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 “resolutions”

The Didsbury Dozen

It’s that lovely M20 time of year. Those preparing to queue fromq

6am on Christmas Eve morning to collect their turkeys from Evans are planning their wardrobe. The white elephant formerly known as Chalk and Nido harks back to being a small and popular Turkish  restaurant with a belting takeaway and the price of a pint of milk in the Shell garage (now a Londis? In Didsbury?) finally gets more expensive than a barrel of oil. Didsbury Park is packed with Freyas and Archies chasing French Bulldogs and residents of Cavendish Road, Elm Grove and Beaver Road count down to schools closing and being allowed to use their own parking spaces without abuse – its Christmas.

turkeyA turkey this morning in training for the Evans challenge

By any popular account 2016 has been momentous. Never mind politics, celebrity death, refugee crises and hacking becoming more fashionable than Vogue. 2016 will always be the year when, after a quarter of a century as a flyposting board – Sweaty Betty’s reopened as Nueve.

stop-inn The Ghost of Christmas Past

It’s also been the year I became a part-time Didsbury resident for the first time… this century. So here is my 2016 Didsbury Dozen. Not the pub crawl but the 12 places I think fly the flag for us.

There are loads of great places missed out here and some dodgy ones that we won’t namecheck. But for family reasons Croma, Solita and Folk are always good. for cheeky drinks I love Wine & Wallop, The Charlie George or whatever its called on the edge of Burton Road and The Fletcher Moss is still ace. The Third Eye is always a winner, Sangam 2 always better than you’d ever imagine and Copson Street has a great Japanese Restaurant and a Halal Butcher that sells the best hot wraps in Manchester. Bourbon & Black is still open and Cau never seem to have a table when I want to go.

This is not based on anything over than personal taste. But in the year when Stop Inn and The Mud Crab Cafe went, Jade Garden and Laughing Buddha look as though they are near wheezing their last and I’ve barely made it to Dot’s Cafe in the park – these are all worth checking out.

 

  1. Casa Italia: A Finnish owned, Italian cafe with a nice line in wooden boards to eat from; brilliant. Has been busy since day one and hits the mark in quality over quantity sending you out sated not pogged (it’s a technical term).

 

  1. Pizza Express on Lapwing Lane: It had a refit (I think) to cope with the pincered challenge of Chilli Banana at  Inman’s (heard great things but you can’ buy a Chanucah card there any more) and the latest pointless pub refit at the Greenfinch in Hand. You can’t beat the Tuna Nicoise, everyone’s always friendly. A visit is also a chance to catch up with at least five old friends as you all now get the same discount vouchers.

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  1. Volta: Burton Road chic and design at its finest with the added bonus of good service from people who know how to treat customers.

volta Don’t waste a visit on children

  1. Art of Tea:  Indifferent service, uncomfy chairs, expensive coffee. The best toast and peanut butter, something I can’t define and one of the best places to contemplate life or write a masterpiece or two.

 

  1. Costa on Wilmslow Road: This is down to the manager. She’s lovely. Always slightly hassled but stretched like a good pizza base rather than a spring. When Costa opened in the old Boots home it was revolutionary. Now there are 38 coffee outlets and 2 Costa vending machines within coughing distance. It holds its own.

the-ghost-of-christmas-past If only they’d sold coffee

  1. G’s Gourmet Kitchen on Fog Lane: Curried Goat. Horse Carriage. Morecambe Wise. This is a great addition. Friendly, tasty, spicy.

 

  1. Khandoker: From its table settings to its car park it does not look Didsbury. The view from the window of 4 traffic lights, a walking bridge and the less glamorous view of Parrswood’s entertainment centre do not bode well; but it’s superb. Affordable, well-cooked and friendly. Each visit I learn a staff member’s life story.

 

  1. La Cantina: The Green Cafe Rouge. My only report says it’s muy bien but it’s like looking at an old friend made up as something you know they could never be.

images And Lo, a star appeared in the sky where Cafe Rouge had been

  1. Refresh: it’s tiny and tucked away behind the Co-Op but it’s worth turning off at Carmello’s for China cups, gorgeous bread, a range of sandwiches worth the carbs and a decent chat. No sausage sandwich should ever be taken for granted; they don’t.

 

  1. Fusion Deli aka Pete’s: Pete, Tom, Claire and the cast of privately educated teenagers who work have created a little world. It’s a community resource, a commuters’ drop in, has the best 24 hour matured reduced sandwiches in the city and I love it. A caffeine comfort blanket.

 

  1.  New Peking House: there are other Chinese food outlets and restaurants in the area but then again you can buy Norpak Butter at Aldi. I’ve watched the children grow up, serve and leave – but the Hot & Sour Soup and Salt ‘n’ Pepper Ribs have never dropped in quality.

hot-and-sour-soup This is in my diary next to a picture of the children

  1. Piccolino Didsbury: Francisco, Nico and the team get it right every time. It’s worth saving up for a visit and hard not to write this as a fan letter. They are even patient when the twins are losing it loudly and it’s busy. I always walk out feeling a little bit special. I never thought anything would be better than The Nose on this site. But The Nose didn’t do pasta like this or make foil animals to entertain my kids. piccolino-didsbury Clam Place Calm Place Calm Place Calm Place

With the pearly princess distracted by the attention she gets I can flirt with Didsbury Wife. We can pretend we shall sweep home full of joy, good wine and passion fruit sorbet and our first thought won’t be “Do you know where the pull-ups are?”

Goditi il pasto, ci vediamo presto.

 

  • No bribes were taken in compiling this list but I would like to thank Omeprazole for helping me through.
  • images-1My hero, putting the Aaah into acid reflux.

John Lewis, Lemmy, Shiny Shoes and Me

I have looked into the darkest recesses of suburban hell. I have walked through the eye of a perfect storm and heard the clash of cymbals that heralds carnage. I have mixed metaphors and mixed them badly. It takes more than one issue and on Sunday the axis of evil was swinging and I fell into its arms.
The ingredients were ominous. First Sunday of the year and the day before we realise how little prepared we are for work and how much two weeks’ gluttony adds to the individual. The John Lewis Sale. Twin three-year olds being taken by Didsbury Mum and Didsbury Grandma shoe shopping; with me as wingman. Only one twin fully and consciously toilet-trained. Our 10am planned start delayed until the 11.30am, carnage hour.    Not John Lewis Sale, but not far off (c) Getty

The sign over the doors at John Lewis normally reads ” Never Knowingly Undersold”. In these circumstances, where parking and getting to the door with toddlers whose navigation skills resemble those of a current Manchester United striker trying to find the goal, it may as well say “Welcome to Hell, Men.”

 Wayne and pals reveal new training methods.

I was thinking that instead of pre-nuptial, living together or any other tests you may decide necessary prior to confirming lifetime commitment, this is more realistic and a better guide to comparability. If you can negotiate the John Lewis Sale with small children, older grandparents, on a Sunday, after a fortnight’s indulgence without wanting to cry or never talk to anyone you walked in with ever again it’s done. Not only could there be lifelong love, but house-buying, childbirth, teenage kids – doddle.

We made it. It wasn’t easy. But we made it.

After my in-store parental masterclass of missed toddler toilet time and trying to peel shiny stilettos from The Mighty Headed Boy left me nearly beaten.

After a chase through the cafe with a Pearly Princess far more nimble and quicker in a tight turn I don’t think I gained new friends. It must have been like watching a Labrador chase a Chihuahua.

 (C) http://www.chihuaha-people.com

John Lewis cafe is a fantastic place to show off your new progeny. From 12 days old (their first visit) to 12 months old (their last welcome visit), you and they are doted upon. Staff carry your trays, strangers coo and you are top of the food chain. At 39 months in, no. Your baby (ies)’ gurgle has evolved to “Daddy, Poo” delivered at a volume which would make Lemmy proud. The glassy eyes lolling in a car seat is now a full-throttled charge with commentary at aforementioned volume and you realise you forgot your pre-shop Valium.

 Calm and happy thoughts

This is why The Wacky Warehouse (aka the 6th wheel of Hell) is your release in these years. You already have immunity to the wall of sound. Searching through a ball pool whilst being dive bombed by little ones is a pleasant distraction to the thought that there will be more John Lewis shoe shopping at sale time before they slope off and want to go without you. Then you miss this and them more than you imagined.

That Friday Feeling

Things I have learned but not acted upon.  Teamwork is the key
I’ve shaved (face) and I’m sitting on Chorlton’s rather wonderful Barbakan Deli Terrace with a coffee and a peppery potato cake. It’s Friday, I’m knackered and this morning I remembered the twins but forgot work bag, gym bag, lunch bag, Pappa’s got a brand new pig bag, Bagpuss and the words to Baggy Trousers. It’s been a long week. 

 me thanks morning

The sun is making me squint and I don’t have to move for 20 minutes; bliss. It’s been so frantic recently I haven’t had time to share my usual paternal sense of slight disbelief, confusion and pride. With an age range of nappy rash to spot cream, my parenting is a giant improv trying to look like a rehearsed show. 
How do mothers get that instinct for parameters? This week, all 3 children have had my attempts at specifics end in their tantrums, calmed by the good Mothership through a little rephrasing (note to self “Look mate, just do it. Daddy’s bollocksed” does not work for the post-boddler or pre-GCSE generation). 
I have complete non-judgemental respect for any family set-up of any number, gender or age. I look at families with single mums or two mums and think it must be great when everyone knows what they’re doing. I eye up single parent dads and think that life must be like being in Tiswas or being a character in The Dice Man (Luke Reinhardt, if you haven’t … Read it).
It’s a chromosomal anomaly. I can plan a multi-stop, catered journey to the second. My books, CDs and Football Programmes are regimented and always ready for inspection. However, when the day comes that I can’t interrupt my ham fisted dressing of the Mighty-Headed boy by pretending he has flying trousers and stopping his wailing by lifting him over my head I am out of ammunition for the next decade.
Thankfully – there will always be Haribo.  

 Essential parenting skills inside

Just a simple country tale

Whilst Didsbury Son sloped off to … Chorlton (like Didsbury but with skinnier hips and less acceptable facial hair) where he could sit in the dark watching Anime with a similarly aged friend who understands his tortured genius, the rest of us headed for the country.  When Aspecto trainers meet the countryside. 
I am a huge fan of the countryside and firmly believe that all it needs is a roof, decent flooring, transport, Caffe Nero, Virgin Active, decent tapas, 4G and less cow poo to make it inhabitable. Oh and supermarkets would be a bonus.
The countryside is all about stress relief for city folk like me. There’s no chance of Wi-Fi, reception or Sky Sports so there’s no point worrying about football or the less vital news until you get near enough to a settlement to pick up 5Live. Then, after sometimes up to almost an hour with poor AM, the insistent, persistent minutiae is like a balm you love, but to which you are slightly allergic.  

 Country hens remain protective of their eggs after boiling. Many employ soldiers to help

Anyway – with only 4 bags, 2 nap sacks, a food suitcase, an armful of plastic toys and a Didsbury Dad Car Moose filled to the brim we set off for 24 hours out of M20. The event was a big party for children who are 3 in the next month. The twins have been asking if it was their birthday for weeks so this was a day without context, but with cake and a bouncy castle – somewhere in Warwickshire. 

I set the SatNav for “Middle of Nowhere” and off we set; to Caffe Nero. When he was small I drummed into Didsbury Son that a journey of 1000 Miles (or anything involving the M6) begins with a single coffee. This is when I realised that my babies are Didsbury through and through. As I returned to the car the wailing began. Two toddlers united in one grief. 

“Daddy, daddy. Where’s My Babyccino?”

To Be Continued: in the next episode we find a traffic jam on the M6, snacks run short, the toddlers fall asleep, we reach the party; night follows day. 

Postcards from Murcia 4/4 – This Much I Know.

This much I have learned about family holidays as 39 years and 39 months sail into the distant past and the dread of another 6 years primary school edutainment looms into view:
1. The only advantage to flying with small children is priority loading. This does not compensate for knowing that your only chance of getting someone’s kit off in the plane toilet on board is if they’ve had an accident.
2. That the villa comes complete with Sky Sports and Movies only adds to your frustration that the only channels you’ll be surfing are CBeeBies, Pop and Didsbury Son’s Russell Howardathon on Comedy Central. 
3. Going through security is now one of the best bits. Watching stern security guards trying to deal with The Mighty Headed Boy’s button pressing and Foghorn Leghornesque questions and being hugged by the Pearly Princess can be a joy to behold.  

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4. You would not think you had enough water in you to sweat as much as you do for the first 50 miles in your hire car. Your mantra “stick to the right, priority to the left” will haunt your dreams. 
5. Looking around the baby pool at the other parents I realised I was the only one who remembered the peseta and Laurie Cunningham playing for Real Madrid. 
6. My twins were the only boddlers not weeing in the swimming pool. They both insisted on getting out, standing next to the pool and weeing on the ground for an audience.
7. My holiday extravagances are more likely to lead to gout than a night of excess and a slight feeling of guilt.
8. I don’t judge anyone by their tattoos unless they are British and their tattoos are Sanskrit, Japanese, Chinese or Latin (football club mottos excluded), then I do judge them. 
9. Crisps taste better in the sun.
10. Wherever I go in the world, however deflated I am to return to Britain, the first flat voweled voice I hear at Passport Control reminds me this is home.
Home now and ready for the damp descent to autumn and those lovely winter nights when the ground shines and your breath leads you home. Good luck everyone. 

Didsbury’s Christmas Tree shines brighter than McBusted

Wednesday night saw Didsbury Village at its best for the Christmas tree switch-on. Stewards in Santa Man. City outfits telling us Santa’s not a red, it was a coca cola conspiracy. A host with a microphone full of enthusiasm and a unique lyrical skill, led us through free mulled wine and pizza, bags of satsumas and women handing out sweets. It was magical. The mulled wine was provided by The Stokers Arms and delivered by Bisou Bisou’s lovely Front of House – a kind of McBusted for the village. Santa arrived on a fire engine with a sound system playing Chris Rea and The Mighty Headed Boy, gently crushing my shoulders from the top down, cried as though Chris Rea himself were coming to sing.
The tree lit up, the sweets were snaffled and a good time was had by all. Only the darkness where once was Cafe Rouge reminded us that not everyone has there own French Patisserie – but we do, happy holidays.

N.B. I have no idea who McBusted are. I even watched I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here to see if they were there.

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Ready for the big night out

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The stars came out

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The Mighty Headed Boy v Santa

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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

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.

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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