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 “Subway”

Things you only say once

Having the twins provides the potential to not make the same mistakes twice. I say potential carefully. I know it’s not a done deal or I would have only paid one visit to the ear specialist, KFC and Sega Football Manager.

I am old enough to know the hand movements to The Communards, “You Are My World” but can I learn from the moments that Didsbury Son is saving up to tell his therapist as an adult? My dad wrote a fictionalised blog. BUT IT WAS REAL TO ME”.

In the spirit of learning. In the spirit that parenting (cue platitude) doesn’t have a manual but does have 600 books written by “celebrities” in need of work whilst on maternity leave. In the spirit that if knowledge is power I did not have the vote to begin with… Things You Only Say Once.

1. It’s a 12/15 but he should be okay.
Didsbury Son’s vivid imagination and ability to empathise are wonderful attributes. I have never seen Cowboys v Aliens but for a junior school Didsbury Son it meant weeks of sleeping with the light on.

2. All kids love playing football. No and I need to remember taking a reluctant Didsbury Son to Fog Lane Park on a snowy Saturday for Didsbury Juniors. He shrank into as many patient coaches’ coats as was feasible and looked sad eyed enough to have had his own postcard. This mistake will not happen again; it needed far more brainwashing before he started.

3. You go away – I’ll be fine. I won’t.

4. Let’s go to Centre Parcs. Let’s not. It is cruelty without beauty, faux holidays not aimed at people who like to mooch and relax. I am from Didsbury. We put the Id in Middle Class. Didsbury Son thinks Subway is “street” and my idea of of slumming it is going somewhere that doesn’t offer the option of a Skinny Latte.

5. Punch him and walk away slowly saying “These colours don’t run”. My self image as laid back dad died a quick death in Year 2 when Didsbury Son was briefly picked on. In reality it was a spat and they were back playing a day later. Didsbury Wife added context, love and understanding. My sense of outrage had me searching for clips of Scum to show Ray Winstone in action and scouring the loft for my Junior Pot Black balls and cue.

What have I learned. Breathe deeply, don’t overreact and even though they will never be mini versions of you, dress them like it whilst they are still too small to complain.

The play date for twins was very successful.

* Scum (1979) is not a parenting video

This Much I Have Learned – holidays with small babies

Going anywhere nice this year? Planning to go or just back and regaling friends with all-nighters, mountain walks, that little bistro or hidden cove up the steps or the golden beaches you walked for hours?

Or have you enjoyed that secluded villa at the top of the hill or fun in a caravan?
The doorstaff in Ibiza have diversified over the years

The doorstaff in Ibiza have diversified over the years

This much I have learned, with Didsbury Son now at an age where I see more of the top of his head than his face, the Mighty-Headed boy on the march and able to get object to mouth in the time it takes to rub sleep out your eyes AND as my sweet pearl-headed girl deciding summer nights are for singing, not sleeping; it’s tricky.
We have opted for short breaks around Wales.
We love Wales. We enjoy remembering to take bags to every shop, like the weather lottery and feel that not being able to shop after 7pm or find baby change facilities a challenge that can really make a holiday special. As I daydreamed  about room service, pain-free moving and walking past Boots occasionally, I realised that my parameters had been re-set my checklist is:
1. No budget airlines. Babies fly free under 2 years old. We have already used this loophole and will do until its closed. However, the equipment you now need with you needs a roadie and you look like The Tweenies on tour. I planned a break, found flights but the baggage cost dwarfed the ticket price  to such an extent it would have been cheaper to buy popcorn at the cinema.
2. The time limit a Didsbury Son can go without wi-fi is three days. After that the pained expression at a life lost and disconnected is no longer entertaining and worse, if the 3G fails I can’t check the transfer news.
Didsbury Son got over his Piokemon separation anxiety in interesting ways

Didsbury Son got over his Pokemon separation anxiety in interesting ways

3. Caravans are fantastic. Until you have babies crying. Then you have nowhere to go. It’s one up, all up and here’s a tip. Anyone who says to you they had a lovely romantic break in a caravan thinks communal washing is foreplay.
4. Remember the supplies. Wherever you go in the world there is a small shop selling the errant nappy, wipe, formula for the same price as a small car.
5. It’s your fault.
6. Time differences are dangerous. At. 9pm the twins are finally asleep; Didsbury Wife and I crave the small gap they have left between them in bed and Didsbury Son is revved up for a film, preferably with mild swearing. It’s a tough negotiation. If it goes wrong there will be harrumphing on all sides and worse, I may have to feign interest in some Alien abducting, world creating  pixelated odyssey that Didsbury Son has had on hold for three days as the promised wi-fi is lost somewhere in the field of sheep behind us.
7. A double pram on sand is a nightmare, get a pool.
8. Keeping twins fed, changed and entertained in a caravan without crying is a test they missed on The Krypton Factor.
Free the Pink Bear 1

Free the Pink Bear 1

This is not to say that there have been those magical holiday moments. When Didsbury Son looked up at me and said those three little words that mean so much, “dad, Free Wi-Fi!”. Paddles in the sea and chips on the beach at night. These and a hundred other happy times that will be etched into our family story.
I hope this prepares you and warns you. It does all have one huge advantage. When you see the sign A34 Didsbury and get the first flatulent waft of Subway drifting up Wilmslow Road it’s bloody marvellous.

Return of the Mooch

One of my greatest joys in life over the years has been my Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son. This meander down the old railway line in search of a Tesco sausage with my little blondini squeaking life’s joy next to me was a little slice of heaven.

Metrolink Mania, which is still sweeping Didsbury with rash tales of Breakfast in Rochdale has unwittingly returned this to me.

Didsbury Son has caught a large dose of Metro Fever – tempted by names such as Pomona and Exchange Quay. It is shiny, new and it offers the opportunity to eat a Subway in a bewildering range of locations. The carrot is that we will walk the twins until they are asleep, then get the Metro back to Didsbury. It is simple, not expensive and we all get some fresh air and exercise.

One half term morning we assembled – a buggy with two domes, one pearl, one massive. They now sit forward in the trolley scanning Didsbury like the google street car. My bold-headed boy a meerkat whilst his pearl-bonced sister smiles regally as the world rolls by slowly.

As we left Camp Didsbury Village a lovely change occurred. Although now without squeaky voice and that lovely lack of self-awareness that makes pre nine year olds so open – he was back.

Didsbury Son jabbered endlessly and actually took in my dad jokes and dull tales as we pushed our wide-eyed cargo through Manchester’s Olive Oil district. By Fog Lane, Didsbury Son had hold of my hand and as we pulled into Fusion Deli on Lapwing Lane for a bagel I had one hand-holding and two chirruping children and felt 10 feet tall.

The babies sang, so we walked to Burton Road and I told him all about The Metropolitan being The Midland and the legendary MVITA nights. I felt the joint aches diminish as we strolled.

We ventured even further west. When my boy asked what about the prison-like development at Didsbury Point (possibly the only part of M20 Estate Agents will not own up to) our bond was re-sealed and our mooching time back. It used to be Withington Hospital now its an eyesore.

I can’t wait to start doing this with both hands held.

This Much I know:
1. Money, fame, smaller clothes sizes – none of them are as big a motivation as a snooze when you have twins.

2. The last few months have increased my understanding of body issues exponentially, every joint hurts.

3. You can try. You can plan. But an eight-month old baby in a walker has a reach like a JCB digger.

4. When you have babies, for no real reason you sing everything. My full repertoire of football songs has been re-assembled without swear words for every act during the day.

5. At 7am in Didsbury Village, Cappucino in Didsbury Deli with froth to share is a little haven.

6. I love and hate Boots with a passion.

7. The Metrolink is best chain to open in Didsbury

Next week: Didsbury Festival is back…



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.

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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