The Golden Girl

While the twins were at my place on Sunday Ellie decided to do her homework!

Its theme was ‘mythology’. She didn’t know what that meant so she asked me and I explained as best as I could.

King MidasShe then went onto google on my PC (under my supervision of course!) and came up with the story of King Midas. I showed her how to click on the link she wanted and before too long she had written 2 sides of an A4 page with the story of King Midas & his ‘golden touch’. It was in her own words too, and not just copied, showing that she had understood the story. I’m a proud Dad!

She needed some help with some of the pronunciation and spelling – I mean how the heck do you pronounce ‘Phrygia’ or ‘Dionyssus’ anyway? I don’t know! It’s all Greek to me!* –  but her comprehension and written account of the story was excellent

    * sorry, couldn’t resist

Yes, it does seems a little strange her choosing to do her homework during the limited time that she has with me. She does love spending time here with her Daddy – that’s what she tells me anyway – but I think I understand. We were still doing something together, which I was enjoying & I which I think she was too. She & Jake however often don’t enjoy the same things, and even when we do all do something together they more often than not compete with each other rather than play together cooperatively. I often find myself having to break up a fight. I imagine that’s not unusual for young boy-girl twins!

When they’re with me they each mostly just want to do something with me and so are competing for my attention. I only see them part of a day on a weekend and one evening after school so we all try to make the most of our time together. It isn’t easy!

Minecraft warriorAnd to be honest Jake and I were engrossed in a series of intense one-on-one Minecraft battles that day, which he’d been preparing and planning for and looking forward to for some time. I said to both of them before they left that next time I was going to spend much more time with Ellie to compensate.

So Ellie was being ‘a good girl’, and she is that, in doing her homework here – but she had also put some thought into her reasons for doing so, which actually makes me think even more highly of her. She explained it to me:

When she’s at ‘home’ (or as I prefer to call it “her other home”) with Mummy she likes to play on the green outside with nearby friends of around her own age. More often than not, she explained, she gets called in from playing to do her homework, which obviously doesn’t usually go down too well in Ellie land! She thought then she’d take advantage of my little home office set-up to do her homework at my place, and then she’d have more time to play with her friends.

Smart girl!

Oh, and my Minecraft battle with Jake? 2-2. We are planning a rematch!

Now there is of course only one way to end this post:


Car Wars

click to enlarge

Parents of twins, or indeed of 2 or more children: do yours have ‘favourite fights’?

Ours do.

Sitting in “the driver’s seat” – the car seat behind the actual driver’s seat – is probably the main one right now.

“It’s my turn to sit in the driver’s seat!” “No, it’s my turn!” “My turn!” “No, mine!”. And so on.

I used to use the tactic of “Whoever’s first to the car gets to sit in the driver’s seat” when I picked them up from preschool. No more! It may have got them moving but it almost always ended in tears, especially as they were usually tired & due a nap.

Most of the time I can’t remember whose turn it is; I really need to get a system in place.

On Monday as we were heading off to soft-play it was the usual. Jake got there first, with Ellie complaining.

But then….!

Jake seemed to sit & think for a bit.

He then said something like “No, I think it is Ellie’s turn.” (Picking up a toy from the other seat) “Ellie was playing with this yesterday so she must have been in the other seat.”

He then gave the driver’s seat to Ellie.

Ellie was pleased.

I was flabberghasted.

And when I picked my jaw up from the ground I realised I’d found my system: thanks, m’boy!

For more Magic Moments just click here

The Gallery: Play

This is part of the climbing area of our (new) local playground.

It’s “the spinny thing”.


The bars are off-centre, so you can hang on to them & use your own weight to spin yourself around its axis.

Ellie has got quite good at this; she’s learning, as with the rings & ropes at the gym, to use her arms & legs to propel herself about.

Jake doesn’t need to so much; being heavier his main concern is that once he gets going he can’t stop!

That, of course, is when I step in.

They’re at their best when they play together, as they are here.

They both discovered that they are able not only to push each around but also to stop the spinny thing if needed.

And that’s the best kind of play isn’t it? Co-operative & social, educational, & above all fun!

I’m joining in with Tara’s brilliant ‘Gallery’ linky today; for more posts like just click the pic:


A funny thing happened on the way to the forum (#TeamHonk)

You know how you read a blog post and you think “Wow that’s great!” then you read the bit where it says “Why don’t you join us?” and you get all excited & you say “Yes! I will!” so you write a comment and send off an email…

Climbing mountains is a very serious business you know
Climbing mountains is a very serious business you know

Then you wake up the next morning and realise that you’ve agreed to CLIMB A BLIMIN’ GREAT MOUNTAIN?!


Yes, I’m joining those crazy cats at #TeamHonk to climb up Mount Snowdon in North Wales.

And yes, I probably am mad.

It is however, as they say, for a good cause: none other than Red Nose Day.

So if you feel moved to send a few kind numbers with a ‘£’ in front of them I would be very grateful.

And I promise not to use any of it to buy the plasters. You know, which I will inevitably need. For the painful blisters on my feet. From all that walking. Up steep, sharp rocks. In the cold, & the driving rain. In the dark. With all those bears and mountain-lions. And the Yeti.

OK, it’s possible that I may be exaggerating, a little. There aren’t any lions in Wales, obviously. But I expect it will be cold & wet. And I am worried about the Yeti. And I am starting to wonder what I’ve gotten myself in for.

Snowdon Climb Sponsor me!

So to make it all worthwhile you can sponsor me here (click the pic):

And, yes: that is an old photo there. Thanks for asking….

You of course are also welcome to join us! For a start I need someone to carry my stuff: that massive barbecue set & all those crates of beer aren’t going to get to the top by themselves!

There are at least 17 of us so far so you’ll be in good company. And I’m really looking forward to finally meeting some of these odd people from my computer screen that I keep reading about.

It’s all happening on March 2nd, so watch this space!

A Moving Experience

It was all planned out very carefully.

The Mummy has been commuting 2/3 days a week to work in Wales from the Midlands & was sick of it. The plan has been to sell our home there & buy in Wales but we had made no progress in getting the place ready to sell nor in finding somewhere there. So we decided to move in to a small place we had been renting out while we sort everything out from there, renting out our old home at a reduced rate.

We’d been over to measure up, & had selected & paid for all but the stairs & landing to be refloored. We’d ordered & arranged delivery of a small washer-dryer & a small fridge-freezer. We’d selected a moving company & given them a list of what we were moving. The in-laws had come over to help with packing.

The flooring was being done on Tuesday April 3rd, & I was to spend the day before cleaning there. So I had grabbed what I needed for a week or 2, stuffed it all in the little car without the child seats & zoomed off to Wales on Sunday night, leaving behind a list of what to pack for when the Mummy & the twins joined me on Wednesday.

I should have known something was afoot, & not just that – as you may have noticed – I was driving over on April Fools’ Day. A month earlier I had ‘phoned Sky to tell them we were moving our TV, ‘phone & broadband. They told me that they couldn’t take moving calls until 2 weeks before the move. Their Engineers are so efficient! I was surprised but dutifully ‘phoned back 2 weeks later. I was then told that we couldn’t have ‘phone & broadband in Wales until April 11th – a week after our move! It appears that our earlier Operative was only thinking about our TV contract. Probably didn’t have room for more than 1 thought at a time I expect. I couldn’t understand why such a delay, they insisted that ‘according to their records’ an Engineer needed to attend to install the line. I pointed out that there was already a working BT line there, that the tenant had used it & so had we when we stayed there earlier. But what would I know? I’d only lived there, after all; I didn’t have The Records.

On March 28th, I got a letter saying that our ‘phone & broadband would stop at our present address on the 29th – tomorrow! After another frantic, & frankly really quite cross, ‘phone call they graciously allowed us to keep them until we actually left the house.

Serve me right for giving money to Murdoch’s Evil Empire I guess. Not for much longer I hope.

So how did the move go? Well…

Sunday April 1st, evening: Driving through Brum where the M6 meets the M5 & the car is losing speed rapidly. I manage to exit to a truck service & transport police depot before grinding to a halt. Coincidentally I’d broken down in almost the same place 3 years before except I had to go from the outside lane where the 2 motorways merged & just made it to the hard shoulder, on a corner. The AA arrives 40 minutes later & can’t fix it on the spot (clutch: same as before) so I have to be towed. Wife isn’t answering the ‘phone, she & the in-laws are enjoying a last drink & the phone is upstairs. The AA man suggests towing me to a 24-hour secure garage & having my wife pick me up, but when she eventually hears the ‘phone she tells me she’s a bit too tipsy to drive. So I get towed home. Stressometer: 5

Monday April 2nd: The car is towed to our local garage but they can’t fix it today as it also needs a new gear something or other. I decide to take the carseat-equipped Astra to the garage, transfer my stuff there & drive to Wales in it, coming back for the children to move on Wednesday. What the garage didn’t tell me is that the Ka is suspended, & we had to unpack it by a big ladder. I only had to go back once. I could also have done without the smart-arse jibes about my driving. Stressometer: 6

I make good time & reach our new home in the early evening. I discover that the only mobile I have has no signal in the house & I have to cross the road & stand under a lamppost to make calls. It’s very cold & so am I. No ‘phone & no internet while trying to organise moving my family to a different country. Great. I’m still sane, but cracking a little. Stressometer: 7

Tuesday 3rd, early morning: The carpet people refuse to start until they’re paid in cash  – which I’m fairly sure is illegal – saying it’s because we don’t own the house. We do but – oddly enough – I haven’t packed the title deeds & can’t prove it. I thought it was all paid for, & so does the Mummy when I ‘phone her. From around the corner now as the signal area has moved. CarpetWrong confirmed this so I have to find & drive off to an atm before work can start. They’re sneaky & won’t take the cash ’til they finish. I’m fitting in my cleaning around them as they work. They manage to leave the only downstairs door so that it won’t shut & the explanation they give me, which of course they leave until they’ve finished, doesn’t make sense. By now it’s already late & I have to drive back so I don’t have the option of standing around & arguing. Another good drive, fish’n’chips for dinner, & I’m  straight to bed in some old clothes as all my PJs are in Wales. Despite this I sleep long & well.  Stressometer: 6

Wednesday 4th, Moving Day. I’ve forgotten that the Sky TV bloke is due at 8 so the Mummy had ‘phoned to postpone ’til Saturday. I’ve also overlooked that we have an all-day delivery slot for the washer-dryer, starting from 8, so I zoom off in the now-fixed Ka with a few more supplies. I’m held up in English traffic though & am quite late in arriving. Luckily I haven’t missed the delivery.

Finally something goes right! Simply Removals are great: the 2 Romanian chappies are quick, efficient & extremely polite, the only issue being just slightly wonky closet doors. The washer-dryer arrives while they are unloading. I pay them in cash as arranged, having grabbed some more money on the way to the chippie last night.

I run the washer-dryer (an Indesit) through a test cycle as instructed, seems OK but a little water is left in it. It drains away on the drain cycle but the timer stays on 1 minute. Hmmm. Good enough to use, & I really need some clean clothes so I put on a load. It doesn’t drain. I discover this when I open the door & the (new) kitchen floor becomes a lake. Managing to shut the door before the flood spread, I run every cycle I can find but still no drainage. I ‘phone Appliances Direct but they are shut so I can’t arrange a repair or replacement.

Then I remember that my wedding ring is (probably) in the pocket of my jeans in the wash. I take it off often as it’s a bit uncomfortable, & if we weren’t moving it would be on its usual spot on my desk. So I have the choice of flooding the new flooring or leaving the clothes possibly including my ring in there to rot & worrying about it.

I have to spend about half an hour standing out in the freezing cold listening to messages & making ‘phone calls. The Mummy & Jallie arrive late evening, & are soon in bed & asleep. I sleep badly.  Stressometer: 8

Thursday 5th. There’s a mixup as to which of the 2 bedrooms is for adults & which is for children, so while the Mummy & Jallie go shopping I swap all the furniture between the 2 rooms. It’s not easy. In the day’s chaos I forget to ‘phone up about the washer-dryer.

The fridge-freezer is due sometime today & when it doesn’t turn up at 4 I ‘phone them up to check all is well. The signal area has moved away from me again so I have to walk a couple of blocks this time. They helpfully explain: ‘We sent an email to confirm & you didn’t reply so delivery has been cancelled’. I had specified delivery for today when I ordered, & had explained that I was moving house & wouldn’t have internet access! As I’m was trying to rearrange delivery, with comic timing, the ‘phone batteries run out. And of course we can’t find the charger. We manage to impose upon a childminder we know there to use her ‘phone: they can’t redeliver for a week. A week without a washing machine & dryer having just moved with twin 2-year-olds? NOOOO! We cancelled. I thank Jade Technologies for being so helpful. I’m being sarcastic. A vein in my forehead is beginning to make its presence felt. Stressometer: 9

While out shopping the Mummy had noticed that the Co-Op sells ‘fridges, so off we trot. We buy a brand we don’t recognise but a salesman who seems trustworthy assures us it’s reliable, & it has the features we want. Most importantly they can deliver tomorrow – Good Friday! I don’t think the salesman was expecting a big sloppy kiss. Especially with tongue. I like the Co-Op. Stressometer: 7

Friday 6th: The Co-Op delivered as promised, & the fridge-freezer seems to be working well. We mostly stand around waiting for something bad to happen. We find the ‘phone charger in the car, & I manage to drag out a crappy old PAYG with no credits but on a network that has coverage in the house. I eventually find its charger & figure out how to top it up. We use most of the £10 top-up in a ‘phone call to Mum-in-law as we pushed the wrong button & didn’t end the call.

We’re finding it difficult moving to such a small place. We keep falling over small persons running around & are having trouble finding anywhere to put stuff that won’t be grabbed by little hands & played-with to destruction. In the evening, with no ‘net, phone or TV, I rediscover an old Wii sci-fi shooter called Metroid Prime 3. Stressometer: 6

Saturday 7th: I top-up my ‘phone again & try to ‘phone about the washer-dryer. They’re closed, of course. Something to do with bunnies & chocolate. The Sky TV man comes along & plugs us in. He seems like a very decent bloke & he lives just around the corner, & he told us just to knock on his door if we have any problems. Stressometer: 6

Sunday 8th, Monday 9th: I show Jake Metroid Prime 3 in an area where there are no bad guys to shoot, explaining that it’s like Tree-Fu magic. Despite this he calls it the “bang bang!”, although personally I think it’s more of a whirrzzzhaa-chow! He becomes addicted. A few days later he sees a gun, points to it & says “bang bang!” & I realise that I’ve made a mistake & once again have underestimated him.

We spend our time looking around, settling in & waiting for the next bad thing to happen. Stressometer: 5

Tuesday 10th: I arrange for the washer-dryer to be serviced on Thursday. Wanting to find my wedding ring before the serviceman does I open the door & drain the water into a recycling bin. Which turns out to have holes in it. Cue another flood. I use a big bucket instead & manage to extricate my clothes. No sign of my ring. I hang the clothes on the rotary line & it collapses & breaks. I’m really quite grumpy now. Stressometer: 8

Wednesday 11th: In the light of the fridge-freezer delivery debacle I ‘phone Sky to get a time for when their Engineer is due. “Oh, we don’t need to send an Engineer as you already have a BT line. It’s already switched on.” The stupid &*%! seemed to expect me to be grateful. When I asked them why in Fs name they couldn’t have done this a week ago they didn’t seem to understand the question.

Ever feel like hitting someone? On the nose? Really, really hard?

Still at least we have a ‘phone line. Then we notice that we forgot to pack a ‘phone.

I go into to town & buy a ‘phone. And a washing line.

We also need an urgent prescription repeat as Jake has had an eye infection, now both Ellie & the Mummy have caught it & we’re out of drops. Ellie woke up with 1 eye closed & the other barely open. We haven’t registered anywhere & the town’s only surgery is shut. I find the emergency doctor’s office & they don’t want to do it, telling me to come back tomorrow morning & fill out some forms. My old PAYG mobile keeps cutting out. I show heroic restraint in not shouting or swearing even once. After using words like “duty of care” I eventually get them to do it, & get the prescriptions at 5pm. It’s cold & it’s raining & I don’t have an umbrella. Stressometer: 7

Thursday 12th: The ‘phone doesn’t work; it has a loose connection & keeps cutting out. We still don’t have the internet as we forgot to pack the necessary dongles with the router.

The Indesit bloke turns up, fiddles about & fixes the washer-dryer. No sign of my ring; we’d wondered if it was blocking the outlet. The explanation he gives doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sadly I suspect our theory was right & that he may have pocketted it on 1 of the many times I was distracted by having to supervise Jake & Ellie.

I get a new ‘phone &, after a lot of bother as this is not a high-tech town, manage to get  a couple of broadband dongles. Stressometer: A steady, resigned-to-my-fate 6

Now: So we now finally have a landline, Internet, TV, washing line & a washing machine, dryer, fridge & freezer that work. I’m still worried about my ring though; I’m now hoping that either I left it behind or that it fell in the long grass as I was hanging the clothes on the line. Which I haven’t been able to mow as I couldn’t find my Flymo.

Good. So how was your week?

Join the Revolution!

Way back in 1844  – yes, even before I was born (cheeky) – a group calling themselves The Rochdale Pioneers started a revolution. Yes, in this country, in the U.K.  And yet most of us have never heard of them.

What they started is now a group of businesses with 6 million members & 5,000 outlets covering food, financial services, travel, pharmacy & funerals.

What did these Rochdale Pioneers do that was so revolutionary so as bring all this about? They started the first successful co-operative, that’s what – which became what we now know today as the Co-operative Group.

Despite their size & success they have stayed true to their roots & are as committed to their ethics now as were those 19th century pioneers. Every year they support thousands of endeavours both here & overseas, helping people to make their world a better place.

They’re launching a major campaign highlighting the impact these original co-operators had on the way we live & urging consumers (that’s you & I) to “Join the Revolution”. I’m glad to be a part of it. And here’s just one reason why, just one example among many of what they’re about:

Anyone who’s familiar with this blog will probably know how much value we put on playing with our twin babies. It’s not only fun for them & for us but can also be educational. I see it as a vital part of their development & of their growing into healthy happy adults. Play Montgomeryshire is a group who seem to agree with me on this. They provide families with free or low cost activities that give children greater opportunity to learn through play. When one of their services, the Machynlleth Toy Library, had its existing funding cancelled & came under threat of closure they approached The Co-operative and secured a donation of £2,000 from their Community Fund. That amount should mean the difference such a great local resource closing or staying open.

I like to think that the community project that I’m involved in in no small way owes some of its ethos to those Rochdale pioneers. Aiming to provide a central resource for families & community groups, the Steering Group is currently made up of various Council & school employees. Once it’s underway though the aim is to hand over its administration to local people: people like me.

Want to join the revolution? You can ‘like’ their facebook page & learn more about them & about how to get involved on their web page.

This is a sponsored post

Partage propulse par ebuzzing

Co-operating in your Community

I’ve recently joined the management committee of a local Community Hub. It’s a fantastic project which is renovating a derelict council property in a central location & turning it into facility for a variety of services directed at children, young people & families. Not only am I offering what little skills & time I may have, but I also hope to make use of it myself as it looks to be an excellent resource for people like us: parents with young children.

There’s clearly a gap here that isn’t currently being filled by existing services for families, whether provided by local government or charities. I was especially surprised to find that there is currently no Pupil Referral Unit here, 1 of the many services we hope to offer.

It’s a great project & one that I’m very excited to be involved with. All necessary funding is provisionally in place, but 2 final financiers have to yet to finally confirm their commitment. The project depends on all funding being confirmed within about 2 months & so could yet fall through, leaving us to have to quickly find alternative sources.

That’s why I was really pleased to be asked to publicise an appeal for community projects in need of funding on behalf of the Co-operative Community Fund. It’s exactly this sort of project that they are looking to provide grants for, & I’ll be mentioning it at our next meeting.

It’s funded by Co-operative members donating some of their share of profits, & has already helped thousands of groups throughout the U.K with grants of £1.2 million..

To qualify for a grant a group must be doing positive work for their local community, but does not have to be a registered charity. They must undertake projects that address a community issue, providing a lasting benefit, support co-operative values & principles, & preferably show some innovation.

To apply for a grant  just click the relevant link below.

In these times of cut-backs this looks like a great opportunity for anyone looking to help out in their local community &, in my  opinion, the Co-operative should be applauded for this.

Cooperative Membership Fund

Cooperative Membership Fund

This is a Sponsored Post. The opinions expressed in it however are my own. If I don’t like it I don’t write it!

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