The Official Review of the Year

2011 has been a funny old year. It’s had some highs and some lows, much like most years really but the highs have been pretty high and some of the lows incredibly low.

new years day 2011

The year started in the way that 2010 had finished, a very early start with Fifi. I was up at 5am on New Years Day helping her put things into bags and take them out again. Fifi’s lack of sleep has been a problem for most of her life but 2011 was the year that she relented a bit. Nowadays she sleeps til gone 6 most mornings and on occasion has made it til gone 7.

faster, faster, faster!!!

Fifi has grown up massively in the last 12 months, she’s a proper little girl now and  almost 3. Her tastes in fashion (pink, stripes and spots), television (Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer) and food (anything with “dip-dip”) are very well defined now and she knows her mind. She’s a speed demon on her microscooter and can hold her own in battles with bigger kids. She did spend about half the year doing a more than passable impression of her big brother though.


The boys year started off badly. He started nursery in January, after spending the Christmas break ever so excited about going. At that time he was still having some speech issues and when the nursery, cognisant of this, made him speak in front of the class in his first week, it didn’t go down well.

It took an interminable age for him to settle at nursery and by the time he did, the morning sobbing stopping, the escape attempts ending, it was pretty much time for the summer holidays. We were lucky enough to have a “free” (it cost us about £300 in the end, as much as we’d spend on a normal holiday) trip to Lake Garda, courtesy of wifey’s blogging endeavours in June. I’ve never seen so much rain in my life but it was fun for the kids, and they got their first trip on an airplane. Of course, just to be different it wasn’t the boys first flight, oh no, he’d already been in the Goodyear Blimp by that point!

Come the summer, the school was at it again with it’s very own PC non competitive sports day. I was gutted, all that practice at running away (from school) had proved useless to the lad.


Still, we managed a UK beach holiday without the excitement of chicken pox which curtailed the previous years adventure. We did some seal spotting, some beach time and a lot of bird watching. The weather was predictably crap though, a theme of a lot of our holidays recently. In fact the last genuinely hot break we had was the ill fated chicken pox trip.

I got to take the boy to Camp Bestival, for a weekend of camping and music. The boy loved playing with Claire and Kat, and their kids but his probable highlight of the whole weekend was wee’ing into plastic bottles to save a long trip in the evening to the portaloos. Somewhere I have photographic evidence of a very proud 4 year old holding about a quarter of a litre of warm piss and looking very pleased with himself. I also got to meet and interview Jo Wiley whilst there, and it was as cringeworthy as you could imagine. She was lovely and did take pity on me mightily.

lost & found. In Italy

We had a nice, if tiring, trip to CenterParcs in October, which helped break the year up nicely.

In August I got nominated for a Gurgle parenting blog award, which was nice, but in the end I lost out to an outsider who’d only been blogging for 3 months and didn’t appear to have a following on twitter or on his blog. Good to him though and I hope it helps progress his career as a professional journo. I got very very drunk at the awards ceremony but nowhere near as drunk as Jamie, who was having trouble standing up at various points.

The last few months have gone in a blur of readying for the new arrival. The recession finally hit us as wifey was made redundant from her museum job but we’re looking on that in a more positive way now as museum services across the country are being made almost impossible to work in due to budgetary cuts. Wifey’s been afforded some great freelancing work and has been involved in some great blogger outreach campaigns this year, so we’re hopeful there will be more to come next year.

on holiday in Italy

Wifey and I even made it out ourselves on a few rare occasions. I remember back in January going to the Speckled Hen, courtesy of Radio Verulam, and talking about the third child we didn’t have. Obviously after wifey reconciled herself to not having a third child, she shortly found herself with child and we had to reconcile ourselves to having a third child. Grown ups make life so complicated at times, don’t we? Number 3 is due any day now, and we’re almost ready for the arrival. I’m incredibly excited and the boy has even offered to get up and night and give the baby a bottle. We’re hoping Fifi is more careful with the newcomer than she is with her dolly though. A spell of winter vomiting virus put the DIY behind for a week, which was a shame but typical really.

It’s been a hard year though, we’ve had an awful lot to do in terms of work, freelance work, and work around the house. The kids have had big changes in their lives- the boys started school and Fifi has had to deal with the loss of her brother for big chunks of the day as a result of this. My big hope for 2012, is to spend more quality time with wifey. Even with a newborn, it’s not a forlorn hope since the other two are getting old enough to go on sleep overs and who knows? Maybe number three will be that miraculous child that sleeps through from a couple of weeks and we can do some grown up stuff together.

A lot has changed in the last year around the house. The biggest improvement has been the bathroom that has finally been refitted. Our house was built around 1968 and actually still had the original suite. When we moved in 5 and a half years ago, the power shower packed up and wifey said not to replace it as it would be a waste of money if we had the bathroom done. So we’ve done 5 years with one of those travel showers that fits over the taps. It’s taken us a while to save up but wifey’s blogging earnings have pretty much paid for a nice new bathroom- hurrah to her! Of course now that we’ve got a new suite and a power shower, Fifi fears to set foot in the room due to her terror at the power shower’s ferocity. I’ve also finished lining the summer house and it now has a rug and furniture in it as well as a heater. A proper little home office where I intend to write my novel in 2012 (when I’m not being harassed endlessly by children of course).

The underlying theme of the year with our house though has been the Mess. Yes, it’s reached the state of a proper noun and hence the capitalisation. I’ve lost count of the trips to the dump and we’ve even filled a skip but still the endless mess is there. The kids are too little to tidy up properly yet and they often leave stuff lying around. We spent a few hundred pounds on additional storage but there is still stuff everywhere all the time. It’s driving wifey up the wall.

No review of the year is really complete without a no longer with us section and this year saw both wifey and me lose our last remaining grandparents. I also lost my long lost half brother unexpectedly as our family drew closer to a reconciliation with him. There was much sadness all around. I remember holidaying with my grandparents down in Peacehaven when I was little and my granddad was the very model of an eccentric inventor, he had a garage full of metal working tools, including a lathe and always put them to good if slightly peculiar use. Wifey’s granddad was an equally fascinating man- he fought in WWII, was at Dunkirk, El Alamein, in North Africa with Monty, got shipwrecked in the Med before he helped liberate Sicily and was finally involved in the D-Day landings. After the war, he won a cafe in a game of cards and ran that for a few years.


Looking back through the blogging archive, the world of blogging has been very kind to us this year. We’ve had tons of stuff to test out and review, we’ve even been lent a car for the weekend but my highlight has probably been my involvement in the Shell V Power Network of Champions. A group of 24 or so people from 4 different countries and, it must be said, mostly from a motor journalism background, were invited by Shell to a series of events to show how Shell V Power works. The highlight was obviously meeting so many wonderful people, both other champions and people like John Surtees, but our track day at Maranello came a close second. And our trip to the Belgian GP and our trip to Abu Dhabi. We even failed to have a steak twice. Samsung were kind enough to give me a camera to review, which was a step up on Panasonic who deigned to show me some tellies and then sent me home with a free t-shirt that was far to small! Not that I expected a free telly, but I was in full on gadget lust at that point. We’ve been asked to be on the Playologist scheme, I’ve been appointed a Butlins Ambassador, we’re both on the Xbox Ambassadors scheme and I’ve kept my place on the highly thought of Cision Top 10 for Daddy bloggers. Although I’ve been blogging for a few years now, I’ve had a surge in followers and readership, and now get around 8,500 pageviews a month. Must be doing something right :)

I’d be lying if I said that the interest from PR agencies hasn’t been nice but I am mindful of the reasons I started parent blogging in the first place, and that is to share my experiences as a Dad in a Mum-centric parenting world. Hopefully I’ve done that, just a little bit.

I think one of the best things I’ve had out of blogging this year has been the camaraderie though. I’ve been to several events, like CyberMummy and the Tots100 Christmas party and met loads of really nice people- at the Tots100 Christmas party I was the only chap out for dinner with 30 mums. The St Albans tweet ups has also been brilliant too, I’ve met so many lovely people at them it’s been really encouraging.

So that was my 2011, what was yours like?