Friday, 17 February 2017

The Doctor will see you now...

Any email that begins with the words 'I'm a big fan of your blog and have been reading it a lot!' is guaranteed to grab my attention. After all, the author is clearly someone of taste, discernment, wit, erudition and intelligence.

Certainly the latter, as this particular email comes from a PhD student at the University of Cambridge who is writing a dissertation on stay-at-home father families. She's interested in interviewing stay-at-home dads, their partners and children in order 'to get a full perspective of family life in these families, with a view to getting fathers' voices heard as they are often under-represented in comparison to mothers.'

Can you help? she asks. Well I can. And I will. But can you?

If you can, you can contact Kitty by phone on 01223 334513 or email her at cmj44@cam.ac.uk.

And there's a tenner in it if you do!



Sunday, 5 February 2017

Give yourself an MoT

Ok. I have a question this morning. It is this.

When did you last visit the doctor?

If you share the same 'gender' as the person responsible for writing this rubbish, the answer is most likely to be... um, er. A while ago.

In fact, recent research by TENA Men has found that one in five of us (that is, men) admitted that their last general check-up was over two years ago; a further 18 per cent confessed that their worst health habit was not visiting the doctor at all, even when they have a serious health issue.

'To help you break these habits,' they said, 'we want you to complete a ‘personal MOT’ to make sure everything is in perfect working order. You wouldn’t ignore an MOT on your car,' they told me, 'so why do it when it comes to your own health?'

'We will send you all you need,' they went on, 'to keep control of both your health and life. Like every MOT, you can follow the same steps when it comes to your own health.'

And they did. The kit includes:

  • Lights: Visibility is essential when driving, this is the same with everyday life. So I have a Specsavers voucher to use towards an eye-test or some new specs!
  • Steering & Suspension: As a car gets older we all notice those little creaks more and more. The same happens to our own body, that’s why it’s important to look after your joints and muscles and stretch them out using the correct equipment to keep you running like a well-oiled machine! With this in mind they've send me some resistant bands so I can put my strength to the test and stretch out any knots I might have.
  • Fuel System: Checking for leaks is important to make sure your car’s fuel system is in working order. The TENA Men Absorbent Protector can help mop-up all those drips and dribbles to ensure you can go from 0-100 without any hiccups along the way. If you had a leaky exhaust you’d get it checked out right? I haven't, but they kindly sent me some of these as well. 
  • Bodywork: Every man takes pride in making sure their car looks spic and span and this should be the same when it comes to our own appearance. Treating yourself to a hot shave could be all we need to look and feel our best. But don’t forget to moisturise after too.
  • Emissions: Although it’s important to take care of the parts we can see. It’s also just as important to make sure everything is running smoothly behind the scenes. It’s vital to have a healthy immune system to make sure you can go through the day at peak performance! By swapping a cup of green tea a day instead of my regular coffee I can gain a whole host of benefits, as the antioxidants and nutrients can have powerful effects on the body’s immune system.
  • Tyres: Your tyres are checked for a number of things at an MOT, tyre pressure being one of them. So they've sent a Fitbit so I can check my blood pressure and watch my fitness 'on the go'. A well trained athlete's resting heart rate is 40-60 bpm (apparently). 'Do you think you can mix it with the pro’s?' they asked me. 
Well, I know the answer to that. 

But as for the rest of the service, time will tell. 

I'll let you know. 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sunday book giveaway

Being a parent isn't easy. Ask anyone's who's ever done it.

So imagine parenting not one, not two, not the statistical 'two-point-four' or even three children (my own preferred quantity) but nine. Yes, nine. (I know it says eight on the book cover... that's just how long things take in publishing.)

Now imagine doing it on a remote Yorkshire hillside where both you and the electricity are regularly cut off each winter. Oh, and you've got to look after 1000 sheep scattered across two thousand acres of bleak moorland into the bargain.

Interested? No, me neither. Anyway there's no vacancy because the role is already capably, remarkably, skilfully and awesomely filled by Amanda Owen - Yorkshire Shepherdess. Or superwoman, as she ought to be known.

She's not alone. (There are the children, obviously!) She has a husband, Clive, with whom she runs the farm. There are dogs, too - working dogs, of course - and ponies. Oh and hens and cattle. It's a farm, after all.

But a farm in one of the loneliest places in the country, so far from what the rest of us might call 'civilisation' that Amanda has experienced some extraordinary births (three times in a lay-by, once in an army barracks). And I don't mean the birth of lambs, either.

It's a remarkable story, one you can read for yourself because I've got a copy of Amanda's brand-new book to give away. It's inspiring, daunting (I'll never complain about the school run again) and heart-warming in equal measure.



You'll love it. Especially if you're a parent, if you feel harassed (who doesn't?) and you need a little inspiration.

Enter via the Rafflecopter thingumy below; I'll do the rest. And then I'll go and have a well-deserved lie-down.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 27 January 2017

Interesting times...

It's Holocaust Memorial Day today.

We live in 'interesting times' as the (alleged) Chinese curse would have it - walls built, people condemned for what - not who - they are. Nationalistic drawbridges drawn up. Hatred.

We've been there before. In living memory (just). I'm sure the 1930's were 'interesting times' for those old enough to live through them. And lucky enough to survive them.

I was stopped in my tracks this morning by a song I'd never heard before, from a composer I'd never heard of. Adolf Strauss was a Jewish inmate of Terezin; this poignant song - Ich weiss bestimmt, ich werd Dich wiedersehen (I know I will see you again) was written weeks before he was killed in Auschwitz.

If you do nothing else to mark the day, do this. Have a listen. (It's the first song).

 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Winnie the Pooh

It's Winnie the Pooh day - or, the day on which (in 1882) the author of the eponymous tales A.A.Milne was born. Here he is, looking very typically author-ish:


Which can't have been his normal pose, can it? I mean, Winnie the Pooh - as well as being such utterly charming, captivating children's literature - contains in such a little space so much love and fun and wisdom that I can't imagine A.A.Milne as anything other than a sort of cross between Peter Pan, Lewis Carroll and Plato. And a lot more fun than Plato.

So, let's raise a jar (of honey) and remember some of his best lines, shall we?




























Have you got a favourite Winnie-the-Pooh quote?


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