The Autumn of my Life

Had a wonderful few reasons to reflect on this time of year in the last few days. Autumn’s a strange time of year in its gentle onset of cruelty, as we lose the evening daylight, and the warmth of each day dies out. But it also offers so much too. The first warm fires to make an hour by the TV seem like the best thing to do rather than a waste of time… the orange Alpenglow that makes otherwise drab scenes more paletable; and above all, the start of the proper cyclocross season. Continue reading “The Autumn of my Life”

Ile de Ré Summer Holidays 2010

Wine, France

In the early summers of my childhood, my Dad and Mum packed my brother Phil and I, still sleeping, into the back of our family car, with a caravan in tow, and drove us to the south of France each year.   The journeys and holidays were long and packed with some of the strongest memories I’ll keep.  Those of us lucky enough to have any Family Holiday as children will always keep those memories, and looking back on this particular branch of the Haygarth family’s trip to the Ile de Ré, I know that the beat goes on and on, and as many families do, we’ve done our own version of the full circle.

With a car packed with everything from bikes to buckets, we lifted the children from their beds at 2:30am and set off to Dover. Elsie proved that despite not knowing what the heck was going on, she could hold a pretty good conversation for a two year old in the dead of night, but we eventually got her settled by Stafford, an hour od so later.  Arriving at Dover a bit blearly eyed and checking onto the ferry was a bit of basic relief. Anything like that carries with it an irritating deadline and the need for a bit of buffer time, but at least we were there now, intact, in time, and in need of medium cappuccino with an extra shot. Continue reading “Ile de Ré Summer Holidays 2010”

Jane and Dips’ house: Oxford’s alternative May Day weekend

Oxford’s tradition of May Day (or rather May Morning) is a bit much sometimes with young children (when, generally, an early morning is not something you do by choice) and when we went to stay with old mates Dips and Jane in their Oxford home, the last thing we wanted was to hit the pubs at 6am. However, with four grown ups catering for the needs of four children, we made a good effort at comprimise by hitting the pubs around about midday and pretty much keeping going – albeit at a cultured snail’s pace, as the day progressed.

The visit – pretty long overdue – was a great chance to hang out and catch up with great friends, and sandwiched between pretty good car journeys either end, wound up being a great chilled out time.

Photos of some general fun here and a video below… followed by a few photos from Jane here too

Bill Dalkin turns 70

Bill Dalkin

We had a great time at the weekend, a family get-together in beautiful sunshine for the Dalkins to celebrate Bill’s 70th. The three daughters – Fiona, Katie and Sally – plus all their family-hangers-on meant a total of 13 family members and four close friends. A bit of a house full by any standards.


Managed a quick run up Ingleborough on Sunday which was a real treat. Got up there pretty much before anyone else was there and had one of thiose tranquil mountain moments all to myself. Fantastic. But spoiled by a few red winey burps from Saturday. Hey ho – can’t have everything.

Brilliant to see the children all together – running about the garden, cheating at football, playing on swings, irritating the dog… in such fantastic sunshine. Continue reading “Bill Dalkin turns 70”

February half term in Peebles – again

If ever there was a good sign that a holiday works, it is that you do it again. There’s a good mix of the things that seem to add up to a good little holiday for the Haygaths at the Peebles Hydro hotel. Too pricey for a full week, but just within the realms of decadence for three nights in Feb half term (especially with three nights for the price of two!).

It was a similar recipe to last year’s holiday there – but different in many ways as Elsie has doubled in age in that short year. Continue reading “February half term in Peebles – again”

Bread of Heaven

It’s a simple formula that’s bound to win every time. Putting gentlemen together in a mountain area for a couple of days is just about all it takes. Other holidays or excursions have various frills around the edges, but the basic raw ingredients of a good bunch of fellows and a load of stunning upland are what it takes to make the bread of Heaven.

And so it was, last Saturday morning at c. 10am, I met up with Phil, Gareth, Adrian, John, Peter, Simon, Rob, Richard, Stephen, Sam and Jim for a walk in the Aran mounains, a strangely under-visited non-honey pot corner of Snowdonia. What followed for the rest of Saturday and Sunday was fairly predictable in places (the tone of the banter), hugely Broken Specterunpredictable in others (Gareth’s near-fatal near-head near-injury). Sitting down to eat well deserved and well-shaken lunches on top of hills was on the agenda; breathtaking cloud inversions and Broken Specters were possibly less easy to foresee.

… but that is the nature.  If we got together every year for a walking weekend (and we have done for ten years running now) and everything went too much to a formula, it’d be fine.  The unpredictables; those surprise views, the sudden outpouring of hymns in Welsh Male Voice choir stylee, the bizarre, twisted concepts that can arise from meandering conversations – those bits are the spreads to the bread.

A wonderful weekend; fine fellows all, and just a great opportunity to spend special time with great people.  Until next year…

See more…

Luge champs

Happy New Year 2010 from the South

We headed down south for a lovely couple of days to see friends Rachel & Jon at their place in Eastbourne for this New Year. The children and dogs loved it as much as we did. Couple of great relaxed jogging outings on the downs and meandering outings to the seaside – even the traffic was agreeable. Fancy dress party for a few friends (the theme was “a colour” some dodgy pics below). All boxes ticked. Happy New Year all.

Photos and Videos below…
Continue reading “Happy New Year 2010 from the South”

Dips & Jane & Libby & Flo popped in

Good old friends are always the best – and it was so ace to see Dips & Jane and their girls today on their way back home to Oxford after a Christmas stay in Dentdale. We had about five hours together all in all, but it was just enough time to cram in another few great times and forge some more goods for the memory bank.

Amazingly the dying Christmas snow had its Swan Song and provided us with yet another chance to sledge (… this after I’d already taken Lily for her first bum-boarding lesson in the morning). A few bruised bums on the cold ice, and a very cold muddy foot for Libby after an all too predictable welly incident, but all somehow made it just better and more memorable.

Back to work tomorrow for me, but this flying visit helped it become a very memorable and valuable Christmas break.

Some photos here or slideshow below, and a short video below that…

Nativity 2009 – double the Christmassiness

We got a double whammy this year for the first time – Lily’s nativity plays have been a source of parental pride for the last few years but this year was also Elsie’s first public performance – in her nursery nativity this year.

The snow has certainly made things miles more festive this year,everything obviously looks and feels more Christmassy – so double the nativity plays means double the Christmassiness.

Lily’s school play was called ‘Santa and the TV set – and Lily had a bit of a starring role, playing Santa’s nagging wife, taking inspiration from goodness-only-knows where:

Elsie’s nursery had a more traditional Christmas nativity, and rather than go for an obvious role like Mary or the Angel Gabriel, Elsie wisely took the all important support role of a Christmas pudding.  Despite the wisdom of her 19 months, stage nerves eventually got to Elsie, who crumbled to tears soon after seeing parents and sister in the audience.  Halcyon days. Pics here

Elsie's nativity

Jenny: 18 = me: old

The little baby that my sister in law Fiona and her husband Graeme had in 1991 – not very much further back than yesterday, it feels, is 18. Like millions of others before me, the coming of age of a close relative has really brought home to me how quickly time flies and how there is bugger all we can do about it. I think the traditional solution is to ‘party’ – if that’s acceptable as a verb [I did use an inverted comma]. Continue reading “Jenny: 18 = me: old”