Sunday, 4 March 2018

Ice not nice


This was the view out of our bedroom window a few minutes ago.  Dig those icicles.

It's almost as cold here as it was on the Causeway Coast last month where we went for our traditional half-term visit.

Blue skies, but also blue fingers.


Joined by cousin Katie, such bravery was later rewarded with some warming Morelli's ice cream. 


Which Jamie then got to burn off when Boris took him for a walk.


Oh, and he also had a dinky haircut performed by a huge Turkish man who also set fire to my ears. 


The clear highlight of our trip, certainly for me, was meeting up with my old pals Nick and Mark from Roll With It.


I've said it before and will continue to say that I'd be stunned if there is a better Oasis tribute band anywhere on the planet.


Johnstons was fun too, but you already knew that. 


Back in t'Yorkshire, Jamie and I were kindly invited into the Guiseley AFC executive portacabin for some pre-game hospitality.  (Thanks to Paul 'Merv' Gaile and Chris Allen for their kindness).


Afterwards, Jamie even got to present the Man of the Match award to Guiseley's Ash Palmer. 


So that's what we've been up to since the last time I spouted on here.

Let's hope spring is resprung sometime soon. 


Sunday, 11 February 2018

A year in the wife


Vanessa had yet another birthday this week - I've long-since forgotten how old she is - and really trailed this one out.

The picture above was taken on Wednesday, her official birthday.

The one below was snapped on Friday when we were out for a family birthday meal in her honour.      


Charlotte had a better time than it looks.

However, other members of the White clan also managed to celebrate some landmark moments of our own.

Charlotte finished her days at Rainbows with the formal handing over ceremony to Brownies.   



There she goes, jumping over the toadstool and into the hands of her new keepers.


It's good preparation for when she joins the Freemasons.

And yesterday I visited the Ilkley Beer Festival for the very first time. 


I think it was good.  

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Young step, old shuffle


Another new step up the ladder of life this morning when Jamie headed off to school on his own with neither Vanessa nor me to be seen.

Normally one or other of us follows along behind him, with Charlotte in very slow tow.

Sadly Little Missy was off school today after barfing on her hands and coat on the way back into class after break.  That's an instant red card and one match ban these days; she's due to return tomorrow having shown no signs of illness since.   


And what a day it's setting up to be as tomorrow night we're off to a family magic show at St Oswald's Primary School in aid of the parents' group.  

Oh, and Vanessa turns 43.  We know how to spoil that woman.

I mean, look how excited she is.

Happy birthday Vanessa.    

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Vin de Van, anyone?


A few weeks ago, having completed a massive pre-Christmas raid of Morrisons alcohol department, I decided that we didn't have quite enough drink in our house.  So I selflessly decided to add something extra to Vanessa's Santa list.

You can see the results of it above. Well, just about.

Yes, it's a bucket of almost-ready-to-drink white wine.  All our in-house maker needs to do now is get it out of the bucket and into these.  


Actually, there are many more than that.  The bucket holds 30 bottles of wine in all and we're well-equipped after I - selflessly once again - put the time in to build up our stockpile of empties.  What a trooper, nay, hero.

The one challenge Vanessa now faces is how to syphon.  She supposedly had all the necessary kit but she's since identified another tube that can apparently do the job better - a snip at just £3 from Wilkinsons.  So we're off there this afternoon.

And then, well, hopefully I'll be invited to participate in an evening taste test.  

Give that it's a school night, I reckon three bottles will be almost more than enough.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Name that band

Debbie Gibson, my undisputed teenage crush, wrote her first song at just six years old.  (I've always said she was special).  I even know the words.

It may have taken Jamie three extra Earth years to achieve that feat.  But last night, to make up time, he penned two.

One is called "Frosty Winter's Morning."  The other is as yet unnamed, but will in all likelihood have "bum" in the title.

The reason for this unexpected spurt of creativity is because he's decided to form a band.  Yes, really. 

I wrote HERE that he'd received his first electric guitar for Christmas.   After an initial technical malfunction (i.e. he broke it), a simple repair has since enabled him to jam away for much of the last week.   But yesterday he put his instrument down, picked his pencil up and got scribbling.  I'm genuinely impressed with his efforts.

As for the band, alongside Jamie on guitar, so far we've got Euan on drums, Francis on keyboards and vocals, Sam on vocals and percussion, Joe on percussion, and Callum and Logan on beat box.  The range of musical possibilities is clearly endless.

However, in advance of their record deal and inevitable string of number ones, they obviously need a name.

We had a bit of a White family brainstorm (aka "thought shower") on this last night.  A proud Cure fan (it's always fun to channel my inner goth), I proposed "Boyz Don't Cry."  It didn't make the cut. 

Vanessa came up with "DisGuise," highlighting the band's Guiseley roots.  I liked that.

Charlotte made a narrow range of suggestions, all including the word "poo."  Jamie told her to get off the pot.

He purposely didn't come up with anything himself, instead choosing to consult with fellow band members at school today.

And the result of those discussions?   "The Airesembles," stemming from the group's geographical heartland in the Aireborough district of Leeds. 

But no final decision has been made - which is where you come in.

Do you have any better ideas?  If so, I'll put them to Jamie who'll put them to the band - who'll probably reject them as "booooorrrring!!!"   But we can but try.

So, over to you.   

The winner - should there be one - gets to go on stage to shake Jamie's tambourine for one whole song during their first stadium gig. 

So get rocking with your thoughts. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

(Re-)Introducing Vanbar Associates

It's not uncommon for people you've just met to ask you what you do for a living.  Indeed, it's a polite thing to do and, keeping with good etiquette, it's right and proper to ask them back.

What is less common is for friends you've known for years to ask you the same question. 

It's a bit like names.  There are countless people I know and speak to regularly but have absolutely no idea what to call them.  And because I've maybe interacted with them for years, it's now too rude to ask. 

It's the same with jobs. I should know what pretty much all of my friends do during working hours but I often have no clue.

So, with a new year just dawned, I thought it might be helpful to briefly explain to those who don't know - or don't care - what I do to pay the bills.  And I'll go further. I'll even tell you what Vanessa does too. 

Do you see that logo up above (skillfully designed by the great Dylan Lloyd Parry)? Well, the VAN belongs to Vanessa and the BAR belongs to me.  And when you put the two together, you end up with the name of our little company - with Associates helpfully added in to underline that we can put larger teams together should the scale or nature of the work require it.

And would kind of work would that be, Barry?

Good question, and one I am very happy to answer.

Communications is the over-arching description.  Within that you can include writing stuff, promoting things, protecting other stuff, liaising with people and organisations and helping other people and other organisations be better at saying what they want to say at the right time and in the correct order.

Got that?  Excellent.  I've never pretended it was particularly complicated.  But I'd like to think that we are quite good at all of the above, which is why we often get asked to prove it - for a reasonable fee, of course.  (That's where the need to pay the bills comes in).

We have Facebook and Twitter pages.  Heck, we even have a website.  You can check it out by clicking on HERE.   

If you think we can do for you or someone you know what we are already doing for others, feel free to let us know.  Then we'll get on with doing it. 

And if you do get in touch, perhaps you'll also be kind enough to tell me your name and what you do to pay your bills.  I might already know but, there again, I might not.  But if I don't, in no way expect me to admit it.       

Friday, 5 January 2018

For Robin

I had planned to pen some upbeat words tonight.  The idea was to talk about how much I generally despise January and to encourage us all stick together in the face of shitversity.  You know how it is.  (Thankfully I don't do Dry January.  Dry February is also unlikely.  Mainly because, like Dry January, it doesn't rhyme).   

However, tonight I received the galling news that Robin Hutchinson had passed away.

Robin was - and will always be - a hero of mine.  He gave me my first job.  I was a trainee roofer. 12 years old.  £3-a-day I was on.  Well, I say a day.  I only worked one.  I can't remember if that was only because I was too expensive or not very good at whatever it was I was trying to do. (You guess).  It was a good day though.  I still remember it well.

I've known Robin since I hatched.  His son was - and remains - my oldest and best pal.  Drew Hutchinson aka DJ Steady.

That's him above at my dad's surprise 80th birthday do in Mary Pat's.  Drew did it for free.  That's how he rolls.  Just as Robin taught him.

Neither Drew nor I will ever be rich. That's how we like it.

But there are other benefits.  Thanks to Macosquin's Big Marquee Weekend - the brainchild of Drew and the equally wonderful Robert Todd - we've got to meet Roll With It.  They've gone from relative obscurity to filling Belfast's famous (1,000+) Limelight venue two years in a row for massive post-Christmas gigs.

But they still play Macosquin when asked.
That's class.

Just like Robin.

Drew posted this picture on Facebook on New Year's Eve.

I knew Robin hadn't been well but I wasn't aware he was in hospital.  Drew went in to make him smile as 2018 approached.  And, as you can see, he obliged.

It was the first picture I saw on Facebook in the early hours of 2018.  Us Whites had been away for New Year amongst some very good friends.

Not for the first time, I was last to bed.  For the first time, I was charged with turning out the lights.  The picture appeared just as I was about to to retire.  I delayed my departure whilst I shed a tear.  I did the same again this afternoon when I heard that Robin had lost his fight.

We're heading back to Northern Ireland in February. Vanessa and I were already planning to be in Limavady to see Roll With It do their magnificent Oasis thing that weekend.  But we're now going via Macosquin for a rendezvous from where I would imagine Drew, Robert and many others will embark on a collective taxibus crusade in Robin's memory - himself a great supporter of the Big Marquee Weekend.

He will be missed by all he met.   And all he met will remember him with great fondness.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Raising a mug to another White Christmas


We headed up to Ilkley Moor on Christmas Eve to walk off the excitement of what lay ahead.  (Jamie and Charlotte came too, which both Vanessa and I appreciated).

Then it was back home for our now traditional pre-Christmas meal of "Fish 'n' Chips with a Twist."  We had a whole salmon this year and it never stood a chance.   


The set piece pic followed before scratcher time.


Christmas morning eventually dawned and the good news was that the Big Man had indeed been in da house.

Cue the arrival of studious children.  (It's a very serious business).


Charlotte's main present was a desk with added accessories.  (It looks more fabulous in her room, trust me).


As for Jamie, well, hold on just a sec - at least until after Christmas breakfast. 

Yes, you might be aware that 2017 saw Master White become Liam Gallagher's biggest fan.  He even received a tweet from the great man, so we had it framed. 

Liam's influence has continued to grow and - to follow in his footsteps - Jamie is already planning his first solo album. 

However, unlike Liam, Jamie will also play his own instruments.

Christmas Dinner followed for which we were joined by TV's Geoff Druett and wife Suzi who arrived armed with an array of cakes. 


Then anyone for Junior Monopoly?


Everyone else was.  I instead chose to test out my new beer mug.


I hope you and yours had a fun time too.  And please don't be downhearted.  2018 is still days away... 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Happy birththreedays


It's day three of Charlotte's seventh birthday celebrations.  Her proper birthday was yesterday, but she's nothing if not a chancer.

The fun began on Monday evening with a family circle get together over pizza and the best birthday cake I've ever seen, baked by Cousin Holly. 

Great British Bake-Off standard?  You betcha.  Outside - and inside. 


How good is that?

Yesterday morning saw her pressies being handed over, including a bike (which she didn't necessarily ask for but Mummy wants her to stay unfat).   


Last night was the White family banquet; I warmed the starter, Vanessa cooked the main course from scratch.  What a show-off.


And today was the main event at Hollywood Bowl.


Against bookies' expectations, Charlotte emerged with most points.


Despite Jamie's more muscular efforts as the only boy present. 


But being the only boy present also had consequences.

Tickling came first.


Followed by a chase into a corner for a good old-fashioned shoeing. 


Charlotte's verdict at the end of her annual "Celebration of Me" festival? Well, see for yourself. 


Seven years on, I imagine we'll see some more very big yawns before she finally goes to sleep.