Manchester – We dig the city

This weekend we spent a rainy Saturday hibernating in the house after a bad night of teething with Rory. He was grouchy most of the day and even woke up five minutes into each nap with his ‘bark’ – a cold and cough seem to be his token symptoms when he’s teething. We ventured out late morning for a walk to the local shop for milk and bread but all of us came back soaked and spent the rest of the day snoozing, watching TV and playing Lego.

Dig the City
Dig the City

So, after a better night’s sleep last night – we were only up three times – I was determined we leave the house and not have a lazy Sunday. On Friday, I had seen a feature on the local news about a gardening festival in Manchester city centre – Dig the City Manchester, so I googled it, floated the idea with Glenn and off we went in the car to the big city! We haven’t been into the city centre since I waddled round the Christmas markets heavily pregnant so it was a first time for Rory and was a successful trip!

The first bit we came across was a huge bug statue. Of course, having been asleep in the car, Seth was in a right grump and wouldn’t let me take any pictures of him with the bug. Next was the Incredible Edible stand which had an amazing wood-carved mud kitchen. This sparked Seth’s interest and off he went, mixing and transferring stuff from one pot to another until he eventually served up an exquisite cake!

Then came the inevitable: “I need a wee!” Cue the panic thought process (Last time we were here he was in nappies)… “where the heck are the nearest loos?…. the Arndale loo’s are a right trek… quick M&S, there’s got to be one in there.” We made it in time!

Deckchair
Deckchair

When I asked Seth what his favourite part of the day was tonight, I half expected this to be it. The sheer whoops of joy and delight at going through a revolving door and up and down escalators made me want to be three again! It’s the small things.

Panic over, we carried on through the festival, trying out some deck chairs and having a quick look at an outdoor chess set before we stopped off for lunch – lunch and the car parking being the only things we paid for today – free fun being the best fun!

Deer
Deer

After a refuel we set off again, spending quite a bit of time on the National Trust Lyme Park stand in St Annes Square. They had chalk outlines drawn on the floor and Seth used a range of materials – bark, pine cones, logs and clippings from different trees to fill in the shape and make his very own ‘Wild Art’. The volunteer helped Seth add some antler shaped branches and voila, Seth’s very own deer. They gave us a National Trust book ’50 things to do before your 11 3/4′, wild art being one of them. There are quite a few others in there that we’ll be able to tick off but he has got 8 3/4 years left to do the rest so there’s no rush! Also on the stand, Glenn showed Seth the dry stone walling and then he did some colouring in and watched some other children make seed bombs.

A wander down Kings Street brought us to the Coronation Street Tour garden – a good photo opportunity with the street sign to show Grandma.

We also came across the Manchester Children’s Hospital stand which gave me some really good ideas that I might try out next year. I was toying with making a dinosaur garden but seeing the train track going around their garden seemed like a really good idea for one of our planters next year, especially as we have so much wooden track. I’ll definitely be sticking these photos on Pintrest to remind me of it next Spring. They also had lots of pots of bubbles knocking about and some water play so that kept Seth busy for a while!

We headed back via Seth’s favourite bits – the M&S loo and the mud kitchen, then we followed the Mr Bloom signs and timed it perfectly for a glimpse of the man himself. We hadn’t told Seth he was there in case we didn’t get to see him so he was excited when he twigged who it was, although a bit disappointed he hadn’t brought his veggies.

Mr Bloom
Mr Bloom

Mr Bloom fired up his Ukulele to sing his theme tune and then for the people who had booked that sat on picnic benches in the inner circle, he gave out plant pots and did some planting before finishing off with a rendition of his Here & There theme tune. It was a perfect length of time to keep Seth’s interest and there is adequate staged seating around Greengate Square for the ‘tiddlers’ who hadn’t booked to sit down and feel included even though they couldn’t actively participate. It was sold out well in advance – a popular man that Mr Bloom. I believe he is now on Hollyoaks so he’ll no doubt be included in some sort of half naked calendar in time for Christmas!

Dig the City is on until Thursday and is definitely worth a visit if you’ve got kids to entertain during the school holidays.

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