Restore your twitter background – With a Chrome extension

Well, Twitter have gone and made a mess of things, and removed backgrounds from people’s feeds. I’m colour blind and this change has made Twitter a lot more difficult for me to read.

Previously, going to Settings > Design and hitting save brought it back, but that seems to have stopped working today.

If you use Chrome though, there is an extension you can download which will allow you to restore your background (or possibly use a self hosted one, I’ve not tried that yet)

Visit https://github.com/Autophagy/twitter-bg-restorer for the download and instructions. They may seem a bit fiddly, but it should only take a minute and they do work.

What happened to Manchester’s gay scene

The gay village in Manchester has been around for many many years now. I first landed in 1996 when I was brought over by a friend for a day round the shops and then hit a few bars in the village.

I’d been to Manchester many times before this, but never realised the village was 30 seconds behind what was then Chorlton Street bus station.

It was a sunny weekday afternoon as I’d got a day off college. The bars were bustling, we went into the New Union and New York New York, and you couldn’t move. We didn’t go to any other bars, but we went for a walk down Canal Street and lots of people were having a great afternoon, sat outside enjoying the sun.

Roll forward a couple of years, and I decided Manchester was the place for me. The city was big enough for me, but not overwhelming coming from a semi rural background. I thought the gay scene was great, all in one place, and on my first day in this big city, I got a job in what was then called Castros (The small bar below McTuckey’s)

I worked there for a while, over pride ’98 and thoroughly enjoyed it, even if we did end up sleeping on the floor of the bar, it was all a bit of a laugh. I moved on to work in the Union for a while, which was a laugh at the time.

Once I left working in the village, I continued to be involved in various different events and occasions, from painting and decorating inside the Rembrandt, handing out safer sex leaflets, stuffing free condoms and lube into packets and there was a great sense of, whoever you are, wherever you’re from, we’re a community, you felt part of a whole (I said Whole not hole!)

Roll forward to the summer of 2000, and things had started to change. Queer as Folk had not long finished on TV, and the village started to get flooded by hen parties, presumably because they felt safer down the village, which I understand.

This however, started to bring other sorts of people in, people who wouldn’t normally go into gay bars. More bouncers had to be employed to deal with the extra rowdiness, and some bars, didn’t do proper background checks on their bouncers (I’m looking at the Rem here). I was having a drink with my ex, and his ex, a drug dealer, took exception to this fact and had the bouncers physically throw me out of the Rem, my back landing right on the opposite kerb edge, which left my back scarred for many years.

Shortly after, I was mugged a couple of times, and worse (I won’t go into detail here), so I left Manchester and moved down south with what fond memories of Manchester I had.

Long story short, I moved around a bit, didn’t settle, and nowhere came close to what I knew of Manchester, so in 2006, I moved back. For a time, things were mostly good. The Union had had a face lift and your feet no longer stuck to the floor, the Rem was no longer the bar it once was, (proper bouncers, but had lost it’s core customers due to wanting to attract the younger, twinky crowd like the Union)

Luckily there was still the likes of the Outpost, which I newly discovered, and good old Company bar hadn’t changed in the slightest.

I was living at the bottom of Sackville Street at this time, so I would be out in Company Bar till gone midnight every night it was open, and still made it into work the next day.

But things were changing. I don’t know if you can blame the economic downturn, the smoking ban, the rise of gay dating sites and apps, or maybe it’s all three.

Roll forward again to the start of 2010, when I met my wonderful husbear. We still went out every Friday after work to the outpost, and back down there again on Sundays for Bearaoke, and yes, I did take part, without fail.

Legends still held it’s usual appeal, and we went to Alert etc… but that was all about to change, as plans were afoot to demolish both the Outpost and Legends. Both of which held many happy memories and are missed by most.

So, we returned back to our haunts, we tried the Rembrandt (Or Rem Bar as it was now called), and found it was deserted. A couple of people dotted here and there, but that was t. Nobody talking to anybody, trying to start a conversation or make new friends.

It’s the same story next door in Via. This was another old favourite of mine, as it was suitable to take my mum in for a meal (1998-ish), where she promptly asked a couple of things “Are you top or bottom” (Didn’t answer that one) and “What type of men do you go for?” (So I took her in to the Rem). Today, there is nobody sat outside, empty chairs at empty tables.

That leaves one place, Company Bar, where at one point, before I’d finished walking down the stairs, my drink was poured ready and waiting for me at the bar.
Again, the same fate has befallen it, mostly deserted, had an attempted refurb, (Probably to try and get rid of it’s core customers yet again) is now serving piss poor flat beer (I’m entitled to my opinion before you start!), and when this was pointed out to them, their customer service was without question, the worst I have ever experienced in the village. We haven’t been back since.

So where is there left, for men, rather than twinks? If someone would like to tell me, drop me a line @monkeypigs on twitter.

Canal Street itself, can look beautiful when empty, in the morning or late evening sun, however, it now looks tired, scruffy and unloved. Even the Beacon of Hope in Sackville Gardens is overgrown.

At an average price of £3.45 a pint, plus a tenner in the taxi each way, I could just about tolerate that for a night out, if it was worthwhile and going to be enjoyable.

The last few proper nights our we’ve had have left us thinking “What the fuck was that” with an empty feeling at the loss of community.

Will any of this old village ever come back? I doubt it. I think it’s gone too far down that road now.

Caffeine and anxiety

As some of you may know, I suffer from panic attacks, and have done since Christmas 2001 when I had my first panic attack in a busy shopping centre in Southampton.

Since then, I’ve been on various different medications, and the current ones are doing a good job, generally.

Recently, I’ve noticed I’d become panicky for even less trivial things than usual. What should be a fleeting thought about work would be a deep seated anxiety, keeping me on high alert for days, ruining entire weekends

I started to think that I shouldn’t be feeling like this despite the cocktail of drugs I’m on, not all the time.

Then one day, I noticed that I started to feel anxious all of a sudden after just one cup of coffee. So for the first time in years, I switched to tea. After a few hours, I started to feel surprisingly, well, OK actually!

The next day I continued on tea and a strange (but pleasant) empty feeling started to develop, where the panic and anxiety used to be.

Nearest I can describe it is, you know when you’ve been crying for absolutely ages, when you stop, take a deep breath in, that feeling just there in your chest, but almost constantly.

So whilst this feeling continues, I sat down and worked out, how much caffeine I was actually consuming, 8-11 cups of (instant) coffee a day. There’s many different readings for instant coffee, from 80-135mg caffeine, so lets take an average of 100mg per cup. That’s 800-1100mg a day, or 11-14 cans of Red Bull, or 16-22 Pro Plus pills!

Now I’m not daft, I know coffee contains caffeine, but I’d never worked out how much I was consuming per day just by drinking a cup of coffee per hour.

So now I’m drinking tea, at around 50mg/cup for a short brew time, I’m down to 300-400mg a day. No anxiety, no sense of impending doom, no awareness of every single pounding heartbeat.

Now I’m not saying this was the cause or solution to all my problems, but it’s certainly letting the drugs do a better job of keeping things in check.

Strange how it had never struck me earlier, even stranger not a single healthcare professional has ever mentioned it.

Hing Fat – Harpurhey

This evening, we decided on that rarest of things for us, a chippy tea. It’s about 3 years since we last went, and we wanted to see if it had improved any since. 

First of all, they’re still serving dick (sic) in ginger and pineapple. Makes us laugh anyway. 

We were pleasantly  surprised to see a 5 star food hygiene rating, secondly, the little old lady who has been there forever was still serving. 

That’s where the good parts end. 

We placed our order and paid our money, she then went to serve the people who were before us their food. 

It was like watching Julie Walters in a cross between Mrs Overall and Two Soups?

She then proceeded to take our order again, before serving someone who had just walked in. Bit odd, but hey, she then took our order again, and then again wandered off to serve this time TWO more people who had just walked in, before taking our order yet again. 

By this time, 20 minutes had passed and we’d had enough, demanded our money back and walked out. 

If you want to sample their unique brand of customer service and (going by the last time we visited) mediocre food, visit them at
797 Rochdale Road,
Manchester
M9 5XD
0161 203 4881

Update!

Following our visit, we looked them up on the Food Standards Agency website and discovered this:


So in case the service isn’t enough to put you off the food hygiene should be.

Beef & Pudding – a review

Today is our first wedding anniversary, so we decided to head into town and try Beef and Pudding a try. You might think it a strange choice for a vegetarian, but read on!

On arrival we were greeted and shown to our table by friendly and attentive staff (attentive without being intrusive I might add – thanks Lauren!)

As soon as we sat down we noticed the mix of decor, the tiled walls, the mix of unusual light fittings, and the raw, industrial ceiling, all fitting neatly together.

Neither of us has huge appetites so we headed straight to the main course (as tempting as the starters looked!) 

I had the goats cheese, pickled onion and beef tomato tart. Forget about those onions you buy in a jar, this mix of sweet, acidic and richness was perfectly balanced on a bed of puff pastry. In 25 years of vegetarian, I think I have a new number one dish. 

Hubby had the pudding, a rich suet pudding filled with gristle free beef and melt in the mouth pastry served on a bed of mash with a velvet gravy.

There was a decent choice of beers and ales too, which went down a treat with our meal. 

Our only regret is being too full to attempt one of their desserts. 

A main course and a drink came in at £16.50 per head, and to sum the whole dining experience up in one word? Delightful. 

Follow them on Twitter and definitely pay them a visit!

ao.com – A Review

So our trusty old washing machine decides enough is enough after 12 years, so we thought it was time for a new one. After shopping around, ao.com seemed like the best place to buy price wise, so we thought we’d give them a try and ordered a hoover.

The machine itself is £369, which isn’t bad for a washer dryer, and I’ll write a review on the machine after a bit of use.

As we placed the order, we noticed that ao were trying to add on extras for this and that, all optional, and (in their defence) deselected by default:

  • Disconnection fee
  • Next day delivery
  • Recycling charge
  • Specific time slot
  • Connection fee

This makes them like RyanAir adding optional extras for simply breathing, but we didn’t select any of them as the fee varies from £10-£20 depending on what you select. As you can see, the fees soon rack up and can add an additional £70 to the purchase price.

Once the order was placed, the worst was yet to come….

In under 5 minutes of placing the order we recieved a phone call from ao.com trying to sell us an extended guarantee. We didn’t want this optional extra either. The salesman spoke to Gary and was so persistent and was hardly going to take no for an answer so I told the salesman that we have cover elsewhere.

Now, I used to work for Barclaycard in a previous life, just after the PPI scandal broke, and I was licensed to sell PPI by the FSA, there was a strict set of questions which must be adhered to, to the letter, so for some pushy salesman to be trying to sell us something which we didn’t want, didn’t need and more to the point had cover elsewhere should have set alarm bells ringing. But it didn’t, he repeated all the information about the benefits of this insurance, despite being told the phrase “We have cover elsewhere” on more than one occasion.

Today was delivery day, so we prepared ourself for a long wait in as it was an all day delivery slot (if you remember, we didn’t pay the extra twenty quid for a specific slot) however, we had a text message from ao telling us that the delivery was due between 11am-2pm……. (which was missed BTW, but that’s beside the point!).

To add insult to injury, Hoover offer a free 5 year guarantee on the washer anyway, which makes ao’s sales pitch even more pointless and frustrating

So the moral of this story is…… if you’re going to buy from ao, don’t fall for any of their optional extras, you don’t need them, and if it’s for an elderly or vulnerable relative, make sure you’re around to fend off their pushy & misselling sales people, as I’m sure some people would just buy their damn insurance to get them off the phone!

Bakewell slices

Bakewell slices
Yields 10
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Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 25 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 25 min
438 calories
40 g
120 g
29 g
7 g
12 g
91 g
14 g
21 g
1 g
14 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
91g
Yields
10
Amount Per Serving
Calories 438
Calories from Fat 249
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 29g
44%
Saturated Fat 12g
62%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 120mg
40%
Sodium 14mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 40g
13%
Dietary Fiber 3g
10%
Sugars 21g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
13%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
7%
Iron
7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the pastry
  1. 90g butter
  2. 65g caster sugar
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. 200g plain flour
For the filling
  1. 125g butter
  2. 125g caster sugar
  3. 125g ground almonds
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1tsp almond essence
  6. 50g flaked almonds
  7. 1-2 tbsp jam
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 (180C fan).
To make the pastry
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until well combined, then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time until full incorporated into the mixture.
  2. Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough.
  3. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth.
  4. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30-60 minutes. Alternatively, it can be frozen for use at a later date.
  5. Roll out the pastry to line an 8" flan tin
  6. Line with greaseproof paper and add rice or baking beans and bake blind for 15 mins
  7. Remove the rice and greaseproof and bake for a further 5 minutes.
To make the filling
  1. Melt the butter in a pan, take off the heat and then stir in the sugar.
  2. Add ground almonds, egg and almond extract.
  3. Spoon the jam over the cooked pastry case and spread evenly
  4. Pour the filling into the flan tin and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes
Notes
  1. Cover the tart with foil if the flaked almonds are browning too quickly
beta
calories
438
fat
29g
protein
7g
carbs
40g
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