A couple of weeks ago, we took Marley out to get chickenpox.

Sound harsh?

Well, yes, I suppose it is a bit….but we had actually been due to visit his chickenpox-ridden cousin anyway, even before we found out he was right in the middle of the most contagious phase.

We basically came to the conclusion that Marley – now that he is 2 and a half – is at as good an age as any to get the virus, so we took our chances.

It began about two weeks after that visit for Marley. And he was fine for the first couple of days; in good spirits and as happy as usual, no sign at all there was anything wrong except for a couple of little spots.

Monday and Tuesday were much the same, a few more spots maybe, but he was still pretty content and although he wasn’t allowed to go in to nursery he was more-or-less the same us usual.

But then there was Wednesday….

Marley was up most of the night – so WE were up most of the night.

We dabbed at his pox with calamine lotion regularly, we gave him anti-histamine to try and help with the itchiness. (One funny Marley Moment was when he made a funny face after having his medicine, so my wife asked him if he liked it and he replied: “it’s not the best!”)

We also plied him with about as much Calpol as it’s legal to give a toddler, but still he was boiling hot.

He was grumpy as hell because he was so incredibly itchy, rolling around like a dog to try and itch the pox on his back.

Basically, all night long, he was just miserable.

So in the morning, I escaped to go to work (I had a webinar I had to run and couldn’t get out of it – I promise!) but I was getting regular WhatsApp updates from home.

“He’s really uncomfortable and sad.”

“He’s miserable.”

“He didn’t eat breakfast and then he wanted porridge for lunch….and then he didn’t eat it.”

And when I got home, he was so fed up with it that he ended up just slumped over the coffee table with his head in his hands, wailing: “I’VE GOT CHICKEN POX!!

And still he itched….

We tried to find other reliefs for him. We got some gel that’s supposed to help, and we even gave him an oat bath – the aftermath of which reminded me of the end of an especially heavy night on the sauce….

Ultimately, it’s really hard to know what works and what doesn’t for chickenpox. Thankfully, by the time Thursday morning came round he had started to feel a little bit better.

The itching had relented. The pox went from being little red itchy things to larger crusty scabby ones (sorry for that little detail).

And after another oat bath – strained oats this time, after advice from friends on how to avoid a pukey-looking bath – he slowly got back to his normal self.

Chickenpox – check!

Another milestone reached for Marley….time to dance on the table.

Five essentials for a 5 hr train journey with a toddler

We’ve booked an impromptu trip up to Edinburgh this weekend, to see the three F’s: 



Fringe Festival

That means we’ll be taking an (almost) five-hour train journey from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. 

It also means we have one hell of a job on our hands, keeping Marley busy throughout that time.

It can be difficult enough on a short tip. We were flying back from a family holiday in Dublin last week, and once we had got on the plane the captain’s voice came over the PA system to announce we would be delayed for around an hour. 

Almost immediately, Marley started shouting “FIRE! FIRE!” at the top of his lungs, which not only unsettled the people in the seats around us, but also panicked my wife and I in to frantically looking around to see if there was, in fact, a fire. 

There wasn’t.  

Just a little boy with an insane sense of humour (and a jacket that makes him look like he works for Sixt). 

So I thought I’d compile a list of the top 5 things you may need in order to survive a five hour train journey with a little one. 

Here we go:


Lots of snacks.

We have been told by the dentist that snacks are not a necessary part of Marley’s diet, and we have fully taken that advice on board. However, in both adult and toddler life, we all know that theories don’t always work perfectly in practice. 

If Marley eats his breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus his morning and evening bottles of milk) he doesn’t require any snacks. 

But that’s more-or-less the equivalent of saying “if I won the lottery, there would be no need for me to work”. Unlikely to happen. 

So in to the snack bag will go:

– two oat bars
– two packs of raisins
– one pack of oatcakes
– one pack of biscotti biscuits (i’ll have some of those)
– one tangerine
– one sandwich

Oh, and his “wootoo” (water) of course. 


Namely, cars. 

The chances are, we will take about 15 of them and he’ll want the only one we left at home, but as long as he has some of them, plus his favourite red bus, he’ll be a happy chap.


Once he’s fed up of the cars, Marley always loves a story. He especially enjoys pointing out things on the page I hadn’t even noticed. There’s one book with a spider on every page that I had absolutely no idea about, until he kept shouting “SPIDAA!” at me. 

A couple of Mog & Meg books and a Spot the Dog should do it for this trip. 

4) IPAD (fully charged and fully loaded)

Don’t judge me. Yes, it may be the ultimate 2018 cop-out. And I am fully aware of the rumours that Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids anywhere near an iPad. 

But everything in moderation is my response. If we can get Marley through a couple of hours on just his toys and books (and a bit of running around the train) then he – and we! -ought to be allowed a little TV time as a reward. 

I will put together a list of some of his favourites for a future post, but high on that list will be Peter Rabbit. Not the movie version (not yet anyway) but the animated TV series. 

Educational, innocent, and fantastic viewing – the Jeremy Fisher musical masterpiece episode is a particular favourite…..of mine.


The most important item in a father’s toolkit is his energy. Without it, we’re nothing. 

Every time he feels the urge to climb on my neck, or drop his cars behind the seat for the twentieth time, or walk through the carriage (again!) or try and throw something he shouldn’t be throwing, I will be there to pluck up whatever energy I have to try and keep up with him. 

So I will resist the urge to have several beers the night before travelling, and will instead be fully rested and fighting fit, ready for anything Marley (literally) can throw at me come Friday morning. 

Well, that’s the plan anyway.

And then three days later, we get to do it all over again on the return journey! 

Maybe just one beer….


Marley’s 2nd birthday has now come and gone, and as part of us recognising that milestone we received a set of questions from the doctor to see how he is developing and whether he’s able to perform certain tasks. 

“Can he lick his own elbow?” sadly wasn’t on the list. But here are some questions that did make the cut:

Q: Can he walk up two steps without holding your hand? 
(A: Yes)

Q: Can he string pasta on to wool? 

(A: I have no idea why would he need to do that, but Yes)

Q: Can he say two or three words that describe more than one thing, e.g. mummy coming home? 

(A: Yes; he likes to point things out like “look Mummy, car there!”)

The word “there” basically gets pinned on to everything now, the boy is hilarious. 

We started to write a list of some of the words and phrases he uses, just to see how many there are. I think we lost count around 100; he definitely likes to talk…

And sometimes he surprises us with something we didn’t even know he could say, like when we were on a busy bus, and saying “mummy” several times didn’t get a response, so he opted to shout “WAKE UP MUMMY!”

But we have realised lately that when he says some things, we might understand completely but other people have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. We are obviously well tuned-in to the Marlish language….

So since I’m considering posting up some more video of our exploits, I thought it might be helpful to share a few excerpts from the Marlish Dictionary to help you understand him:

Ah doe likkeeeeeee = I don’t like it

Bye-da = Spider

Di-do-door = Dinosaur

Ed-a-dupter = Helicopter

Morthair = Martin

Orrer = Orange

Whatta doeee = What are you doing? 

What dat doyzzz = What’s that noise?