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 “The Fletcher Moss”

The Didsbury Dozen

It’s that lovely M20 time of year. Those preparing to queue fromq

6am on Christmas Eve morning to collect their turkeys from Evans are planning their wardrobe. The white elephant formerly known as Chalk and Nido harks back to being a small and popular Turkish  restaurant with a belting takeaway and the price of a pint of milk in the Shell garage (now a Londis? In Didsbury?) finally gets more expensive than a barrel of oil. Didsbury Park is packed with Freyas and Archies chasing French Bulldogs and residents of Cavendish Road, Elm Grove and Beaver Road count down to schools closing and being allowed to use their own parking spaces without abuse – its Christmas.

turkeyA turkey this morning in training for the Evans challenge

By any popular account 2016 has been momentous. Never mind politics, celebrity death, refugee crises and hacking becoming more fashionable than Vogue. 2016 will always be the year when, after a quarter of a century as a flyposting board – Sweaty Betty’s reopened as Nueve.

stop-inn The Ghost of Christmas Past

It’s also been the year I became a part-time Didsbury resident for the first time… this century. So here is my 2016 Didsbury Dozen. Not the pub crawl but the 12 places I think fly the flag for us.

There are loads of great places missed out here and some dodgy ones that we won’t namecheck. But for family reasons Croma, Solita and Folk are always good. for cheeky drinks I love Wine & Wallop, The Charlie George or whatever its called on the edge of Burton Road and The Fletcher Moss is still ace. The Third Eye is always a winner, Sangam 2 always better than you’d ever imagine and Copson Street has a great Japanese Restaurant and a Halal Butcher that sells the best hot wraps in Manchester. Bourbon & Black is still open and Cau never seem to have a table when I want to go.

This is not based on anything over than personal taste. But in the year when Stop Inn and The Mud Crab Cafe went, Jade Garden and Laughing Buddha look as though they are near wheezing their last and I’ve barely made it to Dot’s Cafe in the park – these are all worth checking out.

 

  1. Casa Italia: A Finnish owned, Italian cafe with a nice line in wooden boards to eat from; brilliant. Has been busy since day one and hits the mark in quality over quantity sending you out sated not pogged (it’s a technical term).

 

  1. Pizza Express on Lapwing Lane: It had a refit (I think) to cope with the pincered challenge of Chilli Banana at  Inman’s (heard great things but you can’ buy a Chanucah card there any more) and the latest pointless pub refit at the Greenfinch in Hand. You can’t beat the Tuna Nicoise, everyone’s always friendly. A visit is also a chance to catch up with at least five old friends as you all now get the same discount vouchers.

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  1. Volta: Burton Road chic and design at its finest with the added bonus of good service from people who know how to treat customers.

volta Don’t waste a visit on children

  1. Art of Tea:  Indifferent service, uncomfy chairs, expensive coffee. The best toast and peanut butter, something I can’t define and one of the best places to contemplate life or write a masterpiece or two.

 

  1. Costa on Wilmslow Road: This is down to the manager. She’s lovely. Always slightly hassled but stretched like a good pizza base rather than a spring. When Costa opened in the old Boots home it was revolutionary. Now there are 38 coffee outlets and 2 Costa vending machines within coughing distance. It holds its own.

the-ghost-of-christmas-past If only they’d sold coffee

  1. G’s Gourmet Kitchen on Fog Lane: Curried Goat. Horse Carriage. Morecambe Wise. This is a great addition. Friendly, tasty, spicy.

 

  1. Khandoker: From its table settings to its car park it does not look Didsbury. The view from the window of 4 traffic lights, a walking bridge and the less glamorous view of Parrswood’s entertainment centre do not bode well; but it’s superb. Affordable, well-cooked and friendly. Each visit I learn a staff member’s life story.

 

  1. La Cantina: The Green Cafe Rouge. My only report says it’s muy bien but it’s like looking at an old friend made up as something you know they could never be.

images And Lo, a star appeared in the sky where Cafe Rouge had been

  1. Refresh: it’s tiny and tucked away behind the Co-Op but it’s worth turning off at Carmello’s for China cups, gorgeous bread, a range of sandwiches worth the carbs and a decent chat. No sausage sandwich should ever be taken for granted; they don’t.

 

  1. Fusion Deli aka Pete’s: Pete, Tom, Claire and the cast of privately educated teenagers who work have created a little world. It’s a community resource, a commuters’ drop in, has the best 24 hour matured reduced sandwiches in the city and I love it. A caffeine comfort blanket.

 

  1.  New Peking House: there are other Chinese food outlets and restaurants in the area but then again you can buy Norpak Butter at Aldi. I’ve watched the children grow up, serve and leave – but the Hot & Sour Soup and Salt ‘n’ Pepper Ribs have never dropped in quality.

hot-and-sour-soup This is in my diary next to a picture of the children

  1. Piccolino Didsbury: Francisco, Nico and the team get it right every time. It’s worth saving up for a visit and hard not to write this as a fan letter. They are even patient when the twins are losing it loudly and it’s busy. I always walk out feeling a little bit special. I never thought anything would be better than The Nose on this site. But The Nose didn’t do pasta like this or make foil animals to entertain my kids. piccolino-didsbury Clam Place Calm Place Calm Place Calm Place

With the pearly princess distracted by the attention she gets I can flirt with Didsbury Wife. We can pretend we shall sweep home full of joy, good wine and passion fruit sorbet and our first thought won’t be “Do you know where the pull-ups are?”

Goditi il pasto, ci vediamo presto.

 

  • No bribes were taken in compiling this list but I would like to thank Omeprazole for helping me through.
  • images-1My hero, putting the Aaah into acid reflux.
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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.

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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

Caravans are the new hotels, Didsbury By the Sea

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Two weeks is a long time in the life of a Didsbury Son and one week is a long time in a caravan on the Welsh Riviera enjoying the wide range of rain driven weather patterns. Welsh Weather, that echo of chirruping sparrow and screeching sun that can change quicker than a transformer into leaden skied Hippos tap dancing on the roof of your caravan.

Our first afternoon here was idyllic. A beautiful hot spring day spent walking up beaches in shorts listening to lapping seas and well-fed seagulls. Didsbury Son and I stripped down to dig a joyfully pointless hole with seats in. The therapeutic value increasing inversely proportionate to its beautiful pointlessness. How we laughed as we created a jacuzzi. How we didn’t reckon on it actually being a usable jacuzzi so quickly. The perfect British seaside scene. Father and son digging, laughing and casting aside worries, Didsbury Wife in North Face coat close-by.

The sound of rain on a caravan roof can be mesmerising; then funny, then persistent, then overwhelming, then a precursor to a nightmare about water boarding. Still, it allows you to get to know the site, the caravan walls and the stock of Londis very well.

Caravan sites are microcosms of the worlds that they represent. There is a specific pecking order, etiquette and expectation. One magic moment was seeing Didsbury Son walk into a crowded Gents toilet block and shouting “Daddy!” From behind 10 stalls and through shaving foam and shower head a dozen weary voices, thinking they found a few minutes solace dutifully answered.

I have also had to up my blokeiness quotient to cope with other caravanning men who genuinely seem to know when to use a Phillips Head Screwdriver or the difference between live and earth (I am on a journey of discovery). Ask them about the difference between Spanish and Greek Extra Virgin Oil, nothing.

As a group of us manfully washed up in arctic conditions, pretending this was a good part of the deal I prayed the conversation stayed on sport and away from anything to do with cars apart from traffic. My honest view that DIY stood for “Done It? You’re Kidding” went down like… Anything except for water in a caravan sink. It is possible to sweat in freezing conditions whilst washing baked beans off a plastic plate. I am more Naked Chef than Ray Mears.

A quick guide to caravan etiquette:

1. There are two clearly marked taps – drinking water and chemical waste. They are not cheeky camping cocktails and pretending to empty the chemical toilet in the wrong one isn’t seen as a big jape.

2. There is symmetry between the boys here. They seem dressed, haircutted and taught to speak at Berghaus and White Stuff on the same day. They hunt in packs trying to look vaguely threatening in a way that only privately educated well dressed boys can. It’s not so much the crips and bloods and the crisps and Bloody Mary’s. The scooter tribe (John Lewis, not Vespa) and the bike possee skirt around each other warily like a pack of wolves. Instead of looking for prey they need their tummies tickled. Our tribe is the slouch and snack tribe worshipping the great God Freeview.

3. Being vaguely media and very MediaCityUK has no value.

4. The people you think don’t really exist when you spend your time in a city are real. Somewhere in the world there is someone dressing in a pink pinstriped shirt and blue pullover every five minutes.

5. Bumping into someone only when emptying a chemical toilet or going to a plumbed one severely limits small talk.

If Didsbury had a beach I would have no reason to leave. The ease of an M&S Simply Food and the Fletcher Moss on your doorstep should not be taken for granted. A week and weekends staring at the horizon across The Irish Sea, whilst wearing a coat has tremendously therapeutic benefits and we always hit that wonderful “Welcome to Greater Manchester” sign on the M56 rejuvenated by traditional Welsh fresh air, crisps and Peroni; ready to face branded coffee and aggressive begging with a new vigour.

The Lleyn Peninsula already holds many special memories and places for us. It is hard to beat the combination of mountains, coastline, cheese, and a good percentage of Cheshire’s 4x4s. For the roulette weather, there is the patient and friendly population (with the exception of the Londis in Abersoch).

This is where Didsbury Son built his first sandcastles, gave his first recital and caught his first, and hopefully only crab.

Our 2×2 occasionally gets a little bullied, but my off-road is parking in a field. When someone looked at my coat and asked me if I was a sailor I thought it was a chat-up line, but I am learning.

Didsbury Wife once told me that every child (from the North West) should have a chance to build a sandcastle on a Welsh beach and now I have found three venues close by with SkySports I heartily agree.

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