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 “Spain”

Doctor Who and a Perfect Day

Five Go Mad in Murcia

Last week I gained new insight into an old conundrum. My timelines on Social Media and news / phone-ins were full of Jodie Whittaker’s forthcoming re-incarnation as Doctor Who. I understand more fully how those with no kids feel on the first day of school when Facebook becomes home to albums of uncomfy children in starchy blazers. These pictures are of great significance to those involved but utterly dull wallpaper to those not. I have no view on Doctor Who. I’ve only watched it a couple of times (1975 and 2005) and have never been interested. This has provoked outraged shock amongst (usually single and OCD) peers but in my world if you don’t know your Trevor Steven from your Gary Stevens you lack moral fibre, so it’s each to their own. I made sure Didsbury Son was busy when Doctor Who was on and the Didsbury Twins are too young. The outrage regarding a female Doctor was fascinating, some of the arguments to and against genuinely moving. My interest was only engaged as the announcement fell into that black hole that is weekend life between the end of the football season and the start of pre-season friendlies. Gary Stevens or Trevor Steven?
So thankfully, we are now in Spain and a bit like Didsbury, we are in an expensive house near a couple of good tapas bars. I am burning nicely, clasping naps wherever possible. I have a cycle of swim, get too hot, have cold drink, snooze. That is apart from the 17 hours a day this is interrupted by  the Mighty Headed Boy’s one volume fits all and the nice bits of daddom. This holiday is all about learning to swim for the little ones.  Sadly once more overlooked to be the Doctor.

My sunburned English shoulders are replete with the claw marks of an occasional 4 year old water panic. My ears are attuned to the “Daddy can I wee in the pool again?” Shouts and I am having moments of genuine relaxation. This is despite the fact that being in a pool with your children involves you mainly being kicked, jumped on and mildly assaulted for most of the time. Waving, not drowning. 

In three days I haven’t touched the Oemeprozole and since deleting Facebook from my phone and turning on the “Out of Office” I am semi-zen.

Didsbury Son is 16 next week. This is inconceivable. My little Blondini is packed full of ironic comments and “banter”. He has also made friends easily and with such aplomb I am reassessing my wincing response. With as near to calm throughout as you can have with teens, toddlers and parents in one space I have had more time to navel gaze, obsess and promise to never eat crisps on British soil again until my shadow looks more human, less cartoon.

I like the easy rhythm of a holiday in a villa. Breakfast can be anything from 3 minutes to 3 hours and encompass a range from toast to tapas with red wine.

Didsbury Wife is serene. Effortlessly parenting and arguments between The Mighty Headed Boy and The Pearly Princess seem less troublesome when you’re overlooking an azure sea, they prove that Dora the Explorer really does teach Spanish and my hardest decision is which factor Sun cream to apply.

Ojalá todos los días podrían ser así.

As I always say.

Top 10 Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Travelling with twin toddlers. A simple A to Z.
A. – it’s ace
2 – two soothers, two snacks, two beakers or too late, you are done for.
Z. – toddling boddlers x 2. No chance of Zzzzzs.

Now that’s out of the way sit back, chew on a week-old rice cake and turn off every bass-less plastic teapot, frog, picnic basket and lion; here’s the skinny. I’ll just remove Iggle Piggle from the small of my back.
To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Othello “Rude am I in speech and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace but I can adapt a range of football chants to soothe babies and amuse Didsbury Son”.

In their short lives so far the twins have been on a range of flights, starting at 10 weeks with a trip to Spain. My real secret is to let Didsbury Wife plan and strategise, then do as I’m told. It works. But for those occasions I am in charge I have top tips for travel. (Although many originally began… Tell Didsbury Son to run after them, blame Didsbury Son, feign sleep or cry)

1. Ignore the naysayers. The reaction to taking the twins on a transatlantic flight varied from hushed shock to claims of madness. Flights are free (except for the ubiquitous and unfathomable airport taxes, £28 landing, £11 per crack in the pavement walked upon and £3 for each bottle of water you can’t take through customs otherwise WHSmith would be the new Woolworths. The price of the items too dangerous to take through customs is the first mugging of your holiday.) for the under twos so we worked out we were in the last few months of being able to afford a transatlantic trip unless the government re-direct all taxes to free child care. Did I digress?
Calpol, low expectations, a fixed smile and an apology on the tip of your tongue and bingo, travelling with toddlers is easy AND more easily navigatable than Jazz.

2. Forget your last pre-children visit anywhere. Then, you stayed in a boutique hotel at the heart of the party. You need accessible lifts, storage room, air conditioning, carpets that cushion a falling boddler and dark wallpaper that does not show crayon marks. As we lay in our trendy hotel a block from Miami’s biggest party listening to drum, bass and next door ‘s argument and inevitable, excruciating and thankfully brief reconciliation, I craved the bland open spaces and Multi-channelled impersonality of our Homewood Suites off the I-95.

3. If you drive, they will sleep. When you stop, they will wake. Plan your stops. You cannot pull in for a quick wee/coffee/snooze – it will rouse the team from the depths of sleep to the clingiest screech in seconds. A minor note in the States. I asked where the bed was in the restroom, bad move.

4. Occasionally, the crap snacks we all enjoy are okay to pass downwards. My two have X-Ray vision and bloodhound noses for crisps. Their joy at a bag opened in their direction offsets the middle-class shame at sharing salty treats.

5. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

6. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool

7. Make sure there is a child-friendly pool. This is the only hope you have of staying on budget, getting a tan and having a permanent excuse to get away from strangers mistaking you laughing with your family, with having the slightest interest in talking to them and hearing about Indiana. I genuinely had someone ask if we knew Jane Platt.., from London. Of course we said yes before feigning the need for nappy changes all around.

8. Do not be lured in by American waiters feigning friendliness with your brood, it makes not leaving a tip afterwards more embarrassing.

9. Sing. Most people think the English are eccentric (and love Royalty – the planned wedding between Prince George and my Pearly-topped princess was well-received) and being able to change a nappy whilst singing and ordering drinks is the way to happy kids and personal space.

10. Plan ahead. It’s a holiday and the chances are high that you don’t have childcare. The lure of a late night Mojito, ice-cold beer or Hemlock can be strong and you may wake up feeling more woozy than usual. The heirs to your eczema lying next to you neither understand nor care and to avoid feeling seasick have the tools ready to buy you a little extra sleep.
IPad loaded with known games -14 minutes
YouTube nursery rhymes or CBeeBies programme – 19 minutes.
IPhone loaded -8 minutes
Dragon breath slur “sleepy time” – 36 seconds and a potential headbutt.
Bag of crisps and iPad 24 minutes* – the call is yours.

* times may vary dependent on nappy weight and contents

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Sago Mini – I love this more than I should, 15 minutes of relative peace

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Things I have learned – small children like aimlessly walking around paths – you can virtually sleepwalk

Zombies in the heart of Didsbury

The Returned. Spooky French series where the town’s dead return (hence the title), unaware they are dead . Lots of moody French people standing around smoking shruggily. Not like the beautiful people sitting outside Shed D’Albert, but gallically challenged.

Yesterday lunchtime, I was driving distractedly through The Village, when, as though it were a scene straight from Dawn of the Didsbury – I saw a small woman in a t-shirt and jeans. She looked human and real down to the last detail, but for one tiny flaw.
I saw her outside the open doors of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which was open. How? Was it Didsbury Open Gardens? Was this a chance for a final stroll of the last great empty indoor space in the region? Would Zombie Burger Kitchen be taking over and eating our many barbers and Estate Agents?
GBK died in the great pandemic that also took Nido. A virus that infected restauranters into thinking they could make a buck in Didsbury with any old crap.
What next? Razma Reads re-appearing with living dead and political biographies only. Domino’s serving food so processed it has a half-life? Aldi doubling as a bus garage?
These are strange times. The addition of Wine & Whallop from the team that brought you Folk and South Park series 8 looks promising. The French Patisserie that has taken over Ashley Brown can have its own blog and Giddy Goat Toys will soon see off Toys R Us. But…

Casa Tapas has either turned into a closed film set or followed Spain out of the World Cup and news reaches DD HQ that Cafe Rouge is going. This is a public disaster. Rouge is more influential in Didsbury Child Rearing than Gina Ford and Aptimil. It has hosted more dates than an Algerian port and deserves listed status, not the chop. Over 20 years the staff have been unfailingly helpful and the food great. I will be signing the petition and march for them before popping down to the Shaun of the Dead Burger Kitchen.

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A Zombie’s brain pattern

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Extra security has been drafted in , so have dormitories

Finally August 2011; my inner snob and offal galore

Holiday Part 1

August 2011 Scotland. High summer in the Highlands. Last summer’s jaunt to France and Spain by car and Eurocamp was a sun kissed road trip. This year’s is shorter in time and distance and we have a series of nice hotels with swimming pools.  I am the only person in Scotland not at the Fringe, in T-shirt and shorts (It is summer, I am on holiday and it is my right.).

Didsbury Wife has booked this trip carefully. I need a gym to offset the promise of a daily cooked breakfast and Didsbury Son needs a pool. If there is one thing we love it’s a swimming pool with Jacuzzi, sauna and steamroom. We are in luck

We hit the pool within 10 minutes of arriving. I goon about, acting as a hairy inflatable for Didsbury Son and his acrobatics act as a magnet for the other kids in the pool who view me as a moving oversized Fisher Priced toy. We run through our repertoire of somersaults and shark attacks and he has quickly pulled with the local 6-12 year olds and I can slope off to read the paper in the sauna.

By Kids’ teatime on the first day he has a DS buddy, a coterie of hangers-on and emails of people whose names he will forget by Day 2. Having been a good dad and avoided having to speak to any other parents I treat myself to a cocktail whilst Didsbury Wife gets ready to remind me why I made the effort to shave and forego the Old Spice for something more 2011.

Through several days of swimming pools I work out every day and Didsbury Son knows to get an extra sausage on his plate for Dad Tax following my triumphant power walk into the breakfast room. We fish for salmon, but nether red nor pink bite. I watch him play badminton against cocky teenagers with aplomb and hang out with excited 6 year olds for the cartoons. His equilibrium and happiness in this range of company puts me to shame. I flick a silent V at the other dads who talk to me.

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