Thursday, April 30, 2009

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | S | Stockport | Stockport go into administration

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | S | Stockport | Stockport go into administration

We feel quite sad about this, even though the most support we ever gave them was visiting their ground for a beer festival!

Monday, April 27, 2009

BBC NEWS | Health | Children 'not exercising enough'

BBC NEWS | Health | Children 'not exercising enough'

Oliver would happily watch TV for much longer than we allow (which I sometimes think is already too much). It's an area that seems to require constant vigilance to make sure the balance is right.

It's also one of the reasons I am not keen on buying a games console until he is much older.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hayley's Birthday

We had a mixed day for Hayley's birthday. It was a beautiful morning and after being given her birthday cards, Hayley took the kids to Didsbury Park while I sorted the bikes for the afternoon. At the park entrance, Oliver tripped over a small lip at the gate and hit his head just above the right eye. He had a big purple lump to show for it.


As if this wasn't bad enough, as Hayley consoled him, Lucy tripped over the same hazard and fell flat on her face, leaving her with a big bruise on her forehead. It comes on the back of two other face-first falls down our back step (brought on by trying to carry two large dolls to the garden) and was bad enough to still be visible when I took this snap later in the afternoon.


Which brings me on to the happier part of the day when we ventured forth on bikes. Yesterday we acquired from friends a tagalong bike which Oliver is just big enough to ride (though sadly just too small to really pedal properly). So I rode with Lucy in the Hamax seat while Hayley towed Oliver on the tagalong. We rode down a stretch of the Middlewood Way. It was a useful first outing, if only to remind us how noisy Hayley's brakes are and that Lucy could really do with a new helmet as this one sometimes comes down over her eyes unless carefully adjusted.


Both kids enjoyed it which is encouraging, as Hayley and I are both keen to get out cycling with them.

At a (rather neglected) picnic area we stoppped to eat some crisps and apples.

And after all that we are quite shattered, though admittedly this may also have something to do with the fact that we also celebrated Hayley's birthday yesterday evening in the friendly environs of our local taverns and hostelries, partaking of the odd strong beverage along the way.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fish n chips (al fresco)


This evening we rode to the chippy then ate our chips in the park sitting on our coats. I always think the simple pleasures in life are the greatest and this was a case in point.


Charity begins at home

They say charity begins at home. Well in our case, I think it begins in someone else's home. Today, friends Andy and Louise gave us a tagalong bike for Oliver. Not only that, they gave us another bike for Oliver (which sadly turns out to be a bit too big for him at the moment), a trailgator, a smart little children's table with two chairs and a nice armchair for Oliver.

I'm sure you'll agree this is generous, but I must add that this is not the first time I have benefited from the fact that their children outgrow things just in time for mine to benefit. I've already had numerous of their car seats. And before I even had kids they already gave me a 3 piece suite!

They are very modest in their generosity, saying these things would go to the charity shop otherwise, but regardless of who benefits it is still mightily generous in my opinion.

We try to give away lots of clothes and toys to friends/relatives and recently gave away Lucy's old cot. Let's face it, in the current economic climate, most of us are glad of a little financial lift. And so while we might sell the odd thing on eBay and give more to charity shops, it's always nicer to be able to give for free to someone you know will appreciate it. I certainly know we appreciate the good fortune to have friends like Andy and Louise.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mis-spent youth? Hell no!

There are times I worry my son wants to watch too much YouTube.
And there are times I worry my friend Scott will make good with his promise (i.e. threat) to buy Oliver a drum kit.

It seems I was wrong to worry on both counts.

Take a look at this three and half year old boy who, according to this post by MetroDad, taught himself to play the drums solely by watching YouTube videos.

I can't stop grinning when I watch him. Man, he knows The Who's "We Don't Get Fooled Again" from start to finish. And he rocks!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

You're doing what Daddy?!


On May 31st I will be riding the modest (but not insignificant) distance from Manchester to Liverpool to raise money for the Mines Advisory Group, a humanitarian organisation clearing the remnants of conflict for the benefit of communities worldwide.

MAG's work recovers land for conflict-affected communities and allows children to play in the sort of safety we take for granted, hence my choice.

If you would like to donate you can visit my fundraising page at where it is as easy as falling off a bike to donate. Every penny counts and any donation will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your support.

(Despite appearances, my daughter is very supportive too.)

BBC NEWS | Education | UK ranked low on youth wellbeing

BBC NEWS | Education | UK ranked low on youth wellbeing

Rather discouraging.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's in a name

The little lady has a doll. Two dolls actually. One of them says "Mama" when you squeeze its hand. As a result she has named it "Mama". This can confuse the uninitiated, as saying "want Mama" does not mean she wants Hayley (that's "want Mummy"). And it doesn't help that she seems to call both her dolls Mama.

She also has a Grannimal called Lucien bunny. However, as it is clearly a similar creature to Oliver's Julien dog, she insists on calling it Julien. And she has two Luciens too: big Lucien and baby Lucien.

Fortunately, as with international language barriers, Lucy has realised you can get a long way by pointing and speaking in your own tongue increasingly loudly.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The number of confirmed American guests at our wedding rose from 2 to 6 yesterday evening, when Hayley's friends Marcy and Jay confirmed they will be coming over with their two sons.

Hayley was a nanny for their elder son, Josh, and I know it will mean a lot to her to see them again and have them at the wedding, especially now she has a family of her own.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fun in the Sun

The sun shone this Easter Saturday so Oliver and I took a trip down to Bruntwood Park with his Islabike. We took advantage of some of the open spaces and grassy slopes for Oliver to practice his cycling skills.

Afterwards, we each enjoyed an ice-cream, me sitting on the grass, Oliver sitting in my lap, watching the children playing on the slides, climbing frames and (particularly catching Oliver's curiosity) an aerial runway. He then enjoyed some time playing in both of the park's play areas before we headed home.


Back at home, Oliver and Lucy played nicely together, including deciding to clean their teeth together.



Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday 2009


Most years we try to do the traditional walk up Rivington Pike on Good Friday. In 2005, Hayley and I completed the hike, even though Hayley was 5 months pregnant with Oliver. Last year's trip started and ended well but had a stressful middle section.

This year, with Lucy big enough to need the carrier, but with little chance that Oliver would happily walk the whole way, we decided that only Oliver and I would go. Lucy and Hayley stayed home for the last morning with Hayley's sister before she headed back down south.

The Good Friday walk is an important trip for me, not just because it is a tradition from my own youth, but because I got my love of outdoor pursuits from trips as a boy in the cubs, scouts or just with my family into the countryside. The chance to bond with my son like this, even so young, might perhaps give him a taste for the same.

Once parked up at the nearest car park to the summit, I carried the little man on my shoulders for the first few hundred yards, then when we reached a fork in the path he (not I) chose the steeper option, got down from my shoulders and proceeded to run as much as possible. I filmed this short clip on that section. (It gets interrupted by a dog at one point, hence the chaotic shots after you hear Oliver scream and I pick him up for a few paces).

Once back on the flat, I carried him again (filming another conversation along the way).

When we approached the final climb, once again the little man opted for his own steam and climbed all the steps up to the summit. I then filmed him touching all four sides, which is said to bring luck for the coming 12 months (not that you need to believe such superstitions to make them fun to do).

On the way down I bought him candy floss from one of the mobile retailers who were there for today's annual fair. A new experience for him, he had great fun with it once back in the car.


All in all a great morning. Despite worrying weather forecasts it was even perfect walking weather.

Looking at the little man as I took this picture of him leaning against the Pike, what I saw was my little boy growing up quickly. And how I felt was more than a little proud.


I'm already looking forward to next year when I hope all four of us might make it to the top.

1000 posts, 1000 Reasons...

The blog has recently undergone a pregnant pause. No, I don't mean there is a sibling in the pipeline, only that I have been reflecting on this blog. Why? Here's why.

This is my one thousandth published entry in Life Begins.

For the record, I started back in January 2005 so I've averaged around 2 posts every 3 days. That's the quantity. We'll skip over the quality.

This time of reflection brought me to the conclusion that my 1000 posts might be considered 1000 reasons.

1000 reasons to feel alive. I don't think I've ever felt quite so alive in my life as since having kids and those posts are my reminders of all the things they do to make me feel that way.

1000 reasons to wonder at our world. Seeing things through the eyes of my children re-opens my own eyes to the wonder of the world around us and reawakens my own inner child.

1000 reasons to pause for thought. This blog has put me, or kept me, in touch with many people, almost all of them enriching the experience of journaling my journey. But the tools behind the blog show me there are many regular visitors who never introduce themselves, despite annual imploring to do so from me on De-Lurker Day. And that makes a little part of my brain ask why. And is the answer something sinister? For this and other reasons, such as the kids deserving more privacy as they get older, I have several times pondered taking the blog out of the public domain, or making it a "members only" arrangement. But for now, it stays public. (And if it did restrict access I would certainly like the regular contributors and friends who read it to continue to do so.)

1000 reasons to feel grateful. And I do. I truly do.

1000 reasons to keep blogging. I look back on the family history I have recorded here and I am glad for all of it. Publicly, privately or somewhere in between, I am sure I will keep on recording it, one way or another.

OK, enough of the self-congratulation until post number 2000. See you back here in about June 2013.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

How to use a slide