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  1. "I'm really looking forward to Saturday" my wife says, as she wipes the baby sick from her third top of the day. "Me Too" I say, without any eye contact and a little too quickly for my wife's liking. "What's the matter?" she says, looking up at me, unaware of the latest addition to her top. "Nothing, it's just............."

    Now here's what it really is. It's our first family holiday together and we are staying in a log cabin in the New Forest. Charlotte is now 5 months old and while being able to hold her own head, she's not quite got to grips with holding the contents of her milky stomach. Here comes part of the problem.

    To get through one day, we need three complete sets of baby clothes, six muslin's (Baby cloths to mop up sick) three tops for my wife and, because we felt sorry for the sales woman at the baby show, six washable nappies. That's one day. We are going for seven. Seven whole days.

    We only own ten muslins and twenty washable nappies and although my wife seems to have a wardrobe the size of Belgium, I'm told she only has eight decent tops.

    That means a lot of washing. That means washing clothes every other day. Fine, I'm ok with doing a few chores on holiday, we'll all muck in, it'll be fun, it'll be like camping with the scouts, we'll all have set jobs, my wife will sort, I'll load, my wife will hang and I'd put away what could be better than.......... "I can't believe it, there's no washing Machine!" I said as I checked the particulars of our booking.

    "It's a log cabin, not a pent house suite!" There's now genuine panic etched across my face.

    It had taken me thirty years to get to understand truly how a washing machine works and that clean clothes were not down to an elaborate conspiracy between mothers and elves.

    "We'll just have to use the Launderette!" she said. I'd like to say that my lovely little anecdote finished there. I'd like to say that I agreed, that that was a fantastic idea and that was what we would do. I'd like to, but I can't.

    I can't because as she said those words, I followed them up, very quickly..... too quickly, stupid, stupid, stupidly quickly with the following words. "I'd rather wash her stinking nappies and her rotten, sick covered baby cloths by hand, than use a public launderette!" "Ok" she said. And that was it. I've never washed anything by hand.

    I struggled through my mid teens to wash myself and suddenly I've signed up for the daddy of hand washing assignments. I swore under my breath. (Think Nappies) So when she asked me today what the matter was, I told her. "Nothing, it's just.............. I think I injured my wrist at work today"
  2. I could feel my heart beating faster and faster. I took a deep breath. I couldn't believe it. The phone was ringing. Every time I had tried before, I had been met with the same dull engaged tone. I'd got through. Well, not quite through yet, but it was ringing. Ringing was a start. Ringing was the middle bit between you calling and someone answering. So now I am just waiting for someone to answer. Anyone to answer. Is someone going to answer.

    Just as I was about to put the phone down, a guy called Rick asked me who I was and where I was calling from. I'm Andy from Watford I said. Hello Andy from Watford, he said, do you know the rules. Yes, I do, I lied. Ok, well you are line number 10. Stand by. "Hello, welcome back, this is Toby Anstis on Heart radio, lets go to line number 10, who's there.

    "It's Andy, from Watford" I said, for the second time in as many minutes. "Hello Andy, this is your chance to win tickets to see........" Now here is my first embarrassing admission. I didn't strictly know what I was calling up for. I knew it was a competition and I knew it was a big deal, as they had been playing adverts saying things like "Don't miss out on your chance to be at ........." "In the next hour you could win an amazing.........."

    I consider myself quite fortunate that I am allowed to listen to the radio while at work. I'm unfortunate in that my desk is the furthest from the speakers, so I am often left playing guess the song, from the various bass lines that I can just about pick up. So when I heard the words "you could win" and "call now" that's exactly what I did.

    "...................Enrique Iglasias" I said nothing, but inside I was thinking "Your kidding me! All this hype to see Anna Kournikova's boyfriend. The face I had spent my teenage years throwing darts at." The next few seconds saw me trying to guess a number between 100 and 999. I had 40 seconds to guess the 3 digit code and Toby could only say higher or lower. I managed it in a decent time, although I don't really remember it.

    I was disappointed. Where was my big prize. Where was my "In the next hour you could win an amazing...." This isn't amazing. This is embarrassing. "Congratulations Andy, who will you be taking?" "My wife I guess, unless she wants to go with a friend!" "Well don't forget it's a trip for up to four people so you.........." "A trip?" I said, confused. "That's right, you have won an all expenses trip for 4 to Euro Disney this weekend. You'll be traveling by Euro Star on Friday, staying for two nights in the Disney Cheyenne Hotel and returning on Sunday. Don't forget on Saturday night, you will be going to an intimate gig with Enrique Iglasias and will experience the full VIP treatment, how does that sound?"

    I told him it sounded great and I thanked him. I phoned my wife and told her I had won a prize on the radio. She had assumed I had won some sort of Mickey Mouse prize and it turns out she was right, I had.

    Now here is my second embarrassing admission. Enrique Iglasias is good and I am glad I went. Ok, I still haven't forgiven him for going out with Anna Kournikova, but he engaged with the fans, spent time chatting to the kids and parents and actually sang the last few songs from within the crowd itself.

    And here is my last embarrassing admission. I couldn't organise a passport in time for my baby daughter. After looking at all the options I did what I had to do. I left my wife and baby at home and went with two of my mates
  3. Between the ages of 10 and 15 I had to visit London every 6 months to have my teeth looked at by the specialists at Guys Hospital. I had been involved in a playground rugby incident and lost both the ball and my front tooth in the same tackle.

    Sadly, my mum only ever accompanied me once to the hospital, not because she was a bad mother but because she had a fear. Now you'd think a fear of Dentist's is pretty common and I'd agree with you, but my Mum had a fear of lifts and it was just plain bad luck that the Dentistry section was situated on floor 23. As I said, she did accompany me the first time, although I'm not sure if it counts as she only managed to make it to the 16th floor before her lungs collapsed. Luckily for her that was the Pulmonary ward. I remember how easily I scaled those stairs, running up two at a time, skipping up floor after floor, then coming back down floor after floor, checking on my Mum. I remember thinking then, why is it taking her so long? why can't she just skip up the stairs like me? It took me until February of this year to realise just why.

    I work on the 3rd floor and for the first time ever, I had to take a short break on the 2nd floor, before climbing the last few steps. Just a week later, on a routine trip to the Doctor's, I was asked the most embarrassing question imaginable. Seven words that changed my life. No, not "Touch your toes and try to relax" she said to me "Can you please step on the scales" I have been going to the same family Doctor since I was a baby. She had watched me grow. As it turns out, she had watched me grow a lot. I don't mean in height, I mean in weight.

    At 21 I was 13 stone and at 30, there I stood at 18 stone and 3 lbs. That's 115.7 kg in new money. It was then that she said the words that changed my life forever. She told me that it was possible that I wouldn't see my daughter's 30th birthday if my weight gain continued. My daughter is only 6 months old. I had stood on the scales and my Doctor's words had hit me hard, it was like one of those stalls at the fair, when you swing the mallett to ring the bell. The bell was ringing but I hadn't won a prize.

    It was then that I decided to change my life and I set myself a target. I wanted to lose 4 stone in 4 months. I wanted to be at that party in 30 years time. For starters, I gave up alcohol completely. I then changed the way I looked at food. Food was no longer a comfort, it was a fuel. I changed what I ate, how much I ate and when I ate. Then I joined a gym and entered myself into a 10k race.

    In a month I had lost a stone and a half. I stepped up the work at the gym, I continued to avoid alcohol completely and I continued to eat the right foods at the right time.

    In two months I had lost 2 and a half stone. It then got a little harder. Weight loss slowed down, spring kicked in and our social calendar started to fill up. I continued to abstain from alcohol, continued to visit the gym and carried on eating the right foods at the right time.

    I was delighted to see that after 3 months I had lost just over 3 stone. Today is the last day of my self imposed challenge and as of today, I have lost 4 and a half stone. Thats 62 lbs or 28 kg in new money. People have tried to tell me that losing weight is really hard and takes such a long time. To borrow a phrase from Record Breakers, dedication is all you need.

    I've made an appointment with my Doctor for next week and plan on giving her seven words of my own. THANK YOU DOCTOR, YOU SAVED MY LIFE!
  4. The Summer is upon us and I've been eating my fair share of salad in the last few weeks and I found myself questioning exactly what a salad is.

    According to the dictionary it is "A food made primarily of a mixture of raw or cold ingredients, typically vegetables, usually served with a dressing such as vinegar or mayonnaise".

    So how many "Raw ingredients" do you need in order for it to be a bonifide salad? Why is it that pubs advertise a "Side Salad" when in fact it is just a pile of wet lettuce? Why is it that Supermarkets can sell "Salad Bags" which are just bags of wet lettuce.

    Surely these should be called Lettuce Bags, not Salad Bags. Imagine, if they were to add a new Lettuce to the range. Imagine if they had a selection that included not only Cos, Little Gem and Iceberg, but an Italian Lettuce called Feelur. I wouldn't want to be asking a kind shop assistant... "Lettuce Feelur Bags?" That's a long way to go for a poor punch line, I apologise.

    As I have said above, there is no vegetable called "Salad", its a name given to a certain selection of vegetables as a whole. What if they did that in other areas of the supermarket?

    Maybe they would have a "Hang Over" section which consists of paracetemol, toilet roll, bacon, eggs, red bull, throat sweets and the morning after pill. Maybe even a "Students section" packed full of happy shopper items, pasta and white lightening or a "Single Mums" section consisting of Nappies, Rothmans, Woman's Own and a selection of Shell Suits. Just a thought.

    I've been told that Watercress falls into the realms of salad. I've never really got to grips with watercress. It's not cress as I know it and it's not water, although the taste is pretty similar to the latter.

    There is a Watercress Soup! A soup which tastes of peppered water. Now, pepper makes you sneeze, which is ironic, as that is exactly what watercress soup looks like. If it tasted like it too, it would be an improvement.

    I'm of the opinion that Cabbage, Spinach and Watercress are all too similar and there should only be space for a maximum of two. The only fair way to decide would be alphabetically, so that's Cabbage and Spinach saved and Watercress out.

    My journey of discovery has seen me stumble across many definitions, but also many different types of salads. I'd like to quickly go through three of my favourites.

    Waldorf Salad. Created in New York in 1893 by Oscar Tschirky, the Maitre D' of the hotel Waldorf Astoria. It consists of celery, apples, mayonnaise and walnuts.

    Now, obviously this salad was named after the hotel it was first made in. I think that was a sensible choice on the Maitre D's part as I can't see the Tschirky salad catching on. I can see a lot of drunk people ending up with a Turkey Salad, although in fairness the only time drunk people eat salad is when it's sandwiched between donna meat and a pita bread.

    So now we have the interesting question of whether Walnuts and Apples are Salad ingredients. I have to say they fit quite snuggly into the Fruit and Nut sections and should pretty much stay there.

    The Ploughman's. (See picture) Where do I start? We have cheese (3 Varieties!), apple, pickle's a "Mixed Salad", bread, egg, pork pie and the list goes on.

    This isn't really a salad is it! The salads over there in the corner somewhere, the rest is a fat mans dream. This is someone (Probably a ploughman) who has raided the fridge. The salad on the side is an afterthought surely.

    The fat ploughman who invented this beast was working his way down the fridge, got to the bottom draw, grabbed a handful of whatever it was, and then popped it on the plate.

    Lastly, we have the most confusing of all, the potato Salad. I am in no doubt that the title suggests that this is a Salad.

    If you take a look at the picture to the right, apart from the potato itself, you won’t notice any other salad. Granted, some versions have the odd sprinkling of spring onion or chive, but let’s not kid ourselves into classing this as a true salad.

    This is a potato that has been crushed up and mixed with mayonnaise. If you got an egg, mashed it up and mixed it with mayonnaise, what would you have? No, not egg mayonnaise, it would be Egg salad, according to the principle above.

    This is all too confusing. I went on a journey of discovery and the only things I have discovered is that Ploughmen are fat for a reason and I'm not very good at writing lettuce based gags.