Every January 25th, Scots all over the world celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns. You will have heard rumblings of some of the Burns supper traditions such as the pipers, the Haggis served with neeps and tatties, and of course…the Whisky!
Have your Haggis and eat it (even if you are Vegan!)
The jewel in the crown of any Burns Supper is the Haggis. A delightful Scottish delicacy made from grains, spices and the innards of farm animals. (Hey waste not want not!). Serve it with Neeps (parsnips) and Tatties (roast potatoes) and lashings of whisky sauce. Even those of you who are doing your bit for animal welfare via Veganuary can join in, as we hear 8th Day in Manchester does a nice vegan haggis. If you don’t fancy the idea of midweek cooking, then just take yourself out to one Manchester’s fine restaurants. The Old Wellington have some fabulous Burns night themed offerings all week 22-28th January.
Read Poetry to your Sweetheart (or friends)
If you are feeling a bit romantic (and want a cheap way to impress your date) why not light some candles, pour your date a drink and read poetry whilst looking deep into their eyes. (Try not to laugh.) We suggest the old favourite My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose. Aww!
Of course, literary-loving singles can still have a fun night in with friends. Why not organise a Burns Supper potluck support, whip up some Whisky cocktails and read poetry around a fire. If you want to get traditional, download some scottish pipe music onto your iphone and ‘play in the Haggis’ (or whatever your mates have decided to bring.)
Engage in a bit of Banter.
One of the lesser known traditions of the toast of the lassies, where selected lines of Burn’s poetry are read out to gently poke fun at the ladies within the room. Then the ladies get their bittersweet revenge in the Lassies Reply. Given this tradition is likely to land you in hot water, we suggest you leave the humorous banter to the professionals and get yourself to a midweek Comedy Night at one of Manchester’s finest Comedy Clubs.
Of course, the more traditional amongst you may want to join in with the ever popular Social Circle tradition of ‘Gate Crashing the Boss’ where we all arrive at the home of Steve Sutherland (a genuine Scot), laugh and make merry, and break into his Whisky collection when he is not looking.
Get tipsy at Manchester’s Best Whisky Bars.
No Burns night is complete without enjoying a ‘wee dram’ of ‘Scotch.’ Whether blended or straight, connoisseurs will know that the water, grains and barrels gives each region’s local Whisky a unique quality. If you want to learn a few fun facts about Whisky and sample a few drams (careful now!) then join us at one of Manchester’s oldest and best known whisky bars, the Britons Protection for a burns night-ish themed evening, with a focus on the whisky.
Book yourself a Road Trip.
We find one night is not enough to appreciate all that the Highlands has to offer. We are offering Manchester-based singles an amazing opportunity to complete a 500 mile road trip through bonny Scotland to discover her beauty and history. Visit tranquil beaches, rugged mountains and the most breathtaking views with like-minded people and relax and unwind as the scenic beauty, magical sights and ancient history soothes your soul.
January! The dark nights, terrible weather and the fact payday is a long way away can really drag the most cheery of folks down. Not to mention, the excesses of the Christmas season finally catch up on us. Today, Monday the 15th January is officially Blue Monday. But don’t let that get you down. Fortunately, we have rounded up the best ways to put the spring back in your step.
Look after No. 1
If you are anything like us, you probably look as terrible as you feel. The best way to feel better is to start from the inside. Ensure you get your 7 hours of sleep a night, drink plenty of water and green tea, and eat healthy home-cooked food. If your cooking skills are lacking, why not join us at a Masterclass and learn how to cook up a storm?
Giving yourself a good old pamper will also lift your spirits. (Yes, gents you too!) Whether it is a long soak in the tub or a massage, being gentle with yourself will have you back on the road to recovery in no time.
Science says that a big hearty belly laugh is actually good for you. Laughing floods your your system with feel-good hormones that reduce your stress levels and help you beat off the seasonal coughs and flu.
If you are feeling so low that you feel you lost your sense of humour, then go out to a comedy club. Studies show that laughing is contagious so before long you will be laughing so hard your ribs will hurt, and any stress will melt away.
There is a wealth of research to suggest that planning and anticipating your next holiday is as good for you as actually going on one. Whilst your post-Christmas budget may be tighter than your post-Christmas jeans, it is surprisingly easy and affordable to plan a European getaway. So within a few weeks you could be exploring the best Europe has to offer. Now your in-tray does not appear as bad does it?
Did you know Social Circle loves organising exciting weekend breaks? We know it can be a pain organising everything or even travelling alone. So now you can have a great time exploring new cities with other Manchester-based singles knowing every detail is planned (we even source the best pubs and clubs!). Best of all, our breaks start from as little as £75!
Rather hide under the duvet, than head to the gym?
It’s that time of year again. That dreaded time where we stand naked in a cold bathroom and stare at the scales in utter disbelief. We all know the importance of keeping fit and healthy. If your doctor has not recommended you lose a few pounds, then the endless stream of media telling you that weight loss will make you irresistible/an internet celebrity/immortal* will probably have burned itself to the inside of your eyelids.
Admit it. You hate the gym. You would rather gnaw off your own arms off than lift weights, and you cannot see the appeal of pounding the hours away alone on a treadmill.
Fortunately, there are numerous gym-free ways of exercising in Manchester that are so fun you may actually enjoy yourself.
Get some Action on a Night Out.
Not that kind of action! We are talking about bringing a bit of sporting fun to your weekly social with friends. You can burn 68 calories** playing a crazy golf for half an hour at places like Junkyard Golf. Hit the bowling alley to lose 100 cals over a few rounds, and tone up those bingo wings at the same time. Just swap the usual beers and nachos for healthier alternatives m’kay.
Strictly Come Dancing.
If you enjoy Strictly then you may secretly harbour ambitions to get on the dance floor yourself. We do. There are lots of dance classes popping up around Manchester where friendly teachers will show you a few smooth moves and let you work up a sweat and meet new people on the dance floor.(197 cals per half hour to be precise) The good news is you can bring a friend and grab a (low calorie) drink at the same time. Those of you who love salsa should join us for a free class.
Appeal to your Adventurous Side.
If you have always wanted to try more adventurous sports, there are some great places in Manchester to learn the basics. You can try Kayaking (186 cals) or Wakeboarding (223 cals) at the Helly Henson Watersports Centre in Salford. There are indoor rock climbing facilities that can literally show you the ropes whilst you burn off 298 cals. In Trafford Parks Chill Factore you can learn the basics of Skiing and Snowboarding (up to 298 cals) and go shopping (130 cals!) for your new clothes afterwards.
Walk the Weight Off.
Walking is free, and you can already do it! Even better is that it is recommended by medical professionals due its extensive benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes to improving mental health. Make time in your diary for a 20-30 minute brisk walk (83 cals for 30 mins) even if it is just around the block at lunch time. If you fancy more of a challenge, and want take in some great scenery, why not join us on a hike? You can burn a whopping 225 cals every 30 minutes which means you can enjoy Sunday lunch with new friends knowing you haven’t ruined your diet.
Pay-As-You Go Fitness
Ok. We admit it. This is slightly gym-like but group exercise can be a great way to work out and meet like-minded people. In Manchester, you can find everything from Ashtanga Yoga (176 cals) to Zumba (350 cals) available on your doorstep where you can join in with zero commitment, so you could try something different each week until you find a class that suits you.
Psst, on a budget? Did you know if you cut out a latte and a shop-bought sandwich per week you could not only save a whopping 500 cals per week, you would have enough spare change to go to a class. If you want to try over 150 leisure activities including gym-free fitness for less than a fiver per week. Click here.
*Slight exaggeration, but it feels that way.
**Cals based on 150lb person for 30 minutes of exercise. You may burn more or less than this, but it’s all good.
Whilst we may collectively roll our eyes at every ‘New Year, New Me’ pledge that we see on Social Media, there is something about a new year that inspires us to take action to become better people.
Whether we want to get fit and healthy, super-charge our dating life by meeting new people or save more, the future vision of a happier version of ourselves can lure us into making resolutions. Of course, there is also the temptation of parting with your hard-earned cash to join in the latest wonder diet/dating site/get rich-quick scheme. Yet research shows that only 8% will actually stick to their resolutions.
So let us show you how you can make 2018 your best-ever year, with our tried-and-tested approach.
Take a good hard look at your life.
Eeek! Whilst this sounds ominous, it is not as scary as it sounds. This is about figuring out where you want to be, and knowing where you are now. An annual appraisal of your life, if you like. We suggest you break down the areas of your life into sections such as career, finances, health and fitness, hobbies, your everyday environment, your social life, relationships and personal development. Now rate your happiness in each of those areas with 1 being extremely unhappy to 10 being ultimate happiness. It helps if you write a few lines which describe what life in each is like now, and what your 10/10 life would look like, e.g.
The Vision: I am in a happy and loving relationship with someone who has a good sense of humour and loves local history and hiking as much as I do.
Now: I am single and have not had much luck with dating sites. I would like to get out more but my friends don’t share my interests. 3 out of 10.
There are two reasons we suggest this approach. Firstly, creating a vision for your future is key to success. Secondly, aiming to improve your happiness score in each area is likely to give you a realistic goal to focus on. Even if reaching your ultimate goal takes longer than a year, a small increase in satisfaction in an area will give you a lasting sense of achievement.
Prioritise Your Goals.
Now you have completed your Life Appraisal it is time to look at which areas to focus on. The reality is that you don’t have an infinite amount of time or money to spend chasing your dream life. Instead, look at the areas that are causing you the most unhappiness and commit to focusing on those areas first.
Well put simply, because if certain aspects of your life are making you miserable then ultimately it will drain your energy away from your resolutions. You will not feel like hitting the gym if your finances are keeping you awake at night. You will bore potential dates if you give them a 20 minute monologue of reasons you hate your boss. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day will not help you feel better about the damp-encrusted flat you are living in.
Even if you are happy with life overall, choosing no more than three areas to focus on will take the pressure off you. Your life is not a complete disaster, and you are perfectly lovely the way that you are. Just focus on a few areas of your life where you really want to see a difference. Remember, committing to a resolution is about a better and happier life for YOU. So there is no need to go for broke on this ‘New Me’ malarkey.
If you are clever about it, you may even find creative ways of working on multiple goals at the same time. For example, if you want to save cash, and meet new like-minded people then you may want to look at how to enjoy 150 social and leisure activities in Manchester every month for as little as £19.99 a month
Build Good Habits.
Now you have the areas of life you want to work on, and your vision for the future, you need to put in place some habits that you can build into your life and commit to. It is the small changes to everyday habits that lead to success, rather than relying on willpower alone. So instead of challenging yourself to ‘lose a stone in a fortnight’, why not commit to exercising 3 times a week and put it in your diary. If you want to travel more then work out a budget and commit to putting money aside every week so you can afford some fun weekends away. Before you know it, you will have reached your goal and developed the habits to make it a change that lasts a lifetime. Sounds like a good plan to us.
So let’s look back at our lovelorn hiker. What good habits could they put in place?
Go on weekly local history walks and countryside hikes to meet new people.
Go to Comedy Nights in Manchester at least twice a month. I may stand a better chance of finding the love of my life if we are laughing at the same jokes!
Join Social Circle so I can plan the weeks social activities from my phone (and take advantage of the introductory offer-yippee)
If you take this approach to building your dream life, we can guarantee that in January 2019 you will be happier and more fulfilled than you are now. So what areas of your life will you be working on in 2018? Do tell us and share your goals in the comment box below.
When we sat down in February of this year to decide whether or not it was time for a new website, we agreed that the first step would be to ask our members for their feedback.
After our members told us what they want (what they, really, really want!), the verdict was clear: they wanted a new website.
After a few months of planning, development, excitement, and okay, yes,…frustration, the time has finally come for us to launch the new Social Circle website.
One of the things we wanted to accomplish was to better tell the story of Social Circle and what we stand for, as well as demonstrate what our members get out of being a part of the Social Circle family.
We hope you like how it looks, seeing as we designed it with you in mind. We designed the site so that it is simple to navigate and organised the content to make it more accessible. We were going for ‘modern and forward-thinking’; we have achieved just that. You will find all features fully compatible with smart phones and tablets, enabling you to stay in touch with us while on the go.
You may have also noticed our new logo. That’s because we haven’t simply redesigned our website, but rebranded the Social Circle identity. Entering our second decade in business, we decided to reevaluate our message and ensure that it reaches both our members and prospective members in an ever-evolving market.
We also made the change with one eye on the corporate market to introduce Social Circle into the workplace. We are also planning on turning social Circle into a franchise in the near future. So, as you can see, a new brand identity was imperative for us at this moment in time.
Just because we have a new look, don’t think we’ve lost sight of who we are. In fact, we’ve streamlined our message after 10 years of getting to know our members. We still have that family feel and we’re still Manchester’s Premium Social Network: don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise 😉
Take some time to get used to our new website; be sure to add us to your bookmarks and check our calendar page and blog for updates, regularly.
It isn’t simply a new look we’re talking about here. We have added new features and improved upon old ones. And we’re not ashamed to say that we’re proud of our achievement.
Our videos and photo galleries are more seamlessly integrated with the navigation and more easily accessible, instead of sitting at the bottom as separate areas of the site. Videos are now categorised too, so you can choose to see footage of events, testimonials, or whatever it is you’re looking for.
We understand that it can be hard to find what you’re looking for at a glance when you’re looking at an event calendar with over 150 events. We have remedied that by making events easier to find on our brand new events category pages. Events themselves now feature all of the key information in a concise and cleanly presented fashion right at the top of the event. July is our biggest ever calendar, by the way; and we have more free events than ever: 70% of the events we offer in July are available at no cost to members. The range of events are as diverse as ever too, with choices ranging from cinema and comedy to Chester races and canoeing.Don’t forget, of course, to browse the new home page. The home page is made up of various sections, encompassing text, images, and video. We have laid out the various sections to tell the story of Social Circle, with the “about us” page taking the visitor a step further on that journey.
Are you letting machines take over your life? Find out what to do about it.
Many of you will have seen (or perhaps heard) the famous Einstein quote on technology.
As the genius’s prediction has proven to be fairly accurate thus far, it may appear all doom and gloom for the future of Manchester socialising. But is there hope? Hmmm…maybe!
The irony is that you probably saw that very quote on your Facebook timeline while scrolling on your mobile phone, ignoring your friends in the same room who were sat right next to you doing the exact same thing.
Einstein’s “Idiots” comment may seem harsh, but then who am I to tell Einstein who is or isn’t a idiot?
“I think social media has made us more connected, but made the connection more superficial. Facebook allows you to stay updated on the lives of your childhood friends or your neighbours from years past, but there’s a difference between being updated and being intimate. Instead of spending time making real-world connections, people spend their time on social media, and that leads to them feeling less connected overall”.
Of course, it isn’t just our social lives that have been dominated by technology. Many aspects of our daily routine have fallen foul to the machine.
Even exercise has been made convenient, thanks to the Wii. Now we can even play tennis without leaving home (15-love to technology).
Think back to those occasions when we played board games with family and friends, and dare I say it, even visited the outside world once in a while.
Now video games rule, as we often spend time interacting with people whom we never see (except, of course, if we add them as a “friend” on Facebook, in which case, we at least get to see their face).
Does our social life in Manchester now consist of taking a selfie on the way home and posting it online so our other Manchester friends can comment on it? Did you just embarrass yourself online?
It could be argued that social media makes life easier. And in some ways, that’s true: you don’t need to bother putting on your new dress for a night of socialising in Manchester. Instead, you can simply opt for pyjamas and ice-cream.
However, it isn’t as relaxing as all that. Studies have shown that we get anxious as to how we present ourselves through social media.
“Will they think I’m weird if I post this?”.
“Oh no, I’d better delete that comment on Sarah’s photo, she may take it the wrong way”.
“I want to show off my bikini body to my friends but what will my boss think?”.
And then, of course, there is the dreaded ‘seen’ tick, which indicates when your message has been read. It’s only dreaded, of course, when that person hasn’t replied immediately. And I do mean immediately. If they haven’t replied within seconds, is it that we have typed something utterly ridiculous? “Oh no, what if they don’t reply?”.
And what about those who we have sent a friend request to? Anxiety over who is and who isn’t following you back can lead to awkwardness the next time we meet them in real life.
In some cases, the visibility of our thoughts and feelings on social media can cause yet more social tension. We sometimes find ourselves shocked at our friend’s political, or even sporting, alliances, and are at that point, somewhat less inclined to want to socialise with them. Whereas, in an actual conversation, perhaps we would take the time to listen and better understand their view.
When exactly did our social lives get sucked into cyberspace?
Remember Friends United? How about MySpace? Well, Facebook arrived in 2004, combining the strengths of those two platforms and has dominated social media ever since.
Twitter made its debut in 2006 for those with short attention spans, and Instagram took the concept of “selfie” to a whole new level.
With FourSquare, Snapchat, and countless other social media phenomenons seeming to be cropping up all of the time, the opportunity to socialise online is greater than it has ever been.
Slaves to media
What is the difference between your Manchester social life and social media? It’s media, of course. Doh! And media has been ruling our attention long before Facebook.
After all, we live in a media-driven world. Think about it? What do you talk about with your friends? What happened in Corrie the night before? How about Eastenders? And now, it seems that reality TV has taken over much of our media consumption.
social media is to socialising as reality TV is to reality.
“Our society today is not moving around anymore. We live in a box life – box breakfast, box car, box office, box lunch, box music, type and message in a box and then finally go home to your box house and watch the box TV.” Tony Robbins
Think back to those moments in your life you treasure the most. Were those moments shared with friends and family or were they at home updating your Facebook status?
Now think about that night you spent at home with your mobile device and a microwave meal for one. Sure, it was easy. But it’s probably a night you will forget in a hurry.
What do we have to talk about any more at work on Monday morning? You know what David had for dinner and you have seen all of Rachel’s holiday snaps. And there’s no point in bringing them up in conversation because you already did that when you commented on them on Facebook.
A 2013 study published by the Public Library of Science, conducted by Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan and Philippe Verduyn of Leuven University in Belgium, revealed that the more time someone spends on Facebook, the less satisfaction that person has with life.
An article from The Economist commented on the findings:
“Those who used Facebook a lot were more likely to report a decline in satisfaction than those who visited the site infrequently. In contrast, there was a positive association between the amount of direct social contact a volunteer had and how positive he felt. In other words, the more volunteers socialised in the real world, the more positive they reported feeling the next time they filled in the questionnaire”.
A separate study conducted by strategic insight agency Opinium revealed that one in five people said they felt depressed when seeing their friends’ lives on social media.
The alarming statistic equates to 6.9 million people constantly comparing themselves to their friends’ posts, and presenting their own lives through frequent updates.
How does social media affect your social skills?
If, as the study revealed, your mood is adversely affected by an overdose of social media, it’s hard to be at your best, socially.
As a socially awkward generation, it may then be time to think about updating our social skills, rather than our social status.
Stephen Sutherland, founder of Manchester’s social and adventure network, Social Circle, has seen how the advent of social media has affected socialising in Manchester and has vowed to ensure we don’t lose grip on our social reality altogether.
“It’s harder than it once was to reach out to people, as more and more have opted for a lifestyle of TV and Facebook. I repeatedly push the message that we only have one life and that we need to live it to the full”.
It’s not all bad, however, as Social Circle has an increasing membership base, with more and more people looking to inject some zest into their social life; a possible sign of a backlash to an online world.
“I think we’re already seeing a movement of people wanting to experience more in-person connections and distance themselves from social media. I’ve read about “unplugging” camps where people pay money to live in a cabin for a few days without any access to digital devices, or social events where people are required to leave their phones behind. It’s still in the early stages, but as people become more and more aware of some of the downsides of the digital age, they’ll discover new ways of reconnecting with each other”.
So, is social media all bad?
The next time you meet someone, and they say ‘Find me on Facebook’, why not ask for their number instead? Go on, I dare you!
Social media a useful tool. It’s a great way to reconnect with old friends. It’s an easy way to create events and arrange get-togethers. And it’s far easier to keep in touch with friends and family living on the other side of the world. Rewind about 20 years, and the choice was either to send a message by the painfully slow snail mail system or commit your life savings to British Telecom.
But like any other technology, it makes us lazy. And when it comes to less socialising, that presents a real danger.
“I think people need offline opportunities to connect with each other. There’s no substitute for face-to-face time with another human being. But we need to go beyond just bringing people together. In chemistry, there’s this idea of a catalyst, which is a substance that facilitates a chemical reaction. We need to find the catalysts that facilitate human connection — look for the experiences or activities that bring people together, and invite people into them. In other words, we need to ask “Can we discover (or rediscover) the activities that bring people together, or the experiences that connect people when they are shared?” The more we discover and spread connection catalysts, the more we will be able to combat the superficiality of social media and truly bring people closer together”.
If you’re struggling to make new Manchester friends, the gentleman in the video shares some useful tips. Of course, he doesn’t facilitate a way for you to meet people but there are a few interesting points, nevertheless.
To summarise, he advises:
1. Spend time around people – if you isolate yourself, you can’t make new friends. Be social like going to a sporting event, visiting a coffee shop, go to a bar.
2. Join a club, group, or organization – you’ll meet like-minded people
3. Volunteer – do something good for the community while building a bond and camaraderie with those around you
4. Start conversations – talk to everybody! Sometimes the conversations will stick, thus a friendship is started.
5. Small talk – Small Talk Skills
6. Reintroduce yourself at the end of a conversation – get that name to stick!
7. Accept every invitation
8. Ask other people to do things – push yourself outside of your comfort zone and ask others to do things like lunch, coffee, drink, see a concert
9. Keep your friend – be a good friend by listening, being loyal, being trustworthy, being reliable, being yourself
All good ideas. But starting a conversation and stepping outside of your comfort zone are great if you have opportunities around you that enable you to that. No. 2 is great because it enables you to meet numerous people. But specialist groups tend to be very small and not everyone is there to meet people but just to enjoy a certain activity. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re limited to the friends you can make because the activity you’re involved in involves only a few people.
At Social Circle, we feature over 150 opportunities each and every month for you to step out of your comfort zone and start conversations with people you have never met before. And every single person who attends an event with us is doing so with the intention of meeting new people. Click here to try an event with us for free and start meeting some new Manchester friends today.
‘Strategy’, like sales, marketing etc. is one of those buzzwords that we associate with business. But when you think about it, businesses are a lot like people. We need to grow and learn from our mistakes, promote ourselves by how we look and through our interactions, and sell our ideas to people. Even if you’ve convincing your best friend to go to a specific bar at the weekend, you’re selling them on the idea of going to that specific bar. But what we sometimes forget is our overall strategy to be successful in life. The fact is that every area of our life needs a strategy. And our social life is no exception. So what is your strategy for your Manchester social life?
Firstly, look at your circle of friends and ask yourself how many you see on a regular basis? Do you see, and enjoy social nights and activities, with them frequently? Or do you see them less often because they have moved on, either literally moved to a new city, or have entered a relationship and just don’t have the free time that they used to? So your social circle is very much at the heart of your social strategy. And if you don’t have friends to socialise with regularly, you need to fix that.
The other key part of your social strategy is your social calendar. Are you really spending your evenings and weekends enjoying the activities that you would really like to do? If not, it may just be that your current circle of friends don’t enjoy those activities. But socialising isn’t fun unless you’re doing what you enjoy with friends you love. So what’s the solution?
Social Circle is for those who wish to meet new people on activities they enjoy. For the past 8 years, we have mastered the art of social introductions and have seen countless friendships develop. Try a free event on us to see how Social Circle can enhance your social strategy.