Showing newest 12 of 48 posts from October 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 12 of 48 posts from October 2010. Show older posts

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Halloween Menu: Part 3 - Warm Treacle Tart

You asky, you getty! Warm Treacle Tart with Spiced Pumpkin Ice-Cream.

Treacle, Pumpkin, Chocolate, Nutmeg


You wanted it, you chose it, you got it. Let's go.

There's a lot of elements to the dish, but the end result and flavour is exactly what this time of year signifies for me.

Spiced Pumpkin Ice-Cream
Prior to this recipe I have been developing ice-creams, but without eggs in the recipe. The purpose of using eggs is a thickener, as well as adding a richness. A richness that sometimes becomes cloying to a palate, or a heaviness to a dish. I developed this around using caramel and pumpkin as the thickener. Why add something that isn't required? Caramel also seems really inhibit the freezing process, and create a perfectly smooth mixture.

You want to make this a day in advance.

Pumpkin. You want a pumpkin that weighs about 1kg, and we're going to use half of it. Resist the urge to buy that one massive pumpkin that's giving you the eye in the shop. He won't be needed.

500g of 1kg Pumpkin
175 ml Whole Milk
150ml Double Cream
65g Caster Sugar
30g Demerara Sugar + 15g
1/2 tsp 5 Spice
1 Vanilla Pod
1/2 Stick of Cinnamon
1 Bay Leaf
Small sprig of Rosemary

Split your pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and all the bright orange pulp, but save both of these. We're going to roast half; get your halved pumpkin and split it down in half again. Sprinkle with the 30g of Demerara sugar and place in a hot oven - about 200c.

While that's roasting, place your milk, cream, 5 spice, cinnamon, bay leaf, rosemary and the 15g of demerara sugar in a medium sized pan. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod - but reserve this for later. We'll use it for pastry. Add the scraped vanilla pod into the cream/milk mix. Place this on a heat, and gently bring it up to a simmer.

Add your caster sugar to a large pan (large enough to contain the milk as well that we'll add later). Place your pan on a medium heat, until the sugar is caramelised and golden brown. When your caramel is ready, add your hot milk/cream but be careful as it will boil up and be very hot.

Cook this mixture gently down, until it's a coffee type colour, and slightly thickened. At which point strain this mixture into a measuring jug. 

Hopefully now your pumpkin is ready. When ready, it should be golden brown, and soft when pressed with a knife.

We're going to use half of your roast pumpkin for the ice-cream, and half for a chocolate/pumpkin emulsion later on, so reserve half. 

Get your pumpkin, remove all the skin and roughly dice. Now blend your pumpkin into your hot caramel mix, a bit at a time until slightly thickened and very pumpkin when tasted. I advise you taste this mix frequently until it's a flavour you're happy with. I add a tiny bit of sea salt also, to bring out more flavour. When you're happy with the thickness and flavour, strain through a fine sieve. Allow to completely cool, and freeze either in your ice-cream churner, or it will freeze smooth just placed in your freezer due to the caramel.

Sweet Pastry for Tart
makes one large tart, or 3 individuals.
150g Unsalted Butter (room temp)
300g Plain flour
2 Whole Free Range Eggs
3 heaped tbsps Icing Sugar
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
Scraped Vanilla Seeds

Place your butter, vegetable oil, scraped vanilla seeds and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Add your two whole eggs and combine. Add your flour and mix until cohesive and smooth. Rest in the fridge - one hour minimum. Making the day before is optimal.

Butter whatever mould you intend to bake the tart in, either a tart case or a metal ring- whatever your chosing. The pastry makes enough to cover a large tart aswell. Make sure you butter or else it will stick.

When fully rested, roll out on a floured surface. Probably about 3mm thickness. Place into your buttered mould. You want to press it firmly into the shape of the mould, with no tears or rips, and thin and even all over. Place onto a baking tray, and place in the fridge to rest again for an hour before baking. Preheat your oven to 170c.

When rested and ready to bake, line the inside of the tart with greaseproof, and fill it with baking beans. Bake until cooked on the outside - about 20 minutes. Then remove the greaseproof and continue to bake until the base is cooked. You want it pretty white - just cooked, as we will cook again with the tart mixture in it.

Chocolate/Pumpkin Emulsion
Remember the pulp and the half roasted pumpkin from before? We're going to turn into a chocolate emulsion for garnishing the plate. 

Slightly puree your remaining roasted pumpkin, and strain through a cloth to create a pumpkin juice. Remove all the seeds from the pulp, place the seeds to one side, and place your pulp into your juice to infuse. The reason for this, is because a lot of the flavour and aroma that we associate with pumpkin comes from the pulp, and I want that flavour and aroma in my dish. 

Give it a day in the fridge to infuse totally. You can place in the fridge the same time you freeze your ice-cream. The taste of this is pure pumpkin essence.  

Just before serving your tart, place your essence in a bowl, and place over a pan of simmering water - a bain marie. When warm, add a little bit of chocolate at a time. You want to add equal amounts pumpkin and chocolate. It will produce an almost runny emulsion. 

Keep warm.

Pumpkin Seed Praline
You can make this using the seeds from your pumpkin, or I would advise buying some. It's a pain to remove the outer white casing from each individual seed, to get the tasty inner green seed. Trust me. I did it. Buy them. Or get your fella to do it.

50g Pumpkin Seeds
50g Caster Sugar

Place your caster sugar in a large flat pan, and place on a medium heat until caramelised, at which point add your seeds. Cook this again slightly to re-loosen the caramel, and when moveable in the pan, tip out onto a flat metal tray. Do not touch this, it's extremely hot!

Allow to cool. Tap the tray on a flat surface and your caramel should break up and loosen. Grind in a blender to create a pumpkin/caramel dust.

Treacle Tart
makes one large tarts, or three individual tarts.
200g Butter
454g Golden Syrup (one tin)
110g Ground Almonds
110g Stale Brown Bread
1 Large Free-range Egg + 1 Yolk
100ml Double Cream

Preheat oven to 140c.

It's based on Heston Blumenthal's studies and his recipe, but with a few minor alterations.  I really like the recipe, so the basic elements are the same, I just altered it to suit my needs and taste. 

An important part of his recipe was to "age" the golden syrup - this creates a complex flavour and aroma. To age, place the whole tin in your oven at 60c and age for up to 24 hours. Once aged, you can store indefinitely.

Place your ground almonds on a flat tray and toast under a hot grill. When they are golden brown, they're ready. Place in a blender with your stale brown bread and blend the whole thing until it looks like breadcrumbs. Pass this mix through a fine sieve and discard whatever won't pass through.

Brown your butter - place in a pan and cook over a medium heat until nutty smelling and golden brown. Place in a mixing bowl, and tip in your aged syrup. Add your crumbs and mix well, until totally combined. Add your Eggs, and your cream, and mix well again. Add a little sea salt to bring out more flavour.

Place your tart mixture into your case, you want it to basically fill your case as it isn't going to rise much, just under the rim will be fine. 

Cook in your oven at 140c for about 40 minutes, or until set in the tart. I leave it a little bit gooey, almost under in the middle.

Caramelised Pumpkin to order
You have half a pumpkin left from earlier. Slice three thin slices and trim into diagonal shapes. 

Place 30g of caster sugar in a pan, and allow to caramelise on a medium heat. When golden brown, add a small knob of butter, and then your pumpkin. Simply cook till soft and coloured to a delicious brown.

With a spoon, spread your emulsion in a rough rugged circle in the centre of your plate. Place your pumpkin over it. Looks pretty autumnal already, eh?

Place your warm treacle tart over that, and a scoop of your pumpkin ice-cream. 

Sprinkle some praline over the ice-cream and a little on the plate. 

Grate some fresh nutmeg over the whole plate, and serve.

It seems like a lot of elements and effort to get there, but the flavour and balance is stunning. 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Halloween Menu: Part 2 - Braised Shin of Beef

Here it is, the main course of your Halloween Menu! I can smell it from here, must be Cheffy Daddy in the kitchen...

Braised Shin of Beef, Smoked Mash, Pickled Carrots, Beetroot

My idea behind this was to create a fairly simply stew, that wasn't too time or labour relient. After all it's a time of year that requires a lot of time and attention ; making halloween costumes, trick-or-treating, bonfires etc.
I wanted to include a smokey taste aswell, to compliment the meat and the firey smell of a bonfire. I had root vegetables in my mind too, and someone suggested to me the colours of halloween ; black, orange, purple. Beetroot and Carrot seemed natural against the "black" of the stew.

to make 10 portions
2 Shins of Beef
2 Carrots
5 Shallots
1 Leek
4 Garlic Cloves
Sprig of Thyme
1 Star Anise
1/2 Bottle of Red Wine
700ml Light Beef Stock
50g Plain Flour

4-5 Large Maris Piper Potatoes
100g Unsalted Butter

5 Medium Sized Organic Carrots
200ml White Wine Vinegar
150ml Water
100g Caster Sugar
5 Peppercorns
3 Cloves
Sprig of Thyme
1 Bay Leaf

3 Beetroot

Start off with your shin. 
Shin of Beef isn't incredibly hard to source, but if you have difficulty, try oxtail, or even beef chuck, but I would recommend getting something that benefits from a long cooking process, such as shin, or tail. I got my carrots and beetroot from the garden, which is ideal, if you have the plants obviously.
If you get the shin of beef on the bone, braise it on the bone. If you get it boneless, then trim the excess sinew and fat off it, and dice it up into chunks. The reason behind this is because cooking it on the bone with leave it more tender and flavoursome, but its not crucial. Heat a large pan over a medium heat. You want it red hot to brown the meat.

Peel all your vegetables and roughly dice.

Season your meat all over with salt and pepper. Add a little bit of vegetable oil and when nearly smoking, add your meat. You want a dark caramel brown colour on the meat. This creates flavour. 
Add your all vegetables and spices and cook slightly until soft. 
Now add your flour and stir well to coat all your contents. This is to soak up all the meaty flavour, and to slightly thicken the stew. Cook the flour out to slightly to remove the floury taste - it will brown slightly. 
Add your red wine, and your beef stock. 

Cover with tinfoil, or a lid and allow it to simmer. 

Cook for about 5-6 hours, or until tender. You want to cook as slow and as long as possible. When tender, and soft, check the thickness of the liquid - if too thin then cook it down a little bit longer. If right, then simply taste, season it accordingly and leave until ready to serve. It should be very rich, tasty and hearty.

Smoked Mash. 
Peel your potatoes and roughly dice. 
Place in a pan of water and cook as you would normally do for mash. Cook until soft and drain in a colander. 

Next to smoke the potatoes. 
Place your 200g of oak wood chips in a large flat tray and place directly onto a low heat. It should start to smoke, and the smell will be immediate. If you can't source oak wood chips, you can use any wood that will burn, bonfire material or whatever you can find. The smell, and smoke will not be as fragant, but there's certainly nothing wrong with it.
Next, place your colander full of potatoes, directly onto the wood chips. The colander should seperate a little gap between the potatoes and the chippings - you don't want the potatoes sitting in the wood, for obvious reasons. 

Now, cover the whole tray and colander with tin-foil and leave on a low heat to smoke. The time is a tricky one, the smokiness will obviously be stronger the longer you leave it, but you don't want it too powerful else it will be too potent. I leave it usually about twenty minutes; I can tell when ready as the outsides of the potatoes are usually a slight yellow colour.

Pass the potatoes through a ricer, drum sieve, or a standard sieve to ensure no lumps. Place back in a pan when required to serve, with your butter and beat until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. You don't want your mash too wet, as the stew is. 


Pickled Carrots. 
Add your vinegar, water, sugar and all spices in a pan, and place on a gentle heat to simmer, and dissolve. Meanwhile peel your carrots, and slice however you wish. You can dice or, slice, whichever you feel is right. I continue with the peeler, and peel ribbons of carrot. 
When pickling vinegar is hot and sugar dissolved, add your carrot and simmer until the carrot is soft. 
With onion, or beetroot, you want the pickling liquor to cook the veg cold, but with carrots, you want it to cook it in the liquor, due to the firm nature of it. When soft, let cool, until ready to serve. 
You can keep it in the fridge for weeks.

Braised Beetroot. 
Cook your three beets, skin on, in a large pan of water. You keep the skin on to keep all the flavour and colour in the beet, rather than in your water. 
Simply cook till soft, remove from the water, and run under a cold tap until it's cool. 
When cool, remove all the skin with your fingers (it should yield to a slight pressure) and take the top and bottom off it. At the restaurant we dice to exacting proportions, but you would be fine to just roughly dice it. 
Reserve to one side, we will braise it in your stew last minute.

To serve. 
Add a quenelle of your smoked mash in a bowl.
Add your diced beetroot into your stew last minute.
Pour a large spoonful of your stew over your mash,  add a few pickled carrots.

Delicious, pretty simple, with the emphasis on flavour rather than fussy presentation and difficult preparation.


Friday, 29 October 2010

Halloween Menu: Part 1 - Mulled Organic Cider

And here is is, Part One of your DELICIOUS Halloween menu. Definitely give this a try on Sunday, it will tick all the right boxes.

I've designed these recipes around the time of year, the seasonality, and to mirror the light holiday spirit everyone feels when we begin to notice that chill in the air. The basis around all of these recipes is also something you can hold in your hand whilst potentially stood around a bonfire, or shivering in the dark in some obscure field watching little dazzles of exploding light in the sky, wondering what the hell happened and were you went wrong.

Here's our menu.

Mulled Organic Cider

Braised Shin of Beef, Smoked Mash, Braised Beetroot, Pickled Carrots

Treacle, Pumpkin, Chocolate, Nutmeg

Again, all designed with seasonality, childhood memories, and the fact that you can hold it in your hand in a cup or a bowl.

Let's do it.

Mulled Organic Cider
The amounts here are basically a guideline, based around how much you are likely to drink. If one pint per person is likely going to be enough, then you continue as such. Pick a cider that you enjoy to drink, otherwise there's no point. So chose to your own taste, tart or sweet.

1 pt Organic Cider
1 Bay Leaf
1 Cinnamon Stick
5 Juniper Berries
1 Apple (grated)
Zest of one orange
5 Black Peppercorns
5 Cloves
1 Star Anise
30g Caster Sugar

Place all your dry ingredients into a pan. It needs to be big enough to contain the cider aswell at a later stage. After the ingredients are in your pan, place onto a medium heat. You want to lightly toast them, to bring out more flavour. 
When the aroma is fragant and spicy, add your sugar. 
Cook your sugar until caramelised and golden brown. Then add your orange zest and your grated apple.
The apple and caramel is gonna be the little touches that will lift this cider to new heights. After the apple, instantly add your cider, but be warned it may bubble up slightly. Reduce your pan to a simmer.
Be careful to never boil this cider, as you would lose the deliciousness, the alcoholic content, and therefore the fun.
Simmer your cider simply until the aroma is mouth-watering and the caramel is dissolved. Strain all the spices through a fine sieve, keep warm, and serve.

I'd advise drinking it from a flask, around a beautiful crackling fire, at one of your friends dull bonfire night parties. Just what you need on a chilly night.

Out of all recipes I've posted so far, I urge you to try this one. It's simple, delicious, and will ensure a good mood, a terrific taste, and a terrible hangover.

Enjoy. I'll be back with some more.

Add your cider attempt or favourite bonfire night/halloween drink post below for bonus Oui Chef! points. 10 extra for trying this recipe! Just linky up here:

Halloween Menu - Poll Results

Thankyou to everyone who voted in our 'Halloween Dessert' poll. We had a few more votes than we were expecting, although I'm sure some tart lovers voted a couple of times.

I would like to announce that the winning dessert for Cheffy Daddy's Halloween Edition Menu is...

Warm Treacle Tart with Spiced Pumpkin Ice-Cream

It was a close call with the tart scoring 57% to the parfait's 43%. I'm sure Cheffy Daddy will delight you all with the other dish at some point in the future. 

I can't wait for this menu. I just know (well, because I've seen it) that it's going to be just what you need to warm your tum and your toes for Halloween and Bonfire Night.

Your food will be with you shortly!


Thursday, 28 October 2010

The kettle is well and truly ON!

You may or may not know that I've been running myself ragged the last few weeks. Well, if not my legs, definitely my brain.

Something's Brewing. Brew Drinking Thinkings will launch in the next couple of weeks, sign up for free here to get all the latest new and promotions and be in with a chance of winning a prize to celebrate our opening!

See you all there!


Mwahahahahaaaaaaaaa the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who entered the Halloween Treats Competition. So many entries, how fabby! I've been a bit busy in the last week so I've not been able to thank everyone individually as I normally would.

To recap the winner will receive a bag of Mini Chupa Chups x 30 and also a bag of Fruitella, both of which will be Halloween Special Edition!

So without further ado, I present to you the winner...



Please can you contact me with your full name and address as soon as possible so that I can attempt to get these to you in time for Sunday!

Thanks to everyone who entered! There'll be more fabby competitions coming up really soon. If you've not checked out the BECKICKLESIE Competition Page, please do, there may be a few prizes on there that you fancy.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

It's all about the Street Cred

When I was a little boy, I had cool toys, and the not so cool toys. Even from such a wee age I had an inherit sense of what I should be playing with, and what I shouldn't. I think my little boy has the same ideals. He plays with massive manly diggers and cranes and sits on the potty "the cool way". Back to front.

Let me explain, more thoroughly.

Kids Corner
I had teddy bears that I played with. I gave them original and insightful names. I had a Pink Panther. I called him "Pinky". I had a gorilla called "Eric", named after Eric Cantona.
Pinky was my best buddy, I took him everywhere and we got up to all kinds of mischief. I say "mischief" lightly - it was more pretending to drink my mums brew, rather than a bank heist. We had a mobile hairdresser in my childhood days, and I remember one instance that Pinky opened her money box and took the contents. Nobody found that too funny or mischievous.

He was my best toy, but it had to be secret. Frankly, he was a panther that was at least 90% pink, white belly not to be taken into consideration. Sure, he was a cool cat, but there was going to be no reasoning with people of that fact.

My street cred was taking a nose-dive age 5!

I had my cool toys aswell. The kind you take to your friends house when offered a choice. I had Action Men and his bitter rival Dr X, but to be blunt, those two just couldn't get along. Pinky was a criminal mastermind, but he and Eric got on just fine!

The toy credibility bill mattered less as I got older and teddy bears were replaced by cars, and diggers. Cars and diggers were simply always awesome, and the golden rule is the bigger and meaner-looking, the better. I expect a crane such as this will tick all the right boxes when he's older. It would have done for me. My son obviously gets this 'the bigger, the better' fact and to be honest knows far too much about diggers for a two-and-a-half year old. His grandma recently pointed out a digger to him, and he stated "No Grandma, it's a Backhoe Digger!"

Another cool set of toys was the Transformers series. The car equivilent of a rubix cube but, you know, easier. There is literally nothing more exciting to a young mind than a car that turns into a robot. Kidder hasn't even realised the potential of this yet! Exciting times!

It's an exciting thing to watch as a parent, and humbling to remember when you were a child and got "jump-up-and-down" excited about a new toy. Do you remember the last time you were "jump-up-and-down" excited? His excitement is enhanced by my desire to get him the coolest, most exciting toys, which also appeases my guilt when I've told him off.

In the end,  he'll out grow those toys and the next toys and the toys after that. The same as any of us. My only hope is that he doesn't out grow his old man anytime soon and he still wakes up in the morning wanting to run cars over my feet and jab me in the ribs with a digger.

A sponsored post written from the heart

Monday, 25 October 2010

Halloween Treats! Giveaway


There's not tricks here, definitely just treats.

Kidder was send some delicious Halloween Edition Chupa Chups and Fruitella to try out ahead of this years freaky date. Needless to say, he loved the old style family favourites and the packaging just made them even more appealing.

It is the first time that Chupa Chups and Fruitella have decided to release special edition sharing bags for Halloween. Priced at just £1.69 for 30 mini Chupa Chups and £1.00 for the Fruitella grab bags, they'll keep you in pocket too!

Personally, I'm going to buy a few bags, throw them in a bowl and dish them out to all the ghosts and ghouls that visit on Sunday night. I've heard it's a great way to keep them away.

I was feeling like a slightly irresponsible parent after handing Kidder two sharing bags of sweets. Then I read that Fruitella is free from any artificial colours or flavourings. Even better.

Fancy trying them out?

I have a full size Halloween Edition bags of Chupa Chups and Fruitella up for grabs. 

This compeition closes at 23:59hrs on Wednesday 27th October 2010 (so I can get the treats to you in time for Halloween)

To enter: NOW CLOSED

  • MANDATORY - In the comments section below, tell us what your favourite Halloween foodie treat is.
  • Extra entry - follow BECKICKLESIE via Google Connect/your reader
  • Extra entry - Come find @Beckicklesie on Twitter and give us a follow
  • Extra Entry - Re-tweet: " I want to win the Halloween Treats over at @Beckicklesie "

Good luck guys and happy Halloween to all of you! 


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Disney on Ice: Lion King - Hakuna Matata


Disney on Ice: Pinocchio - I got no strings


Saturday Specials: Disney on Ice

Seeing as it's weekend, and you were treated to a mighty novel of a post yesterday, by my marvellous Cheffy Daddy, I thought I'd give you something to have a nosy at.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to represent Child Friendly at Disney on Ice at the Manchester Evening News Arena. Kidder absolutely loved it, so today I'll be posting various videos and photographs from the event.

It was fabulous, it really was. Truly magical, typical Disney style.

I'll kick off the weekend with some fun-filled pics of the show. Enjoy folksies!

Fish are friends, not food

Tale as old as time

Red Alert!

I'll make a man out of you

Draaaagon, not lizard, I don't do that tongue thing - hissssssss

Hakuna Matata

The finale

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Labour of Love

Labour. Dad style.

I wake up to my girlfriend breathing heavily and bent double in pain. I ask her if she's ok and how she's feeling. This may appear non-chalant, considering she's 9 months pregnant. In fact, two weeks over-due. This wasn't the first instance of her having stomach pains. She'd had it on and off for months now.

I don't know why, but I reassured myself that this wasn't the day the baby would arrive and fell asleep. Obviously this is completely the wrong thing to do, and I'm very sorry to all concerned parties (Beckickles and... well, Beckickles). In any case, today wasn't gonna be the day, I was at least 90% sure. 

Guess what happened next?

The pain didn't let up and Beckickles knew today was going to be the day. I should of trusted her really. I started getting pretty anxious that the baby might be coming. Should I be making a list?! Packing a bag?! I've been rendered almost redundant as her pain gets more and more intense, and she states that the bag has been packed for months now, 'Oh yeah... well does anybody want a brew?'

Becca's mum zips around to take her to the hospital. I need to ring my work to tell them that I won't be coming today, which is a little bit dodgy as I was supposed to be working my first shift that day. I ring a taxi and tell him to drive as fast as he can to the hospital. Obviously adhering to all relevant road legislation.

At 7.30 pm, it's bed time. Since having a child, bedtime has become a war. A game of chess. Kidder's avoidance of sleep has really developed into an impressive technique. He operates;
  • distraction (gets fistfuls of food from the kitchen and demands to eat them all)
  • begging ("one minute?")
  • refusal ("NO!")
  • sulking (see also bottom lip curling)
  • confusion (he picks a toy to take to bed, but can't decide)
You have to admire him. He has motivation and adaptation.

Tonight he wants his Granddad to take him to bed and it sucks. I sit in a sulk (see also bottom lip curling) while he leads the old man upstairs. 

I want to be there all the time, and it hurts a bit when I can't.

I enter the hospital.

"'Ey up!" I think to myself. Sometimes 'the Lancashire' just escapes from me.

There's Dale Winton on Radio 2 playing loudly on a shitty beaten-up old radio, and the missus floats in a massive birthing pool that you could swing a dozen cats in. This isn't a recommendation by the way, there's probably hygiene issues. It's a hospital for crying out loud.  

Fats Domino "Blueberry Hill" belts out as she grabs my hand, a drunken smile wiped over her face;
"They've given me gas and air, I feel gooood."
Hmmm. I suspected something of this nature. I shoot a glance over to her mother, perched behind the pool who seems quite amused by the whole situation. Either that or the obvious dumb akwardness I've presented since arriving. I support her and hold her hand and tell her she's doing great, which she is. The radio plays quite apt songs ; Bob Dylan "The Times They Are A-Changing" and Donovan "Catch the Wind".

At 4.30 pm I stroll into my little boys nursery to pick him up. He's waiting for me by the door.

His worker looks stressed. I mean....stressed. She looks like she might catch on fire. She tells me he's been bad today. Cheeky. He told her he wasn't listening to her. A chip off the old block maybe? He mutters that he wants to go and points to the door. Crafty, he is.

We wander home to tell mum he's been a mischief and I explain to him why he's been bad and that he has to be a good boy. He's so motivated and full of emphasis and "yeah!". I carry him for a little bit and he cuddles me. We laugh all the way home. Kidder's got one of the best laughs, like a dirty chuckle almost, but on a two-and-a-half year old.

Still at the hospital, and Beckickles is out of the pool, she's stood up by the bed and the pain is clearly getting worse. I can tell this either by my untold physic ability, the fact that she's screaming a lot louder, or maybe that she keeps looking at me like she's going to headbutt me when I ask her how she's doing.  She lurched over the bed, and suddenly her waters break. 

The water is brown.

I've only since learnt what that means and the implications. At the time I was in the dark, imagining the worst. As a man I couldn't feel more useless stood behind my partner, telling her everything was going to be ok, watching her bent double in pain. Even though horrible eventualities are spinning around in my mind, I know they're going to be ok... I just know it. I just have a feeling that everything is going to be fine. 

I tell Beckickles this, and that I love her. I have the last song I heard playing in my mind over and over, and it still sent shivers up my spine to this day.


"In the chilly hours and minutes, of uncertainty
                  I want to be in the warm heart of your loving mind"

The baby is getting nearer, and obviously the pain more intense. I'm clutching her hand, or rather she's clutching mine and she pulls me close. She stops screaming momentarily and I pulls me closer, calmly. I think she's gonna tell me she loves me and how I'm the only person she wants there. I think this, right until she pulls me about a sweatdrop away from her brow and screams as loud as she possibly can in my face. I think even Dale Winton on Radio 2 heard it.

The nurse keeps telling Beckickles that she's doing good and she's doing well. While she is doing really well, I'd hate to see someone who wasn't. I'd especially hate to see her husband. Poor buggar.

"Do you want to look?" Beckickles's Mum turns to me and says.

While I do very much want to look, the thought of a small persons head escaping from a once happy and friendly place, shocks me a little bit. Frankly it takes me aback. I look pale. The hospital walls are white, and I'm making them look golden. 

I step towards the business end and you know, it's a beautiful thing, it really is. My little boy's head is half in/half out and suddenly a moment of calm and peace comes over Beckickles. She breathes in and out and the room is silent. At one point I thought the nurse was going to ask if anybody wanted a brew, that's how calm it was. Even Dale Winton hushed up. 

Oh wait no, they turned the radio off. Probably best, no baby should have to be born into that.

...and then, believe it or not, he was born. I was so excited. I've never been so elated with anything before, or since, it was amazing. I was so proud of the pair of them, and I've never stopped being. 

I rang my mother and he sneezed a little sneeze, a moment I'll remember forever. I dress him and it's strange, the first moment I've dressed anyone apart from myself. It's an honour for me that I was the first person to dress him, and I'll never forget it.

At 7.05 I wake up and glance down past to my feet to see darkness emanating from my sons room. Silence too. 

This is curious.

He's usually up by now, flicking his light switch on and off or doing whatever children do when left to their own devices. Setting fire to his curtains or plotting his revenge for one too many bath times perhaps.

I enter his room and find him sprawled the wrong way on his bed, but boy, he does look comfy. His eyes are open just enough to see the world, but closed just enough to block it out. I shake him. This was my first mistake. I stroke his head. This was my second mistake.
"Noooo daddy no-no-no! It's bedtime!"
He forces himself in a ball in the corner of his bed, searching for that perfect place to hide so as I might forget he was there, abandon his room and go back to bed.
"It's time to get up now, little man."
"NO! You go to bed! Go to sleep!"
You have to admire him for trying. He tries to reason with me.

"Lights off." He points skyward to his dark ceiling.
"Bedtime." He adds.
He has a good point really. I start thinking of agreeing with him and retiring for a nap but I can't really. His mum nicked my spot in bed, for one thing. I turn his light on and he gets up. He instructs me to open the curtains, which I do. A dark blue light pours into the room which he notices.
"It's still daaaaark!"
Damn. He's got me there. I urge him out of the room before his argument gets any better. It's "come-up time" he states.

He sits on my knee while I start to dress him. We talk about cars and his friends at school and he's got lots to tell me today.
"I love mummy and daddy and grandad and grandma!" he tells me and it melts my heart.
He's a good kid. The best in fact.

I hold my perfect son in my arms for about 3 hours but it feels like 3 minutes. 

His eyes are open just enough to see the world outside, but shut just enough to block it out. 

My eyes are never taken off him and whether he evers knows it or not, he'll be my best friend as long as I live. 

I leave him with his mother and go to my mothers house. My old man hands me a beer and a pizza to celebrate, which I don't even drink before I shut my eyes. Just tight enough, but I'm not blocking anything out anymore.

I wake up and remember. I'm a father.

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