It’s Not Grim Up North: Street Life


“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.”

Banksy, Wall and Piece

I love taking photographs of street art and sharing them on Instagram (I’m over at embobs85 – come say hi!).

For me, its not just the walls which are  lovingly – and laboriously – created by ‘professional’ artists, or the meticulously thought-out murals, but the odd sticker, poster, tag, paving stone, street sign – anything that I consider to be interesting or beautiful. I’ve even been known to ask if its weird to photograph chewing-gum stuck on the street, or road markings, and stop my friends in their tracks when I spy an excellent painting on a shop shutter or road partition. Taking things too far? I dunno.

Now I am about as arty as a baked potato. I know next to nothing about the origins of street art or famous artists, but I have a firm appreciation of the stuff, and I think that’s what it’s all about, really. Appreciation. Art isn’t supposed to be elitist or snobbish, it’s supposed to be for everyone. Something we can enjoy and discuss together.

I’ve always been interested in street art, but the picture-taking started when I began travelling – and blogging, I suppose – way before the ‘big solo trip’ I took this year (although the various lanes and arcades of Melbourne and Sydney reinforced that love and are not to missed when planning a adventure there) but short trips to places like Cologne, Berlin, Brussels and, of course, the time I spent living in London – East London is a street art lovers haven!

With this is mind, I decided to spend an evening after work trawling the streets of my beloved Manchester, taking snaps of architecture, streets, alleys, monuments, graffiti, and unintentional street art that I think makes the city beautiful.

Of course, such hard-work must be rewarded by snaffling £1 soft tacos because it would be rude not to on Taco Tuesdays, especially when its my favourite Mexican eatery, El Capo, on Tarrif Street. Yum.

Take a look below and see if you agree. Art is everywhere you look in this amazing city.

It’s certainly #notgrimupnorth

Do you live in a city where art is everywhere? How do you feel about street art and graffiti? Do you think it adds to a places sense of self? Where is your favourite piece of street art? Let me know below. Or come find me over @EmmaYatesBadley or give me a like on Facebook. 


Face Your Fears #GetBrave

“I have to face the fear. I have to take control of the situation and find a way to make it less frightening.”

Veronica Roth, Divergent

I mentioned in my previous post how I am aiming to get all you lovely lot inspired, motivated, and feeling just a little bit like The Boss that you are. Yes you!

When life is extremely busy it’s easy to forget the things you really want. The bills have got to be paid, you have to eventually make time for sleep. But, really, we shouldn’t lose sight of what we really want.

For me, it’s writing.

Anyone who knows me is aware that my one great ambition is to be a writer.

I studied Creative Writing at university and I though that my life was on the right track to getting the career that I wanted.

[Life enters centre stage]

Life cares not for your plans and sometimes it throws so much stuff at us that we’re not quite sure how to deal with it anymore. My early twenties were, let’s just say, eventful. After the shock death of someone close to me straight after finishing university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do anymore and I certainly didn’t think that I could be a writer. My confidence was at an all-time low, my head was confused, I was lost, and it has taken me most of my twenties to come to terms with this loss, and to accept that life doesn’t always go the way we expect it to. My anxiety and self-doubt held me back in most areas of my life. My mentality was ‘if I don’t take a risk, I can’t get hurt, and I can’t lose anything, so nothing will change.’ Crazy, huh?

But look at this way: there’s a sort of beauty in not having everything all figured out.

With the impending thirtieth birthday lurking around the corner, I made the decision to go after my dreams *cheese* starting with the solo trip I took around New Zealand, Australia, Bali and Hong Kong at the beginning of the year. I’d always wanted to travel but I’d been too afraid to go it alone. Queue time to #getbrave and give it a little guts.

So, with this in mind, I’m aiming to honour that childhood dream of mine, stop being so negative, and give it a shot, because, who knows? It might actually work out.

I’ve told you how I have just written my first article for North West based magazine Northern Soul (check it out here) which saw me interviewing Caroline Steinbes, the director of a new version of The Crucible staged at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. The next interview was even more terrifying. Although I’m not going to mention any of the wonderful advice she shared with me here (you’ll have to read the article), I will tell you that it was the brilliant Kate Mosse, chair of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, and all round world-famous author. Gulp is an understatement.

With this new found gumption, I’m professing that we all decide to be a little bolder and #getbrave. Don’t get me wrong, its exhausting, what with temping, trying to find a copywriting job, and having time to do all the other things life demands of us, but it’s certainly worth it.

I’ve even decided to dust off the first draft for my young adult novel, and try and 1) finish it and 2) submit it by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Come on everyone, it’s time to face your fear.

Along with my #itsnotgrimupnorth series where I wax lyrical about all things Manchester, I’ve decided to start another new series on the blog! (Hurah, I hear you all cry) called #getbrave where I’m hoping I can get you lovely lot involved with sharing words of wisdom, tales of inspirations and ways to keep each other motivated.

Sometimes all people need is a little support, a chance to shine, or just someone to listen. Lets help each other out!

Like the sound of this? Visit me over at Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley or leave a message below with your pearls of wisdom.  


#Get Brave: A New Series on Emma Is Writing!

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

Jim Morrison

I am a firm believer that when life gives you lemons, you should find someone with a bottle of tequila and have a party.

Sometimes it can feel like you’re navigating your way through throngs of flesh-eating zombies baying for your blood, or wading through a big pit of quicksand in an attempt to reach said person, but still, you’ve got to try to get to the other side. That bottle of tequila can be yours if you just put in a bit of effort, perseverance and arm yourself with a sledgehammer in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Ours is in the kitchen. True story.

In the immortal words of Ronan Keating, “life is a rollercoaster” (apologies for getting that god-awful tune stuck in your noggin, it’s a stayer) and sometimes the downs are more prevalent than the ups, the person next to you wants to get the hell off, someone chucks up on you and for the majority of the ride you feel like screaming until your lungs might burst.

But take heart, the highs are worth the lows and the twisty, gut churning, mentalness that comes with the journey. Because if you didn’t try, what would life be? A ride on one of those slow trains that go round the theme park, just one continuous loop with the same scenery every day. Listening to the excited screams of the people brave enough to see the world from a different perspective.

We are all frightened of different things – personally its giant spiders, clowns – murderous or otherwise – horror films and dolls – and sometimes this fear prevents us from taking a leap of faith. Sometimes its complacency that holds us back. Sometimes it’s our relationships with other people. Sometimes it’s the relationship we have with ourselves where we don’t feel good enough or clever enough or brave enough.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I have suffered from anxiety in the past and, while I think I have a hold on this now, it’s quite a scary thing to have to deal with. My anxiety manifested itself in various different ways, but ultimately, it held me back from attempting to go after the things I wanted because I didn’t think I a) deserved them or b) could handle them.

I was terrified when I booked my tickets to New Zealand and Australia. How on earth was I going to cope? What did I think I was doing? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT ABOUT THE GIANT SPIDERS? But, oddly, the moment I handed over my credit card to pay was when I felt a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

For me, solo travel taught me to be brave, fearless and, despite its negative connotations I’m still going to say it, a little selfish. I will be TURNING THIRTY IN THREE WEEKS (runs off and hides under the table) and I am finally inspired – and brave – enough to go after the things I want, all guns blazing might I add!

It’s with this in mind that I am endeavouring to be more positive for myself and the others around me and, as cheesy as it sounds, to support those who find themselves a little bit lost, afraid, complacent, stagnant or stifled.

I believe we should inspire each other to be a little braver, to go after what we want and to learn that our happiness is both imperative and important.

How am I doing this?

I’m practicing what I preach. I’ve recently started writing for Northern Soul magazine (take a look, its fab) and have just completed an article which saw me carrying out my first interview and have just done a second this morning with A BLOODY BIG NAME AUTHOR (I was terrified the whole way through this one, not going to lie). I’m spending every waking minute writing things, applying for jobs where I can write things, completing assessments for jobs where I can write things, alongside a temp job I’ve managed to secure for a few weeks so, you know, I can actually afford to live.

So what am I proposing?

Along with my #itsnotgrimupnorth series where I wax lyrical about all things Manchester, I’ve decided to start another new series on the blog! (Hurah, I hear you all cry) called #getbrave where I’m hoping I can get you lovely lot involved with sharing words of wisdom, tales of inspirations and ways to keep each other motivated.

Sometimes all people need is a little support, a chance to shine, or just someone to listen. Lets help each other out!

Like the sound of this? Visit me over at Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley or leave a message below with your pearls of wisdom.  

Its Not Grim Up North: Have Some Pride

“This is Manchester. We do things differently here…”

Anthony H. Wilson

The dark nights are definitely drawing in. As I write this I’m decked out in my most wintery pair of pjs and nursing a hot chocolate, and my housemate is wrapped up in a blanket. Summer is most certainly over; it seems like it was never here at all, and the beautiful sunsets of Bali seem like a dream.

In between the prematurely autumnal evenings and the wet, grey days – where I’ve been spending my time temping in offices and dreaming of inspiring job vacancies to come and whisk me off my feet – a bit of summer made its way to Manchester last weekend.

The cobbled streets were filled with colour and glitter as Pride bought its fabulous arse to town.

So what is Pride?

Manchester Pride is an annual gay pride festival and parade held each summer in our fair city of Manchester. It’s one of the longest (and dare I say, best) – this year’s tagline is “25 years in the making” – and attracts a fair few thousand revellers. Most of the events take place on Canal Street – home to Manchester’s famous gay village – and you can buy paid-for wristbands for entry, but others, such as the parade can be watched and enjoyed by everyone for free!

Its currently ten days like (that’s a crazy long festival) and includes a ‘Pride Fringe’ boasting arts, music and cultural events all over Manchester as well as community events including poetry readings, quizzes and film showings, culminating in “The Big Weekend.” It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

A little history lesson.

The festival began in 1990 as a collection of bring-and-buy stalls outside a pub to champion gay rights. It has since expanded to a parade and festival, with a weekend of live music and a candlelit vigil to commemorate those who have died after contracting HIV, or are living with the condition.

Its been a few years since I’ve been able to join in the festivities but I’ve always had the best time hanging out with friends watching the parade and hitting Canal Street for dancing and cocktails afterwards.

This year we were a bit more refined, dragging ourselves from Stockport to the centre of town unsure if the heavens would open and the usual torrent of Manchester’s finest from the skies.

We were lucky enough to get some decent Intel from a friend of my housemates – and avid Pride attendee – and headed to the coveted ‘best spot’ to watch the parade go by.

Top tip: Deansgate not only has a brilliant atmosphere as people line the roads and wave flags, and children are hoisted on shoulders ready to watch the passing float, but its not as busy as watching it somewhere like the village. Its also at the beginning of the parade so you’re not standing around for a long time.

The parade set off down Deansgate from Liverpool Road, turning up Peter Street, on to Oxford Street, Portland Street and Princess Street.

Being overly eager, we got to our chosen spot early, and – being the British summertime – the wait became a pretty chilly one.

Tip: Be prepared for some serious noise courtesy of street vendors selling those little plastic whistles nearby!

By the time the parade started, we’d stop chastising ourselves for not wearing more layers, and the sound of music raised the excitement in the crowd and lifted our spirits.

First up was Burnley born Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen who worked the crowd in a very white suit. An active LGBT rights campaigner, and grand marshal of the event, McKellen is always the star attraction and certainly had a lot of energy as he headed up the parade.

**sorry about the poor quality of the pictures – the McKellan moves pretty quickly. I have more pictures but the man in front of me was a little over excited and the top of his head ended up in most of them**

My friend is a huge Ian McKellen fan and was super excited when he came close to us. He really does have the friendliest face and seemed to really be enjoying getting the crown involved.

The usual – and a very unusual – mix of floats followed suit including the fire brigade, banks, LGBT organisations, HIV charities, supermarkets, local radio stations, the NHS and – bizarrely – the pop band Scooch.

And then there’s my personal favourites – the incredibly beautiful Spartans Rugby Team, the Coronation Street float, and this year’s absolute star, the police service – and one rhythmic police inspector in general who has become a bit of an internet sensation thanks to her moves!

She was fab as she clapped along and swayed her hips, and the crowd absolutely loved her. You can read about this unlikely star on the Manchester Evening News website here.

I always find the parade quite emotional. It’s such an all-encompassing event, everybody from all walks of life stood shoulder to shoulder and celebrating diversity. I event felt myself welling up slightly, especially when the youth groups proudly waved their flags and walked passed nervously and when the police force marched proudly with the rainbow flags pinned to their chests.

So if lots of colour, fun and a cheeky sense of humour is your bag, and you want to support and raise awareness of a very important cause (the “big weekend” also culminates in a candle-lit vigil in memory of in which Sackville Gardens is turned into a sea of flickering candles as we take a minute to remember those we’ve lost to the HIV virus and join together to fight the epidemic worldwide. The Vigil is the spiritual heart of the Manchester Pride festival and there is a truly magical and moving atmosphere of quiet reflection in the gardens. Top tip: wristband not required but arrive early) then come have fun with us up north!

Oh, and don’t forget there are a whole heap of amazing eateries nearby to grab decently priced food. We headed to Almost Famous to stuff our faces with huge burgers. Delicious!

Have you ever been to Manchester Pride? Do you have any memories of the past 25 years of the festival? Have you been to an event recently that made you feel part of the community or left you feeling emotional or proud?

Thanks for reading this post and welcome back to my new #itsnotgrimupnorth series! Expect photos, tips and tales!

I’d really love to know what you think about the city and my posts.

Remember you can get in touch Twitter @EmmaYatesBadley, Facebook, or drop me an email ( Just look right for details.