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.

Gift Guide: A Very Mancunian Christmas

It’s widely documented that I hate Christmas shopping, I shun huge shops and enormous shopping centres. I much prefer pottering around small shops and markets and at a push doing an online shop. As a Mancunian and owner of a small, home based business it makes huge sense to me to support my fellow entrepreneur where I can. So here’s my round up of fabulous things to buy for Mancunians this Christmas…

The Manchester Bee Company
The Worker Bee is the symbol of Manchester and its industrial heritage (hive of industry). The Worker Bee symbol is all over the city, from the beautiful mosaic floor of Manchester Town Hall to simple street furniture. The ManBeeCo range includes mugs, cards and prints – all available online. They also pop up at various markets across the city with beautiful crochet and knitted cushions and hats as well as their brilliant bee products. Proper Manc.

Manchester Christmas

MOSI Manchester Collection
The Manchester collection from MOSI is a lovely typographic range of gifts inspired by Manchester’s proud industrial and cultural heritage. Gifts start at £10 for a Mug, £12 for the tea towel collection and £20 each for the adult T-shirt, tote bag and cushion. It’s all pretty gorgeous and would make for a great present proud Mancs like me.

Drop Dead Chocolates
We love these chocolates. There’s something to suit all tastes and budgets. They’re a bit special, not available in the shops and probably the best chocolates I’ve ever had. I love their salted caramel chocolates which are beyond amazing. They’re letter-box friendly so they’re perfect and convenient if you need a speedy delivery.

Duerr’s Manchester Marmalade
Specially made for Mancs (and only available in Greater Manchester) this is a firm set, fine shred, bitter marmalade for proper grown ups. I love it, it was first made in the 1950s and since then they’ve updated and slightly sweetened the recipe, but fear not, if you’re a proper marmalade fan then this is a proper marmalade. It would be great in a little homemade hamper of proper Manc goodies, available in Tesco stores across Greater Manchester.

Manchester Christmas

Harriet & Dee
If like me you’re a Didsbury local, then you’ll love the specially commissioned Didsbury Christmas baubles, only available from Harriet & Dee in Didsbury, South Manchester. These beautiful baubles are just £10 each and you can choose from The Clock Tower, Didsbury Library or The Eagle Gate at Parsonage Gardens. The baubles are a lovely thing for any Didsburyite to hang on their tree.

Red Box Inc
Another Didsbury business who I love, Red Box Inc have a range of products you can personalise with your company or personal message, including coffee & latte mugs, tote shopping bags, mouse mats, coasters, uniforms, t-shirts, work-wear, sports & leisure wear & more. They can personalise mugs and other products with family photos or your children’s drawings from just £8 for a mug.

So whatever your buy Our Kid for Christmas. Keep it Manc. Sorted.

Coeur and Cava on The Cobbles

Approximately 12 million years ago when I was a mere slip of a girl, I had a Saturday job on Warburton Street in Didsbury. I worked for Morten’s Bookshop doing the lowest paid job in the history of the world. It did however mean that for years after, I had a Rain-Man style ability to name the author of any book you could think of. That’s gone now. These days I can barely name the people I’m actually related to, but I digress.

Last week Harriet & Dee invited me back to the second most famous cobbled street in Manchester, (the first being Coronation Street, obvs) to have a look at their range of Coeur De Lion jewellery and have a gander around their gorgeous, glittery Santa’s grotto of a shop. They also said something about Cava and mulled wine, but we all know I rarely touch the stuff (what? Don’t look at me like that).

Harriet & Dee is a gorgeous boutique gift shop, there’s one in Didsbury and one in Chester. I frequent the Didsbury one and it’s a cracking little shop with a really interesting and well sourced array of cards, gifts and jewellery. It is like no gift shop I’ve ever been in. I basically walk in and just mutter “I want that, I want that, I want that” under my breath all the way round.

Coeur De Lion
Coeur modelled by the lovely Nola

I do love what Harriet & Dee have done to Warburton Street; they’ve taken the lead in turning a little hidden corner of Didsbury into a sparkling gem. The Christmas lights and displays along the lane are beautiful and really stand out against the corporation lights on Wilmslow Road. It’s a festive treat just walking past.

Being teacher’s pet (Who Sir? Me Sir? Yes Sir), I was first through the door to meet an affable chap from Coeur De Lion. He showed me some of the Coeur range, talked me through the ethos and history of the company and even (get this) let me touch some.

Coeur De LionFor those not in the know, Coeur De Lion is a German jewellery company who hand make all their pieces in Stuttgart. Their jewellery is stunning and right up my cobbled street. It’s simple, colourful and versatile. To be honest I could sit here and struggle, like I am now, trying to find words to describe them, but life’s too short, just have a look at these pictures instead.

I love the style and simplicity of the pieces. A lot of them could be every-day wear which you can dress up or down. I’m not much of a jewellery wearer, but Coeur De Lion is so different, special and eye catching I quite fell in love. It’s also not hideously expensive. I have a brochure at home and I’ve already been through and circled what I’d like Father Christmas to bring me, that’s if he thinks I’ve been a good enough girl.

My magnificent bauble
My magnificent bauble

After I’d finished coveting shiny, gorgeous things, I tottered across the cobbles to the gift shop part of the Harriet & Dee empire. It was there I was forced, yes, FORCED to drink my first mulled wine of the season. I exchanged disdainful glares with Laura the shop cat and then decorated a bauble.

Now, I’m not very arty, but I was quite pleased with my efforts. If anyone wants to make me a Dragons Den style offer, I’m happy to discuss rolling out a range of baubles along similar lines. Or not, it’s fine.

So, if you want to start feeling festive, get yourselves down to Harriet & Dee. If you’re lucky Laura (the cat) might deign to say hello. Whatever you do, keep your eye out for my range of wonky baubles (not) coming soon to a shop near you!

Harriet & Dee is located at 8 Warburton St, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6WA Tel: 0161 438 2500