DorkyDad does the ‘Gator in Galway

DorkyDad and I are just back from a wonderful weekend in Galway, celebrating the wedding of two very good friends. DorkyGranny was kind enough to babysit, so it was just the two of us (and 100 other guests, obviously!). Other than the wedding itself, which I don’t think I can write about yet without being too gushy, here are a few of the noteworthy moments.

No DorkySon!

Packing to go away without DorkySon was stranger and more stressful than I expected it to be. “Oh my gosh, I’ve no room for nappies. Oh no wait, I don’t need nappies. And I probably don’t need all those Organix oat bars either. Hmmm, I wonder what make-up I’ll wear at the wedding. Ach, I’ve loads of space, I’ll just take it all. And what jewellery am I going to wear? Ach, I’ve still got loads of space, I’ll take all my jewellery with me too. Where’s that Peppa Pig magazine? Oh, I don’t need that, do I? So I can take a book! And my camera! And my iPad! And all my bras! No, I probably don’t need all my bras, I’m only there for three days…. three days, hmm. I wonder if we can cram everything in or if we’ll have to narrow it down. Can we have Guinness and oysters for lunch AND a traditional pub meal in the evening, or can we only choose one? I wonder if we have to book ahead. Or maybe just wait and see how DorkySon’s feeling. Oh no, wait, he won’t be there. I might get a massage! What should I wear in bed? I wonder if they’ll have shampoo or if I should take some miniatures. Oh gosh, the last time I used those miniatures was in hospital after having DorkySon… When I’d forgotten the nappies. Must remember nappies this time… Oh no, wait…” And on it went. I guess I’m normally so busy remembering everything I need for DorkySon that I just throw a few things into a bag for myself without thinking about it. I hadn’t realised how much easier that is! I also hadn’t realised that even without DorkySon there, we would continue to point out tractors and diggers to each other, which is a little worrying…

Irish Cabbies!

Irish taxi drivers are the best. Truly. Our first one – Patrick – picked us up at the airport and headed off in the direction of our hotel, only to stop at a petrol station 200 yards down the road so he could buy a bag of sweets to share around the car. He then spent ten minutes talking about his biggest claim to fame, which is that his uncle appeared in some of the crowd scenes in The Quiet Man. Our second cabbie – Sean – spent the whole journey shaking his head and wondering what the world has come to. Apparently his son is at university in the UK and one of the lecturers there is a cross-dresser. Nothing wrong with that, he was at pains to add, but having seen the man he just wishes that his mini skirts were a couple of inches longer. Our third cabbie – Joe – has 21 grandchildren, and can remember every one of their birthdays, although it almost bankrupts him to do so. Bless you, Irish cab drivers, for the most entertaining car journeys I’ve had in a long time.

Food and Drink!

So what do you know, Guinness really does taste better when you drink it in Ireland. And much like we Brits enjoy talking about the weather, the Irish like to speculate often, and at length, about just why that is. Unfortunately, DorkyDad and I did not find a definitive answer, but we did enjoy testing the stuff in several bars and pubs, just to be sure that standards weren’t slipping… We also enjoyed  amazing falafel from the Gourmet Offensive stall at Galway Market (I know, I know, not exactly traditional Irish fare, but awesome nonetheless), and the best seafood chowder ever at O’Grady’s on the Pier, which we slurped while sitting in a window seat, looking out over Galway Bay. Add to that an amazing four course wedding meal, and potato cakes with black pudding for breakfast three mornings on the trot, and I’ve discovered than it’s not just in the States I have to watch my waistline…


So you know at the end of the night at a Scottish wedding, the band or DJ plays something like Auld Lang Syne or Loch Lomond so that everyone can join hands for a big old lovely sing-a-long? In Ireland, the last song of the night appears to be the theme from Riverdance; so all the drunks can get up on stage and indulge in some tippity-tappity-foot-stomping shenanigans. It’s a beautiful sight. On the subject of dancing, this may be one to add to the ‘Things They Didn’t Tell Me About Parenting’ list – or indeed, perhaps just one that I should keep to myself – but it seems that my post-birth pelvic floor is no longer up to the task of letting me pogo along to the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles. Two years after DorkySon was born, I suddenly realise why I should have spent more time doing kegels. My shame at being unable to relive the songs of my student days without needing a change of knickers was made even worse by DorkyDad’s impressive dancefloor exploits. He surprised us all with his energetic gator dance. He got a shout out and a round of applause from the lead singer in the band. And his new favourite expression is ‘cutting some shapes’. I am praying that there is no photographic evidence of my experience, but extensive evidence of his. ..

And a few random, unrelated discoveries: If you want to buy a Maori style hand-carved bone necklace, you don’t need to go as far as New Zealand. If you want to go to Galway and dine on the Orient Express, you can do so. And when the religious traditions in your country don’t allow for condom machines in your public toilets, the slightly bemusing alternative appears to be vending machines that dispense Toffee Poppets. Cead Mile Failte indeed.

Mummies Can’t Get Sick

white mug, glasses and box of tissues on a bedside table, implying sickness

This was originally published as a guest post on the excellent parenting blog Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? Thank you to Laura for giving me the opportunity to borrow her readers for the day! 

The DorkyBoys are sick. It is truly a pathetic sight.

DorkySon has created a little triangle of activity to make sure everyone can see how sick he is. First he stands in a corner of the room, swaying slightly and sucking his thumb. Then he walks slowly round my desk, trailing his hippo lovey along the floor behind him and occasionally fixing me with a somewhat baleful look. Finally he comes over, puts his head in my lap and sighs. I rub his hair, give him a sip of juice, and send him on his way to start the whole routine again.

DorkyDad isn’t a whole lot better. “Can I have a lemon tea?’ he croaks at me from the sofa. “Can I have a painkiller?” he whimpers. “Do you think I’ll be well enough to play golf tomorrow?” he asks, sticking his bottom lip out slightly. “Why don’t you Google ‘head cold and golf’ for me…?” Continue reading

The reality of an age gap relationship: life with my husband who is 35 years older

A black and white photo of a tree trunk on which someone has written 'love never dies'. This photo accompanies an article about relationships with large age gaps.

This essay about being in a relationship with a large gap was originally published in the Family section of The Guardian on Saturday May 21st 2011. A shorter version also appeared on Offbeat Mama in February 2011.

As a result of writing about our age gap marriage I get emails almost every week from other people around the world who are looking for advice on their own situation. I’ve written about this experience as an accidental Dear Abby in a piece for the Washington Post

My husband is a beat poet, a professional fundraiser, and the proudest father I’ve ever known. He also happens to be 35 years older than me, and 60 years older than our son. Somewhat ironically, his name is Young.

Believe me, if you had asked me five years ago who I imagined marrying and starting a family with, a man old enough to be my own father would not have been top of the list. And if a friend had confided to me that they were considering entering a relationship with such a significant age difference, I would have done my gentle best to discourage them. But here we are, coming up to our fourth wedding anniversary, and still recovering from our son’s second birthday party. Love is a wonderful and surprising thing, and as we tell people who ask how we met, we just kinda bumped and stuck.

To those on the outside, there are many disadvantages to our unconventional relationship. The mistake people make is thinking that we haven’t given consideration to those ourselves. Of course we’ve thought about the future, of course we know that things won’t always be as easy and fun as they are now, and of course we realise that we look a little odd when we go out… We dated for six months before moving in together, and several nights a week we would linger over dinner, drinking wine, talking about all the reasons we shouldn’t commit to each other. It is a standing joke between us that, due to those six months, there is no good restaurant in Edinburgh that I haven’t cried in. Continue reading