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”

More of the same please

 On the wall is a picture of the twins at 1-day old with my hands around their tiny heads. My pearly princess looks angry. Eyes screwed up, she is bemoaning the need for oxygen and probably hoping The Mighty Headed Boy will shut up; he hasn’t. You may not see much of old friends but you do get to pet a lot of goats.

His huge round head – like an animated bowling ball reflects a sense of anxious confusion which lasted a few weeks before settling into a bullish, balletic enthusiasm that never drops below flat out. And Alpacas

This, a picture of a hairless, toothless and smiling Didsbury Son aged 4 months and a tear stained screenshot of the winning goal in an improbable cup final are my gallery of inspiration. Mighty

This week the twins are 5. I know this without checking any calendars. I know this because I look 10 years older, have not seen any of my friends voluntarily since 2013 and my hips, elbows and knees creak like a Caribbean gazebo in a hurricane. Pearly
I’ve been through this before, but the prospect of them being 5 is terrifying and baffling. 5, that’s half a decade, add a decade to them and they’re surly strangers who no longer think I’m wonderful.
The 5 years seem like seconds and an eternity. My life pre-twins seems as distant as a Sunday afternoon black and white war film. I remember it, but it could just be a film.
It also seems like seconds ago I was showing off walking downstairs with one in each arm and they were inert smiley blobs that were 90% head. 
5. I can’t call them boddlers or toddlers at 5. I can’t pretend that they’re babies anymore – although I still think I’m slightly in shock. I can empathise with the 50 items in a big transformer type bag that new parents have, but our commonality is drifting. All I need are the occasional pair of extra pants and the ability to produce Kinder Eggs on demand. 
In every way they are a joy to me and the very busy centre of my world. Their little successes are ones I am openly a big softy about and their trials fill my thoughts. It is the most wonderful curse and one that removes you from many of the arenas and people you used to crave.
I’m a dull doting dad and I love it. In Emma Jane Unsworth’s brilliant book (soon to be film) “Animals” the response to a pregnancy announcement is “Another one lost for a decade.”

I’m halfway there and happily lost. 

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Doctor Who and a Perfect Day

Five Go Mad in Murcia

Last week I gained new insight into an old conundrum. My timelines on Social Media and news / phone-ins were full of Jodie Whittaker’s forthcoming re-incarnation as Doctor Who. I understand more fully how those with no kids feel on the first day of school when Facebook becomes home to albums of uncomfy children in starchy blazers. These pictures are of great significance to those involved but utterly dull wallpaper to those not. I have no view on Doctor Who. I’ve only watched it a couple of times (1975 and 2005) and have never been interested. This has provoked outraged shock amongst (usually single and OCD) peers but in my world if you don’t know your Trevor Steven from your Gary Stevens you lack moral fibre, so it’s each to their own. I made sure Didsbury Son was busy when Doctor Who was on and the Didsbury Twins are too young. The outrage regarding a female Doctor was fascinating, some of the arguments to and against genuinely moving. My interest was only engaged as the announcement fell into that black hole that is weekend life between the end of the football season and the start of pre-season friendlies. Gary Stevens or Trevor Steven?
So thankfully, we are now in Spain and a bit like Didsbury, we are in an expensive house near a couple of good tapas bars. I am burning nicely, clasping naps wherever possible. I have a cycle of swim, get too hot, have cold drink, snooze. That is apart from the 17 hours a day this is interrupted by  the Mighty Headed Boy’s one volume fits all and the nice bits of daddom. This holiday is all about learning to swim for the little ones.  Sadly once more overlooked to be the Doctor.

My sunburned English shoulders are replete with the claw marks of an occasional 4 year old water panic. My ears are attuned to the “Daddy can I wee in the pool again?” Shouts and I am having moments of genuine relaxation. This is despite the fact that being in a pool with your children involves you mainly being kicked, jumped on and mildly assaulted for most of the time. Waving, not drowning. 

In three days I haven’t touched the Oemeprozole and since deleting Facebook from my phone and turning on the “Out of Office” I am semi-zen.

Didsbury Son is 16 next week. This is inconceivable. My little Blondini is packed full of ironic comments and “banter”. He has also made friends easily and with such aplomb I am reassessing my wincing response. With as near to calm throughout as you can have with teens, toddlers and parents in one space I have had more time to navel gaze, obsess and promise to never eat crisps on British soil again until my shadow looks more human, less cartoon.

I like the easy rhythm of a holiday in a villa. Breakfast can be anything from 3 minutes to 3 hours and encompass a range from toast to tapas with red wine.

Didsbury Wife is serene. Effortlessly parenting and arguments between The Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly Princess seem less troublesome when you’re overlooking an azure sea, they prove that Dora the Explorer really does teach Spanish and my hardest decision is which factor Sun cream to apply.

Ojalá todos los días podrían ser así.

As I always say.

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? 

Lego, Trump and Guantanamo.

The Mighty Headed boy and I have spent the last hour or two making lego. We’ve built a thingy, a few seats and something that would look good in Guantanamo Bay High Security wing. Small hands, big plans

My job has been to lie on the floor and do what I’m told. (How many first dates have ended that way?) I am the lego separator and the audience for his commentary that has continued with the persistent pragmatism usually reserved for a land invasion with air support. 

Your average sports commentator would have had to refer to pundit, co-commentator and catering by now. Not here. All that has been needed is an occasional Starburst. 90 minutes of commentary, songs about the continents, occasionally Jesus and infrequent random shouting have accompanied the building of a tower as improbably conceived as the new president’s golden erection in New York. (Incidentally the boy also reflects the president in blaming others when questioned. The Hula Hoop investigation continues. The Mighty-Headed Boy. The lego is actually four feet high. 

This has been soothing in ways expensive therapies can only get near. It takes me back to being Didsbury Son’s sounding board as he 

Created worlds I could not imagine and found entertainment where I saw a cul de sac. 
I think I am lucky. I was happy with 0, 1 and 3 heirs to the Didsbury Eczema. To have a second run at the golden years when you are essentially an heroic Climbing Frame that produces Kinder Eggs on demand is usually worth the sleep depravation, joint damage, worry, money consuming, intimacy disabling Years that are behind and ahead of me. Tourists

Didsbury: I Have a Dream

I have a dream. I have many dreams. Beyond a harmonious world and an easy to assemble Kinder Egg Toy, I have dreams.          I remember when all of this was train track. 
I dream of reading a newspaper article (analogue or digital) whose research is not a celebrity twitter feed and in which fact checking does not mean a retweet. 

I dream of the time when the Pearly Princess can put on her own tights. Truly, as a man with the dexterity of the average baby this is a daily bind. Fifteen minutes spent struggling with a wriggly toddler to find they are on back to front and the heel is over one knee is soul destroying in a way that working out next to someone who keeps asking if you’re okay “…as you don’t get many people in your age” can only peck at gently.Burns, La Tasca, Cibo, Solita. Inhabitants and the back four of FC Nido in the 2004 Champions League qualifier. 

I dream of a time when each incarnation of the restaurant known as Y Fabrica (me neither, no idea) join forces. Whether it’s The Mud Crab Cafe, Felicinis or Didsbury Wine Bar, between them there is a decent menu lying in wait. 

I dream of people caring about each other. Of pushy mothers in 4x4s not double parking or taking residents’ spaces when dropping their Freyas and Archies at Primary School. Of the staff at Evans being knighted for services to middle class dinner parties in South Manchester. Of Unicorns singing Stone Roses tunes as you pass the “Welcome to Greater Manchester” sign on the M56 and of a time when my first action of the day is not deciding what to do with a pull-up. The names on the mug are in reverse order.

Alongside every act of lazy and institutionalised xenophobia we have witnessed over the last year I believe there is goodness. There are people who realise the contribution of all people whether British born or not. I thought about this as I sipped the most exquisite Sardinian-made Bloody Mary at Piccolino’s on Saturday. I remember it when it when I bump into people who remember me going for sweets on Lapwing Lane with my own Didsbury grandad. Rare picture of Fog Lane Park’s Pets’ Corner

I dream of a world where Coronation Street does not move so quickly that I miss a month and have no idea who Steve MacDonald has married/impregnated/saved.Kiwi, a rare Didsbury delicacy from when Evans first opened. 

I dream of a world where the city abruptly ends and the country takes over in seconds. Then I remember Stenner Lane, the perfect cut through between almost Gastropub The Didsbury and the haven of Fletcher Moss.

Ten minutes looking at the river and I don’t care who’s blocked my drive, which continent Felicini’s is pretending to be from or which toddler’s knee wakes me with a morning kidney jab. I just tap my heels together 3 times and I’m walking back from Flannagan’s with a smart haircut and a Fosters’ chippie tea in my hand. 

* thanks to @craftwords for keeping me up to date with developments and great one-liners whilst I’ve been too busy navel-gazing to write a regular blog. 

A New Dawn. Not always a good morning

What a week. It has been huge whatever your politics, the changes have been seismic. As an avowed liberal, with lefty intentions and a distaste for dogma – my “Live and let live” philosophy has been tested. My pacifist facade was dented by breaking out into cheering when a masked protestor punched a smug far-rightist live on TV. I found the Women’s March uplifting and Grayson Perry’s comment that “you won’t find a babysitter left in North London” the kind of self-aware reasoning I love. Let’s hear it for the Metropolitan, Metrosexuals, the liberals. We may park badly and have too many kitchen implements but whatever your religion, ethos or kink; it’s your business. (*obviously if any of the children came home and seriously wanted to follow Man United or give up Houmous I may need a rethink). We scatter these Basil Leaves over organic Mozarella as a symbol of freedom. 



The great thing about family life is that it levels any great stance you take and it’s constant rhythm cannot be ignored. Your priorities are not always your children’s. 
Didsbury Wife and I were about to try and digest Didsbury Son’s confession that he hadn’t watched the inauguration but had seen some memes on Snapchat (is it just Snap now? Or Chat? Or hell for parents of teenagers?) when the toddler’s clarion call for bottom wiping came from the bathroom. Prioriities are clear. Noddy and Big Ears symbolise the kind of accepting partnership we need going forward. 

Our outraged viewing of Trumpy and Melon and cooing over Barrack and Michelle was interrupted as it was boring and we’d promised they could watch Numberjacks. As it turned out this was a good move. Zero the Hero resonated. 

I have tried to think of reasons to celebrate beyond feeling smugly educated and not that fat as I watched this dangerous man take power and his supporters being interviewed. They may be in power now, the blight of Nationalism is rearing its putrid head. But. This is what I came up with. 
1. It has given me a chance to get out my Redskins collection and play “Neither Washington Nor Moscow” a lot. 
2. Late on Friday night after everyone had gone to bed I sat up and had a contemplative cup of tea. As the tea brewed I remembered a Twirl at the bottom of my work bag. There are few solo pleasures that beat hot tea and a Twirl with The Archers on in the background on iPlayer. Rob Tichener sacked, next step Washington. 
3. Every time I doubt my own sanity I just think of the mammoth I saw on TV from “Ohio Against Satanists” and feel better.
4. We are probably having the same conversations we had when George W Bush came in. It just seems more gung-ho, more nasty and less to do with anything noble. 
5. Didsbury Son has it covered and if he needs a balaclava to go out protesting I have one ready for him. 
The Redskins – Bring It Down https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RgaAKP3Pd8o

Home is not just a cinema or the church cafe

. When Felicini’s became the Mudflap cafe I nearly cried. It’s glossy black sign and euphemistic name was a part of my history and stood proudly in the same giggling pointlessness of changing The Cheese Hamlet to Helmet. Now, with the stripped back wood still settling in to Gregg’s and an eviscerated Inman’s being re-imagined as Thai favourite The Chilli Banana I am almost out of my depth.
felicinsmud-crabfutureistic-pic evolution
At least it’s only 8 months until Didsbury Festival returns in its usual format – unchanged since Bonnie Prince Charlie led the procession, which featured the 88th Scouts.
This is Didsbury. A wheel turning and creating new identities – including cash converting, laser surgery, fifteen diet clubs and an ever growing coterie of Pet Grooming services. Only 86% of trading premises in Didsbury serve coffee, 71% cut hair (human or canine). Didsbury Library is a portal to 1973. I go there when I only have tuppence ha’penny and need a cup of tea (coffee not being invented until The Premier League started in 1992).
The other big news is that Didsbury Dad Towers is no longer in Didsbury. We are now a castle, a Didsbury Diaspora outpost.
In a year that has seen us cough up more in Stamp Duty than the national debt we have moved twice. First out of the village to near the river and now, out of town.
We have moved so far away that we are the cultural diversity. It’s a city, it’s semi-rural and it’s not Didsbury.
So I am part-time Didsbury Dad. I am still working in my capacity as Meeja Luvvie doing something non-specific in MediaCity – but only weekdays.
It is strange. All Didsbury Son has known is Didsbury. My life with Didsbury Wife has been played out to the backdrop of Piccolino and Barlowmoor Road. The Mighty Headed Boy and the Pearly Princess are Harriet & Dee. But. We have begun to sever the link for a period of time.
It’s only been a few weeks and it’s still a bit like being on holiday. It does make you realise how easy it can be living somewhere that is the edge of the metropolis, has travel options to envy and it’s all in walking distance.
It’s early days yet. I have had to develop a whole new rhythm to each day. I am a little lost without my morning fix of Pete, Tom and Claire at Fusion Deli after a cheery wave from Darren at Delia’s Florist. There is no Piccolino, Bisous Bisous, St. James & Emmanuel and I don’t know everyone.
This has great advantages. When I get my Fusion fix the coffee tastes great and I have stories to share. I now know just how good New Peking House is and sometimes the anonymity is liberating.
I think I will always be a Didsbury Dad wherever we live. My Gamma Male, liberal approach to life on the Focaccia line is settled. We may be away for a short time or for good, not decided yet. But Didsbury Wife, Son and I are M20 raised and made and know the difference between a good idea and some of the money pit no chances that we’ve seen trying to cash in on the perceived wealth in Didsbury.
The boddlers are still confused. On Saturday, as we perused the rolling hills and unfamiliar accents that surround us, they clamoured for the sweet shop on Dene Road. As we walked through the Metrolinkless roads they wondered where all the Magic Buses were.
Starting from scratch after a life in the subsidised suburban bliss of M20 is exciting. But I think we’ll be coming regularly. It’s not just home, a river runs through it.

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.

Hello Didsbury, I’m Home – Postcard from the edge of town

Contrary to rumours I have heard I have not moved to Chorlton (as if), grown a beard or started working for Didsbury Magazine** and now spend my life checking out Altrincham and Hale. I am excited that it’s Didsbury Festival day and I have been working away, beavering at home and generally been to busy to even watch football.

Doig something media-ish and almost high falutin’ I have been to the Far East. These are the excerpts from Didsbury Dad’s Diary.

Postcard from Outer Didsbury 1:

38000 feet and several hundred miles above Didsbury.

I have a 13 hour flight to where I am tasked with delivering something media to media people in a media building so far from Fusion Deli that my breakfast coffee is your late night snack. 

I’m halfway through The Martian. This is the first thing I have watched for months that isn’t Paw Patrol, Blaze or Gnomeo & Juliet. The swearing may be bleeped out but just to see anything with jeopardy feels like a rare treat. I am on the way to somewhere allegedly, that sees the phrase “Paw Patrol, on a roll” with different connotations.

paw patrol I see more of these guays than any of my friends and family.

Sitting here with a Gin & Tonic in a skiff, an empty pretzel bag and Matt Damon on Mars makes me realise how out of practice I am after 3 1/2 years of nurturing blobs to toddlers and Didsbury Son from squeaky solo to hear honcho of the Krispy 3. Twice now I have wondered if The Martian is a true story. I think I need to go abroad more.  

IMG_2918 When this seems luxurious and watching a film on a 6 inch screen framed by the back of someone’s head a treat – you need to get out more.

So… Not much blogging recently. Didsbury Village is storming forward with the kind of independent vigour usually reserved for Burton Road.

Casa Italia is now worthy of the term bustling. Somewhere between the beardy hipsters and the independent artisans, the Makers Market and the cycle shop on the cobbles, Saints & Scholars still thrives on a 90s menu and service throwback.

As if the Didsbury Village Farm Shop had never existed comes Three Little Pigs. A butcher so achingly trendy it may just work. Axons have seen off pretenders before. But this is no Victoria Highfield mistaking Didsbury’s residents for the wastelands of Bramhall. This is not a Wedding Dress shop. This is meat so trendy it gets the tram to the Northern Quarter for a night of Benelux Lager. 

The space formerly known as Royal Bank of Scotland has a sexy looking symbol, Bosu Body Bar is spreading low-carb love and even the old Global News space sees movement. 

gonadWhatever this is meant to be, to readers of Viz this is Buster Gonad’s testicle

With house prices currently increasing at a rate that defies logic but means new adjectives need inventing, these are vibrant times in the land of the Fletcher Moss. 

An hour later.

I cried at the end. I don’t know whether it was the Chicken Penang or the cramp creeping up my thigh but I cried with joy for Matt the Martian and realised with joy that as a 40 something with dodgy knees and claustrophobia – I think it’s a good journey if I don’t have to shut the windows.

IMG_2924

The view from the hotel inspires with the majesty of the East.

** In an early version of this blog I accidentally referred to Didsbury Magazine as Didsbury Life. Apologies to Didsbury Life, promoting M20 in all the best ways.

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