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The mysterious tale of the parrots of South Manchester

Have you ever seen them?

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Did you know that south Manchester is home to a large flock of parrots that you would typically find in India?

It’s safe to say Manchester’s most famous wildlife is probably crowds and crowds of grey pigeons, but surprisingly, tucked away in the green parks of south Manchester you will actually find the UK’s only naturalised parrot, the parakeet.

The UK’s population of parakeets has been steadily increasing since the ’70s and you can find the bulk of them in London, but there are at least 1,000 in Manchester. 

They’ve made permanent homes in Alexandra Park, Birchfields Park and Platt Fields Park and are not frightened of the other birds, or even humans. 

Credit: Pete Hines, Youtube

Unfortunately, our native ones can’t talk. But they are noisy little birds that you’ll probably hear before you see, despite them being an almost luminescent shade of green.

They’re pretty adept birds, overcoming anything that Fallowfield might throw at them, from urbanisation to house parties and even never-ending rain. In fact, they have become an invasive species in the area, posing a threat to all other wildlife.

So where did they come from? Well, there are a few rumours flying around.

Credit: Pete Hines/YouTube

One of the most popular theories is they all came from the filming of The African Queen. The film, which finished filming in the early 50s, required parakeets, you know, for authenticity – making London look exactly like Africa or whatever.

Once filming finished, ‘little green parrots’ began arriving in local gardens and popping up here, there and everywhere.

Perhaps they couldn’t be bothered taking them back to their native land and instead let them free in London. The story goes that they bred like wildfire and moved across the UK in every direction. A pretty long flight for a bird the size of a ruler.

Credit: Pete Hines/YouTube

Other stories feature Jimi Hendrix, thanking him for releasing a single pair of parakeets on Carnaby Street back in 1968.

It’s unlikely that those two little love birds created 30,000 parakeets all over the UK in just 60 years, though.

Credit: Wilmslow Birders 1

So then we turn to the students of Fallowfield. One bloke, who was after a bit of extra cash to successfully enjoy his uni days, turned to breeding parakeets. Let’s face it, we’ve all thought about doing it. Rumour has it, his flatmates got sick of their house being full of parrots so let them all out.

So was it Jimi Hendrix, a 1950s film or a Manchester Uni student that released all the parrots?

Credit: Wilmslow Birders 1

Well according to Jamie Dunning, a research student, Manchester’s population of parakeets are born and bred Mancunian, which means they definitely came from Manchester, completely independent from any of those found in London. But no one really knows how exactly they got here.

The most sensible conclusion zoologists have come to is that they were caused by either accidental or purposeful release of pets.

Parakeets are the third most popular pet in the entire world after cats and dogs so it does make sense that a few might escape their cages and brave the big bad world that is Alexandra Park. 

Credit: Wilmslow Birders 1

So put it on your list of things to do when the lockdown is over, or take the kids to the park on your daily walk to hunt for the parrots! 

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If you’re having really weird dreams this lockdown here’s why

(Don’t worry, you’re not the only one)

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Matthew Henry / Unsplash

If you’re finding yourself having super weird dreams and actually being able to remember them in the morning, don’t panic, you’re not alone.

Tonnes of people across the country have been reporting the exact same thing during lockdown. Luckily a scientist has given us a clever explanation that will calm down all our fears that self-isolation might be getting to us.

There are a lot of contributing factors that stem from being in lockdown that are changing our dream patterns. One of the biggest one is increased stress and anxiety levels due to the uncertainty of the world right now.

Credit: Stephen Oliver / Unsplash

Many, in fact, most people are finding themselves with financial worries and pressures like never before.

Cabin fever is also a huge factor to our unconscious thinking patterns and a lot of people are having dreams of being stuck, whether that formulates as a room with no doors or a shipwreck you’re stuck on – it all comes down to a feeling of being stuck inside. Which is pretty self explanatory.

We’re all also spending more time than ever with the same few people which will be having an effect on your dreams.

Other reasoning comes down to the fact that our homes are physically warmer because we’re all in it, potentially with the heating on. When we’re asleep and warm we have more vivid dreams.

Credit: Kate Stone Matheson / Unsplash

Some people’s dreams might not be that spectacular – finding themselves down the local having a frosty pint of their favourite beer (which does actually sound spectacular tbh) – and that’s completely fine too.

Life has become monotonous, what with ‘going to work’ including rolling out of bed and walking the 10 steps to the dining table. Basically we’re just missing normality and craving the things we would do in an average week.

There’s even a reason as to why we’re all remembering our dreams like they’re a blockbuster movie too.

Credit: Damir Spanic / Unsplash

As we’re all having a little lie-in in the morning, with some of us not even setting an alarm, we can move into that REM sleep.

While we’re in REM sleep our brains are more active, dreams get longer and more vivid. With our alarms not going off, we stay in this type of sleep for longer, dreams extend, get weirder and we can then remember them when we get up.

So whatever your dreams involve, you’re not crazy just isolated!! Keep dreaming kids!

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Feature

Who remembers Manchester’s hugely popular Granada Studios Tour?

Ahh the memories…

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cantwont & Markus Schroeder/Flickr

It was Manchester’s answer to Universal Studios, but with the Coronation Street set…

After a successful decade-long run of providing fun for Manchester, the demise of the Granada Studio Tour began after visitor numbers dwindled – meaning the tour sadly shut up shop for one last time.

One of the biggest reasons as to why can be put down to poor businesses practises at ITV, which saw the company lose millions.

The main culprit was the Sky-like service called ‘ONDigital’, which launched in 1998 and was forced into administration just four short years later.

Granada Studios Tour, Manchester
davekpcv / Flickr

It was pretty much the exact same concept as Sky, only the exclusive shows were essentially rubbish and the whole thing flopped.

At this point the Granada Studios Tour was seen as a large and unnecessary expense, and unfortunately closed down.

The tour was the brainchild of Granada producer David Plowright, who proposed to create a ‘Hollywood-on-the-Irwell‘ – and that he did. Sort of, anyway.

The tour first opened its doors in 1988, expecting to welcome 250,000 in the first year, but in the initial eight months alone 600,000 people visited to take in the sights.

Arguably the most popular attraction was the Coronation Street set which in 2013 moved to MediaCity, built on an even bigger scale with the chance to go inside too!

In 2018 Victoria Street was added, which features a garden and memorial bench paying tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing 22 victims and Coronation Street super fan Martyn Hett.

The old Granada Studios Tour might not have been the bright lights of LA or Hollywood, but you don’t get much more Mancunian than that cobbled street! 

What are your favourite memories of the tour? 

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From pet shops to sex shops: how Manchester’s Northern Quarter has transformed over the years

The best place in Manchester?

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Finest Media

This quarter of the city centre has seen it all! 

The Northern Quarter is Manchester’s Indie haven, where you’ll find everything you need and plenty of stuff you don’t need but definitely want. And the best bit is that it’s almost entirely independent! 

In the early 1970s the area that we now know as the Northern Quarter was massively suffering with neglect, impacted greatly by the opening of the massive corporate shopping centre, the Arndale. 

The NQ quickly lost all appeal and viability as the shopping destination it had been prior. The famous pet shops of Tib Street disappeared altogether – apart from just one surviving at the very top of the road that is still open today.

By the late ’70s the area was pretty much derelict and mostly residential thanks to the new housing estate near Smithfield Market. The old warehouses from the Industrial Revolution became the perfect occupancy for large, cheap storage for clothing and textile wholesalers.

Things stayed much the same for a few years until the ’80s saw a little spark ignite with the opening of Affleck’s palace. A one-stop-shop for all things boutique and independent, Affleck’s Palace became a destination with people flocking from all over to get involved at the new local market for artists. 

Around this time creatives began to flood the area again and those large spaces became studios and practice rooms for the likes of musicians and inventors.

A few boozers worked through the night to keep those in the area from going thirsty and hungry with plenty of cheap ales at the likes of The Millstone, Koffee Pot and Mother Macs – as well as This & That providing a much needed Rice & Three.

Manchester City Council commissioned the regeneration of the NQ in 1993, and Urban Splash moved in and set to work on redeveloping the area, turning it into a residential neighbourhood. If people live here, businesses open – or so the theory goes.

It turns out the theory was correct! The ’90s was a big moment for the NQ, cheap rent tempted just about everybody and as people moved in so did the businesses.

The public started to champion independents again and the plan, overall, was a great success.

Not everyone is quite so positive about the progress that happened to the area though.

Gentrification can often be described as the killer of culture and soul of an area, and people who once lived there are priced out. The NQ in particular is now a ‘party hot spot’ where rent has increased by 40%, and more and more plots of land are being sold to big time investors to create luxury flats that will likely become Airbnb’s.

But it’s not all bad, the Northern Quarter is a haven for artwork, there are parrots on the walls, poets on the floors and ever-changing graffiti that even has entire tours dedicated to it.

And there are still independents to shop at, dine in, drink dry and dance on the tables of.

There is no denying that the NQ is still the place to be – Ancoats might have reached worldly heights but the NQ has the Castle, the Millstone, newbies like Federal, Another Heart to Feed and Feel Good Club, shops like Noma, Blue Rinse and plenty more that keep it the bustling spot all the cool kids hang out.

Even as more and more areas see regeneration, the NQ still comes through with that star quality that some areas will just never have.

You can follow NQmanchester for daily updates on going’s on in the area!  

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