Concentration

Child labour on the Isle of Man.

‘Concentrate’ – original upload

It’s all about getting your stripes in a straight line when you’re mowing the lawn with Granddad.

Torchwood: Children of Earth

Three minutes until the final episode.

Here’s my best guess. They are about to hand over the 10% of the planet’s children to The 456 and then this giant salmon appears from nowhere and drops onto Thames House. Terrifying.
And there’s a tent and some jam. Lots of jam. And some rabbits.

After the jam and the rabbits… who can say?

But possibly some After Eight mints.
Always a nice way to round an evening off.

A remarkable moment

As a parent, I recognise that there is no such thing as “time off” – even on holiday. And, vaguely related, as a microbiologist, I recognise that when visiting new destinations – especially foreign destinations – you are more likely to get sick from those annoying little upper respiratory tract infections which aren’t swine flu, but are just enough to make you feel a bit crap and produce litres of snot where before there was none.

Our youngest has gone down with such a virus. Nothing serious, but nasty to make her a bit miserable, exude litres of green gunge from her nostrils and significantly increase the dividend for Adcock-Ingram’s shareholders.
On the plus side, the boy seems to have brushed off any infectious advances from his sister’s bugs and he continues to have a whale of a time chasing seagulls, making a bus in the garden shed and generally not stopping.  

Thus, moments like this one are remarkable. Both kids in bed, sleeping soundly and in no danger of plunging into local harbours or in need of paternal solace, while wiping “stuff” on my shoulder. And that is why I find myself sitting in the sun, tapping away on the fancy laptop with a decent cup of coffee by my side, listening to the Manic Street Preachers belting out Autumnsong, Indian Summer and the rest from Send Away The Tigers*. I know that this remarkable moment will only last perhaps thirty minutes if I’m lucky, but that only makes every minute all the more special.

Reading back, you might get the impression that I’m not enjoying the holiday. Or course, I am. But holidays with young kids are different. You don’t get your pleasure from lying on a beach not dreaming of tuberculosis or Friday’s lab meeting – you get it from the smile on your boy’s face as he heads for the swings for the umpteenth time or from your daughter’s giggling as Granddad throws her a ball.

It probably sounds like hell to those of you who aren’t parents. Or at least a bit sloppy. But it’s just different and you don’t understand that until you’ve got kids. And I don’t mean that condescendingly: I certainly didn’t get it before I had kids. Priorities change and you don’t get lie-ins – even when you’re on holiday. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.

And with that, I see the lights blinking on the monitor as K-pu awakens. Perfect timing.
Thanks for sharing my short remarkable moment with me.

Tonight: The almost certainly anti-climactic final episode of Torchwood: Children of Earth, which has had me hooked all week, but which will have to pack a whole lot of action, bewilderingly virulent viruses and heroes improbably surviving massive explosions into just 60 minutes this evening if we’re going to get a decent conclusion.

* Just to clarify: I’m listening to the music, not the cup of coffee, which has no ears – often seen as a prerequisite for music listenage.

The fuchsia’s bright



The fuchsia’s bright, originally uploaded by Ballacorkish.

Three little dancers – the Manx national flower.

More tomorrow.

2009 KiTT: The story so far

I have finally managed to get around to using the ultra fast internet here on the Isle of Man to upload the first few photos of the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour to flickr. And not only that, but these are also the first batch taken with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28. And I love it.


Calf Sound, Isle of Man

The weather is sunny, but the northwest wind is keeping it cool. But get out of the breeze and it’s lovely. And though we’ve only been here for 24 hours, it feels like forever: this place relaxes you instantly. We were down by the sea this morning, watching the seals and for about 2 hours, we just did nothing. Any parent will tell you how rare and precious that sort of time is.

The boy, born and brought up in suburban Cape Town, is in his element. There is space, fresh air, farm animals, birds, sea, rocks to scramble over, grandparents and a plastic tool kit that his Auntie Jane bought him. This morning he went up to the farm with Grandma to collect the milk. The rural equivalent of 7/11 – this stuff comes unpasteurised in churns, not in plastic cartons.

Now, as I sit inside this beautifully renovated 18th century cottage, tapping away on a rather posh laptop, I can see the family beginning a game of cricket outside in the sun. It seems foolish not to join them.

Until next time…

P.S. Thanks to all of you who have forwarded me Louise Taylor‘s hysterical piece in the Guardian on visiting South Africa for the World Cup next year.

She suggests that Egypt should have hosted the tournament. That’s Egypt which polled a mighty zero votes when they were selecting the host nation. Yes, Louise knows all about democracy.

As she says, “surely if the Egyptians could build the pyramids they could host a World Cup?” Yes, Louise knows all about hosting major sporting events.

And then, the piece de la resistance. Those four little words: “I’ve never been, but…”.

Yes, Louise knows all about South Africa.