Monday, 20 November 2017

Going down the local - Guiseley style

I've said many times on here that it all happens in Guiseley and, once again, the town has led whilst the nation waits to follow.

Despite the best obstructive efforts of two NIMBYfied Tory councillors who only ever appear here at election time, a new bar called The Potting Shed is due to open in Guiseley next month.  And many of us are most excited by the prospect.

But they've just been beaten to the punch - by our local supermarket.

Yes, Morrisons - my second home - has opened a new in-store bar.  Serving a range of beers and wines, "Barista" (as it's been named) is the only supermarket in the entire United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to offer shoppers the chance to sup.

I thought it was a joke when I first heard.  And then I read the papers.

I've not stopped smiling since because I'm sad, shallow and predictable.

I haven't had my first pint in there yet but we've some visitors coming this weekend who are famously fond of a good night out.

And when in cutting edge Guiseley....

Saturday, 18 November 2017

A chance to fly with the bogie men

Jet2holidays have launched a novel competition which has left one member of our family feeling a mix of great excitement and heartfelt disappointment.

Called the “Ultimate School Trip,” schools across the UK are being handed the chance for an entire class to visit Jet2holidays’ new Sol Katmandu Park and Resort in Majorca and participate in “fun educational workshops with celebrity hosts.” We’re talking Dick and Dom here folks.  

In total, nine classes of 9-13 year olds and their teachers will spend a long weekend next April on this “once-in-a-lifetime trip.” (Can you tell I’ve cut and pasted same of this stuff?) 

To enter, pupils are being challenged to "jet-power their imagination and produce their own promotional piece for Sol Katmandu Park & Resort, whether that be a poster, poem, song or video." 

The judges (we’re still talking Dick and also Dom) will "create a shortlist of five schools in each of Jet2holidays’ nine airport regions, which will then go to a public vote, with the final nine class winners announced on Tuesday 13th March. All 45 shortlisted schools will receive £1,000 worth of school equipment vouchers."

Right, that’s the bumpf and, to be fair, it is a very clever piece of marketing.

Jet2holidays reps have just begun a fortnight roadshows across the country to plug their initiative.  And on Wednesday they rocked up at Jamie and Charlotte’s school. 

Not only that, Jamie was chosen a one of three St Oswald’s boys to be interviewed on camera.   

But here's the disappointing bit. He was one of only one boy who had stardom snatched away just as he was set to say his piece.

See for yourself (the whole film only lasts a minute).

I’ll let you know if St Oswald's get shortlisted (and we need your votes). Surely it's the least Dick and Dom can do. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Visiting the Lions' den

I'm very nervous tonight - I'm missing my boys and I'm worried about them.

"Who are your 'boys' Barry?" I hear you cry.  Very good question. 

I'm talking about the players of Guiseley AFC who I've grown very fond of.  And I'm not alone. 

Here's another fan visiting them at home.


Yes, that's Jamie on the left eating his pie and peas in the clubhouse prior to kick-off.

And then we went outside.

That was our first visit. We've had a few trips since, including the one below to Guiseley's FA Cup 1st Round tie against Accrington Stanley.


There was a bigger crowd that day.  And Guiseley earned a well-deserved draw.

10 days on and the replay is taking place right now. That's why I'm nervous. A win tonight followed by another against Mansfield Town and the Lions will be in the proverbial hat for Round 3 with the possibility of a crack at one of the Premier League big guns.

These are exciting times for our town.  The club went full-time professional just a few weeks ago and have since signed a bucketful of new players.  The future is looking bright for all involved.  And the least local residents like me can do is turn up, pay our money and shout our encouragement.

Loads are doing already doing it.  I see other people I know (but who I've never met at a game) every time I go.  And crucially, the kids experience is hugely positive.  

They let them in free for a start - removing any excuse parents might have for refusing an experimental visit.

Once in there, there's no shortage of sustenance. Last Saturday, Jamie topped up his pie and peas with a tray of chips and a hot chocolate (which, admittedly, he burnt his tongue on. It was a very hot chocolate).

And crucially, the atmosphere is incredibly friendly. The home fans have a laugh but swearing is essentially banned and terrace aggro barely exists.

So, people of Guiseley, Yeadon, Menston, Rawdon and all points in between, do yourself (and your young 'uns) a favour and get yourself along to Nethermoor.

In the meantime I can report that tonight's half-time score is Accrington Stanley 0 Guiseley AFC 0.

Go Lions. 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

One is to become a grandfather


Just back from a family walk, during which Charlotte informed me that I'm set to become a grandfather. 

"I'm going to get children," she announced.

"Oh, that's nice," I replied, with a mixture of pride and alarm.  "Do you want boys or girls?"

"Well," Charlotte continued, "I think I want one of each."


"Yes, I'll get one to begin with. And if it's not too hard, I'll get another one."

An only child it is then.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Grappling, glamping and GAWA

Greetings all, it's been a while since we last spoke.  No particular reason, I've just been a bit lazy and lacking in inspiration.  And if I've got nothing of particular interest to say, why would you want to hear it?  You wouldn't - so I haven't.

I've been feeling a bit more sparky today and there are good reasons.

First, last night I took the kids to their - and my - first ever WWE Live wrestling experience.

Here they are.


And this is what we watched.


And some of this.


We even stood back whilst seven ladies (pretended to) kick the poo out of a big bloke. That's him lying in the middle of the ring (also pretending to be) dead.


The highlight was watching AJ Styles, the newly-crowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion, retain his title.  He's phenomenal.


Told you.

Despite all the excitement,  I didn't sleep well afterwards.  I was too nervous.

That's because today was the day that CarFest North tickets went on sale and there are never any guarantees.  If you're a Radio 2 listener or Chris Evans fan, you'll know what I'm talking about.  If not, it's a event organised by Chris Evans on Radio 2 and tickets are really hard to get.

We've been for the last three years - this was what we got up to in 2016 -  and it's become a signpost for the start of the schools holidays.

We were in two minds about going next year - for all of two seconds.  But when we heard that Madness, The Proclaimers, Status Quo, Bananarama and  Peter Kay (DJing) were on the bill, we knew we had to got for it. 

Initially it seemed like all the tickets had gone.  That was until a weekend family camping ticket suddenly appeared - and I quickly shoved it into my virtual basket before virtually tripping up as I rushed to the virtual checkout.  But job's a good 'un and no-one is more excited than me (including Jamie who might even get to meet his hero Bear Grylls, also due to make an appearance).

However, even those levels of exhilaration are guaranteed to be surpassed tonight if Northern Ireland's footballers get a positive result in their World Cup Finals play-off first leg against Switzerland. 

I'm sorry I can't be in Belfast, but I will most certainly be there in spirit. Well, Guinness.

Let's hope it's physically possible to drink one (or maybe two...) with my fingers crossed.

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?