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 tag “Barlow Moor Road”

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.
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Charles Darwin, Giddy Goats and The Bisou Conspiracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

  
Didsbury’s next charity shop?

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

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

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

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

Didsbury Dad Guide to London

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep. Our journey of 200ish began with the low-level restraint only packing a car with three children, two adults and 20 bags the day after rich food, quality booze and general indulgence can bring. A real journey begins with a coffee. Bisou Bisou and Fusion let me down but thankfully Didsbury Village has around 20 outlets (excluding restaurants) with coffee and this Boxing Day morning the Costa machine at the Shell Garage did a mean White Americano.

Christmas Day was a huge success at Didsbury Dad Towers (more in the next blog). From the Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly-Topped Girl’s lie-in, to Didsbury Son’s charm, through a smoothie breakfast, a turkey so moist we clapped, to presents well-received. So a Boxing Day Drive with a car full had all the ingredients for disaster.

We were an hour late leaving. Didsbury Son was having angst about the brand of the latest electronic device in his collection. The twins were not tired. A slight hangover combined with the effect of sprouts, cheese and champagne on a system fuelled by Oemeprozole could seriously test the air conditioning.

Four amazingly tension-free hours later we arrived in London. For those who don’t know it, London’s a big city in need of a wash, with a lot of people. The water doesn’t taste very nice, but it has a wide selection of Nando’s and its North West has enough ex-pat Mancunians to iron out some of its flaws.

So for Boxing Day and the rest of the Christmas holidays a guide from a world traveller to the 5 must dos on any trip to the home of David Cameron, Wormwood Scrubs and Jellied Eels. London has some magnificent attractions, make the most of any visit.
1. Lock your doors.
2. Whether it’s sterimar, olbas oil
Or a Vicks inhaler do not worry about the grime you will inhale – just be prepared.
3. Try the Underground. Not only is it impressively claustrophobic, but Euston, with trains to Manchester every 20 minutes is easily accessible.
4. Remember what a pain it is driving everywhere. It makes rush hour on Barlow Moor Road seem a breeze.
5. Speak to the locals. Even though they think Rosy Lea is a drink and you can climb apples and pears, it’s not an ism, it’s London Rhyming-Slang and is hilarious and unique.
6. Don’t be parochial.

Tomorrow: the first sentient Christmas Day with the twins – whoops, games and a guide to a happy day.

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The Mighty-Headed boy cruises the streets of London looking for snacks.

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To be honest, the Natural History Museum was a little disappointing.

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.

Bourbon, Black and The Healthy Spirit

In a battle worthy of a Sky Sports Hyperbole-driven alliterative headline I bring you the challenge no one ever thought could happen. In the Quinoa corner…The Healthy Spirit Vegetarian Cafe vs Bourbon & Black, pouring a drink in their corner and Didsbury Village’s newest and most independent bar/restaurant.
GASP as Bourbon wade onto vegan territory with chilli and garlic Edamame Beans (perfect with a Vodka Cranberry when the ankle-biters get uppity).
HOWL as Healthy Spirit put the Free into Gluten-Free and the jack back into a flapjack.
WONDER at whether or not I can spin this tenuous link out to 500 words.

I remember Healthy Spirit when it was Nature’s Grace and Bonnie Prince Charlie, escaping back to Scotland pursued by Prince Rupert stopped at The Albert even before it was a dairy pub and Fletcher Moss was hanging out with Jabez Clegg (these are pretty much Mancunian-only references so apologies to non 0161 readers, it’s back to sleep deprivation next time.) Didsbury was fields mainly, run on a feudal system. Only Evans, Axons and Kansas Fried Chicken survive from that era.
Bourbon & Black fills the space vacated by Casa Tapas, which spent 20 years as Didsbury’s 2nd best tapas bar – even when it was the only one. It is bare walls, big bar, steak led and very promising. The service was great, the chipolatas sublime, the vodka affordable and even though it has everything necessary to be toddler dangerous… They loved it, were made welcome, tired themselves out racing up and down the mini corridor next to the kitchen and didn’t fall down the exposed stairs. The guys who have sunk all their energy into opening the doors deserve success and the Roast Dinner looked so good I am salivating at the memory of it wafting past to another table. It has a good feel to it, looking forward to going back.

The Healthy Spirit cafe offers a little (responsibly sourced) slice of The Unicorn Grocery effect without leaving Didsbury. No chance of getting a double buggy in and it is a laid back and relaxed oasis. I had a gluten-free flapjack (I know, hold the front page) that was not only edible, but didn’t leave me wanting a “proper cake” and the coffee is good enough to hold its not tested on animals head high. I also like the rustle of wind-chime and waft of incense as a side order and the lack of Wi-Fi. I actually came out relaxed and raring to go. Ok, I did still have the B&B chipolatas warming memory – but they’re only small.

With Appleby’s, Art of Tea, Didsbury Lounge and the soon to be re-opening Sweaty Betty’s complimenting a rather fine William Hill, Spray Tan Salon and 4-5 hairdressers – Barlow Moor Road is on the up. Bourbon & Black nestles between the warm embrace of The Cheese Hamlet and the the slightly worrying uniforms of The Santander Abbey National, both have welcomed the whole family, which makes my job a little easier. Chicken or Chi? That is the question.

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Children’s Play Area at Bourbon & Black

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Not a Neil Rowlands photo

Didsbury Dad’s Three Part Guide: 1. West Didsbury

Part 1: The West…

None of the research in this piece is specific, scientific or socially significant. Any misconception, misrepresentation or misanthropy is purely there for alliterative reasons and I blame the 80s.

Mooching M20 with Didsbury Son has always been a favourite pursuit and I have had to start thinking about routes that will take a double buggy with a coffee holder as we prepare to welcome twins into the family tradition of wandering aimlessly; all this wandering – it’s my cultural heritage.

Clyde Road. A three-storeyed gateway linking Barlow Moor Road’s former cutting edge with Lapwing Lane’s BoHo entry to Westworld. Barlow Moor Road used to host The Barleycorn and Mr Marvel’s Cafe. The Barleycorn, a former casino where my own Didsbury Dad and Mum lived as a young couple was the first pub I ever went into. At occasional stages I was almost cool enough to go downstairs. Mr Marvel, a now empty basement opposite Moor Allerton pre-dated Art of Tea and Costafication by several generations. Its lure for older kids and its promise of smokey naughtiness, pinball and … coffee was enticing and a little scary.

But Clyde Road. Now that was West Didsbury; a combination of dance school, studio flats and huge houses seemingly packed with dressing up boxes, tobacco and wannabees. Clyde Road leads to Lapwing Lane and Burton Road – the heart of West Didsbury. Once faded, now sought after and a go-to place for boys with big cars, girls with big heels and developers with an eye for renovation.

Lapwing Lane has always held a fascination for me since childhood. I always thought that Withington Town Hall would make a great nightclub. Lapwing Court’s flat roofs and balconies were chic beyond belief and the venue now known as The Metropolitan was a monolith in the heart of my world.

Piccolino’s was The Nose. The Nose was groundbreaking. When Liz owned it, Henry worked the kitchens and Sonia served it was the daytime Madchester office cum hangout. The Midland, first with Bilko’s and then MVITA brought the world to West Didsbury and a party to every weekend.

Duwe’s brilliant bakery is now Pete’s stylish Steranko and where I cycled with my Didsbury Dad for bagels from Somers is now a wooden furniture treasure trove. The impressive Withington Hospital may have been diminished and hawked for a development with the look of an open prison but Burton Road is a journey through Didsbury’s past through to its future. The Canadian Charcoal Pit has been there from a time when cup cakes being global currency was as improbable as Manchester being a destination city, but Folk fits seamlessly into Westworld and from the mosque to Withington Baths is a cultural journey with room for both of us, coffees and a pram with more gadgets than a James Bond Aston Martin DB7.

Didsbury Dad’s random recommendations in West Didsbury:

Folk: great vibe, great food, service so bad it’s entertaining.

Ghurka Grill: the extension gives more menu sampling opportunity.

Orchard Street: I like a mooch up and down.

Crazy Wendy’s: I like to walk past.

The Shop on the corner opposite Piccolino’s. always something beautiful.

The Metropolitan: I like to go there to watch the beautiful people and count my blessings I am married and Didsbury Son means I have to go home early.

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