Grocery shopping and more! I hope this post is useful to
students living on campus of Edge Hill University, especially who self-cater (cook for themselves), or need a break from the university catering
people who consider living in Ormskirk
The range of shops in Ormskirk can cater to your needs of: everyday grocery shopping, cosmetics/skincare/health and beauty in general, warm clothes and more. You can’t really find some big names like Tesco, Primark, TKmaxx, etc. in Ormskirk but for me, what it has right now is enough for all essential shopping needs. Plus I even think life is made simpler and easier to live, and consumerism is avoided, when you’re not spoilt for choices.
1. Supermarkets in Ormskirk
live on campus, two choices: catered and self-catered. for catered, as is the case with students on a study-abroad program to edge hill – cost 42 GBP per week. self catered students (like me and my flatmates) buy their own food, and we could could save by spending 20 GBP per week but still have a range of food to go round. Supermarkets offer you this saving choice
Aldi: cheapest. wide range: spices like ginger garlic also very cheap, much cheaper than Morrisons or M&S Foodhall.
Morrisons: bigger shopping space, a cleaner and more tidy look than Aldi in my opinion. Wide range of goods, especially meat and fish, vegetables, desserts and so on, definitely a winner in the area for me. One discovery for me when it comes to Morrisons is the ‘Food to order’ section on their website, which is like booking very good, ready-to-eat food in advance to collect at the store. I think I’ll talk about this in another post on culture highlights I’ve noticed in England.
M&S Foodhall (Mark and Spencers): sounds posh? expensive? yeah maybe a little. But I got to admit this is my favorite place to shop: smoothie, range of ready meals, fresh king prawns (I can’t find at Aldi or Morrisons). For other things like vegetables, fruits and meat, I’d say I’d go for Morrisons or Aldi.
Poundland: The idea of Poundland is many goods on sale at 1 pound. Sounds ideal enough, and the range of things there is great, I used to shop there in the beginning for mugs and laundry bag, and even makeup, but most other things you can find at Aldi for less than a pound, like 50p or less. So now I almost don’t go to Poundland anymore
Iceland: great for shopping frozen food: pizza, varied dishes of chicken, beef, lamb, etc. Bad news is at the time of this post, the Iceland store is closed down for good (from 4 Jan 2020), you have to walk for a while to the next Iceland store. I feel saddened by this because I like to shop a few things at Iceland like their kitchen rolls and box of 10 free range eggs, because they are the cheapest and best value for money among all the stores here.
Local butchers: Family butchers, Scott’s butcher. These are great for buying sausages, pork, beef, chicken, lamb; especially at Scott’s Butcher they have many offers/deals everyday and they offer a range of seasoned/prepared-to-cook meat, along with different types of chutney and sauces. Worth a look and a try.
I only speak from my experience, therefore the information may be limited. The best thing to do is just go to the stores and see for yourself which one is your favorite. As someone who’s been literally scrutinizing through these supermarkets, I think it’s safe to say you can rely on (some of) my choices 🙂
Comes another problem when shopping around: navigating (tìm đường), which means knowing the roads and streets’ name. But I don’t feel the need to because its very straightforward. As long as you take the Ormskirk tour with the student guides on your arrival, you’ll find it easy to navigate around. the clock tower is the heart of all the shopping places so if you get lost, just find way or ask directions back to the clock tower
Next, Iceland (which is closed now, since January 2020), and Poundland – where you can find all things at 1 pound! (although sometimes you may want to buy cheaper than 1 pound, in that case, find B&M and Aldi, haha)
Lastly, a photo inside M&S, though I took of nothing but the flowers:
Southport is a 45-minute drive from Edge Hill and it’s a beautiful, appropriately busy seaside town! From Ormskirk you can take the 375 or 385 bus to get to Southport and pay around £5.5 for a return ticket. Or, if you’re in luck, (which is very likely thanks to our Edge Hill Students Union and International Office), you’ll get a free coach trip like us!
3 things I’d say about Southport:
charming Architecture, tastefully busy and plenty of Shops, all sorts and decorations
……..cool turquoise Lake and simple yet interesting Pier, + beach
lots of ice cream shops, amusement arcades and other family-friendly facilities.
Plus, you’ll also get to see an eye-catching merry go round, first spring blossoms (if you come in spring) and just very pleasant sights in general. For me what’s best was the tasty, affordable Chinese dining we had!
Our Chinese dining: we got spring rolls, stir-fired beef and mushrooms & rice, prawn curry & rice, sweet-and-sour pork & rice. All for only £19.80, so each of us (3 people) paid only £6+ for a very wholesome meal. The restaurant is Ho Lee Chow (address: Rotten Row, Southport PR8 2BZ) and they have various meal deals.
Our group photos in Southport: (caption from Didem and Cassie)
Wait, it rained later! when we got back to the coach.
That’s all for today. Definitely give Southport a visit while you’re at Edge Hill! Thanks for reading!
COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and we international students definitely ‘ve had our share of turbulence. Hello there! Today is 23 May 2020 and it’s officially been two months since the UK went into lockdown.
In today’s blog, I’d like to capture a little story from the day I parted with my Edge Hill friends as they went back to their home countries. And as I had settled in the countrified town of Hadfield. I would like to call it a “from Lancashire to Derbyshire” story, recounting my move from the lovely halls at Edge Hill/ Ormskirk to my new found home in Hadfield.
20 March: A farewell party
Featuring in this party: 2 Germans, 2 Japanese, 1 Mexican, 1 Vietnamese. Our German girls hosted this party showcasing their cooking talents with Turkish and Vietnamese dishes! (Is there a mistake here, you ask? No dear, our cultural backgrounds are diverse that’s why ;).
For the next round (of eating!) we’d got Korean dumplings, snacks, and more puddings/desserts.
I would like to thank Aina, Dung, Didem especially, for always being such good friends! I hope we’ll see each other again soon, in Japan or Germany or Vietnam!
21 March (Saturday)
I went to the town centre (of Ormskirk) and it was completely busy, from the shops to the supermarkets to the Open Market, which, honestly, scared me, considering the virus situation and all. So I decided I’d move to my friend’s house in Hadfield. She was really kind to offer me to go and stay with her soon, as she could expect a lockdown coming soon.
22 March to 23 May (next 8 weeks): “chilling” in Hadfield
… while at times nervous about the whole situation. Anyway, 23 March to 23 May, featuring: online lectures, online tutorials and my two giant assignments for Term 2. Don’t worry, you won’t have to hear me complain about these. What you’ll see now are (hopefully) beautiful photos of a private garden in Hadfield, a small town in the county of Derbyshire. And while you may not know where Derbyshire is, just know that the world-famous female English author Jane Austen said it’s the most beautiful county in England. (Check out the Pride and Prejudice adaptation on Netflix, you can verify that. Or if you’ve already known, hi-five!)
That’s it for today’s story. I’m sorry it’s quite short (but sweet though!). See you in the next blogs! Thanks for reading!
Last October (2019) we had a coach trip to Lake District with the Students Union (SU), and it was a lovely memory. This green haven doesn’t disappoint!
What you need to do to get on a free trip like this is to go on the Give it a Go page by the SU, choose the event, log in at the site with your university email, and book a place! Make sure you sign up early for any trip or there will be no spaces left. Another way, if the International Office is the organiser of the trip, you’ll get an email directly from them, and just need to reply to sign up! (check the link out! you’ll see a list of free trips you’ll likely go on!)
A walk around Windermere, Lake District
Expect to see a lot of tourists as Lake District is a much loved travel destination in the UK. We saw a lot of families with kids, and Chinese tourists too. I guess there must be a significant influx of Chinese tourists to Lake District, since there were many signs at restaurants and places of interest written in Chinese.
The trip took us to Windermere area. Lake District is huge comprising 4 major mountainous areas (or towns to be precise). Beside Windermere town, there are also Keswick, Ambleside, and Bowness-on-Windermere. Take a look at this video and you’ll agree with me how beautiful Windermere looks!
Share lunch with a friend
We arrived in Lake District at around 11am, wandered for a while and went for lunch. Now this (Windermere) is a bustling area with all kinds of cuisines and shops. My friend and I were looking for a budget option, so we looked through many menus and prices (at the entrance of restaurants) and stopped at one pizza place.
The pizza we shared (quite a large size) cost only £ 8. Lunch offer even on a Saturday, brilliant!
Alternatively you can pop in Tesco Express near the lake (where the coach dropped you off) to get a meal deal at 3.00 GBP with a main meal, a snack and a drink. (much like Mccoll’s on campus, but a bit cheaper and more choices I guess).
Great spot for photos
Although I didn’t discover much variety in Lake District (probably because I’m a slow walker and a chilled wanderer), I found a few amazing views for my Instagram photos! (or my phone gallery only, haha, too lazy for instagram posts)
Few other peaceful shots of the Windermere area!
Keep an eye out for free trips by the International Office and the students’ union, and make sure you sign up early!
All students living on campus are advised to use Circuit Launderette (Laundromat, if you’re more familiar with this word). It is located inside the Students Union building, which means you’ll do laundry near Subway and SU Bar. This also means that it is quite near the Hub in the main building (where Starbucks, Mccoll’s and other catering services are). You’ll know where it (the laundry room) is if you go on the campus tour when you just arrived.
Sounds like a mundane thing but actually doing laundry can be a nightmare for new beginning or first-year students. Because you:
Have to have a card to pay (visa card, mastercard, or Paypal. In my experience Paypal maybe the most convenient because you don’t have to type in the details every time)
Use Circuit mobile app to operate the machines (washing machines, and tumble dryers). There’s no manual way to do it (To be fair, there is one machine that accepts coins, but all the other 30+ machines demands mobile app usage). So, you need internet connection, which is no problem when you have your student ID, account and password. However in the first week when your account has not been set up, you probably need to use mobile data, and the best way to do this is: have a UK SIM card.—Don’t worry the International Office got your back – it’s in the purple welcome bag they’ll give you when you first came (Giffgaff SIM). Set up the sim by topping up some money in using your visa card/mastercard/Paypal, etc.
Once you get the two things above sorted, using the laundry app is easy. (See the instructions on the wall inside the laundry room)
Pricing: costs 2.9 GBP for a wash and 1.5 GBP for a dry. total 4.4 GBP. yes quite expensive but the bright side is clothes are cleaned and dried properly. I’m pretty happy with its work.
Big advice: Ask for help from other students when you first use the machines in the laundry room. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
Here’s a quick video to let you see what it’s like in the Circuit laundry room at Edge Hill.
Coming from an industrial city in Vietnam, I’m familiar with and have come to love such city sights as (medium) skyscrapers and modern buildings, scattered across busy streets and Buddhist temples. I mean they are beautiful, but to see something so different from Asian architecture or normal office buildings would be awe-inspiring. And for me London is just that. It is a “looker”!
I’ve been to Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Southport, all beautiful cities in their own ways, also with that “difference” I was yearning for, but London seems just another level of impressiveness for me.
Travelling and accommodation costs
To get to London from Ormskirk (where Edge Hill University is based) the most common way is by train from Liverpool Lime Street station. Take a train from Ormskirk to Liverpool Central first, then walk for 5 minutes to Liverpool Lime Street station and there you’ll get a direct train to London (Euston station).
Train tickets: I travelled with 3 of my friends and we managed to book the cheapest return tickets from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston at only £15.80 (If you don’t plan well ahead it may cost you up to £ 30 each way, which is not too bad)
(In case you’re not familiar with the “language” of train tickets, like I did when I first came, here’s a quick explanation: Single (ticket): one way; Return (ticket): two-way (go and back). There are also “Anytime Single”, “Anytime Return”, “Advance Single”, but I figure I’ll deal with that on another post about travelling by train in the UK.)
Accommodation: We (group of 4) booked Airbnb for 5 nights and the cost for each person was £ 70. There are other websites to find and book cheap hotels or accommodation in London, you might like to do a Google search and shop around.
That’s it for the tips. Now, here are the sights that wowed me in London.
1- Tower Bridge
On the other side of the Bridge we got to see a Christmas market (because we went there in December).
2. The River Thames
3. London Eye
4. Buckingham Palace & Queen Victoria Memorial
5. St James’ Park and St James’ Palace
6. Household Calvary Museum
This is where you can see the iconic horsemen. I truly loved the experience, although I could see one of the horses was a bit sad when there were so many tourists in front of him.
7. Regent Street
Regent Street is, from what I’ve seen, the street with all the most luxury and high-end brands in London. Every store can become a sight to marvel at, especially Burberry London (in my opinion, I’ve just never seen any fashion store like it). You can also find other affordable brands here, like The Body Shop. Regent Street at Christmas is obviously a must-visit.
8. Chinatown and a few other streets (not sure what they’re called because as usual I relied on my friends, heavily)
There are so many things to see and do in London. Definitely give London a visit while you’re studying here at Edge Hill!
I didn’t ever celebrate Halloween when I was in Vietnam (except for that one year in high school where my English teacher organised a costume party as a class activity for us all to enjoy), but I got the very first and special Halloween here at Edge Hill. Below are three events I partook in for Halloween 2019.
1. Halloween makeup event by Students Union
It is a free event in the afternoon of 30 October. Definitely sign up for this, you’ll have so much fun.
2. Halloween theme park at Coronation Park in Ormskirk
A good chance to see so many local families and kids in their creative costumes and makeup. Walk to town center or take the bus, then the park is right near Morrisons, or opposite Aldi and MacDonald’s, very easy to find, Google map is your friend or simply ask a local on your way.
3. A tour around local houses in Ormskirk at Halloween
There’s not much going on but a few houses do get creative with their decorations, and they are very friendly; my friend and I got to talk to a lovely local who clearly did some very good work bringing the Halloween atmosphere to his house, the star of the night definitely being his special ghost on the grass (picture and video below).
Studying abroad gives you the perfect ability to see as many places as possible for fairly cheap. I would encourage going on weekend trips with other study abroad students or even taking some day trips by yourself, if you’re comfortable. There’s so much to see, and you may never have an opportunity to travel so cheaply, so it’s definitely worth it. You’ll get to learn more about other cultures, and you might start to be more aware of your own culture as well.
2. Free time
If your experience is anything like mine, I was used to being busy back home. I always felt like I had a million things to do, projects to work on, assignments due, things to do for work. While I was abroad, I had so much free time to just do whatever I wanted. This can be a little bit dangerous because you may start to lose a sense of purpose. If I could change anything, I would have established more structure in my free time with things like going to the gym, picking up a hobby, or reading more.
3. Growing experience
Study abroad can be a growth-producing experience in so many ways. It’s a huge test of independence to be in another country all by yourself. In all honesty, you’re going to run into some difficulties, whether that’s not being able to figure out how power outlets work in other countries, or whether it’s much deeper than that, you’re kind of on your own at first. And that’s hard. But at a certain point, you have to suck it up and figure things out. Once you get back from studying abroad, it might feel like “oh well now I can do anything!” And that’s so rewarding.
4. Change of scenery
There’s definitely less dramatic ways of getting a change of scenery than moving to another country, but hey it also definitely works! Sometimes it’s nice just to switch things up a bit in your life, and you might start to feel boxed in at your home university, so studying abroad is a great way to experience another area of the world for a while and just get some new views and new experiences. Also, when you get back, your home might not feel like the “same old, same old” since you’re looking at it from a whole new lens.
5. Getting out of your comfort zone
Studying abroad is a huge decision, and it can be quite intimidating. You might be terrified. And that’s not such a bad thing. Studying abroad is a great way to do something so far outside your comfort zone while you still have a bit of a safety net in school. College is your chance to try new things, learn about yourself, and make some mistakes. For me, I definitely was very comfortable in my hometown, so it was a hard choice to study abroad because I felt like I was starting over. But you can only learn so much staying in one community forever, and home will always be there when you get back.
When you’re away from home for three months, you’re bound to miss home. So honestly just go into the experience knowing that. Even if you’re not someone who’s really dependent on family, and you feel like you can go a long time without seeing friends, those little things will hit you. Especially in the age of social media, where you can see all the local events happening in your hometown, or see friends hanging out without you, that can be pretty rough. You might find yourself wishing you’d made a different decision for feeling guilty for spending a semester abroad. Just try to keep yourself in the moment.
This is a really unique problem that I definitely didn’t think about before I started my study abroad experience. And it might not be a universal problem, but, for me, I went from living in my own apartment, feeling really independent, feeling ready to get my career going, to living in a dorm with other college students and having a meal plan. That’s a hard transition to make, and it knocks you down a couple of notches. To go from feeling like you have this whole “adulting” thing down to feeling like a college freshman again, going through orientation, trying to meet new friends and learn the layout of the school – that’s not easy. What helps me is to remember you have the rest of your life for stability and growth, and it’s okay to save up some of that energy for your post-grad life. Just take it a day at a time, and you’ll be okay.
3. Potential mental health problems
You’re alone in another country for several months with your support system being miles away, and you’re going through a massively transitional period. So yes, it’s entirely likely you’ll experience some mental health problems. That’s totally normal and totally healthy, but it can be really frustrating. Once you get to campus, try to identify the resources available to you if it hits crisis-mode. Just remember that, even if it just gets unbearable, and you start questioning everything, it’s temporary, and the height of your emotions will pass. It’s also worth noting that if you’re studying abroad to get out of a tough mental health period, you may need to rethink your reasoning. If you’re sad in America, you’ll probably still be sad in another country.
Let’s just be honest. Study abroad is going to be expensive, and there may even be some unexpected costs along that way that you’ll need to prepare for. Make sure to have enough money in your account that you won’t have to seriously stress about cost while abroad. And if you plan to travel, figure out how much money it will be to visit different countries, and plan to save. Also you can only pack so much in a big suitcase on the way to your study abroad destination, so make sure you’re prepared to go buy things you’ll need for the semester once you arrive. The little things definitely add up, so don’t let it sneak up on you.
5. Educational roadblocks
Every university is different, and every learning style is different. Be prepared for your new school to approach classes differently. And make sure you’re doing what you can to stay in communication with your school back home. It seems to be an unfortunately common problem that a student ends up on a class that’s different than what they expect, or there’s a problem transferring credits, or maybe they have trouble understanding the grading system. There’s a whole slew of things that could go wrong, so just try to stay in communication with everyone, and don’t back yourself into a corner.
Study abroad can be a whirlwind of a journey, but it’s ultimately so growth-producing, and there’s so much to learn from the experience. When thinking about studying abroad, remember to take your own personality into account and choose an experience that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, but also know your limits and know what will bring you the most joy and growth.
Price range: £ 1.00-4.50 for drinks, £ 2.80-6.75 for breakfast and lunch, £ 9.50-16.50 for special Afternoon Tea. See full menu down below in section 4.
When was it opened? 9th August 2019
Why was it opened?
At first glance it is clear that Mandrakes is inspired by Harry Potter theme. However, the theme of the café is not just Harry Potter, the owners wanted to create a mystical atmosphere with different elements of magic, wizards and witches. This magical cafe is like a breath of fresh air the owners wanted to bring to Ormskirk, to attract more people into this lovely town, especially when there’s a huge amount of young people coming into town to study at Edge Hill.
The café has been more successful than they ever imagined. They had a soft opening (not much advertising other than the Facebook page) and it was totally packed, queues of people around the corner waiting to get in.
Current manager at Mandrakes is an Edge Hill graduate
We met with manager at Mandrakes, Lizzie, who is an Edge Hill graduate in English and loved her experience so much she progressed to study an MA (master of arts) which she has just finished and will be graduating in December.
Lizzie is a big Harry Potter fan and said the book was a major inspiration for her to pursue her studies in English, which is why it’s no surprise Harry Potter featured in her personal statement.
Staff at Mandrakes are referred to as House Wizards and Witches. Their outfits truly depict that spirit. These wizards and witches though, are very warm, friendly and welcoming, so you needn’t worry at all.
2. How to get to Mandrake’s from Edge Hill
(If you already know, please skip to the next part. Though I think you may like to learn the bus schedule tip I’ll mention in paragraph 2 below)
Walk. (10 minute walk from Edge Hill). Out of Edge Hill’s main entrance just turn right and keep to that only road (called St Helens Road by the way) until you reach the first traffic light. Cross the road at the traffic light and walk for a little more you’ll see Mandrakes right on your left hand side.
Take the bus. You probably already know about the bus (which is run by the University and free for all students and staff) but I want to take this chance to tell you a tip I’ve just learned about the bus schedule (after over two months living here and taking the bus for like 100 times though🤣). Everybody can tell you the bus leaves every 20 minutes, but nobody seems to tell you: at what minute? …because with this cold weather and those winds, waiting for 15+ minutes at the bus stop isn’t a great idea (at least for me). So here’s the tip that saves lives (from the winter winds obviously): There are 3 stops—Edge Hill Main Entrance, Creative Edge, Ormskirk bus station Stand 5—when you plan to take the bus, look at your watch but only care about the minute: The bus leaves Main Entrance at minute 08, 28, 48, leaves Creative Edge at 13, 33, 53, leaves Ormskirk at 05, 25, 45. (So it starts from Ormskirk, after 3 minutes reaches Main Entrance, then moves to Creative Edge).
3. The space at Mandrakes
Harry Potter merchandise room
This is where you get to see and buy official Harry Potter merchandise. The fireplace is not to be missed!
The best part about the Cafe area isn’t just the space and the drinks, it’s DJ ‘Wand Apprentice’, a staff with special role at Mandrakes. While we’re enjoying our tea and drinks, DJ would come to our table and give us a demonstration of wands (replica) from Harry Potter. The way the demonstration works is: DJ takes the wands out from his box one by one, allow us time to admire the wand and guess which character it belongs to, while at the same time gives some hints to us, then in the end reveals answers and explanations.
We delighted in the guessing game he led us through, got to admire his patience and immense tolerance of us being not decent HP fans at all. (us: me and 2 staff members from the International Office, Emma and Brad. Props to you Emma for being the best player, you truly saved our face by correctly guessing the wands of Harry, Hermione, Dumbledore and Voldemort.) We couldn’t guess Luna Lovegood’s despite all of DJ’s hints and efforts.
DJ really wowed us by how knowledgeable and articulate he was on the reasons behind the design of each of the wands.
Behind the café are the Experience rooms, very atmospheric and moody lighting. Fascinating thing here is you get to try on fabulous wizard cloaks. (with the help of lovely Lizzie)
Train Station “The Flying Mandrake 5672”
Wizards’ Meeting Room
I love this room, right from the moment you meet it, it feels like you’re not in the real world any more. Feels like you’re in a movie, or even better, a true magical room.
And of course, don’t forget a picture with Mandrake the magical tree.
4. What’s on the menu
Our orders and reviews
We had quite a fair share of items on the menu at Mandrakes: Festive Afternoon Tea (which we booked in advance on Mandrakes website), Mandrake Pudding Pot, and loaded Hot Chocolate.
I finally learned that Afternoon Tea in the UK doesn’t just mean “tea” at all, you’ve also got sandwiches and other savory (or sweet) additions as well. 😆
Festive Afternoon Tea, consisted of… (“Festive” because Christmas is coming~)
If you’re an international student who’s new to all of these food names, don’t hesitate to ask one of the friendly staff for an introduction to this very British tradition.
Mandrake Pudding Pot (Flower Pot containing Chocolate Cake, Mint Ice Cream, Cream, Chocolate Crumb)
Loaded Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows
Christmas Cracker: also another Christmas tradition which I’m not familiar with (since where I’m from, Vietnam, we don’t have this tradition, or not that I know of) but learned it today thanks to Brad and Emma!
Our Ratings – Brad gave a 5 out of 5 rating, praised the variety and believed a lot of effort and thought has gone into the afternoon tea choices. We all agreed the food was delicious.
The best thing about Mandrakes for me is how warm and caring the staff are. Even if you know nothing about Harry Potter, or are all new to these magical wizardry concepts, don’t worry because the staff will walk you through all experience with great consideration.
Oh, did you notice the title of this blog? “EP.01”. And that means yes I will be having more “episodes” for the Discover Ormskirk series (hopefully I’m persistent and hardworking enough). Stay tuned!
In the meantime, definitely give Mandrakes cafe a visit! Don’t forget the Experience Rooms, and take loads of cool pictures for yourself and your friends there!
THANK YOU NOTE
Thank you Emma and Brad from the International Office for taking me to this lovely cafe, for your detailed notes, Emma and your beautiful photos, Brad that helped me write this blog.🧡