Come along for the ride!!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Sound of Laughter

I have only ever met a handful of people who grew up without a sibling. Joseph’s Godfather, my Mum ………. um ….. ok then, two people.

Anyway, they are unanimous in their view that it was “very lonely” growing up. Joseph’s Godfather even said he would either have two children or none at all which I think shows how strongly he felt (feels) on the subject. (He now has two lovely girls by the way).

As I was one of two boys, there were times when I didn’t think that being an only child would've been too bad a thing (I'm sure my "little" brother would agree). Watching Annabel and Joseph last night, I was reminded how special it is to have a sibling and how naïve it was to think the way I did.

Last night, they were both running up and down the landing from one end to the other, back and forth relentlessly, laughing uncontrollably as Joseph ran behind Annabel, catching her and both falling over.

This went on for about 15 minutes and only came to a stop so we could bathe them and get ready for bed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; you don’t need expensive toys or big trips planned for your children for them to have fun. They amused themselves perfectly as I have mentioned with nothing other than each others company.

I’m sure there’ll come a time when they’re not always as happy to be together; I’m thinking early teens etc, but for now, it’s terrific to watch and be a part of.

I’m happy that we have a boy and a girl. I’m happy that we had them when we did, as in, that there is a 2 and a half year gap between them; it seems to work well.

Watching them play last night, I realised how lonely it would have been for Joseph if he didn’t have Annabel (and vice versa). Sure, we would’ve played together the way we always did, but I’m not sure it would’ve been as special as the bond that it is forming between the two of them now.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Something for the weekend Sir?

This weekend was a corker actually. It was my Dad’s birthday on Saturday and he very kindly invited 30 close friends and family to celebrate with him.

A carvery lunch at Dulwich Golf course; result!

Venue? Great. Food? Terrific. Panoramic view across London? Amazing.

A very cosy affair with the whole place to ourselves. Dad obviously felt very relaxed because he gave a short speech thanking everyone for coming (and my Dad doesn’t “do” speeches).

Joseph and Annabel were the only two children there and thoroughly enjoyed running around after being very well behaved (if I do say so) throughout lunch. I call it lunch but it actually turned into a 5 and a half hour sitting!

As you may or not be aware, I have been known to write the odd poem or two for my nearest and dearest on special occasions. For regular readers here, you will know I have been so busy, I have had to put all non-essential tasks such as sleeping and eating on the backburner so unfortunately a poem for my Dad fell by the wayside.

I didn’t forget Dad - it’s in the pipeline.

Thanks again for a truly smashing day

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Once again, time has sped past since my last post. If you look at the days it reads “this post Sunday, last post Saturday”. Hurrah, you might think, only a day since his last musings?

Well, no actually, 8 days. Things have to change; must do better!

Lots to tell though so, deep breath ......

As before, a very busy week at work, combined with some rather extreme weather. None more so than on Thursday when the severe wind that was predicted found me abandoning my bike for the relative safety of a train.

All well and good so far.

I can still make it from work to Joseph’s school on a tube if I make a connection ok and there are no delays. What happens? A power failure closes the line southbound and I am forced off the tube approximately 4 miles from where I need to be.

“Don’t panic”, I thought, “jump on a bus”.

Now this would have been a terrific idea if it weren’t for the fact that there were roughly 200 people with the same idea, booted off the same tube as myself. As people were actually fighting to get on buses, I thought it wiser to set off in the general direction of home. A couple of ‘phone calls had secured Joseph’s safe collection anyway so off I went.

For an hour and a half.

In gale force winds.

However, taking into consideration the collapsing wall in North London on the news later that night, my walk home was insignificant. I’m sure everyone's heart went out the parents of the toddler who never made it home that day.

Also on Thursday, Joseph did a drawing for M and I while he was at breakfast club. Similarly, Annabel did a painting for us at nursery. It wasn’t until Friday when M had put them up on the cloakroom door, that she noticed something a little peculiar.

“Have you seen”, she said, “the colours the children chose to colour in yesterday?”

I turned to look and was genuinely taken aback.

What do you think?

If Derren Brown had pointed this out I would have spent the rest of the day wondering how he’d done it. That or hiding under the sofa.
I included the picture below because it includes the extra picture (bottom left). Joseph took it out of his bag and said he had drawn us “all holding hands” which, if you look closely, we actually are; bless his heart!

Following a later than planned Friday evening (no drinking involved, honest), our Saturday got off to a slightly stuttering start. You may remember our close friends had upped sticks and moved down to Wilton, just outside of Salisbury? Well anyway, we were off to spend the day with them in their new house.

Late start – check.

Get a bit lost – check.

Annabel choosing to vomit everywhere– check.

Great! Half an hour from our destination and Missy had opted to chunder pretty much all over herself and the back seat.

Was this the shape of things to come for our special day out?

Well, no actually, far from it. The day turned out perfectly from then on.

Anne-Marie and Richard are well and truly ensconced in their new surroundings. From their “cosy” flat in south west London, to their lovely 3-storey townhouse in Wilton.

And very lovely it is too; the house and Wilton in general.

More thatched roofs than you could shake a stick at, a river running past the end of their garden, real ale pubs and the pre-requisite village idiot.

Actually, that last bit is not true in the slightest.

SW London versus Wilton?

Where’s the contest?

Having been for a lovely walk (wearing our wellies naturally), sloshing through mud, feeding the swans and ducks, past the stunning Wilton House (closed for winter) and back in time for a fabulous venison sausage stew with mash and vegetables, it really is difficult to understand what they both saw in the place?

Anyway, that’s their lookout.

I’m sure it won’t be long before all that open space, fresh air, friendly neighbours and real ale wears very thin and they’ll be scampering back to dirty, grimy, short tempered London with their tails between their legs, cowering in shame.

Or not, as the case may be.

The only slightly worrying thing was that Richard appears to have discovered Harvey’s Bristol Cream, the only bottle of booze my brother and I ever left alone in my Dad’s drinks cabinet. On the good side, it would seem that choosing this years Christmas present for him will be very easy. After all, you can find slippers in most good stores, which he will undoubtedly be in need of after a year of “country living”.

Well done guys, you seem to have made the dream move – good for you.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Come in number 5

Crumbs, where does the time go?

I know, I know, no entries since Monday. It’s not out of laziness trust me, I have been ‘tres’ busy, at work in particular.

A lot has happened though. Joseph started back at school and breakfast club and got straight back into the swing of things without any problems. Annabel has been talking incessantly, new words, whole sentences even.

Probably the one thing that sticks out in my mind this week happened on Wednesday afternoon. All our Christmas decorations had obviously been packed away within the twelfth day time limit, thus avoiding any hocus pocus bad luck jiggery pokery nonsense. The boxes containing said decorations however, were still strewn across the floor of the living room looking rather messy to say the least.

Anyhoo, Joseph always jumps at the chance to go up into the loft as it is accessed by a rather terrific loft ladder that floats gently down on a large spring when you open the loft hatch.

Armed with a torch, he heads up first and I follow with this box and that box. When I’ve gotten everything up there, it’s time to store it for the next 11 months and in the absence of a loft light, Joseph has the important job of aiming our torchlight in my general direction.

It was this that opened the floodgates of my memory; holding a torch for Dad.

There were many occasions when I held a torch for my own Dad; working on his car, working on my car, up in his loft, in the garden etc etc.

Irrespective of what the job was, the scenario invariably went something like this; Dad doing all the work and me just holding the torch. I say 'just' but deep inside I knew (or felt at least), that it was the most important thing I could be doing at that exact moment for my Dad.

And make no mistake, I made it my priority that I would shine that torch in the most accurate way possible.

“Aim the torch at the alternator now boy”, my Dad would say, not that I would have known an alternator then OR now if it hit me square in the face.

“The alternator, right, of course, the alternator. And that would be …….”.

“No, over here. You remember the alternator don’t you? I showed you when we worked on my previous car the year before last”.

“Yes, yes, of course I do, the alternator, ha-ha, as if I would forget that, the alternator, there you go, I’m shining the light on the alternator right now”.

When I finally knew where I was supposed to be shining that torchlight, you can bet I did all in my power to keep it held steady. Unfortunately my Dad could work all day with only an occasional cup of tea and I had the attention span of a goldfish with Alzheimer’s (and that was 25 years ago!!).

Similarly, if Dad was working on an electric socket, I felt that he would only get through it safely if I kept the torchlight focussed and unwavering on the exact spot required.

It was memories like these that came rushing back while in the loft with Joseph. I remembered that sense of importance, of pride that I was helping “my Dad” at something. Not just any old thing, but apparently the job wouldn’t have gotten done without me, such was the importance of holding steady!!

“That’s it Poops, hold it right there, let me just slide the Christmas tree back into this gap over here”.

“Like this Dad, like this?” he asked, hoping to have done a good job.

“That’s it boy, absolutely perfect, well done”.

With the job finished, we came down from the loft and pushed the ladder up together. What follows next is as important as the torch holding itself: the washing of hands.

(pause to think back)

I remember now.
My Dad bought me a boiler suit, just like he would wear and the kind that any self-respecting mechanic would have on at your local MOT centre; you know the type. They were dark blue and I would wear them only if I helped on Dad’s car.

When the job was all done, we would put the tools away, sockets in the correct place in the socket set, giving the feeler gauges a wipe with an oily rag to keep them smooth “for next time we need them”.

And then, we would wash our hands together. Not just wash them, but use Dad’s tub of Swarfega, an industrial cleaner which magically got rid of grease, oil and the like. It was bright green and you literally scooped a handful out and set about getting your nails clean and the oil from your hands up to your wrists (where the muck stopped thanks to the boiler suit).

After the Swarfega, the fairy liquid under hot running water; job done.

And so, Joseph and I washed our hands together (regular soap – it was only the loft after all), me thanking him for his help, how I would have struggled without him, how I hope he’ll be able to help me the next time.

The look on his face told me he’d be more than happy to help me again.

And I’m sure he will.

Until he gets older of course, when he’ll have better things to do than help his Dad, when his time will be too precious to hold a silly torch.

I know that time will come, eventually.

But until it does, he’s my Chief Torch Holder, no doubt about it.

We dried our hands and I thanked him again, then ruffled his hair the way Dad’s do.

It means a lot.

Thanks for teaching me that Dad.

Among other things.

Monday, January 08, 2007


To put it simply, some days as a parent are tougher than others.

Far tougher.

Yesterday was one of those days. I honestly think that a day spent on an assault course for the SAS would be easier.

No, but seriously …….

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Omnivore versus carnivore

I can clearly remember two particular primary school outings trips I made to museums. One was at Horniman’s museum to study the anatomy and behaviour of bee’s and the other to the Natural History museum to learn about dinosaurs.

I know I enjoyed these two trips because I can still recall lots of what I learned on them; probably the bee trip more than the dinosaurs to be honest but one thing which sticks out about the dinosaurs is that, even after millions of years of evolution, there are still 100’s of animals which eat grass and are hunted by other animals who eat …. the animals eating the grass; in other words, meat.

Unfair if you ask me.

Anyway, I digress from what I’m actually thinking about.

The eating habits of my children.

Having returned to work for one day on Tuesday, I had the pleasure of being off again yesterday to spend with Joseph and Annabel. I cooked us rice, vegetables and chicken for lunch and watched them tuck in.

Joseph, unsurprisingly, slowly ate his way through his entire serving, pushed the empty bowl away from him and announced “finished” in a voice slightly louder than necessary considering I was sat opposite him.

Annabel, again, not unsurprisingly, wasn’t what you might call “wolfing” it down. She was methodically sifting through her bowl, picking out all the chicken; nothing else. The closest image I can come up with is watching apes preen each other for nits, adopting a ‘seek and destroy’ attitude, in her case, ‘seek and eat’. To give her credit, she did eat all of the chicken and was just able to ask for more through a mouthful of semi-chewed poultry.

This request I duly carried out and sat down to try and fool her into eating something other than just chicken.

Who was I kidding!

I took her spoon (which she would not normally let me do) and on it placed a piece of chicken, a garden pea and two grains of rice; I swear that’s all there was.

I admit to being more than a little surprised when she opened her mouth and ate what was on the spoon having watched me. I admit to being far less surprised when she scrunched up her face and set about moving the foreign objects (the rice and the pea) to the front of her mouth with her tongue, to spit into my waiting hand.

How is it possible that their eating habits can be so different? I have always applauded M for the great job she did with introducing a huge variety of foods into Joseph’s diet, which shows not only in what he currently eats, but also new things he is willing to try.

Annabel could not be more different. She does eat meat which is good and she has started eating fruit lately, but it stops there.

I only think she tries new things because she see’s Joseph eating them. She is fairly typical in that she wants to copy her older sibling.

Which is very, very handy.

If it weren’t for her copying Joseph, she would have a lifetime of dry rusks, Hula Hoops and picking the meat content out of her meals.

Poor lamb!

Monday, January 01, 2007

1st of January 2007


It’s finally here; 2007. We’ve bought our new diaries, updated the wall calendars in the kitchen, discussed our healthy eating plan for the whole of January and written and re-written our resolutions for the year ahead. I say re-written because I’ve tried to be realistic and resolutions are never realistic when you first go through them.

I was a little miffed though as I started the New Year with a bloody hangover. I wouldn’t have minded if I’d been involved in a full on session but a couple of beers and the best part of a bottle of red wine and I felt absolutely, 100% awful at 8am. I'm putting it down to a dodgy prawn dim sum. Thankfully, my wonderful wif (not a typo) brought me Eno’s, a cup of tea and turned the light off until I finally stirred at 10.

Thanks again love.

It was a shame because today was the most beautiful start to a new year I can remember. We went for a walk to the ‘rec’ to go on the slide, swings and climbing frame and as I was getting Joseph ready, he said something that I’m sure every parent dreads hearing for the first time. When I said we would be wearing his old trainers as the rec would probably be wet and muddy, he threw a big huff and said, “oh, they’re not gonna look good”.

He’s 4 years old for crying out loud! Not gonna look good? Good grief, I never worried about my appearance until I was …….. well …….. never!

I can see it now; I’ll need a Saturday job just to keep him in trendy trainers. And I was worried about Missy parading up and down the hallway with M’s bags over her arm, asking me to change her shoes every 20 minutes.


Looking good already!