Father, Son and the Pennine Way

Confident Dad, hopelessly confused son. Or the other way round…

They say that writing a book is the closest a man ever gets to giving birth. Well, after far too long in the delivery room, I’ve finally delivered the baby. Father, Son and the Pennine Way has now been published, and the e-book is available on the Kindle. Here’s the link to Amazon UK. For those of you that prefer something you can touch, hold and spill coffee on, the paperback will be along shortly.

The book is the story of the walk I did with Alex, my youngest son (and ‘Ben’ in the regular ‘Best Dad’ posts) in the summer of 2016. 5 days and 90 miles on the Pennine Way, the UK’s ‘toughest national trail.’

It’s the experiences we shared, what we learned about ourselves and each other – and the sorry tale of how I became perhaps the only person in the world to walk a mile of the Pennine Way in my underpants… [Read more…]

My Daughter, the Entrepreneur

And 20 years later she’s starting her own business…

A letter – well, an e-mail obviously – arrives from the Beloved Daughter. She’s resigned from the corporate world before she’s even joined it. Fed up with the job search, with losing out to interns who’ll work for nothing, she’s starting her own business. Social media management for small companies. And she wants some advice.

“Er…” I said when she rang.

“Come on, Dad, you’re always on about those business blogs you write.”

“Let me think about it,” I said, playing for time.

Two days later I sent her a letter…

Congratulations. I always knew you’d do this one day. I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. But you want advice, so here goes… [Read more…]

The Lost Samurai

The Lost Samurai

Ben’s plan for next year…

Flashback six months. Ben and I are walking past Malham Tarn. We’re a couple of miles into our 5 days/90 miles Pennine Way epic. And I’m feeling good.

“We should do this every year,” I say.

As I say, feeling good. At the time I hadn’t walked for eight hours soaked to the skin. I hadn’t been so exhausted that I couldn’t speak. I hadn’t slipped on the rocks and broken two fingers. I hadn’t fallen in a bog and had to walk a mile in my underpants to dry out.

“As long as you’re up to it, Dad.” Back in August I thought he was being considerate. Now I realise he had the gift of foresight.

“Where shall we go next year? Southern Ireland? Bologna to Florence?”

“Why don’t we walk across Japan?” [Read more…]

And Then There Were Four…

And then there were four

Just the four plates this year…

“Is it alright if I work on Christmas Day?”

I’d been half-expecting the question. The hotel had decided they couldn’t be without their star waiter on Christmas Day. And it looked like the star waiter wanted to work…

“Well… In a perfect world we’d have you all at home.”

“Yeah, I know,” Ben said. “But I sort of feel I owe them one for last year. And it would be interesting to work just once on Christmas Day.”

And who can’t see that? Work means commitments. And in a busy hotel, one of those commitments can easily be Christmas Day.

Ah, well. We’ve known the day was coming… [Read more…]

The Christmas List Goes Missing

The Christmas List goes Missing

Come on, Tom. Help us out…

In the olden days it was simple. And I must be getting old because I find that particular phrase tripping off my lips all too frequently these days.

But it was, damn it.

“What do you want for Christmas, Tom?” we’d ask as November waved goodbye.

“I’ll send you a list,” he’d say. And a few days later, said list would drop into our inboxes.

“Can you understand it?” my wife traditionally asked.

“Well, I can understand one of the games. And I can understand it costs a lot. But basically, no.”

We didn’t have a hope. It was full of F1 technical details, go faster stripes for computers and various devices that would consolidate his hold over our home internet. It was also full of links. [Read more…]

The Poor, Brave Soldier

The Poor, Brave Soldier

The wife when I was hallucinating…

That’s how it starts. The sudden need for your wife to soothe your brow and call you her ‘poor, brave soldier.’

Technically, it starts with the ominous shivering. “I just can’t get warm today,” I said last Saturday lunchtime. And three hours later I wrapped myself in my dressing gown, crawled into bed and pulled an extra blanket over me. Then I asked – very weakly – for another blanket.

But when the shivers and shakes start, nothing keeps you warm.

“Maybe I’ve eaten something,” I whispered. “I’ll be OK tomorrow.”

“Good,” my wife said, “Because Ben says he’s bringing Chloe round.”

What? He was finally bringing her round? No way could I meet her in this state. I had to get better… [Read more…]

Walking Out

Walking Out

No caption required…

As my Granny would have said, he’s ‘walking out.’

A delightful phrase – which doesn’t mean that our youngest son is leaving home. It does mean that he has a girlfriend.

And ‘walking out’ is exactly what he’s doing.

“I’m just going for a walk.”

“I’m just popping out for an hour.”

“Just going into town. Can you give me a lift?”

We smile and say “that’s fine” and maybe we reach for the car keys. And then we have a talk with him… [Read more…]

Nietzsche Stole my Will Power

It was all his fault…

Here’s a simple question: one that goes right to the heart of the human condition. And married life as well…

Does a man’s will power only exist while his wife is in the same room?

In my case, the answer is simple. And obvious.

Thursday night. I’ve spent the day at work locked in a sweaty embrace with 2,500 words on Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement. But that’s what I do for a living: all stress levels are normal.

But my beloved is away. And 90 minutes later I’ve destroyed the kitchen and drunk far too much red wine.

Whose fault was it? Another obvious answer… [Read more…]