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www.networkshe.com85of mine when women assume that a dad with a baby must be just giving his wife or partner a break before returning the child to, phew, the safety of his mother's bosom.Anyway, rant over. So, where are we up to? At the time of writing, Jack is three and almost a quarter, and ready to start part-time school in September. He is obsessed with cars, an interest engendered when my old banger fell to bits and he came with me around all the second hand car lots looking for a replacement. Sara is now at home because, by the time you read this, we'll have another baby. So it's back to the nappies, sleepless nights and teething. I wouldn't have it any other way. Are you a stay at home dad? Let us know your views and tweet us at @networksheAt a second birthday party we went to, one of the boys from the playgroup called me "Daddy" from across the other side of the room, he'd obviously heard Jack calling me that and assumed it was my name! Cue awkward laughter from both sets of parents!And of course, being the only dad at playgroup, I found myself cast in the role of handyman. Almost every week I had to fix the gate that stopped the toddlers from running out into the street, if it wasn't that it was getting the door to the playhouse back on its hinges after one of the toddlers had been a little over enthusiastic.The role of dads has undoubtedly changed over the generations, with more women going back to work after having children. Workplace cultures becoming more understanding of family priorities, and employers allowing more flexibility.But I believe a patronising view of fatherhood persists in some sections of society, with dads expected to be amusingly and endearingly incompetent until the time comes to teach a child to play football, rugby or cricket. I've seen TV documentaries about childbirth portraying dads as useless buffoons who you wouldn't trust to look after a hamster, let alone a child.I had to bite my lip when I encountered an example of this on a day out with Jack one time. I was queuing in the bank with Jack in his pushchair, when I stepped up to her desk the cashier asked me "are you babysitting today?" I mean, babysitting, really! Do you babysit your own child? It was well-meant enough, but it's a pet hate of his parents with him, even if he rarely saw both of us in the same room together.And then there was the lack of sleep. After a late night at work (and there have been many) I look forward to relaxing in front of late night telly before snatching a few precious hours shut-eye then peeling myself off the mattress to do the day to day routine all over again. In the tea v coffee debate I used to be firmly in the tea camp. But now I drink tea only when I want to relax, using coffee as a stimulant to keep me going through the day. Like Margaret Thatcher (although I hope the similarities are few) I've managed to train myself to survive on about five hours sleep per night, as long as I get a lie-in at the weekend.I wonder, if I'd had to do a 9-5 job like so many dads, would I have the same bond with my boy that I have had since before Jack could even walkBut I wonder, if I'd had to do a 9-5 job like so many dads, would I have the same bond with my boy that I have had since before Jack could even walk. Maybe I would have, there's no way of knowing. But we're like best mates and have been for as long as I can remember.We've been to everything together, swimming, toddler sessions at the library, music classes, playgroup. I was frequently the only man in the playgroup I took Jack to in order to help him socialise with other children. I was often uncomfortable making small talk with the chattering mums, so I played with Jack instead, becoming like one of the kids. NETWORK HeReady, steady, mow. Gareth with son Jack

86Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012It is easy to have a dream, but much harder to make it come true. Our lives were slipping by but we were determined to have our great adventure before old age caught up with us. It was a huge decision but it had been made. I gave up my job as a physiotherapist, husband Dave wound down his thriving building business and the house was sold. Mon Tour, our 35 foot yacht, was now to be our home. From her cosy berth in Y Felinheli on the Menai Strait she would take us to New Zealand.We knew that sailing with the seasons and trade winds it would take us at least a year. And what a year! Flat calms, high seas, stunning islands, kaleidoscopes of wildlife and coral reefs. Friendly smiling islanders, bandits in South America. Heat, humidity and mosquitoes, officialdom with its paper work and uniforms. The adventures flowed.The old life had been so busy. There had been so much to prepare, along with the last minute hubbub and tiredness. Then suddenly it was just the two of us, sailing slowly down the Irish sea, watching the mountains of Snowdonia slowly fading into the mist. It was a strange feeling, no house, no car, no job, no friends, no family. It was just the sea and our tiny boat.We buckled down as dusk arrived, to cope with at least a week at sea, heading south across Biscay towards the Canary Islands. Dolphins cheered us by visiting regularly, playing, diving and leading the boat. These skilful, swift, squeaking, intelligent creatures were to become our friends throughout all oceans. in the pre-dawn chill, and our last contact with land had gone.The wind was from the stern, from Africa, blowing us steadily west. The swell was an imposing four metres, but regular, with occasional cross swells which flooded the decks and cockpit. It was worrying but exhilarating surfing the green 'growlers' swooping from behind. The vastness of the ocean only served to emphasize the loneliness of this tiny floating capsule, driven slowly forward in an empty sea by the power of the wind.It was so exciting to make our first landfall in Barbados and to know our navigation had worked! It gives a real thrill, because you're never really sure till you arrive! We spent about a month on the island sight seeing and snorkelling over fantastic reefs teeming with colourful fish. It was not all plain sailing. One evening we decided to visit the village pub to catch up with the locals.We launched the dinghy and were rowing ashore when there was a loud crash of surf behind us. I saw the horror on Dave's face and the next thing the dinghy reared up vertically and we capsized and were dumped on the beach by the power of the surge much to the delight of the onlookers on the beach as we arrived sodden and bedraggled.Adventure AHOYJack it all in and sail around the world is the dream that Hazel Sneath and her husband made a reality when they sailed from North Wales to Oz. Hazel has written a book charting their journey which she extracts belowPutting out to sea is always an act of faith - in ourselves, the weather, and GodIf I thought of the journey in stages, it was easier to get my head round it. First stage south to the Canary Islands to pick up the trade wind that would take us across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Then through the Panama canal and into the vast Pacific Ocean to island hop our way to Australia and New Zealand.We set off from the Canaries in December and suddenly, there we were, out on the big waves with 2,500 miles of ocean ahead of us. The last loom of the lighthouse receded