Tag Archives: Didsbury

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.

Now We Are Six: We Are Adventurers Birthday Party

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.

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!


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.


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.


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.

Review: A Creamline Dairies Fresh Veg Box

Living in Manchester my local dairy is Creamline Dairies. They offer doorstep deliveries of milk as well as a large range of other products. One of their newest offerings is a fresh veg box delivery and I was keen to give it a try.

I’ve previously tried veg boxes from most of the big veg box companies, but they just send you a selection of what they’ve got, rather than allowing you to pick and choose what you want and need. With the Creamline Dairies veg box you can choose what fruit, veg and herbs you need, add them to your box, choose your delivery date and as long as your order is over £10 they will deliver it to your door.Creamline Dairies

For the purposes of this review, they sent me a selection of the most popular fruit and veg. My box included – salad leaves, mushrooms, carrots, new potatoes, peppers, radishes, onions, tomatoes, apples, oranges, grapes and raspberries. They were well packed and presented in a sturdy cardboard box.

As it was delivered on one of the hottest days of the year, we decided a BBQ was in order so we set to work making use of some of our lovely fresh veg. It was all really good quality. I couldn’t fault the freshness of any of the ingredients. In fact the tomatoes were probably amongst the best I’d ever had.

Creamline Dairies

We made use of the salad leaves and made some veggie kebabs with the peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. For pudding I made use of the raspberries and grapes and added some strawberries I had in the fridge and made a chocolate sauce to dip the fruit in. That was incredibly popular. 

Creamline Dairies

Over the next few days I used all of the fruit and veg we’d been sent. It was great to have a fridge full of good quality fruit and veg which didn’t have too many food miles and had as much as possible been gown locally. 

I think milkmen (and women) have had a tough time of things lately, and if I could step on my soapbox for a minute, I’m very much in favour of supporting local dairies and in turn, supporting local farmers and food producers who are feeling the squeeze. Eating food which hasn’t come far, is great for the local economy and also helps to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. 

I really like that Creamline Dairies offer not only milk, but also fruit and veg and the full range of groceries, all with free delivery. As someone who doesn’t drive and can’t really carry bags of heavy shopping, this is a real godsend and I know that I’ll be using this service in the future. I couldn’t fault the produce or the service and I fully support the local ethos behind it. 

For more information about Creamline Dairies and their veg boxes visit their website.

We are sent our first veg box for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: The Metropolitan, West Didsbury

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.

Obituary: Peter Charles Woolley 1941-2016

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.

Peter Woolley

Peter Woolley

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 Woolley

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 Woolley

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 Woolley

Peter Charles Woolley 11th January 1941 – 25th June 2016

Chalk Bar & Grill Re-launch Party – Didsbury

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.

Chalk Bar & Grill

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.

Chalk Bar

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)!

Chalk Bar

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. 

Chalk Bar

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.

It’s my blogging birthday – 3 today!

HodgePodgeDays is three years old today. I remember sitting with my laptop one quiet evening three years ago. I had a head full of words and I just needed to write to get it all out of me. I set up HodgePodgeDays on WordPress, had no clue how anything worked or what to do or anything, but that was fine, it was about just getting those thoughts and feelings out of my head and if anyone else looked at it, then wow, what a bonus!

A lot has happened in those three years. I’ve physically recovered from my spinal surgeries as much as I ever will, but I’m left with neurological issues and chronic pain. I’ve come a long way from the spiralling mental health problems which came as a result of being laid up for so long. My baby has grown into a boy, a beautiful boy who I fall in love with afresh each morning.

My blog is my job now, I can’t work in a desk bound 9-5 anymore, so this *waves hand around my blog* has to earn me an income, enough to feed and clothe my family, pay some bills and have enough left for the occasional gin. It doesn’t, it doesn’t yet, but I live in hope.

But I wouldn’t be here without you.  Thank you. Thank you for every encouraging comment, every social share, every like. The people who read my blog, who have read my blog from the start, who have seen me stumble my way from there to here, you have been some of the best friends I’ve made. We’ve laughed and cried together. Drank gin, wine, cocktails and warm orange squash together. We’ve applauded our victories and commiserated our failures.

It’s not been the easiest three years of my life, but I’m glad to have my memories here to remind me of how far I’ve come and what I have endured.  I’m equally pleased that I have almost weekly, sometimes daily photos of my son and the things we have done to remind us of our adventures together. 

The last three years have been the best of days and the worst of days, but to me they’ll always be Hodge Podge Days. Thank you xx

blogging birthday