Tag Archives: Didsbury

Pub Crawls: The Didsbury Dozen

It’s become something of a tradition on any birthday ending in a 0 or a 5 for me to do the Didsbury Dozen – a famous, or infamous pub crawl involving 12 pints in 12 Didsbury pubs!

I’ve done the Didsbury Dozen a couple of times before – firstly on my 30th birthday, and then ten years later when I turned 40. This year my birthday ends in a 5, so it’s time to put my drinking boots on again and prove I’ve still got what it takes (which I have, I totally have).

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 celebrate my birthday.

Pub Crawls: The Didsbury Dozen

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 marshal 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 fairly quickly, and then have a slow hour in a pub with a good beer garden. Then crank up the pace again, remembering to stop for a hearty bite to eat to soak up some of the booze and then power through to the end.

Of course Didsbury has lost some good pubs over the last few years, so each time I do the dozen I need to plot a new course. Each time I need to cross off an old favourite and add a new bar or two. It’s not the end of the world, just a sign of changing times.

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

  1. The Woodstock
  2. The Railway
  3. The Metropolitan
  4. Slug & Lettuce
  5. The Station
  6. The Dockyard
  7. The Dog & Partridge
  8. The Nelson
  9. The Fletcher Moss
  10. The Royal Oak
  11. Ye Olde Cock
  12. The Didsbury

*With the option to swap one of these out for food and a beer at Expo Lounge.

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 2006…

  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

And this is the Didsbury Dozen I did in 2016 –

  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. The Fletcher Moss
  10. The Royal Oak
  11. The Famous Crown
  12. Bourbon & Black

If you fancy having a go at the Didsbury Dozen, I wish you well with your challenge. The most important thing is to have fun, and a very good breakfast before you start.

Didsbury Dozen
This post was originally published in September 2016, but really needed updating, so I did.

Pubs, Bars and Restaurants open in Didsbury – April 2021

Whilst some people will be cautious about returning to the pub for a pint or two, many more are keen to get back to the bar. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of which pubs and bars are open in Didsbury (East, West and the Village) and if you need to book in advance.

My favourite pub, The Fletcher Moss closed for lockdown at the end of October 2020 and finally reopened on Monday 12th April 2021. The Fletcher isn’t alone in having a prolonged lockdown, and some pubs and bars (notably The Stokers Arms) haven’t managed to survive the ups and the many downs the Covid 19 pandemic has unleashed upon them.

Pubs, Bars and Restaurants open in Didsbury - April 2021

Things change all the time, so if I’ve missed someone out who is open in Didsbury, or if the walk in or booking requirements change, please do let me know!

Pubs & bars open in Didsbury…

Cove on Burton Road – Book or walk in

Folk Cafe Bar – Reopening 26th April, booking advised

Head of Steam – Opening 16th April at 4pm

Saison – West Didsbury – Walk in

Slug & Lettuce – Not opening until May

The Cheshire Line Tavern – You’ll need to book

The Didsbury – Need to book

The Dog & Partridge – Closed, no outside seating

The Drawing Room – Walk in

The Famous Crown – Still closed

The Fletcher Moss – Walk in, no need to book

The Gateway – Walk in

The George Charles – Walk in

The Metropolitan – Bookings only for now

The Nelson – Closed, no outside seating

The Parrs Wood – Walk in

The Railway – Closed, no outside seating

The Red Lion (Withington) – Walk in until 17th May 2021

The Royal Oak – Still closed

The Station – Still closed

The Woodstock – You’ll need to book

Wine and Wallop – Walk in, book if you can

Ye Olde Cock – You’ll need to book

Pubs, Bars and Restaurants open in Didsbury - April 2021

Cafes & Restaurants open in Didsbury…

Alberts – You’ll need to book

Alpine Tea Room, Fletcher Moss – Walk in

Azzuro Didsbury – Open Thu/Fri/Sat for takeaways (delivery sometimes available) check website

Caramello – Take away only for now

Croma – Open, bookings only

Dhoom Dhaam – You can walk in

Didsbury Park Café – Walk in

Expo Lounge – Open, no need to book

Fog Lane Café – Walk in

Great British Pizza – Book in advance

Greens – Book in advance

Hispi – Book in advance

Home Community Café – Walk in

Jajoo Indian Street Food and Craft Beer – You’ll need to book

Mary & Archie – Currently being renovated, hope to open 23rd April

Nagoya Sushi & Noodle Bar – Bookings welcome

Piccolino – You’ll need to book

Proove Pizza – You’ll need to book

Rustik Café Bar – Walk in only, tables will be subject to a time limit

The Art of Tea – Open, no need to book

The Botanist – Open from 17th May, booking advised

The Deli (rebranded as Seven 54 Cafe Bar) – Still closed but due to open soon

The Lime Tree – Opening 23rd April, booking advised

Thyme Out Food Co – Walk in only

Volta – You’ll need to book

Zumu Sushi – Walk in or book ahead

PS. It goes without saying that if you make a booking and you can no longer make it, please contact the bar or restaurant and cancel. Times are hard and no shows will cost them money. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read about the Didsbury Dozen.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

I live in Didsbury and this quiet suburb in South Manchester has hit the news in the last 24 hours due to flooding. I’ve lived here all of my life and although the river does flood occasionally (more so in recent years), we have excellent flood defences. Despite living a 5 minute walk from the River Mersey for most of my life; I’ve always felt pretty safe from the floods.

I grew up in East Didsbury, which is a pretty low lying area. The road I grew up on was evacuated last night. I do remember as a child that the flood waters did once reach the end of the road closest to the river, but it never quite made it to our front door. Nevertheless, this memory of the flood has stayed with me. I don’t remember the river flooding much, the fields at Parrs Wood seemed to cope with the overflow then.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

For the last few days I’ve listened to the rain pour down. I’ve anxiously watched the river levels rise and last night the fire brigade knocked on our door and advised us to evacuate. Never in recorded memory has the River Mersey run as high as it did in the early hours of this morning. Never in recorded memory has the road I now live on flooded, so I knew things were bad.

I spent the early hours preparing to leave with my family and moving any precious or useful things upstairs. We packed up photos of my son; home-schooling things; medication and warm coats and boots in case we needed to get out. We packed overnight bags if we needed them too. I hoped we wouldn’t.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

At some point in the night, the relentless rain turned to snow. Thick fat snowflakes came down hard and fast and lay on the cars and the road like a luxurious carpet. I turned the light off, turned over in bed and watched my son sleep when I could not.

Outside was busy with emergency vehicles. Every so often I’d look out of the window and see the lights from the nearby primary school shining on the flood water on the field. I’d check Twitter and Facebook for news; check my phone to see if anyone I knew was evacuating and needed somewhere to stay. It was the strangest, most surreal night.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

Morning came and brought better news. Hundreds of people had been evacuated overnight, but I think everyone was safe from the flooding. The floods had crept a little closer to my house, but the water had receded and continues to do so, inch by inch, hour by hour.

The River Mersey had come within 2cm of breaching its banks, which would have been a disaster. The flood defences had worked and although the surrounding fields and flood plains will need a considerable amount of clean up over the next few weeks; Didsbury was safe from the worst of it all for now.

Didsbury flooding and Storm Christoph

Huge thanks to the Environment Agency, and the emergency services for keeping us all safe. It has been the strangest 24 hours.

If you are worried about flooding in your area, this government website gives up to date warnings and advice.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

Over the years we’ve tried all kinds of veg box schemes. We’ve tried those recipe boxes and we’ve had a milkman, then no milkman because the local diary closed, now we have another milkman because another dairy opened. Getting food delivered to the door isn’t just convenient, with the Creamline Best of Local Box scheme, you can get brilliant locally produced food from independent producers delivered to your door.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

I live in South Manchester and I was asked to give the Best of local Box a try. Where I can I do try to shop local, and I buy directly from a number of the Best of Local suppliers on a regular basis. I knew that the contents of the box would be of a really high standard, but would it be more expensive?

The Creamline website it really simple to use. Just browse and add to your basket the products you want delivered, choose your delivery day, pay and then wait for the knock on the door.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

I had a good look and what was on offer, then meal planned around that. I was excited that there was a baker, something we don’t really have locally anymore; so I did go a bit wild when ordering bakery products.

Here’s my order for my first box…

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

The meat products are what I usually buy from the butchers who supply Creamline anyway. The meat were the most expensive part of my order; we ate some straight away and I put the rest in the freezer for another day. I always think it’s better to buy good quality meat and eat a little less of it, than cheap, low quality meat.

The bread, rolls and bakes were incredibly quality. I’m so used to bland supermarket bread that just some toast made with the bloomer was a real treat. If you order the Best of Local Box, them it’s well worth stocking up on this gorgeous bread. I can also highly (HIGHLY) recommend the millionaires flapjack, which was superb.

The fruit and veg come daily from Manchester’s Smithfield Market. It was as fresh as could be. The watermelon lasted for ages and made one boy very happy (watermelon is his favourite thing).

I really loved my Creamline Best of Local Box. I knew everything was made within a few miles of my home, by local people who really care about the quality of what they produce. It’s exactly the kind of thing I would order and will order in the future.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

I think that sometimes when you order a food box, you’re not really sure where the food has come from and what kind of quality it will be. I already shop with a number of the shops who supply the Creamline Best of Local boxes; so it’s just a more convenient way for me to shop, without the bother of carrying it home. It’s delivered to my door, well packed, free of charge and by a cheery person.

The box is no more expensive that going from local shop to local shop. It’s great quality and I feel like I’m still doing my “shop local” bit to help my high street.

They’ve even got a discount code on their website right now if you want to try it out for yourself!

For more information about the Best of Local Box, visit the Creamline website.

We reviewed the Creamline fruit and veg box a few years ago, you can read about that here.

Disclosure: I was given a Creamline Best of Local box for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 – Judging Day

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.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

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.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

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.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

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.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

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.

Didsbury in Bloom 2018 - Judging Day

Read more about Didsbury – Five fabulous things about Didsbury Village.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Over the weekend I organised and ran a successful charity bake sale. We raised £275 in a little over an hour for a worthy cause. I really had no idea how to go about organising a charity bake sale, but with some help and organisation, what we did was a success.

Here’s my guide to organising a charity bake sale…

Enlist the help of keen bakers who are sympathetic to your cause.

As soon as I realised I had been put in charge of organising the bake sale I contacted a group of my friends and asked them (begged them, I actually begged them) to help. They all very, very kindly offered to bake crumbles, cakes and gingerbread men for the big day. I also asked for someone to help manage the stall during the sale and my kind friend Sarah offered her services.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Sell little bit of everything.

If you can, try to have a good variety of cakes, bakes and biscuits on sale. I baked 50 butterfly cakes which I sold for 50p each, a low-cost item will sell well, especially to children who want a little treat. Individual bakes sold well; flapjacks, brownies, buns, cupcakes and gingerbread men all disappeared quite quickly.

Try and have a range of products of different sizes and at various price points which will appeal to different people. Large crumbles and whole cakes sold well, with many people taking them home as a nice family treat. Also, don’t forget to bake some things suitable for vegans and people who are gluten-free or dairy free.

Be organised.

I’ve never done anything like this before so I knew I had to be organised. I made a list of things I’d need. Such as £20 in change as a “float”, aprons and latex gloves, kitchen towel, knives, paper plates, sandwich bags and larger plastic bags, stickers to write prices on and a couple of pens. I also bought a tablecloth, which I forgot on the day. I’m not as organised as I thought!

Ask for extra help.

Although I had my friends baking away for the sale, we asked the rest of the church to help out if they could. Several people brought along excellent cakes, tarts and crumbles. When I laid everything out it seemed like there was far too much and I’d never sell it all. How wrong I was.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Advertise your charity bake sale!

Spread the word. People generally love homemade cakes, especially if they’re being sold in aid of a charity or cause they support. In our case the charity bake sale was mentioned in the church newsletter and we spread the word on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Believe!

Reader, we sold the lot! Well almost everything, the very few items that were left I bought and brought home to feed my hungry hoards.

Together we raised £275 in just over an hour of sales after one church service. We had billed it as a one-off harvest festival style bake sale. I think if we ran one on a regular basis it wouldn’t be quite as popular, but we did well. We did really well. Huge thanks to everyone who baked and everyone who bought.

There’s still a long way to go before we hit the £50k target we need to raise before the end of the year, but we did our bit. We baked some cakes, raised some money and spread a bit of cakey joy throughout South Manchester.

How to organise a successful charity bake sale

Blooming beautiful – Didsbury in Bloom 2017

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.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

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.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

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.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

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.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

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.

Blooming beautiful - Didsbury in Bloom 2017

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.

Read more about Didsbury – Five fabulous things about Didsbury Village.

Big thanks to Ted’s Garden Shed who worked really hard to clear the scruffy wilderness of our front garden and create something rather lovely in its place.

Five fabulous things about Didsbury Village

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?

Five fabulous things 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.

Didsbury Village

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?

Five fabulous things about Didsbury Village

Thanks to Didsbury Traders for the map above.

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 very worthwhile 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 getting 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 in time for their Christmas party.

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