Ever wondered what it’s like as a fully grown adult to cycle from Glasgow to Manchester on a little pink bike designed for a toddler?
Our guess is probably not.
It’s safe to say it’s not something you think about everyday, but it’s certainly what’s been at the forefront of Wesley Hamnett’s mind over these past few days as he successfully managed to complete this incredible journey from Scotland’s largest city to his home in Wythenshawe for a number of very worthy causes.
As mad of a challenge as it may initially seem though, there’s actually a very good reason as to why the father-of-two decided to embark on the cycle of his life.
After the devastating loss of his Grandad to a second fight with cancer last year, Wesley knew he wanted to do something to pay a worthy tribute to him and his three other grandparents who are also all at peace, and it was from this that the challenge was born.
It wasn’t always the Manchester-native’s plan of action though.
While the challenge of cycling from Manchester to Glasgow is certainly no easy feat, he had actually embarked upon the much greater task of cycling all the way to Russia instead.
This was originally due to place in a few weeks time, but just as the majority of planned events this year have had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the veteran cyclist regrettably had to postpone the ride until Spring 2021 and so, settled on a much shorter journey instead, but with a unique twist in the form of a little pink bike.
A unique twist that has seen him become a local hero in the process.
After arriving back home to his family and deservingly tucking into a Full English Breakfast this morning, we caught up with Wesley to gather his thoughts and see how he’s feeling after an experience he’ll never forget.
As the sun rose on Wednesday 16th September, Wesley said goodbye to his partner and two daughters before catching the train from Manchester Piccadilly up to his starting point in Glasgow.
He then set off on his five-day journey “with seat adjustment and the kids’ lucky mascot”.
And what a journey it was.
A journey full of highs and lows.
“[The] highlights were definitely the help I received fixing the buckled wheels and without doubt the skydive [too], which was a last minute cancellation [and did mean] a slight detour” explained Wesley.
As well as some of the large hills he had to scale – which as you can imagine were about as tough as they come – he also admitted that the trickiest aspect of the ride was not being with his family, but luckily, he met some real characters along his travels that helped to make up for it and remind him why he was tackling the challenge after all.
“The funniest moment [of the ride] was about five miles outside of Lockerbie,” he recalls.
“I saw an elderly lady stood at a very quiet village bus stop and said good morning to her so she wouldn’t be scared and think I was crazy [and then] she came back waving and shouted the she had seen me on Facebook.
“[It] made my day.”
After a few technical difficulties – including a buckled wheel which needed replacing – and stopping off for a quick spot of lunch at the Scottish border, he finally arrived on English soil in Cumbria on the Friday afternoon.
He then went on to make his way through some of Northern England’s most-notable towns.
As yesterday evening rolled around – with the finish point in sight and eager to be reunited with his loved ones – he decided to put in a real shift on the home-stretch.
“All I could think about was seeing my [partner] and kids since hitting Manchester city centre,” he said.
“[So] I picked up the speed on the last leg into Wythenshawe massively”.
And then, after 32 hours of cycling and almost 229 miles later, he finally crossed the finish line outside his home.
“I felt on top of the world when I finished,” said Wesley.
“The general public in Scotland and England have helped me do this in how good they have been to me – I couldn’t have done this without them”.
As well as the funds accumulated on his GoFundMe page – which have surpassed the £4,000 mark and counting – he even managed to raise a grand total of £350.91 in notes and spare change from those he met along the way, which just proves how much the public has been rooting for him.
How brilliant is this?
It’s stories like this that make Manchester so great.
Whilst the challenge has certainly earned Wesley a place in the heart of many Mancunians, the journey was about so much more than that to him.
From his Grandparents’ passings, teamed with a number of other situations he has previously experienced and had to overcome in life, Wesley identified four charities he is keen to give back to with the funds raised from the ride and the four chosen charities are Macmillan Cancer Support, the Christie Charitable Fund, the British Heart Foundation, and the MFT Charity at Wythenshawe Hospital.
And with a target set to raise £5,000, Wesley’s GoFundMe page is only a couple-hundred pounds from reaching that all important milestone too.
So, if you are able to spare a few pounds, then you can find more information and donate here.
Come on Manchester – let’s help out one of our own.
Unplugged – The stunning countryside cabin where guests are told to lock their phones away for a ‘digital detox’
We all know all-too-well that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to properly switch off – even when we’re on holiday.
With the constant pings and buzzes and flashes of digital technology begging for our attention every minute of the day, it’s not easy to properly step away and unwind.
Which is why the Unplugged countryside cabins were invented – and its first north west location has just opened.
Each of these stunning tiny homes includes a lock box, which guests are encouraged to lock their mobile phones in.
Over the course of each three-night stay, Unplugged guests are instead given other items to keep them entertained.
The Unplugged cabins include board games, books, and cassette players, as well as an instant camera with film so you can still capture your break – without the pressure to immediately shout about it on Instagram.
You’re also handed a classic Nokia phone (yes complete with Snake) in case you need to contact anyone, and a map and a compass.
They are also kitted out with a compact but fully equipped kitchen for cooking up a storm, a log burner and an outdoor fire pit, and comfy beds with luxury Piglet bedding.
There are several of these countryside retreats dotted around the south of England, and there’s now an Unplugged property here in the North West, just outside Greater Manchester in Cheshire.
The ‘Luna’ cabin has a huge panoramic window overlooking the countryside, and its location just off the Sandstone Trail.
The cabin is even pet-friendly.
You’ll find inside the compact wooden-clad space a powerful hot shower and toiletries, while outside are wellies and umbrellas to brace you for the great outdoors.
Unplugged was launched by two friends – Hector Hughes and Ben Elliot – who at the time both worked at a tech start-up and were teetering on the edge of burnout.
So after one of them took a two-week silent retreat in the Himalayas, they decided to try and create a few pockets of total, switch-off zen here in the UK.
They say: “Humans have always escaped to nature as an antidote to hectic city life. The issue is that now so many of us just wouldn’t know where to start.
“We’re glued to our phones, inundated with push notifications and respond to emails at all times of the day. We’re on a mission to help you unplug from your devices so that you can recharge.
“So we decided to build beautiful off-grid cabins just outside of city life that take less than an hour or two to get to.
“We also remove any of the woo-woo and stigma that might come with meditation and Buddhist retreats by creating beautiful cabins in nature for you to use the space and time to switch off how you want to.
“When we launched our first cabin, Koya in July 2020 we’d check in and out every guest, lock their phones away and take the key back with us to London. Now we have a lot more cabins, guests check themselves in and are encouraged to lock their phones away to benefit from 3 nights offline.
“We of course practice what we preach and all of the Unplugged team go for a digital detox at least once per year to help us switch off and recharge.”
You can book Luna, the Unplugged cabin in Cheshire, here.
Featured image: Pasco Photography
Neighbourhood Festival Manchester 2022 – tickets, line-up, venues and more
For those uninitiated, the massive city centre festival is Neighbourhood Weekender‘s sister event and has been running every October since 2016. Well, barring the pandemic, of course.
Springing from a fledgling one-day festival that boasted the likes of Circa Waves, Blossoms, White Lies, Twin Atlantic and Lonely the Brave, it has now become one of the biggest events of the year with over 100 acts spread across multiple venues dotted around the city centre. And just in time for the students.
Since its conception, crowds have seen everyone from Sam Fender, Easy Life and Holly Humberstone, to Mahalia, Declan McKenna, Miles Kane and many, many more of Britain’s biggest names take the Neighbourhood stages on their way to making a splash on the UK music scene.
Luckily for you, this year’s line-up looks an absolute whopper too.
Neighbourhood Festival Line-Up 2022
As well as those we already knew about such as The Snuts, Sundara Karama and local lads Everything Everything, Wigan-based indie band The Lathums have also confirmed that they will be joining the Neighbourhood headliners at this year’s festival.
You love to see it. You love to see everyone on this list, to be honest.
As you can see, there are big names everywhere – punters can also look forward to seeing the likes of Alfie Templeman and Baby Queen; Lauran Hibberd and Ten Tonnes, as well as Far Caspian and Brooke Combe, just to name a few.
There’s plenty of Mancunian music being represented as well, with Corella, Afflecks Palace, The Covasettes and The Stanleys all repping 0161.
Neighbourhood Festival 22 Venues
One of the best parts about Neighbourhood Fest is that aside from the acts themselves, there are some seriously mint venues on the list every year, from gig-going favourites to some locations you may have never seen live music before or even been full-stop.
Here is the full list of Neighbourhood venues we know of so far:
Manchester Academy 1 and 2 (14+)
Albert Hall (14+)
The Deaf Institute (14+)
O2 Ritz Manchester (14+)
Revolution – Oxford Road (14+ until 9pm, then 18+)
Bunny Jacksons (14+ until 9pm, then 18+)
YES – The Basement and The Pink Room (18+)
The Bread Shed (14+)
The Zombie Shack (18+)
That being said, it’s still worth keeping your eye out on social for any updates as more special guests and surprise appearances are expected, and who knows where they could pop up?
For instance, we already know that Hard-Fi will be playing their first gig in eight whole years at the brand-spanking New Century which we peeped not long ago. It’s quite an impressive space, guys.
Ah, the dreaded stage splits. They cause us inevitable headaches every year but they’re a necessary evil.
Want to know who’ll you manage to see and who’ll you have to prepare yourself for potentially missing? We do the dirty work so you don’t have to:
Are there any Neighbourhood tickets still left?
Put simply, yes, but you better get moving if you wanna snap the remaining few up.
Tickets for Neighbourhood Festival 2022 will set you back £39.50 face value (£43.45 all told with your booking fee) from their official retailer, Gigs and Tours. Wheelchair access tickets are also available.
Not only is that a much more affordable option for those who didn’t want to fork out more than £115 for the two-day pass at Neighbourhood Weekender back in May, but the wristband grants you access to every single venue on the list.
Even a one-day ticket at Weekender cost £59.50 + booking fee, whereas with Neighbourhood Fest you still get the chance to see some serious box office names at Neighbourhood Fest for less money. More spare pennies for food and pints, init.
It’s also worth noting that you can grab tickets on the day as a last resort, but we’d obviously advise getting yourself sorted before then.
As announced on Wednesday, this year’s box office and wristband exchange will be located at the University of Manchester Students Union building (M13 9PR) – the Lime Grove entrance, to be specific.
This will be open from 9.30am and will close promptly at 7.30pm, meaning there will be no wristbands issued after this time, so we would obviously recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the large queues.
Organisers also had some important top tips to share with you:
Last but not least, make sure to keep a lookout on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram for the latest updates and, most importantly, grab your tickets HERE while you still can.