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Dad Discovers... Shopping

Ah shopping. Some things I blog about aren’t necessarily age-specific and will probably stay the same regardless of how old The Boy is. Soft play for example, will always actually be soft torture even when he’s a bit older. But other things change over time and have varied massively depending on his age.
One of the times this is apparent is my experience of taking him to the shops. At two-and-a-half I’d say he’s been through three main phases:

Phase 1 – Babe Magnet This could actually be taken in two ways since it involves having a baby stuck to you like a magnet. When the Boy was really little I loved nothing more than strapping him to me in his harness and going off out and about. A few weeks later he started demanding a better view than my chest, and he soon became semi-permanently attached to me, looking out into the world taking in the sights and sounds.
At this point he was a dream to take around the shops. However, it was clear from day one that certain people were drawn to ba…
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Dad Discovers... Soft Play

“A dungeon horrible, on all sides round… No light; but rather darkness visible served only to discover sights of woe” 
- Description of Hell in ‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton.
A Great Idea Soft play establishments were one of those things that I was vaguely aware of before having kids, without actually having any interest in. It’s a bit like the way that I’m aware of cricket, ITV Be and Luxembourg and have nothing against them but have no plans on giving them any of my attention.
Flash forward to the present and I’m sitting at home with a small energetic child, it’s raining outside and we desperately need to get him out of the house for a bit. Then we remember that there are mythical play lands specially designed for small children. They have a cafĂ© too, so what’s not to like? We decide to give it a try. Remote for a Reason What sets the tone for these places very early on is their location. Something conveniently located in town? Nope. Something in a leafy suburb overlooking a park? …

Dad Discovers... Football Teams

Fickle Fan While watching the England v Colombia match the other day The Boy ran in and shouted: “Red team score a goal!” I was delighted by this until about 5 seconds later when he had a change of heart and declared “Yellow team score a goal!” and then annoyingly repeated that for the next few minutes before losing interest altogether and wandering off to play with some trains. At 2 years old it’s a stretch to get him interested in anything that’s not on CBeebies or Milkshake, but I realised that by the time the 2022 Qatar World Cup rolls around he’ll be six and will probably be a lot more interested in England’s success. Inheriting the Pain This got me thinking about supporting sports teams, the tribes we align ourselves with and how we often pass these allegiances onto our children. As an English kid with an English family, The Boy will have no choice but to support England. He’ll inherit the shared history of everything the English team has or hasn’t done over the years and that …

Dad Discovers... Being Ignored

Parenthood can be a cruel mistress sometimes. There's been a lot said about the one-sided nature of the parent-child relationship, and that's unlikely to change until your children reach the age of 23 and wake up with the sudden realisation that you've done a lot for them and you weren't really trying to ruin their lives after all. And of course, nothing makes us appreciate our own parents more than actually having kids ourselves, which forces us to think about everything they had to put up with when we were kids. But although it's not always a bed of roses, few things will match the kick in the guts the day your toddler decides they can't be bothered dealing with you at all, and starts ignoring you.
Welcome Home  It takes me about an hour and a quarter to get home from work including a lengthy walk and an even lengthier train journey. What keeps me relatively cheerful is knowing that my little boy will be waiting at the end of it. So imagine my joy when havin…

Dad Discovers... Safari Parks

A Love of Cars I'm originally from Essex, and we love cars. So much so that we've figured out how to involve cars in activities that didn't involve them in the first place, and in some cases invented new car-based versions of existing activities. Fancy a meal? Drive-thru McDonalds. Fancy selling some goods? Boot sale. Fancy hooking up with random strangers? Dogging.

So why use up valuable energy trudging round a zoo when you can sit in your car and point at animals through your window? I'm fairly certain that the people of Essex didn't invent the safari, but frankly it's right up our street. What's more (having some Essex blood in him), The Boy LOVES cars. Even more so than animals, so a trip to Woburn Safari Park would clearly be a winner for everyone (especially the pair of 2-year-olds travelling with us).

After arriving at the park and paying to get in, we got The Boy out of his car seat and let him sit on my lap while I drove. Every other parent was do…

Dad Discovers... Birmingham

Let's all go and spend a day in Birmingham! Said literally no one ever. But being brave and adventurous we leapt into the unknown and became the first family in history to do a day trip to Birmingham. Probably.

In truth, despite having done a lot of international travel I still hadn't visited the UK's second biggest city and had no real idea of what there was to see (other than Brummies). What with it also being the nearest city to us after London, I felt this was a bit shameful and it was time to rectify the situation.
Getting There Fortunately at around the same time we were looking into this, there was a sale on with Virgin Trains and we'd managed to pick up some cheap tickets on a fast train. The Boy LOVES trains, so this was a perfect opportunity to get him on one, whilst not being a long enough journey for him to terrorise everyone on the carriage.

So having arrived at the swanky redeveloped New Street Station, our first destination was Brindley Place, at the he…

Dad Discovers... Moving House

Living in a Box When we moved out of our little London flat into our first house, it seemed huge. It had an upstairs! It had a whole other bedroom! It had a little dining room! And although we quickly filled it up with stuff, it was comfortable.

When we had The Boy we had to get some extra stuff which took up a bit of space, but it wasn't actually too bad. But the older he got, the more stuff we seemed to need, and the more space everything took up. This also went for The Boy himself, who went from needing a space to lie in to a bigger space to crawl in, to an even bigger space to run around like a lunatic. After a couple of years of very careful space management involving storing everything into tiny spaces like a giant game of Tetris, the realisation dawned on us that we'd need a bigger place.
House Hunting Our previous criteria had gone something like - Does it have at least two bedrooms? Can we afford it? Can we easily get to and from work? Is it in a nice area and does i…