What’s planned for the vegetable patch in 2019

I was very pleased to finally get round to make raised beds in our vegetable patch last year. You can read about my project here. I managed to get them finished in early summer and we got some vegetables in there. We had some limited success. The plants grew like wildfire but this is not ideal for veg as they put all their energy into growing leaves and not enough into growing the actual vegetable. We put this down to the soil being too rich in nitrogen due to mainly being compost.

So to combat this I’m topping up the beds with some plain topsoil which will hopefully tone down the nitrogen. We can only hope.

This is my wife’s plan for the beds,

You’ve got 3 raised beds from left to right and a section of old vegetable patch at the end. We’ve got some crop rotation going on…the carrots for example were in the 1st bed last year.

What’s changed this year is that we’ve actually got some of the seeds planted early and slowly germinating in the loft in the house:

We are also taking the advice of my wife’s father who recommends that root vegetable should be sown directly into the patch…i.e. carrots for example should be sown as seed directly into the patch. We’ve not done this the last couple of years having bought tiny seedlings from the garden centre and transplanting them. We’ve yet to get a successful crop.

What did do well were the courgettes and potatoes. Looking forward to some more of the same this year.

So fingers crossed for the 2019 vegetable patch.

How’s your planning for 2019’s growing season going?

A Day in the Life by Mumma in Training

I recently had the honour and pleasure to be asked to do a “day in the life” Q&A by Steph at Mumma in Training. Steph writes and excellent blog about her experiences as a mum. There are some really useful tips, hacks and observations on the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

You can read my interview here.

Party Politics

No, not of the Brexit variety. I’m talking about the minefield that can be 4yr old birthday parties.

This was brought home to me at earlier this week when I picked up a little envelope from my daughter’s drawer at pre-school. This was at picking up time and there followed an embarrassing situation.

We opened the envelope and I read the contents to her, it was a birthday party invite from one of the other girls in the class. M was so overexcited she skipped out and off to the car we went. We were leaving at the same time as one of her little friends.

She excitedly asked her “are you coming to the party?”

Little friend; “Yes”

Little friend’s mother; “NO, you’ve not been invited!”

I was silently chastising myself for mentioning the envelope, I should have waited until we were in the car before we opened it.

We have got to know each other through our girls friendship at pre-school and I felt immediately embarrassed. It’s quite something isn’t it when you worry about mentioning if your child has got an invite to so-and-so’s party in case the child of the person you’re talking to hasn’t. Not everyone decides to hire a space that can cope with the 30+ children in M’s room at pre-school.

Worrying about party invites when your child is only 4yrs old! I fear there is more of this to come! But that is what happens isn’t it, despite your best intentions, you worry if your child is going to be well liked among their peers.

I try not to worry, after experiencing the chaos that is a party in a soft play last weekend I can happily never experience that again. But you want the best for your children and if going to a birthday party is what they want then along you go!

However another dilemma is soon to raise its head. It’s M’s birthday next month and we are organising a party for her (it’s all a 4yr old wants afterall) in the local village hall. We’ve booked an “ice-princess” entertainer (you can guess who). They are expensive and as soon as you have more than 25 kids you need to pay for another entertainer to support them. So now we have to decide who gets invited and who doesn’t from her pre-school. M doesn’t care as long as Elsa is at her party so as ever it’s left to us parents to navigate the minefield that is children’s birthday parties.

Help!

Potty training – THE TRUTH

This post was originally published in my previous blog in May 2018

My wife and I have not been mentioning this for fear of jinxing it. It’s been six days now and I feel I can now share with you all.

We have finally cracked toilet training with M! There, I’ve said it.

Last Thursday she came home from nursery school having managed to actually do a poo on the toilet there and not soil her pants. Every day since then when she’s sat on the toilet in the morning she’s managed to do a poo. We had a long weekend when for the first time in, well it feels like forever, we’ve not had any accidents to clean up.

The Truth

So here’s the truth about potty/toilet training. IT’S HARD, end of. I don’t want to sugar coat it for you, we’ve had a real rollercoaster with M. It has been a year (yes a year) since we started the process. I’ve written about it as we’ve progressed along the journey, see my Potty Training section. When you do a bit of research online you see many books on the subject such as “How to potty train in 3 days”. Bullsh*t!

When I’ve been told by other parents “oh Daisy was hard to potty train, it took two weeks”, I politely smile and stifle the urge to scream. We started this saga with M in May 2017, like I say, potty training is hard. To be clear, we’ve not been at it non-stop since then. There have been breaks, the latest period of training started just after Christmas and she’s finally got it 5 months later!

What’s worked

I feel now that my wife and I are experts on the matter, so to help you get through it here are my tips on what’s worked for us.

  1. Reading Material – for you. Like I said there are hundreds of books out there on the subject. I’ve read loads and have taken snippets from each. However the one that really seemed to make sense was Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki. Recommended.
  2. Reading Material – for your little one. What’s been a great success for M is leaving a number of her books in the toilet. She loves reading and her successes have come when she’s been on the loo initially for a wee, but then she grabs a book and sits there for 10 minutes more and voila! Poo in the loo….woohoo! This tip also covers you sitting there and reading to them, although M got wise to this and used it as an excuse just to get read to; “Daddy can you read me a book on the loo, then maybe I can do a poo”.
  3. Going Commando – no not for you. A suggestion from Jamie’s book is giving your child time running around bare bummed. This seemed to really work for M. Having a bare bum made her realise when she needed to go and usually resulted in a successful visit to the toilet. Having said that, she was running around the garden once bare bummed and dropped a massive turd on the lawn, so you can’t win all the time!
  4. Rewards. One thing that Jamie Glowacki discourages in her book (see point 1) is rewards for successful visits to the toilet/potty. Whether it be a sweet or marble. She suggests that this creates a reward obsessed monster and has the potential for battles. We’ve not found this. We give M a marble for every successful poo on the loo and when the marble jar is full she gets a prize or her choice. We also reward her with a chocolate button. This has not been the source of any battles and has worked really well. But each child is different.
  5. Pant Liners. This is a relatively recent thing for us, but I was put onto this by a friend and they have helped. Also Jude and Di at  Dry Like Me have been super helpful in being a sounding board for our toilet training woes. The liners go into the pants and make it easier to clean the pants when an accident happens. You end up not throwing away the soiled pants. This is more for your sanity than anything else.
  6. Poo goes to Poo Land. Yes an app about going to the toilet. It has helped, firstly Galla gets to use the iPad, her favourite treat. And the app has reinforced with her that poos go to poo land down the toilet.
  7. Positive Reinforcement. An obvious one this one. Even when you are at the end of your tether and your little one has a success then do the poo poo dance, whoop with joy, high 5s all round. Make them feel that they’ve really achieved something. We’ve even phoned Grandma and Grandpa to report the success. It gives your little one confidence to repeat that success.
  8. Negative Reinforcement. Let me be clear, this is not direct punishment per se, and we’ve had limited success with it. But it can sometimes work. When your little one is engrossed playing with a particular toy and she was too busy to bother going to the potty/toilet then has an accident. I’ve taken said toy away and said it will come back when she has a success. I said it sometimes works, because it did get to the point when M was having so many accidents she was just handing me whatever she was playing with at the time and said “you can take this away Daddy”. Having said that, we took away M’s dress up dresses (the Elsa dress being a huge favourite) and explained to her this was because they are difficult to clean. After a long period without them she has got her dress up stuff back and is so happy and excited she feels like she really has achieved something.
  9. Fancy pants. You can spend lots of money on pants with their favourite cartoon characters on. But for M watching Skye going into the bin didn’t seem to prove a big enough deterrent.
  10. Peer pressure. When your little one attends a nursery or day care setting potty training can be hard. We’ve found that M has had some successes when she has gone to the loo with her friends. Indeed we’ve even got the nursery staff to suggest to her friends to go to the loo to encourage M to go as well. The nursery staff also have a marble jar for her there which once she fills it she gets a reward. Apparently her latest reward is to bake a cake….can’t wait.

In the end

In the end I have got heartily sick of people telling me “she will get it”. When you have a bucket in the laundry overflowing with shitty pants and Vanish powder and your little darling has just wet the floor again, it feels like she will just never get it. I was convinced that I would still be changing her soiled pants when she was 10.

We don’t know what just clicked last week, nothing has changed in the way we parent her. M obviously just got it and decided that each morning she always does a poo on the loo.

Do you have any top tips for potty/toilet training. Let me know.

Potty Training – The Saga Continues

This post was originally published in my previous blog in April 2018

Long ago in a galaxy far far away…..

There was a little girl who knew when to go to the toilet and took herself off there without any problems at all.

And the link between those two sentences, one is science fiction, the other is just pure fiction.

The story so far

(c) popsugar.com

As regular readers will know we’ve had our fair share of issues potty training M. We started this latest session of training just after Christmas, M also turned three recently so this is it, there’s definitely no going back. She has been doing really well. She prefers to use the toilet and can normally get herself there to do a wee. It’s the poos that are the issue. Everyone says “she’ll get there” which is great, but when you’ve been trying to potty train for almost a year, it’s not much consolation.

The lowest ebb

The thing is, there really is no rhyme or reason to when they will get it. We encourage her, we act disappointed when appropriate, we praise exuberantly when needed. You feel like you’re just not getting through sometimes. This all came to a head the other week at nursery school.

I got a call from the room leader explaining that M had had a big poo accident. She’d cleaned her up as best she could but perhaps I should come and pick her up in case she does it again. Now, to be fair to nursery, the accident was quite (hope you’re not eating) “liquid” and they were concerned that she was unwell. When I came to pick her up I had a long conversation with the room leader about “what can I do”. She suggested that we don’t make a big fuss and just keep on as we were, perhaps use marbles in a jar as an incentive for example. Excuse me, “don’t make a big fuss”?! How is calling her Dad to pick her up early when she soils herself, not making a fuss???

When we thought about it, both me and my wife were quite annoyed. Especially as the next day at nursery, M refused to eat her lunch. She knows that food leads to poos, perhaps she didn’t want to eat in case she had a poo and I was called to bring her home early?

The only way is up

Moving on from that incident I feel she’s definitely become more aware of going to the toilet. Also an upside is there is more focus from her key worker and room leader at nursery on supporting her with her toilet training. It’s about time!

A breakthrough?

This last week we’ve had a couple of amazing breakthroughs. On one day she managed to go to the loo to do a wee and at the same time did a poo, this happened twice in one day! Then a day later she came into kitchen in the morning and said “I think I need a poo”, took herself off and did it on the loo!! AMAZING! Me and my wife were so giddy with success, we even opened a bottle of bubbles at the end of the day.

Of course that was four days ago and since then she’s reverted and hasn’t managed to make it to the loo for a no.2. Sigh, kids giveth then taketh away!

I am taking the two glorious days we had of success. Hope it’ll happen again soon.

Sorry about all the toilet talk but as a parent I never thought I’d become quite so obsessed with my daughter’s bodily functions. What do you think?

Potty training reset the reset

This post was originally published in my previous blog in November 2017

Oh what’s a Dad to do? You may remember my struggles with potty training Big M here and here. Well after 3 months of trying i’m giving up! Ok, that’s a bit dramatic and to be fair to M, she is doing really well with the weeing side of things. She will even get up in the night and sit on the potty to do one.

It’s just the No.2’s.

Oh crap

In doing a bit of research on potty training I found the following book most helpful: “Oh crap potty training” . Part of Jamie’s method is the “going commando ” approach. I.e. in the early stages, letting your toddler run around naked from the waist down and then going to wearing leggings etc without underwear. This really worked for M and we found, even recently, that if she was naked from the waist down she would manage to get to the potty for her poo.

However she consistently has accidents when wearing her underwear. This came to a head yesterday. Our morning routine is that she gets up, takes off her overnight nappy, does a wee on the potty then puts her “big girl pants” on and we head downstairs for breakfast. Yesterday in the midst of making hers and little m’s porridge she came in with a tell tale little cramped look as if she was about to go so I told her to get on the potty right away but she said “no, I don’t need to” and left the room. Minutes later she came back in on all fours having soiled her pants. I was so annoyed, probably more so with myself for not stopping what I was doing and just putting her on the potty. As Jamie says, you have to facilitate their successes.

I just don’t understand why the addition of underwear has this affect on her when she clearly gets it with her wee. Anyway, we took the decision today to keep her in her pull up nappy’s, so far we’ve done everything the books tell you not to; use pull ups, rewards, no praise, too much praise, punishment (removing stickers from her chart). I can see where we’ve gone wrong, she’s confused the poor thing.

So she was initially quite upset by the idea of not wearing her big girl pants, but after I clearly explained that once she’s able to do a poo on the potty she can go back to wearing them, she was a lot happier.

It feels like a long and bumpy road, i’m just hoping that by not making a big deal of this change she can “get it”, oh please god before she turns three next Feb!

Potty training – reset

This post was originally published in my previous blog in October 2017

So I have previously posted on our experiences with potty training and how it’s been a long and tortuous road. We are still on that road and recently had to “reset”.

The reset

I wrote that just before my wife returned to work from maternity leave. People say that children cope well with change, well I know one little girl who doesn’t. Poor Galla was quite upset that mummy wasn’t at home on the Monday morning when we left for nursery school. When I picked her up that afternoon she was in a pair of “loaner” shorts from the nursery, she’d managed to go through the four changes of clothes I’d packed in her school bag. Oh dear….

Well all the literature says that you could go backwards with potty training if the child feels unsettled. For the rest of that week it didn’t get much better, in fact it got down right frustrating, she would do her little “wee dance” and I’d ask her to go to the potty and she’d refuse saying she didn’t need a wee. Then of course within seconds she’d wet herself. It wasn’t much better if I just picked her up and put her on it, there were tantrums, it got the point where she was almost going rigid and screaming when I tried to get her on the potty….one thing we didn’t want to breed was a fear of going to the toilet.

Anyway, we went on a trip at the end of the week to visit to Grandma and Grandpa for the weekend. Galla loves seeing them, but there were still accidents and she was still getting very upset about using the potty or toilet. So finally on Sunday morning we asked her if she wanted to use nappies again, she meekly said that she would. We put her in nappies all day and the change was remarkable, we had our happy little girl back again! Funnily enough she still treated the nappy as if she was wearing pants, she’d do a wee and act like she’d wet herself and ask to be changed.

The next day was Monday and I asked her as I was getting her dressed if she wanted to wear pants or nappies today and she said pants. I made it clear that if she wears pants she has to use the potty and toilet and did she understand that, she nodded. That was last week and so far we are back to normal, well still not getting the number twos but at least back to being happy to go on the potty/toilet and taking herself off there with no problems.

I just wanted to share this as some of the books you read appear to be real doomsayers about “never go back to nappies”, “it’ll confuse them”, “create problems” etc. It doesn’t really, we gave our little girl some control back again which in turn appeared to fix the uncontrollable spiral we were finding ourselves in.

I really hope I don’t have to write another piece on potty training…..

On Potty training…..aaarrrgghhh!

This post was originally published in my previous blog in October 2017

Where do we start?…. Well I started looking at Pinterest and found a load of these sort of pages:

The idea that you can potty train your child in three days is bollocks. Of all our friends with children they all have various stories of success; “after a while she didn’t want to wear nappies at night and that was that” for example, but none have said they did it over a long weekend!

We are currently seven weeks down the line and while M will happily take herself off to the potty or toilet when she needs a wee, we are still struggling with poos. Now everyone says that this is a sticking point (forgive the pun) but I really don’t know how to progress on this issue. I guess we can keep on supporting her, give her lots of encouragement and reminders of “where do poos go?” she knows exactly where they need to go but at the moment the closest to success we’ve had was her telling me she needed the toilet just at the moment she was doing it. Oh well, as my wife said “it’s a miracle any of us know how to use the loo, we’re not going to train m, she’s going to be in nappies until she’s 22!”

Also, potty training changes you, myself and my wife have become completely blasé about other people’s sensibilities. When you spend most of your week days going to places and activities where there are other children and parents you’re used to kids having accidents and their general (frankly brilliant) no holds barred, shameless attitude to life. But when you have friends visiting who don’t have children you forget this and while it may be completely normal to you to have your toddler parade around half naked then sit on the potty in the corner of the room, you forget that this is not really a normal occurrence for most people.

So how on earth did we get here?

You have to remember that everything that your child has learned to this point is pretty much instinctive, eating, walking, talking all come naturally and we as parents are there to guide and develop these attributes. But going to the toilet is seems totally unnatural to a toddler and it is the first thing that we as parents actively have to teach and they to learn. So it’s a learning curve for both of us.

We tried the potty when M was 27 months but it was within 2 months of m being born and it was a disaster from beginning to end so we quickly abandoned it. Reading various books tells you that should only attempt potty training at least 2 months before or ideally after the arrival of a new sibling.

So, reset and start again.

Both me and my wife discussed how we should approach potty training M and in the end I drew the short straw. We decided that it would be good if one parent took the lead and as I’m naturally the calmer of the two of us I got the job, ho hum.

As with most things to do with parenting I like to read a bit from several sources, either ignore it or take what I like from each. We went with the approach that we will go with M being out of nappies for most of the day but if there are times when we absolutely need to leave the house then we would put a nappy on her. While some sources say this is confusing for the child most recommend not night potty training them at the same time so they are going into a nappy a night, what’s the difference?

I read a couple of books on the subject:

https://i1.wp.com/www.contentedbaby.com/images/pottytraininginoneweek.jpg?w=525

Typically for Gina she’s a bit hard core and goes with the “once they’re out of nappies, they’re out, no going back!”

Image result for potty training for girls

This book was a bit more of a softly softly approach, suggesting that you start your child on “sessions” of training, you go an hour or two without the nappy and slowly extend this over a period of time until she is out of the nappy for the whole day.

Anyway, we chose a clear couple of weeks at the end of the summer holidays and went for it. The first four days she was wearing her “big girl pants” but consistently kept having accidents, she’d wet herself and then say that she needed the potty. Doing a poo often came more out of luck than judgement, by sitting her on the potty around the time of day she usually went we occasionally got a success but more often than not I was cleaning soiled pants yet again.

We spoke to some friends who were going through the same process with their daughter and they recommended the following book:

Image result for oh crap potty training

I also consulted “Mums mafia”…sorry, mumsnet and this book quite often comes up in their forums as a good one to use for potty training.

It suggests going with the naked from the waist down approach for the first few days until she “gets it” and then progress to going commando, i.e. just wearing leggings or shorts for example and eventually after a few weeks putting the pants on.

The change was remarkable, going naked from the waist down made all the difference. After four days of pretty much one success a day and lots of accidents we immediately went to one or two accidents and lots of successes. After a few days we even managed our first outing, down to the local supermarket without an accident. I made a point every time we went out to take her to whatever public loos were available, firstly to not breed any fear of using a different toilet but also to get her to actually do her business in them. That first outing the supermarket in question has an excellent parent and child facility and I sat her on the loo and after a couple of minutes she did her wee…so proud.

Funny how life has changed for me, being immensely proud when my daughter successfully wees in a public toilet!

We’ll get there.

The Best Pubs in the UK

(In my humble opinion of course but these are all worth a look!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR to my reader. What plans have you made for 2019? Well if you like a staycation (in the UK) and you find yourself anywhere near the establishments below, then you could do a lot worse than visit them!

What makes a great pub? Well, it can be obvious things like great service, good beer, good food, lovely location etc. But there are also other things that I think sway your judgement, it could be who you are with, or the vibe of the evening for example.

I do like a good pub and I’ve visited a few in my time. But there a small number which always stand out in my memory as places that are a cut above the rest. Here they are, in no particular order (except the first is THE best pub in the world):

The Barrels, Hereford, Herefordshire

Now, among my friends this pub is a place of legend. We only went there once, it was one of those nights where the stars seemed to align and everything was magic. Three of us were on a weekend away kayaking down the river Wye. We started the day from Hereford, spent hours kayaking downstream only to discover that our campsite for the night was actually still only a few miles from town!

Off we walked to the nearest pub, which was quiet to say the least. But we were starving so we stopped there for food. And, how’s this for service, the landlord offered to drive us into Hereford where we might find a more lively evening…….Things are different in the country you know.

The Barrels was the second pub we visited and we knew we had struck gold. The pub was the original location for local brewery, Wye Valley. The beers Wye Valley produce are among the best in the country. Plus they were cheap. It was Saturday night and the place was lively, add to that an eclectic mix of locals and to top it off Bez was in the bar!!!

(c) Kevin Cummins/ Getty Images

He was appearing at a local nightclub that night. For a group of blokes who were teenagers in the 80s and fans of the “baggy” Manchester scene, this was a big deal. We offered to buy him a drink which he politely declined, but we did end up in the nightclub and got our pictures taken with him.

To this day we all think The Barrels is the best pub in the world. If you don’t believe me, years later I met a friend’s girlfriend who is from Hereford and said to her;

“Oh, you’re from Hereford, you must know the best pub in the world?”

She replied “Oh The Barrels, yes, love that place”.

’nuff said.

The Square and Compass, Worth Matravers, Dorset

This pub is unique, it is one of those places that feels like it’s not changed in centuries. Flagged floors, low beams, roaring fire, excellent local beers, the menu is solely pies and pasties, oh and it also boasts a fossil museum!!!

I visited the pub as part of a coastal walk on a weekend away with some of my old uni friends. It was the definite highlight of the weekend, high quality and very welcome beers at the end of an afternoon’s walk. Being an ex-geologist the fossil museum was definitely the icing on the cake!

Worth Matravers is situated on the “Jurassic coast” of Dorset, an area famous for fossils. The village itself is tiny and at the end of a road not far from the coast. It’s not somewhere on the south coast tourist trail like the more popular nearby spots of Swanage and Corfe Castle. But if you’re ever in the area then I highly recommend a detour to visit this unusual and super little pub.

The Britannia Inn, Elterwater, Cumbria

(c) Tripadvisor

Elterwater sits in the stunning Langdale valley in the Lake District. An area that I love and have visited on numerous occasions. Elterwater is a gorgeous tiny village and sits at the start/end of a number of lovely walks. Hence why this pub is so well liked.

I love this place as, for me, it has so many memories of beers with friends after a day hiking in the fells. I think it must be a prerequisite to do some sort of physical exercise prior to visiting otherwise you don’t fully appreciate the excellent beer, hot food and roaring fire. Indeed on other trips to the Lakes I’ve visited this pub without the required hike beforehand and somehow it just doesn’t feel right.

The Golden Rule, Ambleside, Cumbria

(c) Alamy

Another pub in the Lake District, this time in Ambleside. The town is one of the busier ones in the area but I still love staying here. There’s a great mix of pubs and restaurants (Ambleside is the foodie capital of the Lakes) and every other shop here appears to be an outdoor shop, my favourite.

This pub is oft noted as a “hidden gem”. Indeed, it is away from the bustle of the centre of town but is well worth looking out. In my opinion, I’ve not had a proper visit to the Lakes unless I’ve had a beer here. You wouldn’t go here for a meal as the food is limited to excellent pork pies/scotch eggs and the like. But the beer from local brewery Robinsons, is excellent. There is a roaring fire and the atmosphere is friendly and cosy.

The Royal Oak, Ambleside, Cumbria

(c) Tripadvisor

Another Lake District institution, can you tell I love it up there? Despite the pub being tied to brewery giant Greene King, the beer and atmosphere is good. The pub is located centrally in Ambleside so is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Indeed if you find yourself in the public bar you might get a number of frowns from the locals who frequent there almost exclusively.

For me though, this is a favourite not necessarily for the beer but for the memories. It is the first pub I ever visited when I came to the Lakes with friends for the first time. Prior to that my only experience of the area was family holidays when I was a little kid. It is also the pub where I first told my now wife that I loved here.

Special memories. So whatever you do with your free time in 2019, sitting in a pub having a yarn with friends is not a bad place to be. I hope you make many special memories yourself, and if you manage to visit any of the above, do let me know.

My Dad and Dementia

(c) OccasionalBlog.net

This month my Dad turns 80, we’re really looking forward to driving to the Southwest to visit them for his birthday weekend. The other side of this is having to have a chat with Big M. Having to explain that Grandpa might act strangely sometimes and get a little confused.

We all suffer with memory loss as we get older but for some, it’s a little more serious than that.  For my Dad it’s slowly been creeping up on him over the past five years or so. We’re still waiting for an official diagnosis but all signs point towards Dementia. 

And now things seem to be deteriorating more rapidly.

Early Signs

At first he would be aware that his memory wasn’t the best, as we all get older I think we can relate to this. When he met with friends or acquaintances he would often start the conversation “You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t remember you too well, my memory is crap nowadays”. It was all a bit lighthearted to begin with but then it started to affect his moods.

He would get really angry with himself if he forgot the simplest thing, like a pint of milk he’d asked to pick up as he was passing the corner shop. I think he was scared that he would end up like his own mother who suffered with Dementia and passed away not recognising any of her children who would often visit her.

To begin with my Mum also found it frustrating, they would visit places they’d been to before and he would say how he’d never been there.  Mum would tell him, exasperatedly, that they had. My parents like going on cruises. After their 4th or 5th cruise holiday, Dad told me what a fantastic holiday it was, he’d never been on a cruise before. He would meet acquaintances who would greet him warmly and he’d have no idea of who they were.

Acceptance

Gradually they started to accept that this was becoming the new normal and Mum would devise ways to help him deal with it. They began to keep photo diaries of their holidays so she could show Dad the places they’d been and remind him of what happened.

Dad has also slowly accepted his failing memory and tries to not get angry about forgetting things. However this has also been helped by the antidepressants that are now part of his daily pill intake. My sister, who is a doctor and lives close to them, has been a great help and support (to my mum in particular). Providing sound advice and making sure when they go to their memory consultations that they know what’s happening.

However he has his good days and bad days. He still gets very confused, for example he recently tried to use a shop’s loyalty card instead of his debit card in a shop. He was convinced it was his debit card and got very agitated when Mum tried to explain that it wasn’t.

How do I feel?

I’ve found it hard. As you can see from the picture at the beginning of this post, me and my Dad are (were) keen cyclists. He got me interested in bikes and cycle racing when I was still a teenager. We enjoyed a number of cycling holidays together to Mallorca. Of course, he doesn’t really remember them. I’m beginning to feel I’ve lost the Dad I used to ride with around those stunning mountain roads.

We live near London, a three and half hour (minimum) drive from them. It is so difficult as you get older and you realise that your parents are beginning to increasingly need your support. This is made doubly difficult when you have a young family who equally require 100% of your attention. What makes it worse is knowing that his condition is only going to deteriorate.

What next?

Well we need an official diagnosis that he is suffering with Dementia. Only then will they be able to access much needed help and support.

We’ll be making sure we go and visit as often as we can. I want my girls to spend as much time as they can with their Grandpa which will hopefully help him as well.

Useful Links

DementiaUK

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Alzheimer’s Society

NHS

Mental Health Foundation