Sunday, 15 October 2017

Day of the Lamps

I accept that I'm not someone who's ever been regarded as a person of good taste.  Clothes, sports teams, food, music, TV, idols - none of these are subjects on which I've ever heard a random stranger (or close friend) say, "now there's a man who knows his stuff."

So, in an attempt to win some much-needed street-cred, I turned my attention to internal lighting.

It shouldn't really have been a big task, in truth.

The floor lamp in the kids' playroom was banjaxed and needed to be replaced. 

What they had was a bit dull and a playroom is supposed to be fun so I thought, hey, let's add a bit of colour!

Well, what do you think? 

They are colourful, even my harshest critic would have to give me that. 

But there is perhaps a more obvious downside, which this photo might better illustrate.

That's right.  They're f***ing ginormous.  Much taller than me, in fact. They go almost right up to the ceiling (such are the perils of ordering from Amazon and not properly checking the dimensions before chucking it into your massive basket).

And there is another minor issue.  Both of the kids think they're "ugly." You may agree, you may not.  Vanessa's only smugly muttered comment was: "Well, you ordered them." 

The other problem with the Amazon aspect is that they're going to be expensive buggers to send back. Plus, I can't be arsed.

I only put them together yesterday morning and, as the day went on, I couldn't help but ponder on what our new friends reminded me of.  And last night it came to me. 

Do you remember the Triffids?


Yes, them.  They sacred to bejeezus out of me back in the day.  Let's hope our new lamps don't eat us alive.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Farewell to a legend

A fun but sad moment last night when we said "goodbye for now" to my old mate John McIlroy.

But not before he (and fellow dinner guest Sue) became Strictly judges for the evening.

John was the first friend I made when Vanessa and I left London for Leeds in 2003.  Like me, he worked at Yorkshire Forward.  And also like me, he was born in Belfast.

Over the years we've had some very, very good nights.  For example, this was when we celebrated the Ireland rugby team winning the Six Nations Championship.  

I remember the "morning after" headache just as well. 

One of life's truly good (and hugely entertaining) guys, John was recently offered a job in his native city and has decided that it's time to go home.  Good for him, bad for the many friends he leaves behind in Yorkshire. 

Thankfully, our first reunion is already in the diary.  Nine weeks today.  In a Belfast bar.  Always best to stick to what you know.   

Monday, 25 September 2017

Seaside perspectives

My old mate John Gordon and I headed up to Scarborough on Saturday morning to witness something a little bit different.

Oliver's Mount was our destination, England's only motorcycle pure road racing circuit.  

We agreed to go when we were both marshaling at the North West 200 back in May.

And Saturday was a spectacular day... a first class setting.

Sunday began well too.  I'd not seen sidecars race before.

Although I have seen the one and only Michael Dunlop tear up the tarmac many times.

And then it all went wrong.

As you may have heard in the news, disaster struck not once but twice with two quite bizarre crashes.  Thankfully, the riders involved were shaken up but no worse.

Sadly ten fellow spectators were not so fortunate.  Four air ambulance visits were necessary in the end and a number of those hurt remain in hospital, some with serious injuries.   Hopefully all will make full recoveries.  And John and I will most certainly be back.

Although when I say that, I mean Oliver's Mount - not Sunnyside Guest House which cost an eye-watering £75 for the night.

To be fair the (tatty) warning sign was already there.

It turned out to be the first bed and breakfast I've come across that doesn't serve breakfast.

It did have other "special features" though.

Such as damp.

The landlady claimed that it wasn't damp, instead explaining that "the wallpaper reacted with the paste." On the ceiling?

Me arse.

I didn't book a bunk bed, but that was what I got.

We booked an en suite bathroom.

But both of us were too big to bathe in the prison-issue sink.

Still, after the drama that was about to unfold, these things hardly mattered.

Scarborough good; Sunnyside Guest House not so much.    

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A farsighted gesture of kindness

Jamie has for some time held a fascination for birds and is now something of a self-taught expert in our feathered friends.

This is a fact that was well-known to his step-granddad Derek who sadly died back in June.  Indeed, above you can see a photo of Derek showing Jamie a mechanical bird in a cage when Master White was just 18 months old. Judging by that evidence, it seems Jamie's obsession began much earlier than I realised.

Earlier today, a parcel arrived with Jamie's name emblazoned on the front.  It also contained a note.

In case you can't make out the words, it reads as follows:


I found these in Derek's wardrobe.  I am sure he would love you to have them for your birdwatching.


Love Granny."

The note was accompanied by Derek's binoculars, which Jamie didn't need a second invitation to try out.

Maybe he'll lend them to Charlotte one day. But I doubt it.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Creeping away from the nest

Something of a landmark moment on the walk to school this morning when Jamie disappeared off into the distance.

Now into his second week in Year 5, Master White has decided that he now wants to make the journey kind of on his own.

And when I say "kind of," he means 30 yards ahead.

Can you spot him?

OK, so I made it easy for you.  But you get the idea.

To be fair to the boy, he hasn't chosen to completely cut the apron string.

This morning he still turned around every few seconds to give me a thumbs up or a wave.  But there's no mistaking the fact that the long march to independence has begun.

May he tread carefully but well.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is staying right where she is.

If only for now.

Monday, 11 September 2017

I'm not bored, I'm not bored, I'm not bored...

Good evening once again from Salford where my "working away" adventure continues apace.  And out and out luxury is never far away.

To illustrate, here is tonight's view.


Outstanding. I could be in that Vegas.

And the local dining experience is just as exciting.

After a short browse, I plumped for a Subway.

A footlong Meatball Marinara, to be precise.

"How much do I owe you?" I enquired.

"£5.50," said my robotic friend behind the counter, who added: "Do you want a drink from the fridge and a cookie?" 

"Yes, please," I replied. "How much do I owe you now?"


Good man. 

Following this exhilarating moment, I was handed the opportunity to scoff my scran in three different places - all at the same time.

Let me show you.

When I looked to my right, I was in Subway.


OK, so no great surprise there.

But here's where it gets really fun.

When I looked straight ahead, I was in Greggs.


Such a shame that it was closed.  I really fancied a gift card.


And when I looked to my left, I was in a Spar.


A triple crown to remember.


Following a chocolate stop at Tesco Express (which was even cheaper than the Spar), it was time for "home."


That's Travelogical.


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I'm only writing this so I don't have to go to bed

Greetings campers. 

You join me in my uber-budget hotel in deepest Salford where I'm staying whilst doing a bit of work. 

Just so you know how glamorous my life actually is, for my £28 I also get a 1970s microwave in my room.

Using all my push button skills, I've just whipped-up a Tesco cottage pie. Later, I shall have a plastic tumbler of tea.

Breakfast tomorrow morning will consist of  two pre-buttered scones which I brought with me on the train from Guiseley in a Tupperware box. I'll wash them down with a small carton of Morrisons orange juice that will also double up as one of my one-a-day.

This surely is how life should be lived. 

I had a day off yesterday.  It began with that traditional set-piece moment for parents with kids of a certain age. The "first day back at school, aren't they cute?" photo.

This was our effort.


Make your own mind up.

And then it was time for a proper treat that I'd really been looking forward to. A day at the cricket.



Not a single ball was bowled. Not even one.

I blame this man.


My pal John Kettley. He's a weather man. They even wrote a song about him. 

Other familiar Yorkshire company was there in the form of ex-international umpire Harold "Dickie" Bird.


That's Dickie on the left telling stories, which were genuinely entertaining. He's flanked by Mark Arthur, the chief executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

So not all bad.

Unless you're staying in my hotel.

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Lion's sh*t tonight

"Where is ze boy?"

Those were the first words we heard this morning when Jamie's new amigos rocked up at our balcony demanding his supervisory presence.


As Basil Fawlty might correctly point out, they're from Barcelona.

Shortly after meeting Jamie, the little guy on the left made a triumphant appearance on stage during the camp's latest production, The Lion King.


It was every bit as good as I feared it might be.


That's Simba on the right when "he" was a cub.

And here he is all grown up.


It's uncanny, and all without the use of special effects. Or even make-up.

The best part of the show was arguably when rain stopped play 20 minutes in. Most of the crowd simply got up and left so there was no point in going on.

Thankfully most returned when the skies calmed down.


There is something of an end of season feel about the camp now as people begin to depart.

Our friend Philippa departed in style with her boys yesterday morning.


But not before kindly bequeathing some spare inflatables.


Which were soon put to good use.


And tonight we're out for dinner with this lot, which is guaranteed to be fun for young and old(er) alike.


Then tomorrow, it'll be time for Charlotte to say arrivederci to her adopted furry pal as we head back to Rome for one last night in this wonderful country.


For now, though, it's time for a final trip to the pool.

Which reminds me, where is ze boy?

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Camping it up


I never thought I'd say this but I'm sick of drink.

OK, I take that back - it was the drink talking - but, when you're confronted with sights like this, what is a boy to do?


Mamma Mia! Yes, the show. It was a scene from that. "Live" on stage here in camp.

Although it wasn't actually live. It was the reps lip-syncing not just to the soundtrack from the movie, but the dialogue too. 


Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters, Colin Firth. They could all be heard. Over the crackling sounds on the cassette tape.


It's The Lion King tonight. 

When I told Jamie, his immediate response was: "Can you imagine the costumes?" 

Charlotte: "They'll probably be wearing onesies."

At least it'll be good to hear Alan Rickman's voice again.

In other news, Charlotte is now the proud owner of a Vomy Ball.


Yup, it's a ball that vomits.


Here she is loading it up with pretend puke.



I wonder what new cultural delights today might offer.