Come along for the ride!!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Old years day

Well, here it is; the last day of the year. Time once again to reflect on the year gone by and to look forward to the one ahead.

The difference in the children is, perhaps understandably, amazing. A year is a long time in the life of a child, particularly the ages they’re at.

Joseph has left his toddler status behind and is now a ‘boy’. He has started school, he knows his alphabet and how to add and subtract numbers. He’s kind, polite, shy and handsome, he loves food, reading books, his Cars DVD and going on trains.

Annabel too has left behind her baby label and is now a fully-fledged toddler and has moved from the baby room to Little Learners at nursery where she has taken a shine to Andrew, the chap who comes in to do “Tots in Sports” every Tuesday. She is also kind, very caring and loving, not shy in the slightest and very pretty. She likes food (as long as it’s fish fingers), she loves bags, shoes and her dollies. Like Joseph she loves books, her Chantal Goya (a French children’s singer) DVD and, most of all, drawing (or painting as she prefers to call it).

Personally, I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am rather clumsy. Very clumsy in fact. Think Howard from “The Worst Week Of My Life” and you’re close. Whilst being clumsy isn’t a label I am overly proud of, it is refreshing to see it as clumsiness rather than constantly suspecting the forces of the entire universe conspiring against me day in day out. Sod’s Law as I usually refer to it.

On a totally different note, reading a book from Joseph’s Thomas the Tank engine collection the other night, I realised that the name Annabel is a blending of Thomas’s coaches Annie and Clarabel.

Anyhow, I hope your 2006 was enjoyable. I hope you can look back and say to yourself, “you know, as far as years go, that one was pretty darn good”.

And I hope your 2007 turns out to be wonderful. Remember, as long as you have your health, everything else is a bonus.

See you next year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Day trippers

A beautiful morning made us get up, get ready and get out of the house pronto today and off to town. We had promised Joseph a trip on the London Eye so we headed straight there.

Unfortunately, the entire population of London AND its tourists had all decided to do the same thing and so we spent a great deal of time in queues.

That said, we had a terrific day. We started with a river cruise from just below the Eye, up to Westminster Bridge - admittedly not all that far, then back down to Tower Bridge before ‘disembarking’ back where we started.

Very interesting it was too. I now know why there are two and a half bridges at Blackfriars. I know the most expensively built building in the whole of London and who it is for. I now know what the oldest building on the Thames is and that it is over 900 years old, dating back to William the Conqueror.

Our ‘guide’ was abnormally jolly; possibly hoping to be talent spotted by some lunatic who requires someone who can speak through a smile for 45 minutes, pausing only to wait for a laugh or two from her very corny jokes.

Anyway, off the boat and into another queue for the Eye itself. And it was worth it.

Onto our “pod” we went and within about, ooh, 2 minutes, Joseph moved to the centre of the pod where the seat is because, “it’s a bit high”.

Hmmm ….

You can imagine what he was like 15 minutes later when we reached the highest point on the ride. Poor thing, he was actually crawling through people’s legs so he couldn’t see out of the glass.

Annabel on the other hand, was standing on the actual ledge, almost on the glass itself, looking out across London and the seagulls flying near to us. Tough little cookie that girl.

All that queuing and excitement was enough for Missy to conk out on the way home in her buggy and Poops was pretty wiped out himself. When we asked him what his favourite part of the day was, he replied without hesitation, “the train ride”.

Our next family day out will consist of a train journey to Carlisle and back.

Friday, December 29, 2006

“Quote unquote”

10 things I have said today.

1. It’s not even 6am yet – go back to sleep.

2. Sugar Puffs AND cornflakes? Good choice, I’ll have the same

3. Who wants prunes?

4. Look at our garden! Bloody fox!

5. Pick up all these pieces of sticker before Annabel eats them.

6. Looks a bit cloudy and windy for the London Eye no?

7. If I get my hands on that fox I will kill him!

8. For the last time Annabel, eat some of your lunch pleeeeease!

9. Lie down.

10. If the weather is bad tomorrow I am going to de-Christma-tise the house ok?

I am proud to have made up an entirely new word to share with you. “De-Christma-tise” in quote number 10. It’s such a clever word that I don’t feel that I actually need to explain to you what it means, such is its simplicity!

I should also point out that while I am annoyed with our resident fox, quote number 7 probably should be taken with a pinch of salt.

I think.

A fox and Michael J Fox. Spot the difference

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Done and dusted

As Porky Pig used to say at the end of those wonderful cartoons, “a-tha.... a-tha….. a-that’s all folks”. Christmas chaos is over for another year.

All the usual promises to “only buy one present next year” or “let’s spend the money and go away for Christmas” and so on have been aired.

We’ll see.

We had a very relaxed Boxing Day; nothing was planned and we all watched Cars on DVD – it’s been Joseph’s favourite since we went to the cinema to see it back in August. That took us up to lunchtime, then over to see some friends and their two girls for a chat and several cups of tea.

Nothing stressful; no noise, no arguing, no more wrapping paper; just a relaxing afternoon.

A nasty sniffle of Missy’s kept us indoors yesterday but today was beautiful and mild so we went to the park.

We saw lots of dog’s on our walk, all pointed at with an accompanying “gog” from Annabel.

Joseph reminded me that he still wants to get a dog at some point in the not too distant future and said, “I wish mummy didn’t have an allergic!”

His leaving the sentence hanging made me laugh out loud in the middle of the park drawing some strange looks, particularly from those walking their “gog’s”.

I know tomorrow’s only Friday but already I don’t want to go back to work next week!


Monday, December 25, 2006

25th of December 2006

I had lots plans for today’s entry.

I wanted to tell you how perfectly it started.
How Joseph had quite literally forgotten what day it was.
How we got into his room before he realised the significance of the eaten carrot and mince pie on his table.

How his eyes slowly drifted to the bag by the side of his bed.

I watched the dawning realisation on his face that the day we had been speaking of for weeks, months even, had finally arrived.

I wanted to tell you how Annabel had squealed as we went into her room with a bag full of goodies.

But to be honest, yesterday evening's sermon put paid to all of that.

The sermon was to remind exactly why we were all sat there in a cold, draughty church on Christmas Eve rather than at home, quaffing mulled wine and mince pies.

The birth of Jesus Christ.

That’s it.

Never mind the wrapping, the presents, the cards, the goodwill etc.

As I have said before, whichever God it is that you worship in your prayers last thing at night, may He bless you and your loved one’s.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yuletide logs

This is it!

One more night. No more windows to open on the advent calendar. No more “Santa is watching, you’d better behave yourself”.

The 24th of December.

Christmas eve.

Oh mummy, I AM SO EXCITED! Never mind the children, it’s ME who’s beside himself!!

All the vague memories from my own childhood keep flickering in my subconscious, reminding me of my own past. I can see the excitement in Joseph’s eyes; the promise of what might be; lying there, wondering if you really have been as good as you’ve told yourself!

We’ve put out the glass of milk, the mince pie, the carrot for Rudolph and so on and so forth.

I guess all there is to do now is sit and wait.

Wait for sleep to come.

And hope.

Hope that “he” comes, hope that “he” sees past our minor misdemeanours, our ever-so-slight-failings over the year gone by.

Hey, we deserve it right? We’ve thought of everyone who matters over the past 3 weeks right? Come on Santa, we’ve been positively saintly, get our presents in the sack, WE DESERVE IT!

Do we deserve it?

Have we been saintly? Helpful? Neighbourly? Friendly to others? Kept our temper throughout the year?

I doubt it.
Not for the whole year anyhow.

Not if I’m anything to go by.

Anyway, whether we honestly think we do deserve those presents, bring ‘em on; we’re ready. We’ll answer for our wrongs in the next year right?

Whether you deserve them or not, Merry Christmas to you all.

Ding dong merrily on high. Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

ZZZZZzzzzzzz .......

It’s been a busy week.

Monday evening was Joseph’s school Christmas Carol concert at our local church so he had a fairly late night. Annabel and I came home early as she was tired and irate.

Last night was a neighbour’s Christmas party and Joseph had another late night. Annabel and I came home early as before; ho ho bleedin' ho!

M put Joseph to bed, came down and said that Joseph was waiting for a cuddle from me so we both went upstairs to find he was snoring away.

It couldn’t have been more than 2 minutes between him asking for me and us finding him sound asleep.

Now THAT’S what I call tired!

Oh boy, it is SO exciting isn’t it? For the first time in …… well, ever, we’ve done our Christmas shopping, sent our cards, the tree and decorations have been up for ages; we’re just looking forward to the Big Day itself!

I admit that sounds all a little too smug, even for my own liking, but in my defence, it is the first time it’s worked out that way. Two days annual leave, hit the shops on consecutive Monday’s et voila! One stress free lead up to Christmas.

I thoroughly recommend it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quote of the week

Whatever else is mentioned this coming week, Joseph’s comment yesterday will be the winning statemtent.

It went like this.

Joseph: For my next birthday, I’m gonna be 5. How old are you Dad?

Me: 37

Joseph (smacking his forehead): Oh God, that’s a lot.

Thanks son.

Friday, December 15, 2006


When I was younger, I loved all things American. American films, American beers; I took a 3 month tour of the United States, driving 12,000km from coast to coast and from the Florida Keys in the south to Minnesota in the very north.

I loved it.

What I loved – or what I thought I loved - was the lifestyle of the people in the films I watched and their pace of life; I wanted the same.

I liked the way the people in the films often looked dishevelled and tired, how they were out too late the night before, how they went to work half asleep, grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and played at the weekend – baseball in the beautiful wide open spaces, walking through parks coloured with autumn or wrapping up warm for the snowy winters.

I spent a lot of my youth craving a similar lifestyle.

More importantly, I never really felt that I could achieve this lifestyle; it somehow always alluded me.

Or so I thought.

I’ve been giving this some more thought over recent weeks and I’ve come to a conclusion.

This conclusion being that I have, without thinking about it or necessarily wanting it anymore, achieved the kind of life I once dreamed of emulating.

My life is busy. I often look tired and dishevelled. I rush in the morning, work is busy, I rush home, home life is busy (and fun), hours spent sleeping are less than desired (or necessary), my weekends are spent in the park, walking through autumn kissed trees, my laughing children running around swing parks, trying (and failing) to fly a kite ………

And so on.

I’ve made it! I AM the characters in the films I once loved so much.

The only thing is that now, I realise what a waste of time it was yearning for it so much. What the films portrayed was just life but spruced up with good looks, glamorous apartments in Chicago and an endless supply of wonderful, high paid jobs where the boss's wife has a thing for you!

At the risk of giving myself the evil eye (hence above pic), I have a wonderful wife, smashing children, lovely house, a job I’m (fairly) happy with. Ok, the ‘good looks’ part is nowhere to be seen but hey, you can’t have it all right?

Hollywood? Who needs you!

I hope Joseph and Annabel don’t waste time searching for the same things I did.

It’ll come your way eventually kids; just enjoy yourselves.

And more importantly, enjoy being YOU!

Trust me - you’re amazing!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Language Timothy!!

The second Sunday of December can mean only one thing; the Neo-natal unit party at St. George’s hospital, Tooting. Having been born 7 weeks early, Joseph qualifies to go and it has always been fun with an entertainer, a disco, balloon making, party food and more fizzy drinks and cakes than you can shake a stick at.

Which is why it was more than a little disappointing to find only food and a man making balloon shapes – we’d promised Missy some dancing and she seemed rather peeved that we’d lied, basically!

So, after a few sausage rolls, some Twiglets, orange juice and a packet of sweets kindly dished out by a very tall but fairly rubbish Santa, we decided the only other thing to do was to join the incredibly long queue for a balloon twisted into the shape of the child’s choice. Provided that shape was a flower or a sword! That seemed to be all he was able to do.

We waited. And we waited. And we waited.

We waited for about half an hour and it wasn’t until we got to the front that I realised what was taking so long.

The hundred and one kids that were charging about waving and popping their balloons were just walking to the front of the queue to ask for another one.

I know what you’re thinking; they’re children, kids don’t worry about the finer points of etiquette.

Well, I would agree except for the fact that there were several parents who also thought it was perfectly fine to just saunter up to the front of the queue with their delightful child-spawn and demand another balloon as “that 4th one you made popped”.

This was happening at the same time as one mother was swearing at this poor little Sri Lankan woman because her son had popped her son’s balloon!

I find this incredibly annoying. I admit I don’t like queuing but accept that sometimes that’s what you have to do!

M said that it is important to teach children manners and I absolutely agree.

But I can’t help thinking that what children actually see, is them standing in line waiting their turn patiently, while all the other kids and their scumbag parents wander up and get seen immediately.

M warned me not to make a fuss but I was pretty annoyed.

How are children going to learn to abide by the rules of society when they have parents who are ignorant?

You can’t.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A perfect 10

As expected, Saturday was fun but hectic. Just a teensy bit stressed getting to Tunbridge Wells for our train ride to Santa’s grotto; ok, quite stressed!

But it was terrific – everyone enjoyed it. If you have children I promise you they will love it too.

The Spa Valley Railway.

They do “Meet Santa” rides as well as Thomas the Tank engine rides throughout the year and they are very well done. There’s Thomas, Toby and Diesel to name but a few; all beautiful old engines restored to their original gleaming glory with steam belching from their funnel’s. It's like something out of an Agatha Christie novel! The staff are all train enthusiasts and some of them seem to have spent a little too long working alone with trains but they're a friendly bunch overall - you just wouldn't want them working in your child's nursery, even on a part time basis!

From there, on to The Hare pub/restaurant on Langton Green – a favourite of my parents – for our first and only helping of Turkey this Christmas and it was good too. Brussell sprouts a little under cooked but the turkey and pigs in blankets were delicious!!

Between courses, Joseph and Annabel did some drawing and writing on napkins, using the pens and crayons from inside the Christmas crackers provided. Joseph wrote his name on a napkin without any assistance and the result is below.

He has always gotten close but the ‘e’ or the ‘h’ are usually back to front – not this time. He nailed it!

Well done Poops – another very special milestone out of the way!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Looking back, a rather topsy turvy week.

Missy has been suffering from a bloated tummy and constipation and has been farting like a grown man. Bad news.

Poops has been saying “what?” to everything in a raised voice and has had discharge from one of his ears leading us to believe that one or both of his grommets have come out and his hearing may once again be suffering. Rotten news.

M has had an odd week too; feeling rough in the evenings with flu like symptoms and headaches in the day. Stinking news.

I must say it’s pretty bad timing as we are due to drive down to Royal Tunbridge Wells on Saturday to take a Thomas the Tank engine train ride to meet Santa. The fact that Joseph and Annabel have seen 3 different Santa’s in as many weeks may alert them to the fact that no-one in their right mind would bother throwing themselves down a chimney to drop off presents for anybody when they can just as easily sit on their backsides and wait for the children to visit them!

After the train ride, off to the Hare pub/restaurant on Langton Green for Christmas turkey – can’t wait!


Well I feel ok, thankfully.

I did have a rather extravagant splurge the other day. Harrods of Tooting – also known as Lidl’s – were selling a Bresser telescope for star gazing and nature watching so I bought one. I was very excited as the moon has been very low, clear and bright over the past week so I set it up yesterday afternoon in anticipation of showing Joseph the moon 75 times closer than we normally see it.

The clouds had other ideas however – I couldn’t see a damn thing.

The ‘scope came with a neat little attachment which allows you to screw your camera to it allowing you to take pictures of whatever you can see through the lens.

You can be sure I will post a picture of the moon – as soon as I get to see it!

Lidl’s – great gadgets!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Told you!

Well, I was right about how the disco would go; Poops tearing around working up a good sweat and Missy dancing non-stop to anything and everything!

A very busy weekend followed.

Saturday saw Joseph out for the day with my parents for the first time; they went to see Peter Pan on ice in Crystal Palace and they all had a wonderful time. M made him a packed lunch including some sweets - sugar free obviously – although he did have a wry smile when telling me later that evening that “Nanna gave me a green sweetie and Grandad gave me some chocolate”.


I spent the day at a school fayre which was full of lots of fairly pretentious parents.

“Yah, the organic falafel stall is being run by Milly’s mum and they’re simply to die for”.


On Sunday morning, I realised that I was the only one out of the four of us who was feeling 100% so we decided not to stray too far from home. We got the tree down from the loft and started our Christmas decorating (a little early admittedly).

I’m looking forward to this Christmas – Annabel and Joseph will both be really into it this year.

I remember last Christmas morning; I heard Joseph quietly mumbling so I jumped out of bed and armed the camcorder.

I sat, crouched by the monitor, listening, waiting for him to stir again so I might record the moment when he realises the milk, mince pie and carrot have been half eaten by Santa and his reindeer sometime during the night.

I sat some more, listening, totally unaware that Joseph had gone back into a deep sleep, waiting.

For another hour and 10 minutes!

I think I’ll not worry so much this year and get an extra hours sleep in!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Night Fever

No, not the centigrade kind - it’s actually a children’s disco tonight (I know, I know) and this is how I picture the evening.

Joseph; running around like a lunatic with his friends getting hot and sweaty.

Annabel: dancing non-stop to anything that’s played getting hot and sweaty. She loves to dance that girl.

I think it’s unlikely that they will be lasting the full two hours (6 until 8) but I would imagine the first hour will be a fun one.