Leeds Festival

A year ago we took G to her first festival, Green Man in south Wales. It was a fun weekend, and the festival itself was very family-friendly. There were lots of little Tarquins and Cressidas toddling about, while their parents sipped chai lattes. Sadly enough, we kind of fitted right in.

Back in the pre-baby days we used to go to Reading or Leeds most years, but I never thought we'd try to take G there, at least not until she's about 15 and we need to go to make sure she doesn't do anything too stupid involving gas canisters. But on Tuesday Mrs J said she'd acquired a couple of last-minute weekend tickets for Leeds through work. Having checked the typically miserable forecast, and debated whether or not to bother with the whole palaver, we decided we would, although the decision was made a lot easier by the fact we live close enough to the site to go in and out each day.

And so it was that on Friday afternoon, with Mrs J at work, I got all our stuff together and headed over to Leeds. Soon, me and G found ourselves at the main stage for Frank Turner:

The constant drizzle on Friday presented various problems. Not for G, but for me. I thought better of trying to use the pram and left it in the car, so I resorted to carrying her around everywhere so I didn't lose her in the developing quagmire. This meant that, after seeing a couple more bands, we left for the day, before my arms fell off.

But the next day, we returned, this time with Mrs J, and also with G's ear-defenders. This picture was taken during Frankie and the Heartstrings in the NME tent. My only comment about the band was that they sounded a bit like dungarees-period Dexy's Midnight Runners, which I realised made me sound all of my 29 years. Given that a large proportion of the crowd appeared to be celebrating their GCSE results, this was elderly indeed.

Having struggled around with the pram on Saturday, we opted to transport G in her back carrier on Sunday. This proved quite effective, although I had to stand at an angle to the stages so G could peer over my shoulder. Here we are during Yuck:

But I couldn't carry her all day. She is getting a bit big for her carrier, after all. When she inevitably wanted a snack, while watching the even-more-elderly-than-me Madness on the main stage, this is the scene that resulted:

Watching Madness generated a certain nostalgia in me, because House of Fun was number one the day I was born. I looked up what the number one record was on the day G was born, and discovered it was by someone called Taio Cruz, a man described by Wikipedia as a "singer-songwriter, record producer, occasional rapper, and entrepreneur." Yes, he sounds like a total bell end. I'll be frankly alarmed if I'm watching a festival set of his when G is 29, but you never know I suppose.

After Madness we decided to head home. G had spent most of three days entertaining festival goers by doing a lot of smiling and high-fiving, and she even learned how to do the rock hand signal. Not being a family festival, she was one of very few young children there, which made her something of a celebrity. This reached its logical conclusion on the Sunday afternoon when two over-excited girls bizarrely asked to have their photo taken with her. Should have charged them, really.

The whole thing left G rather exhausted. This was about five minutes into our journey back on Sunday evening:
Maybe we'll do it all again next year.

Rushcart Weekend

G has got a bit of previous when it comes to dancing with our local morris men. So it was no surprise when, as we watched various groups of morris dancers take part in the Saddleworth Rushcart festival on Saturday, G couldn't resist joining in.

Perhaps this is something I should encourage by buying her a proper outfit. Not because I particularly want her to become a morris dancer, you understand. But rather because getting her some shoes with bells on would have the added bonus of helping me keep track of her now she's big enough to run off as soon as my back's turned. Might take the fun out of hide-and-seek though.

Hair Salon

I've been taking G for haircuts for a while, and the trip to one of the alarmingly many (for a village) salons in Uppermill for a quick tidy-up is now a fairly regular event. And a quick tidy-up is all it is, because Mrs J wants to grow G's hair out a bit. This is probably less essential now people have stopped mistaking her for a boy, but it should still look pretty when it's longer, which I suppose is just as important.

In the meantime, the process of the actual hair cutting is usually helped along by giving G a book. Not because I'm being all pushy and starting her young on the Russian classics, but actually because it's as good a way as any of getting her to tilt her head forward, allowing the hairdresser to trim around the back.

The salon has a stack of books for little ones for just this sort of task. So many in fact that they let G keep the one she's reading in the photo, because she seemed so fascinated by it. An eight-page story about Upsy Daisy from the baffling but strangely-captivating-to-toddlers In The Night Garden isn't exactly the complete works of Gogol. But she's got to start somewhere.


G likes most things in the big playground in Uppermill, but the roundabout is probably her current favourite. Whenever I take her, which is pretty often, she's usually toddling towards the roundabout as soon as we go through the entry gate, pointing expectantly.

As you can see, she enjoys it very much. The problem comes when she has to get off. After a previous occasion when she was very dizzy, attempted to toddle and fell over straight away, I've been careful to try to hold her still for a while before letting her walk, so the dizziness wears off.

But the other day, after I'd been spinning her particularly fast and for a particularly long time, even a pause didn't do the job. She started off confidently, then swayed a bit, then ended up flat on her face. This led to lots of tears and a very obvious graze on her nose. I'll make sure she sits down for longer next time.

Rabbit Ears

We took G on a day trip on Saturday, to Ironbridge and the nearby Hoo Farm animal centre. Despite the undoubtedly fascinating relevance of the bridge to Britain's industrial history, G was much more interested in the animals.

Walking around the farm, G took the opportunity to run through her now extensive repertoire of animal noises. These ranged from sheep to cows to dogs to cats, even if the animals she was actually looking at bore only a vague resemblance to the ones she was impersonating.

G's rabbit impression consists of putting her hands on her head as ears, rather than making any particular noise. As a result, it's not exactly clear which animal she's doing until you've seen her do it a few times. Putting her behind a giant cut-out rabbit also helps though. It's the power of suggestion.

Sporty Tot

G's journey to becoming an Olympic athlete has begun. The council is laying on various activities for bored youngsters over the summer holidays, and one such is Sporty Tots, a series of free sessions for the under 5s held in the local schools. The first was in our village this morning so I took G along to see how she got on.

I wasn't exactly sure what sort of sporty things they'd get the little ones doing, although I was hopeful somebody would be on hand to teach G to throw, an important life skill which sadly passes many girls by.

When we turned up, it was clear G was by far the youngest of the children who would be taking part. Not that it seemed to bother her. During all the different games she ran around with a big smile on her face. Even though she only had a sketchy grip on what she was actually supposed to be doing, nobody seemed to mind, least of all G.

The picture shows her playing with the hula hoops. Long after the game that actually involved the hula hoops had ended, she kept on toddling back over to where they were to pick them up again. As far as the Olympics goes, I think they do use hoops, albeit in the rhythmic gymnastics. Besides the fact I'm not entirely convinced that's actually a sport, I'm not sure the ever-unsubtle G quite has the poise for it anyway. Will have to go back next week, if only to work on that throwing.

Soft Play Area

It was raining this morning. So I finally caved in and took G to the local soft play area, something I'd been saving for, well, a rainy day.

I'd actually taken her once before, when she was still a baby, just to check the place out. I'd seen soft play areas from the outside, usually in unappealing settings such as windswept industrial estates. Ours is in an old mill complex, which makes it slightly less bleak. But only slightly.

On our previous visit G was only really able to crawl around the babies' bit, and I thought I'd bring her back for another go when she was old enough for the trampolines, bouncy castle and the rest. Needing something to use up her morning energy, I decided that today would be the day.

Inside, soft play areas are a weird combination of the happiest place on Earth and the seventh circle of Hell. The excited laughter of youngsters bouncing around is only disturbed by bitter crying whenever one falls off something, and is carried away in tears by a harassed-looking parent.

G loved it. Really, really loved it. It being the holidays, there were a few rather bored looking older kids around, but G managed to avoid being trampled on while struggling to keep her balance on the various bouncy things, which was an even bigger bonus. In the end, possibly a bit put off by all the noise, she toddled back to the tots' area and kept herself quietly entertained there, as shown in the picture. She's still young enough to be a baby when it suits her.


I'd always wondered what those stubby little see-saw things you see in children's play areas were actually for. Compared to the traditional attractions of slide, swings, roundabout and climbing frame, they seemed like the unloved orphans of the playground, rarely used yet bizarrely always in poor repair.

Well, now I know. They are perfect for toddlers. Here's G having a go on one in the Swan Meadow play area in Delph, much to her obvious delight. Mrs J used to ride a motorbike herself, so she took this picture as proof that G was showing an interest in doing the same one day.

I'm not so sure. G gets just as excited whenever she sees a train, and I don't think she's likely to grow up to be a train driver. But if she does end up riding off on her 18th birthday at the handlebars of some terrifying motorised deathtrap, then I suppose I'll be able to trace it back to this photo. Might stick to the roundabout next time.