Tag Archives: Manchester

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

The February half term this year is a tricky one, it’s not the same across Greater Manchester, with some schools having half term the week of the 12th and others having the week of the 19th. Whenever your kids are off, here are 10 things to do in Manchester over the February half term.

Elizabeth Gaskell House, 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, M13 9LW

Pay a visit to this beautiful historical house in Manchester and take the opportunity to join visual artist Rose Miller for textile-based craft activities in the Servants’ Hall from 1-3pm on 21st February. The usual admission applies (under 16s free) plus £1 for children taking part in the craft activity. There’s no need to book – just turn up. See the website for more information.

Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester

There’s always so much going on at the Museum of Science and Industry, this February half term is no different – there’s Experitots, Robots, Pi: Building the World, Project Doomsday: The Intelligent Machine Chapter, Space Descent VR with Tim Peake, Changing Places, Creating Spaces, Destination Stations, Circuit City, plus their fabulous permanent collections and daily Explainer shows!

For more information about what’s on and when, visit the MSI website www.msimanchester.org.uk.

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ

Hot foot it to The Lowry on Saturday 17th February and take part in their Dance: Sampled Festival. Visitors to the festival will be able to watch some of the biggest names in the dance business and also take part in a variety of free workshops including Hip Hop, Lindy Hop, Tap, Salsa and Flamenco.

Activities are free but visitors will need to book places on the workshops in advance, with a limited amount of tickets available on the day. Tickets are available online now.

Greater Manchester Police Museum, 57A Newton Street, Manchester

A few years ago we visited the GMP Museum and we had a fantastic time. There are two special open days running at the museum over half term. Visit between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Tuesday 20th February and Thursday 22nd February and meet officers. Plus see what equipment they use and take a tour of the museum. It’s a great day out and an excellent chance to visit this fascinating museum.

Z-arts Manchester, 335 Stretford Rd, Manchester

With a family fun day, two fantastic theatre shows and an art and architecture project, Z-arts has a fun-filled half-term week for families to enjoy! Join them for a fabulous Chinese New Year Family Fun Day on Saturday 17 Feb, 10.30am – 1.30pm, admission is free.

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

Z-arts have two shows on over half term – both look well worth a watch. There’s Snow Mouse from Wednesday 21 – Sunday 25 Feb, 10am, 1pm, 3pm, suitable for ages up to 4 years. Tickets are £6 – £9 and are available from the website. There’s also Where’s My Igloo Gone? On Sunday 25 Feb, 11.30am & 2.30pm and suitable for ages 5+. Tickets are also £6-£9 and available on the website.

Manchester Giants Basketball Camp, Astley Sports Village

Sporty kids of all ages have the chance to learn some tricks at the Manchester Giants basketball Camp on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd February. For just £10 per session, kids can get expert coaching and meet some of the Manchester Giants professional players. For more information and to book, visit the Manchester Giants website.

See Concorde at The Runway Visitor Park, Manchester Airport

This February half term, families are in for a real treat at The Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport. The Runway Visitor Park are hosting two days where families can book a tour of one of the most iconic airplanes ever to take to the skies – Concorde!

The viewing park is a great day out anyway, but the chance to tour Concorde is a treat and a half. The 20-minute tours will take place on February 14th and February 21st at various times throughout the day. Tickets can be booked online and cost £5 per person.

Stars of the Sea at SEA LIFE Manchester, intu Trafford Centre

SEA LIFE Manchester is probably one of our favourite places to visit and this February half term they’re pulling out all the stops! There’s a new ‘Stars of the Sea’ experience filled with with hands-on activities, games, displays and fishy facts. The event will showcase SEA LIFE’s superstar creatures; from turtles to octopuses.  Children can also take part in SEA LIFE’s new giant sea discoveries game; navigating through a life-size version of ‘Stars and Ladders’ to solve puzzles with fishy clues to jump ahead and foil their foes to win a ‘Stars of the Sea’ certificate.

Running from 10th to 25th February, all activities are included in the standard admission price, but pre-booking through the SEA LIFE website is advised.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, intu Trafford Centre

Celebrate 60 years of LEGO at Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester. Collect pop badges; learn how to create stop motion animations using Lego Minifigures and bricks and complete a scavenger hunt in Miniland to win a prize. Visitors over half term can join in a Cool Creations competition – what can you build with just 60 bricks?

Running from 10th to 25th February, all activities are included in the standard admission price, but pre-booking through the Legoland Discovery Centre website is advised.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, Greater Manchester

The Chit Chat Chalk Show is a magical chalky adventure! Kiko is a confused young girl, struggling to understand how she feels about the strange new world she lives in. With her new friends, she embarks upon a quest to discover the mixture of emotions and colours that make her unique. The story dances, draws and giggles its way through from beginning to end. It’s sure to put a smile on faces, young and old!

Suitable for ages 3-8 years, showing on Tuesday 13 February 11.30am and 2pm. More information and tickets are available from watersidearts.org.

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

There’s plenty to keep families busy over the February half term, what will you be doing?

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

I don’t know about you, but Sunday evenings are Blue Planet time in our house. We all snuggle on the sofa and spend an hour being wowed by the wonders of the deep. With SEA LIFE Manchester virtually on our doorstep, we decided to take a trip and discover some of the amazing creatures who live in our oceans.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

SEA LIFE Manchester is our nearest SEA LIFE Centre and as such we tend to go there quite a lot. It’s great to spend a couple of fairly chilled hours there. We’ve met most of the creatures in the centre before, but this time there had been a couple of changes.

I have my own favourites, namely the jellyfish, this time they were much smaller, so I think these were new to the centre. It was quite interesting to see their relatively small bodies floating and undulating in the water.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

Te other big change was that Ernie, the huge green sea turtle has found himself a lady friend – Cammie. I think the hope is that they will find love and produce some baby turtles of their own.

Despite us being regular visitors to SEA LIFE Manchester, we did manage to experience a few things we’d never seen or done before. The boy felt brave enough to touch a starfish in the Rockpool Zone. Then I put my hand in to say hello to a shrimp. I was told the shrimp would nibble my fingers, taking away dead skin and it found a nice meal and gave my finger a bit of a tug I wasn’t expecting. I may have squealed in a most unnecessary way.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

We also spent quite a lot of time talking to some of the Jurassic Rangers who were on hand to talk about fossils and show off some specimens. The boy is a massive dinosaur fan, so this was a bit of a treat for him.

Best of all, towards the end of the day we managed to catch the Ray Talk. We watched them being fed while a very knowledgeable man told us all about them. There are three species of ray at SEA LIFE Manchester including the lovely Blue Spotted Stingrays. The Ray Talk is well worth catching if you’re interested in these graceful creatures.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

The boy went all around SEA LIFE pointing out creatures he’d seen on Blue Planet and telling us a bit more about them. The same is true when we’re watching the TVseries; every so often he pipes up “I’ve seen that at SEA LIFE”!

If you’re a fan of Blue Planet then a visit to your local SEA LIFE Centre is a must. It’s really helped to connect the dots for my son. Seeing things in real life that he’d seen on the TV suddenly made everything extra wonderful and real for him.

Find out more about what’s on this Christmas on the SEA LIFE Manchester website.

 
I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I was given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I was not paid to write this post.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

Last week I visited Veeno in Manchester with a friend to try their Selezione Wine Tasting Experience. Veeno is an Italian Wine Café which first opened in Manchester in 2013 and now has 15 cafés across the UK. We went along to try one of their wine tasting experiences, but what did we think?

The tasting experience we opted for was their Selezione wine tasting which costs £26.90 per person. This features five wines from their family vineyard in Sicily. Each wine is paired with a range of spuntini appetisers; an array of meats, cheeses and other appetisers imported from strictly selected Italian producers and presented on a sharing platter.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

We arrived at Veeno Manchester and we were shown to our table by Sam, our wine guide for the afternoon. We were offered a glass of prosecco (£6 each) and we chatted and looked at the list of wines we were going to try during the next two hours. All of the Veeno “family wines” come from Caruso & Minini, the family vineyard in Sicily and the wine list is extensive and well considered.

Sam soon came over with our Italian nibbles. He explained that each element on the platter would be paired with a wine, so we resisted the urge to eat the whole platter in one go. A remarkable show of restraint on our part.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

We began with a small glass of Grillo, a soft, buttery white wine which paired beautifully with the mozzarella and was dangerously easy to drink. Next up was a glass of Zibibbo, a delightfully and surprisingly floral wine which reminded us both of Turkish delight, which was a good thing. This was one of my most favourite wines from the afternoon. Again this was matched with a cheese, this time a delicately smoked scamorza affumicata.

Moving on to the Syrah Rosato Tasari, I’m not a great fan of rosé. I worry that all rosé is cheap, nasty pink stuff made for people who don’t really like wine. I need to get over that prejudice and this helped. The Syrah Rosato Tasari was matched to the parma ham; which as a veggie I couldn’t eat but made an approximation from the mozzarella and olives.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

Our next tipple was a glass of Perricone, a hearty but not heavy red with beautiful black cherry flavours. This was matched with some bresola, which again I couldn’t sample but nibbled at the cheese and olives instead.

Last of the wines was the Nero D’avola which I described as “not shy”. This was rich and fruity, almost like Christmas cake fruits. This was paired with Gorgonzola and walnut which was almost a revelatory experience. The Nero D’avola was so intensely flavoured, it felt like it needed to be sipped in front of a roaring fire. What a find!

To finish off our Veeno wine tasting experience we were given a large portion of tiramisu to share and a small glass of Marsala wine each. The tiramisu was a great end to the meal and the Marsala sent us out into the cool autumn chill with a nice warm glow.

Veeno Manchester Selezione Wine Tasting Experience

The experience took around two hours. It was nicely paced without either of us feeling pressured into downing our drinks to move on to the next one. Each glass was a 70ml measure, which was plenty. The experience costs £26.90 per person and we felt it was a fair price; especially given the quality of food, drink and expertise on offer.

Sam was excellent, very helpful and knowledgeable. He took us through each wine; explaining about the grape, how the wine is made, what kind of things we should be getting when we taste the wine and also what foods work well with each wine variety. The experience was excellent and all the better for having Sam talk us though it all.

We had a very pleasant afternoon at Veeno. I tried some excellent wines and ate some lovely food. I learned a few things about wine and wine making and we managed to have a gossip and a catch up whilst watching the world go by. We liked it so much that we’ve booked to go again next month!

For more information about Veeno and their wine tasting experiences, visit their website.

 We were invited guests of Veeno Manchester and we were not asked to pay for our experience. Nevertheless, all images and opinions are our own.

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

Behind the scenes at The Lost Carnival, Dunham Massey

Throughout August The Lost Carnival has pitched up just south of Manchester, in the gardens of National Trust property, Dunham Massey in Cheshire. We went along to find out more about the carnival and to explore the beautiful gardens at Dunham Massey.

This is the third year The Lost Carnival has been in town, having previously been located in Bury and Crewe. The carnival is the brainchild of Wild Rumpus, the arts company specialising in unique outdoor productions which both children and adults can enjoy, such as the famous Just So Festival.

Behind the scenes at The Lost Carnival at Dunham Massey

This interactive circus carnival almost seamlessly ties in with the current exhibition in the house, Dunham’s Lost Years – A Victorian Tale of Love and Abandonment. The exhibition uncovers the controversial marriage of daring circus performer and beauty Catharine Cox to Dunham’s young heir, George Harry. The link is that the performers from The Lost Carnival will be rehearsing across the summer at Dunham “under the invitation” of Catharine Cox.

We arrived at Dunham Massey and parked in the vast car park (£6, free to National Trust members) and made our way to the visitors reception and picked up our tickets to the garden (adults £8.60, children £4.30, free to National Trust members). The Lost Carnival itself is free, but you need to buy a ticket to enter the garden area).

Behind the scenes at The Lost Carnival at Dunham Massey

When you enter the garden (if you’re lucky like we were, you might spy some of the deer roaming the park) you are handed a Lost Carnival map which helpfully gives you some background to what’s going on and highlights the carnival areas for you to locate. Naturally we put our six year old in charge of the map and he guided us through the gardens expertly.

The Lost Carnival attractions are nicely spaced out around the gardens. I recommend you first head to the “Chant” area, where a carnival performer will teach you the chant, the actions and give you some clues about what you need to do while you’re there. From there we moved on to explore Popou’s Caravan. This is a gorgeous caravan filled with trinkets, maps and clues for kids to explore. It was very busy so we only managed a quick look inside. When my son emerged he only had one word – “wow”!

Part of the fun is spying carnival attractions through the trees and discovering secrets and clues in the gardens. I was enchanted by the zoetrope, one of those devices where you turn the handle and watch through the slats to see a horse galloping and an acrobat performing stunts on its back. 

Wandering through the gardens to the “Dressing Room” we met a glamorous carnival seamstress who whispered secrets about the missing star-crossed lovers Sergei Bird and Popou Ingenue. She asked us to help her out finishing a beautiful costume. We sewed a bright button onto a wedding dress (I wonder who that is for) and had the chance to try on some of the carnival costumes.

Behind the scenes at The Lost Carnival at Dunham Massey

Further down the gardens in The Orangery we stopped to write a letter to the heads of the rival carnivals (and those star-crossed lovers) Sergei Bird and Popou Ingenue, imploring them to return to the carnival. After we’d had a little sit down while he wrote his letter, we wandered through the gardens to find hula hoopers hooping, so the boys had a little go.

Behind the scenes at The Lost Carnival at Dunham Massey

There was enough carnival activity to make things interesting for my son; but not too much that it overwhelmed the tranquility and beauty of the gardens. Apart from the carnival itself, we had a great time exploring the extensive gardens which have formal and informal areas. We were lucky that the weather was so sunny and kind to us. The gardens are equally fine on rainy days. There are plenty of sheltered spots under the trees if it’s really pouring.

Immerse yourself in the world of the two of the greatest carnival families, the Birds and the Ingenues and see if you can help them bring the heads of the rival carnivals Sergei Bird and Popou Ingenue back to their families again.

Behind the scenes at The Lost Carnival at Dunham Massey

The Lost Carnival is on until 30 August, from 10.30am – 4.30pm daily at Dunham Massey. Parking and entrance to the garden is free to National Trust members. For non-members a charge applies – visit the website for more information.

We were invited guests of The National Trust. We were given complimentary tickets and parking in exchange for this write up. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

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. 

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

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.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

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.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

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.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

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

Visit the Cocoa Cabana website for further information http://cocoa-cabana.co.uk/

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Note: We paid for our Afternoon Tea in full.

UK Wine Hour – Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

Last week I was invited along to the first UK Wine Hour event in Manchester. It took place in the beautiful (beautiful is a wild understatement here) and ancient surroundings of the Baronial Hall at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. It was a small but perfectly formed event in a stunning venue, with lots of new and interesting wines to try.

UK Wine Hour is a “Twitter Hour” where interested people chat along on Twitter, swapping wine tips, asking questions and generally celebrating wine. UK Wine Hour runs 7-8pm on Thursdays with the hashtag #UKWineHour. This was the first UK Wine Hour Live event in Manchester, there have been others in London, but Northern wine lovers got their turn last week.

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

The Baronial Hall was packed with wine merchants, large and small, offering their wares for tasting. Some had just two or three wines to try, some had a fairly large number of bottles to choose from. Personally, I found myself drawn to the merchants with just a few well chosen bottles. 

I had decided to start with fizz, then white, red and then fortified wines. I was pleased to see English fizz represented by the Exton Park Vineyard in Hampshire, but my favourite on the day was a Viña Pomal Rioja Cava which I don’t think is quite yet readily available in the UK, but worth pestering your local wine shop about.

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

We were spoilt for white wine on the night, I think most of the room were quite taken by the Hungarian wines from Disznókö – one of the largest estates in the Tokaji region of Hungary, located in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains. The Dry Furmint 2016 (£14.99 from Oxford Wines) was a real find.

I loved all three of the wines offered by Didsbury-based Reserve wines. This delicious Oliver Zeter Nussriegel Riesling Trocken 2016 (above) at £15.99 was a real favourite and one I will be seeking out next time I’m on Burton Road. 

UK Wine Hour - A Wine Tasting Event in Manchester

In terms of good reds, I was drawn to the wonderfully named Gnarly Head from California Wines which was described as having “rich, dark berry flavours with layers of plum, pepper, cola and chocolate”. It certainly packed an enjoyable punch!

I’m not normally a sherry or port drinker, but I was persuaded to try two ports, including a rather good 10 Year Old Tawny, £22.99, available from Waitrose. I also tried an astonishingly rich wine – Marques De La Vega Pedro Ximenez which tasted like Christmas pudding in a glass. I believe it will sell for around £15 a bottle once it reaches the UK. It is utterly delicious, a very good bargain and it’s on my Christmas list already.

I’m no expert, but I enjoy tasting and learning about wine. I didn’t feel even slightly intimidated by the event, it was so friendly. It was just the right size, with approximately 60 different wines in the room, so plenty to try but not too many that you’re overwhelmed. I think I tried around 20 different wines and discovered some real gems. UK Wine Hour Live events don’t happen on a very regular basis, but at £15 a ticket, a selection of some really great wines and a really friendly atmosphere I know I’ll be going to the next one.

Find out more, follow UK Wine Hour on Twitter. Join in the #UKWineHour chat on Thursday evenings, 7-8pm.

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.

PCA Predict are experts in email validation and are running a Postcode Pride campaign to find out why people are so proud of their postcode. This is why I’m proud of mine.

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Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m partial to a spot of culture and the arts. I’m a great believer in encouraging my son to enjoy them too, which is why we often go to the theatre, or visit a gallery, or do something to broaden his creative horizons. This summer Refract is coming to the Waterside Arts Centre, Sale. It’s a ten day summer programme bursting with experiential performance, music and events to challenge visitors of all ages to see things differently.

Refract runs from Friday 21st July to Sunday 30th July, and brings together a carefully curated programme of arts, music, performance and thought provoking wonders. With highlights including performances from inside a giant bird’s nest and inspirational theatre on a trampoline, thought-provoking and intimate shows inside a static caravan and interactive gaming on a mega scale.

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

We’ve picked out some unmissable performances from the Refract:17 programme. But you can find out more about the full programme of events here.

BBC comedy stalwart Jan Ravens is previewing her brand new Edinburgh Fringe Show on 21st July. Enjoy an evening of stand up with Jan Ravens where she will be impersonating The Queen, Kirsty Wark, Fiona Bruce, Theresa May and many others.

Join acclaimed comic poet genius John Hegley (22nd July 7.30pm), for an evening of laughter. Local legend John Hegley is one of the country’s most innovative comic poets. He has several best selling volumes of poetry to his name.

Other Refract delights include Dylan Thomas’s timeless masterpiece, Under Milk Wood and Waterside favourites Comedysportz, plus drop in activities for all throughout the ten days.

Music lovers will be in their element at Refract this year, with Salford starlet Ren Harvieu appearing on 22nd July as well as Eduardo Niebla on 24th July. Bringing in the Blues, King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys kick off the party on Friday 21 July with one rocking night of jazz, swing and blues. Not forgetting The Shee, The Demon Barbers XL and Nick Cope’s Family Songbook

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

There’s something a little different for little people too.  Flock to Flit, Flap, Fly; An extraordinary squawking adventure set inside a giant bird’s nest. With live music, audience participation and birdsong, follow a young bird’s frantic and funny journey towards independence.

Enjoy a charming and comic tale complete with clangs, boings and unbearable hope to make our spirits soar with Anyday. This bouncy trampoline based theatrical performance is bound to put a spring in your step! Get one of your five a day with Goblin’s Peter and The Wolf featuring musical vegetables and puppetry in this hilarious performance. Tiny tots might enjoy Aleena’s Garden. Join lovely Aleena tends to her garden from the first days of spring to the short snowy days of winter.

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Smartphone addicts will love WiFi Wars.  Not only are mobiles and tablets welcome, they are an essential part of this live interactive comedy game show.

For older kids and young adults (and maybe not so young adults too) there’s Mobile.  Part theatre and part life lesson about class in modern Britain; this intimate, visual and powerful show is staged inside a caravan. Explore your sense of home, belonging, aspiration and the realities of social mobility.

There’s really something for everyone at Refract this year. With lots of free and low cost activities, performances and shows for visitors of all ages. It’s a real community arts festival and it’s all happening directly opposite the Sale Metrolink Tram stop. So it’s very easy to get to from wherever you are in Greater Manchester.

Full listings and information are available on the Refract website.