2024 Summer Solstice Update

by on 2024-06-26 | License Permalink

So I’m a father now. This has been a wonderful albeit monumental shift in my life and my daughter, D, is a constant source of joy to me.

I was originally really worried that having a baby would be inherently at odds with my needs as someone with ADHD and ASD, but I’ve thankfully been proven wrong in this case. I still do require the odd bit of “me time” to recharge my batteries but this stage of parenting has not been the constant drain that I was worried it would be since D is a true font of energy for me. I can be physically and mentally exhausted and all I need is a smile from her and I’m recharged for the next hour.

Of course, I am not currently bearing the full brunt of parenting. My beloved partner, A, has truly blossomed into motherhood and my heart swells with joy and pride every time I look at her and D together. A has been the most understanding and flexible partner one could possibly ask for as a new father. She’s allowed me to carve out time for my most foundational of hobbies to ensure I have enough mental fuel in the tank to help out where I am best needed. She manages breastfeeding as well as looking after D while I work; and still manages to find time to manage the entire household laundry cycle – one of my infamous “blind spots” when it comes to chores.

In return I now am acting as Head Chef in the house as I do the vast majority of the cooking. I also do all of the standard house cleaning i.e. surfaces and hoovering (which we used to share) and since D has decided that the car is the worst thing ever, I’ve been handling doing all of the food shopping on my pedals as well. I love it.

There have been a few low moments. D was admitted to the ICU on a ventilator when she was only 10 days old, and I found a new depth to the amount of despair it was possible to feel as a human. I’ve got a bit of residual trauma from this event, and I’ll never forget the image of my baby daughter looking at me, hurt and confused as to what was happening to her as she breathed through a tube.

Luckily, she recovered incredibly well and has grown quite large and strong. I’m hoping this trend continues well into the future, as the sun begins to lower and we head closer and closer to the next winter.

Key Events


This is going to be a relatively short section this time around! Having a child throws a big ol’ pile of disruption and there’s a bit less time to myself to faff on with unimportant things. I still have time to myself but I have to be more acute with how I use it now.


Archery has taken a bit of a hit. I’ve assembled my bow and my coach at Cleadon Archers, P, has been phenomenal in helping me set it up and tune it as well.

Since D has been born and I’ve got my bow and arrows, I’ve only managed to make it to the archery field once but it was a lovely morning and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with my wife, my daughter, and P throwing arrows down the field. I’ve lost a lot of accuracy compared to when I was using the rental bow and doing archery once or twice a week but it’s still fun.

I’m looking forward to when D is a bit more interactive so we can hang out at the field together for a bit, but I’m not sure when that will be and I am in no rush.

Creative Writing

I’ve done very little creative writing since the last solstice update. I’ve done a bit of world-building for one of my planned settings but I’ve done no creative work on either the characters, plot, or putting fingers to keyboard and getting some words out.

This is likely because it takes a bit of brainpower that I’ve not got at the moment.


I’m still exercising, thankfully.

My partner has been wonderful in that she’s always ensured that I’ve got space to do at least a baseline of strength training to maintain my physical and mental health, despite the fact she could have reasonably asked that I give it up for the time being.

When D was born my plan was to take an initial two weeks off of all exercise and then to do “micro workouts” of various strength moves, to keep some maintenance. That plan changed a bit, as I hadn’t reckoned with the hormone shift that occurs in new fathers. I discovered that my testosterone crashed and my body-fat shot up massively, and I lost a reasonable bit of muscle mass. This was distressing until I realised what was happening, and my body felt very alien to me indeed. Of course, this was very minor compared to what my partner was going through at the time but it was still quite a shock and physically very uncomfortable.

This changed my plan a bit and I started doing very small workouts after about a week of D’s birth. We still hadn’t figured out the sleeping schedule, so I was physically quite tired and these were some of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done. I worked out in my back yard at random times of the day, and did two or three movements per session, relying on instinct to figure out which exercises I hadn’t worked in a few days.

This worked for me until D went into the ICU which was another massive disruption. After a few days in the ICU and sleeping in the hospital, I went home to help relieve our friend J of Fröyja duty and ended up doing a workout the next morning to feel better about life.

This somehow evolved into my current routine which is to do a strength workout every third day. This has worked wonderfully for me, and I’ve even gained strength on my pull-ups. I’ve recently started adding in a short jog/run on the second day as well but this has been intermittent and experimental as I still have knee pain, and it has a noticeable impact on my recovery.

I will eventually take up running again, but I think I’ll aim for running 5 km consistently rather than trying to adopt my old routine of aiming to run a 5K and a 10K each week. I had a lot of fun when building up my running across 2020 to 2022 but it fell into a holding pattern which wasn’t working for me. I’m enjoying my return to prioritising strength, but I definitely need to do some steady-state cardio for my cardiovascular health as I’m otherwise rather sedentary. A few 5Ks here and there seems a good balance for now.


We’ve done very little hiking since the last update sadly. We did manage to make it up Roseberry Topping just before D was due to be born which was seriously impressive on the part of my partner. Otherwise very little movement here.

A few weeks ago, we did a test hike with D going from Sunderland up the coast to South Shields which is a very flat and very easy 15 Km. This went reasonably well, with a pit-stop in a local pub about two thirds of the way up. We were going to take D hiking across some of the Cheviot Hills in the week leading to the Summer Solstice but she recently decided that she hated the car to the point where she screamed constantly for 45 minutes during trips. We therefore knocked the idea on the head and we’ll work out how best to get out walking at a later date.


Esperanto continues to be a big part of my life, and is arguably an even bigger part of my life now since I am speaking to my daughter almost exclusively in the language. I still journal in Esperanto, but less often now that D is born as it’s no longer a daily habit. I’m trying to do more reading in order to compensate for this though.

I’ve also picked up Norwegian Bokmål on Duolingo, very casually. I’ve had the itch to learn a third language for a while now and while I can’t throw myself into it the same way I did with Esperanto back in 2020, I’m enjoying it for now despite Duolingo’s descent into enshittification. I doubt I’ll be in a position to write any Norwegian for some time, but my goal is to translate one or two pages of this site into Norwegian eventually.

After I’ve hit up Duolingo for a month or so, I’ll explore some other resources to get a better grasp on the grammar. One challenge I’ve found is trying to find a decent EN-NO dictionary, but this is me looking ahead to problems I don’t technically have yet.


As with everything else, the logs are a bit sparser. I don’t think we’ve managed to watch a movie since D was born as we’ve mostly subsisted on a diet of TV shows. I’m still figuring out how I want to log these, but likely will start off with just logging the dates of episodes I’m watching.

I’ve not been able to read much thanks to having less time to read, but also from having a bit of baby-brain and not being able to read as fast as I used to be able to. I know that will come back, but it’s pretty sad for me at the moment. On the upside, since I now have daily “dance” session with my daughter I have been listening to a lot of music – although we often don’t make it through an entire album before it’s time for her bath.


Some old favourites as always. In terms of new music, I got back into Black Metal a bit which was a nice nostalgia trip. It was really fun digging through my old backups and finding files from albums I’d bought as a teenager. I also splurged on acquiring the back catalogues of former Beatles members. So far, I like Ringo the least but I’ve only listened to a bit of him compared with John Lennon and George Harrison.

I also got a few Dinosaur Jr. albums from my driving instructor, which have been delightful. A friend also lent me some of Casiopea’s catalogue. I can’t tell whether I really liked them, or whether they sounded a bit too video-gamey for my taste. Perhaps Jazz-Funk fusion simply isn’t my thing. We’ve also got a few Eagles albums inherited from my late Father-In-Law, which are nice enough and easy to listen to. I also received my first ever vinyl EP just for me, for my father’s day gift; which was Folk Songs From Northumbria by Owen Brannigan.

For me the musical highlights of this half a year have been the long anticipated release of Exodus by Cyferdyne and the discovery of “Blackgaze” as a genre.

Cyferdyne are one of my favourite bands. Exodus will sadly be their last album but it was a hell of a sendoff. I bought the CD+Digipak from the bandcamp page, and posted the CD to my friend while I made use of the .ogg files. I wouldn’t normally link off or advertise an album from my blog but I knew a few members of the band from way back and I love their music and they’re a small band so if you like electronic music you should check them out:

I discovered Blackgaze when wikipedia’ing about Black Metal while I listened to some albums and thought it was a curious hybrid, but didn’t think much of it. However a few weeks ago a colleague who has a big interest in Black Metal recommended some Alcest to me as I asked for some new music in the genre and mentioned I was coming off of a jazz dive. I instantly fell in love and scooped up a few albums to tide me over.

Here’s the full list of albums in chronological order I listened to them, with the help of DeDupeList for removing duplicates:


Not loads of books this half a year. This has been a good thing, really, as it means I focus more on what I enjoy rather than trying to devour as many books as possible.

I finished and mostly-enjoyed The Sunlit Man by Brandon Sanderson. It definitely reads as a sort of treat for those who’ve read all the Cosmere books up to this point. I liked it enough as a relatively stand-alone book, but it wasn’t particularly memorable compared to the high standard that the Cosmere books have set out so far.

I also read Defiant — also by Brandon Sanderson — immediately afterwards… and didn’t really enjoy it! Maybe it had been too long since I read Cytonic or maybe it was just too much Sanderson. I felt that the pacing was really off and I think the book didn’t do anything particularly memorable, to the point that I can’t actually remember what happened in it. I might revisit this at some point to give it another, fairer, go but I also remember enjoying the first book in the series, Skyward a lot more than either of the two following books. Maybe this was inevitable?

I read Scythe at the recommendation of a friend, and found it fine. It was a bit transparent what was happening in the plot and while it was a very interesting premise, the setting or the characters didn’t really grip me in the end. It was fine but not exciting enough for me to want to pick up the rest. I think I’m not the target audience.

I delved into some Terry Pratchett which is always a treat. I really liked Small Gods as well as Lords and Ladies. I then finally started reading The Expanse series, and was instantly hooked a few pages into Leviathan Wakes. I read two, and then to prevent SciFi burnout I threw another Pratchett in there. Men At Arms was delightful, and the break from Sci-Fi meant I could thoroughly enjoy Abaddon’s Gate just in time for my daughter to be born and disrupt my reading time entirely.

I didn’t read much at all until I was trying to stay awake one night by reading on my phone, and found a link to Despoilers of The Golden Empire on Project Gutenburg. “Despoilers” is a novella by Randell Garrett under the pseudonym of David Gordon, written as a pulpy SciFi serial of humans invading an alien empire on a new world but with a lovely twist at the end. I knew the twist going in since I’d read about it on a forum post but enjoyed it nonetheless. I finished the novella in one sitting on my phone and then downloaded an EPub copy later for my library.

After this, I decided to try and commit to reading a little bit on my e-reader before bed, to rebuild my reading muscles. I started off light with some Animorphs and then picked up another Pratchett book, Soul Music. I enjoyed Soul Music less than previous Discworld entries as I felt it lacked drive for the plot and was more a series of vignettes about rock and roll making its way into Discworld. However it was still good.

I’m currently struggling for something to read next as I want something light and non-committal, but I’ve learned that I burn out of Discworld quite quickly so don’t want to risk another one so soon.


I’ve only watched one movie since my daughter was born, during a 0400 cuddle-session where I was using Spirited Away to try and stay awake. Notably the wrong movie for that as it’s so relaxing and cosy!

But before D was born, we had a good few movie nights. Some highlights for me were The Holdovers, The Wrestler, The Florida Project, and Knives Out.