bairn blog: a tale of three henleys

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Posts from August 2006

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10:24am Wednesday, 30th August 2006

ho hum. it’s been a busy, long week capped off by a hectic but fun weekend with 2 grand-henleys and 3 withers popping up to west lothian to meet up with the henleys. on thursday night the henleys 3 were host to godmum meli and steve so we popped up to the bonsyde for some liquid refreshment and met up with the 3 withers who had driven up from the midlands. ee gads i could not quite believe how much wee samuel had grown and changed since our last meet in the lakes two months ago. the eve was spent comparing bairns, chatting and drinking but before long it was bed time so we headed back home for a nap.

on friday cole took the afternoon off and met up with uncle michel for a long lunch in e-berg, quaffed a shandy and munched on a tasty marlin steak before heading back to lithgay to meet up with the 3 withers. we walked into town through the peel and via the local farm where we got to see some of the horses and some dogs. in linlithgow we tried to find a coffee but with the friday night crowds already descending on every bar in town it was not the time for a relaxing warm beverage. fortunately we found refuge in h2, an odd bar which has the resonance of the sort of youth clubs you encounter on a french-exchange trip at school, featuring surreal neon lighting and a pair of inebriated poles arm-wrestling (?). after our long walk we headed back for some supper.

on saturday we awoke at a fairly leisurely pace and awaited the arrival of uma and oompa who had stopped off with great-gramps ken on the way up. the withers headed into edinburgh for a family day out whilst we pootled before uma and cole headed into the big E to pick up samuel so that leiske and will could get a night our together at the theatre. the original plan was for me and peta to have a night out/off but with gethin still feeling a little under the weather from teething and a cold we decided instead to pop to the bonsyde for some food and beverages. it is odd to think that in the almost-five-months sine gethin was born we have not had a night off together and i don’t think peta has spent more than a couple of hours apart from gethin. still, when he is as super cute as he is then no need!

in edinburgh cole managed to find some biccy pegs which seemed to work a treat on gethin’s gumache, although they come with the fiddliest, smallest piece of string known to humanity! what with the calpol for his cold, and the biccy pegs, gethin made a marked improvement over the weekend. he has started reaching for things (though not quite yet time to start moving things up the walls so they are out of reach). he seems much more communicative and has alreaedy started specifying his moroccan dish of choice by uttering ‘couscous’ on regular occasions.

on sunday we headed over to st andrews, featuring a lovely drive through sunlit fife. as soon as we got there it was feed time for two bairns so we popped in for lunch at a lovely mexican restaurant featuring a magician who did a mean set of card tricks and also managed to make a fiver disappear and reappear in a kiwi. not that’s a way to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg! after a long lunch we strolled in to st andrews and generally mooched about. before we knew it the day was nearly gone so the 3 henleys and oompa headed to the beach for gethin’s first trip to the seaside and a quick game of boule. the 3 withers headed back to get dinners started whilst uma sadly wasn’t feeling at all well so tried to get some sleep in the car.

oompa thoroughly trounced me and peta at this metal ball throwing malarky and soon we headed back home for the end of the weekend, capped off with a lovely meal and some rather upset bairns (both having contracted colds and teething aplenty).

on tuesday the 3 henleys helped godfolks ryan and shelley move some stuff into their lovely new abode and sat down to supp on fish and chips (the staple christening dish of any new abode), using some old 2000ADs as placemats (that takes me back). a thoroughly busy few days by all so apologies for radio silence. we are all off to londinium at the weekend for peta’s cousin’s wedding and then cole is off to aberystwyth for next week so will try to keep you posted as and when and if things happen. hope you like the pics – some lovely ones from oompa i think you will all agree!

12:41pm Monday, 21st August 2006

gethin is still sleeping poorly and is not eating as much as normal, which is causing some distress for mum. he is more like himself than he has been but is obviously still struggling in the battle of the dentures. on saturday we embarked into lithgay to try and hunt down some suitable teething powders which we did find, although not the same ones that had been recommended to us. too soon to tell if they work but will keep y’all posted as we administer gethin with his ‘wraps’ of mysterious white powder (not too dubious then!)

also on saturday the henley’s 3 ventured to the widely (locally) promoted fete at st. michaels day care centre, just outside of town, and were not disappointed! after a week of rain the clouds had parted to reveal the fete in all its splendour. there was a semi-functional chocolate fondue fountain, although we didn’t partake, and a couple of stalls where you could win a bottle of warm pop or some booze. indoors were some table selling a wide array of bric-a-brac including the not-to-be-missed purveyors of home- made flannels. my favourite was the flannel featuring an illustration of a tractor – a must have for all hygiene-conscious farmers! on our way back to the car from our fun-filled five or so minutes at the fete, we stumbled upon perhaps the oddest tree known to humanity – words cannot describe so will try to post a pic soon but suffice to say it is a quite tall tree although somewhat lacking in the foliage department. anyway, have already noted in diary to leave free the equivalent weekend next years fete for an unmissable family day out!

on sunday gramps ‘popped’ over from helensburgh for the evening and cole spent what seemed like all day in the kitchen preparing a feast of roast pork followed by home-made rhubarb crumble. sadly, the yorkshire pusdding wilted somewhat but the remainder was a pallatable success and, capped off with a nice bottle of wine, all could barely move from the sofa afterwards. hussah!

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10:58pm Friday, 18th August 2006

poor, poor gethin. the wee fella would definitely seem to be teething with much droolage and fully intent on cramming anything not nailed down into his mouth. his cheeks are the size of basketballs and are the colour to match. quite out of character he hasn’t been eating much and the last few nights he has been sleeping very little, ergo mum and dad (particularly mum) have been sleeping very little. shall don my exploring hat maniana, pop into linlithgow and hunt down some teething products and see if they help.

i think today was my first proper ‘i haven’t had any sleep and can’t face work’ day which ain’t half bad at all for a dad of five months. it’s a shame then that had to give an hour long video-conference presentation first thing, no doubt uttering gibberish for most of it (will blame it on the phone line). all i can say is thank heavens then for flexi-time and the ability to knock off at a quite respectable 4pm. hussah!

since last we posted we have had some lovely guests at the henley household. gethins great aunt lynne and her fella david ‘popped’ up to scotland for an impromptu holiday and stayed for a few nights on the way back down from camping in the highlands. on wednesday we feasted on curry (a curry so monumentous in proportions and flavour that it managed to feed four of us two nights running) and on thursday all (except dad who had to work, sniff) headed into edinburgh to sample generic fringe antics and ambience. a truly fun time was had and we have the photos to prove it!

10:49pm Tuesday, 15th August 2006

anyone whomsoever perusing the delightful snaps on this page, or on the snaps gallery, can now marvel at them in a glorious gallerific styley. enjoy!

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11:32pm Monday, 14th August 2006

just got back from a really good evening meeting up with some of the dads from the dads 2 b parenting classes which i went to before gethin was born. it was interesting to see what obstacles each of us had faced in our first days/weeks/months as fathers and how we were getting on with our wee bundles of joy.

surprisingly all four of us which went had had pretty traumatic birth experiences – well, at least our partners had! yet all had healthy and happy boys, gethin the eldest of the bunch.

it was quite a reflective experience, thinking back to the classes preparing us for the times ahead and what good grounding they proved to be. saying that it was perhaps the first time, certainly in a long time, that i had openly talked about gethin’s birth and the hectic weeks which followed with their ups and downs. i still feel that i am lacking in confidence with gethin, from handling him to interacting with him and engaging him. i still feel that at any moment he might stop breathing or that somehow i might, through my own clumsiness, bring him some harm. silly thoughts but quite profound ones when i sit back and think that these thoughts inform how i hold gethin, how i play with him and talk with him.

tonight has certainly helped bring these thoughts to the fore once again and once i got back, i enjoyed a really good chat with peta chatting, perhaps for the first time, about us as parents, where we think we are going wrong (and right), and what we want for our son in the coming months and years. it is infuriating that for both of us the thought of financial security is utmost and i suppose it is quite natural for a parent to want to be able to provide everything their child might want or, at the very least, need. but then a part of me is reconciled that at this moment in time we three have a roof over our heads, food in the fridge, a half-full tin of sma gold and some beautiful neighbours to boot. and i think to myself that you cannot put a price on the memories that such environs will bring as gethin grows up.

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10:59pm Sunday, 13th August 2006

radio silence broken with a busy week for all three henley’s drawing to a close.

on monday night peta and gethin made it back in one piece from their travels south and on tuesday set off into linlithgow to catch up with linzi and adam after a week away.

on thursday gethin got an overdue weigh-in, a respectable 16lb 4oz, and peta and gethin headed into edinburgh for a day in the city. cole went on a magical mystery (top secret) tour which went a bit sour as train nightmare meant he was stranded in edinburgh for the night, missing the last train back to linlithgow. fortunately, ryan came to the rescue with a sofa to crash on and some Strawberry Kiss, a surprisingly tasty pink strawberry-flavoured whiskey.

friday saw the arrival of moomin for the weekend, making it okay despite the current problems with air travel. on saturday we awoke at a leisurely pace before gramps came over from helensburgh and we all set off to rosslyn for the day to sample the delights of the chapel made famous by perhaps the crappest book known to humanity. we sampled some lovely lunch in the local pub (macaroni cheese, mmmmmm) and headed off to the oddity that is rosslyn chapel, a medieval church jam-packed with ornate carvings and intriguing symbols, as well as the odd masonic allegory. we had a wee tour of the lovely chapel. some of the carvings are quite beautiful, although the chapel was very busy (largely on account of said novel) and for conservation reasons the roof has bizarrely been covered with a freestanding canopy, somewhat detracting from the ambience but providing a view of the chapel and its surrounding landscape that you would otherwise not have.

after our rosslyn adventure we set off for ikea and some inspiration in the bairn department. with peta returning to work in several weeks time we are beginning to think about moving gethin into our spare room. this will, of course, be suitably decorated for the wee fella so we were seeking ideas for funky bairn decor. suggestions on a post-card.

we headed home for a banquet of disabling proportions (bangers and mash followed by a super-carcinogenic brioche and apple pudding) and slinked of to bed, barely capable of moving on account of some substantially expanded waistlines.

our waistlines have since been tamed somewhat by a super walk on sunday as henley’s 3 and moomin headed into edinburgh for a cheese hunt and trip to the botanic gardens. after lunching in the shade of some trees we strolled into edinburgh centre in the pursuit of some smelly raclette and norwegian goats cheese (?!?). both were found, peta tried on some fabulous hats for her cousin’s wedding next month and we settled down for some coffee and a bairn feed before heading back through the botanic gardens, stumbling upon a most narcissistic squirrel which cole felt obliged to take a few snaps of.

a thoroughly enjoyable weekend which has passed all too fleetingly. gethin is faring very well indeed and is most insistent on putting anything within grasp in his mouth. moomin is here for another day so who knows what peta, gethin and she will get up to tomorrow whilst cole is at work…

11:00pm Sunday, 6th August 2006

the henley (1 of 3) is back in scotland after a whirlwind tour of the big smoke (londinium) and cambridge.

on thursday, somewhat out of character, cole got to the airport in good time to check-in, read a magazine and quaff a shandy to calm the pre-flight jitters. after a pretty easy flight (no jet lag) to luton, cole then spent what seemed an eternity on the thameslink service trans-london. what a big city.

eventually made it to epsom (where peta’s aunt lives) to be reunited with peta and gethin and meet up with her immediate family. a delightful meal was prepared and liberal amounts of wine drunk. unfortunately, cole hadn’t realised that his ears hadn’t yet popped from the flight which, lethally combined with a few too many drops of rose, meant he spent most of the evening shouting at peta’s relatives. one way of endearing yourself to the in-laws i suppose.

we headed back to spend the night at peta’s gran’s flat, a surreal experience. sadly this was compounded by a balmy night in london where the inability to open the windows, combined with the ambient temperature of sheltered housing for the elderly, lethally created the perfect conditions for a lethargic but relatively troubled nights sleep for gethin, and therefore also cole and peta.

on friday, after some reminiscing, cups of tea and several slices of crust-less jam on toast, all descended on the local church to give peta’s gran a moving send off. gethin seemed a bit bemused at first by everyone wearing black (even daddy) but was an absolute star during the service without even a murmur (‘a masterpiece of mothering’ one mourner observed).

it was nice for me and gethin to meet so many members of peta’s family we hadn’t before, although it was a shame it wasn’t under happier circumstances.

after the service, we all headed off for some lunch and commiseratory beverages before an evening of fish and chips and mushy peas back in epsom. what a treat! after an emotionally exhausting day we set back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that we had figured out how to get the windows open in peta’s gran’s flat.

on saturday, with peta and gethin heading back to the wild west with her family, cole set off to cambridge to stay with friends corrina and dave, both quite jaded after a frenzied evening at mutual friend chris’ wedding the night before.

we spent a lovely time in the shade of the apple trees at grantchester orchards, supping on fine cakes and dodging wasps in the toasty afternoon sun. we strolled back along the river, marvelling at the various states of undress amongst the locals and not-so’s, circumnavigating cows and cyclists, and trying not to laugh too loudly at the number of punts who fell in the river, collided with the bank/foliage, or both of the above.

we then managed to briefly rock on to the dulcit tones of an awful robbie williams tribute act taking place in the carpark of the local pub (the madness tribtue act had sadly pulled out at the last minute), before doing that most infrequent of pursuits for all parents new, a trip to the cinema.

a mightily fine time was had watching superman returns, a truly brilliant and nostalgic affair (for someone who had loved the original films as a child), although having not gone to the cinema for so long and having quaffed a rather large diet coke, i had clearly forgotten the bladder limits of cinema-going.

my popcorn consumption was also well below par!

before i knew it my trip down south was at an end and i was at stansted airport waiting to fly back up north. although a sad time, i had a really good time meeting peta’s family, paying my respects to her gran and catching up with some old friends. just one more night home alone before peta and gethin return tomorrow so had better go get myself to bed to get a good nights sleep before a last-minute tidying spree first thing in the morning in honour of their return…

11:31pm Wednesday, 2nd August 2006

third day of life sans bairn and still alive! have been fortunate enough that the lovely neighbour has been leaving me scraps of finest italian cuisine and (i have also been) enjoying some quality slumber (sorry peta).

godparent ryan has emailed us some lovely snaps of geth in his explorer hat so have posted them up. anyone interested in his work check out his website at

Images from August 2006

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