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 Village”

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Rouge is once again the retreat of choice as Cafe Nero’s spacious baby change, free babychinos and lovely staff are superseded by Rouge’s boddler friendly roominess and toy stash; although the bebechino is 50p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

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Didsbury puckers up for the spring

Bright crispy mornings with frost on the car and blue in the sky. Long beautiful nights. The week’s full moon has had a yellow/orange lamppost tinge, a smattering of cloud cover and has hovered hopefully over Didsbury village as if it could re-open the lamented closed shops or put a barber’s chair and scissors in every premises from Withington Baths to Parrs Wood.

The moon can throw some interesting shadows. Carrington's and Domino's look different in this light.

The moon can throw some interesting shadows. Carrington’s and Domino’s look different in this light.

It’s Spring and getting warmer. The sun that had seemed as rare as a queue at Gourmet Burger King or a three-piece suit in Elvis’s Kitchen is squinting sheepishly at us at last. There are snowdrops, scaffolds and For Sale signs springing up everywhere as Didsbury gets dressed for the new season.

This is prime mooching time. Didsbury  buzzes with the sound of pram wheel on pavement. On Wednesday I was in Caffe Nero when South Manchester twins group finished and the convoy  of double buggies measured on the Richter scale.

At home, there are changes afoot. To my initial shock and continual sense of nagging disappointment Didsbury Son is slowly backing out of our mooching mornings. My little 4-year-old blondini who would squeeze hands, talk unaware loveliness and look in awe at the detritus we would spot as we walked on what is now the Metrolink is busy with team sports, distracted by Cartoon Network and generally losing impetus. He is still my lovely boy, but adolescence is creeping in and walking around aimlessly with a Tesco sausage at the end of it is no longer the pull it once was.

I have new partners. They are still in their pram and if I get it right they are primarily asleep, but, still strangely good company. Walking the not so mean streets of M20 with babies allows me time to see developments.

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It is nice to see everyone out and about without a coat on after a long winter.

The village is rife with change and this year’s Didsbury Festival will march down a very different high street. Elm Interiors really is shutting (room for a small Waitrose?), with rising rents blamed, but pointless stock not helping. La Tasca (my eagle-eyed spy tells me) is coming back as a Venetian Restaurant which opens up many possibilities. A moat, the scent of warm sewage, exorbitant pricing  and large Americans OR… Superb food, small coffees and a chance of drowning if you get too drunk. The Mud Flat Crabicinis is being pimped. The scaffolding is up, the building is being lowered and expect to see alloys.
We have an open air cafe coming to Didsbury Park, Giddy Goat Toys has some genuinely exciting stuff in it and one day Pixie / Linen will re-open, Sheilaless but hopefully a little slice of glamour on the road to the Fletch.
There is building behind Aldi (Guessing it’ s not a Waitrose) and the pace of 30s house renovation for profit on Spath Road and its surroundings is reaching a crescendo; with the village’s estate agents salivating at the easy commissions coming their way.

This is a longer blog than usual so I thought I would put in more pictures

On Barlow Moor Road and the Old Lansdowne gateway to the West the gentrification is almost complete and done “in keeping” with the original build (just different) and my new favourite, School Lane gets better as it warms up.

This is the new  Indie Didsbury. As you come out of the park and over the Metro to School Lane; past the bizarre white block of flats that should have been built in seafront San Fran and jar hopelessly with all of their surroundings there is a real community. The road to Airy Fairy Cupcake Nirvana is not just paved with barbers (although there are 28). Before Hazeldress’ cavern of costume and the musical instrument shop that must be a front for something. Before the munificence of Peking House and the barbers who all used to work together and now snip separately. Before the gym next to the chippy there is gold.
The School Lane Cafe does a Full English for a fiver and knows Latte is late spelled wrong AND next to Didsbury Perk’s art and Hot Chocolate is a pop up hands on gallery; brilliant.

We shall be mooching Parrs Wood way more this spring.

The School Lane Heritage Trail.A boy, a pencil and white flats in the background

The School Lane Heritage Trail.A boy, a pencil and white flats in the background

And then there were 3, the twins cometh…

I have tried not to make Didsbury Dad a pregnancy blog. I am preparing to fail in my attempts at  not being a baby bore  BUT a delivery so chilled Occado could have made it, followed by 6 days on a ward with Wythenshawe’s wonderful staff and eclectic clientele has… whilst dealing with the roller coaster of Didsbury Son’s emotions and being one of the few post natal dads to have sailed past 21, let alone 30 40 something –  whilst losing touch with the real world for a week and fawning limply over my two little potato heads and re-marvelling at female fortitude, anatomy and tenacity and finding myself surrounded by baby experts at every turn and kissed just about everyone in M23 whether they liked it or not and let Didsbury Son sneak a 15 movie on the video in a giddy haze as I have lived on biscuits and crisps for a week (my greens have been Cheese and Onion); Whilst learning more about life, friends and social media and then kissing everyone in Didsbury Village and grinning like Didsbury Son with a praised piece of artwork .

And breathe.

A new baby, before it has been ironed resembles Yoda

Or an alien

All life goes through a Manchester maternity ward. Didsbury Wife has just spent several days sharing a space with a range of Mancunians that  sing the diversity of the city. I am sure they looked at our Hessian bag of Alpro snacks and muttered “Didsbury”; I have sat back with twin 1 or twin 2 and enjoyed the show.
I marveled at the new father next to me who would only come in if his girlfriend got the TV working. He lay on the bed, curtains drawn watching ITV to recreate home between fag breaks. Having listened through a curtain on Saturday I now know that X Factor would not work on radio.

The Polish woman opposite slept brilliantly, the only woman on the ward undisturbed by her baby’s cries as she snored consistently between (her own) feeds. Her unwavering face was kind but she bore the weary look of annual childbirth interrupting hard work. Her Slavic stoic stance contrasted with the shrill nasal drawl of visiting Mancs showering Adidas and Nike on new babies and their junior parents.  I have smiled knowingly with all the grandparents, knowing the majority were my contemporaries and would remember The International rather than The Warehouse Project or The Kardomah. Thus, we have spent the week hanging out with the people with whom Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son and I will share all of our milestones over the next few decades.

The greatness of a maternity ward is that  everyone is equal and the potential clash of so many cultures dissolves in an oxytocin-driven, testosterone snipped haze of relief.

All babies are tagged at birth to avoid mix-ups. This is mini Didsbury Son 2 at 18 hours old

Everyone is hopeful – whether main ward, TCU or ICU. Everyone is friendly and supportive ; we are all either ecstatic or thinking there but for the grace of… and all Gods are Here. I munched my bagel with Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Atheists, our cultural non-competitiveness providing a blueprint. keep everyone sleep-deprived and besotted and there will be no trouble. Over mini teats and sterilising units I have eaten Polish, Japanese and Walkers with new brothers in cord-snipping and have cooed, consoled and cuddled babies with easy and difficult lives ahead of them once they leave the ante-womb of the postnatal ward.

My little wonders still feel as though they are mine on loan and I  squint at them for hours, inhaling their scents and wondering which one will like my pants on the head, finger-pulling best gags. I look forward to the chance for a Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son and me sharing the pram-pushing, shoulder riding and hand holding duties.

I feel a bit of a fraud. All the clichés at which I scoffed, all the sappy wet-eyed new dads I ignored and all the joy with a much smaller Didsbury Son that I had forgotten have re-enveloped me in a syrupy cocoon with the most wonderful aroma.

I can’t wait to re-read this with milk spattered clothes and sleepless, red-rimmed eyes around  Christmas, whilst Didsbury Son is trying to convince me everyone in year 7 is getting a tattoo and a Blackberry from “Santa”. It will remind how wonderful this tiny week 1 world is – when the colour of a nappy filler is a cause for celebration and each sneeze, hiccup, finger squeeze and eye open is a cause of genuine joy.

This joke gets stretched even further

Domino’s Dancing and Step Back in Time

I had to go to Wilmslow on Monday. I am not showing off or trying to gain sympathy but Didsbury Son and I had an appointment in the cheekbone-friendly, WAG filled Cheshirery of the Wilm. As with most visits to areas of Manchester where the Trafford Centre and the A34 have killed the local shops, it made be even more aware of the diversity and independence we have nestling between M&S, the approaching Domino’s and our blue and red coffee chains.

Domino’s in Didsbury. Its slot between Earle & Ginger and Carrington’s sums up the village nicely – a thorn between two roses. It has a great view through to the back wall of Gourmet Burger King unhindered by there being anyone in there. I like GBK, there are so few open spaces left in Manchester.

I like to slowdown Didsbury Son’s enthusiastic stories and dull his senses a little by talking him through what shops used to be when I was his age. Realising that this is even less interesting than when my dad did the same to me as at least he was running around in the Blitz when shops closed down more dramatically, I carry on.

The Aldi was a bus garage. It had a bit of mystique to it as I could not see over the wall and had to guess what went on inside. When it was announced that a German cut-price supermarket was landing on the site there was NIMBY led outrage, but nothing like a credit crunch to give 29p courgettes an extra bite.

The new houses behind the village were Healds Dairy and all the houses have milk deposits in the foundations. The Fletcher Moss was the pub for the Dairy. It was The Albert then and the nearest I ever got to feeling rural. I used to find it sad that the Fletcher Moss had a sign up saying no work clothes as it seems to be unnecessarily wiping the past. But they do have a good selection of snacks so are forgiven. O’Neill’s spent years as a Save The Children Fund shop; Didsbury’s only charity shop for decades (honestly) and next to it, Caffe Rouge and whatever the pub between the closed shop and the GBK is called, was a lovely cobblestone parking and mooching bay that had been the entrance to the station where you got the train to London.

I am on the Train to London now. Two hours only and there’s a Caffe Rouge, Subway and M&S Simply Food at Euston in case I get homesick. If Evans, Folk, Fusion Deli and Blade opened up here this place could do well. Next year I can pop on the metro and be at the new media capital of Britain in 10 minutes. Next they’ll be inventing Xbox Kinect.

Now fetch me Pomfret Cake and back to the reminiscing. When I give Didsbury Son this meander through the not mean streets that we tread, he looks at me like a gentle carer with a slightly confused patient. He puts his arm around me, smiles up with big grey eyes and ignoring it all, goes straight back into some technical breakdown of Legend of Zelda that takes the same time as your average shop re-fit.

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Has The World Turned and Happy (insert relevant festival)

Tesco in East Didsbury (I love the geographical split of East, West and The Village – it has a 70s European feel to it) currently has merchandise on display for Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, Diwali, Jewish New Year and Freedom for The Flemish with Phlegm Independence Party.

Every newsagent in Didsbury now seems to be a licensed mini-mart packed with so much stock that daylight is a thing of the past.

The fight for supremacy between coffee shops and charity shops can only lead to Emmanuel and St James churches going to head to head with a Starbucks Fairtrade Chocolate concession or maybe a John Lewis themed coffee shop.

It’s October 15th and on a perfect summer’s day I strolled through Fletcher Moss with Didsbury Wife and Son past the soon to be Dimitris. The park was full of yapping dogs, happy children and the whiff of suntan lotion. We then sat squinting and basking outside Caffe Nero as cars pumped out summer sounds through open roofs and windows.

City are top of the league. I saw a fish in Evans within my price range, there was no broken glass outside O’Neills this morning and Didsbury Son patiently worked his way through a mock entrance exam as our year 6 parental paranoia cranked up a notch.

All this and last week Didsbury Library had both of the books I was looking for, whilst Gourmet Burger King had more customers than staff on successive weekdays.

These are strange times. I feel as though I may blink and find Salford is the capital of British Television, the LibDems are the government and when I get home my car will be cleaned and SkySports News will be humming behind a steaming cup of tea in my favourite mug… just wishful thinking and mad ideas

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