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 “Didsbury Lounge”

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

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25 YEAR MAKEOVER – THE RETURN OF SWEATY BETTY

Just a quickie…

But there is high excitement in our house as Didsbury Wife and I prepare to celebrate the return of an old friend. Driving the Child Truck through the sunny streets of M20 there are many new things to admire.

On Lapwing Lane the new arcade has been launched with a fanfare and Wine & Wallop even opened briefly before going back to building a mezzanine that has now taken three years to construct. I am still salivating at its possibility. Next door the new Post Office has disappointed all as it has opened without the opportunity to post al fresco or event get a haircut. In fact this is the only barberless street in the whole of the village. Walking through Didsbury Village now and being accosted by tourists handing out fliers offering exotic haircuts at knockdown prices is a fantasy I keep having; I digress.

Last time these doors opened a kebab was exotic, Fred Sylvester was our MP and Bilko's (now The Metropolitan) was a sophisticated night out

Last time these doors opened a kebab was exotic, Fred Sylvester was our MP and Bilko’s (now The Metropolitan) was a sophisticated night out

Bisou Bisou is open serving exquisite French patisserie, Solita NQ opened with a bang and looks lively in the old Cibo/La Tasca. Burns Fish Restaurant space. The latest attempt at a gift shop in the centre of the village next to Gregg’s is taking shape and there is a feeling of refreshment being refreshed BUT…

The Piece de resistence, the bauble on the tree and the light of my life is the return of Sweaty Betty’s. The pristine re-design next to Axon’s was a chippy up to the mid to late 80s run by three sisters (this is all getting a bit Shakespearean). I cannot even remember if it was good, bad or greasy but it was legend in my teenage years alongside the slightly scary Mr. Marvel on Barlowmoor Road (well overdue a re-opening). This yellow and black striped grease pit closed without warning and has been the only part of Didsbury not rebuilt since the days when Margaret Thatcher’s ascent was still a novelty.

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The man in the picture is not part of the re-fit and you do not have to look at this through the side of the a car – but it helps

Rumour has it in the same stable as Didsbury Lounge. Conjecture has the spirit of the Sweaty Betty returning to the city. Last time you could buy food on these premises hummmous was not available in Britain and smoking was compulsory in pubs. All I know is that one of the city’s finest flyposting sites has gone and there will be yet more temptation for those sneaking into Lighter Life next to our area’s finest pub, butcher and Sweaty re-incarnation.

picture courtesy of zettashouse.wordpress.com COMING BACK SOON?

picture courtesy of zettashouse.wordpress.com
COMING BACK SOON?

 

Re-imagining without imagination

Didsbury’s gone building and refurb crazy. If you can’t find your favourite builder on Daytime TV then pop down to M20 on the Metro to find them here and check out what they’re up to.

Dene Road’s last few one-lady owner, not refurbed since the 70s opportunities have finally passed through their family’s estates to keen builders and eager amateurs with exactly the same plan. This is to turn that 3-bed 30s semi into a 21st Century dynamic individual des-res. in homage to Life of Brian they still look exactly the same. Same extended porch, two-story kitchen/diner and en-suite addition, same mark-up. I’m only jealous.
Dene Road, which sweeps from the centre of the village to the leafy über-residences near Marie Louise Gardens should have a picture of Martin Roberts and Kirstie Allsop at the entrance. This is the living embodiment of Homes Under the Hammer.

The retailers have caught the bug. The Fletcher Moss looks like its landscaping the smoking section. i want to see one of those big signs outside reading “Last Pub before the Metrolink”.

Our new improved Aldi has opened after weeks of serious work. I went on the opening day and was slightly disappointed to see that all the JCBs had made space for was more wine (Cabernit Sovinyon and Reeoka) and some balloons on the aisles.

The rest of the village is moving on from the Tapastastic O-ism of Cibo, Nido and the Nepalese tapas on Burton Road. Adios or Au Revoir Tapas welcome the rise of the indigenous cuisine. Expo continues to keep the O theme and looks a serious bit of competition for the Sponge Bob Crabbyicinis and Didsbury Deli and (with thanks to @craftwords) the village will soon host almost as many Cafes as haircutters (if we get any more niche people will get confused with Chorlton).
Where there is Tyson Design bring me Didsbury Lounge. Peter Wilcox are you sending your shorn punters to the speedily refitted former morose newsagent that will be Appleby’s? Appleby’s promises “Hearty English Refreshment”. I’m intrigued and slightly salivating at this contradictory description. Hearty and refreshing, its truth could be nearer to my Jewish Mother’s view that a four course Friday night meal that could floor a horse is “something light”. Or maybe its English Tapas; like the mini Yorkshires and Sausage Rolls you get from Iceland when you want to impress someone you don’t rate. I’m intrigued.

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Re-imagining without imagination

Didsbury’s gone building and refurb crazy. If you can’t find your favourite builder on Daytime TV then pop down to M20 on the Metro to find them here and check out what they’re up to.

Dene Road’s last few one-lady owner, not refurbed since the 70s opportunities have finally passed through their family’s estates to keen builders and eager amateurs with exactly the same plan. This is to turn that 3-bed 30s semi into a 21st Century dynamic individual des-res. in homage to Life of Brian they still look exactly the same. Same extended porch, two-story kitchen/diner and en-suite addition, same mark-up. I’m only jealous.
Dene Road, which sweeps from the centre of the village to the leafy über-residences near Marie Louise Gardens should have a picture of Martin Roberts and Kirstie Allsop at the entrance. This is the living embodiment of Homes Under the Hammer.

The retailers have caught the bug. The Fletcher Moss looks like its landscaping the smoking section. i want to see one of those big signs outside reading “Last Pub before the Metrolink”.

Our new improved Aldi has opened after weeks of serious work. I went on the opening day and was slightly disappointed to see that all the JCBs had made space for was more wine (Cabernit Sovinyon and Reeoka) and some balloons on the aisles.

The rest of the village is moving on from the Tapastastic O-ism of Cibo, Nido and the Nepalese tapas on Burton Road. Adios or Au Revoir Tapas welcome the rise of the indigenous cuisine. Expo continues to keep the O theme and looks a serious bit of competition for the Sponge Bob Crabbyicinis and Didsbury Deli and (with thanks to @craftwords) the village will soon host almost as many Cafes as haircutters (if we get any more niche people will get confused with Chorlton).
Where there is Tyson Design bring me Didsbury Lounge. Peter Wilcox are you sending your shorn punters to the speedily refitted former morose newsagent that will be Appleby’s? Appleby’s promises “Hearty English Refreshment”. I’m intrigued and slightly salivating at this contradictory description. Hearty and refreshing, its truth could be nearer to my Jewish Mother’s view that a four course Friday night meal that could floor a horse is “something light”. Or maybe its English Tapas; like the mini Yorkshires and Sausage Rolls you get from Iceland when you want to impress someone you don’t rate. I’m intrigued.

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Wales: where are your changing tables?

The Didsbury family are all safely home from our trip to Wales. I like Wales. Parts of the North Wales and stop-offs on the journey home are so good they are almost like Didsbury; but with narrower roads, early closing, less choice, grey brick, no Cheese Hamlet and proper Welsh Cakes.

Wales, like Scotland with a less impenetrable accent, like Cornwall without Rick Stein pushing his haddock at you day night and… to overuse the word “like”, like a family holiday without facilities.

I am not Walesist, some of my best friends are Welsh (to paraphrase the “people” who voted UKIP).

Sunday afternoon was a perfect example. The journey from Didsbury was punctuated by stops at a range of cafes and hotels. Each stop met with friendly incredulity at the request for a baby change. Our pleas seemed as outrageous as having pram access to a toy shop ( Giddy Goat Toys, let us in).

I have been spoiled in M20. Caffe Nero has two changing tables (knowing its clientele well), Didsbury Lounge may drag you up spiral stairs but when you get there it’s worth it and even the independent Didsbury Deli is promising a changing station soon – I keep checking and the antipasti just arrives at my table, that’s my excuse.

This lack of facilities led to Didsbury Wife and I putting our knees and backs through unseemly hard floor, cubicle changes that were like going swimming in the 70s. The babies have spent so much time on toilet floors being changed by a tired and sweary dad they thought they were in a Ken Loach film about Wales in the 50s
(*Read the following Oscar worthy dialogue in ‘Nessa from Gavin & Stacey accent).
“We ‘ad to keep movin’ see – no place to sleep and a toilet to change the babbies mind.”

Anyway it is back to Sunday afternoon 3.45pm. One of those magical family outings that began in indifference and spiralled quickly into antipathy. I had a car full. One angry, one bored, two needing a change. Then, Nirvana. Cliff side location, beatific panorama and inside it got better. WiFi for Didsbury Son. A safe heaven and a good choice of refreshment for Didsbury Wife and, whisper it quietly – Sky Sports 1 cued up for Super Sunday and they took cards.

I grasped the wary family to my bosom and charged in. I was new man and ready to change a Mighty Headed boy whose nappy was threatening to emigrate.

I spent the next 20 minutes balancing him one-handed between basin and blower as we recreated our cubicle scene one more time.

We left the pub with friends, a new happiness and pong-free babies; but Wales, it’s 2013. there is no need for a fancy refurb, just a bit of fold-down plastic attached to a wall. Your resorts are full of young families and more importantly, I have two more years of nappies.

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Just out of shot: Gareth Bale, Ivor The Engine and Alex Jones open the Welsh Assembly’s new changing facilities

London – it’s not quite Didsbury

I feel a sense of irony that I live in the world’s barber and hairdresser capital yet have been so busy recently my hair has applied for its own postcode. This is fine for those 20 somethings that are the NBFs (or whatever the term is) that I hang out near at Didsbury Lounge, (I was in last week, had an awful dawning that I was the only 39 plus a lot year old in there and popped a Wellman vitamin immediately) but at my age can be iffy. Not only does it give twin babies more to grab onto but it brings with it two thorny issues.

Last week, one early ish morning I was trying to instil something vital into Didsbury Son’s long-term memory. It may have been the day the bins go out, the importance of planning for a shed of his own with wi-fi or something equally educational. I was scuppered mid-flow by him stopping me to tell me he couldn’t take me seriously as I had hair like Krusty the Clown; he was right. My other issue is that hair now grows around and from my head rather than just on it.

Women may have their beauty secrets but men’s haircuts after the age of 30 involve a tacit nod and the understanding that the clippers will do the gardening and tidy up the edges and entrances that you can’t see when shaving. This morning I considered my eyebrows and their aspirational upward mobility and thought most companies would kill for growth like that.

I am now back from my latest jaunt and felt it would have been disloyal to even consider a haircut away from School Lane’s Clipper Mile. When you have Pick’n’Mix at home why buy sweets at Tesco? Blade’s wet shave, John’s Gentry grooming and the Didsbury Barbers know where to clip and not to talk once I get into a trance and you can’t buy that ease and acknowledgement.

On my last night I strolled back to a hotel with a floor plan based on Strangeways through London’s theatre land, Chinatown and Covent Garden. For tourists and teenagers with fashionable haircuts I recognise from the mid 80s this is fine. It is vibrant, mult-coloured and busy. But to me it lacks the AiryFairy, Alpine Cafe, Fusion Deli, Evanesque charm of Didsbury. There is no guessing what 15th century Italian city state inspired the new restaurants, no playing count the empty tables or spot the customer at Gourmet Burger King and not even the disappointment of the late Elm’s unloved Bath Bombs taking residence in Delia’s florist stems the love of home. None of the bright lights could mask the fact that it may be the centre of the capital – but you can’t find a decent barbers.

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A London street. No barbers to be seen

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