Thrifty Fathers Day

“We only spent £3 Daddy and H’s present cost twice what mine did.”

Back in June we had Fathers Day. Usually spent in the garden, preparing a barbecue for my father and not sitting on my arse where I should be.

My favourite part about Fathers Day is the lead up to it. The boys getting excited about ‘Daddy’s Big Day’, me partly pretending to be excited but also more enjoying seeing them excited. In the week before I receive the best gifts, the ones they make at pre school. A particular favourite of mine was a card made into the shape of a shirt and tie. Definitely a keeper!

Since they are both now in school, however, these little self made treats are no more. Apparently the school prefers to concentrate on such things as maths, English and science, so bloody old fashioned!

Still, one great thing the school does is organise a Fathers Day gift sale. The school’s an academy so this is one of the ways they raise money for themselves. Basically they have all the available gifts laid out on a table, the children choose one, pay for it and they then get given the gift completely wrapped. The gifts aren’t expensive, they range in price from £0.50 to £10.00 from a packet of Maltesas to a small set of cheap screwdrivers.

At the last event I gave T £20 to get me a couple of gifts from H and himself. I gave both boys some guidance,

“Now I’m grateful for anything, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive thing you see but please definitely not a key ring…and no pens..”

I’m not being ungrateful, it’s just that a key ring is only useful when you have keys to put on it. Unless we put a new door or a gate somewhere then we don’t need anymore keys, hence I don’t need another keyring. As for pens, I am not exaggerating when I say we have at least 1,500 pens in the house. I used to own a firm and we were doing a trade show and needed gifts for about 100 people. We decided on pens with our company name on. We left it to the last minute and only then did we realised that the minimum order was 2,000 pens. Fortunately the pens are of incredibly poor quality so we are getting through them at a rate of about 100 a year.

Also, I must admit I would have been more than happy with the Maltesas. It wasn’t a packet, this was a box which I could have probably made last about an hour.

The boys came back after about two minutes of searching for the perfect gift for their Daddy and T placed £17 change in my hand.

“We only spent £3 Daddy and H’s present cost twice what mine did.”

Come Sunday I’m obviously excited to see what my thrifty sons have bought me for £1 and £2 (leaving room for the school to make a profit). Now your probably thinking that I got a keyring and a pen, but you’d be wrong. The £1 gift was actually a coaster with ‘Top Daddy’ written on it. I love it, it’s by my computer and I use it every day!

And the other gift? Yeah, that was a pen…

Stinky Dog!

“L is relatively healthy and fit. Admittedly she does only have one eye and is stone bloody deaf…”

We have a gorgeous 14 year old dog. She’s happy and tolerant of the children despite the fact she has dropped to the bottom of the pecking order in the house.

You obviously don’t mean for this to happen, but babies and toddlers just require so much attention, where as a seven year old dog (as she was at the time of our first) pretty much just gets on with things.

Now our old dog, L, is a West Highland Terrier. Westies are a small, long lived breed whose only affliction suffered from the curse of being a pedigree dog is a greater risk of skin infection. So L is relatively healthy and fit. Admittedly she does only have one eye and is stone bloody deaf but she doesn’t let that stop her rushing around like a mad thing. The one condition that she does have that is rather bothersome is that she stinks. Of course that bothers those around her more than it does her but it is nevertheless quite a frightful pong that emanates from her general direction.

It’s not her breath, her teeth are and have always been in fantastic condition. It’s not her arse, she’s on a raw meat diet which means her shit barely stinks, let alone her farts. It’s just an old dog odour which seems to seep out of every pore.

She is washed as often as you can safely wash a dog, she has special prescription only (outrageously expensive) shampoo and she has been treated for all fungal conditions which may affect her. She even has her own type of deodorant. All of these make a difference for about an hour after they are applied.

So, in order to try and stem the continuous apologies I make to anyone who comes into the house (“Come in, apologies about the smell we have a very old dog”) I decided to do something about it.

I bought an air freshener, Febrezed the sofas and applied shake n vac (yep, you can still get it!) to the carpet to try and save the lounge from the smell of our poor old pal. There seemed to be absolutely no difference. If anything the smell of old dog is stronger.

So I then bathed the dog again in her outrageously expensive shampoo, washed her bed and threw away an old unused toy. Still absolutely reeks of old dog.

If anything it’s getting stronger, it’s no more the smell of old dog, it smells like something an old dog might have deposited somewhere. I treat the dog with dog deodorant, move all of the sofas checking underneath for rotting dog food or dog piss. Nothing.

I then close up sniff every inch of carpet and sofa and sniff the dog all over. All good. Still stinks of old dog in the lounge.

I then vacuum the carpet again and wood floor, dust everywhere possible, mop the wooden floor, vacuum and clean the fireplace, clean all the windows and steam clean the carpet.

I then finally realise it is stronger in one section of the lounge. I have finally narrowed the source down to the corner of the lounge where our wooden cabinet is. That makes no sense, that’s where I’ve put the air freshener. It then dawns on me, it’s the bloody air freshener I bought in the first place, ‘summer berries’ my arse…Sorry L.


“Maverick, get down from there!”


So close to a row in Tesco, completely accidental but equally completely my fault.

There was a little kid messing about in the bread aisle in front of us. He was running round, chasing his sister, his mum was getting more and more annoyed but was trying to restrain herself from shouting. We then moved down the aisle towards the jam and the overexcited kid and his sister moved along with us. Finally, when he was attempting to climb up the shelves with the glass jam jars on, right in front of me, his mum rushed over and shouted,

“Maverick, get down from there!”

I could feel my eyes widening, my jaw dropping and before I could stop myself I found myself blurting out,


I took one look at her reddening face, the tattoo on her neck, and the fact that she outweighed me by a good 5 stone and did the only thing I could…I ran.

Ignoring your Kids

“when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones”

One of my major pet hates is parents wearing headphones whilst they are in the company of their children. Now, I see ladies in the park doing their exercises with their prams, that’s awesome, what a great idea, exercise classes dedicated to mums with babies in prams! My wife would also like to personally congratulate any mums who have the physical and mental capability to do that within the first year!

However, when your child starts talking I’m afraid you have to ditch the headphones. The reason is obvious to most but I’m afraid not all people. Your child is just starting to learn how to communicate, they need to practice, they don’t know anybody else to talk to, you are stunting your child’s development – are all the things I want to shout at the parents who walk along with their kids whilst completely absorbed in whatever they are playing through their earphones. Granted, most of the time it is the mums of the two and three year olds who have dropped their older kids at school and are deciding to ignore the younger ones on the way home which is bloody awful, but some of the time it is mums of the school kids, aged between four and ten. They completely blank them out all the way to school, when they could be hearing about the day ahead, what they are looking forward to to, what they are apprehensive about. Then they completely ignore them all the way home from school, when the child may want to tell them about their day.

I took my sons to a school holiday sports coaching session in the summer and one mum stuck in my mind. She walked all the way in with her son, who looked about eight years old, with her headphones firmly stuck in her ears. Not a word passed between them all the way in. At the drop off the coaches said hello to her son, made a fuss of him and tried to tell her about the day, she wasn’t interested. She just held up an ignorant hand and walked away without so much as a goodbye to the people who would be looking after her son for the next six hours, but more tragically there wasn’t even a goodbye for her eight year old. Poor kid.

This leads on to another more minor bug bear, people who pick up their kids whilst on the phone. At our school the teachers bring the children out in a line and send them off to their parents one by one. My kids come running over excitedly, I’m their dad and they are pleased to see me, this is the same for the vast majority of children who come out of school. However some parents are deep in conversation on their phone, not just their phone but maybe with another mum who they haven’t seen since the morning. Their children go running up, but then slow down as they see they aren’t to be acknowledged, again. Quite often the mum will start walking away on the phone and the child will just be expected to follow behind, without even so much as a smile in their direction or a whispered “I won’t be a minute”. If somebody calls whilst I am picking up my sons I find it perfectly acceptable to say “I am picking up my children from school, I will call you back” because it is a perfectly acceptable thing to say.

Yes kids are a pain in the backside, yes they talk a lot and half of it it absolute nonsense. Yes you need time for your own thoughts. It is very easy to train your ears and brain to be a filter, to ignore all of the nonsense and just let in the pure gold. Sticking headphones in is not the answer, it stops your child talking to you altogether and makes them think that this behaviour is actually appropriate. It is not.

Cheesy Sauce

“I thought that learning how to make a decent cheese sauce would be appropriate”

Kids like cheese. Let’s face it, everyone likes cheese don’t they? I have a mate who grates cheese onto every meal, he’s a hero. Yes he’s obese and has trouble breathing but he’s still a hero. I have another acquaintance, he goes out for a meal and orders pizzas without cheese. He is not a hero, he’s weird.

With that in mind I thought that learning how to make a decent cheese sauce would be appropriate, especially as it is such a piece of piss. You can also use it for quite a few kids meals, I’ve given some suggestions below. These aren’t meant to be adult meals, hence the simplicity and the fact that most of them just involve cooking something and then pouring the cheese sauce over the top!

  • Cauliflower or Broccoli Cheese or Vegetables with Cheese (cook cauliflower, broccoli or both and pour cheese sauce over it.  If your kids are babies or fussy, mash up or blend it to oblivion so they can’t see the veg).  You can also add cheese sauce to other cooked veg like carrots, peas or courgettes.  Kids are more likely to eat stuff covered in cheese.
  • Fish and Cheese Sauce (get some filleted white fish, cook it as per instructions, then pour the cheese sauce over the top, leave the fish whole or flake it into the sauce with a fork)
  • Pasta with Cheese Sauce.  The jewell of daddy cooking, the go to guy, pasta.  From fussy kids to eat anything kids they all like pasta.  Just cook pasta, drain and then mix up with the cheese sauce.  Then you can add in any cooked meat you like and mix it up, also any cooked veg.  Overcooking broccoli slightly and then mashing it to kingdom come and mixing it with the cheese sauce is a great way to hide veg.

So, to the cheese sauce. You’ll just need the following, which you’ll probably have in.


  • 15g butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 150ml of milk
  • 50g grated cheddar

You can use other cheeses like Edam, but let’s face it, cheddar is the daddy of cheeses so it’s appropriate. Stronger cheddars give a better flavour in my opinion too.


Put your saucepan on a low heat and chuck in the butter. Wait for it to melt, slowly. Don’t be tempted to turn the pan up. Then chuck in the milk and the flour. Whisk until thickened and all the lumps are gone (use a fork if you can’t find a whisk). Some people will tell you to add the flour slowly to the butter and stir it gently to make a roux and then add the milk, what the hell is a roux?! You can do it that way if you like but I don’t think it makes a jot of difference, it just makes it much more likely you’re going to burn your pan!
Once you have all the lumps out and you’ve got a smooth sauce then turn off the heat completely. Add the cheese into the pan and stir. All the grated cheese disappears very quickly and you have yourself a cheese sauce. Sorted!

Embarrassed Daddy or Embarrassing Daddy?

“Oh, by the way daddy, I told Miss Smith how pretty you think she is”

My four year old has finally started school. He was more than ready and his confident stroll in without looking back on his first day gave me the full confidence that he was going to do fine!

His teacher is very nice, to make this story less embarrassing (for her in case she ever read this) let’s call her Miss Smith. Now Miss Smith is in her early twenties and in her third year of teaching. Her first year was spent teaching my eldest in year one and we were very pleased with how he got on that year. Also, Miss Smith is hot. As I am now forty there is no way to say that that doesn’t sound pervy. It’s just that out of all the teachers in the school she is noticeably the hottest. It wasn’t just me, all of a sudden I had a lot more dads to talk to at school pick up time…

It would of course be completely inappropriate for me to convey that I think Miss Smith is hot to either of my boys of four and seven. They wouldn’t understand at this age. However, I was tricked by H into revealing the tiniest piece of my thoughts on the subject, a lapse I now regret.

I should reveal at this stage that four year old H is a ladies man. He’s a bit of a lad and loves playing rough with the boys but if a big girl comes along his head is turned and he spends all his time trying to impress them. This manifests itself in the most part as him being a bit of a ‘mummy’s boy’. He’s absolutely obsessed with his mummy, bringing her presents, calling her a princess and taking the opportunity for a cuddle every five minutes.

At nursery he was consumed with getting a ‘Superstar’ rating every day, the rating they achieve if they have gone out of their way to be good that day. If he didn’t get noticed for being good then he would make sure that they knew.

“Charlotte, I’ve tidied the home corner”
“OK H, but you did that yesterday”.

So the next day he would try something new.

“Alice, I’ve put all the books back on the bookshelf”
“OK H, but there was only three books on the floor, I don’t think that warrants you being a superstar”.

But then he cracked it.

“Kirsty, I’ve put all the dressing up clothes back into the box. Also, you look very beautiful today.”


So with this in mind the following conversation wasn’t a surprise.

“Daddy, Miss Smith is very nice.”
“Yes, she is H.”
“Daddy, Miss Smith is very pretty.”
“Yes, she is H.”

That was it. I had hardly gone over the top, merely agreed with the opinion of a big girl obsessed four year old.

The next day I dropped H at the school gates. It was the first day he had to walk into the main gates and make his own way to his classroom. I put his huge book bag on his shoulder, kissed him on the cheek, gave him a hug and whispered in his ear.

“See you later matey, have a great day at school”
“Bye, daddy.”

He turned and took a few steps towards the gate, then he turned and said.

“Oh, by the way daddy, I told Miss Smith how pretty you think she is.”
“Thanks, H.”

Shit. H’s teacher thinks I’m an old pervert.

I did share this info on my Facebook page to much laughter and piss taking.

“Is lingerie inappropriate to give as an end of term gift?”, was probably my favourite.

“It’s going to make parents evening a bit awkward”, was another comment.

No it’s bloody not, it’s going to make school pick up time bloody awkward, in four hours time! Then it’s going to make every pick up on every day awkward. When parents evening comes round it will be beyond awkward!

I have to admit that I’ve not been completely honest at this point. It isn’t the first time I’ve been embarrassed in front of Miss Smith although it is the first time it wasn’t my fault. When T was in her glass he had a gymnastics lesson after school which meant a later pick up. As he was getting changed he excitedly told me that Miss Smith’s dog had had babies and that she had brought them in to show the class. Just then Miss Smith walked through the hall where T was getting changed and said ‘hello”.

“Hi” I said, “T was just telling me how much he enjoyed his day”.
“Oh that’s lovely” she said “Yes I showed the class my puppies today and they loved it.”

The snigger rose up like a volcano, I tried to suppress it but it teared up the back of my throat and roared out of my nose before I could help it. The noise lasted a millisecond but it was enough for a chest tightening awkward moment.

“That does sound like a good day” I finally croaked.

After the latest slip the only option for me now of course is to emigrate.