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 “Evans the Fishmongers”

The Didsbury Dozen

It’s that lovely M20 time of year. Those preparing to queue fromq

6am on Christmas Eve morning to collect their turkeys from Evans are planning their wardrobe. The white elephant formerly known as Chalk and Nido harks back to being a small and popular Turkish  restaurant with a belting takeaway and the price of a pint of milk in the Shell garage (now a Londis? In Didsbury?) finally gets more expensive than a barrel of oil. Didsbury Park is packed with Freyas and Archies chasing French Bulldogs and residents of Cavendish Road, Elm Grove and Beaver Road count down to schools closing and being allowed to use their own parking spaces without abuse – its Christmas.

turkeyA turkey this morning in training for the Evans challenge

By any popular account 2016 has been momentous. Never mind politics, celebrity death, refugee crises and hacking becoming more fashionable than Vogue. 2016 will always be the year when, after a quarter of a century as a flyposting board – Sweaty Betty’s reopened as Nueve.

stop-inn The Ghost of Christmas Past

It’s also been the year I became a part-time Didsbury resident for the first time… this century. So here is my 2016 Didsbury Dozen. Not the pub crawl but the 12 places I think fly the flag for us.

There are loads of great places missed out here and some dodgy ones that we won’t namecheck. But for family reasons Croma, Solita and Folk are always good. for cheeky drinks I love Wine & Wallop, The Charlie George or whatever its called on the edge of Burton Road and The Fletcher Moss is still ace. The Third Eye is always a winner, Sangam 2 always better than you’d ever imagine and Copson Street has a great Japanese Restaurant and a Halal Butcher that sells the best hot wraps in Manchester. Bourbon & Black is still open and Cau never seem to have a table when I want to go.

This is not based on anything over than personal taste. But in the year when Stop Inn and The Mud Crab Cafe went, Jade Garden and Laughing Buddha look as though they are near wheezing their last and I’ve barely made it to Dot’s Cafe in the park – these are all worth checking out.

 

  1. Casa Italia: A Finnish owned, Italian cafe with a nice line in wooden boards to eat from; brilliant. Has been busy since day one and hits the mark in quality over quantity sending you out sated not pogged (it’s a technical term).

 

  1. Pizza Express on Lapwing Lane: It had a refit (I think) to cope with the pincered challenge of Chilli Banana at  Inman’s (heard great things but you can’ buy a Chanucah card there any more) and the latest pointless pub refit at the Greenfinch in Hand. You can’t beat the Tuna Nicoise, everyone’s always friendly. A visit is also a chance to catch up with at least five old friends as you all now get the same discount vouchers.

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  1. Volta: Burton Road chic and design at its finest with the added bonus of good service from people who know how to treat customers.

volta Don’t waste a visit on children

  1. Art of Tea:  Indifferent service, uncomfy chairs, expensive coffee. The best toast and peanut butter, something I can’t define and one of the best places to contemplate life or write a masterpiece or two.

 

  1. Costa on Wilmslow Road: This is down to the manager. She’s lovely. Always slightly hassled but stretched like a good pizza base rather than a spring. When Costa opened in the old Boots home it was revolutionary. Now there are 38 coffee outlets and 2 Costa vending machines within coughing distance. It holds its own.

the-ghost-of-christmas-past If only they’d sold coffee

  1. G’s Gourmet Kitchen on Fog Lane: Curried Goat. Horse Carriage. Morecambe Wise. This is a great addition. Friendly, tasty, spicy.

 

  1. Khandoker: From its table settings to its car park it does not look Didsbury. The view from the window of 4 traffic lights, a walking bridge and the less glamorous view of Parrswood’s entertainment centre do not bode well; but it’s superb. Affordable, well-cooked and friendly. Each visit I learn a staff member’s life story.

 

  1. La Cantina: The Green Cafe Rouge. My only report says it’s muy bien but it’s like looking at an old friend made up as something you know they could never be.

images And Lo, a star appeared in the sky where Cafe Rouge had been

  1. Refresh: it’s tiny and tucked away behind the Co-Op but it’s worth turning off at Carmello’s for China cups, gorgeous bread, a range of sandwiches worth the carbs and a decent chat. No sausage sandwich should ever be taken for granted; they don’t.

 

  1. Fusion Deli aka Pete’s: Pete, Tom, Claire and the cast of privately educated teenagers who work have created a little world. It’s a community resource, a commuters’ drop in, has the best 24 hour matured reduced sandwiches in the city and I love it. A caffeine comfort blanket.

 

  1.  New Peking House: there are other Chinese food outlets and restaurants in the area but then again you can buy Norpak Butter at Aldi. I’ve watched the children grow up, serve and leave – but the Hot & Sour Soup and Salt ‘n’ Pepper Ribs have never dropped in quality.

hot-and-sour-soup This is in my diary next to a picture of the children

  1. Piccolino Didsbury: Francisco, Nico and the team get it right every time. It’s worth saving up for a visit and hard not to write this as a fan letter. They are even patient when the twins are losing it loudly and it’s busy. I always walk out feeling a little bit special. I never thought anything would be better than The Nose on this site. But The Nose didn’t do pasta like this or make foil animals to entertain my kids. piccolino-didsbury Clam Place Calm Place Calm Place Calm Place

With the pearly princess distracted by the attention she gets I can flirt with Didsbury Wife. We can pretend we shall sweep home full of joy, good wine and passion fruit sorbet and our first thought won’t be “Do you know where the pull-ups are?”

Goditi il pasto, ci vediamo presto.

 

  • No bribes were taken in compiling this list but I would like to thank Omeprazole for helping me through.
  • images-1My hero, putting the Aaah into acid reflux.
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The work/life/letting your mind wander balance

This week I attended a creative conference. There were some moments of real clarity and the catering was excellent. In my line of media non-specificiality and Didsbury Dadding its an occasional perk. The line-up was impressive and the first speaker’s love for himself was heart-warmingly peerless. I was suited, the room was just warm enough and with the sound of success beginning to be a wallpaper background to the day. The perfect environment to:

1. Write VERY important to do lists and pledge a work/life balance that removes fat, adds cash and recreates The Waltons in M20 by June.

2. It’s May, so this is the right time to take advantage of free wi-fi access to work out definitively who will win The Premier League, Champions League, Leveson Enquiry and the BAFTAS.

3. Stare at the speaker whose distance from me takes him slightly out of focus to see if I can define an aura – 16 minutes in I am unsure if it’s an aura and more worried about it being the start of cataracts (up to C in my Encyclopaedia Hypochondria for 40 somethings with an overractive imagination).

It is this pitiful attention span for technical detail that allows me to empathise so clearly with Didsbury Son. Whilst my desire for quiet mornings strolling around in a dressing gown living in my head takes me ever nearer being a version of my own Didsbury Dad, my need for shiny objects, a break in pattern and love of the absurd spans the generations.

If I had any idea how to read any kind of plan more technical than a Kinder Egg I could be happy for hours. If I didn’t get a sense of wonder and the occasional fit of giggles just stepping outside then I would think I was someone else and Didsbury Son would possibly forget that stupid can be okay.

At what age does walking around with pants on your head pretending to walk down cellar steps whilst gurning stop being a way to start the day successfully?

And…

I have to present to potentially bored list makers at times and am wary of the mesmerising qualities a dull and detailed PowerPoint can have. Just as any good teacher should do and any decent presenter should know – once there is a murmur and a shuffle from the crowd, up your game.

Despite this need for stimulus I still try to instil in Didsbury Son the need to pay attention to adults and be respectful. It was in the “How To” pack SureStart were trialling when I first got the Didsbury Dad job. I do this whilst secretly working on my parenting opus. There is a book in all of us and mine is about the joy of being present whilst being absent-minded and away with the fairies. This ultimate guide to successful parenting and fulfilling relationships with children from an occasionally masculine viewpoint has a variety of working titles:

1. Ask your mother, she’ll have thought it through. My response is a reaction.

2. You don’t need to say thank you to everyone who gives you a biscuit

3. Please close the door, I need one place I can sit without being disturbed.
Or my current favourite, a guide and a title that sums up the beauty, love and joy of daddom. A title to encapsulate those nights spent glueing, sewing, cooking, cleaning, worrying, caring…
” You can keep asking questions but to be honest I am making it up as I go along and will do just about anything to get you to sleep before the football starts.”

As a student I had to read a book called “2000 Accidents”; this described in 10 year-old describing a carto detail the ergonomic disasters that befell people in America in the 60s. I recommend the anxious or OCD avoid at all costs. Horrible Histories’ Stupid Deaths does it quicker, funnier and implants it in your memory with a great joy.

When the guy still speaking finally finished I thought about suggesting he watches Horrible Histories and sees the display in Evans’ window for ideas before dazzling him with my creative interpretation of his speech and my clarity about who will win The Premier League.

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?

Christmas Eve 2010: Part 1

Didsbury at Christmas time is a magical place. We are an area of three parts – East, West and Village. There are lovely Victorian mansions, 30s solid estates and some new builds that look like prisons or seafront buildings. Didsbury has several great parks, a river running through it, main roads and its own motorway junction. Depending on your take it is aspirational, bohemian, classless, posh or desirable. It is still a media enclave, still has an air of independence, but knows the value of a decent chain store.
From the delis, estate agents and primarily chain pubs in the Village Centre to the delis, estate agents and smaller chain pubs in West Didsbury. It encompasses the ugly practicality of Star City where the Christmas lights are on all year to the deli and estate agent free Fletcher Moss where the river is beautiful, the countryside breathtaking and a glass of wine in any of the three bars there costs the same as a decent bottle in the village.
Marks & Spencer, The Cheese Hamlet and Evans Fishmongers on Christmas Eve morning are fantastic microcosmos of our society. People travel from surrounding areas – men folk who think Spar is a hypermarket queuing quietly at 7am on Christmas Eve. Twice written underlined lists from harassed spouses in their hands knowing that an unbronzed turkey, a poor quality Stilton or the wrong organic sprouts could mean a shunned and apologetic Christmas. There is a palpable air of fear in the air, not covered by false bonhomie.
If we ever get invaded these are the scenes I expect as rows of middle management people carriers and improbable 4x4s line Wilmslow Road. Queues, initially friendly become less so as Extra Virgin gives way to merely Olive Oil before the dreaded “produce of more than one country” label threatens the residents.
Didsbury has been evacuated and the queues for supplies formed early as Marks had a £10 meal deal advertised in the window and the chickens on offer are all Oakham. One day I will go to Oakham.

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