What a weekend.
Day off on Friday was spent tearing down to London to watch the ATP World Tour Finals – a long-held dream fulfilled.
However, just as we saw Mo Farah and Usain Bolt fail in spectacular fashion when we went to the World Athletics back in August, we were in situe to witness the downing of another favourite.
And the rising of a new hero out of nowhere.
When Sophie turned one, I couldn’t quite believe how fast the time had gone.
That’s nothing compared to how quickly year one has been for Harry.
It’s a very strange irony but as I adjust – quite happily – to the lack of school in my daily life, Sophie is revelling in her first few days of pre-school.
For me, it’s been a real joy to take her along and experience those new times with her. It’s something that would have been simply impossible had I stayed put.
For her, it’s been a wide-eyed adventure into the unknown and one that apparently she is absolutely loving.
For the first time in my lifetime, Blackburn Rovers will kick off the new season on Saturday in the doldrums of League One with, all due respect, the likes of Rochdale, Plymouth and Fleetwood.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Sure, I’m imbued with the same old start-of-season optimism that all football fans have before the leaves start to fall and the grim reality of a season of struggle begins to set in. (Make that ten past 3 on Saturday then).
But, for all that following Rovers is both a delight and a nightmare, there is some cause for cautious optimism.
Here are my reasons to be cheerful/reasons to be churlish…
Five years ago, London 2012 exploded into our living rooms in a tidal wave of golden hysteria.
Jessica Ennis-Hill, Tom Daley and Laura Trott led the charge as Team GB’s remarkable exploits captured the nation.
As for us, we were sat watching from our new Chorlton living room having made the switch from Lincolnshire’s Grantham to the suburbs of England’s most ambitious city.
And we’ve never looked back since…
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.
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…
Well it actually happened.
Sarah not only turned up at the bottom of the aisle but she sauntered down with a huge smile on her face and tied the knot with Rick.
And I even managed to remember the rings that made it official.
That’s how long it’s been since I first met my best mate Rick at high school, complete with a cocky look on his face and a rather dodgy hairstyle. (or was that me?)
Now he’s well into his 30s, his hair has improved slightly and he still likes to wind people up – in a push-your-luck kind of way.
Today he’s getting married – how did it come to this??
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…