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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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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The kids are not alright.

Picture of Bedminster Skate park in Bristol

This is a difficult post to write. It's about society.

Last week I took my son to a skate park in Bristol. Bedminster skate park to be precise. This is right next to a family play park.

He loves being on his balance bike, and I knew this one was big, so he'd have plenty of places to ride.

We got there during the afternoon and it was empty. He had the best time ever, riding fast down the long slope, and then walking his bike up to the top of the hill so he could do it all over again.

It was 15 minutes of father and son heaven on a sunny day.

But then a big group of teenage boys showed up. They started loudly talking, or should I say shouting at each other, all macho. C bombs, F bombs, even a stab bomb. Lad banter. Talking about bitches and fam, and openly smoking a joint.

15 metres away from a three year old boy, and his dad.

It depressed me, it made my blood boil and the hairs on the back of my neck rise up in fury. I wanted to be a scary badass dad who just walked over and said something so violently they ran away, or even just apologised. 

I'd walk on over like Liam Neeson in Taken to give them a bollocking, ready to break necks with swift hand movements if it came to it. I'd say something like this.

"One day, some of you will be dads. And you won't want your kid to see or hear ANY of what I've just had to listen to."

But in this day and age, anything can happen. They were aggressive. Troubled. 

Father, 34, stabbed in skate park, in front of his son. Would that be my headline?

So I said to the kid, gently, "It's going to be time to sleep soon. You must be tired!"

"Oh! But I love being here! I want to stay longer!"

"OK. Just one more go."

And down the ramp he went, turning his bike in a circle with the noise of his feet in the concrete skidding him back towards the ramp again. Laughing, smiling, unaware. 

"Again, again. One more time."

"OK. But be quick."

And he did. The shouting, swearing and showing off continued nearby.

"Time to go. The naughty man might put a ticket on our car."

I scooped him up in my arms, and off we went.

As I got to the car nearby a woman staggered out of a shop, yelling, and went over to another car right by ours.

Incoherent through drugs and her own life troubles she just shouted at the driver inside who wasn't letting her in for whatever reason. She used terrible language, oblivious that this was a street where families lived, or just not giving a single F bomb.

I got him in the car. I tried to be cheerful, I said, "That woman was a bad woman. She was shouting in the street. It was very rude of her to do that. We don't like people who shout like that."

"I don't ever want to be like that woman. I want to be like you, dad."

Kind words, son.

I don't know what the point of this post is really, other than to say when I grew up I was respectful of other people. I cared if people thought I was out of order, or a nuisance. 

What does this say about the society we live in now? Have you experienced it too?

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Sunday, 2 October 2016

#DotsRaiseLots for RNIB.

My own dad, now sadly passed away, lost his eye when he was a kid to a toy bow and arrow. It affected him greatly in his early life and he was bullied about it. He used to joke that as a fast bowler his glass eye would sometimes pop out and land on the cricket pitch during his more ferocious deliveries! He never complained, but it must have been hard living the majority of his life with one eye.

So it goes without saying, I’m really excited to be working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People! RNIB is the leading UK charity supporting people with sight loss.

Making bead bracelets to raise money for RNIB - dots raise lots

You’ll soon start to see the hashtag #DotsRaiseLots and it’s because braille has an extremely positive impact on the lives of the people the charity works closely with.

It’s a brilliant idea for a fundraising campaign because there are so many fun activities you can do with dots as a theme. You could even host a bead bracelet making party like we did…

If you’d like to get involved, here are some top tips: https://www.rnib.org.uk/dots-raise-lots

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Passive aggression at a party by the Unlikely Dad - The DadRage Club™

I realised that I spend a lot of time writing about my inner dad rage demons, so I recently asked for other furious fathers out there to send me their tales of paternal anger management for a series on this site called The DadRage Club™.

Tom at The Unlikely Dad hasn't disappointed with this story!

Tom, with his son Kai.
I'm a very relaxed guy. I don't like aggression and I steer away from any drama. I just don't have the time or energy for it. Simple life, please! But if the right buttons are pushed, it can be a different story.

Being a dad hasn't really changed my attitude much. If anything, it's given me more reason to chill and just accept things. Like that my son is of course going to make a huge mess with his morning porridge all over my just-steamed floor or pull other children's hair and slap them in the face... we've all been on the receiving end of a kid punch haven't we?

However... my internal calm was slightly disjointed recently.

We were at my best friend's daughter's 3rd birthday party. It was in their garden with sand pits, play house, a slide, magic garden trail... kids everywhere basically!

My boy is 2 and a half and very active, you don't get a minutes peace. During the party I couldn't find him for a minute so I searched the play house. I found him in there with a set of triplet girls (oh god... already having flash forwards to 16 years time!!) All three girls were wearing prescription glasses and I saw him holding a pair. The girl he had taken them from was just sat there looking at him. I politely asked him to give them back. He did. And that was that. Or so I thought...

Later on in the party I saw the same girl (or maybe it was one of the other 2? I really couldn't tell) again just sat stationary as he had hold of a pair of glasses. I certainly don't encourage such behaviour but also accept this is all very age appropriate. Before I could get to him I saw that he was trying to snap them. And the triplet's dad swooped on in there, got on my son's level and pointed at him and told him off. 'NO... leave those!!' He said, in a voice you knew he used to tell his own daughters off.

Inside, I exploded with rage. Then I remembered where I was and who I was. No way was I going to make a scene at my best friend's house on such a lovely day. But I marched over, picked my son up and said 'Hey hey hey what's going on here?'

The dad was acting all nonchalant like he hadn't said anything (maybe my super-extra-macho sudden appearance scared him?? Maybe not...) It may have been wrong/childish but I refused to apologise and just explained the usual 'oh you know, it's all age appropriate' and 'boys will be boys' and that luckily there was no damage. All I really wanted to say was "Maybe tell your girls to take back their glasses next time, they are almost twice his age...!" Did they think my son was some kind of scary giant towering over them stealing their glasses? (That may explain why they froze in fear). If it happens again, girls... just take your glasses back.

It definitely played on my mind a little afterwards. Purely because I would never have it in my mind to speak to another person's child in that way. But I also have to empathise with the dad. He has had to fork out for three (if not six?) pairs of glasses for his beautiful daughters. No way is he letting a little monster break them! I get it, it's not cheap raising these babies.

Our kids are our angels. But we aren't stupid... we know they mess up, we know they can be the ones biting, kicking, breaking glasses. But if you are ever tempted to discipline my child? Just don't, or next time I may just get feral.

Thanks very much for sharing Tom! And if any other dads out there would like to get involved, you can email me, dadsdiaryblog at gmail dot com!

Friday, 23 September 2016

The DadRage Club™

I realised that I have a switch that can be flicked by complete strangers to get my dad rage simmering in seconds. I used to be quite shy, but now I'm ready to flip my lid in public at a moment's notice it seems, and it all 'boils' down to wanting to protect my son from any idiot the planet offers him.

It's happened a few times, for example the incident when he was naked on the beach, in the cold and rain, and I received DisapprovingLooks™.

But I was reminded of my inner rage demon on Wednesday in London when I managed to disturb the peaceful surroundings of a Lebanese mezze restaurant near the Natural History Museum with a furious onslaught at an IdiotWhoClearlyDeservedIt™.

If you'd like to know what happened you can read this post on Facebook, and please 'like' my page if you don't already...

But the point of this blog, is that it's great to know I'm not the only angry dad out there!

So I need YOU, fellow furious father bloggers!

I am inviting you to email me your stories about your most colossal dad rage moments in history, and I will post them all as part of a series, The DadRage Club™.

Give me your best meltdown story, warts and all, tell me how you roasted a stranger who deserved it, or when you made an absolute chump of yourself in public. Hit me! Not literally please, calm down dear...

Over to you! *To the tune of Kill Bill.*

(My email is dadsdiaryblog at gmail dot com)

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Inspirational dads: an interview with a real life shaman

Imagine my shock when after writing about the curious tale of Gary the shaman 'exorcising' my childhood packed lunches, a real life shaman saw my tweet about it and said, "Cool story, bro." What are the chances of that?!

I'm fascinated by things like this, and his Twitter bio said that not only was he a shaman, but also an artist, and a gay dad. So this is how I met Daniel McIlvenny-Cox.

I thought this would be a brilliant interview, to learn more about him. Here goes...

Picture of Daniel McIlvenny-Cox, the bearded Shaman

Daniel, why are you a shaman?
I guess I should start at the beginning. I decided to become a shaman after a healing with a Peruvian shaman. I had suffered mental health issues for decades before, after a concoction of pills, hours of counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, nothing much seemed to shift the grief within me. I was always interested in alternative therapies and tried crystal healing, reiki and acupuncture too.

I decided to see a shaman. Chris Waters of Spirit of the Inca, based in Reading, is a shaman of Peruvian tradition (otherwise known as a Paqo, or Mystic). Within two hours I was skipping down the road laughing, my friends didn’t even recognise me. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

Wow! How did you learn to become an 'official' shaman then?
It took a few years for me to answer the Call, then a couple of years of training (official training anyway, because we never stop learning). For example, the Medicine Wheel, where we learn to heal our own wounds, and gain the tools to heal others.

This is Daniel McIlvenny-Cox's Mesa, a crucial tool in my healing work.  It's a bundle of sacred stones called 'Kuya', held within a holy Peruvian cloth.
This is my Mesa, a crucial tool in my healing work.  It's a bundle of sacred stones called 'Kuya', held within a holy Peruvian cloth.
The Munay Ki rites, are a set of nine sacred rites that transform your DNA at a soul level from Homo Sapiens to our future self, 10,000 years from now, Homoluminous. Shadow working, where we work, heal and listen to our shadow selves, the dark parts of our selves we are ashamed of, and the golden parts we have never claimed. And finally, working with the Mythic.

Daniel McIlvenny Cox, the Bearded Shaman, performing a sacred fire ceremony
This is me performing a sacred fire ceremony.
This is where we walk within the mythic realms, understanding our story at a mythic level. It’s intense, it’s emotional (and that's an understatement.) It’s only for the brave, it’s powerful, transfomational, beautiful and like coming home. It’s an aspect of me now.

Interesting! So what are some of the recent 'gigs' you've had?
I work with many types of people, with various issues; child abuse, domestic abuse, neglect, drug addiction, depression, soul loss, relationship issues and of course death. I would say most if not all my clients have left transformed in some way, for the better. I have done house clearings before, that’s pretty weird. Sending ‘ghosts’ home is actually quite emotional and beautiful, though sometimes it’s a little frightening. It depends on the client, and by client I mean the departed one who's stuck.

How do you advertise your services?

All of my clients come to me purely through word of mouth.

What's been your proudest shamanic moment?
Chipping away at a wall someone has created around them, seeing them come out, just for a moment, and experience freedom and light and life. When there is a breakthrough, when I open up and we share our tears together, that is when I am my proudest.

Aside from this interview, what are your most frequently asked annoying questions?
I am an adoptive dad, a gay dad, so obviously I was expecting the Spanish Inquisition when it came to being gay and wanting to adopt. At the adoption panel, being gay was not even discussed, being a shaman was. “Tell me,” one panel member asked, “when you are going into a trance like state, do you use drugs? Herbal or otherwise? And if you do, how long are you unconscious for? Where will the child be at the moment of incoherence?”
I was a little pissed at the question to be honest, more so at the lack of research and lack of consideration of asking me first. No, I don’t use drugs. Nag Champa incense is a lovely smell, but apart from Palo Santo wood which I use to clean the energy field and Aqua de Florida for blessing and cleaning, I use no drugs of any kind.

We do go into a light trance, but I am fully aware of the room etc. We shaman travel to the other world to see what’s going on in your soul, past lives, old wounding’s etc. We may use a drum, or like me, a rattle, maybe whistling.

When the whole crew has knowledge of self but still likes to get down - funny meme featuring Jesus and Shiva
...It sounds like the adoption panel was picturing a scene like this!
What's your house like? I'm curious about the house of a shaman!
I think people think I live in a dark forest, or on the edge of a mountain, a witch’s cottage full dried herbs and pickled creatures. I live near Reading in Theale, a suburban village. My husband is responsible for the look, it’s a mixture of gentleman chic and toddler bedlam. I tend to hide all his toys under the stairs when clients come a knocking!

So tell me about how you found it adopting a child?
As I said earlier, I am a gay dad, me and my partner Tom have been together for fifteen years and married for five. We decided to adopt about two years ago, we actually found the process really easy and straight forward, in total it took nine months from, “Hi, we’d like to adopt!” to, “Oh fuck, I have shit on my forehead!” so the same amount of time for a straight couple I guess.

Picture of Daniel McIlvenny-Cox the bearded shaman with his son Kai and husband Tom
(From L-R) Daniel, Kai and Tom.
Nice pic! So how old was Kai when you adopted him?
Kai was 10 months old when I first saw his profile, then 14 months when he finally arrived home.

What's he like?
He’s two and a half now and equal portions of angel and demon! Laughing one minute, crying the next. Just like me!

How have you found it, what have been the most challenging things about fatherhood?
I did a LOT of shamanic work, before and during, working with the mythic helped a lot I think. I stepped into fatherhood away from fear and loss, and the night of a fire ceremony that was held in honour of our new stories, my son was being born. That’s the power of our work.

Being a gay dad is no different from being a straight one, I was the stay at home dad for a year, it was tough, isolating, massively rewarding and something I will always remember.

Picture of Daniel McIlvenny-Cox the bearded shaman, with his son Kai
Daniel and Kai.
I think the most challenging thing I faced was that I am quite selfish. I love time to myself to Be, to meditate, to do shamanic work, see clients, write, work out, or paint.

Finding time to do even one of those things is hard, but I try to bend time, (mastery over time is another shamanic power) and I can find time to do something. Besides, my son loves to sleep, lucky me!

Tell me about your art, and your creative side.
I am a yet-to-be-published writer, I write stories that are spiritually enlightening, yet entertaining and real. For example I just finished a story about a young girl’s journey through death to transformation from child abuse to adulthood and love.

I am also an artist, again I guess the mythic and mystical is my inspiration, a lot of it is from my shamanic journeying to the under or upper worlds, they are fascinating to say the least.

Painting by Daniel McIlvenny-Cox the Bearded Shaman, of One of my ceremonial pieces, depicting Pachamama, Andean earth Goddess, with a still life of my Mesa. This is from a collection I am doing for an exhibition based on the sacred rites of passage to becoming Paqo, shaman mystic.
One of my ceremonial pieces, depicting Pachamama, Andean earth Goddess, with a still life of my Mesa. This is from a collection I am doing for an exhibition based on the sacred rites of passage to becoming Paqo, shaman mystic.
Wow, that's amazing!
I have recently struggled to class myself as an artist, I thought I was a shamanic artist, or maybe a visionary, but they didn’t sit right. I saw myself a bit like an Iconographer but I am not exactly a Christian, so after a discussion with a fellow traveller, I realised I am a ceremonial artist. I call the image to appear, I call the presence of whatever I am drawing, painting, creating, I open sacred space and it manifests itself.

But sometimes to relax I just doodle the fuck out of something!

Original art by Daniel McIlvenny-Cox, the bearded shaman. A piece depicting the healers of the world, past, present and future.
This piece depicts the healers of the world, past and present, and future.
Incredible! So if people reading this want to reach out, how can they find you?
I have yet to finish my proper website, but if you want to find me, you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest under The Bearded Shaman #thebeardedshaman - do say hi!

I love to meet new people and if you are local to the Reading or Theale area I am here as your friendly neighbourhood shaman! In Lak’etch, it means ‘I am another you’ in Quechua, the language of the Q'ero people of the Andes, the linage I am now blessed to be joined with as Paqo.

I also have a blog, if you're interested in reading it -

Thanks very much to Daniel McIlvenny-Cox for this, aka Shaman, aka Dadda.

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Saturday, 17 September 2016

Review of the JORD Sawyer luxury wooden watch. Otherwise known as the Dadgasm.

When I became a dad blogger I didn't really know what to expect, I'd write some sentimental waffle that made people laugh but potentially get some perks one day as well.

The reality is, I haven't had many perks. I've been offered plenty of chocolate teapots and electric toothpicks along the way, but I'd never had anything that made me do a toddlersqueal.

So when JORD contacted me asking me to review one of their watches, I'll be honest, I thought it was a joke. It seemed too good to be true...

I'm extremely fussy about watches. The last watch I owned was a Nixon about 10 years ago. But when I looked at the JORD website I had a serious job choosing a watch to review because they're all great.

Here are some of my favourites from the Delmar and Fieldcrest series.

Picture of JORD Delmar and Fieldcrest watches dark sandalwood and bamboo

Picture of JORD wooden fieldcrest series watches in green sandalwood and maple

I like these because they're attractively priced and would make a great Christmas gift or Father's Day present without breaking the bank too much. I like the simplicity of the design; they make a big statement with the wooden strap, and the faces still add interest where you'd get people commenting on them. These watches are more about letting the wooden strap do the talking, and there's a lot to be said for that.

But, having agonised over what watch to choose, I fell in love with the Sawyer model, in Zebrawood and Obsidian.

Picture of JORD Sawyer series luxury wooden watch with zebrawood strap and obsidian face

No doubt about it, it's a stunner.

I loved detailing on the strap with 5 lines, and different thicknesses of the links. Also, I'd never heard of this type of wood and let's be honest it looked cool. Very fracking cool, in fact. The obsidian face with all the gold details and the bold JORD lettering. Sexy!

So I eagerly sent back my email to the helpful guy there, trying not to sound too aroused in case he changed his mind.

What I liked about the service - I measured my wrist so they could remove a few links and make it perfect for me, and also I loved the automatic email I got telling me it was on its way. I've ordered a few things from the States before, and it's nice to have reassurance, and tracking to let you know where it is. What I liked about JORD's emails about the delivery was that it made me feel like ordering a wooden watch from them was a memorable event.

When it arrived...

It was presented in a beautiful wooden box, giving it a touch of class. As soon as I opened it, it was instant love, with the watch wrapped around a hessian cushion. All these details made it a unique experience.

It's barely left my wrist since.
 Here's what I love about it:-
  • It's sexy! No two ways about it. It's lovely to look at.
  • People really stare at it; I notice this happening all the time.
  • People don't just stare, they give compliments about it.
  • It feels light on my wrist.
  • It suits my fashion style. 

Wait, my fashion style?

OK that's embarrassing, you'll want me to describe this. My fashion style can be described as pretty relaxed. "Grew up in Cornwall, did a bit of skateboarding once, and when he's at work he works in a digital agency, so wears nice casual shirts or T shirts."

This watch goes with everything.

Example: Barbour jumper covered in toddler snot, battered Vans shoes, skinny Lee jeans.

A photo posted by Dad's Diary (@dadsdiary) on

Thanks very much, JORD. Loving this watch.

Next up: Do you fancy winning a $75 gift token with Dad's Diary?
Click here: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/dadsdiary
All you have to do is put your first name and email in this form to join their mailing list:

Even if you don't win, you'll get a $20 voucher which can be redeemed against a future purchase. Go for it, good luck!

Contest ends on 25th September 2016.

Luxury Wood Watch


Monday, 29 August 2016

Lawnmower racing, mud pies, and the mouse who cheated death

 Picture of lawnmowers racing at the Mendip Mower Racing Family Festival 2016 - grand prix race

  1. I woke up to what sounded like tanks and gunfire in my ear. It was just a toddler watching Monster Trucks on an iPhone. How do they find these shows on YouTube exactly? He's 3 years old.
  2. Was snitched on for putting my hand in the bin, "because it dirty an a mouse was in dere de other day."
  3. Was then told off and snitched on for having the last of the maple syrup.
  4. Had a moment where my son was screaming for no apparent reason for 10 minutes, which started off a chain reaction of arguments.
  5. Quietly rage-drank coffee for a while, hoping all the bad things might stop.
  6. Got the toddler dressed and out of the house but closed the door on his fingers by accident.
  7. He screamed and was quickly ushered indoors to avoid concerned looks from the neighbours.
  8. Got first degree stinging nettle burns on my leg when getting into my car (karma).
  9. Took him to watch lawnmower racing at the Mendip Mower Racing Family Festival. We were both mesmerised. (You can see a video of it on my Instagram.)
  10. Bought an inflatable mallet with acid house smiley faces on it.
  11. Had an ice cream (or what little he would let me have of it).
  12. Managed to get him off for a nap without having to push the stroller (must be a fluke).
  13. Went to the park and watched him shout Old MacDonald while looking like he was humping and riding a tractor.
  14. Found it so funny I made a thug life video of it. It's probably not that funny but I keep chuckling when I watch it. (Head over to Facebook to watch it.)
  15. Nearly lost my temper when he wouldn't get his balance bike out of the middle of the road and several cars had to wait for what felt like years.
  16. Finally got him home. Had no food, wife stuck in traffic for an hour with food. We ate rice crackers with peanut butter like desperate men.
  17. Told him about the traffic delay. Melted when he said "We could go and save her and rescue her from da traffic."
  18. Left him in the garden for 5 minutes, and when I returned he said "I been busy workin. Look I maded a mud pie."
    Picture of my son with his mud pie he made in his water play table
    "You no like my mud pie daddy?"
  19. Swore.
  20. Wife returned home, everyone was happy.
  21. Ate a picnic in the garden and watched him strip off and almost dip his meat and two veg in the beetroot and goats cheese salad.
  22. Died laughing. Got told off by wife.
  23. Everyone was tired in the kitchen. Suddenly there were sounds of a scene outside. Loud squeaking, and my wife screaming, "Tink's got a mouse."
  24. Quickly locked the catflap to keep the threat outside.
  25. Witnessed the mouse sprinting towards me through a tiny gap under the door.
  26. Jumped out of my skin. Everyone screams. Mouse ominously disappears behind IKEA circus tent.
  27. Wife shouted, "Get that bloody cat in. This is her problem, she can help us find it."
  28. Bring cat in but can't help telling her off. Cat runs away in shame.
  29. Chased the mouse for 5 minutes around the house while wife stood on a chair screaming and and the toddler shouted, "I don't like it I don't like it I don't like it."
  30. It was the fastest mouse I've ever seen in my life, it was like trying to catch Cristiano Ronaldo and at one point it surprised me by sprinting over my bare foot from underneath the sofa. The shock of it made me scream.
  31. Just as he was running at me again I managed to throw a Charlie Bigham's pie container over it. Aiming ahead of it like I was shooting a clay pigeon.
  32. Everyone cheered, and I feel like a hero. I let the mouse out the front door to freedom.
  33. Got hit with the inflatable mallet when I was lying down. We laughed like crazy but then all the laughing made us get over excited. I accidentally let out an obscene, humongous fart like a slipstream from a jet fighter. It made my son love me, and my wife retch simultaneously.
  34. Kissed the boy goodnight. He comments, "You shouldn't get grumpy at Tink cos she catches da mouses so you can put 'em in da bin."
  35. Tidied up the house as a team. Feeling absolutely shattered but like I wouldn't change a thing.

Dadlife. What a day.

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

6 survival tips for new mums, living with new dads

Dads can feel kind of useless in those early days when you’ve just had a baby. As a mum, you’re getting used to an undersized goblin sucking on your breast 24/7 and you’ll probably be shouting one of the following phrases at him:

•    “What the f*ck is happening? I feel like a cow.” While milk pisses from one of your tits (or possibly both) like a urinating Belgian cupid statue.
•    “I’m so f*cking tired.” Followed by hysterical crying. Only it’s not funny, and your partner stares at you dumbfounded and entirely devoid of anything useful to say.

Father and son wearing dinosaur costumes
Get used to this confused look - dads will do it a lot.

Well, all this is if you’re a normal mother. A zen mama will be sat there listening to classical music after her perfectly non-traumatic hypnobirth. Meanwhile, a doula (who happens to be a Michelin star organic chef) mops her brow, and her perfectly behaved baby sleeps through the night and makes adorable cooing noises. 

I was invited to give some dadderly advice on this life changing event by Pearl at Miraculous Mums. The reality is, you’re probably both in for a rollercoaster ride completely unlike that last scenario, so you need to work as a team to make this experience easier. 

Here are 6 top tips for surviving a newborn with a clueless father in your household.

#1 – Understand that he’s going to say (and do) a lot of stupid shit.
You’re probably already used to your partner being an annoying dickhead sometimes. Now amplify it by 100. It’s likely he’ll come home from work muttering something about how tiring that was, while you fantasise about stabbing him in the heart for the shit you’ve been through that day.

This is the tip of the iceberg. We’re learning how to support you in ways we’ve never helped you out before, and it can take time for us to adapt to our new responsibilities. But we will do a lot of stuff that makes no sense to you. We'll always do our best but can get it colossally wrong too. Trust me from someone who knows, it's never done intentionally!

#2 - Try to make dad feel useful.
We like doing practical stuff. Sterilising bottles, or pumping breasts to express milk to soothe the pain you’re in. It’s a lot of fun, I became a professional milk pumper, and enjoyed storing milk in the freezer while dreaming of making my fortune selling it to perverts on eBay. Read about it here.

#3 - Let go of the baby.
It can be all too easy to be joined to the hip with the baby because of the bond you have, but let dad have his time too. We LOVE taking our babies out for a walk, grabbing a coffee or picking up supplies from the shop, and it makes us feel good because we’re giving you some time to sleep.

#4 – Give us baby related shopping errands.
What man doesn’t love a deep session of research on the Net for some device or something for the home that we think may be the key to solving a baby related problem. Tell us things to look for and we will happily research the best one to get when we have a spare moment 5 hours.

#5 – If you’re able to, let him do night feeds.
Every situation is different, but I remember when I had my new role as the night feeder, I felt like I had a new purpose in life. I always had that time to look forward to when I was at work, and I’d give my son his 11pm feed. It was our time in the dark for him to be cuddled by me and put his tiny hand around my finger. Magical. This evolved into the dream feed where I’d pick him up out of the cot while he slept to give him his bottle.

As soon as we introduced this strategy it took a huge weight off the pressure of having a newborn, and I felt like I could properly bond with my son.

#6 – Give a little trust. It goes a long way.
Gone are the days when men were unable to change nappies. Nowadays we love it. Who doesn't love commenting on their child's faecal matter like Heston Blumenthal in a food lab. The only way to do this is to get close and personal with it. "Ooh, raisins today. This one's swelled up like a grape."

The point I'm making is we want to be involved and while you'll probably hate us for not being able to wake up as easily as you in the night when the baby cries, we are now living in an age where stay-at-home-dads and other great fathers are everywhere.

Dads are amazing parents when we are given the trust to run with it and make mistakes, and I think I became a better man through raising my son and having days or weekends with him if my wife was away and learning from the things I messed up on. It's an incredible experience, and while it's hard, we can do it, and thrive!

Enjoyed this? Interested in the female perspective? You can now visit www.miraculousmums.com for the flip side: “6 survival tips for new dads, living with new mums..."

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