Friday, 31 December 2010

The Runaway train came down the track, and she blew...

After the appalling night last night, we deserved a treat. So off we trundled with our Symbio to Pant, to the Brecon Mountain Railway to have a ride on a real life steam train.

Squeaky greeted the station with her usual level of confusion.  symbio 001

Despite her lack of appreciation of all things steam-train related, we went and had a look at the engine.  symbio 002

The carriages themselves were very, very narrow.  I saw a couple with a lightweight stroller, and they had to collapse it to get it on.  As I was on my own with Ms Squeaky, that wasn't really an option.  Fortunately, the rear/front carriage was wider, and the guard helped me lift the Symbio on board, so Squeaky could have her ride, and look out the window. symbio 003

I say rear/front carriage because the engine turned around to pull us back in the opposite direction. I'm not a travel-sick kind of person, and the train was fairly quiet, but I can picture some people getting concerned if they'd picked a forward facing seat, and it then turned into a rearward one.

We stopped at the halfway point, got off, and I had a sherry & mince pie that Santa had left for the grown ups (he'd had his grotto there until last week), and Squeaky had a bite of lunch.  The engine was taking on water & coal, and making a lot of steam.symbio 014

Off we set again, all pturshticwm. (Sorry, I'm channelling Ivor The Engine, I think)

And then, before you know it, we were back in Pant, and admiring the engine again before it went off on its next trip.symbio 017

The railway's lovely. Not a great long journey, but lots of pretty scenery, much better in the summer than a chilly December day, but even so, well worth the visit.  Come to Merthyr, we have tourist attractions, honestly!

Things that go *BUMP* in the night

One thing I've learned over the past almost-year (oh sweet Pete, she's going to be 1 in a couple of weeks!) is that no matter how many times you say "I'm not going to do X", life's not that simple.  Babies don't read the book.

Last night, Squeaky went to bed beautifully, asleep in 20 minutes, snuffling peacefully to herself.  So I went in the shower.  That was my mistake. She knows when I'm out of circulation for a few minutes, and so she started crying.  No, not crying, screaming & howling, like she was in pain.  SqueakyDaddy went up to her to try and settle her, to no avail.  Calpol, Bonjela, no change.  We brought her downstairs, by which point her diaphragm is in spasm &she's gasping (I won't call it hiccuping, but it's not a million miles removed), and still howling.  I got half a wrap of Teetha into her, the rest went down her front, and the chamomile seemed to settle her a little bit, and she went from howls of pain to "normal" angry & tired crying.  Still with no intention of settling down.

So I gave in.  Bear in mind at this point, I've been in the shower, and so I'm in my pyjamas.  Unzipped the bottom of her growbag (Ikea, I love you right now), stuck her in the car seat, grabbed a cardigan so I didn't look completely weird, and off we go for a drive.  Half a minute after setting off, she's dropped off.  A nice 20 minute ride round the bypass to make sure she was actually asleep & not just pretending, and back home.  Left her a few minutes in the car seat when we got back in the house (yes, she still uses her infant carrier, she's too weeny for the next car seats yet), and then to bed.

Blissfully, she only woke once after that, about half 3, so we got a decent night's sleep once we'd all calmed down.  But I swore I wasn't going to drive round with her to send her to sleep, I'm too worried about it becoming habit, that she won't sleep without a tour of Merthyr & the soothing tones of whoever was on Radio 4 at 10 last night.  But needs must, and if I hadn't, she'd probably still be howling now. 

She's fine this morning, you wouldn't know any difference. And we're not so bad, because she let us sleep most of the night.  But ARGH! I'm so cross with myself for giving in to the driving around til she falls asleep tactic.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy Betwixtmas!

We're back, after a lovely Christmas break with Squeaky's various grandparents.  Now just catching up on the mountain of washing - I swear it's been breeding while we were away!

One thing with being away though, because there was so much other stuff in the car (travel cot, presents, clothes, us, etc), we didn't take the Symbio with us, and relied on the older strollers that live at our parents' houses.  What a difference!  I missed my suspension, the cosytoes, the brake, and most of all the flippy handle!  So much so, I wrote a song.  I would have sung it and put it on youtube, but I don't like attracting the attention of overly-litigious record companies. So you'll have to hum it yourself.

With apologies to Sting & The Police...

Every step I take
Walking 'round the lake
It's true you know
Graco Symbio
I've been missing you

Even on Christmas Day
When we went to play
In the freezing snow
Graco Symbio
I've been missing you

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


I've just had an email from someone very important. Can you guess who?

Santa has just emailed me to say that he's written a special letter to Squeaky.  Unfortunately he's sent it by normal post, rather than Super Special Penguin Post, so I'm relying on Peter Postie (honestly that's our postie's name, and that's what he puts on those little notes to say he's taken something back to the sorting office) to turn up in the next couple of days. I haven't seen him for a week, so I really hope he gets it here in time for Squeaky to open before Christmas.

We're still fairly comprehensively snowed in. My car is completely immoveable, SqueakyDaddy's is OK, and the main roads are passable, if you can get to them.  We're meant to be driving up to the Midlands on Friday, so we're just hoping it will be halfway reasonable.  I think Squeaky & I are going to spend the day drinking overpriced coffee in Cardiff while daddy's at work, and then we can go from there, rather than messing about coming back here.

*Fingers Crossed*  We've got enough adult food to last a few days, enough baby food and nappies for about 10.  By then it'd better have cleared, or else!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Computer Says No

Well, if not the computer, then Squeaky Says No, but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it!

She's getting more & more into expressing her opinions now, for good or bad.  So we get "Yeah yeah yeah yeah" or something that sounds like it, in the midst of her babble, but it's fairly well timed, so I'm not sure if she really is saying "yeah" to things.  Often "are you the cutest?" or "Do you want your bum done?"

She hasn't actually said "No" yet, but there's definite headshaking when I ask her to do something she doesn't want to, and a defiant little look on her face.  Oh, and the WAILING-oh-dear-me-the-world-has-ended when I stop her playing with whichever inappropriate item she's just discovered & decided to menace (most recently, my make-up box).

It's strange to see her mind work... she knows when she's not supposed to do something, and looks round to see if she's being watched, giggles, and then carries on regardless.  Little rascal.  And she bites.  Only me, but by goodness does she bite hard.  Not sure how to deal with this, to be honest.  She's not trying to do it to anyone else, and doesn't appear to be doing it maliciously, she's just chewing down on my hands, or the top of my boobs.  So far it's being met with a firm "NO", and removing whatever body part she's trying to eat, but it's not really stopping.  Ah well, this too will pass, I hope.

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Tower Teddy Show

Tower Teddy & special guests have recorded a Christmas Special, all about the Graco Symbio.  There's drama, excitement, suspense, and general silliness.  Watch it!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Let the train take the strain

I needed to do a last bit of Christmas shopping today, before the weather turns again, and shopping in proper shops, not just the same old few that Merthyr has to offer.  So, rather than braving traffic, car parks & obscene parking charges, Squeaky, the Symbio & I jumped on the train to Cardiff.  Jumped being the operative word.  The train was in the station as we RAN up the slope, and we just got on before the conductor closed the doors.  Phew!  This train was pretty easy with the Symbio, a nice single step entry, and plenty of parking spaces for buggies, wheelchairs etc.  Off to a good start.

What's this then?

The journey's pretty dull to be honest with you.  I'd grabbed a shopping bag out of the back of the car before we set off, and on looking inside, I found some tinsel.  Hmmm.  Do you know what happens when I'm bored, and there's tinsel?  Something's going to end up sparkly!


The shops themselves proved to be fairly, well, shoppy.  Not too busy because it was a Wednesday, and even finding a seat in the coffee place wasn't too much of a challenge.  One thing I've discovered since having Squeaky is how many lifts there are, tucked away in corners you'd never have noticed otherwise.  However, there's still a few useless places.  Step forward & take a bow Benetton.  One escalator (up), one set of stairs.  Children's clothes on the top floor.  NO way to get to them.  The Symbio may be light, but with a Squeaky in it, it's not THAT light.  Oh well, they can't have wanted my money, I just had to spend it elsewhere!

Mooch mooch, shop shop.  Decided to come home before it got too late, and the trains got too busy.  The trains are a nightmare after 4, you can't get a seat for love nor money, and I didn't fancy squashing Squeaky onto the commuter train either.  So off we trrundled to the station, complete with its bilingual signs.

Where's the train?

And along came the train home.
Here it is!

This train was a bit more difficult.  Two steps on - though there was a ramp, the conductor wasn't being visible or offering any assistance.  No buggy/wheelchair spaces, and such a narrow aisle, the only place we could go was right next to the door.  Grump grump, groan groan.  But we managed.  Squeaky wore her new hat and got grouchy.

Are we nearly home now?

Finally though, I found something to occupy her.  A little bit of work experience, as a ticket collector.

Tickets please

The Symbio was great, the trains varied.  I'd've struggled more with the old buggy, so it's got to be a win.

The hat?  Angelic Upstart, from preschoolpunk.  Adorable or what?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


After a week of near internet-silence, I'm back!  Don't worry, I hadn't fallen off the side of the world, or damaged myself, just the computer decided to have a bit of an existential crisis and needed to go for a little holiday.

But we're back now, with a little update to remind you that we're around.

TBH, even without the computer to distract us, we didn't get up to an awful lot last week.  Doctor's appointment to get them to look at Little Miss Squeaky's eczema (poor little mite), and visiting pretty much every relative under the sun seems to cover it.

But we did indulge ourselves with a trip to the car boot sale on Sunday.  Not that we were really looking for anything, but we went anyway.  The ground was horrible, all frozen & lumpy and slippy, but the Symbio coped admirably, far better than me in my boots.  And the blessing of it being frozen, I guess, is that everything stayed clean.  A little more thawing & I'd still be hosing the mud off now.  I love the way the cosytoes can fold down over the bar, or up, practically to Squeaky's nose.  She's a little demon for sticking her hands out into the cold, but this way she stays lovely and toasty warm.

Car Boot Baby

Sunday, 5 December 2010

I won't lie to you, the Symbio's crackin'

Oh! What's occurrin'?

Well, I've been looking at the telly for Christmas, and to be honest, there's not a lot on.  So Squeaky & I decided to have our very own Christmas Special edition of Gavin & Stacey, and had a little tour of Barry.  Come & join us.

First of all, we packed the Symbio into the car.  I just realised, I haven't shown you this before.  If it fits in here, which it does with room to spare, it'll fit in your car too, unless you've got one of those Smart things with no space to fit a hamster wheel.  (Well, actually, really first SqueakyDaddy scraped the ice off the car, but I didn't take pictures of that.)

All packed up & ready to go

This is Barry Island Pleasure Beach.  Funfair by the sea, sadly closed for the winter, and barely open this summer, by the looks of the weeds growing through the paving.  We wanted to go on the Pirate Ship. :(

Barry Island, innit?

Our first stop on the Gavin & Stacey tour was Marco's, where Stacey works when they come back to Barry.  They do a fine cuppa, and are always busy, even though the seats are all outside & despite the sunshine, my car said it was Minus Zero.  Yes, that's a real temperature, according to my car.  We were VERY glad of our cosytoes.

Stacey's Cafe

Then, round the corner to Boofy's.  Gavin & Stacey's favourite chippy, according to his sign.  Mine too, truth be told.  They do a lovely bacon bap, and the bloke working there was aces, & told me how to find Gwen's house.  I knew roughly where it was, but he gave me proper directions & everything.  And he smiled for a photo, which is always good.

The Chippy

A couple of doors further down, to Island Leisure which, when it's open, is where Nessa works in her little booth & stops people winning on the slot machines.  Being a bitterly cold Sunday morning in December though, it was closed.  I would've had a go on the machines otherwise.  Really, it's hard to stop me feeding 2ps into the machines, in a very scientific experiment to see exactly how much fun can be had from £1.  (Winner so far - somewhere in Torquay - £3.46 and a pool ball).  Anyway, Nessa'a arcade.

Nessa's Arcade

I didn't go down on the beach, partly because it was so c-c-c-c-cold, and partly because I really didn't fancy brushing the sand off the wheels of the Symbio in the aforementioned cold. I want to keep my Symbio nice & shiny, thanks. Just before leaving the island, we spotted this gift shop.  Most of Barry Island seems to have become a Gavin & Stacey theme park now, everywhere is full of mugs, t-shirts, rock, etc with catchphrases on, or someone's face.  Strange old world.

Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe
Then we drove off the island, into Barry itself.  And to Gwen's house.  Oh My Gooses.  I joke about living on the side of a mountain, but seriously.  I've never driven up a road so steep in my life.  I honestly didn't believe the car was going to get up the hill.  Number 47, Gwen's house, and number 45 (just visible), Doris' house, are on a less steep bit, with Bryn's house just over the road.  The lady who lives in number 47 is happy for visitors to knock her door & come in & have a look & sign her guest book, but we were just too cold to get out of the car.  (I was parked when I took this, by the way, don't worry)

Gwen's House

And after all that excitement, Squeaky & I went to Morrisons for a cuppa.  Not at all related to Gavin & Stacey, but warm, convenient & cheap.  Mama needs her coffee, and we shared a yogurt & fruit snack bag.  Squeaky would also like to draw your attention to her top, which is the Feu Follet top we got in the Nearly New a couple of weeks back. She's very proud of her continental stylings.

Mama needs her coffee

And that concludes our adventure.  I could've tried to find the Billericay house, which is somewhere in Dinas Powys, but the last time I went there I crashed my car, so probably not a good idea (I crashed it in Newport, but that's not the point).  I could've gone to Marks & Sparks' at Culverhouse Cross, which also pretends to be in Billericay, but that involves dealing with horrible roundabouts that I'd rather avoid, so I didn't. I could've gone to Cardiff Gate services, which pretends to be Leigh Delamere or something in the last special, but that's a bit of a ride away.  And I don't know which of the caravan sites Nessa & Dave's caravan is on, so I couldn't go there.  So that's your lot.  Squeaky, the Symbio, and a Gavin & Stacey tour all of our own.  You can do this on an organised trip if you want, but we had loads of fun on our own.  Where to next?