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Guest Blog From An Out-Of-Towner

May 9, 2012

We recently received the following email, and although we don’t often do guest blogs, were sufficiently intrigued to get back to Kathryn…

Hi Helen,

I’m a freelance writer who has recently moved from London to Manchester, and since we’ve been living in Didsbury I’ve really enjoyed reading your Didsbury Life (and sibling) websites. There’s been a fair bit of publicity lately about certain parts of the BBC (like BBC Breakfast, for example) moving up to Salford, and this seems to have generated a debate about the pros and cons of relocating in a northerly direction! I just wondered whether you would be interested in a guest blog post or two about why we’ve loved making our move to Didsbury (and why, in terms of cool places to live, Manchester can give London a run for its money any day!)

If you think this might interest you then I’d love to hear from you – Kathryn

With very little delay, we’d received the following – and we now share it with you…

If you’re a regular reader of Didsbury Life, then you probably don’t need to be told how lovely Didsbury is.  You probably already know.  You’re probably perfectly au fait with the loveliness.  You don’t need me to tell you about the beer garden at the Metropolitan, or the homemade cakes in Mary and Archie’s, or the fact that the rolling hills of the Peak District are just 20 minutes away.  The loveliness is common knowledge.

But what if you’re not a Didsbury regular?  What if, like me, you stumbled upon these pages by nervously Googling “nice places to live in Manchester that have lovely pubs and cool shops and fun places to eat”? The truth is, I’m not from round these parts.  I’m a new kid on the Manchester block, and until we moved here at the start of the year, I knew almost nothing about Didsbury.

I’m not the only one; when the BBC announced plans to move several of its key departments to Salford, the decision received a mixed response from staff.  The word on the street is that many of them were, shall we say, less than keen to move to Manchester, and some high profile broadcasters even refused.  A lot of this is understandable of course.  When you’ve worked hard for a company for a number of years and spent time and energy laying down roots in the capital, then the idea of upping sticks and moving 200 miles up the M6 can seem, at best, disconcerting – at worst, like utter madness.

Although we don’t have anything to do with the Beeb, my fiancé and I have just done exactly that.  To the horror of some of our fashion-forward, south-centric friends, we’ve relocated.  Out of London and back Oop Narth.  We’ve handed over our Oyster Cards and swapped Tottenham Court Road for Burton Road.  And guess what? We love it.

A lot of Londoners don’t know this, but Manchester (and especially Didsbury) is exactly like London.  Only better.  Nicer.  With friendlier faces and cheaper sauvignon blanc.  It’s a cliché, but it’s true: the people are more affable, the air is fresher and life just feels more relaxed here.

And if I’m totally honest, not a lot has had to change for us.  All of the things we loved about London are here, in bags.  Quirky restaurants, indie boutiques, beautiful parks…  We used to cycle along the banks of the River Thames nearly every evening, now our bikes are regulars on the Trans Pennine Trail.  We used  wander around Kew Gardens for a horticultural fix, now it’s Tatton Park.  We used to have hungover Sunday lunches in posh gastro pubs.  Now we… well, we still do that, actually.  (The Woodstock does a nice roast.) If you’re still not convinced just take a peek at my Top Ten list of Things-You-Can-Probably-Do-In-Manchester-That-You-Probably-Couldn’t-In-London:

1.)    Pay less than a fiver for a pint.

2.)    Pay less than a million for a house.  Maybe even a whole house.  Not the top floor of a house.  Or the basement of a house.  Or the parking space outside a house.  An actual house.

3.)    Own a car.

4.)    Park the car.

5.)    Get out of second gear in the car.

6.)    Meet a friend for coffee with less than a week’s notice.

7.)    Pay for a taxi into town without re-mortgaging your home.

8.)    Exchange pleasantries with a stranger at a bus stop without somebody alerting the police

9.)    Board a train without a grumpy businessman slapping you aside with his copy of the Financial Times in the scramble for the last remaining seat (okay I’ll admit this happens here, but not EVERY day..)

10.)  Did I mention pay less than a fiver for a pint?

See?  What’s not to love?

Didsbury At Night

Didsbury At Night

The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

The Albert Club, West Didsbury

The Albert Club, West Didsbury



Didsbury In Bloom

Didsbury In Bloom

Didsbury Car Show

Didsbury Car Show

Didsbury Festival

Didsbury Festival

Paupers Wood, West Didsbury

Paupers Wood, West Didsbury

The West Didsbury "Secret Wedding"

The West Didsbury “Secret Wedding”

Didsbury Gate

Didsbury Gate

The Siemens Building in the snow...

The Siemens Building in the snow…

Words by Kathryn Carr

Images by Didsbury Life

3 Comments leave one →
  1. mefinx permalink
    May 9, 2012 6:56 pm

    What a lovely post. I’m Manchester born and bred but my partner grew up in North London and we’ve managed to produce two reasonably well-balanced mixed-heritage kids. I think it’s a great place for them to grow up with excellent schools and a wonderful cultural mix of friends and opportunities within easy reach.

    It always surprises me that people seem to assume that the journey south is half the length of the journey north – Londoners always talk about us popping in next time we’re in the area, but seem to think the reverse trip involves Huskies and extreme survival gear.

    I love London, but it’s always nice to get back home – and it’s only two hours on the train!

  2. May 10, 2012 7:06 pm

    Great post! And I second the comments left by mefinx, particularly the difficulty in getting people from the south to travel north as regularly as we visit them!

    I’m also a northerner by birth (a plastic scouser from the Wirral not a Mancunian) so wasn’t too concerned about relocating from London to Manchester (West Didsbury) two years ago. My husband, however, who’s German, had only experienced the capital and was more than a little concerned about leaving our engaging, cosmopolitan albeit impoverished southern existence behind. But oh my, have his opinions changed. Life is certainly cheaper and less-fast paced but I think his most surprising discovery has been the warmth and friendliness of the people. We’ve never lived anywhere before where our local hairdresser, beautician, bartender or whoever not only remembers your name but also what you do for a living, that you’ve been on holiday, and even the state of a friend’s love-life which came up in conversation three months ago!

    Depressingly, we have to move back down south come September (the husband works in Southampton and the commute is no longer feasible). Southampton is no Manchester, and has no area which can live up to what’s on offer in Didsbury. Sadly, our child (due in July) won’t grow up here in this friendliest, accessible and most happening of cities.

  3. March 24, 2013 11:05 pm

    I’m moving to Manchester from london in September and looking at Didsbury. This has given me alot of encouragement. Thank you.

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