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Stu's Dad Blog


You know, once in a while, since I'm up earlier anyway, I steal my daughter's perfectly chosen car. It's fun to drive around occasionally when I can afford the gas. Don't get me wrong, I brace myself for shock when I brave the use of it. I expect it to be filthy. I expect the inspection, registration, or maintenance to be out of date. I expect weird little teenagery odds and ends tossed around. What I found, I could never have expected…

Amy's Dog Blog


When you have kids, things you would never previously have entertained as being something that a decent human being should have to tolerate on a daily basis become par for the course, endlessly repeated until you are a shred of your former self.

These are the undignified things that should be left behind closed doors, and definitely never performed in public, but you often have no choice. With small babies and toddlers, you find yourself subjected to the most vile duties, that your younger self would have sneered at before running a mile from.

I'm talking about picking your baby’s nose; the embarrassment as you realise that the bad smell is coming from your kid, not the one they’re playing with; sniffing their bum to confirm; sucking a dummy that has fallen on a dusty floor; changing a stinking nappy on a narrow counter/toilet floor because there’s no baby-changing facilities; wiping dinner from the walls; absently eating leftover purees/fishfingers/smiley faces; washing mashed banana/bogeys/sick from your hair under the cold tap; getting up six times in the night; staying up until midnight making a Harry Potter /sheep/wise men costume, then them refusing to wear the costume and turning up to school/the play in their school uniform. It was endless. 

Now I have two older children I don’t have to do those things; on the whole they are delightful, although their rooms still stink and there’s dirty washing everywhere and food still stuck to the walls, but that’s probably due more to my sluttish housekeeping than anything else. I’m a busy woman. Don’t judge me.

So once the more onerously visceral duties of small-child care were mercifully left behind, and they could clean up after themselves and no longer needed spoon-feeding, what did I do? Get a puppy. Then it all started again, but weirdly, on a grander and more repulsive scale. If I thought having a baby or small child was revolting and undignified enough, I had no idea what a puppy had in store for me. 

Who but a dog owner or parent of a mini human would go out for a walk armed with poo bags/nappy bags, ready to scoop up whatever falls from their charge’s bum? At least with babies and toddlers it’s conveniently contained in a nappy; a dog just squats there (usually in front of the most manicured house as the owner is out trimming their topiary in the spring sunshine) and takes a dump. “Don’t mind me,” he’d cheerfully shout at them if he could speak, “She’ll get this.” And I do, of course, smiling all the while, me a mere portable pooper-scooper with the added bonus for the dog of also being a convenient food dispenser and expedient thrower of balls.

From the moment the eight-week old golden ball of fluff arrived at our house, I’ve spent hours sticking my fingers in his mouth to retrieve foreign objects, cleaned up his sick when the foreign objects I can’t get to quick enough get to his stomach, picked up endless poo, had my clothes ripped to shreds as he enthusiastically welcomed me home with his needle-sharp teeth and claws, regularly tramp back from a walk covered head to foot in mud, when I’d left the house looking like a normal human being, and spend my life apologising to people and their dogs as he tries to love them to death.

And where are my older, responsible children? My teenager and tweenager, who promised to walk the dog, feed him, pick up after him, so I wouldn’t have to? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. They're not silly.








Vicki's Food Blog


Ciao Walt, Skyler, Walt Jnr, Holly, Hank, Marie, Jess, Saul. Sunday morning I emerged from my bedroom blinking in the light. Four years of TV consumed in three months. My children taller and muttering "We know that unwashed woman in her housecoat, but who is she?"

If you've never watched Breaking Bad, please do. It's the tale of a chemistry teacher who must make and sell crystal meth to pay his medical bills to try to beat lung cancer. He coughs his way from mild mannered man to Devil in 62 episodes, entering a world where light and dark ebb and flow and the mixture of absurdly well lit misadventure and comedy as dark as 70% cocoa solid chocolate grip certain souls - like my own - and you become addicted to the box set in the same way meth addicts become addicted to splinters of crystal.

When you finish an episode or three or ten in one sitting you check your face in the mirror for the signs of addiction: red blotches on your skin and ghoulish teeth (the series creator apparently regretted that Jesse's teeth were so white). OK, so I have the dead eyes. Then you realise it's only a TV series, nothing more. Some people stay clean, like my other half. They watch one episode on Netflix and refuse to be hooked. Or like my buddy Bevs watch it with me on the sofa until 3 am - helpless as the next episode threatens to begin in 18 seconds - but they go no further. 

Alas, I became deeply involved, even when the story line veered towards crazy - 11 men in 2 minutes? Lydia? Giant magnets? But now I'm here, bereft. Left unable to watch TV, or drama at least, knowing that the lighting and scripting and suspense can never measure up to Breaking Bad. Still, good things come of leaving a screen alone - as I reminded my children several times an hour before I became a hypocrite. Yesterday afternoon I mowed the grass (and I from a family that had a no cruelty to weeds policy pulled up hundreds of the buggers), ran three miles to pick up the car from our friends' house, washed the top of the bins (I kid you not), polished the car windows, repotted lavender, did half the shirt ironing, went food and clothes shopping and wrote this blog in my head. 

Still, life will never be the same. Surely there must be some sort of support group for those who became Breaking Bad dependent... And what comes now? What can fill the BB gap? I can't call Saul. If only the therapist type guy who ran over his own daughter were able to advise. Someone has said I should try a hit of Tony from the Sopranos. What do you suggest?




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