Category Archives: New dad blog

Rush / Grand Prix competition

Hey dads – fancy winning two VIP tickets to the British Grand Prix?

To celebrate the release of Ron Howard’s Rush on Sky Store next Monday (January 27th), Sky Store is running a competition to win a VIP trip to the British Grand Prix, which includes: 2 x seats in the VIP box at Silverstone on 4th , 5th and 6th July; three nights in a five star hotel and travel to the venue; and a chance to go behind the scenes with Sky Sports F1

There aren’t any questions to answer or premium phone lines to call, all you need to do is rent Anybody who rents Rush from Sky Store from the 27th of January until the 23rd of February will be automatically entered into the competition.

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The movie Rush tells the gripping story of the 1976 Formula One season and the fierce rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

Chris Hemsworth plays Hunt and Lauda is played by Daniel Brühlas.

2nd Prize in the competition is  2 x tickets to F1 Show at Sky Studios – including travel & accommodation.  3rd Prize is a Rush Goody Bag that includes a  McLaren team shirt signed by Jenson Button and a  Rush poster signed by the movie stars and director.

You can learn more about the competition here. And you can rent Rush here.

Real Men Moisturise

Men now wax, moisturize our hands and eat sandwiches with rocket.

Even 20 years ago it would have been unheard of outside of gay circles to hear “moisturize” and “man” in the same sentence.

When even bloke’s bloke cricketer Shane Warne credits using moisturizes with his youthful look, you know the world has changed.

To my father, who is proud of his cracked hands covered in calluses, it is proof of the disintegration of man.

“You are all turning into fairies” he says.

But I am a new man and believe that there is more to grooming than slapping on a bit of Brut aftershave in the morning.

I am a man and I moisturize.

“Don’t you know that rough hands are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria?” I say to him.

“Bollocks” he says.
I haven’t the heart to tell him that is also a region that men devote additional time to now, shaving and waxing.

Anyway, Carex have sent me samples of Carex Antibacterial Hand Creams and I have to say I love them.

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The cream comes in two refreshing fragrances; Nourish and Protect with extra Vitamin E, and Hydrate and Protect with soothing Aloe Vera.

If you are a real man, try them for yourself.

Take a Romantic Reprieve with a Wine Tour (Guest Post)

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If you and your partner are in need of a quick getaway from the average humdrum of your daily life as working parents, then a nice retreat may be just what you need. Naturally, those of us who like believe that we are hip parents would rather bypass the typical Caribbean resort or cruise and incorporate our own personal style into our holiday. Wine-tasting trips provide the perfect opportunity to take a relaxing vacation and have a yummy, adult beverage-soaked with new and exciting endeavors. Not only have wine tours become a phenomenon with chic, hip parents in search of unique getaways‚ wine lovers are willing to travel the globe in to find the ultimate tasting experience. From California’s famed Napa Valley to the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island, create your “parents only” summer excursion around vineyard exploration and wine-tasting events.

Go Coastal with North America’s Wine Counties

The United States is home to some of the world’s most notable wineries and vineyards, making it the ideal region for wine-tasting travel. If you’ve ever seen the American film Sideways, then you’re already familiar with some of the regions great wineries in the western coast of the U.S. Starting in northern California and stretching across several counties, California’s wine country is a popular destination among wine enthusiasts and those who enjoy unique getaways. There are about 400 wineries scattered along California’s wine region with most situated in Napa and Sonoma counties. In addition to wine tours, the region has many spas, resorts, and hot springs, and also offers a multitude of places to hike, shop, and savor culinary treats.

The western part of the United States isn’t the only region in the U.S. where you can find some of America’s greatest vineyards. From Maine to Virginia, the east coast offers just as many vineyards as California, but usually aren’t as crowded or touristy. There are also numerous small wineries that hold wine-tasting festivals with family-friendly activities, including grape stomping and wine-making education. No matter which region you choose in your wine pilgrimage, be sure to note your favourites, as you may be able to find these labels, or something similar, at your local M&S back home.

Take a Luxurious Wine-themed Cruise

Like wine-tasting tours, wine cruises offer the same opportunities as wine tours, however, they provide more ways to learn about diverse regions where wine is produced, the various kinds of wines, and the types of soils and grapes used in the wine-making process. Many cruises have sommeliers on board who are available to educate guests and act as a guide for the wine excursions. If you can’t afford a lengthy, lavish wine cruise around the vineyards of southern France or Italy, there are countless cities that have their own wine tours which last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Shorter, local wine cruises usually sail around a city or parts of a wine producing region and give cruisers the chance to sample area‚Äôs wines and learn about local vineyards.

World Peace Vegas Style (guest post)

This North Korean situation is getting a little hairy right now. With a new leader hell-bent on asserting his power and magnificence through the pursuit of a belligerent and senseless foreign policy, the dangerous Asian nation poses a still only moderate but ever-growing threat to the stability of peace in the region and around the globe.

A short hop over the Pacific Ocean away lies the United States of America, Washington D.C. and the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama. The President of the United States has enjoyed a good deal of praise over the past decade, even scooping the treasured accolade of a Nobel Peace Prize. There are many out there who would suggest he hasn’t really earned it just yet, with American troops still deployed at flash-points around the world and the truly deplorable and unjustifiable Guantanamo Bay detention centre still open for business and providing for the sustained torture and imprisonment of untried terror suspects.

Nice work Barack…

Maybe he could make amends for his failings by taking the bite out of the North Korean situation and turning that Kim Jong-Un into Kim Jong-Fun! A good old-fashioned slice of American schmoozing could be just the thing to get the little dictator on side with the western world at which he currently rages so worryingly.

This guy is into his luxury, wealth, riches, so right away we’re thinking Vegas!!! Barack could whisk Kim away by private jet – what they get up to at 12,000 feet is nobody’s business – before landing in the sweltering Nevada desert. The pair could limber up whilst being chauffeured to the city by playing a few online games, before arriving at one of the world’s greatest pleasure palaces. Here, Kim could gawp in wonderment at his luxurious surroundings, stuff his round cheeks with all the sweetest treasures of sea and land alike, and beam with satisfaction as members of staff fling themselves at his feet practically as if they were members of his own beloved people.

And then onto the games! A few pokies to limber up perhaps, and then shooting craps and roulette… Now we’re assuming that what with him being superhuman and all, Obama would have no trouble at all counting cards, so he could also be on hand to help Kim get as near as possible to 21 every time – God help the casino’s security staff if they get suspicious! Some practising online at Intertops Casino Canada wouldn’t go a miss either!

What a perfect evening! We’re picturing the pair linking arms, strolling in front of the beautiful Bellagio fountains and chuckling together about future trade deals, the prospect of world peace and the pathetic insignificance of the puny South Korean government. All that would remain, would be the symbolic sharing of a celebratory cigarette – Barack would presumably have plenty on him – and a handshake. There you have it. World peace, Vegas style!

Daddy Nappy Bag

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Many thanks to Miatui for sending me a very cool, man’s nappy bag.

The Ascot is a messenger style bag that can be used as an everyday bag but it’s got a cleverly thought out interior which makes it ideal for using when on daddy daycare duties.

It has different-sized pockets, an insulated water bottle holder, a key clip and mobile phone and pen holder. The main body of the bag is big enough to accommodate a laptop or iPad plus snacks, toys etc. A clear, removable zipped bag is also included which can be used to store wipes and nappies.

And most importantly its in a manly brown colour, not some garish pink, or covered with flowers and emblazoned with “yummy mummy”.They also have it in a masculine grey.

Competition – Win £500

Want to win £500 worth of Red Letter Day vouchers?  Then enter the Carex Live Life Hands On Awards.

Carex, the makers of anti-bacterial hand gel, are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and they want to celebrate all the wonderful things that we do with our hands.

To enter the competition all you need to do is visit www.carex.co.uk/carex-live-life-awards and share a day in the life of your hands.

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Entries can be written, photographic or even a video diary – the aim is to highlight the amazing things your hands do.

The competition is open to everyone.

The best 20 answers will win the £500 Red Letter Day vouchers which can be spent on anything from a complete chill-out weekend at a luxurious spa, an adventure trip with a partner to a family weekend with the kids. They will also get a years supply of Carex Hand Wash.
parenting competition

Soft Play Horror

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Like a stampede of wildebeest, I hear them before I see them. I look up and they are upon me a screaming multi-headed multi-limbed mass of amped up, sugar high kids.
From my experience, on the whole in the real world kids are polite and defer to adults and wouldn’t push past you. But this is their world. Their kingdom. And adults will be crushed.

The Soft Play Safari in Holloway is no place for men.

It is at that moment, just before I am trampled on by a barrage of tiny feet, that I vow to get myself life insurance.

It had started nice enough – myself and my daughter were playing together amongst the coloured balls. But then she wanted to explore. So I let her clamber around the soft plastic structures as I enjoyed lying in the sea of balls, thinking I was on some early nineties chill out room comedown.

I am snapped back from my reverie by my daughter’s cries.

“Daddy, Daddeeeeee, Help”

She is two levels above me and is standing trembling by a plastic rope bridge. How did she get up there so quickly?

“Hold on darling, daddy’s coming”

I climb up a padded log ramp and promptly slide down. This is trickier than it looks. Feeling like I’m in an episode of Total Wipeout, I climb again and get to the top, only to be confronted by two large foam rollers with a ridiculously small gap between them. How am I going to get through that?

I try and squeeze my body and beer gut through and fail miserably. This is where I would normally not bother trying again. I am big fan of Homer’s philosophy, ”If it at first you don’t succeed, give up.”. Thats Homer, as in Homer Simpson. But I can’t give up, a crying child needs me. So, going head first, I take a deep breath and push again. The other side of the rollers is a comedy distorted mirror. I can see my bright red face poking through the bright pink padded labia and realise this is what childbirth looks and feels like.

When my whole body is through the padded pussy, I drag myself puffing and wheezing to the next padded room where I have to climb through a tunnel. By now I am hot, sweaty and exhausted, but I can see my daughter, “Daddy” she shouts and waves to me from behind the netting on the next level up. All I need to do is clamber up the slippery slope and I’m there. Its just then that I am hit by the stampede of kids.
I am knocked to the floor. I am crushed under a barrage of little feet as they head towards the yellow tunnel. All I can do is curl into a ball and wait for the assault to pass.

I need to get out of here fast before I receive any more damage.

I pick myself and run to the rope bridge and scoop up M. I rush across the rope bridge so quickly that I have no time to contemplate my vertigo, hold her tight as we tackle the bumpy slide and then rebirth myself again through another set of padded vagina.
Finally we are free.

Never again will I visit the soft play, well at least not until I have searched for life insurance quotes online.

Quitting smoking the aggressive hypnotising way.

Tiny is our apartment block’s caretaker. Lovely bloke. Bit wide. Proper East End. Not just wide he’s huge too, like a bloody gorilla. Hence his name. See what they did there? East Enders are so funny ain’t they ?
‘Namaste Michael,’ he says.
Tiny has a bit of the tie-dye in him. He told me he found spirituality when he was in Thailand sorting out a drug deal.
Tiny is smoking.
‘Want a fag?’ he asks.
‘I’m trying to stop smoking.’
‘Good lad. Terrible habit.’
‘It’s hard giving up.’
‘I’ll have you quitting smoking like that – boom,’ he clicks his fingers loudly. ‘Hypnosis! It’s all in the mind.’
‘I didn’t know you were a hypnotist.’
‘Man of many talents. Learnt it when I was inside. They ran a course on it. Come and see me tomorrow and I’ll sort you out.’
‘But Tiny you smoke.’
‘Smoking is mind over matter. It’s just my mind is so powerful I can’t train it,’ he says.
‘What the ….’
I look where he is looking. An old lady’s dog is cocking its leg on the pavement post outside our flats.
‘OY!’
And he’s off. For a big man he can move surprisingly fast.

Against my better judgement the next day I go and see Tiny for a hypnosis session. The Nicorette gum and patches are helping but it’s a struggle, so what harm can it do?
He’s standing outside his office. He sees me, takes one last drag on his cigarette and stubs it out. I look at the crushed cigarette and look at him.
‘Do what I say. NOT what I do Mike. Do what I say.’
He takes me into his office. When I say office its really a glorified cupboard, stacked full of cleaning products and a table for the apartment block’s post and parcels. There is just enough room for a desk and two chairs.
‘Sit down Michael. Shantaram.’
He presses play on a small ghetto blaster.
‘The sound of dolphins.’ he says.
We listen to the high-pitched squeaking.
‘Beautiful’ he says.
‘Now Michael what I am about to do is pretty powerful so don’t be alarmed. You are in the hands of a professional. Well not exactly a professional, I never actually finished the course, got put in solitary for nutting someone, but I do know what I am doing. Anyway I digress.’
Why did I think this was a good idea?
‘Now first. Here is some paper. On it Michael please write down five things you love about cigarettes.’
I start to write. ‘They calm me down’.
What else? They taste nice. Well no, not really. They ….they.
Why do I love cigarettes?
I stare at the wall.
I can’t think of anything.
Wow. He’s good.
‘You struggling?’
‘Yeah’
‘How about ‘they are great with a beer?’’
‘Oh yes. You are right. I’ll write that down’.
‘They are great after a shag.’
‘Yep.’
‘Mixed with a bit of the old pot they makes a great spliff.’
‘That’s very true.’
‘Nothing like starting the day with a coffee and a fag.’
‘Nice.’
Yeah he’s right. Ciggys are great. I love cigarettes. I forgot how much they mean to me.
Hold on. What’s going on here?
‘OK fold up the paper and lets leave it over here. Now Michael I am going to hypnotise you. Close your eyes and listen to the dolphins.’
I do as he says.
‘Imagine you are getting into a lift. This lift is going down. Down into the basement. Deep down into the basement of your subconscious. Minus 10, minus 9, you are feeling sleepy.’
I’m not.
‘Minus 8, minus 7 minus 6. Your eyelids are heavy.’
Not really
‘Minus 5 minus 4. You are very tired.’
Um no.
I’m not fighting it. I’m just not feeling it.
‘Minus 3, minus 2 minus 1 and you are under. You are hypnotised.’
Am I? Not sure I am.
‘You are so sleepy and your lids so heavy you cannot open your eyes.’
I open my eyes. It’s easy.
But Tiny is right in my face. And gives me a stare so intense and scary that it sends a shiver down my spine.
‘CLOSE YOUR EYES. YOU ARE HYPNOTISED’
I do. Quickly.
‘YOU DON’T WANT THE FAGS, YOU DON’T NEED ‘EM!’ he shouts. ‘Do you understand?’
‘I don’t want the fags’ I say in my best monotone voice.
‘You don’t need ‘em. ‘He is whispering in my ear. ‘I catch you smoking a fag – I’ll rip your legs off. I smell a fag on you – I’ll piss in your throat. If I as much as hear you’ve had a sneaky puff on your balcony I will poke your eyes out with a red hot stick.’
I am shitting myself. I really think he means it. His voice is full of menace.
With intimidation like that I am surprised the jury found him guilty.
‘And on the count of three you will emerge from your trance. 1,2,3 -
Tiny clicks his fingers. I open my eyes.
‘Shantaram Michael. Shantaram. ‘
He is smiling. He is nice.
‘Do you feel ok?’
I nod.
‘Do you remember anything?’
‘I didn’t see a thing. Honest’ I say quickly. ‘I mean, no. What happened?’
‘Don’t you worry Michael its all working away in there. Now lets stick your list in the bin. Here, take the matches and set light to it. Set fire to your addictions.’
I do as he says.
‘Watch them burn! That smoke is the smoke of your freedom.’
The bin is soon spewing great clouds of white smoke.
‘Freedom from the chains of your addiction!’
The fire alarm goes off.
‘Right better get out’
I head for the door as Tiny grabs an extinguisher. As I exit he shouts.
‘I’m watching you! I got my eyes and ears everywhere. Av’ a fag and you needn’t worry about cancer because I’ll be on you worse than cancer.’