Nautical Tootling 

Mothers’ Day was a bit of a damp squib this year so wanted to plan a nice Fathers’ Day to put the guilts on AO. He got a handful of cards that, a week on, are still lingering in the ‘transient’ pile of papers in the conservatory- perhaps testimony to their warm response. Any road, we soldiered on and decided to get a boat on the broads.

This sun was (intermittently) shining and the boys looked adorable in life jackets.

The water was quiet. We motored up and motored down and three hours had passed.

Team Oliver: sailing forward together.

News Blackout

Oliver’s Guide to Surviving a Brexit

1) Total news blackout. Delete social media app. Delete News app.  

2) Smell your children: snuffle them and nibble their necks and revel in their beauty. Ignore creeping sadness that they are growing in a darkening world. 

3) Cook. Eat those feelings. 

4) Listen to 90s’ rock. Remind yourself of feeling young and powerful and scornful of anyone older than you. Remember feeling sure you would make the world better and feel heartened that that’s exactly how school kids are feeling now. 

5) Meet friends in a pub and avoid politics. Take a book to read while you wait to help filter pink-faced yobbing off.   

6) Visit museums. Remember we’ve made mistakes in the past and come out right in the end. 

7) Bear in mind your city didn’t chose this. 

Berlin: a kid-free guide

Step one:

Dump kids with in-laws

See you, suckers. Good luck, Margaret.
Step 2:

Imagine like you’re 15 and get your dad(in law) to give you a lift to the airport.

Get a beer there. Immediately.


Step 3:

Arrive. Dump all baggage and stuff phone and hotel key in pocket and take a moment to celebrate not having to remember all the kids’ crud you’re usually having to lug about. Seek out beer.

When in Berlin, drink a Brazilian cocktail. You know the phrase!
Step 4:

Prop open eyes with matchsticks and eat through the exhaustion just so you can symbolically go to bed at PAST TEN O’CLOCK.

Step 5:

Wake up at PAST EIGHT O’CLOCK and panic that you’re not making enough of a day in the city without kids. All the museums! All the sites to see! Linger over hotel buffet breakfast though: it’s free and you’re not having to eat it while you decrust toast and pack a lunchbox.

Step 6:

Hire bikes. Berlin is whopping.

Hop on an all day tour. You can regress to a childlike state as you blindly follow an effervescent Ozzie. It’s like having a very informed au pair to tour you around the vast and fascinating city.

Is it appropriate to smile on the very spot where 25,000 books were burnt?

Unencumbered joy

Step 7:

Befriend the only other Brits on the tour. You can spot them because they will be cycling at the back and hesitating at amber lights: “no, after you”

Step 8:

Go to East Berlin. Drink your way around the hipster bars- you’re young and cool! Get pissed. Miss last UBahn home. Panic. Remember you’re an adult and have a job and can afford a taxi.

We’re out late!
Step 9:

Wake up late. Get the guilts about wasting valuable time. Go to Checkpoint Charlie museum.

Hangover+Cold War. 
Step 10:

Go for a swanky drink in swanky West Berlin and pee in a swanky loo where you can look at the animals in the zoo below. Revel in novelty of being watched by a monkey rather than a toddler.

Quick, andrew, take the picture so I can move out of the sun 
Step 11:

Meet up with friends. Eat pork knuckle in Gendarmenmarkt. Have actual conversations with the person you married and remember they’re funny and interesting and quite fit.

AO realises all his hopes and dreams. 
Step 12:

Head on out to an Iron Maiden concert in an enormous outdoor amphitheater. Breathe in the sweat, beer and rock.

Take time to enjoy feeling young. And the fact that there’s no queue for the women’s toilets but the men’s snakes on for miles.

Step 13:

Wake up not hungover.

Get caught in rain.

Feel a bit cross and miss children.

Go to a museum.

Still feel out of sorts.

Have a beer

Step 14:

Hire bikes. Go for a keeeeebab in the Turkish quarter. So what if it’s only 3.20 on a now-sunny afternoon?

Step 15:

Soak up some more culture and cycle along the path of the old Berlin Wall the wends its way to Brandenberg gate.

Don’t even dismount for this bridge thing whatnot

But stand amazed for the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby off the balcony. 
Have a scoot about one of Berlin’s 2500 parks. (Credit: Ozzie tour guide)

Is there something endearing about husbands on bicycles?
Step 16:

Drop back bikes. Pick up bags. Get fourteen different buses and tube trains because you can’t afford a taxi because you’re not actually a full-fledged adult and want to save your euros to have a prosecco with your new friends at the airport.

Step 17:

Realise that your children haven’t missed you at all.

Weekend complete.

“just been sittin’ in this wheelbarrow, crying for you” said neither child