Father, Son

Lately I’ve been listening to the music of Peter Gabriel.

No bad thing: the man’s been making incredible, innovative music for the best part of half a century.

Genius? I think so.

This is one of his newer songs and one I’d not heard until recently.

It’s a grower: the more I played it the more I loved it.

And now I really love it.

I find it, & the video (directed by Gabriel’s daughter), very moving.

If my son, & of course daughter, grow up to feel the same respect & love that this man does for his Dad then my life will have been worth living.


An Active Family

My Tiny Dancer. Dressed as Snow White, for some reason.

When Jaime from ‘The Oliver’s Madhouse’ asked me if I could maybe join in with her new ‘Active Family’ blog-linky I have to admit: I sniggered, a little. I may have even actually ‘lol’d!

Trying to get our funsome twosome to be a bit active isn’t really a problem at the moment. Even when they watch TV it’s more likely than not to be ‘Lazytown’: a show whose main character is a health fanatic called Sportacus. Living on ‘sports candy’ (mostly carrots) & always going to bed at 8.08, this is a man who has never knowingly walked anywhere in his entire life. Why do that when you can double-flip, cart-wheel, run or jump instead? Lately Ellie seems to spend more of her time being his preposterously pink side-kick Stephanie than herself, & she loves trying to copy Stephanie’s dance moves. Jake is Sportacus of course; I get to be the chubby, middle-aged, bald Mayor. Yay me.

Sportacus Jake!

No, it’s more of a challenge to get them to not be so active sometimes, please. Like when they’re jumping & doing forward rolls & headstands on the bed, or wanting to play ‘horsey’, when it’s late & they should be settling down for the night. Sometimes even after 8.08 (gasp)! Or a “Please stop climbing on the back of the sofa, especially when I’ve got a cup of hot coffee / a plate of lasagne!” sort of thing.

They’re at pre-school now for a few hours during the week, & that seems to use up a lot of their energy most days. We still take them to Monkey Music on Friday mornings, & have just started them in a dance class on Thursday evenings. They love both! We used to take them to a children’s gym on Friday afternoons & we’re looking for an alternative; that was probably their favourite activity & it would be a shame to lose it.

On the weekends we try to take them out for something active at least once a day: the country park, the fun farm, soft-play, swimming, or just scooting to the local playground. And there’s always the mini-trampoline & the flexible flyer in the garden!

So overall, yes: I think we’re a fairly active family.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just need to have little lie down please…

For more ‘Active Family’ posts just click the pic:

 photo ActiveFamily150x150_zps28e829a4.jpg

Why we’re not eating at the table much at the moment

1-DSC00454-001 Have I mentioned that our house is too small? Also, it’s possible that I may be a little disorganised, sometimes.

Although, to be fair, the ‘Bella’ magazine isn’t mine. Nor are the drawings, the clock puzzle & the pot of hairslides. And I don’t even know what that other pot is doing there: it’s empty. And the toy xylophone: also not mine. Although I do play it; quite well, actually.

We hope to be moving soon…

My life, now

For the last 2 days I’ve been at the old house near Brum.

I drove there from here in south Wales yesterday, drove back today.

Just got in, actually.

On the drive in, especially, it didn’t feel safe. I was in our second car, the one without the car-seats. Our old Ka, probably soon to be any-car-dot-commed.

Particularly on the M4 I could feel myself being blown around by the gusty winds, even while driving slowly. Then once in England the roads became icy, with drifting snow, & snow falling onto me from trucks & cars in front. Then approaching Birmingham there was dirty sleet & salt from the road spraying the windscreen & making it hard to see.

Thoughts go through your head at times like these, unbidden. You try to ignore them but they’re there anyway, forcing themselves to the surface, tugging away at your consciousness.

“What-if” type thoughts.

A few years ago it would have been: “I’m too young to die!”

A bit later: “I don’t want to die!”

But the thought that comes now is: “Jake and Ellie can’t lose their father!”

Right foot eases up, left foot ready, eyes alert…

Times change, and life goes on

Minimalist Monday?

Well, I missed Silent Sunday


“Our Place”, the Community Hub that I’ve been involved with & for which I am now Treasurer & a Director, had its Open Day on Friday, & it went really well. We had loads of people, live music, balloons, biscuits, raffles & a giant marrow (no joke – we did). The only complaints we had were that it was too crowded!

We are up & running & already have Relate & 2 other local community groups using the facilities.

I had Jake & Ellie with me & they had a great time running around, exploring, charming with cuteness & eating biscuits. I couldn’t manage them both in the crowd, even on their harnesses, so (fellow Director) Carole had Ellie while I tried to keep up with Jake.

We discovered an old guitar there, & he seems to be a natural! He was strumming & plucking as if born to it, & loved it. I was trying to play it with him when Kelly (another Director) passed by & snapped us on her iPhone.

I think it’s a great photo; Jake looks very grown-up, & for once I don’t look too much like a tramp. I’m pleased to see too that we both seem to be having the same mad hair day!

I’m sorry that this blog has been neglected of late.  One of the reasons for this is that – although I certainly didn’t plan it that way – my blog has become very centred around photos; my camera at first had the Curse of the Black Spot & has now broken completely. The last photo I posted was made using the limited snapping ability of my video camera.

I plan to rectify this though, & post once or twice a week, hopefully more. Jallie have grown & developed tremendously in the last month or so!

Hopefully I’ll ‘see’ you again soon.

Related articles

The Gallery: Education

The theme this week for Tara Cain’s Gallery over at Sticky Fingers: “Education”. Interesting one!

She’s had the brilliant idea (suggested to her by a twitter friend) of making a BLOGGER YEAR BOOK. Unfortunately I don’t have any old school photos; I think they’re all with my Mum for safe-keeping on the other side of the world. Probably just as well, for me anyway!

I do have this photo ‘though:

I’ve mentioned my Dad here before, how he passed away in 2004. He was born & educated in Northumberland, for all of my childhood & as a young adult growing up in New Zealand a place I knew very little about. I felt I knew very little about him as a young man & about his roots & his early life.

So when in January 2008 I found myself in Newcastle I took the opportunity to go on a Quest to find out more about the most important man in my life, my Dad.

All I knew was that he was the son of a Cornish miner who moved north to mine coal, that he grew up in Ashington & that he attended  Morpeth Grammar School. After some asking around I managed to track down what used to be his school. Most of it had been rebuilt, & it was no longer a Grammar School. The staff there though were brilliant: when I told them why I was there they were fantastically helpful. They gave me full access to their archives, letting me stay there as long as I liked. After a lot of digging I came across  the above, my Dad’s actual School Register, also School Rolls: fantastic! No report cards ‘though, unfortunately. It was so amazing to get a glimpse of his distant childhood, a time that was so important to him & that I knew so very little about.

From there I even got his house address & was able to zoom off to Ashington, to see the place where he was born & raised. I could almost see him there, it was so rich with history. I took so many photos that the current occupant got very suspicious & came out to ask me what on Earth I was doing. Can’t say I blame him, really!

I’m so glad that I was able to in some small way connect with him & his roots in this way! And all because I knew the name of the school where he was educated.

So who’s the teacher’s pet? Who’s been sent to the Headmaster’s office for a ‘chat’? For more educated Gallery posts why not head over to Sticky Fingers (click the pic):

The Gallery: 24, A Day in the Life

Images from a day in the life of JallieDaddy & Jallie:

Images from a day in the life of JallieDaddy & Jallie:

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After this we settled them into their cots. I had Jake & the poor guy took 40 minutes to calm down: he’s a bit bunged up with a cold. Then dinner & a bit of TV (“Episodes”, since you ask), then clearing up in the kitchen / diner. Then at 9.30, just as I was settling down to blogging,  poor little Ellie woke up crying. She also has a snuffly nose. So I went to bed early & took her in with me, & the last of the Karvol. She didn’t settle for another 2 hours, poor thing. Although after that she slept ‘like a baby’ – till 5.40 am.

Which is why I didn’t get this post done last night!

Welcome to my world.

I’m looking forward now to seeing a bit of yours.

Why not have at look at the other entries in this week’s Gallery: it never fails to disappoint.

Silent Sunday: Disneyland? No: Daddyland!

Have a look at all the other Silent Sunday photos at Mocha Beanie Mummy:

Silent Sunday

Life Goes On

My Dad passed away 7 years ago.

He lived a full life, & made it to the great old age of 94.

I can’t help thinking ‘though that if he was still alive he would have turned 101 today. He lived such an active healthy life that I always thought he would make it to at least 100.

It wasn’t unexpected; he’d been ill for some time with the cruel illness that is Alzheimer’s, & it was complications from that which took him in the end.

I am extremely grateful to my then boss, who was normally quite spiteful, for allowing me the time off at Christmas 2003 to visit him at his home in New Zealand, where I was able to say what would turn out to be my goodbyes.

I will always remember how I heard the news: a ‘phone call at 9am on a Monday to my desk at work from my sister & my Mum; I swiftly retired into the relative privacy of the office drinks room on my mobile.  Although not unexpected, to say it came as a shock would be an incredible understatement.

It took me a week to recover enough to return to work. And it’s not something I think you ever recover from fully.

Even in his confused state during my Christmas visit there he still thankfully knew & recognised me most of the time. While on the ‘phone to a friend I heard him saying of me “I am extremely proud of him”. I’d never been happier. Deep down a son wants few things more than to earn his father’s respect. Although I do remember thinking at the time that if he knew everything about me he maybe wouldn’t be so proud! But then that’s probably true of us all

I owe him so much; I see so much of him that lives on in me. His love of music, his love of nature & gardening, his positivity, so many things.

And what has this got to do with a blog about me being a dad to my twin babies? Every day I see him in the loving face of my baby boy Jake. The resemblance to my Dad as a child is sometimes uncanny.

So he lives on not only in me but also in my son.

I miss you, Dad; you were a great man & a great father. But I’m so glad you left so much of yourself behind, first in me, & now in my own son. You may have left us in body but your spirit lives on.

I’ve never written about my Dad before; I felt encouraged to do so after reading Today is the day… by the lovely Kate on her blog The Five Fs, & also A Love So Great at MumtoJ by Jo: who I don’t know so well but who I’m sure is also lovely