Remus and The Rainbows

It is still rather early in the day, so if I were to comment on the not so famous five’s behaviour thus far, sadly it has not been so good as yet. Just getting them all to get dressed was a complete and utter nightmare. It actually took Caleb 20 minutes just to pull up his pants. And that was with being constantly asked to pull them up! Aaliyah and Tara are at present arguing and Amritsar is writing in code!. Thor screams!

On a sunny day like today, the morning sun blazes into our south facing living room. The room has two doors. One into the internal hall and dining room and the other towards the entrance hall and front door. The latter is made from wood and bevelled glass (a prism). You can guess where I am going with this? Yes, we have the occasional rainbows that pop up here and there! Now, given the swing angle of the door earlier, Remus and I found a couple of colourful streaks on the mosaic floor by the front door. I know, it’s hard to spot Remus, isn’t it?

Thor’s Epic Attempt to Count to 1000

Bless him, he has just reached 400, so quite a way to go! At least it will keep him occupied for a while. Even with him constantly forgetting where he is up to and Daddy and Dadda are being forever prompted as to what number he was on!

Aaliyah has just vomited! Daddy has given her some water and told her to not suck her fingers so much or let the dogs lick her face as often as she does!

I’ve just put out another load of washing and Tara has helped out by pre-mopping the kitchen floor for me! She does like the mop for some reason, though she is not enamoured by cleaning the house in any way whatsoever. But I realised that her help with the kitchen floor means that I just have to give it a very quick once over when she is done! Simple and thank you Tara.

Daddy is trying to work from the living room table at present! And Thor keeps pestering him ‘what was I up to daddy, what was i up to’?

We were awoken this morning with their usual bed invasion. The time was about 5.45am. It is only 9.45 at present, I feel that the day has been long already! Aaliyah has just run into the kitchen with an ever so angry cry, she looked at me and has just run back out to the bottom of the stairs in tears! Clearly I am the last person she wants to see just now!

Remus is whining away beside me for his dinner! Can you believe that he used to be fed at 4pm! He is wired on a 23 hour clock you see! His and a Graces dinner time has been moved forward in increments of 30 minutes again, again and again!

Aaliyah is now in just her nickers rooting through the recycle bag! Where are your clothes I ask! No answer! She has just pushed the general rubbish bin over. It’s going to be one of those days, I can see it!

‘Settle down Remus’ I say ‘it’s too early’. Thor is now up to 500 give or take! Well done, though the truth is he has consistently missed his 40’s through 80’s, but he is counting with such confidence, I cannot fault his enthusiasm!

Andi and John Gay Dads

Welcome to my diary of a gay dad. Just in case this is your first view to my blog, a small introduction for you. We are a family living life here in ‘The Shires’ of England. My name is Andi and my civil partner is John. We have five children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old.

We are pretty much like any other family really! For the fact that we are two men, that is irrelevant. We chose to become a family with the help of surrogacy. We looked at surrogacy at home, but decided to go abroad and use clinics in India, Thailand and finally Nepal on the roof of the world.

Given last minute changes (for us) in the surrogacy laws of India, Thailand and Nepal, we were among the very last people to go through this process in all three countries!

We were assisted in our plight with three different women who came forward to be our surrogates! They did need to prove to us that they were single and making this decision for themselves. This we requested so that we knew that any payments made to them were solely for them to help enrich and improve their own personal situations and that of their own immediate children / families. We found out later in our third pregnancy that the agency and clinic in Nepal had lied to us and that the surrogate (Susheila) was in fact married. That upset us as we did not know if her husband had in any way coerced her into this kind gesture purely for financial gain! Our egg donors were completely separate to our choice of surrogates!

Certain things we tried to control as best we could, other things just happened and our ability to control them was just not possible.

My book, telling our true life family saga called ‘Eighteen Moons’ tells the story of my eight months stranded alone in India with two small babies, up against the bureaucracy of both the Indian and UK authorities and then our five month struggle in Thailand after surrogacy had been criminalised and finally five months spent in Kathmandu, Nepal, waiting on UK passports, just post the devastating earthquake in 2015. Available on Amazon by simply searching Eighteen Moons.

As extraordinary as the story was, it is a 100% non fiction account of what my family went through to ultimately become the loving family that we are today!

My diary of a gay dad very much shows you who we are now and is also eighteen months in the making at this juncture, I can also add that my second book ‘Thirteen Moons More’ (an edit of this very diary blog) tells the story of our family life in that fledgling year, just before the three youngest of our crew joined their sisters at ‘Big School’. Also available on Amazon.

Our story continues as always here at I thank you for reading!

Jammin’ The Juice

Dadda’s homegrown Grape Jelly

This photo may be a couple of seasons old now, but our grape vine yielded plenty of grape juice last autumn. In an earlier entry I explained how the grapes were picked and juiced, so I won’t repeat myself. But please note that the juice was boiled / pasteurised and immediately frozen. It’s ruby red colour makes this jelly look a little like my homemade crabapple! Hence my confusions of last week! So here we go!

Grape Jelly


1ltr Grape Juice (Welche’s brand is fine)

100ml Lemon Juice

500g Apple Pulp (passed through a sieve)

1.5kg sugar


Sterilise your jam jars, jam funnel and ladle in your dishwasher. Place all of the ingredients into a heavy saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, stirring occasionally. Skim occasionally with a metal spoon and a small bowl. Boil for 20 minutes. Check your gel with your wooden spoon! On this occasion I might just do the ‘old fashioned’ droplet of liquid jelly onto a cold plate chilled in the freezer, as you want to be sure of the guaranteed set before you jar up. Let it cool and test it with a spoon or your finger by pushing through the droplet and seeing if the mixture stands up on its own! Once confident of the set, pour into your jars with your funnel, leaving the obligatory 8mm space below the lid. Secure your lids tightly and resterilise for 20 minutes in a large pan or a steamer.

This amount of ingredients made only 7 x 320ml jars due to evaporation.

This is a great tasting jelly. In fact, I admire above most others! The flavour is delicate, yet complex. A true king of jams! Enjoy…

Dadda Gets Jammin’

Was it early last week when I made the grape jelly and black cherry jam? Well, I haven’t completely forgotten about these two glistening red gems.

I have both recipes in my head and I am about to share them with you today, this Easter Sunday. Oh! Happy Easter to you. I am not particularly religious and like politics, I dare not share a view on this, my blog. Enough said!

Black Cherry Jam:


1kg frozen, pitted black cherries

650g apple pulp (for a good set)

100ml Lemon Juice

1.5kg sugar


Make your apple pulp, or if like me you have previously done this and put it in the freezer, defrost overnight, along with your frozen Cherries. Now, I’m using this amount of apple in this jam as cherries release a lot of juice! Your jam will only taste of cherry, so do not worry about the apple taste as there will be none! The apple is only there for its ability to gel your jam. No expensive shop brought pectin! Okay, we’re good to go!

Sterilise your jam jars, jam funnel and ladle in your dishwasher. Then, in a heavy based saucepan, add your cherries and lemon juice (from a jar). Bring to a slow simmer for 10 minutes then crush gently with a potato masher. Add your apple pulp, stir with a wooden spoon and continue to cook for a further few minutes. Pour in your sugar and stir until dissolved. The mixture will become glossy in appearance. Cook your jam for a maximum of 20 minutes, on a rolling boil. Stir every couple of minutes to avoid any pith burning to the base of your pan. Remember that there is a good amount of evaporation and that gel can be tested by letting the mixture drop from the side of a wooden spoon in those last minutes of cooking. It should fall in loose clumps! After the cooking time your jam is ready to jar up. Remember to close the lids tightly and resterilise the jars for 20 additional minutes.

Yes, another jam flavour that sits very well with us grownups. Great drizzled on pretty much anything for a sweet treat to enjoy!

Homegrown Grape Jelly recipe in a short while!

Happy Hot Cross Fun Day

Okay, we’ve almost hit lunchtime in our day. The obligatory warm, hot cross buns were had for breakfast, very seasonal. Now, the chapatti dough has rested and I am about to roll out 12 small ball shaped pieces into a thin circle for griddling. About 45 seconds each side and voila, the perfect accompaniment to our lunch of veg curry with a veg samosa on the side! I didn’t fancy rice, a bit too heavy for this gloriously sunny day. And it’s not like I don’t have the time, is it?

The children all playing nicely in the garden for now. I’m expecting screams any time soon. A lovely fellow blogger Anna Dusseau who runs a homeschooling website kindly shared her ‘ideas for homeschooling this week’ (last week) and we are going to try out a few of her suggestions next week! But we have been inspired by her no 7 on the list ‘Study Den’, though the den has been erected outside in the garden as the weather is so good.

Amritsar has just run in screaming as Tara pinched her. Thor has now joined her saying that Aaliyah hit him with a stick. Tara is now shouting for the polystyrene eggs as she wants to do the egg hunt now, not tomorrow! No, I say, she has gone off in a huff! And don’t worry, polystyrene eggs get swapped for mini chocolate ones. But more about that tomorrow!

Back to the idea of lunch – I had better get out my rolling pin! More later!

A little update on lunch! An exotic taste of the Sub-Continent of India. Pur veg at its best! Served up with lashings of orange squash!

The Time Has Come Today

The Chambers Brothers. The black power movement, Vietnam, the back seats of our car! This timeless classic resonates whenever we go on a long car journey. We were supposed to be leaving for Cornwall on Saturday. But the holiday cancelled, we all have to get on with things by staying at home now, don’t we?

Blessed with a large back garden, we are all (excluding daddy) playing in it as I speak. Well, I am actually doing my first sunbathe of the year and the children are running around like crazies! Tara just pushed Caleb, driving a toy dumper truck into our mobile speaker! Thankfully it still works, but with a few new scratches on it. Did I say, everything gets broken in our house, sooner or later!

So, as we are not driving anywhere anytime soon, that is bar Caleb in his dumper truck, we have been playing our song on the mobile speaker – The Time Has Come Today (HEY)! It’s the best song for counting the beats as the word ‘Hey’ comes in every so often and then midway it changes to ‘Time’! The song is really very well arranged. So we all wait for and sing the ‘hey’ and then the ‘time’! Silly really. But fun.

I do hope the children all sing when they are older and this song certainly helps them to count the notes and follow the music! Damn it, I’ll just say – we all have lots of fun doing it together – the whole family,

If you’ve not heard it a while, or simply can’t recall it, just ask Google or Alexa to play it for you, that is presuming you have Spotify or Amazon Music. As ever, thank you for reading, each and everyone.

Ritzy and Tara Teething

I just found some old pictures on my PC that I took whilst living on the JVLR (Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road) in Mumbai. A rather long and ever so slightly smelly link road connecting Mumbai to Powai, a suburb.

I remember that period was quite difficult to deal with regarding my internment there. At that time I felt close to a nervous breakdown. Of course this did not affect my relationship with our two beautiful girls, but I felt devastated when my close friend Kayla returned to the UK. I felt very alone! Just me, 2 beautiful girls, their smiles and the two Indian nannies Manju and Nikki. Thank you for being there Manju and Nikki!

Moon Bathing, A Memory From Last Year

Tonight sees the full moon at its peak for this month, a super moon. However given the relatively cloudless skies, here in ‘The Shires’ this evening, I have just spent the last twenty minutes, taking the time to admire its evocative glare. Here in the crystal clarity of the countryside.

What with the lack of artificial light, the garden is illuminated with a frenzy of sparkles, which are dreamlike within their lustre.

The woodland beyond has taken on a magical, almost fairylike feel.

Okay, I’ve finished my cigarette now and I am heading back inside for a glass of white wine.

So, if you are not entrapped by the glare of the city, spend a minute out there and moon bathe for a few moments. It can be very contemplative.

To Our Nanny Sindy

Tonight’s blog is going out to our nanny Sindy! She has read this diary as well as participating within it from the very beginning (Eighteen Months ago now)! What a coincidence!

It seems fitting that tonight’s full moon should prompt me also to consider this!

Sindy was the very first person to purchase and read my book ‘Eighteen Moons’ available via Amazon (just search the title). The book tells the true story of just how my very special family came to be, fighting unforeseen odds and prejudice. We really did surf the final wave of international surrogacy in India, Thailand and finally Nepal on the rooftop of the world.

We do miss you Sindy, in this time of self isolation. Thank you so much for today’s ‘at arm’ visit at the front door to give the little ones their Easter hunt eggs and the girls birthday gifts. They all wanted me to write this to say thank you and that they loved you and missed you! I look forward to your return once we are through these awkward times!

Another thank you to Sindy is for tonight’s picture! One of the very few ever taken of the entire ‘not so famous five’ standing together without all hell breaking loose!

We hope you and your family are well at this time of uncertainty and worry.

Today’s Portraits of ‘The Other Three’n’Me’

I scoured my photo library on my phone to see if there were any portrait contenders for ‘Today’s Portrait’ but alas, I photograph food, spontaneous group pictures, the dogs, the house, garden, you name it, anything bar closeup and intimate portrait moments. The only answer was to crop and cut on a few ‘action’ pictures!

I did not even take this photo of Thor, rather daddy did a month or two ago whilst playing on our neighbours climbing frame! I did the crop however!

I had to go back one year for Tara’s finest closeup! As you may remember several months ago she stole scissors from school and badly cut hers, Thor’s and Aaliyah’s fringes. Caleb and Amritsar survived relatively unscathed!

Did you know that it was 1960’s fashion photographer David Bailey who masterminded the close crop idea? Cutting the picture in so close makes a more intimate connection with the photographed and the viewer! Do you think it works? Excuse the subject – well, I had to include myself in this didn’t I? On reflection, maybe cutting in works better in action pics – lol. Have a good day!

A Piece of Pie

Daddy and Dadda’s dinner last night consisted of a pie. But what was in that said pie you may ask! And I will come to that in a moment. Do you notice the slight bubbling on the crispy pastry lid? Looks a bit different from your regular golden brown pastry finish doesn’t it. I thought that it would be a great finish on a sweet pie, but this is a savoury one. Necessity is the mother of Invention, isn’t it? Okay, so what did I do that was so different last night? I must thank the panic buyers (of eggs, pasta, flour etc) for this. What with the lack of eggs, I decided to glaze my homemade 50/50 butter and lard pastry pie with double cream (not milk) as I am rationing what is left of our eggs. And voila – an amazingly moorish pie crust.

Dadda’s chicken and mushroom pie with broccoli and butter roast Charlotte potatoes! It was a very tasty dinner indeed.

But what of today? This morning saw 2 x cottage pies (to be cooked later) made for the children’s dinner and the freezer. Another small tip is to use your spatula to smooth the top and indent a pattern anyway you like. Just keep the spatula wet whilst creating your unique finish! Looks even better when browned.

Finally, with all of this extra time, we lunched on a salad Nicoise in the garden. One of my favourite all time recipes. If you are not familiar with this one, just count the ingredients! Mind you, only I had the anchovy filets on mine!

The perfect meal for Summer (and springtime) living. Lunch was enjoyed out on the terrace. I hope this weather lasts a few more days!

The children are all presently amusing themselves with their tablets and the TV. Thor sadly has to watch everyone else on their screens as yet again bad behaviour before bed last night has denied him another day of his iPad! More from me a bit later!

Today’s Portrait (Aaliyah and Caleb)

As a culture, us human beings have rather maxed out on the old portrait, haven’t we? Once upon a time only the super rich were able to possess their doppelgänger in 2D. Now sadly, the image of the portrait is a rather disposable thing, isn’t it?

Like most artistic pursuits, I love an image or object to speak to me! And I thought that tonight’s image did. An artist friend of mine just texted me some beautiful landscape photographs of a local beauty spot, taken before the lockdown! Landscapes also have to say something, be it proportional, depth, colour, lighting etc.

I have a dear friend @michelemartinoli who made me smile last year when she took a few photos of me for my blog! She said that she no longer took a picture in portrait!

Mich has enjoyed a lifetime career as a professional photographer and has photographed so many great, famous and not so famous people. I take my hat off to her for deciding to only take images in landscape and square! This is the new Instagram generation after all. She is a wonderful gal. I take my hat off to her.

Damn, I just thought! I now have to think about photographing the other children for ‘Today’s Portrait’. But give me a day or two! As ever, thank you for reading.

No Blog Today (Maybe a Poem)!

No Blog Today! But you know that I want to, don’t you? Can I sneak in a few lines, perhaps a pic? If so, what do I have! Hmmmh! Maybe just a memory and a Poem to boot.

Here is the only poem that I know off by heart! It adorned the bathroom wall in my fathers house when I was a child! Written by Mabel Lucy Attwell, I remember…

Please remember, don’t forget

Never leave the bathroom wet

Nor leave the soap still in the water

That’s a thing we never alter

Nor leave the towels about the floor

Nor keep the bath an hour or more

When other folks are waiting one

Please don’t forget it isn’t done!

Have a lovely day everyone and give a few hugs to the ones you love!

Tea And Cake On The Lawn

Not quite the sunny afternoon that I had envisaged, however it was hot in the sunshine, slightly cooler in the shadow!

We had tea and cake on the lawn – can’t really get any more English than that I guess!

Everybody happy, so not a lot to say! It’s odd isn’t it? When the children are naughty, I have so much more to report on. When there is harmony, I am relatively lost for words!

Trying to keep a smile on things and not dwell on this predicament that we are all in! I know that each and everyone of us has lost something within all of this! But our personal time in lockdown keeps us and others safe, doesn’t it?

More draw to draw reorganisation and tidy up planned for tomorrow! I have to comment that I think we all have at least a couple of unorganised draws and cupboards. I actually found it quite therapeutic. Why don’t you try a mild declutter. You might actually enjoy it as I did and it certainly took my mind off of things! There is a small adrenaline rush that you get whilst tipping unnecessary bits and bobs (hiding away in your house) into the trash! And of course, the odd bit of treasure that you had forgotten that you had!

John has just mentioned that I should write that Thor, whilst jumping on the trampoline this afternoon noted that bouncing made his snot go down quickly(er)!!! You have to smile!

Tidy Up Tidy Up

11am and our household is a busy nest of ‘Tidy Up’. Now, we are not slovenly by any means. Though having said that, I am probably talking about Daddy and Dadda! The children of course are a whirlwind of chaos when it comes to making a mess! I have spent the last 2 hours going from room to room trying to make tidy of the mess that is all around. Daddy had 2 massive outdoor electrical extension sockets with, wait for it, 12 plugs for his ‘home office desk’ in the living room. They have been removed for storage back in the shed. His excuse was that he couldn’t find the white office 4 plug one. He only has his laptop and printer to charge. In my draw to draw reorganisation I found a US to UK single plug and a UK to US double adapter! So, thinking outside of the box, those outdoor extensions are now removed and we have a makeshift double plug adapter (for UK)!

Cushions for the outside sofa on the terrace have just been brought downstairs from the spare bedroom by the girls as we will be spending our afternoon in the garden. The said cushions have not quite made it outside as they are the walls of a maze now being constructed in the living room. Thor is loving being on his iPad once more. I presently sit at the kitchen table and he keeps shouting over the every move that he makes on the app that he is enjoying. He is a very happy boy!

The others are all playing in the new maze. I am about to go back to my tidy up! Tara has just shouted ‘We need a maid, we need a maid’! What! I exclaimed, ‘we made a maze, we made a maze’ she said. I sit here and think! ‘I am amazed’. Now back to the tidy up and that massive pile of washing. Plus it is almost lunchtime!

More later on regards our antics in the garden. Although I have not left the house in over 4 weeks now, we are fortunate to have a large garden. 20 degrees centigrade of sunny springtime promised for today. Another good reason to find a smile I am thinking.

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Early afternoon here in ‘The Shires’ and we have all debunked to the garden! A bit of a chilly mist this morning, reminiscent of those found on cold December days. The blanket of cloud gone now and the warmth of the spring sun can be felt on our faces. A simple lunch of toasted artisan (sun dried tomato) loaf and charcuterie was had, the very essence of spring and summer eating!

I had excavated the bottom of the chest freezer this morning and pulled out a 1kg box of King Prawns. I then realised that they were best before August 2017! I defrosted them and part cooked them, but then felt awkward about my choice not to have just binned them. They have sat there all of this time suspended, little blue icicles, but were they safe to eat? I asked a few people on Twitter what they thought and it was a resounding ‘Don’t Do It’, except for one lovely ladies vote of confidence – thank you for your optimism dear heart!!! But I ultimately decided to go with the majority on this occasion. If not for me, then for the lives of the children I thought.

Anyhow, I finally shaved this morning and I am starting to look a little like my new iPhones emoji! I was playing with two possible looks! My first option was that rather 70’s looking ‘Gringo’ moustache style (can I still say that) or secondly, the Jazz beard – timeless in appearance! I went for the latter!

Another Visit From The Tooth Fairy

Amritsar has had 2 loose teeth as of late and this afternoon the first of those said teeth came out, taking her grand total to 4 at this point! John has just crept up to their bedroom and brought back down a letter addressed to the ‘Tooth Fairy’! She’s not asking for too much is she!

Now filled out and coloured in (as requested), the letter has now made its way back up to the top floor with a shiny new £1 coin.

On an unrelated matter, I have a little update on Thor who has behaved overall pretty well as of late. However, his behaviour pre bedtime tonight has been absolutely appalling. He firstly lashed out at his brother Caleb and then went on to throw his tablet across the room. The screams that were heard after that – well, I do not have words. So, Master Thor has no iPad privileges tomorrow. He even had the bare cheek to scream ‘Naughty Dadda, Naughty Dadda’ at me whilst he screamed and lashed out yet more! All quiet up there now since they went up.

Getting late here. Bedtime soon for Daddy and Dadda. Stay safe and try to smile a little please! I know it is hard in these unprecedented times.