Today marked the end of my paternity leave. The blow was softened by the fact that it was a beautiful day. Morning mist in the valleys and a sea fog along the coast broke as we ascended towards todays mountain side site (welsh mountain - big steep rocky hill). Actually, the backdrop to todays newly planted trees is quite topical - we were working above Port-talbot steel works. Some people think the massive industrial site is ugly, but I have always thought it visually so striking, it's hard to dislike. Particularly today. We've nicknamed it the cloud factory, which on this day is apt because it was half shrouded with sea fog - in places only the tops of the chimney stacks and ship loading cranes jutted above the white blur. It was as though the chimneys were propelling the clouds from their nursery at low altitude to the big time in the big sky. Impossible too, not to feel sombre for all those whose futures there feel so unstable.
Anyway it was a gentle transition back into crust earning - under a thousand trees planted is, in most cases, a kind day in the forestry. I'll describe a day in the life of a forester another day. Today I thought I'd talk about the first two weeks as dad of 2!
I will start by saying, with utter sincerity, it was the best two weeks off work i've ever had! Admittedly, when Aria was born I was a tad emotional. As i've mentioned previously I was blown away by her arrival and it had a huge impact on me, it changed my attitude to life and
sent us on our current trajectory. Now with a clear focus and desire to provide them both with remarkable childhoods, abound with opportunities, I managed to keep my emotions a little more in check and function as a multi-tasking, fully domesticated slayer of shopping, baking, cooking and cleaning (ish). I Think we have been lucky though, young Bear Alfred seems pretty partial to sleep, Aria was not and still isn't. Anyway this allowed Bella to get some much needed rest after the heroics of labour, and for Boo (Aria) and I to get some serious playing and bonding done. I feel so lucky to be experiencing parenthood, it is the most joyous and fulfilling thing - to hang out with your child and watch how fast they learn and get to grips with the world. It is inspiring. It inspired me to learn.... to bake - On Arias request of course. I asked her one morning what she wanted to do, she said bake, so we did. I've not baked since home ed class in year 9. We started with wheat free banana loaf and then moved on to Nigellas flourless citrus pomegranate cake, which I am unashamedly proud of. On Bears 8th day we had our first family of 4 day out and went to Folly Farm. As Aria excitedly ran around visiting the Rhinos, Lions, Giraffes and Penguins - and Bear slept some more, I had an overwhelming sense of pride and of completeness. I now have the perfect team to take on an incredible adventure.
The two weeks obviously flew by as it was filled with playing, painting, cooking, cleaning, nappy changing, baby hugging and very little sleep, but if the arrival of my first child set me on this course, I think the second has somehow, against all odds, helped with productivity. In amongst it all I managed to create this blog. It will primarily focus on the quest to realise my ultimate dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot - but I think also i'll throw in the odd post like this - an excerpt from the day to day operation.