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.