Didsburydad's Blog

From the not so mean streets of M20, blog about being a dad, Didsbury and dealing with parental confusion

Archive for the category “Costa Coffee”

Is it Spring Forward, Fall Back or Fall forward, spring back?

This is it. The final, official, scratching the bottom of the pan, stretching it as far as it will go, hope over reality, these jeans still fit honestly, end of summer 2014. Later this week the clocks go back or is it forward? Spring forward, fall back or the other way around? Either way, it gets dark at lunchtime and the sun only comes up Wednesday half-day closing.
This is TV on the couch, jumpers, endless talk of “incubating something” weather. Time to be pressured into creating a perfect Christmas that encompasses the beauty of innocence and the financial clout I have only occasionally achieved in Monopoly.
As my children continue to defy my indifferent parenting skills to be lovely, I look around me and know that before its time to gather at the Cenotaph next month and look at the empty terrace where Cafe Rouge once ruled, The squish of leaves underfoot and the fear of gas bill in my inbox will take hold. There is only one thing to do – plan your treats.

1. For a little male grooming, the wetshave at Blade on School Lane takes some beating, although the military-trained deep massage at G4 Physio I once had was so deep my hamstrings are still undercover.

2. For your take-out morning commute there is now real choice. The coffee and pastries at Bisou Bisou are so good they can’t possibly be every day occurrences. In the village The AiryFairyCupCakeBoutique still know how to dress a sponge for the City Centre tram, whilst West Didsbury has Fusion Deli, consistently great coffee with a welcome to kickstart the day. My jar of Nescafe is now three years old and a sad, unloved, never-to-be-used clump.

3. Notworking: should you be meeting “colleagues” or “freelancing from home” there are many warm welcomes once the decent TV finishes. Café Nero is so child-friendly I can’t go through the door without a Rugrat, but if the free top-ups ’til 11 hold then a Chalk Bar & Grill Flat White can keep itself in adult company. Healthy Spirit (I just had to ask Didsbury Wife what Nature’s Grace is called now) is sooo nice, so boho, so right-on its virtually Chorlton. Art of Tea blends indifferent service into an art and Albert’s is the place for a posh meeting. I go there and pretend its 1989 all over again – well if it’s good enough for the decor its good enough for me.

4. Lunch: The Japan Deli in Withington, opposite The Red Lion. How it survives is a mystery, but the Sushi is stunning and there is never a queue. I find it difficult to take anywhere seriously for lunch that promotes a Scotch Egg as haute cuisine – but sitting alone in The Jade Garden for their business lunch, playing “Name that Tune” is an experience sidestepped by too many.

5. The newbies. Bourbon & Black looks exciting; Croma has queues not seen since the last Gregg’s pastie sale. Solita seems lively and we await news of Sweaty Betty’s. Wine & Wallop looks a goer and Burton Road bulges with indie pride.

These possibilities keep me focused on a 7am park trip with the boddlers; but there is one place where I am beyond the smash of a dropped babychino, the demand for wi-Fi and Hot Chocolate or the call to prayer at John Lewis. It has no windows, no atmosphere and the service is average – but in the cafe at the gym my phone has no signal. There’s a couch where I can slouch and drift off… perfect for a winter’s morning.

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The sushi at Japan Deli is the nearest Didsbury Son is getting to a fish tank this Christmas.

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If you close your eyes it’s like Cibo never existed.

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Looking forward to those beautiful November mornings.

Stoptober, The War on Drugs and Groupon

Stoptober; lovely idea. 260000 people still daring and rich enough to smoke have signed up. Good on them. Of all the habits I have started and stopped it was by far the most difficult to end (seconded closely by visits to the Kool Runnings Caribbean Food Van on Upper Chorlton Road). However, something in me feels we should be allowed the freedom to choose. The ALS Ice-bucket challenge, another wonderful money raising, cause-highlighting affair that also made me feel uncomfortable. (The peanuts have been removed from Revels, ruining my favourite joke about Revels being Russian Roulette for but allergists, one gag probably not worth the risk but it’s put me off Revels). It’s not the cold water in the ice-bucket challenge – just the feeling of generic naffness, the idea of being told what to do makes me feel like posting a cynical retort – which I know is probably wrong.
Stoptober has me thinking of 10 Silk Cut for £1, Movember has me up early to shave and I now get so many Just Giving requests that they proliferate my inbox like Groupon and their worthiness undoes my innate Northern outsiderness.
A friend once set-up a Justgiving page to announce that they were doing nothing. I donated immediately. I like my causes and donate, I am a FOLLA (a Friend of Lapwing Lane Arcade), I can be coerced during the later, more receptive stages of most telethons and of course am now an easy touch for anything with children, but…
It must be a generational thing. I am old enough to have met all my friends. I overshare sometimes on Social Media. This week is National Champagne Week ( c’mon Primary Schools – that’s a theme day parents would buy into), it’s National Hug Day and Tuesday marks 32 years since Ronald Reagan declared the first U.S. War on Drugs – how did that work out?

We have Silly Hat Day at home and that can lead to controversy if the twins go for the same beanie cap. I think as profile raising, marketing exercises these nannying call to arms are wonderful. As ways to coerce people into contributing to things in which they may not believe – even better; they remind me of Halloween. I am all Parkin and Bonfire night

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A double rainbow. Donate now for a third

Birthdays and the Autumn Breeze

Wine & Wallop is open. It’s a lovely space and the fact they are finishing it around you as you drink just adds to the ambience. Chalk Bar & Grill is now settled in the village at one end, whilst Croma flaps its big white awning like swans’ wings over the clock tower end of the village, near the newly opened and yet to be investigated Solita. Gregg’s new gift shop neighbour has an opening in site, wooden boards shade it as though huddling around praying it will last longer than all of its predecessors back to the then innovative Cloud 9. Didsbury has its winter line-up ready for the Christmas spend and with the festival season over, the traffic jams getting earlier on Barlowmoor Road and boards up on the old Casa Tapas ranch, it’s show time.

This is a great time of year. The mornings aren’t dark enough to be depressing and Didsbury Son’s school experience is lightened by the the last rays of summer sun.

At Didsbury Dad Mansions its a big weekend. The Mighty-Headed boy and the Pearly Princess are 2 this weekend – a milestone as full of shock and awe as that moment earlier this year when Didsbury Son’s clock ticked into teendom.

Two; we still have buggy, pram, nappies and strings of sounds that evoke, but are not sentences. Are they babies? They are to me, so is Didsbury Son – they are my babies to the point that I could almost use an emoticon.

They have all the boddler attributes to enthral parents and bore the Bodens off friends. Last week they said “Blah blah more pie etc.”, “Ooh, look at that picture – they look like Spandau Ballet when they were cool.” Every point of movement still entrances me, even at Stupid AM after hours perched on a rapidly disintegrating knee.

Above all they are 100% Didsbury. I realised this thinking about the following routines. How to tell if your baby is Didsbury.

1. On Sunday mornings, after an early park jaunt, stop at Caffe Nero for Babyccino and Loacker Wafers.

2. They are on gurgling terms with the pastoral team at St. James’ AND Emmanuel, knowing Dimitri’s has it over The Old Cock every day of the week.

3. I have to wipe the seat before and their hands after a go on the swings in Didsbury Park.

4. They think a People Carrier is a normal car.

5. The only time they have seen a Fish Finger it was homemade at Folk.

So this weekend, with the moving elbow and the working knee I will raise a baby or two, toast Didsbury Wife and try and wangle a celebratory visit to Piccolino and a bit of Sky Sports amid the festivities.

Into every rain a little sun may fall

The thing about family life as the parent is that you are hero, villain, unpaid slave and feted emperor(ess), often in the same day, sometimes in the same conversation.
For every matrimonial slight magnifying exponentially as sleep depravation crescendoes, there is that complicit nod, a shared joke with Didsbury Son or a boddler leap and hug.
The scattering of re-imagined objects on the floors, at times a joyful motif for the imagination unspoiled by Cartoon Network – on another day when the Middle C note has been hollered before 5.30, the planets unaligned and the day has gone downhill, it is a sinister coupling of the results of a conspiracy against you to negate all you have done. It is neither. It is just the detritus of a lively house and you are in a trough; with a peak hiding the other side of the Nightgarden.
I have been keeping a list of the little things that have made me happy and sad/angry/paranoid this week. The list, a mundane arrangement of MIS-interpretations, imagined slights and the odd moment of clarity.
If I had read it in a magazine I would have nodded in recognition, distancing myself from the pettier, ignoble side.
However – seeing ideas and behaviours laid out so bluntly is like a plooking back at a teenage diary and suddenly realising that it wasn’t that no one understood your genius, just that most people try to avoid you when you behave like Kevin the Teenager and pout like a trout.

FUBAR the friendly lion and the Didsbury Duo

7.45pm. Friday Night. I am trapped. The Mighty-Headed Boy snores contentedly, draped across my stomach – his legs wrapped around my left arm like fleshy vines. The Pearly-topped princess has my right armed gripped so tightly as she nuzzles into a toddler-shaped curve I cannot move. My phone is open at Football Manager but my fingers cannot reach the screen. Didsbury Wife and son are out. It’s just me in a dark room, on a warm bed with two boddlers curved around me and no extra hand for internet access.

My mind drifted to those thoughts we all have, “What if In The Night Garden” was a documentary voiced by David Attenborough; if I was a teenager now would wi-fi mean I never had to leave my room and who votes for UKIP with a clear conscience?

I then thought how long-known acronyms, antonyms and phrases take on different meanings st different times of your life.

ATM. All trousers milk stained

BBC. Bathtime Bed. Chill

FUBAR – Found Upsy-Daisy But Aptamil Run out

SOS – Sudocrem or Suffer

TTFN – teenager talking flipping nonsense

HTML – Home Time. Milk Loaded

Wake Up And a Smell The Coffee – then make it after you’ve changed the nappies and done milk.

Life’s Too Short – so embrace being woken 3 times a night as you can enjoy more of it.

The Tail Wagging The Dog : Social experiment where parents make all decisions based on the rationale of teenage moods

Disney – Magical Kingdom of slightly worrying stereotypes that occupy small children in trance-like stupor for two hours per day.

Minecraft – Magical Kingdom of slightly worrying stereotypes that occupy new teenagers in trance- like stupor for three hours per day.

ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival in the old days, now a phrase dependent on the sleep wake nappy phenomenon. Now more likely to stand for Evening Tomorrow or After…

HRT. Hormonally Reactive Teenager

eBay – recycling for parents. Expect your rating to soar after the first visit to Jo Jo, ELC and Boots points out the real cost of plastic and sheepskin.

Psychological Warfare. Interrupting any song in Frozen for dressing, undressing, changing or Calpol.

1000 Yard Stare, a syndrome that occurs when on the way back from a midnight cot settle. Your nascent teenager, voice breaking mid-syllable informs you he’s hungry, can’t sleep and wants a chat. Fire up the toaster and make yourself comfy.

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A television and a full moon. Both are excellent parenting tools

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I sacrificed glamour like this for my children

Go West: Didsbury’s Autumn Flavours

One day soon Wine & Wallop will join the great and good of bars, coffee shops and hairdressers in Didsbury. (about 2 weeks by the looks of it). It stands proud in the beautifully refurbished Lapwing Lane Arcade where my Didsbury Grandfather took me for sweets when bubble gums cost 1/2p and we only got an orange for Christmas – because we are Jewish and didn’t celebrate it. Soon only Sterling Pharmacy will stand in the row without a coffee machine. The Post Office is being refurbished and my money is on it re-opening as Stamps Post and Coffee Stop.
On the off chance of there being a glut of free nannies hanging about looking for work experience I walked past Lapwing Lane to Job Centre Plus.Didsbury has vacancies for *106 hairdresser/barbers, 29 baristas and 21 Pram and Buggy Mechanics. It’s either that, teacher, something Mediaish or writer round here.
So , to the important bit. To be Mediaish or a “writer”; for important daytime meetings or somewhere to sit looking creative you need good coffee shops and hangouts between haircuts.
Fusion's Pic 'n' Mix is even better than the old Woolworths

Fusion’s Pic ‘n’ Mix is even better than the old Woolworths

West Didsbury is superb, but no one opens before 10 so there is no early morning pram escape beyond my favourite coffee from Pete and Tom at Fusion Deli. This is a community must with great drinks, the warmest of welcomes and genuinely interesting snacks. It’s my buggy-pushing pit-stop. Once it gets past the post-school run mummies meet, Burton Road wakes up. It is awash with signature indies selling different personalities and meet ‘n ‘ greet Opps.
The brow and top deck of Thyme Out Delicatessen - the best burgers in the North

The brow and top deck of Thyme Out Delicatessen – the best burgers in the North

My favourites are And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon, Piccolinos for a little Italian chic and Folk to remind me of the boheme I thought I once was, but to which I no longer aspire. Thyme Out Deli may look like a ferry deck from the outside, but inside it bristles with great food.

There may not be the Wi-Fi Opps of the village’s slick chic coffee shops, but there is charm and originality, the chance to be at the heart of a happening by and a throwback to those heady days when poor service , delivered with a dose of superiority was considered de rigeur.
* Source: “Made-Up Facts 2014″ accessed 4/9/14
burton road

WestFest’s Bob The Builder theme brought some superb public art to West Didsbury

In The Night Garden v The Football Factory

Introducing children to culture early on in their development is important for them to attain the kind of middle-class snobbery that make X-Factor, Jeremy Kyle and popcorn such guilty pleasures. Didsbury Son was scared by a number of clowns and bored by theatre early on; the scars should open nicely later in life.

Thus today, the Mighty-Headed boy and The Pearly Princess made their theatrical debut; In The Night Garden Live at The Trafford Centre’s Showdome. It was a combination of Shakespeare, Siegfried and Roy and Cirque du Soleil and as we cheered, laughed and cried… Iggle Piggle found his blanket before the smell of filled nappy and Aptamil overwhelmed the space.

The lead-up had been tricky. I am a keen supporter of Arts and Culture (it’s paid the mortgage occasionally) and this week my diverse cultural tastes collided. The week had begun with the start of the football season. I engaged the frame of mind needed to cope with dodgy backstreets , testosterone rushes and the need to swear whilst singing in sync with the other 4000 former thirty-somethings pretending they hadn’t pleaded to get a pass-out.

This successful night out bled into plans for the big In The Night Garden day. I sat the twins down to remind them that even if the whole presenting team from Milkshake, riding Thomas the Tank Engine and led by Peppa Pig fronted us up – we never run (my knee is way past that), for today we are CBeebies.

When I received a text telling me I could meet Iggle Piggle and Macca Pacca afterwards I got all Danny Dyer and had halfway filled a sock with plastic building bricks when Didsbury Wife stopped me.

I came to my senses. The Tombliboos won 2-0 (although all that scratching noses and sitting on the floor saw them cautioned for time-wasting) and we got a police escort back to the car.

The play was brilliantly conceived. It was big and friendly and it’s audience was enchanted. This was a lovely escape back to gentleness for an hour. My pearly girl stared open-mouthed at the gigantic figures. She believed this world in a way that removed all adult cynicism and restored a little magic bubble to a week when the real world has sometimes seemed so harsh, the news so bleak – that even the 6am charge across the landing shouting “Daddy Mummy” seemed in danger.

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The urge to shout “Behind You” was overwhelming.

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Thankfully this was a fiercely partisan crowd, although several infants were ejected for starting anti-Balamory chants

Didsbury Kisses, hits, misses, diners and delis

Bisons Bisous so good they named it twice. Bisous Bisous, it won’t sell chocolate mice. Bisous Bisous, it could be Shangri-la. Bisous Bisous, just two doors down from Croma.

Summer in the City and somehow Saints & Scholars, Kansas Fried Chicken and The Stop Inn Kebab Shop defy the March of time, taste and technology to thrive in a strip that has shed more tears for failed businesses than Brazilians at the World Cup. So, this is your cut out and keep guide to what’s going on in Didsbury as we ignore England leaving no shadow at The World Cup, Andy Murray’s failure returning him from British to Scottish and Tour de Losers in the War of the Roses fever lasting as long as it took Cav and Froomey to crash out. ** I have no idea who Cav and Froomey are but I think he’s something to do with Mrs Fruman who catered my brothers’ barmitzvahs in the 70s.

Coming Soon: Wine & Wallop on Lapwing Lane promises meat and cheese – what’s not to like? It offers good times for beardy and non-beardy hipsters alike just a quail’s scotch egg munch from Metrolink. The demise of Cibo ( Nido with a carpet ). means more hipsters. Northern Quarter maple bacon gurus Sol-I-Ta are coming our way and there are rumours that Casa Tapas is going to be a mini Waitrose. (There aren’t, but there have been rumours of Waitrose coming since 1846 – the year The Cheese Hamlet opened). The idea of somewhere you could get a reasonable and free coffee every morning could decimate the local economy in less time than it takes to work out what Global News (Percival’s) and it’s three-year re-fit is for.
Bisous Bisous, a French Patisserie at the Slug & Lettuce end of the village offers Wasteland, not waistline in the most delicious way and… It wasn’t a zombie. The apparition I saw in Gourmet Burger King was the advanced party for Croma. Welcome, may you be as brilliant as Piccolino.

My campaign for a weekend pram lane gathers pace – the idea popped into my head again at half-time in the Pikachu vs Hedgehog World Cup Quarter Final Last Week.

New and hopeful: I like Chalk Bar & Grill. It’s open front is optimistic, it’s lively and the food is good and getting very good and it’s kitten-hipped Staff look as though they have sashayed out of Didsbury Theatre School in their improbably narrow-waisted skinny jeans just to please us.

Burton Road is blossoming right now. Didsbury Wife and I were out there last week for an earlyish evening drink and pram crawl and it felt exciting, friendly and confidently creative; I still wish Pete at Steranko opened late. The Lapwing Lane arcade (Inmans and Friends) still has Fusion Pete’s best coffee on the go in Manchester and a former chippy turned gentrified empty space that looks like like a chippy with no customers.

With the rate of hairdressers opening dwindling to three a week, Wadden v Brimelow taking the summer off before the purple battle re commences and Holland & Barrett maintaining its 1:1 staff:customer ratio these are heady days. And it’s only a month until the football season.

Coming next – Didsbury’s top tenish hangouts for summer 2014

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Not Hershey’s, but French Kisses opening soon.

Homer Simpson, Didier Drogba, The Archers and Me

This is a gruelling time of year. School age children are all out of attention span and too far into the year to really care. The clear Manchester air often leaves baby chests clogged and the 4am dawn is a siren call to the under 5s.

In addition there are now up to 6 hours of live international football on TV each day that can run between 5pm and 4am. Oh and there’s work and family life.

This can stretch the strategic skills and slothful indiscipline of the most indifferent dad, let alone someone like me. Someone who hears Ivory Coast v Japan and sees it as a cultural duty to stay up and honour the culinary heritage of these great nations, whilst falling asleep on the couch, head lolling in a tribute to Homer Simpson.

So praise your deity (fate and other non-deity touchstones are available ) for Fathers Day the morning after England’s 1am finish. Whether it’s a goldfish or offspring of Amish proportions, claim that right and milk it as though you were auditioning for parlour maid’s role in The Archers.

I have mixed feelings about Fathers Day. When Didsbury Son was little his excitement was infectious and made me feel unworthy for all my little less than perfect thoughts. Now, I count my blessings that I receive and am able to give Fathers Day cards. Coming late to the party keeps me aware that for many people this is a difficult day for a variety of reasons and you can’t always have a World Cup to distract you.
Some years this awfulness is compounded by Wimbledon being newsworthy and clogging up radio and TV in the two weeks it hogs the limelight. This year it’s all football and midnight toddler milk runs have the bonus of late night TV from South America.
I’m just perfecting my Capirahna and Aptamil.

My Father’s Day ticked so many boxes it qualified for Arts Council funding. I rolled over at 7am, 7am – that’s nearly lunchtime, to find an empty space where Didsbury Wife had gallantly taken the early shift as I luxuriated in more than four hours of continuos Zzzzzs.

After an aborted Metrolink journey ( I had forgotten they don’t work weekends), Didsbury Wife gave me one of the greatest gifts a man could receive – a family visit to The National Football Museum. I won’t describe the detail, save to say that The Mighty Headed Boy took on a whole group of Stoke fans and won and Didsbury Son is slowly embracing the beautiful game. Very slowly.
Now 2 parts rum, 1 part powdered milk and a squeeze of lime…

World Cup Tips

1. The pundits are terrible. Half time needs action – in 15 minutes you can do bottles, washing up, check homework and feed pets.
Read more…

Didsbury Dad, Agony Uncle

I never realised how easy it was raising just Didsbury Son until the Mighty-Headed Boy and The Pearl-Topped Princess turned up. Becoming a new father well over the age of 39 and 364 days exposes the physical scars of a misspent youth very quickly and from elbow to knee I have been in agony most of the time. My sciatic nerve is so pinched it looks like Ann Robinson and 20 months of this qualifies me as an agony uncle.
This week my imaginary inbox has been bulging with questions from soon-to-be, new and confused dads. Remember always do as I say, not as I do – one of the few genuinely useful pieces of advice I have given Didsbury Son.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am considering a change of career from something mediaish and successful to loafing about as a freelancer once my partner gives birth to twins early next year. What do you think?

Dear I.M Mad
Are you joking? Ideally look for a full-time job which requires you to be away once a week, cancel all social arrangements until 2019 and before Boots relieve you of any spare cash, buy a shed.

Yo DD
As a former something media and occasionally successful something thingy what do you think?

Good Question. Cafe Nero until they are about 14 months for the baby change, the free babychino and the lovely staff; then Cafe Rouge so they can run around.

Mr Dad.
I have three children – 1, 3 and 4 strange names I know, the wife chose them ( courtesy of Ted Robbins). Will the numbness in my left leg and shoulder ever go?

No, but you’ll stop caring.

Dear Mr Dad
Having children of quite different ages and needs how do you make sure that they all know they are equally loved?

How or why? Soon as Didsbury Son finishes the ironing and the car I’ll ask him.

That’s all for this time. If you need more pearls of wisdom leave a comment or contact me through Twitter @DidsburyDadBlog.

The best advice I can give is apologise most days and don’t hold a grudge. That and a hot Pain Au Raisin and Americano from Nero solves most things.

Next week – live blogging from Didsbury Festival.

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The view from my shed

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My parenting video – a taster clip

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