Behind enemy lines: The Manchester City Stadium Tour

In Manchester you support either the blue of Manchester City or the red of Manchester United. We are passionate football folk. You pick your team and you stick with your team.

Sometimes blues and reds get on. Sometimes a red man will meet a blue lady. Sometimes they will date for a while before the red man proposes to the blue lady and they get married. Sometimes they will have children and problems arise as to whether the children should be red’s or blue’s. Sometimes the red man does an amazing thing and goes on a tour of the blues stadium for the greater good of his family and to secure some husband points.

This weekend I, a Manchester United Fan took one for the team and went with my Manchester City fan wife and our children on the Manchester City Stadium tour. I’ve never done a stadium tour before and thought it would be good fun for us all. A nice Sunday family day out.

The rendezvous point for the tour start was in the MCFC Store. True to family form we were late so did not have chance to browse the merchandise which was lucky because I’m pretty sure Florence would have talked me into buying her a new football kit.

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In a room at the back of the Store we gathered with other tour embarkers. We were surrounded by pieces of historic MCFC memorabilia. We were then led to a seated area where our guide showed us a video all about the football club and team to get the juices going.

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Then the proper tour kicked off. We headed to the stadium and had a mill around the Tunnel Club Hospitality areas. These are the areas where the rich and famous can wine and dine before, during and after the match. It’s a pricey place to eat and drink but you get to meet the players and watch them go out the tunnel so if you’ve got the cash it sounds like a good gig. The place smelt like money.

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After this we visited the outside directors seats which were very comfy and come equipped with heated seating. We then headed to the away dressing room which wasn’t much and was very warm. Apparently this is all on purpose to out off the opponent. Put me off. Especially as we visited the home team warm up gym and dressing room and they were something else.

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Next on the tour was the pitch side picture opportunity before we took a stroll to the pre match press conference room where I managed to warm Pep’s seat. Felt important sat there.

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And that was about it. A 90 minute tour of the stadium complete. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. Nice to have a nosey around and check out the competition. So if you fancy a poke around a football stadium and you are in Manchester I would recommend having a wonder around the Etihad on the official Stadium and Club Tour. Even if you are a red, it’s a good day out.

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The team behind the beans: Booths coffee tour

Before kids I rarely drank coffee. Before kids I slept gloriously. So when kids came along and I began to sleep rarely, I took up drinking coffee gloriously.

I have dibbled and I have dabbled with different coffee brands. I have never really settled on a particular coffee or established whether bean is better than ground.

That was until I took a tour of Booths coffee HQ in deepest darkest Preston. Now before we went I was giddy and very excited to see what happened in a coffee roasting and grinding factory and to learn more about the drink that keeps me functional. I was expecting some huge warehouse with hundreds of people, coffee beans all over the show, roasters firing away and the sweet smell of coffee in the air.

What we found was a very nice purposely built building with one roaster and grinder. The team behind the beans was in fact two gents by the names of Peter and Rob, plus the packing team only a few members strong.

It had a real personal feel about the place. The smell of coffee was dancing in the air and we got to see how the coffee was roasted and ground. We got to hold some beans pre roasting and post roasting. We tickled our tastebuds with a variety of different coffees and learnt all about strengths, tastes and smells.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I discovered that strength doesn’t mean more caffeine on the contrary there is less in the stronger stuff. I discovered bean is best. I also found my new favourite coffee which goes by the name of Monsoon Malabar. I love the taste of this cheeky number, but also the fact I’ve met the team who have roasted those beans. Makes it that little bit more personal.

And that’s the main thing I took from our little tour. Booths doesn’t just cater to your food and drink delights but adds that little bit of personal sparkle as well.

Everytime I take a sip of my morning Monsoon Malabar latte I’m whisked away to that magical day I spent on the coffee tour. It makes the fact I’m up at 5am that little bit more bareable.

The reality of parenting: the escape to freedom

At the minute Edith refuses to stay sleep. It’s been an on going saga driven I think by her two front teeth descending. Getting out of her bedroom when she does eventually give in is problematic.

Once she is asleep I find myself sprawled out on the floor, arm squeezed between the bars of her cot, hoping that when I do eventually build up the courage to take my arm off her back she does not wake.

But that’s only the beginning of the escape. For once my hand rises off her back and she remains asleep, then starts the tricky retreat back through the bars, knowing the faintest of touches could lead to the quietest of noises yet still loud enough to cause her to wake.

Even if by some miracle my arm escapes the clutches of the cot, fear cannot be abandoned and caution must remain. The movement of my bodily position, from the horizontal to the vertical may disturb her slumber, as my joints and ligaments reposition and allow me to rise.

And dam this body of mine which is plagued by clicky joints, most noticeably my ankles, for even when I am arose I cannot exit with carefree abandon, for fear of a creek from my troublesome bones.

And if my ankles remain silent or their creeks go undetected, there is the problem of the squeaky floor board. Only through experience do I know the route of quietest passage, from the side of the cot to the door. Should I complete this fearful journey and make it to the cusp of freedom, I may stumble at the final hurdle. The door. This barrier between me and the outside world may piss on my parade if it squeaks or floods the room with unwelcome light. Therefore with hope in my heart, and a just passable route, a leap of faith must be took to set my body free.

Yep so that’s pretty much my evenings.

The reality of parenting: Sometimes I fuck up

I missed Florence’s first day of school last week as we both started our new adventures on the same day. I felt a massive amount of guilt about this and although I know she is unlikely to remember this, I will remember.

As the week progressed I felt a strain in our relationship. I was missing her. I was also feeling guilty for leaving every morning before she went to school and getting back well into the bedtime routine. From what the wife was telling me, Flo was also missing me which just added to my guilty feelings.

It all came to a head on Wednesday when we had a nightime battle. She was being a bugger with me and I did not handle it well at all. It left me feeling pretty shit.

Basically I was feeling guilty for not being there, I was missing her and some part of me felt she was pissed off at me. That night I just wanted a nice relaxing time with her where we chatted and cuddled before she feel asleep. I wanted to feel like she was my friend still. So when she began messing about and playing up it tapped into how I was feeling and instead of handling it in a positive way I did the complete opposite and created a worse situation and left Flo and I both feeling shit.

I felt awful that night and the next morning until Flo woke up and came downstairs and said sorry to me. It nearly broke my heart. I apologised to her as well and we had a big cuddle and things have been a lot better since.

Thinking back on it now we both probably just wanted the same thing; to have a chat and cuddle because we missed each other but we were tired, had both had a busy few days, adjusting to a and just went about it all wrong.

And I think that’s often the cause of a lot of problems in a number of relationships. We want the same things we just go about it the wrong way. Either because we are feeling shitty or guilty or whatever or just communicate things in the wrong way. It’s not because we are awful people.

When it does happen don’t beat yourself up to much. Be compassionate towards yourself, say sorry when you get chance and to sweeten any apology, chocolates are always a good idea.

Review: Cosatto Hubbub Isofix Car Seat

Car seat shopping. Easy right? Is it buggery. It is hard graft looking for the perfect car seat. You have hundreds of options from dozens of different brands. It can be a thankless task. Let me set a little scenario for you.

You may have penciled in new car seat shopping for this weekend. Alternatively you may have woken up, rolled over to your other half and informed them that Little Shirley or Little Jimmy needs a new car seat and thus spontaneously created your plans for the day. If it’s pre-planned or spontaneous, heading into any retailer who sells a car seat without having done the leg work (research) is a dangerous game. You will be met by lots of options and you will probably leave without purchasing a seat,  nursing a hangover headache created without the night before fun and have the desire to swing by the solicitors to pick up some divorce papers.  Little Jimmy / little Shirley won’t leave happy either, as they probably won’t have behaved in a manner which justifies giving them the chocolate they cried for all the time you were lifting car seats on and off shelves and fastening them in and out of.

So with that in mind, and as I am a generous soul who likes to share his helpful tips and worldly experience, I will make your life easier, save your marriage and help your little one get jacked up on chocolate. For below is a review for the car seat that you will purchase after reading the words that I have written. You probably won’t even have to leave your house because you will be so convinced you will order online by clicking here.

Lets crack on.

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Can my kid get a ticket to ride?

Absolutely providing your child weighs in at between 9kg to 36kg, or approx 9 months to 12 years in age terms. The Hubbub is a group 1,2,3 car seat meaning it grows with your child and does it without any fuss or removal of any big lumpy bits.  The headrest has 6 positions which are easy to move between thanks to a little click and pull action, whilst the 2 part reversible seat liner offers a supportive snuggle.  When we were setting up for Flo, who is almost 4,  it was easy peasy to get the positioning just right and when I interrogated her she reported, free of duress, that she was very comfy and snug.

Will they be able to twist and shout?

Every child appears to have this little Houdini side to them wear they can wiggle free from a seemingly impossible situation with brazen disregard for the safety and their parents heart health. Your child’s days of slipping those arms out of their car seat are over, as long as they are sitting in this car seat that is, thanks to the Brand New Cosatto Anti-Escape System that the Hubbub is fitted with. I asked Flo to try and break free and she didn’t manage it and she wiggles her way out of many a situation. I had made sure it was all nice a snug around her before asking her to escape. She also advised me that she was happy and it did not feel to tight which was comforting. My experience of other car seats we have had, is that she has been uncomfortable when all buckled up. This then creates the problem of hearing a child shout at you for the duration of your journey that the car seat is too tight.  So the anti-escape system also saves you from that little nightmare. So whilst they will be able to shout at you about other things being uncomfortable in their car seat will not be on of them.

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Day tripper

We are blessed with two beautiful children, two parental cars, two sets of  grandparents who also own their own grandparent taxi’s and not enough financial clout to buy car seats for all. As a result we do a lot of car seat juggling. The Hubbub is a car seat jugglers dream. Unlike some car seats, it is not cumbersome or oddly shaped, meaning your back and paintwork remain intact. The universal ISOFIX allows you to click in and go, no seatbelts, no stress. You also get a lot of ISOFIX bar to play with and it stay’s nice and sturdy meaning you are not left trying to battle the ISOFIX system whilst hunting for the bar hidden under the car seat.

Every little thing

As well as the major features above, and the side impact protection, its the little extra touches that make the Hubbub a stand out car seat.  There is a top tether anchor strap which gives that added little bit of security. The quick release harness button means you want be battling to set your offspring free. It comes with really convenient storage pockets to hide the straps whilst not compromising the look.  The comfy seat liners can be removed easily to wash, and it also features very comfy padded arm rests. All these allow your little one to ride in safety and comfort.

Mailman, bring me no more blues

Let’s face it the mailman usually brings us rubbish, boring nonsense. Well that won’t be the case when he delivers your Hubbub car seat. For when you take delivery and crack open the box, you will be met by vibrant colour, exciting your eyes and stimulating your pleasure center. Unlike it’s competitors, the Hubbub screams creativity, excitement and zest for life. Cosatto bring their personality to this bad boy, as they do with all their baby products,  and it is a joy to behold. You have 6 looks to chose from. All colourful, all beautiful, all rejecting dullness. We have the magic unicorn look to match the double pram we have. Catching a glimpse of this colourful little number in my rear view mirror whilst ensuring Flo is still alive is a pleasant little treat on my eyes and brings a smile to my face.

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Money (That’s what I want)

The business end. The bit that probably gets you nervous. Will you have to remortgage the house to buy the Hubbub? At £194.95 it falls on the good side of £200.  When you consider how long your sprog can use the car seat for you are looking at approximately £16 a year. Not bad. You also get a 4 year guarantee, which you cannot shake your head at.

From me to you

In summation, this car seat has and does everything you would hope for from a car seat. It is packed with excellent safety features. It is comfortable. It is easily washable. It grows with your child. It is well priced. It is also full of personality and brings a bit of fun and happiness. And we can all do with more of that.

Find it here in all its glory. 

Much love

Putting her life in their hands

In October 2016 we sent Florence off for her first day at playgroup. She had just turned 3 and up until that point all childcare duties had fallen to me, @mother_freckle, the in laws or my parents. Up until that point we had not felt comfortable putting her into nursery or playgroup for a number of reasons but mostly due to her allergies.
However it got to a point where we thought we needed to do it. We needed to let her go and play with kids her own age as opposed to a load of old farts who she tires out after 5 minutes. It was difficult because it meant trusting people outside our family who had at that time no emotional connection to our daughter. We were quite frankly putting her life in their hands.

We looked around the local area for the best place to send her. Lucky for us the local primary school has a little church building in the grounds where the local playgroup is. So we scoped it out and as soon as we walked through the doors we knew this was the place for her. It was family run and just had that homely comfortable feeling about it. We told them all about Florence’s allergies and they did not bat an eye lid. They took it all on board reassured us and told us they would book on all necessary training. They even told us they would change the butter they use to one we use to ensure Flo was safe.
On the first day I was a bag of nerves. She had seemed so big but sending her off made me realise how small she was. It was only a half day little taster but I couldn’t stop checking my phone hoping it was 12pm and we could go get her. When those to little hands ticked to 12 and the doors opened me and the Mrs ran in to find her. She was sat happily with the other kids with a big smile on her face. On the way home she couldn’t stop talking about Aunty Lisa and Eliza and how Eliza was her best friend but not Riley because Riley was silly. It melted my heart and I knew she would be fine.

Over the past 10 months she has grown so much and learnt so much. The playing, the painting, the glitter, the reading, the learning, the all round play that she has enjoyed has 100% made making that decision worthwhile. Its helped make her the wonderful, intelligent, confident, happy, sociable, assertive little lady she is today. She has made some little friends who will now go with her to school and we have made some little friends to, so our social circle has grown. It needed to we had no couple friends up until playgroup came along so we’ve gained so much from it as well.

And today brought the curtain down on this little adventure. I didn’t expect it to be as emotional as it was but it got me. Seeing all the playgroup staff in tears had me in tears. It also showed me how amazing and caring they are and how we were so right to trust them with Florence. They told us how much they will miss her and had nothing but wonderful things to say about Flo and it made me feel so proud. I felt proud of my wife and I for how we are raising our little girls. I felt proud at how well our families do in helping us raise them. But mostly I felt proud of Florence. No matter what comes her way she just seems to take it in her stride. I sometimes feel we ask to much of her, but she just seems to relish it and be unfazed by it all.

I imagine many of you are in a similar position today. I imagine you feel the same way as I do right now. An absolute bag of different emotions; sad because they are growing up and moving on; happy because they have had a wonderful adventure and grown so much; excited for the next adventure whilst also being anxious about what this may bring. I think it’s normal to be a bit all over the show at such milestones. We go through so many of these as parents it can be quite easy to forget them. And I think that’s why I wrote this. Its to help me process everything that has happened in this chapter of our lives, reflect on it and learn from it. I think sometimes I get caught up in a lot of things and maybe don’t spend enough time being present and appreciating what’s happening now in this moment. Before I’ve known it it’s gone. So I am making a promise to myself to be more mindful.

Anyways I wish you and your little ones all the best in your next adventures. And if any of the staff at Flo’s playgroup happen to read this… Thank you.

 

Let’s talk about sex

Now then. A nice juicy topic for discussion. Those 3 little letters that when combined form a word guaranteed to prick your ears up. So what about sex whilst pregnant or after baby has arrived. I thought I would lay down in writing my two pence worth.

So pre baby, you probably had a healthy appetite. You were young, vibrant, in love and child free. Eyes only for each other. Sleep was not a dream but an achievable reality. Your bed belonged to the two of you. A sanctuary you could retreat to when passion struck. You basked in freedom and be it morning, noon or night, you could ride that rainbow to satisfaction.

Somewhere along the way the decision was made to add to your household. This may have been through conception, adoption, surrogacy or any other way that led to the growth of your family.

If you went down the conception route you may have voyaged on a sexual journey that expanded your horizons. The female body does miraculous things through pregnancy and is a wonder to behold, and if you are anything like me you will enjoy this period. As the months go by, and the body shape changes, sex can become more creative, flexible and adventurous. Or you might not be feeling it at all and knock it on the head, literally. You might want that thing as far away from you as possible. If you are the male or spouse in this equation you may be feeling slightly frustrated. A situation that although you crave releasing from, will only be worsened by indulging in self-pity and outspoken disregarded for your partners feelings. (I suggest lots of foot massages and an exuberant use of ‘Yes’ responses when asked to do anything, to help improve relations).

Post baby and the time after birth that is recommend to pass before you engage in a little tomfoolery varies. I have read it is safe from anytime after baby has arrived to at least 6 weeks after. Not being a man of medicine, all I would add is that it is a decision to take together when you both feel comfortable enough to get frisky. Particular emphasis should be placed on the use of contraception during the early stages post-partum. The lady is very fertile and unless you fancy having two children mere months a part and possibly in the same school year, then put a coat on that fella.

Time together, just you and your spouse, may become limited once your new bundle of joy has arrived. Your bed, which was where ‘the’ action happened, is now a place where sleep is grabbed, tears of joy and desperation are shed, as you navigate the early stages of parenthood. You may still share your bed with your spouse but you may also be joined by your child whose head rests firmly on one parent, whilst the other parent has the joys of removing toes from the crevices of their ribs. If you have multiple children, of various ages, you may not actually see each other at night, except for a glancing high 5 as you move between rooms encouraging your sprogs to return to sleep.

This does create difficulties in securing relations of a sexual nature with each other. As such you may now embark on a ‘grab it whilst you can’ mentality, taking full advantage of that 2 minutes where they are a sleep or otherwise distracted. You may be lucky enough to get more and relive some of that youthful joy. You may on the other hand have to adopt positions that if spotted merely look like wrestling manoeuvres, with who ever is on top naturally being the victor, and as such avoiding a more difficult conversation.

Sex post baby may be frequent. Opportunities may be more abundant, confidence high, appetite undeterred. However, it may have dropped off.  I have had a few conversations with parents who draw on similar themes when it comes just reasons for a drop in fornication frequency.  For new mother’s these tend to be due to loss of confidence as a result of post baby body shape, tiredness, opportunity, practicalities of clean up afterwards, what happens if baby wakes and that they have been touched and mauled all day so space not sex is what is on the agenda. New fathers conundrums on this matter, and I can only really talk from this perspective with any really conviction, are that they feel that their spouse does not find them attractive any more, difficulties reading sexual cues (thinking their partner wants the whole package, when they only want a cuddle), not wanting to come across as a pest so they avoid making advances and of course tiredness, opportunity and cock blocks in the bed.

If faced by such difficulties and obstacles I can only suggest one thing. Talk! Talk about how you are feeling, give your side of the coin and listen to your partners. Come up with some things you can do to help get more quality time together. Phones down at 9, date nights, massages without the happy ending. Be present with each other and realise that the difficulties won’t last for ever. Eventually you will be able to get the kids to sleep in their own bed or ship them off to the grandparents for a night. And when you do spend that time doing something nice. Or just fall asleep on the couch like we do, but do it together.

Much Love

 

 

 

A brief theme park survival guide for parents: How to have funtimes!

Before I provide you with a brief survival guide to ensuring funtimes are had by all at a theme park, I thought I would provide a sort of reflective account about how I was feeling going into today as this may have impacted upon my experience and I don’t want to mislead you the reader.

Grumpy, irritated, not in a good mood. Summed up me yesterday. So today the sun rose, the birds tweeted and I got out of bed to relieve myself determined I would have a better day. Instead of going back to bed I took myself downstairs and made a coffee. 5 minutes of peace later I was joined by the eldest, followed an hour later by the outstanding members of the clan.

After the morning pleasantries were completed I was asked by the wife what I wanted to do. Without hesitation I replied ‘Gullivers World’, the local theme park.

No idea where the idea came from just kind spontaneously fell out. Not like me. But there we had it today’s plan done and dusted in a second. Not the usual 4 hour debarcle we usually engage in before we reach a decision about what to do.

The next 3 hours were spent getting ready. Flo has glitter make-up for our forthcoming adventure to Besitval. It was earmarked for this occasion and hidden just in case little hands found it. Fortunately for Flo, the wife is a soft arse and gave it her today. So after I sat patiently whilst Flo fajazzled me I went and completed the first essential piece of advice I will provide.

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Jam pack a bag of food and drink 

Kids eat food. Food at any attraction is well pricey. Therefore save your self some pennies and take a pack lunch. Next point don’t go into any gift shop / sweet shop on site. You will buy for your child. The sweets will be packed full of E numbers. You don’t need that extra hyperactivity. We were surrounded by jacked up Brownies/ Rainbows all day and it was pretty annoying. They clearly hadn’t been kept away from the sugar and it was at the detriment of my ear drums.

So now having shattered your world with that piece of advice I will rattle of a few more pointers.

Leave your personal space at home

Every other bugger does and even if you try to keep some distance your shepherded into very small spaces that make it nigh on impossible to breath clean air. You will find yourself in front of someone who will be exhaling ever so gently onto the nape of your kneck. It will be off putting and uncomfortable but unfortunately it’s unavoidable. Your child will also most likely ask a question or make a statement that could cause embarrassment. For instance “why is that smelly man not moving?”. Kids say the best things at the greatest times. I usually look to redirect Flo, such as “look at the there” and hope for the best. Other kids in the line will accidently sneak in front of you. It will be tempting to call them out on it. I take the more passive aggressive approach and push Florence back in front of them.

Even if a ride is shit fake it 

Flo wanted to go on all the rides. There was one, i forget the name, that looked pathetic. I mean it looked proper crappy. I could have walked faster than it. But Flo wanted to go on it. I tried to palm her off saying she wouldn’t enjoy it but she was having non of it. We got on and sweet baked potato it was naff. We just went round in a circle very very slowly. It’s hard to be enthusiastic after such an experience but remember you are there for them not you. Smile and knuckle down. If they are having fun don’t piss on it. You will regret it when they throw a wobbler later.

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Acceptance

You are in a kids theme park. The inevitably means there will be lots of kids. Your kids are probably ok and well behavedish. Other kids particularly those in large groups, parties, scouts, Brownies etc will be buzzin. Likelihood is their parents have binned them off on the scout leaders for the day so they are free to go wild. This means you’ve got soupped up, parentless kids, in large groups in a theme park with sugar. They will be loud. They will bump into you or cause you to take some sort of jedi evasive action. If one does some stupid shit the rest will follow. Don’t challenge it it will only bite you in the arse. Rise above it. Accept it. Embrace it and remember you were that annoying begger not long ago.

Finally,

Before leaving to go on your experditation make sure you have stuck the wine or beer in the fridge. If you don’t drink make sure whatever you enjoy as a tipple is in because once you get home you will have earnt it.

Much love

 

Review: Breast milk in a brew

Presleep the wife and I have a cup of decaf tea, maybe a cheeky biscuit. It’s our way of unwinding, talking the day over and planning the next day. Without it I don’t feel relaxed or that I’ve put the day to bed.

So last night when I flicked the kettle on, popped the tea bags in the cups and joyfully walked to the fridge I was disheartened to discover we were all out of soya milk. Not a drop.

Now it was 10pm, Sainsbury’s was still open but I was in my jimmy jams and could not build up the energy to get changed and venture out into the dark night to simply get more milk.

All seemed hopeless.  Until I noticed the bottle of expressed breast milk perched upon the top fridge shelf. It was from earlier that day when she left me for a day of galavanting whilst I played solo parent for 7 hours, the longest I’ve ever gone. I had successfully navigated this challenge but now needed to solve my lack of milk conundrum.

I therefore used the breast milk for my brew. And it was fantastic. Gave it that creamy taste I require, whilst reducing the temperature to a consumable degree. It held well, did not curdle, which some soya milks in my experience do, and looked the business. The brew tasted delightful and took a Hobnob successfully.

Nothing major. I am sure a number of people have done it before. Difference is I’ve not heard many people say they’ve tasted breast milk before, well as adults anyway. When I have heard it discussed people usually sound appalled at the idea. Never really understood why it was such a big deal.

Now I’m not saying that we should all go around trying random ladies breast milk or hook up hundreds of lactating mummies and start milking them for profit and consumer demand. What I am saying is that if you try your partners milk or use it for everyday purposes, maybe on your coco pops or in your brew is it that big a deal? I mean it is produced for human consumption and is full to the brim of fanastic properties. It’s readily available, aslong as your partner is producing it, it’s minimal carbon footprint means it’s beneficial to the environment and it’s free. Saved myself a journey to the shop and £1.40 simply by using it last night.

And whilst I am talking about breasts and how they can offend, why do so many people get all riled up other breastfeeding in public?

Doing something natural, that’s been done for thousands of years, gives a baby the essentials for healthy growth and development is seen by some as inappropriate when done in a public areana. We shouldn’t be ostracising women for breastfeeding in public. We should be encouraging it and supporting these ladies. We see so many funbags out there all greased up, getting bobbed around and motorboated and rarely bat an eyelid. So lets not get all squibbly when a mummy pops one out for function.

Mummies I got your back.

The Evolution of Relationships

Picture the scene: Its 2005. A young, firm, moderately tall and somewhat handsome 17 year old takes his seat in his College Physical Education class. To the right the door opens. In walks a blonde piece of arse (don’t be offended I marry her later) in a suede skirt and a fluffy pair of boots. The scores are in. 10’s across the boards. No splash.

She takes a seat a couple of rows in front of him and to the right. He is back row because he has a fear of people sitting behind him due to numerous traumatic experiences of people giving him wet willies. He takes no risks.

Time ebbs away. Not much happens until a soft tone emits from the pocket of our back row hero. The class turn including the fitty at the front, perplexed as to what the song is that rings from the stallions trousers. Without fear he removes his phone and proclaims without hesitation ‘it’s the ringtone from Thomas the Tank, belting tune’ before apologising and turning it on silent. She gives him a little smile. And so it begins. A little flirtation in P.E, nothing more as they are attached to others, until they go their separate ways.

Fast forward 2 years and who would have thought but for Facebook to bring them back together. A cheeky few messages sent and a date is arranged. He whisks her off to that most romantic of destinations…. Hollywood Bowl. There will be no bowling tonight. Just a couple of pints and a few Malibu before cuddling up on the couch back at his place (well his parents couch as he is 20 and a poor arse student) and watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

So what happened next. Well read on below. And see how our couple age and grow. (Didn’t know I was a poet did you).

Enough of the taking as above as I am struggling to keep it up. Hold the innuendos please. So me and the Mrs have been married 5 years but together for 9. It’s been a fair old journey. But I thought I would discuss the biggest changes to our relationship.

Moving in together and bloody housework

Going from living at home to living together actually saved us money. We spent practically every night in the pub when we lived at home. Since we moved in together the pub we went to has closed so I can only presume we were financing it. Anyways it is a big step. You wake up together, go to sleep together, you there, their there. It’s pretty intense. But I’ve found it a good laugh. Obviously we drew straws for house work jobs. Thankfully I didn’t end up in bathroom duty as going elbows deep in toilets is not my thing. Give me a vacuum and an iron all day long. We’ve maintained our roles since the early days and it’s gone ok. Of course I don’t clean to her high standards and I cannot argue back with out the dettol spray coming flying back at my head but it works and the jobs get done.

Getting married

I popped the question after asking her father for his daughters hand in marriage. He was pretty eager to hand her over! The wedding plans went well. I stayed out of it unless asked to engage. When I did try to assist I was told to stay out and my ideas were often dismissed. Despite 4 threats of cancelling the wedding, I did eventually go through with it. I couldn’t do that to her she had worked so hard (it might have been the other way round). Anyhow we got down the aisle said the ‘I do’ s’ and cracked on with life. Not much changed. We still argue, we still laugh. The only difference is if she divorces me I get half and she owns far more than me so I’ve got her there.

Having kids.

The decision was made to add to our family at a wedding. Caught up in the romance and euphoria I leant over to the wife and said ‘now then sausage how about we pull the goalkeeper and see where that takes us?’ How could she say no. I had imagined that over the next months or so I would have discovered why Duracell bunnies have such a good rep. It actually didn’t take long and before we knew it we were now pregnant. 9 months later Flo popped out and we now had someone to keep alive. I don’t think a relationship gets tested as much as when kids come along. Everything becomes more intense. The happiness, the joy, the anxiety and stress. You laugh together more and cry together more. The arguments seem to get more dramatic as you now have witnesses hanging around all the time. We’ve had to watch it because we are a slightly firery sweary couple who have a parrot for a daughter so any ‘fucks’ or ‘buggers’ will defiently be repeated. Then we added another and this changed things again. Where once we might had squeezed 5 minutes together when Flo was asleep, we are now lucky if we manage to give each other a 5 five in the morning or before bed. But its all magic and well worth it.

So there is a little snippet into mine and mother freckles relationship. 5 years of marriage, 9 years of being together and 12 years of knowing each other.

Not always perfect but always eventful.

Much love

Daddy Freckle