from The Fabulous Times.

The Craft & Draft event was held in art supplies heaven, the venue being Fred Aldous in MFNQ. Guests were treated to a range of locally produced drinks and nibbles and invited to get an old skool photo booth picture taken, try screen printing and even make a collage which was turned into booklet using a risograph copier.


Back to MFNQ again for a night of inspirational talks at a @SheSaysMCR event held at SpacePortX – with the provocative theme What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”.


First up was Lou Cordwell (@Loucordwell) of the highly successful digital design company Magnetic North.


She talked about being prepared to take educated risks but to trust that you can manage if you don’t succeed in the way you hoped to.

Ines Lopez (@milopezcom), a creative facilitator working in digital, then followed on from with this with an insightful talk on ‘managing fear’. A refreshing look at how we can remove the stigma from failure as part of the creative process.


Went to see Robin Ince do stand-up at MOSI. I’ve followed Robin for a long time and it’s good to see how his material is evolving as he moves towards some of the more ‘touchy feely’ aspects of science.


MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, if you’ve not heard of it), provided an intimate space for the gig and I really hope they put on a few more evening events.


lizzie-allanSo, I went back to The Dry Umbrella, this time with a friend. Again, a very warm welcome coupled with an extensive tea menu, soft drinks and cakes.

Lizzie Allan, ably introduced by MC Ali Khan, told us her story, which was times dark but at others chaotic and hilarious.


Lizzie opens her set by saying that she has been clean of drugs and drink for around 5 years.

It is remarkable that her recovery from addiction and the psychosis that resulted from her abuse of drugs and alcohol have led her to a place where she can reflect on all of that with warmth, sincerity and a cutting dry wit.

After partying a bit too hard in India and Thailand, Lizzie found her 19-year-old self sectioned and detained for treatment under the Mental Health Act.

While that does not sound like a laugh a minute, Lizzie playfully recalls the effects of psychosis – specifically her belief that (despite no experience) she was about to land a major recording deal as a rap artist.

She also talked a lot about The Law of Attraction (which I think I do believe in) and the power of the alignment of the planets (which I’m not so sure about), but one thing was for sure – Lizzie caused her own brand of hysteria when I challenged her to perform an impromptu rap.

Upcoming events at Umbrella Cafe, Nexus Art Cafe, 2 Dale Street, Manchester.

This week I also updated the About Cheer Up Love page.