Behind enemy lines: The Manchester City Stadium Tour

In Manchester you support either the blue of Manchester City or the red of Manchester United. We are passionate football folk. You pick your team and you stick with your team.

Sometimes blues and reds get on. Sometimes a red man will meet a blue lady. Sometimes they will date for a while before the red man proposes to the blue lady and they get married. Sometimes they will have children and problems arise as to whether the children should be red’s or blue’s. Sometimes the red man does an amazing thing and goes on a tour of the blues stadium for the greater good of his family and to secure some husband points.

This weekend I, a Manchester United Fan took one for the team and went with my Manchester City fan wife and our children on the Manchester City Stadium tour. I’ve never done a stadium tour before and thought it would be good fun for us all. A nice Sunday family day out.

The rendezvous point for the tour start was in the MCFC Store. True to family form we were late so did not have chance to browse the merchandise which was lucky because I’m pretty sure Florence would have talked me into buying her a new football kit.

20171015_120142

In a room at the back of the Store we gathered with other tour embarkers. We were surrounded by pieces of historic MCFC memorabilia. We were then led to a seated area where our guide showed us a video all about the football club and team to get the juices going.

20171015_120749(0).jpg

Then the proper tour kicked off. We headed to the stadium and had a mill around the Tunnel Club Hospitality areas. These are the areas where the rich and famous can wine and dine before, during and after the match. It’s a pricey place to eat and drink but you get to meet the players and watch them go out the tunnel so if you’ve got the cash it sounds like a good gig. The place smelt like money.

20171015_123109

After this we visited the outside directors seats which were very comfy and come equipped with heated seating. We then headed to the away dressing room which wasn’t much and was very warm. Apparently this is all on purpose to out off the opponent. Put me off. Especially as we visited the home team warm up gym and dressing room and they were something else.

20171015_130239.jpg

Next on the tour was the pitch side picture opportunity before we took a stroll to the pre match press conference room where I managed to warm Pep’s seat. Felt important sat there.

20171015_131304

And that was about it. A 90 minute tour of the stadium complete. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. Nice to have a nosey around and check out the competition. So if you fancy a poke around a football stadium and you are in Manchester I would recommend having a wonder around the Etihad on the official Stadium and Club Tour. Even if you are a red, it’s a good day out.

20171015_132758.jpg

The team behind the beans: Booths coffee tour

Before kids I rarely drank coffee. Before kids I slept gloriously. So when kids came along and I began to sleep rarely, I took up drinking coffee gloriously.

I have dibbled and I have dabbled with different coffee brands. I have never really settled on a particular coffee or established whether bean is better than ground.

That was until I took a tour of Booths coffee HQ in deepest darkest Preston. Now before we went I was giddy and very excited to see what happened in a coffee roasting and grinding factory and to learn more about the drink that keeps me functional. I was expecting some huge warehouse with hundreds of people, coffee beans all over the show, roasters firing away and the sweet smell of coffee in the air.

What we found was a very nice purposely built building with one roaster and grinder. The team behind the beans was in fact two gents by the names of Peter and Rob, plus the packing team only a few members strong.

It had a real personal feel about the place. The smell of coffee was dancing in the air and we got to see how the coffee was roasted and ground. We got to hold some beans pre roasting and post roasting. We tickled our tastebuds with a variety of different coffees and learnt all about strengths, tastes and smells.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I discovered that strength doesn’t mean more caffeine on the contrary there is less in the stronger stuff. I discovered bean is best. I also found my new favourite coffee which goes by the name of Monsoon Malabar. I love the taste of this cheeky number, but also the fact I’ve met the team who have roasted those beans. Makes it that little bit more personal.

And that’s the main thing I took from our little tour. Booths doesn’t just cater to your food and drink delights but adds that little bit of personal sparkle as well.

Everytime I take a sip of my morning Monsoon Malabar latte I’m whisked away to that magical day I spent on the coffee tour. It makes the fact I’m up at 5am that little bit more bareable.