Run FatBlog Run (Sandbach)

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Last Sunday morning, I ran the Sandbach 10k for the second time, despite saying at the finish line last year that I would never run another 10k in my life.

Of course, since then I have decided to run ten such races this year, all in aid of my chosen charity (Kidscan), and Sandbach was number seven on the list. The finish line is therefore very much in sight.

Technically, this was supposed to be race number eight, but ever since I had to walk part of the Tatton 10k in May, I have been kicking myself (not literally), because the challenge was to actually run ten races. To me, walking during one of them – even if only for a few minutes – felt like cheating.

So, even though I had the valid excuse of being scared shitless that I would end up in hospital again if I pushed too hard (and, if you don’t know what I mean by that, have a read here: https://middlerageddad.com/2018/04/13/run-fatblog-run-whitchurch/), and despite the fact my wife asked me not to, I have re-entered the Tatton 10k for next month in order to make amends.

As it happens – and rather fortuitously – Tatton is the only event that I can do again (because it is held monthly, whereas the rest of my races are annual); and since the friend who was due to run it with me originally had to pull out due to injury, but has been able to transfer his place, I have an added incentive to try again. Let’s just hope I can run it all (and finish under fifty minutes) this time, otherwise I’ll be tempted to take part in November (and, if necessary, December), until I get it right.

Anyway, last weekend was all about my home town of Sandbach, which is where my hatred of 10k races began last September. Whilst I still despise running, and feel sick in the days leading up to a race, I wasn’t as apprehensive of this particular event for two main reasons:

  1. I have run it before, so I knew the route, and that I was capable of completing it;
  2. For the first time on this challenge (after my mate had to drop out of the Tatton 10k in May) I had a running buddy, as my brother was taking part to support me.

Initially, when he first entered the Sandbach 10k a few months ago, my brother made his intentions very clear – he wanted to beat me. And, after only a month or so of training, having not really run long distances before, it looked very much like he would, as he was completing a few miles at a decent pace. However, when he didn’t run at all in the three months leading up to last Sunday, and confessed his plan was to simply ‘wing it’, I did begin to worry for him slightly.

Then, when the race instructions arrived last week, informing us that the timing chips would be fastened to our laces (rather than our running numbers), his plan apparently changed from finishing faster than me, to simply staying close enough to be able to remove his shoe and launch it past me at the finish line.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my scores:

Time: 48:45 (which, if we ignore Whitchurch – where I ran too fast and collapsed – is a PB)

Position: 90th (out of 368)

Cost: £16.00 – which is not only one of the cheapest events, but very good value bearing in mind what we got for our money.

Course: I don’t know whether it’s because some of the courses since last year’s Sandbach 10k have been horrible, or that my memory has softened over time, but I genuinely remembered the Sandbach route being relatively flat – apart from the railway bridge you encounter twice:

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It’s steeper than it looks

Unfortunately, I was mistaken, because whilst there weren’t too many steep climbs, the course was far more ‘undulating’ (which is seemingly 10k speak for ‘fucking hilly’) than I remembered.

Having said that, the route was all on decent roads (apart from the few potholes the organisers had thoughtfully stuck traffic cones in to warn us); the countryside scenery was pleasant (if a little dull, and, at one point, smelling of shit – which I assure you was the farm we were passing at the time, and not me); and it was a relatively straight-forward circuit..

Each kilometre was clearly marked, there were marshals at key points (although I could have done without every child being offered an annoying cow bell to ring as we went past), and the final straight offered a nice little sprint finish for those with any energy left – 8/10

Weather: Fortunately, the rain which had been forecast for most of the morning (and which was certainly coming down while we registered), stopped just as we headed to the start line, and the entire race – for us at least – was in sunshine. Ok, it was a little windy (again, not me), but otherwise the weather was spot on – 9/10

Organisation: There was no fancy pre-race instruction pack this time, but the e-mail which came through last week contained all of the information we required, and crucially made no reference to banning headphones (which, had the organisers done so, may very well have seen my brother drop out in protest).

Registration on the day was well organised, if a little cramped – which unfortunately led to me losing my timing chip with about ten minutes to go (many naughty words followed, but we located it just in time).

The results were also a little late being posted online, so even though the organisation was generally very good, I’ll mark Sandbach down a little for that (whilst giving an extra point for allowing us to wear headphones) – 8/10

Official Photos: The race photos were again courtesy of Bryan Dale, whose website I am fast becoming familiar with, but unfortunately ‘fast’ doesn’t describe the uploading of them, as they didn’t start appearing until yesterday. Still, they were entirely free to download and keep, without any irritating copyright watermarks printed across them, so I can’t complain. Here are the ones I appeared in:

8/10

I’ll also give credit to my good lady wife, for snapping the following additions (including capturing my sprint finish past three runners just before the line):

Medal: A little plain, and I am (probably irrationally) irked by the splitting of ‘Sandbach’ as though it is two separate words – however it is solid, good quality, and a nice little addition to my ever-growing collection – 7/10

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(This is the organisers photo, I don’t have five medals)

Goody-bag: I’m torn here, because normally when there is a good quality running shirt for all finishers, the goody bag is always minimal (or, in some cases – Birchwood, for example – non-existent).

I should, therefore, be grateful that we were at least given a carrier bag of ‘treats’, but because these were supplied by the two main sponsors, who happened to be a salt company (bag of salt), and bakery (loaf of bread), they weren’t exactly what I fancied having just run six-and-a-bit miles. Salty sandwich, anyone?

In fairness, we also got a chocolate bar, which I would normally be delighted with, but it was a Bounty (and, as everyone knows, Bounty is at the lower end of the chocolate league, along with Lion bars and Double Deckers). I mean, full marks for the gesture, Sandbach, but next year might I suggest sponsorship from a local brewery and chip shop?

Anyway, the shirt – whilst the same colour as the Alderley Edge one – is very nice indeed (despite splitting Sandbach into two words again) – 7/10

Post-race refreshment: This comprised the customary bottle of water, and a banana (which I gave to my niece, as I don’t like bananas). Ok, I could have made myself a salty banana sandwich (which sounds like a euphemism for something kinky), but in the end I decided not to bother – 6/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 9/10

Organisation: 8/10

Photos: 8/10

Medal: 7/10

Goody-bag: 7/10

Refreshments: 6/10

All of which means, we have a new leader:

Sandbach                            53/70                     (76%)

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                     51/70                     (73%)

Birchwood                          49/70                     (70%)

Whitchurch:                       49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park:                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park:                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton:                              39/70                     (56%)

Sandbach is now my favourite 10k so far (although I use the term ‘favourite’ loosely, since I detest all running), and bearing in mind I only have Tatton – which I have already completed once – Arley Hall and Wilmslow remaining, this score will take some beating.

If you have read and enjoyed this entry, and would care to sponsor me, here is a link to my Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

(Yes, Isaac is dressed as Santa)

Finally, since I suspect many won’t bother reading this entry to the end (if at all), and as a reward for those who have persevered, I’ll let you into a little (embarrassing) secret….

Once I got home following the run, I went for a shower, and decided to test the fancy ‘post-exercise muscle-cooling’ shower gel that my wife bought for me recently. Without going into too much detail (although I fear I may), by the time I realised the true strength of the gel, I had already applied copious amounts to my body – including my ‘gentleman’s region’.

I regretted my decision almost immediately, as my reaction quickly progressed from ‘Ooh, that’s a bit tingly’, to ‘Jesus Christ, that’s cold’, and finally ‘WHAT IN THE NAME OF HOLY FUCK IS HAPPENING TO MY GENITALS?!’ in a matter of seconds.

For want of a better description, it was like someone had cryogenically (or cryogenitally) frozen my penis from the inside out. It wasn’t painful, as such, but I did fear that the effects may be permanent, and I would be pissing icicles for the rest of my living days. Honestly, it was like I was sporting a Mr Freeze Ice Pop down there.

Fortunately, after a great deal of scrubbing, normal service has been resumed.

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And, on that bombshell….

Thanks for reading x

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Always The Underblogs

Last weekend, I became a Footy Dad.

By that, I mean I became one of those fathers who spends his Saturday/Sunday mornings in all kinds of weather (and it was most certainly raining at the time), watching his child play for a local football team.

I’m not entirely sure whether ‘Footy Dad’ is the correct term, as I’ve only been to one match so far, and none of the other parents have explained what we should refer to ourselves as yet (I felt silly asking, and it didn’t seem important at the time); but I suppose the best way to explain it is this: I became the male British equivalent of a ‘Soccer Mom’ – only ‘Footy Dad’ sounds less sexy.

Anyway, if we thought Isaac’s first day at school could have gone better, that was nothing compared to poor Ollie’s debut in the Mid-Cheshire Youth Football League (although at least Ollie didn’t cling to me and refuse to go onto the pitch).

Ollie only joined the Sandbach United Under-9’s ‘Kites’ team a couple of weeks ago, and had been to just two training sessions prior to the start of the season (the latter of which was only the night before).

As such, he didn’t really know most of his teammates before the first match on Saturday, and – more importantly – the manager wasn’t sure where best to play him. Ollie is adamant he is a striker, but what nine-year-old doesn’t think they should be the one scoring all the goals? It’s extremely rare to find a young aspiring footballer who is desperate to play at left-back.

Thankfully, the training session a few weeks ago, and then the ‘pre-season friendly’ last Friday night, had both seemed to go relatively well, so the manager was optimistic of at least giving The Kites’ first competitive opponents a decent test.  Unfortunately, however, this optimism was short-lived.

When we arrived, there was a bit of time before kick-off for me to take some pictures of Ollie in his new kit – which, whilst the Kites’ away strip this season (the home kit hasn’t arrived yet, apparently), is still alarmingly reminiscent of Burnley’s colours, and to a Stockport County fan this is horrifying (long story short: they cheated at Wembley in 1994, were promoted at County’s expense, and I haven’t forgiven them since). Still, despite the disgusting colour scheme, Ollie looked very grown up and smart, and I managed a few photos dotted around what is a very impressive set up at Sandbach United.

As the 10.30am kick-off time arrived, Ollie and the rest of his new team mates were called over by the manager, who quickly ran through their starting formation – and even though I was some distance away by the side of the pitch, it was quickly apparent that Ollie would be starting as a lone striker up front. I was now beaming with pride, and just praying he could score at least one goal.

The fact that Ollie didn’t know the names of his teammates turned out not to be a problem, because it transpired almost all of the squad were called either Lucas or Jacob; so, by shouting one of those names, he at least stood a good chance of attracting someone’s attention.

The referee then indicated that one boy from each team should come over to determine who would kick off, and Ollie (being the nearest Kites player to the centre spot) readily volunteered.

To my amusement, kick-off was not decided by the usual coin toss (as is customary), but instead by an impromptu game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’. I assume this is standard throughout the league, rather than at the whim of this referee in particular; but should tomorrow’s kick-off be determined by a quick ‘thumb war’, or even ‘musical statues’, I will be just as equally delighted.

Continuing my proud father moment, Ollie’s rock destroyed his opponent’s puny scissors, and it was all I could do to restrain myself at the side of the pitch. I had to remind myself that, much as I was desperate to yell “Ha! In your face, dickhead!” at the opposing player, he was only eight years old, and presumably one or more of his legal guardians would be nearby.

Ollie then kicked off (rather prematurely, in all honesty, as the referee had not yet blown his whistle – but seeing as we later went to watch Stockport County that afternoon, and even they managed to screw up kick off, I subsequently apologised to Ollie for laughing at his eagerness).

Almost immediately, it became clear that Ollie’s team were likely to be outclassed, as their opponents passed the ball around well, and won every tackle. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it wasn’t long before they went ahead. Ollie, meanwhile, looked utterly lost up front, but equally didn’t get involved enough to try and win the ball. I pointed this out to one of the mums who we know, but we both agreed that it was their first match, and Ollie was just settling in.

Unfortunately, not all of the adults on the touchline were as patient/considerate as us, and one grandfather in particular (I assume he was a grandfather, as he looked to be of retirement age, but he also appeared to be from one of those families where even the middle-aged members are on borrowed time) became very vocal towards the players, singling Ollie out in particular:

“Who’s that kid there? He’s just standing there doing nothing!”

I wanted to respond with: “That’s actually my son. He’s eight years old, this is his first match, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s pissing it down. How about you cut him some fucking slack, you horrible, odious, mouth-breathing swamp donkey?”; but, as ever in this sort of situation, I had to quickly assess my chances of ending up in hospital, and decided that this chap – whilst potentially elderly – probably didn’t lose all his teeth eating toffees.

Even though I later regretted not defending my son, I made a mental note to instead blog about this piece of shit the following Friday (today) and wish upon him a plague of every venereal disease known to man (plus, if possible, some not yet known to man). The fact that his penis was almost certainly black and shrivelled already, made little difference to me, and I was comforted by my mental act of revenge.

I then became slightly side-tracked, by trying to remember how to spell gonorrhoea (even now, having spell-checked it, that still doesn’t look right to me), and by the time I regained my focus on the match, Ollie’s team were 4-0 down.

Now, if I thought the unusual kick-off routine was a bit different, another rule I was unaware of until last weekend was that, should a team find themselves 4-0 down, they are allowed to bring an extra player onto the pitch. So, just when I thought Ollie may be substituted for someone better, his team ended up with an extra man on the field.

Unfortunately, this made no difference whatsoever, as they just as quickly found themselves 8-0 down, meaning their only remaining player could also enter the pitch. To further compound the problem, their opponents were now able to rotate their players to give some of them a rest, whereas The Kites had to keep all of their players on until the end of the match (or at least until they reduced the goal deficit, but this seemed unlikely). Unsurprisingly, they quickly became knackered – and soaked.

This didn’t help the mood of the group next to me, and one father in particular who – whilst at least directing vitriol towards his own son rather than mine – took matters a little too far (following a badly timed slide tackle) by shouting ‘Stay on your fucking feet!’. Classy.

Anyway, much as I would love for this story to end in triumph, with Ollie’s team overcoming adversity to snatch victory with the last kick of the game (preferably with Ollie scoring the winner, so that I could run the length of the pitch waving my shirt around my head); sadly it was not to be, and I lost count of the score when it got to 15-0.

I was, however, immensely proud of Ollie – and the rest of his team for that matter – since at no point did his head drop, and more importantly, he didn’t cry (which, if I’m honest, I fully expected him to).

In fact, he seems relatively upbeat about tomorrow’s match (God love his optimism) and has spent the last few days working out ‘tactics’ on FIFA 18. Unfortunately, this has involved him playing as Burnley (so that the kit looks realistic), but at least he has changed all the players’ names to match those of his teammates.

“Lucas, passes to Lucas, back to Jacob, who picks out Lucas, Jacob shoots….”

See, don’t they look similar?

Wish us luck for tomorrow, and thanks for reading x

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Blog Boy School

On Tuesday, Isaac started primary school – and, as expected, it could have gone better.

Don’t get me wrong, it could have easily gone much worse (this is Isaac); but compared to some of the little angels at the school gate, who behaved impeccably for their parents – practically skipping into the reception classroom – ours still claimed a podium finish in the ‘sulky little twat’ event.

Admittedly, it’s not like his refusal to accept school came as a shock, since there were plenty of warnings:

  1. He was the same when he went to pre-school (and even, on a few occasions, at nursery – which he loved);
  2. Ollie was the same, when he started reception four years ago. In fact, he not only screamed when my wife dropped him off each morning, he refused to take part in P.E. for months (even, on one occasion, running away and hiding under a desk in an empty classroom). To this day, he still refuses to take his socks off when doing any kind of sport, lest his classmates catch a glimpse of his perfectly ordinary feet;
  3. I was also the same at his age, when I went to primary school (a point my mother has raised on more than one occasion since Tuesday); and, until DNA tests prove otherwise, I assume that Isaac’s genetic make-up is roughly 50% mine.

So, on the basis the male side of our family is comprised solely of wimps, who don’t deal well with change, we really had no reason to believe Isaac would take the transition into primary school education with anything other than a massive fucking tantrum.

Still, ridiculous as it may sound, my wife and I still clung on to the slight possibility he might just ‘pull it out of the bag’ at the last minute.  Of course, the only thing he actually pulled out of the bag at the last minute was his P.E. kit, which was then launched across the room with a banshee-like scream, but this was the least of our worries.

You see, all parents have concerns before their child starts school; but whereas some might panic that their son or daughter will struggle to make friends, or may even get bullied, my three main worries were as follows:

1. Toiletting

The stubborn little bastard won’t go to the toilet. At all.

It’s not that he doesn’t need to go, more that he cannot bare the thought of anyone knowing he is having a wee (including, sometimes, his own parents). He would far sooner give himself stomach ache (and Christ knows what other medical issues), by storing it up all day until home time, than just go to the toilet like any normal child would.

Thankfully, my wife also appears to be part-camel, and he has inherited his strong bladder from her (another Daddy-DNA bullet dodged, since I have the bladder of a particularly-incontinent tea-drinking pensioner), so at least there is only a limited risk of wetting himself.

2. Writing

He writes backwards. This is entirely because he is left-handed, and it is apparently quite normal with left-handed children, but his letters are sometimes so obscure, I did have a niggling concern that his teachers might assume he is a Russian spy;

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That’s his name at the top

3. His hair

I wrote in a recent blog entry about his long hair (https://middlerageddad.com/2018/06/01/blogs-and-girls/), and how much he adores it, but he has recently started worrying about being picked on because of it – and even, the day before starting school, confessed that he was scared the other children might think he is a girl.

Aside from this breaking my heart a little, it also gave me the rather unnatural concern that he may try to prove he is a boy by getting his willy out for all to see. It was a fleeting worry – since he won’t even announce going to the toilet in front of others – but it was a worry nonetheless.

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I also have the rather selfish concern that, for three days a week, I will be doing the morning school run, and I was meant to spend the summer practising doing pony-tails, pig-tails, French plaits etc., but time ran away with me.

What I had not anticipated for his first day, was that it would take nearly an hour of screaming and kicking to even get his underpants on (I should stress that the screaming and kicking was all him), and at one point the thrashing became so violent, I contemplated phoning our local priest.

In the end, my wife patiently went through every pair he owns (and he seemingly has hundreds), in an attempt to calm him down, and somehow succeeded just in time for us to leave the house.

Ok, he refused to wear the school jumper, and would only put on the embroidered polo-shirt if he was allowed to wear a dinosaur t-shirt underneath (which was, incidentally, highly visible), but we chose to pick our battles, and the very fact we got him out of the door with any clothes on at all was frankly a miracle. We even managed a couple of obligatory ‘first day’ photos in the garden, which up until this year have only featured Ollie.

When we got to the playground, I have to admit I could see why it might be daunting for Isaac – or any child – to enter that environment for the first time.

The intake at our school is sixty children, and all of them had at least one, if not both parents with them for their first day; so there were upwards of two-hundred bodies swarming around the classroom door (and that’s not including the children and parents of the neighbouring classrooms, which comprise the ‘Infants’ half of the school).

To pass the time before the bell (and subsequent scene I was expecting Isaac to make), I looked around at all the other parents, to see if I could determine which had experienced the ‘first day’ before with older siblings, and which were newbies. The difference was very obvious.

For example, the newbies often looked more nervous than their children, and some were already emotional at the thought of their little baby going off on their own. Many were uttering the usual phrases, like ‘where has the time gone?’ and ‘it’ll seem so quiet at home now’, between tearful sniffs (hey, I’m not judging, I cried like a little girl at Long Lost Family the other week).

In contrast, the seasoned parents like us (and we only have two kids; some of these idiots with three or more really need to show some self-control), had adopted the same universal expression – which was a mixture of sympathy for the newbies (‘I remember when we were like that’) and sheer fucking glee that the latest/last of our offspring was finally someone else’s responsibility for a large chunk of each weekday.

The difference between the two types of parent was even more obvious when the bell finally went, and the reception teachers came out to collect their new recruits for the academic year.

All the newbie parents squeezed their little darlings tightly one final time, wished them a wonderful first day, and sobbed as they watched them disappear through the door. They then hung around outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of their son or daughter smiling and having fun already, as a form of comfort for their childless journey home.

Some even made a point of talking to the teachers, to try and cram all of their child’s little foibles into one barrage of verbal diarrhoea – as if the teachers haven’t already dealt with every kind of weird child many times before (apart from, perhaps, Isaac). It was as though these parents simply couldn’t bear to leave the playground.

Then, there was the rest of us. The battle-hardened parents with older siblings, who had given up caring some time ago. As one, we simply ushered (in some cases, pushed) our kids towards the teachers, offered a half-hearted ‘you’ll be fine’; ‘have fun’; or ‘don’t fuck this up’ (to our children, not the teachers); then turned and ran with unbridled joy and freedom.

None of us looked back, and we certainly didn’t hang around (in case our particular child did try to escape). Most importantly, we didn’t even make eye-contact with any of the teachers, let alone talk to one of them, in case it slowed down our escape.

Even if we had spoken, it would only have been along the lines of:

“He’s your responsibility now, so you fucking deal with him! You’re only in teaching for the holidays anyway, admit it, so you’re going to damn well earn them this year. Try not to let him break you by 3.15pm on the first day!”

(Then turn and run away, cackling gleefully).

In our case, Isaac immediately clung to us when he noticed other children going through the gate, and had to be physically detached by his favourite teaching assistant from pre-school, who we shall call Mr Shaw (because, well, that’s his name). I doubt Mr Shaw will ever read this, but we owe him our thanks; because he came over, gave Isaac a hug, and then quickly carried him through the gate before he had chance to react.

Thankfully, it transpires the limited amount of concern we had dedicated to Isaac’s first day (compared to when Ollie started, and I couldn’t concentrate at work through worry), was completely unwarranted; because – by all accounts – it had gone about as well as we could have hoped.

As I said at the outset, it was by no means perfect, because he apparently hardly spoke all day, and didn’t seem to make any new friends; but at least we didn’t get a phone call around lunch time asking us to collect him and never bring him back.

When it comes to school collection time, particularly in those first few weeks, you dread being the parent who the teachers come over to for a ‘chat’; because as soon as that happens you know it’s your child who has created an issue. It’s like a walk of shame, only it’s the teacher doing the walking.

In contrast, there is no greater feeling of relief, than when the teacher heads towards you, only to detour or walk past at the last minute. It’s the playground equivalent of your airport transfer bus arriving at a shitty hotel when abroad, then discovering it’s for someone else.

Isaac even seemed relatively enthusiastic about returning the next day (which was something of a relief, because I was due to do the school run on my own) – that is, so long as he could have new shoes for the second day (and every subsequent day thereafter).

See, I told you he’s odd.

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Run FatBlog Run (Birchwood)

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Last Sunday, I completed the seventh race of my 10 x 10k challenge for 2018, at Birchwood, near Warrington (a place so nondescript, the BBC weather app doesn’t even acknowledge its existence – presumably because it is overshadowed by that monstrous IKEA down the road, which is seemingly so vast, it is now twinned with Luxembourg).

I feel I don’t need to repeat my utter hatred of running, as I have publicised this more than enough already, but suffice to say I approach each new 10k with the same feeling – one of dread. My siblings and I have coined this sensation ‘swimming lesson belly’, because when we were kids we all hating swimming lessons, and suffered that same sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs as the weekly lesson approached. To this day, I still can’t watch ‘Garfield’ without getting that same knot in my gut (it was always on BBC1, just before we had to leave our house for the local swimming baths).

Fortunately, the (slightly irrational) apprehension I suffer in the days prior to each race is easing slightly, which I assume is partly due to the fact I have now successfully completed a number of events without major incident (if we conveniently ignore the one race where there was an incident), and partly because the end is almost in sight.

That said, because I completed last Sunday’s Birchwood 10k in under fifty minutes (which is an unofficial target I have set myself, after the far more important task of actually running all ten races, I have decided to re-enter the Tatton Park 10k in October, because it is the only race so far where I had to stop and walk for a bit, and which consequently resulted in a slower than fifty minutes finish.

At the time, I cut myself some slack, as it was the first event following the Whitchurch 10k (and my confidence was somewhat knocked), but now the dust has settled, I can’t help thinking it might be the only race of the ten which lets me down, and I’d hate to pass up the opportunity to rectify that. Besides, it’s the only race I can re-run (as the majority are annual), and I currently have a little gap in October which it will slot into nicely. My wife isn’t chuffed with the idea, but it’s something I feel I need to do.

So, ultimately, the Birchwood 10k is actually now relegated to event number six, rather than event number seven, but wherever it sits in the grand scheme of this challenge, it couldn’t have gone much better.

Ok, the weather wasn’t ideal, as this was the first race where I have been rained on (heavily), but it turns out rain – despite the nuisance factor of wearing glasses – is ultimately preferable to the stifling heat I completed the Alderley Edge 10k in last month (which may well be the only time ‘Alderley Edge’ and ‘stifling heat’ have been used in the same sentence).

Overall, the Birchwood 10k was a well-organised, friendly event, with runners (and pacers) offering regular encouragement to one another, and it’s amazing how helpful that can be – particularly when this was one of those events where the wearing of headphones was unfortunately banned (albeit poorly enforced).

I even made a friend prior to the race starting (‘oooh, running fwend’), when an older chap and his wife noticed my bespoke Kidscan shirt, and commented that he too was running ten 10k races this year for his chosen charity (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital); so we shared our progress, and wished each other luck in our respective challenges. I especially liked him, because he had the decency to finish behind me by a few minutes (I do hate it when runners several years my senior make me look rubbish).

Anyway, without further ado, here are my scores for the Birchwood 10k:

Time: 49:13 (which, aside from the rather anomalous Whitchurch race, was just two seconds off my PB)

Position: 329th out of 957, which means I have just missed out on my final semi-official target of finishing in the top-third of each race (but, frankly, I’m not that bothered anymore).

Cost: £18.00 – which is pretty much average, although there was an unexpected – and rather randomly calculated – £2.08 ‘processing fee’, making this one of the more expensive races, unfortunately.

Course: A bit of a mixed bag, really. We started outside a shopping centre, ran along some roads – which were only partially closed to traffic – covered a couple of miles of parks and cycle-paths, when headed back onto the roads – including crossing the M6 twice (don’t worry, there was a bridge, they aren’t that fucking stupid) – before finishing on the other side of the same shopping centre.

A very windy route, which you could easily get lost on if it weren’t for the excellent marshaling (and sheer number of runners around you), but it was almost entirely tarmac and, aside from the three times we had to cross roads over bridges, it was relatively flat. Overall, it could have been much worse – 8/10

Weather: Had the rain stopped fifteen minutes earlier than it did (or not turned up at all), the weather would have been pretty much perfect, but by the time it dried up I was already soaked. Still, the temperature was ideal, and apart from some muddy spots, once the rained ceased I could have no complaints – 8/10

Organisation: Ok, the pre-race pack which was posted out to us may not have been as polished and glossy as the Alderley Edge publication a couple of months ago, but it still contained every piece of information I needed, not to mention the rather unwelcome news that – due to the route not being completely road-closed – headphones were banned, and anyone seen wearing them would be disqualified. As usual, it turned out a number of people ignored this rule, and seemingly got away with it, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk 8/10

Official Photos: Unlike every other event I have taken part in so far, this one boasted not just one but two official photographers. Unfortunately, both want to charge me to show you the snaps I feature in, and one of them almost missed me completely, in that he only captured the left side of my body – and none of my (admittedly no doubt red and panting) face.

In fairness, this was probably because my sprint finish was faster than anything he has ever witnessed, but I still don’t want to pay over a tenner for a glossy picture of the poor bastard I was zooming past on the final straight; as his particular moment of glory was overshadowed by my left elbow and a bit of side-boob.

The other photographer did manage to take one snap of me, but I again look like shit, and even though his prices were more reasonable, I still object to paying for a photo of me looking dreadful just so I can explain my point to you, dear reader 6/10

Medal: Solid, metal, an unusual shape, and bright green – which means it certainly stands out among my collection. We also have three of them as a family, since a kindly old chap decided he didn’t need medals at his age, and gave the two he had (I presume the other was from a friend) to our boys. I tried to disguise my disappointment at the fact they had received the same medal I had worked bloody hard for, despite only spending an hour in the warm in Costa, but fear I didn’t hide it too well – 8/10

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Goody-bag: There wasn’t one, but in its place we received a rather fetching – and good quality – running shirt (my fourth of this challenge), in bright green to match the medal.

Rather annoyingly, however, not only did the children who ran the 2k fun run earlier in the morning actually receive a goody-bag (look, I’m not suggesting I desperately wanted a yo-yo and some bubbles, but the crisps and chocolate would have gone down nicely), but yet again my kids were the recipients of some left-over bags, so now they had medals and treats, for achieving the grand total of fuck all. In the warm.

Still, at least the little scroungers didn’t get a t-shirt, and it is really nice – 7/10

 

Post-race refreshment: We got a bottle of water as we finished and…. that was it. Not even a flapjack. Oh dear, Birchwood, and it was going so well. I have, however, decided not to mark them too harshly, on account of the fact I have usually felt too sick to eat the flapjack or jelly babies offered at previous events anyway – 4/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 8/10

Organisation: 8/10

Photos: 6/10

Medal: 8/10

Goody-bag: 7/10

Refreshments: 4/10

Giving Birchwood a total score of 49/70 (or 70%) – placing it joint third with Whitchurch on my leaderboard:

Colshaw Hall                      52/70                     (74%)

Alderley Edge                    51/70                     (73%)

Birchwood                          49/70                     (70%)

Whitchurch                        49/70                     (70%)

Tatton Park                        47/70                     (67%)

Oulton Park                       46/70                     (66%)

Poynton                               39/70                     (56%)

I am still amazed that the Whitchurch event is doing so well, as I have nothing but horrible memories of what happened at the end – and in the days afterwards – but the scores don’t lie.

For my next race, I’m coming home – in more ways than one. Not only is the Sandbach 10k walkable for me (and, by that, I mean I can walk to get there, rather than walk the course), but it’s the first 10k I ever did last September, and I now appreciate how flat the course is. Plus, my brother and some friends are joining me for this one, so it isn’t filling me with the usual dread (or swimming lesson belly) which most of the others have.

As ever, if any of you fancy sacrificing the cost of just one drink from this weekend, and chucking it towards a charity working really hard to combat childhood cancer, then here’s the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

Thanks for reading x

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Vocablogary

As you may have gathered by now, I am easily irritated.

In general, people can annoy me by carrying out the most simple of daily activities, whether that happens to be talking, walking, driving, eating, or even breathing. For example:

Talking – I don’t like silly voices, certain accents, or meaningless slang words (for example, if you happen to refer to food as ‘scran’, please kindly fuck right off);

Walking – I don’t like people who stop too suddenly in the street (especially when they then turn around and glare at you like you actually wanted to become intimate with their bottom);

Driving – I don’t like people who undertake, overtake a queue (then cut in at the last second), refuse to indicate, park inconsiderately, speed in built-up areas…. Essentially, I don’t like BMW drivers;

Eating – I don’t like it when people eat with their mouth open, chew loudly, or slurp liquid food;

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Breathing – I don’t like people who breathe loudly, as though they are permanently making a mucky phone call, or those who breathe excessively through their nose. I also don’t like racist or homophobic people breathing at all.

I could go on, as the list of irritations I face in every-day life is virtually never-ending, but you get the general idea.

You might assume, therefore, that people mispronouncing words would drive me to the very brink of physical violence; however – rather bizarrely – I not only find this amusing, I have recently begun saying words incorrectly on purpose, just for the poop and laughter of it all.

To be honest, I suspect this is the first sign of my imminent mid-life crisis (you know, aside from the grey hairs, and recent dream I had about buying a convertible Porsche), but unlike the other indicators that I am getting old, I actually relish this one. In fact, the only thing I am looking forward to about getting old, is the opportunity to do and say whatever the hell I like, and others finding it adorable – rather than, well, a bit twatty.

My fondness for mispronunciation all started at Law School, when one of the girls I lived with (there were only two, so don’t go assuming I was the Hugh Heffner of Chester – I wish), made fajitas for her dinner, and pronounced the word:

FADGE–IT–ASS

At the time, this made me chuckle (not least because the girl in question was – and presumably still is – very intelligent indeed), but over time it became an in-joke between my wife and I, to such an extent that we started referring to FADGE-IT-ASS ourselves.

Then, on one occasion many years later, I instinctively – and accidentally – did so in public (whilst shopping in Tesco), and noticed someone stare at me in disbelief, like I was a complete moron. I was about to explain, when I suddenly remembered my own joy at first hearing this mispronunciation of the word, and decided instead to let them savour the moment.

I like to think that they then went home and told their friends and family about the idiot with his FADGE-IT-ASS in Tesco; and word spread from there. Who knows, maybe one day we can persuade sufficient numbers of people that our pronunciation is in fact correct, and then petition the Government (via something like Change.Org), to acknowledge it? Ok, the Mexicans will still probably pronounce it the old-fashioned way, but that’s their prerogative (it is, after all, their word), but they’ll be too preoccupied with Trump and his wall to notice.

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Anyway, in recent years, as the mid-life senility caused by having young children has truly taken hold, I have relished finding new and increasingly ludicrous ways of pronouncing the slightly more exotic words we encounter in modern society.

For example, the recent discovery of quinoa (QUINN-OH-AH), by a Waitrose employee in Chichester*, was a gift, because no fucker in their right mind would assume the correct pronunciation of that word is in fact KEEN-WAH.

(* NB: I may have made this fact up)

You have never experienced true infuriation, until you have repeatedly corrected a pretentious middle-class person in Waitrose, on their use of the word quinoa.

“Erm, I think you’ll find it’s pronounced QUINN-OH-AH, actually”

If you repeat this enough, with sufficient conviction in what you are saying, not only is it tremendous sport, but sometimes you can actually spot the first signs of a nervous twitch begin to develop in their increasingly purple face.

My ultimate aim, is to one day find a middle-class person who I push so far, they actually begin to doubt which of us is correct.

In fact, I hereby challenge each of you – well, the dozen or so who will read this – to mispronounce something in public today (the more ludicrous the better), then gauge people’s reactions. I promise it will be the most fun you have had in ages.

To help you, here are some easy words to destroy in the company of others:

Lasagne: pronounced LAZ-AGG-NAY

Cappuccino: pronounced CAR-PUCK-EE-KNOW

Pistachios: pronounced PISS-TATCH-EE-OSS

Chorizo: pronounced SHORE-EYE-ZOH

Champagne: pronounced SHAM-PAG-NAY

All of the above are good for a bit of light amusement. However, should you be lucky enough to find yourself dining at a Mexican restaurant – or at least somewhere which has Mexican elements to its menu (apart from Mexico itself, it doesn’t work so well there) – this is a veritable smorgasbord of mispronunciation, and is where the real fun starts:

Jalapeños: JALL-APP-AH-NOSS (the trick is to say it like it is a Greek island)

Guacamole: GOO-ACK-A-MOLE

Enchiladas: ON-KILL-ADDERS

Quesadillas: CUE-SAD-ILL-ASS

Chipotle: CHIP-POO-TULL

All washed down with a delightful MODGE-ITT-OH (Mojito).

Should any of you try this, please feel free to let me know how you get on. In fact, if you can actually record the event – and the reactions of your victims – as evidence, even better. I’ll even upload the best ones to my Facebook page.

That’s it for now. Join me next week, when I’ll be explaining how much fun can be gained by sneaking random – and entirely unrelated – words into legal arguments, pretending they are bona fide Latin:

“No doubt you are familiar with the doctrine of Wingardium Leviosa…..”

“We would remind your client that it is their overriding duty to practice Bifidus Digestivum at all times…”

Thanks for reading x

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Bloggykissangel

Last November, I introduced you to a good friend of mine from Law school, who I referred to as ‘Gerard’ – because, well, that’s his name (#139 https://middlerageddad.com/2017/11/10/blogged-determination).

If you read that entry, you may recall Gerard is somewhat hazardous for my health, as we have a history of undertaking crazy challenges for charity, however – due to having young families – we haven’t seen each other in years. Until last weekend.

Gerard is originally from Belfast, but now lives in Aughrim, County Wicklow, with his wife Nicola, and their two children. On Saturday, he turned 40, and earlier this year Nicola contacted me to say she was planning on a surprise party and would love it if we could attend. I didn’t take much persuading, and despite some initial problems sorting accommodation and ferries, the plans – which I have had to keep secret – have been in place since March.

Things were fine, until the middle of last week, when I discovered that mine and Ollie’s passports were missing.

Having checked online, we didn’t technically need passports to enter Ireland (although Ryan Air would have argued otherwise), so long as we had photo ID. However, whilst I had my driving licence, Ollie didn’t have anything, and so the website suggested alternatives, including: birth certificate; bank statement; and, I shit you not, ‘firearms certificate’. It seems the Irish authorities don’t mind kids travelling without a passport, so long as they’re packing heat.

To be on the safe side, I emailed the ferry company to double-check, and their reply was that we ‘should be ok’. How delightfully vague.

What follows, is an account of our trip….

 

SATURDAY

Having got up early to catch our ferry, I had to get over my fear of driving abroad. Now, you might think Wales is not technically ‘abroad’ – and I accept we do share a currency and drive on the same side of the road – but I would also argue that they speak a different language (well, they do when I’m around) and all seem to hate me. As such, it’s abroad as far as I’m concerned.

We got to Holyhead early, partly in case of unexpected traffic, but mostly because, with two missing passports, I wanted plenty of time to argue (in a loud voice in case they DIDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH), that I had an email confirming we would ‘probably be ok’.

Thankfully, our lack of passports posed no problem whatsoever, since they didn’t ask for any ID at all. In fact, anyone with a print-out of our booking could have boarded the ferry in our name without question. With a shotgun.

Once aboard, my wife produced a cool-box of snacks, which she jokingly referred to as her ‘bag of crap’. Unfortunately, Isaac overheard this, and started excitedly jumping around shouting “Yay! Bag of crap! Bag of crap!” He then proceeded to devour the contents before we had set off.

I then began teaching the boys how to say Gerard’s name properly, as I didn’t want them to suffer the same humiliation I had at law school, when calling him Jare-rard. Apparently, to pronounce his name correctly (with a Belfast accent), it must rhyme with ‘turd’.

Ollie, to his credit, at least attempted to pronounce it correctly while we were there; whereas Isaac, in typical Isaac style, insisted on addressing him as ‘Uncle John’, ‘Uncle George’ or ‘Uncle James’, just to spite me.

When we got off the ferry, I was relieved to discover our sat-nav not only worked, but seemed to recognise our destination, so we quickly sent a message to Nicola to give our eta, then headed off.

When we parked at their house an hour or so later, our arrival coincided with a number of other party-goers (mostly family) which reassured me that we had the right place – and thankfully just in time, as Nicola informed us that Gerard would be back from the pub (where his Dad had taken him as a distraction) in fifteen minutes. This meant we didn’t have time to change, so looked a little scruffy, but at least we made it in time for the big reveal.

It would be fair to say Gerard got a shock, when he opened his front door to about forty people getting drunk and shouting ‘surprise!’, and was pleased that we had been able to come over for his big day.

The party was a huge success (to Nicola’s credit); the cake she had ordered was amazing; and the evening was rounded off nicely by a visit to the pub to get drunk. Splendid.

 

 

SUNDAY

We had no plans for Sunday, and as we couldn’t check-in to our hotel until 3pm (not that I was safe to drive anyway), we decided to spend the day with our hosts.

Having not had chance the evening before, I gave Gerard our gift, which was a 1978/79 Ireland shirt (the season he was born), with his surname and ’40’ on the back, together with a Manchester United programme (his team) – again from the month of his birth, August 1978 – when they happened to play my beloved Stockport County.

We then took the kids to the park to enjoy the glorious weather, and bought ice creams on the way back; at which point Isaac started happily singing a tune of his own creation:

“My lovely legs

My lovely feet

My lovely face

It’s all cool.

(When singing this in your head, it is important to deliver the final line in a chilled-out ‘Jazz Club’ style, to accurately replicate the original)

We then bid farewell, and drove to Arklow (where we had a hotel booked for the next three nights), but made plans to meet the following day, as it was a bank holiday.

 

 

MONDAY

Having considered a few options for a family day out, we eventually settled on Wells House in Co. Wicklow, as it had lots of activities, such as a playground and Gruffalo trail, but also a cafe and ice cream kiosk.

The trail had a number of ‘fairy doors’ for kids to knock on – although I did wonder whether teaching them to knock on doors and then run away was a good idea, not least because some little fuckers had done it to our hotel room the night before, and I didn’t want my boys growing up as anti-social little reprobates too.

That evening, having bid farewell to Gerard and his family, we headed back to our hotel, and decided to treat the boys to a cinema trip. Our film of choice was ‘The Incredibles 2’ (which was decidedly un-incredible, but still better than ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’), and we then took them to Eddie Rocket’s for dinner – which is a burger chain of American-themed diners, if you’ve never heard of it.

After dinner, Ollie wanted to add the restaurant to his list of ‘public places to take a shit’, but not only insisted I stand outside the cubicle door in case anyone came in, he then wanted to discuss our favourite parts of the holiday so far. Apparently, my sarcastic response of ‘this moment right now’, was somewhat lost on him.

 

 

TUESDAY

My wife spent a lot of time on holiday in Ireland as a child (her mother is Irish), and wanted to re-visit some memories while we were there – the first being Glendalough.

Glendalough is a monastic settlement from the 6th Century (so, for all intents and purposes, it might as well have been another fucking castle), but adjacent to the settlement is a woodland walk leading to a large lake.

As you might expect, the scenery was spectacular, but I also found the settlement interesting, and tried to encourage the boys too. Sadly, Isaac was a little on the young side to appreciate it:

“Isaac, come here. I want to show you something.”

“Is it chocolate?”

“No.”

“Sweeties?”

“No!”

“Then I don’t want to.”

Ollie showed marginally greater interest, but even he struggled after about half an hour, so we set off in search of the lake.

Ollie then announced he was going on an adventure, selected a stick (for marking his route and clearing foliage), and a rock (the purpose of which was less clear), then headed up a steep embankment, rather than walking along the path with his family.

Even Isaac kept his complaints to an uncharacteristic minimum, and insisted on finding his own stick and rock (for beating small animals – and his brother – with, presumably), before marching off as the ‘leader’.

We shared some of the walk with a coach party from an indeterminate country – my guess would be somewhere South American – but, whatever language they were speaking, I did manage to pick out their word for picnic. Which is ‘picneek’.

When we reached the lake, which was beautiful, everyone stopped to take photos, including two young Canadian girls to my left, who took it in turns to pose for each other in front of the picturesque backdrop. Ever the gent, I offered to take a photo of the two of them together, which I thought was a nice gesture, although it was met with a puzzled, and then reluctant, ‘ok, sure’.

Only after I snapped a few pictures of the two girls, and they again (apprehensively) thanked me, did my wife point out – much to her amusement – their mother had been stood behind me the whole time. I don’t think the situation could have been any more awkward, had I taken the pictures on my own phone and then walked off.

Before heading back to our hotel, we detoured via the village of Avoca (which, I have since learned, is Gaelic for ‘Fuck All Here’), because apparently the popular 1990’s television series Ballykissangel was filmed there. We felt obliged to pop into the pub used in the series, Fitzgerald’s, but rather than be obvious and have Guinness (which, in hindsight, I should have) we opted for cream teas instead.

The place was quiet at first, but soon after we arrived a coach party of Americans turned up, and a group of ladies took the table next to ours, before loudly perusing the menu with confused faces.

“What’s ‘bangers and mash’? What’s a banger? I get ‘fish and chips’, because that’s fish, with chips, but what’s a banger and mash?”

Then, one of them discovered an English £5 note in her purse, and she really wasn’t happy.

“Why would someone do that? What good is that to me? We haven’t even been to England!”

I felt sorry for her, and suggested to my wife that I could offer to swap a €5 note for their £5 (after all, the exchange rate is virtually 1:1), but she advised against getting involved again (oh, sure, now she intervenes….) so I decided to leave it.

I’m glad I did, because it subsequently transpired not only had the Americans visited the Giant’s Causeway a few days earlier, which is famously in Northern Ireland (where the currency is Sterling), they actually had plans to include England in their travels. I then desperately wanted to intervene with:

“Sorry to interrupt, but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation – mostly because you are SO FUCKING LOUD – and I wanted to explain a few things, before conveying that I truly hope you choke on your bangers.”

 

 

WEDNESDAY

Thanks to lack of sleep, the boys were foul for most of the drive back to Sandbach – topped off by Isaac screaming for ALL THE SNACKS; forcing his stinking feet into Ollie’s face (most of the M56 could smell them, so he didn’t need to move them any nearer); and insisting that in ‘rock, paper, scissors’, his rock defeated everything Ollie could offer (it blunts scissors, rips paper, and smashes other rocks, apparently), all of which made Ollie cry, before they both fell asleep.

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We are never going away again.

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E-Blog The Letter

(That’s an R.E.M. reference, in case you didn’t know. Random, but it fits this week’s entry)

For those of you who don’t follow my Facebook page, we were on holiday last week, but I kept in touch by uploading a daily ‘postcard’. This entry is a compilation of those postcards, because:

  1. It’s a nice summary, both for me to look back on, and for you to (hopefully) enjoy – particularly if you haven’t already read them;
  2. For those with a job like mine, where nothing gets done in your absence, I have returned to a shitstorm of e-mails and post, and don’t have time to come up with anything more original….

Monday

  1. This morning, we drove to Stratford-upon-Avon, to visit a playground we discovered last year. Ollie jumped straight in to the lido, wearing a swimming costume far too small – it left little to the imagination – while Isaac sulked by the side, claiming he ‘doesn’t like water’ – presumably because he is part-Gremlin.
  2. He eventually dipped one foot in, before crying because it got wet.
  3. My threshold for other people’s brats, who soak everyone in sight (while squealing like fucking banshees), is two minutes. After that, I have visions of taking off a shoe and throwing it at their face, because the crying would be a welcome change.
  4. Isaac waited until we had to leave, before deciding he loves paddling, and refused to get out.
  5. We must stop taking our children to nice places for lunch. It would be easier, and cheaper, to take them to McDonald’s, and let them beat the shit out of each other there.
  6. Back at our campsite, I joined the boys for a swim in the outdoor pool. Ollie got straight in, whereas Isaac forgot his earlier experience, and was back to hating water.
  7. My recollection of how freezing the pool was last year (it took three months to relocate my testicles) was unwarranted, as the water was lovely and warm – probably thanks to the dozens of children pissing in it.
  8. Having eventually dipped his feet in, Isaac’s bravery returned, and he began jumping for me to catch him. This quickly became tedious, but was apparently the most fun he has had in months.
  9. Why is there always one little shit, who ignores the signs and cannonballs repeatedly?
  10. Why does that kid always belong to the monstrosity sat miles away on their phone? And why, no matter how hard I wish, does that kid never hurt himself?

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Tuesday

  1. The market we went to as kids has gone downhill – unless you want giant old lady underwear, 1970’s crockery, or knock-off DVDs.
  2. The amount of time an adult can spend in a ‘model village’, before becoming bored, is around seven minutes. Children last longer, because ‘everything is TINY’.
  3. Our Children + Heat = Post-apocalyptic savages.
  4. If you cheat on ‘My Fitness Pal’, you can get a cream tea for 284 calories.
  5. All parking machines in The Cotswolds were designed by fucking morons. In Bourton-on-the-Water, one insisted I pay depending on my vehicle, but only offered four options: Coach, Minibus, Motor Home, Honda Civic*. It then asked me to select the duration in 1.5-hour increments, before demanding payment via card (despite having a coin slot).

*I can’t remember the final option, but it wasn’t ‘car’, and with the average resident being 92, it was either ‘Honda Civic’, ‘mobility scooter’, or ‘coffin’.

  1. The boys wanted to go in the pool again. Isaac got on my back and insisted on shouting ‘gallop, horsey, gallop through the deep blue sea’.
  2. My ‘galloping horsey’ apparently looks more like ‘mincing velociraptor’.
  3. A kid jumped in near Ollie, who cried like he had been mortally wounded, claiming he had water in the back of his eye.
  4. We took the boys to a nice pub for dinner, despite their behaviour earlier. On the walk, Isaac wanted to play ‘I-spy’, and started with “something beginning with TR”. The answer, we discovered, was ‘leaves’ (because they are on TRees).
  5. Ollie decided the children’s menu was beneath him, and ordered a 10oz steak. I would have objected, had I not been so damn impressed. He cleared it, the fucking legend.

Wednesday

  1. Today, we visited ‘Birdland’, which was – rather disappointingly – not a strip club.
  2. On the drive, we challenged the boys to spot animals. Within seconds (and with no animals in sight – not even a bird in the sky, or distant cow), Isaac claimed victory. I called bullshit, and insisted he point out this mystery animal. Turns out, he thinks trees are animals (and will scream at anyone who suggests otherwise).
  3. At Birdland, Ollie insisted we head straight to his favourite animals: penguins. In fairness, they were the highlight (flamingoes are fine, but nowhere near as much fun), and Isaac grabbed his pencil and started to draw. Suitably impressed, I braved speaking to him (he doesn’t like it when I address him directly) and complimented his lovely penguin. He then screamed that the drawing was, in actual fact, a robot.
  4. Isaac continued drawing over lunch, sketching ‘kisses’ (hearts) for mummy, flowers for Daddy, and footballs for Ollie. When asked what he was going to draw for himself, he answered: “Jaffa cakes”.
  5. We then visited the ‘Dragonfly Maze’, where you have to not only find the centre (standard maze rules), but also solve clues along the way. Issac insisted on leading, but proved about as useful as a blind, hyperactive puppy.
  6. Next, we drove to Stow-on-the-Wold, and having walked around the shops for an hour, we decided Daddy should have a beer (because Daddy was looking pissed off). Having found a pub, which was promptly ruined for everyone by the arrival of our children, I smacked my head on a low beam for the second time today.
  7. Isaac thought spending the day being horrible warranted a treat, and asked us to buy him a Peppa Pig toy. I wanted to laugh and tell him to fuck off, but opted for the more diplomatic “Isaac, you have been incredibly naughty, and you are getting nothing.”

“My been good!”

“You haven’t.”

“My have!”

“When?”

“Next week.”

  1. I took the boys to the pool again, and thought it would be funny to reference Stephen King’s ‘IT’, by teasing Isaac into the water with ‘Come on, Isaac, you’ll float. We all float down here.’ Everyone heard me. No one got the reference. Twats.
  2. The boys demanded I carry them like a donkey, then Ollie wanted to stand on my back and ‘jet ski’. His foot not only pulled my shorts down (exposing me), but he buried a toe in my arse-crack. I squealed like a pig.
  3. Isaac finally dropped off the colossal shit he has been threatening for two days, but waited until dinner to go fully dilated. After eating, he needed another, and it was Daddy’s turn to dash him back to the caravan. Whilst cleaning, post-splashdown, Daddy got actual shit on his finger.

Thursday

  1. Today’s ‘trip for our kids to ruin’, was, erm, a ruin. Kenilworth Castle, to be precise. It wouldn’t be a family holiday if we didn’t go to a castle (fortunately, now we have kids, my wife usually rations herself to just one per holiday).
  2. When faced with an Elizabethan dressing-up box, you can count on me to head straight for the lady garments. I’m starting to think, if there was such a thing as Elizabethan Drag, it’d be right up my street.
  3. We visited ‘the Queen’s privy garden’ (the Queen being Elizabeth I) and, because he had read the word ‘privvy’ elsewhere, Ollie asked “is this where the Queen went for a wee?”. Yes, Ollie, Liz One was a huge fan of pissing in the bushes.
  4. At lunch, Isaac demanded a ‘kipper’, and got very upset when he couldn’t have one. It was only later, when he started grabbing Ollie’s ‘Calippo’, that we clicked.
  5. I got stung for an ‘English Heritage’ membership, which means I might as well grab the diary when we get home, and pencil in ‘another fucking castle’ every Sunday for the next year.
  6. I was then back in the pool for the fourth day running, pretending to be a jet ski, and causing irreparable damage to my spine. As we were getting out, Isaac begged me to play one more game. Say what you like about him (I often do), but Isaac never fails to surprise. What was his game? “Let’s pretend we’re Vikings and go on a hunt for feet!” That’s one fucked-up kid.
  7. I went for a run – my second of the week – to earn extra calories on the ‘My Fitness Pal’ app. Sadly, it was that hot, I only managed three miles, and then immediately consumed my ‘bonus’ calories, by downing three Coronas.
  8. I cooked pasta for dinner, and burnt myself on the oven. The boys learned a new swear word. They insisted on ham and cheese wraps as ‘starters’, which meant they didn’t each the pasta I lost two fucking fingerprints making.
  9. Over dinner, Ollie found something so funny, he farted. Isaac decided to join in (turns out, Isaac can fart at will, which may be his only talent), and in stereo it sounded like ‘The Frog Chorus’.
  10. I then wanted more beer, so we went to the clubhouse for the boys to burn off energy in the soft-play. Isaac performed ‘jimastix’ (gymnastics), which involved him doing rolls, before they recreated ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – with Ollie being the judges, and Isaac the contestant. Isaac’s act – ‘Pranks’ – was a combination of football and jimastix. He claimed to be 64.

Friday

  1. During the night, we were woken by something on the roof. My wife thought it was a rat, but I decided it was a pigeon (aka ‘rat with wings’). Over breakfast, she asked me to climb up and find out, but I didn’t fancy getting my face bitten off should she be correct.
  2. The kids were more inventive with their guesses. Ollie decided it was ‘rain…. or Isaac’, whereas Isaac opted for ‘Spongebob’ (but also didn’t rule himself out).
  3. Having watched ‘The Cat In The Hat’ for the third time this week, Isaac now wants to be called ‘Chocolate Thunda’.
  4. We drove to Gloucester, and my wife headed to a shopping centre for some ‘me time’. This lasted around thirty seconds, because Isaac wouldn’t leave her alone, and was back to being vile (after a brief attempt at behaving).
  5. In M&S, we found a mirror for the boys to recreate ‘Snow White’ (Isaac’s request). Isaac stood behind the mirror, while Ollie asked “mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Isaac’s reply? “Well, it used to be Snow White. But then I killed her.” Standard Isaac.
  6. Went to Nandos for lunch (Ollie’s choice) and Isaac only wanted chips with “ALL the ketchup”, until he saw Ollie’s chicken strips and demanded the same. We stood our ground, so Isaac retaliated by pouring half a bottle of ketchup onto his chips, before claiming he no longer likes ketchup (which is bullshit, because he likes ketchup more than oxygen).
  7. Isaac then began drawing more hearts for Mummy, but only used the black crayon – to represent his cold, dead heart.
  8. After lunch, I visited the toilet, but stupidly followed my wife’s directions and ended up in the kitchen, much to everyone’s surprise.
  9. After a final trip to the pool (which Isaac changed his mind about so many times, we had ten minutes before it closed), we went back to the clubhouse for dinner one last time. Bizarrely, of the families to our left, one had a son called Ollie, and the other an Isaac. I suggested we swap our kids with theirs, but my wife wasn’t keen.
  10. We were then subjected to the lamest of entertainment, bingo. Not only was the microphone too loud, and the caller too fast, he didn’t know any of the phrases. Even I know 88 is ‘two fat ladies’, and not ‘one eight, then another eight’.

Thanks for reading x

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