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”

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

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

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