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 “Princess Diana”

Didsbury’s Dining Dozen 

Eating out in M20 has moved on a lot from Burns Restaurant and Silvio’s Cafe. From the artisan crunchiness of Pizza Hut at Parrs Wood, through the stripped back beauty of Urban Grille and its clients who can only park on traffic lights, throughto The Canadian Charcoal Pit – which opened when Didsbury last voted Tory and predates Channel 4 our culinary prestige has grown.
My twitter feed often has people putting out calls for recommendations and my own Didsbury Mum has told me to stop sending strangers round for Chicken Soup. I have never tried The Rose Garden on Burton Road but have heard it reported as the best food in the city. Jem & I is similarly lauded but last time I went it was for a Market Research pastie tasting and I’m one of the few who is not a fan of Albert’s Shed. I want to like it. As The Barleycorn it was the first pub I went into and as a Casino in the early 60s it has a proper history, but it always feels a let down.

So your Christmas 2015, early 2016 top 12.

12. Volta, Burton Road. Nothing specific, not a single dish or a bauble but the whole experience of accessible urban chic and good cooking in an atmosphere that feels big city.

11. The Third Eye,Wilmslow Road. Squeezed in between the beatific Bisou Bisou and the mysterious Conservative Club, this is a Didsbury Legend that evokes strong feelings of loyalty. Making me a Third Eyer rather than a Great Khatmandu fan is a combination of the smiley women who welcome and remember you and the Makhan Fish.

10. The Mud Crab Cafe, Wilmslow Road. I wanted to hate it, replacing the much-loved and euphemism friendly Felicini’s but it is great. A proper diner experience, less showy and deep fried than Solita and they do a mean cocktail.

9. Sangam 2, Wilmslow Road. It shouldn’t thrive, but it does. This 70s Indian Restaurant throwback is perennially popular, reasonable and full. The Fish Tikka is a bit gorgeous, the service is crap and it’s the perfect group outing venue in the village.
8. Fosters, Dene Road. Pablo Zabaleta (hard as nails, Cheshire-based Argentinian footballer) has been quoted as saying he wants to bring Lionel Messi (Deity) to Didsbury for Fish & Chips. They could go to Burton Road, less likely the back room at The School Lane Chippy, but I think he meant Fosters. An American cousin once tried and was beaten by The Whale; I think he’s still there still there. Great combination of chips, chippiness and a little Didsbury.   Messi on the menu

7. Cau, Wilmslow Road. This building has struggled since it stopped being The Old Grey Horse, somewhere in the early 90s. I like Cau. The staff seem to come from the same stage school as Chalk’s skinny-hipped servers but the food is fab and the decor works. With a bit of luck they’ll stay a while.
6. Japan Deli, Wilmslow Road. Technically Withington. Lacks atmosphere, variety and very often clientele. But the sushi is fantastic and the Chilli Squid makes it all worthwhile.
5. Pinchjos, Burton Road. They say you never forget your first kiss, where you were when Princess Diana died and your first Morcilla, mine was at Pinchjos.

4. Healthy Spirit Cafe, Barlowmoor Road. Go in hungry, come out cleansed. Take out the gluten and the dairy, add a little touch of hope. How many places around here offer meditation followed by lunch and aren’t sheltered housing? The only downside is being pram-unfriendly, which may be an upside.
3. No 4., Warburton Street. Nestled far enough behind Urban Grille to be out of its shadow and near enough to The Dog and Partridge should you need to check the football scores. This was my backstreet retreat in pre-Didsbury Dad days when I would read the whole of the Saturday newspaper whilst tucking into the weekend brunch. It still feels like a treat to go in for an occasion.
2. Piccolino, Lapwing Lane. Somewhere between independent and a chain; nestled between Rimmer’s Green’s and the sublime Lime Tree and parked next to the monolith that is The Metropolitan is Piccolino Didsbury. Wilfully expensive, they do things with Scallops, Prawns and Carpaccio that make me happy to forego the children’s college funds. Reasonably priced Chianti and Linguine can transport you to Sardinia, whilst being able to nip into Tesco Express on the way to the Metro home. Go for an intimate lunch.

 My Blue Peter Badge table designs.
1. Peking House, School Lane. Not strictly a restaurant but definitely a tourist attraction with views across the piazza to the Violin shop I’ve never been in. When I first went there School Lane had an art shop and the Metrolink was science fiction. Go for soup and anything with broccoli or cashew nuts. You always get treated like a friend AND prawn crackers.

 The 9th Wonder
There are others that are fighting for a place and this has Ben a bit like choosing a Fantasy League team. The Japanese Restaurant on Burton Road has my admiration for sticking a handwritten piece of A4 on the door during Westfest to announce they were closed for a bit; and the seaweed’s good. Bourbon & Black, want to love it but being the only person in there not on their phone on Tinder or Snapchat was hardwork. Pizza Express is always worth a visit to bump into old friends, happens every time and Saison and Azzure bring Euro chic and Aladdin’s starters make them the most interesting of dilemmas to chose where to go.
So, as we stock up on antacids, prepare to indulge and miscook a Turkey or two – I’ll be realising that if I stick to my budget it’s a Chicken Kebab from Turkish Delight in Chorlton and another six viewings of Cinderella on Amazon Prime.

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Postcard from Andalucia

A snapshot of time. It’s Midnight in a friendly hotel bar somewhere in Southern Spain. Tonight has been the Wheeltappers & Shunters Andalucia danceathon. The bar is fine, the waiters friendly and an Iberian Covers Band have savagely beaten death songs ranging from 1940 to 1983. It is finally time for the last rites; Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again” segueing seamlessly into “Wake Me Up Before You GoGo”. This is not Prince on Burton Road or The Pistols at The Lesser Free Trade Hall”. This is family holidays and a dance floor full of the Octogenarian Mutant Njnja Turtles.

Didsbury Wife and I have slow danced and enjoyed the freedom of not speaking the language or knowing the dance floor etiquette as we bounced off a swirling 80 year old dressed as a tablecloth and wearing cataract glasses with a touch of the Edgar Davids. The noise of the band drowns out the sound of clicking hips and Didsbury Son dutifully steps up to share the last dance with Didsbury Wife.

Oh the passage of time. This is no longer the squeaking Blondini delighted to share the dance floor with his glamorous mum. This is the pre-teen, acutely aware and overly conscious boy who feels the world is filming and judging his every move. So when I popped up to take a snap for posterity I was shunned like a paparazzi on a moped.

Diana and Dodi, Brad. still married to Jen with Angelina. Didsbury Son walked off the floor, hand up to the lens, warning me of the consequences. The passage of time can be difficult.

Six hours ago the five of us had frugged around the room to Europop with The Mighty-Headed Boy and The Pearly-topped girl whooping with delight and waving at the camera with their big brother as we laughed and cheered. The rest is silence.

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Bittersweet Memory; insert your own

Firsts, lasts, births, deaths , wedding days, first ever Mojito in Miami. One of the joys and sometimes sadnesses of being old enough to wave back at your 30s is that more of those 365 days have a significance.
This has been in my head since Nelson Mandela died on Thursday night. I will recall the date and where I was effortlessly, as I can the death of Princess Diana and the previous generation the moon landings and the assassination of Kennedy. These globally momentous occasions are always joined by personal minutiae. My friend whose birthday is September 11th has had to put up with playing 2nd fiddle for years. Mention the date of Diana’s death and it evokes a thousand personal memories and I remember a particularly good away win the day before; bonfire night, my godmother died.
Everyone has their own version of these dates. When I see dates that match the birthdays of Didsbury Son or the tanklings I get a pointless, but lovely little boost.
In our family today’s date is a bitter-sweet one. It’s a lovely niece’s birthday, the anniversary of another life starting many years ago that now seems as though it is somebody else’s and on this day in 2010 the Japanese sail-powered space craft IKAROS passed within 80000 miles of Venus. What’s not to celebrate?
Today is also a landmark birthday for a close cousin who died four years ago of the disease he had spent his adult life treating people; each family has their loved one – no less painful for the circumstance.
All the usual cliches apply and although for us, today always has the edge of regret, it will be the greatest day ever for someone else and neither I, nor them will forget the humanity behind the calendar.
I think this is what you cherish as your life evolves, not the objects but the permanent markers they represent.
When Didsbury Wife and I met we decided to rewrite the poignant memories with new ones. Not to forget, but to move on and make bitter into bittersweet and indulgent into fun.
And…
Today marks exactly 30 years and 14 days since The Smiths played The Hacienda after performing This Charming Man on Top of the Pops. I will never forget that feeling of excitement and Mancunian pride I felt when they came on stage

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Not so much a journey to an undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller has returned, a picture of the plane on which I went to Belfast.

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