I must begin this week by issuing a public apology to some rather unsuspecting Hampshire fishermen. Several keen anglers had innocently decided to spend a sunny October Saturday afternoon enjoying their lake-based hobby.
They had all the gear, enough food to last them a week, waterproofs in the event of a surprise shower and the perfect quiet spot to reflect and unwind.
Or so they thought.
Little did they know, however, that their relaxing trip out would coincide with the Howards’ visit to Eastleigh Lakeside Railway.
We’d never been before, but it had been recommended to us by some friends.
They too accompanied us there for a day of miniature train rides, picnics and poorly toddlers puking on the grass.
Well, just one actually – Louie.
We all pitched up about 11am, a good half an hour after we’d all said we’d actually meet.
In all three couples' defence, we did each have children in tow – five (all boys) and one on the way between us. When you have kids to organise, agreed meeting times are never met.
We’d have all been better off just saying, ‘we’ll hopefully see you there at some point, good luck’.
That said, it wasn’t Louie and Lennie who were the reason for our lack of punctuality on this occasion.
No, no, I’m blaming Costa instead this time. If they didn’t serve up such aromatic coffee, we wouldn’t have been forced to stop for one en route.
Anyhow, we bought our return tickets and headed on the first leg of our journey to Monks Brook and the impressive play park.
Lennie had his first semi-go on a slide and netted swing, nearly falling asleep on the latter in the process.
Meanwhile, Louie turned our friends’ picnics into his own private buffet.
The food we’d taken along with us clearly didn’t measure up to his high standards.
A walk down to the lakes then followed, where Louie suddenly announced he needed a wee.
It was at that point I suddenly realised what a schoolboy error it is to be minus a travel potty when a train ride from the nearest lavatory.
We went in search of the most hidden-from-view bush we could find. Unfortunately, it wasn’t also hidden from earshot of fishermen.
As we made our second toilet trip into the bushes in the space of 10 minutes, they would have almost certainly heard Louie declare, ‘All done Daddy, it’s not working,’ as he admitted defeat, seemingly suffering with a touch of understandable stage-fright.
To those trying to catch carp, I apologise for any disturbance caused.
Papoose was chance to bond
Piers, papooses and pies. Not three words I ever expected to open with here, if I’m honest.
Piers Morgan, however, has somewhat forced my hand on this occasion.
I just couldn’t let his recent slur on actor Daniel Craig pass without comment, not least because I have worn a papoose.
There, I’ve said it, and I’ll take both positive and negative feedback on that admission.
In case you missed the Good Morning Britain presenter’s remarks, he referred to Craig as ‘emasculated’ for donning the baby carrier to transport his young daughter. In an act of revenge on behalf of all dads who wear them, comedian Harry Hill threw a cream pie in Morgan’s face live on air.
No matter how scripted that may have been, it’s going down as my TV highlight of 2018.
Far from emasculating, I used to feel empowered as a man to take a walk with Louie strapped to my chest.
It made me feel connected to a little creation who would normally only achieve such a close bond with his mum.
I never even stopped to consider what others, including the likes of Morgan, might think of it, and neither will I when I eventually take Lennie out in one too.
I only hope that other new dads do likewise and disregard his wide-of-the-mark review.