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 “brirish holidays”

Westfest15, Bradley Folds and David Beckham 

The Didsburyest  – #Westfest15, Bradley Folds and David Beckham. 

 even the yellow lines look effortlessly cool. 

Westfest seemed a great success. From Former City star Michael Johnson’s new bar on the corner of Nell Lane (I must admit that this is on my route home and for months during renovation I thought that the portaloo by the front door was a bold new design feature) to Eve’s Retreat it rocked nonchalantly, coolly and was family and hipster friendly.
Last time I saw that many tureens and tables and chairs outside was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. We Mooched down on Saturday afternoon. The programme had not made it clear that essentials included beards, babies and specific dog breeds (French or English Bulldog, Daschund, anything under 12 inches high). Luckily, we came with two strollers and stubble but at one point there were so many ironic beards around a table I thought I was in Chorlton.
It hit the spot. Volta’s food, drink and bonhomie were faultless and Folk’s flags flew brightly. Chocolate Martinis, Kangaroo Burgers, a BBQ party to match an unforgettable family bash outside The Epicurean and a constant queue outside “And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon” that should see them gold plated. The whole place smelled fantastic as Namaste, Wendy and Mary & Archie blended and the perfect warm-up for The Bradley Folds Allotment Open Day. It felt independent, Didsbury and a great combination. Well done. It was the perfect warm up for the Bradley Folds Allotments’ Vegetable Sale.
Which I didn’t make. Instead Didsbury Wife and I teamed up with two other sets of toddler parents for a trip to… Lancashire / near Liverpool. More foreign travel. This time we went to Windmill Farm. I had forgotten how great a trip to the petting zoo is. As with all successful days out this started with good food. We arrived. We ate. 
I engaged. I took the Mighty Headed Boy down a zipwire and after I fell off (7-8 inches) he has already sworn off going with me again but I had a ball. Whilst all the under 6s were too scared to feed the goats and sheep, the barn was full of dads reducing their blood press to double figures with an hour stroking animals under the guise of childcare.
My Pearly Princess thought the Alpaca was a Giraffe and this has made her week. She didn’t want her ice cream, which Foghorn Leghorn ate and that made his. I cannot recommend this enough and it set me thinking that this would be the perfect use for Cafe Rouge or Inman’s. Never mind the usual calls for a Waitrose, a niche Sauna or Didsbury’s first day spa (sic). What we need in M20 is something missing since the last goat in Fog Lane was poisoned some time in the 80s – a Petting Zoo. 
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Postcard from Murcia 2/4: Feeling Philosophical 

The two/teen summer holiday is sadly almost at an end. It has been wonderful and uplifting, occasionally restful, very hot, over-budget, funny and much-needed.
  The hire car – a Mercedes in name only, whose scratches gave it character and acceleration reminded one of an Austin Maestro

I have read a book, which already puts it ahead of last year with 20 month old twins and next year my goal is a night’s sleep in only one bed at least once (I can dream). 

  
There have been cine memory moments of utter bliss in the baby and big pool as the twins have taken their first goes at swimming. These and moments when Didsbury Son has been Captain of the mini Manc Armada are those snapshot moments that make the overdraft, sciatica and Mr. Tumble worthwhile. 
These moments are more noticeable on holiday but are the backbone of any relationship – the moments that cement relationships, lift you in low moments and can be an inspiration. I have in my bank a look and leaping hug from a blonde and squeaky Didsbury Son, a message on a Big Wheel from Didsbury Wife and my team lining up for a Cup Final I had waited twenty years to see – they are irrelevant to most people but are the seeds that have grown my passion and each of us has our own. 
I began writing Didsbury Dad on a holiday five years ago when I looked around the other dads and realised that we mainly did what we were told, relied on our other halves for guidance and had to feign interest and understanding in many many things. 
I am very lucky that in these five years I have now got two more Didsburylings to stress about, have been to several cup finals and learned things I never even imagined. Last time I was really clear I had made the right decision about a little one in my care she was a dog and I was solo. I spend parents’ evenings and most family discussions guessing what I should think and say and have a feeling most other dads do too. 

Charles Darwin, Giddy Goats and The Bisou Conspiracy

The fashion for hipster beards and the move towards e-cigarettes has given the Metrolink station a specific retro look. The gauche style of inhaling the e-cig as though it were a pipe has given the ramp to the ticket machine the look of a WG Grace / Charles Darwin look-a-like competition.   
Victorian favourites the peacocks plan to ride in on the wave of the summer retro look. 

I don’t understand e-cigs. I used to smoke many years ago, pre-Didsbury Dad days when a) I could afford it and b) you didn’t have to stand outside like a plane spotter at the airport. There seems no pleasure to e-cigs. With nicotine patches you could forget you were wearing them and “accidentally” have a smoke to get a genuinely scary hit. Nicotine gum gives you something to do with your teeth other than bite your nails and going cold turkey makes you look dangerous, which can be useful in a crowd.

I never take being an “ex” for granted; but know that there is more chance of Cibo and Nido returning to Didsbury and becoming successful chains than there is of me buying flavoured vapours to inhale.

Anyway, whilst I’ve been off there have been many changes in Didsbury’s retail look that need attention.

1. Zizzi, gone? This faux Pizza Express and its signage have disappeared from the building that sits in a prime location on the corner of Wilmslow and Barlow Moor Road, but has floundered since it was the Old Grey Horse in the 80s/90s and shows no sign of gaining popularity. Would make a great 3-floor Bisou Bisou Bisou. Sneaking around Didsbury with a turquoise box full of French patisserie has become our naughty little habit. 

2. Didsbury’s first day spa has ground to a halt. On the site of the legendary (to the 40 and overs) Sweaty Betty’s Chippy, the insulation sits in the window like lost bales of hay and the window display has changed from advertising for staff to offering time shares. 

  
Didsbury’s next charity shop?

3. The Dog Grooming shop, In The Dog House on Barlow Moor Road is still open, defying the “How Long will it last” sweepstake kit in the South Manchester Reporter. Not sure if it’s the drop-off proximity to Albert’s Shed or the sudden influx of Pugs and Daschunds to Didsbury’s parks but well done – it’s cool as fox merchandise and breezy demeanour are superb and I’ll be in for a wet shave on Blade’s day off. 

4. The laser clinics are here, Cafe Rouge still stands like a ghost ship and we still haven’t got a Waitrose. There’s a great new clothes shop on School Lane and the Fish Masala at Sangam 2 is worth the view into the Karma Sutra. 
I had the perfect Didsbury conversation in Giddy Goat Toys a couple of weeks ago. I was having a natter with Mrs Goat when Jed the Windowcleaner, complete with Manchester City sweatshirt breezed in. Our three-way conversation moved seamlessly from childcare, the weather and Bisou Bisou, to children and the angst and stress caused by them being led astray in their choice of football team. Mid myopic drone all three of us turned to the patient and brave mother at the till buying her 4 children presents with a hearty “Eid Mubarak” before settling back to judgemental football chat. Anyone who takes more than one non-sleeping child into a toy shop deserves respect. 

  Rumour has it that Zizzi shut after failing to win planning permission for this extension.

Next week – the perils of poverty discussed through the prism of the Bloke selling Sticky Toffee Pudding in too pushy a manner outside The Cheese Hamlet last Saturday. 

How I learned the way of the Gorilla.

Fathers Day I was woken by the sound of muffled voices, shuffling feet and a click as the door closed. Then, silence. I tried to come around to the day. My throat was dry and the detritus of a night that had extended way too far into the morning surrounded me. Beakers, a pull-up, a chewed through dummy and the crumbs of a rusk. Man I felt rough.

  For dads who have lost the will to live – this is for you.

Then I noticed something else. It was still quiet. The smell of freshly brewed coffee snaked its way upstairs alongside the unmissable note that belonged to three words that are so personal in their interpretation; Full English Breakfast.
   The breakfast of champions

I pinched myself to check I was awake. The house was quiet and on the table were a coffee pot and mug, cutlery and two notes. I poured a coffee, luxuriating in a first drink of the day that came hot and without the aroma of potty training.

  
The note read “Happy Fathers Day. Didsbury Son is out all day and I’ve taken The Mighty Headed Boy and Pearly Princess to a three hour crèche sesh. Your breakfast is in the oven. Read note 2 afterwards. Didsbury Wife x”

If music be the food of love then good food is music to my love and after a fabulous Full English I risked note 2. This guided me to the living room, some cards and a three-hour video of 80s football.

I padded to the couch. I flicked on the TV and drifted off to the sound of The Smiths and a procession of manly mullets and Ellesse trainers.
The pressure in my chest increased, there seemed to be something on top of me. I felt the density of the air change and then came the noise. I was still in bed. The Mighty Headed boy was sitting on me. I opened my eyes, pinched myself and realised that now I was actually awake and my mind had a played a cruel trick as three more words snapped across the room, “Daddy. Wee. Now.”

Wordy Rappinghood – why it matters

Words I love and hate.

I was in a queue at a supermarket last week. Let’s not name names, let’s call it Smooths at MediaCityYouK. There was a nice woman standing behind me with two small children. The little one, who looked about thee was getting fractious so I did a little gooning about and we all made friends. The man behind the checkout joined in, uninvited. Apparently he too had a “Threenager”. I stopped. The woman looked slightly embarrassed as we wondered whether to
A) ignore the naffness and move on
B) stab him with the kabanos I held in my hand.
C) go to Morissons across the road.
Threenager? Threenager! Threef#^*ingnager. Threenager is right down there with Terrible Twos, 4 year old girls wearing t-shirts that proclaim “Porn Star” on the front, Keep Calm and Carry on Zumba and shops proclaiming themselves “Krazee” or offering “Kutz”.
This is dangerous territory. Not only is our language too beautiful to throw away like this (you repeat Red Lorry Yellow Lorry after a night on the Calpol and tell me I’m wrong), but we continue to create this theme park expectation.
Didsbury Son is 13. He is still the lovely boy he has always been, but he has chemical surges that are part of the often awkward growing trajectory. We all had/have days as teenagers when the world is against all goes wrong. There are times when we both glare, glower and wonder at each other’s stupidity. The moments may be difficult but they are natural and it is the expectation to behave like a grown toddler that is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I know some lovely teenagers. I know some for whom my best intentions fall well below humanity. They are not like that just because they are teens. 
What are the terrible twos? At 2 the world is a huge playground/fridge that revolves only around you. You are the stars, the moon, the sun and heir (the temptation to go into Smiths lyrics here is almost unbearable) to a oneness that is overwhelming. Between the daily dose of kisses, hugs and moments of joy is/are your child(ren)’s introduction to negotiation. If you have not had to witness UKIP’s abysmal rise, never chewed your nails through the last month of a Premier League season, lost a person close to you or been dumped then of course whether or not you get a biscuit is worthy of tears. 
So the twos are not terrible. They stretch your joints, your patience and your ability to watch the same programme over and over BUT… They only last 52 weeks and I have a feeling that I will miss the babbling, utter adoration and openness that typify this year. 
So there is my ten pence worth. Cliches and Platitudes are not described that way as a compliment; however tiring or frustrating a teenage/toddler tantrum is they are part of the furniture and once they are through this the opportunities to eat fish fingers and buy plastic tat are gone forever and that is testing. 

One Down Dog You don’t come up from quickly

So there I was, flat on my back. It was dark and I was on the floor. My left hand stretched through the bars and held a pudgy, squidgy hand. My right arm stretched backwards over my head through another set of bars to another hand. I heard myself singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and humming songs, to which I only know derogatory football-related lyrics and for five minutes I was in heaven. My sciatic nerve was stretching, I was off homework duty and the football had not quite kicked off. 

Then it hit me. This quasi-crucifix position on my not quite Athletic, post post 39 body is a disaster in waiting. As my stretched right arm began to quiver and a searing pain munched its way up and down it, I came to two age-related realisations;
1. It is now 30 months since the twins were born and I was last pain free. These babies, now full-volume, negotiating toddlers are a gift – but one which pulls every joint, vertebrae and limb in a daily dance designed to test (and find weaknesses). I am now 18% cortisone and Boots’ pharmacy greet me like bartenders and ask “the usual, sir?”.
2. I have no idea how to move. It’s a bit cold and I’ve been lying flat on the floor now for 40 minutes; any hope of graceful transition to vertical disappeared 37 minutes ago. 
All of this is a drop in a choppy ocean compared to the payback a cuddle and an I Love You bring from a grinning two-year old holding open your eyelid and then adding “Wake Up Daddy, Dora on TV?”
But… For those waiting to be Didsbury or other Dads beware – there is a floor waiting for your back and the football will be over by the time you get downstairs. 

 

Next Up… Hairdressers are so passé, it’s Dog Grooming Didsbury from now on. 

First Love, Real Housewives and Chips

It’s over – Didsbury Son’s first “romance” has gone the way of Taylor & Burton, Price & Andre and Ampika ‘s marriage on social experiment Real Housewives of Cheshire. It wasn’t so much written in the stars as typed on tablet and smartphone. This was a very much 21st Century affair. There was no disco, no notes, few phone calls and less meetings. This Year 9 month was less Romeo & Juliet and more pen pals on an exchange visit. They did meet up a few times, mainly with friends whose slightly jealous advice seems profound as a new teen, predictable as a 39+++. Fittingly, the farewell Didsbury Son had hoped she would make before him came by Facebook Messenger, the immortal “Let’s just be friends” tapped in an almost grammatically correct flourish of platitudes and pointlessness. Didsbury Son, shrugged, attempted a brief stint of victimness before admitting relief and munching his sausage and chips, whilst watching Maleficient with the air of a man who has heard all charges have been dropped. 

This has been as trying time for all of us. I too ate his chips (not mine, no calories) feeling a burden had been lifted; like Peppa Pig finding out humans are herbivores.

there are plenty Moor Hens in the field. An under-used cliche.



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

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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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…

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