I don’t make new year resolutions

The idea that you do pretty much anything you want for most of the year and then make a half hearted attempt to set things right for a few weeks in January has never been particularly appealing to me. I mean, what’s the point in eating enough sausage and chips during eleven twelfths of the year to the point your skin colour resembles a savaloy, only to swear off them for an altruistic month or two before starting all over again.

If nothing else, it sets a bad example to the kids because seeing your debauched lifestyle month in month out and a short but futile attempt to alter it is hardly inspiring is it? I’m a firm believer that most things are okay in moderation and that’s something you should look to keep up all year long.

Having said all that, I have entered myself in a fun run in June with the kids and signed up to a run every day in January thing. But I did start running again in mid December, so that doesn’t count as a resolution right? Right?

 

Cock!Tails!

A post shared by Alex Walsh (@daddacool) on

I’ve decided to get a personal trainer to help me with my running. At the moment my brisk walk is only 3 minutes a kilometre slower than my running speed, so I need all the help and enthusiasm I can get. My personal trainer has this in spades, mostly because she is eight, almost nine, and my daughter. She is a natural athlete, has the build of a long distance runner and can out distance me at twice my speed without even getting out of breathe. That’s something to aspire to, and she’s very encouraging too. At the moment I’m on the threshold of around 7 minutes to the kilometre, sometimes ducking under it, sometimes (like New Years Day, on 6 hours cocktail fuelled sleep) considerably over it but I’m working on it and have been for three weeks now.

So here’s to not having expectations that a new year will bring a new you, the first of January is more important as the birthday of Ned than anything meaningful in terms of a new start in attitude or approach. He’s more interested in LEGO…

And a happy new year to all

I have half a cold. I’ve had half a cold since well before Christmas now (perhaps even as long as October by some reckonings). I’ve come to live with my half cold through necessity though. It’s expanded to a full cold on occasion but then subsided back down to half a cold again.

It’s an odd half cold though, I’m not low level unwell and snotty across the board, rather I have a full head cold but only on the left hand side. I have sinus headaches on the left, a completely blocked left nostril, I can blow horrible substance out of my left side but the right is as clean as a whistle.

This has (perhaps fortunately) meant that my Christmas drinking has been somewhat curtailed, and I’ve returned to work this morning feeling no more than a bit blocked up (on one side) rather than ready to die from a combination of liver failure and sleep deprivation.

The kids haven’t been so lucky, Ned spent his birthday sounding like a mini Barry White, and the other two are coming down with colds just in time to go back to school later this week. Share and share alike, that’s what I say.

Christmas was in many ways quite a good Christmas. Expectations were managed pretty well, the kids got some stuff they wanted without bankrupting us, we did some family stuff, played some games, watched some movies together and generally chilled out without trashing the house completely. In the context of our household, that was pretty exceptional. Nobody got food poisoning, nobody had sick bug, and Fifi even managed to take me running almost every day (bar Christmas day itself). The kids even relented and woke up a little later than normal on Christmas day. Last year they were up at 4am, this year just gone 6am. It was still early but those extra two hours made the world of difference. My body clock decided the natural time for me to wake up is around 8:40am, so getting up at 7 for work today was more than a little bit of a struggle.

All that remains is to see how far the unfounded new year’s optimism can stretch- let’s see if I can make it to the weekend…

EDF Energy Pretty Curious- encouraging girls into STEM

Our daughter Fifi is going to be 9 in January and she’s already got her mind set on being a vet. She watches vet TV shows and manhandles our long suffering cat constantly. We’re lucky, most girls get put off STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at an early age because it’s really pushed at boys. All the yuck experiment books are very much aimed at boys, all the circuit board sets have boys on the cover (and, oh, the older brother hogs the PS4, which is definitely “technology”!).

This is why campaigns like Pretty Curious from EDF Energy are so important. Girls generally perform better at school than boys (especially at primary level), and even though Fifi is a whizz at maths, I get the distinct feeling that the system won’t encourage her to pursue it, which is a shame.

Fortunately in popular culture things are starting to change, and Disney has helped drive this. With Rey in the new Star Wars trilogy (the Force Awakens and the Last Jedi, which was out this week), and Jyn in Rogue One, we have female leads in science fiction, showing girls that sci-fi and girls mix. So a tie up between Pretty Curious and the Last Jedi makes super sense and great fun for Fifi who got sent a Little Bits Droid kit to build:

I think it’s great Fifi had such fun building the Droid, especially as it’s a toy that it would be so easy to give a boy. In fact, in almost ten years of blogging, I’d have to say 99% of the time, I’d only get offered things like this to review for the boy. Fifi always gets short changed, and it’s exacerbated by the fact I often get boys stuff offered to me as I’m a dad, despite the fact I have a daughter as well!

There is also a 360 degree virtual reality tour of the best that STEM has to offer girls.

We can all do a bit to encourage our daughters to look more towards STEM careers and interests, so what are you waiting for? Jump in!

Win a family ticket to Nozstock the Hidden Valley 2018!

Nozstock The Hidden Valley – celebrating 20 years! 
Friday 20th – 22nd July 2018
@ Rowden Paddocks, Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4LS
Tickets: From £115 for adults / From £95 teens / 12s and under free
www.nozstock.com / @Nozstock

Artists TBA January 2018

In July 2018 Nozstock The Hidden Valley will reach its 20th anniversary, entering a small group of festivals who have reached two decades of creating magic each summer. Starting from very humble beginnings its founding ethos remains part of the festival to the present, with Nozstock not only a genuine weekend of escapism far from the madding crowds, but also one which has kept the same flourishing spirit each and every summer; it’s a very family festival with abundant charm, integrity and authenticity at every turn, as well as amazing fun across the beautiful site set on a working farm in Bromyard, attracting one of the country’s most wonderfully diverse audiences whether newbies coming for the very first time or seasoned festival goers.

Curated by the father and daughter duo of Noz and Ella and a huge extended family who work across the entire festival, there’s a unique energy to Nozstock unlike anything else in the country. The festival features a huge range of entertainment, activities and inspiration for families and kids, with games, pop-up performances, and workshops at every turn.

It’s going to be an incredible weekend for everyone who comes Nozstock’s 20th anniversary!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Terms and conditions

Prize is non transferable, no cash alternative is offered, if the winner does not respond within 5 days of being chosen, an alternative winner will be picked.

You will have to provide your own transport to the festival and the competition is open to residents of the UK only

The prize is offered by Nozstock The Hidden Valley and the promoter, Daddacool, shall not be held responsible for their failure to supply the prize.

When Father Hacksawed the Toilet

(to the tune of music hall classic When Father Papered the Palour)

Father hacksawed the toilet, but he’d no right to do so
Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah
Dee-dah-dee-lam-dee-dah-dah-dah
Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah

Our toilet seat wanted removing
And Pa says it was stuck
Due to all the wee on the seat
And so he cursed and swore
He got his hacksaw out
Two spanners and a wrench
And with a terrible frown on
At it he made a rush

When Father hacksawed the toilet
You couldn’t see Pa for rust
Sawing it here and sawing it there
There was rust and plastic everywhere
Mother was hiding in the kitchen
And the kids were rolling on the floor
You never saw such a bloomin’ family
So stuck up before

Dum-dah-dum-dah-dah-dah
Hah-hah-hah-hah
What d’you think of poor old Father?
Hah-hah-hah-hah

Diddle-dee-di-dee-di-doh
Hah-hah-hah-hah
You never saw such a bloomin’ family
So stuck up before
Lah-dah-dum-dah-dah-dah-dah
Hah, that’s the part I like
Hah-hah-hah-hah View Full Post

I’ve been threatened with legal action!

It came as a bit of surprise to me, a bolt out of the blue in fact. There I was simply minding my own business, reading my book and listening to some music when the sudden threat of immediate punishing legal action hit me.

 

BAM!

The five year old wasn’t happy that he had to have a bath, and wasn’t going to have any truck with my attempts to get him in to it:

“I’m calling my lawyer, you’re going to prison! You’ll regret making me have a bath!”

Stone me, I never thought it would come to this. Goodness knows where he’s got that from either, we’re not a litigious household. We once contacted a lawyer over a constructive dismissal case but were told that the employer would just stretch it out until the claim (which we had good grounds to win) was exceeded by the legal costs, so we didn’t bother. Other than that, it’s been house moves and wills and nothing else.

I managed to talk him down by promising to read his bed time story but it was a close thing. I need to be more careful next time!

Review: Colt Express

So I’m three games in to my Board Game Club membership and I’ve had three distinctly different games so far. CodeNames was fun, a sort of Guess Who/card game hybrid and Ticket to Ride Europe, which was great fun once we worked out what was going on. The third, Colt Express, is different again. As someone who’s spent 30+ years playing Risk, Monopoly and Scrabble, I’m a bit gobsmacked by the variety on offer!

The closest analogy I can think of for Colt Express is a turn based strategy video game like the famous Civilisation- I never thought I’d come across a board game that used the same mechanism. Okay, Risk is turned based but it’s not as complicated or nuanced as Colt Express because it’s basically about moving troops and invading places, Colt Express actually has a different game mechanic thanks to the 3D board. View Full Post

Not going out is the new battleground

We went out the other day as a family. This is unremarkable for most families but it’s becoming an increasing rarity for us. The battle lines have been drawn. We were lucky enough to go to a press screening of Paddington 2 the other week but one child sulked all the way through because he wanted to stay at home instead of being dragged in to London for a cinema outing that would have cost us around 80 quid had we paid for it (and the snacks we had).

It came to a head on fireworks night where only one child actually wanted to come and see the fireworks. We’d been out most of the afternoon at a Playstation Event, playing games and stuffing ourselves with food. It wasn’t as if there was even a game or code for one in the goody bag Sony kindly provided, so there wasn’t really an excuse for wanting to sit around but the kids put there foot down. I know from bitter experience there is little or no point fighting this as our lives will be made a simple misery.

The next challenge is to work out how to stop this happening in the first place I suppose.

Review: Scalextric BTCC Touring Car Battle Racing Set

When I was offered a Scalextric set to put in front of the kids, my first thought was wow! I used to have a lot of Scalextric back in the 1980s; some of it inherited from my cousins from the 60s. We had some of the old cigar shaped F1 cars from the 60s but my favourite was probably the Ford Mirage we were given.

In the intervening 30 odd years Scalextric has changed in some ways and not in others. The tracks are still a bit fiddly to get together but thankfully the connections are much better, so when we used the Scalextric BTCC Touring Car Battle Racing Set there wasn’t a repeat of my dad at my age cursing softly under his breath as he ran a bit of wire wool over the track to ensure it completed a circuit. The pick ups that make contact either side of the slot are exactly as I remember them from my youth but thankfully they are much easier to replace. View Full Post

Nozstock The Hidden Valley hits the Awards season

In 2018 Nozstock The Hidden Valley will reach its 20th anniversary, entering a small group of festivals who have reached two decades of creating magic each summer. Starting from very humble beginnings, that founding ethos remains part of the festival to the present, with Nozstock not only a genuine weekend of escapism and far from the madding crowds, but also one which has kept the same flourishing spirit; it’s a festival with abundant charm, lots of integrity and authenticity at every turn, as well as amazing fun across the beautiful site set on a working farm in Bromyard, attracting one of the country’s most wonderfully diverse audiences whether newbies coming for the very first time, or seasoned festival goers.

Reaching such an illustrious age really is an incredible feat in itself, and Nozstock’s efforts have again been rewarded this autumn with nominations in several key awards categories:

  • A Greener Festival Award at UK Festival Awards
  • Best Small Festival, Best Family Festival and Best Grass Roots Festival at UK Festival Awards
  • Mind Blowing Spectacle at the AIF Independent Festivals Awards for Nozstock’s closing festival fire show
  • Festival Kidz Awards

 

Ella Nosworthy, one of Nozstock’s founders, explains: “It’s pretty crazy for us all at the festival to contemplate our 20th anniversary next summer. We are not sure where the time has gone! My dad and all of the team here are really excited. Everyone is really hyped for the coming summer and we are making lots of plans now. We are of course really thrilled to be nominated for so many awards after this year – it’s lovely to be recognised by so many people. It’s also really spurring us on to make 2018 even better than this year, creating our finest year ever! It would of course be wonderful to win an award, and we are very humbled to have been nominated in these categories too.”

Set on a beautiful working farm in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside, the reassuringly welcoming and independent event has evolved from 50 friends gathered at the inaugural gathering and flourished into an intimate musical odyssey which now looks forward to its 20th anniversary. Joining the dots between pop, ska, folk, funk, soul, hip hop, indie, drum and bass, psytrance, house and a whole lot more, plus with interactive adventure and performance for big and small kids of all ages, Nozstock is a playground for everyone, from seasoned festival goers to newbies setting out for their very first time. The festival features a huge range of entertainment, activities and inspiration for families and kids, with games, pop-up performances, and workshops at every turn, and will be celebrating in fine style in July 2018.