Thursday, 31 March 2011

Born 31 March 1972

Yes, it's my birthday.

And, this year, I have the excuse for a double celebration - because, as one wag felt the need to point out, I'm 18 and 21 again.

How depressing. 

No, wrong attitude - a celebration it must be! 

I kept my presents and cards until I returned from work (how middle-aged...sorry, we celebrate!) and they were great. 

A package from my mum was of particular note but I'll tell you all about that another time.

I also got a nice choccy birthday cake.  Oh, and Wee John has turned up (without even as much as a card).

A nice dinner is lined up for later.  But, before that, it's time for Charlotte and her daddy to have their bottles. 

Daddy may have more than one.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Smell your ma

Whilst Jamie continues his hit and miss approach to potty training, Vanessa and I have taken on yet another kiddie challenge. 

Because it's time to persuade Charlotte to take a bottle. 

And, so far, it's been far from easy.  

According to the books and parents who know more about these things than we do, it's apparently best for someone other than the mother to get this process underway.  

But bizarrely, they advise that this individual should try to smell like Mummy. 

Now, I've long stopped being self-conscious about any of these things and will do just about anything for an easy daddy life. 

Which is why, in the picture above, you can see me dressed in Vanessa's floaty cardigan, balancing used breast pads on my daughter.  

As a result, Charlotte took two thirds of the milk on offer - and I had to be happy with that.  

But was she happy?

Turn on your speakers, click the play button below and you'll soon find out.

HP Sauce, anyone?

I stumbled across new HP Guinness Sauce in Asda last night, and immediately purchased a bottle. 

But, when I got home in a whirl of excitement, Vanessa calmly pointed out that I don't actually like HP Sauce. 

In fact, I loathe the stuff.

So why didn't I use my £1.50 to buy an actual can of Guinness, which I do like - lots? Or put the cash towards a nice fridge pack (which no self-respecting fridge should clearly be without)?

Sometimes I even worry myself.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Truth or dunce?

We took the kids to Pudsey Park on Sunday afternoon (not that three-month-old Charlotte did a lot of running around) and stumbled across the sign above.

It was the first time I had ever seen a multiple choice question answered with the use of a spray can.

And we didn't have far to walk for question number two. 

One out of two in my jotter.

Monday, 28 March 2011

He's taking the p***

Above you can see Jamie watching telly on Saturday afternoon.

Here he is from another angle.

And, by now, the more observant amongst you will have worked out the nature of the seat on which he's perched.

Because, yes, the potty training has started.  And, boy, do you - and child - have to be patient. 

In fact, he even had his lunch on the bog, such was my determination to see some sort of result.

In the end it was worth the wait, when he peed for England and Northern Ireland combined.

Thankfully I was at work today when he shit his pants for the first time.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Snapshots of Yorkshire life

Just days after moving from London to Yorkshire in the autumn of 2003, I remember taking part in a 10k race which involved running up hills.

At the top of one such hill, I literally bumped into some sheep. And I thought to myself, "what the f*** am I doing here?!"
Life has moved on a lot since then - including the remnants of my social existence.
For example, last evening was spent in Clifton Village Hall near Otley - pictured above (and yes, I also initially thought it was a mobile classroom).
And inside, surrounded by family members and friends...

....including kiddies...
...we did Yorkshire stuff.
No laughing at the back.
Needless to say, that prize dope Dagenham Dave was present - that's him on the left.
And equally needless to say, he set off one of his never-ending supply of Chinese lanterns.
But dim Dave forgot about the 100 foot tree immediately ahead.

You can only see a red spot in the pic above, because the flash on my camera isn't powerful enough to illuminate a 100 foot tree from 200 metres.

However, for around five minutes, the assembled guests watched as the tree threatened to burn down - and take Clifton Village and its people with it.

Eee, Yorkshire.

UPDATE: A "rival" report from one of life's great men (and pianists), Sir Malcolm Bentley.       

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Who he?

As I write, the England cricket team are less than a quarter of an hour away from their World Cup quarter final with Sri Lanka. 

And, as all cricket lovers will be very well aware, each game begins with the toss.

Above you can see the scene in Colombo just a few minutes ago.

On the left is Nasser Hussain from Sky Sports.  Next to him is Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, then England captain Andrew Strauss and match referee Jeff Crowe.

But who, I hear you cry, is the bloke on the extreme right?

You'll love this.

He, dear friends, is the International Cricket Council "official mascot."  I kid you not.

Maybe they didn't tell his mammy (who must surely be in her 80s) until last night that her boy was on today. 

But surely she could have found something better than that in the dressing up box for him to wear.

And if she didn't have a mask, why didn't she at least tell him to smile?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

What a thicky

I'm not someone naturally given to ingenious thinking but, as the father of a boy becoming ever more difficult to dupe, it's something I've had to work on.

And, last Wednesday night, as we began our overnight journey across the Irish Sea, I managed to pull one out of the hat.

Our family cabin had four bunks (although Charlotte was eventually stuffed into a travel cot).  And as Jamie remains something of a kamikaze sleeper, it was obvious that I would have to take one of the top ones. 

After Vanessa and I got him settled down and almost off to sleep, I pulled down the bunk immediately above him - and he immediately went crazy, thinking he was about to be crushed.  So, I pushed it back and explained that it was only my bed and he would be alright.

But he still wasn't happy.

Cue ingenious thought.

"I tell you what," said me to him, "I'll not sleep in my bed tonight.  Would you mind if I slept on your roof instead?"

"That's OK!" he bellowed back.

I got my ladder out and clambered slowly up whilst he watched in admiration and awe.

"Daddy?" he said, "you be careful now."

"OK, son," I said. "That's very kind.  I'll be careful."

"Daddy?" he said again.  "You be careful."

"I will, Jamie," I whispered back.  "Goodnight."

"Daddy?" he then shouted up (to his previously sleeping mother's irritation).  "Do you want my Buzz and Woody toys?"

"Thanks son, but you can have them," I replied.

"No, Daddy," he insisted, "you have them," as his hand appeared holding a Buzz Lightyear doll.  And I took it - and the Woody doll that swiftly followed.

You might think all of this was cute. But it wasn't.  It was embarrassing. For him.

What a silly little fool.  I wasn't even sleeping on his roof. And yet he fell for it.

I am clearly more clever than him.

PS I'll bet I couldn't have hoodwinked Charlotte so easily.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spot the (And grandson)

I'm sure I don't have to tell any Great Britain-based readers that Jamie and his Grandma Judy did indeed appear on last Sunday evening's Antiques Roadshow

But, in case you missed it, guess what? 

Yep, Jamie and his Grandma Judy appeared on last Sunday evening's Antiques Roadshow!

I know!

And for Northern Ireland-based readers, here's an exclusive: Jamie and his Grandma Judy will appear on this Sunday's Antiques Roadshow!

I know!

OK, OK, no more bulls*** - I know none of you watched it/have any intention of watching it.

But I'm nothing if not helpful.

Now, that really was worth waiting for.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Joy and sadness

We're back from Charlotte's maiden voyage to Belfast and I'm delighted to report that got on very well with her Ulster in laws - and them with her. 

However, tragically, our visit was hugely overshadowed by the death on Saturday morning of my Aunt Kathleen after a short illness.

Kathleen - an incredibly kind and generous woman - was 72 and, whilst her passing wasn't unexpected, it was no sadder for this.

Funerals in Northern Ireland take place much more quickly than in Britain and I had originally thought it would be held yesterday before we left. 

But, for logistical reasons, the date was moved back 24 hours to this afternoon, meaning I was unable to make it, although I did visit the house prior to our departure. 

Losing a sister has understandably hit my father very hard.

But the chance to spend some time with his latest granddaughter undoubtedly did some good. 

Normal service will be resumed here tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A girl likes to make an entrance

Almost three months in, and Charlotte is about to make her first trip to Northern Ireland.

And if you're going to do something, you've got to do it right. So, what better time to arrive in God's Real Own Country than on St Patrick's morning - as it will be when our ferry docks in the Port of Belfast at around 6.30 tomorrow morning.

It will obviously be a proud moment for me to show my daughter off to my family for the very first time, just as it was when we took Jamie on his inaugural trip at an almost identical age.   

But I'll be equally proud to show Coleraine and the Causeway Coast off to her. And to tell her it is my home.

Then it will get dark, both kids will (eventually) go to sleep and it will be time to put on the hat.

Let me be the first to wish you a Happy St Patrick's Day tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I've got balls

We may have bought a new house only eight days ago but, tonight, a much more exciting purchase was completed.

Because I am now the proud owner of a snooker/pool table (yup, it's got balls for all).

Vanessa picked it up second hand on eBay after I declared that I had to have one for my new garage - and it will be my garage (Mrs W can have sole ownership of one of the two toilets if it makes her feel better).

The plan - when we move in, obviously - is to pair the table up with my dartboard, a little TV, a Wii, some sort of music playing contraption, a fully stocked bar and some girl-proof locks and, hey presto, I'll be the most popular man in Yorkshire.

By the way, have another look at the table.

Can you tell which cue is mine and which is Wee John's?        

Monday, 14 March 2011

Wot, no Jamie?

I really hope you didn't heed my sad plea for you to watch last night's Antiques Roadshow in case Jamie wandered into shot - particularly if you live in Northern Ireland.

Because the episode shown over there didn't come from Yorkshire, but from Dartmouth (I have no clue where Dartmouth is, but I've never seen any signs for it around here).  

Meanwhile, every young child who lives anywhere near Yorkshire did seem to appear in the mainland version of the show.  Except for Jamie.

How predictable was that?  Well, it was obvious really.

But all is not lost.

It turns out that the Yorkshire Antiques Roadshow was only part one of two, with the sequel being shown next Sunday.  Unless you live in Northern Ireland, in which case it will be shown in a fortnight. 

If I was living in Northern Ireland, I would wait to hear if our son appears in the Yorkshire version next Sunday. 

Then, the week after, when the programme does go out on your side of the water - I would watch something else.

Meanwhile, if you live in Yorkshire and do have the chance to watch part two of the Antiques Roadshow Yorkshire Special on Sunday coming - I would still watch something else.  

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Where's Whitey?

Above you can see a particularly girlie-looking Jamie at a recording of the Antiques Roadshow in nearby Saltaire last spring.  I wrote about it at the time and, if you're really bored, you can have another look here.

Back then, I understood that the programme was due to be broadcast in the autumn.  But I was wrong.

It will now go out on BBC1 at 8pm tonight.

His Grandma Judy was looking after him that day and it was her mission to get him on camera. 

In a few hours from now, we'll find out if that goal has been achieved.

And knowing how determined Judy can be when she gets her teeth into something, it promises to absolutely hilarious.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Guiseley - The Return

We had a family trip to see our new house today and, I'm delighted to say, it's even better than both Vanessa and I remember it. 

It was Jamie and Charlotte's first trip and, whilst Charlotte slept for most of the time, Jamie took the opportunity to check out his new bedroom.

Given that this time last week we hadn't looked at any houses and were yet to sell our own, it's still quite a lot to take in.  But it's very reassuring to have no regrets (as yet). 

One thing that's been bugging me over the last couple of days was that our house continues to have a "For Sale" rather than a "Sold" sign outside. 

I had no reason to believe that anything was wrong. But, by the same token, it did seem rather odd - so I've just given our estate agents a call. 

And do you know why it hasn't changed?

Yup - they ran out of "Sold" signs.

Who says he housing market remains buggered?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Time for someone to grow up

My two nights in London this week were spent under the roof of Wee John and his flatmate Shane -  a top bloke.

In pre-dinner conversation on Wednesday, I asked Shane what height Wee John now claimed to be.

But, before he had the chance to answer, His Weeness jumped in with an answer.

"Five foot six and a half - maybe five foot seven," announced the most wee man I know. 

"Hmmm," I replied.  "And what height are you Shane?"

"Five foot eight," said Shane.

"Interesting," I pondered.  "That would make you a mere inch taller than Wee John.  OK, please stand back to back." 

So they did - that's Shane on the right.

And Wee John's a wee liar.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The perfect man to open (our) doors

I'm just back from London after spending a couple of days in Westminster. 

Whilst there, I had the good fortune to bump into Stuart Andrew, the excellent Member of Parliament for Pudsey.

I've known Stuart for quite a while and have written about him here before.

After exchanging pleasantries, I told him about our new house in Guiseley which, I am delighted to say, is also in his constituency.

However, what I didn't realise was that Stuart also lives in Guiseley - a fact he quickly mentioned.

And this immediately gave me an idea.

We expect to have the keys to our new abode in the next eight weeks or so, and certainly in plenty of time for the summer.

And, when you move into a new house, you obviously have to mark the event with a do.

The long and the short of it is that our housewarming do will be a barbecue - with the food only really forming the starter.

Because it will be followed by what I trust will be a first in our soon-to-be new neighbourhood, when Mr Stuart Andrew MP officially opens our house.     

Does anybody know where I can buy a big ribbon?

Monday, 7 March 2011


This won't take long as I'm wrecked.

Any why might that be, pray tell?

Well, if you've read this rubbish at some point since yesterday morning, you'll be aware that we sold our house on Saturday and were therefore looking for a replacement.

And, incredibly, we found one. Not only that, but we bought the bugger (again, subject to contract etc etc). 

I'll not bore you with the detail (if only to spare myself from having to go through it all again  - it's been a tiring day) but it's in Guiseley, we like it a lot and we think our sprogs will too (other than the horrific pink walls in the living room, which I intend to Tippex out before I even get my coat off). 

But we've had 48 hours we'll not forget in a hurry.

And the champagne tastes great.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Got a hat, now where's the home?

Less than three weeks after the big sign was screwed into the front wall, and our house has been sold (subject to contract etc etc).

The nice people who we metaphorically shook hands with at lunchtime yesterday - after a bit of estate agent ping ping - arrived in the morning for their second viewing and, less than three hours later, the deal was done. 

This train of events clearly has consequences for us Whites, most notably the fact that our house won't be our house a short while from now.

In theory, this shouldn't be a huge drama.

Another balmy Yorkshire summer is getting ever closer and spending a few months sleeping in the great outdoors does have a certain amount of appeal.

However, Jamie would quite like a new room, meaning we'll have to buy a whole new house to keep it in.

We already have two viewings lined up today - one in Horsforth and one in Guiseley - if only to get us thinking.

Just when I was hoping for a bit of a rest.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Now that's what I call a bargain

This blog is not meant to be in any way constructive, but I'm nothing if not a giver (with germs my speciality at the present time owing to a man cold).  

So, here goes.

Vanessa's dad is heading off to Egypt tomorrow with five blokey mates for a week's trek through the desert.  I've no idea what the purpose is, but the nights apparently involve sleeping under the stars minus a tent.  Each to their own.  

The wife of one of his pals - facing the prospect of seven days of destitution - decided out of curiosity to see what the prices would be like to join her husband on the flight to Sharm el Sheikh, which is now officially safe.

And she liked what she discovered. 

So, she went a step further and checked out some hotel offers.

The long and the short of it is that she is now on the same flight as hubby tomorrow afternoon.  And, when she gets to The Promised Land, she has a week of solo five star hotel luxury ahead of her.

Total bill for the trip?


If you can, you should.   

(Needless to say we can't).

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Yo ho ho (and a bottle of milk)

We're into March (loyal readers with one of those fancy watches that displays the date will have known that since Tuesday) and life just kind of feels better.

And what do you do when life just kind of feels better? That's right - you book a trip.

And the Whites are no exception. 

So, two weeks from now, Charlotte will be spending her first night causing a racket on Ulster shores, having crossed the Irish Sea on a big boat.

And, guess what?

Yup - it'll be St Patrick's Night.

Following five days of bare-faced indoctrination, I hope to bring her back with at least the hint of a lilt in her gurgle.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Three Lions - and you're out

Until now, I have tried not to force my personal bias on Jamie's choice of sporting teams (other than my absolute insistence that he supports Ulster and Ireland at rugby. Obviously).

I therefore took for granted that he would plump for England as his number one cricket team.  

But, as you may have heard, today Ireland humiliated the old country with a crushing victory in the World Cup.  

So, to avoid him being teased in later life, I might have a word - and ask my boy if he wants a green cap for his birthday.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Say what you see

People sometimes ask me why I hold my dopey brother-in-law Dagenham Dave in such low esteem.

Well, here's a clue.

He brought his bonkers but brilliant father Keith over to meet Charlotte on Friday afternoon whilst I was at work. 

But, before leaving, insisted on leaving a personal message for me on our fridge - you can see it above.

So, ever mature and always up for a ruck with dear old Daggers, I thought it only appropriate to respond here.

And he so is.