The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Imaginary Friends

Friendly Monster
When M was 2 the Dubmeister was mad about Star Wars. He was given a box set of movies 1-3 by his genius godmother and watched them until the discs were burnt through. Little M used to sit on the floor next to him taking it all in.

It was after watching the 3rd run of Star Wars 2 that she met Friendly Monster - her imaginary friend.

Friendly Monster went everywhere with us. He travelled in the petrol cap of the car, slept in a cot designed for Sylvanian Families and enjoyed eating peas. He was M's best friend. We even lost him once before finding him curled up in the spokes of one of the car's wheels.

Friendly Monster came from a long line of Imaginary Friends. When I was 2-3 I had two of them - Dada and Patish. Patish joined the army - I think he was last seen standing outside Buckingham Palace resplendent in red uniform and bearskin hat. I have no idea what happened to Dada - I guess we lost touch.

My lovely wife had a friend called Sarah who was a spider. She travelled everywhere with her in a bucket before, in a spooky premonition of that fright we had with Friendly Monster, getting lost on her drive way. Thankfully her parents found Sarah before she ran under an imaginary car to suffer an imaginary fate worse than an imaginary death.

Imaginary Friends are everywhere - my lovely wife tells me that during a game of I Spy in the Reception class she supports a little boy stumped the rest of the class when they couldn't spy "something beginning with an M" until his friend piped up "Do you mean your imaginary friend Magic?"

Of course he did!

I am all for imaginary friends. They are flexible, very friendly and always there for you. I also think they are a sign of an extremely creative imagination.

What is your position on imaginary friends? Are you a fan? Did you have one? Does your child have one? Or do you think that they are nothing but a bad influence?

Speak soon

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The One With The Cat, The Mountain and The Sick Bowl


The Signs of Spring before the "Sick Bowl Incident"

We have had an eventful week.

My lovely wife and I are in training for a midsummer charity challenge - the climbing of 24 peaks in 24 hours in order to raise money for the charity Caring Matters Now (click on the links to find out more) - so we planned a fantastic 4 days with friends in Snowdonia National Park where we would climb mountains, chill out with our favourite people and feel much better about the challenge to take place this week.

That didn't happen.

First Murphy the cat got dangerously ill on Sunday night (why do they always get dangerously ill when the regular vet is closed!) - so we had to rush him to the emergency vet in order to pay them as much money as possible and confine him to pussy cat hospital for 3 days. Murphy was so ill that it was possible that we could lose him so the decision was made that I would stay home and look after him once he was allowed out. So, no Snowdonia for me.

Wednesday morning the rest of the family drove off into the distance for 4 days of mountain climbing, chilling and feeling better about things. I retreated into my man cave and waited for news of my furry friend.

Furry friend survived and is now carrying on as if nothing has happened (he doesn't have an overdraft!)

Days 1 and 2 went swimmingly for the lovely wife, the signs of spring and the Dubmeister - a walk up the mountain, lots of chilling and lots of mutual support that the whole challenge wouldn't be so bad after all.

Then came day 3.

Then came the vomiting bug.

The bug which swept through the children like some medieval plague. One by one they fell to the charms of the sick bowl.

Things got so bad that the decision was made to leave 1 day early and so on Friday (just after I had posted my Dad Alone! confession) the call came that they were coming home.

We have spent the weekend feeling sorry for ourselves and wishing that we were as carefree as Murphy, the death cheating feline.

Speak soon

Friday, 22 February 2013

Dad Alone!

Can he survive?

I have been alone since Wednesday morning with nobody but 2 cats and a gang of whistling builders to keep me company.

This experience of solitude has enabled me to ask the question:

How does a Married Dad with Kids (A Madwik) survive without company?

These are the 4 issues you must consider next time you leave your Madwik on his own.

1. The Madwik needs a list

Every time my lovely wife leaves me on my own for more than a few hours I am given a list. As she is away for 4 nights this time I now have a very long list.
Lists are essential for the Madwik because without them we are left to our own devices - and that is a VERY BAD THING!

2. The Madwik has poor time management skills

A Madwik left on his own is very poor at managing his own time - particularly when night falls and the good telly starts. Madwiks can often be seen at way past midnight rubbing the sleep from their eyes as they desparately try to find Dave so that they can chuckle their way through another re-run of Mock The Week.

3. The Madwiks thrive on adrenaline

An impressive by product of the Madwik's cavalier attitude to time management is a phenomenon known as the "Quick hoover and tidy." This phenomenon, which has never been witnessed by any woman ever, is the Madwik at his best. Those of us lucky enough to possess this skill will effortlessly tidy and hoover the house whilst fabricating perfect excuses for not completing the trickier items on the list, before our significant other ends our solitude.

4. Madwiks have little grasp of the rudimentaries of a balanced diet

When a Madwik is left alone they do not eat anything green. They use their new found freedom to eschew the virtues of five a day in favour of foods that come wrapped in cellophane with slogans encouraging the user to enjoy in moderation.

This basic weakness of the Madwik is often spotted by generous females who will offer meals and food parcels in an effort to save the Madwik from themselves.

Speak soon (if I survive!)

PS If you enjoyed this post you might want to read about Why Mums Know Best as well.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The True Costs Of Running A Car

Guest Post

How much?
Day to day driving may seem like an affordable pursuit, but when you start to calculate just how much it costs to keep your car on the road, the totals can be quite frightening.

According to Sainsbury's Bank, the average cost of driving per year is an incredible £3,000 (!!). With figures like this it pays to think carefully about how you can reduce the amount of money you spend on driving.

Here are 4 handy hints to help you save money on your motoring, courtesy of Jeremy Chapman, a regular contributor to Sainsbury's Money Matters blog.

1. Finding Fuel

The price of fuel is constantly in the media spotlight, and for good reason. Buying fuel for your car is one of the biggest running expenses that you can incur. Although you can't change the cost of oil coming into the country, you can choose where you buy your petrol or diesel.

Be eagle eyed and look out for good prices in your locality. Use to help you spot the best value petrol in your area. Make the most of vouchers entitling you to money off at the pumps from some of the major supermarket chains.

2. Insurance

There are ways to make savings in this area, but remember that the cheapest quote might not give you the best value for money. Here are some practical steps you can take to cut your premium.

a) Drive fewer miles
Fewer miles equals fewer quid on your insurance costs PLUS you get to save on fuel and wear and tear plus get to claim the mantle of eco-warrior as you do your bit for the planet. Bicycle anyone?

b) Park your car in a garage
If this is possible, then clear out the clutter in this neglected outbuilding and park your car in there instead. Tell your insurer and it could reduce your premium.
NOTE - Please only park your car in a garage if you possess a garage - parking in a neighbour's garage without prior permission is likely to cause a nasty scene!

c) Spend time researching the best value policy
Shop around online for an affordable policy that meets all your needs. Consider what extras you'll need and don't be tempted by features you are unlikely to use. 

d) Breakdown recovery
Look for for policies which offer breakdown recovery as an added extra. This CAN BE an affordable way of protecting yourself against the high costs of emergency call-outs.

3. Car Maintenance

Knowing how to look out for potential problems with your vehicle could save you money in the long run. With a little research you might also be able to take on simple repair jobs at home!

A weekly check of your vehicle can help you keep on top of things. Check oil and coolant levels and the condition of your tyres on a regular basis. This could help you avoid pricey problems in the future. 

This video (from Sainsburys Bank Car Insurance) will show you how.

4. Repairs, MOTs and Services

This area can be a real money pit so do your research. Garages charge different labour rates and the standard of service differs from one mechanic to the next. Ask friends and family for recommendations, use websites like and consider using a mobile mechanic - less overheads so potentially a lot cheaper.

This post was written by Jeremy Chapman, a regular contributor to Sainsbury's Money Matters Blog. He loves writing about driving. In his spare time he can be found making himself giddy in a Go Kart!

Speak soon
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...