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 “West Didsbury”

More of the same please

 On the wall is a picture of the twins at 1-day old with my hands around their tiny heads. My pearly princess looks angry. Eyes screwed up, she is bemoaning the need for oxygen and probably hoping The Mighty Headed Boy will shut up; he hasn’t. You may not see much of old friends but you do get to pet a lot of goats.

His huge round head – like an animated bowling ball reflects a sense of anxious confusion which lasted a few weeks before settling into a bullish, balletic enthusiasm that never drops below flat out. And Alpacas

This, a picture of a hairless, toothless and smiling Didsbury Son aged 4 months and a tear stained screenshot of the winning goal in an improbable cup final are my gallery of inspiration. Mighty

This week the twins are 5. I know this without checking any calendars. I know this because I look 10 years older, have not seen any of my friends voluntarily since 2013 and my hips, elbows and knees creak like a Caribbean gazebo in a hurricane. Pearly
I’ve been through this before, but the prospect of them being 5 is terrifying and baffling. 5, that’s half a decade, add a decade to them and they’re surly strangers who no longer think I’m wonderful.
The 5 years seem like seconds and an eternity. My life pre-twins seems as distant as a Sunday afternoon black and white war film. I remember it, but it could just be a film.
It also seems like seconds ago I was showing off walking downstairs with one in each arm and they were inert smiley blobs that were 90% head. 
5. I can’t call them boddlers or toddlers at 5. I can’t pretend that they’re babies anymore – although I still think I’m slightly in shock. I can empathise with the 50 items in a big transformer type bag that new parents have, but our commonality is drifting. All I need are the occasional pair of extra pants and the ability to produce Kinder Eggs on demand. 
In every way they are a joy to me and the very busy centre of my world. Their little successes are ones I am openly a big softy about and their trials fill my thoughts. It is the most wonderful curse and one that removes you from many of the arenas and people you used to crave.
I’m a dull doting dad and I love it. In Emma Jane Unsworth’s brilliant book (soon to be film) “Animals” the response to a pregnancy announcement is “Another one lost for a decade.”

I’m halfway there and happily lost. 

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This Much I Don’t Understand

This much I don’t understand.I’m willing to admit I’m no longer in my 30s. In fact as I really left my 30s the idea of us looking back fondly at a Con-Lib coalition government because it wasn’t as craven or desperate as the current government, ludicrous. The only Clegg I knew was in Last of the Summer Wine. 
The notion of a British number 1 tennis player and Leicester City’s league win being eclipsed by the vulgarity, racism and lynch mob mentality of our exit from the Europe and even that not being the biggest story of the year… mind boggling*. It’s hardly surprising then, that even the transformation of Greggs on Wilmslow Road  from stand-up sandwich shop to sit down McDonalds decor, sorry McArtisan decor raised barely a murmur. From Bowie to Murray to Aleppo it’s all been jaw on the floor material this year.unemployed with small children, spare a thought for him.

* I don’t really know what boggling means. 

Mind you. As I really left my 30s the notion that Didsbury Son would be taller than me and use Lynx was also unbelievable. So, as we enter the final chapter of a year when “Liar, liar, pants are on fire.” Has been appropriated as the shout of the mob eulogising their leaders, this much I no longer understand.50s to 5s in one easy vote

1. Brexit means Brexit. At the end of the day (which also means.. ummm, nothing.) Brexit is a portmanteau. It sounds a bit like Brisket and for all it actually means we may as well add gate on the end to make it sound interesting. I only found out what portmanteau meant by googling it. Ying Tong yiddle i Po means Ying Tong Yiddle I Po, Brexit means Brexit. I’m none the wiser. I peaked at no means no. 

2. People who read The Daily Mail and think it’s warping influence is less corrosive than nasty porn to a teenager. In fact people who read The Daily Mail by choice. 

3. What’s happened in Coronation Street. Whilst visiting my own Didsbury Dad it was on with such volume that the neighbours had their own sound off so they could hear clearly. I last tuned in about a month ago but the whole programme seems to be based on each character simultaneously living four lives. I then found out Phil Mitchell is still in Eastenders. Hasn’t he died several times? Are the soaps now reincarnating characters until they attain Nirvana? 

4. How Saints & Scholars survives, although I’m glad it does. 

5. Twenty somethings with full beards and checked shirts. I still don’t get it. Irony imitating life. I know recent transatlantic political moves have made many people look towards Canada but is this an attempt recreate Alberta between Chorlton and West Didsbury?

6. Why 808 State and MC Buzz B aren’t still massive. 

7. Bros making a comeback and selling out in seconds. Bros are back 

Right, that’s the bah humbug out of the way – ready for some Christmas cheer next. 

Hard hats, small beds and blowing bubbles

This started out as a light-hearted muse. Lapwing Lane has been turned into the Hi-Viz capital of the north. As the need for electrical upgrades takes the Chilli Banana’s road digging west of the city, more men in hard hats begin to take over.She’s starting to look old. That’s the elite for you. 

The pub formerly known as The Greenfinch, formerly known as The Bird in the Hand and now the unfathomable Generous George has had its bi-annual refit. It now has an enormous armchair outside it, Sky Sports inside and a lack of focus that really needs Learning Support. It sits in the suburban centre of M20, on the edge of Bohemia and thinks it’s a Travelodge off the M1. I’m going to petition whichever brewery is haemorrhaging a fortune to keep the playground open to turn it into a Dutch Pancake House. If we are going to throw money at dead concepts let’s go old school.

My concept for the new Generous George refit, wall to wall Lieutenant Pigeon.

Montrose Properties are having a major refit at Didsbury’s premier non-purple property centre and the skiptastic look to Lapwing Lane doesn’t end there.

Post Brexit only UK snacks will be allowed in lunch boxes. 

Pizza Express – where in the 80s I cashed my first giro (it was a post office) is having an overhaul. As it’s still always busy and every dad in Didsbury keeps an eye out for the 25% off mains offer in their inbox this is a bold move. I’m hoping to bring a review of the new doughball experience next week. 

Sneak preview of the new government housing strategy. 

The parade on Lapwing Lane is starting to resemble an al fresco Ikea. The tables and chairs outside Wine & Wallop extend to the Post Office, the furniture outside Didsbury Cafe ends at the hoardings bordering Sterling Chemists. I’m not sure if Jason’s operating a Latte and a prescription service but they’ll need softer cushions to bring in the Ultraproct crowd. 
I like Didsbury Food & Wine. Whilst Pete, Tom and Claire have Fusion buzzing and busy from early in the morning and continue to build their place as a community cafe for the proud to be liberal metropolitan dwellers (hooray for us in the middle), Didsbury Food & Wine takes a different path. The guys who run it are great. They saunter in after 10, too cool to Vape or chase the Metro commuters. They mooch, they’re laconic, they’re as not Didsbury as it gets – top place. Even when closed they have more customers than Didsbury Noodles and seem as relaxed as the punters walking out of Eve’s Retreat into the non table and chair end of Lapwing Lane’s shops. 
I was going to make light of this and the sad closure of Salon M20, once the fish foot nibbling centre of the village. It leaves three empty shops in a row and we are screaming for a firework shop and a few pop ups. (Although Waitrose would work).
I was. But it’s 2.30am and I’ve been awake for a long time worrying. The Oemeprozole and Camomile didn’t work. I’ve segued seamlessly between the usual triumvate of work, money, health. Trudged through the ever-depressing Brexit fallout, Theresa Thatcher (or is it Maggie May) and the general air of nastiness around. I’ve navel-gazed so deeply I thought I heard an echo. 
I used to lie awake worrying about football, girls and whether I could find girls who like football.
During the recession before last a friend of mine came up with a board game based on the idea of building your own bubble. The idea dissolved into a vodka in The Old Grey Horse but the intention works. 
I am now squeezed into a child’s bed with the mighty headed boy inching me over the edge. I’m breathing in his innocence and general joy at being alive. His hand is on my chest and he’s snorting gently and rhythmically down my ear, reminding me that this is my bubble and no one gets in here unless I let them. Family

A Quick Didsbury Recap

 Something old, new, almost festive and blue.To some it is a wasteland of their dreams – a Nido. The tumbleweed that passes for jewellery in the shell of Victoria Highfield, the cruise that never sailed from the ludicrously short-lived Gold Beach Holidays and the third “refit” this year at the pointless Global News (how many times can you move a sweet rack?)

 The lack of Citron Pressé in Didsbury is very worrying. 
To some a mausoleum. Cafe Rouge’s colours still make us yearn for its return to M20 and if it’s late morning I just assume Carringtons hasn’t opened yet – rather than moved to World of Hipster Beard ( Chorlton). 

But Didsbury is a land of opportunity. Not just for the people employed on the least user-friendly, most car driver enraging cycle lane ever thought up, but in retail through our still burgeoning love of food and drink. 

  Picture from chrispirillo.com depicting the strategy meeting for Didsbury’s new cycle lane. Heads of Strategy and Planning arrange share their vision
Bosu Body Bar looks nearly ready. Situated in the same environment as Karma Sutra and two down from MudCrab it gives an exotic feel to the village centre. I have no idea if I’m going to be going for a Quinoa Scrub or a Goji Berry wrap, but I’m excited.

Burton Road continues to morph into the most interesting urban walk in the North. The George Charles is strangely alluring, the Independent gift shops make the recession seem a myth and the Canadian Charcoal Pit , now 40 years old stands proud amidst beardy 20 somethings, Chocolatiers and the world on a plate that is West Didsbury.With all this, a £7 wet shave still the best at Blade on School Lane and Stretford hosting its own burgeoning bar culture, these are heady days in South Manchester. I’ve not even started on the expanding number of Dog Grooming Parlours or the Home, the cafe in Emmanuel Church. You 

On Small Business Saturday The Giddy Goat stood on its hind legs and bleated it’s siren call. If they have any Hey Duggee merchandise it’s coming back to ours. But all this gusto makes choosing the best places to eat, drink and be merry a difficult top ten to compile.

  

   

I’ll save it for next time. 

 

2015, More of the Same from Didsbury Dad

Apologies for being blogless. It’s a terrible thing when work and life get in the way of you writing reams of blah from the single in the nursery that the Mighty Headed Boy now calls “Our Bed” after a Christmas holiday spent edging me out of it.

Normal service will return in about a week but in the week when the retirement sale sign at Wilkinsons brought a lump to the throat. In the week when Emmanuel’s prayer group requested a Waitrose where Cafe Rouge once was. In a week when Gentry Grooming’s management buyout brought independence in the village whilst one of West Didsbury’s last remaining non-bohemian stores, Loft announced it was closing…

Five things I learned:
1. Watching toddler twins in the morning is akin to refereeing a corner in the Premier League. Finding out who began the pulling, dummy stealing and Peppa Pig invocation is impossible.

2. At 39 and 12 months + a few more 12s you can party or parent. Both leaves you looking like Stig (of the dump not Top Gear).

3. You can learn the words to every Frozen song through Osmosis.

4. Life is good. When the news on TV becomes almost too difficult to watch, having someone next to you whose world is complete with a soft toy and a cuddle is a real gift.

5. Four is enough for now.

Happy New Year

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Wilkinsons – who will fix our objects now?

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Peppa Pig glasses: I am praying they have better vision than me

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If you don’t know who this is, I salute you

The Twelve Days of Didsbury Dad Christmas

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 hours sleep,
11. Peppa Pig toys
10. Zantac calming
9. Mince Pies mincing
8. Pets a puking
7. Sky Sports Channels
6. Hours driving in a car with screaming toddlers and bored teen
5 nappies honking
4. French patisseries
3. Minutes’ peace and quiet
2. Twins a bouncing
And a life based in Didsbury…..

Your Didsbury Top 12 (almost) free to do tips:
1. Walk along the side of the metro line boring your children senseless with “all this used to be fields.” Chat.

2. Bring a picnic and take the Metro tour of Manchester to Bury Market where you remember you’ve left your wallet at home and have to come back.

3. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas/Chanucah/Solstice/(insert own) and take them to one of our great churches, synagogues, mosques, cult bases. There is usually singing, getting up and down and catering afterwards.

4. Fletcher Moss – brilliant. (Especially with an Alpine Cafe stop)

5. The little park next to Fletcher Moss, great for the under 5’s and handy for The Didsbury, Ye Olde Cocke and Dimitri’s.

6. Play hide and seek on the old Manchester Poly site – hours of endless fun.

7. Take the Saturday morning samples trail from The Cheese Hamlet down to West Didsbury and back up to Parrs Wood.

8. Didsbury Library has a fantastic children’s section, a toilet AND you aren’t meant to eat in there; genius.

9. Gym offers. Lavid Ddoyd are currently offering 12 days for 12 pounds so long as you understand it’s also £12 for a coffee and £12 for a kid’s snack as well.

10. Visit friends and relatives. It is important to rotate.

11. Didsbury, Cavendish, Fog Lane – play, remember which one has swings, which one has a BMX track and ducks and which one has a bespoke Chocolatier next door.

12. Play the old Didsbury Gsme. “Uh Oh, Where’s Nido? What was Cibo?”

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The Snowman, slowly replacing Frozen as the thrice a day treat.

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Mighty head, busy hands

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

Is it Spring Forward, Fall Back or Fall forward, spring back?

This is it. The final, official, scratching the bottom of the pan, stretching it as far as it will go, hope over reality, these jeans still fit honestly, end of summer 2014. Later this week the clocks go back or is it forward? Spring forward, fall back or the other way around? Either way, it gets dark at lunchtime and the sun only comes up Wednesday half-day closing.
This is TV on the couch, jumpers, endless talk of “incubating something” weather. Time to be pressured into creating a perfect Christmas that encompasses the beauty of innocence and the financial clout I have only occasionally achieved in Monopoly.
As my children continue to defy my indifferent parenting skills to be lovely, I look around me and know that before its time to gather at the Cenotaph next month and look at the empty terrace where Cafe Rouge once ruled, The squish of leaves underfoot and the fear of gas bill in my inbox will take hold. There is only one thing to do – plan your treats.

1. For a little male grooming, the wetshave at Blade on School Lane takes some beating, although the military-trained deep massage at G4 Physio I once had was so deep my hamstrings are still undercover.

2. For your take-out morning commute there is now real choice. The coffee and pastries at Bisou Bisou are so good they can’t possibly be every day occurrences. In the village The AiryFairyCupCakeBoutique still know how to dress a sponge for the City Centre tram, whilst West Didsbury has Fusion Deli, consistently great coffee with a welcome to kickstart the day. My jar of Nescafe is now three years old and a sad, unloved, never-to-be-used clump.

3. Notworking: should you be meeting “colleagues” or “freelancing from home” there are many warm welcomes once the decent TV finishes. Café Nero is so child-friendly I can’t go through the door without a Rugrat, but if the free top-ups ’til 11 hold then a Chalk Bar & Grill Flat White can keep itself in adult company. Healthy Spirit (I just had to ask Didsbury Wife what Nature’s Grace is called now) is sooo nice, so boho, so right-on its virtually Chorlton. Art of Tea blends indifferent service into an art and Albert’s is the place for a posh meeting. I go there and pretend its 1989 all over again – well if it’s good enough for the decor its good enough for me.

4. Lunch: The Japan Deli in Withington, opposite The Red Lion. How it survives is a mystery, but the Sushi is stunning and there is never a queue. I find it difficult to take anywhere seriously for lunch that promotes a Scotch Egg as haute cuisine – but sitting alone in The Jade Garden for their business lunch, playing “Name that Tune” is an experience sidestepped by too many.

5. The newbies. Bourbon & Black looks exciting; Croma has queues not seen since the last Gregg’s pastie sale. Solita seems lively and we await news of Sweaty Betty’s. Wine & Wallop looks a goer and Burton Road bulges with indie pride.

These possibilities keep me focused on a 7am park trip with the boddlers; but there is one place where I am beyond the smash of a dropped babychino, the demand for wi-Fi and Hot Chocolate or the call to prayer at John Lewis. It has no windows, no atmosphere and the service is average – but in the cafe at the gym my phone has no signal. There’s a couch where I can slouch and drift off… perfect for a winter’s morning.

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The sushi at Japan Deli is the nearest Didsbury Son is getting to a fish tank this Christmas.

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If you close your eyes it’s like Cibo never existed.

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Looking forward to those beautiful November mornings.

Go West: Didsbury’s Autumn Flavours

One day soon Wine & Wallop will join the great and good of bars, coffee shops and hairdressers in Didsbury. (about 2 weeks by the looks of it). It stands proud in the beautifully refurbished Lapwing Lane Arcade where my Didsbury Grandfather took me for sweets when bubble gums cost 1/2p and we only got an orange for Christmas – because we are Jewish and didn’t celebrate it. Soon only Sterling Pharmacy will stand in the row without a coffee machine. The Post Office is being refurbished and my money is on it re-opening as Stamps Post and Coffee Stop.
On the off chance of there being a glut of free nannies hanging about looking for work experience I walked past Lapwing Lane to Job Centre Plus.Didsbury has vacancies for *106 hairdresser/barbers, 29 baristas and 21 Pram and Buggy Mechanics. It’s either that, teacher, something Mediaish or writer round here.
So , to the important bit. To be Mediaish or a “writer”; for important daytime meetings or somewhere to sit looking creative you need good coffee shops and hangouts between haircuts.
Fusion's Pic 'n' Mix is even better than the old Woolworths

Fusion’s Pic ‘n’ Mix is even better than the old Woolworths

West Didsbury is superb, but no one opens before 10 so there is no early morning pram escape beyond my favourite coffee from Pete and Tom at Fusion Deli. This is a community must with great drinks, the warmest of welcomes and genuinely interesting snacks. It’s my buggy-pushing pit-stop. Once it gets past the post-school run mummies meet, Burton Road wakes up. It is awash with signature indies selling different personalities and meet ‘n ‘ greet Opps.
The brow and top deck of Thyme Out Delicatessen - the best burgers in the North

The brow and top deck of Thyme Out Delicatessen – the best burgers in the North

My favourites are And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon, Piccolinos for a little Italian chic and Folk to remind me of the boheme I thought I once was, but to which I no longer aspire. Thyme Out Deli may look like a ferry deck from the outside, but inside it bristles with great food.

There may not be the Wi-Fi Opps of the village’s slick chic coffee shops, but there is charm and originality, the chance to be at the heart of a happening by and a throwback to those heady days when poor service , delivered with a dose of superiority was considered de rigeur.
* Source: “Made-Up Facts 2014” accessed 4/9/14
burton road

WestFest’s Bob The Builder theme brought some superb public art to West Didsbury

Notting Hill 0 West Didsbury 3

In an earlier pre-Didsbury Dad incarnation I spent a couple of months based around Notting Hill working with a director so tragically fashionable that if he put his pants on inside out he would quote “The Face” as his justification and compare it to a petting zoo in which he had filmed the world’s coolest llama. Even then this aching need to be hip struck me as being similar to the crowd scene in “Life of Brian”.

Brian cries “You’re all different” and as one they respond “Yes – we’re all different” before the “I’m not” punch line”. This is all a tortuously long way of explaining that when I hear of some of some suburban outpost being feted as the ” New Notting Hill” I think of a street full of pointless, daddy’s boys and girls with more money than taste, more drugs than Boots and more reasons to bypass it.
Until Saturday Night in West Didsbury when the early autumn warmth bathed Burton Road in an atmosphere that Notting Hill would maim for (killing is SO last year). This felt to me to be the feeling Notting Hill hopes to convey; independent, fashionable, creative and louche with an urban edge.
Me, Didsbury Wife and a pram full of Baby Gap, George and Sudocrem decided to stroll down to West Didsbury for a change of scene and a little al fresco dining. What we found was  a lively, unpretentious and stylish stroll that stretches from beyond the Metrolink to the gates of Withington Community Hospital ( I recommend their coffee and artwork). Even the Burton Road pound shop has a good window display and to join in the vibe – The Canadian Charcoal Pit had chained two school chairs to the front door. I offered Didsbury Wife the opportunity of extra toppings on her Prairie Dog if we could decamp there but no …
Past the Morcilla toting Pinchjo’s, the magnificent chaos of Folk and magnificent ethos of Cachumba we looked longingly at the unchild-friendly Saturday night ambience of The Violet Hour and Mary & Archie’s. This was Notting Hill without the downside of Trustafarians and eye-popping prices for small portions.
Burton Road is in bloom and with all this beautiful choice we somehow ended up squeezed in a corner of a rush-hour Metro  packed Great Kathmandu where the hour and five minutes we waited for food allowed the babies to sleep through boredom and us to stare into each others’ eyes, whisper sweet nothings and moan about how tired we were.
Thank you West Didsbury.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQqq3e03EBQ  LIFE OF BRIAN, YOU’RE AL INDIVDUALS

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