Thursday, 23 February 2012

Absolutely the best thing that's ever happened in the history of everything anywhere.......

........was taking baby Isla for her first swimming lesson today. I was definitely being a rather good, very hands on dad throughout. But before we recount this historic event, we need to back track to yesterday, when I was a bad dad. Oh yes, a very poor effort indeed.

Basically Tam had left me in charge of the little one for an hour. Giddy with responsibility, I took her to the local baby clinic where we had her weighed (she's an absolute chubber - she's about the same size as George Doors from Shooting Stars), and I had a surreal conversation with another mum about the difficulties in breast feeding (which is something I've REALLY struggled with if I'm honest). We then left the clinic, drove home, I changed Isla's nappy, and we chatted away merrily for ten minutes. All was very much under control. I was daddy daycare. It was splendid.

Such was the pink fluffiness of the moment that I decided to take her back into her nursery for some toys. This I did at a brisk walk, neglecting to notice as I carried her that the doorway (narrow) was somewhat smaller than Isla (not narrow). The resultant clunk of me using her head as a mallet on the door frame was not a popular move. It was even less popular when Tam came back, and I spent the rest of the day on the metaphorical naughty step, being glared at by the women in the house, one of whom was sporting a lump the size of a pea on the side of her newly formed bonce.

Redemption came in the form a swimming lesson today. I just can't tell you how much fun this was. This was particularly apt as everyone else present was either a) a baby, or b) a lady who had just had a baby. This made me feel slightly like a slightly seedy uncle with wandering hands and a lazy eye, but all was swiftly forgotten as the class commenced. The culmination was singing "The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round" whilst running in a circle with your baby and splashing a lot, which was THE BEST THING EVER. Isla looked faintly bewildered throughout, particularly when it came to the dunking under the water bit - a key part of the first lesson I hasten to add. Having dunked her, she came up looking absolutely livid. It was very much a "First you concuss me, then you hold me under water. What are you thinking man?" I subsequently found out she had poo'd herself during the session, but - let's face it - we've all poo'd in a swimming pool at some point haven't we? Haven't we?

Right, the shop. Got the keys today! Off in a moment to measure it up and get cracking. Have decided that the rowing boat counter is still a good idea, but now we're going to use the rest of the rowing boat as shelves. Genius. Essentially the shop layout at the  moment is a smashed up rowing boat - wonder what Mary Porter would make of it?

I'll post some pictures at the weekend.



Thursday, 16 February 2012

A travelling circus.....

Sorry for not blogging for a while. We've been on the road!

No-one tells you that when you have a kid you need to buy a larger car or - even better - a lorry. Dutiful newbies that we were to the parenting scene, we toured a Mothercare warehouse several weeks before before Isla appeared. We stared wide-eyed at the bewildering array of things that are apparently required to keep a small, brand new, dribbling person contented and safe for any length of time. The snag in all this is that you feel like you're being criminally negligent if you don't buy the computerised car seat or the helmet mounted feeding bottle with infra red sensor. It became a competition - we shouldered aside other couples to be the first to buy a pram that (evidently) had been designed and built by elves, came in a range of materials (platinum, titanium, or simple gold), and was powered by swans.

Anyway, we bought everything we were advised to, and then set off on a bit of a road trip last week. I had talks to do in various places, which are always good fun, but in this case required pretty much a lap of southern England over four days. We loaded the car, which proved to be too small (as it was only a massive Land Rover), so we took Tam's car as well. Everest expeditions in the 1920's needed less kit than we did it seemed, and by the time we were done the cars were filled to the gunwales. This left a space for the dog. Well, a dog. A very small dog, one of those novelty toy breeds that are carried round on a velvet cushion by histrionic ladies who write romantic fiction. Not something the size of a well nourished polar bear (i.e. Reuben). Nonetheless he was crammed in, and off we went, with any drivers who happened to follow us being treated to the sight of what gave every impression of being a travelling circus.

Of course when you get anywhere you have to unload everything. Then feed everything. Then pick up poo. The latter is one of the real pleasures of dog ownership of course (Reuben is a big dog, that's all I'm going to say on the matter, aside from the words "bin-liner"), but now we have the added joy of dealing with Isla's as well. I don't mind her doing it of course - she is, after all, only eleven weeks old - it's just that she looks so delighted every time she does one, cackling in glee and waving her plump little fists at me as I change her. You wait, I think, in forty years or so the roles will be reversed and let's see if you're quite so chirpy then. Aha.

Anyway, we made it, having done a talk in Bristol, in London (at the RGS - well done Bazza, you stole the show....), and in Falmouth. We also went back to lovely Cadgwith - what a place, and took Reubs on a cliff walk. Wonderful. And now we're back home.

The shop is - at last - being finalised and we take it over on Monday. There were three solicitors involved, and although I always think you can obviously never have too many solicitors involved in anything, it has dragged on a tad. BUT we're there now.

"There" being a shop that will be a base camp for diving the south coast of Devon, for wildlife filming courses, for shore walks, and - we hope - a haven for divers and wildlife enthusiasts who just want to chill out in a place with lots of good coffee and plenty of like-minded folk.

And so we begin! I'll post at least once a week from now on, and show you the images as the project progresses. I've just had an idea for an old rowing boat as a shop counter, so I'm off to look for one of those right now! As you do.

Take care all.

Monty, Tam, Isla and Reubs