Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ode to the Pools



Sometimes a time and place is so great that I’m not really sure how to react.  In cases such as this I just seem to end up with a goofy grin on my face as I try to fight off the urge to become 6 again and run everywhere.  (Like I keep telling people I am not the best person to be left in charge of small children.)  These times don’t come around that often, (you won’t find too many goofy smiles going on in a finance office) which means along with fighting my inner 6 year old and trying not to grin maniacally at complete strangers I am also trying to remember everything.  Which, I suppose, makes having a really great time somewhat equivalent to revising for a Latin exam, which is the first time I have ever thought that.

One of these occasions happened about a fortnight ago when I had the day off work and all four of us went out to Ryton Pools.  Which was amazing.  N was having a great time being able to charge around like a lunatic.  S was not quite as interested in stuff or desperate to push himself into absolutely everything so was happy to trundle round in the pushchair and mostly be asleep.  B and I were being pulled here and there by N, mostly at a speed at which I have become unaccustomed to going.

The best bit was when we turned a corner to discover a magnificent play area with absolutely no one else around (presumably due to it being a slightly overcast Monday) and a zipwire and massive slide.  N, of course, was in her element and screamed round trying to go on everything at once.  She did have a brief respite as she sat on the swing and demanded that I pushed her as high as I possibly could.  Which, being the six year old that I am, I was happy to go along with.   After ignoring the disapproving looks of B for quite a while (looks, incidentally, which were perfectly justified. The second time we had a go with the swings I pushed it too hard and N flew off backwards.  All was ok, the play area was barked and it was quite a soft landing but if we had paid more attention to the looks it probably wouldn’t have happened.) it was deemed best by me if we stopped that and moved on to watching N go down the incredibly tall slide. 


I know, massive right?!

Turns out I was the only one at all bothered by the fact that the top of the slide was being obscured by the clouds, N happily scampered up the towering structure and then proceeded to take twenty minutes to slide down to the bottom (not quite that long but it felt like it).  Presuming that once down the death slide would be enough I moved to go on something else.  This, however, was not amenable to the young Eddie the Eagle who turned and charged right back up to the top.  This went on for a number of goes while I got lulled into a bit of a sense of security.  This was rudely shattered by the voice of my daughter who had appeared at my side and was tugging at my arm demanding that I follow her up the face of the Eiger in order that I might join her in sliding down again.  This had not been part of the plan but I was caught off guard and so found myself slogging up to the icy summit. 

It turns out I was not designed to be sliding down 90 feet inclines, especially ones that begin to taper about half way through to leave me completely stuck.  Cue gales of laughter from my sympathetic family members as I struggled to free myself from the grip of the slidey jaws.  I’m sure there must have been a lesson in all that for me somewhere but I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Finally I extricated myself and rejoined my family who had lost interest in my plight a long while ago and had moved on to playing on the zipwire.  I watched through my fingers as N was hurled down the wire to come crashing at the other end, all the while cackling with delight as she was thrown around by the sudden halt and then rebounded back down the wire.  In the end we were all laughing along with her, even S who had woken up at this point and looked like all he wanted in the world, besides his next meal, was a go on the funny moving chair. 
Here mummy, let me push you now.

It is this time that really sums up the time we had together at Ryton.  N laughing her head off as she defied gravity and bruising.  B and me unable to stop ourselves from laughing along, S looking on and wondering what on earth sort of family he had been born into while all around us the wildlife looked on presumably glad they weren’t as silly a species as these humans were.

Perhaps I just don’t get out enough, but I’d prefer to think that it really was a wonderful day, that there really isn’t anything better than the faces of your family being wreathed in smiles while playing together, and that there is no place at all for slides which are taller than the tallest building I have ever seen.  But they do say everything looks bigger when you’re six.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Do you like Gammon 'Am?



Fridays are normally a day when I get a lift home from work by B, with N&S.  Last Friday was no exception.  The reason why I get a lift is that they have all been to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Which is great for them all, and comes with the added benefit of meaning they all get a proper lunch.  The issue with this is that it would look a bit odd if I took in a steaming plate of sausages to work on a Friday, especially as it would be cold by the time it actually got to lunchtime, and there isn’t really space on my desk to accommodate the brown sauce.

My lack of a proper lunch leads to a split tea on a Friday, with N and B usually having sandwiches whilst I have something more substantial.  This brings us to a couple of Fridays ago when I happened to ask, in my unsuspecting way, what I might have for tea.  I was informed by B that she had got some gammon out for me that morning. 

It is usually at this point that N interjects, and that Friday was no exception. 

“What am I having?”

“You’ll be having sandwiches,” came the terrible reply,

“Can I have gammon?”

“No, you had sausages for lunch.”

N knows that this is going to be the answer and in many ways this is just her making conversation.  Because it turns out little girls can talk, like really talk, but that’s for another day.  On this day though she decided to take it to another level. 

It was faint at first, just a little sound, but gradually it became louder until finally it was distinguishable.  N had begun to sing.  I would now like to present to you N’s first foray into song-writing.  I hope you enjoy it.  This is to the tune of “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes.”

I don’t like gammon ‘am gammon ‘am

I don’t like gammon ‘am gammon ‘am

And eyes and ears and mouth and nose

I don’t like gammon ‘am gammon ‘am.

Clearly we have found our generation’s Noel Coward.  If anyone has any ideas on how we might get her set up with a record label they would be gratefully received.

What really puzzles me is why she suddenly started exploring the nether reaches of a cockney accent as she belted out ‘gammon ‘am?’  Perhaps B has been sending her to chimney sweep school whilst I wasn’t looking?  It was so pronounced every time she got to that lyric (which was a lot as we had to have the song over and over again because it made B and I laugh so much) as though she really had been born within ear shot of Bow bells.  Although I’m fairly sure I would have remembered that.
He looks like he probably likes Gammon 'am a lot.

In the end we got home, I ate my tea, N ate hers, my gammon was lovely, and not that Cockney inflected and that was that.  But every now and then N will decide it’s time to bust out the song again and we will all end up with a smile on our face, which I suppose is the point of music after all.  And for the record, N really does like gammon, ‘ammy or not.


Friday, 4 April 2014

My Mistake


One of the reasons that I ended up in Mothercare chortling over the name of a pushchair was because I needed new shoes, the shoe place was next to Mothercare and so, lo and behold there we were.  This, though, had stumped N for a little bit as we drove up the road.  Very early into the drive she had asked,

“Why are we going in the car to the meeting?”

Which was a perfectly reasonable question as the meeting is only a 3 minute walk from our house and it would be remarkably lazy if we were to drive.  However, on this occasion the meeting was not the destination and so it was explained to N that we were on our way to get daddy some new shoes.  This was accepted with a little shrug and the words

“My mistake”

It isn’t so much the words, but the nonchalant, “oh well, I suppose you win some you lose some” way in which she said it.  Now if only she would be that calm when we tell her she can’t just wear her swimming costume around the house.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Question of Names



I am a terrible father.  Which for those of you who have read this blog before is probably not earth-shattering information but may be necessary for the novices amongst us, and if you are new please feel free to have a poke around, I don’t think the place is too cluttered so make yourself at home and enjoy reading about my many and various failures, this post will give you a nice flavour of what is in store for you. 

I really am a terrible father.  We went to Mothercare on Saturday.  Fabulous shop, N was in her element, B was determinedly scoping out high chairs for the little man, who is getting less little and more massive with every feed (and there are plenty of those), S was trucking along with B, presumably thinking about how long it was going to be before the opportunity came round for him to eat something.  Judging by how frantic he gets sometimes I’m fairly sure he has some form of atomic clock tucked away inside one of his many rolls of fat that he consults at regular intervals and which probably begins to vibrate more and more violently as the time comes round for feeding, unfortunately, as S is in control of the device the feeding times come around roughly every twenty minutes, which may be a bit too frequent, but I’m no expert.

So there we were, the three of them having a thoroughly enjoyable time whilst I, though of course I should have been playing with N and helping B in the great high-chair reconnaissance exercise of 2014, and explaining to S that it’s not fair if he keeps his cool atomic thingummy hidden away from the rest of us; I should have been doing all these things, but sadly, as soon as I step into a place like Mothercare my juvenile side takes over.  This has the effect of making me wonder what on earth I am doing there and why anyone in their right mind would let me have sole charge of children.  All the other parents in there seem terribly serious and competent and ready for whatever situation comes their way, I on the other hand find myself in the rather embarrassing position of chuckling away to myself at what appears to be the name of a pushchair.  You see, while I should have been concentrating on making sure that my daughter wasn’t doing a Godzilla through the wooden train track which was out in the middle of the shop (though curiously without any train at all, really Mothercare, you put it out to play with and then just leave all the children hanging, imagining the fun they could have been having if they had thought to bring two tiny wheels and an axle with them, I could almost have justified a small Godzilla rampage of my own, but I managed to hold myself back) I was actually beguiled by a large sign hanging over a pushchair which bore the name,

3D Monodot.”

Which seems to me to be a particularly strange name for anything.  Surely, unless you stumbled into Mothercare desperate to lay your hands on a Rembrandtesque picture of a pushchair (which is a bit more colourful and with fewer sharp edges than Picasso’s) then are you really going to expect anything you come out with to not be in 3D?  How disappointed would you be if you ordered a pushchair online only to find that you were able to roll it up and put into a cardboard tube?  I really don’t think that trumpeting itself as ‘3D’ is going to set it apart from the rest of the pushchair market.  Presumably someone in marketing thought parents are so addle-brained that they would need reassuring that something to which they are going to be entrusting the comfort and safety of their baby is more substantial than the air that they breathe, which maybe I am, but everyone else that I saw in Mothercare that day didn’t seem like they needed telling.


The item in question

What is perhaps even more perplexing is the matter of the second half of the name.  3D is bad enough, but then to couple that with the word ‘Monodot’ seems to completely muddy the message.  Which is it?  Sturdy and substantial, as implied by ‘3D’ or airy, ethereal, frankly incapable of carrying anything with a greater mass than a drop of ink, as ‘Monodot’ would suggest.  Can, indeed, Silver Cross, the manufacturers of the item in question, have forged the way to creating a new race of beings known as the Time Lords, with their ‘bigger on the inside’ pushchair?  If so I hope they never read this and I’m sorry I ever doubted them.  Somehow though I don’t think so. 

The point of all this though is that I stood for a good while thinking all this through.  Meanwhile my daughter was happily flying through the store on a little blue trolley contraption that was definitely 3D and substantially more hazardous than a monodot.

I am happy to report that no major damage was caused, the wooden train tracks remained in one piece, so to speak, most of the books remained on their shelves and the ones that didn’t were easily replaced, and I think, over all, I got away with it.  Next time though, when you see a guy just standing and chuckling to himself over the name of a pushchair, please just tap him on the shoulder and ask him if that is his daughter that is escaping out the door in a pushchair shaped suspiciously like the TARDIS.  He’ll almost certainly thank you for it.