Empty Nest Alert

Empty Nest Alert

Here we go again…

“I’ve had acknowledgements from Exeter and Edinburgh, Dad.”

“That’s great, Ben,” I say, outwardly smiling.

But inside I’m a mix of emotions. Pleasure, panic, relief, sadness.

Twelve hours ago our youngest son pressed ‘send.’ And that was that. His university application was hurled into cyberspace.

Clearly it’s landed safely. At least in Exeter and Edinburgh. And I’m pleased for him. Ben’s ready to go. He’s ready for the next step, ready to leave home.

But does he need to be quite so far from home?

“What about York?”

“Much too close.” [Read more…]

My Inspiration is Leaving…

Inspiration packed and ready to go...

Inspiration packed and ready to go…

What is it with other people’s children? Why do they grow up so much faster than yours?

“What’s Maisie now?” you say to a friend you haven’t seen for a while – as you feel remarkably smug at remembering the child’s name. “She must be nearly ready to start school.”

“She’s eight.”


It’s the same with pregnancies. Jane’s pregnancies lasted for about two years. Everyone else is pregnant for three months.

“How’s Claire doing? The baby must be due in a couple of months?”

“Leo’s six months. He’s just started crawling.”


So I wasn’t going to make that mistake when I ‘talked’ to my pal, Frankie – talked meaning Facebook’ed, obviously. [Read more…]

One of my Children is a Grown Up!

Dan - Yr 4When I started writing these weekly ramblings about my children Tom was nine: in Year 4 at school. I’m not sure when the photo was taken – my wife would know – but he looked something like that.

Three years later there was a Grand Prix on TV – goodness knows why as I had no interest in the sport – and Tom wandered in. He started to watch and became fascinated: not by the race or the drivers but by the technicalities – specifically the aerodynamics.

The first time he started talking about it I scuttled off to ask Google for help. Tom was just beginning to suspect that his Dad didn’t know everything about everything. I preferred to delay the confirmation for a few more months…

Then he disappeared to his bedroom. And a few months later they called us into school. “Tom’s falling behind in Physics.” [Read more…]

It’s What You Signed Up For…

My youngest son had a problem. He needed to be in Oxford. And Penrith. On the same day.

“You need that thing Hermione Grainger used,” I said helpfully. “A time turner.”

“Try and think like an adult, Dad.”

No way. If I thought like an adult I’d arrive at the only possible solution. And two months later I’d be in a service station on the M6.

Anyway, let me take a step back and explain. And if your son or daughter is seven years old, doing well at school and prone to marching across the moors put a ring round the date. June 2026. Don’t say you weren’t warned… [Read more…]

I Would Drive 2,000 Miles

What do we know about the Proclaimers?

They made a record: they were prepared to walk a long way.

What else do we know?

They didn’t have teenage children.

Because if they did, they wouldn’t have time for some silly fantasy about 500 miles. They’d be too busy. Driving the car: the length and breadth of the country. And every night between Christmas and New Year.

If your children are four and six you should look away now. If the phrase ‘Dad’s taxi’ is still a novelty you may need a stiff drink. [Read more…]

The One List to Rule Them All

On the third Saturday in September Jessica will arrive at university. Sometime between 11’00 and 12’00 apparently: that’s her ‘designated parking time.’

Oh dear.

She’s going to a fine university, no doubt full of very intelligent people. They just don’t seem to have teenage daughters…

It’s easy to see what’s happened. [Read more…]

Walking on Eggshells

Let me just pop into the Tardis and travel back a few years.

Early September. 2008, I think. Almost certainly a Monday. Around 4:30 in the afternoon.

I am at home. The front door opens. My lovely, lovely children are home from school. The first day of the new term. Oh joy!

“Hello, darling,” I say to the first person through the door. It is my beautiful 13 year old daughter Jessica. “How was your day at school?” [Read more…]

At Last! My Wife Finds a Real Man…

Tom came home from university at the end of last week. He walked in, dumped three bags of dirty washing on the kitchen floor, ate a packet of Jaffa Cakes and went on the computer. Nice to have you back, son.

The pile of washing was so big it almost certainly qualified for its own postcode. Jane sighed, told the washing machine this was the moment it had been waiting for, and set to work.

That was three days ago. [Read more…]

The Man in the Frozen Flowerbed

Let me be blunt. Waking my wife up at 5’30 on Sunday morning is not a great career move. But it had to be done.

Apparently nine weeks had passed. It seemed more like 5 minutes but the calendar was insistent and yep, this was certainly frost I was scraping off the windscreen. So it was clearly December and time to collect Tom from his first term at university.

As it now gets dark at around two in the afternoon we’d opted for the early start. Dig the boy out of bed if necessary and be back home before werewolves started roaming the Northern hills.

Arrive in Cambridge about ten, have some breakfast, do some Christmas shopping, collect Tom, come home. A fine plan. But one that reckoned without the Sunday trading laws. “How,” my wife idly mused, “Did I marry the only man on the planet who can drive two hundred miles and still arrive before the shops are open?”

“A hundred and ninety-two,” I offered in my own defence.

My wife offered the words ‘bed’ and ‘warm’ – and a couple of others which I’ll spare you. [Read more…]

Not Fit for University

Tea. Toast. Shave. Shower. Wake up teenage daughter. When you put it like that it sounds so simple.

Drive to Leeds. Look round the University. A spot of lunch, a nice chat in the car, father-daughter quality time. What could possibly go wrong?

“Dad. I have an alarm clock. You don’t need to stick your head round the door. I am not six any more.”

I’d noticed. The first words of the day are always crucial with Jessica. These were not a good omen. Neither were the second. “Your Mum’s awake if you want to see her.”

“I’m walking downstairs. If I wanted to see her I wouldn’t be walking downstairs, would I?” [Read more…]