Christmas With Thomas

This is what we spent a good deal of Christmas Day doing. That is, sitting around on the floor, playing with trains. Having repeatedly shown over the past few months just how much she likes trains, and Thomas The Tank Engine in particular, G's stack of presents from Santa had a certain loveable blue character as a prominent theme.

It actually started the night before, as G got some new Thomas pyjamas. She liked these so much, she didn't want to take them off on Christmas morning during the serious business of present opening, as shown here:
She was full of energy, largely because she didn't actually wake up until 8:30am. Having completely missed the stocking beside her bed, she sleepily trudged into bed with me and Mrs J as she often does.

"Has Santa been?" asked Mrs J. In response, G looked rather blank. "Do you want to go and see if Santa's been?" G trudged back to her bedroom. Then, eventually, "Oh! Santa's been with my presents!" Maybe next year she'll cotton on a bit faster.

Besides Thomas, Mrs J saw to it that G received a lot of arts and crafts, and she was eventually persuaded to leave her now-much larger train set alone for a while to do a bit of drawing.

There's no doubt who G's biggest hero of the day was. She didn't even need any prompting to do this picture of Santa in one of her new activity books. Although having coloured in the hat and shoes in an appropriate red, she then scribbled his face in red too. Maybe he just seems completely red to her, because the rest of us are so pasty-faced from staying in every day to avoid the Salford rain.
After the trains and the pictures came the food. This year, G was particularly fond of the sausages and the parsnips, but wasn't tempted by any sprouts. She cleaned everything she had on her plate, as you might expect.
It's a good job she likes Christmas food, because we've still got a fridge mostly full of the stuff. It seems we over-catered for our own stomachs just as much as we over-indulged G's interest in Thomas. Not feeling too guilty about either though.

Antlers On The Dancefloor

We went to a wedding this week. Thoughtfully, the happy couple had laid on a babysitter, so G and the other little ones weren't buzzing around pestering everyone (but mainly Mrs J and me) during the ceremony and food. This also meant that by the time the evening party started, G wasn't already overexcited and tired, and could have a bit of fun with everyone before bedtime.

There was one of those comedy photobooth things, and a dressing-up box for guests to take advantage of. G immediately zeroed in on a pair of festive antlers, then proceeded to trot around showing them off to everyone. The picture shows her explaining patiently to me why they are essential dancefloor wear. G also had a reindeer-style dance move to go along with her headgear, which basically involved moving her hands forward and down in the generally-accepted gesture for 'lion', and grinning like a loon. I'm not sure that's what reindeer actually do, but whatever.

After cutely showing off for a bit, we decided to get G to bed before she outstayed her welcome, or threw a tantrum about something. Besides, the babysitter was staying on until the end of the wedding, so we were able to have an always-welcome evening to ourselves. Well, us and about 100 other people. But you get the point.

Frosty Playground

Today was a day off at home with G. After lazing around for a bit, looking doubtfully through the window at the cold outside, I asked her what she wanted to do, hoping she might suggest something indoors and somewhere warm. A sauna perhaps.

"Playground!" she replied, "Playground! Playground! Playground!" Looking at the thick frost outside, I put an extra layer on us both and drove to one fairly near our new house that we were yet to visit.

As you can see, G ran off excitedly in the direction of the swings. As you can also see, there was nobody else around. The frost in the park was still untouched, so not even any dog walkers had been past during the morning.

We didn't stay all that long, but there was time for G to save the day. We trotted back to the car to get out of the cold, and as I opened the door G gave me a serious look and said: "No daddy, you left the bag at the playground". This was true enough, her potty, wipes, spare clothes, water, and all manner of other posessions were still where I'd left them. I strapped G into the car and took a more leisurely stroll back to pick them up. Not that anyone would want to make off with them normally, but there really was no chance of that today.


I suppose it had to happen. But the speed at which G has gone from a fairly generic toddler-type voice to a broad Manchester accent has taken me a bit by surprise.

At her old nursery, she picked up a few words with a bit of an Oldham sound, which she occasionally dropped in ("mun-keh" was a particular favourite of mine). But those seemed to have faded away since we moved to our new place and she started at a new nursery in town.

That was until last week. One day, I noticed G had started talking like a Manc. It seemed to come on almost overnight, but it was definitely there. A sort of verbal tic in which she goes up-then-down during a sentence, then up again at the very end. Not just as a one-off though, this is now how she says every single sentence. As you can imagine, it gets slightly wearing after about the 5,000th time. It's going to take a bit of getting used to.

Until that day, G is better seen rather than heard. So toys like this Thomas the Tank Engine jigsaw which she spent ages quietly doing, then taking apart, then doing again on the kitchen table, are my current preferred entertainment for her.

Science And Industry

At the moment, Thursday means a day at home for me and a day away from nursery for G, which also means it's down to me to come up with a reason for getting us both out of the house. Today I decided on a trip into Manchester to take G around the Museum of Science and Industry. Or at least the bits I thought she might be interested in.

First, that meant wandering along to the old Liverpool Road station, which dates from 1830 and was a terminus of the world's first proper passenger railway. Now it's part of the museum, but G didn't seem thrilled by my monologue about the remarkable engineering that allowed it to be built, and the tragi-comic death of William Huskisson MP on the railway's opening day. Instead, she pointed at a couple of sections of train standing idle on the track. "Blue one Thomas, red one James. Look daddy, Thomas and James!" Which made a lot more sense.

Inside, I took her around the area aimed at children, which has plenty of hands on things for even little ones to do. The picture shows G turning a wheel, which through a series of gears moves a full-size car up and down. She was extremely impressed at herself, although this time I spared her the physics lecture.

She had such a good time that she didn't want to leave, and I had to bribe her with the promise of ice cream so we could get back home in time for a very late lunch. Although I didn't mind too much. Taking such an interest in trains and gears seems like a good enough reason for a little girl to get a reward.

Entertaining Herself

I was ill for a couple of days this week. Nothing too noteworthy, just the usual early winter bit of sickness that makes you not want to do anything apart from lie in bed, groaning pathetically. Unfortunately, the worst of it coincided with Thursday, which just happened to be my only day of the week with G at home.

She gave me a lie-in, which was very decent of her, but the long sleep only served to give her more energy when she finally decided to wake up. "Get up daddy!" she repeated, excitedly, trying to pull the duvet from where I'd attempted to securely anchor it. "Daddy's feeling sick, daddy's very sad," I managed in response. G thought for a moment, and said: "I kiss you and make it better!" followed all-too-inevitably by, "There! All better! Get up daddy!"

Later in the day I had to go back to bed, but managed to persuade her to come with me with the lure of Mrs J's iPad, which she'd thoughtfully left behind for just such an eventuality. I dozed off, and woke up some time later to find G still enthusiastically tapping away at the thing. She could well have been ordering boxloads of fine wines and other expensive fripperies for all I knew, but at that particular moment I was happy that something other than me was keeping her occupied.

I'm feeling much better now, by the way. The picture was taken last weekend, on the swings in a park in Salford.

Impressing The Health Visitor

It's been a while since G last saw a health visitor. But as we've recently moved, one came round today. It was to let me know about what's on offer in the local area and, presumably, to check up on me a bit.

G has been a bit under the weather this week. She had a temperature on Monday night so I kept her off nursery on Tuesday, and she came home within an hour of being there on Wednesday morning with the same problem. She was pretty sluggish waking up this morning, and after refusing breakfast clambered back up the stairs and got back into bed: "Close the curtains daddy, I'm still sleepy," she said, sounding sorry for herself.

I needed to get her up again because the visitor was due at 10:15am, and I had to bribe G with the promise of biscuits if she went back downstairs and ate some cereal. She was just finishing the biscuits when the doorbell went, which was good timing (they were only ginger nuts, nothing chocolatey or fancy, but still, these first impressions matter, at least to me).

Even better, as we all sat down at the kitchen table, G turned to me: "I'm still hungry daddy". I replied: "What would you like to eat?" She paused, then delivered a winning line: "Um... an apple!" I wondered whether the health visitor thought we'd been rehearsing it all morning.

Later on, G was playing with her blocks as she often does, when I noticed that she'd taken to separating them all out into different colours, as shown in the picture. Possibly a bit OCD of her. Not sure what I'll think if she starts colour-coding the fruit bowl.

Back On The Telly

G's status as semi-regular media commentator continues. We were on ITV1's Daybreak this morning, talking about the government's latest attempt to introduce a bit more flexibility into the system of parental leave. Well, I was talking about it, G was mostly shown playing with her train set.

As is often the case with these things, it was an old colleague and friend of mine who now works at Daybreak who teed me up for it. I went to collect G from nursery a bit early so she could be at home for when the video journalist came to film with us.

G's been on TV quite a few times before for various things, so she wasn't at all bothered by the camera. She dutifully sat quietly on my knee throughout the interview, then gave plenty of winning smiles as she played with Thomas. Although as I pointed out to the reporter, the lack of children's TV on ITV these days meant we had to go with a character seen on Channel 5. How very off brand of me.

A slightly bigger mishap occurred when the reporter mistook a side table for a stool, and sat on it. It immediately broke in half and he ended up on his backside, the sort of moment that could really have done with some canned laughter to go along with it. So if you ever wonder where the money from all those adverts on ITV goes, I can say that a little is going to be spent on a new table for our living room.

G actually seemed a bit poorly and hot overnight, and didn't sleep very well, so neither of us were inclined to get up to watch our performance actually being broadcast. But I taped it, and showed it to her later. Straight on after our bit was none other than Nick Clegg, announcing the new policy on behalf of the government. Long-time readers of this blog might recall that it's not the first time he's shared the media spotlight with G, but that's another story.

(UPDATE 13/11: Our local ITV News programme, Granada Reports, turned my interview into a whole report, which you can watch in full here. If you want to watch Gwenno eating a sandwich in excruciating detail, then make sure you stick it out to the end! Also, note the slightly weird use of our wedding photo, kind of as if we'd died)

Wrong Daddy

I was away for the weekend, and I came back to find that G's infatuation with Thomas the Tank Engine continues. This is her tonight after she'd been reunited with her favourite little train. This morning, before I took her to nursery, there were tears at the breakfast table when I told her she wasn't allowed to take him with her.

"I want Thomas!" she repeated, wailing plaintively. I was unmoved, but only because I have developed the instinct that parents have for this sort of thing. A typical toddler tantrum is over in a minute or so, but the kind of epic tantrum that would ensue if Thomas got lost at nursery, well, that just isn't worth thinking about. "Thomas will still be here when you get back later," I reassured her as we got in the car, to which I got a very doubtful look in return.

As I went to pick G up, I was walking down the corridor towards her room when one of the nursery nurses came by leading a little boy, who was black. "Daddy!" he said, pointing towards me, hopefully. "No, I don't think that's your daddy," she replied, with the air of someone who had already had to say the same thing several times, probably in quick succession.

I didn't wait to hear if she went on to explain precisely why I was unlikely to be related to him. Besides, this all demonstrates another truth of parenting that I have discovered: three-year-olds may be able to talk more, but they still aren't the best recipients of any kind of logic.


We had a trip up the road to Aberdeen last week, so G could see a couple of friends, including her first meeting with a baby boy over from Australia. It's a long drive even without a recently-potty-trained toddler in the back, so I was prepared for a lengthy and miserable journey. But G's new-found love of Thomas The Tank Engine helped no end.

After a bit of a snooze on the way up, she managed to use the potty at a service station then spent a couple of hours quietly watching Thomas chuff his way about Sodor (the DVD I'd brought was mostly from the Ringo Starr era, obviously). So no trouble at all.

The return journey on Friday evening was even more successful. I hoped a night-time drive would help her sleep, and sure enough she dozed off in front of the DVD before we'd even reached Dundee, not waking up again until we were passing Lancaster. "Where's Thomas?" was the first thing she said, rubbing her eyes, as I'd unplugged it as soon as I'd realised she was asleep. So she got an extra half an hour or so of train-based fun before we finally made it home.

You might consider all this TV to be a bad thing, and I suppose it is, but it's infinitely better than a long drive on your own with a whining toddler. And for that reason, the portable DVD player remains one of the great inventions of mankind.

Our actual stay in Aberdeen, cold and surprisingly snowy even though it's only October, was well worth the trip. G is a couple of years older than the little ones we went to see, but she managed to play nicely and share the toys without too much persuasion. However, as the photo shows, she preferred to get me to join in with even more ludicrous games of hide-and-seek.


G has been through a few favourite TV characters recently. She's had a long-standing interest in In The Night Garden, and was also obsessed for a time with The Adventures of Abney and Teal. But after a weekend away at a wedding, all it took was a small new toy for her to change her affections to a rather older favourite, Thomas the Tank Engine.

G's grandad got her a little battery-powered Thomas to go on her wooden railway set. And the picture shows what she then spent the greater part of the weekend doing. Round and round the track he went, until we rebuilt the track to put some more tunnels in, then round and round he went again. His battery eventually ran out, so I think I'm going to have to stock up on plenty of them to get through the next few weeks.

She's always enjoyed playing with trains, but the Thomas toy may well have taken this to a new level of fascination. On getting home last night, we let her watch a bit of TV as a reward for a well-behaved car journey. "I want to watch Thomas!" she said, excitedly. Our TV's on demand section has a whole load of them, so we're in luck as far as that's concerned. Although it's all the new series, so within two minutes of watching one episode I realised I have no idea who half the characters are. There's even a Thin Controller now, presumably to encourage the Fat Controller to attend his Weight Watchers meetings.

As it finished, G said: "I want to watch Thomas again!" I'm going to have to get used to that, for a while at least.

Potty Training Wallchart

G has been potty training. We've waited longer to do this than we might have done, largely because of our recent move and her change of nursery. But I had a couple of weekdays at home just over a week ago, and thought it was as good a time as any to finally get started.

Being a stubborn sort of girl, G had steadfastly refused to go anywhere near a potty before then (on one occasion at nursery she was shown one, and responded by kicking it across the room, no doubt accompanied by a teenager-style pout), so we agreed that we would resort to bribery from the off. This took the form of giving her a treat every time she sat on the potty, either a biscuit or a chocolate button.

At first, I'd pretend to sit on the potty, then I'd put her favourite Teal doll on it. After a while of cheerily watching me eat biscuits, G got the idea that she could have a biscuit too by doing the same, and we started to get somewhere.

Mrs J then introduced a sticker wallchart, as shown above. G spent last week collecting stickers every day for different achievements. Not just using the potty properly, but also staying in bed all night and eating up all her tea (less challenging for her, admittedly).

G quickly learned to expect not only a chocolate but also a sticker for sitting on the potty. By midweek, she'd become a bit blase about it, so on Thursday morning after sitting on it in the bathroom and coming downstairs, my offer of breakfast was met by an insistent: "No! I want my sticker and my potty treat first!"

By the weekend, G had filled up each row with stickers and qualified for the various rewards shown on the chart. The lesson is: bribery works.


Hide-and-seek is one of G's favourite games. Although she actually insists on calling it "hide peekaboo", and this could offer a clue as to why she is, well, no good at all at it.

The video shows a typical game. I think it's fair to say she needs to work on her tactics a bit.

Third Birthday

G was three yesterday. We continued the tradition we started on her first and second birthdays by taking her to Chester Zoo. Having made it pretty clear the other day that giraffes are her favourite, we made sure to head there early on:
G was also looking forward to the elephants, although she seemed to enjoy this one even more:
Before leaving, G had opened one of her presents, a child's first camera sort of thing. I'd actually assumed it wasn't a real camera, but as Mrs J demonstrated to both G and me, it takes pictures just as well as anything else. So we stuck a memory card in and took it with us.
G was extremely excited about this, and took dozens of pictures as we walked around the zoo. Mostly, these were of the floor, or her own feet. But she did manage to almost capture a zebra in this one:
Afterwards, we made it home in time for cake. I'd made my first-ever attempt at a Victoria Sponge, and although it turned out ok, the structural integrity of the top layer was a little bit suspect. Thankfully, Mrs J came to the rescue by covering it all in icing.
I suppose I've got another year to have a few more attempts and get it just right. But no doubt by then she'll be demanding something much more elaborate.

Picture Of Daddy

Another wet afternoon, and short of original ideas for things to do at home with G that don't involve TV, I settled for traditional entertainment in the form of paper and crayons. G likes drawing, although unless she's doing a rainbow, most of her artworks involve some kind of blob. These are usually adorned with a smiling face and arms and legs poking out in various directions.

Today she produced several, then went back over a couple of the blobs putting dots everywhere. "It's a giraffe!" she said proudly, then "Look daddy, it's another giraffe!" Given that she had already insisted on wearing her giraffe t-shirt, I think she's now dropped some strong clues about what her new favourite animal is.

Then, G drew another blob. As shown in the photo, she added a couple of stumpy feet at the bottom, arms and fingers, and a little tuft of hair. "Look, picture of daddy!" said G, excitedly. I can't really see it myself.

Clashing Colours

This is what happens when you let your two-year-old daughter pick her own clothes. I've never been one to pay too much attention to fashion. Clearly, this is something that G has inherited.

It wouldn't have been a problem in the past, but G is now old enough to insist that she has to wear whatever she has chosen, no matter how much I try to persuade her that three different shades of blue and two clashing flower patterns probably don't make the most coherent outfit. The alternative is suffering a massive tantrum.

If the worst that happens is I get a few sideways looks from mums down at the shops because of what my daughter's wearing, I'll take a tantrum-free day anytime.

In Praise Of Abney And Teal

G has long been a fan of In The Night Garden, the colourful pre-bedtime programme which soothes toddlers across the nation on CBeebies. But there's no doubt that her favourite thing to watch on TV is now The Adventures of Abney and Teal. It's on just before the CBeebies Bedtime Hour, although since she worked out that On Demand viewing means you can get it anytime, even on your phone, it's almost always the only thing G ever wants to watch.

I can't really complain too much about this. The two eponymous characters are friends who live on an island in the middle of a city, and get up to various mini-adventures often involving discarded bits of rubbish, all fuelled by regular bowls of porridge. Created by illustrator and author Joel Stewart, Abney and Teal has a sort of instant classic feel about it, a bit like the programmes (Bagpuss, Clangers) once made by the late Oliver Postgate. I imagine it's the sort of thing second-rate comedians might well find themselves pretending to remember on a clip show in about 20 years' time.

Apart from looking and sounding great, the thing I like most about it is that the female character, Teal (curiously enough, voiced by the singer from Noisettes), is resourceful and rough-and-tumble, rather than the sort of pink Disney Princess I've been trying to make sure G doesn't turn into.

The picture shows G tackling this month's CBeebies magazine, which is an Abney and Teal special. She was beyond excited when Mrs J came home from the supermarket with it the other day. Not quite excited enough to be interested in having a bowl of healthy porridge for breakfast herself, but there's time to work on that.

Holiday In France

We've been in France for a few days, visiting friends Andy and Heather who run the Alpine Ethos ski chalet in Meribel. This was actually my first time in France since a school trip to Paris in 1996, but if I was delighted to find that French breakfasts are still all about bread-and-chocolate in various combinations, you can imagine how G felt about discovering it for the first time. Some of the evidence of this can be seen in the photo above.

In an attempt to compensate for those breakfasts, we tried to do some of the outdoor activities you can do in the Alps when it's not snowing. Such as lake swimming. Despite snow still being visible on the peaks, the lake in Bozel was plenty warm enough to paddle around in, although G wasn't keen on doing anything more strenuous than a bit of splashing, as shown here (that's Mrs J's leg, in case you thought I'd developed a fetish for nail varnish).
Andy and Heather's greyhound Benny is one of the most pleasant and docile animals you could come across, which may offer a clue as to why his racing career never really got out of the stalls. G took to stroking/pestering him at every opportunity, even holding several one-sided conversations that he didn't really seem to engage with that much. Perhaps behind those eyes lies the mind of a competitor, still burning over how he could have been a contender, if it wasn't for that photo-finish in the 5:27 at Catford.

Talking of epic sporting contests, on a trip to Annecy, G played her first-ever game of crazy golf. She actually got straight into it, cheerily knocking the ball through all the obstacles and shouting "I did it!" whenever it eventually went into the holes. She also switched between the right-handed and left-handed styles, which may indicate a level of natural ability far beyond what us non-golfers can even begin to appreciate.

All very impressive for a two-year-old, although I chose to ignore her blatant cheating at every hole. Next time we'll play under real rules.


We may have moved to new surroundings, but one thing that hasn't changed is G's interest in food. Picking her up from her first day at her new nursery last week, I asked how she'd been. "Oh fine," said the nursery nurse, "she's just eaten three plates of chicken curry for dinner." So there.

Mrs J has been poorly for a few days so our new house bottle of champagne went unopened until last night, when we drank (some of) it along with a Sunday roast which I knocked up in our new, and thankfully much larger, kitchen. G had two plates of this, too. Didn't offer her any booze though.

In The Night Garden Live

It's been a packed August Bank Holiday weekend. It's usually a busy time of year for us, but instead of spending it in the mud at Reading or Leeds, this time we've moved house. Of which more another day.

We still managed to take in a gig though. The In The Night Garden stage show is on at the Trafford Centre. Given that it's one of G's TV favourites, we'd actually got the tickets ages ago, and it turned out to be a particularly good excuse to escape all the unpacked boxes for an hour or two.

The format of the live show will be, how can I put it, familiar to experienced ITNG watchers. Unlike some children's shows, there aren't any little grown up references to keep the parents amused. But the repetition is one of the many things that toddlers seem to love about it.

The first sight of the colourful characters in life size caused huge excitement in the room, which only built further over the course of the hour. Frankly, I was surprised the later and much-anticipated arrival of Upsy Daisy didn't provoke a round of stage diving.

By this stage, G had shed any early inhibitions and had moved off my knee and into a space nearby, from where she danced along and waved to all the characters as they came and went. Despite the voice over by Shakesperean luvvy Derek Jacobi, the show itself is not exactly about to transfer to the National. But G hasn't stopped talking about it all afternoon. So if she develops a lifelong interest in the theatre, we'll know where it started.


We're moving house this weekend, and so today was G's last day at her current nursery. She's been there for almost a year, overcoming early tears to settle in, have lots of fun and make plenty of friends. For most of the time she's been doing nursery two days a week, although as I've been working more often it's regularly been full weeks lately. As if to reassure us that it's not a big deal, she often spends her time away from nursery chattering about what she's been doing there, so I've no doubt it's been a great experience for her. I don't do adverts, so I'll tell you for free that the Fire Station Nursery in Mossley is a very good one.

And so today was all about goodbyes. I'd been talking to G over the past couple of days about how she was going to have to say goodbye to her friends and the staff, although I'm sure she doesn't really understand the first thing about it. But it was a weirdly emotional scene when I went to pick her up, and encouraged her to say goodbye to the other toddlers.

She waved cheerily at them all, saying all of their names, completely unaware that she is probably never going to see any of their little smiling faces ever again. I mean, she knew all of their names! Perhaps I'm just going a bit soft, but I had to resist the temptation to burst into tears at the sadness of it all. Although given that I was in a room full of women who probably see this sort of thing every week, I thought better of it.

Next week, G will be at a new nursery with new staff and lots of new boys and girls to play with. Even before she starts she'll probably have forgotten all about the friends she's made here, but I'll remember.

And just in case I forget, they gave me the folder they've been recording her progress in all this time. I think this is the closest thing I've ever seen to those semi-mythical permanent records my teachers always used to chunter about in school.

It's fascinating, in a way that only a collection of mundane papers about your own child can be. There's lots of information in there about G's development, including the revelation that it was about a month before she managed not to get upset after I dropped her off. It was all uphill from then on.

No Pictures

As we left the house in bright sunshine this morning, I went to take a picture of G. She had put her sunglasses on, and Mrs J had put her hair into bunches. Given that whenever G's hair is done up nicely it's usually only a matter of minutes before she takes everything out again, I thought I'd better get in quickly.

Clearly, G wasn't so keen on getting her photo taken. Maybe she was trying to stay incognito for some reason, like she's been involved in a controversy at nursery and wants to keep her head down. If I see her looking at the disguises next time we're at the supermarket, I'll know that something's up.

Silver Medal

G came back from nursery yesterday with a medal that she'd made as part of some Olympic-based arts and crafts. I was puzzled as to why it was a silver medal though. Are they insinuating my daughter is somehow second best? What more could she have done to win the gold? All a bit of a mystery.

Whatever the answer, she didn't look very impressed with the silver. Might need to remind her it's the taking part that counts.


We've been away for a week visiting G's cousins in Sweden, so I thought I'd post some of the photos I took during the trip.

It was G's first time abroad and indeed her first time on a plane, although she dealt easily with the queueing with the aid of her pull-along Gruffalo suitcase, which drew admiring glances from parents and other toddlers throughout Manchester Airport.

There was a good amount of sunny summer weather for us to enjoy once we got there. After accompanying Mrs J on a lengthy search through various shops for a pair of sunglasses, typically G ended up with a pair of her own.
The shades came in particularly handy on this particular drive, when G almost managed to convince us she was actually still awake (she wasn't).
However, she'd perked up in time for the traditional Swedish crayfish feast we had that evening. She liked her hat better than the fish, although she did munch her way through a significant amount of local baked treats:
And this was the highlight of a visit to a playground near my brother's house. Not only was there a sandpit, there was also a piece of miniature farm machinery for her to get stuck into. I may suggest to our council that they take our village playground up a notch by installing a child-sized combine harvester.
We're back home now, but G is still talking excitedly about her "cousins!" and the "orange aeroplane!" Yeah, so we flew EasyJet. No hiding that when you've got a toddler who obsesses over colours.

Thumbs Up

Having been regularly photographed from birth, G has now developed some classy poses for the camera. Here she is yesterday, demonstrating 'thumbs up'. She can do either one thumb or two, on command. Hopefully I'll have her doing a full range of catalogue looks before long.

We went for a walk along the canal and ended up at the garden centre for a cup of coffee and a vanilla slice (me) and some chocolate cake (her). G managed half of her generous portion, and as you can see, she was left with a very amusing chocolate moustache:
I'm not sure which kind of catalogue that look features in. But it's not one I've ever seen.

The Weekend

With Mrs J busy this weekend, I took G to London for a bit of a road trip and to catch up with some friends. To break the journey on the way down we stopped off for a swim at the Hathersage outdoor pool. Despite G's slightly apprehensive look before going in, the water was pleasantly warm. Or at least much warmer than the last time we went.

G didn't much fancy going to sleep in a strange room on the Saturday night, so ended up clambering into bed with me. This was fine for her, but I soon realised she was taking up the majority of the single bed, forcing me right up against the wall. It was like being a student again. Only, you know, with a toddler.

The following morning, she did her best to look completely blameless in our friends' kitchen:

We went to a nearby playground. G enjoyed running around the various equipment, but the dress Mrs J had given me to put her in was proving problematic. So, as you can see from this picture taken on the slide, I had to tuck the front of her dress into her nappy so she wouldn't trip over it going up steps. Classy.

We moved on to a barbecue being hosted by some other friends, which was doubling up as a joint birthday party. After a nap in the car on the way, G was on very good form by this point, and ate lots of the food. This was her attempt at eating a burger, although in typical style she showed more interest in the bun rather than the actual meat.
She didn't sleep much on the drive home, but thankfully for both of us I had a portable in-car DVD player with us, and a stack of Charlie and Lola episodes. I can now confirm that the portable in-car DVD player is one of the all-time great inventions. She was very tired but happy enough when we finally got home at about 10:30pm, and celebrated by sleeping for a good 12 hours.

"Don't want to get up" she said drowsily when I tried to rouse her at 10:30am this morning. Like I said, just like being a student again.

At The Hairdresser

I took G along to a salon in Uppermill to get her hair cut today. Mrs J is determined that G should grow her hair out, so I was under strict instructions to ensure this was just a little tidy-up. Walking in I counted three hairdressers and three customers, all women, so with G there too I was outnumbered seven to one. Not quite the worst ratio I've ever experienced, but enough to take me out of my comfort zone. I haven't had my hair cut in a salon since I was about 12, so I really have no idea what to do in these places.

As the hairdresser got started, I noticed little bits of something in the top of G's hair. "Oh, that's probably left over from her breakfast," I said, truthfully. G's hair often gets in her way (she usually refuses hair clips point blank), so I think nothing of picking tiny bits of own-brand Shreddies out of it during the morning. But I can't imagine the women were particularly impressed that I'd led my daughter's hair get into such a state.

At least G was well-behaved throughout, helped by the In The Night Garden magazine I'd got for the occasion. And her hair's immaculate now too, at least until breakfast time tomorrow.

Dressing Gown

Here's G just out of the bath one evening, showing off her new dressing gown. It's actually a hand-me-down from someone we know, and as you can see she looks very pleased with it.

I stopped her for the picture just as she was about to go through the nightly ritual of picking out her bedtime story. She very much likes to do this herself now, and as you can see, uses a stool to help her reach. She often carries the same stool around downstairs with her, and also tries to drag one of the dining chairs into the kitchen if there's something she wants from one of the worktops. Sometimes, as she perches unsteadily, it seems a little bit dangerous. But until she grows a bit more, I can see that I'm going to have to get used to it.

Early Bedtime

I missed G altogether today. Mrs J has been under the weather for the past few days with a throat infection and accompanying headaches. G was restless during the night, which is very unusual, so we assumed she was coming down with something too.

I went off to work and Mrs J took G to nursery after they'd both caught up on a bit of sleep. Although she doesn't have a temperature, the nursery staff said G hadn't been herself and had been very quiet. Then, when Mrs J got her back home later, she didn't have any tea and lay down like this on the sofa. Clearly, someone was very tired. I got back at 7 o'clock and G was already in bed, well over an hour earlier than normal.

Hopefully she'll be feeling a bit better tomorrow.

Monday Morning

Another wake-up call for G. This one is subtitled: 'if you even try to get me out of bed, I will break you'.

The picture was Monday, but today she was in much better form. The door to our bedroom opened at about 6:30am, and G toddled in. Mrs J whispered at me to pretend to still be asleep (this being a valuable 15 minutes before our alarms were due to go off). But she gave up when she caught a look at G out of the corner of her eye. She had come in to wake us up, but not before she'd put a paper crown on her head, left over from the Jubilee. I suppose girls always have to look their best.


Now that it's midsummer and it's still fairly light well past G's bedtime, she's taken to staying awake for a while after she's been put to bed. Walking past her bedroom in the evenings you can sometimes hear her reading her books out loud, presumably for the benefit of Dumbo, her little elephant sleep toy. She can't actually read, but she's heard the stories so many times before she's more or less word perfect on them.

Eventually she drifts off to sleep, but in the morning there's often a book or two lying around near her bed. This morning she really didn't want to get up at all, but the evidence of why she was so tired was clearly on display. Someone had obviously been up far too late reading James The Red Engine. Scandalous.

Walking On The Wall

This is the River Colne in the centre of Marsden, a regular stop on our frequent visits to the village (it comes after the ice cream shop and the playground, usually). There are always ducks here, and G enjoys chasing and pointing at them. Although I generally don't take any bread to feed them, as when I do G tends to put it in her own mouth instead.

Yesterday, G got me to lift her up on the wall so she could get a better view of the ducks. Then she walked along it, pointing at the ducks as they resolutely swam in the opposite direction. Obviously I tried to keep my hand on her so she didn't fall in, but equally obviously every time I got hold of her she shouted "No, daddy!" and started wriggling free. Instead I had to keep my arm vaguely near her so I could grab her in the event she slipped. This may make me a reckless parent, but on the other hand, she never looked like falling in. And I'm sure the ducks were glad she couldn't get any closer than this.