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 “tesco”

Evans, Delia and There’s No Place Like Home

 Look – not one pointless apostrophe or errant comma.

I am to blame. Me and others like me. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Show a man Eddie at Evans and he will joss half his wages on a Royal Dorade and Samphire.” Until… the cost of twins at Boots, the inability to walk more than 50 yards without a Costa and the come hither ease of M&S fish porn mean that a wallet-emptying, life-enhancing trip to Evans becomes less regular. 

My grandmother first took me to Evans. After my pram was pushed to Inman’s, I held my Didsbury Grandmother’s hand as we went to the “new fish shop” to buy Hake which then became the greatest Gefilte Fish (chopped and boiled or fried) each week.   Exotic seafood

I have wooed on the back of their langoustines but recently, laziness and children have reduced me to roll mops and kippers. As Hamlet said, “oh that this too too sullied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a Fish Stew (ish). 

If the staff takeover works I’ll be back next week with a Halibut hop and the jauntiness of a cheeky bream. 

And so to Delia’s. It’s not all Hispi Chic and Botanist beauty in M20 (although I have offered to trade a child for their Salt’n’Pepper Onion). Delia’s Gone. I remember original Delia. I was an impressionsble teen, she was a bit vibrant and scary and I think I had a crush on her between Banaramama and Clare Grogan. The flowers were a treat I learned went down well. Delia sadly died but her name has gone on for several decades with brilliant Darren most recently running the shop and the delivery from Holland. The wall full of bath bombs looked like an admission of failure and smelled awful but we need a Delia’s in the village and should hang our heads at the ease with which we slipped into the garage or Tescos. I told him to get a Costa Machine in to bring in the punters.     When Delia’s closure was announce people movingly rushed to put flowers outside as a tribute.

What next? Will Karma Sutra move downstairs? Is there room for a new Waitrose? How can these shut when Bourbon & Black stays open? 

With Felicini’s / Mud Crab / Y Fabrica changing its name every week and Manor Service Station becoming an Off Licence these are strange days. The village centre is starting to feel a bit empty and the rents are proving prohibitive. This is not strong and stable. However it does mean that traditional Didsbury is now probably epitomised by one of our oldest residents, Kansas Fried Chicken.

I’m still working away a lot at the moment but I know now. Whenever I’m homesick I click my red Nike Air Force Ones and say “There’s No Place Like Home, can I have Chicken gravy?”  

 The new official colours of Didsbury – Melchester Rovers. 

Love, Hate and The Festive Season

The Festive Season is nearly upon us. Nearly as in the nauseating adverts have been launched and there is a slight sense of panic surrounding everyone I know. I don’t even have to worry about accessorising my little black dress; but from the taint of the wrong toy to a misunderstanding about the origins, ethos and expectations it can be stressful. There are certain aspects of Daddom that make even the most benign aspects of the season something to dread.
Here are my top ten…

1. Jools Holland’s Hootenanny: In my murky media lifetime I spent many New Years’ Eves throwing the party. There are late September, early October teens and early twenty somethings whose existence is down to these parties. They leave a legacy of slightly crumpled thirty plus ten somethings. However eclectic and enthralling the musicians are – watching a bunch of Z listers pretend it’s New Years’ Eve just doesn’t cut it.

2. The 5am pain of Christmas Day: Didsbury Son was a beautiful bouncing Blondini bed banger at 5am on 25th December. Finally, the Christmas before the twins were born he ambled in at 8 ish and then made a cup of tea. We lolled and had the most laid back and groovy day. I now have another decade of door slamming and early early footsteps to manage. My head, back and knees have lodged a formal complaint.

3. Mince Pies: these sweet and juicy, sticky, crumbly heralds of baby Jesus and a Christmas Market. These hand-sized waist tormentors and palate coverers. I love you, but in the cause of waistline not wasteland I must ignore you and treat you like someone who not only thrived on Movember, but decided to keep it because it “suits me”.

4. False Bonhomie: Hey, how are you. We’ve had no contact but you’re Jewish, I’m an Atheist let’s have a Christmas drink? The human equivalent of a casual Facebook like.

5. The 7am Xmas Eve queue at Evans and Axons. It looks as though civil war has broken out, middle-aged, middle class men from across the southern suburbs have been forced to get from their beds to queue for supplies and hand over wads of cash for a Copper Bronze Turkey. It’s when men know their place and the taste can be worth it.

6. 28th December – knockdown.
You spend £15.99 on some plastic tat. You cut two fingers on the unwrapping, spend £8 for a battery that lasts 6 minutes at the only shop open Christmas Day afternoon and three days later – having stubbed your toe tripping over its unused, unloved cadaver on the stairs, it’s 2.99 in Tesco.
This venting is working, I already feel more festive.

7. The Queen’s Speech
I am sure she’s a lovely woman. Bringing up four kids in the spotlight must be difficult, although Victoria and David are doing okay so far. BUT. If I want to hear old people talk about their lives, whilst talking on behalf of the nation I can listen to a phone in on BBC Local Radio.

8. The Stove Room.
Lovely shop. Great to have it in West Didsbury. The cost of a bag of wood. It’s enough to make you go Aga.

9. Wine at £6.50 a glass
My time on the other side of the bar learning the rudiments of wet sales and profit margins on them has ruined me as a date. Didsbury Wife has to put up with a cost breakdown to ruin each round. Only out hated by paying for sparkling water. No need, no point.

10. Christmas Specials
I love watching TV. Couch slouching whilst watching aimlessly with Didsbury Son, hands on snacks is one of life’s pleasures. But (with the exception of Porridge, Dad’s Army and On The Buses) I am struggling to find a Christmas Special less sour than a lime. It’s the screen equivalent of bonhomie.

With that out of the way there is much to enjoy – The Snowman is slowly edging out Frozen, Atuls is always open and time off work means a quick stroll to Bisou Bisou and The AiryFairyCupCake Boutique. There’s the Xmas Light Switch on (and talk of it being plural this year), there are Blagg’s Christmas Trees and the chance of a day without email. Yet more, even more than this is wide berth people offer a family with more than one toddler. I’m looking forward to it already.

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The queues for Axons and Evans Warm up.

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The Mighty Headed Boy awaits a Mince Pie

Didsbury Life: This Much I Know

As the sails of 39 years, 364 days recede ever further back into the noughties and the creaking of the trees in the late autumn breeze matches the creaking my knees; this is what I have learned.

Male patterned grumpiness is not a right, it has to be earned. We lack the manipulative front to be supportive AND judgemental, so grunting like a 15 year old and sighing like a winter wind fill the gaps.

Mancunian slang rarely works. I recall the Didsbury Boys in Tesco, Parrs Wood describing their Shredded Duck in Hoisin Sauce Wrap as “bum man, f- ing bum” and thinking that the Bronx would be shaking. Last week I was exiting the gents at Piccadilly Station. (how many stories have started thus?) when a 40 year old, Gallagher clone but without the hair saw the 30p charge to use the facilities and danced his outrage. Talking loudly to no one and everyone he declared, “Are you having a giraffe?” Before scuttling off more crab on the sand, than ungulate mammal on the velt.

The closure of Cafe Rouge in Didsbury Village is a blow to the community. I miss people
-watching from its patio and peering inside when walking past with the pram. I miss my free Guardian Sports Section and I miss the feeling that by sitting in sight of the library I was upping my culture.

Didsbury Son is now a teenager and the first month (83 to go) has been fine. The build-up was threatening, but since the clock turned he has resumed being the lovely boy and easy-going accomplice of his blondini, squeaky voiced days. He has started cracking gags in a style that I know is based on me and makes me truly understand the issue Didsbury Wife takes over my mistimed, poor taste speciality.

With their second birthday looming the battle amongst the Didsbury Dad extended males has begun to claim The Mighty-Headed boy and Pearly-Girl for our respective football teams. There is no subtlety, no fraternal loyalty, just craven boddler baiting with song, shirt and toy. I realise that against all my best intentions, this is probably going to use up more thought than which school they should go to and possibly more money on uniform.

The staff at Chalk all look as though they have stepped out of rehearsals for Glee to be with you (courtesy of. @Craftwords). Whilst their unfeasibly kittened-hipness is shaming, the hope that they will break into Flashdance on one of the sofas keeps me coming back. ( and the chipolatas.

Twins’ weight: painful knee and cortisone’d elbow.

Nursery Rhymes sung badly as I Only know the rude version: 8

Frozen watched: 3 times a day

Sleep Depravation constant with a good chance of caffeine and chocolate about 10 to get through the day.

Next time: Why I love Burton Road, It’s autumn soon so the bad-parking 4×4 Season is upon is and a review of The Global News refit.

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This is starting to seem a long time ago.

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News of Cafe Rouge closing caused a walkout

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Pre- service team meeting at Chalk.

A Quick Guide to surviving the Didsbury Festival

In addition to not eating for three days beforehand so you have room for all the lovely pakoras and samosas, there are some key things to remember so you survive, thrive and not end up making the mistakes which led me to disgrace (2006), hospital (2007), Nido (2013).

Didsbury Festival has all the essentials of a great festival. There is a procession, there are stages, a tremendously over-priced mini fair, a dog show and portable loos to send the healthiest bladder into retention.
Surly teenagers terrified their parents / siblings will speak to them and call them by their pet home name roam hoodily, perfect.

Camping: normally it’s the 16-18 year olds who are way too cool to come to Didsbury Park who camp it up. Be yourself and if you want to sleep – you can walk home.

Health & Safety: keep little kids on a tight rein, make them wear something bright and don’t be distracted by the puppies in the dog show. Should you need supplies Tesco, Copo or Aldi are on hand.

Drugs: it’s a festival, people let their hair down and what goes on in Didsbury, stays in The Reporter. I condone nothing, but if you get brain freeze from an ice cream, need sun cream or have a headache there is a Boots and Peak Pharmacy ( the weird independent one with no stock).

Security: this is no time to leave your pram unguarded. There have been thefts and “swaps”.

Music: usually surprisingly good. Do not miss the Zumba

Travel: Metrolink is promising that they may have a tram running this weekend- just the one mind you.

Manchester City: the year they brought the FA Cup was fantastic and there is a rumour (started by me) that they may bring The Premier League Trophy. United are rumoured to be bringing a picnic.

But most importantly, do not park in a residents’ car park, give credit to the bloke in the hat who is on the tannoy for all 6 hours and if you see sleeping twins please do not wake them.

…@craftwords, it’s just about getting the young ones through and then sneaking to the Fletcher Moss at the first opportunity.

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One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for an eerie walk past with the pram.

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Rhymes with Nell Lane

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Product Placement – My Slice of the corporate penny

I have noticed that there is a vogue amongst blogging parents to shoehorn in cheap adverts for tat from a perceived product testing moral high ground. These sometimes unwittingly entertaining blogs turn my Aptamil 3 Toddler Milk for Healthy Bones sour and flatten the flavour in my Hipp Organic exquisitely flavoured vegetable cannelloni that even at 17 months the boddlers still adore. Sometimes they are so see-through that they need a Huggies Sensitive Wipe to gently clear away the taste and and only a Gordon’s Gin with Fever Tree Tonic, Lime and Fresh Ice (available from Tesco) will do.

I understand that our branding profile is brilliant. All new, newish, slightly paranoid parents are gullible punters for anything to ease the day, appease the night and instil greater learning, throwing and communicative skills in our offspring but… I still feel the slight pang of guilt, mixed with pride, when my Mighty-Headed little fella wears his club colours complete with Korean Multinational adorning his chest.

This is not to say Didsbury Dad is advert free. I have a longstanding deal with Fusion Deli on Lapwing Lane to only pay for the things I buy. My car is sponsored by “You Wouldn’t be seen dead in this if you didn’t have children.com” and Didsbury Wife brings me a cup of tea in the evening – but I try to blend this seamlessly between reminding you to click on The Mum and Dad Bloggers Award badge on the right hand-side of the page and vote for me.

There, I feel better now.

Didsbury Dad is GM Free, Caffeine dependent and willing to dance for money.

A Pinch and a Punch too Far

Yesterday I tipped over the edge. The edge of being 39 years, 364 days where I have teetered for many years. This was no seeping age stain or dawning realisation. It was a specific moment at around 11am.

The Mighty-Headed boy and I had stepped out early. The whole family are anti-biotic infused on the end of a week of snotula dynamics. I have pushed through man-flu that would floor a horse, never complaining, coughing in private, whilst hunting and gathering by daylight – changing nappies by night; it’s the man way.

My Mighty-Headed boy is 17 months of excitement and constant noise. He was keen to see the renovations at the Nido ranch and to find out what double whammy of hairdresser and Costa Express could fill the mini parade opposite East Didsbury station.

We had our first trip in a trolley round Tescos. His general wonderment and quietness is something I’m not expecting to be repeated but on our return, life changed.

We arrived home. Didsbury Son beckoned me towards him. Distracted; I leaned in. In slow motion I saw his hands go to my arm and heard the words, as though through a tunnel.
“A pinch and a punch for the first of the month, slip slap, no comeback. ”
Defeat . A run lasting as many months as there has been Didsbury Son. On the same step where we have shared picnics, called the moon and watched the world. Done . Like a kipper ( other cliches are available).

He turned and paraded, I shrank and looked down to where the Mighty-Headed boy was trying to eat a newspaper and told him, “Son, I’m 40.” ( plus many weeks) cue Happy Mondays.

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To some a bottle of wine, to others consolation.

Father’s Day, a report card on your prowess

Father’s Day. Two words that can strike dread into the heart of many dads. It is a report card on how you’ve done since Christmas. The level of effort put in is a direct grading of your role as supporting artist in the great film of family life.
This is not about money spent or responding to the abysmal Americanisation and spreading over the weekend of what was always traditionally a card and a cuppa before normal service resumed.

I had a trawl through the mmm, detritus that is being passed off as a present for dad. I saw an advert for Canadian Maple flavoured ribs and beer. Fine, if you’ve never had Gavuscon or Oemeprozole but not for the other 99% of us literally a recipe for disaster. This and a thousand Top Gear / presents aimed at 10 year olds with more hair passed off as what the retailers decided we should stress over for Father’s Day; rubbish.

There is the same nuance and care needed in a Father’s Day as there is when responding to a question from partners beginning “I want you to be honest with me…” (NB you only fall for this once every six months)

We know a great sage once decreed that the perfect childhood for boys was to have a father until they were seven years old before taking over as pack leader and sending father back into the forest to forage.
Handwritten cards, something you secretly wanted, a hint taken or anything fried and you have an A*; with gradings all the way down to a Co-Op card and a picture of your children to remind you who they are.

I think I did okay. Definitely on the upside and had an easy weekend with a family that becomes more lively and interesting by the week.

Sunday began at 2am with teething terrors traumatising the Mighty-Headed boy and ended alone in a double bed with all baby duties suspended until 6am as I had a big day at work; the greatest act of selfless love in a bedroom that the mother of your children can give you.

Didsbury Son had a break from being short-changed of quality dad attention, spending a sleepover with friends and Didsbury Wife and I spent a chummy afternoon on the couch with the twins before I didn’t have to go to John Lewis.

I felt special. As we wheeled the twin Meerkats out for an early evening drink in a sun-dappled West Didsbury I felt relaxed and sure in the knowledge that the world was right and I was one inappropriate joke away from a Top Gear compilation.

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Hands full, all three of them

It’s Metrolink week in Didsbury

The Metrolink is coming, not in some distant future with a Star Trek type date. “Captains Log 2.73 Donkey 48. Didsbury Son is now a grandfather and the metro will be here soon”, but on Thursday.

I am genuinely excited and we have planned a family trip on the bright yellow horse. We may go to Bury market to try boiled black pudding (my choice), we may go to Chorlton to see a Morison’s supermarket as we only have Tesco (3), Co-op, Aldi and M&S in Didsbury Heck, we may even go to Droylsden to get a flavour of Tameside.

Many years ago; pre Didsbury children, Didsbury wife, the millennium and even David Beckham I used to make a twice weekly trek to Droylsden. Before my dreams of a Bafta turned to dreams of a shed and a lock on the bathroom door, I dreamed of pop stardom. In those heady bouffant days Droylsden’s finest rehearsal rooms, with a panoramic view of the M67 was my Abbey Road. The rooms were dark, the place stank and we fitted in well. Now, a double decade on I can share this creative cul-de-sac with my loved ones without having to work out whether Belle Vue, then Hyde Road is quicker than the M60. This is the stuff that makes dreaming and scheming worthwhile.

The Metrolink has taken the finest father-son mooching territory in the city. The old railway track was a magical land of fallen trees and iffy graffiti. Here, a tiny Didsbury Son and I bonded, shared secrets and saw the world evolve on the way down to a Saturday morning sausage from Tesco whilst Didsbury Wife had a rare lie-in.

Whenever we head past the shiny new track I fill up thinking about my squeaky-voiced little boy and counting my blessings that I have two more goes.

We can now all slide down the slope by the scout hut to the platform. Didsbury Son can retreat behind his Beats and into his iPod, I can tell the twins the same stories and jokes I shared so conspiratorially with him, recycling them as we circumnavigate the city between feeds. This is the dad’s role.

By 2016 we will be able to go from Didsbury to the airport on the Metro (look at me using slang from Didsboire – the M20th Arrondisiment pour Le Metro). 2016? By then we will be living on Mars, eating capsules, Wall-E will be Prime Minister and I will be entertaining The Mighty-Headed boy with the pull my finger trick as we metro about.

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Metro metro men. I wanna join the Metro Men.

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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.

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A London street. No barbers to be seen

Welcome Giddy Goat, goodbye Summer Holiday

The more things change, the more they come back as Barbers, Charity Shops and Coffee Shops (Shskespeare).

As the Pixie fled Albert Hill Street to re-open with (thankfully) the same staff and 90% of the same stock as Linen, so it is Rumpus we shed a tear for as Louise bids farewell to staring at the front of the Post Office counting the illegally parked 4x4s. Bye bye Rumpus, hello Giddy Goat Toys. Same idea, different people and with twins on the way I have a feeling I’ll be there plenty. I liked Rumpus. With that at one end of the village and the brief but intense Razma Reads at the other we had the independent balance that Costa, Croatia and Caffe Nero’s Red Green Blue coffee colour chart has. brought to Wilmslow Road. Bear with me, by now even I have no idea where my mind has wandered to but there is reason.

This week is one that all parents anticipate and count down to with the enthusiasm of a teenage New Years’ Eve party; back to school day. Didsbury’s 107 Barbers from Chalky White on Fog Lane to Bohemian Rhapsody (made up name*) on Burton Road were full of sulky Didsburylings getting their short smart school haircuts. The cupcake emporiums were then full of mothers looking to appease their shorn offspring and MCS stores on Didsbury’s Eastern border was a picture of parental hell and soon-to-be-pupil unrest.

Anyone who sees buying school uniform as a pleasure is either stupid or role-playing. It is school shoe tiring, tie-teaching, grey sock searching misery that drains hearts and wallets with equal vigour. Didsbury Son is actually pretty easy; but by Tuesday we had still failed to track down gym shorts and our will to live was ebbing away.

I had been to John Lewis, M&S, Asda, Tesco and Decathlon chasing the elusive grail of stain-free suitable shorts. This depressing chainstore crawl had me praying to breakdown. At 4.59, leaving Didsbury Son head down in Pokemonland I stepped in to MCS School Outfitters. The queue stretched around the shop, the sunken cheeked queue ees mouthed hopeless pleas to me and the smell of sweat and fear engulfed me. It was as though Didsbury had been invaded and the refugees were making sure they had the right PE kit before they fled.

I turned around, mentally wrote a note for Didsbury Son’s teacher and counted down the hours to my first fantastically solo coffee since July.

Sometimes parenting means looking without your glasses on.

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