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 “Valentine’s Day”

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

New Beginnings, Old Goodbyes and The Northern Quarter

It’s been a time for new starts and changes in Didsbury Dad Towers. The end of the football season always marks that period when Didsbury Brother phones me and we wonder how we will get through the 8/9 weekends coming up with no constant football interference to fill the space and act as punctuation.
  

Headlining this week is Dora the Explorer…

The Mighty Headed Boy and Pearly Princess are saying goodbye to nappies. It’s been a week measured in gaps between potty visits and frequent visits to Co-Op for more kitchen towel. Like all these rites of passage, the reality positively outwits the dread and it’s been constant but weirdly satisfying. The realisation that intent, action and vocalisation have a fluid running order you need to shape carefully is an uplifting thought.
  
The new all you can eat buffet. These are the new currency.

Didsbury Wife has been a blur of action this week – without realising it, the boddlers have been changed forever with only stickers and Cadbury Chocolate Buttons as props and the floor has been cleaned so often we also realised we could never be bothered being OCD. 

  
Oasis at Maine Road, The Roses at The Hacienda, Catatonia at The Roadhouse, Chris Blackwood in Didsbury Park.

Didsbury Son waved goodbye to being sized by age to width/height. We went to town to cruise the Northern Quarter for clothes and art. He is a big fan of Manga so we visited Forbidden Planet. If you ever want to feel better about yourself, understand your peccadillos are fine go here. Watching hipsters and geeks salivate over Jabba the Hut and argue about fonts made me realise that I’m okay. I peaked at Carrie Fisher in the 2nd Star Wars several decades ago. I was looking for the sign behind the till that reads “you don’t have to speak Klingon to work here but it helps.”
I love mooching about the Northern Quarter. In pre Didsbury Dad says it was my domain. I worked and played here for a decade and enjoyed being part of the city’s fabric as we moved from Madchester to post-bomb tourist attraction and cultural hub. As the new Home theatre/gallery/cinema sits in the shadow of the Hacienda’s descendants so this weekend a venue I shaped a generation ago says goodbye and another piece of my personal history becomes memory and memorabilia. 
Measuring the development of my family in their milestones and this latest part of my life just adds another layer of experience – one that moves the day from the nighttime economy and being out to being home more with people for whom each day is a new world and a big idea is building a space ship out of cushions. 

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?

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

Teenage Kicks, So Hard to Beat

I am perched on the end of a single bed. Only one put-upon hip and a curled toe are keeping me from falling, whilst The Mighty-Headed boy, spread out across the sheets like a spatchcock hen drifts into a post-milk, post-park afternoon nap to dream of life-sized Frozen jigsaws made of chocolate. I digress.

I have been working away recently. Time in a plush, fully-catered hotel and spa with a bed three pillows wide turned down at 7pm and laced with a chocolate mint; just for me. Whilst the ability to concentrate and give my knees and elbows recuperation time between kamikaze leaps from stairs and cars is welcomed. Whilst going to the bathroom without an audience shouting “bye bye wee” helps one focus and whilst time to gain perspective is always positive, I am now ruined.
Not only did I still wake at 3, 4 and 5 anyway, I found not having my eyelids prized open by little fingers, whilst being slapped by Olaf from Frozen made the start to the day a little dull. Not having to heat milk and make tea with circling cats and caterwauling rugrats felt like the challenge was gone. But, weirdly – what I missed most was the mood roulette of the now teenage, but still lovely Didsbury Son.

Face Time is a good substitute. In half a dozen chats across the ether we moved from Surly, to happy and through the whole seven dwarves and back to thumper via Bambi.

What struck me was that however cool, laid back, media savvy or in-touch we think we are, no one over the age of 25 (Doh, just missed it by a couple of decades ish) remembers the stress-led, hormone-fuelled, peer-panicked immediacy of being a teenager.

When Didsbury Son played up or got riled previously I would patronisingly tell Didsbury Wife how I understood it, as I had lived it. Teenage is different. He is no Kevin, no trouble and primarily easygoing and helpful; but a 7.30 FaceTime explaining that there was no point going to school, no point eating, no point speaking (weirdly not no point spending hours online watching super geeks play Minecraft) was followed, one pensive flight home later – by a chirpy greeting after a great day at school. No point? I was SO hours ago.

I forgot how crushing the merest hint of rebuttal can be to the evolving teenage psyche, the constant life ruination by parents who just “don’t understand” and the unpredictability of voice breaking, spot count and face colour when speaking to girls.

It cheered me up. Watching the joy and torment from the outside reminds me that creaky joints and indigestion after late night snacks are not only easier to deal with – the best bit about being 39 and a lot is not really caring that much about anything beyond your family bubble… And football.

Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

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This is what a teenage brain looks like whilst thinking.

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I missed being kicked all night when this was mine only.

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