Sunday, 26 August 2012


Thirteen pounds. Not a huge amount of money. A bundle of loose change, frankly. But my, what riches you can acquire if you part with thirteen pounds!

For example, for £13.20 you could have a handsome hardback copy of Debrett’s Guide to the Queen. Beautifully illustrated and with a foreword by former PM Sir John Major, what better way to adorn your coffee table in this, Mrs Windsor‘s Jubilee Year. (Quick, hide those snaps of Harry in the magazine rack.)

Alternatively for your twelve smackers you could impress your dinner guests with a jar of high class caviar for six people. Or would that simply be “fishing” for compliments? Ho ho.

For an extra fiver you could fly from Edinburgh to Oslo or Gothenburg for a Scandanavian short break.

And if your budget is able to stretch to a crisp £20 note, you could NAME A STAR. I am serious.

The other day I passed up the opportunity to do any of these things. Instead I gave my hard-earned thirteen pounds to First Group in return for a couple of tiny, flimsy scraps of paper that you see pictured here.

Wife-features and I fancied a wee jaunt from Musselburgh, the largest town in East Lothian, to Haddington, the quaint county capital a mere eleven miles distant along the old A1. I spent most of the 25 minute bus journey open-mouthed and unblinking as my brain refused to take in the news that such a meagre hop to a neighbouring town had emptied my wallet.

I’ll be writing to First to ask them if they intend to name a bus in my honour or start serving smoked salmon sandwiches on board in light of such blatant gouging.

The same journey by car it seems would have set me back £1.87. £1.40 on a Lothian bus would take me all the way to the far side of Edinburgh. Sadly I suspect our trip to Haddington will be something of a one-off when it’s so much cheaper to Go West instead of further into East Lothian. And that’s a real shame given the charms of Haddington - its farmers market, pipe band in the square, dinky wee toy shop, brilliant bookshop (Kesley’s) and Wife-features’ holy grail, The Bead Shop (which also does wool).

There’s a stooshie in East Lothian at the moment thanks to the council suggesting parking charges at beaches as a way to raise funds. Opponents claim asking visitors to pay a couple of quid to park for the day will devastate the tourism sector. I’m sorry, but £2 isn’t going to put anyone off, is it? I would suggest bus trips that are thirteen pounds a pop should be a greater concern.


It seems like a long time ago that our Toddler was a wee baby. At the time people around us would say things like “Savour every moment because they grow up quick.” It’s only now I’m beginning to appreciate what they meant.

Toddler has started pre-school. Two and a half hours a day, five days a week, at the nursery attached to our local primary school. She has a coat peg with her name on it. It really does feel like we’re a heartbeat away from her being at school proper.

So much has changed in a relatively short space of time it feels like a much longer period has passed. And because so much has happened - not helped by yours truly switching jobs and relocating the family to the other end of the country - it’s been almost impossible to pause and take each item in. Maybe I’ll be able to do some savouring this week…

I have the next few days off work so for the first time in ages Wife-features and I will have a couple of hours a day to spend together without distractions. Writing that down feels uncomfortable. It’s as though I’m suggesting Toddler is an unwelcome distraction when of course most of the time she’s completely charming. However the truth, as I think all parents will acknowledge, is that there are times when you just want five minutes of peace and it’s not easy to occupy a little person with something that isn’t telly. The other pitfall is one parent gives the other a break but that doesn’t address the need to spend time together.

It’ll be great to spend quality time with the missus, although if I scroll back to what quality time meant for us before Toots arrived I’d probably have to concede it meant noodling in junk shops, bookshops, art galleries and walking on beaches. And eating cake. We may do a bit of that this week but I think I’m also being lined up for practical things like a dental check up and improving things like yoga and badminton.

I’ll also enjoy time this week with Toddler. Usually on a weekday all I get is a bleary-eyed chat over breakfast cereal and a knackered soaking at bath time. I tried this weekend to maximise my Toddler time with football and water table action in the garden, dominoes and card games in the house and lots of shoulder-highs. It resulted in me being zonked by teatime on Sunday and flaking out early.

A couple of times in recent months I’ve taken a call at work from Wife-features who explains Toddler wants a chat. I then get an excited voice on the line telling me about doing a pee or going swimming. It’s a great treat.

It’s also amazing to see what kind of person she is becoming. I never imagined by this age she’d be obsessed with sharks, fleet of foot with a ball, able to paint pictures of trees and sunshine, and game to have a go at pronouncing words like “complicated” and “cigarette smoke“.

Something Toddler finds frustrating at the moment is the idea that something is round a corner. For example, if we’re walking somewhere and she asks the classic question Are We There Yet I might answer with It’s Just Around The Corner. But I Can’t See It comes the reply. Any attempt to explain is futile.

My journey over the past three and bit years since becoming a dad has been wonderful and unpredictable. There is something enjoyable about not being able to see around corners. I’m sure my daughter will understand one day.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Meet The Veggies. Or Maybe It's A Fruit?

Toddler was very excited at the arrival of our new veg box the other day.

She's a big fan of Mr Bloom's Nursery (kids' TV show about a chap on an allotment with a talking aubergine called Sebastian) so was delighted to see all sorts of veggies coming to the door.

The bright green fronds of Joan (the fennel) were quickly employed as tickling weapons. Joan went into last night's lasagne. Yum!

But the big question is... What on earth is this thing pictured here?

Is it a gourd? A melon perhaps? Some sort of marrow?

If we cut into it we're committed to doing something with it.

Answers on a postcard please.