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 “Gourmet Burger King”

Didsbury Kisses, hits, misses, diners and delis

Bisons Bisous so good they named it twice. Bisous Bisous, it won’t sell chocolate mice. Bisous Bisous, it could be Shangri-la. Bisous Bisous, just two doors down from Croma.

Summer in the City and somehow Saints & Scholars, Kansas Fried Chicken and The Stop Inn Kebab Shop defy the March of time, taste and technology to thrive in a strip that has shed more tears for failed businesses than Brazilians at the World Cup. So, this is your cut out and keep guide to what’s going on in Didsbury as we ignore England leaving no shadow at The World Cup, Andy Murray’s failure returning him from British to Scottish and Tour de Losers in the War of the Roses fever lasting as long as it took Cav and Froomey to crash out. ** I have no idea who Cav and Froomey are but I think he’s something to do with Mrs Fruman who catered my brothers’ barmitzvahs in the 70s.

Coming Soon: Wine & Wallop on Lapwing Lane promises meat and cheese – what’s not to like? It offers good times for beardy and non-beardy hipsters alike just a quail’s scotch egg munch from Metrolink. The demise of Cibo ( Nido with a carpet ). means more hipsters. Northern Quarter maple bacon gurus Sol-I-Ta are coming our way and there are rumours that Casa Tapas is going to be a mini Waitrose. (There aren’t, but there have been rumours of Waitrose coming since 1846 – the year The Cheese Hamlet opened). The idea of somewhere you could get a reasonable and free coffee every morning could decimate the local economy in less time than it takes to work out what Global News (Percival’s) and it’s three-year re-fit is for.
Bisous Bisous, a French Patisserie at the Slug & Lettuce end of the village offers Wasteland, not waistline in the most delicious way and… It wasn’t a zombie. The apparition I saw in Gourmet Burger King was the advanced party for Croma. Welcome, may you be as brilliant as Piccolino.

My campaign for a weekend pram lane gathers pace – the idea popped into my head again at half-time in the Pikachu vs Hedgehog World Cup Quarter Final Last Week.

New and hopeful: I like Chalk Bar & Grill. It’s open front is optimistic, it’s lively and the food is good and getting very good and it’s kitten-hipped Staff look as though they have sashayed out of Didsbury Theatre School in their improbably narrow-waisted skinny jeans just to please us.

Burton Road is blossoming right now. Didsbury Wife and I were out there last week for an earlyish evening drink and pram crawl and it felt exciting, friendly and confidently creative; I still wish Pete at Steranko opened late. The Lapwing Lane arcade (Inmans and Friends) still has Fusion Pete’s best coffee on the go in Manchester and a former chippy turned gentrified empty space that looks like like a chippy with no customers.

With the rate of hairdressers opening dwindling to three a week, Wadden v Brimelow taking the summer off before the purple battle re commences and Holland & Barrett maintaining its 1:1 staff:customer ratio these are heady days. And it’s only a month until the football season.

Coming next – Didsbury’s top tenish hangouts for summer 2014

Not Hershey’s, but French Kisses opening soon.

Didsbury, spring and full of frolicing

My footsteps took me down to the seedy side of town. This being Didsbury it was the caraway and pumpkin seedy side of town. It’s spring. 5am dawns and much chirruping from the baby boy with the big round head and his pearly-crowned sister with the open mouth smile. 8.30 sunsets herald the thankful end of this house’s Cartoon Network viewing and Didsbury has its spring coat on.

The Mighty-Headed twin baby boy looks across his empire

The Mighty-Headed twin baby boy looks across his empire

One thing I love about walking a pram around is watching the year and shops change. Whilst I am still coming to terms with Bath Bombs surviving the demise of Elm Interiors to limp malodorously over to the magnificent Delia’s there is hope.

Let's be honest - it may not actually say "we stocked bath bombs it's our fault" but...

Let’s be honest – it may not actually say “we stocked bath bombs it’s our fault” but…

Gourmet Burger King has something to smile about. There is still a 1:1 ratio between the staff and diners most days, but in addition to saving on cleaning costs they are no longer the emptiest chain in the village. Come on down Holland Barratt. Healthy Spirit has slayed you (in a crystal healing, hands-off, organic and spiritual way). The staff of H&B (look at me using slang) look forlornly out from their empty shop like the last table at a car boot sale. I have been past a dozen times and the only person I have ever seen inside was Didsbury Wife, when I had arranged to meet there to see once and for all what the ginger wine tastes like; people must be buying their pre-packed healthy high salt snacks elsewhere.
When we walked past this morning H& was deluged with a customer who had mistakenly popped in for a haircut

When we walked past this morning H&B was deluged with a customer who had mistakenly popped in for a haircut

There is news. News as surprising as waking up to find day has once again followed night. A new hairdresser is opening up in the village. The carcass of The Didsbury Village Farm Shop is being transformed into Toni & Guy. A hairdresser. In Didsbury. This is brilliant. We haven’t had a new hairdresser open in M20 for weeks. If they’ll do eyebrows wholesale I’m in.
Around the corner Nest has taken the Pixie/Linen space and put the chic next to the awesome toy choice of Giddy Goat. If you could just get a pram into the Giddy it would be bang on.
Nest is a lovely, classy, drape strewn, comfy front room of a shop. I have no idea what, if anything Nest sells but it looks and is a haven in the village where lack of pram access is a bonus.
It could be exciting. A new bar with a working title of Loungers is bidding for a licence in the centre of the village and with a triple-dip recession coming some time this year the Aldi extension cannot come quickly enough for the sell-by sticker savvy Didsbury locals.
Finally in the village, the People’s Republic of Cibo taking shape. Venice in the Village is a St. Marks Square away from finishing and when it opens I expect Cibo to invade Gourmet Burger King, who will have room for everyone.
With a specially-built canal around the outside, the Venetian influence in Didsbury is stronger than ever...

With a specially-built canal around the outside, the Venetian influence in Didsbury is stronger than ever…

London – it’s not quite Didsbury

I feel a sense of irony that I live in the world’s barber and hairdresser capital yet have been so busy recently my hair has applied for its own postcode. This is fine for those 20 somethings that are the NBFs (or whatever the term is) that I hang out near at Didsbury Lounge, (I was in last week, had an awful dawning that I was the only 39 plus a lot year old in there and popped a Wellman vitamin immediately) but at my age can be iffy. Not only does it give twin babies more to grab onto but it brings with it two thorny issues.

Last week, one early ish morning I was trying to instil something vital into Didsbury Son’s long-term memory. It may have been the day the bins go out, the importance of planning for a shed of his own with wi-fi or something equally educational. I was scuppered mid-flow by him stopping me to tell me he couldn’t take me seriously as I had hair like Krusty the Clown; he was right. My other issue is that hair now grows around and from my head rather than just on it.

Women may have their beauty secrets but men’s haircuts after the age of 30 involve a tacit nod and the understanding that the clippers will do the gardening and tidy up the edges and entrances that you can’t see when shaving. This morning I considered my eyebrows and their aspirational upward mobility and thought most companies would kill for growth like that.

I am now back from my latest jaunt and felt it would have been disloyal to even consider a haircut away from School Lane’s Clipper Mile. When you have Pick’n’Mix at home why buy sweets at Tesco? Blade’s wet shave, John’s Gentry grooming and the Didsbury Barbers know where to clip and not to talk once I get into a trance and you can’t buy that ease and acknowledgement.

On my last night I strolled back to a hotel with a floor plan based on Strangeways through London’s theatre land, Chinatown and Covent Garden. For tourists and teenagers with fashionable haircuts I recognise from the mid 80s this is fine. It is vibrant, mult-coloured and busy. But to me it lacks the AiryFairy, Alpine Cafe, Fusion Deli, Evanesque charm of Didsbury. There is no guessing what 15th century Italian city state inspired the new restaurants, no playing count the empty tables or spot the customer at Gourmet Burger King and not even the disappointment of the late Elm’s unloved Bath Bombs taking residence in Delia’s florist stems the love of home. None of the bright lights could mask the fact that it may be the centre of the capital – but you can’t find a decent barbers.


A London street. No barbers to be seen

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.


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

The Karma Sutra, The Dairy, Douglas Bader and Me

Instant information, smartphone apps and a lot of time spent holding crying / sleeping / feeding babies can take you into many realms.

As the clock ticked into a new day and Miss Didsbury 2030 snuffled into my armpit like a mole into the ground I decided to side swerve my football update apps to have a look at blog stats with my free hand.

It was fascinating. Didsbury Son and I are being viewed (probably accidentally) in 35 countries. Last week four Indonesians, six Latvians and a gaggle of geographically challenged Antipodeans tuned in to see if anyone had been to Gourmet Burger King whilst on their way to a haircut or if I had been mooching and mewling with Didsbury Son or the twins; why?

This took me to my favourite stat – search engine terms. Much as I like a global reach, I am not sure that across Internet Cafes in Jakarta the talk is all Didsbury Dad.

On Halloween I was clicked by people looking for Douglas Bader’s mum and dad, Healds Dairy, ITV at Wythenshawe Hospital, Jo Costa M20 and the ever popular “Didsbury Tossers”.

This eclectic bunch were dwarfed by one search that had summoned up me and Didsbury Son on All Hallows’ Eve, the final day of October. Ten separate searches for Karma Sutra Didsbury, our local health emporium. A fitting way to finish for those looking to find a happy ending.

The Euro Crisis reaches Didsbury

I’ve been working in the Northern Quarter today. It’s been like walking through my past with rose-tinted organic glasses. Manchester’s Northern Quarter is like West Didsbury without a hospital, with more people looking nervously at passing police cars and no cupcakeries

The 142 to and from town is a good indicator of the city’s temperature. At this time of year it is full of braying Home Counties émigrés trying to sound unfeasibly hip, only to give themselves away with comments such as
“New Business School, it’s proper sick (sic)”
Aah the 142, trolling up and down Wilmslow Road and depositing me home to the iPoddingly hopeful embrace of Didsbury Son and the virtually popping with pregnancy Didsbury Wife. Home – to a Didsbury Village wracked with uncertainty, insecurity and change as Euro’s crisis sees us lose Spain and Italy in one week.

La Tasca GONE. La Tasca, as Spanish as a Co-op baguette is French, whose Iberian cuisine is sourced from the olive groves off the M60, gone. La Tasca, home to some memorable celebrations and unfeasibly priced Albondingas. No longer can we marvel at Spanish spoken with flattened Northern vowels pronouncing Rioja with a K. If La Tasca can just shut without warning then what hope the stainless tables and unscraped chairs of Gourmet Burger King; where the staff to diner ratio matches that of the canteen at a High Security prison.

The new menu at La Tasca

Enough? No. Felicini’s is no more. Its having a paint and makeover and a new menu, a new name and a new identity. Just tell us the truth. Felicini’s is an ex Didsbury resident. it didn’t try to expand sideways into Delia’s? It didn’t aim to go upwards to incorporate the only health and beauty salon never to advertise, it is more radical. This morning I wondered if Felicini’s was going to launch a new Italian menu that shuns Pizza, pasta and Parmesan to return coccoon like to The Didsbury Village Wine Bar? I wasn’t too far off. It’s a coffee emporium with baked extras. Lucky, as we are down to our last 10 coffee choices in the village.

Holland and Barratt still hasn’t opened, the proposed hairdresser stil hasn’t snipped, Didsbury Village Farm shop is already having a re-fit and apparently the RSPCA shop doesn’t sell animals.

It is nearly October. The nights are drawing in and if I had any idea who might care… I could swear it was a conspiracy to cut out the middle man and move Didsbury to MediaCityUK.

“Enough, there is no more. ‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.”


Didsbury Wife surveys the venue formerly known as Felicini’s


A Didsbury State of Mind

If not exactly cracking the flags, the sunshine this weekend is welcome. Whether it is an Indian summer, a dead cat bounce or the  beginning of the Mayan predicted Armageddon it is a bonus.

A combination of new school, new routine and new shoes has thrown Didsbury Son’s clock and he woke me up at 6 this morning full of angst and energy. After failing to fob him off and feign sleep I gave in and we headed out for a long-overdue mooch around the not so mean streets of M20 to see what was going on.


The demands on schoolchildren get harder. Didsbury Son’s pencil case is an installation

It is sometimes only in the early morning quiet when I have time to look at the nooks, buildings, shapes and shrubberies of Didsbury that I realise how lucky we are to live here. From the back-to-back gentrification behind the village, through the quirky individualism of West Didsbury and the barber-strewn Lane that links East to Central it is a good place to live. Didsbury evolves – not just the burgeoning influence of the Metrolink or Whitbread’s thankfully thwarted Costafication, but some creative building and extending on Lapwing Lane and the re-invention of West Didsbury. Didsbury Son decided on reasons why he loved living here and what he didn’t like.

The only gripes we could really find were traffic, bus lanes with cameras and Kansas Fried Chicken sample boxes that litter the streets on a weekend morning.

Didsbury Son loves Subway, The Knitting Shop, The Albert Club Didsbury Park and going into shops and bars where people have known him from being Didsbury bump, baby, toddler, infant, junior and now his own boy. He enthused about the Metrolink building, Fusion Deli and Burton Road. I like the wide open spaces of Gourmet Burger King and the festivals throughout the year. I am also partial to Art of Tea, Didsbury Village Farm Shop and the river.

Simonsbridge and its pathways, flowers and opportunities are a rite of passage for any Didsbury Son.  The fun as a child, potential joy as a teenager and the satisfaction as a grown-up offered by Fletcher Moss are essential. On Jewish New Year we cast our sins (masquerading as bread) over the bridge to the welcoming ducks in a symbolic cleansing and actual duck-fattening and the flood gates in Parrs Wood are a tourist attraction worth a trip.

Other cities may call it a chance to case people’s houses – we call it Open Gardens. Didsbury Arts Festival has once again announced a line-up that’s a combination of international class and local eccentric and I can sit on my step and watch the world and tuck Didsbury Son in to the sound of the village going on late…


This shot of the riverbank has now been overused mercilessly; maybe it is time for some new photos

It must be the weather. On days like this even the week’s accumulated mess seems to wink up at me cheekily from its last resting place on the floor.

The Patriots visit Hospital

11.30am Didsbury Village. With proofing to prove, edits to edit and organidling to organise I escaped to Caffe Nero. The shrill of competitive parenting was overwhelming. Assorted too young or too sniffly for school juniors piped hopefully, but the sound of bragging about offspring and moaning about partners was reaching a crescendo. It clashed hideously with Boden’s summer rainwear collection in such a disorienting manner that then men who stare at goats were taking notes.

I escaped to the relative tranquility and surly Balkan service of Didsbury Deli; a turquoise balance to the United and City of Costa and Nero.

I like it here. Young men talk business and older people discuss the time when Sivoris, Hurst’s Chemists, GT Blagg and Applethwaites dominated the village. It’s too narrow for a buggy, too reverby for shrilled instructions to carry without distortion and they serve Illy.

Today Didsbury Son went on a hospital visit with school dressed patriotically in red, white and blue. This unlikely combination, like Gourmet Burger King and a queue is likely to unsettle people or recreate hallucinations. If your first sight on regaining consciousness was 30 Pre-teens in union jack outfits you may feel you had come round too late to enjoy the pleasure of a coffee in Didsbury Village.

With SATS over and time to fill before the big holiday every schoolday has a theme, visit or rehearsal. I got so confused last week I began scanning the papers for National Days that could be celebrated .

June 1st celebrates St. Candida and is 200 years to the day since US President James Madison declared war on The United Kingdom. My suggestion that Didsbury Son goes dressed as a redcoat and then, taking a atoon of Year 4s, stands guard outside Subway distributing leaflets about Candida fell on dead ears.

Aah well. Back to my coffee and blank piece of paper and onwards to Friday. It’s half-term and Didsbury Son can dress as he likes, watch TV drinking Fanta and spend 15 minutes describing the plot of The Cleveland Show to me as I scan the Internet for new football kits over which I can obsess.

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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