Cider & Perry Festival at New Continental

The festival is expected to be one of the largest in the North West. Image credit to neon bubble.

The festival is expected to be one of the largest in the North West. Image credit to neon bubble.

The New Continental in Preston, Lancashire is to play host to its first ever cider and perry festival. Over sixty different ciders will be on offer from all over the UK and continental Europe. It will run from Thursday 9th July to Saturday 11th July 2009.

The format will be similar to the Continental’s beer festival held back in May, the cider being dispensed from the pub’s arts space and a marquee erected outside with live music.

Confirmed acts include Manchester indie hopefuls Marble Krusher and Shrieking Violets, Lancaster nu-folk band Ottersgear and Preston’s very own With Knife, The Fifty50s, Baboon and Mrs & Mrs, who have just signed a record deal and are playing festivals including Solfest and Brampton Live.

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Ice cream at Bonds of Elswick

One happy punter enjoys a scoop of vanilla and mint chop chip at Bonds of Elswick

One happy punter enjoys a scoop of vanilla and mint chop chip at Bonds of Elswick

Hidden in the twisty country lanes just outside Preston as you head towards Blackpool is Bonds of Elswick. Makers of some of the finest ice cream I’ve ever tasted it’s well worth the short trip. Head out of Preston through Woodplumpton, tear through Inskip, and you’ll be in Elswick. It’s about 15 minutes drive.

Bonds comprises of a restaurant, diner/cafe, ice cream counter and old school sweet shop. The restaurant was busy when we arrived, and we slipped into the diner. It’s a 1950s throw back, with turqoise blue seats and the staff wearing those white suits with hats. I had a coffee and my friend opted for a strawberry milk shake. Then it was time for the ice cream.

I went for a scoop of apple crumble ice cream, whoever thought of that flavour is a genius. A tub of mint crisp was also bought. It’s all reasonably priced and there was a constant stream of cars arriving, grabbing a cone and then roaring off into the distance.

The old school sweet shop is also great. If you’re ever at a loss for what to get someone for their birthday, grab a tenner and fill your bag with old fashioned pic’n’mix, gobstoppers, sherbert lemons amongst others. There’s also old school fizzy drinks. Brilliant.

So, if it’s a sunny afternoon and you’re at a loss take a trip out to Elswick and sample some real dairy ice cream. None of this American nonsense.

Preston Indoor Market

There's plenty of fresh fish to be had at Preston Indoor Market

There's plenty of fresh fish to be had at Preston Indoor Market

Want quality fresh produce at low prices? Well, it’s here in Preston. For many the weekly trip to the supermarket has begun to replace religion. We wander the isles, gawping at special offers but are generally separated from our food. It doesn’t matter if we don’t know our pounds and ounces, all that’s important is the total number of pounds on the display at the checkout.

Preston Indoor Market is tucked away between Iceland and the Outdoor Covered Market. There’s fresh produce, meat, fruit, vegetables and fish. The smells are fantastic and the sellers friendly and willing to do plenty of swift business.

Setting out to experience the market, I was a bit nervous. You have to plan, take a backpack (very handy for putting loads of stuff in) and invest in some of those bags for life from the supermarkets. Write out what you want before you go and have an idea of how much you’ll need. Entering there’s about three or four fruit and veg stalls, I wasn’t sure which one to go for so went for the one that had the most people round it – always a sure sign of either good quality or cheap prices (or potentially both).

I managed to do my weekly shop for £30 and I got plenty. I found a little shop down the far end of the market that did spices and herbs, it was dirt cheap and despite the lady running it being a little deaf she was very patient with my rather poor pronounciation of turmeric.

We also discovered there was a pet store and the hay and straw there was both cheaper and better quality than certain large pet stores.

I read recently that the market is seeing a surge in profits for traders as people come to find recession beating bargains. Well, let’s hope it continues even if the economy does recover. Shopping at the market is far more rewarding, and there’s a big pic’n’mix stall, and you find you eat healthier as well. It forces you to cook from scratch and you’ll see the pounds falling off you as well as the pounds staying in your bank account – supermarkets are very good at making us all spend money.

Give Preston Indoor Market a try. It’s open 8 AM to 5.30 PM Monday – Saturday (although core trading hours are 9 AM – 5 PM and it’s best to go in the morning to get the best stuff and also for there to be stocks left – parking in the bus station car park is £1.20 for an hour, plenty of time). Closed Sunday.