On Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th July Didsbury village is being judged by the RHS North West in Bloom judges. Last year Didsbury won both the Urban Community category and a Gold; so there are high expectations for Didsbury in Bloom 2018.
The road I live on, Ford Lane is one of the areas which is judged. We have a green at the top of the road and flower filled planters all the way down the lane. It looks lovely, but it doesn’t happen by magic; a team of hard-working residents lovingly maintain the planters and keep the lane looking good all year round.
In the weeks running up to judging day, more residents do their bit by helping to tidy the green or water the planters outside their homes. I’m slowly trying to make our front garden more attractive, but it’s a slow process, not helped by the lack of rain.
Didsbury in Bloom 2018 had the twin themes of Remembrance and they also celebrated the centenary of women winning the right to vote. There has been a team of wonderful volunteers who have been working with schools to plant and maintain a poppy path running from Didsbury Park to School lane. The verges have been cleared and planted with poppy seeds which were harvested from the fields in France, then scattered by school children. In bloom they are a lovely, arresting sight. It’s well worth taking a detour to wander down the lane to see the poppies and remember them.
2018 has been a challenging year for gardeners, especially over the last few weeks. Manchester has had an unseasonal amount of not rain, or sunshine as it’s sometimes known. We’ve been enjoying/enduring a heatwave and our usually lush green at the top of the road is now a brown.
We’ve been draining our water butts and recycling our bath water to keep the planters looking healthy, but the grass has had to take one for the team. I hope the judges will take the current weather conditions into consideration and not hold our brown lawns against us.
I think despite the challenges, Ford Lane is looking fantastic. It’s a shame the heatwave has taken its toll on the main flower bed on the green; but all of the other planters are beautifully blousy with blooms. I love the Votes for Women bike most of all I think.
All of the Didsbury in Bloom volunteers have worked so hard this year, I take my hat off to them. Thank you for making Didsbury extra beautiful all your round!
The Didsbury in Bloom 2018 team won’t know the results of the judging for a little while yet; but we have high hopes of repeating the success of previous years.
A couple of weeks ago to celebrate two friends getting new jobs, a group of us went for afternoon tea at Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury. To my shame I’ve never eaten there before, but I’ve bought and eaten plenty of their chocolates over the years. I was interested to see what their chocolate afternoon tea would be like, plus it seemed like a bargain at £16.99 each, so I needed to check it out properly.
Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury is a small chocolatiers and cake makers. They have three small tables inside and on nice days you can sit outside on Burton Road and watch the world go by. There were eight of us, so we took up all of the inside tables. Because of the size of Cocoa Cabana and the work involved in making an afternoon tea you do have to book in advance.
My friend Sarah had done all the booking and had arranged for us to take some celebratory prosecco with us to have with our tea. There was rather surprisingly no corkage to pay for this. The afternoon tea comes with unlimited tea or coffee, you can have hot chocolate but there is an additional charge for this.
We were served pots of good tea and we chatted as our sandwiches were brought to us. I was one of two vegetarians and our sandwiches were brought on separate plates. I thought that was a nice touch as the carnivores often snaffle the veggie sandwiches before I get to them. The sandwiches were freshly made with seeded bread and good quality fillings. There were nice egg sandwiches, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard amongst others.
More tea was poured, prosecco corks popped and a procession of sweet treats were brought to our table. The freshly made fruit scones came with lashings of cream and a salted caramel sauce; a real twist on the classic but one I really enjoyed. It was a little sweet for a couple of my friends, but the sauce was a winner for me.
The chocolate tarts were much coveted. Crisp pastry filled with chocolate ganache and topped with a red berry. The tarts were excellent, but very rich and very intense. Most of us managed half a tart each (you can take what you can’t finish home if you’d like).
Following the chocolate theme, there was also a large plate of chocolate brownies. I am not much of a brownie fan, but I shared one with a friend and it was perfectly crisp on top and gooey in the middle.
What did turn my head was this little plate of prettiness. Tiny eclairs, a teeny banoffee pie, a bite-sized cheesecake, little raspberry chocolate pots, a miniature lemon meringue tart and the lightest, most magnificent pistachio macaron ever.
As with every afternoon tea I’ve ever had, there was far too much food, which is probably a good thing. Afternoon tea should not leave you wanting more and the staff at Cocoa Cabana were clearly used to boxing up leftovers.
The Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana is just £16.99 per person, which is really excellent value. We didn’t feel rushed and the service was attentive but not intrusive. I did need to go home and have a nap directly afterwards, but that is my greed and not a comment on the quality of the food. I liked the separate veggie sandwiches; and the macarons I will dream of for a while yet. I do think the salted caramel sauce should be sold in jars.
The verdict? A good afternoon tea, with some real highlights at very reasonable price, I’ve paid upwards of £25 in Manchester for very average afternoon teas and the Cocoa Cabana afternoon tea was better value and much better quality. Plus the service was accommodating and attentive. It’s nice to have afternoon tea (and chocolate) of this quality available outside of the city centre. Go on, treat yourself (and me).
Cocoa Cabana 128 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2JQ
Didsbury village always puts on a fine display for Didsbury in Bloom judging day. We have a small army of volunteers who plant up tubs and flowerbeds throughout the village all over the year, but as judging day for Didsbury in Bloom 2017 approached, more volunteers and residents rolled up their sleeves to make sure Didsbury showed off how blooming beautiful she is.
On 4th July this year the judges arrived to inspect the village for Didsbury in Bloom 2017. I live on one of the roads which is judged so we’d spent some time making sure our front garden looked the best it could. Over the weekend everyone down our lane pulled out their green bins and set to work making sure everything was tidy, swept and neatly trimmed. It looked a treat.
This year Didsbury in Bloom celebrated our connection to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The RSPB was founded by Emily Williamson in her home in Didsbury in 1889. Today you can visit where the first meetings were held at what is now the Alpine Tea Room in Fletcher Moss Gardens.
On Ford Lane the volunteers had spent a lot of time building and making a Bug Hotel. The Bug Hotel is a fine addition to the green on Ford Lane, creating a little wildlife haven for birds and bugs was a great idea. Some of the local children lent a hand to help build it and we hope it will become a permanent fixture on the lane.
Ford Lane is fringed on one side by a strip of woodland and has tidy grass verges with planters which are planted with bulbs and bedding plants. In spring the lane comes alive with blousy blossom. It’s a real wildlife corridor and we have all kinds of birds visiting our gardens throughout the year. We also have a family of foxes, plus owls, bats and we’ve seen more butterflies about this year than I can remember.
I really love this hanging ball of pine cones, made with two hanging baskets joined together. It’s huge but it looks great hanging from one of the ancient trees which are on the lane. Clever isn’t it?
After the judges had moved on to other parts of the village, some of the volunteers and helpers gathered for a much needed cup of tea and homemade cake. It was a good opportunity for neighbours to mingle and chat for a while. Even the cat found time in her busy schedule to join us.
Didsbury in Bloom is a lovely community thing to be part of. We are very lucky to live somewhere where many of the residents have such pride in their area. We can’t always help out as much as we’d like, but we try to keep our front garden looking neat and tidy, and we help out on community days when the green bins, hedge trimmers and sweeping brushes come out.
The Didsbury in Bloom 2017 team won’t know the results of the judging for a little while yet, but we have high hopes of repeating the success of previous years.
Didsbury Village in South Manchester is a pretty special place to live and I’m lucky enough to have been born here. I’ve been thinking about why Didsbury is so special. Is it the parks, the people, the pubs, the sense of community or something else?
You will have probably seen Didsbury on TV, it’s where Cold Feet is set, and it’s popped up on Queer as Folk, Coronation Street and loads of ITV dramas. Some days you can’t turn a corner without tripping over a film crew.
Family legend has it that my family have lived in Didsbury village for over 400 years. I am not descended from titled landowners, but from carters and labourers, servants and shop workers. Didsbury is part of me, and I am part of Didsbury. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. But what’s so special about Didsbury Village?
Is it the pubs?
Didsbury is home to one of the best pub crawls in Manchester, the Didsbury Dozen. I have done it several times and it’s something of a tradition for me to do it on milestone birthdays.
Didsbury has some great pubs, my favourite of which is the Fletcher Moss in Didsbury Village. It used to be called The Albert and my Grandad and his pals went to war from there. There are several ancient pubs in Didsbury which have in recent years been joined by glossy bars serving £10 gin and tonics and an array of frothy cocktails and craft beers.
But the pubs in the village are among the longest running businesses in the area, The Royal Oak, The Famous Crown, The Didsbury and Ye Old Cock as well as The Station, The Dog and Partridge and The Nelson have all be serving pints to the good people for Didsbury longer than living memory serves.
Is it the parks?
Didsbury is a leafy suburb of South Manchester, fringed on one side by the River Mersey we are never short of places to walk our dogs. We have Fletcher Moss Gardens, with its untamed meadows, nature reserve, botanical gardens and woodlands to explore. Didsbury Park, a dog walking haven with a newly refurbished and extended playground, Didsbury Park is a hub of community activity. As well as Fog Lane Park, Cavendish Park, Parsonage Gardens and Marie Louise Gardens. We are spoilt for green spaces and when the sun shines we make the most of them.
Is it the people?
Didsbury has a great sense of community. Didsbury people have always looked after their own, be it the great benefactors who built schools and libraries in the area, to smaller community groups which help and support local people.
Despite our well heeled reputation, most of the imported millionaires who live here tend to lock themselves away in gated communities, ordering their shopping from Ocado and keeping themselves to themselves.
The streets of Didsbury weren’t always paved with gold, and if you look behind the polished facade you’ll find plenty of normal, every day people who have normal jobs and do what they can to support the local community. From the Didsbury in Bloom volunteers (who are currently planting up the flower bed near my house ready for judging day), to Didsbury Good Neighbours, the WI, Didsbury and West Didsbury Civic Societies as well as local churches and the mosque who collect for the local food banks and other charitable causes.
There are plenty of opportunities for local people to get involved in their local community throughout the year. As well as the previously mentioned Didsbury in Bloom, there’s the Didsbury Festival, the Didsbury Beer Festival, the Didsbury Arts Festival and West Fest – a celebration of all things West Didsbury. Didsbury Traders support and advocate for local businesses, which in turn try to do their bit to keep Didsbury a thriving place to live and work.
The Shops in Didsbury Village
Didsbury has a strong independent streak, it’s an area which encourages and supports independent businesses. From Didsbury stalwarts such as Axons the butchers, The Cheese Hamlet, Evans the fishmongers, Peter Woolley Printers and Morten’s Bookshop who have been there for generations. To more recent and equally loved businesses like Giddy Goat Toys, Harriet & Dee, Healthy Spirit, Jo Padmore Opticians, Fresh Save and the new butchers – Three Little Pigs.
Didsbury is also known as a great place to go bargain hunting in our many charity shops. Most of my friends have at one time or another stumbled across a designer bargain or two. We are lucky to have a great range of shops and small businesses in Didsbury, but in order for them to survive we need to support them. Go forth and shop local!
Is it our Public Transport?
Reason number five to love Didsbury is our public transport. Yes I know how silly that sounds, but I don’t drive, so buses, trams, trains, planes, cycle lanes and safe pavements to walk down mean a lot to me.
From Didsbury I can hop on a tram and be sat in a bar in town in less than half an hour. I can get a bus, tram or train to Manchester, Stockport, the airport, the Trafford Centre or a hundred other destinations. The Metrolink tram system has opened up Greater Manchester to us and far-flung outposts such as Bury, Oldham and Eccles are just a tram change away.
Didsbury Village straddles the busiest bus corridor in Europe. Wilmslow Road – the busy artery which runs from the Cheshire border to the university fringes of the city literally is the lifeblood of South Manchester.
Without the buses, trams, trains, planes, cycle lanes and safe pavements of South Manchester, it’s entirely possible this thriving and popular suburb would be nothing but a dusty neglected one horse town with nothing of note to wave a flag about.
Didsbury is a beautiful and historic suburb with lots going for it and so much going on. It’s my home and my history and hopefully my future. What do you love about Didsbury?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Ye Olde Cock
The Famous Crown
The Royal Oak
The Fletcher Moss
The Pitcher & Piano
The Dog & Partridge
Saints & Scholars
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…
Slug & Lettuce
The Stokers Arms
The Dog & Partridge
The Milson Rhodes
The Royal Oak
The Famous Crown
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.
Being a born and bred Didsbury girl, and also being something of a certain age, I can remember when The Metropolitan was The Midland Hotel and the best thing on Burton Road was a launderette. I’ve watched the gradual polishing up of West Didsbury over the years, lots of bars, cafes and restaurants have come and gone, but the cornerstone (quite literally) of West Didsbury since 2000 has been The Metropolitan.
For many years I worked around the corner from The Met, popping in for a swift after work drink, or for works lunches and Christmas meals. It’s convenient, they do great cask ales, there’s lots of parking, it’s really family friendly without being a Wacky Warehouse and it’s now little more than a sneeze away from the Metrolink. But is it any good?
I confess it’s been a while since I dined there. I don’t get “up West” as often as I should. There’s a lot to be said for the large and lovely beer garden at The Met, especially on what was the hottest day of the year, or summer as we call it in Manchester.
I met my companion at the bar, where we thirstily supped a cold pint while we waited to be seated at our table in the air conditioned and airy conservatory. It was busy, but not uncomfortably so, and I reckon the sunshine had brought everyone out for the evening, despite the fact it was a Tuesday and a school night.
We ordered starters, me a goats cheese and chive hash brown with apple puree (£5.75) and he the homemade crab cakes, crunchy salad, cucumber salsa (£5.95). As a veggie, I was excited to see something a bit more adventurous on offer for me and I was very pleasantly surprised with my hash brown.
It was a big, thick, chunky portion, nicely seasoned, cheesy enough but not too goaty, and the apple sauce just made it extra special. I was pretty excited by this. I am beyond bored of blue cheese, mushrooms and veggie tarts, so it was good to find something interesting and different.
My friend enjoyed his crab cakes. They were obviously homemade, the crab meat was generous and the cucumber relish an excellent foil for the dish. I had a little nibble and I’d quite like to buy a jar of that lovely fresh relish for myself.
The portions were very generous, probably enough for me for lunch, so do arrive hungry if you want more than one course.
Moving on to the mains, as it was summer and my body is a temple or something, I ordered the Halloumi Superfood salad which included kale, baby spinach, beetroot, orange, pearl cous cous, watercress & toasted pumpkin seeds with a tomato, garlic & oregano dressing (£11.95). It was huge, with great big slabs of perfectly cooked, deliciously salty halloumi.
Had I known about the generous portion sizes I wouldn’t have ordered the best sweet potato fries in the world (£3.50) as a side, but I did and I didn’t regret it for one moment. Hand cut and definitely not from frozen, the crispy skin-on fries, generously salted they were sweet potato perfection. We were fighting over them in the end.
My friend ordered the Pan-fried Goosnargh duck breast, cranberry polenta cake, wilted spinach with a redcurrant jus (£15.95). The waiter warned him that it would arrive pink, but this was the only fault in our meal, and it was probably our fault, but the duck was not pink. I’m pretty sure it was our fault because we faffed about and took ages over our first course so the duck was probably being kept warm in the kitchen while we nattered and fiddled about with my camera.
However, the duck was a beautiful looking dish. It was his first time with polenta, and it was something he enjoyed tremendously. It was riddled with fresh cranberries and the redcurrant jus was glossy and luscious. The duck was thinly sliced and as tender as Elvis’ tender heart.
Somehow we still had room, so we decided to share a pud. I chose the basil and lime cheesecake with lime syrup (£5.95) and it was as pretty as a picture. I don’t normally have a pudding so this was a rare treat. My friend wasn’t sure, but I really was. The basil ran through the cheesecake and there was fresh lime and lime syrup drizzled all over it. It was an excellent palate cleanser and I think would work well with a little bit of tequila in the syrup (or in a shot glass on the side). I’ve had dreams about that cheesecake.
Our two and a half course meal and a couple of pints cost us £57.10. The portions were incredibly generous and the food was really good quality. This isn’t just your average pub grub, it’s very much a step or two beyond that. The Metropolitan is what every neighbourhood needs, a friendly casual place to hang out, with good food, good drinks and a good beer garden.
The Metropolitan is on 2 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2WS. Visit their website to for more information and to view their menus.
On the 25th June 2016 my life changed forever. My dad died. He was one of my best friends, one of the few people who would tell me things straight, a man who made me laugh every time I saw him and the person who has quietly supported me throughout my life, through good times and bad. He’s gone and I’ll never get over it. Here is the obituary I wrote for him.
Peter Woolley passed away peacefully at his home in Didsbury on 25th June 2016. He leaves his daughter Jane, her husband Matthew and grandson Benjamin, and his son David, his wife Lisa and grandson Joseph.
Peter was born in Ladybarn to Nellie and Bill Woolley. His father died in the 1960s and Peter was a devoted son, visiting his mother every day until her death in 2007.
Peter was 18 when he set up in business in Salford as a printer, having served his time as an apprentice in Heaton Moor. He then moved the business to School Lane in Didsbury, and finally to the current premises on Barlow Moor Rd in 1970 where he became a well-known and popular figure in Didsbury.
In his youth Peter was a keen and accomplished sportsman. He was Captain of the Burnage rugby team, a surprisingly talented basketball player and also a wrestler. Peter was a bodybuilder and for a period of time held an unofficial bench press record, as well as being something of a mentor for the younger members of the gym.
Following the birth of Jane and David, Peter decided to pursue his burgeoning interest in magic and joined the Order of the Magi in 1978, eventually becoming President in 1993. At his first meeting Peter met the man who was to be his friend for many years, Max Jacobson. Doug Henning sparked his interest in illusions and with the help of his brother-in-law David he built some props and spent several years performing in clubs, theatres and small venues around Manchester. Peter was a naturally funny man with a gift for comic timing and often had people crying with laughter.
Due to popular demand Peter eventually stopped performing entirely and put his efforts into mentoring and developing young performers including Tony Stevens, Alan Firth, Phillip Partridge and the man who was to become his unofficial second son, Mike McClean.
Peter with close friend and comedian Mike McClean
Thursday nights at Pete’s house were almost legendary, with both Jane and David recalling being dragged downstairs to form an impromptu audience for the performers and there being an atmosphere of supportive camaraderie.
In 2002 Peter left the Order of the Magi and joined a new magic society, The Manchester Circle of Magicians. At the first meeting Peter was elected President and thereafter became an Honorary Life Vice President of the MCM. Peter will be remembered as a great supporter of magic in general and the MCM in particular. He was a great mentor to many budding magicians and had a wicked sense of humour.
In 2010 Peter welcomed two grandsons to the family and in 2013 retired from his printing business, (passing over the reins to his son-in-law Matthew) to become a professional grandparent. Typically, Peter loved to make Joseph and Benjamin laugh and did tentatively introduce them to some magic tricks. Balloon animals were a speciality.
Peter enjoyed his retirement and relished the chance to catch up with close friends; going out for regular curry nights, comedy evenings, Monday magic nights, popping across the road for a brew and short breaks away to Pickering in Yorkshire.
He was a popular and well liked figure. He had a deeply ingrained and bone dry sense of humour, a strong work ethic, he believed in honesty and he surrounded himself with people he respected and admired. Peter was very much a self-made man, one of life’s gentle eccentrics and the world will have a lot less laughter in it without him. He will be greatly missed.
Peter Charles Woolley 11th January 1941 – 25th June 2016
I love going out for a drink with friends, catching up and having a good natter, but I’m a bit of a home bird so I don’t like to stray too far from the fold. Living in Didsbury it does mean that I’m lucky enough to have a whole raft of pubs, bars and restaurants to choose from whenever me and the girls fancy a night out. Last week Chalk Bar & Grill invited me to their re-launch party, and as it’s the nearest bar to my house, it would have been very rude to say no.
Chalk Bar & Grill is located in Didsbury village and has recently been taken over by MAD Ltd, the team behind several other Manchester bars I have frequented including Rosylee, Tusk, Walrus, The Fitzgerald and Hula. They’ve given Chalk a little cosmetic makeover and have updated their menus, the cocktail menu has had a major overhaul, which is always a sight for my sore eyes.
There was a great party atmosphere at Chalk Bar & Grill, the bi-fold doors which form the “shop front” were pulled back so we could enjoy the balmy Didsbury evening, whilst inside we plonked ourselves under the air con, so we could enjoy the ambience of the summer evening, but with a cool breeze from above.
The cocktail menu is extensive and sensibly priced at about £8 each, give or take. They have a list of “Twisted Classics” which include an Acai Cosmopolitan, Siberian Margarita and a Peach Punch Mojito, all of which are available for 2 for 1 every day between 5pm – 8pm.
Between us we sampled the full re-launch cocktail menu (one has to be thorough in these things). What you can see below is the Siberian Margarita (the blue one) and the Singapore Sunset (with the umbrella). The margarita was garnished with pink salt and was strikingly pretty, alas it was not to my cocktaily taste, but my companion loved it.
I can heartily recommend the Peach Punch Mojio and the Singapore Sunset, though for me, a girl of simple tastes, the Gin Copa was so refreshing I went back for seconds (and it turns out they have a whole separate Gin Copa menu, so that’ll need some exploring at a later date)!
The new menu looks pretty good too, with some nice veggie choices which I’m hoping to try out fairly soon. During the re-launch party we were treated to a whole raft of canapes, including some very lovely veggie bruschetta and some sausages and other meats on sticks.
What I particularly like about Chalk Bar & Grill is the real mix of people in there. Old and young, families and people having meetings during the day, people dressed up and people not, and it’s just got the right amount of hustle and bustle for me. I’m pleased to see it’s been given a new lease of life and all on my doorstep too. Can’t be bad.
Chalk Bar & Grill, 784-788 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2DR. For more information visit their website.
I am not by nature one of the beautiful people. I don’t have lovely swishy hair and flawless make up. In fact on the rare occasions that I wear make up it’s usually a quick flick of an ancient mascara and some free lip gloss I got with a magazine years ago.
The saying goes – you can’t polish a turd, so there’s no point in me trying, but this week my friend Jane and I went to Toni & Guy in Didsbury to find out more about their beauty rooms and Jane persuaded me to have a makeover.
Jane has recently had what ladies of our age call “a special birthday”, she arrived at her party looking stunning. Gillian Rafferty, a local make up artist had done her make up and although Jane is naturally beautiful anyway (with swishy hair) she looked flawless and fabulous. Gillian has been a make up artist for ten years and has worked with celebrities including Colleen Rooney, Kate Kelly and Michelle Keegan.
Gillian did my make up and Jane watched keenly. Gillian quickly assessed my skin and applied a tinted primer, deftly hid my quite massive eye bags and put eye-shadow, mascara and eyeliner on me to make more of my eyes. She finished my makeover with some pink lipstick in a shade I’d never normally try, but obviously worked for me, and then sort of spray painted my face which fixed my make up and made it look flawless. Yes, I looked flawless.
We spent some time looking around the beauty rooms, Clare Angela is the resident beauty therapist and she offers pretty much everything you might need -manicures, pedicures, tanning, waxing and facials. Clare is passionate about skincare and she offers a range of facials using Environ products starting from £45.
During the evening Environ were there with a special camera which takes photographs of your face and allows you to see how damaged your skin is and what you can do about it. They come to Didsbury every few months, so if you’re interested it’s worth phoning Clare and booking a session with them.
We had a lovely and interesting evening learning about make up, beauty and skincare at Toni & Guy and then we went off to drink some more prosecco in a local bar. And my make up still looked good when I got home!
Beauty and Skin Health by Clare Angela is available by appointment at Toni & Guy in Didsbury, phone 0161 445 5466 for more information on what Clare offers. Makeovers and make up tutorials are available from Gillian Rafferty by appointment.