Dad (you’re a softie and you know you are!)

My Dad likes to act the unsentimental type, but really (in common with a lot of other men, I expect) he’s nothing but a big softie.

When we had our dog, Dram, Dad made sure that little treats from the table always found a way to the dog’s bowl. Never went by a meal involving sausages or chips without extra being prepared for Dram. And woe betide Mum if we had a roast beef dinner and she hadn’t made a yorkshire pudding for the dog!

Now that he’s a grandfather, he’s always willing to help out with school runs when needed, and every time my sons visit Mum and Dad’s house, he surrenders his laptop without a murmur in order to let them watch re-runs of ‘Doctor Who’.

But it’s one of his most recent thoughts which I think is possibly the sweetest and most caring of all. If you follow my Dad’s blog, you will have heard now and then about the exploits of our tortoise, Henry, and how he came out of hibernation quite worryingly early at the start of the year. You see, he retreated to bed for the winter in a huff, in September, due to the unseasonably poor weather. Since he woke up, Dad has been catering to his every possible desire, including making sure that there is always fresh lettuce in the fridge for him. Well, last week or the one before, Dad discovered a proliferation of dandelion flowers in the lawn. Henry absolutely loves dandelions but only eats a couple a day so, rather than watching the dandelions go to seed and thus be wasted, Dad picked them all and has frozen them, in order to ensure a ready supply for Henry, even out of dandelion season! Isn’t that lovely!

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A good day

Today has been a good day. In fact, I’m feeling absolutely exhausted and should be snoozing in my comfy bed by now, but I wanted just to write a short(ish) note here, as much to evaluate my day for myself as to update you all, to be honest!

Today was my Dad‘s birthday, and while I couldn’t visit during school time as I had to go to work, the boys and I went round there after school and took him his present and cards. Handsome and Cheeky had made cards themselves, which I think he liked, and I’d found a funny cartoon one which featured a dog looking speculatively at a cat through an open patio door. Mum provided a most delicious roast dinner, as well as pudding and birthday cake. Mmmm! And my children provided the entertainment; Handsome has very recently developed an interest in magic tricks, which I can foresee may become his new fascination! Cheeky, meanwhile, provided the material for our giggles by imitating various characters from the comedy programme, ‘Dad’s Army’.

Work was good today. The shift passed quickly, and I managed to complete another square and a half towards my blanket for next winter during my break and whilst travelling. I’m definitely on track!

I’ve decided that when we go away for our short break during the Easter holidays, I will take a knitting project to do. I’ve not done anything substantial on knitting needles for some time, and am feeling an urge to make myself something to wear. So, I’ve been researching possible patterns, and tomorrow I shall take a trip to a shop to look at yarn. I’ve a vague idea of the sort of colour I want, but I won’t know for definite until I see it. I do know that this project will be my first proper attempt at knitting in the round, so very exciting. I decided to choose a knitting project for the trip because I get travelsick when I concentrate on anything in the car, but if I’m knitting I don’t need to look at it too much. Therefore I can be very productive during the many hours of car time we will be putting in. Bonus! I hate wasted time, where I’m doing nothing. I’m the only person I have ever seen, crocheting or knitting on a bus into town. I think I may get a name for myself if I stick to it for long enough! I’d love to be a ‘character’ – maybe this is my way in!

War and Peace is going well – I’m on target to finish that soon too. Then I’ll have to find something else edifying to read. I don’t know if I want it to end now! And do I choose a shorter book next, or stick with the epic tales? Choices, choices!

Anyway, my fingers are starting to get too cold to work properly on the keyboard – a sure sign that I need to turn the computer off. Goodnight all. xx

Postcards from the (unfinished) kitchen

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been helping my Dad to sort out their new kitchen. I thought I’d share some pictures of our progress with you. Firstly, here is a picture of the kitchen after we had finished stripping out the old units and plumbing. 

And here (you can see the improvement already) we have put in the corner unit, sink unit, sink and worktop (skilfully cut by Dad!) and the taps have been plumbed in by the plumber.

Finally, here you can see the author hard at work putting togather the final base unit, which shortly after this photo became the unit which is to hold the kitchen drawers. I haven’t talked to Dad today, so I don’t know what progress he has made without me, but I’m eager to see it and to help out more if I am able.

Don’t I look industrious! I should point out that the clutter in the background of the picture is extremely a-typical of my mother’s house, and is only there so that the kitchen could be emptied. She is really looking forward to putting all her kitchen implements and food back into the kitchen!

More photos to follow, as and when my Dad completes more parts of the project.

Kitchen installation

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for a couple of days. I’ve been spending quite a lot of time at my parents’ house, helping (I optimistically like to think of it as helping anyway!) my Dad put their new kitchen together. They spent a while trying to find someone to install it for them, but were unsuccessful and so Dad decided to do all of it but the plumbing himself. I’ve been helping out with any lifting that has been too heavy for one person, reading instructions and offering moral support! Also, as I said to my Dad yesterday, a key role for me is listening to what he decides to do, and then remind him of what he decided when, five minutes later, he can’t remember! Senior moments, eh Dad! Bless!

Still, I’m really glad to be of help and have been enjoying the process (probably a lot more than Dad!) It’s lovely for me to be able to help now that they live nearby, rather than feeling helpless and annoyed that I couldn’t help when they lived a hundred miles away. Mum and I had a dash to Ikea last night for the various little bits and pieces which will finish off the kitchen (like a spice rack, kitchen towel holder etc) and next, Dad and I will be taking out the old sink unit and putting the new cupboards and worktops in, ready for the plumber to come and plumb in the taps. So exciting! It’s going to look really lovely and bright when it’s done. We’ll have to have an official kitchen opening party!

It has reassured me that I could probably manage a large amount of fitting a kitchen when we move house though. It costs so much to have a kitchen fitter come in and do it, so it’s good to know that, if we need a new kitchen, I’ll be able to save money by building the cupboards and fitting the worktop myself. Happy days! I’m never so happy as when I have a hammer and a screwdriver in my hand – I should have done an apprenticeship rather than a law degree. I would have been much better at it, and probably much more interested too!

I’ll try and get some photos of the next stage, so watch this space!

Cycling in Cardiff

I went out on my bike with my Dad for a short trip yesterday morning. We debated whether or not to go, and in the end decided we might as well as, despite the weather being inclement, neither of us would melt in the rain and we really wanted some fresh air and exercise. The rain didn’t bother me. The wind did. I really really don’t like cycling in windy weather. As my dad put it yesterday, with a hill you know what you’re up against and can plan accordingly. When it’s a windy day, you don’t know when you’re going to be buffetted, and you’re not even guaranteed to build up momentum going downhill, let alone on the flat.

However, we saw some nice things on the coast road; the usual array of animals, but as a special treat we were lucky to see an extremely newborn foal, just about tottering on his legs around his mother, while the mother unconcernedly munched on some grass. I obviously made too much of a fuss about childbirth!

I also fitted my cycle computer yesterday, and as a result spent far too much time watching the numbers scan between all the different readings and not enough time studying the road – I’m lucky I didn’t end up in one of the reens!

Somewhere I plan to take my bike soon is the Cardiff Bay Barrage. As of last Friday morning, the public is now allowed to walk and cycle along it, and I’m fairly sure (from reading the website) that I should be able to get to Penarth across it. I’ll let you know! Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to do that ride towards the end of the week. Something else I plan to do soon is to go further afield from Cardiff by taking my bike on the train and then cycling back. I think I should easily be able to cover 15 miles, and so I’ll have to get a large wall map of the area and see how far away I can get! Also, I’m looking forward to going to Bristol or Bath on the train, cycling to whichever one I didn’t travel by train to, and then getting the train back. Eventually I’d like to travel to somewhere just over the other side of the first Severn Bridge and then cycle back, because I’ve been really taken by the idea of cycling over the bridge since I found out that it was possible! I’d love to hear from anyone who has cycled over the Severn Bridge before, and also anyone with any route recommendations in South Wales and the bit of England that South Wales is stuck to!