A dad's journey into health



Parenting In The Time Of COVID and other stresses

Social distancing, working from home, home schooling and self-isolation are all notions that we have had to come to terms with over the last few months, they roll off the tongue as if they have existed in all our lives since day dot. It’s easy to forget that this isn’t the case.

The “New Normal” a phrase I loath, is on the lips of so many people, but what if your “New Normal” is filled with stress, anxiety and is damaging tour familial relationships?????

Both my partner and I, haven’t had the luxury of being furloughed, so that means that we are forced to work full time from home, oh yea, we also have three young children that need to be home schooled. Not to mention your usual parenting responsibilities and being cooped up with each other 24/7 is a recipe for disaster. Any support we did have, mainly grandparents can no longer look after them either.

I know this is the case for many parents out there and we are not alone, therefore others out there must be feeling like us, all the working week we are forced to be full time workers, full time teachers and full time parents. That’s three very separate roles (that do not belong together) that we are just expected to manage, and it’s impossible, however the guilt that you are made to feel forces you to carry on persevering…………… and failing, and stressing that it all needs to get done, and feeling guilty about letting down your children, their teachers and your employees. It never ends.

I hear parents saying that this time is wonderful and they are enjoying it so much. Well ask them if they are working full time and the answer is always a clear NO. I want that, I want to be the cool Dad I am (if I do say so myself, ha ha ha), I don’t want to be the Dad I am at the minute, screaming at them because they wont do their maths work, but when my phone is going all day and teachers are e-mailing out the weeks work, it’s so stressful.

Not to mention how difficult this must be for our kids, having horrid parents till the 5pm bell goes off and we can all forget about the hell day we just lived through and relax before it all starts again. How are they supposed to understand.

As parents our teaching shouldn’t be academic, it should be learning about life, handling problems and dealing with stress. It is easy to get education and schooling confused, but they are very different things. Schooling is an institutional system of passing on knowledge (something that people train a long time to do), not allowing for the emotional development of our kids, that’s where we step in. In ancient Greece young people had two teachers, a teacher of knowledge and a pedagogue, the latter dealing with the practical and emotional side of learning.

It’s wrong that we are expected to do all we are doing, but, we are not alone, it will end and things will settle down again. Remember, your kids wont forget everything they have learnt because of a few months on the sidelines. Keep your kids safe and keep yourself safe. When you are about to explode, walk it off, go for a run, have a tidy, do a family dance for twenty minutes, watch something that will make everyone laugh. Don’t make this time hell for yourself and your kids, that way everyone loses.

Tough times don’t last, Tough people do.

Say safe, stay sane and try and grab happiness when you can, no matter how fleeting it may be.

Back On The Roundabout

So it is about the time of my annual pilgrimage back to Healthville. Yep getting back on the healthy eating and exercise pony. We are old friends now, and it is the same old feeling, akin to that of putting back on a wet sock (back shivers). It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s also much needed.

I estimate that I am about three weeks away from talking about all this in a positive way, but that will come, once I begin to see the benefits (or see my feet again for that matter ha ha ha).

Until that day it feels like standing in front of a dark and spooky forest. I am reluctant to take my first step, but unless you do, you will never see what is on the other side.

Reluctantly my feet yield to my insistence and, that’s it, first step made despite their protests. It wont be long before I’m in too deep and the only way is forward.

So until then pray for me!!!!

Hopefully I will see you on the other side.

The View From Above

So I recently treated myself to a new toy, and learnt that it was possible to become even more of a geek! Therefore, unfortunately this post will be me Droning (pun absolutely 100% intended 😉 )

Yep, you guessed it ‘It’s a DRONE baby. I’ve gone full mid-life and splashed out on a, half-way decent, flying camera contraption. It was only a few hundred pounds, so that I could get used to it and see if I enjoy the pastime. Don’t panic, I didn’t go full on Mavic (insider quip about a range that can cost north of 1k, geeks out there nodding their heads in recognition right-about-now). The drone I bought was the JJRC X9 Heron.

In case you can’t tell, I do like it (I can hear the gasps of shock from each and every one of you). It feels like this is my, Geekvolutionary next step, as it were.

Believe or not there is genuine reasoning behind my motives. Growing up I always had a taste for adventure, I loved exploring and traditional boys type stuff, like: camping, fishing and general outdoor pursuits. Couple that with my love for tech, gadgets, video games and super heroes you have one complete (and somewhat chubby) little me. My parents always accepted me for who I was, but these sides of me were never nurtured by them. My mum was busy being a mum and doing practically everything in the house for everyone. My dad on the other hand was into sport (and drinking), and whilst I liked football, I could take it or leave it really. I did however manage to talk him into taking up fishing later on, and spent many great weekends learning the ins and outs of course fishing. I loved spending time with my older brother, playing video games and the like, some of the funniest and most treasured moments in my life stem from spending my youth with him, he was cool and caring (in his way), but he was never the outdoor type.

What I’m taking so long to say, I guess, is that I don’t my kids growing up standing on the sidelines wishing that it was them that had the RC Car or that they have to explore their own interests on their own. I want to get them interested in things early on so that they have things in their life to invest in and have a great excuse to meet like-minded folk. And ultimately have a give-it-a-go attitude.

As I’m writing this it occurs to me that I may be exercising some long held, deep rooted issues about my youth. Oops. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining about my youth I had a great time but I do feel like I could possibly have had more adventures. But I do also believe it’s a lot easier these days and I may have more opportunities and easier access to things than my parents had.

All in all I can tell you that, droning (if that’s even a word) is great. It helps you feel like a big bloody kid whilst at the same time giving you a sense of exploration, seeing things from an angle you normally can’t or seeing/finding new things all together. I can certainly recommend it as a hobby. But that’s it, urges satisfied as far as remote control gadgets are concerned. All I need now is erm……. a more expensive drone, a racing drone and an RC Car, then I am definitely done (Shhhhhhhh 😉 ).

Hope to bring you more from drone-world soon.

So till next time peeps XXXX

Hope Vs Reality

Is there a place, do you think, where your hopes and your reality cross?

Iv’e been thinking about this quite a lot at the minute, I know what I want in my future and it’s not naively outlandish or unrealistic. Everything I want is possible, achievable almost. Yet I still have doubts that these things will ever come to pass. It seems that there are powers out of my control that always seem to block my path or know the right time to descend on me like a heavy thick fog.

I know that people will be reading this thinking that I am the one seeing barriers or perceiving these as reasons not to push towards my future. This may well be the case, though I don’t fully believe it. I may be the last person on earth that can see it to be honest. It seems that there are always grey areas to think of, there is nothing cut and dry when it comes to making decisions. Mainly, for me, because decisions about my future effect people other than me…………’s so confusing.

I am more than aware that the only option for me is to rip the plaster off and just deal with whatever happens. It’s almost as if it’s harder to make a decision, than have it done to you, then you have no choice but to deal with the fallout, and start again.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that money (or lack of it) is such an inhibiting factor. Money isn’t everything, but it certainly gives you options and the confidence to act. It is easy to see why so many domestic abuse cases have one partner in control of the finances, making it almost impossible for the victim to start a fresh.

Is it even possible to achieve your dreams? once you do, do you not just acquire new ones? OR is that folly? should you just be striving for the next step in the journey. The next life chapter, and many other cliches and platitudes that just roll off the tongue.

I have done a lot of work with people and have always used goal setting as a way help them move forward. But it has become more apparent to me as time goes on that goal setting can be quite damaging and if not achieved can be used by the individual as further reasons to punish or hate themselves.

But with me………who knows, difficult times, difficult decisions and a future for yourself you know you will probably never get to experience. What will be will be…..

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality. Iris Murdoch

A Door That Can’t Close

Last week I had a chance encounter that made me revisit my past.  I was happy in my own thoughts heading into a supermarket when out the corner of my eye I spied a girl from my teenage social group. 

Strap yourselves in this might be a big’n

My mind went straight back to the “Good old days” and how it all ended.  Let’s set the scene…. I was a thirteen year old ruffian, I liked video games and wrestling with little time for anything else, let alone girls (he truth being I felt safe in my role and the thought of putting myself out there and changing my friendship groups did not sit well with me, though I wanted to, and actually speaking to a girl would terrify me to the core).

However, there was a desire there to diversify socially.  I had already started making inroads with such a group as I sat with some lads on the bus, (one of which is still to this day one of my very best friends) they were much smarter than me and obviously more popular.  We became quite close friends and Just as a matter of course I started to get invited to more and more events and slowly but surely I became a part of the group.  Thing went on in this vein all through school, sixth form and then on weekends when we were all together.  Most of this group decided to become teachers as at that time you got paid to study on this profession (who could blame them,after all they were, almost to a man much smarter than me, or so I thought). 

Soon however things started to change, nights out became more erratic and people got into relationships, myself included.  Nights out became less frequent and for me,money was a real issue.  About this time,myself and partner moved in together away from sunny Blackpool.  This is when things became really tough and friendships began to unravel.  The more I said no to nights out, the less the phone rang and the easier it was to disengage.  Little did the group know I had next to no money and at that time I was running up credit card debts just pay for petrol to get to and from work.  When I was saying no to going out, I was really just too embarrassed and ashamed to tell them how hard things were, I guess this is where I should take a good share of the blame, as I didn’t try as hard as I could have.     

Things had gotten away from me and on the odd occasion I did go out, I struggled to keep up or get noticed. Some people tended to talk about things in the recent past, what they did in the last weeks or months.  I wasn’t there and couldn’t be part of the conversation. I came away feeling like no one wanted me there and after this it became all too easy to disengage altogether.  There was no real falling out and on the odd occasion I run into some of them now, I am still on reasonable terms with them. 

This type of ending had a real bitter taste to it, I’m not too sure what I did to deserve such and exit, it felt like I was just cut out,much like Tsukuru Tazaki.  Don’t get me wrong I have a good life and good friends, the closest of which predates this group.  However, there remains with me a sense of loss (grief almost) at the way it ended.  It’s probably the loss of my youth, a more existential crisis than anything else.  Although I do often wonder if I am thought about at all by them.  I can hear people close to me telling me that I am “better off out of it” and “they never kept in touch with you either” all true of course and I get where they are coming from but this doesn’t change or help the way I feel.  It’s one of those things that stay with us, not prominent or immediate but always there, lying unresolved, somewhere in the background.

I would like to see some of them again, I guess I just miss belonging to a group and talking with lots of different people, many of them still socialise together but I am not willing to put myself in such a vulnerable position again. 

The problem being that there was no definite ending, I have had no closure on it and this has only let me internalise everything instead of processing it properly and letting it go.

I am sure that it will happen one day, patience is the key,but always ready to act when the opportunity presents itself.  I don’t miss it all that much, I don’t think my life would be exponentially improved should I get that back, but I do feel that I need the chance to close that door.

Thanks for coming with me this has been a bit of a difficult one.

Friendship Negotiations

So, last night I was called into school as my 8yr old daughter and her friends are having a few “friendship” difficulties and school are worried that it could turn into a real issue if it’s not tackled now.

A parent’s nightmare.

Let me set the scene, the main issue is that there is a group of three girl’s that all hang round together.  But as so often is the case two people gang up on the other one and they are left feeling sad, names are called, yadda yadda yadda.  The one that’s left out changes from day to day, so they are all victims I guess and therefore all responsible at some point for causing this upset.

My main quandary is how best to tackle the situation.  The inner parent wants to just shout “stop hanging round with these people they are making you unhappy!!!!” but the sensible head is telling me “We can all play together and think of a way to get along”.  The truth of the matter is that no matter how angry or upset they get with each other they still like hanging out with them, they’re mates.   I want my daughter to expand her friendship groups (as opposed to banning her from playing with some people) and we keep encouraging her as best we can, but I am aware that to be too pushy will just make her push back stronger.

I had a grown-up chat with her and asked her what she felt the solution was and she said that ‘she want’s to play with everyone but the others just want to keep it as a three’.  I thought this was really mature of her and I suggested similar to the teacher (and headteacher no less), and this seems to be a possible way forward.  The teacher will encourage the whole class to play together more and have all friendship groups more open, so that the young people can go and play with others without it being a problem.  This seems great as not only does it solve the current issue but it makes it much more public and open, and this will hopefully combat any bullying or manipulative behaviours that may occur given time.

So, with a possible way forward we head into a new friendship era at school.  Fingers crossed.

It’s hard not to let your mind head into hyper-drive and think about life in high school and the future and how these types of relationships may affect her long term.  But I suppose that learning to cope with theses situations now and in a positive way will only help her be more resilient (hate that word, and that’s part of the reason I was made redundant, a totally other story) in times to come.  I guess the important thing is to belong and know you are loved.

So with a plan in place the meeting ends and we head out to pick up the twins (5yrs old) from reception:

TEACHER: Can I have a word

ME: Of course

TEACHER:  Your daughter, for the second time became really frustrated and grabbed another child round the neck….

ME: Doh

Dad-life never ends.


What do I think about Halloween.  I am totally on the fence about this one, on the one hand I really don’t like the fact that us Brits have adopted this American tradition, of, let’s face it dressing our kids up to beg for free sweets from strangers, something I spend a lot of time telling my kids not to do.  This must confuse them.

On the other hand, I love it.  I’m a father of three small devils and they get so excited about dressing up, scarring people and being allowed out in the dark (supervised of course).  And let’s be honest, anyone with kids know it’s an easy win to wander round the streets for an hour and do very little with great results, what was it Gino said, “minimum effort, maximum results”.

However, there is one thing about Halloween in the UK that really upsets me, that’s right I said it, upsets (and I’m nearly a 40-year-old blokey).  It’s the fact that hundreds, possibly thousands of young people in each town or city across the country get dressed up and head out on candy adventures only to find 90% plus of all the houses in absolute darkness.  What, like Halloween is the only night that everyone either goes out or is in bed by 6pm, do me a favour.  What other event in the calendar actually gets young people out into the community like this and what’s the result……… Miserable buggers ignoring them, yea great message to send to the young n’s,  come on out into the community and nearly all of us will just pretend you’re not there.  It is a direct representation of our communities at the minute in the UK, ‘I’m alright Jack, so sod the rest of you’.  This needs to change, we need to change.  This is definitely one thing that the US gets spot on.  I didn’t realise it till I saw an Insta post from Everlast off of House of Pain (by the way you should really listen to his music it’s quality).  Loads of kids and parents mingling and experiencing things together as a community.  OK so it might not be a proper representation of all of America but you get the gist.

The UK seems so insular and down that we are too scared to care about each other anymore.  It makes me worried about the future especially when I see my kids skipping and singing past 25 dark houses to go and knock on the one house with their lights on.  They might be too young to notice but they must pick up on it subliminally.

Okay – rant well and truly over.

Next year why not just grab a bag of sweets from the supermarket and answer the door, what’s the worst that will happen?  There may be a few idiots out there but mostly you will make small people very happy in the short term, but in the long term you may help them (and yourself) become more caring about each other.

Peace and Love.

Shaping my future, Now

Do you ever get the feeling that life is just going to fast, that you spend so much time with your head down getting on with things that you forget to occasionally glance to the future.  As I look now, I notice that I am quickly approaching 40 and wondering, am I there, that place I wanted to be when I was 40?  Does that place actually exist? Is it the same place as before or have I changed it?  It must have been real and I must have had an idea, but I think my laid back approach to life may be getting the better of me.  Life does feel like it’s speeding up.

Time is like the water in a fast flowing river, time rushes through but as it passes it reshapes the environment never to be the same again, and as time goes on, the place I wanted to be at has changed also, no massive shifts just changes, one grain at a time.  But those grains add up.

I know that this must happen to most of us, but my worry is, if everyone’s places are always changing and being remapped then how do you make sure the places you wanted to end up in match with the people you share your life with.  I guess you don’t.  Just try and come to terms with the differences and hope that it works out.

I think far too much emphasis is put on HOPE.

Wishing for the best!  I’m not sure that I can get on-board with that any more.  I know that I need to take control of the river and shape the future to what I want now, no more sitting back and seeing what happens I want to be pro-active, then if it goes wrong the fault is mine, mine alone, I don’t want to be in a position where I try and blame my hope for things gone wrong or the actions I didn’t take.

I think I may be suffering with a bit of Friday afternoon paranoia.  It comes over me in waves sometimes as if there is something telling me that life is short so get your arse in gear if you ever want to reach your place.

Keep fighting, I read a great quote this week;

So far you have survived 100% of your toughest days, this too will pass.

Love ya

My Soundtrack

For me music has always been there in the background, but as far as I can remember it’s never been front and centre in my life. I have always loved music and the culture (90s indie kid and for that matter also a rocker and hip-hopper, I like to experiment) but I never thought it defined me, I always focused more on books, games and friends for that.

It’s only recently, whilst revisiting these songs (looking for old favourites to attempt on the guitar) that it has occurred to me that music has always followed me, like a soundtrack in the background elegantly framing my experiences. Without realising it music does define me. It plays out like a map of my life. Each and every song sending me right back to a specific time and location and all the thoughts feelings and experiences of that place, good and bad, light or dark, young and old.

So I am going to create my own album here, a snapshot of me and my life, each song belongs on the album for a reason and has a special memory, they may not be my most favourite songs but they certainly are justified. I am going to limit it to ten tracks as I could literally be here all day.

1. Guns n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle. I think this was my first steps in having my own musical personality, rock on.

2. Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills. This is a nod to my brother and a thanks for introducing me to so much great music, Prince, Stone Roses and many more, far too many to mention.

3. Ice-T – Home Invasion. My first steps into the world of Hip-Hop. So much followed this. A new way of expressing yourself and story telling. Thanks Iceberg.

4. Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman. This is an acknowledgement of my parents taste in music and I am eternally grateful for them introducing me to Soul and Motown. This was the first soul song I remember loving.

5. The Charlatans – Just When Your Thinking Things Over. This fires me back to sixth form and reminds me of when I started dating my good lady wife.

6. Oasis – Cigarettes And Alcohol. What is there to say, they exploded onto the music landscape encapsulating the feelings of the UK youth at the time. They did for Britain what Nirvana did for the US. They will always be the epitome of Rock And Roll for me.

7. Bob Dylan – Just Like A Woman. Heard this for the first time whilst working in a shop. Fell in love with the voice of Dylan (after previously dismissing it) and how he changes from adoration to hatred in the space of one song.

8. The Pogues – Sally Maclennane. My friends and I playing pool on a Friday night before heading into town for teenage ladishness. Great Days.

9. Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop That Feeling. This is just a great tune that reminds me of all the kids just dancing round together having fun.

10. The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love. Thus one is easy, simply the best song ever written.

So there it is. I am sure that I will soon be releasing a Vol II.

What would be on your soundtrack?

Stay lucky people, kisses.

Blog at

Up ↑