At the library

My brain has had enough of being insulted by the BBC adaptation of John Wyndham‘s excellent Day Of The Triffids so I’ve come up here to blog instead.  I shall try not to insult your intelligence quite so egregiously as the Triffids writer has been insulting mine.

We’ve had another rather nice family day today.  It was the second day running when the girls didn’t wake up until 9am (imagine me punching the air as I write this!) and we had nothing urgent to do.  The Lovely Melanie was invited to a Scrabble afternoon with the girls and so, after asking me at least five times whether I minded her going out and leaving me alone with my children, it came to pass that I was left in charge of two small children.

I do get a bit edgy at the prospect of being left with the girls, alone, and with no plans for the time.  I prefer for us to be out and about, engaged in something, going somewhere, whatever – anything but being stuck in the house.  It’s as much because I know I’ll get a bit bored and snappy as any other reason, something which isn’t their fault; I just end up feeling a bit cornered if we stay in the house.  The Lovely Melanie is far better than I am at planning for this kind of situation.

Which is why we ended going to Bexleyheath on the bus to visit – of all places – the central library there.

It may sound rather unexciting, but the return trip takes an hour or so, and with some time spent at the library and buying groceries that’s pretty much the whole afternoon taken care of.  And it turns out the central library in Bexleyheath is pretty good – particularly if you’re a reading family, as we most assuredly are.

Millie, first of all, was gobsmacked by the size of it (I wasn’t – though it may be a lot bigger than Bexley Village library it’s still only about the size of a five-a-side pitch) and the array of books, DVDs and computers on display.  She took about three minutes and 20 seconds to choose her alloted four books – and that’s including changing her mind five times when I suggested she actually look beyond the first four books she saw!

Secondly, AmberG…

Ahh, AmberG – she picked up some books and was interested in them – mainly in carrying them around and showing them to Millie, though (Amber’s the least bookish of the family – and not because she’s the youngest, either).  Until, that is, I showed her a Noddy book.  Noddy is one of Amber’s favourite toys at the moment.  She knows nothing about him, other than that she loves the toy Noddy we have at home.

She squealed, shouted “Noddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddy,” plonked herself down in the middle of the floor with the book and sat there repeating “noddynoddynoddynoddynoddynoddy” for the next five minutes, refusing even to let go so the librarian could stamp the holy gospel of Noddy.

Then Millie discovered the children’s DVD section, which almost completely blew her tiny mind.  Then I discovered a DVD copy of Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus, which had the same effect upon me. 🙂

Once we’d got Noddy stamped AmberG promptly ran off, and I had to send Millie in hot pursuit of her.

This isn’t as crazy as it sounds because once Millie locates Amber they both start laughing and screaming hysterically making them both easy to find.  It got trickier when Millie needed to use the loo.  Amber and I waited outside, but then Millie shouted out for me to help her – no toilet roll in there – so I had to go in and give her some tissue from my pocket (I’m a dad, I always have tissue on me somewhere).  Amber G saw a split-second opportunity and took it, racing off into the depths of the library as fast as her little legs could carry her.

Fortunately, Millie quickly finished her ablutions and was able to track her down within 30 seconds (Amber knows nothing of stealth…).

So I thought we had a smashing afternoon, despite the abysmal weather.

Christmas – in words

Yes, it really is four days since Christmas.  Strange that it feels such a long time ago, what with people coming and going, and yet seems to have gone so quickly.

Thanks to my parents for coming down from Christmas Eve till Boxing Day – I hope you had as much fun as we did.  It was nice to have you there not only because we love to watch you and the girls having such a good time together, but also because it means we get to sit down quietly for at least a few minutes here and there.

And thanks to the Lovely Melanie’s parents for coming down on the 27th till the 28th for exactly the same reasons. 🙂

I presume you’ve already seen the pictures, which give some idea of what it was like here, but can’t quite convey how great it was to have the girls for Christmas – Millie for her wide-eyed joy and utterly genuine appreciation of pretty much every present she got – “That’s just what I wanted!” she’d shout, awe-struck, every time the wrapping paper came off.  Amber loved ripping paper off things and was determined to make the absolute most of the no-chocolate-for-breakfast amnesty that we had for a couple of days.

Christmas Eve we honestly thought Millie would never get to sleep, but once we put her to bed I think she was asleep in about five minutes – obviously maintaing such a high level of excitement and expectation had worn her out!  We had a nasty moment at about 4.30 when she woke up to go to the loo and noticed that Father Christmas had left a stocking full of presents on her door handle, but – and respect to Millie for this! – she soon went back to bed and sleep.

Christmas Day itself seemed to pass like a wedding – a whirl of activity that kept everyone busy the whole time so that there was seldom any time to sit down and just relax.  Not that that’s a bad thing, just an observation.

The Lovely Melanie’s Christmas Dinner was delicious once more (my one complaint being that we didn’t have enough pigs in blankets – but I always think anything less than an infinity of pigs in blankets is too few pigs in blankets!) and she even managed to skilfully defuse a looming row about politics over the dinner table (political correctness has gone mad, Britain is now run by Muslims, etc., © The Daily Mail) so kudos to my lovely and clever wife for managing that. 😉

I’m not even going to try and list the quadrillions of toys and presents Millie and Amber got; suffice to say that if either of them at any point says “I’m bored” over the course of 2010 then they’re lying.  I got a new drill, which has already been gainfully employed to replace a broken coat hook and put up a framed family tree that the Lovely Melanie got for Christmas.  It’s a proper drill that doesn’t run on batteries and blows your hair back (or your sideburns if you’re me) should you be foolhardy enough to rev the motor up to full.

I also got a new penknife keyring (more blades and tools!), some books, an Airfix model of the Saturn V rocket (an Airfix model!!) as well as – and you may laugh but this is a very useful present for me – a special hessian sack to keep potatoes in.  It keeps them in the dry and the dark to stop them going off or sprouting, a problem we definitely have had in our house.

We’ve been mocking those loons who hit the sales on Boxing Day here – rather unjustifiably since we were at B&Q with my parents on Boxing Day (replacing a broken shower head, I hasten to add, rather than sniffing out a knockdown bathroom suite!) and to Bexleyheath the next day with the Lovely Melanie’s parents (for batteries, string, Airfix glue, coat hooks, bread and other such centrepieces of the sales).

Today is a day just to ourselves.  We’ve had our regular monthly groceries delivered and I’ve just had an omelette and salad for my lunch – no chocolate, pastry or stodgy pudding – and just a satsuma or two for dessert.  Oh, it was heavenly! 🙂

AmberG seems to have picked up a lot more words and phrases in the past few days – the two funniest are “Have it!” when she wants something (which I find hilarious as “Let’s ‘ave it!” used to be the perpetual shout on many, many, many a long drunken night out) and the calm but firm “No, accompanied by a finger pointing at whoever is currently engaged in an activity that AmberG believes should be desisted from forthwith.

She has also twice pulled down the little tiny Christmas tree in her room onto her head – both occasions involving remarkable amounts of panicked wailing.  What’s interesting about this is how she has now remembered them and frequently recounts The Tale Of The Christmas Tree Attack to us in Ambergese.  I’ll try and get across the gist of it, if I can; it goes something like this:  Tree.  Ball.  Amber.  Ow.  Head.  Oh no! (the “Ball” part refers to the little baubles on the tree, one of which fell off during the incident).  I didn’t really even notice what our clever girl was doing, but the Lovely Melanie (who understands Ambergese much better than I do) pointed out that Amber was basically telling us The Tale Of The Christmas Tree Attack as best she could with the words and grammar she currently has.

And I thought that was quite impressive. 🙂

Mathematical equation

It would appear to me that the number of presents given to small children is in inverse proportion to the number of…

Er, or should that be the number of children is the inverse square of presents divided by age…

Oh, I don’t know – I failed GCSE Maths the first time I took it!  I do know that there are two small children in Bexley both of whom got a ridiculous number of presents today.

And me?  I’m perfectly happy with some books, an electric hammer drill (mains powered, not battery), an Airfix model of the Saturn V rocket, a small penknife and a grow-it-yourself pot of herbs for the kitchen. 🙂

And some socks, naturally. 😉

Christmas Eve

So, it’s Christmas Eve afternoon; I’m stuck here in the office with nothing important to do, just waiting/hoping to hear from my boss (who’s supposed to be here) about a reasonably important small last job that needs finishing before I can, in all good conscience, leave.  The reasonably important small last job that needs finishing should take about four minutes to finish, but nothing can be done about it by me alone because of an annoyingly silly cock-up.


There’s no one else here now except me, as far as I can tell – certainly no one at all in my part of the building.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a peripheral was stirring, not even a mouse.

I just made that up; that’s how bored I am.

The Lovely Melanie has phoned to say that my parents have arrived at ours and I’m not to forget to buy some milk.  She’s probably quite glad they’ve arrived – certain smaller members of our household were getting more excited than is good for them this morning…

Oh, yes – one odd thing to mention: Millie’s advent calendar has 25 doors in it, instead of the more traditional 24.  I was looking for the last unopened door this morning and checked the number on the first one I saw and it was 25.  I blinked a bit, then saw a second still unopened door that had 24 on it.

Anyone else ever come across an advent calendar with 25 doors?


Well, I’m going to stare out of the window blankly for another hour or so then head for home.  Merry Christmas, everyone, and a happy new year, too, just in case my Christmas presents are so amazing that I forget to add anything here for another week! 😉

Millie and the Princess of the Moon

One good thing about the current sub-zero weather is that I couldn’t go to the cinema last night to see Avatar in 3D (at Peckham, so it’s only £2.99 on a Tuesday) because I was scared I might not be able to get back – particularly following the trauma of Monday night, trying to get home, slightly the worse for wear following my departmental Christmas meal and watching the departures board at Charing Cross as every train on it was either cancelled or delayed (sometimes both!)

I left the pub at about 9.30 and walked in the front door at about 12.30.

But I was saying one good thing about the weather is that because I couldn’t go to the cinema last night I stayed in and finally finished Millie’s Christmas present, a book called Millie and the Princess of the Moon.  The Lovely Melanie, who works in publishing so has final say on such matters, has pronounced it acceptable – excellent, even – which is extremely gratifying given the amount of time I’ve spent on the thing (about 20 hours, give or take an hour or two).

I did the same thing last year, write, illustrate and make the whole thing, to produce a masterpiece called Millie In The Woods which has, gratifyingly, become an occasional bedtime favourite.  So I decided to do the same again – except that this year I forgot that Millie is a bit older and so needs a story correspondingly longer and more complex.

But Millie and the Princess of the Moon is finally finished, which means I can go out for a quiet drink with friends tonight safe in the knowledge that my work as a father is complete.  At least for this year – the Lovely Melanie has pointed out that to be scrupulously fair I need to write a book for Amber next year, and that’s assuming Millie doesn’t ask for another one!

More ice chaos

More ice chaos this morning (as you might have guessed from the title).  Despite moving the car from the fiendish deathtrap garages it still took AmberG and myself five minutes to go two metres this morning. Every time I v-e-r-y slowly tried to move the car it would go forward a few centimetres and then slide comfortably back, as though it particularly liked that position.

We don’t live on a massive hill or anything, but it was parked on the very short, very gentle slope that leads from the garages to the road, and even that was too much for it.  I racked my brains trying to remember how to get cars moving on ice (salting the road in front of us was out as I’d poured all our salt on the path from the house to the car – which made an impressive crackling sound but no real difference to the ice).

Just as I was about to ring the hire company and say “Umm, I can’t bring your car back, it is being most uncooperative and is a very naughty car,” I suddenly remembered that steering to one side, i.e., off the current patch of ice and onto a different one, might help.  And it did.  We inched painfully forward under some remarkable clutch control, and just about made it off the ice and onto some beautiful black, sticky tarmac.

Like the pope arriving on a foreign visit I nearly got out and kissed the ground!

AmberG, sat in the back, thought it was hilarious shouting “Wheeeee!” the whole time, and once we were off the ice I joined her, both of us yelling “Wheeee!” each time we turned a corner or went over a hill. 😀

I was still a bit nervous, however, when after dropping her off at nursery, I had to take her car seat back home before returning the hire car, so I parked halfway up the street and carried the seat the rest of the way.