Dan Roan, the Chief Sports Correspondent for BBC News, moved to Altrincham a couple of years ago to be close to the BBC Sport HQ at MediaCityUK. In the first of a regular new feature, he talks about his Altrincham.
My favourite pub
I have to say I haven’t yet found a pub that I would class as my favourite, so I’d like to nominate a bar instead: Mort Subite. I’ve been all over the world, from rooftop bars to the most well-known celebrity haunts, but it’s the most unique bar I’ve been to anywhere in the world.
When you descend those steps you’re transported back in time to this underground place that’s incredibly seductive and charming. If it was in London or even Manchester city centre it would be a household name and busy all the time.
The choice of drinks, passion and knowledge of the staff and its authenticity outguns any other bar I’ve been to.
My favourite restaurant
I haven’t as yet discovered an out and out classic, but a couple of places I really like are Danilo’s in Hale – a family-owned Italian with a great atmosphere – and Earle, which has never let me down.
My favourite coffee shop
I’d like to mention two runners-up first – The Little Deli Company is a really well run place, a great idea which shows a commitment to natural products. I like the fact it’s obviously doing well and has now branched out with Moose bar, and is exactly the kind of business we want in Altrincham.
The other place is quite new – Nourish, which does a fantastic breakfast and feels like a greasy spoon but is much better than that as the food is healthy.
But the winner for me is the Oxford Road Cafe – it’s the sort of place you get in much bigger places – the food is fantastic, great service, almost always busy and the nearest thing we have to a proper diner.
My favourite place for a walk
Dunham Massey. I moved here two and a half years ago and we’re there every week now. I run a lot – I did the Wilmslow Half Marathon earlier this year – and my standard run now takes in Dunham Massey. On a Saturday and Sunday morning before 9 it’s like a piece of paradise, and good for the soul after the amount of travelling I do most weeks. It’s always busy, I like the new development, and shows how popular National Trust properties cam be. It’s a fantastic asset for the area.
My favourite shop
The Traders Outlet, more than one shop but one place. You go in there and you can find things you don’t find anywhere else, genuinely authentic goods that make for good presents. You feel like the traders are part of what makes a community tick, and makes such a change from big stores. I like whole concept, and the fact that businesses that don’t want to get an entire shop can rent a space there. An incubator like that is just what Altrincham needs.
My favourite market stall
There are so many great stalls, but I would have to go for Farmer David Fryer, who runs the veg box. I got accosted by him one Sunday about what goes into his vegetables and I was just won over. He speaks with such passion and knowledge. I bought some of his vegetables and every two weeks he now delivers a big box of veg to our house, still covered in soil. My lad and I will clean them together. It’s transformed how I eat vegetables.
My favourite building
The market. It’s a wonderful building. What Nick Johnson is doing is magnificent, an absolute saviour for Altrincham, performing the role that the council should be. If anyone can save Altrincham it’s him. I’ve been to Christmas markets all over the world, but the Thursday nights in the lead-up to last Christmas were just special, a really unique blend of different elements all in a fantastic building. I wish him all the best, and I tell people at work all the time to go.
In London I used to go to Borough Market but I have to be honest, nothing beats Altrincham Market, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t become famous just for its market. I also hope that it means the businesses around it can thrive, like Pi bar.
My bugbear about Altrincham
There’s two. The empty retail outlets are shocking – I cannot understand it. There are so many around here with a bit of cash, and it’s one of the biggest anomalies I’ve encountered. Before sport I was in business journalism, but this is the one I cannot explain. Something has to be done. How sad it was as well to learn about the closure of the Beatnik shop.
The other one is the bins not being emptied enough. In Stamford Park for example, it’s just got a lovely new pond but the bins are often overflowing. I know there is a Friends of Stamford Park group that does great work but it would be tragic if it was not looked after more.
My hopes for the future of Altrincham
I just hope that local people support the local businesses, not just take the easy option and go to the big supermarkets. There are some great enterprises – take Goose Green, there are some fantastic places there. I just hope the regeneration continues, I don’t know why we shouldn’t be any different to Wilmslow or Knutsford, and I don’t see nearly as many empty shops there. But we are more real, a proper town, and people need to really think about how how we can help our town.
The best thing about Altrincham
This may sound a bit leftfield, but I would have to say Red House Farm. It’s brilliantly run by a guy called Jonny Hewitt, and a good example of a growing business that has diversified and thinks outside the box.
It’s one of the places that has made Altrincham feel like home so quickly, making it special and a lovely place to come back to from wherever I’ve been in the world. I live in between Altrincham and Hale, so I’m close to everything.
Apart from that, it’s the place’s charm, the fact it’s so well connected, and the great schools.