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”

Twenty First Century Pub Crawl, with children

Every place has its pub crawl and M20 is no exception. Back in the ’80s when hair and collars reached for the skies and there was no such as thing as too much make-up, it was a full night out that started with The Olde Cock and The Didsbury ( Now both gastros with differing successes)  and via Crown, Dog, Albert, Nelson, The Old Grey (now Zizzi’s) and The Railway – it would be chips at Sweaty Betty’s now a poster site but rumoured to be Didsbury Lounge 2) before the Three Lions. The Golden, The Red and The White. The White Lion had bands downstairs, could be a bit lairy and a cab home afterwards from Tripps cost £2.

 

Courtesy of pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.com  I used to stare at this after a long night drinking and think "One Day I could swipe a Nectar card here".

Courtesy of pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.com I used to stare at this after a long night drinking and think “One Day I could swipe a Nectar card here”.

It was pints (although not for me, always the shorts and being really honest – I was really more interested in the snacks than the drinking. The advent of Scampi Fries in 1986 opened up a whole new world), Malibu if you felt lucky, Silk Cut and the latent threat of violence – heady times. A really good night could stretch to Mulberry’s or Severe/ Murder in Fallowfield. You could make a complete show of yourself without a single text, picture, Vine, Facebook, Pinterest, What’s App or truth getting out – marvellous days with less comeback. 

You never knew who you would meet on a night out

You never knew who you would meet on a night out


Last week, to celebrate Easter and Didsbury Son being out for the day, Didsbury Wife and I decided to recreate it for the twins. The Golden Lion is now a car park, The White Lion a Sainsbury’s and The Olde Cock is now crap – but we were not daunted. 

However, the thought of pushing the pram and downing drinks between nappy changes no longer enthralls; Didsbury Wife and I created the 40 something, small children Didsbury crawl.

1. Late breakfast at Caffe Nero with Pain au Raisins to share.

2. Then in the car for an adventure which took us to Alderley Edge for a toddler sized walk and lunch at The Wizard. Lunch out with toddlers and no high chairs does mean you need to be able to down in one. – bit it’s the parfait not the Pernod and Black.

3. Back via John Lewis where the Mighty Headed Boy lay down and staged a protest in the toy department. We coaxed him back with afternoon tea in the cafe; where at 18 months old they are SO last year. The number of floppy necked baldie babes not only made me pine for the days when they were toothless and inert but they looked huge; it was brilliant. With the sugar rush from a JL Battenberg calming down we left, satiated.

We got home feeling as we had done 25 years ago – not sure how we had spent so much, a little ashamed of our indulgence, with a stomach ache. We also had stories to tell and lots of laughs and the only time anyone had tried to hit me they used Iggle Piggle and shouted “Mummyo”; result.

Sweet Home Alabama: Do they have a Cafe Nero?

I am sitting at the back of a hot room listening to a man who looks like a refugee from a Lynyrd Skynyrd video. He is telling us about how he is a creative whose job title can’t be defined. How very very creative, his lack of definition is not endearing. I can think of a four-letter word beginning and ending in T but one that is not a pallendrome. This is the first time I’ve been able to drift into a few thoughts for a few weeks. So here comes the splurge.

I have several days in a guilded City delivering something mediaish and exciting. It’s my spring job; annual, stressful in the most exciting way and as with 99% of the careers I have had – does not mix with babies and is a lovely niche.

Normally a few days working away is something I would grasp chirpily, feigning sadness at being able to go to the bathroom without holding at least one child, grimacing at the thought of not being woken by tiny fingers up my nose – you know , the usual. But this time, nothing. Something sinister has happened. Another platitude has reared it’s cliched head like a toy with a primary colour.

When I kissed the children before they left for school and childminder I filled up as though this were some important cup match and they were my team running out to play.
As Didsbury Son mooched down to the bus stop, pitch oscillating and mood following, I had to fight the urge to follow. When my boddlers left I waved them off, turning to the JP Morgan of Catnip for solace as they disappeared by bus and people carrier.

For the umpteenth time this year I surveyed the scene and wondered when all this became mine. Children, plastic weightless and all pervading mess, creaking knees and a cup way more than half full, but probably containing cat food, a toy and baby spit.

Now if I was writing an American dad’s blog I could say they weren’t mine, just loaned from God or Colnel Sanders. If I was not in Didsbury, I could have gone inside, packed and gone to work.

But

I am a Didsbury Dad so I took the only possible route. Coffee at Didsbury Deli, a peruse of The Guardian, a quick discussion about Nido’s new incarnation and then I got blocked in by some rude mother in a people carrier who thinks the school run is Tron.

Silly hat day will be a few days late

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Kofi Annan at The Cheese Hamlet

Men are from Mars, Women are from Didsbury and thankfully Didsbury Wife used the wisdom of The Clocktower ( the actual tower not the pub named after it) to restore equilibrium.

Like many men I am better in the middle of the night and the early morning than I am between 6.30 and bedtime. We are generally better reacting and being heroic occasionally rather than conscious consistent measured parenting.

By the time Iggle Piggle got back in his boat yesterday I had managed to contradict, confuse, combobulate and concheese off everyone to such an extent that even the cats hissed when I walked in. I had backed into a homework cul-de-sac on a high horse I could not ride and was in danger of creating an atmosphere more sour than cheap wine. Being eyeballed by thee disappointed children made Millwall away seem easy.

Didsbury Wife rescued me. Like a Blue Peter presenter with a pile of rubbish infront of her she created something good out of it and Didsbury Son was even able to patronise me before he scooted around to his friends to park himself on a different chair and watch a different screen.

I retreated to the boddlers where there is nothing that can’t be solved by popping your cheeks, tipping them upside down and singing In The Night Garden.

The Essential Top Ten Tips For Bloggers

As the one of the best bloggers in our house (not counting Didsbury Son) I thought it was time to join the other untrained, uncalled for, unrepresentative people who call themselves experts.

Here are Didsbury Dad’s top ten tips.

1. Remember not to check anything before it goes out. Typos and predictive text can be the difference between dull and unintentionally funny.

2. There are 3964 parenting blogs in Britain. All are as necessary as a second piece of cake.

3. Be current. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.

4. Swearing can alienate a lot of family readers, so use it carefully.

5. Writing successfully needs inspiration. Didsbury has several places that are awe inspiring and all serve cake – AiryFairyCupCake Boutique, The Alpine Tea Rooms and Cafe Nero.

6. If you are writing a parenting blog you can only mention lack of sleep and sick on your shoulder every 100 words.

7. A picture can tell 1000 words but 500 is more than enough for a blog which can be awkward.

8. Work out if you actually have 10 tips before you start.

9. Otherwise

10. You’ll have to waffle.

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This picture of a fog warming sign on the M62 has nothing to do with the blog; that’s No. 11 for free.

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A rainbow at MediaCityUK

Apologies and Cortisone

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Give me another week and I will be back with more nappy nights, pre- teen blights, all-new Co/op ( correctly renamed Copo by @ Craftwords) bites, cortisone in the elbow plights and trying to book before they are two free flights.

I’ve been to Japanese Festivals and 80s nights. I’ve been to two capital cities and failed to find a coffee better than Fusion Deli and a brownie to match And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon.

I have fallen asleep standing up dreamed of being Bill Murray’s pal in Lost In Translation Tokyo and discussed Hipp Organic v Home Cooked with a master chef.

Tonight proved a microcosm of my thwarted attempts to blog. As Carrie Matheson and Saul Berenson said goodnight I planned a couple of hours writing Homeland quality masterpieces in between work proposals.

First the mighty headed boy ( now a spit of 70s football icon Francis Lee) coughed himself awake. Armed with Benilyn and love I cooed him to sleep but the creaking of my knees awoke Princess Pearlyhead whose lungs are developing nicely. I eventually made it downstairs where I could swear I heard music. Didsbury Son ‘s alarm had gone off at midnight. He slept through, blissfully purring as some aimless quiffed British Bieber warbled on. He slept, but he managed to wake everyone else. Karma. – you owe me one.

This much I know: I like Bonfire Night not Halloween

As I sail so far past 39.9999 years old that I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall whenever I hear “Voodoo Ray”. As I realise that playing The Cocteau Twins to Didsbury Son is as relevant as my Didsbury Dad describing Vera Lynn as a cracker, this much I know.

SPARE THE CALPOL – SPOIL THE CHILD and ruin the parent

cocteau twins
1. Bonfire Night has gone. It’s the vinyl to Halloween’s download – subsumed by the gaudy nylons and cigarettes of the child friendly marketing monolith to follow the American grey squirrel of a festival. The old fashioned joy of commemorating the attack on democracy and the torture and death of the poor bloke left holding the candle; gone. That simple terror-filled evening when a semi-drunk uncle lit fireworks with a smouldering cigarette then ran like crazy to the Parkin and Heinz tomato soup will be as scratchy as my fake Top of the Pops album from Sykes to the next generation. I think I have seen my last collective dive for cover when a Catherine Wheel makes a dash for it.

Proof - were it needed that Guy Fawkes was a New Romantic

Proof – were it needed that Guy Fawkes was a New Romantic

download

American Squirrels picking off our festivals one by one pose a great risk tot he environment.

Sorry Guido and your band of insurgents against the crown, apparently the devil does have the best tune here and we prelude All Souls Day by copying American suburbia. If Thanksgiving takes off we may as well all move to the Costa del So where British traditions are respected.

2. If you are stuck in the house with fractious children of any age, stick them on the sill and open the window. Whether gurgling babies or excitable eight year olds – it’s a winner guaranteed to enchant the neighbours.

3. When something works – do not over analyse. My pearl-headed baby girl has one word, “Daddy”. She chirps it in every situation and to whoever is within view. A little part of me knows this. But there are moments, usually early in the day when I am trying to contain her pre-dawn excitement, when she holds my gaze and my hand and chirrups “Daddy” over and over. In those moments I am beyond gravity. This is where I go when I realise the cost of the childcare.

4. Caffe Nero’s decision to ramp the entrance in Didsbury Village and make the baby change wide enough for a double buggy is a piece of planning genius that buys loyalty, however corporate.

American Squirrels cast envious eyes over our festivals. They beat Bonfire Night, next it's Cheese rolling

American Squirrels cast envious eyes over our festivals. They beat Bonfire Night, next it’s Cheese rolling

5. Despite this serenity I now see pavement-parked cars that block pram access through a red mist far beyond that which is necessary or justified.

6. CBeebies, an iPad and a knife to peel and cut an apple are all you need before 8am.

7. Finding a pub to watch football, then finding they don’t let in children is a guilty pleasure.

8. The key is that I now know I will never again control the remote for the Television. Having lost it to Didsbury Son several years ago for a constant rotation of Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, I am now third in the pecking order behind Cbeebies and my mighty-headed baby’s ability to fit the remote in his mouth.

When they leave home as I near infirmity I’ll get it back. Or as Vera Lynn might say, “We’ll meet again”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivr57dcs9-E

VOODOO RAY – YNN MIX. WHEN THE BASS DROPS THE WALLS COMES TUMBLING DOWN (SIC)

How to sleep like a baby

Last weekend, for the first time since morning sickness appeared next to me in bed I was… Woken by the alarm clock. This domestic mundanity will seem like bragging to anyone stuck in the continuous waah, soothe, wake mode.

I woke in a state of shock, fuddled that 38 minutes of sleep/unconsciousness was not interrupted by the sound a mighty-headed boy searching for a soother or a pearl-headed girl shaking the bars of her cot like a mini-petite zoo monkey.

After a couple of seconds of mmmmmm came the fear.
1. They had stopped breathing. This is a terrible thought and one that people told me I would have. I realise I now lie awake listening for a snuffle, shnurgle or windchime from down the hall before I can relax and collapse to the soothing tones of Candy Crush.

2. They had escaped. Apparently other fathers also believe their children are the most beautiful, clever and impressive – uncanny. I imagined Dora the Explorer coming to them in a dream and showing them how to open the stair gate. I would then find them either playing Minecraft with Didsbury Son, making smoothies in the kitchen or scaring the cats by trying to “stroke” them.

Watching an 11month old baby stroke a cat brings a new level of respect for feline patience and has more in common with a five-year old playing “Operation”.

3. I was working away and dreaming I was at home being disturbed.

On finding out they were still asleep at almost 6.30am I strolled down to make bottles without a shoulder snapping, sciatica inducing start, feeling a sense of elation that showed me just how much my world had shrunk and focused.

Six hours sleep and up on a Sunday morning before 7 warming milk and I was giddier than the morning of my first cup final.

I walked downstairs and suddenly realised that nothing hurt. One night without bending, lifting, cooing and squeezing into unnatural positions round babies and I felt almost 39 3/4.

The rest of the day was a blur of pain-free happy blandness. I could feel creases in my forehead getting shallower as I focused freely.
Didsbury Son swooned as I politely greeted him AND listened to a few sentences ungrumpily. All this, for the kind of sleep that for most of my life would have counted as an interruption and an early start.

It was a friend who gave me the truth. You try everything, you think you have reached the point of no return but they know. Just when you feel you can take no more – they take pity and sleep through.

It’s the law.

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Make the nightcap a big one

Re-imagining without imagination

Didsbury’s gone building and refurb crazy. If you can’t find your favourite builder on Daytime TV then pop down to M20 on the Metro to find them here and check out what they’re up to.

Dene Road’s last few one-lady owner, not refurbed since the 70s opportunities have finally passed through their family’s estates to keen builders and eager amateurs with exactly the same plan. This is to turn that 3-bed 30s semi into a 21st Century dynamic individual des-res. in homage to Life of Brian they still look exactly the same. Same extended porch, two-story kitchen/diner and en-suite addition, same mark-up. I’m only jealous.
Dene Road, which sweeps from the centre of the village to the leafy über-residences near Marie Louise Gardens should have a picture of Martin Roberts and Kirstie Allsop at the entrance. This is the living embodiment of Homes Under the Hammer.

The retailers have caught the bug. The Fletcher Moss looks like its landscaping the smoking section. i want to see one of those big signs outside reading “Last Pub before the Metrolink”.

Our new improved Aldi has opened after weeks of serious work. I went on the opening day and was slightly disappointed to see that all the JCBs had made space for was more wine (Cabernit Sovinyon and Reeoka) and some balloons on the aisles.

The rest of the village is moving on from the Tapastastic O-ism of Cibo, Nido and the Nepalese tapas on Burton Road. Adios or Au Revoir Tapas welcome the rise of the indigenous cuisine. Expo continues to keep the O theme and looks a serious bit of competition for the Sponge Bob Crabbyicinis and Didsbury Deli and (with thanks to @craftwords) the village will soon host almost as many Cafes as haircutters (if we get any more niche people will get confused with Chorlton).
Where there is Tyson Design bring me Didsbury Lounge. Peter Wilcox are you sending your shorn punters to the speedily refitted former morose newsagent that will be Appleby’s? Appleby’s promises “Hearty English Refreshment”. I’m intrigued and slightly salivating at this contradictory description. Hearty and refreshing, its truth could be nearer to my Jewish Mother’s view that a four course Friday night meal that could floor a horse is “something light”. Or maybe its English Tapas; like the mini Yorkshires and Sausage Rolls you get from Iceland when you want to impress someone you don’t rate. I’m intrigued.

20130704-153125.jpg

Re-imagining without imagination

Didsbury’s gone building and refurb crazy. If you can’t find your favourite builder on Daytime TV then pop down to M20 on the Metro to find them here and check out what they’re up to.

Dene Road’s last few one-lady owner, not refurbed since the 70s opportunities have finally passed through their family’s estates to keen builders and eager amateurs with exactly the same plan. This is to turn that 3-bed 30s semi into a 21st Century dynamic individual des-res. in homage to Life of Brian they still look exactly the same. Same extended porch, two-story kitchen/diner and en-suite addition, same mark-up. I’m only jealous.
Dene Road, which sweeps from the centre of the village to the leafy über-residences near Marie Louise Gardens should have a picture of Martin Roberts and Kirstie Allsop at the entrance. This is the living embodiment of Homes Under the Hammer.

The retailers have caught the bug. The Fletcher Moss looks like its landscaping the smoking section. i want to see one of those big signs outside reading “Last Pub before the Metrolink”.

Our new improved Aldi has opened after weeks of serious work. I went on the opening day and was slightly disappointed to see that all the JCBs had made space for was more wine (Cabernit Sovinyon and Reeoka) and some balloons on the aisles.

The rest of the village is moving on from the Tapastastic O-ism of Cibo, Nido and the Nepalese tapas on Burton Road. Adios or Au Revoir Tapas welcome the rise of the indigenous cuisine. Expo continues to keep the O theme and looks a serious bit of competition for the Sponge Bob Crabbyicinis and Didsbury Deli and (with thanks to @craftwords) the village will soon host almost as many Cafes as haircutters (if we get any more niche people will get confused with Chorlton).
Where there is Tyson Design bring me Didsbury Lounge. Peter Wilcox are you sending your shorn punters to the speedily refitted former morose newsagent that will be Appleby’s? Appleby’s promises “Hearty English Refreshment”. I’m intrigued and slightly salivating at this contradictory description. Hearty and refreshing, its truth could be nearer to my Jewish Mother’s view that a four course Friday night meal that could floor a horse is “something light”. Or maybe its English Tapas; like the mini Yorkshires and Sausage Rolls you get from Iceland when you want to impress someone you don’t rate. I’m intrigued.

20130704-153125.jpg

Didsbury Festival – The Final Countdown

The camp fires are being dowsed and there is a heart-shaped, flower-strewn, luvved-up vibe in Didsbury. CavFest, WestFest, Chorlton the gauntlet is down. Didsbury Festival rides into the sunset with a cleared park and bleary eyes.

The stroll back through post-festival Didsbury was fascinating. The Chinese Crested dogs won my heart. Outside The Crown a man in a grey vest is trying to offer free hugs to passers by, egged on by afternoon beer friends. The response veers from amused and occasionally enthusiastic to scared or dismissive.

The sun and the stalls have brought out the greatest variety of style and middle aged man squeezed into Blue Harbour shorts since last year. Pasty legs and horizontal stripes are the male uniform of choice. Didsbury still hosts a colony of Goths. Not sure if they are Emperor or Gentu but they shuffled in a miserable, sweaty and pale pack before going to be ironic elsewhere.

Now it feels like Didsbury needs a nap. Didsbury Son is slumped on the couch with the Mighty Headed twin staring at him adoringly. My take on his pre-teen Development is dwarfed by the adoration of his baby brother and sister. He is sugar, E number and Climbing Walled out. In many ways this has been his greatest festival ever. Friends, food and attitude – the perfect festival experience.

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Didsbury Son releases the Official Didsbury Eyecare balloon to signal that 2014 Didsbury Festival will be back and exactly the same next year.

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