Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Category: Life (page 2 of 12)

Happy 4th birthday Bracken

First an admission, it ‘may’ have been Bracken’s birthday on the 18th and I ‘may’ have forgotten. But hey better late than never right? As I probably say most years when I write this post Bracken is our first baby and now we have him I can’t imagine not having him around the house.

He’s such a sociable boy and as I write this in my study at home he’s lying keeping my feet warm. Whenever I finish a conference when I’m working from home he comes running into my study, inevitably carrying something in his mouth for me and waggling his tail like crazy. In fact he’ll waggle his tail like crazy if you come back into a room having only been gone 30 seconds. Impossible to feel grumpy when he’s around.

Over the past year you can see the bond between him and Matilda in particular growing, she’s always giving him cuddles and loves snuggling up with him on the sofa to watch a movie. Matilda and Henry have also started the slightly disgusting practise of giving Bracken a ‘kiss’ before bed time which involves Bracken licking their faces. Just lovely.

He is of course also my running buddy, I ran 1000 miles last year and he did 95% of those runs with me which means he probably ran more lie 1300 miles! He keeps me company on the cold, dark winter morning runs and in fact is often the reason I get out of bed in the morning to run at all. Plus I’ve now seen at least 2 other people running on the Ridgeway with their Springers so clearly I’m not that crazy.

So Happy Birthday Bracken, you truly are a great dog and we love having you in our family.

A brand new start

“I’m gonna clear out my head
I’m gonna get myself straight
I know it’s never too late
To make a brand new start”

The lyrics from one of my favourite songs sung by definitely my favourite musician; Paul Weller and Brand new start. Sums up quite well how I’m feeling about this little old blog right now. Feels like 2013 was a year where I swung between feeling completely inspired by my blog and knew exactly what I wanted to write to feeling generally bored with the whole thing and not sure when I’ll write the next post again.

I haven’t blogged much at all for the past few weeks, no particular reason it just felt like the right thing to do. But I have been thinking about it a lot. I still love writing and blogging is the medium to do that for the most part, but after 3 years of writing this blog I think it’s time to consciously evolve it a little. Much like Paul Weller has reinvented himself (see what I did there?) it’s time for me to do the same.

In reality it’s nothing revolutionary or dramatic but more can be summed up in one simple sentence:

Write about the things that inspire you.

2 toddlers in a bike trailerSomething I think I do on the most part but there are some specific decisions attached to this. First no more sponsored posts; I really didn’t do many anyway but whenever I did it felt like a little bit of my blogging soul died and for the money it brings in it’s just not worth it so they’re gone. Reviews can stay but I’m going to get even more picky about the ones I do so that they are really worth the time and effort.

Second I want to capture more of Matilda and Henry growing up, that was the whole point of starting this blog after all and I think I’ve lost a little of that. So more posts like this one that capture a moment in time that will be amazing to remember. I don’t want it to become like one of those dreadful Christmas letters listing every single event or achievement but I do want to capture a few more of the little milestones.

Matilda and Henry readingThird, more books, I love love love reading books with the children and also seeing them read them themselves. We are rapidly needing more bookshelf space but getting them involved in books is a big passion of mine so expect to see even more of them on here.

Fourth and finally the outdoors, the outdoors is what makes me happy. It’s what makes the children happy and it’s certainly what makes Bracken happy. Given that it’s also likely to make the Lady of the Manor happy! Our regular afternoon thing at the moment when we’re fed up with a day indoors is to chuck the kids into their wet weather gear and head out for a tramp around our little street.

Matilda walking close to homeWe’re blessed with our location in the countryside so we don’t have to go far to find some puddles or cows and you can guarantee that 30 minutes later we’re all a lot happier. So expect to see more posts about our mini (and maybe not so mini) adventures.

I might even take the brand new start theme a little further and give this piece of the internet a fresh new look to go with my new blogging mantra.

With that I will thank you for reading my mutterings in 2013 and hope you will come back again in 2014 to share in some of the things that inspire me.

The one where I consider the meaning of life

I’ve been feeling quite emotional recently, not entirely sure why, money worries don’t help but there has been more than one occasion when I’ve suddenly got a speck of dirt in my eye. Maybe it’s the seemingly never ending news stories of abuse, murder or some other atrocity? Or watching an episode or DIY SOS and realising that for many people out there life really does suck. People who are just about surviving until that amazing program comes along and literally changes their lives.

Then there is the parent blogging community where there have been a number of heartbreaking stories this year, stories that make you go home and hug your family close never wanting to let them out of you sight so they can’t come to harm. It may be selfish but on more than one occasion I’ve had to stop reading a blog completely just for my own preservation. Sometimes those stories are just too raw or close to home and it’s hard to read those things regularly (Anecdotes of a manic mum in particular breaks my heart every time)

There are of course some personal reasons too for feeling this way, things that make life not so nice, but those aren’t my stories to tell.

So what’s the point in this? Beyond the therapeutic benefits of writing it’s also got me thinking. Like anyone not everything is rosy in my life, we may have to use a credit card to buy food occasionally but we have a nice house, happy children and generally enjoy our life. But our issues are small compared to some people, something you have remind yourself of sometimes. However do I really do anything to truly help others? I give money to a few charities every so often and have done some volunteering with work renovating a local preschool. Small things but not really impactful.

Like many I’ve had a few approaches through this blog to get involved with a charity. But so far I’ve done very little, the charities are generally the bigger ones and relate to problems in the third world. Really important issues but something I find hard to connect with so many thousands of miles away.

If I’m going to do something that has a bigger impact it has to be a cause I’m passionate about. Something where I can feel like I’m making a difference and maybe even see that difference happening? I think I need to spend some time choosing a cause to support and then stick with it for the long term. Maybe something connected to babies like Tommy’s? Or that helps children get active and in the outdoors?

Once chosen I can then figure out how I can help; I love running and taking on challenges so maybe some classic fundraising and a big challenge for 2014? There is of course the blogging and social media skills I now have that could be of use to a smaller charity in particular. Or simply finding somewhere to volunteer my time.

I know many of you are involved with charities so would love to know why you have chosen to support a particular cause and also how you help them.

Thanks for reading.



What would your grand design be?

Hands up who spends hours looking on Rightmove at houses they can’t afford? Or obsessively watches every property program on the TV including the repeats of Location Location Location? What about planning your own grand design?

Well it’s a yes to all 3 for me but the last one is the one that can really consume my time. In fact it’s often what I think about while on a long run to pass the time, a perfect opportunity to mull over all those big decisions. You know the ones; convert an old building or build afresh on a plot? quirky old building or modern glass box? wood frame or bricks and mortar? Architect or sketch on a piece of paper? 30 foot kitchen island or cinema room?

Of course there are a few decisions that are easy; hire a project manager (no one wants to be mocked by Kevin for doing it yourself) and if restoring a property don’t get rid of everything that is old. But what about the rest? What decisions would you make?

My current thinking (and let’s be honest it changes regularly) is convert an old building, there has to be a nice chunk of glass to let lots of glorious light in and a bath with a view so I can sit and soak while looking over a valley on towards a mountain. I’d take remote country idyl over hidden urban gem any day of the week especially if there is a lake or river involved.

The kitchen will of course be huge because I love it being the heart of the home where everyone gathers to drink tea and chat. Maybe with an Aga as it’s an old house and definitely with a big island in the middle. There’ll be at least one wood burner in the house and while the kitchen and dining room will be open plan there will then be a cosy lounge area for snuggling up in the evenings.

The lady of the manor will tell me we need at least 6 bedrooms to fit all the kids in because if we build this place then we’ll have obviously won the lottery so she can have as many kids as she wants. Maybe we’ll stick a granny flat on the side in case we need it for the parents one day, we could join it up to the main house in classic Grand Design’s style with a glass passageway. After all you have to make a clear distinction between old and new don’t you?

What you have in those last few paragraphs is the product of probably 10 hours of running, lots of debate needed to reach that vision you know. But I can do better than that, I’ve even found the perfect barn to convert which I spotted on one of said runs. Wouldn’t this make just the most incredible house? Set in the stunning Wiltshire countryside just a few miles from Marlborough. I love the lawn at the front, you could have a big long drive way leading up to the house which would be opened up with glass at the front.

Wiltshire barn

But wait, there’s more, I even have a Pinterest board to capture all the inspiration and ideas for this home that I’ll probably never build.


So what do you think? What would your Grand Design be like?

Happy blog birthday to meeeeeeeee

Yes that’s right my lovely readers today is the 3rd birthday for this little old blog. 3 whole years of my rambles, rants and of course mutterings. Publishing that first post was a big deal for me, I’ve never been a writer and haven’t sat down to write anything since probably my English GCSE. Now I find myself thinking ‘I’m going to blog that’, posts starting off as a bunch of ideas whirring around my head and then slowly coming together to form something coherent.

I started off like many parent bloggers wanting to capture my children growing up, to have something to look back on and remember the good times and bad. Which I definitely do now, especially to compare how Henry’s development is similar or not to Matilda’s when memories blurred by a lack of sleep can’t be trusted.

But when looking back it’s also clear that what I write about and how I write has evolved. It’s inevitable that you write about what is important in your life at that time, when I started I was about to become a dad for the first time so I wrote a lot about what that was like and how it felt. When Henry came along I did less of that as the ‘firsts’ become fewer and less surprising the second time around. But with 2 the relationship between them and the challenge having 2 brings become much more important to you as a parent.

Now with 2 toddlers it’s more about doing things rather than simply coping with being a parent. We’ve never been ones to shy away from getting out and having adventures with them and I hope I’ve managed to capture that in my writing. Certainly that is something I want to spend more time writing about in the future.

I’ve also really enjoyed trying out new things on here with different styles of post, short ones with just a sentence or 2, posts with a poem or song, longer ones that tell a story or even simply a few words and a photo. I’ve even published my first fiction which is fascinating new challenge and I hope to share the next instalment with you soon. Plus of course expanding to be a 2 blog blogger with all my running related posts now published on Lycra and Lunchboxes. Running is a huge passion of mine and it felt like the right time to give those posts a place of their own.

Most of all though I love being a blogger for the community, the support from fellow parents when you are struggling or hit a low point and then celebrating with you when you have a new baby or pass a big milestone. I’ve made some great friends through being a blogger who turn out to be just as great in person. We met David when in Scotland last month and having chatted via our blogs and on Twitter over the past few years it felt like we were old friends. Some people may not get this element of being a blogger but once you experience the community you can’t help but be converted.

So I leave you with a thank you; thank you for reading my mutterings, thank you for all your comments and thank you for giving a guy the opportunity to write and welcoming me into your world.

The Fool


Walking in Scotland

Man teething is the new man flu

Ever one to be a trend setter I’d like to declare man teething as the new man flu. Last week one of my wisdom teeth has been on the move and it has been hurting like hell. There are 2 reasons for this; firstly being very wise my wisdom teeth are clearly bigger than average so hurt more when coming through and secondly as a big tough man I have big tough gums which are hard to break through.

All this combined has seen me moaning a teeny tiny bit, making sure to mention at least once an hour that my mouth is indeed still hurting. Meal times are of course a prime opportunity to push my case even further by declining hard food ‘because my tooth still aches’.

With all this threatening to ruin my holiday I had a brainwave, the advantage of having 2 small children is we of course travel everywhere with a small chemists worth of drugs and teething remedies. Having seen first hand what has helped Henry in the last few months I reached straight for the Ambesol. A dab of it on my finger and then a quick rub of the offending gum was all was needed.

It was like I had been touched by angels.

Amazing powerful pain relieving angels.

Now I know exactly why Henry loves that stuff so much, honestly you should give it a go. It’s like when you get injected by the dentist before having a tooth out, except no needles and you don’t start dribbling down your chin an hour later.

You do have to put up with some funny looks though as you take a small bottle from your pocket, and start rubbing your gum with the contents. A top tip would be to avoid doing it in the gents toilet unless you want to have a conversation with a friendly policeman.

So there you have it, you heard it here first, if you’re suffering from man toothache you should reach for the Ambesol. Cures toothache and saves holidays.

P.S. Just to be clear this isn’t a sponsored post, although if they want to send me a few bottles of the magic liquid I wouldn’t say no.

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