Come along for the ride!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Number 140

Today marks a small milestone; a year has passed since I started this blog.

Ok, admittedly a fairly small milestone, but an important one, to me anyway. Reading back over the past year, I’m so pleased that I started writing here. It has acted like a written camera, a memory bank of sorts, recording snapshots of events in my life as a Dad.

And how things have changed in just 365 days.

Reading back through my writing has made me smile. In only my second post, Joseph was attempting (and succeeding) to undo his shirt buttons and was still at nursery. Actually, he was going through a clingy stage to due to his (temporary) loss of hearing and I noted how rubbish I felt simply walking out of the room, leaving him crying and calling me as I walked up the corridor, not looking back.

Blimey, that was tough.

Annabel was not quite a year old and was attempting to say “pick up” to everything. She also threw up all over the inside of the car on the way to see the Fimbles and I coined the nickname “Foghorn Leghorn” due to her amazing ability to go from a happy gurgling to an ear-splitting shriek that could direct ships at sea.

What hasn’t changed, is how much I enjoy writing here. I noticed that my posts became a little less frequent but that this was due to what was going on at that time. 139 posts over the course of a year breaks down to just over an entry every two and a half days.

I have promised to try and keep to at least the same ratio, if not a little more.

I mentioned Bill Watterson in my very first entry but had no idea how to post pictures. Thankfully I no longer have that problem.

Here’s to the next 12 months.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

By the left, quick march …..

The word “tired” doesn’t cover it, doesn’t even come close.

To how I’m feeling that is.

There are other words to describe exactly how I’m feeling but I promised myself my musings here would be family friendly so I will just say that I am very, very tired.

To summarise, our weekend looked something like this.

Saturday morning, leave home at 8.30 sharp, arrive in Wilton near Salisbury at 10.45am (having passed within a gnats whisker of Stonehenge), enjoy cooked breakfast, drive to outskirts of Salisbury, park, walk to Salisbury Cathedral, admire architecture, walk back to car, drive home, put children to bed, go to olde English pub for a couple of pints of “real” ale, go back home to cooked meal, drink wine, stay up late listening to good (and bad) music, wake up toe-curlingly early, have another cooked breakfast of quality meats, go for lo-o-o-ong walk through Grovely Wood (4 miles-ish), back for fantastic tea before climbing into car and arriving back home in London at 6.30pm BST, a little under 36 hours later.


A weekend at the country home of our chums Anne-Marie and Richard.

If, like us, you would love to have a country bolt hole but simply cannot afford it, all you do is this; get some of your closest friends to relocate somewhere you like the look of and then invite yourselves down there as and when you feel like it; bargain!

As Del’ Boy would say, “bonnet de douche!”.

They say that country air tires you out but that’s codswallop. It’s the 5 mile hikes that do you in! That and the fact you push one child on the outward journey in their buggy and carry the other child for the homeward journey ‘cos they’re tired out.

We all loved Grovely Woods. It was like something out of the Blair Witch Project, with the wind whispering through the tree-tops, way above us. That and the fact that the woods were so thick, it was actually dark, not to mention a young deer that appeared out of nowhere and bolted past us at top speed, from one side of the path to the other and into the cover of the greenery. And don't get me started on "the gnarly tree"!!

I grew up shopping on Roman Road market in East London but this Roman road; a real Roman road really was awe-inspiring. Walking a path that has been trodden on for thousands of years; literally.

Fascinating fact: did you know that Stonehenge was built at around the same time as the Great Pyramid at Giza?

Thanks once again for a terrific weekend guys.


ZZZzzzzzzz .....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chas 'n' Dave

With your first child, you look for any little changes, a new word, standing upright unaided for the first time etc. These things happen over a period of weeks, months or years.

With your second child these things happen, or at least, seem to happen much faster.

Annabel’s vocabulary is amazing. I can’t sit on the fence with this one and at the risk of “gushing”, it really is amazing.

Obviously she has an older sibling around all the time (which of course your first born doesn’t have) and so, through copying Joseph’s actions and speech, the rate at which she is “coming along” is remarkably noticeable.

Good old Poops. He’s teaching his little sister every day and he doesn’t even know it.

Rabbit rabbit

Monday, March 19, 2007

“Start it at 19 minutes Dad”

Yep, as promised, we picked up Star Wars at exactly 19 minutes (Luke Skywalker was just sulking about, explaining to Obi Wan Kenobi that he wouldn’t be able to go with him to Alderaan ……).

Sorry, got a bit carried away.

Once again, Joseph watched, almost without blinking, with the odd question about who was who and to remind him of what their names were. We got to where Luke, Han Solo (an incredibly young looking Harrison Ford), Princess Leia and Chewbacca are in a garbage crushing room and only just get saved when C3-PO and R2-D2 shut down the hydraulics to the crusher. I promised to let him watch the rest at a later date as both children were wiped out and it was bath time.

Apparently however, Joseph was awake at 4.30this morning, because he was worried about monsters so I’m not entirely sure Star Wars was such a good idea!

We’ll see.

On a lighter note, we went to San Gennaro’s pizzeria in Battersea, SW London for Mother’s Day. The restaurant holds a special place in my heart as it was where M and I got engaged (as I mentioned last week) and it was thanks to the then manager, that we decided to marry in Italy.

It hasn’t changed, apart from some of the staff, but they were very friendly and the food was just as amazing as it was went it was our regular Friday night destination. The buffalo mozzarella was fantastic and as always, I ordered the Classica pizza with extra olives.


On a less happy note, my mum spent Mother’s Day all on her own. She had set off for the airport as she was spending the weekend with some girlfriends in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day before flying down to relatives on the West coast.

Mum being Mum however, she forgot to take her passport, which is always a bit of a no-no when you’re supposed to be getting on a plane. Before you ask, I did invite her to lunch with us but she never made it across.

Hopefully when I take the children over in a couple of weeks, it will make up for it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ding dong, saved by the bell!

First and foremost, he’s in!

Yep, the ridiculous system of getting your child in to a school has come good and Joseph has secured a place for reception at the same school as where he currently attends nursery class.

I knew full well that there would be worry and stress when trying for secondary school places but reception class, give me a break!

Can you believe M and I were nervously waiting for the postman this morning? I actually hung up on my brother when I heard the gate swing open and tore the letter open, running up the stairs with M shouting for me to “open it, open it”.

The relief invariably led to tears but there was a funny moment.

Joseph won £50 on his premium bonds this month and upon my opening the school letter this morning, M and I cheered and she turned to him saying, “well done Poops, well done my love”.

To which he replied, “what Mum? Is it the premium bonds again?”

The past few weeks have been very busy. I trust you have not tut-tutted at my lack of detail on these pages? I’m sure you may not have noticed and it is probably only wishful thinking that you are desperate for greater minutia of our household.

A lot has happened however.

Annabel has changed a great deal. Her face has lost its baby chubbiness. She is also talking non-stop and being extremely sweet; it is absolutely wonderful to watch her and Joseph together. He is still a little annoyed by her attention and adoration but I suspect he would miss it if it were to dry up.

After dropping M off at the tube station this morning for her to go and assist a friend in search of a wedding outfit, the children and I went off to a garden centre to choose something for Mother’s Day tomorrow.

It was strange.

I mentioned to them that it might be nice if we didn’t go for flowers today, as they wouldn’t last very long. With spring around the corner, it might be nice if we got Mummy something to plant in the garden so she could see it throughout the year. With that in mind, they both wandered off and amazingly, they only pointed at and asked for things that had some longevity rather than just flowers.

Not impressed?

Well the proprietor of the shop said to me (when I went to pay), “You know I heard what you said to your children and then I watched them and they never once stopped at or were interested in perishable flowers – uncanny”.


Even if YOU weren’t amazed, the flower shop owner was so hah!

After a nap for Annabel, we had our first afternoon of the year out in the back garden and although it was a little cold, it was great.

After about an hour and a half, we went to the shops to buy some snacks as I had promised Joseph that he could watch (his new favourite TV show), “You’ve Been Framed”. Ham, fresh olives, stuffed courgettes, party size scotch eggs and Hula Hoops made for a fun tea.

Joseph roared with laughter for the entire show and Annabel cried at the canned studio laughter, so I sat with her.

And then, it became apparent that a generation had come full circle.

I put on Star Wars (after my brother-in-law lent it to me), and answered non-stop quick-fire questions from Joseph. “Who’s that Dad?”, “why did they shoot him Dad”, and “will he die Dad?” after seeing R2-D2 get zapped by the Jawa people at the start.

Oh boy, 2007 will be the 30th (yes, the 30th!!) anniversary of Star Wars and I was looking at Joseph, as totally transfixed as I was all those years ago. The best bit however, was that Annabel was knelt behind him, kissing the back of his head and pulling his ears outwards. The light from the TV in front was showing the veins in his ears which delighted her and kept making her kiss the back of his head, over and over.


Anyway, we stopped the film at exactly 19 minutes so we could get ready for bed but I have promised to pick up where we left off tomorrow.

Tomorrow promises to be a busy one too.

Things I have planned include;

A Mother’s Day breakfast for M

Short naps

Australian Grand Prix on TV (still not sure whether to get up and watch it live at 3am)

A table booked at an Italian restaurant near where we used to live (the one that M and I got engaged in) for a late lunch

Mend the puncture in my back tyre

Watch the rest of Star Wars

If I’m not asleep by 8pm, I’ll let you know how it all went.

‘ Night

Ooh, for some strange reason I’ve remembered that Joseph is exactly 4½ years old today. That’s all

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Indian summer ahead

I can already see the forecast for the year ahead: drought, sweltering and hosepipe bans. At the risk of sounding terribly English, isn’t the weather absolutely wonderful?

If it holds, out into the garden we will go this weekend and my annual battle of the overgrown lawn will commence in earnest. A fight I invariably end up losing and am forced to adjust the height of the mower.

You see? You see the things I have to contend with? Honestly, it’s a constant worry.

Wednesday evening saw M carrying plants from the front garden through the house to the back garden and vice versa until she was happy that the front more closely reflected the early onset of spring and I think she did a great job.

Tomorrow is a huge day. We should receive a letter telling us whether or not Joseph has been successful in getting into reception class of the school where he already attends.

Isn’t that madness?

Apparently M spoke with another mum at the school today who was told her son (who shares a class with Joseph) was NOT offered a place and will have to take up the offer of an alternative school nearby; naturally the mother was very upset.

Obviously Joseph is totally unaware of all this – he had fun dressed as Peter Pan today along with the rest of the school, teachers included.

We are going out this evening with friends so I may have to partake in a wee dram just to get the nervous twitch off my face.

Wish us luck – will report back over the weekend.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Art attack!

I was very spoilt this year and received lots of lovely pressies, cards and a bit of cash to boot!

The undoubted winner however, was this masterpiece by my smashing son. It’s his very own take on that crackpot arty pants, Jackson Pollock.

Very kindly framed by the lovely M.

Grazie la mia famiglia

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Squashed tomatoes and stew

Yes, yes, I know, another year another grey hair, thank you very much. In the realm of the thirty-somethings, another year falling by the wayside really ain’t that big a deal, trust me.

Having said that, thirty-something will soon become forty-something and I’m pretty sure I’ll sit up and take notice then!!

But, as far as birthdays go, today’s one started out lovely.

My smashing son climbed into bed and sang the “you look like a monkey” version of Happy Birthday to me; my beautiful wife gave me a kiss and my wonderful daughter, erm … slept. Not to mention the beautiful day outside!

Cards and pressies will be opened this evening under the watchful eye of Joseph who has expressed a desire to do all the unwrapping, so I will report back tomorrow with descriptions and pictures of any “loot” I may be lucky enough to have received.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What was I thinking?

I finished adding yesterday’s post at around midnight and was very tired, so that is my excuse for leaving out an important point.

Well, either that or the red wine I was drinking was stronger than I thought!

As absolutely fabulous as yesterday was, the day’s events were no excuse for not mentioning the incredible full lunar eclipse, which started at about 9pm last night.

As you may or may not be aware, I purchased a telescope back in December and so I very excitedly set it up in eager anticipation of the evenings viewing and what an event it was!

I can see now why Patrick Moore has been getting his monocle in a twist for the last 60 years; stuff like that really is awe-inspiring.

Our far off moon, normally so clear and pearly white, slowly disappeared behind a hazy black shadow and finally turned a reddish hue. I would be lying if I said I sat there throughout the whole performance, but I was running backwards and forwards as the night wore on. The full eclipse was around 11pm.

Mother Nature – awesome!

(And glorious)

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I searched my vocabulary banks for a single word that best sums up today and that was it; glorious.

I haven’t used this word since being in the New Forest with our chums The Wilton’s a couple of years back. The difference between then and now was about 10 degrees, but today was still absolutely lovely, albeit rather “fresh”.

Anyway, today was a “let’s go somewhere new” day and the lucky destination was the absolutely beautiful Crystal Palace Park, on the SE/SW border of London to see the dinosaurs. I usually only stick to one picture per post but I genuinely found it too difficult to choose between them today so just for once, it’s a positive jpeg fest!

Got to the park mid-morning, parked, walked in the wrong direction for the dinosaurs but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we may not have bothered with the rest of the park once the dark clouds rolled in later in the afternoon but we all enjoyed the slow amble through the flowers, past some lakes and into the swing park.

A short while in the swing park, on to the canteen where we stopped for lunch (approx 2 hours after arrival!), then out again in search of dinosaurs. I should point out that before we left the house, we were all watching Harry and his bucket full of dinosaurs on Milkshake (a children’s programme on channel Five) so our expectations were running high, Joseph’s especially.

We weren’t disappointed.

Well, Joseph was perhaps a little miffed that the dinosaurs we had come all that way to see didn’t actually move about or roar at each other, leading me to believe that I may very well have oversold the entire trip. Possibly.

Hmm …

Anyway, clever old Dad (me) had actually remembered to take along something to help the day go with a swing; namely, his superb pair of binoculars, which helped us all to have a look at the birds, the entire length of the amazing dinosaur lake (not to mention the beautiful houses which sat smack bang opposite the park), and the dinosaurs themselves.

By this point, Annabel had conked out still clutching the lolly stick she refused to give up after her lunch. Joseph was enjoying climbing the steep banks of mud and wood chippings, and M was warning that we should get a move on due to the ever-increasing presence of dark rain clouds gathering above us.

On the way back to the car, the inevitable happened and down came the rain. The sun however, refused to be beaten and between the two of them, they produced one of the most vivid, most colourful rainbows any of us had seen in quite some time.


Poops fell asleep almost as soon as we drove off. Simultaneously, Missy woke up, and we got home for around 4.30pm.

Put another tick box in the “Done good” column love – that was a belter!