OPINION: Back to the future as Brat Minor moves back in to Fortress H

Thoughtful father and son looking through window in cottage

Father and son are reunited at Fortress H... an open-ended arrangement which also includes Neil's granddaughter and his son's dog - Credit: Getty Images

It’s just over four years since I left work.

Mrs H heralded my retirement with: “Now we’ll have time to stop and smell the roses on the way.” While I can’t say I’ve had too many floral whiffs, generally life moseys along at a gentler pace.

But shortly all that will change.

Fortress H is going back to the future.

Brat Minor and family are relocating from Nottingham to Norfolk. However, they will be returning before their house is sold and won’t have a property here. Brat Minor came up with a solution for temporary accommodation.

You’ve guessed it, Fortress H.

Of course, we readily agreed and we’re really looking forward to seeing more of them, and particularly our granddaughter, Brat Mini Minor.

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We’ve been busy making the house ready for the family to stay for what will be an open-ended period.

It’s not as though they are coming just for a holiday; they’ll need space to live.

It’s been years since Fortress H was populated by more than just Mrs H and me, and we’ve managed to fill almost every nook and cranny in the house.

Mrs H is currently whizzing around the house at warp speed to make sure we’re ready, while I’ve been allocated a list of home maintenance tasks, many of which have been on my 'To do' list for some time.

We’ve dug out books and toys that belonged to Brats M and M and sorted out the ones that are the right age for our granddaughter.

But how times change. We’ve had to dispose of one or two of the books because they are no longer PC.

We need to be aware of things that we aren’t so careful about that could be hazards for an inquisitive young lady. A screwdriver I’ve left lying around, the back door left open or an unguarded bottle of bleach.

It’ll be back to the old days with the bathroom, first come first showered. The washing machine will be in a spin, and feeding five will stretch the Fortress larder facilities.

Brat Mini Minor is tuning in to conversations, repeating words and phrases so we must be careful what we say.

When Brats M and M were tiny the worst we did was come out with the occasional “damn”. Brat Major latched on to it but fortunately, didn’t get it quite right. If she dropped something she’d exclaim: “Oh damage!”

Oh, and just one small point to throw into the mix.

Coming with them is their hyper dog, Dougal.

Dougal is a Labrador/springer cross. He has the unbridled exuberance of a springer spaniel, and, with the Labrador’s appetite, he’ll gobble up almost anything. His past offences include soap, crayons and even his mistress’s knickers.

His tail is in perpetual motion so objects such as ornaments will need to be moved above tail-wagging height – and out of reach of curious young fingers.

And, as with Brat Mini Minor, no loose talk in front of Dougal. If he hears the word “walk” he goes loopy.

Mind you, with an infant and a dog I should get plenty of exercise – even if it’s pushing the vacuum cleaner behind them.

I’m sure we’ll soon adjust to a new way of life – and possibly rediscover some elements of the old one. When Brat Minor lived at home, his passion for computers and all things electrical resulted in wires trailing everywhere, holes drilled in the wall and extraneous components under foot.

He works from home as a freelance voiceover artist, so such things are now all part of his job. Looks like we’ll once again be tripping over electrical spaghetti.

Mind you, we’ll have a resident technophile on tap. I can think of a few things he can sort.

Yes, of course, I’ll take Dougal for a walk - but perhaps he could just unravel the mysteries of our surround sound system...