France Holiday 2015

Since we got the caravan early last year we’ve been building up mentally to the big one. It’s very special for me to do a road trip like this with the children in the caravan because it bears an amazingly close resemblance to my own memories of the same in the mid 1970s. My dad would take us all down there over two days’ driving (on what was, presumably, less fast but less busy roads) and the days have lodged deeply in my memory. Continue reading “France Holiday 2015”

Sprooooiiiiing! Elsie’s 7th birthday

We had a relatively quiet one for Elsie’s 7th.  A friend Lucy and one of Lily’s friends came over and we went to the Jump Nation trampoline place in Manchester.  An hour was easily enough. Red-faced, whacked out and happy, the girls all came back and we had a mini party lunch at home.

Sally, Simon and the boys came over in the afternoon along with Grandma and Alice and another treat tea was earned.

Photos here on flickr

Family Fun meets Setback Saturday

We’d been planning a lovely family get together for a few months now – taking advantage of a trip north by my southerly-settled cousin Adrian and wife Dee, coinciding with both their 50th birthdays. Heading up there today to catch up with our joint expended families meant 17 of us in one place at the same time – a source of great mutual excitement.

Indeed it was – great to take our new puppy Frank up too, and we swelled with pride and excitement.

But it seems the odds are stacked against us. Last time Adrian, Phil and I were together, things were cut short by a nasty bike crash for Phil and a trip to Lancaster Royal Infirmary. One year ago almost to the day, I dislocated my shoulder for the second time – leading to a series of further dislocations and eventually a ‘that’ll hopefully sort it’ surgical procedure late Autumn.

So today, passing a rugby ball in a leisurely and unaggressive way to my nephew Matt, a loud click and immediate realisation of that had happened to my hapless left shoulder made me cold – almost numb with a nasty, dark grip of sadness.

Day ruined, agony, trip to Lancaster Royal Infirmary, and sIMG_7188ome inconvenience – mental and physical – that I really thought I had put behind me.

We managed to salvage some of the early evening and it was genuine lovely in every sense to catch up with Mum, Phil, Ann, Matt, Helen, Angus, Alice, Adrian, Dee, Sophie, Isobel, Tyler, Katie, Jenny and Shay. Rough taken with smooth. Somehow a happy day, but definitely a memorable one.

A load of piccies here on Flickr

Introducing Frank

After a few months of waiting, searching, and deliberation, we picked up our puppy, Frank, last Saturday. With the girls the ages they are (5 and 11) it’s such a precious moment and one perfectly timed with the Easter Holidays. I’d forgotten how having a puppy is like having a little baby about the place. Yes, they can stand on their own feet and generally are about 150 times more grown up (and more fun!) than a new born manchild, but there’s an awful lot of life adjustment that needs to go on. It’s all fun and special days, but we’ve already had to can a trip we were getting very excited about (in the new caravan – just to Phil & Anne’s overnight) and social plans for Easter are incredibly modest, but there will be no wishing the days away… not from me.

  • The camera has been out in almost unprecedented levels (saying a lot for me).
  • He has his own Facebook page (look – it’s just easier that way – rather than me cram my own timeline with him!)
  • I have captured everything apart from the lovely, lovely smell from the top of a puppy’s head. I wish I could bottle that. He’s gorgeous.

Some basics:

  1. Frank is a standard Labradoodle. That means a mix of Labrador and Standard (i.e. full sized) Poodle. His immediate lineage is more Poodle, and this accounts for his rather thick hair.
  2. He was born in Thornton Cleveleys, near Fleetwood to a litter of 8. Seven survived. He had two sisters – the rest were boys
  3. We picked him up aged 51 days – he was born on 21st February 2014 and this is the youngest I’ve ever owned a puppy… he’s been incredibly good natured, not particularly yappy, willing to relax when put in his bed, and a bundle of fun when called upon.
  4. He has clingon issues. I can see us having to trim there.
  5. He has been given a number of informal names already by us all… including, but not limited to:
    Frank Sinatra
    Frank Zappa
    Franco-Prussian War
    Frankie Goes to Hollywood
    Franco Pacini
    Frankie and Bennys
    … but none of these will stick. Hopefully.

Our now elderly Labrador, Elvis, has a little less enthusiasm for our new friend than the rest of us. He’s always been a bit grumpy with puppies and sometimes with other dogs per se. It’s only been five days though and each day the snarling and lip curling reduces a tiny bit. I’m a great believer in letting jobs do the pack thing by themselves, but the parental reflex to defend the defenceless is hard to overcome. We’ll get there… I do hope so quickly, for Elvis’ sake, because the tables will turn in a few months as the aggressor becomes the underdog, inevitably. That’s how they do it. They’re dogs… we’re humans. Anyway… here’s an ever-growing live list of my Flickr photos tagged ‘Frank’ and below is a video of his first few days, and some select pics… as well as a reminder what Elvis looked like when he was a few weeks older than this, but camera film was pricey!

Start ’em young

Took Lily and Elsie to do their first fell race this evening at the traditional ‘clocks just changed’ Liver Hill race in Rossendale. Run by our home club, it’s great to just be there, but with it being Elsie’s first running race, it was a special evening for a proud mum and dad.

It was almost fairy-tale, in that sporting stoicism shone deeply in my littlest girl (the type we’re just used to now in her big sister). Almost… but for a crumbling into tears on the start line. All the under 14s went off together, but ELsie’s age group, the under 8s, were to turn round a little sooner up the muddy course than the others, running about a kilometer. However, with all the Rossendale Harriers girls looking at her and saying “she’s so cute”, as they tend to, Elsie suddenly awoke to the fact she was the youngest and smallest under 8 (at just 5). She freaked and decided she would sit it out. By the time the 4 or 5 minutes of cajoling her for a jog (coincidentally on the course) had happened, she restarted the race (with me at her side) and went about it with quite scary levels of vigour. Job done.

She came in to claim her Cream Egg, belted it down her mouth, and that first running race experience was a historical event. Then she carried on running about with boundless energy, until Lily’s longer, steeper course was over. All of it makes me gleam with pride, as you can probably tell.

Photos here


Lily’s Eleventh

Chocolate Fondue

Don’t get me started on the ‘they grow up quick’ thing. Lily, who was a babe in arms the day before yesterday, was eleven yesterday. Lovely quiet but perfectly formed day including

  • a day’s leave for me
  • bit of tolerable shopping for Converse for both girls
  • Ten pin bowling with Elsie and Lily
  • Lunch for us all at Pizza Express
  • Picking up Lexie and Leah, and a visit from Lucy to make too many children beginning with L party
  • Sausage & Mash and a Chocolate Fondue
  • Netball with gloves on because the ball was too hard for delicate girls

Video here and photos here