Posted by: Sam | February 16, 2013

Feelings of Fatherhood

I am lying here, in my bed at 9.20 on a Saturday night. All is peaceful in the Hughes household.

Little baby Arianne is curled up asleep (finally) on my chest and a very sick Lucy is asleep beside me.

It’s a very helpless feeling, my first feeling of fatherhood. After missing my first child’s birth through a series of disasters, I have tried hard to provide all the support I can for my family. I have done more loads of washing and cooked more meals than I ever have.

I have comforted Arianne in the middle of the night and even changed the lions share of nappies (in my mind anyway, though I still maintain that the really bad ones are two man jobs).

But unfortunately my main shortcoming as a Dad so far is that I dont have any breasts.

In the first few days I aimed to help out in the middle of the night and made myself wake up for the feeds. By the end of week one, I had turned mercenary and changed my tactic to getting as much sleep as I can.

Tonight will be a struggle I think, with Lucy really finding it hard to stay awake with her illness and me, too busy peeing around on WordPress to check that Ariannes head is propped up correctly.

But these are the things we signed up for, and quite honestly – this may be the best cuddle I have ever had!

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Posted by: Sam | February 12, 2013

New Whip

So here I am, my newborn child Arianne is jut five days old and I am writing a blog post about my van.

The main reason for writing this though is because I haven’t got the brain capacity to put into words the feelings I have for my new daughter. It takes a level of awareness and a healthy dose of rest (which I haven’t had) to get that deep.

The new van though, holds some meaning for me. When I was a young teenager, my dad bought an old LDV and converted it (rather shoddily) into a camper, I was the helper. My brother, who had just passed his test, used to drive it around to try to impress his friends.

Since then, I have always wanted to own a camper van and at the tender age of 31 I have decided to take the plunge.

I don’t need a van. I enjoy driving it, and I am excited about one day having some money so I can actually convert it. But I definitely don’t need it.

My dad would have been proud. He was the king of owning pointless vehicles which were neither practical nor efficient. He used to buy a new one each year.

He had classic Jag’s in racing green. A rather aged cream Mercedes, and of course the infamous LDV. All of them pointless, except for the fat that he loved to drive them.

So here is mine:

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I am also getting hold of my dad’s rather pointless personalised number plate as well. Rather looking forward to that for some reason.

Posted by: Sam | January 11, 2013

Uncle Phil

Amongst the many people I recognised but couldn’t place at Dad’s funeral this week, was a guy, probably in his 70’s, with a thin wispy beard and bizarre long patchwork scarf which looked home knitted and very old.

For some reason I knew him as Uncle somebody, but couldn’t think why. After a while, I realised that this was the same guy who had given my family an old C Reg Rover 316 as a gift as he was finding driving too difficult. This became my first car, so it must have been around 1998.

I clearly remember Dad driving the car back from this guy’s house over Castle Hill in Huddersfield and him saying that one of the reasons this guy was struggling with driving was probably because the clutch on his car was completely knackered. I approached him at the funeral and memories came flooding back to me. This was “Uncle” Phil (of no relation).

I remember a day – perhaps in the early nineties when Uncle Phil and the Hughes children went to Alton Towers, a theme park in the Midlands as a special treat. At the funeral, he regaled a tale to me of how he did not want to go on the Corkscrew (the latest scary ride at the time), and as I was under the height limit for the ride – he used the excuse of looking after me as a reason not go on. This would have worked, but for the fact that I stood on tiptoes and managed to get past the attendant. We all went on in the end.

What I didn’t realise until this week, was that the reason Dad took Uncle Phil to Alton Towers was that Phil was in a serious state of depression and was close to suicide. My Dad was trying to help him out of it. At the funeral, Phil even went so far as to say that he thought that Dad had saved his life through the help he had given. He was wearing the old scarf as a tribute to my Dad as Dad had given it to him at the time of his depression. 

I don’t know how much truth there was in his story, I was certainly unexpected – but it was a story I was glad to hear – and a great tribute.

This was only one of a series of blasts from the past which hit me at the funeral. There was Dad’s folkie friends play him into the funeral, his old bus pals (including Richard, the hard of hearing Tory councilor who spoke loudly to avoid having to listen), Ted – childhood family friend, and a random guy in a 90’s Microvox t-shirt who gave me a massive hug (I had no idea who he was).

The number of people that turned up was phenomenal, there must have been three or four rows of people standing at the back of the crematorium. Even some of my friends came. Rob (the Artist) in particular had a close connection to Dad, who essentially served as a second father to him. In fact, when we were kids, Rob was in the habit of coming to see Dad when I wasn’t even in.

But the sweetest thing I heard on the day was when I went to the loo with my little 6 year old nephew Evan. He said to me “Uncle Sam, my favourite memory of time with Pa was when we went for lunch”.

It was a reminder that, although Dad had a varied and interesting life, his most recent year was spent getting to know his grandchildren – and they will remember him for the good times spent in a restaurant in Holmfirth in early December 2012.

It makes it all the more sad that he will never get to meet our daughter.

Dad’s funeral song (chosen by him, but  very moving song):

Posted by: Sam | December 23, 2012

Dad

Dad passed away yesterday morning at 8am. It was an unexpected bout of Pneumonia which came out of the blue.

He was good bloke and a thoroughly nice man my dad, as several people have told me since he passed.

He showed me a number of things in life – to be kind to others but not to care what others thought of me, that being content is more important than fame and fortune, to not get angry about things which are unimportant and, most importantly – that if I don’t have a beard as an adult – I will look like a girl.

As Lucy hugged me in the hospital when we were with him at the end, I felt the slight kick of my dad’s little grand-daughter in Lucy’s belly. It’s a huge shame my dad will never get to meet her, but we will tell her all of his tales and bring her up with some of the principles with which I was brought up.

To steal my brother’s words my dad was an adventurer and an inventor in his life. He traveled the world and saw many things. He was a blacksmith, an engineer, a teacher, a small businessman and a nomadic musician and he was very happy before he was ill.

Above all. He was a very nice man and he was my dad.

We really will miss him very much.

 

Other things I have written about dad:

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/camping-stew/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/where-am-i-again/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2010/02/06/the-misadventures-of-lucky-little-bugger-hughes-the-unfortunate-childhood-dog/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2008/04/25/cosgrove-hall/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2007/12/24/ah-the-nook/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/a-hughes-in-afghanistan/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/a-hughes-in-iran/

https://rabbitconfusedwithraisins.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/a-hughes-in-australia/

Posted by: Sam | December 22, 2012

Camping Stew

Camping stew was a dish best served lukewarm. It filled the caravan with its sweet scent. It was homely vegetables and it was tender meat cooked to perfection on that little gas hob next to the irritating whistling tin kettle.

Camping stew was served by the dollop onto those canteen style plastic plates, plates scored deep by the thousands of knives which had crossed their aged surfaces. They were decorated with a ring of faded pale blue or green as well as a discolored staining from age.

Camping stew was the taste of holiday. No matter how often I asked, I could never have it when I was at home. Only when we were on one of our family adventures could I eat it. Adventures which invariably included some form of cycling and me being forced to sleep on the uncomfortable hammock which was hung between two metal bars attached on the caravan walls.

Camping stew was something I tried to re-create for Lucy a couple of years ago, only to realise that its binding ingredient was simply a tin of “stewed meat” of dubious origin and even more dubious nutritional benefit.

It also turned out that the plates were canteen style because my dad had liberated them one by one from the staffroom at the school where he worked by waiting for the other teachers to leave and then kindly offering to collect their dirty crockery. The plates had then lived an extended life of freedom in the Hughes family caravan, traveling to such exotic locations as Norfolk or Humberside.

They matched the salt and pepper shaker perfectly, which had, again been liberated. This time from a restaurant where my dad had felt he had been overcharged and under served. Rather than complain – he would just make sure that he got his moneys worth.

Just one of my fond memories.

 

Posted by: Sam | December 13, 2012

Where am I Again?

I was thinking about the best way to describe how our little family unit is operating at the moment – the word that sprang to mind is ‘reeling’. We are definitely reeling from shock after shock this past week or so.

We have managed to write off yet another car without being able to claim on insurance (we will soon be a 5 car family in terms of loans – with only 2 on the driveway).

Lucy has also really been struggling with a two hour commute and quite stressful days (her clients keep dying) whilst heavily pregnant.

However the biggest shock which hit us in the last fortnight was my dad being struck down by Pneumonia out of the blue.

And it really was out of the blue … Last Sunday he had a cold – we ignored his complaints because of his cronic hypochondria.

However by Tuesday it had become the flu, and he was struggling to breathe.

On Wednesday afternoon he was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

By Thursday night he was in intensive care and on Monday he was knocked out and a ventilator was breathing for him.

He seems a little more stable now (otherwise I wouldn’t have the courage to write this post) but he’s not out of it.

I wouldn’t usually write something so personal on here, but I feel like I have to. This is mainly because I got the chance on Monday to say goodbye to him before he was sent to sleep and failed to say anything more poignant than “bye”. I didn’t (and don’t) know if I would speak to him again. He didn’t either, and he was scared.

But all I mustered was a short goodbye.

My dad has had a strong influence on me and how I live my life, of course he should – he has aways been around all my life. Some things I have picked up though following his example, some through things he taught me and told me.

He has always told me that he would be proud of me no matter what I did. In his career he didn’t chase after money or power or fame, he did the things that made him happy. I always think of this when I am stressing myself out at work. I try to remember that happiness is more important than a pay rise.

He always lent a helping hand when we needed it the most. When he was hoarse and wheezing hours before hospital admission, he was driving Lucy to the garage to try and sort out her infernal car (for which I feel most guilty). We’ve spent almost as much time driving his car around over the last 6 months as we have our own due to our inability to keep one running.

He never cared much about what others thought of him – to the last. The stories are too many to count, but my favorite recent example from this year was when we went to the cinema at the same time as a football match next door. The disabled (and abled) parking spaces were all full. So he simply put the car on the curb right in front of the cinema doors for two hours, declaring it was the cinema’s fault for not having enough disabled parking and leaving the poor dog in the boot – staring out of the window.

I don’t ever remember him being angry when I was a child, and I hope not to get angry as a parent. I do remember being smacked once. To be fair I was trying to stick my fingers in the plug socket at the time. The punishment definitely worked – I haven’s stuck my finger in the plug socket in years!

I hope he gets to read this.

Posted by: Sam | December 2, 2012

Mulligan

Its a challenge – finding time to clear your mind from continual DIY and dog walking to be able to write blog posts. This year has contained some of the most memorable moments of my life, yet at times has felt like the worst one I have had, and the most stressful one Lucy and I have had in all our time together.

The irony is that this is the most settled we have ever been – job, house, dog etc, but has felt like the year in which I have had the least amount of time. Mainly due to the job, the house and the dog.

However, here I am writing again. Partially because I enjoy it, partly because the house is almost finished, partly because I have already walked the dog – but mainly because we are beginning a new phase of life and in looking back at my old posts, I realise how valuable it is to me to have documented some part of my past.

In February, we will be having our first baby.

Mulligan is my preferred name – I think it has just the correct amount of mystique and useability. I don’t think I will get my way.

A years worth of blog posts (since I last took this site seriously) is some feat and being rather lazy, I am not going to attempt to fill in the gap. Rather – I am going to try to tell the tale of some of the last year through the medium of photography and video.

Our Wedding:

Our Canadian honeymoon:

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Lets make it at least once a week from now on hey?

 

 

Posted by: Sam | April 22, 2012

Right now I am not supposed to be doing this…

Right now I am really supposed to be helping to organise my wedding. I begged for a manual task, something like “shift these bricks from here to over her” or “paint this thing with this paint”. Instead I have been required to do something organisational, like “organise the band”. These things involve both thought and money.

Organisational things tend to cost a lot of money as they invariably consist of ordering things from the internet. For a pair of “Tinkys” (Two Incomes No Kids Yet), Lucy and I are suffering a serious financial drought.

A financial drought recently significantly enhanced by Lucy practically writing off her car.

“Writing of her car?” you would say, “surely that is no issue, for that is why we have car insurance to be paid out by the bucket load every month?”

“Ah”, I would reply “however this was a different kind of writing off. This is the kind of writing off which occurs when one negligent car driver fails to observe the low oil light on the car dashboard and continues to drive the car for a distance of some 200 miles”.

It turns out that driving a car for 200 miles with no oil has quite a few damaging effects on such car. The main one of these being that it completely and utterly knackers the engine beyond repair. Mildly problematic given that one cannot claim on insurance for such a clever action.

We are just waiting to hear the final bill, in order for us to decide whether the car is worth repairing. One thing is for sure, combined with the wedding, we are not rolling in it at present!

Posted by: Sam | April 14, 2012

And Now for Something Deep

Its not often that an newspaper article has an impact upon me beyond my usual tutting and regular frustration at the idiocy of the people who comment at the bottom of comments sections. Recently I followed a link put up by someone (I forget who) to a newspaper article about a nurse who dealt with terminally ill patients in the last weeks of their lives.

This nurse wrote about what these patients, teetering on the edge of their lifespans, felt about their life and what their major regrets were.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

The article struck a massive chord with me and got me doing quite a bit of thinking. Not because of the patients in the article, but mainly because one of my biggest fears in life is getting old and regretting what I have done with the years which were given to me.

One of the comments mentioned was “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”. Apparently this was a comment made by almost every male patient – regretting not seeing their children grow up.

I wish I didn’t work so hard now dammit!

With my ridiculous commuting length and the hours I work, I do feel like sometimes I miss out on my home life. And I dont even have any kids!

It pretty much ties up with three of the other comments made for me. One was “I wish I kept in touch with my friends” and another was “I wish I lived the life true to myself rather than the life others expected me to live”. The final one was “I wish I had let myself be happier”.

I tend to live in this eternal state of indecision. How much money is enough money to earn? How much will I climb the slippery pole before I realise that the business I work for doesn’t actually give a crap about me? How much do I actually like my job?

Anyway, I decided this week to take a bit of a step forwards and take an outdoor Mountain Leader training course. I am not 100% sure why, but I wonder if it might lead me to a bit of a different life in the future…

Posted by: Sam | March 24, 2012

Jessie the Dog

So, according to some sources, the art of blogging is dying. However I was never really a blogger and never really had many readers.

Writing this thing for me has always been a kind of therapeutic release and the primary reason for doing this has hopefully never been a reader gathering exercise. The best thing about this thing has always been that I can look back over all of thee posts (since summer 2007) and see all of the thing I have been doing, thoughts I was having and the place that I was in in my life.

Looking back to 2007, one of the stark things I notice is that I seem to have become quite a lot older in 3 years (to wait, nearly 5 years). Time is not slowing down for me…

In fact time has been passing so quickly in the last 6 months that I have barely had time to even come on here and put up some short posts. Part of the reason for this has been the recent addition to our family (as well as the new house and a wedding to plan for).

Rather than spend days filling all in about our new family member, I spent an evening last night pasting together all of the badly shot IPhone footage of Jessie the Bernese Mountain Dog. This should give you the gist…

(warning video is very cheesy and may cause vomiting)

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