Day Out In Saltaire

We went to visit some friends for a day out yesterday. The three of us drove over to Saltaire, the workers' village established by venerable mill owner Sir Titus Salt. Clearly proud of his creation, he named it after himself, but I suppose as a mega-rich Victorian entrepreneur that was his prerogative.

His mill is now a complex of various things, and the picture shows G at our lunch table before we went for a walk around the village, a walk which included a ride on a little old tramway up the valley.

We were with our friends Penny and Sam, who had been at a wedding in Saltaire the night before. Penny is the person responsible for introducing me to Mrs J more than 11 years ago. This means that G basically owes her entire existence to Penny, so it was just as well G was generally very well behaved during our day out, although she did repeatedly insist that Mrs J had to carry her everywhere when she got tired of walking.

This might have something to do with the fact that G sees a lot more of me, and so whenever Mrs J is around, I am immediately a bit old hat. Yesterday, after a lot of "Mummy carry! Mummy carry!" Mrs J eventually gave up, protesting about sore arms. When I then picked G up she immediately burst into unconvincing tearful whines, wanting her mummy. This forced us into a quick pitstop for afternoon tea, a few mouthfuls of scones enough to cheer G up again. It's clear that the way to earn G's favour is still through her belly.

Mean Girls

G was on the receiving end of some hilarious playground-style bitching at a parent-and-toddler group this morning. I overheard one youngster saying, as she pointed very deliberately in G's direction: "I don't like that girl." What G had done to irritate her remains a mystery. Anyway, she rose above it and carried on playing, perhaps plotting her revenge for another time.

Playing Trains

Christmas came a bit early to the Jones household over the weekend. G's grandad was up to visit, and he brought a train set for G to play with. We saved opening it until she got up on Sunday because, given that she'd recently shown how much she enjoys trains, we knew she'd be far too excited to want to go to sleep if we'd let her have it the night before.

So, with a cold and foggy day outside, and the lights on inside, Sunday morning felt rather like Christmas with G playing trains on the living room rug. She quickly developed a habit of commentating on herself: "Train... train... toot toot... train" followed by the inevitable "Crash!" then the equally inevitable "Daddy help!" until I put the carriages back on the tracks. If she keeps playing with it as much as she has been so far, I'm sure it won't be long until she's announcing details of the buffet car menu.

Sore Eyes

Having got through more than two years with nothing worse than the odd cold, G's ox-like constitution has finally given in to something slightly more serious. I got a call from her nursery yesterday to say she'd woken up from her nap with gunky eyes, which is apparently the technical term for conjunctivitis. And so here she is on the sofa today, seemingly happy enough even though she's stuck with me and away from all her new friends at nursery.

We went out to see the doctor this afternoon and he prescribed some eye drops. I had conjunctivitis as a little boy, and I can certainly remember not being very co-operative when my mum tried to prise open my sticky eyes to put some drops in. In fact, I may have screamed loud enough for the neighbours to hear. So it was with some trepidation that I got the little bottle out of the packet, perched G on my knee and tried to get it somewhere near her eyes.

It didn't go very well. I can now confirm that trying to keep a wriggly toddler subdued with one hand while squeezing liquid out of a bottle with the other is hard. When you have to try to open said toddler's resolutely-shut eyes at the same time, you could really be doing with an extra hand, which I didn't have. So after a bit of Clockwork Orange-style prising open, and a couple of drops in the general direction of the lower eyelid, I gave up and let G calm down in front of the always-soothing CBeebies. Apparently I have to do this every three hours. Might wait until Mrs J gets home before trying it again.


I made some beef stew and dumplings for tea last night, and these before and after shots show what G thought of it. The second was accompanied by the inevitable question: "More?" Just as well I made plenty, really.

Sleepless In Stamford

We took G to Stamford in Lincolnshire for the weekend, to visit some friends. On Saturday afternoon we went along to Burghley House, where G enjoyed meeting a very sociable deer, as the picture shows.

Saturday night wasn't nearly as successful, as we suffered through G's worst night for sleeping since she was a little baby. After waking up after midnight and spotting us in the room with her, she didn't seem inclined to go back to sleep. This isn't unusual when we're away with G, and after a while we got her up and let her play with Mrs J's phone for a bit, in the hope she'd want to go back to sleep soon enough.

But she didn't. Attempts to put her back in her travel cot were met with whining, crying and, after an hour or two, wholesale screaming. At one stage I took G downstairs whereupon she howled for her mummy, huge fat tears plopping down her cheeks, and got herself so worked up she started struggling to breathe. I went on a mercy dash to the car to pick up an In The Night Garden DVD, and after a couple of soothing episodes she finally went down to sleep at about 6am.

This was bad enough, but Mrs J and her friends were due to run a 10k in Sherwood Forest later that morning. After three hours sleep Mrs J not only managed to get to the start, but completed the course in her best time ever, while I joined a tired but surprisingly not-too-grouchy G in cheering her on from the sidelines. I drove home afterwards though. G slept all the way.

Train Set

G can be a bit timid around older children. In the playground, she usually backs away when a bigger toddler wants to go ahead of her on the slide, or swings, or whatever. G often needs a bit of encouragement from me to get her elbows out and stand her ground.

This isn't the case when G is with younger ones, however. Whenever I take her to a parent-and-toddler group these days, she's invariably one of the oldest children there. At yesterday's group in Dobcross, she spent much of her time playing in one of the two big plastic cars. After a couple of occasions when she looked like she was about to barge a little girl out of the way to get back behind the wheel, I decided she needed distracting with something else.

And look what I found. A box of wooden tracks and trains were over in the corner of the room. I put together a rudimentary track, stuck a few of the carriages together, and G was kept amused for the rest of the morning.

"Chuffa-chuffa-chuffa-chuffa-toot-toot!" she said repeatedly. I didn't have the heart to explain that the trains were all diesel.