The beautiful villages of Saddleworth in Oldham are pulling out all the stops for Christmas this year, and making the sometimes-stressful process of doing the Big Shop a whole lot more magical.
The independent businesses that are based in villages including Greenfield, Uppermill and Delph will be selling everything from beer to veg to tea to trees.
Promising to tick off all those fiddly trimmings on your festive to-do list, the local shops, delis and breweries are poised and ready for Christmas.
Once you’ve ordered your main event from Meat in the Middle at Tommyfield Market, or from the award-winning butchers at Albion Farm Shop in Delph, it’s over to the likes of Weaver & Wilde’s Groceries and Provisions.
Here, Cal Rowson-Codd and his husband Thomas can finish off your Christmas Day dinner with the finest sides, including veg boxes starting at £20 which can be collected fresh during Christmas week.
Cal says: “It has everything you need from a veg aspect then we have a massive range of really cool little bits that are special and make a difference to your dish and your party.
“We do pickled pears, wild garlic bulbs, we’ve got all your cured meats, cheeses and chutneys – everything you want so you can gorge and go over the top.”
Weaver & Wilde’s Groceries and Provisions opened in Greenfield in June after great success selling produce from their coffee shop in Uppermill during the pandemic.
Cal continues: “It kept the doors open and people needed it, plus they didn’t have to queue for an hour to get into Tesco – and the more we did it, the more we realised the demand in Greenfield was buoyant because people missed Stanford’s greengrocers.
“We had lost that commercial amenity in the village and [when that happens] it starts to lose its soul, so it was important for us to [preserve] that.”
As well as providing a local service, Cal and Thomas pride themselves on supporting homegrown brands, like Saddleworth Honey and loose-leaf teas from Oldham-based The Tea Keepers in Uppermill, and small suppliers from as far as way as Cheshire and North Yorkshire in Greenfield, all perfect for Christmas week.
Cal says: “We focus on quality products and ethics, we know our farmers are getting paid the right price to sustain their crop, we employ people that live in the area because it pays for their kids’ school uniforms.
“It’s part of what moulds community – if there weren’t small local producers, villages like ours would lose their identity and because we partner with a lot of local suppliers, it helps keep the small cottage industries alive.”
The Greenfield shop will also sell low needle-drop Christmas trees from mid-November. He hopes that after a tough couple of years, people will choose quality over convenience.
“People are returning to normal-ish life so it’s an online shop and a supermarket drop at your door – for smaller indies, it’s a big financial impact,” Cal says.
“We want to be here long-term and want people to have the quality and flavour of the Christmas dinner they grew up with, which you don’t get from the big commercials.”
Just a stone’s throw from the greengrocer’s is the Old Cobblers, a one-stop community shop selling award-winning coffee, natural wine, craft beer and locally produced gifts.
“We do as much as we can in terms of getting produce in from the area,” says owner Dave Bell, who opened the store two years ago.
“Our coffee is from six miles away, we have lots of beer from breweries in Manchester, our gifts are from very local makers – the more local the better.”
Dave’s shop is packed from floor to ceiling with stocking fillers and delicious eats from nearby suppliers, such as baked goods from Little Saddleworth Pie Company and Saddleworth Brownies, and chilli jam for the charcuterie board from Oldham maker Jam Hot.
Nearby Donkeystone brewery has a huge selection of artisan ales and IPAs, with a 26-strong line of products brewed at their Wellington Road unit, which is also home to a 200-capacity taproom and on-site shop, Palate.
They moved in last June after outgrowing a previous site in Greenfield when they diversified from supplying pubs with kegs to canning their own products.
“We jumped at the chance for the new site, and we’ve been building up the business,” says founder, Stephen James. “There’s a good tradition of decent beers being made in Oldham over the centuries, so we wanted to carry that on.
“It’s proper craft beer that’s been produced on a small scale, but we’ve got a massive range and we try to suit every taste. And in our shop, we don’t just sell beer, we have a range of artisan products that we try to keep as local as possible.”
As well as a taproom and shop open seven days a week, Stephen and his team hope to resurrect production at their gin distillery Grail, which they paused during the pandemic, and are soon to open a dedicated bakery on-site to produce the bread they’ve recently started making and selling.
These little independent businesses are what breathe life into local communities, but they rely heavily on regular custom from the communities they serve.
Cal from Weaver & Wilde said: “Probably the best reason to shop local this year is that if you really like anyone that is trading, go and help them because this winter they’re going to need it.
“It doesn’t matter if they’ve been there 30 years or three, any small purchase will make the difference.”
Manchester City to host blockbuster Women’s derby at the Etihad Stadium
Man City Women are hosting one of the biggest fixtures in the football calendar and the third Manchester derby of this season already at the Etihad Stadium next month.
The Barclays Women’s Super League title race is seriously starting to hot up now. Both Manc teams went close to lifting the trophy in the 2022/23 campaign and have been setting record-breaking crowds every time derby day rolls around, so the excitement ahead of this huge fixture feels bigger than ever.
Blue vs Red is as old as it gets and simply cannot be missed.
Better still, as more eyes continue to tune into the WSL and matchdays at the Etihad and Old Trafford continue to deliver some of the best matchday atmospheres and value-for-money days out, with Man City set to make the pre-match excitement the best it’s ever been.
Gareth Taylor’s side took home bragging rights in both of the last two meetings between the teams, with an all-time record attendance for the derby at Old Trafford back in November 2023 and a huge win in the Conti Cup for the Blues last month.
The Joie Stadium has been a bit of a fortress for the home side but it goes without saying that playing under the lights across the campus at the Etihad itself, with what is no doubt going to be the largest and most pulsating crowd of the season, will serve as a huge motivation for City.
From the pyros and light shows, thumping music and drummers in the stands, to some of the best matchday scran and drinks you’ll find on-site anywhere in Greater Manchester for two-and-a-half hours up until kick-off at 12:30pm, we genuinely can’t wait for derby day on Saturday, 23 March.
City have now won eight on the bounce in the league but the big question is, can they make it three from three in the derby? A treble, if you will. Here’s how they faired in the reverse fixture in the Conti Cup:
The Etihad Campus fan zone has more on offer than ever too, taking the dedicated pre and mid-match festivities from league fixtures at Joie’s Stadium and doubling it at the men’s ground — there’s even going to be a dedicated kid’s fan zone this year too.
With soft play for the children and a dedicated kids’ fan zone on the indoor pitch at the City Football Academy itself; quizzes and interactive competitions where there are great prizes to be won, not to mention the chance to meet the much-loved Man City mascots, ‘Moonbeam’ and ‘Moonchester’, they’re going to have a blast and so are you.
Once again, even on derby day, watching Manchester City Women remains one of the most affordable ways to watch live sport and some of the best female talent anywhere in the region. It’s no wonder season tickets sold out but you still have time to grab a derby day seat on Saturday, 23 March HERE.
Inside one of Manchester’s coolest apartments, where fashion heritage meets independent food and drink
When most people think about apartment living in Manchester, our minds will conjure up the obvious – a big converted mill building with beams and brick walls.
But those of us who’ve tried flat-hunting in the last decade will know that these beautiful old buildings are actually few and far between these days.
Enter Kampus, and specifically the Minshull Warehouse building, where the apartments are as classically Manchester as it gets.
This former Victorian textiles warehouse (told you it was very Manc) has been converted into a beautiful building of one-and-two bedroom flats, where historic brickwork sits alongside modern, modular fittings.
The building itself is woven into Manchester’s history, having been the birthplace of Baracuta’s iconic Harrington Jacket.
Minshull Warehouse at Kampus is home to some of Manchester’s coolest apartments. Credit: The Manc Group
And now it’s making a modern-day name for itself too, as part of Kampus’s leafy, independent neighbourhood.
Kampus let us into one of the two-bedroom Minshull Warehouse apartments for a nosey, and the pictures really speak for themselves.
As you walk into this top-floor apartment, the first thing that strikes you is the huge vaulted ceiling, with a skylight insert that is flooding the space with (admittedly rare) sunlight.
It’s a massive open-plan living space, fully furnished with a comfy couch and armchair.
These Kampus apartments come with a huge open-plan living space
The dining area is positioned by a large window that overlooks the carefully landscaped Kampus grounds (this neighbourhood is all about the greenery) and over to the historic university buildings on Sackville Street.
There’s a well-equipped kitchen too, with an integrated fridge and dishwasher, plus a huge cupboard that’s home to a washing machine.
Another rarity in the Manchester rental market is that the two bedrooms are almost exactly the same size, so there’s no scrapping over who gets lumped with the box room.
The master bedroom in the Minshull Street apartment at KampusThe second bedroom in the Minshull Street apartment at Kampus
The ‘master’ bedroom has its own huge en suite, which is a plus, but the other bedroom can make use of the main bathroom which is also enormous.
And the second bedroom gets an extra built-in wardrobe – we know which one we’d pick.
Throughout the Minshull Street apartment you’ll find restored details amongst the modern makeover, in massive wooden ceiling beams and exposed brick walls.
And of course, your rent at Kampus doesn’t just cover your beautiful new pad.
Amenities at Kampus include access to a private cinemaThere’s also a roof terrace for Kampus residents
It also includes all the amenities that have been built into the neighbourhood’s redevelopment, from the huge communal gym to the lush gardens.
There’s a roof terrace, a cinema, private dining room, co-working spaces, lounges and loads more facilities exclusively for Kampus residents.