Just set a new PB for mowing the front lawn. House presentability has now been marginally upgraded from ‘oh, that poor family must have died’ to ‘if we have to go in and the inside is as bad as the outside, don’t sit down on anything’.

Almost nine weeks on

I’m at a departure gate at Zürich airport waiting for a flight home and thought I’d check in. Our little man is almost nine weeks old now and he’s advancing in every way – it’s really amazing to see how much change he goes through right in front of your eyes. For example, three weeks ago he just started smiling – it was as sudden as that. One minute he doesn’t smile, the next minute he does. And when he does…we just fall in love with him again and again. I honestly can’t tell you how brilliant it is to see your son smile at you. We can’t help ourselves from trying to make him smile all the time.

Having him around has of course made a massive change to our lives. Time is so much more precious; you find yourself thinking about what you can do with every ‘spare’ few minutes that come along. I’ve been trying to get home at a more reasonable hour from work and in order to make up some time have taken to sorting my work emails on the train. I’ve lost the personal time but I do get to see my family more, so it’s not really a negative thing – you’re just forced to be more organised.

I would expect my future posts here to be a little less frequent than they have been, but I will try!

New addition

I’m extremely pleased to announce that during the early hours of Sunday morning we became parents to a beautiful baby boy. It was a bit of a trauma and mum is still in hospital with the baby but they’re both doing well. Photos will be available soon! Needless to say, I feel like the happiest man alive at the moment. 🙂

Four weeks to go

The weeks have been whizzing by so fast. I can’t believe we’ve got just under four weeks to go before the baby’s due date. Apparently if the baby makes an appearance after this week it would be considered as being ‘to term’ and not premature so we’re doing what we can to get ready just in case he or she is early. The hospital bag is packed, there’s petrol in the car and we rehearsed the route on Sunday when we went for a look around the hospital.

Now that our close friends had their baby last week it has just heightened the anticipation we’re both feeling. I’m very excited and just can’t wait.

Baby countdown

We’ve got just nine weeks to go now on the baby countdown front. All of a sudden Christmas and New Year have passed us by and we’re rushing towards our baby’s due date. He or she will be here before we know it (well, not literally, but you know what I mean) and we’ve got to get ourselves sorted out and prepared before the big day.

To be honest, we’re not doing too badly – we’ve decorated the baby’s room, bought most of the furniture, have got quite a few sets of clothes and we’re booked into NCT antenatal classes next month – but it’s difficult to shake the feeling that we’ve forgotten to do something.

One of the big remaining tasks on the list is to buy a car with more than two (or three) doors. Our current one is going to become a pain for getting the car seat in and out; it also has such a small boot that there won’t be enough room for all of the baby bits as well as mum and dad’s luggage if we ever decide to scoot off anywhere. The trouble is, I’m pretty clueless about cars. I’ve bought a Parker’s guide and although it’s reasonably helpful it’s still daunting. Even if we could decide on a hatchback, estate or saloon (which is the best for a small family with luggage?), it’s so difficult to narrow it down from there. What’s going to be roomy, comfortable, cheap, reliable and economical? Even if we looked at just one model there are still a zillion sub-models to chose from (engine size, bodywork, strange things like ‘Ghia’ etc.) and even more target prices to aim for (according to Parker’s) depending on whether you buy it from a dealer (of which there are two types, apparently), an auction, a car supermarket or a private sale. We’re limited by the fact that we also have a small budget – a new car is out of the question. Where do you even begin?

Baby update

My wife and I have been getting ever more prepared for our impending new arrival. Last Friday we took the day off work to do a little Christmas shopping and to attend an appointment at John Lewis in Oxford Street. They offer a really great service where you can spend a couple of hours with an assistant who will show you round the entire nursery department and talk you through all of the things you need to buy and consider for your baby. It was mind-boggling stuff – I never knew there were so many different makes, styles and configurations of prams, cots, cot mattresses, moses baskets, sterilisation equipment and even breast pumps! I was a bit skeptical about some of the things we saw; I know that a newborn baby needs to have sterile milk and we will probably have to get one of the many sterilisation machines that are on offer but it left me wondering how many people around the world get by without any sterilisation whatsoever. I also I know that zillions of us grew up without anti-fungal coatings on our mattreses – is it really necessary? I think that babies need to be exposed to a little bit of natural dirt and grime so that they build up their immune system, so we steered clear of that. Still, it was a very good visit and we were grateful for the insight into everything we need to buy. We were even given a free coffee and pastry while we waited for the lady to produce a ‘gift list’ containing all of the items we had chosen for our personal use.

So you can imagine the collective tinge of guilt we felt when we found ourselves looking at a bargain in Mamas and Papas on Regent Street. They had on display a lovely cot that was considerably cheaper than the one we had been considering a few hours before. Still, a saving is a saving and we do have a baby on the way so we went for it.

There’s really not long to go now. The baby’s room is nearly complete – we’ve got a carpet on order and the furniture will be with us soon as well, so it’s all starting to feel very real. The baby has also been kicking like crazy recently (which I can’t convey in this posting how amazing it is to feel!) and my wife’s been getting a good many seats offered to her on the tube. Life is good :-).

Badgers!

Badger footprints!Ever since we had our lawn relaid somebody or something has been busy beavering away in the dead of night digging holes. The damage wasn’t too bad at first, but recently a massive chunk of lawn was uprooted and we’ve had to completely reseed it. Still we didn’t know exactly what was causing the problem.

I found out on Tuesday. Arriving home very late from work, I felt that something was snuffling and rustling around on a neighbour’s drive. I had a look but I couldn’t see anything. The same sound seemed to be even louder in our back garden. I unlocked the door, popped my bag inside and grabbed the torch. Wandering up a big dark garden in the night isn’t a bag of laughs and I could feel every hair standing on end as I tried to locate what was making the noise. Suddenly I saw the unmistakable stripy head of a badger looking at me as it scrabbled through the gap between our fence and the shed. I legged it – I’ve read that badgers can be nasty creatures when they feel like it and I didn’t want to get into a fight. The badger made it through the gap, saw me and then sped off up the garden at a billion miles an hour. It was awesome.

Although they’re a pain for the lawn, they really are very very cool. Don’t ask me why, but they are. Now that it’s suddenly got a little frosty they’ve been leaving tracks all over our garden and I managed to grab a shot of some guilty-looking paw prints from our garden step. Can’t wait to see our little visitors again.

We’re having a baby!

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

Baby scanYup, we’re pregnant and both over the moon! We had our 12-week scan a couple of weeks ago and things are fine. I’m very much looking forward to being a dad! I know that nine months is a long time but it seems to be rushing by so fast already – I’m sure our new addition will be with us before we know it.

Scans have now been uploaded to a new set on Flickr.

Return of the deer

Deer in our back gardenI got into work a little later than usual this morning, but for good reason. I’ve got the habit of taking a good look outside when I get up in the morning and to my surprise I saw that our deer friend was back. My cry of “Oh! Deer!” soon got my wife up as well as she must have thought we had been invaded by giant moles or something. I grabbed the camera and took a few shots, two of which came out okay.

The deer didn’t do much…just moseyed around a bit and nibbled at one or two flowers. It was absolutely gorgeous and seeing it was a lovely way to start the day!

Grim front garden

Hard work in the front gardenNow that we’ve got our back garden looking reasonably good we’ve turned our attention to the front. At the moment it’s a mass of overgrown green shrubs in a bed of compacted earth and stones. I am sure that people think that our house is something out of Elm Street instead of a leafy road in Berkhamsted. We spent about five hours or so out there today, clearing away old dead plants and some kind of vine creeper that has grabbed hold of everything in sight. There is still so much to do.

What you can see here is the remnants of a truly humungous holly bush that had established itself as the evil king of the garden. Today I tried to start to dig the roots out but I think I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew with my simple fork and spade. I’ve thrown the idea of a mini digger in the air (partly because I think it will do the job and partly because they look like a lot of fun) but my wife isn’t convinced. We’ll see…I’ll be out there tackling it again next weekend, no doubt!

Garden changes

Our back gardenFor the first time since we moved in I can really say that our garden looks gorgeous. We’ve had the sloping monstrosity levelled and a new lawn laid with three new steps leading up to it, all of which was done by Julian of Brook Green Landscapes. It really is transformed from how it used to look.

Shame we can’t say the same about the front garden, but that’s a project for when we’ve had a chance to save up again!

Dodgy skip

Rusty skipWork started on our garden today – we’re getting an old path removed and a lovely new lawn and borders put in. The landscape gardener doing the work ordered a skip a couple of days ago and this is what the monkeys at the skip company sent over. Ridiculous. It’s lucky we’re not getting rid of a few hundred sacks of marbles!

The gardener has given them a bell and hopefully we’ll get a new one soon.

Reminds me of a joke…

…so I called up the local building company. The lady on the phone said “Can I help you?” I said “I’d like a skip outside my house.” She said “I’m not stopping you.”

Deer in the garden

Deer in the gardenI couldn’t quite belive my eyes when I was making some breakfast on Saturday morning and spotted a deer wandering around in the garden. My wife had seen one when we first moved in but at that time we didn’t have much of a fence. She seemed quite happy to wander about, munching on our crocuses, and wallked away instead of running off when I opened the window to get some photos. With our new fence put up I couldn’t understand how she’d got there but it seems that there’s a route in from our neighbour’s garden. Hopefully we’ll see her again soon!

Garden update

Long time, no blog. It feels as though we’ve been very busy recently, particularly at weekends, and as a result I’ve not had a lot of time to post here. Anyway, enough of the metablogging and onto the garden update.

A couple of weekends ago we had a very busy Saturday. Our fourth skip in about as many months arrived early in the morning and after seeing it safely onto our drive I headed down to Berkhamsted Tool Hire to pick up a kango. The mission of the day was to break up our grim old concrete garden path in order to make way for something new. The work was fun – very satisfying – and didn’t take too long. Katie documented our efforts on Flickr.

I love being out in the garden at the weekend. I think it’s so far removed from my day job of sitting in front of a computer screen and so physical that it completely clears my head. The fresh air does me the world of good. My gardening skills so far have shown that I’m fantastic at destroying stuff…hopefully I’ll be able to do some good planting and pruning as spring rolls around! We’ll see.

Learning to garden

I’ve spent the past two Saturdays out in the garden. It’s one of my new year’s resolutions to learn all about what to do and how to do it in our jardin magnifique – hopefully I, with the help of my wife (and her parents who have been great already) will be able to turn both our back and front gardens into something to enjoy instead of the eyesores that they are now.

We’ve got a very big, old tree standing at the back of our garden and the whole area around it looked very messy. When I took a better look I found that the tree had lots of little bushy branches low down and no discernable trunk – from my very limited knowledge I think this must have been due to somebody cutting it back and not paying much attention to it afterwards, causing a mass of small branches and shoots to appear. So I set about it with my loppers and removed what seemed to be a massive pile of branches and twigs but leaving a tidy cut-back tree. I’m hoping that I didn’t cut back too much and do the tree any harm – I had a quick look on the web and in a basic gardening book we had lying around the house and the rule-of-thumb seemed to be focused around not cutting too many of the branches off as a whole so I guess it will be okay. I hope it will be okay!

So far over the past week we’ve cut the tree back, added a bird-box to our other large tree, put some nut and seed dispensers up (which the birds are just loving), removed two reasonably deep-rooted plants, cut back another very old and scraggy tree, cleaned out our water butt and de-mossed some guttering. I’ve also invested in a copy of The Complete How To Be A Gardener by Alan Titchmarsh (an absolute bargain from Amazon.co.uk) and a small pair of binoculars to watch the birds! Exciting stuff. I’ll try and keep you updated with how it goes. Any tips appreciated!