So I’ve been a “retired” schoolteacher for almost two weeks now and the new lease of life is certainly taking its toll…on Sophie and Harry!

It’s such a privilege to get time off with them. My life is going to look very different from the regimented nature of the school year but this is my last snippet of time before that new stage begins and I’m determined to make the most of it.

Don’t they know it.

My wife had told me that the day is roughly split in two with scope for a morning activity followed by lunch and sleep then an afternoon activity before winding down for dinner and bedtime. I appreciated this advice and took it on board, trying to squeeze every inch of spare time out of it.

Naps? – meh. Food? – on the go. Nappy changes? – probably should still do them properly.

Essentially, since last Monday we’ve been on a whistle-stop journey around Manchester, seeing friends, eating a wide variety of food, experiencing all seasons of weather (standard) and generally just living our time off.

One of last week’s highlights was racing round Manchester in search of the “book benches”, a National Literacy trust initiative to inspire children to read over the summer break. I didn’t quite get this originally, taking cover in the Manchester Central Library and thinking the benches were outside rather than finding the five benches hidden within its depths.

Sophie didn’t complain though – she found the soft play cushions and was helping a new friend build towers and slides with them. (NB: Don’t think that’s what libraries are meant to be for…)

We got the hang of it eventually though and found plenty in the Football Museum, the Arndale Centre and the Manchester Cathedral.

Checking out the benches

Pretty sure she enjoyed the accompanying chocolate button treat more than the search itself to be honest.

However, over and across Manchester City Centre was a great deal of walking for her, particularly in the sodden conditions we found ourselves in. The train ride made it worthwhile though – they both loved it. All 7 minutes of it!

I’ve also loved catching up with long-standing friends such as Mike and Natalie last Friday lunchtime and Rick and Sarah in the evening. Sophie and Harry have come along for the ride, bringing their helpful cheeriness and comedy as well as the occasional grouchy moment. Bizarre how my daughter takes ten minutes to say hello to people through this fake shyness and then comes bounding out of herself into a happy character.

We’ve hung out with my parents, the Monday Monkeys crew twice, got soaked at the Trafford Centre attended a lovely wedding and spent the weekend with my wife’s side of the family. Yesterday, we visited the Airport Runway Park and Sophie and I had an argument over a commemorative penny machine. It’s been full on.

Retreated to the toy shop in the Trafford Centre to escape the weather

By last night, Sophie was a broken girl. Bootcamp had worn her out. The good news? Daddy’s got a few more weeks yet. The bad news, plenty more madness to come.

Good luck little ones!