Dad’s Diary

It is the finest sort of autumn morning. The sun shines kindly upon the apple trees, their boughs now heavy with fruit. Clusters of ripe apples gleam red against pale blue skies. The leaves of the beech and sycamore are already turning a golden brown. Yet the ash trees stand defiantly green, in a willful…

Dad’s Diary

For much of the past decade, my wife’s medical training has dragged our family around Ireland and Britain. We have moved house 11 times in 10 years, through Cork, Dublin, Surrey and the Isle of Wight. Thankfully, our nomadic existence is at last coming to an end, as we settle back into where we began,…

Dad’s Diary

Most of us still have vivid memories of our first day in school. My mother says she can still see, like yesterday, that morning in the mid-1950s, when she turned to look at her mother as she walked out the door of the classroom, leaving her alone in this new and unfamiliar environment for the…

Dad’s Diary

I’ve been awake since 2.30 this morning, when I was jolted awake to the screams of a five-year-old girl. She’d had a “very bad dream with monsters in it”. Despite hours spent comforting her, she could not easily get back to sleep, and she tossed and turned until dawn. When she at last found slumber,…

Dad’s Diary

This morning, a beautifully decorated envelope arrived at our house in West Cork. Carefully coloured-in birds and flowers surrounded the address, written meticulously carefully in a child’s handwriting. My eight-year-old daughter’s heart soared to find this letter from her very best friend, sent all the way from England. Having disappeared into her bedroom to devour…

Dad’s Diary

One of my earliest memories is riding a horse through an Arcadian meadow with my father. I recall a deep feeling of happiness and safety in his presence, with his arms either side of me, holding the reins and keeping me safe. The scene was indescribably perfect, infused with a warm, golden light. It was…

Dad’s Diary

French campsites remain for me the archetypal holiday destination. It’s hard to describe the utter excitement we felt at arriving in France as children. The first time I left Ireland, in the early 1980s, was aboard a ferry which departed from just near my home in Cork. The ferry port was so close that we…

Dad’s Diary

To children, the summer holidays are infinite.  Once they begin, their pace of life slows. Mornings no longer involve wolfing down a bowl of cornflakes, followed by frantic searches for hairbrushes and missing parts of school uniforms. Time takes on a looser form, as the normally sharp distinction between weekdays and weekends suddenly disappears.  Soon,…

Dad’s Diary

What does it mean to educate a child? Too often, we conflate education with school. Yet education is a much broader concept. After all, children begin school already talking, sometimes in more than one language.  They arrive knowing games, rhymes, songs and stories, and perhaps counting and even reading a little. They may have learned…

Dad’s Diary

Photographs can pierce your heart. The other day I happened upon a photo of one of the girls taken about two years ago. It transported me back to that balmy summer’s evening, when just she and I had driven her to the top of the cliffs together for some “special time”. A warm, fragrant breeze…