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HaLLEWeen

2 Nov

Growing up Halloween was never a big deal for me.  Bonfire night was always something to look forward to but trick or treat would basically mean getting the gift of being told to ‘do one’.  I’m not sure if it is because now I am a father or if our culture is just becoming increasingly Americanised.  There certainly seems to have been a bigger push towards Halloween as a holiday over the past few years.

Last year Gryff insisted on dressing up as a witch.  Not a wizard.  He was very specific about that.  A witch or nothing.  I’m not one for gender stereotypes for my children so he was the best damn witch Tonypandy had ever seen!

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This year, from absolutely nowhere, he has spent the past few weeks saying how he is going to be the flash this year.  This is a three-year old with no knowledge of the flash other than a supporting role in a few of his superman/batman books.  He is obviously a child that spots the minor parts and can visualise taking them centre stage.

So….if the Gryffalo wanted the flash the flash is what the Gryffalo was to get.

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The boy is a diva mind so the flash was his day time outfit but there was a quick change to BuzzLightyear for the evenings trick or treating.

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My little Llew cub is too young to be able to voice his preference which handily allows me and my good wife to be able to set the agenda for him.  For his nursery Halloween party he went as Frankenstein, or to be more specific he went as both a confused and somewhat sad Frankenstein.  Monsters have feeling as well you know.

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Trying to instill pride in the Llew name (mind the pun) he went out as the Halloween lion.  He was Prrrrrrfect. (sorry)

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Happy Halloween all.  Now we can truly start the countdown to Christmas.  I don’t care how cynical some of you may be out there. I cannot wait!

Through the ages

28 Oct

Every so often me and/or my good wife sit Gryff and Llew on their toy boxes to get photos.  It is incredible how quickly they are growing up.  The first picture is about 10 months ago.  The last one is last weekend.

I plan to keep doing this until we have a set of 35 year olds on those boxes!

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I love this one.  Look how stumpy little Llew’s legs are. They don’t even come close to the edge of the box!

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This is my favourite.  Llew was about 8 months here. (He’s about 14 now).  This is the photo where you really get to see how close they are becoming as brothers.  They are best friends bless.

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This one is stunning.  They are such sweet little boys.  Gryff looks like butter wouldn’t melt, which is true as he is such a polite boy.  Llew has that same look but I’m not so sure it is as close to the truth, he is a menace!

The Difficult Second Album

28 Aug

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12 months of pure happiness

On Wednesday my little Llew cub turned one.  This is unbelievable to me.  I know it is a cliché to say that time flies but it feels like just yesterday I went on a family holiday as a trio to Tenby and came home a day early as a foursome after Llew decided to turn up a month before his due date.

In many ways the second child has been a lot easier.  You become a far more relaxed parent due to the experience of the first child.  There has been no second guessing every action.  Every cry isn’t met with a huge amount of panic but rather more of an understanding of what the baby wants.  What is more Llew, I’m sorry to say Gryff, has been a far easier baby.  He has fed better, slept better (in the day at least) and developed quicker.

On the other hand, you really don’t anticipate just how much harder having two is compared to one.  When Gryff came along I remember thinking to myself that I couldn’t understand what I used to do with my time now that my days were filled with child focused activities.  Now Llew is here I hark bark to the days of having just one son and think how easy life was.  With the second there just isn’t any let up.  When Llew is asleep Gryff is still there to be entertained, fed, developed.  That is brilliant of course, I love spending time with both boys together and individually, but it can be exhausting.

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A usual ‘relaxing’ day at home. Double daddy attacks.  This will only get worse as they get older!

Time management has certainly become a crucial part of the day.  The importance of family structures and support have also been made abundantly clear to me.  I simply can’t imagine how people take care of children as single parents let alone without the amazing support I get from my parents and my in-laws.  Those people are incredible.

I don’t recall ever being as sleep deprived with Gryff as I have been with Llew.  I get up at 5:20am every day to go to the gym before work and my weekends are always determined by what time the boys get up.  The result of that is that I have probably not slept later than 7:30am in the last 12 months.  Having two means that you never get a late morning.  Added to this that there simply is no downtime and the accumulative impact is one worn out set of parents.

All this of course is the negative stuff.  The positive is that me and my good wife are amazingly lucky to have not just one, but two brilliant people in our lives.  The development of Gryff from having a brother has been phenomenal to watch.  He has radically changed, becoming more outgoing and interactive.  My fears that he could be jealous of a new arrival were instantly forgotten and there is no one that cares or loves Llew as much as his big brother.  Seeing them interact is fantastic and I think a large part of why Llew is up and about walking is down to the fact he constantly wants to chase after, and play with, Gryff.

Over the last three years Gryff has comfortably been my best friend in the world.  Llew is on a joint mantle with him now.  I don’t say that as a throwaway comment but because I genuinely mean it.  They both bring me so much joy.  It really is what life is about.

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These two are becoming best friends

Llew turning one accompanies another Hathway family milestone as Gryff starts school a week Monday.  I am amazingly proud and terrified at the same time.  It feels like my boy is growing up too fast and I am genuinely scared that I can’t control everything he does to make sure he is always happy.

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Just look at those shoes

I know that Gryff is going to love school.  I am biased but he is such a lovely, polite, likable and eager to learn little man.  My only fear is that he is too sensitive.  Gryff takes after his dad in that he is just too soft, bless him.  It is absolutely a quality in him I adore but nonetheless, it isn’t always the strongest attribute for the rough and tumble of school life.  In contrast Llew is as tough as old boots.  I’ve no doubt he will be the one sorting out any disputes involving the brothers in years to come.

Time is passing me by as a father and it upsets me a little.  They are quickly moving from babies to boys and I can already feel myself blinking and missing it all as they become men.  Still, at least then I could get some sleep!

 

 

Manorbier Castle Cafe

21 Apr

The Place

Wales, as I’ve said before, is beautiful, and we don’t always appreciate what’s on our doorstep.  I was struck by that thought after returning for what is now becoming the Hathway’s annual family annual visit to Pembrokeshire.

On this occasion we took a trip to visit Manorbier castle.

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The cafe was perfectly placed to take advantage of the stunning surroundings having been established within the existing structure of the castle.

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Inside the cafe was modern but tactful.  The staff was very helpful, if a little overbearing at times.

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There was a glorious outside area which was highlighted by the fact this was a particularly nice day.

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The accompanying large garden area for boys to play in only made the whole visit that bit more relaxed and enjoyable.

The Drink

It has been a while since I’ve had a hot chocolate. This particular cup was strong with a bitter taste, as I like. While it was nothing special it did provide a nice pick me up after hours of seaside walking.

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The Cake

Even though we had been up and about for hours it was still a little early in the day for cake.  In addition to that while there was a selection of cakes available carrot cake sadly was not on the menu.

The Rest

Exploring the grounds was great for Gryff who loves that sort of thing.

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Some of the views from the higher points were magnificent and really let you appreciate the magic of the Welsh Western coastline.

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In additional there was a dress up room in the grounds for children which was a lovely touch. Here’s Gryff taking full advantage.

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Best of all however was this random waxwork in the dungeon which terrified an unsuspecting Lauren.

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Second Time Around

17 Oct

A little under two months ago I was blessed by the premature but safe arrival of son number two.  Llew Rhys Hathway.

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I’m not sure what I expected in terms of the impact on my life.  Most people told me that the second child was much easier.  In many ways it has been.  I’m not second guessing every decision like I did with the Gryffalo.  You become more familiar and confident in your parental abilities.  You’ve done it before and the mental blitz that goes with your first isn’t quite as shocking.  Still, I’ve felt so much more tired this time around.

Perhaps I had just totally purged the sleep deprivation from my mind or maybe the Gryffalo’s adapted to a sleeping pattern a lot sooner.  Either way, this time around it has really taken its toll.  I shouldn’t grumble too much.  Credit where it is due my good wife takes the brunt of it given I am up for work during the week.

I’m glad to say things have started to settle slightly these days.  The cot is up and Llew has made the long march from Moses basket to proper cot bed and is starting to get this whole sleep in the night thing.  Sometimes at least.

One of my main fears being a dad already was how Gryff would react to a new sibling vying for the attention of his parents.  I’m sure it is a real concern to anyone having a second child.  I’ve seen other friends children act up and cause problems.  Totally understandable of course.  This is a huge change in their lifestyle.  Thankfully son number one has been an absolute pleasure.  I’ve been so proud of him.  The main problem we’ve had is that he is jealous of us hogging time with Llew as he always wants to be near him.  They are going to grow up to be such close brothers it really does melt your heart.

The arrival of Llew has seemingly done wonders for Gryff’s own progress also.  He’s gone from saying just a few words to having full blow conversations since his promotion to older brother status.  He blows my mind coming up with new words every day.  The way children soak up knowledge is truly remarkable and has really hit home to me, on a professional level, just how vitally important those pre-school early years are to the long-term life chances of a student.

As for my relationship with Gryff it has got just got stronger.  He’s my best friend in the world. (Sorry to Peter Griffin who, at my wedding, was my best man.  You are still in the top 3 behind the boys).  It is safe to say that I can have no fears that the child below is as happy as ever.

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Life Musings…..

8 Oct

The tagline of the blog reads, “Some thoughts on education. Some life musings. Mostly carrot cake and hot chocolate.”  The truth is there has been a lot of posts on education, some on carrot cake and hot chocolate but none on life in general.  A good thing some may say.

I did start the blog, believe it or not, simply to post on carrot cake and hot chocolate but it quickly became more of an outlet for me to flesh out ideas and thoughts about education.  Still, I want to start some more random observations on here from time to time, and even use it to document the family Hathway.

I thought I’d start but just reflecting on how stunning Wales is.  It is very easy to forget this fact.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled to some amazing places.  I’ve stood at the top of the Grand Canyon and on some of Thailand’s stunning beaches to name the two most visually striking.  (Standing in the middle of Kiev two hours before my flight with Air Ukraine takes off after the car containing my belongings ‘disappeared’ would not make the list).  Still, while some people may laugh at the suggestion, I honestly think some parts of Wales can hold up in comparison to the better places I’ve been to across the globe.

Over the weekend I went to Tenby and some of the views in that picturesque town are a match for anywhere on its day.

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 Tenby as taken by yours truly

A few weeks back I went to a wedding in North Wales and, as is always the case when I make the drive from the Rhondda to there, the scenery just blows me away.  While the A470 is one of the devils greatest creations it does offer some breathtaking landscape through both the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Park.  We are extremely lucky to live in such an amazing place that it really is worth the effort to take a step back and appreciate it.

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I was in Tenby for a second attempt at a family holiday.  My first try five weeks ago was cut short with the surprise appearance of my second son Llew.  I’m pleased to say that we had the full experience on this occasion.  For those of you with a young family I couldn’t recommend Tenby as a short break enough.  Folly Farm in particular was brilliant.

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Family holidays brining brothers together

The South Beach Shack – Tenby

28 Aug

We went to Tenby for a little family holiday over the bank holiday. The plan was for one last trip as a trio before the new baby arrived. It is fair to say the weather wasn’t the best.

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Still, even in the miserable drizzle Tenby was more than picturesque.

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Fortunately we ended up having a really lovely first day as the sun eventually came out. The Gryffalo had the time of his life on what is a fantastic beach.

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The Place

Location wise you couldn’t want for a better place. There was a lovely little cluster of facilities all together. Bar grill/ice cream parlor etc

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The view from the outside decking was spectacular even on this over cast day. I imagine it is second to none on a bright afternoon.

There ends the positives of this story however. Service seemed to missing the smile (and the please and thank you in fact) and there wasn’t much else to write home about in complimentary tones.

The Cake

No carrot cake available.

The Hot Chocolate

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As you can see the setting for the drink was very special. The drink itself…not so much. The hot chocolate was tasteless. There was no strong flavors and in general a real let down.

The Rest

I had planned on a few reviews from this trip. There was a real nice looking 1940s afternoon tea venue in the center of Tenby town that I was looking forward to trying. Llew (my new son)had other plans and decided to turn up 4 weeks early and say hello, thus cutting short our holiday at 2:30am on the first night.

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So we went to Tenby as three and came back as a foursome. 

Norwegian Church – Cardiff Bay

15 Jul

The Place

I was down Cardiff Bay with a group of friends and our children to enjoy the International food festival.

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It was a spectacular day.  The sun was shining and it was boiling hot.  On a day like that Cardiff, and Cardiff Bay in particular, can measure itself favourably against any capital in Europe in my opinion.

The Norwegian Church is a really beautiful looking building just off the main area of the Bay.

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The setting is ideal for a cake stop.  There is an outside seating area, which is where we based ourselves.  Inside there is a nice space.  I’ve been there for a few conferences and presentations in the past and it does lend itself to that environment as well as the more relaxed setting like we enjoyed on Sunday.

Due to the food festival being on during this visit it was all a tad manic and overcrowded.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be a fair reflection of an ordinary day but I have to say as a result service was incredibly slow when we were there.

The Carrot Cake

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I bumped into a friend and former work colleague Rhuanedd who had just had the carrot cake and recommended it to me.  I couldn’t really say no after that.  Me, my good wife and the Gryffalo shared one piece between the three of us (at this stage we’d already had a fair helping of what the food festival had to offer).

It was well decorated with little icing carrots.  The thickness of the icing was impressive and it carried a lot of flavour.  The frosting inside the cake was delicious. Fresh and creamy. The cake itself was moist and full of flavour with great texture.  All round it was a really good carrot cake and certainly well worth a visit.

The Hot Chocolate

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To look at the hot chocolate I was expecting big things but sadly I was disappointed.  The cream was a bit fluffy but without any real quality. The drink was watery and lacked any proper chocolate flavour. It was a shame as it really didn’t measure up to the cake.

The Rest

As with any visit to Cardiff Bay the Gryffalo forced me to ride the carousel with him.  I have no idea why he enjoys it so much as he never goes on the horses but would rather sit on the chariot.  Dull.  Still, he clearly has the time of his life so I can’t begrudge him.

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Father’s Day Carrot Cake

16 Jun

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I didn’t have any carrot cake for Father’s Day. We were going to go for afternoon tea and have some but with it being such a lovely hot day we went for food and a long walk instead. I did however have carrot cake in the form of this home made card from the Gryffalo. Marvellous

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The boy makes me very proud. I doubt he’ll be quite as proud of me mind when he grows up and realises we seem to have made his clothes from the leftover wallpaper we had

Parker’s Cafe Bar – Newtown

4 Jun

The Place

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Me, my good wife and the Gryffalo were travelling to North Wales for a christening and decided to take a break when we reached Newtown. It was a extremely wet and miserable day and this was a much need needed break, if only to get away from the nursery rhymes of Peppa pig that had been on repeat for some time.

The welcome was great with very accommodating staff who made a special effort with Gryff. The interior was smart and clean.

The Hot Chocolate

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I was offered a large-sized drink and cream and marshmallows. This is an offer often overlooked when buying a hot chocolate. I held on the marshmallows as I just don’t think they work.

The cream was a real treat, silky and smooth. Arguably the best cream I’ve had to date with hot chocolates on the blog. The powdered chocolate dusted on top was rich and added texture.

The taste of drink was a strong Cadbury style chocolate flavour and was all in all a very well turned out hot chocolate.

The Carrot Cake

There was no carrot cake available unfortunately but I did have this Victoria sponge.

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Sadly this was a tad dry and didn’t live up to the appearance. A small blip in an otherwise highly worthwhile stop to break up the A470 hell that is South to North Wales transport links.