: blogs : china : me : photos : work : life : things : links :


Web Log

Below are is my complete weblog:

First Family Run

Tonight we went for our first run with the little one. After dinner he was really keen to go out for a run, which was news to us, but with some fine evening weather it sounded like a great plan. We strapped our shoes on and set off round the block following his lead, up to the butchers, around past the pub and down the 'hill'. When we got back, he was keen to go again, so we said bye to Dr K and were off. He just loved it and was so happy and cheery laughing almost all the way round stopping only occasionally to smell a flower or remark on something he'd noticed. We got home and enjoyed some yoghurt for dessert before bed. What a lovely evening.


Village Cycle Ride

After last weeks impromptu post-dinner run, tonight the little man's suggestion was to got for a balance bike ride. I was game and so off we set, but just after strapping on my wellies I decided to opt for a bike myself rather than walk. Turns out wellies are not idea for cycling, but nevertheless we made it right the way round the village to nearly its most northerly boundary before returning home. A lovely sunset kept us enthralled all the way round.


A Sunny But Sick Day

I had a terrible night last night, soar throat, cold and achy followed by sudden rather incredible over heating together with a dry painful cough. Sleeping was erratic and even podcast wouldn't send me off to sleep. It was grim and I woke feeling grimmer. By lunchtime the paracetamol had taken hold just enough for me to get downstairs for some lunch. After that, encouraged by the sunny weather and undeterred by the fresh brisk wind, my tiny gardener enticed me outside to do some gardening. God I love it when he says "I want to do some gardening", warms the very deepest cockles of my heart.

We were soon joined by a village friend who was here for a play-date. I'd heard that she loves gardening despite being a flat dweller, and that they have had good independent garden play on previous visits. Indeed, I'd found the evidence - a cat bed made of logs in the vegetable patch, gravel distribute around the lawn, holes dug liberally in the borders, and all sorts of things hidden in the watering can, so I knew they would have fun. This allowed me to be fairly hands off on the parenting and simply exist next to these little people in the garden having chats about plants and soil, discovering superworms, and occasionally managing conflict over usage of the mini red wheelbarrow.

By the end of the afternoon I was finally beginning to feel a little better and took on the task of sorting out the wood pile that I'd amassed from the recent village tree felling. This involved sawing up the logs and then splitting them with the axe. Yep, I enjoyed showing my little chap how to split logs with an axe. I didn't give him a go (I'm not crazy), but they did 'help' out taking the split logs and putting them in entirely the opposite place to where I wanted them. It was such a joy to be out with my little friend on his last day as a two year old, so much so that it was well gone seven by the time we came inside ready for bedtime. Goodnight my sweet child.


First Day of Spring and an Accidental Funeral

The weather today was sublime. A slightly frosty start but with blue skies gave the hint of a promising day despite the forecast being clouds and only 8 degrees. Still, with a little patience and some post breakfast indoor play the outside soon beckoned us and we tottered out into the garden. Actually, this is where we brushed our teeth, in the sun, on the grass in spring. Glorious.

We pottered about for a good long while digging up some weeds, cutting back the ivy and aggressive honeysuckle on both fences, doing some soil moving in the mini wheel barrow. Lovely gentle gardening. Then the bells began. I assumed it was a wedding, though admittedly an odd day for a wedding. And they continued, on and on, a repetitive peal through the air. The little guy was intrigued so we decided to go and have-a-look. As we approached St Andrews church it seemed that it probably wasn't a wedding after all, rather a funeral. So we hung around outside listening to the bells continue. I checked the order of service and realised that I did know the deceased man, or rather his wife as a prominent villager. We ducked our head through the door but decided not to go in (it was getting towards lunchtime and hadn't planned on coming to a funeral. But as it happened we ended up sitting in the sun in the graveyard for the entire hour of the service until the precision came out and the burial took place right next to us. We'd already taken a look in the grave already - surprisingly deep - and met the pallbearers who hung around outside until their duties were required. Three things were quite remarkable, firstly sitting with my little guy for an hour in the exact same spot chatting about various things around the idea of death and funerals, but also watching the ants, wondering about bell ringing, contemplating the new gate to be hung - he was not only delightful but interesting and patient. Then there was the coffin itself which we hadn't seen earlier - it was a wicker basket weaved around the edge with lush green foliage - it was truly beautiful. I was quite tearful by this point and even more so when I heard the vicar have to gulp down a frog in his throat as he did the committal.

The final thing, and what made me stay (and also well up) was that I was able to share something with my son that I never experienced as a child. I recently learnt that when my dad died I did't go to the funeral, it just wasn't a thing that children did. Now I don't remember that day, so I don't have any hangup about that, but it was somehow very special to be there at a funeral (or just outside) with my little boy at about the age I would have been and to talk about death with him. I'm sure mum must have talked with me about these things back then that I don't remember, and I'm sure he won't remember either, but it was very special to be there and to witness this important part of life's journey with and through the eyes of a person just on the very beginning of that path. I guess it was the circle of life in physical form on a beautiful day in a little village in England.


Growing Up Little By Little

I had the little guy sitting on the work surface this morning (as usual) helping me make the coffee and I noticed how his head is well above the height of the cupboards, by a good few centimetres. How did this happen? He's really eating a lot recently so no doubt it undergoing another growth spurt. I remember to realise how precious this is that he will only ever be this small today. I've also tried to explain that while it is good that he grows up, there is no need to rush and that he should enjoy being young and small. Sometimes he talks about when he gets bigger, that he won't fit into his trousers or tops and will need bigger clothes. It's cute but also tinged with melancholy for the loss of his ultra tininess. This size, at the age of about two to three, is just such a fabulous size to be - he can run about (with just the cutest run: head down forward; over zealous little legs whirling) jump without fear of any serious consequences, fall and get right back up again. Just about everything that's required without the annoyance of having long appendages that need to be carried around with oneself. Interestingly I don't find many cases where things are inaccessible, or at least there is anything desired that is inaccessible. So with helping cooking or washing up he simply drags over the dining room chair (being careful to lift it over the floor junction plate) and stands on that. Same with our sown seeds this morning. Other times he uses a tool to get something that is required or stands on the coffee table. Perhaps we have naturally organised everything that is required around his growing needs. The only drastic change we made was to switch the cutlery and utensil draws so that the knives were higher up, but that sudo-safety is now voided anyway by the chair usage (and anyway, he knows which his knife is and uses that). It has all been quite a natural process, unperceptibly so, which I guess is the way it is with rearing chidlers.


Keep Missing the Boat

If I don't write things down they simply go. I keep thinking (as has pretty much always been the case) that I should just write more down here. It is after all my best kept log of my thoughts and feelings that I have other than my photograph store and my actual brain. But photos and memories are not quite the same as reading my written words. I love reading my "10 Years Ago" moments, tiny vignettes of my life, much like a faded Polaroid they have a physicality and texture that normal glossy photos don't capture.

And so it is increasingly so with the little guy as he grows up, a more pressing need to capture and preserve it for the future while it's still here. Yet still I find I so often let it slip by. "I'll write something tomorrow" is the usual, but also there is a mountainous backlog of photographs that need working through (I've got a fairly simple post-processing procedure - delete bad :: contrast the good :: crop some that are nearly identical :: rename with text & date :: export from Picasa in numbered order to reduce file size and preserve order - but even this takes an age). Meanwhile life with a little son keeps changing, ever so subtly which helps bely the need to capture it now, but then a few weeks or even days later things have moved on and I'm left grappling to remember how it was different back then. Just like now.

Bedtimes are where I notice things have grown up - he is now quite happy to let me kiss him good night and fall asleep on his own (though tonight he did ask me to sit here outside his room and he then wondered out to check on me). I managed to capture a photo last week of him on his side with his eyes open waiting for me to switch the light off. Only after did I notice a sweet little line of toys he'd made before getting into bed. He still sleeps on the floor in "tiny bedroom" and will wonder into ours at some point over the night which gives us the joy of all waking up together. That's so precious and this morning it was even gone 08:15!

The other thing I wanted to capture here (and that I've been surprised by) is his growing knowledge and understanding of his own growth. He keep talking about how he's getting bigger, his big legs (much bigger than a ladybird's) used to be short, clothes that he is now too big for and this expectation that he'll be wearing bigger clothes soon. I keep reminding him that he definitely doesn't need to rush to grow up, being this small should be savoured.


10 Years On

It is a decade on since I first asked Dr K out on a date standing barefoot in the driveway on Kitchener Road. Now we have a tiny little man who comes out with a torch when I cycle home to welcome me back and guide me to the house chatting away about all the things he has done during the day. It is uplifting to have such a bundle of life in our charge.


The End of the Year

Not a proper post, more just a placeholder to say goodbye to 2017. A year of little personal change but huge development in the little guy. I have been meaning to write more on that, and I hope to still, but suffice to say it has been a total joy and inspiration. I love being a dad. Goodnight year, see you tomorrow.


First Cinema Experience

Being Wednesday and my day off (or on, depending on your point of view) I was kindly invited to the Cinema with the little man's village friends. It was at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse (a good plus point) and the screening was The Gruffalo. He really enjoyed the experience. I don't think it blew his mind - despite being essentially deprived of almost all screen-time in normal life - but he was transfixed all the way through and asked for anoyher one when it finished. Luckily for him there was - it was a double bill with the second being The Gruffalo's Child. He sat on my lap for that one and just got a tad restless at the very end. But it was a very positive first cinema experience and a bit of a privileged to have been there with him for it. During his bath this evening he did ask to go again, which is a good sign.


The End of 35

Although I like the shape and colour of 36, I'm not so much keen on it being my age. But as with every year I can't halt the progression of time (bloody time) so tomorrow (in fifty eight minutes I'm informed), thirty six it will be.

Thankfully I've found a system which works and that is to celebrate the day before. I've been doing it for a few years now and it is far better than celebrating on the day itself. It's possibly akin to my preference for Christmas Eve over the following day. So today I went to watch the new Star Wars - The Last Jedi while Dr K took care of the little chap. We enjoyed a light lunch of toasted cheese sandwiches in The Indigo Cafe and then a potter around some shops before I parted ways for some cinema me-time. It was most enjoyable, lush I'd describe it as, although I didn't really quite see the point of one of the plot points (no spoilers, quiz me via email/whatsapp).

There was more to come but an ill little boy got in the way - not too ill, he finally went to bed explaining about a monkey and a crocodile and an elephant in some delightful imaginary scenario.