Tag Archives: children

Best Seats In The Field

This is my second post (out of 3, hopefully) about our trip to the Lakes, and the shortest one. Just a couple of pictures to show you what happens to us every time we go camping…

The kids always get the best seats…


…especially the youngest one:


We’ve only got two of these chairs …Which means that the adults are left with no other option but to balance on the tiniest (although pretty comfortable) stools in the world (see arrow)…


But then, we do tend to walk our kids for miles and get them rather tired, so I guess it’s only fair!



Filed under Photo diary

Happy Children’s Day!

It’s the 1st of June and I’m really excited. First of all, it’s the official start to the summer, and I’m hoping the weather and our garden will take notice of it and act accordingly. But there’s another reason for being in a good mood: it’s International Children’s Day!

I know it’s not a big deal for most people. It’s highly likely that many haven’t even heard of it. But I loved it as a child and still love it today. When I was little, I used to find a small present by my bed when I woke up in the morning. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a book, some crayons or a bag of sweets. But it was special somehow, and I remember leaving home for school in anticipation of the box of chocolates our teacher would bring for us before the lessons started. We were happy kids, and on the 1st of June we felt even happier.

As an adult, I’ve promised myself to continue the tradition. Before I had my own child, back in my teaching days, I used to take a bag of sweets to school to share with my students. And I tell you what…This was the one day of the year when a whole class of 16-year olds did not mind being treated like kids.

Nowadays, I’ve only got my two babies to think about on Children’s Day. This morning, Brianna woke up to find the traditional bag of her favourite sweets by her bed, and George was presented with a big knuckle bone in the garden. They were both delighted with their surprise, although I’m not sure George really understood what the occasion was, in spite of Brianna’s attempts to explain it to him.

So, if you’ve got kids, today’s a good time to hug them tight and spoil them a bit more than usual. If you’ve got dogs, give them a treat and challenge them to an extra play session. If you’re blessed with both kids and dogs, then pack up your day with lots of fun activities that will fill your home with joy and laughter.

Before I go, here’s a picture of my kids, which I think is perfect for the occasion:


Happy Children’s Day, everyone!


Filed under Our days

How Much is that Doggy on the Armchair?

We had another playful weekend the other week, and boy it was fun. We were more outdoor oriented this time, as the weather gods have finally decided it was spring and rewarded us with glorious, sunny weather and quite a few degrees on the Celsius scale. Out and into the wild we went, eager to check out our forest, our fields and pretty much everything else in our corner of the world. I’m happy to report that everything is still in place and turning bright green but, as I left my camera at home – doh! – I have no evidence to back this up. So I’ll have to return to it some other time.

This post is about another one of our family games, which we indulged in after we returned from the walk. George was pretty much exhausted and went to sleep in his dad’s chair, as always, so it was up to Brianna to decide what she wanted to do. She said she was going to her room to ‘think about it’, and re-emerged half an hour later with one of those I’m very pleased with myself looks on her face.

In a solemn voice she announced that “today we’re not playing anything …because I’m too busy with my new business. I’ve opened a new shop in my bedroom!”.

I’ve got to tell you that my daughter is quite entrepreneurial that way. She’s always looking for a way to earn her living, and her bedroom often turns into the premises of her new business ventures. It has served as a cafe, zoo, school and dog kennels in the past, so it was only a matter of time until the idea of a shop sprung into her mind. This was the day.

In the half an hour she took to prepare for the grand opening, she’d covered every item she owns with ‘For Sale’ signs and price tags, and her door was filled with all sorts of announcements, from the opening hours to irresistible offers for the potential customers.

So we loaded our pockets with pennies and queued up outside the shop door, excited at the prospect of what we might find inside. I have to admit that we were quite impressed at the level of organisation and the professional, helpful and friendly service we found. Here’s a little snippet of what the shop had on offer:


Now, you wouldn’t expect Brianna to leave out her precious companion – the little whippet called George – would you? She involved him in her shopkeeping game, by delegating him a very important role: that of the most expensive item on sale! Needless to say that George was not at all impressed with his new status. In actual fact, he was completely disgusted at such humiliation, but was too tired to do anything about it, so he just sat there looking sad.


What do you think? Not a happy bunny, right? But do not worry, she did buy him back at the end of the game and they’re best mates again!


Filed under General, Photo diary

Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Brianna brought home a thick collection of children’s poetry last month. Apparently they’d run out of books in the classroom, so the teacher brought in one of her own from home.

I couldn’t resist browsing through, and I came across a nice poem about the dilemma a child is posed with when their beloved pet dies. Although not the obvious choice for a children’s book due to its rather sad and philosophical subject, it is a beautiful poem which I thought was worth sharing. Here it is:

          Burying the Dog in the Garden

                                                 by Brian Patten

          When we buried

          the dog in

          the garden on

          the grave we put

          a cross and

          the tall man

          next door was


          ‘Animals have no

          souls,’ he said.

          ‘They must have animal

          souls,’ we said. ‘No,’

          he said and

          shook his head.

          ‘Do you need a

          soul to go

          to Heaven?’ we

          asked. He nodded

          his head. ‘Yes,’

          he said.

          ‘That means my

          hamster’s not

          in Heaven,’ said

          Kevin. ‘Nor is

          my dog,’ I said.

          ‘My cat could sneak

          in anywhere,’ said

          Clare. And we thought

          what a strange place Heaven

          must be with

          nothing to stroke

          for eternity.

          We were all


          We decided we

          did not want to

          go to Heaven.

          For that the

          tall man next

          door is to blame.

This poem brought tears to my eyes and stirred the inevitable discussion of what’s going to happen when George dies. A subject that I’m not very comfortable with and prefer not to think about just yet. At the end of our little talk, Brianna decided that she believes animals have souls and although she’ll be sad when the day comes for George to go, she understands that this is the cycle of life and knows he’ll be up there watching over her. What a wise child. I just blocked out the thought and took George for a walk.


Filed under Whilst walking the dog

The Importance of Choosing the Right Dog

I’ve always believed that the decision to bring a dog into your home could be one of the most important decisions you will ever make and, for this reason, should not be taken lightly. This weekend gone has reinforced my conviction that making sure you choose the right dog for your family circumstances and lifestyle is very important.

Let me explain.

As you already know from Last Wednesday’s post, it was Brianna’s birthday on Friday, which meant a whole weekend of celebration, parties and visitors. There has been a sea of people coming and going to and from our house over the past few days, and one of the things I was the most pleased with was the way George behaved under these circumstances. He’s always happy to welcome family and friends that he knows well, but he’s never too keen on strangers invading his territory. We did, however, have a few ‘new’ guests around our house and George simply had to deal with it.

Since we knew how wary he is of humans and dogs he doesn’t know, we kept a close eye on him during the initial minutes of being introduced to our guests. The last thing we wanted was our dog attacking someone, especially a child. Although we trust him completely with Brianna and her little cousins, you can never tell how a dog will react in new situations, so we were prepared to restrain him if he started to display any aggression. His crate was also ready, waiting for him in the office as a last resort.


But what a good boy George proved to be! Yes, he got a bit nervous, growled a little (in a talking kind of way – no teeth showing) and ran around with his tail between his legs for about 5 minutes. Then he settled down and went to assess the newcomers by sniffing them, accepted a little pat on the head and settled down in his bed. Eventually, he ended up sharing cuddles and kisses with everyone and chasing the kids around. He even decided to join in a little photo session! After all of our initial worries, the challenge of the day was to keep George off the party food, not our guests’ ankles. I was really proud of my furry boy and happy that we did not have to lock him away and he could enjoy being part of the family. Like he should.

Which brings me back to my initial point. It is very important to do your research properly and choose the right dog. When we decided to take this step, Brianna was 5 and we knew that our dog had to have a nice, even temperament and be good with children. This was our number one criteria, especially since I’d heard a few horrific stories of little children being mauled by their family dog. We therefore overruled a lot of breeds, including all guard dogs. Although I am aware that Rottweilers, Dobermans and Pitbulls can make wonderful pets in the right hands – the softest Rottweiler in the world lives around the corner and is one of George’s friends – I’ve always been wary of their strength and propensity to ‘lose their temper’ if little kids poke them in the eye or pull their ears. The damage these dogs can cause is so great that we thought it was just not worth the risk.

We also considered adopting a rescue dog. We visited the local dog shelter and the image of those poor dogs barking and scratching at the windows of their cages melted my heart and is still with me today. We felt that adoption was definitely the right choice for us, but then, just before we made our final decision, a member of our family got bitten in the face by a friend’s rescue dog. Nobody could have predicted that, as the dog knew her well and was used to having her around. One day, however, the dog snapped. Something she did must have triggered that behaviour. Maybe she moved too fast, we’ll never know. But it almost cost her an eye and it definitely cost the dog his family, as he had to be returned to the shelter. This experienced made us abandon our adoption plans, since we no longer felt it was a good idea to bring a dog of unknown past into our young family.

So, we narrowed it all down to a whippet puppy whom we can ‘educate’ and shape the way we want from the beginning, and who can grow up with Brianna and be her childhood companion. This is how George became one of us, and we never regretted the day we brought him home. Last weekend just confirmed that we made the right choice!


Filed under General

2920 Days of Christmas

With my daughter’s birthday coming up on Friday, I felt that writing a short off-topic post about the event would be a nice surprise for her. After all, she is my little blog advisor and one of my two favourite models – I’ll let you guess who’s the other one!


As Brianna’s special day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about our role as parents and how parenthood has changed who we are.  Although I am the sole bearer of words on this space, it is only fair to write this post in the plural since, just as it takes two to tango, it also takes two to create and raise a human being as part of a loving family.

With this in mind, whilst out and about with George this morning, I remembered something profoundly beautiful that a friend said to me in one of her letters. She said that since the birth of her daughter “it feels like it’s Christmas every day”. I cannot think of better words or a more succinct way to describe how we feel and all the wonderful things she’s brought to our life.

The sense of wonder as we rediscover the world through her eyes. The fun of splashing through puddles on a rainy day. The thrill of joining in her favourite games. The worries of each new beginning and the pride of seeing her develop into a free-thinking person. The privilege of sharing in her dreams, the overwhelming love that makes her the centre of our universe, and the excitement of the years to come.

It’ll be 2920 days of Christmas for us soon. 2920 happy, wonderful days that we will cherish forever.


Filed under Our days, Whilst walking the dog

Open Your Heart for Red Nose Day

Not long before my daughter was born, I purchased a little photo frame from a market stall. It wasn’t anything special, but it carried a message that I really liked: “Whenever a child is born, the world lights up with possibilities”.

Recently, whilst walking through our peaceful forest with George, this message sprung back to my mind. Such simple, wonderful words, but are they always true? Are there real opportunities for the countless children who are born in the wrong place, at the wrong time or to the wrong parents? What hope is there for them? What can we do to make their lives better?

 Today, these questions will be on everyone’s lips and none of us will be able to turn our eyes away from the uncomfortable reality of how some of the most innocent live on this planet. In the 21st century.  This is what Red Nose Day – or Comic Relief – is all about:

Publicising the sad stories of less fortunate children in Africa and the UK and turning their tears into smiles. Employing the art of comedy, in all its forms, to raise money for charity. Coming together one day a year to try to change things. In a world where the rich-beyond-measure reward themselves with millions of pounds they don’t really need, it’s up to the rest of us to make a difference. It always has been. And we’ve proved, year after year, that there is enough compassion in our hearts to find the means to make this difference.

Tonight my family and I will be watching the Red Nose Day fund-raising programme on TV. We will laugh at the gags and gasp at the acts of bravery put together by celebrities and common people alike in their attempt to raise awareness and money. We will cry at the sad stories of children working in slums for a penny a day, dying of hunger or sleeping in the street. We will be moved by the desperation of these children’s parents and their genuine gratitude for any act of kindness they are shown. We will cuddle up together and be thankful for our privileged life. But, more importantly, we’ll press the ‘Donate’ button or make a call.

This is one of those days when I wish I was rich. Not for my own gratification – we’ve got everything we need – but to be able to help and share. But, since this is real life, I’m not in that position and have to settle for a modest donation. I have to be honest, I used to wonder whether our humble contribution would really really make a difference. Surely, a few pounds can’t go that far. Well, you’d be surprised! They say that my £5 can save 4 children from dying of malaria. It’s only a tiny amount and a small gesture, with an amazing result. Imagine what can be achieved with a hundred, a thousand or a million times that!

I no longer feel isolated and powerless. We’re only weak as individuals, but we’re powerful together. I strongly believe that and days like today prove me right. The social movements in the Middle East do, too, but this is not the time nor the place to go into that.

Times are hard for everybody, but the truth is that there’s always someone out there who is less fortunate, poorer or in a more desperate situation than us. Today is about opening our hearts to them, listening to their muffled voices and helping them however we can. Last year we calculated that we spent more on butterfly netting to protect our cabbages than the price of a mosquito net which would save a child from becoming infected with malaria. This makes me think that we can all find the means, however small, to show that we care. All we need to do is sacrifice something which, come to think of it, we may not need in the first place, like our butterfly netting or your bottle of wine.

So put on a red T-shirt, do someting funny and join in the charity express. You may wake up a happier person tomorrow.


If you’d like to find out more about Red Nose Day and what some of the celebrities involved in the fund-raising events have to say about it, click here.


Filed under Our days, Whilst walking the dog