Summer 2015 - Hamish

October 2nd
On my last day of paternity leave we went to the Funky Fun House in the morning as a treat. This was well received. This entry brings to an end my two-month stint of paternity leave. It has been fun and full of variety which has been good for me and hopefully for Hamish too!

September 30th
This week Hamish had almost full days at nursery. 10am-2.30pm on Monday, 10am-4pm on Tuesday and 9.15am-4.15pm on Thursday. There were a few tears when I left in the morning, but apparently they didn't last more than a few minutes. By the second day he was eating well and the only issue was getting him enough sleep. Even after three days he was only getting 45 minutes before waking up and not going back. Hopefully in time that will improve.

On Wednesday there was no nursery, so we went to Baby Sensory and then to Wimpole Hall Farm to see the animals with Alex and Clara. Hamish was fascinated by the milk cow and the pigs. We also saw horses, Shetland ponies, geese, sheep and goats. He got very excited and didn't want to leave.

September 25th - 27th
I dropped Hamish off for another couple of hours at nursery before preparing for our weekend away in Wales. We were going to my parents cottage by the sea with Chris and Miranda, who have a baby girl the same age as Hamish. Apart from a delayed drive over, we had a great time and the two babies had fun chasing each other. We also visited the Talyllyn Railway which was of great interest to all six of us. Hamish also learnt to climb the stairs!

A journey back in time
September 24th
Not a lot planned for today, so we made sure we went for a decent swing session in the morning. Swings have definitely not lost their appeal...

I then spent most of the afternoon making chicken balls for Hamish's tea. This was quite a frustrating process recipe-wise, compounded by the fact that Hamish didn't want to be left alone at all and insisted on opening all the drawers in the kitchen and pull things out. I went online and ordered some cupboard safety latches. The chicken balls apparently turned out quite well.
September 23rd
As per usual, Wednesdays are Baby Sensory days and Hamish's confidence is increasing week on week - it's now very difficult to get him to sit still and listen to the songs and to keep him away from the toys. I also got some interesting baby toys from simple household items - a pasta-in-bottle rattle and a clothes-peg-in-egg-box puzzle. Hamish is a big fan.
After this we took a trip to visit Hamish's second cousin Samuel with Grandma. Samuel was very small and cute, although Hamish didn't seem particularly interested.

Grandma came back with us in the afternoon to spend a bit of time with Hamish and of course to watch Scotland play rugby. Hamish enjoyed supporting Scotland after his nap and check out his bottle skilz:

September 22nd
After a two hour session playing at the nursery in the morning, we came home and Hamish slept for ages in the afternoon - the new experience will have tired him out. When he woke up again we practiced some clambering on the sofa and Hamish is now at the stage where he can climb onto items of furniture.

September 21st
Over the weekend we went to Stansted Mountfichet to pretend to be Norman Knights.

On monday we had our induction at Wolfson Court Nursery. We walked there with the buggy (feeding The Ginge on the way) which took a while and we were a bit late. Then I was asked all sorts of questions about Hamish's likes and dislikes and his routine, along with various words in Norwegian which tested me somewhat, but we got there. Hamish got a few minutes to play inside the room, which is all part of the process of easing him in and he seemed to enjoy himself, particularly eating the sand.
September 18th
We went into the Grafton Centre for some shopping in the morning. Hamish needed his first pair of shoes for Nursery and we wanted to get something for newly arrived Samuel (Hamish's second cousin). Hamish was delighted to find a Jungle Gym play area at the shopping centre, which staved off any whinging for a while. You can see that skipping the morning nap is having mixed success, since Hamish fell asleep half way through his lunch today!

However, I managed to wake him up again, because in the afternoon we went to Funky Fun house with Rachael and Finlay! This is just a massive play area with loads of places to explore and play. Hamish had great fun practicing all his new mobility skills.

September 17th
Today's excursion was lunch in the Hopbine with Chris Cawthorn. I even controversially got the Vegetarian Burger so as to provide various bits of finger food for Hamish - gherkin was surprisingly popular! After we got home, Hamish set about making a mess of the house and getting into places he shouldn't. I resorted to the box, which still seems to be enjoyed.

September 16th
We went to baby sensory in the morning and Hamish showed his growing confidence by crawling off on tangents and generally causing disruption. In the afternoon we had a visit from Imi and Max, who was being very alert and sociable. Somehow I managed to neglect taking any photos today.
September 15th
A cycle out to Milton to see Alex and Clara provided a nice change of scene. We also discovered the excellent play area there. Swings a known favourite and Hamish even tried to race Clara on them, but Hamish hadn't experienced a roundabout before and this also went down well. He tried out some new techniques on the slide, but still remains unconvinced as to their purpose.

September 14th
Apart from making some delicious salmon and broccoli pasta for Hamish (with enough parmesan to drown out any taste of salmon!) and planning the week's excursions, we had a quiet day.
September 11th
This morning we tried out 'Active Antz' in Cambourne, which proved to be a huge success. It's just loads of big toys to play with, but that's more than enough to amuse Hamish and he got to experience interaction with other (often bigger) kids too.

Later on, Clara and Alex came over for lunch and we had a relaxed afternoon watching the cricket (as you may have gathered, Hamish really likes watching cricket). Mummy then got back in the evening, but after Hamish had been put to bed.
September 10th
Hamish spent quite a lot of the morning rearranging his grandparents' kitchen. His uncle Oliver came to visit for lunch and then we headed back to Cambridge before rush hour.

Later on I went to a curry evening and took Hamish. He fell asleep on the walk there and in the past he has been pretty good at sleeping through evening meals when we're out, but just as the food arrived a little face popped out to see what was going on. It wasn't a disaster - there was a small amount of wriggling and a bit of sitting and looking around and entertaining the next door table, but he went back to sleep fairly quickly.

September 9th
We had baby sensory in the morning and Hamish is gaining in confidence there. We are all supposed to sit in a circle at the start, but after a few seconds he usually decides it's better to crawl off to the other side of the hall and play with the toys... or people's shoes.

After we got home I made some brownies with the beetroot harvest and then we took mummy to Stansted before heading on to my parents' in Suffolk. Or rather we would have gone directly from Stansted if I hadn't forgotten all of Hamish's food, so instead we had to go via Cambridge. Still we got there and Hamish had a good long crawl in the garden.
September 8th
Our excursion for the day was to cycle to Milton to see Alex and Clara. Alex is a work colleague who has also taken paternity leave and this was his 4th day of it. Clara is approaching 6 months and was a little unsure of her short trip in the cycle trailer, but overall probably enjoyed it.

We stayed for lunch and then came home for Hamish's afternoon nap, which was a full 2 hours this time. Only 20 mins in the morning seemed to help lengthen the afternoon nap, so fingers crossed on that front. I cooked chilli con carne for dinner and delayed the addition of the chilli so that I could use some for Hamish's meals over the next few days. So we had chilli con carne for dinner and Hamish just had carne!
September 7th
Whilst I unpacked all our luggage and tidied the house after our holiday, Hamish helped by unpacking his mother's DVDs from their shelf.

I planned some more activities for our remaining four weeks and ordered some food from Mr Sainsbury. Before starting nursery I had two projects for him. One was to train him down from his usual 30-40min morning nap plus 90-120min afternoon nap to just one 2hr afternoon nap. The other was to get him fully comfortable with feeding himself milk from a beaker. Until now we had fed him milk from a bottle three times a day. First result show that he can do it, but the beaker has to be placed in his hands and he gets bored half way through, after which I have to take over and hold the bottle for the rest. He also doesn't get the idea that the beaker needs to be raised higher the less liquid there is left. We'll get there...
August 29th - September 6th
This week we were on a family holiday in the south of France, so it doesn't really count as paternity leave, but here are a few photos to see how Hamish got on...

August 28th
Today we spent lots of time packing for our forthcoming holiday to France, but we also managed time to go swimming with Florence and Clara Markham. This was Hamish's first time in the pool and he seemed to enjoy it, even if he was a bit quiet and unsure what to do. We even tried (carefully) dunking him under the water and he didn't seem at all bothered by that.

August 27th
Today we went to the Hopbine pub for lunch with Chris, Tom and Darrell. Hamish was entertaining everyone with his eating habits and also got some attention from other members of the clientele. Darrell was particularly jealous of Hamish's Thomas the Tank Engine plate.

August 26th
It's Baby Sensory day. Today was a bit too sing-songy for daddy's liking, but Hamish still enjoyed himself. He seemed to be getting the hang of waving hello and goodbye, followed by some walking practice in the playpen!

August 25th
Hamish still a bit under the weather, so we had a lazy day. Hamish slept a lot and produced a continuous stream of snot from his nose. He didn't feel like being particularly photogenic. Daddy was able to catch up with his diary. Babies get a huge number of small illnesses and therefore so do their parents - in fact once a child is at nursery, their parents carry about double the number of infections as normal humans. They also tend to develop a better immune system because of this. And spend a fortune on calpol.
August 21st - 24th
On Friday I had the day off, because Hilde's mum was over from Norway and therefore Hilde had taken the day off.

So we took it in turns looking after Hamish and I got a chance to catch up on a few things (including this diary). Over the weekend we also went to visit my parents to deliver Grandad's birthday present, which Hamish took an interest in.

Bessemur (Norwegian for Grandma) went back on Monday afternoon, but Hamish was a bit under the weather, so we did very little on Monday. He mainly wanted to sleep or be held by one or other of us.
August 20th
Today was a very sociable day. In the morning we had a visit from my cousin Heather - now eight months pregnant, so very excited to talk about baby boys!

For lunch we went to the Haymaker's pub to see Tom and Darrell. They were on good form and neither had properly met Hamish yet.

The pub lacked high-chairs, so feeding the little wriggler was a slight challenge, but we found that he enjoyed his new found standing skills so much that he was quite happy to hold this pose for several minutes.

We got home and watched England doing rubbishly at cricket.
August 19th
It's Baby Sensory day again today! Time for me to take Hamish to see all the other babies, sing some songs and play with some new toys. This week another dad came along, but he had his wife with him to hold his hand. We went through Old MacDonald had a Farm, which is one that I'm particularly good at (dads do a much better moo than mums!), so I had a lot of fun too. Hamish also discovered a tunnel to crawl through, which was his new favorite game.
On the way home we dropped in on Hamish's Godmother Imi, who was at home with her 3 month old son Max. Hamish wasn't so interested in Max, but this tiger definitely got some attention.

Notice his vintage baby-grow, yes that once belonged to his father... We had some lunch at Imi's and then went home for a long sleep (Hamish that is). All the sensory stimulation knocks him out! Later we got the playpen out, partly to contain the chaos that has spread around our living room, but mainly to help Hamish learn to walk. He has recently become confident at pulling himself up to a standing position wherever possible, e.g. in his cot when he should be sleeping and in the bath where it is slippery and where he should be getting washed. The bars of the playpen make excellent handholds and he very quickly learned to stand up and sit down in a controlled manner. It is also at excellent chewing height...

August 18th
Today we had to catch no fewer than four trains on our journey back to Cambridge and I'll admit I was a bit tired when I got back since I'd basically been holding him for seven hours. Once again the variety in people and places on the journey meant that he was constantly entertained and in a good mood. Plenty of people cooed or said hello to him as he went about his various activities. Very few said hello to me this time, but perhaps they were a little confused by the idea of a dad taking his baby on the train. He slept a bit, so I could read a few pages of my book and he had a few crawls down the carriage, but most of the time was spent attending to his bodily needs. We made it back to Cambridge in one piece and Mummy was very pleased to see Hamish after her longest period spent without him.

August 17th
Since the previous day had gone so well and the weather was set to stay fine, we decided to climb another hill, this time with Grandma. This proved to be an even greater success as far as Hamish was concerned. We chose Ben Lomond, being one of the closest to where we were staying. This one is much more popular with the tourists, so there were hundreds of people along the path. Lots of them (perhaps looking for an excuse to stop) said hello to Hamish and were very pleased to see him out on the hill. Hamish was especially pleased that a number of people had brought their dogs with them and he gave a little squeak of excitement whenever we passed one.

Hamish needed very little encouragement to make it to the top and Grandma only needed a little - he even slept for about a third of the climb. At the top we took him out to roll around and to get some food in him.

Unfortunately there were a few midgies at the top, so we didn't relax quite as much as hoped, but the conditions were very pleasant. He was even more vocal on the way down and seemed to have a great time despite the hike taking about 5hr30.
The only knock-on effect of this was a rather explosive filling of the nappy after we'd returned to the car, which he had probably been storing up throughout the walk. This proved entertaining to change by the side of the road and all three of us needed a bath when we got home!
We stayed the night at some friends near Edinburgh, ready for me and Hamish to get the train down south the following day. We were once again a bit late for Hamish's food and he had a bit of a cry when Grandma ran his bath (he's a bit particular about who bathes him), but the main thing was that he slept well.
August 16th
Keen for some fresh air, Hamish requested to be taken to the top of a mountain. It just so happened that I had friends in the area wishing to do similar, so we headed out from the house bright and early and were climbing near Killin around 10am. I'd already taken him up a hill in the backpack a few months previously, but I was a little unsure as to whether he would still enjoy it. I needn't have worried, although a little quiet on the way up, he seemed fine. I guess he has plenty to look at and lots of inane banter to try and make sense of.

He also has the luxury of the Osprey Poco Premium in which to look down on people. I have to say this is an excellent piece of kit and would recommend it to anyone. Today he was in the backpack for 4hr30 and was quite content the whole way apart from a brief moment at the top when we stopped moving to look at the view and get him some food. He appreciated the food, but was impatient to get moving again.

After being slightly delayed by caravans getting back, I was glad to still catch some of my cousins who had been visiting that day. Hamish got a chance to meet his second cousin 'Wee Tommy'. He slept a lot better this evening, probably due to all the fresh air.
August 15th
The annual family golf tournament (the purpose of our trip) meant that I would have to pass over care of Hamish to his Great Aunties for part of the day. Hamish seemed excited by the prospect of golf...

Needless to say, they did a great job and apparently Hamish wasn't too much trouble. His strict itinerary was adhered to precisely and he got to see some of the Scottish countryside from his buggy.

Upon returning to Uncle Peter and Auntie Trace's house, Hamish met lots and lots of new people (and a few animals). He seemed to love it, but it became clear later that it was all probably a bit too much for his when he took over an hour to settle for sleep and disturbed his father's dinner. Here's him meeting his great uncles and helping them to watch rugby.

August 14th
Off to Scotland! Hamish and I left mummy behind and drove up to Scotland with Grandma and Hamish's second cousin Robert. This involved packing a huge amount of stuff into, onto and around the car before hitting the road around 10am. Robert seemed adept at keeping Hamish entertained on what turned out to be a rather long journey...

Unfortunately torrential rain coupled with horrendous traffic meant the journey took 3 hours longer than usual. This tried my patience somewhat and meant that Hamish's mealtimes and bedtime were out of whack, but fortunately he remained in an amazingly good mood throughout! It can't have been the most exciting of days for him since he was stuck in the same position for ages, but I guess he has different scenery to look at and we stopped periodically. We also made sure he got a chance to crawl around for a while before bed once we reached my uncle's house in Scotland.

August 13th
With an impending trip to Scotland in store for Hamish and me, some of today was spent packing. It's amazing how much stuff is required for a baby - once you've included cot, buggy and backpack, not to mention nappies, food and clothes, it's at least twice as much as an adult. This being the case, we had a fairly quiet day and I set Hamish up with a pen made out of the sofa:

Since Hamish has only just learned to army-crawl effectively, this provided an excellent obstacle course for him to explore. It also allowed me to nip in and out collecting things to pack. I believe by his current pose, he has just spotted a cat through the window - this always adds tremendously to the excitement levels.
August 12th
On Wednesdays Hamish has 'Baby Sensory' class and this was the first week. It's basically a chance for lots of babies to hear songs and play with new toys and a chance for the mums to gossip (yes it was 12 mums, 1 granny and me). I think perhaps the mums didn't quite know what to make of me and seemed a bit confused, but it was good fun and Hamish was in his element.
Afterwards we made our way to West's cafe, since I had promised to say hello to my work colleagues for lunch. Hamish devoured mountains of sweet potato and fish fingers which impressed everyone and we also got to meet baby Clara who is the daughter of a colleague called Alex, who is also about to go on paternity leave.

August 11th
Today Hamish got a new box to play with!

The excursion of the day was to have lunch in the Hopbine. Naturally one of a father's jobs is to introduce his child to the pub - and why not at a young age! The mode of transport was the backpack (being tested out for the forthcoming trip to Scotland) and we arrived at noon, when the pub is quite civilised. Chris met us for food, Hamish spread his around the table, helped us with a crossword and witnessed his first frame of pool. This he seemed to particularly enjoy and periodically let out squeals of joy, which damaged several eardrums amongst the clientele.

August 10th
So, we survived the first week without any calamities! We had a fairly quiet day today - I decided to introduce Hamish to Disney's Sword in the Stone, without a doubt the best Disney film and certainly far better than today's offerings (notice I'm bringing him up to have balanced opinions and not simply imposing my own).

Hamish seemed to enjoy the film, although we only got as far as the Wizards' Duel before he fell asleep. Sleep is something that parents have to worry about quite a lot and getting their child to sleep can cause a lot of headaches. On the whole we're fairly lucky with Hamish, but I still took advantage of his falling asleep of his own accord, even though it meant he missed the defeat of Mad Madame Mim.

August 7th
One of the important jobs of any father is to introduce their child to cricket and since England were about to win the Ashes, we spent a fair proportion of the day watching cricket. At lunch time we were learning the fielding positions:

A short excursion was also made to the swings in the afternoon with Hamish in the bike trailer (or 'chariot' as he likes to call it). Hamish likes the swings very much, but he still has qualms about slides...

August 6th
The job for today was a trip into town. The first stop was Ridgeons (because a father must take his son to Ridgeons to show him all the manly things they have there). One of the tradesmen said hello to Hamish and complimented him on his "made in England" pacifier. I failed to get the shower fixed and we moved on. We passed a second-hand book shop and I bought a pop-up book which are all the rage in our living room at the moment. Then to the picture framers and then for a mortgage meeting at the bank.
The adviser that I was meeting also had a young child (not with him, of course), so we chatted about teething and crawling and such - a veritable 'father's meeting' if you like. It's a little difficult to get a 9-month old to take an interest in mortgage rates or even percentages, so I had to devise a climbing frame in which to contain him and a few toys:

We got home just in time to have missed Australia's batting collapse at the start of the 4th test - Hamish was devastated.
One of the main things to keep on top of about the house is Hamish's food. To save money we periodically turn some vegetables into paste and freeze it, rather than eating out of jars all the time. Being quite new to this, I was pleased to achieve success in my first pasting session this afternoon - some kind of tomato-and-ham-pasta concoction. It was popular with the wee one and that's all that matters.
August 5th
In the morning I picked the redcurrants. This year's harvest would be about right for one jar of Grandma's Jelly. During this time, Hamish enjoyed his box. Never underestimate the usefulness and practicality of a good box. The baby loves it - he feels secure and has all his toys very close by and can remove them if he so desires. It also acts as containment, protecting him from things that are a bit too dirty and protecting the rest of the world from him. The K70 is a particularly good model.

Later I made use of the wonders of online shopping - many supermarkets seem to bend over backwards to get you to use it and it can make things a lot easier with a small baby. I also booked our return train tickets for Scotland later in the month and made my redcurrant jelly like a good little housewife. During this time, Hamish showed off his standing skills.

August 4th
Today I thought it was time to put up the stair-gate at the top of the stairs to limit his exploration to two dimensions. This allowed Hamish to fully explore the office whilst I was using the computer. I would soon discover that some shelves in the bookcase would need shifting.

We were also planning a bit of DIY today - various jobs that had not got done whilst I was at work. Hamish seemed to thoroughly enjoy watching me chop this fence up for kindling.

August 3rd
Our first day was quite action-packed. Hamish and I travelled down to London to catch up with Dunstan, an old friend. The train is usually a very unsociable place for an adult and I very rarely find myself talking to anyone. However, as soon as there's a smiley baby, people start to interact. The lady opposite me on the way down played an extensive game of peekaboo with her book and on the return journey a tradesman chatted to me about his family history and all the many children that were descended from him whilst Hamish used me as a climbing frame.
We had lunch in a park and Hamish was in good spirits with Dunstan.

After feeding time, play time and sleep time, we walked to Stanfords to buy a map. On the way I was approached for directions - this is not yet statistically significant, but I suspect having Hamish with me made this more likely (not because he is particularly good at geography, but because his presence made me more approachable). Whilst I was perusing the shelves in Stanfords, the till-lady abandoned her post and spent several minutes cooing and conversing with Hamish.