I Need a Hygge

I Need a Hygge

The view I won’t be seeing. Not yet anyway…

Hygge. Pronounced ‘hue-gah.’ Unless you’re in our house, in which case it’s ‘hug.’ Or ‘higgy.’

It’s the Danish concept of living well, living simply and being good to yourself – and no ‘wellness’ guide can exist without it.

As far as I can tell I’ve been good to myself for several years. Too many, according to the waistband on my grey trousers…

But I’ve always been good at home. I’ve never set foot in Denmark. It’s on my bucket list: one of the countries I really want to visit. Copenhagen, and then a jaunt up the road to Aarhus (see above: pronounced ‘our house,’ obviously…)

And last week, for thirty glorious seconds, I was on the plane. [Read more…]

The Nightmare

The Nightmare

The bed I crawled under…

As I reported last week, Ben is now 18. And determined to ‘go-out-where-nowhere-special’ at every opportunity.

The first time was a fortnight ago. It coincided with Jane and me being away for the night. So no need to worry…

“Send us a text,” I said. “Whatever time it is, let us know you’re safely home. Otherwise I’ll wake up worrying and ring you.”

“I’ll be fine…”

True to his word, Ben sent a text.

It arrived at 3:12am. [Read more…]

Things I Learned About my Dad on the Pennine Way

"He can't read a map..."

“He can’t read a map…”

“He can’t read a map.”

My wife raised her eyebrows. “Tell me something I don’t know. The only reason we’re still married is the invention of the SatNav. Do you remember that time in France?”

“You mean when he got lost in the supermarket car park and you had that enormous argument?”

I’d rather hoped Ben had been too young to remember that little incident. Clearly not. They spent a happy couple of minutes reminiscing about my failings. “What else?” Jane asked.

“Well…” [Read more…]

The Man who wasn’t Bear Grylls

A 200 yard climb up the longest waterfall in England...

A 200 yard climb up the longest waterfall in England…

To my son’s intense relief I’d put my shorts back on.

“So you’ve finally dried out?”

“Yep. Told you it would work. Dry as a bone. Let’s have a look at the map. What’s up next?”

Cauldron Snout was up next. A 200 yard climb up the longest waterfall in England. And then 8 0r 9 miles to the end of our Pennine Way journey and the loving embrace of my wife. Unless five days without me had given her a new perspective on the marriage…

We strolled along the banks of the Tees. Malhamdale, Ribblesdale, every other ‘dale’ we’d been through. But Teesdale was my favourite. The countryside was softer, gentler, more welcoming. I felt the sun on my face and knew we were nearly home. Nothing could go wrong now… [Read more…]

Walking the Pennine Way – in my Underpants…

The only way to dry out...

The only way to dry out…

 

“Can I walk in front of you, Dad?”

“In a minute. First you can stand there and take a picture of my bum.”

“Do I have to?”

“Sorry. You have to suffer for my art.”

Twenty minutes earlier Ben and I had realised we were lost.

Day five of our Pennine Way expedition. We’d walked through rain, hail, gales, hill fog, low cloud, more ‘marshy ground’ than the Everglades and here we were. In the middle of a field.

75 miles behind us, 12 to go and for the first time we were lost. Somewhere between Pasture Foot and Cauldron Snout we’d gone wrong.

“Look,” I said in desperation. “We know the river’s down there.”

“And there’s a road up there.”

“I can’t walk up to the road. I can’t wade through any more long grass. And supposing someone offers us a lift? I’m too knackered to resist.”

“But we can’t stay here…” [Read more…]

Scouting for Dads

"Stay alive," I said to my wife. "I will find you..."

“Stay alive,” I said to my wife. “I will find you…”

One part holiday: one part scouting mission for the Pennine Way expedition. My beloved and I were in the Dales for two days, the house – and the continued survival of the pets – left confidently with Jessica and Ben.

Everything’s fine. Stop worrying, they texted.

Sadly, the scouting wasn’t going as well.

“Where’s the OS map?” Jane asked as we said a damp goodbye to Hardraw Force  and headed further into the wilds.

Oh. That’s why I’d had a nagging, something-left-behind feeling all morning…

“In the bedroom.”

“You’ve left it behind?”

“As it’s not currently hanging round my neck, yes.” [Read more…]

A Dad, his Son – and the Pennine Way

It looks fairly easy on the map...

It looks fairly easy on the map…

It may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.

Or it might just be the best…

I’ve invited Ben out for a walk. Quite a long walk…

Ben, I texted, can you come downstairs when you’re ready. I want to put an idea to you.

Let me explain. I need to do something physical. I want a challenge. And I want to do it before my right knee decides the only thing it’s good for is a waiting list.

So I’ve had an idea… [Read more…]

“Dad, I’ve Been Robbed…”

It looked like this...

It looked like this…

Our last full day in Nantes. My wife and I are having a discussion: that is, she’s telling me what’s going to happen.

“So you’re coming to hear me speak at the conference?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s the same speech you gave yesterday. Alright, it’s a different audience but there’s a limit to how much excitement a woman can take.”

Do I detect a hint of sarcasm? In a word, yes. [Read more…]

Rotterdam Calling

My office. A cold morning in March. The phone rings.

“Hi. You don’t know me, but I’ve been reading your blog. I really like it and I wondered if you’d like to speak at a conference.”

Pah! I thought. They’ll have to do better than that. My birthday was only a few days away – if this was the best my teenage children could do by way of a wind-up call they had a lot to learn. [Read more…]