Over on the outskirts of the city centre is a new park just for dogs that’s been purpose-built for playtime.
Here, dogs are matched in small groups with similar sizes and temperaments to take part in a variety of assault courses and attractions, ranging from assault courses and squirrel chasing to their very own ‘Wimbledog’ tennis court.
There’s even a dedicated ‘pet taxi’ service included as standard for busy owners, meaning that dogs can easily be picked up and dropped back at home without you having to worry or lift a finger.
Formerly a derelict car park in Miles Platting, this patch of land hasn’t been used since the 1970s – that is, until Doggyland co-owners Beth Lemons and Pablo Perez took it on mid-pandemic and swiftly set to work transforming it with their bare hands.
Prior to that, Beth had worked in dentistry for over a decade whilst her partner Pablo had worked as a mental health doctor since coming to the UK in 2016.
However, both had begun to feel ‘a spark of playfulness was missing’ in their professional lives so, when they hit upon the idea of Doggyland Park during the pandemic, they saw it as a new opportunity ‘to build a culture of happiness and mental well-being” for their staff and for themselves.
Using nothing but a mattock and a wheelbarrow, whilst the country was in lockdown the couple busied themselves by planting trees, hedges and grass, bringing in woodchips and sand, then building various dog-themed attractions, before finally opening the gates to their first doggy visitors last year.
Nine months on, it is filled with happy dogs of all sizes busily charging around assault courses, sniffing butts, bulldozing through tunnels and popping out of teeny, tiny dog houses – with an average of 45 bookings a week.
The park has been inspired by Beth and Pablo’s dog Bella, who just so happens to bear a strriking resemblance to Lady in Lady and the Tramp.
Describing the whole thing as “reverse engineering”, Beth explains:
“First we thought : what do dogs like? and then we accommodated everything else to that concept.
“It wasn’t like…we have a building, lets pack 40 dogs inside. Our idea was, Bella ( our dog) doesn’t like what the market is offering, what would Bella, really, really like?
“Well…be with her friends, outdoors, off lead, chasing things, smelling things, playing, running…
“We provide for other doggies what we wanted for Bella and for us. And what do we want for Bella?
“That she is safe, that she is happy with her little group of friends, that her carers can pick up on signs when she is not fully happy and correct it… and that’s what Doggyland is, it’s her gigantic playground, but also everybody else’s.”
An alternative to doggy daycare and dog walking, play sessions at Doggyland Park are small, with a ratio of one staff member to every three dogs.
Whilst Beth acknowledges this means they are ‘perhaps [their] own worst enemy’ when it comes to growth, by ensuring that dogs are looked after in small groups, with a maximum of six per session, they can avoid some pitfalls common to the industry.
Sessions last roughly two hours and focus on creating harmony amongst the pack – all important for eradicating common industry problems like altercations, disputes for toys, lack of enrichment and personalised attention.
Aside from the two co-founders, Doggyland Park’s team is also made up of four other highly qualified, enthusiastic, wonderful people who Beth describes as being “more like family members than colleagues”.
You can still see on Google Street View how it looked before, but we hear that the neighbours are massively impressed with how the views from their balconies have changed – greatly improved after what ended up being a full year of intense manual labour. .
Speaking on their journey over the past few years, Beth said: “Nine months ago we opened Doggyland Park’s gates for the first time, it has been a lovely journey and we wouldn’t change it for anything!
“Coming from heavily regulated fields, we have been able to combine our occupational awareness for safety and good practice with the niceties of caring for adorable pooches.
“Opening our own business has been more fulfilling than we could have ever imagined!”
Feature image – The Manc Group
Meet the couple who quit their jobs to sell sandwiches from their Northern Quarter flat
If you’re a fan of things in bread (and honestly, who isn’t) then there’s a new Italian sandwich dealer in town that you absolutely need to get down your neck.
Serving up some of the best butties we’ve had in a long time, it’s called Ad Maiora and is being run by a couple who are making absolutely everything out of a kitchen in their little Manchester flat.
Collected from a nondescript door on a Norther Quarter back street, we’re talking giant focaccia-style loaves generously stuffed with premium ingredients like ‘nduja, spicy Tuscan sausage, smoked scamorza, mortadella, burrata and red pesto.
The brainchild of Sardinian couple Daniela Steri and Enrico Pinna, all of their sandwiches are made using only top quality Italian ingredients with a total of nine different options to choose from.
From the vegan-friendly La Nonna (Italian hummus, roasted aubergine, olives, sundried tomatoes and rocket) to a huge array of different cheesy and meaty delights, fillings include parma ham, gorgonzola DOP, truffled brie, Milano salami and crumbled pistachios.
Their bread is baked freshly by hand each morning using a tiny domestic oven, and they’re already baking up to 60 loaves of schiacciata (a traditional Tuscan flatbread) a day to keep up with the demand – putting just four in the oven at a time, over and over again.
On our visit, the pair tell us that they moved over from Sardinia to the UK six years ago and first tried living in London for a year (they say they hated it) before making the move up to Manchester.
In that time, they say they’ve fallen in love with the city of Manchester and with the Northern Quarter in particular.
Inspired by the brilliant food scene in their area, two months ago they both decided to pack in their jobs and pursue their own business instead – and haven’t looked back since.
Previously, Daniela tells us she’d worked at hotel Dakota in housekeeping for three years whilst her partner, Enrico, had been employed at Ezra and Gil. Despite their hospitality experience, though, neither of them had made bread before.
That doesn’t seem to be holding them back, though, and demand for their sandwiches is rocketing as word spreads about the new homemade Italian butties for sale on a Manchester backstreet.
Available to order via Deliveroo for collection or delivery, use the code ADMAIORA5 to get a cheeky five pounds off your order courtesy of The Manc.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
Northern Belle in Manchester – one of the world’s most luxurious trains with £440 tickets and seven-course dinners on board
A luxury train journey costing £440 per ticket, where passengers walk a red carpet to board, will depart from Manchester this year.
A ride on board the Northern Belle often includes a seven-course dinner, champagne, and on-board entertainment.
The prestigious train, rated by Conde Nast as one of the top 10 in the world, has seven Pullman carriages, each one decorated by master craftsmen in a 1930s-style.
It’s a seriously luxurious experience, with tickets costing anywhere between £295 and £695 per person – which, to be fair, isn’t even that much more than a last-minute ticket on an Avanti train to London…
Trips promise to take in some of the most scenic stretches of Britain’s railways.
The Spirit of Travel lunch departs from Manchester Victoria and snakes its way past Rochdale, Hebden Bridge and Brighouse.
On board, passengers sink into plush armchairs with crisp white tablecloths on the tables between them.
Within minutes, liveried stewards crack open the champagne and guests get a chance to browse the menu created by celebrated chef Matthew Green.
As passengers are whisked through the British countryside, seven fine dining courses are served to their tables, alongside complementary fine wine chosen by Northern Belle’s own sommelier.
Condé Nast Traveller magazine named it in the top 10 train journeys in the world, beating the iconic Flying Scotsman.
They wrote: “It’s all about the food – and the scenery, but mostly about the food – on this lovingly-restored train which zig-zags its way across the countryside.
“The meal services are exquisite, offering fine dining crafted mostly from UK suppliers so you can enjoy classic British fare as the heaths, meadows and dales roll on by.”