Category Archives: Didsbury

Win a Shivering Shaun the Sheep toy RRP £14.99

Shaun the Sheep is a bit of a legend. My small boy won’t go to bed without clinging bodily to his Shaun the Sheep hottie and he loves Shaun in all forms. My local independent toy shop, Giddy Goat Toys in South Manchester have given me an adorable shivering Shaun the Sheep toy worth £14.99 to give away to one lucky blog reader.

Shaun the Sheep

Giddy Goat Toys is a brilliant, traditional, independent toy shop in South Manchester. I do most of my toy shopping there, mainly because it’s my local toy shop and their selection of traditional toys, games and craft items is fantastic. I also shop there because I believe in supporting local, small businesses, so shopping there makes me happy. They have a lovely online store and their Didsbury shop is open 7 days a week!

win a shivering Shaun the Sheep toy

If you’d like to win a shivering Shaun the Sheep toy, just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below, don’t forget to read the terms and conditions too. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will receive a Shivering Shaun the Sheep toy.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 5th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 28 days or a new winner will be chosen.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Well-Being: Experiencing an AromaTouch Massage

Earlier this year my local holistic health centre, Healthyspirit in South Manchester added a new massage treatment to their already impressive list – AromaTouch. I was keen to find out more, and when a friend tried it and recommended it I knew I had to get myself booked in.

The massage sounded blissful, “a light relaxing massage technique of applying therapeutic grade essential oils to produce a profound whole-body experience. The many benefits of this massage include stress management, immune support, and support of your body’s autonomic balance. AromaTouch enhances essential oils activity and stimulates known body meridians and energy zones, while balancing body systems and function.”

I was shown up to the Crystal Room, a cosy and comfortable therapy room at Healthyspirit. The therapist, Helen Scott sat down and talked me through the treatment and asked me some questions about my physical and emotional health. I explained about my spinal injury and Helen reassured me that it was very gentle and the massage wouldn’t hurt me. We talked about how I was feeling at the moment and the reasons why I was feeling stressed and under pressure. Helen then left the room while I got ready for the massage and made myself comfortable on the massage table.


As Helen would be touching my back, ears and feet, I lay on my front covered in a warm towel. I had taken my jewellery, clothes and socks off, but she let me keep my leggings on as I was comfortable wearing them.

Helen began by getting me to breathe deeply several times to relax me, and as soothing music played in the background she gently and rhythmically massaged a series of essential oils into my back. Her hands felt like warm waves moving from my spine to my side, very gentle, but with each application of oil I could feel some of my stresses being stroked out of me. 

Several different essential oils were used on me in a specific sequence, after each one was applied Helen would massage the oils into my back in that same wave like motion. It was blissful and I was incredibly comfortable, almost dosing off at one point. 

Helen then moved onto my feet, applying peppermint and orange essential oils to them, she massaged them using a gentle rhythmic motion and I felt incredibly relaxed, I didn’t want it to stop. I have eczema on my feet which wasn’t a problem and Helen double checked if I was happy for essential oils to be applied before she started, which I was.

The AromaTouch massage was incredible. Afterwards I felt a bit woozy so I sat for a while and sipped some water. I often feel this way after a particularly relaxing treatment. Helen suggested I have a bath the following day so that the oils could stay on my skin for as long as possible, so I went home and snuggled under a blanket for a few hours whilst I enjoyed feeling blissfully relaxed. 

The AromaTouch massage is currently £35 for an hour long massage. It’s very gentle and soothing, but I’ve rarely felt so deeply relaxed. The effects lasted for quite a few days and it was gentle enough that my rickety spine felt no ill effects afterwards. AromaTouch is so pampering and blissful, if you need some time out from life for an hour, a serious stress release or a pamper I can very much recommend this treatment.

The AromaTouch massage is available from Healthyspirit in South Manchester. For more information and to book, visit their website.

My Sunday Photo 18.10.15

Calender House Didsbury

This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Didsbury in Manchester. It’s a bit of a hidden gem. Do any local people know where this is?

Answer: It’s Calender House Didsbury

Born Survivor 2015 – How Team Didsbury Triumphed

This morning my little family went on an adventure. At 8.30am we clambered bleary-eyed and slightly grumpily into the car and set off for Capesthorne Hall about a half hour drive away from home. My husband, generally a stranger to exercise, had joined a team of friends to take part in Born Survivor, a 10k, 30 military obstacle course. It was all for a good cause and having hit 40 this year he was up for a challenge.

Way back in the spring, a brave group of 29 men and women signed up for Born Survivor. When Matt (hubs) signed up it seemed an age away, he started training but quickly managed to knacker his knees and a physio told him to take it easy, so he did. His preparation for this military style beasting was a few visits to the gym and losing a stone on the 5:2 diet. But was it enough?

Born Survivor

The brave 29 were doing Born Survivor in memory of Lizzie Lowe and to raise money for the Didsbury Youth Cafe at St James & Emmanuel. It’s a great cause, it’s a lovely safe place for school kids to hang out on a Friday night and gets around 60 local kids in every week. 

The team were a range of ages and fitness levels, but all were well up for it, determined and smiling. They were ready for mud, sweat and tears. They had a plan and were sure no one would be left behind. 

Born Survivor

I managed to catch up with them at some of the obstacles, I was incredibly proud to count these people as my friends as they leapt over barriers, climbed sheer walls, dove into deep muddy pits, crawled under barbed wire and smiled through every minute.

Born Survivor

There was fantastic teamwork going on from start to finish, with everyone helping each other and each playing their part. The large group did naturally split into three smaller groups, with about 15 minutes between them. Matt was in the middle group and did remarkably well for a bloke who’d done comparatively little training and wasn’t very well prepared. 

And they all said they’d do it again next year!

Born Survivor


Visiting the Didsbury Bug Hotel

One of my favourite places to go for one of my regular walks is Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens in Didsbury, not least because I can pop into the cafe for a pot of tea and a big wedge of cake while I’m out. This week whilst I was walking through the park I spied this, the Didsbury Bug Hotel. 

The sign reads…

Find twigs, pine cones, leaves or bark around the park and add it to our bug hotel to look after all our mini beasts!

Didsbury Bug Hotel

I thought this was a fantastic idea to encourage kids and families to do a little bit for nature and to learn more about the insects we have in the UK. 

Apparently the average garden is home to over 2,000 different species of insects, some of these bugs are essential for helping to control the pests which eat our flowers, fruit and vegetables, some like bumblebees pollinate our plants who are in decline, so by building the Didsbury Bug Hotel we can contribute to their conservation.

I was incredibly excited to see the hotel pop up and I couldn’t wait to take the small boy out to see it at the weekend. Sadly by the time weekend had come around and we’d got to the park, the Didsbury Bug Hotel was gone. Vandals (for want of a better word) had burnt it down and I felt incredibly angry about that.

At home in our own garden I’m trying to create a space which encourages wildlife to thrive. Planting flowers which bees and butterflies love and we’ve got some bird feeders up for the local bird life. I think we’ll have to create out own little Didsbury Bug Hotel, it might not be as big as the one in Fletcher Moss, but it’s a small thing that we can do together to help our local insect population.

Small Business Saturday 2014 – What’s On in Didsbury

This years Small Business Saturday falls on 6th December 2014. It’s a day to celebrate our local small businesses, online shops and independent stars of the high street. Living and working in Didsbury, I know just how lucky I am to have so many fantastic local independent shops within a few minutes of my house.

Didsbury is an amazing place, it always has been and for that to continue, we need to support and celebrate local business. So this Saturday, just a few short shopping weeks from Christmas, I urge you to show your local high street some love.

small business saturday

In Didsbury, a small, adorable suburb of Manchester, there seems to be plenty going on for Small Business Saturday 2014. I’ve picked a few highlights for your shopping pleasure…

Giddy Goat Toys (Albert Hill Street) – Free Christmas wrapping and the usual friendly and helpful service.

Airyfairy Cake Boutique (School Lane) – 15% off all shop stock, eat in or take out.

Wheildons Butchers (Queensway) – 10% off meat, fruit, vegetables & groceries when you spend over £10.

Warburton Street – Join Harriet & Dee, Ashley Brown, Morten’s Bookshop etc for a festive street party – with live music, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and festive fun. Definitely worth swinging by.

Taste of Honey (Burton Road, West Didsbury) – Christmas cheese and chutney tasting.

Didsbury Physio (Warburton Street) – Mince pies for all clinic visitors on Small Business Saturday.

Carrington’s (Wilmslow Road) – Samples of Russian vodkas to try and maybe buy.

Maclure Barbers (School Lane) – A “winter spice” scalp cleanse with every haircut.

Beaver Road School – It’s their School Fair, so why not swing by and sit on Santa’s knee; there will also be games, food, choirs, bands and about 700 excited children!

As well as all that, Didsbury Traders have launched a Children’s Christmas Trail. Local children are encouraged to go with their parents around local, independent businesses to collect stickers and ultimately win a prize. Participating shops include Sew-In, Harriet & Dee, HealthySpirit, A Sweet Thought, FreshSave, Nest, Morten’s Bookshop, Airyfairy Cake Boutique, Refresh Bakery and Giddy Goat Toys. Pick up a leaflet from participating shops.

small business saturday

Small Business Saturday will also see the launch of new 2015  TAG Cards which can get you discounts and offers in a range of businesses in South Manchester.

There’s lots going on in your local shops and businesses this Christmas, and all year round too. Local independents tend to go the extra mile to make shopping with them an interesting, personal experience. So show your local shops a bit of love and help support your community this Small Business Saturday.

It’s a bread thing…

Bread is a staple part of our diets. All cultures have a form of bread they eat daily, they’re usually simple and easy to produce in the home kitchen. In the UK we’ve been buying and eating sliced bread for decades and whilst sliced bread is cheap and convenient, it’s often not that great. For us as a family we eat supermarket sliced bread during the week and treat ourselves to some nice bakery bread at the weekends, or sometimes we might even bake our own.

Last week I went to Refresh Cafe in Didsbury and met Linda from It’s a Bread Thing. I wanted to try her bread and hear more about her work with local schools.

Linda has been baking bread all her life and over the last year or so has turned it into a business. She’s passionate about baking and now supplies Refresh with freshly baked bread on Fridays and Saturdays. They sell it over their deli counter and use it in some of their dishes.

it's a bread thing

While we were in Refresh they made us a plate of their “Posh Cheese on Toast” which was nothing short of excellent. It’s one of their weekend specials and they use Linda’s chilli sourdough bread (it packs a nice kick), which they variously top with chutney, rocket, pickled onions and a variety of cheeses. It is by far the best cheese on toast I’ve ever eaten, such a simple dish, so often done either badly or boringly.

While we munched our way joyfully through our brunch, Linda told me all about her work with local schools. She’s set up a “Bread Club” where children come and learn to make bread and learn about the baking process, cookery isn’t taught extensively in schools anymore and the pupils are really interested in getting stuck in. Baking is also excellent for encouraging their maths and science skills as well as developing their confidence in the kitchen.

Linda is keen to go into more schools and youth groups to pass on her skills, her enthusiasm for teaching future generations is obvious and infectious. Not only is baking an enjoyable, practical skill to have, it’s also very therapeutic.

I tried Linda’s basic white and some of her flavoured sourdough loaves. I loved the basic white, it was an excellent all rounder and I used it in about five different ways when I got it home (sandwiches, toast, cheese on toast, croutons and stale breadcrumbs), it was delicious.

We also tried the linseed and pumpkin seed sourdough loaf. I love sourdough and it’s a really popular bread to bake at home. Linda is clearly in love with sourdough too and enjoys experimenting with different flavours. With the seeds in this linseed and pumpkin seed sourdough it does make you feel pretty healthy when you’re eating it. It’s a lovely loaf and would be lovely thinly sliced, toasted and served with pate, we had it so many different ways.

The great thing about home baked bread like Linda’s is it doesn’t go mouldy and it lasts a good few days (if it doesn’t get scoffed first), if it does go stale then there are loads of recipes for using up stale bread, like panzanella. We like to use it as croutons or whizz it up into breadcrumbs and freeze it for a rainy day.

I’m a local girl and a firm and enthusiastic supporter of shop local. I like to spend my money supporting local businesses who in turn support other local businesses and employ local people, like the way Refresh source their bread from Linda. I like that. I like that knowing the food I am eating is really good quality, made with love and is helping to support local businesses and local families and if it tastes as good as Linda’s bread, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Linda’s It’s a Bread Thing loaves are available to buy from Refresh Cafe in Didsbury, South Manchester every Friday and Saturday, you can also order bread directly from Linda or Refresh Cafe.

Didsbury in Bloom 2014

Didsbury is a fine old part of the world. It’s often referred to in somewhat sneering tones as “leafy Didsbury” because, well, it’s a particularly leafy suburb of Manchester. Today the RHS Britain in Bloom judges came and inspected the little village where I’ve spent my entire life.

Last year the judges were very pleased with the efforts of our local team of dedicated green-fingered volunteers, so much so Didsbury won gold. As far as I’m aware the judges look around the village at the planters and displays, taking in the Jubilee Gardens on the corner near Cafe Nero and then make their way down the road where we live, because (and I say this without a hint of smugness, honest) it’s a very pretty road, it has a small green at the top, it overlooks fields and leads down to the river. It’s very nearly countryside, nearly.

Today the sun shone. The road had been swept. Plants watered and deadheaded, it looked beautiful, so out came my camera to capture the moment. So for your floral pleasure may I present Didsbury in Bloom 2014: Ford lane.

Didsbury in Bloom

This year celebrates 50 years of the RHS Britain in Bloom competition, hence the rather stunning display on the green.

Didsbury in Bloom

Didsbury in Bloom

Didsbury in Bloom

As a resident, I’d like to thank all the volunteers who work so hard to make Didsbury beautiful year round, but especially for occasions like this. Fingers crossed we do well again this year!

Didsbury Bake Off

It’s been a funny old day. One minute I’m perusing stalls at the Didsbury Craft Fair, the next I’m being roped into helping to judge the Didsbury Bake Off competition. Nice work if you can get it I’m sure.

I ambled into the judging tent to say hello and lend moral support to local cake-eating expert and foodie blogger Liz. I then ended up joining her and fellow judges – local chef and food hero Robert Owen Brown; Emma Caine from Heatons Cakes; actress Tina O’Brien and local businesswoman, telly star and local gad-about Sian Astley.

There were over 40 entries in total across the various categories and we tried everything from jam and chutney, brownies, biscuits and buns to epic and beautiful show-stoppers. Here are some pictures to give you a flavour of the day.


General cakery. The rose cupcakes (pink) and the parma violet cupcakes were something else!

three tier cake

This was the show-stopping winner of the 12-17 year old category.


This was my favourite entry – a 7 year old made the most amazing chocolate cake and decorated it really, really beautifully.

If you fancy having a go and entering a local bake-off yourself then follow Heatons Cakes on Facebook and keep your eyes peeled, they’re organising one as part of The Heatons Summer Festival on Sunday 22nd June 2014.

Well done Didsbury Bakers!

A New School for Didsbury

A little while ago I blogged my support for the bid to create a new free School in Didsbury. I know free schools have had a mixed reception, but there is some evidence that run well free schools can be an excellent asset to the community.

I have high hopes for Didsbury CE Free School, for a start it’ll be run by the team who run the massively successful and horribly oversubscribed Didsbury CofE (also known locally as Elm Grove).

In 2013 Didsbury CofE had 180 applications for just 30 places in their reception class. What we do know about the new school is that it will be two-form entry which will massively alleviate pressure on all the schools in Didsbury.

Didsbury CofE has been a part of Didsbury for 400 years and generations of my family attended the school, some of their names are on a memorial plaque dedicated to former pupils who died in WW1. It is an integral part of the community and a place that means a lot to me.

Not everyone wants their child to go to a church school, but some do, in fact there are quite a lot of us who do want our children to go to a church school and that’s our choice. It’s not that they’ll get the bible rammed down their throats, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s going to happen. What I am pretty sure about is that my son, should he be lucky enough to go to our local CofE school, will be taught to be polite, considerate and mindful of the world around him. Yes of course he gets that at home, but to me manners and respect are everything.

As for religion and religious education, they state that the school is open to, and welcomes children and families of all faiths and none, with their intake reflecting the religious and cultural demographic of the surrounding area. Which is as it should be.

I’m excited about the new school, I’m excited about the possibilities it’ll bring to Didsbury and the difference it will make within the community. It’s just exciting.

Apparently the bid for the school received the most amount of positive support for a new free school in the country, they don’t know where it’ll be located yet, the Department for Education will decide that, but it will be in Didsbury and it will be for me at least, an exciting and positive step forward for families like mine.

The school will open in September 2015.

You can find out more about the school and its ethos on their website and by following the Free School on Facebook and Twitter for updates and further information.