We’ve all got them somewhere, female grandparents. Even if they are no longer with us, many of us have fond memories of them. For some there will be regret that we never knew them, or worse …


Youngest granddaughter had an interesting take on grannys. She says they:

  • make soup
  • do scrabble and crosswords
  • look after grandchildren
  • do knitting
  • make silly songs – and she sang me some of our sillier ones
  • fart cabbage, and
  • ride their motorbikes.

Although she says the last two are not necessarily true.

As the younger grandchildren finish primary school and start secondary school, I reckon I will be redundant in about three years time as far as looking after grandchildren is concerned.

This summer, I met a man who was ten years older than me. He told me about his, now adult, grandchildren. I looked ahead into the future. In ten years time the oldest will have left university and be working or pursuing academic success. The middle ones will be half way their university courses or otherwise preparing for the world of work, and the two youngest, will be preparing to leave school and enter the adult world. I really will be redundant!

There was the preschool phase, when I wiped noses and bottoms and got covered in yogurt, snot and worse. When we held hands as we walked to and from nursery. When we sang impromptu songs.

There was the primary school phrase when I watched anxiously for them to come out of school, not wanting to miss them in the crowds of other adults and children. When we enjoyed the long summer holidays together and each year was marked by growing independence and knowledge of the world around them.

At ten and eleven the rite of passage to adolescence begins. the key to the front door, a mobile phone, a Zip Oyster card (we live in London), being allowed to play out and visit friends, travelling to and from school independently, going with siblings to the shops, going to the beach with friends; and more.

All of this with the grownups in their lives quietly watching behind the scenes to make sure everything goes to plan, and helping out when it doesn’t. One of the grandkids even learnt how to successfully invoke the x-plan.

So it looks as if a major function of being a granny is coming to an end. As with my own children, I have helped then towards independence and soon I will be off to ride my motorbike and have granny fun.


The man at the door





Once again I was listening to the radio, when some lines from a song caught my attention:

…  “A drawing of a man standin’ outside the door

He said, ‘I see him in my dreams

He comforts me when I can’t sleep'”

I had to go and look the lyrics up. They come from a song by TobyMac, featuring Nirva Ready called This Christmas (Father of the Fatherless), found on the album Christmas in Diversecity.

So who is this man at the door? It reminded me of the man in the bible mentioned in Revelation 3.20. You know, the one who says,

“Here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.”

So many have dreamt of him, let him in and had their lives changed by him. At the end of a year of so many surprises and changes, some of which have left us sleepless, here is someone who is constant and reliable. Sleepless? Let him comfort you today.

His life through the eyes of others


I was looking for my favourite Christmas poem and this was on the paper I was using as a bookmark.

“It’ll be here in a minute,” said the sage,
“Look, there it is, just to the left of that date palm.”
And the three wise men mounted their camels and rode off,
Following the star to where the baby king lay waiting.

“I’m afraid,” said the boy, “the light is so bright.”
“Look, there are angels, hundreds of them, singing a song of ‘glory to God’.”
So the shepherds set off.
Looking for the place where the saviour lay.

“He’ll do it in a minute,” said the angel, peering over the parapet of heaven.
“Look! God’s glory is shining on him.
He’s proclaiming Jesus as his best loved son.”
And the twelve friends fell down at his feet.

It all happened in a moment.” The high priest reported.
“Look how the curtain to the holy of holies is torn in two,
From top to bottom – revealing the glory of The Lord. ”
But his colleagues scratched their heads and tried to make sense of it all.

“It only took a minute,” the soldiers said. “The ground rumbled,
We looked, and the stone rolled away.
That’s convincing proof that Jesus has risen from the dead.”
So the priests bribed them to keep quiet and deny that Jesus was alive.

“Soon, in the twinkling of an eye, I’ll come back for you.
Look out for me, everyone will see that it is me.
I will come and get you and take you to the place I have prepared for you.”
And those in the know, wait with eager anticipation, for his return.

Living the dream #2


Remember the opening scene of Swallows and Amazons?

Roger, aged seven, and no longer the youngest of the family, ran in zig zags, to and fro, across the steep field that sloped from the lake to Holly Howe, the farm where they were staying for part of the summer holidays. He ran until he nearly reached the hedge by the footpath, then turned and ran until he nearly reached the hedge on the other side of the field. Then he turned and crossed the field again. Each crossing of the field brought him nearer to the farm.”



It was to be the start of an unsupervised adventure, for Father said: “BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN”.

Isn’t that what every parent wants to give their child? The freedom to run and play with the minimum of supervision. Many adults have fond memories of “we went out after breakfast and didn’t come home until we were hungry”. They admit they weren’t always perfectly behaved and even got into some scrapes; but they had something that our children don’t get easily today – freedom to play safely and unsupervised.


That’s what the holiday park where our little seaside getaway is gives the children who go there. Younger children can “run wild”, form gangs and make dens, while older children can experience life in the village and explore the beach and its environs. If they choose to, they too can live the dream.


Living the dream #1

You know that moment in Shirley Valentine, when you see the house on the beach by the sea? That.


Ever since I saw the film, I’ve dreamed about it. And, as I sat on the decking at our little seaside getaway the other day, eating my breakfast, I realised this is as close as I’ll get to it. Not quite on the beach, but as close as can be.

Reciprocating dad’s love

@HaslamGreg: GREAT FATHERS (3) It takes a moment to make a child, a life-time to become a Father who’s a great teacher,good provider,discipler,protector.

Yesterday was Fathers’ Day. Over the years we seem to have moved from the image of dad as a cigarette smoking, beer swilling numpty to some one who is placed high in our affections and valued as a parent.

For some, fathers’ day is not a happy time. This year has seen a lot of (adult) children mourning the loss of their fathers on Facebook and Twitter and recalling memories of happy times.

On the other hand, many kids got really excited about making gifts and cards for their dads, eagerly anticipating the moment of presentation, when they could express their love for their dads.

I have to tell you that the love is reciprocated. On the bus the other day, I saw a little girl, maybe not yet two, sitting in her buggy, eyes fixed on her dad while he tenderly sang to her – in public, on a bus! It was a lovely moment. And I saw it again yesterday, when a dad cradled his recently born daughter in his arms. His eyes never left her face.

From the moment of conception, dads are responsible for their kids. But for those who take the trouble to hone the skills of fatherhood, there is the blessing of having children who absolutely adore them.

Manners at the skatepark

It was a warm sunny day, just right for a trip to the skatepark. So far the grandkids have loved watching the skaters at Southbank in London, but have had few opportunities to try out skateparks for themselves.

There are kids younger than them there. A three year old insists in shouting “excuse me”, every time, from the top of the ramp to make sure the coast is clear for his run down the gentle slope. They set off to explore the skatepark and its obstacles.

Soon one of them come back. “They are swearing,” he tells me, “make them stop.” I explain that it is a public park and that anyone can use it – and swear. They just have to put up with it. I say that if their friends were playing with them at home, I would ask them to use more appropriate language.

Granddaughter wants to whisper something. “See that boy over there?” She points to one of the cool teenagers. “I saw his pants!” She pauses. “They were blue and white stripes!” She tells me with gusto.

Life with the skaters is definitely different.

On the way back to the car, we reflect on our experiences. “If you don’t swear,” I say, “you will get known for not swearing and people around you won’t swear. Remembering my offers of first aid on another occasion, I continue, “if you are kind to other people, they will appreciate your kindness”. And remind them of the lady in the park who provides chalks for the kids to draw with and the mother who lets them use her son’s bike and football. Grandson agrees. He helped people when they came off their bikes. We’ve come to a place of understanding.

We celebrate the end of a perfect afternoon with ice creams all round.