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 “DIY”

Men’s Hour – Marking territory, staking a claim and avoiding textspeak

Men – It’s not easy being a modern city man. Finding a clearly defined role that maintains your innate hunter instincts whilst being sensitive to the nuances of your family’s needs and modern expectations demands creativity. There is a tipping point somewhere between the joy of baking with Didsbury Son and agreeing to watch Jennifer Aniston instead of Match of the Day. I tipped many years ago and am now having to redefine masculinity whilst making sure the nappies go on a boil wash but I’m not mixing colours.

A baby gives her reaction to the notion of gender stereotyping in changing and feeding

A baby gives her reaction to the notion of gender stereotyping in changing and feeding

 But men,  understand this. There are dozens of free channels to be watched, hours of tweets to be shared and LOL’d and the cats must be fed – it’s duty. * NB: if you use the term LOL (are you listening David Cameron?) over the age of 20 it is as unacceptable as leather trousers and as inappropriate as a middle-aged ponytail. 
 
There has been much debate about the evolving role of men. When Didsbury Wife was Didsbury Girlfriend I flooded her kitchen whilst attempting to fix a tap. This was a time so long ago there were barely gambling apps. I realised my role and her expectations had changed. As I wrung out, well everything, she reminded me of an old adage
“Either marry  someone who can fix a shelf or can pay someone else to fix a shelf for you.” Then it hit me, a Eureka moment; I finally understood what Tony Blair had meant when he talked about a third way. 
 
I couldn’t fix a shelf – it’s culturally genetic. When Moses gave the 10 commandments to the Jewish people he never told them how to fix them to a wall, he just told them what to eat whilst they were discussing the contents. Paying for it is the intermittent joy of the media freelance something or other so there had to be a third way; I wrote her a story about a set of shelves and a new tap and Didsbury Wife fixed everything herself.
 
There are other roles around childcare that never concerned my  own Didsbury Dad. He worked hard, my own Didsbury Mum did 99% of the childcare and he would do science homework and be patient whilst we jumped all over him and jabbered away inanely, punctuated by his nodding.
 
I am a modern dad. One night each week I do the night shift; emerging triumphantly like the Lion King to theatrically deliver my huge headed baby boy and delicate baby girl for their 6.45 feed. As I stalk the savannah back to the nursery, mane shaking and all but roaring my new masculinity before bagging a freshly changed nappy, I know I am king of all I survey (less than you would imagine without glasses). I am assured of my masculinity, male-modernness and massive contribution to the next generation.
 
A baby boy, keen to retain his anonymity camoflauges his ead with a strawberry lace in sympathy with the loss of freedom to watch endless football highlights.

A baby boy, keen to retain his anonymity camoflages his head with a strawberry lace in sympathy with the loss of freedom to watch endless football highlights.

There is only the tiniest voice in my head reminding me that the other 6 nights a week and 18 hours of most days Didsbury Wife sees to the happiness of the babies, coos and cleans them and more importantly… Teaches Didsbury Son DIY skills so I can write stories and make tea whilst they work. 

Nobvember 2011 and Didsbury Village Farm Shop opened with high hopes, high prices and excellent high fat content pies. Farewell, January 2012

November 2011 and Didsbury Village Farm Shop opened with high hopes, high prices and excellent high fat content pies. Farewell, January 2013

Caravans are the new hotels, Didsbury By the Sea

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Two weeks is a long time in the life of a Didsbury Son and one week is a long time in a caravan on the Welsh Riviera enjoying the wide range of rain driven weather patterns. Welsh Weather, that echo of chirruping sparrow and screeching sun that can change quicker than a transformer into leaden skied Hippos tap dancing on the roof of your caravan.

Our first afternoon here was idyllic. A beautiful hot spring day spent walking up beaches in shorts listening to lapping seas and well-fed seagulls. Didsbury Son and I stripped down to dig a joyfully pointless hole with seats in. The therapeutic value increasing inversely proportionate to its beautiful pointlessness. How we laughed as we created a jacuzzi. How we didn’t reckon on it actually being a usable jacuzzi so quickly. The perfect British seaside scene. Father and son digging, laughing and casting aside worries, Didsbury Wife in North Face coat close-by.

The sound of rain on a caravan roof can be mesmerising; then funny, then persistent, then overwhelming, then a precursor to a nightmare about water boarding. Still, it allows you to get to know the site, the caravan walls and the stock of Londis very well.

Caravan sites are microcosms of the worlds that they represent. There is a specific pecking order, etiquette and expectation. One magic moment was seeing Didsbury Son walk into a crowded Gents toilet block and shouting “Daddy!” From behind 10 stalls and through shaving foam and shower head a dozen weary voices, thinking they found a few minutes solace dutifully answered.

I have also had to up my blokeiness quotient to cope with other caravanning men who genuinely seem to know when to use a Phillips Head Screwdriver or the difference between live and earth (I am on a journey of discovery). Ask them about the difference between Spanish and Greek Extra Virgin Oil, nothing.

As a group of us manfully washed up in arctic conditions, pretending this was a good part of the deal I prayed the conversation stayed on sport and away from anything to do with cars apart from traffic. My honest view that DIY stood for “Done It? You’re Kidding” went down like… Anything except for water in a caravan sink. It is possible to sweat in freezing conditions whilst washing baked beans off a plastic plate. I am more Naked Chef than Ray Mears.

A quick guide to caravan etiquette:

1. There are two clearly marked taps – drinking water and chemical waste. They are not cheeky camping cocktails and pretending to empty the chemical toilet in the wrong one isn’t seen as a big jape.

2. There is symmetry between the boys here. They seem dressed, haircutted and taught to speak at Berghaus and White Stuff on the same day. They hunt in packs trying to look vaguely threatening in a way that only privately educated well dressed boys can. It’s not so much the crips and bloods and the crisps and Bloody Mary’s. The scooter tribe (John Lewis, not Vespa) and the bike possee skirt around each other warily like a pack of wolves. Instead of looking for prey they need their tummies tickled. Our tribe is the slouch and snack tribe worshipping the great God Freeview.

3. Being vaguely media and very MediaCityUK has no value.

4. The people you think don’t really exist when you spend your time in a city are real. Somewhere in the world there is someone dressing in a pink pinstriped shirt and blue pullover every five minutes.

5. Bumping into someone only when emptying a chemical toilet or going to a plumbed one severely limits small talk.

If Didsbury had a beach I would have no reason to leave. The ease of an M&S Simply Food and the Fletcher Moss on your doorstep should not be taken for granted. A week and weekends staring at the horizon across The Irish Sea, whilst wearing a coat has tremendously therapeutic benefits and we always hit that wonderful “Welcome to Greater Manchester” sign on the M56 rejuvenated by traditional Welsh fresh air, crisps and Peroni; ready to face branded coffee and aggressive begging with a new vigour.

The Lleyn Peninsula already holds many special memories and places for us. It is hard to beat the combination of mountains, coastline, cheese, and a good percentage of Cheshire’s 4x4s. For the roulette weather, there is the patient and friendly population (with the exception of the Londis in Abersoch).

This is where Didsbury Son built his first sandcastles, gave his first recital and caught his first, and hopefully only crab.

Our 2×2 occasionally gets a little bullied, but my off-road is parking in a field. When someone looked at my coat and asked me if I was a sailor I thought it was a chat-up line, but I am learning.

Didsbury Wife once told me that every child (from the North West) should have a chance to build a sandcastle on a Welsh beach and now I have found three venues close by with SkySports I heartily agree.

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