Ahh, the Lovely Melanie, what a gal!  Not least because she loves making a fantastic themed day for the girls and she’s bloody good at it, too.  I might be the parent who throws them up in the air and makes them laugh but she’s the one who gives them whole days to remember, the kind of thing they’ll look back on when they’re grown and think, “Yeah, that was a proper Halloween!

When the girls came downstairs this morning they were met by inflatable jack o’lanterns, flashing skulls, glowing ghosts, bats stuck to the window and skeletons on the stairs.  There was spooky toast for breakfast and scary face pizzas for tea followed by spider cakes and ghost biscuits.  The girls were at a fever pitch of excitement most of the day with the anticipation of trick or treating tonight.  They were also very well-behaved – admirably so considering how excited they were. 🙂

This morning we slobbed around the house doing not very much at all; we spoke to my brother, Rich (and his wife, Carla, whose birthday it was today – happy birthday, Carla!) on Skype, and laughed about how Rich looked like the classic stereotype of a new dad: hair sticking up, unshaven, pale and tired.  They’d just had their first night of disturbed sleep with my new niece, Isabel.  I well remember the horrors of nights spent trying to sooth a crying baby so we sympathised with them both.

But we also couldn’t help chuckling, too. 😛

Millie and I watched The Return Of The Jedi this afternoon until our friends Nik and Liz popped round.  Liz was “forced” to do some colouring-in, while Nik was equally “forced” to throw them about the place and try not to wince as they both shrieked with delight.

And then it was time to go trick or treating.

Millie was a witch –  a good witch, as she was at pains to point out – Amber was either a pumpkin or a traffic cone, it was hard to tell which, and I was generously supplied with some green greasepaint to slather over my head.  We were out for about 20 minutes and both girls amassed a respectable collection of sweets.

Millie insisted on trying to ride her besom rather than carry it and Amber was a bit reticent to start with but soon got into the spirit of things, shouting “Trick Or Treat!” before unsuspecting neighbours had a chance to open their front doors!  It took her a few tries to get the hang of it however:

ME: And we say “Trick or treat” when they open the door.

AMBER: I want some lollies.

ME: No, no, “Trick or treat”.

AMBER: You got lollies?

ME: No, “Trick or treat”.

AMBER: I want some lollies.

ME: Sigh.  You’re not listening, Amby. It’s “trick or treat”.

AMBER: Where am the lollies?  You got lollies?  I have lollies.

ME: Sigh.

Not everyone opened their doors to us (some people were blatantly in and ignoring us) which was fine – I felt a bit embarrassed anyway; the last thing I wanted was irate folks lambasting us for interrupting their viewing of The Antiques Roadshow.  Hopefully Millie and Amber will appreciate this heroic display of parental love in years to come.

And now, having put the girls to bed and removed all the green make-up, I’m gearing up for work tomorrow.  It’s the first day of the full-blown school run since I waved a friendly goodbye to the job centre so let’s hope things go well.

Let’s also hope things go well for the first of my deadlines this week: there’s the production of a copy brief (whatever one of those is) and a content audit (ditto).  I can make an educated guess about their contents, but will mostly be making it up as I go along, trying to put on a confident face and hoping no-one calls my bluff.

Wish me luck!

And it’s not even Halloween yet!

It would seem to be a good day for photographs.

Firstly, Thelma & Louise take Bexleyheath –

And then the carving of the pumpkin for Halloween.

Millie came up with the basic design whilst I did the donkey work.  However, I had the brilliant idea of using my electric drill in the carving this year, which worked out rather well.


Phew!  Millie is home at last from Grandma and Grandad’s house!

Boo!  Amber has been on time-out three times at nursery today, prompting them to have a little chat with the Lovely Melanie.  So much for Amber the sensitive shrinking violet…

And finally “Whoooooo!

Probably the most fun you can have for 59p these days is with this app for the iPhone – Ghost Capture – which allows you to superimpose ghostly apparitions onto your photos.

The Lovely Melanie, bless her cotton socks, was actually a bit freaked out by it.

Good news from the world of work

Busy day at work today, and all the better for that.  It’s been so long so I had a busy day that I’d forgotten the sense of achievement you can get from one; that it isn’t all about coming home on the tube feeling weary and ready for bed, that sometimes, when you’ve been busy successfully busy, been challenged and met that challenge it can energise you, cheer you – even make you ready for more.

This is really bringing it home to me how much three months of unemployment – no matter how much I tried to keep myself busy and cheerful – had slowly and surely been bringing me down.  And not even depressed-down, rather just lacking in spirit, lacking in any sort of enthusiasm.  It’s surprising how important a challenge would seem to be for a healthy mind.  Before going back to work I thought I would resent the loss of all the free-time I’d enjoyed – much as before having children the thought of being poorer and simultaneously more responsible seemed like a terrible price to pay.

Expectation can be a terrible trickster.

It strikes me that we’ve been terribly lucky in only being brought up to speed quite slowly as regards work and the school run.  My new job started on a Thursday when the Lovely Melanie is at home so I didn’t have to cope with a new job and the school run.  This week it’s half-term so although the Lovely Melanie is back at work I’ve only got Amber to get to nursery (Millie is away at Grandma and Grandad’s in Hatfield until Wednesday).  So only next Monday will I have to cope with a full-blown school run and then getting to work on time.

It’s one of the things that has been worrying me a little because my new job involves not only a train into town but a bit of tube travel, too – again, something I’m completely out of practice with.  This week gives me a chance to try out some different routes and schedules in relative safety before having to do it for real next Monday.  Just as well, too, since the ones I’ve tried so far have been taking considerably longer than expected.

And speaking of the school run, poor Amber did her level best to break my heart at nursery this morning. 😦

She’s been a bit funny for a week or two now: very timid, very easily upset or frightened – terrified even – and we don’t know why.  But being dropped off at nursery has been particularly upsetting her, to the point where this morning she was clinging onto me, sobbing and wailing “Don’t go, Daddy!  Don’t go, Daddy!” which as any parent will tell you is emotional blackmail of the very highest order. 😦

The last couple of weeks she’s gone quiet when we get off the bus in the morning; she’ll sit in her buggy, staring at the floor and sucking her thumb for the couple of minutes it takes to walk there, and once we reach the cloakroom her bottom lip will be starting to wobble bravely.  By the time we go in it’s usually progressed to tears and full-blown hysteria.

And, as I say, it’s inexplicable.  The only explanation we have is related to the episodes a few weeks ago where she kept getting sent home with a temperature.  That’s all been sorted out with antibiotics, but we think that maybe perhaps possibly she’s gotten a bit of a complex about nursery.

Not so much of a complex that she isn’t perfectly happy within a few minutes of me having gone, however.

We meet Isabel

I’m so very tired, have yet to shave for work tomorrow, and my fingers are so cold I can hardly type – this is going to be tragically brief.

We just got back from Swindon where we met the delightful and very pretty Isabel – mine and the Lovely Melanie’s first niece, as well as the girls’ first cousin.  It was wonderful to meet her and to see how obviously great at parenting my brother, Rich and his lovely wife, Carla, are both going to be.  It’s a long and tiring road they’ve embarked upon but there are some unmissable sights to see along the way and I think they’re going to love the journey every bit as much as we have. 🙂

Here’s my favourite picture of the girl herself, and if you want more then there are plenty up on Flickr.

I would dearly write to like more here and there’s plenty I could write, but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen. Not tonight.


Third day at new job tomorrow – and am pleased to report feeling fairly confident and eager to get on with it. 🙂

Hello Isabel!

I’m an uncle!  The Lovely Melanie is now Auntie Lovely Melanie!  Millie and Amber are cousins – that is, they have cousins – and all thanks to my brother, Rich and his marvellous wife, Carla, who today gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Isabel Lucy Carter, weighing 7lbs 11oz.

It was a marathon labour at almost 40 hours, but we were all relieved to hear that mother and daughter are both fine.  Tired, sure, but fine, so it’s a massive congratulations from us to the three of you. 😀

Millie has been taking in this news as she does – quietly and slowly, having a think about it before she asks any questions; Amber in her own inimitable fashion, by telling everyone at nursery who stood still that she now had a cousin. It’ll be interesting to see how both of them react when they meet Isabel in Swindon this coming weekend.  Amber can talk the talk but usually freaks out when faced with walking the walk; we think Millie will be utterly fascinated and quite deeply affected by seeing baby Isabel.

Hell, as a first time uncle I know I’m going to be utterly fascinated and quite deeply affected, too!  No doubt it’s going to bring back all kinds of memories…which is why I suggested to Rich when we spoke to him on Skype tonight that no matter how exhausted he might feel he should post something – anything! – on his blog about today.  He’ll look back on it years to come and remember, no matter how much things might have changed, just how he felt on that day waaaay back in 2010.

And moving from the sublime to the ridiculous – while I had the weird experience today of going to Bexleyheath and buying clothes from shops.  Weird because I buy pretty much all of my clothes online and have done for years now.  Why do I buy my clothes online?  Because there’s a lot more variety than in any shop I’ve ever visited (with the possible exception of TK Maxx).  It was a bit odd – and odder still because I had to buy shirts, trousers, ties and shoes for work.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never in all my adult life had to wear smart clothes.  As a teenager toiling at Safeway I had to wear black trousers, a white shirt and black bow-tie, but that was 20 years ago!  My new job stops just short of requiring a suit – which is fine, I don’t mind that, but it is, as I say, a bit odd for me.  So I bought three new shirts (grey, red and black), two pairs of trousers (black) and a tie (blue striped) from BHS, plus a very nice, remarkably comfortable pair of shoes from Clarks.  The shoes took the longest – which is to say a long time, because I was convinced a store detective was going to confront me as I lingered in BHS to ask what I was doing and could he please look in my bag, please…

More traditionally (for me) there are also two very very cool shirts bought from eBay which won’t arrive for a couple of weeks, so that’s no use no matter how cool they are.

Anyway, I’m surprised at how comfortable to wear and easy on the eye this new ensemble is.  Although, at that price it bloody well should be!

While in Bexleyheath I signed on for the last time, too.  No fuss, no big celebration, and it’ll be no great loss either.  It was a bit of a novelty to begin with but had become routine and I shan’t miss it.

As a reward to myself (for successfully navigating the rocky shores of unemployment) I’ve ordered a sparkly new computer.  We don’t technically need a new computer (as the Lovely Melanie has unhappily pointed out) but ours is now a few years old, and with the proceeds of selling that one plus some of my remaining redundancy payment we can get a very nice new one so that I’ll be able to hold my head up high when chatting with other computer nerds.

That’ll be here in a couple of weeks hopefully, although my patience is already wearing thin waiting for it.

I am relaxing

Yeah yeah yeah, so I was all, like, totally planning a blog post about the new job and everyfing, but then I totally realised that, like, this is the last three days I has got what I can do, like, nuffink in.
And I was like, OMG, this might be like my last chance before I retire!
But then, like, we took down the last stairgate in our house and so I has to totally mention *that* or everyone will totally throw a mong and shout, like, I cannot believe you di’unt tell me that and I’ll be totally like, well, I just totally did!
So anyways, we has taken down the last stairgate in our house, innit.
And like, tomorrow I am *totally* signing off the dole. I tried to do it today but the bitch on the phone was all like, “if you sign off before you sign on tomorrow you will totally lose your benefits for that week,” so I was, like, “well, yeah OBVIOUSLY!”
Man, she was, like, so stupid.
And, like, I is totally on course to be a uncle, man – my littlest bro’s wife is, like, up the duff and has totally broken her waters so the ambulances has taken her in to fix all that.
And now I’m a bit tired of doing my best young person impression on my iPhone on a train, so if you’ll excuse me, yours truly is off to a pub quiz in Lodon’s fashionable Soho