A couple of weeks ago, i decided that the best way for me to enjoy a Daddy day with Sophie and Harry would be to spend it on the beach.
Setting aside the fact the nearest beach was 60 miles away (ish), I packed lots of things, bundled the little ones into the car and headed off.
Looking out of the rain-spattered Windows as I joined the M56 out towards North Wales, I wondered if it was really such a good idea after all…
I think most children go through it – that time where your best friend exists in your head but you’re pretty sure they’re actually real.
I remember having one who was not very good at stopping my shots when we played football together – surprisingly – but any other details have long since faded.
As parents it’s important to go along with the pretence, encouraging your child’s social development and including the imaginary friend in everyday life until they get bored with them.
Which may have to be soon for us as with Sophie’s army of pretend pals we’re going to need to do some dramatic upsizing!
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!
I’d done a weekend by myself before with the two children.
But this was different.
This was on location in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and hills.
Oh and Harry really wasn’t feeling well.
This oughta be interesting.
Our Austrian holiday “peaked” at 2600m on top of the Wetterkreutz.
Sophie and Harry’s first mountain was certainly a good ‘un.
I’ve always loved mountain walking but always on the condition we get to scale summits and tick them off on my mental list.
So when Andrew suggested we go on a longer walk I jumped at the chance to notch my first Alpine peak.
It was a real excitement to pull on my boots, pack up a chunky picnic and look up at the imposing rock face that stood ahead of us.
The only slight complication was the addition of two small children into the mix.
And there was no question of them staying at home.
We’d come prepared – my wife had a sling for Harry and I had a backpack to carry Sophie up. We were also to hugely benefit from a ski lift taking us 2000m of the way. From there though it was climbing steeply in the heat of the day with the children in tow.
It was hard work if I’m honest but we invented a guessing game to keep us entertained. It essentially involved me shouting animals and Sophie shouting colours. Plenty of blue penguins and yellow meerkats on offer.
Towards the top, a sheet of snow – more like compacted hail – made life even tougher. Andrew picked a way over it carefully and I followed suit. Sophie was hanging out of the backpack, shifting my centre of gravity really unhelpfully but I was able to navigate it.
Next came my wife with Harry and he’d decided to wake up by this point. As she tested the ground, his sling slumped forward putting pressure on the back of her neck and weighing her down. She did marvellously well though and made it across.
From there we could really see the distinctive cross which marked the top of the mountain. Just a short zigzag round the summit, a zip across some more snow and then we were there.
Views from the top were absolutely glorious and we even managed to get a classic shot of us looking like a Christian missionary family. (There would certainly be worse places to work).
For the way down I took Harry and Andrew carried Sophie. The temperature had sunk as we’d ascended but this swiftly changed and it was hot and uncomfortable by the time we made it back to the ski lift.
(Naturally my inner child kicked in as we approached the finish line and I raced away from the others so Harry and I secured a glorious victory. At least in my head we did anyway.)
We’d done it – first mountain for the littlies conquered. Many more to come I hope.
On our recent holiday to Austria, I thought it would be a tremendous idea to nip over the border into Italy and have a pizza.
My wife could have coffee, Sophie could have ice cream, Harry could have…er…bread(?) and everyone would be happy.
After all, it was only about 50km to the border. Simple.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for…
OK, so we’d survived the night of all of us in one room. Just about.
And we’d had an incredible holiday in Austria (more in future posts).
But we really hit a low point with the security check on the way back. I mean, we’ve only been flying for twenty years…
First with Sophie and now with Harry I have signed myself up to the “dream feed” – a late evening bottle to give them a boost and stop them waking my wife up earlier than she needs on the night shift.
It’s always been a special time of bonding with the children, where I can do my bit to help out and look after them in a way they absolutely need.
Six months in though and the parameters have changed and my body is starting to feel the pace…
It’s been a really special Easter for Sophie this year.
We were determined to make Easter at the very least as memorable as Christmas for her and my wife put in some sterling work to make that happen.
Here’s how it turned out…
Have you ever seen those tiny toddlers who zip down ski slopes as if they haven’t a care in the world?
Well, I’m a Dad who dreams big…and my wish for Sophie is that she could use her tender years to her advantage and be like those daredevil children.
So, just a couple of weeks after her 3rd birthday, armed with a waterproof suit and boundless optimism (from me anyway), Sophie and I headed off at the crack of dawn to Chill Factor…
How would she get on?