My boy will be king of his own castle

Surely, holding a door open for a member of either sex is just good manners?

LESLEY KEATING: Would you dare hold a door open for a woman?

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Strap yourself in – you’re in for one of the best summer’s on record.

Before you know it, there’ll be a hose-pipe ban in place and you’ll be recycling your auntie’s lavender-tinted bath water to feed your Dahlias.

After a seemingly endless winter of tortuously long dark nights, it seems that spring has finally sprung and you can’t help but feel a slight air of optimism. Longer days, warmer temperatures, wasps – I can’t wait.

We’re an outdoorsy family; I think most families with a 10-month-old and a five-year-old want/need to be outdoors.

An hour on the bike or running around the woods works wonders for burning off that eternal energy and gets the little blighters off to sleep. It also stops little folk getting bored and ramming chocolate mousse into the speakers on your TV.

We’ve spent the past few days ‘summer-ising’ our house and garden.

A few years back, this would have entailed me opening one deckchair in April, using it twice and then closing it again in September. Now it’s a full on ceremonial event that goes on for six days.

In winter mode, the garden is quite literally a garden.

Come summer, it’s a hive of brightly-coloured plastic mayhem. It’s a joy to behold as children run to and fro, sliding, diving, paddling, squirting and soaking anyone within a quarter of a mile radius.

During winter the garage looks like a scene from a Little Tikes garden equipment horror movie – slides, rocking horses, paddling pools, all covered in cobwebs, petrified insects and muck.

But, all of a sudden, as I was wiping the mildew from Dora the Explorer’s eyes, I felt a massive twinge in my wallet as I realised that I’m going to have to buy lots of new equipment this year.

All of our garden toys are for girls. Sadly I lacked the foresight four years ago to buy a stack of neutral gear, so everything is pink, covered in princesses or fairies. For example, we’ve kept a Cinderella paddling pool that Molly used as a toddler – is it fair that little Jack should roll around in that, or should we replace it with something a little more boyish?

It probably doesn’t bother him that much, but when he’s shuffling along on his sister’s princess scooter, wearing My Little Pony water wings and pink jelly shoes, I do feel sorry for the portly little chap.

So, to prove that I’m a good dad, I’ve spent the past three days working on a design for a two-tier wooden fortress, including a moat, mechanised draw-bridge and an elasticated catapult system that can launch water bombs directly on to Molly’s Wendy house.

Luckily, there’s just enough room for a 37-year-old Field Marshall too.