I am constantly learning from my kids | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman
For those who suffer with hayfever or just like to make sure they always have a handkerchief or tissue in their pocket, the last year has caused a huge amount of doubt.
Every pair of trousers that seems to have a tissue in the pocket turns out to be a ball of used and soon-to-be binned masks!
These things are everywhere and I yearn for a day when the smile is back and clearly visible.
This week I’ve started training my daughter in skills that are perhaps not normally passed on from father to daughter.
The first was how to spatchcock a chicken. She was reluctant with her scissor work but we got there in the end. Flatten a chicken, get it on the barbecue and it’s a sensation.
I first encountered this in Portugal and it blew my mind.
I had only envisioned a chicken as a Sunday roast. I was a naive 19-year-old.
The second training item for her half-term holiday was washing the car. I thought that this should be so obvious that little training is required.
However, for those of us who’ve attempted to coach a teenager in this skill. It is enough to make your bladder itch.
We went through the basics but there was a disconnection between my enthusiasm and attention to detail.
My daughter's belief that standing still with the hose in one hand and a phone in the other would be enough for the perfect shine.
I was, of course, accused of not letting her approach the task in 'her way’.
But 'her way’ was wrong and that was the reason I wasn’t happy to watch my water bill hit triple figures.
I was unable to move on to the interior cleaning as a water fight started and because hair had got wet, there was now a substantial chance of hair going frizzy.
The training course was postponed.
Other topics we’ve been discussing during the past few weeks include car and vehicle identification.
I noticed that with my son we’ll walk and talk about cars, supercars and the like.
Not so much with my daughter.
Even though she likes them and is excited (and saving) for her first one, it’s not quite her bag.
My son is excited (however is not saving and spends all spare cash on sugary foods and games for his computer).
I can now get my daughter to identify all major car brand logos and also share my bias as to which ones are good and bad. From years in the motor trade, I have my favourites and also the ones that caused me the most pain.
This week, we’ve tackled the Land Rover and the long and short wheelbase versions, and the fascinating early origins of the vehicle.
I’m unsure how much is sinking in but it seems to be working on a small scale at least.
In fairness, she has also had me on a complex training course.
As I’ve bored her about cars, she has taken me on a whirlwind tour of ‘prom’ dresses, shoes and the importance of the end-of-school party.
For the cynical onlooker, it could look like I’m being played like a kipper and in exchange for giving eye contact and feigning interest in the early origins of the short-wheel-base Land Rover, she gets unlimited access to my wallet.
However, what she may not realise is that it's worth it.
I have a daughter who’s growing up; moving to the next chapter of life; and wants to hang out with me. However she will also be able to explain full-time four-wheel-drive and how to remove the spine from a chicken.
Cat food for lunch, anyone?
My favourite story this week comes from France.A couple of expats moved there a year ago to be near their daughter, who had become a French resident with her family.
They were happy and very slowly ticking away with their attempts to learn the language.
Lockdown hits and like so many older or vulnerable people, they are ably assisted by their daughter when it comes to shopping and other necessities.
After one shopping delivery, they texted their daughter saying: ‘Thanks for the shopping, by the way, can you get that paté again as it is so delicious.’
The daughter thought that was odd.
She didn’t remember getting paté.
After further inquiries and a picture being sent, the daughter realised what had happened.
They had eaten the cat food. They had eaten it because it had the word ‘gourmet’ printed on the packet. In their defence, there was a picture of a cat but it looked happy and the writing was small and fancy.
They all found it hilarious. Some journalists pushed the story a bit further and embarked on a wider cat food ‘taste test’.
To no one's surprise, they all rated pretty awful.
Apart from the gourmet one which this couple ate, which actually got seven out of 10 as long as you can cope with the initial odour when you open the can.
It reminded me of how fantastic those trips abroad are when you bumble your way through the language and cultural challenges. I look forward to having those experiences again soon.