School holiday activities: Home Community Cafe, Didsbury

 home community cafe didsbury  All local parents wondering what on earth they’re going to do with the kids during half-term, may I introduce you to Home Community Cafe, recently opened at the front of Emmanuel Church on Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury.

I was excited to hear about this new venture – an independent, not-for-profit café for all the community in Didsbury, run by volunteer ‘Home Makers’. Crucially for me, with two girls aged 4 and 2, families are not only welcome here but are actively and very warmly provided for. As Hannah, Home’s Creative Director says, “We want children to know that at Home they are not an afterthought, but little stars in our community constellation!”

This café is whole-family-focused: the combination of a great ‘mini café’ children’s section together with a brilliant children’s menu (check out the ‘Little Homies’ collection plate which is served in a bun tray, different items in each section – my two girls love it!) means I can sit ever-so-slightly apart from them, get a massive piece of gorgeous cake and an even larger cup of Tank Coffee and chill out. An event which is often unheard of for busy parents – particularly mums of very inquisitive and lively preschool girls! 

The mini café is one of the best places I’ve encountered – perhaps rather selfishly due to the relaxation effect on myself. There’s a really lovely selection of toys – for example a toy kitchen with pretend food and utensils so young children can indulge their penchant for role play to their heart’s content. They also have their own small tables and chairs to sit and eat their food (it’s really cute to watch them sat here!). The volunteers will happily heat baby food and drink, and the café is breastfeeding-friendly, with cushions and comfy sofas.

Note: for those looking for activities during term-time, too – Home café is currently running a Lego club for all ages on Thursdays from 3pm, with more after-school clubs planned for the future. The café also hosts a free Youth Café on Friday evenings for Years 6-11 and a story time session for preschoolers on Wednesday mornings.

Delicious coffee aside (my regular readers will note that coffee is a big part of my life), I’ve sampled lunch here which is quite different and something special. This is because there’s something new every day. Last week, I sampled an Asparagus, Pea and Mint tart with salad which was amazing. The week before I couldn’t resist the Sicilian Caponata made with aubergine and mozzarella. A quick check of their Facebook page tells me that today’s special is Wild Rice, Pear and Fennel salad (but I’m at work – boo!!). There’s a great selection of home-made cakes, too – check out the Bakewell Tart and you won’t be disappointed! Offerings change daily, but there’s also the regulars – the Collection Plate, for example is like an upcycled Ploughman’s lunch with lots of hummus, cheese, freshly baked bread and salad. Take a look at a sample menu here. home community cafe didsbury

 I know there’ll be many of you wanting to try somewhere new with the kids this coming half-term: give it a try, if only to give yourself a break between activities while your kids are happily at Home.

Home café is open Wednesdays-Fridays 10:30am-6pm, situated at the front of Emmanuel Church on Barlow Moor Road. Keep up-to-date with events and activities on their Facebook page, website or follow them on Twitter.

Wine and Wallop, West Didsbury

Wine and Wallop, West DidsburyToday I’m mostly recovering from an evening out at the lovely Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury.

As the bar is a new venture by the owners of Folk on Burton Road which I love, I had a feeling I was in for a good night. Particularly as I was accompanying the delightful Hodge Podge Days who knows her way round a pint.

The bar is really well situated on Lapwing Lane, amidst a small row of independent stores. It’s convenient for the tram stop which is just opposite and a short walk from the other bars and restaurants around the Burton Road area.
Wine and Wallop, West Didsbury
Wine and Wallop offers a great list of wines and prosecco by the glass – I started off with the latter which was a lovely, fruity number. Inside, the bar has a welcoming, warm atmosphere with lots of comfortable seating, wood paneling and soft lighting.

I also noted their selection of local ales and cask ciders. I didn’t see the menu but I believe they will offer simple, homely food to accompany the drinks on offer.

Last night we were treated to a range of canapés such as cheddar and homemade piccalilli on cider bread and platters of cold meats (I’m a veggie, but took a good few photos to show my meat-devouring husband).

Wine and Wallop also intend to sell their own products shortly which is going to be handy for Christmas presents. They’ll be selling ales and wines from their own list.
Wine and Wallop, West Didsbury
We had a scout round and found that the 1st floor had leather sofas that I wanted to fall asleep in, with a balcony overlooking the main bar. It’s also handy to note there’s a function room on the second floor available to hire.

We had a good night there and I think it’s a welcome addition to Didsbury. I’ll be returning soon as it’s so handy – just around the corner from me. I’d also like to try out more of their menu. And drink more wine!

Disclaimer: I was invited to the press night of Wine and Wallop but was under no obligation to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own:

Our wedding in Didsbury, Manchester

Wedding in Didsbury, ManchesterI’m back! After nearly a year of wedding planning and general quietness on the blog as a result, well – we did it!

Our wedding took place on the 29th August, followed by a Florence honeymoon and was just amazing. I wish we could do it all again.

I’m brimming with blogging ideas now I have some spare time again. I have LOADS to impart about wedding planning with two pre-schoolers in tow, for example (we managed it, in seven months – please send any medals to PO Box Bonkers).

But first, I thought it would be useful to those planning a wedding in and around Manchester to provide a quick run through of all the suppliers, venues and people who helped to make our wedding the best day it could be.

Rings
Starting with with our beautiful rings, we can’t recommend Bud Mulki at GIA Diamonds in Didsbury highly enough.  What this guy doesn’t know about diamonds isn’t worth knowing.  My husband had already been to see him several times before he proposed and we then visited him together to make the final choice. He really took his time with us and made sure we were happy with our choice.  We were so impressed, we also bought our wedding rings with him.

Wedding stationery from Elouise Designs.
Wedding stationery from Elouise Designs.

Stationery
At the beginning of the wedding planning journey, I was floundering slightly in a haze of wedding-world chaos.  I had no clue where to source some lovely, handmade invites, but I knew that I wanted them to involve roses and jasmine flowers (rose and jasmine being the middle names of our two little girls).  I literally googled something like “handmade wedding invitations Manchester’ and Elouise Designs was one of the top hits.  Eleanor is based nearby in Timperley.  She was so lovely from the beginning and I was amazed when I turned up suffering badly from the latest cold, spluttered out my ideas and she made up a sample on the spot which was just what I wanted.  We also bought our orders of service and guest book from her.

Wedding dress from The Case of the Curious Bride
Lourdes wedding dress from The Case of the Curious Bride.

Dress
I had heard that the dress could take a while to choose and was warned that I needed to get on with it quickly.  However, I’m a rubbish shopper.  I really didn’t want to be traipsing around endless shops trying dresses on.  A friend had recommended The Case of the Curious Bride and from looking at their website, I realised I loved the style of their dresses.  The Curious Bride was the first shop I visited (in the end, I only visited three) and the dress I chose – Lourdes from their White Threads collection – was the very first I tried on.  I loved it instantly, but thought that I would surely like others more.  Nope – together with my chief bridesmaid, I tried on some other very fancy, embellished dresses, but my mind kept returning to the Lourdes.  I love its simplicity and elegance. But I’ll stop there as I sound like a ponce trying to critique a wedding dress.  Needless to say, I’m in love with it and will be keeping it for my two girls’ future use. Melanie and Eve at the shop are amazing, down to earth and really know their way around a wedding.  They were able to give me advice on accessories and underwear, and even steam-ironed the dress again for me a few days before the wedding.  I’d definitely make this your first stop if you’re marrying in or around Manchester.

Shoes
Now, I browsed many, many wedding attire sites and looked in quite a few shops to find shoes that suited my dress.  In the end, I found the perfect shoes in high street store Next, which I didn’t expect.  Again, they were simple – ivory satin, a small heel (we don’t want any tripping up down the aisle, do we?) and a lace overlay.

Bridal hair comb from Silver Sixpence in her Shoe
Bridal hair comb from Silver Sixpence in her Shoe

Accessories
My beautiful, bespoke hair comb was by Nicola at Silver Sixpence in her Shoe.  I first had a consultation with Nicola back in June which was a great experience.  Throughout the wedding planning process, I’ve been amazed by the creativity and inspiration that seems to come naturally to those in the business and Nicola is a good example of this.  She was able to take some vague idea I had and turn it into this gorgeous piece using vintage lace and a lovely vintage brooch she had sourced.

Hair and make up
I’m rubbish with hair, and equally rubbish with makeup.  It’s a testamony to Bethany Jane Davies that she managed to make me look good.  Bethany had explained that I should source some photos online or from magazines of the sort of style I wanted before my trial.  I turned up with three photos I’d found on pinterest, which I had agonised over.  One of these was of a lady with long hair and mine is chin length.  I really did not know what on earth I was doing. Bethany was able to make me look amazing, but still natural and ‘dewy’ (her word, not mine!).  She’s also lovely and made me feel at ease.  Plus she’s great at creating curls in hair that has stubbornly resisted curl of any kind all of its life.

She has also recently opened a vintage beauty salon in Chorlton – I’ll definitely be going there before a night out or occasion sometime.  Plus – she’s getting married herself nex year.  Good luck, Bethany!

The groom
My husband wore a bespoke, handmade suit from Richard Smith Bespoke in Manchester, who also provided handmade ties and pocket squares for the bridal party.  Hubs (got to get that word in once, surely?) can’t speak highly enough of Richard Smith, who was extremely professional, had great ideas and ensured that he was completely satisfied with his suit.

Bridesmaids dresses from Monsoon
My beautiful flower girls in their Monsoon dresses and hand knitted boleros.

Bridesmaids and flower girls
We had one Bridesmaid (we’ve been friends for 33 years, no less) and our two girls, aged nearly 2 and nearly 4 were flowergirls.Pink and purple was the general colour scheme we chose.  The bridesmaid dress was from BHS – a lovely deep purple.  The flowergirls’ dresses could only be from the one and only Monsoon who offer the most beautiful childrenswear.  They were a dusky rose colour, covered in rosebuds.  To top it off, my mum kindly knitted two pink boleros, and we sourced some deep purple hair slides to match the bridesmaid’s dress.

Cars
I’m a complete idiot when it comes to cars.  My husband recently asked me what car I would like if we get round to changing ours and my reply was “one that works and has somewhere to plug my iphone in”.

Therefore it seemed reasonable to pass this element of wedding planning over to my Dad and husband.  They chose Classic Elegance Cars based in Rossendale, and the car was a Mercedes E Class. It was very nice, had a pink bow on the front and was driven by a nice chap called Bob who was also very patient with us as we took our time drinking prosecco and having photos taken after the service.

Wedding flowers from Laura Coleman
Wedding bouquet from Laura Coleman Flowers.

Flowers
My lovely flowers were by Laura Coleman Flowers.  There’s a theme beginning to emerge here – I know nothing about flowers.  I just knew I wished to incorporate roses and jasmine.  Laura and I met in the pub for my initial consultation and I do remember rolling home a little merrier than when I set off.  Laura created a handtied bouquet for me, bouquet for the bridesmaid, really cute little posies for the flowergirls together with baskets of rose petals, buttonholes and corsages for the bridal party and pew ends for the church.  They incorporated Ocean Song roses, Secret Garden roses, Norma Jean roses, Bombastic Spray roses, Earl Grey roses, blue and white Delphinium tendrils, white Hydrangea, Purple Flowering Mint, pink Astilbe, Pincushion Flower and Amni alongside Eucalyptus, miniature variegated Pittosporum and Jasmine foliages.Phew! As you can see, the effect against my dress was really striking.

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St James Church, Didsbury

Church
Onto the main event!  The service took place at the beautiful St James Church, a real credit to Didsbury and Manchester and a Grade II listed building.  The church is part of the St James and Emmanuel parish and they are expert wedding planners, taking care of us and our arrangements from the beginning of the process.  From a great marriage preparation day to a calming rehearsal session and beautiful ceremony by the Rev Nick Bundock, we highly recommend getting married here.

Reception
We served prosecco at the church immediately after the ceremony and then all headed over to Didsbury House Hotel for the reception.  This is a great boutique hotel in Didsbury with stunning features and a relaxed feel.  They offer many options for weddings and are so accomplished and professional – they really looked after us and our guests had the most amazing time.  There’s lots of comfortable seating for everyone and great bar and terrace areas.  We opted for their barbeque as we wanted to keep things informal (no seating plan – yay!).  This was cooked on their terrace then brought indoors and served buffet style which worked really well.  Speeches took place on their grand staircase which the guests also loved.  I should add that the bridesmaid and I stayed the night before the wedding and got ready there in the morning.  My husband and I also stayed in the bridal suite on the wedding night – I want to go back there (hint…anniversary…)!  What a stunning room, with separate lounge, bedroom and bathroom on the top floor of the hotel.  I was determined to use those roll top baths, adjacent to each other in the bathroom, no matter what time we escaped the party. So there we were at 2am having a good old soak!

Hand crafted rose and jasmine themed wedding cake.
Hand crafted rose and jasmine themed wedding cake.

Cake
A special mention to my mother-in-law here, who made our fanastic wedding cake, with layers of fruit cake, lemon sponge and rose-flavoured sponge.  The cake was so beautifully decorated with delicate roses and jasmine flowers.  I’m in awe!  We received so many comments from our guests on how lovely it was.

Chocolate dessert table from Cocoa Cabana, Didsbury
Chocolate dessert table from Cocoa Cabana, Didsbury.

Chocolate dessert table
We also sourced a chocolate dessert table from Cocoa Cabana in Didsbury.  I’m surprised anyone could eat anything by this stage, but most of this disappeared.  Sarah at Cocoa Cabana is another creative force – she specially developed a gin and rose truffle and a jasmine green tea truffle just for us.  The table also included a range of other truffles, brownies, marshmallows and macaroons (note that in my initial consultation, the lovely Sarah gave me a brownie to try and a nice, big latte…bonus!).

Favour boxes
Next to the dessert table, we included a sign saying “eat today ot take away” and provided some purple favour boxes from Paper Themes.  As it happened – most people ‘ate it today’ anyway, but it was a nice thought!

Cheese tower
Unfortunately I haven’t yet got any photographs of the delectable cheese tower from The Cheese Hamlet in Didsbury.  Cheese, as my readers may already know, is one of my favourite all time items.  I like all cheese.  The tower served as our evening buffet, served with crackers and chutneys.  The Cheese Hamlet provided us with a Cornish Yarg, a Colston Bassett Mature Stilton, a Rachel Goats Cheese, a Godminster Organic Mature Cheddar and Neufchatel Hearts.  We enjoyed eating it.

Band
The band actually MADE the reception. They were brilliant.  They are iPanic, based in Liverpool and play at Mulligan’s in Manchester every month, where my husband first saw them.  They played a range of covers which got absolutely everyone dancing – the floor in the hotel was shaking!

Photographer
Our photographer was Lee Fretter photography.  We wanted a photographer we felt comfortable around, as he would be with us all day.  Lee really put us at ease from when we first met him – he’s a real pleasure to be around and has fantastic ideas about his photography.  We cannot wait to see the official photographs from the wedding – he showed me a few on his viewfinder throughout the day and they were stunning!

So there is a run down of all the people who made our wedding day special.  A big thank you to everyone – and to our guests of course who made it so much fun!

Honeymoon champagne
Honeymoon champagne…don’t mind if we do…

Honeymoon!
Our honeymoon deserves another, future blog post. We chose Florence, Italy and had the most amazing time.  Culture, excellent Italian food and lots and lots of lovely red wine…hmmm….

West Didsbury CE Primary School – it’s happening!

West Didsbury CE SchoolLast week, I heard some exciting news – news that my family and I had been hoping for. News that’s great for the community of Didsbury and the many young families, like us, that live here.

On Thursday, the government announced the successful Free School bids for those who applied in 2013 – and West Didsbury CE School was one of only 22% of applications which were successful.

A new primary school for Didsbury, opening in September 2015!

Back in August 2013, I wrote about my support for the bid for a new school in Didsbury.

I wrote about my feelings as a parent of two lively pre-school girls, about how I’d love for them to attend the existing, incredibly successful Didsbury C of E. It’s one of the top Primary schools in Manchester and consistently rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

However, it’s hugely oversubscribed year on year. In 2013 it received 180 applications for 30 reception places. I wrote about how disheartening I found this – especially as this situation doesn’t apply to just Didsbury C of E. All existing primaries in the area are becoming increasingly oversubscribed, pushing children out of the area to schools which can often be more than 2 miles from their home.

This oversubscription of schools in the area was one of the key reasons for the bid to establish a new school in the area. The Rev Nick Bundock explained in an issue of St James and Emmanuel Church Together magazine, the school is intended to widen choice and alleviate pressure on all schools in the area.

I’ve had a sense of the passion, energy and drive of those behind the bid over the past year, just from attending services and listening to the buzz around me. A huge amount of work and effort must have gone into making this proposal successful, more than I could possibly imagine. It’s an enormous success.

All I know to date from news circulating the church is that the school will open in September 2015 (yay!) and will be a two form entry. I’m sure that more hard graft is in order as St James and Emmanuel, Didsbury C of E School, the Manchester Diocese and other partners mentioned on the website seek to make the very best new school they can possibly make.

It’s impossible not to be excited about the school’s vision and aspirations for a new generation of children.  The vision and values for the new school can be found on the West Didsbury CE Primary School website and are based around the three core principles of belonging, believing and becoming.

These are explained in a great deal more detail – but some key words and phrases really capture my attention: community, potential, productive, engaged, proactive, self aware, belonging to each other, believing in our gifts and abilities.

Exciting and inspirational stuff. Can’t wait to see the school and its lucky pupils in action.

Visit the West Didsbury CE Primary School website for news and updates and to register your support.

Twitter: @WDidsCEPrimary
Facebook: West Didsbury CE Primary School

An evening of wine at Didsbury Lounge, Manchester

Last night, a friend and I were treated to a wine tasting event at Didsbury Lounge, a relatively new and already popular bar and restaurant on Barlow Moor Road in Didsbury.

The evening was dedicated to sampling a selection of wines – some existing favourites and some potential new gems – alongside a few tasters from their food menu.

We were greeted by the lovely Jenna of @99_marketing who showed us to our table which included a bunch of friendly fellow bloggers, including Hodge Podge Days and Things to do in Manchester.

I’ve been to Didsbury Lounge a few times for drinks and am always impressed with the warm, quietly ambient atmosphere – and the fact that I can usually sit down at a table (I’m too old to stand up, let’s face it).

Our expert of the evening was Noel Reid of Robinson’s Brewery based in Stockport, which holds a selection of two hundred wines from around the world, from small, independent suppliers.As the evening progressed, I realised that not only does this guy know his way around a bottle of wine, but he is incredibly passionate about it. As he spoke, it was like the wines were some of his best friends. It’s rare to see such passion in someone who really enjoys their vocation.

So there we were, tasting notes and pen at the ready. Here’s how we got on.

Amazing bookcase wallpaper!
Amazing bookcase wallpaper!

The Wines

Our tasting notes were organised by appearance, nose, palate and score (which we did out of ten).

Noel explained that we were tasting a selection of wines already on the menu, and also those which are potentially new for the Christmas market and going forward.

We were helping to assess which wines work, which don’t, and which of the higher price bracket wines could potentially be sold by the glass, to give customers a chance to try a higher quality wine without paying for the entire bottle.

I like the latter idea. Of an evening, I would generally buy a bottle, but I would like the chance to sample a high end wine with lunch, for example.

I would post a photo here of our wine tasting notes. However, as the evening progressed, for some reason which I can’t fathom the notes became increasingly messy, hard to read, and wine-splattered (!).

So I have summarised my friend and I’s thoughts below. I add a disclaimer here that we are not experts – we just simply wrote what we thought.

Noel and Jenna
Noel and Jenna
  1. FREDERICO PINOT GRIGIO COLLEZIONE – Pinot Grigio used to be my usual choice, yet recently I seem to be more partial to Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine was very light in appearance, had lots of apple and citrus on the nose and had a tart aftertaste which would probably be better with food – especially fish or shellfish.  We gave this a 6.
  2. FINCA LOS ALIJARES VIOGNIER – We totally loved this wine which is currently being considered for the wine list.  I hope it gets on there – we gave it a 9 for its soft, peachy, orangey taste.  I think this would retail at about £20 in the restaurant – I would pay that.
  3. VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLO DI JESI MANCIANO BONCI – Another new wine, this was quite strong and viscous in appearance.  We could taste pepper and lemon.  We gave it a 6 (harsh markers!).
  4. SANCERRE BLANC SERGE LALOUE – Our favourite of the whites.  We could have happily drunk this wine all evening.  We wrote a whole range of notes for this, including spicy, gooseberry, flowery and asparagus.  It was really pleasant and easy to drink – its pricier at £30 but if it was offered by the glass I’d definitely buy it!  We gave it a 9 but on reflection 10 all the way!
  5. DURIUS RESERVE SYRAH 07 – This was the reds winner.  Another 9.  This is £24.50 on the menu – warm, spicy and very Christmassy!  One of us wrote the word “beautiful!” in huge letters (obviously quite merry already by this point).
  6. ROLLING CABERNET SAUVIGNON MERLOT – A new contender for the wine list, we gave this a 7.  It was very tannic and dry on the palate which would be great with some foods.  It depends what you’re in the mood for at the time.  We wrote that it had spice, dark fruits, cinnamon and orange on the nose.
  7. TIASTA MALBEC RESERVE – This Argentinian Malbec is currently on the menu at £21.95 per bottle .  We scored this 8 out of 10 – it was quite bitter, but in a pleasant way?  Very earthy with lots of dark fruit.
  8. CASARENA SINGLE VINEYARD PERDRIEL MALBEC- This is a new Malbec which was very viscous. I wrote ‘nutmeg’ and ‘quite acidic’ so we obviously preferred the previous Malbec. We gave this a 6 – the lowest we scored anything that evening.
  9. MONTELVINI ASOLO PROSECCO  MILLESIMATO EX DRY – The start of the evening! As you can see from the photo above, Noel and Jenna posed with this great bottle earlier in the evening and we couldn’t wait to try it. It was so soft, easy to drink and really warm and fruity at the same time. I hope this makes its way onto the menu as I’d visit the Lounge again just to taste more of this!

Food

sticky rice balls

To aid us on our wine tasting journey, we were presented with a platter of their food from the ‘Grazing’ menu.  We tasted sticky rice balls, salmon mousse, falafel,aubergine dip, hummus and a bread basket.

All the food was lovely – the favourite most definitely being the sticky rice balls.  I always like to have the option to buy grazers or nibbles when I’m having a few drinks with friends – it’s a good alternative to a full meal when you’re not massively hungry (and just want to get on with a few drinks and some serious gossip, let’s face it).

Verdict

We had such a great evening that we didn’t want to leave and ended it by ordering more food…

wine at end

and enjoying more wine!

wine at end

Disclaimer: I was invited to a complimentary wine tasting by Didsbury Lounge and wrote this review in return. We had an excellent evening, I’ve visited of my own accord previously and I’m sure I shall return again very soon!

Bonding over Bugs

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Spot the bug!

Today marks the day of two weeks leave from work for both myself and Mr EC. Two weeks to spend with our two girls!

Next week we will be sunning (hopefully) ourselves in Anglesey. This week we decided to potter around, do household chores, go to the park, just…whatever.

Today involved a visit to Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury, a beautiful park with botanical gardens, lots of wide, open space and (perhaps of utmost importance to young children) a cafe that sells ice-cream.

The afternoon made me realise how rushed I usually feel in my life, to the extent that I don’t often get the chance to just have spontaneous and opportunistic fun with my daughters. For part of the week they’re with a (great) childminder while I’m at work. For the two days I’m not working I try to pack as many activities as possible: toddlers groups, dance classes, play dates with friends. Weekends we’re all together and we usually madly try and catch up with the chores and see grandparents.

All much fun, but often tiring and lacking some, well, spontaneity.

So, picture us in the park on a sunny autumn day. We were just whiling the time away when I suddenly said to nearly-three-year-old “let’s do a bug hunt!”

Off we went, inspecting trees, rose bushes and shrubs (I’m no good at this stuff so apologies that I can’t name them). Along the way we took turns to pretend that we were the dragon, chasing the other one. This involved me grasping the gate to the botanical gardens, shouting “heeeelp!!!”, which must have presented quite a picture to passers by. Crucially, I didn’t care.

Here’s what we found:

  • One worm, under a large stone.
  • One black beetle, on a leaf of a rose bush.
  • One tiny red spider on a tree trunk.
  • One snail, attached to some reeds.
  • I think we were both very pleased with the fruits of our labour. We had smiles on our faces for the rest of the day.

    It did feel like a re-bonding experience after quite a hectic time involving my return to work, appointments with consultants for eczema, death of a family pet and just general flying around being a working parent.

    For me, I’ve realised that I try and organise the hell out of everything. From now on, more spontaneity is in order!

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    A new school for Didsbury: West Didsbury CE Primary School bid

    West Didsbury CE SchoolI’m a mother of two girls, aged three and one. We live in Didsbury and I want to express my support for the bid for a new school in the area. The school, if the bid is successful, will be a sister school to the existing Didsbury C of E School and St James and Emmanuel Church, though open to all faiths (or none).

    I’d love for our two young girls to attend the existing Didsbury C of E, one of the top Primary schools in Manchester and rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Yet this year, Didsbury C of E Primary school received 180 applications for 30 reception places. This is a powerful and disheartening figure for parents who want the best education for their children.

    In the latest issue of the church’s Together magazine, Revd Nick Bundock discusses this statistic as one of the key reasons for the bid to establish a new school in the area. As he explains, the school is intended to widen choice and alleviate pressure on all schools in the area which experience the same problems of oversubscription.

    As of August 2013, 81 of the new free schools are operating with a further 200 due to open in September. Free Schools are currently the only means of opening a new school; they are state-funded and independent of Local Authority control, which means that they have some freedom – to choose the length of school day or term, their curriculum, teacher’s pay and how they spend their budget.

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    The bid for the West Didsbury CE Primary School will be submitted on 9th Sept. I was recently reading, on the bid’s website about the concepts of the school. Here’s why they appeal to me as a mother.

    The school will be founded on three core values:

    • Belonging: The school wants to foster mutual care, respect and trust, alongside a sense of belonging to the community of Didsbury. As well as encouraging a caring and responsible attitude, I believe that a sense of belonging is one of the markers of health and wellbeing, and I would love to encourage this in my daughters.
    • Believing: West Didsbury CE Primary School wants children to believe in themselves and their potential. I work in Public Health for a local authority, and we are frequently trying to think of ways of ‘raising aspirations’ in some of our more deprived communities; believing in yourself is the key to not only health and wellbeing, but to any future success in life. My daughters are only three and one, yet we’re already working hard to instil a strong sense of self-worth in them.
    • Becoming: The new school wants children to challenge, to have the confidence to change the world around them, to be risk takers. Now this, I love. I remember the careers lady at school telling me I should work in a bank as it was ‘safe’. I didn’t want to. I loved English and wanted to study literature. Luckily, I did and am very glad I didn’t take her advice. We need the confidence to go for our dreams, to unlock our potential.

    I’m further encouraged by some recent positive media on recently opened schools. A BBC News article recently reported that three quarters of the first 24 free schools were rated by Ofsted as ‘good or outstanding’.

    Another article in The Economist discusses the power of free schools to unlock potential as they are assured of all the freedoms of a private school save over admissions.

    Using Greenwich Free School as an example, situated in one of London’s “grimmest” areas, the article relates how the originators set about creating the “perfect school”. This involved visiting countries such as Sweden and America and subsequent curriculum changes such as dropping computer skills for computer programming, and citizenship for politics and economics. Crucially, the students engage – no pupil has been expelled and detentions are few.

    I’m supporting the bid for a West Didsbury CE Primary School, alongside many others in and around the community of Didsbury. For more information on the proposals for the West Didsbury CE School, and to register your own support, visit the website at www.westdidsburyceprimary.co.uk.

    You can also find details on Facebook here, or at @WDidsCEPrimary on Twitter.

    Forget-me-not Friday #3

    “I want ALL the pages, Daddy!”

    Our two year old daughter, like many young children, has her stories before bed every evening. We tell her she can have three books and then it’s sleep-time.

    Of course we’re only human, and sometimes we try and sneak in a last book that doesn’t contain quite so many pages, in our eagerness to get some dinner/chill out time.

    So it struck me the other evening when I overheard daughter asking daddy for her “rhymes book” – a book of around ten nursery rhymes – that we most certainly can’t get away with such thinking with canny toddler around, who sniffs out the slightest hint of laziness in the story department and stamps on it without delay!

    Daddy: “Ok, good, rhymes book. We’ll do a few rhymes and then it’s bedtime”.

    Daughter: “But I want ALL the rhymes, Daddy!”

    Daddy (inwardly sighing): “Ok, all the rhymes”.

    Both cuddle up on bed together with the rhymes book.

    Daughter (obviously just checking): “But I want ALL the pages, Daddy!”.

    Good on daughter number 1 for enjoying her reading so much!

    Are you poorly, Mummy?

    I just had to write about my experiences of being ill whilst having two children. Oh boy. All those years I complained about the slightest headache, pre-kids. What was I thinking?

    Ok so I’m not exactly dying, or even significantly ill, I just have a virus. A bad one, yes, but just a self-limiting virus, probably picked up from a) daughters b) one of the many soft play areas/germ breeding units we frequent or c)…just anywhere.

    *Whinge alert..do not read further if prone to wanting to beat whingers with a big stick!*

    It’s just soooo hard!!! Once I would have just picked up the phone to work and then languished in bed all day. Rest is what you need to get better, after all, isn’t it?!

    No chance. All week I’ve ‘kept going’ for my two lovely daughters, dosed up with painkillers and sinking copious amounts of water, finally conking out around 8pm when they’re both in bed.

    My body finally objected to this strategy today by subjecting me to a humongous migraine which painkillers wouldn’t touch. Tried to ‘carry on’ and one day I’m sure I’ll look back with humour on nearly vomiting at Burnage Health Centre where little one was due for her 8 month check (Aside: Health Visitors can be VERY slow when you don’t want them to be?).

    Bed rest ensued due to early arrival home from work of dutiful partner- hurrah!!

    The effect on my two year old was interesting. I really don’t like to cry in front of her, but I’ll admit I did shed a tear or two when I realised I just couldn’t do it anymore. She showed some lovely empathy, giving me cuddles and saying “I cuddle you, Mummy”, “I kiss it better”.

    At the same time, children feel unsettled if their usual situation is slightly off, and they just want things to be back to normal as swiftly as possible. She still made her usual demands of me in between cuddles (“I WANT MORE APPLE ICE LOLLY!!”) and definitely played up for poor dutiful partner.

    I think the moral of today’s blog is that we shouldn’t take our health for granted, as it’s a nightmare for EVERYONE when you’re ill.

    Now, where are those apple ice lollies?..

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