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 month “August, 2014”

Bisou Bisou – A non review

A French patisserie, in the heart of Didsbury. A setting finely crafted from 30 years of Ashley Brown Hairdressing and before that, Covent Garden Greengrocers (it seemed so gauche at the time to have a Covent Garden in Didsbury – the first time I went to London as a Didsbury Son I told everyone my mum knew everyone in Covent Garden).

Yesterday I saw its open door, today I peaked in to see colours so delicate they could have all been painted and tomorrow I shall succumb. If they are selling bacon sarnies and coffee by October it hasn’t worked – but it just might be the antidote to the sad passing of Cafe Rouge.

 

I must remember my mantra “Waistline, not Wasteland”. I must  not use the children as an excuse for extra cakes and I must check it out…

Didsbury Life: This Much I Know

As the sails of 39 years, 364 days recede ever further back into the noughties and the creaking of the trees in the late autumn breeze matches the creaking my knees; this is what I have learned.

Male patterned grumpiness is not a right, it has to be earned. We lack the manipulative front to be supportive AND judgemental, so grunting like a 15 year old and sighing like a winter wind fill the gaps.

Mancunian slang rarely works. I recall the Didsbury Boys in Tesco, Parrs Wood describing their Shredded Duck in Hoisin Sauce Wrap as “bum man, f- ing bum” and thinking that the Bronx would be shaking. Last week I was exiting the gents at Piccadilly Station. (how many stories have started thus?) when a 40 year old, Gallagher clone but without the hair saw the 30p charge to use the facilities and danced his outrage. Talking loudly to no one and everyone he declared, “Are you having a giraffe?” Before scuttling off more crab on the sand, than ungulate mammal on the velt.

The closure of Cafe Rouge in Didsbury Village is a blow to the community. I miss people
-watching from its patio and peering inside when walking past with the pram. I miss my free Guardian Sports Section and I miss the feeling that by sitting in sight of the library I was upping my culture.

Didsbury Son is now a teenager and the first month (83 to go) has been fine. The build-up was threatening, but since the clock turned he has resumed being the lovely boy and easy-going accomplice of his blondini, squeaky voiced days. He has started cracking gags in a style that I know is based on me and makes me truly understand the issue Didsbury Wife takes over my mistimed, poor taste speciality.

With their second birthday looming the battle amongst the Didsbury Dad extended males has begun to claim The Mighty-Headed boy and Pearly-Girl for our respective football teams. There is no subtlety, no fraternal loyalty, just craven boddler baiting with song, shirt and toy. I realise that against all my best intentions, this is probably going to use up more thought than which school they should go to and possibly more money on uniform.

The staff at Chalk all look as though they have stepped out of rehearsals for Glee to be with you (courtesy of. @Craftwords). Whilst their unfeasibly kittened-hipness is shaming, the hope that they will break into Flashdance on one of the sofas keeps me coming back. ( and the chipolatas.

Twins’ weight: painful knee and cortisone’d elbow.

Nursery Rhymes sung badly as I Only know the rude version: 8

Frozen watched: 3 times a day

Sleep Depravation constant with a good chance of caffeine and chocolate about 10 to get through the day.

Next time: Why I love Burton Road, It’s autumn soon so the bad-parking 4×4 Season is upon is and a review of The Global News refit.

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This is starting to seem a long time ago.

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News of Cafe Rouge closing caused a walkout

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Pre- service team meeting at Chalk.

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

Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Travelling with twin toddlers. A simple A to Z.
A. – it’s ace
2 – two soothers, two snacks, two beakers or too late, you are done for.
Z. – toddling boddlers x 2. No chance of Zzzzzs.

Now that’s out of the way sit back, chew on a week-old rice cake and turn off every bass-less plastic teapot, frog, picnic basket and lion; here’s the skinny. I’ll just remove Iggle Piggle from the small of my back.
To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Othello “Rude am I in speech and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace but I can adapt a range of football chants to soothe babies and amuse Didsbury Son”.

In their short lives so far the twins have been on a range of flights, starting at 10 weeks with a trip to Spain. My real secret is to let Didsbury Wife plan and strategise, then do as I’m told. It works. But for those occasions I am in charge I have top tips for travel. (Although many originally began… Tell Didsbury Son to run after them, blame Didsbury Son, feign sleep or cry)

1. Ignore the naysayers. The reaction to taking the twins on a transatlantic flight varied from hushed shock to claims of madness. Flights are free (except for the ubiquitous and unfathomable airport taxes, £28 landing, £11 per crack in the pavement walked upon and £3 for each bottle of water you can’t take through customs otherwise WHSmith would be the new Woolworths. The price of the items too dangerous to take through customs is the first mugging of your holiday.) for the under twos so we worked out we were in the last few months of being able to afford a transatlantic trip unless the government re-direct all taxes to free child care. Did I digress?
Calpol, low expectations, a fixed smile and an apology on the tip of your tongue and bingo, travelling with toddlers is easy AND more easily navigatable than Jazz.

2. Forget your last pre-children visit anywhere. Then, you stayed in a boutique hotel at the heart of the party. You need accessible lifts, storage room, air conditioning, carpets that cushion a falling boddler and dark wallpaper that does not show crayon marks. As we lay in our trendy hotel a block from Miami’s biggest party listening to drum, bass and next door ‘s argument and inevitable, excruciating and thankfully brief reconciliation, I craved the bland open spaces and Multi-channelled impersonality of our Homewood Suites off the I-95.

3. If you drive, they will sleep. When you stop, they will wake. Plan your stops. You cannot pull in for a quick wee/coffee/snooze – it will rouse the team from the depths of sleep to the clingiest screech in seconds. A minor note in the States. I asked where the bed was in the restroom, bad move.

4. Occasionally, the crap snacks we all enjoy are okay to pass downwards. My two have X-Ray vision and bloodhound noses for crisps. Their joy at a bag opened in their direction offsets the middle-class shame at sharing salty treats.

5. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

6. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

7. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool. This is the only hope you have of staying on budget, getting a tan and having a permanent excuse to get away from strangers mistaking you laughing with your family, with having the slightest interest in talking to them and hearing about Indiana. I genuinely had someone ask if we knew Jane Platt.., from London. Of course we said yes before feigning the need for nappy changes all around.

8. Do not be lured in by American waiters feigning friendliness with your brood, it makes not leaving a tip afterwards more embarrassing.

9. Sing. Most people think the English are eccentric (and love Royalty – the planned wedding between Prince George and my Pearly-topped princess was well-received) and being able to change a nappy whilst singing and ordering drinks is the way to happy kids and personal space.

10. Plan ahead. It’s a holiday and the chances are high that you don’t have childcare. The lure of a late night Mojito, ice-cold beer or Hemlock can be strong and you may wake up feeling more woozy than usual. The heirs to your eczema lying next to you neither understand nor care and to avoid feeling seasick have the tools ready to buy you a little extra sleep.
IPad loaded with known games -14 minutes
YouTube nursery rhymes or CBeeBies programme – 19 minutes.
IPhone loaded -8 minutes
Dragon breath slur “sleepy time” – 36 seconds and a potential headbutt.
Bag of crisps and iPad 24 minutes* – the call is yours.

* times may vary dependent on nappy weight and contents

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Sago Mini – I love this more than I should, 15 minutes of relative peace

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Things I have learned – small children like aimlessly walking around paths – you can virtually sleepwalk

Welcome to Miami

So there I was, South Beach, Miami. Weekend, Wedding Anniversary, not too stiff around knee joints and golfer’s elbow receding. I had a double room with A/C (a big fan) and a fridge and a car bigger then my first flat (apartment). Last time I had been on Collins Avenue Clinton was president, I had sipped a jug of Mojito on Ocean Drive and partied until it was time for breakfast burgers on the beach, washed down with another jug of Mojito. Hello Miami. Will Smith ringing in my ears, things the local uniform. Didsbury Daddy is home, then I realised… South Beach with The WotWots (see the clip if the reference means nothing) and the  burgeoning teendom of Didsbury Son is a physical, moral, financial and logistical pit with all the sense of going for a day out on a boat in Florida without sun cream or nappies. I apologise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VujjtKYUEiA

They say you should never go back. I say you should never go back without understanding the difference between single and feckless and six suitcases, two car seats and a buggy.

Our visit to one of Ocean Drive’s most prestigious cafés was instigated by a nappy so full we thought we had triplets, late night shopping on Collins Avenue was superb as were the mosquito bites we took back with us and Our night on the town was a picnic on the bed and hotel room disco followed by extended choruses of “If you’re happy and you know it..”

Actually, this was a highlight. A belly-laughing, life enhancing night that ended with me as a trampoline for all three of the ankle biters. This was off-set by then having my phone lifted whilst I changed the pearly princess at a Mall so huge it made The Trafford Centre seem like a pleasant shopping centre. I had also forgotten that in America if someone stops to let you push the buggy through a door they expect a tip.
When we had cruised into Miami in our rented Toyota Suburbia, an accelerator and clutch free monstrosity more boring than baseball, the mismatch of family and party town dawned. As I lay there at 4am soothing babies to the backdrop of fidgit house, Spanish shouted at full volume and bowel-loosening bass I found myself pining for our toddler unfriendly apartment and easy bedtimes at Key Largo…

I fell in love with Little Havana – but not one of the children would share a cigar. Little Havana was the only place that had great coffee and ice cream and the feel of something culturally vibrant. Miami was things and tattoos. Didsbury Son loved it.

Next time: the essential and ultimate guide to how to travel, holiday and keep your joints oiled with a toddler-teenage collective.

My Miami top tips
1. The apples at The President Hotel on Collins Avenue kept the boddlers busy for hours.
2. The changing facilities at Central Station; worth paying $3 for water.
3. The Walgreens on Collins/5th open until 10pm.
4. The chicken tenders at Publix supermarket, very reasonable.
5. The bus tour, but not for the under 2s

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Didsbury Son and the twins take in Miami

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Miami wasn’t as colourful as I had remembered

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Sea Life Florida

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To be honest the new attractions are a little disappointing

Farewell Cafe Rouge, Hiya Jetlag

So I go away for three weeks and the world goes mad. Cafe Rouge gone. As though it were Nido; gone. Whilst Croma flaunts it’s marquees and me and the pearly princess share jet lag they shut Didsbury’s original status brand. Whilst courting, Didsbury Wife and I would meet at Cafe Rouge for early tea, coffee and a Colgate snog, penned in our corner seat whilst our Cappuccino went cold. Didsbury Son marched its floors at the beginning of the century and the twins have trodden in the same pattern. So long and thanks for all the Guardian Sports sections. Sorry, it was me who whipped them.

Three weeks in Florida. I have sweated more than ( insert disgraced entertainer) in court. I have eaten more crisps than Gary Lineker and I have seen rockets launched, a dolphin’s teeth and avoided theme parks.

It has been a right of passage, with no rest and lots of toddler counting and jumping. Your guide will follow but this jetlagged midnight is the first time I have had without a child testing joint strength since we left Ringway.

The best coffee of the holiday – Cafe Nero after we landed. I am tanned, tired, happy to be home and wishing I was still there.

To those people who said we were mad to fly long haul with toddlers and travel with them. You were right, but it was hilarious and the only danger was Didsbury Son dislocating his jaw at the procession down Ocean Drive in Miami.

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