My big day out with the Big Fella

My son eating out

They should call this place Wagadada!

HELLO, MY name is Boy Wonder. My Daddy had a day off work yesterday to look after me because my Mummy was on a course. My baby sister was at nursery so my Daddy took me for a Big Day Out.

I was a bit excited the night before and Daddy had to reassure me that we wouldn’t miss the bus. He said they come along all of the time or we could even walk into Chapel Allerton but I still made him run when we left yesterday morning.

When we got to Leeds, which is our city and as big as England I think, he was still a bit sweaty. Poor Daddy, he turned 41 recently, which is very old. That’s what Mummy says.

I’ve started calling Daddy the ‘Big Fella’, which he doesn’t seem to like for some reason. Ah well, he started it with the nicknames.

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Our daughter is two!

Betty at twoOUR LITTLE girl turned two yesterday. We marked the occasion with a weekend in Chester that involved a luxury hotel suite, pizza and a late night and a trip to what must be the country’s best zoo. Before we set off, Little Buddha received all kinds of Hello Kitty goods. I hope she wasn’t disappointed because in the run-up to the big day she was very clear about what she wanted: CAKE! Hopefully  Colin the Chocolate Caterpillar sufficed, as well as a chocolate sundae for tea, breakfast muffins this morning and a chocolate carrot for the journey home.

Predictably, it feels like our daughter is a bit more advanced than our son at this age. She’s already christened a potty (about a year ahead of her brother), her vocabulary expands by the hour (but maybe that’s as much the result of having a big brother as her gender) and her tantrums are far more dramatic. She’s far more independent than he was then (and sometimes is now): for example, he has always welcomed cuddles and kisses but she dispenses them with the generosity of an insurance company loss adjuster

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Photographing toddlers: What a balls up!

PHOTOGRAPHING TODDLERS is a thankless task. At the moment, coaxing Little Buddha into smiling for the camera is completely futile. She has an unerring ability to look my way only at the moment when the shutter is down.

I feel sorry for previous generations of parents who must have wasted reams of expensive film on shots of young toddlers looking away at the last moment, closing their eyes, pulling a face. At least with a digital camera, I can keep snapping away at no cost except to my patience and my dreamy ideas of posterity.

So, imagine my glee on our recent holiday in Northumberland when I found both kids sat playing on the bottom of the stairs. I grabbed the camera and with only a little cajoling – ‘this way kids’, ‘look at Daddy’, ‘look what Daddy has got (er, a camera)’ – I enticed them both into posing for my precious photo collection.

Boy Wonder was fairly compliant and, after a few near misses, I could see Little Buddha looking straight at me and smiling. Click, click, click – and in one fantastic moment, I knew I had The Shot. One that would probably fly around the world to friends and family. One that might dominate the home screen of my phone and my computer desktop. One that could garner plenty of ‘likes’ on Facebook.

Like a hunter carrying a sedate lion cub over my shoulder, I showed The Shot to the Duchess in the cottage kitchen and she agreed that it was worthy of joining our Wall of Fame of family photographs back home.

Sure, it was an anodyne setting but what mattered was that Little Buddha’s smile was brilliant and she was looking up directly at the camera. All of that wasted effort suddenly felt vindicated.

The satisfactory glow remained until we got home and shortly after posting it online a friend commented: ‘Really funny picture… boys will be boys, hey!’.

We looked again. We looked at Boy Wonder, probably for the first time. We said: ‘Ah’.

So here it is. A lovely shot of my daughter. But not one that ended up adorning our Wall of Fame…












It’s my 40th birthday next month and the Duchess has been plotting. I get in the car today and Boy Wonder tells me…

‘Daddy, we got you a Batman birthday card!’

‘That’s nice, thank you,’ I say, looking at a half-frowning, half-smiling Duchess.

She looks at Boy Wonder in the rear-view mirror. ‘That’s the last time I involve you in a surprise for anyone, mister,’ she pretends to scold him.

I mimic pulling the words out of my ears and invite Boy Wonder to give them one big heave. ‘I wonder what card you’ve got me for my birthday,’ I say extravagantly, using all of my meagre acting skills. ‘Can’t wait to find out!’

Boy Wonder beckons me towards him and I lean back as far as I can. He reduces his voice to a whisper. ‘It’s alright, Daddy, I’ll tell you now. It’s a Batman card.’