365 pictures: 71 – 80

My last 365 pictures update featured a rather spectacular birthday cake. This one starts with the birthday itself and features kids, food, and crafty stuff. Which pretty much sums up life chez ours. No snow here, although there has, of course, been more. And I hear the current cold weather might last until the end of APRIL!

All I can say is we better get a decent summer after that. Anyway, on with the show…

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71. Oooooh presents!
Given how much the girls love Barbie: A Mermaid Tale (although recently it’s been all about the Fashion Fairytale) this Merliah Summers (Barbie) doll was a no-brainer as a birthday gift. Heather looks as delighted with it as Megan does!

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72. Farewell to the bunting
This birthday bunting was originally made by Nana for Heather’s first birthday, using Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric. It’s a while since it’s been used, but the girls’ reaction was so good, I think it might become a new tradition.

73. Snow White
Both girls love dressing up, but until now Megan’s had to make do with sharing Heather’s wardrobe. This Snow White costume, a birthday gift from Uncle Ian, is the first that’s her very own.

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74. Red Nose Day
Heather’s nursery did a great job of making the kids aware of, and involved in, Red Nose Day. Heather might not have won the crazy hair contest, but she had fun, and we got to meet this happy chappy, although I think he could do with some more sleep!

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75. Cuddles
Sometimes you see a great photo opportunity that’s gone by the time you actually get the camera out. Happily, this wasn’t one of those times – love this.

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76. Crafty
Without a doubt, Heather’s favourite activity is making things. We’ve managed to wean her off her Mister Maker addiction (I think) but she absolutely loves anything involving paint/pens/glue/scissors/stickers, and had a great time making these farmyard animals. Pretty much all on her own too!

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77. Rainbow flower
Another nursery creation, Heather told me about this flower in great detail one evening when I got home from work, but neglected to mention that she’d brought it home. We spotted it at bedtime, in the bathroom where she’d left it, and it was exactly as she’d described it.

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78. Magnets
I’m not sure which of the girls was responsible for this little arrangement. I think it might have been Heather, because I’m pretty sure Megan tidied hers away, but maybe it was the other way round.

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79. Meatballs
We’re still working our way through Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, and still enjoying everything that we’ve created. This dish – Swedish meatballs, with celeriac and rice – was one of mine, and very tasty it was too. And best of all, no horses were harmed in its creation :)

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80. Daddy in his shorts at bed time
More of Heather’s art, this time a portrait of yours truly. Good job I no longer sleep in the buff!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

I got your name tattooed inside of my arm

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, courtesy of Last Year’s Girl

Last night Gem and I went to see The Gaslight Anthem at Glasgow’s O2 Academy. The girls, meanwhile, went to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a sleepover, something they absolutely adore. That doesn’t stop them being curious about what Mummy and Daddy will be doing of course.

“We’re going to see a band playing. You like some of their songs. You sing along to them in the car” I said, before breaking out YouTube to show her who I was talking about, and what the experience might look like. What I wasn’t expecting was the question that followed:

“Why does he have so many tattoos?”

Gem and I were talking about this later, and agreed that the chances of either of us having seen a tattoo were slim – in those days they were reserved almost exclusively for sailors, builders and convicts. But that was a long time ago, and times have changed. Just because neither of us have ever felt the urge to get inked, doesn’t mean plenty of our friends haven’t. Among our generation, tattoos are as commonplace as glasses or dyed hair. Or beards.

And, getting back to the story, it’s undeniable that Brian Fallon is a man with a lot of tattoos, including that one on his neck that must have stung a bit. So I answered in a suitably matter-of-fact manner.

“Yes, Heather he does. Some people have lots of tattoos. Do you not like them?”

If we weren’t expecting the initial question, we certainly weren’t expecting her next response, which left the two of us pretty much speechless.

“No, he has too many. I mean, if it was a Hello Kitty…”

Me and Gem just looked at each other, dumbfounded. Here was our little girl discussing the relative merits of different tattoos. I can’t honestly remember how we responded to that. It might even have been at that point that Heather pointed out the 2 guys in the video walking through the Reading Festival crowd, dressed as Mario and Luigi.

But it was certainly an interesting moment, and one which, combined with her being almost word perfect on Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”*, confirms that she’s getting older all the time. Our little girl isn’t so little now, she’s learning more about the world every day, and is more than capable now of holding her own opinions on all sorts of things.

Including tattoos, although I’m not so sure Brian Fallon would agree with her taste.

*Incidentally, Megan also loves a bit of Taylor Swift, and will happily sing “Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble” whenever she hears it

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Gude Ale: Williams Bros 80/-, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Thwaite’s Tavern Porter

I might have mentioned before that I’m finding my beer drinking tastes turning darker and darker. Maybe it’s the cold weather – lighter, hoppier beers seem more suited to summer somehow – or maybe it’s because it’s just that I’ve historically not drunk many dark beers, so they seem all shiny and new to me.

It might even just be that there are more of them available – I read this article a while back, about how every small brewery worth its salt is clamouring to get into a growing market for stouts and porters, which means I’m not alone in my newly developed taste for the black(er) stuff.

Whatever it is, last weekend I found myself a trio of beers darker than I would have drunk a year or so ago.

Williams Bros 80/-
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I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Williams Bros, so I expected this one to hit the spot. And it did, with treacle toffee very much the dominant flavour. That said, it wasn’t too sweet, and actually could have been a bit sweeter to be honest. A good beer, although not my favourite in the Williams Bros range.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
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It’s taken me a while to get round to trying this which is surprising given how highly my brother-in-law has spoken of it. I’m glad to say it lived up to the hype, with big chocolate/coffee flavours and a lovely creamy feel to it. I think Bateman’s Mocha is probably still my top coffee/chocolate beer to date, but this comes a close second.

Thwaite’s Tavern Porter
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The blurb on the label about Elizabethan taverns should, perhaps, have made me suspicious – the porter style of beer isn’t documented until the 18th century, long after Good Queen Bess’s time – but I didn’t think about that until later. Historical inaccuracies aside, the beer wasn’t that exciting. Not unpleasant, but nothing memorable either, and not one I’d rush to drink again.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

365 pictures: 61 – 70

Time for a massively overdue catch-up – today is, astonishingly, the 79th day of 2013! – so I’ll keep this introduction short, and let the pictures do the talking.

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61. Bike Ride

A beautiful spring day saw us cracking out the kids’ bikes for a walk in the sun. Spring was well and truly here, or so we thought…

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62. Pulled pork

Proving that diet food doesn’t have to be boring :)

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63. Cresswell Lane

A quirky corner of Glasgow’s West End that I’ve never explored before, although sadly I was just passing through. A return visit is definitely required at some point

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64. Daddy it’s you!

Both girls are big fans of colouring apps on phones and iPad. Heather coloured this picture one morning, then told me it was me. I don’t see the likeness myself, but who am I to argue?

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65. Chillin’

TV, a good book and a foot rest. What else could you ask for?

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66. Toys

Since she started sleeping in it, the bundle of toys at the end of Heather’s bed has grown and grown. Occasionally it gets in her way and tipped onto the floor. Like this.

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67. Reading in bed

Love this snap, taken the day after World Book Day (UK).

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68. Rainbow cake

Megan’s AWESOME birthday cake, the centrepiece of her birthday party. Don’t recall a cake disappearing as quickly as this one did!

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69. Watching the snow fall

Few things are as precious as watching kids react to snow falling.

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70. Snow

After starting this set with a beautiful sunny day, it’s finishing with a snowy scene. At this time of year, shouldn’t it be the other way round?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Somewhere over the rainbow (cake)

Megan with her birthday cake

Megan turned 2 last week, and we celebrated it like we’ve never celebrated before. Which wasn’t as difficult as it might sound, since her first birthday was never “properly” marked – a double whammy of colds followed by chicken pox meant her planned party was postponed (once if not twice) and then cancelled altogether. Poor Megan :(

Fortunately there wasn’t a repeat, and the party went ahead. Yay! Even better (for me) we’d opted against the organised games we had at Heather’s birthday, and instead let the kids run riot amuse themselves with toys and dress up clothes. Pretty much the only time we saw them was when we were serving up food, and as ever Gemma did a tremendous job on that front. The centre piece was a stunning rainbow cake which disappeared like I’ve never seen birthday cake disappear before. So much so that there were no leftovers to take into work, which left my colleagues most disappointed, even moreso when I showed them the picture of what they could have had.

Rainbow cake

The birthday girl had a ball, although she obviously didn’t get enough to eat at the party itself – at least that’s the conclusion I’m drawing from catching her eating hummus straight from the tub with her fingers, once everyone had gone home!

Opening birthday presents

Her actual birthday was a bit more low-key. It’s safe to say she’s got to grips with the opening of presents, although still struggles a bit with finding a starting point. Heather was on hand to help with that though. My mum and dad came round for a bit, as did Uncle Ian, and we had more cake, again whipped up by Gem, although this time it was a less colourful chocolate sponge. And there was even enough for me to take some into the office next day as well – happy days!

Heather went to nursery as normal, and then it was off to Pizza Hut (Heather’s idea, although Megan was fully in support) for birthday tea. Eating out with kids is always nerve-wracking, but I’m relieved to say that both girls were brilliant, and as well as pizza and ice cream, they even ate some salad! Heather in particular surprised us, picking a very grown-up sounding tuna and sweetcorn pizza. We weren’t sure how that would go down, but she devoured the lot (minus crusts, naturally). Megan asked for “sausage” on hers, so we got her pepperoni, but she didn’t like that much and picked it all off. Ah well, you live and learn!

Blowing out birthday candles

It’s funny to think that our youngest is now two – the time really has flown by so quickly, and this year will be more of the same. There are lots of big changes coming up, including toilet training (which we’ve already started) and a big girl bed to name but two. And before we know it the baby/toddler years will be behind us for good. Which is both a happy and sad thought.

But definitely not one that’s making us broody!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!