Give way, it’s Christmas!

Restoring faith in humanity, starting from the traffic.

It is first of advent! 🎄 🎉

That means it’s only 4 weeks ’til Christmas and it is officially time to start celebrating with no guilt or shame! Whoop-whoop!

Before we get to the celebrating part I have something on my mind, haunting me already quite a while now. Something that really bothers me. So, when else to talk about those things but Christmas time when people are (at least seem to be) in a good mood and willing to cooperate.

The other day I was cycling home from work and for the 4th or 5th time almost got hit by a car. Why? How? What? I was cycling on a cyclist lane and wanted to turn right. Before a turn i always check behind me to make sure the way is free. I lifted up my right hand as a sign as well to really make sure everyone behind me can see my turn. 2 years of living in UK has taught me to always check twice. So now with my right hand up I decided to check again behind me if I am free to take the turn right. As I was turning my head and ready to start taking the right turn a car overtook me from the RIGHT side. Yes! People really do that. Although I had my hand up, I was already in the middle of the road ready to turn, a car behind me could not wait 5 seconds and overtook me from the right side, exactly where I was about to turn. If I would have not checked twice he would have deffinitely hit me. Fortunately, this time I was lucky and patient enough to save my ass.

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Then another evening I was cycling on the cycle lane while a bus was trying to overtake me. Which I don’t mind, obviously. What I do mind is cars, buses taking over cyclist right before a crossroad, bus stop or a turn. Why? Because right after overtaking me, they need to push the brakes and stop. I have to now stop right behind them as they  occupy the cyclist lane and most of the road. Even though I can see them stoping I never know if the cars behind me can see that and do not try to suddenly drive into me or overtake us both. So here I am squeezed behind 2 vehicles, I cannot see anything behind the bus to prevent a hit and therefore need to wait behind it. Anyone who spends more than 10-15 minutes in traffic daily knows that no one, and I mean NO ONE, will take that time to wait behind you.

It rains a lot in Manchester. And by a lot I mean  A LOT. Despite the rain I still prefer to cycle to work as it is literally 2x faster than taking a bus. And as you can probably sense from the previous 2 paragraphs I am not really into driving in here either. One night when coming back from work, cycling my ass off in the rain I had to face the humanity failing again. I always rather cycle on the footpath or cycle lane instead of the main road. The drivers here do not care about the cyclist, passengers or other drivers and therefore it is always safer this way. Some claim you can get a fine for cycling on the footpath but I would rather pay the fine that get into an accident. So, there I was cycling in the rain, hoping to get home soon AND safe. On Talbot road there is always huge mud puddles when it’s raining. You would expect a city like Manchester to have a decent drainage system but no. So in order not to get covered by mud COMPLETELY I had to either hop on the footpath or turn on the road. As there are edging everywhere I cannot really hop over it, especially when it’s wet and slippery. So, as always I checked the road before even deciding what to do. There was no one coming for another 300m. So I decided to turn on the main road until the mud puddle ends. As it was a BIG ONE it took a little while to overtake. Now guess what the cars did when reaching behind me. Yeah, they started horning at me. Are you kidding? Are you blind? I am in the damn rain. Do you want me to go swimming with the bike or what? They do not have an extra 10sec to wait until I can turn back on the cycle lane, they need to let you know you are slowing them down for 10sec. Disappointing. Is that really how we see each other? An obstacle? An unconvenience? Even when you sit in your warm, dry car you cannot take that time to be a HUMAN.

I see patients after car accidents every single day. And 9/10 times it is because someone did not pay attention in the traffic. Either talking, texting, calling, changing songs. How many people need to suffer in pain, even get killed for us to take that extra time for each other, give way even if you don’t have to, let someone take a safe turn and not rush them. Those people I described are not just English, just foreigners, someone you don’t know. It is me, it’s you, your neighbour, your uncle and his best friend. It is US. Instead of pointing fingers, let’s just make a change starting with ourselves. Yes, we have rules in the traffic and sometimes slowing someone down can be dangerous as well. But I am not talking about motorways or highways here. I am talking about city traffic. All this  is preventable if everyone pays attention. It is a lot easier and safer to be prepared, be patient, be ready than just follow the rules, your eyes closed, braking at the very last minute, hit someone or make someone loose the control over the vehicle when trying to avoid the impact and situation YOU caused.

I am not trying to put the blame on just drivers. I can see passengers walking around their eyes in the phone, earphones on, rolling around in their own bubble all the time. Crossing the streets without even checking what’s going on, stepping on the road or cycle lanes without paying attention, stoping in the middle of the street without realising they block the whole way. Can we just please either leave those damn earphones home or put the volume on a level that if someone behind you addresses you or tries to get your attention it is POSSIBLE. I cannot even count all those times when as a cyclist I have almost hit a passenger when they think they are the kings and they can just either run across the street with red light, stop in the middle of the road, let their dog on a lead occupy the whole road, keep their nose in the phone while crossing streets or simply do not respond to the bell, your voice or anything. To be honest I don’t understand this earphone trend. Why people need to have them on max volume 24/7. Can we at least be a little bit  interactive when in traffic. Again, it’s only for everyone’s safety.

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And last but not least cyclists. They are not the angels either. Especially on roads with no cycle lanes I can see a lot how they are driving between cars, overtake them from the wrong side, think that traffic lights do not apply to them. Again if the driver cannot see you, the accidents are easy to happen. As a cyclist I always try to keep as close to the left side of the road as possible so all anxious and impatient drivers can pass. But I have seen impatient and anxious cyclists as well. They tend to cycle on the right side of the road so when a car wants to make a right turn and they do not look in the side mirror they cut the way of the cyclist. The only accident I have been here was with another cyclist. I was standing in the middle of the road trying to make a right turn. I held my hand up, as always. I saw a truck taking off 100m from me so I decided to take the turn before him. As I was pushing off and getting ready to turn another cyclist came from nowhere and cut my way. As I didn’t have a high speed I managed to brake but he didn’t. He drove right into me. Fortunately with a low speed as he managed to brake. He flew over his bike right in front of me. Apparently he did not see me standing in the middle of the road and didn’t pay attention when suddenly rushing behind the truck. In that case I took the full blame as by the rules he was in right. Could it have been avoided? 100%. Instead of going full speed between cars with limited view, slow down and be prepared that there might be a passenger, cyclist or another car behind the truck in the blind corner.

I admit I have made mistakes in traffic as well. But as I have been a cyclist, a passenger and a driver, I believe I can understand all 3 parties. I’m calling everyone up, cyclists, passengers and drivers to pay more attention to each other, take time to really see and listen to each other, be humans. We want to get home as soon as possible but most importantly we want to GET HOME SAFE. Let’s give everyone a chance to celebrate Christmas!

Happy first advent!

All about Manchester Christmas Markets- naughty and nice!

Reviews of 3 Christmas Markets in Manchester.

I have managed to visit 3 different Christmas markets this year in Manchester- Northern Greater Makers Market, Manchester Christmas Market and the Vegan Market.

The first of them all was the Northern Greater Makers Market. A small cosy market right by the main road in Deansgate. Main things they sell are crafts (which is amazing). I cannot say how much I enjoy walking around in crafts markets and shops getting inspired by creative people. This market I loved especially because I noticed so many things that were related to recycling, sustainability and nature. All the things I love and care about. You can find incredible gifts, ideas and ways to recycle.

From food side they had homemade cakes with 3 vegan options. I didn’t see anything else vegan, though, besides a street food truck. They also had different local cheeses, sausages and sweets. Unfortunately, from drinks alley they had only hard liquer, mainly gins and vodkas. And I am not fan of either of them. The bottles looked amazing, though! Great as a gift.

All the people in the market where so nice and didn’t mind me gadding about with a camera. They also didn’t mind giving me a little background about the products when asking. Made me feel like a part of a community.

The second market was the big Christmas Market on Albert Square. It has obviously bigger variety of shops and products which is not necessarily a good thing. As soon as you walked in, the smell of sausages was overwhelming. Made me super hungry but might be off-putting for vegetarians, for sure.

It was also busier so walking one way or the other took time as people tend to just stop in the middle of the road and…. I don’t know, enjoy their coffee? So it didn’t feel half as nice as the other one.

Another thing I noticed was that the shops where unorganised and you jumped from cheese to plates and from jewellery to sweets. Was a bit disturbing as I wasn’t really interested in any of the animal products. But it’s not the main issue for sure. But when really looking for something specific, can be confusing.

A super awesome surprise was to see that in every hot drink shop they were giving out mugs instead of plastic cups. How cool is that. You had to pay like 1-3 quid as a deposit, got it back before leaving the market and without all this unnecessary trash! Well done!

So when in the previous market everything was handmade and crafts then in this one I noticed at least 3-4 shops with some stupid Made-in-China crap (no offence). Why? Just why? There are so many awesome local companies and they let people to buy the space in the market to sell crap. Just why? Usually it has nothing even to do with Christmas. Just some cheap crap. That got me mad! Can people just try to not think only about money during this time of the year?!

Another odd thing I noticed was how many French, Dutch, German products were available compared to local, English stuff. Again… why? If I go abroad for Christmas and visit a market there I would expect and hope to buy something local. If I want to buy a German sausage, I will go to Germany. Okay?! Give me some British products, for god’s sake! Fortunately among all this… not so interesting stuff they also had some really nice local stuff- leather and wooden bowls/trays, wooden ties, clay mugs (which where very similar to the ones I got for my birthday!!!!), handmade jewellery, Manchester t-shirts, coasters and signs.

And last but not least Vegan Christmas Market. Unfortunately, that was only 1 weekend in Manchester but I believe there are similar ones on different weekends in other cities. Unlike the pervious 2, this one has an entrance fee of 3 pounds. Now, as I had to pay 3 quid, I went there to come back with some vegan cake. Now, guess what was the one thing I didn’t find.  Yep! Vegan damn cake!

It was in a hotel which means it was soooooooo crowded inside. It was almost impossible to move around free. As soon as you walked in, the crowds led you the way. You could find anything from homemade juice to vegan leather bags but no vegan chocolate cake. There were doughnuts and chcocolate, burgers and candies but no cake. Yeah, I was disappointed. I couldn’t really understand the idea of paying 3 quid to go to a market and buy a burger for another 7 quid that you had to eat there. Does that make sense to you?

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Well as I had already paid the 3 quid I decided to find at least couple of things that were worth the money. And something as close to the cake as possible. I found a body scrub with a smell of a dream, an organic cotton bag for washing the small items in the washing machine, 1 bottle of Jamaican juice and 2 doughnuts. Although everything was quite over priced I still think all the things I decided to buy were worth the price.

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As a regular customer in a health shop I know what vegan cheese costs and therefore also notice when it’s over priced. And man, how pricy everything was! Which again was disappointing as naive Hanna thought she’s going to find some good deals. However… there were some really nice things. Especially if you have the coin to spend! I was trying all the flavours of vegan cheese there was. It was just sooooo amazing. Unfortunately, my company already noticed that Christmas bonus will be 15 quid so I cannot really afford buying 8 quid cheese for 2 sandwiches. They also had some really nice homemade liquer. I am not really the fan of liquer, I am more like a cocktail kinda-girl.

I don’t have many pictures of it as people, for some reason, where not letting me take any. What? Why? I don’t know. Sometimes I simply just don’t get people. But who am I to judge.

There are many other Christmas markets around the town so you can check them out as well. I guess the message to take with is that be aware of the prices and make aware decisions. Know where your products are from and who they are produced. Spending a little more for a good cause is worth it. Especially during Christmas time. Merry Ch…Ch… Chr… yeah, I can’t, it’s still too soon. Merry Sunday! 😉