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 “Costa Coffee”

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

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

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.

Plain speaking wins the day

Frank Sinatra “I did it my way”
Stevie Wonder “I just called to say I love you”

Rumours of Wonder looking to open a shop in Didsbury have been dismissed. Picture www.biography.com)

Rumours of Wonder looking to open a shop in Didsbury have been dismissed. Picture http://www.biography.com)

Ronseal 5 year varnish “It does what it says on the tin”
All clear, successful and obvious. There is a lesson to be learned here. Many lives ago, pre Didsbury Dad, I promoted live bands. I shied away from trumpeting them as a cross between The Doors and Elvis invade people thought it was a band with food and intimacy issues that should not be left alone in the bath.
Does this crystal clear lesson get through to the not so mean streets of M20? Is this plain speaking Muswell Hill with less Moolah and Alderley with edge paying attention? No.
The Didsbury Village Farm Shop (RIP – the thought of your club sandwich fills me with… Well filled me with bread and meat) is a perfect example. It’s butchers may have been inspired by Smithfields, it’s sandwiches influenced by The Mighty Gregg’s and its cheese based on a book about cheese in the 80s but it was neither Axons (a butchers), The Cheese Hamlet (God’s Cheese Shop) or Fresh Save (a green grocers) . Now it is empty. The sign on the weighing machine saying “We will serve you shortly” a cruel reminder that this shop has been empty, or worse, was once the least well-run Carphone Warehouse ever.

Cafe Rouge is French (in a Whitbread way), Costa do coffee and Jo Padmore is an optician. She is not a lens-influenced, near nasal dresser who does shoe repairs if you are not keen on glasses. She also has a lovely window display. Effective and very obvious what it is there to sell.
So we come to Cibo. I really hope it works, that it is a great restaurant that is a huge success and brings people flocking to Didsbury. Well done to the Cioboans for taking the plunge. This space was previously a La Tasca which held a special place in the hearts of many of us. Before that it was Burns, a suburban fish restaurant way before there was a market for one outside of coastal resorts.
Cibo, in language that smacks of Mud Crab Cafe’s New York Australian food bakery coffee shop and hairdressers is going to be Venetian-influenced. This does not actually mean anything. As I pushed the double buggy past this morning my heart sank like an old Gondola.

Griffins, an Italian staple, are hard to farm.

Griffins, an Italian staple, are hard to farm.

Venetian -influenced? I am lucky enough to have spent time in Venice. The Mozarella Rice balls and espressos you get at the street stalls are delicious (they sell them at Piccolino’s on Lapwing Lane), but are they influential? Does Venetian influenced mean that the Ciboans are going to recreate St. Mark’s Square in the School Lame Car Park, pay homage to Paolo Lucio Anafesto, first Doge of the Venetian Republic or charge 10 euros for a coffee to the English? I once went to see Venezia play my team at football and our fans had coins and bricks thrown at us most of the game. If they are going to take their influence from Venezia’s Ultras then I think I won’t be the only one darting past anxiously straight to No. 4 on Warburton Street.
Venice, like Manchester has a canal, an airport and a strong sense of identity.
Cibo is an Italian noun meaning grub. Let us hope it is as vibrant as St. Marks, as beautiful as Florence, as tasty as the street food in Sicily and the staff don’t throw sharp objects at you if you are not local.

Paolo Luci Anafesto, tipped to be the maitre d' of Didsbury's new Venetian-infuenced restaurant.

Paolo Luci Anafesto, tipped to be the maitre d’ of Didsbury’s new Venetian-infuenced restaurant.

Didsbury’s Top 13 Coffee Stops for 2013

In a move as contrived as an inclusive multi-faith Nativity play.
In a year when nothing has yet happened  beyond changing nappies, patting babies and coping with Didsbury Son’s increasing technological needs, I present my guide to Didsbury 2013.
When I say a guide, I mean Part 1; places to park your buggy, rest your feet, work quietly and catch up. Coffee, cake, work, wasting time:
 1. Airyfairy Cupcake Boutique. Like the bumblebee that represents Manchester it shouldn’t work, but it does. In the space that housed the Withington Reporter when it was part of the community is a little haven. Quirky, but not Chorlton. Friendly, but not interfering and not cheap, but worth it. The free wi-fi helps and the Lemon Poppy Cake wooed Didsbury Wife into a  relaxed hour between feeds. Still not sure what a cupcake actually is but then I’ve never really understood why clowns were funny or Thomas the Tank Engine didn’t scare children.
We dressed one twin in white, one in black and lost them on the floor. (www.airyfairycupcakes.co.uk)

We dressed one twin in white, one in black and lost them on the floor. (www.airyfairycupcakes.co.uk)

2. Didsbury Deli. A little piece of The Balkans on our doorsteppes. Fearsome looking but genuinely pleasant owner reminds me of years spent running Nightime events and the staff are lovely enough to mask the eye-watering prices. The door allows for a double pram, always a good thing.
3. The Art of Tea. No room for a pram (not in a “No Room for a Crib kind of way) so is a baby-free, free wi-fi haven of uncomfy seating, indifferent service but none the less for this. The granary toast with peanut butter makes the springless sofas acceptable. The rest of the menu and the bookshop that Health & Safety forgot make them positively luxurious.
4. Didsbury Perk. A newbie, with big banquettes and some interesting art (not sure about the painting with a view from Costa Coffee including Usain Bolt and David ” The Werewolf” Weir passing each other outside Zizzi but it’s a personal thing). It is on School Lane only 8 barbers (1 furlong = a bushell = a barber on School Lane) away from AiryFairy and The Metro Stop and it has a musical link to RNCM. It’s also v v friendly and half the price of the corporates (£2.25 for a Panini, winner).
A view from Costa without Usain Bolt and David Weir

A view from Costa without Usain Bolt and David Weir

4. Cafe Rouge. Rouge may be a Whitbread chain but, like La Tasca, if you have lived here for a few years you will have a happy memory or two based here. When I was dating Didsbury Wife we would sneak here pre-work for coffee and a kiss on the red velvet seats. They are great with children and the food is worth a snoop. I walk past it and it stirs lovely pre Didsbury Dad memories. When it opened Rouge seemed an unfeasibly gauche addition to the village.
5. Albert’s Shed. I’m old enough to have had my first drink in The Barleycorn in the 80s and my own Didsbury Dad and Mum lived over the shop when this was a casino in the 60s. The building’s re-incarnation, mid credit crunch as a  Castlefield favourite was a little slice of genius. Good fun on a night out and for Sunday brunch on a bright day.
6. The Alpine Tearoom in Fletcher Moss. On a summer’s day, this is the centre of the Didsbury world. A gateway to Fletcher Moss, a great spot to people-watch and hark back to early times when an ice cream and a walk satisfied a child for the afternoon.
7. Fusion Deli. The coffee is genuinely good but the bonhomie shared by Pete and Tom amid the Olive Tofu, the proximity to Inmans and the chance to watch Blockbusters’ demise first hand make this a great stop.
8. Samsi Junior opposite The Red Lion. I think it’s Withington and its green tea not coffee but another fave yapping point.
9. Folk. A one-off. A bit like big curly hair. Whatever is done to decorate the place and smarten it up it still looks the epitome of 80s Didsbury scruffy boho chic and so it should. You get really good food, really poor service with a smile and a fine bar should your coffee need stiffening.
10. Piccolino’s. Replacing The Nose, even after its post Liz and Lawrence bastardisation was always going to be a tall order. This was a venue prime for the cynics and snobs to slate but against all odds it is a top hangout at any time of day.
11. Mr Marvel’s Cafe. It closed circa 1990 something but was Didsbury Wife’s fave hangout and a little scary in smokiest times.
12. Didsbury Mum’s House. There are some great coffee shops in the village but few, in fact none offer this level of service. I can let myself in and there’s always tea and cake. I am always told that I look fine and I’m a success, highly recommended.
13. The Bench at the end of the tree-lined path opposite the river. There’s no Wi-fi, no coffee, no one can bother you and if the sun is shining and contents of the double buggy are sleeping, it is perfect.
Only inverse snobbery prevents the sublime Caffe Nero and the sofas at Costa getting in. Both have their benefits, charms and free newspapers.
Next week we begin part 1 of a 644 part series on Didsbury’s Barber Shops.

A Didsbury State of Mind

If not exactly cracking the flags, the sunshine this weekend is welcome. Whether it is an Indian summer, a dead cat bounce or the  beginning of the Mayan predicted Armageddon it is a bonus.

A combination of new school, new routine and new shoes has thrown Didsbury Son’s clock and he woke me up at 6 this morning full of angst and energy. After failing to fob him off and feign sleep I gave in and we headed out for a long-overdue mooch around the not so mean streets of M20 to see what was going on.

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The demands on schoolchildren get harder. Didsbury Son’s pencil case is an installation

It is sometimes only in the early morning quiet when I have time to look at the nooks, buildings, shapes and shrubberies of Didsbury that I realise how lucky we are to live here. From the back-to-back gentrification behind the village, through the quirky individualism of West Didsbury and the barber-strewn Lane that links East to Central it is a good place to live. Didsbury evolves – not just the burgeoning influence of the Metrolink or Whitbread’s thankfully thwarted Costafication, but some creative building and extending on Lapwing Lane and the re-invention of West Didsbury. Didsbury Son decided on reasons why he loved living here and what he didn’t like.

The only gripes we could really find were traffic, bus lanes with cameras and Kansas Fried Chicken sample boxes that litter the streets on a weekend morning.

Didsbury Son loves Subway, The Knitting Shop, The Albert Club Didsbury Park and going into shops and bars where people have known him from being Didsbury bump, baby, toddler, infant, junior and now his own boy. He enthused about the Metrolink building, Fusion Deli and Burton Road. I like the wide open spaces of Gourmet Burger King and the festivals throughout the year. I am also partial to Art of Tea, Didsbury Village Farm Shop and the river.

Simonsbridge and its pathways, flowers and opportunities are a rite of passage for any Didsbury Son.  The fun as a child, potential joy as a teenager and the satisfaction as a grown-up offered by Fletcher Moss are essential. On Jewish New Year we cast our sins (masquerading as bread) over the bridge to the welcoming ducks in a symbolic cleansing and actual duck-fattening and the flood gates in Parrs Wood are a tourist attraction worth a trip.

Other cities may call it a chance to case people’s houses – we call it Open Gardens. Didsbury Arts Festival has once again announced a line-up that’s a combination of international class and local eccentric and I can sit on my step and watch the world and tuck Didsbury Son in to the sound of the village going on late…

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This shot of the riverbank has now been overused mercilessly; maybe it is time for some new photos

It must be the weather. On days like this even the week’s accumulated mess seems to wink up at me cheekily from its last resting place on the floor.

The week that I have counted down to  has finally come around.  Didsbury Son has donned his black shoes and grey trousers after what seems like 6 months in pyjamas and joggers watching Deadly 60 and gone back to school. Hello peace after 8.30 (am and pm), numbing 5 day a week routine and breakfast without chocolate.  I’m starting to sound all grumpy old man  here and ungrateful for my gifts but, it’s not that at all. Much as I love the bones off him and the sound of his voice still lights a bulb deep inside me, he is now at the age where he is an expert on everything (in a Roger Irrelevant kind of way) and willing to fight the most tenuous of corners (my fault). This, combined with an approach to personal space based on limpet can leave me craving a bout of indifference. Last week he also professed himself ready to go back, which set off  in me the kind of overwhelming middle-class bad dad guilt and inadequacy for which sweets and films were the only pacifier. Didsbury Son likes his school and has every right to, they seem nice people but I started school in the 70s so this notion still slightly shocks me. One of our final summer adventures was a distant friend’s wedding. I thought that the day would be good for his social skills and I could ask him to drive if I found a free bar. Didsbury Wife dressed him impeccably and all I had to do is pick a buttonhole. The Gerbra was a poor choice and blocked most of his shirt but I got away with it. Being my Didsbury Son he is the only one walking into church asking loudly whether to shout Mazeltov or Lchaim when they smash the glass. I qvell with pride, schlepp nacchus and get all my stereotypes out of the way before instictively checking for a skullcap as I go into the church. Now. As go-getting freelance I can finally return to the creative schedule and change the free world; Just time for breakfast, SkySports News and Funny or Die before heaving the iPad to Costa to look important.The house suddenly seems to be a bit too quiet and I may have to coax one of the cats to my study. Should not be too hard, if Didsbury Fatcat gets any greedier he will need his own set of keys to get through the door.

The Costa Identity / Supremacy / and the other one

It’s 3pm and I am in Costa Coffee on Wilmlsow Road in Didsbury, ostensibly to work on my laptop. Thinking it may be a creatively difficult afternoon I have a cup of coffee that is so American Fat it has 2 handles and I am slightly ashamed by its obvious greed.

I love it in here. Costa’s clientage always give inspiration. (Although as a liberal media Didsbury Dad I obviously support the independents and am an Art of Tea regular.) The staff here are corporate friendly and professional. The camp over decorated indifferent moaners so beloved of small coffee houses don’t last long.

The Costa day pulls in the village, strata by strata. In term-time harassed dads delight kids with overpriced smoothies and cakes to tempt them to school. Then at 9am come the mums, mums to be and pre-college kids swamping the occasional early business meeting. It is loud, competitive and marks out the territory of the surrounding playgrounds.

A long shot of Didsbury Son that will be relevant to the next blog, not this one

I am usually here about 10. It’s Freelance central. Strong coffees and laptops push the ambient temperature up as individual men grunt cautiously from behind screens that hold draft versions of scripts. Potentially impressive phonecalls are handled loudly. We all leave for a meeting, nodding supportively about the failure of commissioners/producers/editors/audiences etc.

By late morning it is the retired and comfortable (they also take the lunch/post lunch period) who remember Blaggs, the old Boots, Percevals and Tesco in the village.

They give way to excitable schoolies and students who share exorbitant drinks and talk whilst texting and tweeting with a speed and code that impresses and depresses simultaneously.

And then… At 6, the early evening brings first dates and Internet-arranged blind dates.  I have been lucky enough to be “working” next to three of these excruciating occasions which made me thankful for Didsbury Wife and Son and for the self-delusion of those in here.

Time for a refill. What is the point of a frapuccino in England? Is it meant to be ironic?

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