Making Up Stories

We had a babysitter for G on Thursday night so the two of us could go for a night out in town. When we got back the babysitter said that after G had got out of bed, she told her a made-up story about "Princess G" in order to get her to drift back off to sleep.

The law of unintended consequences became apparent by Friday night. Books are now very last week, and every story has to involve some kind of made-up thing about our heroine (Princess G, Fairy Queen G, always G) doing something exciting. It's clear we're going to have to seriously improve our powers of creativity in order to make bedtime as stress-free as it, thankfully, usually is.

The picture was taken earlier on Friday, when we headed back to Saddleworth to take in a bit of the Whit Friday brass band contest in Dobcross. This was G's fourth Whit Friday, so I was supposed we were due a really rainy one.

Breakfast TV

I made my debut on the BBC Breakfast sofa this morning, reprising my occasional role as a pundit on stay-at-home dad issues. This is an occupational hazard of my career as a sometime journalist, and I'm now a veteran of many of these appearances. But this was the first time I'd appeared on the programme made famous in my youth by, lest we forget, Frank Bough. So I wore a jumper in his honour.

I was appearing with Gideon Burrows, author of a new book about stay-at-home dads. My experience of the media told me that I should really be disagreeing very violently with him for the sake of good telly. But we were both far too polite for any of that.

I managed to say at one point that I "slightly disagreed" with him about something or other. He told me as we walked out of the studio that actually he agreed with me on that point too. But then, anyone keen to hear an all-out ruck at that time of the morning is already listening to the Today programme, rather than tuned to the soothing sofa-based chat of Breakfast, so I don't think it really mattered too much. And they said when Breakfast moved to Salford they wouldn't be able to get any good guests on. I mean, I ask you.

G was watching at home, and Mrs J reported that she got very excited when I appeared on her TV, announcing: "Daddy is my best friend!" Not too upset at missing out at yet another media appearance of her own, then.

Ugly Duckling

As G has grown up a bit, her TV loyalties have switched from wholesome favourite CBeebies to the slightly brasher fayre of Nick Jr. This is mainly because it's where she can watch Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine. Those shows are also available on Channel 5's on-demand service, which has led to our family becoming possibly the biggest users of Demand 5 in the country.

But she can still be tempted back to Auntie for the odd programme, in particular the recent Ugly Duckling special with the Northern Ballet. I say 'recent' - it was on at Easter and we must have watched it most evenings since.

G often likes to show off her ballet moves in the living room, but since she discovered the Ugly Duckling this has become an almost nightly ritual. The picture shows her in full swan mode.

Sunny Bank Holiday Weekend

We had beautiful weather for the holiday weekend. But although we spent most of it out in the open, I started on Friday by taking G to the National Football Museum at the Urbis. She's a little bit bigger than the last time I took her there, back when the impressive building in the middle of Manchester was still a museum of popular culture. Now that she's playing football herself, I thought it might be fun to take her for a look around the new collections.

The picture shows her sitting on some seats from the old Wembley, although the exhibit which really took her interest was the cabinet full of huge silver trophies. The old Football League Championship trophy was in the middle, but it was the even bigger, shinier and gaudier examples dotted around, awarded for various long-forgotten minor tournaments, which she kept pointing to. When she comes back from football, or ballet, or whatever, with her first little medal, I'm sure it's going to be kept extremely shiny.

There was a food festival at Salford Quays on Saturday. We went along, and Mrs J raided the stall selling macarons. As confections go these have always confused me, mainly because I was brought up in Scotland where we have macaroons instead. Also confusingly, G wanted to eat the blue one. And so she had a blue tongue for the rest of the afternoon, as did I, after I helped finish it off when she didn't want any more:
Cake has been a regular theme of the time I've spent with G over the years. There was a lot around on Sunday afternoon at an event called G Festival 2013, held in Swinton as a charity fundraiser after a girl from the local area who died three years ago. After having lots of fun blowing bubbles and on the bouncy castle, we went to the cake stall and found an appropriate one for G. Although she doesn't much like icing, so I had to have the actual bit with the G on it:
Monday was the warmest day of the weekend, and just as well as we went to the East Lancashire Railway in Bury for another day out with Thomas the Tank Engine. The success of our last visit to one of these events in Llangollen in February was only slightly dampened by the fact it chucked it down all day, so it was particularly good to have a day of train-based fun without having to scurry around under cover all the time. G even had a dress on, and got to meet the big guy himself:
She was less keen on the Fat Controller ("but I'm very shy" she said, intently), and needed a good bit of prodding before finally agreeing to sit next to him. Less prodding was needed to get her to toot Thomas's whistle. She talked about this moment all the way home. This would have been extremely tedious, but we only live a quarter of an hour away. Which was just as well.

Chocolate Cheesecake

It was one of the first really sunny days of the year yesterday, and in the afternoon I decided to go into Monton with G for a coffee (me) and a cake (both of us).

This was the sort of thing I used to do often when we lived in Saddleworth, because there were a few places to go within easy walking distance and it was a good excuse to get out of the house. Now I'm at home with her less, and we're in a much more residential area, I don't get the chance as often. Besides, Monton High Street is a drive away, and who drives anywhere just to go for coffee (other than Jerry Seinfeld)?

We went to Selo Deli, a Ukrainian sort of place which has made a bit of a splash since opening with its own Monton Tart, designed to take on the venerable Eccles Cake. I had a slice, but G went for a chocolate cheesecake.

I pointed out that she might not like the nuts on top. She agreed that she didn't like nuts, but said she wanted the cake anyway. So by the time she dug into it as shown in the picture, we'd had the following conversation:

G: "Is that nuts on it?"

Me: "No, that's sugar."

G: "Oh, sugar."

Lies about cake are acceptable lies, I think. Especially if it means avoiding tears and having to give her my cake instead, neither of which I would have particularly relished.

The cakes were great. The hat was G's choice.