Category Archives: Parenting

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Latitude: Family Match Report

Sixteen+ mossie/insect bites – including two on the face
Two days of walking at least 14 miles (30k steps)
Two terrifying lightning storms whilst in the tent
Slap in the face from sleeping child: one
One two hour battle with the elements to drag gear back to the car
Beautiful sunsets: two
Pleading with nice lady to lend me her trolley: once
One limited edition pink tophat made of stickers
One red neck (see below)
First aid kit used: many times
First Aid Kit listened to: just the once
Havianas broken in mud: two
Disgustingly sweaty tee shirts: lost count
One freehand drawing workshop for non-drawers (me = hopeless)
One 90 minute singing lesson around Matilda the Musical
Avoided Lily Allen?: success
Avoided Haim?: partial
Two helter skelter rides for eldest daughter
One cut across the nose, narrowly missing daughter’s eye: check
One epic 90 minute festival-closing set from the Black Keys
Massive cheesy grins: four
Alcohol drunk: virtually zero, somewhat unbelievably

Underwhelming: Tame Impala, Damon Albarn
Good: Crystal Fighters, the War on Drugs, James Vincent Mcmorrow, First Aid Kit
Superb: Jungle, Asgeir, Goat, Clean Bandit, Black Keys, Bombay Bicycle Club

Missed (next time): George Ezra, Parquet Courts, Mogwai, Jon Ronson20140721-163449-59689786.jpg

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A Tiny Change

I’ve been going through an interesting internal debate over the last few weeks about the extent to which my inbox governs my life, both inside and outside of work.

Inside work is one thing – although it’s certainly debatable as to whether being super reactive and responsive, which is a trait that I value greatly and I’m told has been something that those that work with us also view as a significant benefit, is sometimes at the expense of greater mental clarity. That’s a balance which is hard to strike and something that I continue to work on. However, I’ve now come the the conclusion, which I’m sure is obvious to the rest of the world, that the battle with the inbox can never be entirely won. OK “battle” might not be the right term, as it implies divisiveness and clearly many of us, myself very much included, would now be lost without email (although this was an interesting experiment by MG Siegler). I’m really referring to the fact that part of my training was that the working day is never done until there is at least white space in the inbox – and preferably that everything needing attention has been actioned.

I’ve written about this subject before. I think that there are two types of users and there is just a few years between them. Those on the slightly older side of the divide have had the above ethos beaten into them through years of doing so. Those a little younger, that have grown up with first Hotmail and then Gmail offering seemingly endless supply of storage, don’t ‘action and delete or archive’, they ‘action and leave it there’ in case they need it later. Clearly this is a broad generalisation but I find it to be true again and again. Those that ‘action and delete’ really only delete from the inbox as they tend to keep important info in some type of folder structure, whereas the second group are more comfortable keeping everything in an amorphous, ever growing, inbox. This tends to govern how people feel about email – with the former group (myself included) needing to ‘be on top of email’ and the latter group being more accepting of the fact that they are merely swimming within the flow.

The realisation that the demands of my current role are such that I can never have a clear inbox at the end of the day have meant that I do feel like I’m continually wrestling with it. The more I do so, the more it eats into my life, both inside and outside work.

So, just prior to going on holiday a few weeks back, I made what will seem like a tiny change to most people but which was certainly a big one for me. Whilst I have several gmail and hotmail addresses, they are not used as personal mail – instead for purposes such as back up of other mail and to sync contacts with my android phone.

However, when moving this blog across to it’s new home at www.petegoold.com, I thought I’d take the opportunity to set up a personal email which I then gave to just immediate family and close friends. Not work.

Effectively this allowed me to turn off my work email to go on holiday yet still have email and the internet to hand, without fear of getting smashed with 500 work emails per day which would doubtless have resulted in me feeling the compulsion to action the important ones.

In short, this small change has meant a major separation between my personal and professional lives.

To be honest it has been a long time coming and it has been essential. The business has been developing whilst my kids have been growing up. I like to think that no one has suffered – quite the contrary, I think the decision to do what we have done was exactly the right one – but being able to choose when and whether to work, rather than it being a reflex action from the moment of waking to the last thing I do before turning the lights off at night and all points in-between, is where I want to be.

Inside work, nothing changes. A number of things have happened this year which have allowed me to reflect on what I love about what I do – and as a result I’ve realised that it’s the freedom and flexibility that is most important to me. If something major were to change in my professional life tomorrow, I’d still work as I do, simply because it’s the way I’m hard wired, so I have no problem with that. But it’s nice to finally feel that I have some power over it and I no longer need to go on holiday to switch off and recharge.

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The Big Chill – A Parent’s Review

I have just discovered that taking two small children to a three day music festival is a pretty gruelling endeavour, even when there is some cheating (i.e. hotels) and a couple of adults involved.

As my colleagues will confirm, I had been banging on about going to the Big Chill for weeks in advance. Having gone with my wife once before the children arrived and once subsequently with just our eldest a few years back, we thought we’d give it another go this year. However having been previously – and knowing that it’s also known as ‘the big hill’ on the basis of the walk between car parks and camp sites – we thought we’d do ourselves a favour and stay at a local hotel.

The event was great. I’ve seen lots of detractors this year based on the acts and attendees – but personally I went with different expectations.

Firstly the fact we stayed off-site meant no drinking. Also the mild parental terror associated with the potential for small people to wander off in large crowds whilst one’s back in turned for half a second meant that I was just planning to be 100% attentive to them throughout.

Moreover, I was fairly indifferent about having to trek from one place to another to be in a certain place for a certain time to see a specific act, with the full entourage in tow. To be honest, I’m not even sure this is about being laden down as, in my experience, trying to be somewhere you’re not at a festival is a recipe for ongoing disappointment.

So, we just settled into it, with the occasional loose plan that would be happily sacked off at a moment’s notice if something else remotely attractive (i.e. a bacon butty, or spot of papier mache) was closer at hand.

We did have some great highlights, ie my youngest running around to some reggae with a little guy she’d just met at DJ Food on the Friday. Aloe Blacc was terrific – the little one was asleep in the pram and I bounced up and down like a trooper with my eldest on my shoulders for an unprecedented ninety minutes, whilst my wife wobbled about on a crash barrier, desperately trying to catch his eye.

Late Friday night we walked back via the main stage and caught ten minutes of the Chemical Brothers, which was crazy. By this point we were all wiped out – but there were lots of high fives aimed in the direction of my sleepy child (who, it’s fair to say, loves a bit of Hey Boy, Hey Girl) from the assembled mashed-up ravers.

Saturday was a bit of a washout, although I’m proud to say that we left a few hours before Kanye – who we later learned was vilified by pretty much all in attendance for his ego-centric postering – and Sunday was another good day, topped off by dancing around to Norman Jay, again whilst carrying little people around on the shoulders.

I did have a few drinks on the Sunday but otherwise we waited until getting back to the room each day before treating ourselves to a nightcap (nb – I think I may be the first person ever to have a glass of port at the end of a day at a Festival). The kids have come home thinking that eating crisps whilst soaking in a bath to get rid of the manifold substances under their fingernails is the height of luxury. And we have found a new passion for making sharks, fish and star wands out of soaked willow, tissue paper and cling film. No really.

As we hoped would be the case, it was one of those weekends where you can look back on loads of happy memories about family life. But my god, it was hard work. Pushing a pram with one dead weight with another on the shoulders for 12 hours a day takes its toll.

But that all fades of course, whilst the pictures that feature big grins and our respective memories all endure.

So, would I recommend it? Yes absolutely – but only if you’re prepared to go as a parent, not to try to be a festival go-er in the sense that it’s typically thought of, as that way lies madness in my opinion. Also, I’d strongly advise you to start thinking about weight lifting training some time in advance.

(NB – Normally I don’t write about my kids here or anywhere else – I just choose not to until such a time as they can decide for themselves – but I’ve justified this to myself on the basis that this post is more about being a parent, rather than my kids specifically. So I guess it’s OK.). See more pics here.

Holiday Packing

So, we’re heading away for a couple of weeks and there’s a growing disparity between the fact that when I go away I want to leave all worldly trappings behind for a while (possibly aside from my flip flops and a healthy stack of paperbacks) yet somehow the quantity of things we take with us has reached such a point that it’s all but impossible to fit it into a reasonably sized car, at either end. Do two adults and two kids really need four massive suitcases? Apparently so, although it really does defy logic.

We’ve also hit the point at which the cost of travel is the same as paying for four adults. That, coupled with the school holiday price increase means that what should be a fairly cheap and cheerful junket to Spain becomes a fairly serious investment.

One thing is sure though, whilst I may not have appreciated the value of holidays that much in the past, they have now become absolutely essential, both in terms of everyone spending unbroken time mucking about together and also to catch up on sleep and recharge.

Our holiday lego tradition continues to unfold. Subject to Amazon’s delivery – hopefully later today – we will be taking a new Belville lego set in my suitcase to surprise the girls with on arrival.

It’s pink, involved dogs and horses which, I suspect, should fit the bill.

To quote a friend: down periscope…

Now We Are 6

It’s been a big week at work – but this weekend it’s my eldest daughter’s birthday and we have a ‘disco party’ lined up for tomorrow – with about 35 kids and 20 or so adults coming. Having been to a school disco with her earlier this week, which was enough to bring on a migraine and the cold sweats, I’m tired just thinking about it.

I find that birthday presents are a nightmare – how do you differentiate from the usual stuff that they are fortunate enough to receive on a regular basis? They’re pretty relaxed about things but the only request that we seen to get repeatedly if for either a pony (not happening) or a puppy (hmm). So, yesterday I found that a new toyshop had opened locally and they have a beautiful wooden marble maze kit, which is apparently likely to last a lifetime. What’s more, much like lego, it’s something we can do together, completely on a level with each other despite our 31 year age difference, which is terrific. The little one seems to think that it’s intended to be knocked over the second it’s made – but that aside, it’s hopefully one of those purchases which will be around for years to come.

I can’t even begin to think of what we have to do for the party tomorrow – all I know is that I’ve secured the help of a couple of sturdy friends and I see that I’m going to be spending a lot of time with sandwiches fillings in the next 24 hours.

Now, whatever should I wear?

Oh, The Irony

I’ve had a bit of a night of it.

Although we have taken our eldest daughter to a couple of festivals (the Big Chill, twice), it’s impossible to take two of them at their age – or at least highly impractical. Nevertheless, every Glastonbury weekend, I try and watch as much of it as I can, both immediately and over the following weeks.

So, there I was last night, sneaking in a bit of a late on to watch Gorillaz superb two hour Friday night set, featuring Lou Reed, Snoop, Mark E Smith, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble etc etc, only to find that when I did try to go to bed, the little one had been up for a while. So, taking over parental duties, we sat together for an hour or so, before decamping from her bedroom to the spare bedroom to try and get some shut eye. At about 1am, she was sick – and I can only think it was in honour of the Glastonbury weekend as, unusually, it only happened the once – and then decided she wanted to play for a bit. Two and a half more hours to be precise.

I gave up trying to get her down again at around two am – so we went and watched Glastonbury for a little longer before she finally keeled over. Block Party’s Kele was a particular gem.

Now Saturday beckons – and it looks like whatever it is has gotten my other two girls. So, i reckon a bit more Glastonbury might just be on the cards this weekend yet.

Shooting Up

The first two months of the year have shot past – baby Goold is now steaming around everywhere causing trouble, mini Goold is halfway through her second term at school (as a result of which I’ve had to endure the emotionally-charged prospect of her first two school discos) and once again, England are being hopleless in the six nations.

Work-wise, we’re flying. In the last two weeks we’ve hired an unbelievable three times, part of which compensates for a couple of recent departures but also it’s partly new growth, which is genuinely exciting. Indeed despite having hired a new account director and two new members of the digital team, we’re still looking for another account manager or director.

Morover, recent finance and HR additions mean that Punch is now a fundamentally different entity than it was even a few months back – and hopefully much more robust as a result.

Yesterday (Friday) morning, the team and I seized the opportunity to make some physical changes around the office, effectively to make better use of space but also to do a bit of a spring clean and ensure that the new joiners move into their new roles in the most welcoming environment possible. Having done so, I think the physical changes made a real impression on the team – myself very much included -as it’s a tangible result of the changes that we can all see happening within the company but at times may seem a bit remote from each of us as individuals.

I’m shortly taking the girls on holiday – which is much needed – but which I’m sure will be an interesting marker when coming back, to see us as we now stand, rather than what I’m used to.

Still, I can’t forsee any delusions of grandeur just yet.

Besides, baby and mini G got me up at 5am this morning – and as a result I have some very important business to attend to regarding pink horsey Lego and dressing up as a princess.

Over & Out

I’ve been pulling back for the last few days and although there are still a few emails to be answered, Christmas is looming – and for the first time in 6 years I’m taking a full two weeks off with the family.

Personally I want nothing more than time – spent with the girls and perhaps even to read a book or two. Certainly I’ve got the last 3 issues of Wired that remain untouched.

2009 has been remarkable – a year of consolidation in many ways as the second full year of growth. On top of which we’ve expanded internationally with clients as far afield as San Francisco and Dubai in addition to projects in Germany, Romania, Belgium, France and Israel.

2010 is looking like it could be incredible based on a number of superb conversations that have taken place in the last six weeks or so. More to follow but we’re certainly moving in the right direction.

Right, off to play with the girls – now where did I put that sledge…

Noise Pollution

Our eldest daughter’s starting school next Monday and, to make the best of her last few pre-school days, Emma decided to take the girls away for a few days to a cottage in Suffolk. Normally, wild horses couldn’t keep me away but having just taken a fair bit of holiday it just wasn’t practical or possible for me to go. So, this week I’ve been at home for several days without the girls, which has also coincided with a few days of me being slightly unwell, meaning that I’ve literally been at home, rattling about the house all day and night.

Normally, work keeps me occupied for every waking moment outside family life – but for the first time in a while I haven’t actually worked literally around the clock, stopping at 6pm or 7pm most days to do something else, for a few hours at least, before bed.

Although I’m surrounded by books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and films to watch, I’m just out of the habit of doing something quiet and for myself. I’m driving to see the girls later this evening – just so we’re together for a day or so earlier than we would otherwise be – and one thing’s for sure: I can’t wait to be surrounded by the general chatter and nonsense of family again as quickly as possible.