Yesterday’s Blog

Well what about yesterday’s blog? I tried to write yesterday in the afternoon. Thor kept coming up and chat, chat, chat. That is, between the snot, snot, snot.

There were occasional screams from Caleb and Aaliyah kept interrupting, showing me her dress a baby rabbit on her iPad (Amritsar’s Old Lenovo tablet). I was trying to write about burnt sugar. Don’t ask, yesterday seems a while back now. The interruptions did not stop when Tara and Amritsar arrived home with Sindy. I closed the World Press app imagining that my writings would be saved, but when I went back after the children’s dinner had been consumed, the writing has vanished within the ether! I should of course have started again from scratch, but rather that, I chose to open a bottle of wine and snuggle in with the hounds. Well there you have it. John rushed in and straight back out as there was a residents meeting of the freeholders and wasn’t back until ten o’clock, when we finally got to eat dinner (spaghetti and meatballs). At present I am sat on the train, Sindy having dropped me at the station. The sun is shining brilliantly, but it is freezing outside. We had a light dusting of snow yesterday evening and the children loved the sight of it this morning. Do you remember as a child, the treat of seeing snowfall in the U.K. Wasn’t it such a rare treat? There is snow forecast for tomorrow, but sadly not so in London. I will miss the children revealing on the carpet of icy white dust tomorrow after school. Sindy has even procured a sledge for them to play on. Lucky them!

No Dadda No, I will be good, I want to be good

These were words echoed throughout the past week from each of the little ones (Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb)! Why you might ask? Well there has been the underlying threat of starting this week at ‘Mrs Snodgrass’s Naughty School’. All three were told on Wednesday of last week that their behaviour had to get better or they would start this week with The fabled Mrs Snodgrass. Hence they have by in large, tried to be better behaved, but can a leopard change its spots? Hmmmh, me thinks not, though there is hope as I am a firm believer that you can teach an old dog a new trick. Remus and Gracie are proof of that. Remus was five and Gracie just two when I taught them how to ‘SPIN’ and OMG, when they spin, they do it for England! They could also spin the socks off of the Northern African ‘Dervish’. I will try to video them at play and show it in a blog next week maybe. Anyhow, back to the little ones behavioural changes! No – they did not start the week at ‘Naughty School’, rather their usual preschool. The ultimatum was that if they did not try to be good (or at least better behaved), Mrs Snodgrass would be called last night (Sunday) to finalise the three places for an immediate start. Their behaviour last week slowly began to look promising, but remember that they are only three and four years old, so this whole fiction is basically the ultimate in deterrent. There has been some ups (with such well behaved children) and a few downs also where They have all pushed or hit or screamed at each other (I think biting has finally been eradicated). I guess that these three things are only ever directed at each other and not us, their parents, it is a good thing as it shows that they do have certain limitations. There are those children out there who do try to bully their own parents. So it’s not so bad really. Back to last night, they were all commended after their bath for (overall) being so well behaved and I faked a phone call to Mrs Snodgrass saying that we did not need to start ‘Naughty School’ after all. They were very happy and all went off to bed smiling.

The Three Year Old Cold

Doing the maths on this one, I can truly say that with the girls sixth birthday coming up in March, I have pretty much had a cold for the last three years. They started preschool three years ago and that’s when this cold began. You know the way that children suck and chew on pretty much all toys and share them around with all of the their fellow preschool attendees, well even with the girls at big school and the fact that they are more akin to washing hands and not sharing small plastic objects coated in bacteria with everyone, we still have the three little ones doing just that! I wash my hands at least forty times daily. I scrub the kitchen table at least twice and to be honest, although I don’t get stomach problems, I guess cold viruses are just too virulent. One cold leads on after another and so on. Looking at most old photos of our guys when they were preschool age, almost all of them have runny noses. Thor seems to be the worst, it’s just one cold after another. Recently his nose has just been a snot factory and when it runs, sometimes it almost reaches his chin if unnoticed for even twenty minutes. It is only the month of August that everyone seems to be healthy and without a cold. I am hoping that with them all at big school in September, the sheer volume of this will quieten down to a trickle. I really hope so. I’m tired of coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose and the sore throat. Roll on September.

All Quiet in the House (Finally)

They have finally subsided and crashed due to exhaustion. Earlier I went up to see how Thor was and ended up bringing down the three little ones as they had no intention at all to have their nap! Remember the last time that I left them to their own devices, they trashed Tara and Amritsar’s ‘precious things’. So we all had an afternoon of it and broke open a packet of shortbread. The girls were dropped off at three thirty on a slight sugar high as someone brought in sweets for everyone as there was a birthday in their class. Tara and Amritsar shared what was remaining, so by the time dinner was over they all stepped up a level and ran around like crazies until I said ‘I’ve had enough’ and ‘Early bedtime’ at six o’clock. To be honest, I was lucky to get back downstairs with my sanity still intact. There were some nappies we had with bananas printed on them. They all wanted to covet them as well as wear them, Thor with his pants on his head and Aaliyah stole a pair of Tara’s nickers from the washing dryer and ran around like Thor screaming like a lunatic. Tara insisted on watching a video on my phone from when she was around Aaliyah and Caleb’s age where she would repeat herself again and again with the same words. ‘I want a nanna, I want a nanna’ That is all she was whining. I will play it for you now.

She is so much more grown up now and they all laughed at the video (lots). It makes me realise the difference in behaviour in just these last two years in her – holy mother there is hope for the three little ones… we will get there. Just two more years of naughtiness…

Victoria Plum Jam

Okay Victoria, this ones for you! The most basic recipe for jam is plum jam. It is the easiest and quite simply, one of the best. The darkness of the outcome is dependent on the ripeness of the plums. Two punnets ended up being 700g once halved and the pits removed. Into a pan (no water), just several squeezes of pre squeezed lemon juice from a bottle. Gently bring up to the boil.

You want the fruit to boil down for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once your mixture looks a little stewed, now is the time to add 700g sugar. Please note NO pectin is needed for plum jam as plums are naturally very high in pectin. Cook on for another ten minutes. Your jam will become more glossy and translucent.

Skim the top to remove any of the scum that forms as and when. When it starts to look a little more gelatinous after maybe ten more minutes, you will find it falls from a wooden spoon less rapidly. It will kind of hold together a little. Do not cook (in total) for more than 30 minutes. If you do the jam will take on a heavy, jammy taste that is not so good. You don’t want to overcook your sweet nectar. This is the time to remove any remaining, whitish scum from the top

I’m using a jam funnel but as long as you go slowly with the kitchen ladle (no spills on the rim of the jar etc), you should be okay. Please note that the jam jars, lids, ladle and funnel have all just come out of the dishwasher, so they are completely sterilised. This said, do be careful not to touch anywhere other than the outside of the jars and lids. Leave the jam several millimetres below the top of the jar and screw on the lid tightly. You may want to use a tea towel as the jar will be hot. Now place the jam jars in the biggest pan you possess and cover with water. Boil the jars for twenty minutes to finalise the sterilisation. I think that Nigella doesn’t do this, rather she will just tip the hot jam jars upside down. This kills any potential bacteria below the lid. I opt for the traditional method however. If you don’t have a pan big enough, do it Nigella’s way.

Hey presto you have a real treat ahead. The children will love it, but you might just want to keep it for the grownups, mixed with a small splash of water and drizzled over Greek yoghurt or ice cream.

Got to go as Thor is upstairs shouting rather loudly when he should be having his nap. Just me this afternoon as Sindy our nanny is off. I will update you as and when!

Friends Coming for Dinner

And guess what? Yes, we’re having Thai food. All made yesterday leaving me completely free today. Even the rice cooked and just waiting to be reheated in the microwave. Last time these particular friends came over, we feasted on several Indian dishes, but this time I opted to go for Thai food. Starting with Tom Yum noodles with spring onion and a shrimp and for mains, 3 hour cooked Beef Massaman, Thai red curry with chicken thigh, a yellow curry with chicken, shrimp and potatoes, accompanied with lashings of basmati rice. To be honest, I wouldn’t cook with any other rice, even with Thai food, basmati rules supreme. All the curry pastes made from scratch of course. Well I made all of that yesterday and you know what! Like any dish with spice, it’s best enjoyed the following day! The flavours all fuse together and although all of the spices are all cooked out when cooked, there’s just something about them continuing to permeate for twenty four hours. Okay, okay, today! Quiet house after the morning school runs on a Thursday, just me and the crazy dogs. They are constant, like two groupies just staring up, expecting something, usually a doggy treat. But like all family pets, I love them and wouldn’t have things any other way. I made five jars of one of my yummy combo jams. Have I mentioned the flavour combos before? Maybe, but I will reiterate, today’s combo was ‘Kiwi and Lime’. Totally amazing on hot toast, dripping with butter. I will list ‘Dadda’s Jams’ combos below:

Rasmelon Berry

Peach Peary

Black Grapple

Ginger & Pumpkin

Strawlime Berry

Blue Cherry Berry

Just a few amazing combos alongside the usual classic flavours, but like pumpkin, you can ‘Jam’ with pretty much any fruit (or squash). So thinking to tomorrow, I have two punnets of dark Victoria plums and a kilo of sugar. Lesson one in jam making is make an easy one. So dishwash those spare jam jars in preparation and lets take tomorrow’s lesson in the AM. All for now, nite nite.

A Trip to the Vets

Yesterday saw the daft canine duo that is Remus and Gracie visit the Vets for their annual vaccination booster and this years kennel cough jab. They were weighed, Remus a very healthy twenty two kilos and our Grace came in at twenty seven! Girl dogs are by in large fifteen percent smaller than their male counterparts! So she is a little overweight, but this is due to her general relaxed approach to things. She only ever runs with speed when a squirrel or two are spotted at the bottom of the garden. She is always on Remus’s tail. On the other hand Remus is a fine standing dog. He is a real looker! Did I say that his father was a best of breed at crufts? Anyhow, he burns off his calories being so hyper all of the time. The Vet almost fainted when she realised that he was ten years old. She thought him a sprightly pup of eighteen months or younger. We had to laugh. Another entry about today later…

Little Tikes

Well a smooth enough beginning to the day, however some dramas to be had on the midday snooze for Aaliyah, Caleb and Thor. Our nanny Sindy was off for the midday break and upon her return, the restless little ones (I heard from the living room) were told to ‘sit on the sofa’ whilst she surveyed the destruction that was Amritsar and Tara’s bunk beds. All of their ‘bits and bobs’ that were stowed away in their music boxes and special shoe boxes had been strewn to the winds and all the little ones could do was scream and shout, the concept of guilt was not present. They descended the stairs to be told that they would make right the damage when Tara and Amritsar returned from school and I scowled at them as unhappily as I could muster! Thor and Caleb just giggled, though Aaliyah screamed that she was sorry. ‘I want to be a good girl, I want to be a good girl’ she screamed. I listened for a moment and finally said in an elevated tone ‘enough is enough’! I picked up my phone and made a few finger motions. ‘Am I speaking to Mrs Snodgrass’ I asked. ‘Yes, it’s me again. This time they really have gone too far and do not feel at all sorry – is there a chance that Aaliyah, Caleb and Thor can begin ‘Naughty School’ on Monday morning’? ‘What, yes they can’ I said, perfect, ‘we will finalise things on Friday’. ‘ No, not Mrs Snodgrass, no, no, no’ screamed Aaliyah. Thor added ‘No Dadda, no’ and Caleb just looked on shamefaced. Anyhow, Sindy went off to collect the girls and things were later tidied up…

Thor had also refused to eat lunch earlier, much to the merriment of Caleb, as he ate Thor’s discarded cheese and pickle sandwiches. This made Thor extremely hungry just before dinner, he was the first to finish his ‘ broccoli, pesto, pasta’ and a banana was had for dessert.

My day comprised of cooking three Thai curries, even cooking the rice for dinner tomorrow night, as we have friends calling over for dinner. I continued my Jammin’ with a figgy pear combo, just three jars. Which reminds me, are you still up to make your own batch of home made jam? I did say a month or two ago that you should reserve three or four jam jars and we could make our very first sweet and sticky jam together! I hope you have the empty jam jars as I think we should go ahead in the next day or two to impress some of our friends and family with our very own home made jams. Be sure to buy two punnets of plums and a kilo of sugar in the next day or so – let’s go for Friday. Come back to this blog on Friday prepared won’t you!

Last thoughts for the day are on Aaliyah. The dynamo torch that she had chosen at the science museum on Sunday has been cannibalised and turned into a home made ‘taser’, I have had to confiscate it due to worries of injuries, I say it again and again ‘everything gets broken in this house’ can we please stop breaking everything. Aaliyah alone in the last twelve months has broken the logo / label on the Aga oven, scratched deeply into the Aga fridge. She’s broken a multitude of toys and Xmas decorations, scratched into the kitchen table and the antique, Victorian (walnut veneered) table in the living room. I am told things get better in time! I don’t remember the girls being this destructive at the age of three. We persevere don’t we, we have to!

Business as Usual

The first flurry of snow for this year was this afternoon. It felt very seasonal and it was very cold outside (obviously). The Dogs refused to go out and pee. They were those mega flakes of snow, you could hardly see beyond ten metres at one point. All gone now of course as the snow turned to sleet and finally to regular rain. Just that feeling of deep winter made me think of something festive! The air in the kitchen is now scented with ‘all spice’ as I just decided to make a small batch of the Xmas, X-Rated Jam, just three jars. My jam jars arrived this morning and I just couldn’t resist poaching pears and raisins in rum. A little apple for its pectin and sugar. The girls are just back from school and we’re all watching Peter Rabbit.’A good Rabbit never gives up’ from Peter! Good advice for young, enquiring minds. I made ‘man size’ meatballs and a ‘heavy on the basil’ tomato sauce for daddy and dadda’s dinner and the children are going to enjoy burgers made from the rest of the pork mixture. Due to being a bit busy, I’m just finishing this off post dinnertime, the burgers were well received. And five less hungry little people are about to get ready for bed. No nanny this afternoon, so the girls were dropped off by one of the mums from school.

Now if you’ve found the time to be reading this, didn’t you know, there’s a whole novel on Amazon Kindle you could be absorbed in. Do I need to remind you of the name (Eighteen Moons)? It’s not every day one gets to finally publish a book, so without the fanfare the day draws to an end. Every journey has a beginning and for my book, today was just that! But for me, a regular kind of day, but I did get to enjoy seeing the first snow of 2019 and the children are looking forward to eating the X-Rated jam on their toast tomorrow morning… bye for now!

I did it, I did it ‘Eighteen Moons’ is finally out there

Now there’s an introduction for today’s diary entry. Yes indeed, I did it. My memoirs have finally made it from my computers desktop, and found its way into the ether of what is Amazon Kindle. Now as for promotion and marketing, well I sigh – that is well and truly something that I do not have a budget for, rather just a small appeal to any of you out there that might be interested in the story of how my family came to be, please consider reading the story of our attempts at ‘Family Planning’. That name was actually a contender for the name of the novel. But in the end I settled for ‘Eighteen Moons’. As I have previously mentioned, the moon seemed to be a commodity of time over the eighteen months that I lived in India, Thailand and Nepal. If you do enjoy the read, I do hope that you will find the spirit and enthusiasm to recommend it to friends and family as I can only hope for the story to be communicated and be told through the grapevine, by word of mouth. So for any of you out there with a Kindle or the Kindle app for Android and iPhone, please just search the two little words ‘Eighteen Moons’. I thank you in advance and appreciate any feedback in both the ‘customer reviews’ area of Kindle and of course, to copy and paste your comments on here, my ‘Diary of a Gay Dad’. Thank you in advance.

Not a Lot to Say Tonight (or Have I)?

The weekend has flashed us by. This afternoon spent at the Science museum in Winchester and a roast chicken dinner just consumed and Jim Jams and tooth brushing being administered as we speak. Thor now sat on the potty doing a poo and Aaliyah skipping around with her new mechanical, dynamo torch. This was obviously a purchase from that all too familiar shop at the exit of such institutions as museums and entertainment days out. Thor still sat on the potty pooing and cleaning his teeth at the same time. Just had a hug from Tara and Amritsar and they are just about ready to ascend the stairs. A little screaming , but overall fairly civil. They’re upstairs now and the only sounds are Thor’s screams of ‘Caleb’s got my phone’ and Amritsar shouting ‘oooh oooh, oooh oooh’. A bunch of crazies maybe, but they are our crazies I guess and we love them to bits.

I’ve just decided to return to ‘Dadda’s Jams and confectionary’ aspirations, since the small break over the holidays, so I will order some of my signature ‘Orcio’ jars tonight and get Jammin’ once again next week.

Over these last two weeks I have avoided sending out my script en masse to the literary agents. I think I am going to take the book forward through amazon kindle. So my (novel) memoirs might be downloadable within the next few days (if that is of any interest to you)! This decision was partly due to the super red, blood moon (a total lunar eclipse) happening here presently in the UK. Within my memoirs I did mention this phenomenon twice and i am thinking that tomorrow’s red moon might be a good enough reason to finally tell the story of how ‘Two Blokes’ set about planning and conceiving their children through international surrogacy over a period of three and a half years…

I’ll keep you up to date on this new happening and I hope that a few of you might find the story a good read and hopefully recommend it to friends in a positive way. It’s a very human story really, it just happens to be about two blokes getting pregnant (with help) and the multitude of hurdles and hoops that they had to jump over and through, in order to make their family possible. On reflection – Job Well Done!

Looking Forward to the Weekend

Friday already! A quiet week in London after having celebrated Johns birthday on Tuesday night. The food was impeccable and we arrived back to the London flat for John to open his birthday presents. The children had all signed a card that the little ones had made at preschool (we’ve stopped producing cards from each and every one of them if it’s not necessary), we had some white wine and went to bed. What were the presents you might ask! Well with the price for robotic vacuum cleaners having dropped sufficiently, there was one of those (it even self docks to power up and there is a mop function). A pair of apple, wireless ear buds, four antique silver napkin rings and a large, bone handled magnifying glass with matching letter opener.

Moving forward to today, I am sat on the train on my way back to ‘The Shires’. The few days have flashed by and I am now looking forward to the weekend. I do miss the family terribly when I have my two days away every two weeks, but the peace and quiet attained is a tonic and I am grateful for the stillness and tranquility of the London flat. I finished up there earlier, taking photographs of each room at opposing ends with the intention of listing the apartment on a flat swap website. We are thinking of going to South beach, Florida in May, when it warms up sufficiently and I thought as the flat is largely empty, this is something we should try. It’s very central so we should have some success. Though we want to travel down the Miami Keys also, so let’s hope a few of those new age crafty sorts that live that way are in to house swapping as it’s so ‘organic’ isn’t it? We held off from letting via Airbnb as that would affect the mortgage! I wonder if the masses who do Airbnb realise that – their house insurance is affected also! But I think the occasional house swap is allowed.

When I walk through the doors, the girls should just be back from school, but the loudest welcome is always from the dogs, Remus and Gracie. They are usually ballistic and won’t settle down before I have given them at least 2 doggy treats (Winalot shapes). I don’t think John or Sindy give them as freely as I do, so when they know I am back, they get very excited.

I don’t think we have ‘A Plan’ this weekend, but there are no birthday party invites for the children. It’s funny how their lives and play often revolves around Holidays, Christmas, their Birthdays and their friends birthday parties, I guess they always get cake, sweets and chocolate, so they are things that they always remember. The going home gift after Thor’s Birthday, we gave a large tube of fruit pastilles or jelly tots, I later regretted that as that much sugar in one sitting, it was way too much for a children’s metabolism. Our not so famous five were climbing up the walls, so I had to confiscate the rest of the said tubes of sweeties (and eek them out over time) and I will think again when it comes to the girls birthdays at the end of March. Children plus sugar means hyperactive and unruly. I’ll go with the other mums ‘Going home bags’ options and give out sticker books, crayons and glitter!

Back to the weekend, I will keep you appraised as we journey through it. I’m almost home now.

Johns Birthday Tomorrow

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Well Sunday night ended with a ‘Mock Chicken Roast’ That is pre-Roast Chicken heated in gravy, deep fried potatoes (not roast in the oven), glazed carrots, broccoli and petite pois a la Franchise. The children loved it. Things are getting much better at the dinner table for sure. Their slightly heightened table manners might have had something to do with a slice of the home made Birthday cake I baked to celebrate daddy’s birthday that afternoon. We ate half of the cake yesterday and saved the second half for this evening. His birthday is actually tomorrow, so we’re going to meet up in London after John finishes work (In the West End) and dine at J Sheeky’s. Table booked for 8pm and Sindy our nanny is doing a sleepover with the children.

It’s late and the little ones have only just now fallen silent. John is working late and I am sat with the dogs watching Netflix. Potatoes boiling and I’m extending that chicken for just one more night – mashed potatoes with plenty of butter, seasoning and double cream (the only way) and the remnants of last nights peas and French beans with butter and garlic. Just how they used to serve them the the old ‘Conran restaurants’, Quaglinos, Blue Bird, etc. We used to dine out in the early days a lot. But that seems like a lifetime ago now, once a fortnight is our regular gastro gorge nowadays. Well I have to head to the kitchen as those spuds need tending to and John will be home shortly. Looking forward to tomorrow though, when I can be waited on! Best not forget my credit card…

The Last Few Days

Hmmmm! So what’s been going on in our lives of recent? Caleb has been constantly spilling his drink at the dinner table. Aaliyah has by and large been well behaved (no biting or screaming) and Thor has been extremely naughty at preschool. The all day one he attends on a Thursday almost called us to ask us to bring him home! Lucky they did not and allowed him to continue until 3pm, but to almost be excluded from preschool, come on Thor, you gotta buck up to the challenges of life and do some growing up! You know, there has never once been a day without some shouting and screaming. Not a single day without some major incident happening. I keep telling him that now that he is four years old, he has to settle down a little, but he doesn’t like to listen to anything. Let alone analyse what is being asked of him. He is shouting a lot more at the moment. He is mostly talking sense, but he has to talk as loud as he possibly can. The iPad (kindle fire) he got for his birthday has hardly been looked at. Aaliyah on the other hand was given Amritsar’s old one and asks for it more often. She engages with the games with relatively little assistance from Amritsar. Good for her – figuring things out for herself. Caleb’s diction is slowly improving. A long way to go before he is up to speed though. No ‘poop’ incidents of recent, but never say never! He’s tried to communicate ‘potty’ a few times, he gets the implication of what to do, but just sits there and if there was a small wee wee from Aaliyah or Thor (that we didn’t flush immediately) sitting in there, he tries to claim it as his own. But I know better! Thor and Aaliyah seldom have an accident now which is great. Though occasionally screamy and badly behaved, they are definitely on course for big school in September. Amritsar and Tara have both just enrolled in extra curricular on a Wednesday after school. This term choosing different pursuits! Tara enrolled in ‘Film Club’ and Amritsar in ‘Craft Club’. Amritsar loves being arty and a little crafty too (in the nice way). She has been persevering with sequin art since Christmas. Small pins and sequins you have to pin to a picture of sea animals. It’s very complex, even for an adult, she’s doing really well. They both also made paw patrol bead characters that needed ironing to fix the beads together. Oh my goodness, Marshall the Dalmatian character I ironed into a smudged and squished smear, much to the disapproval of Tara. I did help her remake it, but asked Sindy our nanny to do the ironing. She did so very tentatively. All are playing nicely downstairs now. Daddy has just left them for ten minutes and is sitting on the terrace, contemplating putting up a shelf for the pans in the kitchen, I just had my copper set re-tinned and they arrived on Thursday. I’m not opening the box until the shelf is up and then, as they will look so shiny and sparkly, I am not sure I will ever use them again. The old nannies started using metal utensils in them and completely ruined them – perhaps I should send them the invoice for £140 re-tinning cost! Anyhow, I’m heading back downstairs to join in the chaos that is the weekend norm. The girls are invited to yet another party at four o’clock. Every hour they are both saying – can we go to the party now… I’ll maybe update you later on today. The dogs Are chilling on the chaise staring at me as I lie here on the bed writing this (Checkout today’s image above). It’s nice when they are settled, but the moment I get up they will liven up like a couple of dervishes and ballistically follow me down the stairs. Not always a safe place as Remus loves to run between my legs – not so safe on the stairs. We’re always shouting down Remus or down Gracie if the children are descending the stairs (the dogs are always beckoned down first. But me and Remus are fine – for him walking 2 steps ahead is a game he thinks we are playing a game! Soppy dog…

Today’s Entry

What with the girls back to school and the little ones at preschool, all is back to normal. That is as normal as things can be. Very sadly the preschool the little ones attend four days a week is suffering financially and might not make it through this coming term. The head person, Amanda gave two days notice just before the beginning of the Christmas break saying that she was jumping the sinking ship. Okay, the reduction of wages may have been her ultimate realisation, but the three left ‘Holding the Fort’ are in potentially volatile times. This is a reminder that life is static – there is always change, in order to rectify imbalance. We wish them luck. So our ‘Little Ones’ continue their daily routine, however there is change upon their horizon. Today however they attend another preschool that operates from 9am until 3pm, much in line with regular schooling. It’s great that on a Thursday I really do get the day off. So today I went out to a local town Hungerford, to search for a couple of birthday gifts for Johns big day next Tuesday (yes, his birthday). A friend Richard came over for lunch and we then fled the crazy hounds and checked out the antiques shops in the centre of town. I returned home at 3.30pm and they were all home. Our nanny was feeling unwell and went off to the doctors, I hope she is in tomorrow. We then all enjoyed pizza for dinner. And got into our Jim Jams for a 7pm nite nite. All has been quite thus far. Most unlike last night where Thor tormented Daddy (John) three times with outbursts insisting there was something further (a hoop to jump through) he wanted him to do. John and I had words, he thinks that I am being cold when I say for to him ‘let him scream it out for a while’. He wants to be the best ever dad, but as you have previously heard me comment, there has to be a good cop and a bad cop and sadly John never elevates himself to take on the mantle of bad cop, so no sympathy from me when John exulted that he was tired from running up and down the stairs to ‘Entertain Thor’ and his various whims. If you’re a parent, you know how the kids will play you, you’ve just have to try to out manoeuvre them. I know there is a certain wisdom to being four years old (so Thor imagines), but come on! Parenthood can be exhausting if you let them triumph and pride themselves on having the upper hand, time after time, you’re just setting yourself up for despair. Just something to ponder on. Anyhow it is now time for bed now, so nite nite all.

Two Blokes

This is a story of ‘Two Blokes’ really isn’t it. Two blokes at the start of it, that is! Why fatherhood you may ask? What prompted it and what changed in order to make it happen? John and I had been together for years and never considered the idea of having children. Well, we were ‘Two Blokes’ weren’t we! On the other hand, female couples have been having children for years thanks to sperm banks or a casual encounter with an understanding male friend. But come on, ‘Two Blokes’… Why? Back in the day when there was such inequality with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and wider communities, we didn’t even have the opportunity of marriage. When we finally tied the knot officially, there was no such thing as gay marriage, only the newly introduced ‘Civil Partnership’. That would have to do for us! We have since considered the difference of this legal union opposed to an actual marriage and to be frank, it is sufficient in our eyes that we are a couple in the eyes of the law. But this new found equality (that was long overdue) had other spin offs I guess. The law is no longer bigoted, so it is not (or should not be) frowned upon that ‘Two Blokes’, if they so wish, wanted to start a family. This is the outcome of equality isn’t it? And so we went on to achieve just that. I have previously brought up this subject in my diary, but it is a theme that is intrinsic to the ultimate outcome and why we are now a full and happy household of ten, if you include our two dogs and full time nanny. Who’d have thought that just a few years ago. Our neighbour in London, Karen thought that I hated children. This was probably brought on by the fact that she had two rug rats and I don’t remember ever really chatting ‘children’ with her. I smiled and said hello to her two little ones, but that was that. I guess she presumed we were annoyed with the constant buggy situation in the shared landing, but we never said anything. One year her brother couldn’t make it to hers to dress as Santa on Christmas Eve and walk down the road with a sack on his back whilst her then four and five year olds looked down from the balcony screaming ‘Santa, it’s Santa’. She asked me to step in and I reluctantly did so with just a little personal embarrassment. Very good training for my little elf story I guess. In hindsight it did make me smile, though even at that point, John and I had not discussed having our own children. That all happened a short while later after seeing a documentary called ‘Made in India’. I have mentioned this for sure, but I am just reiterating that a few small prompts set us out on our journey to fatherhood. We found a common ground and progressed forward as a couple. What we did and how we went about making things happen weren’t simple things, but we believed that ‘Our Journey’ was well worth the complexity and dare I say anxiety of it all. So here we have it! Just ‘Two Blokes’ and a household full of happiness (and quite a few screams).

A Day in the Kitchen

Well, all off to school like clockwork and the girls just back from school coveting A5 puzzle books for colouring in and full of stickers – oh joy! I have been in the kitchen, pretty much all day. After yesterday’s puttanesca and Bakewell tart, I made a regular bolognese sauce from scratch (using ground pork), turkey and ham pie with Sunday’s remnants of the final Christmas meats (my own pastry), a deep filled beef pie, stuffed with 3 hour braised beef, Jumbo red shrimp Thermidor, two cauliflower cheeses and I am now marinating four skinless chicken thighs in the holy trinity of spices (garlic, ginger, chilli) and a madras spice combo. Rice and gravy (pre made curry sauce) defrosting, I think we’re all set for this weeks menu.

If there is anything better than cooking your own food from scratch – it’s eating it!

The Story of the Elves

Okay – last year (or rather the year before) John and I were asked to be the Xmas Elves at Santa’s Grotto at the girls school. We were accompanied by another parent, Anthea whose son is in the same year – she was brilliant, as were all of the other parents that made last years Grotto (or rather the year before’s) festivity’s and fund raising such a success. One year and a bit belated, a big pat on the back to everyone who gave selflessly. And a round of applause to all of Santa’s Elves who raised money for the schools coffers this year – sorry, now last year!

I am now going to move on! And so begins new adventures and a completely new year to unravel. Did any of that make a modicum of sense – back to a more general diary tomorrow.

Twelfth Night

Well, with twelfth Night upon us and the Christmas decorations down, I have chosen to begin my diary entries again. To be honest, holidays are holidays aren’t they? For you and for us, I thought it only right to take a few days out and await the Epiphany, the official end of the Christmas holidays. I believe this point represents the arrival of the Wise Men at the birthplace of JC in Bethlehem. I also did not want to preach to you about any New Year resolutions as to be quite honest, there aren’t any this year. That is unless I mention that we’ve all got room for improvement don’t we? And that is something that we should be working on constantly throughout each and every day, year on year, throughout our lives.

The decorations now replaced in the cupboard at the top of the stairs, our living room looks less ornate, but back to its familiar, comforting warmth. With school restarting tomorrow, things are well and truly feeling back to normal. I am sure that traditions shouldn’t always be enacted to the word, but the feast we are looking forward to this evening is our ‘Feast of the Epiphany’ and I have salvaged the remaining turkey breast, ham and last of the Brussel sprouts from the freezer. Bon appetite and Happy New Year to all on this, the ‘Twelfth Night’ of Christmas.