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 “selfless acts of love”

Didsbury – Waitrose or Home Bargains? You Decide. 

Just a quick recap… Didsbury Wife and I took a stroll through the village last week and were shocked. There is much to discuss, from the empty space in the shop Formerly known as Evans to Tinto, Brimelow, Delia, Global resurrection and Elite Vapes. Elite Vapes. NIMBY. Genius idea from The Art of Tea. 

The only people I have ever seen vaping in Didsbury are schoolchildren, disgruntled people still brave and rich enough to smoke,  at parties where they’ve been told not to – and hipsters who think it’s a nouveau pipe and Retro Chic. 

The shop that through the 70s/80s was Hurst’s Chemists and then the Co-Op travel where you could book a holiday free from the expectation of decent or polite service is jinxed. I don’t think Golden Beach holidays ever really existed. It was a front for something and Elite Vapes is it’s cursed offspring.The exhibition of Chalk’s waiting outfits looks good. 

Next door there are signs of life, chirpy shopfitters and 60s wallpaper. The sign in the window regarding Global News’ refit (there since 2014) has finally called in action. No idea what it will be.  Who else could sell this 1-Bed in M20 for 300K,

The Purple Overlord has gone (almost). The sign in the window announcing Nick Brimelow’s decision to put himself out to purple pastures is suitably bold and must leave Julian Wadden’s Whiter Shade of Pale ready to mop up. If you’ve ever sold a house through Brimelow they are great. You feel that no-one will get the better of you; if you have been at the other end of the deal you can fill it in yourself. But it is a lion gone from our pride, along with the mighty Darren from Delia’s.  My suggestion for how to use the spare space at Evans. 

Y Fabrica changed names to Muddy Felicini’s as we walked out but by the time we came out of The Botanist it had changed back. Saints and Scholars has a new roof, Evans currently looks a bit like a fish car boot sale and you wait years for a Tapas bar and then three come st once.

Tinto is the new Chalk / Nido / Turkish Delight… Tinto Shminto. It’s not 2012 and names ending in Os have not thrived in M20 central. It looks promising, but so did the kitten-hipped waiters at Chalk – good luck. 
Bisous Bisous is now shut Monday and Tuesday. I hope this is not a gradual decline. 

But amid this turmoil Kansas Fried Chicken sails like a huge iceberg, untouched. There are lessons to be learned.

Ps: I love The Botanist. What’s not to love about Salt ‘n’ Pepper Onion Petals with a Carafe of Gin but it still feels a bit like The Pitcher & Piano – or is that just me? 

Evans, Delia and There’s No Place Like Home

 Look – not one pointless apostrophe or errant comma.

I am to blame. Me and others like me. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Show a man Eddie at Evans and he will joss half his wages on a Royal Dorade and Samphire.” Until… the cost of twins at Boots, the inability to walk more than 50 yards without a Costa and the come hither ease of M&S fish porn mean that a wallet-emptying, life-enhancing trip to Evans becomes less regular. 

My grandmother first took me to Evans. After my pram was pushed to Inman’s, I held my Didsbury Grandmother’s hand as we went to the “new fish shop” to buy Hake which then became the greatest Gefilte Fish (chopped and boiled or fried) each week.   Exotic seafood

I have wooed on the back of their langoustines but recently, laziness and children have reduced me to roll mops and kippers. As Hamlet said, “oh that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a Fish Stew (ish). 

If the staff takeover works I’ll be back next week with a Halibut hop and the jauntiness of a cheeky bream. 

And so to Delia’s. It’s not all Hispi Chic and Botanist beauty in M20 (although I have offered to trade a child for their Salt’n’Pepper Onion). Delia’s Gone. I remember original Delia. I was an impressionsble teen, she was a bit vibrant and scary and I think I had a crush on her between Banaramama and Clare Grogan. The flowers were a treat I learned went down well. Delia sadly died but her name has gone on for several decades with brilliant Darren most recently running the shop and the delivery from Holland. The wall full of bath bombs looked like an admission of failure and smelled awful but we need a Delia’s in the village and should hang our heads at the ease with which we slipped into the garage or Tescos. I told him to get a Costa Machine in to bring in the punters.     When Delia’s closure was announce people movingly rushed to put flowers outside as a tribute.

What next? Will Karma Sutra move downstairs? Is there room for a new Waitrose? How can these shut when Bourbon & Black stays open? 

With Felicini’s / Mud Crab / Y Fabrica changing its name every week and Manor Service Station becoming an Off Licence these are strange days. The village centre is starting to feel a bit empty and the rents are proving prohibitive. This is not strong and stable. However it does mean that traditional Didsbury is now probably epitomised by one of our oldest residents, Kansas Fried Chicken.

I’m still working away a lot at the moment but I know now. Whenever I’m homesick I click my red Nike Air Force Ones and say “There’s No Place Like Home, can I have Chicken gravy?”  

 The new official colours of Didsbury – Melchester Rovers. 

My WellBeing and Happy Place

The 7 O’Clock tram is a place of truth. Although easier, smoother and infinitely less hassle than driving or the bus – it still exposes all those physical scars and joint weaknesses that accrue.

Life, children, football and the wrongly held belief 20 somethings have about physical invincibility come back to you with each bend and stop/start. If I ever need to fill in one of those forms with an outline of a body on to mark where it hurts, I get the 7am tram. After having children after the age of anything, this is the most accurate and medically proven method of analysing weak spots.

In my more Media-luvvy, work work work days I would always end each production with a short health spa visit, have a regular massage and generally try and keep my wheels oiled and moving.

Nursery fees, school costs, the price of nappies and lack of time have all put paid to this. BUT. I promised to take one for the team and am always true to my word.

Didsbury’s First Day Spa still languishes like a half-built, post 2008 Spanish holiday complex. The rolls of insulation in the window promise nothing, but the windows look good quality. I decided to try MyWellBeingPlace at The Waterside Hotel. Free parking and a river running by it are powerful attractors when one hopes to leave jellied and at one with nature.

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Didsbury’s First Day Spa – not quite got the visual look to work

To anyone raised on the pampas grass and wide horizons of M20, The Waterside Hotel is still The Galleon. A Lido in South Manchester in the middle of the River Mersey’s flood plain. It has always been a tribute to optimism and an example of early adopting. With Global Warming starting to head our way – an open air pool could finally be back on the agenda.

I liked the promise in the name of MyWellBeingPlace and its website called me to Bali trained, Stockport raised mindfulness and treatment of boss and head masseuse Amanda.

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Early artist view of the Waterside Hotel refit

It worked. Amanda put me at such ease it reminded me of going to one of those hotels that is so posh, they don’t make you feel like a Northern Monkey. After a chat about my infirmities and allergies I had half an hour that reminded me why I used to save my pennies and expectation for a bit of me time.

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Post massage selfie

A good masseuse can be as important as a good dentist. You have to go in trusting that you can handover the reins of your life, whilst you lie face down and let your mind go. It’s the same reason I like swimming. You are under water in your pants – there are only so many things you can control or worry about so you may as well relax. I did.

One benefit of working on productions was the ability to blag a massage if you have a masseur coming for talent or crew. I have had good, bad and indifferent pummels across the globe. Finally I’m coming home.

This was lovely. Amanda put me at ease, did a fantastic job and then brought me gently back to reality before sending me back into the world fully conscious and lissom. I am usually wary of recommending anything inedible but I can endorse a visit to MyWellBeingPlace (which only opened in September) before getting a booking involves bribery and involves a waiting list.

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I stepped limber, spent that evening in Teletubby land and the next 2-3 days ache free and uplifted; no chemicals.

This would be my happy ending but I’ve booked in Didsbury Wife for a pre half-term treat and I’m wondering which of the children’s birthdays can be sacrificed for a more regular trip.

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. 

Sleep Depravation and the IPhone battery

Sleep Depravation shows the extent of the convergence between humanity and technology. I have developed battery life akin to my iPhone. When I first brought the Sleep Depravation 4 just under 3 years ago I just needed a quick sync and full charge every week to ten days and worked in full power.After 3 winters and several depravation upgrades (they’ve got heavier, louder and harder to shush down), this third summer has seen my joints stiffen and my energy plunge as short trips (what in the name of Waitrose was I thinking) to opposite ends of the UK have left the toddlers with on tour timings and tantrums and Didsbury Wife and I so low on juice that even an altruistic induced lie-in only gets us out of the red for a couple of hours. Just like your iPhone. By month 24 a quick trawl through Sky Sports News and its wheezing and out of life. 

I fell asleep in a lift today – it would not have been so bad were I not a) claustrophobic b) in a conversation at the time regarding a creative project. 

I have brought a mobile charger (Berocca), a car charger (Coffee) and plugged into the computer (Sugar). But all I know is that I’m only a 5am Peppa Pig Party away from crashing and was so disoriented yesterday I used an emoticon 😭.

  One pig, 15 apps, 12 ribs in sauce

I’m positively looking forward to my next withering put down by teen boy Didsbury Son; at least he doesn’t need milk or picking up.   

 I was so tired yesterday I tried moving his helmet so I could tell them he’d gone to Doggy Heaven. 

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. 

Inman’s, The Doomesday Book and Regeneration

According to The Times, Didsbury is in Britain’s Top 25 suburbs. We are apparently more “real”, “less expensive” than the twin delights of Hale and Bowden (Red House Farm and the M56). They may have the footballers, but we have the real wives of Didsbury; they go to the match. 

When City first won the Premier League the street party featured reds, blues, inbetweeners and those that don’t care. Likewise, when the other teams from the region do well we are occasionally roused.

Didsbury regenerates. Cibo and Nido are now just fading memories, like a bad date where you came out of the toilet unzipped with tissue paper on your shoe. But other places leave a mark. 
It is lovely to see Broadbents taking on the mantle, but Wilkinsons will not be forgotten and now, the sad but inevitable news that Inmans on Lapwing Lane is going to close.
Josie, straight here from La Coruna, has welcomed four generations of families. My Didsbury Grandpa took me for Shoot comic when I was a toddler (the sweet shop, selling halfpenny chews is now Didsbury Noodle) and The Mighty Headed Boy/Princess Pearly Alliance have had their first Peppa Pig comics brought there. It is a rite of passage for Didsbury children.
Josie is now a grandmother and still the welcoming face of Inmans and after over 900 years in the same location it closes in April. Rumour has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men, escaping back to Scotland, sneaked past Prince Rupert’s troops camped by the library and brought Werthers, a funny Birthday Card and something to read for the journey north at “Inemannes, a most favourable, but pricey stop”.
Rumours are rife of it becoming a Costa but the Whitbreadification of Lapwing Lane is unlikely.
The three inside tips bidding I have heard of are… A Cage Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts Centre, a Waitrose (pretty please) or a Petting Zoo. However this is Didsbury and my money is on a hairdresser or an Estate Agent. 
So my Didsbury Children will not be able to harangue me for novelty pens and expensive stationary here. Pete at Fusion will need a new paper supplier and I will have to find another trigger to remind when I need to buy cards for Jewish Festivals. Worst of all, I can’t swap baby pictures with Josie on the way to work.
I’ve only just got over Woolworths.  

 

inman’s first book display

   

 Pictures of the first uniforms worn by Inman’s staff are rare – but in this an early manageress celebrates the signing of the Magna Carta (copies were available at 1 groat).

That Was Valentine’s Day

Teenager, Toddlers – the scent of romance drifting somewhere between the intoxication of Lynx, the unmissable waft of teendom and several nappies. I don’t know whether to this heady brew, a night separated only by two little ones, a door and a hallway has worked its magic, but Didsbury Dad Mansions has been a cocktail of the many splendours of love this Valentine’s weekend.

Didsbury Son would obviously rather spend half-term cleaning shoes and brushing up on his German grammar than discussing his growingly exotic, mainly online new relationship. There was a tryst arranged and neither brought as many friends as usual as they awkwardly swapped cards and insecurities in public view, before heading back to the anonymous safety of social media.

We are not yet at the Valentine’s stage I used to love when a squeaky Blondini Didsbury Son would artlessly shape toast into hearts, sprinkle them around the kitchen and then be delightfully easy to distract for an hour with The Simpsons but…

There are scrawled reds on papers and lots of singing Happy Birthday as a card or two appears.

My life is currently made up of three films. Taxi Driver for Didsbury Son whose many pick ups and drop offs range between shy and hopeful perfectly coiffed, nice smelling girls and the silent teen-boy waft of those no longer capable of speech and addicted to the sound one finger screen tapping.
Entourage for The Mighty-Headed boy. The collection of toys (in sequence), blankets and tins that he requires for every room to room movement really needs an assistant. This morning I thought it would be nice to get him into bed for a cuddle. Once the cast of Frozen, John Lewis’ blanket department and various detritus had been transferred from cot to bed there was no room for either of us.
Frozen, still the soundtrack to our lives, the dress code for our children and the tunes that keep me awake at night.

My Valentine’s Day involved changing nappies, wiping noses, being told off by teenagers and having a candle-lit gourmet dinner with two other couples. High Court Judges pay a fortune for this kind of opportunity and we get it everyday in Didsbury.

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Dressed by Disney, driven by Anna and Elsa.

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What you look like to a teenager during any discussion.

IMG_3428 the opening scene from Entourage.

Is it Spring Forward, Fall Back or Fall forward, spring back?

This is it. The final, official, scratching the bottom of the pan, stretching it as far as it will go, hope over reality, these jeans still fit honestly, end of summer 2014. Later this week the clocks go back or is it forward? Spring forward, fall back or the other way around? Either way, it gets dark at lunchtime and the sun only comes up Wednesday half-day closing.
This is TV on the couch, jumpers, endless talk of “incubating something” weather. Time to be pressured into creating a perfect Christmas that encompasses the beauty of innocence and the financial clout I have only occasionally achieved in Monopoly.
As my children continue to defy my indifferent parenting skills to be lovely, I look around me and know that before its time to gather at the Cenotaph next month and look at the empty terrace where Cafe Rouge once ruled, The squish of leaves underfoot and the fear of gas bill in my inbox will take hold. There is only one thing to do – plan your treats.

1. For a little male grooming, the wetshave at Blade on School Lane takes some beating, although the military-trained deep massage at G4 Physio I once had was so deep my hamstrings are still undercover.

2. For your take-out morning commute there is now real choice. The coffee and pastries at Bisou Bisou are so good they can’t possibly be every day occurrences. In the village The AiryFairyCupCakeBoutique still know how to dress a sponge for the City Centre tram, whilst West Didsbury has Fusion Deli, consistently great coffee with a welcome to kickstart the day. My jar of Nescafe is now three years old and a sad, unloved, never-to-be-used clump.

3. Notworking: should you be meeting “colleagues” or “freelancing from home” there are many warm welcomes once the decent TV finishes. Café Nero is so child-friendly I can’t go through the door without a Rugrat, but if the free top-ups ’til 11 hold then a Chalk Bar & Grill Flat White can keep itself in adult company. Healthy Spirit (I just had to ask Didsbury Wife what Nature’s Grace is called now) is sooo nice, so boho, so right-on its virtually Chorlton. Art of Tea blends indifferent service into an art and Albert’s is the place for a posh meeting. I go there and pretend its 1989 all over again – well if it’s good enough for the decor its good enough for me.

4. Lunch: The Japan Deli in Withington, opposite The Red Lion. How it survives is a mystery, but the Sushi is stunning and there is never a queue. I find it difficult to take anywhere seriously for lunch that promotes a Scotch Egg as haute cuisine – but sitting alone in The Jade Garden for their business lunch, playing “Name that Tune” is an experience sidestepped by too many.

5. The newbies. Bourbon & Black looks exciting; Croma has queues not seen since the last Gregg’s pastie sale. Solita seems lively and we await news of Sweaty Betty’s. Wine & Wallop looks a goer and Burton Road bulges with indie pride.

These possibilities keep me focused on a 7am park trip with the boddlers; but there is one place where I am beyond the smash of a dropped babychino, the demand for wi-Fi and Hot Chocolate or the call to prayer at John Lewis. It has no windows, no atmosphere and the service is average – but in the cafe at the gym my phone has no signal. There’s a couch where I can slouch and drift off… perfect for a winter’s morning.

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The sushi at Japan Deli is the nearest Didsbury Son is getting to a fish tank this Christmas.

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If you close your eyes it’s like Cibo never existed.

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Looking forward to those beautiful November mornings.

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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