Father’s Day

Earlier this week I was going through some old papers, searching for news cuttings which Dad had kept that connected us as a family, to the local area. Leafing through the stack of documents, I found much more than I was originally looking for. I uncovered some of Dad’s old school reports, his St John’s Ambulance certificates, and his membership of The Noddy Club, carefully stored in an envelope post marked February 1965.

Noddy Club

I also found Mum and Dad’s birth, marriage, and death certificates. Alongside these papers, I had stored a few sentences, hand written in 2012 by our then nine year old daughter Keira. These sentences form the eulogy which she wrote, and asked to read at Dad’s funeral. I thought you might like to take a look.


As you might imagine, this piece of paper stopped me in my tracks. I remember at the time, how proud I felt that someone so young felt able to contribute to a funeral in such a meaningful way. It turns out I still have that feeling. I’m not particularly big on ‘Hallmark Days‘, yet they can and do offer us moments to reflect, and be thankful. If your Dad is around I hope you get time to see him today, and if not, may he be in your thoughts.

‘We’re only immortal, for a limited time’. N Peart.

Being Apart – A Part of Being

Today (Easter Monday) I’m flying off to Riga to continue my work with the Latvian Government on smart use of social media and how to build an effective online presence for their tenure of the EU Presidency in 2015. I’m excited. Riga is the 2014 European Capital of Culture and when I’m not working, I look forward to exploring the city.

I love my work. I love where it takes me, and how it challenges me too. And I miss being away from home – a lot. I’m not complaining, just acknowledging that for me, home is where the heart is. So when we are all here, at home together, we try and make the most of it.

Euan Semple wrote something about proper days off on Facebook last week and he’s kindly agreed I can share it with you here.

Proper days off

When she heard that I was flying home on a Saturday a friend of my wife’s response was “Oh do they make you work on a Saturday”. My head went numb as I struggled with who “they” might be, the idea of “making” me do something, and trying to remember what Saturday used to mean as compared to the rest of the week.

The freelance life challenges many of our assumptions about work. It is unpredictable, has fuzzy edges, and there is no “them” telling you what to do. It calls on a steely nerve, for the times when work isn’t coming in, and considerable self discipline to maintain a balance between work and non-work. Especially working from home the lines can get very blurred. Add to this the fact that I love what I do and there is a real risk of working all the time.

I am aware that my photos on Facebook can give the impression that I am always having fun but that’s because the bad bits are less photogenic! I climb hills and take the chance when I am here to do things with my family to really turn off my work head. To make sure that I have proper days off.

The past few days have been spent as family time. We’ve shopped together, done some painting and decorating together (without too much arguing – honestly!), played together, eaten together, and laughed together. You can’t really call it a weekend because all this fun started last Wednesday, and for now, Easter Sunday is where it stops.

Proper days off. They don’t have to be a Saturday, a Sunday or even a Bank Holiday Monday. They just need to be invested in when the chance comes along. See you soon.

Windy wet and wonderful

The camping season has started! Ever since I was a boy scout I’ve enjoyed spending time under canvas (or whatever it is that tents are made of nowadays), and becoming a dad 8 years ago added even more excitement to the mix. We go camping several times a year with a group of families. We share our camping stuff, our food, our beer, and most importantly, our company. These trips are an essential part of life, and often I’m just too busy relaxing to recall quite what it was that made the last trip so memorable. This time though I felt I was tuned a little differently, and a few things stood out.

It was a very windy weekend, at times quite cold. This motivated us to be out and about much more than usual. We took a lovely walk from Beaulieu to Buckler’s Hard and watched buzzards soar, and sailing boats get whipped down the river. It’s good to feel the wind in your face.

We also took a walk to a pub for lunch. All of the 8 kids on the trip wanted to cycle and Pete bravely stepped up and agreed to lead the ride. This was Keira’s first time out on the road and I was pleased to see her so excited about it. The trip was just over a mile and a half passing by New Forest ponies and through a pretty village. Under Pete’s gentle guidance they had a great ride and there were loads of smiles waiting for us on arrival at the pub. It was great to trust a good friend to take Keira on an important journey. Letting go can be fun.

Keira with her bicycle at camp

Toasting marshmallows round the fire with the kids before they head to bed is a regular treat. On Saturday Keira was sat in Carole’s lap and we were reflecting on the fun we’d had as a group and a family that day. As Keira went to get ready for bed she pointed at the starry sky and said “Say good night to Grandma Anabel”, and gave my hand a squeeze. With a lump in my throat I did just that. Knowing where you’ve come from is vital.  

The inevitable rain came – though it had the decency to wait until our last day. I sat beneath a shelter watching for a few hours before facing up to the reality of packing a tent in the rain. And I really enjoyed it. The night before I’d been talking with Adrian about his and Laura’s recent walk along the West Highland Way which had been peppered with foul weather. Adrian said that they enjoyed everything Mother Nature hurled at them – it was all part of the experience. I recalled that encompassing thought as I stood in a soft English spring rain getting soaked, and I loved it. I went out of my way to take as long as I could to remove every peg, and tie every rope. Making the very best of what you can’t change can be strangely inspiring.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend too?