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 “Co-Op”

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? 

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A Brief History of Time (With Snacks)

Is it autumn already. Everyone went back to school and brought home brand new infections. Last week we had summer, winter and storms so vicious Facebook asked me to confirm I was safe. Safe? This is The North. I sent the children out to chase the lightning and see if there were reductions on any rain-damaged produce around the city. Staff at Fletcher Moss dress up for “Bring Your Kids to Work” day. 

The nights have drawn in. I don’t know what “drawn in” means. Certainly not coloured in. The boddlers are back to waking up in the dark. Didsbury Son’s teenage retreat to his room now has the cover of darkness and Didsbury Wife is eyeing up the central heating and (breathes out) Match of the Day is back. 

Didsbury continues to evolve quickly and sometimes surprisingly. Those old enough to remember 2014 (we were part of Europe, Scotland was part of the UK and BBC owned Great British Bake-Off) will recall the shock as Co-Op rebranded, toyed with the idea of being called Copo and even had tables outside for a couple of weeks. These primarily provided easy dog lead tying and Big Issue displaying opportunities. 

Now Greggs are following suit. On Saturday 8 October it bursts out from the shadow of 3 Little Pigs and Toni & Guy as a new “Artisan” Greggs. With Bisou Bisou’s bespoke Gallic beauty and Casa Italia’s specialist nosh this could be a disaster waiting to happen (Or a “Nido” as we call it). Is the Gregg’s Sausage Roll about to become a herb-infused Wild Boar Empanadas? Are the staff getting polo necks? Time will tell. 

Picture courtesy of @craftwords

There’s more. The MMU site has developed from desolate to building site via a short stint as a Caravan Park. This is going to bring an awful lot of middle-class professionals and relocating aspirational suburbanites to Didsbury. How will they ever fit in? 
Elders foretell of the great Manchester Storm of 2016.

The roads into the centre of the village become ever more blocked. Nero and Costa’s Red and Blue bookending of the village now makes them seem like old, established family businesses. 

The beard epidemic which spread (it’s an apparently chin-borne virus) has now infected the majority of Didsbury’s under 30 males. This is how they look to me. 

but I still think a mullet looks good. 

But this is M20. Autumn is arguably our most beautiful time of year. Fletcher Moss and the leafy streets lend themselves to the change in light. The shops may change, the make of car parked across your road at school time may change but… there will always be Axons, Evans and The Cheese Hamlet and someone smoking a ciggie outside The Nelson. 

If I was Tim Peake

Me and Tim Peake, brothers with a different view of the world.Tim Peake looks on wrily as rain lashes this year’s Didsbury Festival (Picture, ITV.com)



You can’t help but like and admire Tim Peake. He even had Heston Blumenthal in tears of joy at one point on his journey. His skill and general bonhomie are an antidote to the misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes and general sewer-dwellers who have taken the headlines recently. 

If only I had taken O’Level Physics and was not a mix-handed claustrophobic with a penchant for crisps we could have been work buddies. We could have counted down together. In space we could have run one half marathon each, held gloves on the moonwalk and hit the Duty Free at Khazakstan together before heading home to watch The Euros. However, if I was Tim Peake I think the journey back may have been different. Once the capsule re-entered the atmosphere and came within reach, the text message would flash up, “We’re out of milk, green and red, stop at Co-Op and don’t wake the children when you come in.” I hope he remembered his front door key. 

Where’s Didsbury Dad?

After de-brief, health checks, re-orientation, customs, press interviews etc. would come the tearful family reunion. Tim would be told that childcare was now his responsibility for the next six months as Moon Wife was tired and needed a proper kip AND… Enough of the moon rock, get to Jo Malone at the airport duty free and put your hand in your pocket.


If Tim Peake was from Didsbury he might come back to wonder why the plague of men under 30 with beards had spread here, whether Casa Italia was worth a visit and be impressed that Co-Op has a new front display when he stops to get milk.Happy Fathers’ Day, whether giver, receiver, both or neither. 

Not aliens met on a space trip.

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. 

Didsbury, I have a confession

I want to make a full confession. I’ve been unfaithful, several times. It didn’t mean anything, I’ve done it with friends and Didsbury Wife has been there with me. Once or twice Didsbury Son, Pearly Princess and The Mighty-Headed Foghorn Leghorn were there. They didn’t know what was going on. It’s been exciting, it’s been refreshing. So I want to come clean. Over the last month I’ve been going out in… Chorlton.
I’m sorry Didsbury. I know my heart lies with Fusion Deli and Bisou Bisou. I can practice all I learn watching Dora the Explorer at Pinchjos and that Steranko, Aldi and Didsbury Library fulfil all my needs but, but.
I was weak, I hadn’t shaved for a bit and I’d seen a feature on hemp clothing and it happened. First I went to Coriander (don’t tell The Third Eye, I think I should do it myself). They served goat. I was powerless. On the way home we went to the Co-Op next door. It was so old school, so poorly laid out, the staff were hopeless and I got nostalgic. 
Then it escalated. For a birthday treat Didsbury Wife and I went to Laundrette (achingly upbeat, average food, love drinks and staff who look like they eat once a month). They served Strawberry Mojitos and despite the lowness of the seats my knees barely creaked.
Everyone there was 20 years younger than us and I felt so proud to be able to hold a conversation without the use of a mobile device we stayed.
Then last week it happened. Afternoon Delight. I was in the area with Didsbury Wife. We had an hour until we had to pick up any children. I needed a chemist and we went to San Juan on Beech Road for tapas. It was 4.15 and there was not only a free table, but there was no man in there with a beard and they had Scallops and Rioja. I am only human. 
I can barely look at the new dog grooming shops in the village for shame. It’s so obvious. We have a hundred hairdressers, now let’s cut animal hair. 
Didsbury Wife and I have decided that this illicit little sidestep is just the start. In a different pre Didsbury Dad life I lived in Chorlton. And we have much in common. Whilst this is not a political blog it is nice to be sure that both sides of The Parkway the attitude is unashamedly, Metropolitan minded and open. Tomorrow we are going to Cheadle, sshhhh. 

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

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

Iggle Piggle Saves A Big Night Out

At a sophisticated soirée we went to last week we covered all the current serious topics. Mandela’s legacy, Syria and Breaking Bad.

As the Co -Op Prosecco flowed, we nodded sagely and spouted Guardian editorials. It could only have been duller had I been forced to feign interest in The Ashes or we had got onto smacking, acceptable or not.

The first time I was dragged into this room splitter I misheard the start and thought we were discussing snacking. It made for an awkward evening.

As Didsbury Wife and I counted the minutes until we could go home, this promised to be more disappointing than the first half of Homeland series 3 until…

Conversation turned towards the power of In the Night Garden. I have long admired Derek Jacobi’s work – apart from the thing with Gandalf but ITNG is sublime. The drama of the reveal, Ninky or Pinky? The utter joy of the Tombliboos, the slight unease about Macca Pacca. Why the trike and is that thing on his back a Haemorrhoid?

This discussion led to a sing song and joy all around. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but one day those Pontipine kids may suffer for sharing a room with their seven siblings and their parents.

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Princess Zelda or a crate of Prosecco? The ultimate parental dilemma. Empty seats, always visually interesting

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

The Co-Op, Spandau Ballet, Francis Lee and the M6

Co-Op, WaitroseThis much I have learned:

As I have journeyed so far past 39 that I can now see it in the wing mirror without glasses or squinting I have noticed some startling developments

1. My twin lovelies are suddenly somewhere between babies and toddlers. They are tabies or boddlers. They sway in a 10pm Friday night way; they fall, cry, get up. They get knocked down, but they get up again. You get the picture.

In the middle of the night your eyes can play visual tricks. Last night my beautiful pearl-headed girl went full throttle around 1am. Via a quick fumble with Ewan the Sheep, I began rocking and sushing in the dark. I looked down at her, snuggled in a bright pink sleeping bag made grey in the dark. All I could clearly make out was a fringe and a high-necked short bib. In my stupor I thought she looked like a mini New Romantic. Specifically, Steve Norman at the height of Spandau Ballet’s fame. This was pure gold. To cut a long story short, whilst she cranked up Chant Number 1, I moved seamlessly from 64 Zoo Lane Through the Barricades. Eventually she calmed and as I put her back in the cot I thought “I’d Fly For You”.

In the middle of the night she tranforms into...

In the middle of the night she tranforms into…

 

I also felt slightly guilty. My mighty headed boy has a smile so infectious it could cheer up a Goth. Yet I am convinced he is the spit of 70s Manchester City icon Franny Lee. This after his Uncle Sol and Phil Mitchell phases. Note to self, they will take revenge.

...the one on the left, Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet. (pic www.allposters.co.uk). The likeness is uncanny

…the one on the left, Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet. (pic http://www.allposters.co.uk). The likeness is uncanny

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The Co-Op refit.is fairly spectacular (www.all-truelondon.com)

2. I have been lucky enough over the years to have presented on radio and to have organised major live and broadcast events. Back timing to the second, doddle. Bringing a crew of 100 and an audience of 1000s to the same point of a show – easy. Getting 13 month old twins, pre- teen Didsbury Son and sleep-starved Didsbury Wife in a car to go to London for 9am, impossible. The Everly Brothers on tour had less friction, the group tasks in The Apprentice have a stronger shared vision and the Formula 1 teams travel more lightly when shipping cars across continents.
By the time we stopped for our first nappy and coffee stop, ( My theory is that pricing at Service Stations is decided by spinning a wheel which begins at “Selfridges” and goes through to “Organic Grocer in Notting Hill”) the list of items we had forgotten really needed their own car. If you ever want to feel humble, buy nappies and wipes on the M6. I will never again complain about the cost of Premier League football.

3. When I see Didsbury Wife juggle the needs of Year 8 joy and pain in the same breath as coaxing two 1 year olds I am slightly less smug about my pride at washing up, whilst listening to the radio and chatting on the phone.

4. The New Co-Op in our village centre has undergone a transformation so drastic that I half expect to see it on QVC promoting its extreme makeover. In a week where Co-Op has been ridiculed for its ministerial management’s misunderstanding of metropolitan manners we’ve had free muffins and fruit. But Co-Op, surely to be known as Co-po also chose mid-November to open al fresco dining and all the over 21s have disappeared. Where is the stern blokevwho likes to begin pontificating with “Anyone in their Right Mind… ” and ends with Capital Punishment. What happened to the lovely women? The new staff are fine, but just a little too perky for Copo, it’s not Waitrose ( yet).

The post fit out Co-Op (www,all-truelondon.co.uk)

The post fit out Co-Op (www,all-truelondon.co.uk)

5. Didsbury Son took me to a charmless Japanese day in a sports centre. It was too full of geeks in fancy dress and gamers whose idea of personal hygiene peaked with licking their fingers after chicken wings. He was in his element and his happiness was my joy. But I’m sticking to football

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