My first holiday as a dad – and what I missed leaving the family behind

I always thought co-sleeping was the most effective way of minimising your bed space but it turns out I was wrong.

Three nights’ camping in Wales shared similarities with home life. Instead of a baby, I was sandwiched between increasingly damp fabric, a postman and his 20-odd-year-old son. Instead of a bed, we each had something resembling garden furniture cushions and a patch of bumpy ground, specially sun-baked for added firmness.

It had its perks. The usual chubby finger in the eye for a wake-up call was pleasingly absent, while we were waking up at the crack of the dawn to seek bacon and golf, rather than stabbing at the Perfect Prep machine through bleary-eyed vision and shuffling through the cupboard to find the milk thickener.

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Home, sweet home!

I can’t complain. This was the first time I had left Albie for an extended period, leaving Hanna at home literally holding the baby and probably wondering why, or even if, she had ever agreed to grant my holiday request.

Four days flew by, with technology enabling me to touch base with home and ensure Albie didn’t forget my ugly mug. With a few video calls, he had a chance of recognising the bedraggled, stubbly, sunburned chap presented in front of him on Wednesday evening looking like he’d spent 20 days on the run in Channel Four’s Hunted programme.

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Probably not Camping Weekly’s next cover photo

If you kept track of my Instagram account over the last few days, you will have noticed that I perfectly timed my trip to coincide with the end of the extended heatwave, only to return to find temperatures nearly as hot as our recent Ibiza trip. Typical.

After enduring two days of golfing in driving rain and gale-force winds (I guess I asked for it performing that rain dance a couple of weeks ago…), I was caught out by the return of the sunny weather and ended up more Lobster-like than I was returning from a week in the Balearics. If you want a tan, head to Aberdovey, not Alcudia!

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Needless to say the ball didn’t end up on that tiny green atop the dunes…

The sunburn wasn’t the worst of it. Having kicked off day one with it teeming it down, it took precisely half a hole for my cheapo Sports Direct umbrella to cave in.

What followed was three days of comical battling and running repairs before the brolly was ceremoniously dumped in the bin – but not before a good old Basil Fawlty-style ‘damn good thrashing’ with a four iron and a drop kick as it blew down the fairway in an attempt to escape its impending fate.

Needless to say, my brolly business saw me develop a highly original nickname of ‘Brolly Poole’ for the rest of the tour – marginally worse than my secondary nickname of ‘Mountain Goat’ because of the regular hacking of golf balls out of thick rough atop the dunes.

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Insert stereotypical picture of a sheep here. I couldn’t hit a sheep’s arse with a golf ball all tour, it transpired

Cramming in 90 holes of golf into four days was action packed enough – but my return showed I had barely achieved a thing.

Little Albie had changed so much since my departure. He had advanced in his movement, holding his head up like a meerkat with increasing regularity. He was saying new things like ‘blah, blah, blah’ – of course not because he’d had four days of listening to Mummy constantly – and I had missed a big appointment with his physiotherapist.

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The impressive pad at The Rolls of Monmouth, once home to the Rolls family of posh car fame

Albie was referred to the physio because he doesn’t fancy sitting down independently. He’d much rather try to be a superhero and attempt full-on standing, or just lie down and roll to his destination, now often the clothes horse – to Mummy’s dismay!

It turns out he has nowt anatomically wrong with him. He just seems to find sitting boring, so he’ll probably be on his feet raging havoc in double-quick time. Best get the baby gate sorted…

Have you had to leave your little one behind for an extended period of time? Let me know how you and your partner coped and what you missed when you were away.

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The brolly in a single happy moment…
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…and its final resting place

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