Tag Archives: Didsbury

Win a Stargazer Lottie Doll worth £21.99

This month I’ve teamed up with Giddy Goat Toys in Didsbury, Manchester to give away a wonderful Stargazer Lottie Doll worth £21.99 to one lucky winner.

Lottie Dolls were launched in 2012 and are relatable dolls aimed at children aged 3+. Lottie does all the activities that real children do and she has been incredibly popular since her launch five years ago.Win a Stargazer Lottie Doll worth £21.99

The Stargazer Lottie Doll has won several awards and most notably was the first doll in space! She joined British ESA Astronaut, Tim Peake on the Principia mission to the international space station which launched on 15th December 2015.

The idea for Stargazer Lottie came from Abigail, a six year old girl from Canada. Abigail has a real passion for space, so her mum contacted the makers of Lottie and suggested they made an astronomy-themed Lottie doll.

This Special Edition ‘Gold Collection’ ‘Stargazer’ Lottie doll is a collaboration with the European Space Agency and includes a telescope and tripod, a set of solar system collector cards and a fact sheet filled with information about notable women in astronomy.

Giddy Goat Toys stocks a wide selection of Lottie Dolls and Lottie accessories. I am pleased to be able to offer my blog readers 15% off Lottie Dolls and accessories purchased online from Giddy Goat Toys until 31st August 2017 using the discount code HPLottie.

Win a Stargazer Lottie Doll worth £21.99

To be in with a chance to win a Stargazer Lottie Doll worth £21.99, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 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 Stargazer Lottie Doll worth £21.99.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 31st May 2017.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, 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 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.

Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas

On 15th December a little 8 week old Sprocker puppy joined our family. Everyone who has met her has fallen for her fluffy puppiness, deep dark eyes and adorable snuggles. Make no mistake, she is a menace, an adorable menace. But she is not and never was intended to be a Christmas present for anyone. She is a much wanted and longed for, four legged member of our family and our dog is for life.

Back in October, fresh from our holiday to Majorca, my husband suggested we get a puppy. This was not an out of the blue suggestion, it was the result of two years of heavy hinting, blatant begging and sad “we want a doggy” eyes from both the small boy and myself.

In the summer of 2014 my best doggy mate Sam(antha) kept collapsing and was eventually put down. She’d been a fantastic companion for me and saying goodbye was an incredibly hard decision, but the right one. She was a boxer staffy cross, loyal to the last but probably not the kind of dog who’d do well on Canine University Challenge. We’d been dog-less ever since and the house needed a hound to make it feel like a home.

At the age of six, we felt the small boy was now old enough to shoulder some of the burden of pet ownership. I work from home and could do with an excuse to switch the laptop off and get some fresh air, so a dog seemed like a bit of a no-brainer to us all. 

Once hubs had acquiesced and given us the nod, the search began in earnest. I wanted a smaller dog than I’d had before, my family had always had boxers or boxer crosses  and I wanted a dog which wasn’t quite as strong. I wanted a dog that was bright and would enjoy being trained and I wanted a dog who would be a great family pet. 

Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas

We looked at a few different breeds. Hubs said no to a few which he thought were too small or hard to find, but eventually we settled on a Sprocker – a cocker spaniel, springer spaniel cross. If a Sprocker puppy had been available in October we would have snapped her up, but the only one we could find was an hour away in Stoke and wouldn’t be available until the week before Christmas. This was not the worst news as it gave us 6 weeks to prepare the house for a puppy and buy the things we’d need. But it did mean she’d arrive the week before Christmas.

She is emphatically not a Christmas present or a Christmas pup. If anything I would suggest that Christmas with all its household upheaval, strange indoor trees, rich food and too much coming and going is the worst time to bring a puppy into your home. They’re lovely and I wouldn’t swap her, but I’m very much looking forward to her being toilet trained and not wanting to eat the Christmas tree lights every five minutes.

Meet Penny, our adorable menace. Our dog is for life, not at all for Christmas.

Our dog is for life, not just for Christmas

Giving back this Christmas – Our Reverse Advent Box

This December we have been taking part in Reverse Advent and it’s been a wonderfully heartwarming family task. If you’ve not heard of Reverse Advent before, it’s where you take a box and each day you add something to it with the intention of giving the box away to someone in need.

I chose to donate our box to our local foodbank – Chorlton and Didsbury Foodbank. The foodbank opened in 2014 and last year gave over 1000 people and families three-day emergency food supplies. 

Although we’ve never been at the point where we’ve needed to get a referral to a foodbank, there have been times when the cupboards have been bare and I’ve not had the money to buy food. There have been times where I’ve skipped meals to make sure the boys get food in their belly and I’ve wondered how I’ll feed them their next meal. As frugal as I am, sometimes the money just doesn’t always stretch as far as I’d like. 

In late November the Co-op sent me a big blue box and some ideas for my Reverse Advent. Every time I popped to the shops I’d put a few extra tins, jars, or packets of dried food in my basket and when I got home I put them in my box.

Giving back this Christmas - Our Reverse Advent box

I knew my local foodbank would appreciate the box of food supplies before Christmas, so I did cheat a little and over the weekend I filled my box, packed it up and it’s ready to be delivered to the foodbank.

As a blogger we get sent a lot of things over the year, some of which we use, some of which we give away to friends and family. I’d saved a big bag of children’s books and lots of craft kits (the kind where everything you need is included, so you don’t need extra glue or paint, or things people may not have). So I’ve donated those to the foodbank too. They’ll be given to the children attending their Christmas party and I can’t think of a better home for them.

Putting the Reverse Advent box has been really easy. Buying a couple of items each time I popped to the shops was a doddle and didn’t make a huge dent in our budget. When you first get your box it can be hard to think of what you could fill it with. So I’ve put together a suggested shopping list (below) if you need some ideas to get you started…

Giving back this Christmas - Our Reverse Advent box

The Reverse Advent box is definitely something our family will be embracing as a family tradition. We know how fortunate we are to have food in the cupboards and a warm house to live in. It’s only right that we give a bit of what we can, when we can.

For more information about the Reverse Advent campaign with The Co-op read their blog. To find your nearest foodbank and to find out more about their work, or how to access their services, visit the Trussell Trust website.

Merry Christmas xx

Now We Are Six: We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

Over the weekend the small boy (who is not so small these days) turned six. This year his birthday fell on a Saturday, so we decided to throw him a party on his actual birthday, and I’m so glad we did.

Over the years we’ve had a couple of Rhythm & Rhyme parties, a couple of soft play parties and a brilliant party on a Steam Train. We like to try and do things a bit differently if we can, so we defied his instructions and booked him a “We Are Adventurers Pirate Party”. This outdoor party in a forest school was a bit of a gamble for a boy with a November birthday, but it massively paid off.

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

For the uninitiated, We Are Adventurers is a forest school, they have them dotted about in various locations, but there’s one a few miles from our house. The basic premise is a birthday party (we had 20 kids) would spend a few hours with a couple of leaders in the woods, building a camp fire, going on a treasure hunt, running, screaming and chasing each other through the woods and then building a pirate ship out of sticks they collected from around the camp.

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

Parents didn’t have to be there, but a few stuck around and we all watched in awe as our kids had the time of their lives. It was brilliant. At the end of the party all the kids sat around the fire eating the picnic lunches I’d made for them, and they toasted marshmallows around the fire. There were lots of children being reluctantly dragged from the woods afterwards, and most of them were top to toe covered in mud, with the biggest smiles on their faces.

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

It was fantastic. Before we’d even got home, the not so small anymore boy was asking for the same kind of party again next year. I think that’s a birthday wish we can grant him!

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

We Are Adventurers have a number of different party options including Pirates & Princesses, Bear Hunt, Elves & Fairies, Robin Hood, Creepy Crawlies and Superhero Adventure. They also run holiday clubs and a range of other activities.

Prices for a We Are Adventurers party start from £12 per head and you can pay extra for picnic bags and goody bags (we did our own catering but they did the goody bags). For more information visit their website.

 

We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

We paid for our party in full and have not been compensated for this post. We just had the best time, so I thought I’d share how brilliant it was.

Review: Y Fabrica – Californian & Mexican Diner

Last week the stars aligned and a much needed good thing happened – I won lunch for two at Y Fabrica in Didsbury. Y Fabrica is where the Mud Crab Cafe used to be, it recently opened following a total rebrand and now specialises in serving a colourful menu of Californian and Mexican food. I decided to take my husband out for lunch, we don’t get much time without the small boy, so we were looking forward to eating a meal without having to make small talk about Paw Patrol in between courses.

I’d been checking out the menu at Y Fabrica since it opened. I confess my eye was caught by the very decent looking cocktail menu, lots of tequila based drinks and with several twists on the classics, I know I won’t be happy until I’ve worked my way through the lot. My first cocktail port of call was the Mai Thai Ting – a classic Mai Thai but served with Ting, like Lilt but better. Fruity, refreshing and the perfect foil for what was to come.

Y Fabrica

Y Fabrica has a big selection of “small plates” to choose from – like tapas but a bit bigger and heartier; as well as bigger plates such as burgers, lamb tagine and fried chicken (amongst others). As it was lunchtime we chose a selection of small plates to share. It’s very easy to have a simple light lunch here, or order more small plates (like we did) and have a greedy Friday treat of a lunch.

Y Fabrica

We ordered the adobo pork belly taco with apple slaw, pico de pina and salsa verde and the roasted poblano and sweet potato taco with pickled red onion, refried beans and crumbled feta cheese.

On the side we had a Mexican pizza filled with black beans, avocado and mozzarella, topped with a fried egg (carnivores can have chorizo instead); guacamole and tortilla chips, grilled corn on the cob with chipotle mayo and Parmesan; tempura of calamari with black aioli and a stack of chargrilled sweet potato fries.

Y Fabrica

If you want a light lunch, the tacos are a great place to start. Each serving of two tacos is piled high with fillings. My roasted poblano and sweet potato taco was deceptively hearty and bursting with freshness. The taco packed a little kick which was in part soothed by the cool creamy crumbled cheese on top. It was very well balanced. Husband who gave up smoking and took up pulled pork instead, wolfed his down with the demeanor of someone who hadn’t had a hot meal all week. 

The Mexican pizza was a large tortilla, folded and filled with refried beans and avocado. It looked as pretty as a picture with the sunshiny egg on the top. I thought it was delicious, I’d love it to have a big handful of coriander inside the pizza – but I’m a coriander addict and I suspect if I asked, they’d throw some in for me.

Y Fabrica

Deserving of special mentions were the chunky sweet potato fries – chargrilled for a smoky flavour and tossed in some delicious but secret seasoning, I reckon these might be the best sweet potato fries in Didsbury. The tempura of calamari with black aioli was also a bit special, the light and crispy tempura had finely sliced chilli and coriander flecked throughout, and the black aioli made with squid ink looked appealingly arresting on the plate. 

Y Fabrica

I was by this point (remember, this was a supposed to be a light lunch) feeling a little drunk on food, but we were determined to have desserts. Hubs went for the caramelised apple and cinnamon burrito served with cream cheese. His sweet burrito smelt deliciously autumnal, of apples and cinnamon. Once he devoured it, he grunted with the kind of approval he reserves only for good puds. 

I opted for the peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwich with caramel sauce. I’d seen photos on Twitter of this highlight of the dessert menu and it did look awesome. In real life it was much bigger than I was expecting. Two freshly baked peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, each around 4 inches in diameter, sandwiched with ice cream and caramel sauce. It was huge and I could only finish half, a fact which makes me feel disappointed in myself even now. If you like peanut butter, it is absolutely worth saving extra room for this ice cream sandwich, or sharing it with a peanut butter loving friend.

Y Fabrica

Replete, husband opted for a coffee and I had an espresso martini before we went our separate ways and back to work for the afternoon. We’d had an excellent, laid back lunch and some valuable quiet couple time together.

Our meal at Y Fabrica was really enjoyable. I’ve long felt that Didsbury really needed somewhere casual but grown up, a place where you can grab a taco or two and a frozen margarita (how I’ve longed for frozen margaritas in Didsbury).

The staff (shout out to the lovely Huw) were delightful, very helpful and keen to explain the new menu, recommending dishes along the way, and were attentive without being overbearing.

I’m pleased to see so many veggie options on the menu too. The food feels vibrant, fresh and healthy without being pious about it. I reckon I must have had about 800 of my 5 a day without even noticing.

It’s good to see the old Mud Crab Cafe getting a new lease of life as Y Fabrica, it’s even better that it’s round the corner from my house and has met my long hoped for wish of tacos and margaritas within walking distance. A good addition to Didsbury village, we’ll be back!

Y Fabrica is at 747 Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester. You can find Y Fabrica on Twitter.

We were invited guests of Y Fabrica (I’d won lunch for two). I was not asked to blog about my meal, but we enjoyed it so much I wanted to write about it and show off some of the nice pictures we took.

ParkLives Manchester: Body Conditioning in the park!

Yesterday I attended my second Walking Workout session at Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury, Manchester. I was expecting a very similar session to last week, but due to the awful storm the night before and the unusually heavy rain parts of the park were flooded or too churned up with mud to use. So instead of walking we had a body conditioning session, and I can really feel it this morning!

I arrived at the Visitor’s Centre and waited for the instructor and other participants to arrive. Despite the dramatic storm the previous night it was warm, really too warm and I knew I would be a puddle by the end of the session. The park was partly flooded and some of the paths were slippy and not ideal. We went into the Botanical Gardens and the instructor decided that instead of a cardio session that we would do some body conditioning instead. 

body conditioning

She handed round some resistance bands, and in an area shaded by a wisteria covered pergola we worked our whole bodies in a series of exercises. Some were tougher than others. We did a lot of quite intense leg work and I think every muscle in my legs is screaming at me today.

It was a tough workout and she offered suggestions for making the exercises easier or harder if need be, and encouraged us to drink lots of water and stay in the shade. It was hellish hot and I was in part glad to not be walking around in the hot sunshine.

Next week when the flood waters have receded I think the session be back to normal, part walking workout, part body conditioning. I did enjoy it and the soreness I’m feeling today is just reminding me what a lazy bones I’ve been this year. It feels good to be doing something again and I’m hoping I’ll start to see as well as feel a difference soon.

body conditioning

Not a bad view to have when you’re exercising!

ParkLives Manchester offers free and fun activity sessions across the city and is now in its second year in Manchester. There are a huge range of activities available, from multi-activity fun camps for families, walk to run sessions, buggy fit and more.

There are hundreds of activities listed on the ParkLives Manchester website and you can quickly and easily book yourself in for an activity session in advance. 

For more information on ParkLives Manchester, or to book and activity visit the website.

ParkLives Manchester: Walking Workout (Week 1)

Now the small boy has gone back to school I have a bit more time on my hands to do things for me. This week I’ve re-started the 5:2 diet, something I did last year which worked for me, but then I was poorly and never got back into it. Another thing I’m trying to do is take more exercise. I’m back swimming again, which makes me happy, and after I’d spotted the “Walking Workout” on the ParkLives website I decided to give that a go too.

The Walking Workout is a free hour long fitness session for the Over 50’s. The keen eyed amongst you will have spotted that I turned 40 on Monday, so I’m still a decade off 50. However, the class is for the Over 50’s, people new to exercise and people like me who have health problems (in my case I have chronic pain, a very bad back and funny numb legs and feet). 

The ParkLives website describes the Walking Workout as “An Instructor led Health Walk designed to improve cardiovascular fitness.”

walking workout

I booked my free place and waited by the Visitor’s Centre at Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury, Manchester for the instructor and other participants to arrive. We chatted about what the plan was for the next hour and then made a start.

We began by walking at a steady pace for five minutes, then we stopped to do some stretches and squats. Once we were warmed up we walked for a mile, alternately walking at a fast pace for one minute and a normal pace for 30 seconds. It was a very hot day and by the time we had finished our mile we had all worked up a sweat.

We walked at a moderate pace to the botanical gardens. The gardens have several sets of steep steps which we climbed three times, we then did some exercises to hone our balance and work our core muscles. It was all good, it was pretty hard work, though I’m sure the heat and humidity made it feel harder than it was.

I love walking, especially walking around Fletcher Moss Gardens which is a pretty special place anyway. Although we worked hard, I think exercising outside in a small group made it much more tolerable and interesting. Fresh air and exercise are always good for body and soul. 

walking workout

I did the Walking Workout yesterday and I definitely feel like I’ve had a workout. I’m not sore, but I can feel that some long forgotten muscles have been used, and for a few hours afterwards I was full of lovely post-exercise endorphins. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going again next week too!

ParkLives Manchester offers free and fun activity sessions across the city and is now in its second year in Manchester. There are a huge range of activities available, from multi-activity fun camps for families, walk to run sessions, buggy fit and more.

There are hundreds of activities listed on the ParkLives Manchester website and you can quickly and easily book yourself in for an activity session in advance. 

For more information on ParkLives Manchester, or to book and activity visit the website.

Pub Crawls: The Didsbury Dozen

In a few days time I will be 40 years old. I do not fear this milestone, in fact I’m quite looking forward to it for one particular reason. It’s a bloody good excuse to do the Didsbury Dozen again – a famous, or infamous pub crawl.

I’ve done the Didsbury Dozen once before – on my 30th birthday and I’m keen to prove I’ve still got what it takes (which I have, I totally have).

Ten years ago Didsbury was quite a different looking place, pubs and bars have come and gone, some remain and will always be here I hope. This was the order I did the Didsbury Dozen in ten years ago…

  1. The Didsbury
  2. Ye Olde Cock
  3. The Famous Crown
  4. The Royal Oak
  5. The Fletcher Moss
  6. The Pitcher & Piano
  7. The Dog & Partridge
  8. O’Neills
  9. Saints & Scholars
  10. Cafe Rouge
  11. Hog’s Head
  12. Slug & Lettuce

Ten years ago after I’d finished my final pint of the dozen I ended up returning to my favourite pub, The Fletcher Moss to have one last drink for the road. I wonder if I’ll feel like doing that this year?

These days things have changed and there are a couple of decent pubs in West Didsbury I enjoy a pint in, so because it’s my birthday I’ve decided to start proceedings in West Didsbury and then pub crawl towards home in Didsbury village. 

This year the course I’ve plotted looks like this…

  1. The Railway
  2. The Metropolitan
  3. The Greenfinch
  4. Slug & Lettuce
  5. The Station
  6. The Stokers Arms
  7. The Dog & Partridge
  8. The Milson Rhodes
  9. Fletcher Moss
  10. The Royal Oak
  11. The Famous Crown
  12. Bourbon & Black

If the weather is nice there will be some excellent beer gardening opportunities and I’m hoping some of my oldest, newest, bestest and nicest friends will join me along the way. I’m hoping it’ll be a good day to remember and a nice way to round off my 30’s and herald my 40’s.

To make the most of the Didsbury Dozen it’s really important to be disciplined with yourself and your pub crawl team mates. It’s easy to find a sunny spot in a beer garden and not want to leave, or to spend too much time in one place. Someone needs to marshall the troops, check no one is cheating and that you’ve visited 12 establishments before last orders.

My tip is to start early, get three or four pubs or bars under your belt and then have a slow hour in a pub with a good beer garden. Then crank it up again. Stop for a hearty bite to eat to soak up some of the booze and then power through. 

I’ll let you know how I got on, but wish me luck and please raise a glass to the dawning of my next decade. Chin chin.

Didsbury Dozen

ParkLives Manchester – Stay and Play at the park

Last week we visited our local park – Fletcher Moss in Didsbury and took part in one of the ParkLives Manchester activities “Roaming Rangers“. We’d had a lot of fun and as soon as we got home we booked ourselves in for another activity, this time “Park Fun Stay & Play”.

We arrived in good time and we met the Stay and Play leaders down at the Bug Hotel. There is a little area which has been set aside to encourage wildlife and birds. There was a craft gazebo and some games and other activities to do, so we explored our options.

Parklives Manchester

First to fascinate the small boy and I was the giant jenga which we quickly managed to knock down, but not before the boy had shown off his excellent jenga-ing skills. After a little gentle persuasion I managed to get him to tackle the hurdles, something which he loved and wanted to do over and over and got me to do it too.  

Once we’d spent some time hurdling we were given a Nature Scavenger Hunt to do, this was lots of fun, especially in the nature reserve bit of the park. We quickly managed to find a clover, a stick, some flowers and some birds. After some hunting I found some paw prints in the mud and he found a couple of feathers. It was lots of fun wandering around, trying to find the things on the list and talking about nature.

Parklives Manchester

There was den building and lots of crafts going on, but the boy (who had hurt his leg and been to A&E that morning) was tired and not really in the mood for doing too much, so we watched the den building and decided to take inspiration from the nature crafts and maybe do some of our own at home later. 

ParkLives Manchester offers free and fun activity sessions across the city and is now in its second year in Manchester. There are a huge range of activities available, from multi-activity fun camps for families, walk to run sessions, buggy fit and more.

There are hundreds of activities listed on the ParkLives Manchester website and you can quickly and easily book yourself in for an activity session in advance. I wonder what session I’ll book us onto next week?

For more information on ParkLives Manchester, or to book and activity visit the website.

ParkLives Manchester – Free Activities for Kids

Whilst I was searching online for things to do with my five year old over the summer (preferably free things to do), I happened upon the ParkLives website which is a partnership between Coca-Cola Great Britain and Manchester City Council.

ParkLives offers free and fun activity sessions across the city and it is now in its second year in Manchester. There are a huge range of activities available, from multi-activity fun camps for families, walk to run sessions, buggy fit and more.

I had a look at what was on in my local park, Fletcher Moss in Didsbury and found there were a few weekly activities to keep us entertained over the school holidays. Plus when the boy goes back to school I can take part in some of their free exercise classes – perfect!

ParkLives

There are hundreds of activities listed on the ParkLives website and you can quickly and easily book yourself in for an activity session in advance. I booked us in for a “Roaming Rangers” session on what was a very lovely sunny day to spend wandering around the park.

On arrival two lovely ladies gave us a map, a checklist and some basic instructions for an afternoon or orienteering. There were 14 checkpoints around the park and we had to find them all and wrote down what we found at each one. Some were easier to spot than others and I wasn’t sure if he would be able to hold his concentration long enough to find them all, but I was wrong.

ParkLives

He was in charge of map reading, which in practice meant he held onto the map and would point at the next number we needed, whilst I read the map and pointed us in the right direction. The trail was quite long, I was wearing a Fitbit and I think we covered around 3k which is quite far if you have little legs.

There were lots of families out enjoying the sunshine and following the trail, plus there were a couple of other fitness groups on walks and doing other exercises around the park, it was lovely to see and everyone was friendly and looked like they were enjoying themselves.

ParkLives

All of the activities are designed to get people moving and our “Roaming Rangers” session certainly did that. Although it was a pretty long walk (especially if you factor in the walk to and from the park) the small boy loved it all. He couldn’t wait to find the next checkpoint and to tick it off the list, in fact he was quite disappointed that we finished it and he wanted to do it again. 

If you’re looking from some free family fun over the school holidays (and beyond) then it’s well worth checking out the ParkLives website to see what’s available in your area. I’ve made a promise to myself to do something active with me and the boy for the next four weeks, so keep an eye out to see what we get up to next week!

For more information on ParkLives, or to book and activity visit the website.