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 “Fletcher Moss”

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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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. 

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. 

The Twelve Days of Didsbury Dad Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 hours sleep,
11. Peppa Pig toys
10. Zantac calming
9. Mince Pies mincing
8. Pets a puking
7. Sky Sports Channels
6. Hours driving in a car with screaming toddlers and bored teen
5 nappies honking
4. French patisseries
3. Minutes’ peace and quiet
2. Twins a bouncing
And a life based in Didsbury…..

Your Didsbury Top 12 (almost) free to do tips:
1. Walk along the side of the metro line boring your children senseless with “all this used to be fields.” Chat.

2. Bring a picnic and take the Metro tour of Manchester to Bury Market where you remember you’ve left your wallet at home and have to come back.

3. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas/Chanucah/Solstice/(insert own) and take them to one of our great churches, synagogues, mosques, cult bases. There is usually singing, getting up and down and catering afterwards.

4. Fletcher Moss – brilliant. (Especially with an Alpine Cafe stop)

5. The little park next to Fletcher Moss, great for the under 5’s and handy for The Didsbury, Ye Olde Cocke and Dimitri’s.

6. Play hide and seek on the old Manchester Poly site – hours of endless fun.

7. Take the Saturday morning samples trail from The Cheese Hamlet down to West Didsbury and back up to Parrs Wood.

8. Didsbury Library has a fantastic children’s section, a toilet AND you aren’t meant to eat in there; genius.

9. Gym offers. Lavid Ddoyd are currently offering 12 days for 12 pounds so long as you understand it’s also £12 for a coffee and £12 for a kid’s snack as well.

10. Visit friends and relatives. It is important to rotate.

11. Didsbury, Cavendish, Fog Lane – play, remember which one has swings, which one has a BMX track and ducks and which one has a bespoke Chocolatier next door.

12. Play the old Didsbury Gsme. “Uh Oh, Where’s Nido? What was Cibo?”

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The Snowman, slowly replacing Frozen as the thrice a day treat.

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Mighty head, busy hands

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

10 Ways Becoming a dad changes everything

There are more than 10, most are quite dull but some surprise me. When I first became a Didsbury Dad (well once I’d had coffee, flavoured vodka and some kind of olive oil based poncey bread) a few things clicked into place.

In her just published novel “Animals” (which is superb), Emma Jane Unsworth has a character whose response to a close friend’s pregnancy is “… Another one lost for a decade”. I read this, gulped and nodded in recognition. I have friends who, in my mind are at the end of a phone knowing I’m swamped, happy and knackered. In reality they have scrubbed me off all lists as the ignorant one who dumped them once he had kids. This mirrors my pre-Didsbury Dad thoughts. How busy, tired, obsessed, sappy and dull can you be for a small screaming ankle biter who removes the opportunity for the epicurean nature on which you have thrived? The answer is personal.

1. A big night out: after bath time, I popped out for an early drink at the Fletcher Moss and delayed bedtime until after 7.30 PM.

2. A really big night out: you get a babysitter (double rate for twins) and after the second drink you realise you are exhausted, have little adult conversation and are really wondering if the babysitter would watch the boddlers if you came home and grabbed a couple of hours un-disturbed sleep.

3. An allnighter: the milk, dummy, singing, rocking and Calpol have all failed and you are watching repeats of Columbo whilst reading Incy Wincy Spider on a five minute rotation to a wired boddlers crying and laughing like a prom-night teenager.

4. You go to Boots for creams and lotions, none of them are for pleasure – all of them are medically based.

5. That tune that won’t leave your head. It’s not the one that brought the night to a crescendo – it’s 64 Zoo Lane and you cannot stop humming.

6. You still look lovingly at your partner and think “I hope they are in the mood for an early night” but you mean will you let me go to bed and go in the spare room so I’m not disturbed.

7. You fill up watching One Born Every Minute

8. You suddenly realise how see-through kids are and how much more patient your own Didsbury Dad was.

9. Staying in is the new going out.

10. You start to have opinions about things you have never cared about. Last week there was a seismic shift. The actual topic is irrelevant, it was what it meant. We were watching Master Chef (Big Bang Theory for adults) and Didsbury Wife asked me what I was thinking. All men know that this is normally a cause for concern as you are either thinking about nothing, football, nothing, somebody inappropriate, nothing, whether Eddie Murphy was convincing in “Coming to America” or nothing.
Without pause I was able to share my ideas around a child development issue. Halfway through my speech the enormity of this hit me and I asked for an early night.

The Rise of the West, Didsbury Park goes BoHo

The death of western civilisation has been greatly exaggerated. Didsbury is the hub for the comeback. The rise of the East and it’s industrial powerhouses (Nandos, Cineworld, huge Metrolink car park) has at times threatened to swamp the middle ground of the village and the brandless, roll your own boho chic that is West Didsbury.
But
As the other axis of evil disintegrated once Hollywood got the catering sorted, so we have a new hero. The promised cafe in Didsbury Park has come good and it’s down to the niche, nice, detail savvy of …and The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon.

Not only does this Burton Road bakery cum cafe buck the one-word name trend so beloved in West Didsbury, but they’ve marched through Didsbury Village pronouncing Quinoa correctly, bringing a smile to Sourdough and leaving Didsbury Deli, Costa, Nero, Art of Tea etc. with poached egg on their faces. They are so nice they make me feel I could wear sandals without irony.

Yesterday morning I sat on a camping chair in a cold awning with a fractious baby girl getting fed up in a travel cot. I slurped tea out of a melamine cup. On Thursday morning I lolled on a comfy rug in the sun of Didsbury Park, flat white in hand, sourdough in mouth and Didsbury Wife enjoying her Earl Grey whilst the babies played with unicorns and butterflies on the safe lawn created by And The Dish…

… And The Dish has taken over the Holt Pavillion until the end of September every Thursday to Saturday. It’s a great idea and an extra incentive for pram pushers to click heels and get their progeny to sleep and for dog walkers to throw the ball more quickly. The promise of a coffee and a treat and some extra quiet time looms lushly.
My only gripe is the 10am opening. On any given morning the park teems with life from before 8am and the earlier you are out , the more you need refreshing.

Is this a shift in power? And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon have more words in the title than The Airy Fairy Cupcake and I foresee a Biggie v Tupac style bake-off around the Metro station.

With Fletcher Moss’s Alpine Cafe a beacon for park life cafe quality, this Didsbury Park adventure promises a race to get the pram to the park and a dwindling Nero card until October.

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This overgrown garden needs a cafe of its own

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The new cafe is used to dealing with a varied clientele and caters to diverse tastes.

Next week: Nido – why?

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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