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 “Cafe Nero”

Elvis Presley, Bisou Bisou, Muhammed Ali and Sweaty Betty’s

“There are contenders, there are pretenders, but there is only one king. Bruce Springsteen said this about Elvis Presley and Muhammed Ali gave life to a version of this pre-fights.
This came into my head as I walked past the shell that was once Wilkinsons and wondered who will mend the toasters of the Didsbury cognoscenti, too pre-occupied with memorising the words to Frozen whilst wondering if Marc Warner is now passé. There are rumblings in the venue formerly known as “Sweaty Betty’s” but more of that next time.

Wilkinson’s was so last century it passed beyond retro and in its retirement has achieved eulogising status.

So have the pistachio biscuits in Bisou Bisou. The Bisou twins are a civilising force in the village. The layout is so neat, the staff so friendly (ruining French stereotypes in an instant) that even the schoolchildren queuing pre-school regardé et ecouté as though they had found something relevant in a lesson. They will never replace Cafe Rouge in our hearts – for at least another week..
So as the first snowdrops poke their little purple and white heads above the parapet and the eight tulips that have survived the winter fight with plastic toys in our back “garden” to survive through to have the twins rip off their petals here are five clear clues that spring will be coming to Didsbury soon.i

1. Every shop’s cold storage area is stuffed with single roses they hope will last until Mothers Day.

2. The pram and trolley stop outside the Co-Op in the village is being swept ready for the two tables to be displayed, but only used by people waiting for s bus.

3. A quick look at the menu in Costa or Nero reveals some bizarre non-Coffee fruit shoot that will be priced at more than a meal for four in Marks & Spencers

4. There is a schizophrenia on the shelves around the village as Creme Eggs fight for space with bizarre Lego cars in the Shell garage, Easter Eggs and chocolate hearts being scraped of their Love Hearts messages and being prepped for maternal adoration.

5. The week is all Shrove this, Ash that, Simnel the other. I have no idea what a shrove is, but if Bisou Bisou start making them I’m in.

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The New Ikea Family Car does not look promising.

2015/02/img_0520.jpg Didsbury looks great in summer

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Elvis Presley, Bisou Bisou, Muhammed Ali and Sweaty Betty’s

“There are contenders, there are pretenders, but there is only one king. Bruce Springsteen said this about Elvis Presley and Muhammed Ali gave life to a version of this pre-fights.
This came into my head as I walked past the shell that was once Wilkinsons and wondered who will mend the toasters of the Didsbury cognoscenti, too pre-occupied with memorising the words to Frozen whilst wondering if Marc Warner is now passé. There are rumblings in the venue formerly known as “Sweaty Betty’s” but more of that next time.

Wilkinson’s was so last century it passed beyond retro and in its retirement has achieved eulogising status.

So have the pistachio biscuits in Bisou Bisou. The Bisou twins are a civilising force in the village. The layout is so neat, the staff so friendly (ruining French stereotypes in an instant) that even the schoolchildren queuing pre-school regardé et ecouté as though they had found something relevant in a lesson. They will never replace Cafe Rouge in our hearts – for at least another week..
So as the first snowdrops poke their little purple and white heads above the parapet and the eight tulips that have survived the winter fight with plastic toys in our back “garden” to survive through to have the twins rip off their petals here are five clear clues that spring will be coming to Didsbury soon.i

1. Every shop’s cold storage area is stuffed with single roses they hope will last until Mothers Day.

2. The pram and trolley stop outside the Co-Op in the village is being swept ready for the two tables to be displayed, but only used by people waiting for s bus.

3. A quick look at the menu in Costa or Nero reveals some bizarre non-Coffee fruit shoot that will be priced at more than a meal for four in Marks & Spencers

4. There is a schizophrenia on the shelves around the village as Creme Eggs fight for space with bizarre Lego cars in the Shell garage, Easter Eggs and chocolate hearts being scraped of their Love Hearts messages and being prepped for maternal adoration.

5. The week is all Shrove this, Ash that, Simnel the other. I have no idea what a shrove is, but if Bisou Bisou start making them I’m in.

2015/02/img_4470.jpg
The New Ikea Family Car does not look promising.

2015/02/img_0520.jpg Didsbury looks great in summer

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.

Didsbury Dad, Agony Uncle

I never realised how easy it was raising just Didsbury Son until the Mighty-Headed Boy and The Pearl-Topped Princess turned up. Becoming a new father well over the age of 39 and 364 days exposes the physical scars of a misspent youth very quickly and from elbow to knee I have been in agony most of the time. My sciatic nerve is so pinched it looks like Ann Robinson and 20 months of this qualifies me as an agony uncle.
This week my imaginary inbox has been bulging with questions from soon-to-be, new and confused dads. Remember always do as I say, not as I do – one of the few genuinely useful pieces of advice I have given Didsbury Son.

Dear Didsbury Dad
I am considering a change of career from something mediaish and successful to loafing about as a freelancer once my partner gives birth to twins early next year. What do you think?

Dear I.M Mad
Are you joking? Ideally look for a full-time job which requires you to be away once a week, cancel all social arrangements until 2019 and before Boots relieve you of any spare cash, buy a shed.

Yo DD
As a former something media and occasionally successful something thingy what do you think?

Good Question. Cafe Nero until they are about 14 months for the baby change, the free babychino and the lovely staff; then Cafe Rouge so they can run around.

Mr Dad.
I have three children – 1, 3 and 4 strange names I know, the wife chose them ( courtesy of Ted Robbins). Will the numbness in my left leg and shoulder ever go?

No, but you’ll stop caring.

Dear Mr Dad
Having children of quite different ages and needs how do you make sure that they all know they are equally loved?

How or why? Soon as Didsbury Son finishes the ironing and the car I’ll ask him.

That’s all for this time. If you need more pearls of wisdom leave a comment or contact me through Twitter @DidsburyDadBlog.

The best advice I can give is apologise most days and don’t hold a grudge. That and a hot Pain Au Raisin and Americano from Nero solves most things.

Next week – live blogging from Didsbury Festival.

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The view from my shed

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My parenting video – a taster clip

The Essential Top Ten Tips For Bloggers

As the one of the best bloggers in our house (not counting Didsbury Son) I thought it was time to join the other untrained, uncalled for, unrepresentative people who call themselves experts.

Here are Didsbury Dad’s top ten tips.

1. Remember not to check anything before it goes out. Typos and predictive text can be the difference between dull and unintentionally funny.

2. There are 3964 parenting blogs in Britain. All are as necessary as a second piece of cake.

3. Be current. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.

4. Swearing can alienate a lot of family readers, so use it carefully.

5. Writing successfully needs inspiration. Didsbury has several places that are awe inspiring and all serve cake – AiryFairyCupCake Boutique, The Alpine Tea Rooms and Cafe Nero.

6. If you are writing a parenting blog you can only mention lack of sleep and sick on your shoulder every 100 words.

7. A picture can tell 1000 words but 500 is more than enough for a blog which can be awkward.

8. Work out if you actually have 10 tips before you start.

9. Otherwise

10. You’ll have to waffle.

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This picture of a fog warming sign on the M62 has nothing to do with the blog; that’s No. 11 for free.

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A rainbow at MediaCityUK

Boddlers – the hot new trend for 2014

2013, the magazines’ review of the year on Sunday was a depressing litany of global, regional and personal misery. Same pictures, different year. Not one mentioned the tragedy of Nido. In the few months it wheezed lifelessly in Didsbury Village, haemorrhaging cash at such a rate they may as well have offered free food and a Twenty to anyone who braved the restaurant formerly known as a successful kebab shop. Cameron – J’Accuse ( for no specific reason – just can’t trust someone who has no clear bone structure and admits to being a friend of George Osborne).

I have learned a lot this year. Mainly that you need your personal bubble away from the depressing interference of devices and reality. Mine is in Didsbury, surrounded by Didsbury Wife and my three wishes. Here is my précis.

1. Wording is vital with Didsbury Son. He is year 8, sliding inconsistently into teenage years and still as lovely as his 6 year old self ( most of the time). However, the combination of made up facts, half listened to and less than half understood rationale in most descriptions is almost worthy of its own exclamation mark *

* I have a personal mistrust of exclamation marks and find their use offensive.

2. I have become soppier than I ever imagined. I am now the softest touch ever for any story or charity. My donation to Middle-Class Children Without a PS4 was from the heart; I fill up every time Didsbury Wife dresses the twins in my club ‘s colours and I even noticed a tilty -headed smile at a newborn last week. It needs to be checked.

3. There is a sound worse than than the “pop’ of a dummy falling out of mouth into the dark. It is the sound of the Pearl-Headed girl when at 5am and she has woken. In stultified moves you have cooed, hummed and rocked. You hear breathing slow and feel moving still and then… Just as you relax into a dreamless, but essential hour’s sleep you hear “Hiya”. It snakes out of the darkness, heralding a further bout of hand-holding, soother moving, humming and rocking more draining than a Big Bang Theoryathon

3. Two charging boddlers** means Cafe Rouge is once again the retreat of choice as Cafe Nero’s spacious baby change, free babychinos and lovely staff are superseded by Rouge’s boddler friendly roominess and toy stash; although the bebechino is 50p

** the crossover between baby and toddler

4. There is nothing like a dame.

5. Didsbury Son’s knowledge of how to work anything with a screen now outstrips mine to such an extent I keep wanting to show him how a video recorder works.

6, Hipp Organics Vegetable Lasagne and Ravioli are perfect hangover cures or a watching the match snack.

7. The best way to alleviate the crushing tiredness is to have one baby on each knee and play ” this little piggy”. It’s cheaper than Red Bull and doesn’t have the aftertaste.

8. If you have shares in Boots you owe me a thank you at the very least. If you have shares in Co-Op you’ve been had.

9. I have lost the TV. It moves seamlessly from CBeebies to Star Wars / E4 American Sitcom. I know my place.

10. I am very lucky to be a Didsbury Dad.

Happy New to you all and may 2014 bring you health, happiness and if you desire it, wealth

Didsbury Village – an Autumn update

Sometimes I wander through the not so mean streets of M20 and think how lucky I am to live in an area with parks and metros, Neros and Airy Fairy Cupcakes. An area so awash with old and new community that there is an acceptance of the vagaries of life.

@Craftwords pointed out to me that the evolution of Estate Agency. Look and learn world, Estate Agents took the sea to land leap here in 2013. Darwin, Attenborough ( David not Richard), Dawkins ( Richard) your guys took a hell of a beating; looks uncannily as though it was designed after a Genius Bar appointment in any Apple Shop. I think there is a touch of Vision Express meets JP & Brimelow in the design and colour scheme, a touch of Tron in the marketing and a gorgeous spicy smell from being underneath The Sangam. I would buy it, but Didsbury Wife thinks it’s not child-friendly.

In Village news- Nido continues to defy the laws of economics and stays open. If you have fallen out with anyone and need a good row over dinner, there’s plenty of room to eat and say the unsayable without being overheard.
Jaanum, once Elite Deli where the bagels were crispy, the salmon smoky and the service rude enough to evoke New York, has gone. I liked the guy who worked there. He was friendly and cooed at the babies and Inwish him well, but let’s be honest, you wouldn’t eat there.

There are more changes in Warburton Street, Didsbury’s very own Northern Quarter. The wonderful Wendy J Levy gallery is closing before the end of the year. Wendy is carrying on, but we are losing our cultural centre. I thought that the glint from all the Pandora jewellery in Harriet & Dee was too much BUT No, Wendy is off to work shopless by choice; a rare gift.

In moves similar to the final hours of the transfer window, Ashley Brown ‘s magnificently maned team are taking over the ground floor (allegedly),. ShopCatLaura v Ashley Brown’s Dog, bring it on. A new Deli is opening in their space and upstairs at Wendy’s will be a support group for people who invested in Nido or the Japanese restaurant that filled the space, if not the tables in the building, now Zizzi, that will always be The Old Grey Horse.

Now over to Didsbury Son for the weather…

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So good I snapped it twice.

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My mighty-headed warrior took the news about Wendy J Levy gallery shutting with sanguine style and went back to CBeebies.

I write this hoping that nothing bad has happened to the lovely old Jack Russell at Ashley Brown.

Next installment. The twins take over The Holt Pavillion.

Boldly Going Where Most People have Been Before

I am man hear me Roar.

Stop the Clocks, then ring the bells for daddom and call me Emperor. This week I have been in sole charge of the Earl of Round Heads and Queen Smiley of Didsbury. No disasters, no trips to casualty, I even remembered which one wears pink and wasn’t abusive to any of the pinheads in the park who mistake a walk with a double buggy for an invitation to invade my personal space and wrongly guess the sex of my children.

Striding forward for mankind

Striding forward for mankind

Following a guide more powerful than Gina Ford (i.e. a  list with times on it from Didsbury Wife), I completed my first serious stint as a Stay at Home Dad (well actually a sit in Café Nero as long as possible dad) I am now an expert and ready to host patronising Q&As with other nervous fathers. My tip is get a big sheet of paper. Now write four things in bold letters – FEED CHANGE PLAY SLEEP. Whatever the issue, the answer is usually one of these things.

Then set your alarm for planned feed and change times and bingo. It is like falling off a horse – painful, leaving you with sore limbs, dirty and smelling. The twins were filled, emptied, cooed to and got to sleep on time and it was only this morning I realised that I had not shaved, had only glanced at basic hygiene and my T-shirt looked like an advert for Persil (before).

After Day 1 I was knackered. After Day 2 I felt a rush of appreciation for anyone who spends all day with children (except PE teachers – they have their own ring in hell). On Day 3 it suddenly clicked (cue Little House on the Prairie theme tune).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LflpVIh43bs

I planned the day as though it was a show, working backwards from getting them down at night (curfew) to morning feed and change (load-in). Once I had this worked out it was easy and I even gave The Might Headed boy low-slung jeans so he looked like a roadie. With the mechanics sorted there came the revelation. I enjoy this. They are good company and Didsbury Wife has them so happy it isn’t that hard. I was transported back to a little Didsbury Son. The babies laughed as I gooned about and gave me the kind of instant approval as I entered their eyeline you can usually only get from an X Factor audience if you’re Olly Murs (insert this year’s Olly Murs).

Olly DD

Doppelganger for Didsbury Dad

In a few hours my plan changed from world domination at whatever it is I now do to being a combination of Anthea Turner, Nigel Slater, David Beckham and Timmy the Lamb. Obviously, all this is until the football season starts; then they need their mother.

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