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Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Secret Diary of a Baby - The Universal Truths of Having an Older Sibling

Imagine if babies could talk, or write savage diaries about how hard it is being a second rate citizen subject to the torture of their older siblings. Well wonder no longer, because I found my baby's diary and it made for horrific reading..

Dear diary. At 9 months of age, I have a select vocabulary of “mama” “dada” and a peculiar “get the fuck away from me” grunt that I reserve for my older sibling.

I literally can’t WAIT until I can walk. It means I’m one step closer to being able to slam a door like he does. It looks (and sounds) so god damn satisfying.

I barely got anything for my first Christmas from my parents. A £1 toy lizard from Poundsavers and a few clothes from the H&M sale that I watched you buy me? REALLY DAD? And HE gets a Scalextric? What the fuck?!

Worst of all, on Christmas Day, that idiot brother of mine decided he liked my lizard more than anything else he got, and proceeded to tail-slap and taunt me with it while I crawled after him. Talk about a 101 lesson in how to enrage and distress a baby, I’VE GOT MENTAL SCARS HERE PEOPLE. 

And what’s with baby toys? No interest, pal. Instead, when he leaves it lying around I get a god damn SWORD, motherfucker! And the giant Bruder crane lorry for 3 year olds and above is siiick!
Hold up, what the fuck, I was clearly playing with that. Alone. And you came in here and took it away from me for no reason because you are an arsehole. And now you’re damn near strangling me with the rope whoa whoa whoa this is not cool. Abort abort ABORT. 

(No idea why I keep saying fuck, but I can’t stress to you how stressful it is having an older sibling.)

Parents keep talking to him about his “reward chart” but meanwhile I’m sat here wondering why don’t I get a chart? I need a mini break in the Algarve for the shit I have to put up with.

And what’s this LEGO stuff with all the little pieces, why does dad keep having kittens whenever I go near it? I’m fucking teething here man, throw me a bone!

Bathtime is just plain nasssty. I’m sat here trying not to drown while this hippopotamus oaf keeps grabbing me like I’m a girl at a gypsy wedding.

You know what also pisses my bottle? Mother and father carry my nappies around in a rucksack and not a proper baby changing bag. I’m not a second rate citizen you know! Stop acting like you’ve got parenting nailed. I deserve a change bag FFS.

And why does HE get all the new clothes? This is bullshit!

Don’t even get me started on the dirty ass Maclaren stroller you carted me around in. Grubby as fuck. Did you even bother to clean it? Such a huge relief when my dear grandparents bought me a swanky new one, out of shame. No question, it was the best day of my life. Love you, Nana and Grandpa. Can’t fake this shit, I cried real tears of joy. 

When you change my nappy it’s bad enough, but when that boy loses his shit because he hasn’t seen my poo it’s the final humiliation. I AM BETTER THAN THIS. I AM NOT A SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT.

Good news though. I’ve just learned how to climb the stairs. Up there is where all the good shit is! And my bed. Dear God how I need my bed. 

OK. Gotta go “play the game” for a bit. They keep telling me about this “See Boobies” thing on the big window and how my brother used to “love” this freak called Mr Tumble. Clearly the man is deeply unhinged but whatevs, I’ll smile and nod.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Newsflash: Having a Second Child is HARD!

People have been asking me recently, why haven't I posted any blogs lately? My last one was in March 2017.

The truth is, what can I possibly write that accurately portrays how fucking weird the last year has been.

Nothing prepares you for two kids.


...Especially if your eldest owns a pair of handcuffs!

Don't get me wrong, I actively support the notion of having more than one kid, I am overjoyed to be a dad again.

He's absolutely delightful! I'm totally smitten with the boy.

But it's hard.


At times you can question your own mental health.

And, when I drop the eldest off at school I sometimes look around and wonder why the same people smile like they're not finding this difficult at all. They warmly greet other people, as they trundle their ready made five-a-side team of angelic oompa loompas through the gates.

But I'm just there thinking, "Mate, are you OK? How the fuck are you OK? How can you smile like this?!"

What I've learnt from the last 9 months:

I know it's easy for some families, and having another child can be a breeze.

I respect that, I really do.

But also I know first hand that people can't compute how you could possibly be finding parenting hard. And I consider myself quite an open person. If I don't know you that well and you ask me how I am, I'll give you an honest answer.

In those first months of parenting, I remember confiding once in someone that I was finding it tough. I was worried by how Charlie was reacting to the new arrival, that he was a bit rough, and I was scared he might hurt the baby. Their face dropped like I'd just said the worst thing in the world.

How could I possibly think that my boy was finding it hard that he wasn't the centre of attention, and might have a little bit of ill feeling towards his brother?

What an insane thing to say. How unkind! How shocking!

Yep. It deeply pisses me off when someone is judgmental like that.

You have to be careful who you confide in, especially if they're a gossip.

The truth is, if you have another kid, the chances are your eldest is not going to react well to it. Shit is about to get real.

It's like being the Marketing Director of Kronenbourg 1664, and telling Eric Cantona you don't think he is the face of Kronenbourg any more, while Zinedine Zidane laughs in his face.

That sort of conversation is going to end BADLY.

It's like being a collective of Moroccan couscous farmers who've invited Ainslie Harriott on an all expenses paid vacation to Marrakech, only to tell him you're not comfortable with his face being used so extensively in British supermarkets on packets of your little steaming balls of crushed wheat. And then Jamie Oliver walks out, smirking, from behind a curtain.

Ainslie's ever present smile is going to drop and he is going to go absolutely mental.

Words of warning:

There's a chance when you have a second kid that your experience is going to be a tough one. Introducing a baby into your home is potentially going take a long time, especially while balancing other things like work, lack of sleep, moving house, settling your eldest (let's call him Ainslie) into his first year of school.

That in itself is big, no one prepares you for that, for the tiredness when little Ainslie gets home and is god damn beside himself with hunger, fatigue and quite often indescribable rage from feeling so tired.

But the good news is it gets better.

After weeks and months of pulling your hair out with stress, and fatigue, everyone including Ainslie will adapt.

9 months in, my eldest accepts that when baby goes to bed it's a chance to binge watch Cbeebies while waiting for his turn, and he loves that.

Now he's obsessed with his baby brother and tells us he loves him!

Watching them interact and laugh with each other is heart-melting, it reminds you that even in the most difficult day-from-hell moments, having two kids is the best thing ever.

I know I've been negative in this post but let me just set the record straight. It is totally worth it!

I think we've all come a long way as a family during this time and we've all learnt something about ourselves, and if you're doing it too, or are about to have another baby, I hope you find these words reassuring in some way!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Man up, man down.

On paternity leave and when your wife is recovering from a C-section it's important to be present and care for her at all times!

So today, as I clutched a Hot Wheels stunt builder kit and made my way down the stairs with its 'frustration free' Amazon packaging in my other hand I instantly became my own stunt dad, sliding down the stairs with a cacophony of bumps and an almighty smash of my arm on the bannister.

Yes. As my arse bounced down those steps I truly knew what it must be like to be a Beyoncé impersonator at a traveller wedding. It felt like I was getting grabbed and shaken roughly by an intoxicated man with a penchant for bare knuckle fist fights, and his intentions towards me were to give me a night I wouldn't forget.

"Harry? Are you OK? Can you hear me?" The voice of the person recovering from an invasive abdominal operation said.

I groaned loudly.

"Harry? I'm coming up."

She arrived, with adorable baby Leo in one arm. "Deep breaths. I'll get you some water. Deep breaths."

Leo this morning. I'm glad I wasn't carrying him at the time.

I showed her my arm. "Look, it's got a massive bump on it. That doesn't look right, does it."

In my mind, I started to picture a glorious gladiatorial fracture, with bone jutting out, pushing at the skin. Perhaps blood would spurt out in a fine mist, if this were directed by Ridley Scott.

"Deep breaths."

I followed her downstairs and lay on the sofa. 

"How much does it hurt?"

"I don't know, I'm feeling a lot of adrenaline at the moment. I should get it checked out."

She agreed it looked bad, and I called the local surgery. The news was that I'd probably need an X-ray but the nearest hospital was 25 minutes away.

"You'll have to get a taxi won't you?" She said.

"I don't want to pay for a taxi, we've got all these people who've offered you help so can't we ask them?"

I began frantically reeling off a shortlist of "women who might be morally obliged to give a lift to their friend's idiot husband who fell down the stairs and is supposed to be looking after his wife."

She agreed on my top two names, hand selected by me based on their current employment status. This was easy. I have many years of experience in recruitment, and was confident in my shortlist of candidates. The first person we rang answered the phone and immediately accepted the taxi job. Hashtag: nailed it.

In the car we made pleasant small talk. Ability to make non awkward small talk was one of the other ranking criteria in my taxi driver shortlist. As she drove, I made enquiries about her new relationship that I have heard about through my wife. I was even able to recount the detail about how he hadn't made a move on their second date, despite it being at her house. This helped the conversation to flow easily.

She dropped me off at the hospital and I was seen quickly by a grumpy triage nurse in the A&E department.

"Hello, I fell down the stairs." I thought I would keep my introduction cheerful and to the point.

"On a scale of 1-10, how much does it hurt?"

At this point I began to panic. This was definitely a three on the scale, paracetamol was helping me through the hard times.

"Five," I lied.

She scribbled something along the lines of "If his arm is broken, I'll dance naked on top of a harpsichord" on her piece of paper and told me to go to the next room.

I then spoke to a GP who played with my arm a bit and said I'd need an X-ray. 

The Radiologist twisted my arm on the table and at this point it was hurting a lot. He did his work and ominously told me they would discuss my results back in A&E.

The GP who I'd seen earlier ushered me into his room. His face was grave.

"It's all OK. No break. You've got yourself a baton injury."

He then explained what this was, and mimed being a rioter defending himself against a policeman hitting him with a truncheon.

"We get these a lot," He added.

"I'll put a plaster on it."

"Oh that's OK, no plaster necessary!" I responded awkwardly:

"No no, it's what we do, to avoid you getting dust in it."

Feeling quite silly, I let him patch me up with a hospital issue plaster.

"Can I see my X-ray?" I asked.


He then took me to a computer and I looked at my arm from several angles in its unbroken glory.

"Can I take a picture?"

"Erm... I'd rather you didn't."
With the last shred of my dignity, I ordered a large latte from Costa on my way out of the hospital and waited for my taxi. (Thanks! You know who you are!)

Monday, 19 December 2016

Conversations with a hitchhiker and a three year old

We saw her at the side of the road, she was maybe in her fifties, I'd say. Didn't seem like a mass murderer, she had a kind face. We instantly both agreed we should give her a lift.

Neither of us had ever picked up a hitchhiker so in my head I was thinking just act normal, there's nothing weird about this. So that's what we did, and started making small talk. How often did she hitchhike? Very often, she loved it, loved meeting nice people, and so on and so forth.

But it wasn't long before Charlie got involved, he was fascinated by this stranger on the back seat and was determined not to ignore the burning questions so he went straight for the jugular.

"Why's that woman got a sign?" He said, pointing at her sign.

"It's a sign for Bristol."

"Why you got that?"

"It's so that when someone sees it and they want to give me a lift they can stop and pick me up."

"Stop and pick me up," He whispered under his breath. That's what he does when computing complex equations or things adults say. It's his way of learning, whispering the last few words of a sentence.

"Are you a woman?"

"Yes, I am," Was the response. And the interrogation went a bit like that.

We found out she was very spiritual and believed in absolute kindness and good being something that will defeat any evil. She lived in Glastonbury and was part of a spiritual group called the Cathars, and she thinks there are only 110 of them in the world. I found out that the closest religion to theirs was Buddhism.

But naturally, the boy in the back kept interrupting. He couldn't help himself!

"What's that woman gonna do when we get to Bristol?"

"I don't know. I haven't really got a plan." She said.

The two were extremely interested in each other and he took great pleasure in learning an important new word, hitchhiker. She told him a story about how she hadn't realised her sign was upside down once, so people must have wondered where Lotsirb was.

Meanwhile, she was looking at him with adoration like he was the human embodiment of everything she believed in, spiritually. Innocence, goodness and purity. He had the whole package that day, confidently identifying a New Holland tractor one minute and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in his sweetest voice the next.

We weren't sure what to do when we got to Bristol, as she didn't know who she would meet, where she would go, or what she would do. What are you supposed to do with that info, as a taxi driver?

In the end I suggested maybe Charlie should decide where we dropped her off and she agreed that would be a good idea.

"Let's drop the lady off at the zoo, and then we will go and see the animals."

So that's what happened. We waved goodbye and wished each other a merry Christmas while this lovely lady wandered off to I-don't-know-where.

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

How to start vaping, quit cigarettes, and where to buy your juice.

Do you even vape bro James Bond meme smoking Sean Connery

It’s no secret that vaping is commonplace now. A recent survey by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) estimated that there are now 2.8 million people in the UK who use an electronic cigarette, up from 700,000 in 2012. It’s a vapers' revolution out there.

And if you’re reading this, the chances are that you smoke. But if you’re like me, you worry too, you worry will you ever stop? Will you get cancer? Will you die young and leave your kids behind? It’s frightening stuff - horrible to think about.

Truth is, none one of us smokers are ever proud of being addicted to something so clinically proven to be harmful to our health. And I’ve been sat on this blog for ages. It’s kind of embarrassing really, I’m fine with talking about a baby’s mustard-seed faeces dripping down my wrist, or a toddler’s todger dragging around a germ infested toilet rim while I look on in horror, but smoking is a more taboo subject. As a parent, it's often the elephant in the room.

And yet despite all this, I have for many years had less willpower than a baboon in a banana plantation when it came to ignoring my cravings. I genuinely felt like it was an impossible task to stop. So I needed something to help me - a crutch.

And that's how I started vaping...

So here's a review of the Coolfire IV Plus and a selection of the best places to buy e-liquid in the UK. Otherwise known as, a fairly idiot proof guide to quitting cigarettes and start vaping instead.

FACT: many smokers have tried an electronic cigarette without success.

Back in about 2013 I tried and I lasted about a week before I stopped, maybe you can relate to my reasons:
  • The device was faulty, and leaked.
  • I didn’t feel like I was getting enough of a throat hit.
  • It just wasn’t as satisfying as smoking. There wasn't enough 'smoke'.
  • The vapour didn’t taste as good as I had hoped.
So after that bad experience, it took another 3 years until I tried it again. This time, I was determined to get it right.

I locked myself in a bunker of research, because that's what I do whenever I'm buying something important. I read every review I can find until I'm reassured the thing I'm buying isn't crap!

FACT: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I knew I had to get the right device in order to give myself a head start.

After reading hundreds of reviews I whittled the shortlist down to the Coolfire IV Plus (with an I Sub G tank), and I bought the whole starter kit online, consisting of the mod (battery) and tank (where you put your juice) for £40.

Coolfire IV box mod with iSub G tank
Box mod with iSub G tank - it screws into it.

I thought that was a good price. It was an investment but also gave me confidence that this piece of kit meant business.

Then I found this video review on YouTube

...And when I saw the clouds of vape the guy was chugging out, I was completely sold. He gave it a very good review too. Check it out.

Pro tip: Fast-forward to 8:00 to see how much cloud it produces. I’ve been using it for about 3 months, and I love it!

So now that I've been using it for 3 months, here's my review of the Coolfire IV Plus...

  1. The battery can last a full day (and even a night out) on a full charge.
  2. Produces a decent, satisfying cloud that staves off my nicotine urges, but is moreish and enjoyable at the same time.
  3. The iSub G tank is economical, it doesn’t drink as much juice as other tanks.
  4. A tank can make a vast difference in the amount of money you’ll spend every month on e-liquid. Think of them like cars, the bigger the engine the more petrol it drinks.
  5. For example, some tanks like the Aspire Cleito are popular, but they guzzle juice faster than a toddler at a trestle table.
  6. I went for the black version, it looks discreet, fits in my pocket too.
  7. But it also comes in a range of colours to suit your tastes.
  8. I’ve had hardly any issues with leaks. Leaking can be a real problem when you vape. If your tank is even slightly faulty, it can be a real headache. But this has now been dropped multiple times and taken abroad and still doesn’t leak, apart from ever so slightly now and then.
  9. I only need to change the coil every week or so, and the process of changing it is very easy. N.B. The coil is a small part that slots into the tank to produce the vapour. These eventually ‘burn out’ and need to be replaced when that happens.
  10. Coils are pretty cheap, I buy 10 for around £10 online, and that’s at least a 2 month supply. I use the 0.5 ohm coils, but you can also get 0.2 ohm ones. A 0.5 ohm coil means the device is safe and comfortable firing the coil at a wattage between 20-30W and in my opinion that's all you need for a satisfying smoking sensation.
Coolfire IV battery in white, black, blue and red - all colours available
Battery comes in a range of colours, (N.B. that's not the Isub G tank pictured.)

  1. No major cons, apart from once or twice where it has mildly leaked a little. This goes with the territory in vaping, I’ve had massive leakage with the Aspire Cleito tank. So when I compare it to that, it’s nothing to worry about.
  2. Would I like it to produce more clouds? It’s like asking a millionaire if they want more money. Yes of course, but on the flipside, I’m used to what it gives me, and satisfied with it. I don’t want to be that guy who walks around town chugging out ostentatious clouds and generally being a bit of a public nuisance.

Overall review
This is a fantastic, reliable piece of kit. The battery life is decent, and the smoking experience is second to none, especially if you’ve never tried a sub Ohm tank before. Many of the first e-cigarettes on the market were quite tame really, they’d never give you the throat hit or clouds you wanted. But sub Ohm tanks are what give you the sensation of a satisfying smoke!

I infinitely prefer this to smoking, and I’ve gone back and had a few roll ups on nights out but hated it. As soon as I got it, and started puffing on it, I was in love, because of the volume of vape it produces. It’s a bit like having a shisha.

I’m very happy with the Coolfire IV Plus and am in no hurry to upgrade it. Amazing for £40 and there are others that are a lot more expensive – but you can always move onto them if you try this and decide you like it!

Overall rating

And once you've got your device, that's when the fun really starts.

...Juice shopping!

Ned Stark meme - one does not simply walk into a vape shop and buy nothing - juice joke

Without nice e-juice your device is useless!

So here's my guide to buying e-liquids online – where are the cheapest places to buy the best tasting liquids in the UK, and what to look for...

Quick aside: it’s worth walking into a vape shop, showing them what kit you have and let them recommend you some liquids, and you can try a few of them in the store and work out what you like. Many people tend to be drawn to 'cake' flavours, but if you're like me I prefer the fruity ones (ooh, vicar!)

That’s a good thing to do when you start out as a vaper, you want to make sure you love the taste of it. By trying it in the shop you’re minimising your own risk and going to be less likely to stray back towards the cigs. It’s more expensive that way, but worth doing to get you started on the road to quitting cigs!

What you also need to know when selecting juice is PG / VG content.

With a device like the Coolfire IV plus, you should be aiming for something like a 60% or 70% VG content, this gives you more clouds and less harshness on the throat, but any higher than that it isn’t suited to the Isub G tank, it can clog up the coil because the more VG it has, the thicker the liquid becomes. Likewise, the higher the PG, the harsher it's going to be. If you've got 60% or 70% VG it's a good balance - powerful vapour production, and not too much throat hit. Perfect!
What nicotine percentage should you go for?

All the advice I ever had from anyone in shops and online was that starting out with a tank like the i Sub G, 6mg nicotine is more than enough. Don't be fooled by going higher than that, because liquids with 12 or even 18mg of nicotine aren't designed for devices like this.

After a lot of trial and error I’ve found these websites to be the best suppliers in the UK.

If money is no object

Vapeclub www.vapeclub.com

Vapeclub website - staff picks, best e-juices or e-liquids to buy
The service was quick, always got the juice next day, and I think it’s a good company. They import most of the gourmet liquids from all over the world to bring it to the UK so this is a place where you can spend a lot of money quickly if you aren’t careful!

You can try award winning liquids from the USA, France, Canada etc, so there’s a lot they do that’s pretty cool. But you’d look at them as being like the Harrods of the vaping community, if that makes sense.

I started off buying from Vapeclub and went a bit mental on shopping sprees because I thought the reviews written by customers always made the juice sound so good that I wanted it all. I especially like the ‘staff picks’ section.

However, if I’m being critical, they need to drop their prices a bit, it makes it hard to justify buying e-liquid from them in the long term. It’s nice as a treat, but not sustainable.

It’s a shame, because I like the company, and their website is a whole load of fun to browse. When you’ve ordered you really look forward to that vapemail arriving! It’s like you’ve been just food shopping in Harrods. Sounds sad, but it’s true.

If you’re on a budget and still want great liquid

Rejuiced www.rejuiced.com
I was blown away, these guys were awesome and I liked it that they are a UK based manufacturer. First of all I did the ’10 flavours for £14.99’  100ml sample box, on the strength of the reviews. I was pleasantly surprised, because the taste was as good as many of the premium liquids I’d tried beforehand through Vapeclub.

Rejuiced selection of cheap gourmet juices for sale on their website

Bear in mind that 30ml of a premium liquid can be as much as £15, this is a great deal – you’re getting 10 flavours AND 100ml! If you’re not bothered about sexy packaging and ‘brands’ then you’ve got outstanding juice here that is as good as any gourmet stuff you can buy on the market.

I loved the selection box, and now I’ve had a chance to try flavours that weren’t in the box, these are my favourites of them all.

• Beach fruits
• Orange cream
• Blood orange
• Strawberry slush
• Pear drops
• Big mamas milk(!)

I could go into detail about why I like these flavours, but that’s probably best for another blog.

Also have a look at:

LiQuid - http://www.onepoundeliquid.com/

I’ve only ordered off them once but it does what it says on the tin, gives you a range of liquids for £1 a bottle, so you can try the ones you like the look of without breaking the bank.

Tangerine flavour e-juice by LiQuid - cheapest juice online in the UK by onepoundeliquids

I have to say that their tangerine flavour is the mutt’s nuts, one of the most moreish juices I’ve ever tried, and I WILL be making a lot of repeat order!

Finally, you might be reading this thinking, well, chump, you quit cigarettes and replaced it with something that is still addictive and potentially dangerous!

This is true, however I’m definitely spending less money per month.

I’ve also now lowered the nicotine content in my vape to 3mg. At some point I’ll feel ready to go down to 0mg of nicotine. A part of me is dreading that, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.

I won’t lie though, the honest truth is that vaping is a lot of fun, and it’s relaxing. There is still a lot we don’t know about the dangers of it, but when I compare it to the known dangers of smoking tobacco, I feel a lot better. I’ve noticed it in my lungs too, I’m feeling more fit, able to breathe easier and like my lung capacity has gone up.

So overall, 3 months into the journey of being a non smoker, I’m in a massively better place than I used to be. I feel like I’m a different person and I'm also saving money. Most importantly I'm getting to a place where I could soon shut down my nicotine cravings completely.

Volcano cloud vape meme - dude we get it you vape
Yeah, I know, I'll shut up now!

If you’ve got this far in the blog you deserve some sort of medal – so it must be a sign you’re committed to this and want to make a change. Good luck and I hope this helps you.

Please share it if you found it useful and I’d love to know your comments!
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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Veni, vidi, vici

I pulled into the car park, heart racing and told him we were here. The iconic building loomed ahead.

"Look! It's blue!"

"No I like blue, you can't have blue, you can only have light blue." He replied.

We were here, and I was strangely excited to try out the gourmet nosh. I'd heard it spoken about in whispered tones before, almost reverently. This place was going to be good. Yes, I felt like A. A. Gill marching in ready to sniff at the wine list and dissect the menu until I was satisfied, albeit with a toddler under one arm.

We got in, and had a quick pit stop at the gents. I always love those moments, because people must enjoy eavesdropping on the weird conversations coming from the next cubicle, when a toddler's high pitched voice comments on a stream of urine his father is jettisoning towards the porcelain god.

Finally we were done, navigating the hand washing rigmarole that goes with it. A mild tantrum because he couldn't operate the cold tap and then when he repeatedly kept walking towards the urinals and threatening to touch them. Strange child. Stop!

"Do you want to eat now, or go round the shop?"

"Eat now."

So in we went. First of all I was struck by a feeling of how nice it actually was, the dining area. But then I saw the queue. A queue? In this place? Surely not. But there was, and it was massive. It dawned on me that when there's a queue it means there's something good at the end. The people all had a sort of grim look, like prisoners waiting for their meal.

A lot of hangry people in here, I thought. But the signs with the pictures of the food were so tantalising.

If you haven't guessed where we were yet, this was IKEA in Bristol! He was all over the Swedish meatballs, and I was annoyed because I wanted those, but I can't order the same thing as him, it's deeply ingrained on my psyche to never, ever have the same as my dining companion. So that was it. I was going to have the fish and chips.

The next couple of minutes in the queue I tried to talk him into having the fish and chips, knowing I'd get the big portion of meatballs and then be able to give him some of my spares, but he was having absolutely none of it. So I was confined to F&C like some chump who got the butt end of the stick.

Again, people must have thought we were very odd in the queue while all this was going on. It was like a hostage negotiation that I knew I was going to lose.

Then I noticed people taking these weird trolleys. How very Swedish, I thought. Innovative, and I'd never seen this type of trolley the same length and width of a tray, but it made sense. If they gave it an IKEA name it would be something like TRIPPLDEKKER, retailing at £29.99.

Decisions decisions. All the puddings were laid out, and I was having a tough gig working out whether to have apple pie or Daim cake. He decided we would have the cake, and that was that. I lifted him up to choose which one, hoping he would go for the ones with the thicker chocolate on the top, but he didn't. Oh well.

We gave our food orders and paid, and then ate like kings. Who knew that the mushroomy sauce with the meatballs could be so good? Or the mash to have a little spice to it. That Daim cake though. So good. Not what I expected either, I thought it would be hard and crunchy, but ended up with a soft bite and caramel explosion. What a banger.

I remember thinking I was enjoying this day out, but also that I was in a minority. There were very few dads. It was either young couples about the embark on their new lives together, or squawking families.

I looked around me in the restaurant. Clearly this is a thing. People were there like they'd been eating here for years. Everyone looked like they were loving life. Well most of them, there was one mum, with a three year old strapped to her back, a newborn, and a five year old. I had it easy with just one kid, I thought.

And later, as we bashed each other with giant soft toy pencils that vaguely resembled male genitalia I was reminded how great it is to have one day a week devoted to being a dad. (I work 4 days a week).

I felt privileged to enjoy this time alone with him. The mighty IKEA experience; the nosh of kings. We came, we saw, we conquered.

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Saturday, 8 October 2016

Cool AW16 clothes for boys - tops and sweatshirts edit

Every season I like to look at all the cool clothes coming out for kids. So I've trawled the net, and here's some of the best stuff you can buy for the autumn winter season 2016 for toddlers / younger boys. 

Here we go, in no particular order these all caught my eye.
A fashion edit to suit all budgets...

'Automobili Lamborghini' T shirt. £38 on Child's Play Clothing.
I didn't know Lamborghini did clothes, but this is a fantastic print with the trademark bull. The orange on the navy blue makes it really jump out. Simple, but cool. This is one of those days I wish I was filthy, stinking rich.


'Tom and Jerry' printed sweatshirt. £9.99 by H&M.
I haven't seen any Tom & Jerry stuff in a long time but this is iconic and love the way the blue of the sweatshirt frames their faces and the logo really nicely.


'Lightning Bolt' T shirt. £28 by Paul Smith
If you have the cash to splash, I love the detailing of the different colours inside the bolts. Not that your kid will notice.


'Dog' embroidered pocket top, £3.99 by Zara Kids.
This is a winner, and comes in several colours. Zara Kids is one of my favourite shops because it's so affordable, and this season doesn't disappoint. I want it all!


'Mickey Mouse' long sleeved top, £9.99 by Zara Kids.
Love this one, and it even says 'Mickey Rock Star' on the back in a nice font. I wouldn't normally spend this much on a T shirt for a toddler, but it's tempting.


'Geometric' printed plush sweater. £9.99 by Zara Kids.
Unusual and cool. I'm loving the different shapes and how it's like they are potato prints done by a kid.


'Musical notes' long sleeved T shirt, £4.99 by Zara Kids
Each of the notes is like a band member. Cool. I've really got to get off the Zara website before I spend a fortune, but it's full of great stuff, I'm never disappointed.


'I need my own space' long sleeved top, £3.99 by Zara Kids.
Really good price on this one, you know it's going to be good quality, and there's nice detailing with the 'catstronaut' and rocket patch.


'Tiger' cotton jumper. £6.99 by H&M.
It's a bold print, just like the toddler who will be wearing it. You can't really argue when there's a cool jumper at this price. Love this one.


'Champions' sweatshirt. £6, by Matalan.
You can't tell in the picture, but the material is really cool, kind of gauzy, it looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is. Retro and classy, this one. Proper Americana, the way it should be.


'Hello' T shirt, $19.99, by Threadless.
When Lionel Richie and Where's Wally join forces, you know you're onto a winner.
Threadless is based in America. I've ordered from them before and they have unique designs by artists and graphic designers from all over the world. These then get made into phone cases, clothes and all sorts. You can get this in hoodie format or an adult's T shirt. It's a great website, check it out.


'Karl face' top, £36 on Child's Play Clothing.
I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about this Karl Lagerfeld one, but there's something mesmerising about it, and it's definitely a conversation starter!


'DJ bad boy' sweater, Karl Lagerfeld, £51 on Child's Play Clothing.
I could never justify spending this amount of money on a jumper that I know could be trashed by a toddler in seconds, but it's like it a lot. If your son's name is Karl, then even better, it would be a great present.


'Lion' sweatshirt. £9.99 by H&M.
Love this one. I featured one of their lion T shirts in my last round up, and this one doesn't disappoint either. A very cool print.

Hope you've enjoyed this fashion edit. Please share it if you did.

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