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 “The Cheese Hamlet”

Didsbury: I Have a Dream

I have a dream. I have many dreams. Beyond a harmonious world and an easy to assemble Kinder Egg Toy, I have dreams.          I remember when all of this was train track. 
I dream of reading a newspaper article (analogue or digital) whose research is not a celebrity twitter feed and in which fact checking does not mean a retweet. 

I dream of the time when the Pearly Princess can put on her own tights. Truly, as a man with the dexterity of the average baby this is a daily bind. Fifteen minutes spent struggling with a wriggly toddler to find they are on back to front and the heel is over one knee is soul destroying in a way that working out next to someone who keeps asking if you’re okay “…as you don’t get many people in your age” can only peck at gently.Burns, La Tasca, Cibo, Solita. Inhabitants and the back four of FC Nido in the 2004 Champions League qualifier. 

I dream of a time when each incarnation of the restaurant known as Y Fabrica (me neither, no idea) join forces. Whether it’s The Mud Crab Cafe, Felicinis or Didsbury Wine Bar, between them there is a decent menu lying in wait. 

I dream of people caring about each other. Of pushy mothers in 4x4s not double parking or taking residents’ spaces when dropping their Freyas and Archies at Primary School. Of the staff at Evans being knighted for services to middle class dinner parties in South Manchester. Of Unicorns singing Stone Roses tunes as you pass the “Welcome to Greater Manchester” sign on the M56 and of a time when my first action of the day is not deciding what to do with a pull-up. The names on the mug are in reverse order.

Alongside every act of lazy and institutionalised xenophobia we have witnessed over the last year I believe there is goodness. There are people who realise the contribution of all people whether British born or not. I thought about this as I sipped the most exquisite Sardinian-made Bloody Mary at Piccolino’s on Saturday. I remember it when it when I bump into people who remember me going for sweets on Lapwing Lane with my own Didsbury grandad. Rare picture of Fog Lane Park’s Pets’ Corner

I dream of a world where Coronation Street does not move so quickly that I miss a month and have no idea who Steve MacDonald has married/impregnated/saved.Kiwi, a rare Didsbury delicacy from when Evans first opened. 

I dream of a world where the city abruptly ends and the country takes over in seconds. Then I remember Stenner Lane, the perfect cut through between almost Gastropub The Didsbury and the haven of Fletcher Moss.

Ten minutes looking at the river and I don’t care who’s blocked my drive, which continent Felicini’s is pretending to be from or which toddler’s knee wakes me with a morning kidney jab. I just tap my heels together 3 times and I’m walking back from Flannagan’s with a smart haircut and a Fosters’ chippie tea in my hand. 

* thanks to @craftwords for keeping me up to date with developments and great one-liners whilst I’ve been too busy navel-gazing to write a regular blog. 

Home is not just a cinema or the church cafe

. When Felicini’s became the Mudflap cafe I nearly cried. It’s glossy black sign and euphemistic name was a part of my history and stood proudly in the same giggling pointlessness of changing The Cheese Hamlet to Helmet. Now, with the stripped back wood still settling in to Gregg’s and an eviscerated Inman’s being re-imagined as Thai favourite The Chilli Banana I am almost out of my depth.
felicinsmud-crabfutureistic-pic evolution
At least it’s only 8 months until Didsbury Festival returns in its usual format – unchanged since Bonnie Prince Charlie led the procession, which featured the 88th Scouts.
This is Didsbury. A wheel turning and creating new identities – including cash converting, laser surgery, fifteen diet clubs and an ever growing coterie of Pet Grooming services. Only 86% of trading premises in Didsbury serve coffee, 71% cut hair (human or canine). Didsbury Library is a portal to 1973. I go there when I only have tuppence ha’penny and need a cup of tea (coffee not being invented until The Premier League started in 1992).
The other big news is that Didsbury Dad Towers is no longer in Didsbury. We are now a castle, a Didsbury Diaspora outpost.
In a year that has seen us cough up more in Stamp Duty than the national debt we have moved twice. First out of the village to near the river and now, out of town.
We have moved so far away that we are the cultural diversity. It’s a city, it’s semi-rural and it’s not Didsbury.
So I am part-time Didsbury Dad. I am still working in my capacity as Meeja Luvvie doing something non-specific in MediaCity – but only weekdays.
It is strange. All Didsbury Son has known is Didsbury. My life with Didsbury Wife has been played out to the backdrop of Piccolino and Barlowmoor Road. The Mighty Headed Boy and the Pearly Princess are Harriet & Dee. But. We have begun to sever the link for a period of time.
It’s only been a few weeks and it’s still a bit like being on holiday. It does make you realise how easy it can be living somewhere that is the edge of the metropolis, has travel options to envy and it’s all in walking distance.
It’s early days yet. I have had to develop a whole new rhythm to each day. I am a little lost without my morning fix of Pete, Tom and Claire at Fusion Deli after a cheery wave from Darren at Delia’s Florist. There is no Piccolino, Bisous Bisous, St. James & Emmanuel and I don’t know everyone.
This has great advantages. When I get my Fusion fix the coffee tastes great and I have stories to share. I now know just how good New Peking House is and sometimes the anonymity is liberating.
I think I will always be a Didsbury Dad wherever we live. My Gamma Male, liberal approach to life on the Focaccia line is settled. We may be away for a short time or for good, not decided yet. But Didsbury Wife, Son and I are M20 raised and made and know the difference between a good idea and some of the money pit no chances that we’ve seen trying to cash in on the perceived wealth in Didsbury.
The boddlers are still confused. On Saturday, as we perused the rolling hills and unfamiliar accents that surround us, they clamoured for the sweet shop on Dene Road. As we walked through the Metrolinkless roads they wondered where all the Magic Buses were.
Starting from scratch after a life in the subsidised suburban bliss of M20 is exciting. But I think we’ll be coming regularly. It’s not just home, a river runs through it.

Postcard from Murcia 1/4 – Sexy Beast

The great thing about family holidays with teenagers, tantrums and a pool are that by the time the tan fades, so does the memory of the arguments, meltdowns over sun cream, mosquito bites and that moment I just had when you squint down through sweat covered eyes and realise that although in your head you are a David Beckham 40, without the tattoos and with body hair, you are not in fact breathing out and it’s all you.   Not David Beckham

This is bliss. Actually in my head I am now Ray Winstone in the Opening scene of Sexy Beast. Didsbury Son has sloped off to his lair, Didsbury Wife and the Pearly Princess sleep coiled like beautiful cat and kitten under a fan in the bedroom and the Mighty Headed Boy has finally conked out on the couch. It is hot. 

  

 Acclaim for my Ray Winstone references 
I am alone. An hour of solitude, but for cicadas and the distant hum of the Mar Menor. My balcony is not overlooked and is split equally between 90 degree sun and cool shade. This is Didsbury Dad bliss. A tummy full of Navajos, a cool drink of water next to me and no Wi-Fi so I can’t stress about anything outside of my sweaty and happy bubble. I am Ray Winstone and I have had the privelige of doing something for the last 30 minutes that I have not done since before I became a Didsbury Dad; nothing.

IMG_0083What is going through my mind right now
I have not thought of anything constructive. I have not made plans, read emails, considered local or global conundrums. I have not tidied, folded the washing or read a book. I have spent the time staring and sweating happily. Now the blog’s written it’s back to the abyss. 

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be

How times change. Didsbury Son is a fan of all things Japanese and has decided to master the art of healthy, precise Japanese cooking. Being a supportive Didsbury Dad I tried to convince him that the Admiral’s Pie was named after Admiral Pikachu, Japan’s greatest imaginary sailor and that mashed potato is the original sushi. 

He didn’t believe me, saying I was about as convincing as David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (if you get that reference you are older than you think).
So, as night fell and the rain lashed our early spring we set out to find Nori – travelling through Upper Brook Street, China Town and Oldham Road in search of a Japanese-food selling supermarket open after 8pm. There weren’t any… But M20’s Japan Deli saved the day. I digress.
This trip through the night time centre of the city took me back to my pre-Didsbury Dad days when I lived, thrived, worked and shaped the beating heart of our cultural landscape (bear with me).
The buildings and the city are very different. They are now a Turkish supermarket, a museum, soon to be a restaurant and various other venues, some now flats, done flattened. It made me realise that even the terminology that shapes my life now has altered meaning:
Large-ing it – once a night out, now a call for more wipes as The Mighty-Headed boy has overfilled a nappy. 
Going for an early night – once a euphemism. “She asked me for a euphemism, so I gave her one” now a plea to go into bed alone and not be disturbed.
Loadsamoney – waving your wad from your cash in hand was so satisfying. Now it describes the nursery bill, the food bill, the repairing my iPad screen on a weekly basis bill etc.
Top One, Nice One, Sorted: Calpol, pre-Nursery nappy, the sock pile
Saturday Morning Lie-In: It’s 6.45am and after an hour of head-butting, being kicked like Vinnie Jones and asked for milk, biscuits and Dora you give in and get up. 
A cab home from a night out – I await my instructions as to what time I am to be summoned to drive home Didsbury Son and his mute accomplices. 
As we drove back. I looked at the lights twinkling and one thought filled my mind – is sciatica fashionable?

Didsbury’s Pickled Egg Revolution

Hola Didsbury – the newbies are coming. 

Last night, whilst perched between The Mighty Headed Boy, the furry cast of Frozen, blankie and pillow (this week’s must haves) I began thinking about Didsbury Village. What do we need? A really good children’s clothes shop to add to Bond and replace Hippins? A Waitrose (yes)? A hardware shop or suchlike. No no no. What we need is either Emmanuel Church to install a Costa Coffee Machine to finish Feng Shui-ing the village’s coffee offering or a hairdresser.
It has been weeks since Squires evolved from the chrysalis of Gentry Grooming. Weeks without a new hairdresser, barber, coffee shop or Estate Agent. Thank you Lord for answering our prayers as Sweaty Betty’s – 70s chip shop, 90s fly posting frontage and around a year a building site is Didsbury’s first day spa and 136th hairdresser.
I carried out a scientific study (I.e asked Didsbury Wife and Didsbury Mother), they told me to get back to work. Are we particularly hairy in M20? Does our testosterone fuelled manliness push the hair out quicker? Are our woman more coiffed? 
Or is it that these barbers and hairdressers are a front for a secret supernatural sect or a Stone Roses tribute band? After all, we have Blade and John (runs) Squire(s). 
I am pointlessly delighted that Wilkinsons is still painted blue and looks like it could fill the gap left by the loss several years ago of The Village Saver. A quick peek means it could be a mini Woolworths replacement for the boddlers and a decent diversion to relieve teenage moodiness. 
I’m looking forward to seeing if the new day spa honours its chip shop heritage. The day we can book in for a hot pickled egg massage, an intense curry sauce wrap and chips (not fries) with salt and sarsons not balsamic, is a day to be lauded. 



Tools of the trade for the New Sweaty Betty Spa

Broadbents – is there room for a Costa Coffee machine in there?

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.

The Twelve Days of Didsbury Dad Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 hours sleep,
11. Peppa Pig toys
10. Zantac calming
9. Mince Pies mincing
8. Pets a puking
7. Sky Sports Channels
6. Hours driving in a car with screaming toddlers and bored teen
5 nappies honking
4. French patisseries
3. Minutes’ peace and quiet
2. Twins a bouncing
And a life based in Didsbury…..

Your Didsbury Top 12 (almost) free to do tips:
1. Walk along the side of the metro line boring your children senseless with “all this used to be fields.” Chat.

2. Bring a picnic and take the Metro tour of Manchester to Bury Market where you remember you’ve left your wallet at home and have to come back.

3. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas/Chanucah/Solstice/(insert own) and take them to one of our great churches, synagogues, mosques, cult bases. There is usually singing, getting up and down and catering afterwards.

4. Fletcher Moss – brilliant. (Especially with an Alpine Cafe stop)

5. The little park next to Fletcher Moss, great for the under 5’s and handy for The Didsbury, Ye Olde Cocke and Dimitri’s.

6. Play hide and seek on the old Manchester Poly site – hours of endless fun.

7. Take the Saturday morning samples trail from The Cheese Hamlet down to West Didsbury and back up to Parrs Wood.

8. Didsbury Library has a fantastic children’s section, a toilet AND you aren’t meant to eat in there; genius.

9. Gym offers. Lavid Ddoyd are currently offering 12 days for 12 pounds so long as you understand it’s also £12 for a coffee and £12 for a kid’s snack as well.

10. Visit friends and relatives. It is important to rotate.

11. Didsbury, Cavendish, Fog Lane – play, remember which one has swings, which one has a BMX track and ducks and which one has a bespoke Chocolatier next door.

12. Play the old Didsbury Gsme. “Uh Oh, Where’s Nido? What was Cibo?”

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The Snowman, slowly replacing Frozen as the thrice a day treat.

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Mighty head, busy hands

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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Dear Didsbury Dad

As an amalgamation of dads across the world (mainly those in Didsbury with a non specific past, a mistrust of strong opinions outside of sport and a love of coffee), I get a lot of post from other mums and dads asking advice. Here are a few which I felt represent the majority of issues raised by parents from, not just Didsbury, but across the world.

Dear Didsbury Dad.
My teenage child is keen to ditch school sports. I am concerned that this may lead to isolation, over-eating and lack of self-esteem. Can you advise me?

Dear J:
don’t be harsh on your child, if they can’t stand school showers let them go. Your self-esteem does not rest on the indifferent loping around of chapped-legged year 9 and 10s as they get hammered by other schools. Your exit from touchline conversation needn’t leave you stranded. My top tip is to embrace this hormone-induced lack of drive in your child. Enjoy the reduction in washing and the lie-in. Join a gym, say hello to people in the sauna and only have a flapjack every other visit. If this doesn’t work stay in bed.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am coming to Didsbury next week for Small Business Saturday on 6 December. My non-Didsbury wife likes Starbucks and is worried that non-mass produced food and drink won’t taste right and may not contain enough salt. Can you recommend a top ten for coffee, snacks and lunches? I hear Didsbury has a KFC.

Mr X. Wow, what a question. Top 10 independent outlets in Didsbury without mentioning Nando’s in Parrs Wood or the ever-consistent and bizarrely male customer follicly challenges Costa Tesco Burnage. Hmmm….
In no order.
1 Wine & Wallop on Lapwing Lane with a Fusion Coffee and Panini to sober up on the way to
2. Burton Road – Pinchjo’s for tapas, Folk for experience, Mary and Archie’s for booze.
3. Nip around to the Thyme Out deli opposite the hospital or stop for cake at And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon.
After you’ve togged up at the Independent Steranko and notched a handmade chocolate by the metro, waddle towards Barlow Moor Road for…
4. The glitz, the people watching but not the service at Albert’s Shed.
5. Cleanse at Healthy Spirit opposite the church. Go upstairs for meditation and downstairs for meditation and Ancoats roasted coffee, delicious.
6. Indulge whilst strolling at Bisou Bisou and walk to the pop up art and gorgeous, free Wi-Fi and wall paintings at Central Perk on School Lane.
7. Back via a baking class or two and an AiryFairy CupCake Boutique special to the village where…
8. You must try the bar at Bourbon & Black, a cocktail at Solita and a shimmy with the staff at Chalk Bar & Grill.
9. Via Zantac at Boots don’t miss a Fosters chip barm (gluten free available). You must visit Giddy Goat Toys. I had a toddler incident there last week when he mistook the Olaf in the window for the one he has at home and went ballistic. This just leaves a trip back West for
10. Dinner at Piccolino’s ( in my view still independent), Greens or The Lime Tree – all superb.
You can always take a box of our very own Kansas Fried Chixken home if she’s not happy.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am the parent of a child at one of Didsbury’s lovely primary schools and live within the catchment area. However, most mornings I drive my 4 x 4 badly through the village reacting aggressively to pedestrians and feel that as I have children I have the right to block driveways, park on double yellows, nick residents parking places and be rude to these residents as my over-pampered, soon-to-be obese offspring trail behind me, heads in screens. Am I bad person? Will karma get me?

3. Yes and yes.

More next time.

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.

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