Category Archives: Daddy

A fun weekend

I spent Friday with a thumping headache and sore throat feeling very sorry for myself. To satisfy Ciaran’s demands I hauled myself over to my parent’s house to walk the puppy with the boys and have lunch with Ninny (sausages sarnies for the kids, salmon salad and crab sticks for adults). Back home I tried to type up notes from the previous evenings Brownie unit planning meeting before deciding to lie down and let the kids pick a movie. Now that Ben can read we get some odd movie choices. We bought a zoo wouldn’t normally be a child’s movie pick but as he recognised the word zoo we had to watch it.

On Saturday hubby headed off to London for a photography course leaving me, the headache and kids at home. After an hour (and sharing my brekfast sausages and tomatoes grudgingly) I was pulling my hair out and told them to get their coats on. I drove to the Xscape in Milton Keynes and hoped that the novelty of a new movie, first ever cinema trip for Ciaran and popcorn would buy me an hour and half of relative peace. I hadn’t banked on the movie (The Croods) being so watchable and found myself laughing as the kids munched their popcorn ( a regular portion split into two bags). I was good and drank water instead of diet coke.

After the movie the boys begged for Maccy D so we headed there where I had more water and a chicken salad. Sadly the salad didn’t come with any cutlery and wasnt anything special so I picked at as much as I could face with my fingers (less than half). We then visited a relative who came to the park with us before getting back home in time for the Ocado man tea (pizza for the kids) and Dr Who before bed.


While I prepared tea Ben walked in looking very guilty and worried. I steeled myself to hear that the TV was broken and then noticed a tiny white lump in his hand and blood around his mouth. He’d given his loose tooth a wiggle and got a shock when it came away! Once he realised I wasn’t annoyed and that it was normal for it to bleed he was over the moon and excited about he tooth fairy visiting and worked hard to address an envelope to her. Ms Tooth Fairy had to quickly check her purse and was initially worried that she might be stuck with a choice of a quid in coppers or a note! Luckily Ms Tooth Fairy discovered a forgotten £2 coin.

After all the excitement the kids both settled quite well leaving me to have an evening without yelling upstairs to get back in bed!

Today was slightly warmer than yesterday so this morning we drove to Ampthill Park, walked the long circuit round before stopping at the play area and then onto the cafe (where I was very good and had a black tea without any homemade cake). At home I cooked lunch and then the men of the family all fell upon the Easter Eggs for pudding. Once the kids were suitably stuffed and getting fractious I took them into the kitchen to bake biscuits, Ciaran had requested jammy biscuits so we made thumbprints which cooled as we walked around Flitwick to pop to the shops and visit my parents. After the kids had demolished an omelette ( they did a LOT of walking today) I finally let them have a biscuit and judging by their expressions they were delicious.

Jammy thumbprints

125g butter cut into cubes
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
40g oats
60g plain flour
125g self raising flour
Jam or marmalade

1. Line two baking sheets and preheat the oven to 180
2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract (I explained to Ben that it was very strong so we could only use a little bit, he poured the half spoon in and then popped the spoon into his mouth, he won’t do that again!)
3. Add egg and beat in
4. Add flour and oats, mix well.
5. Shape into 15 balls. Squash flat with a fork, push thumb in middle (not all the way down) add a tiny but of jam or marmalade to the dent.
6. Cook 12-15 minutes, 15 minutes was a little too long for ours.



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George Osbourne it’s your choice: flexible working rights or zombie army of Mums.

George Osbourne’s latest good idea is to offer women (and men too I suppose) the chance to own shares in their company at the expense of their right to flexible working and other hard-won rights, I can see him suggesting next that parents can give up the rights to have their child educated in return for the kid having a marvellous time as chimney sweep and a few shillings a year if they don’t die in an industrial accident.

Now in this marvellous PC and equal opps world men and women have equal rights to parental leave and to request flexible working but only one person in the relationship tends to use these rights – the Mum. I’ve worked hard to get a fairly good career and a nice home (and a long suffering husband) – I now have my own office and a separate dryer (two sign of proper grown-up success) but I do the drop off & pick up and the nursery or school prefer to call me to tell me that one of the kids has been over inspired by Van Gough and the resulting injury traumatised 29 five-year olds.

The reality of being a working Mum is that you carry two huge burdens, childcare and a career. But when the Mum is in a low paid part-time job as opposed to earning big bucks working 60 hours a week surely this is fair you cry? Maybe, if it cut both ways but it doesn’t. In my experience even where the Mum is the main wage earner there is a social expectation that she will still handle the kids.

Before having kids I imagined myself as a competent super Mum, helping neighbours, having a pristine house and calmly managing a career to the envy of everyone else. Ha!

When I woke up this morning I’d spent the night failing to sleep next to a vomiting three-year old; in a late night emergency division of labour we’d agreed that I’d take the night shift, in return I wouldn’t have to stay at home (helpful as I had an important meeting that went on until 8pm). When I woke up the upstairs of our house smelled of sick and fish fingers (kids never get sick when the nursery feeds then inoffensive food) I’d overslept in my exhaustion and had to cut my shower very short, I then spent ten minutes frantically banging on my neighbours door (I was walking her daughter to school today) to find that they had succumbed to the vomiting bug too. Once my oldest was at breakfast club, glaring at me as he was finally being fed, I ran around the supermarket getting pukey-child-friendly food as I knew my husband probably wouldn’t have a clue what to feed sick kids (FYI – same as my Mum gave me, start with crackers, work up to rich tea, toast, tomato soup with bread and finally fruit cocktail) and probably wouldn’t want to leave the house with a projectile vomiting toddler.

I then got into work; parked illegally as all the parking spaces had gone and scrambled across to my office, burdened by Pepsi cans to keep me going until tonight’s meeting finishes. I had no make-up on and I had a worrying suspicion that there might be a small piece of sick still in my hair. But I thanked God I worked flexi-hours and could swan in after 9am on the grounds that 1. I would be working bloody late and 2. my youngest son had turned into a fish finger, norovirus and baked beans volcano. Glamorous, no – but managing to strike something of a balance and making it possible for me to have a career and kids, yes

If I was offered shares in place of flexible working there would almost certainly come a time when I’d snap and say “sod trying to cut the weekly shopping back lets embrace Mammon and give up my flexible working”. Once that offer is on the table people will make judgements about who is really committed to the company and who is just clock watching until they can finger paint. Even if I held out on wanting a small annual dividend I’d panic about my visible commitment to the employer and would be signing away my flexible working rights before you can say womens’ lib.

If I lost the right to say to employers (as I’ve done in the past) I’ll be flexible and I’ll be here for meetings etc.. but I need have a day at home each week or I want to average 7 hours flexibly a day instead of 7 ½ to avoid having a nervous breakdown trying to squeeze 37 work hours inside the nursery drop off and pick up, or lost the right to be there with my son when he needed different medicines to be given to him on an hourly basis I would have to give up work completely.

Unless you want a zombie like army of former career Mums staggering down the high street singing the theme tune to Charlie and Lola, glazed eyed and defined solely by their child, and want to lose the massive output that working Mums like me make to the country then lets not be silly – save our flexible working rights.

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Filed under Daddy, Family, illness, Mummy, Uncategorized, work

Rethymno, travel sickness, fortresses and pottery (Wednesday)

We got up and after breakfast (still the odd mix of smoked sausage, fruit cocktail and scrambled egg for Ciaran) got into the ca heading for Rethymno. I’d originally wanted to travel to Hania but realised it was ambitious enough to head to Rethymno let alone the extra distance to Hania. Ciaran woke up as we passed Bali and announced he felt sick, my suggestion that he go to sleep led to tears. We pulled into a taverna in the middle of nowhere rushing him into the loo.

We headed inside for diet cokes and water. Chris practiced his Greek on the owner while the boys were entranced by a green parakeet. All feeling slightly more stable we got back into the car for the final stretch of our journey. Sadly by the time I’d navigated us to the Venetian fortress and we’d found. Parking space it was nearly twelve and very hot.

We took the kids on a whirlwind tour of the fortress, having explained that it been built by Venetians to stop pirates stealing their things and to stop the Turks stealing the town (history needs to be distilled slightly for kids). The boys peered inside the old church (boarded up) and ran around the old mosque.

Years of visiting Warwick castle paid off as I pointed out to the boys that the narrow windows on the wall allowed people inside to shoot at pirates or enemies coming near the fort but that it would every hard to shoot at the people inside as the window was smaller inside than out. We started looking down a cave but Ciaran was concerned that this was the ‘Bear Hunt’ cave so we didn’t go too far. Chris went off to satisfy his inner archeologist while me and the boys sheltered in the shade with Toy Story figures (never leave the house without some toys in your bag!). We hopped from shady patch to shady patch and answer came out of the fortress turned right into the first Taverna we found.

The owner agreed to cook half size portions for the kids of burger and chips (Ben), spaghetti bolognase (Ciaran) along with our dinners. Having pretty much missed lunch the day before Ciaran attacked his food with great relish before turning his attention to my potatoes and Chris’ chips. Amazingly the delicious meal came to under 30 euros including drinks! We headed back into the car and I suggested heading home through the mountains.

It all started well, we found the gorgeous village of Margarites and enjoyed cold drink looking down a mountainside as swallows dived in the trees, window shopped the gorgeous pottery and got back into the car; my map showed a straight drive through one of the towns but when the road forked I guessed wrong and we had. Nerve wracking drive through the mountains lost and off the map! After an hour, road signs riddled with bullet holes and lots of goats we found a road that was on my map again! Hallelujah!

We got back to the hotel around six and had a pre dinner drink (a Blue Aegean for me), after dinner we pretty much all collapsed into sleep apart from me. I tossed and turned but the combined snoring of three men in a room was too much for me and I knew that the next days trip to Knossos was going to be a challenge.

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Heraklion – a baptism of fire (Tuesday)

Today after a nice breakfast in the restaurant overlooking the beach Chris collected our car for the next week. He’d shopped around before we left and had a good deal with fully comprehensive insurance and two car seats. Like the car seats in every foreign hire car they were basic compared to the British ones but were good enough. While he handled the paperwork I got the kids an ice cream each to keep them happy. Once Chris had carefully tested the car and filled it with petrol (and I’d filled the kids with icecreams) we all piled in for a drive.

Sadly rental companies don’t tell tourists the customs for driving in Crete so here they are as far as I can tell

1. If there’s a hard shoulder or space on your right then pull in to let faster cars overtake / allow room for the lorry over taking a coach on the opposite side.
2. If here is any doubt who has priority at a junction then it’s a free for all – you can play safe and give priority to everyone else or force your way through depending on your own driving style.
3. Hard shoulders disappear suddenly at bridges so don’t over take on approach to a bridge.
4. Stay close to the right when going round sharp bends – you never know what’s coming round in the middle of the road!
5. Even a good map (like the AA one) won’t list every village or show every junction. If you are lucky enough to see a road sign follow it and keep heading straight ahead until you find another sign, be prepared for the spelling on the maps and road signs to differ as well!

We passed Hersonissos (a bit like a small Benidorm) and decided to go past Heraklion on the new national road. The kids were quickly asleep and we decided to head back after a while, and wondered whether it was worth looking into the capital city. Coming off the national road into the chaos that is Heraklion was a brave and scary move. Scooters everywhere, no clear priority at junctions and a serious lack of road signs led to a half hour baptism of fire for Chris as driver andme as navigator before we got back to the new national road.

We got back in time for lunch which we ate at the pool side bar, Pergola, this was more snacky than the main restaurants but still had a good salad bar and feta for me. Ciaran hadn’t woken up happy and screamed the pool side bar down to the disgust of some German ladies who had either forgotten what toddlers are like or had brought up the only children never to work themselves into a state. Eventually Ciaran calmed down enough to manage a few chips, meatballs and chicken nuggets. After lunch the kids played angry birds in the bedroom with me while Chris swam and sunbathed.

We went into the main swimming pools when it was slightly cooler. I sat in the shallow kids pool with Ciaran while Ben had an orange juice with his Dad at the swim-up bar. After all showering and having dinner at the seaside each facing restaurant it was bed for the little ones and booze O’ clock for the adults.


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First day – gluttony, heat and a poorly toe (Monday)

At around 3 am with a grand total of no hours sleep, 26 degree heat and aircon that just moved the hot air around the room I cracked. We’d already one a bed swap in the night, Ciaran had decided that in a strange room he wanted to sleep next to me and Chris had taken Ciaran’s bed. Before bed Chris had fiddled with the air con to no great effect so I decided it was time to see if I could do anything. Jackpot! Once the mode of the unit had been changed (after ten minutes of muttered swearing and punching buttons) the room started to cool, the aircon was idiot proof to operate unless you were exhausted. Chris and I finally feel asleep.

I was up at 6.30 and restless so I left my three men sleeping while I explored. The hotel grounds were immaculate, I passed several bars and found the kiddie pool (complete with clowns that looked very Stephen Kingesque). I got back to the room and once we were all washed and dressed we headed to the main restaurant Athina for breakfast, as well as the usual all inc breakfast (smoked sausages, croissants, bread, ham, cheese, eggs, omelettes, fruit) I tried a little Greek cheese pastry, I don’t normally eat feta for breakfast but it was good. Ciaran insisted on having a full english along with tinned fruit cocktail. I wouldn’t eat fruit in one mouthful and scrambled egg in the next but it worked for him!

After brekkie we went to the hotel’s beach, the boys dug channels in the sand for the sea and paddled happily with the occasional strawberry granita (slush puppy) from the beach bar to keep them cool. After a quick shower we all went to lunch.

At lunch I discovered my new favourite salad, salad leaves, cabbage, carrot, cucumber delicious feta (much smoother than the dry feta we get at home – I ate this feta by the slab) and tzaiki. The kids discovered the salad bar and chips, as long as they got some fruit and veg at each meal I decided I’d relax the normal rules about treats. By now the heat was exhausting so the kids and I went back to the room to play angry birds and with the toys I’d packed. Chris headed back to the beach to swim and sunbathe, once he got back the children were back into their UV swimwear (a more up to date version of the old t-shirts my Mum used to make me swim in) and off to the children’s pool.

The water was about a foot deep so relatively hard for even Ciaran to sink in and had a little slide, shaded areas and lots of water being squirted around, this pool was a big hit with the kids. After a long splash we popped back to the beach for another quick paddle and hen back home. I realised a this point that the pretty sandals I’d bought were not working out. A few months ago I completely snapped my little toe bone and it has set sticking out to the side a little. No great hardship but it does affect what I can wear, despite going up a size and avoiding high heels my sandals were agonising and the pressure had bruised my toe. I reluctantly got my beige sensible ballet pumps back out and kissed goodbye to my pretty pink sandals.

At dinner I had more salad, chips and moussaka with a half bottle of white wine from the help yourself fridge. Once the kids were asleep in the bedroom Chris and I sat in our sea front patio, looking at the lights of Malia with a nice cold drink.



Filed under Ben, Ciaran, Daddy, holiday, Mummy, travelling

Travels with chopper and Bunny

Travelling with young children is stressful. As a childless couple arriving at the airport two and a half hours before a flight meant having some time to eat, drink and shop; with kids you just have time to get through security (both Ciaran and I were frisked this time – thank God I’d explained in advance that the ladies sometimes check you aren’t hiding anything in your clothes!) get the promised magazines from WHSmiths and feed them a snack before rushing to the gate. As a seasoned traveller with kids I had got preparation down to an art, essential items were at the top of my hand luggage, the kids had blankets and inflatable pillows and Chopper (Ben’s dog) and Bunny (Ciaran’s favourite) were to hand along with colouring in books and other treats. I’d also told the kids about the journey and what I expected them to do.

When we booked our holiday we’d chosen it partly for the flight times, we didn’t want to arrive anywhere with half asleep, sobbing children. Sadly First Choice changed the flight times so we would land in Crete around 10pm and back to Luton around 1am. Neither child slept on the plane but thanks to several days of brainwashing (I mean gentle reminders) Ciaran didnt insist on climbing out of his seat belt and understood the concept of sitting relatively still for most of the flight. The adrenaline rush of going on holiday kept them both in a reasonably good mood.

Our landing was bumpy which Ben and Ciaran loved (that was fun, lets do it again!) and the wait to get luggage the usual torture (although this time I was sat out of the way desperately trying to stop the kids running away or climbing on tables) but here we had an inspired moment; Tripadvisor had told us that the transfer to our hotel was a long slow one that would be finished by us joining a huge queue to check in at the hotel. Forewarned, we’d booked a taxi to meet us and got to the Nana Beach Resort around 11pm, an hour ahead of the rest of the flight.

We were driven to our bedroom (extremely basic) and then headed to the midnight snack bar where we all filled up on veg, chips and meatballs with a little drink for us all (lager and diet cokes for Chris and I and tropical juice and water for the kids). We went to bed at midnight with the air-conditioning on the fritz in a whitewashed grim bedroom in the middle of a very luxurious resort, promising that we’d see the rep in the morning to beg for an apartment where the kids could sleep in a seperate space to us and where the aircon and blinds worked and door handle didn’t fall off.


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Lanzarote Day 1 – the journey out

Was I mad? After a hectic half week I was frantically packing for a holiday. We had paid a fortune for the privelege of spending a couple of hours (hopefully not longer) in Luton airport, over four hours on a plane and then however long baggage reclaim and the car hire desk took before navigating at night while my husband got used to a hire car. Forget drugging the kids I needed drugs!!

We got to the airport after dosing the boys with piriton, the queues for check in and security were relatively short and we got through to departures with an hour to spare, an hour to feed the kids a sausage bagel, coax a wee out of Ben and do last minute shopping before we were due to board. Sadly we were delayed by an hour. Luton airport doesn’t tell you if you are delayed and how much you are delayed by, they leave it to your imagination, which was working overtime.

After an hour of watching planes we were finally on our one and ready to go. Ciaran had a seat next to me, but after a scary screaming fit (more terrifying for people near us) opted to cuddle me with a lap belt on (second dose of piriton worked a treat) and settled down for his nap contentedly as we taxi’d.

The flight went much better than expected, the boys were happy to snack and read books until we landed (according to Ben it’s like a bouncy castle but better).

Luggage successfully reclaimed and car hire paper work done we found the lady from JJs hire who provided car seats at a fraction of the cost and let us follow her to our villa, saving us all from my navigation skills.

Thankfully we had paid for a welcome pack, giving us the essentials. As Chris unloaded the car I sat the kids down in the kitchen with bread and jam and a drink if watered down juice for their supper, then it was bedtime for the kids. Ben chose his bed, Ciaran was undemocratically put into a cot in the master bedroom.

Chris, a bottle of red wine and I headed out to the poolside to celebrate surviving a flight with two toddlers.

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