Today We Said Goodbye To Louisa

The first blue sky in months! Today was that illusive day, found only once every four years, the 29th February. We set off early and arrived at the Ashton Court Estate near the city of Bristol at 11am. The children had chocolate in the car on our arrival. I thought ‘Louisa didn’t play golf did she’? We were at the cafe on the golf course. I spoke to Zoe, my niece. ‘We are at the cafe in the old stables’ she exclaimed! Okay, 20 minutes later we arrived. It was an informal affair, just close friends and family.

After 30 minutes we set off to the rose garden for her mum Mary to lay her ashes. My heart goes out to Mary, Zoe, Hannah and their brother Daniel who sadly could not be there.

The children were a tad loud throughout the day, but did amuse, even bring a few smiles. Thor was probably the screamiest he has been in quite a while, especially at the pub that we went to after the rose garden.

Rest in peace, dear Louisa.

That Darned Bear

You might remember that all of the children have a very special soft toy! Tara has her beloved Kangy and Kit. Thank you uncle Paul and auntie Kylie for that. You may also recall Thor’s much treasured MiMi (John’s baby gift) and his new, much loved Paddington bear, a gift for Christmas from Sindy. Aaliyah on the other hand, has a little pack of dogs (she loves dogs) including Remus and Gracie we have Doggy and Doggy, the latter Doggy being a Christmas gift from myself. Now, Caleb ‘bonded’ with Chicky, an Easter toy who used to only come out at Easter, but Caleb took pity on him a year or two back and made him a much loved full time soft toy! And finally we come to Amritsar and her very strong bond with a little white and green bear called Gurney, a gift from cousins James and Theo. Little did we know that from a pile of their old and slightly tattered baby bears brought over on a visit when the girls were still babies, that Gurney would be elevated to that special mantle of ‘Much Loved Bestie’!

No, Gurney did not come down this week for a nose piercing, rather for the fact that he had his little button nose nibbled off last week by Tarka, our friends dog whilst on our East Devon visit. I thought that the best way forward was to darn his nose back into existence and Darn away I did.

Not quite as good as new, but certainly as good as having to make do. Amritsar is smiling once again and Gurney is gurning away as happy as can be.

The next morning Kangy appeared for some surgery on his neck, the following morning was Paddington’s turn for a full back seam operation. Everyone is happy once more!

24 Hour Upgrade

What with the Apple Corporation killing my iPhone 6 Plus, I have had to do the upgrade that they would like us all to do. How did they do this you might ask! Well, firstly they stated that ‘older iPhones’ might encounter problems! Then they purposely uploaded software that would slowly kill your phone. They did tell us that this was going to happen after all, so not all bad eh? I believe that the French Government has fined the Apple Corporation millions of Euros for this practice. The U.K. government couldn’t give a damn!

The first of their killings was iMovie. No longer available on the 6 Plus. Then with the latest IOS update in early February (for phones older than iPhone 7), they killed my fingerprint recognition, then the phones microphone died, people could hardly hear me on a phone call! Though strangely, no problem with a WhatsApp or Skype call (so definitely not a hardware problem). There is also the situation of different apps just popping up all over the shop! Oh dear, they really have destroyed what was a perfectly good phone. A phone that I saved up for and purchased it with pride, as I have with all of my previous iPhone purchases.

Upgrades in the past, I made by choice. On this occasion, I was forced to put £330 down and signup for a new 2 year contract in order to pay the outstanding cost of the phone with O2, even though I am still on contact with three mobile with over a year to run.

My partner John has very kindly paid the deposit as a birthday gift. I thank him for that. So, yesterday I started my search with a look on the apple website considering a trade in. And to my absolute surprise, they had (de)valued my iPhone 6 Plus to £60, pretty much the cost of a decent lunch for two in a nice restaurant! So, at this moment in time, I am really not ‘feeling the love’ when it comes to corporate greed and the Apple Corporation.

So 24 hours ago I looked into the part payment and contract option with and now, I sit here with my new iPhone 11 setting it up. It arrived at 9am this morning. Oh, I almost forgot, a new phone number to boot.

Does anyone know how I text my entire contact list telling everybody that I have a new number as a result of a forced upgrade?

The First Snow of Winter

It can’t be, but I think that it is – the first snow of the winter, here in ‘The Shires’ fell this morning. I came down at 6.30am and looked outside. ‘Oh my god’, I exclaimed to myself! It only fell for 2 hours, the ground was wet, so it didn’t settle. But what an amazing spectacle for the children to view when they all barged downstairs this morning.

The three little ones were due to go out this morning with their classmates to see the early awakening of the woodland snowdrops! Little did they know that the snowdrops would be accompanied by snowdrops! Sindy our nanny went along with them to help out. So, although they are not quite back from school, I know that Caleb has been a real ‘grumpy bum’ and cried through the entire visit saying that he was cold and his feet hurt. Never mind.

Day two of this second round of the pre – agrarian diet, living without sugar and starches and all is well, though this journey through the season of Lent, I am doing alone. John is free to gorge on the usual contemporary diet of potatoes and chocolate bars. Mind you he never puts on a single kg of weight for the fact that he is living well due to his metabolic rate. So, braised pork, butter sautéed cabbage and broccoli for me and the addition of mashed potato for him. Bon appetite.

Shrove Tuesday

One down and twenty more to go! Okay, forty minutes later and the children dug in. Yummy! Enjoyed the traditional way with lemon juice and a half a teaspoon of sugar. A small tip for this year was to include a big splosh of maple syrup in the batter before cooking! Thank you to the BBC morning news for that one. Don’t forget that the batter needs to be quite loose for a thinner, lighter crepe. Oh and please remember that obligatory pinch of salt.

The Boys New Haircuts

Yesterday saw a post school visit to the barbers for Thor and Caleb. How grown up they look with their smart new haircuts! A little resistance on the smile front from Caleb this morning. But Thor made up for that with his ‘Blue Steel’ look directly into the lens!

I am pretty much down with a cold, but that did not stop me cooking up a storm yesterday with a chicken thigh terrine, home made BBQ chicken and a large vat of Mexican peppers with kidney beans. I feel a tortilla evening coming on pretty soon. As ever I bagged up into smaller portions and put them in the chest freezer.

With it being shrove Tuesday today there are sure to be pancakes later on. But I am reminded of the season of ‘Lent’ the traditional giving up of something. As you may recollect, my carbohydrate binge for the holidays is now set to end. My (next) 40 days of carbohydrate penance starts tomorrow, ‘Ash Wednesday’. I am not a practicing Christian but some traditions are worth keeping alive, aren’t they?

I am now reminded of a traditional mass held at Winchester Cathedral every Ash Wednesday when their choir sings Allegri’s Miserere. One of my favourite pieces of classical church music. John and I last enjoyed the mass with a friend Andy back in 2013, just prior to Tara and Amritsar’s births in Mumbai, India. Obviously we have been a little on the busy side to go back to Winchester on Ash Wednesday since then.

I also remember a story regarding this certain piece of music. Now, you all know that the composer Mozart was an absolute musical genius, but the story goes that the Catholic Church in Rome has the complete monopoly on this certain piece of music as their choir would sing it in the Sistine Chapel within the walls of the Vatican. The music was never written down – hence the monopoly. In waltzes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he listens intently, he goes home and puts the entire score down to paper. He stole the piece of music solely enjoyed by the churches elite and essentially gave it to the people! How very ‘Robin Hood’ of him…

Home and Dry

We are finally home And dry after our mid term break to North Cornwall and East Devon. I thank our ‘Devonian’ hosts for today’s star picture taken in their dog Tarka’s cage bed! Don’t worry, our crew were not in their for very long! Back to school tomorrow, another day begins. The holidays are over. Just the memories remain!

The Slightest of Breezes

Halfway home, so only half of the ‘are we there yet’s’! We arrived to a warm welcome at lunchtime at friends Alistair and Lorna’s holiday cottages. Thank you for the amazing lunch of chicken paella. Very well appreciated by all seven of us. And the children loved the spaghetti bolognese served at their dinnertime.

All in their Jim-Jams now watching France v Wales playing rugby. It seems that French pride has upped their play post Brexit! They won!

A simple dinner to come for the grownups of roasted sea bass with steamed potatoes and sugar snap peas. John made the fish purchase on our leaving the holiday house in Cornwall this morning.

Holiday almost at an end. It is strange that I have become so used to the howling of the wind and the lashing of the rain. We are in a sheltered valley here and the breeze is ever so slight.

I’m reminding myself that the children had a great time, even with the big storm. I myself feel a little bloated with the carbs and a little tired too, truth be known.

An update tomorrow when we finally get home. Thank you for reading – this is Andi Webb, signing off. Phew!!!

Goodbye Sun, welcome to Bedlam

Sounds a bit dramatic, but at this point, I’m used to dramatic I guess! Aaliyah screaming the house down due to daddy confiscating a small toy / choking hazard for bedtime. They all got to choose a small plastic toy today (under a fiver) at a toy shop. Caleb has also had to give up his small plastic ring and rubber ball.

Back to ‘Goodbye Sun’ then! I have just stood on the terrace and watched the dimming of dusk. I cannot really call it a sunset due to the thickness of the grey cloud. The wind is still howling in tune to the roar of the raging Atlantic.

Thor has just run past me wearing dirty white socks and his nighttime pull-up nappy! Looking a little like Boss Baby.

Caleb has been responsible for a string of breakages today – enough said. Aaliyah is still screaming about her plastic toy.

Amritsar has just exclaimed that Caleb has broken her toy banana! Naughty Caleb – you know, he has the ability to break most things, even a rather expensive dancing iron man toy a few days ago. He not only broke one of the LED lights but he managed to chew off a couple of the fingers also. I have always supervised play with this certain toy. I only took my eyes off him for five minutes.

Thor is still to put on his pyjamas. He is presently running around wearing just his nappy with a hairdryer in hand screaming ‘I’m gonna get you – I’m gonna get you’! Oops, he has only just fallen over and is screaming even louder that Aaliyah!

Everyone quiet now, though the peace has just been broken with Caleb in his bedroom starting to shout loudly. Tara is opening and closing the wardrobe door again and again. Better go see what is going on. (All was well.)

Daddy now shouting at Tara saying that slamming wardrobe doors cracks walls. Naughty Tara. Amritsar has joined the whining and is looking for her toy. She is getting more and more angry. Oh dear, welcome to Bedlam!!!

Day Trip to Looe in Cornwall

Okay, there is a fishing port in the south of Cornwall called Looe. And today we visited friends who have a holiday home there for a lunch of homemade Cornish Pasties. What a treat! The real McCoy, though dare I say that Dadda’s homemade pasties would have given them a good run for their money. The secret is pre stewing your finely chopped shin of beef (if available), although any cut of stewing beef will suffice.

Play park, ice cream, soft play and play park, with a wander around the harbour and sandy beach filled the day sufficiently to amuse 7 little tykes. Finally leaving our five at least ready for sleep at a timely hour. We did sneak the movie ‘Swallows and Amazons’ in between a dinner of roast pork and bedtime. Bath time was had this morning before we set off on our day trip, fully knowing that tonight would have been a complete nightmare with them all overly excited, though completely exhausted…

Past 9pm now and guess what? Caleb just strolled out of their bedroom saying that he cannot sleep, Aaliyah laughing maniacally and Thor calling me into their room saying ‘Dadda I need to tell you something’? The girls on the other hand – not a squeak!

Little Picket Fence

All between us and the great Atlantic Ocean appears to be a little picket fence. Well that, the dunes and the beach of course. It is not really sufficient to hold back mother nature and all that she has to blow our way, but the fence is enough to keep our children contained and entertained in the garden between the rainstorms and the wind over the last few days!

Yesterday, we finally got to venture down to the beach for an hour, though it was cut short with the falling in the sea of 5 out of the 7 children. Everyone was freezing, what with their Wellington boots completely filled with icy cold water.

Lunch was a slightly more sedate affair with a whole side of salmon, sautéed peppers and steamed asparagus. A great low carb trio as our friends are also ‘low carb connoisseurs’. I am thinking of again reducing my intake as from next week. But for now, a holiday is a holiday, is it not?

John went out this morning to get some work done and make several phone calls as it was proving impossible to achieve this at the holiday house. We are blessed with an amazing view as you can see in today’s photographs, however the internal ‘decibels’ can impede ones concentration somewhat.

Looking for Grandma Jean

My mother passed away 4 years ago now. She had very sadly never met our youngest three children. We do miss her as we do Granny Hazel and we do keep their names spoken and remembered every so often.

My mother found a new route in later life whilst living a full life in Victoria in Australia! She acted in a couple of adverts and was an extra in a few television programs and even the movie ‘Charlottes Web’.

I have watched the movie once or twice before but have never managed to find her scenes. I believe they gave her a closeup in the hairdressers scene, but today after Tara and Thor had adopted the spider from behind the sofa, Tara then found ‘Charlottes Web’ on Netflix.

To my surprise, I found myself watching very closely for any of the scenes that my mother might have been in. And today I struck gold!

Thank you Jo, David, Adele and Hardy for your company and the bubbles at cake cutting time. And also the melody of ‘Happy Birthday to Me’.

Another person there at the time of my actual birthday was of course my mother ‘Grandma Jean’ and today I thank you for being there for me… in loving memory – Rest in Peace.

Happy Birthday Dadda

Today’s post might sound a bit self indulgent, but the title might have given it away, yes I am one year the wiser today.

The holiday house is lightly dusted with a mass of paper confetti as the children are doing their thing, making Dadda a multitude of paper Birthday stuff! So I guess a lot of tidying up to do in a bit!

Yesterday’s visit to a softplay centre and animal farm went extremely well. A video of the children’s antics later on perhaps.

A birthday spent on our chilly, rainy and windswept Atlantic coastline is a first for me. A few patches of blue sky to be seen at present, alongside the squawking of sea gulls! On the subject of presents, thank you Sindy for the bottle of Blue Sapphire Gin – it will be surely needed come this evening. My gift from John will be a few days in arriving however! As you may remember, my iPhone has all but died on me! Yes, the Apple Corporation has won. Time for a new phone sadly.

Tara has just found a spider behind the sofa and she and Thor have adopted it! We are a far cry from the old days when Tara would have simply shrieked and Thor would have just squished it!

The howling of storm Dennis is still with us! Caleb has been practicing his howling! I thought that he was trying to sound like a wolf, but when they all started howling, I realised that it was the wind that he was trying to emulate.

An update later perhaps and if I find time, that video of pure enjoyment at the softplay. They had such a great time, Tara and friend Malky hid when it was time to leave. It took 20 minutes to find them hiding In a cylindrical slide!

Thank you for reading.

We Got Here – Storm Dennis Howling Away

Yes, we arrived at the holiday house in Cornwall at around 5pm this evening. Storm Dennis has been growling at us all day. And now that we are settled on the UK’s Atlantic coast, it’s whining and huffing can be heard loudly, even through the double glazed windows of the beach house.

We were all rather tired come the children’s bedtime, but we managed to settle them and went on to watch a movie with a couple of glasses of wine once they were sleeping.

On previous holidays the children have refused to settle, in fact the first nights have been impossible really. But on this occasion, bedtime was bedtime! The comatose state that we were all left with after last nights sleep deprivation has guaranteed their compliance with Mr Sandman!

Off to bed myself in a moment, seeing friends tomorrow, updates then – nite nite.

Three Hours Sleep and Rearing To Go

Yawn, yawn and about to broom broom. I foolishly stayed awake until 1am last night, John had wisely gone up around 11pm. Little did we know that come 4am the children would amass to our room and invade the bed. I took 10 minutes to decide to evacuate myself to the living room and kip down with the dogs on the sofa. Fifteen minutes later and Thor arrived exclaiming if we were leaving yet! It’s the middle of the night I informed him and sent him back upstairs. Another twenty minutes passed and in came John, shortly after, in followed the entire crew.

Sleeping arrangements for the next hour or two, and this is on two separate three seater sofas, me Remus and Gracie on one sofa with Caleb lying on top of me and then daddy with Tara, Amritsar, Aaliyah and Thor on the second sofa.

Come 7am I just gave up on the idea of sleep and put a movie on for the children on Netflix. John returned upstairs for an extra hours sleep – he is doing a five hour drive shortly after all! Me, I can grab an hours sleep in the car later I guess…

Happy Holidays hey!

School Disco

Today was the last day of School and half term begins. The children were all home at 3.30pm and a dinner of hotdogs and Dadda’s home made barbecued chicken wings was consumed early in order to allow them to return to school for a disco!

I hope they have a good time. I remember one of my final school discos back in the day. Smoking behind the bike sheds (literally) and under aged drinking were what I remember mostly! I guess that we have all of that to come!

Imagine ‘Diary of a Gay Dad – The Teenage years’ just might be an entertaining read. Though I believe that we have a few calm years to come before the storm! Fingers crossed on that front.

Triple Cooked Chips

Yes, that is what I missed the most in these last 6 weeks of pre- agrarian and that was what I enjoyed most last night for my big Birthday meal! The scallops for my starter were fine and the lamb rump for my main was fine, but the triple cooked chips were the best! I didn’t even bother with a dessert!

On the subject of food, I spent half of the morning bagging up dry food for our holiday in Cornwall tomorrow! And some of this afternoon assembling clothes for myself and the obligatory collection known as ‘toiletries’. Quite why this assemblage of items ended up with that name, I really don’t know!

I’ve been very good on the carbohydrate front. You know, it’s a real change of habit, now avoiding carbs rather than banning them outright. I’m just going to see where that goes! I’m rather looking forward to sharing that box of Prestat chocolates with John that was left over from Christmas.

Oh! Before I forget – all the best to Margie, one of my wonderful readers, she is on her journey home to Denver (Colorado) today from her big adventure! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. It all sounded totally amazing.

On that note, maybe a bit about my holiday tomorrow guys.

Art and Photography

In my Uni’ days I always got a little bit excited when I got to play with ceramics. Metalwork too if the truth be known. The common denominator however has to be photography!

I noticed this morning that my iPhone camera feed dates back to the minute that I returned from India with our two oldest children, Tara and Amritsar. Ever since then, as you can imagine, baby pics, baby pics, baby pics.

I do have previous photography backed up on an external hard drive and recently uploaded the images to my P.C. And I am glad that I did so!

Today I am showing photos of a couple of my statement pieces, photographed with just the right light and at interesting angles.

Form is everything really isn’t it? Both fluid and organic form contrasts alongside the linear and angular.

I am no artist, but have spent most of my adult life in the field of design. Maybe more on that another day. It seems very strange to be blogging about something other than ‘My Big Family Life’. But there we go, I once thought and felt differently than I do today, more selfish in a way! But there were a few good results along the way.

As ever, thank you for reading!

An Early End To The Pre – Agrarian Diet

Okay, okay, I’m not a quitter! Tonight’s headline would indicate that tomorrow I will be heading for Carbohydrate highway and reacquaint my self with sugary sweet and complex carbs alike!

The truth is that tomorrow is my birthday meal out, yes five days before my big day and that John has also rejoined the mass of you in following a regular diet these past two days. He has been amazing to follow the pre – agrarian concept for these last six weeks since the dawn of 2020. I thank him for that immensely.

But what with tomorrow being carb neutral for us both for my birthday meal, Friday being Valentine’s Day, the children on half term from the weekend, our family holiday starting on Saturday – waiting for my birthday to finish the diet just seems impractical.

I have craved carbs on one or two occasions, but overall I had adapted well! My mental well being seems slightly enhanced, my physical body feels more in tune! Of course, these are just personal observations. I have lost a few kilos (several pounds) and I feel so much firmer for these six weeks carb free. I lost my slight love handles and my tummy feels like stone! Success I believe, but what were the lessons learnt and what will I keep with myself?

My morning coffee is just great with one spoonful of canderel. No more sugar in coffee, though the maximum I ever drink is two cups a day. I have not really missed desserts, but I am open to the very occasional entire tub of Haagen Das. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and scoff, don’t you? But overall, I will only have a dessert every three or four days. Sadly, crisps and savoury snacks are a necessary no no! I have changed my relationship with these things, I really have.

Another inevitable outcome is smaller portion sizes. I am at one with giving my partner John bigger portions. It’s not an equality thing – he really does have a faster metabolism. Good for him. But I think that my actual stomach has slightly decreased in size, so I really don’t want large portions.

Yes, I am also happy to reacquaint myself with potatoes, rice and pasta, but I do not feel any compulsion to gorge. That is a massive lesson learnt. Just forgetting the supposed ‘norm’ for six weeks has been a real wake up call.

Thank you so much for being alongside me these last weeks, you have made this pre – agrarian mindset a lot more achievable. My eating habits have certainly improved for the better.

As you know, this wasn’t about the weight loss, just the idea of personal wellness and that has certainly gone from the basic model to the otherwise improved version of myself…

Listening to Clair de lune at present – feeling good!!! Thank you for reading.