Thursday, 30 June 2011

He's just like The Queen

Already treated like royalty, our Jamie now has something else in common with Her Majesty.  Because this year he had two birthdays.

Last Thursday was a "real" birthday when he received cake number one, a close-up of which you can see above, before blowing out the candles (as you do).

His main present from his mother and me was a balance bike.

"I'm happy with that!" was his immediate reaction, which was clearly a good sign.  But I'm not convinced I like it myself.  More on that another time.

Then came Saturday and his "official" birthday with his posse at a play barn in Farsley.

Cue cake number two and a chorus of mummies in melody.

Next year, we'll going to arrange for him to troop his cake whilst riding sidesaddle on a big horse.    

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Columbo lives (in Guiseley)

You may have heard the sad news over the weekend that legendary Columbo actor Peter Falk had shuffled off in a cloud of smoke to the big pretend police station in the sky. 

But you may have heard wrong.

Because yesterday morning I saw this car parked outside Guiseley railway station.  

Could it be true?


Could it?!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

George Orwell was right

Fun and games on the way home tonight. 

I was walking through Guiseley when I came across the first "drive-thru" Boots I have certainly ever encountered (roll on 6 July).

What will they think of next?

The answer was immediately opposite.  Not really, it was a KFC you could "drive to."

As opposed to what, exactly?  Hop to? 

So I got my trusty camera out and took the pics you can see above, before putting my snapper back in my bag and heading off in the direction of my house.

But I didn't get far. 

About a minute later, I felt a hand upon my shoulder (a real one, as opposed to the imaginary one that grabbed Tony Blair but sadly failed to throttle him).  And when I turned around,  I saw it was attached to some bloke wearing what genuinely looked like a pretend security man outfit. 

Seriously, he was either in fancy dress or he was a stripper.  But he didn't seem for real. 

"What were you taking photos of?" he asked, trying to be intimidating but not in any way succeeding. 

"Sorry?" I replied, more than a little bemused.

"I saw you taking photographs," he continued, "what were you doing?"

"I was taking photographs," I responded, wondering if there were hidden cameras now capturing footage of me.

"What of?" he barked.

"Of Boots," I said. "And KFC. I was standing in a public street.  It is allowed. "

"No it's not," he said, increasingly irritated.

"Yes it is," I insisted.  "I work for a Member of Parliament and I think it would have come to my attention if it was now illegal to take photos of Boots and KFC from a public street."

"I work for the Home Office," he said. 

"No you don't," I countered.

"Well, I kind if do," he whimpered.

"You don't," I insisted. "Look, I would imagine you're only doing your job although, to be fair, I have absolutely no idea what that is.  Although you don't work for the Home Office.

"But if you really want to know, I write a pretty awful blog and I thought my one and only reader might wish to know that we have a drive-thru Boots and a drive to KFC right here in Guiseley."

"Oh, I see, " he replied with a sudden warmth.  "Right. Well that's alright then. Good"

"Thank you," I said, before shaking his hand and wishing him well with his career choice. Whatever that was.

Tomorrow I might ask if wants me to take his picture.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Flea vs. Wasps

Vanessa and I last moved house in 2004 and the joy of owning our first home lasted all of 10 minutes - literally.

I had to work on the morning we got the keys so Vanessa burst through the front door at 9am sharp without me. 

It was ten past when the first drops of water hit her in the eye. 

To cut a long story short, our shower had a leak, water was coming though the ceiling and we had to get a man in.  We ended up having to have the bathroom floor lifted and part of our kitchen ceiling removed.  All in all, not a great start.

Both our hearts therefore sank when, on the day we moved into our new abode in Guiseley, we were approached outside by the former owner to be told that there were "a couple of problems".

The first was a leak from a pipe that had previously been attached to her dishwasher.  Not a major drama, as it turned out, and one which will be instantly solved once our new dishwasher arrives in a few days.

The second was a little more shocking; we had a wasps nest in our garden shed - you can see it circled in the picture above.

Until hearing this news, I was unaware that wasps lived in a nest (no-one thought to tell me, OK?!)  And I wasn't happy. 

The lady advised that she had put special powder on our housewarming present to kill its occupants, but her dad had been stung that morning and many wasps were still in residence. 

There was only one thing for it; I would send in Wee John to hit it with a brush.

Below you can see a clip of how he got on.  (Without hopefully spoiling the sense of anticipation too much, I must warn you that he doesn't actually die). 

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Welcome to Guiseley

Yes, we Whites have made it into our new home in deepest Guiseley, just a 14 minute train ride from the centre of Leeds.  And it's very nice to be here. 

The last 10 days have been both eventful and "challenging" (that's me being polite) in equal measure, but the effort has undoubtedly been worth it.  

My first impressions of Guiseley are incredibly positive.  Indeed, there's much, much more to see and do here than I initially thought. 

And the house itself is actually better than either Vanessa or I remembered. 

Let's just say I'm glad I wasn't aware of just how good a deal we were getting when I was in "putting in an offer mode."

A few brief observations to begin with. 

It would seem best not to mess with the older residents around here.

The people don't seem particularly respectful of organised religion.

But the pubs are great, especially my local, The Yorkshire Rose, which is a mere four minutes and 27 seconds away on foot.  

And they let all-comers in. 

 More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Normal service will be resumed very shortly

The house move is complete and the added extras are almost sorted - other than broadband, for which blame must be directed squarely towards BT (Mumbai branch).

(This mini-update is actually being delivered to you by way of a virtual carrier pigeon. Honest).

However, even our link to the interwonderwebnet should be in place by Friday, after which you'll be forced to learn all about what's been going on in and around our new abode over the past week.

I'll bet you can't wait.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

And now for something completely different

Well folks, this is it.

After almost seven years living in the People's Republic of Pudsey, it is time to say farewell to our house and set sail for Guiseley a few miles across Leeds - the removal van arrives at 8am tomorrow.

Vanessa and I arrived here in October 2004 as first time buyers, unmarried and untroubled by crazy kids. 

How life has changed since then. 

For me, the reality dawned this afternoon when Wee John and I headed to the dump to get rid of a boot load of unnecessaries. 

These included the seat in which we transported both Jamie and Charlotte home from hospital.


Thank for the memories Pudsey, and goodbye.


Here to help us move tomorrow (you didn't honestly think he was going to miss out on all the fun did you?) Wee John joined me this morning for some Great North Run training.  

We completed four miles in the end - one for every Malboro Light my tiny friend has smoked since we got back.  

I've never seen a chihuahua in shorts before, but now I think I have a fair idea what it would look like.

You can support our misguided fundraising efforts by clicking here.  

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Sometimes I could literally burst with pride


The clock continues to tick, and still Jamie refuses to tell his mother he loves her. 

Last week I wrote that he had said the magic words to me but not to Vanessa - which made me very pleased indeed.

But this morning, he took the saga on to an entirely new level of amusement (for me).

He was bouncing on the bed and, from nowhere, suddenly bellowed: "Daddy, I love you!"


He didn't stop there.

"Charlotte, I love you!" he then declared equally excitedly.

Double aahhhhh.

Which left one individual in the room to whom he was yet to declare his undying devotion. 

But rather than play it cool, Vanessa just couldn't contain herself.

"Who else do you love?" she whimpered, like a pathetic, soggy puppy.

"Mummy loves me!" Jamie announced in direct avoidance of the question, before climbing off the bed and shuffling out of the room with a smirk.

Mummy wasn't smirking.

And neither was Daddy; he was cheering instead. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Woo hoo

Believe it or not, these words mark this dreadful blog's 1000th post.

How depressing. 

Taking into account the time it takes me to sort out the photos, I would estimate that each individual entry take an average of half an hour to put up.

Which means I've spent at least 500 hours over the last three years and a bit churning out this rubbish.
Or, to put it another way, three solid weeks of my life.

In that three weeks, I've written well in excess of a quarter of a million words. 

And there was you thinking you didn't have a life. 

Forgive me if I don't give myself a cheer.

But I might pour myself a very stiff drink.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Meet the newlyweds

Four days before we even open our doors, and the new White family hotel has just taken its first booking.

The picture opposite might look like my mum and her long-term partner Derek.  And, that's because it is. 

But it's also much more than that. 

Because, exactly 11 days ago, my mum phoned me up at work to ask how I was - very kind of her, I thought. 

I told her I was fine and asked how she was.

"Married," came the response. 

She and Derek had literally just tied the knot and were heading out of the register office to begin an exciting new chapter of their lives together - this picture was taken just a few minutes before she called. 

You've got to watch the old 'uns. 

And it will be very nice for Vanessa, the young 'uns and me to welcome them into our new abode a couple of months from now.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Sunday, final Sunday

The above might look like a normal Sunday in our house - living room a mess, Charlotte being nosy, Jamie having a read on the bog - and it was.  But it will also be the last.

Because this time next week we'll be spending our third day in our new home.

The packing is progressing - I'm a little behind everyone else - but we will be ready on or about 8.15 on Friday morning when the removal van is due to pull up.

I'm a great man for marking occasions with food and drink, and today was no exception.

So a roast chicken dinner it had to be.

Sadly, it wasn't as good as it sounds; I was cheffing and the potatoes were shit.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The names have been changed to protect the innocent

I wasn't a huge fan of Michael Jackson or the way he brought up his kids, Prince Michael, Blanket and the other one.  

But he had his responsible moments, not least when he sought to cloak their identities behind masks.  

This crappy blog of mine obviously features my children a lot and their faces will be familiar to regular readers.

However, that is about to change.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Duke Jamie and Eiderdown 

Friday, 10 June 2011

And now, the end is near...

After three months of delay, frustration and solicitors' fees, it looks likely that this night next week (that's Friday for all of you who actually have a life and are reading this later) will be our first in our new house.

Vanessa and I signed the necessary papers on Wednesday - watched by a special guest witness - and, since then, the removal van has been booked, the bags have begun to be packed and Sky, BT and just about every other every other bill provider we can think of have f***ed us about.

And they say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do?

They say right.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Take That for a good night out (no closets involved)

I had half rice, half chips for tea tonight; which brings me to last night's Take That concert at the City of Manchester Stadium. 

Supported by the not-in-any-way-camp-hell-no-sailor Pet Shop Boys...

...I was only really there as Vanessa wanted to go.

Well, OK, maybe I did want to go just a little bit. 

I mean, look at the scale of the thing.

They had a big robot.

Plus, Robbie Williams made his much-heralded live comeback (and stole the show, in my particularly humble opinion).

At least I wasn't silly enough to buy a tee shirt.

They didn't sell boys' tee shirts. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Now do you believe me?

I've had stick several times when I've slagged off my beloved but dopey brother-in-law Dagenham Dave on this dreadful blog.

But, on this occasion, surely I'm right.

To explain, our Daggers was recently down in his Guildford homeland (he's not even from Dagenham) where he purchased a glider of some sort. 

No-one I've spoken to is entirely clear what type of glider it was, except to say that it was a big glider.

And what Dave was intending to do with said glider remains even less apparent. 

However, they key point is that he shelled out a wad of cash to buy it.

Now, given that Dave and family live in Guiseley and the glider was in Guildford some 200 miles away, you might assume he would have given some thought as to how to get it up North.

But this is old Daggers we're taking about.

So, when it came time for Dave and co to pack up and make tracks, he had a problem.

And it was a very big problem - because it was a very big glider.

Inside the car was out (full of people), as was the boot (full of luggage). 

So the last possibility was to tie it to the roof.

But, needless to say, that possibility was swiftly found to be an impossibility because of this contraption's sheer hugeless.

The inevitable conclusion was that the car, Dave, wife and children were forced to leave without the glider which can now be yours, my friend, for a mere £30.

Just phone Guildford and ask for Keith.  

Monday, 6 June 2011

PS I love you

I had a very special moment with Jamie last Wednesday morning when he told me for the first time that he loved me.

Granted, I'd just given him a bollocking for being a devil child and made clear that, of all the emotions available to me at that particular time, love for him was certainly not one of them.

But I was still quietly chuffed.

He said the same thing to me again on Thursday morning and, that evening, I mentioned his declarations of fatherly devotion to Vanessa.

"Jamie has told me twice now that he loves me," I said.  "I take it he's said the same thing to you?"

"No," came the thin-lipped reply from his mother.

"Oh," I said in a matter of fact type way. "He obviously likes me more."

Then Friday came, and I heard him tell his little sister that he loved her too.

So I dropped this new development into conversation with Vanessa.

"Has he said the magic words to you yet?" I asked.

"No!" barked Mrs W.

And, as of this morning, he still hadn't.

Whilst it pains me to say it (and if you believe that, you'll believe anything), one can only conclude that, when it comes to the woman who spawned him, Jamie isn't that arsed.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

(Forward) progress report

If you're not one for children, then I'll understand if you choose to look away now... 

And for those of you still with me, I can report that five-month-old Charlotte is beginning to find her feet in this bizarre world of ours.

Have a look for yourself...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Taking my eldest child to The Gruffalo's Child

I'm not entirely sure I'd heard of The Gruffalo before Jamie arrived on the scene, but now it, little brown mouse, owl, fox and snake seem like close family friends. 

They were joined at Christmas by Gruffalo Jnr after Santa pulled The Gruffalo's Child - the follow-up to the original Gruffalo book - out of his big sack. 

This morning, Jamie and I went to see The Gruffalo's Child live on stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

And it was very good, although a touch surreal because only the two main characters - big Gruffalo and child Gruffalo (played by a middle-aged woman with a resemblance to Nursey from Blackadder) - were dressed up to look like you might imagine.  The others (all but one played by the same bloke who wore the Gruffalo suit) were "modern interpretations." For example, the "snake" costume was a shiny silver coat which not have looked out of place on a circus ringmaster.

For me, the clear highlight in the 50-odd minute show was at the very beginning when the lights went down and the Gruffalo appeared - propelling several hundred infants (and a handful of parents) into instant floods of tears.

Thankfully, Jamie - who also enjoyed his bus trip there and back - is made of a little sterner stuff these days.    

Friday, 3 June 2011

John Cleese, ex-comedy great

Just a quickie tonight (as the actress said to the bishop, or whatever the modern equivalent is - the footballer to the reality TV star?)

Last night, my friend Fran and I went to see John Cleese live (he's not dead yet) in Leeds, and I can only describe the experience as oddly disappointing - and not just because he didn't do an encore.

He's currently touring the country with his one man show - to pay off his divorce costs, according to the PR bumf - in which he talks about his life in "the business."

What he had to say was certainly interesting.  But here's the thing.

There were at least three big screens placed at highly visible positions around the auditorium.

On each screen was an autocue with his script, word for word.   Even down to the swear words.   

And because of where they were, the audience could clearly see what he was about to say several seconds before he actually said it.

In an effort to enjoy the show, I tried to ignore the scrolling text but it was very hard.  And speaking to people during the interval, I know I was far from being alone.

Lazy? Shabby? Half-arsed?

All of the above, I reckon.

And, sorry as I am to say it, I must solemnly declare that John Cleese, comic genius, has ceased to be.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Team Mags is go

This is my friend Mags, and she's a bit special. 

She and I went to university together in Newcastle Upon Tyne in the early 1990s and, after losing contact for a while, met up again when I moved to London

We did manage to keep in touch after that, even after Vanessa dragged me up to Yorkshire, and we were delighted when Mags came to our wedding.

That was in 2005 and all was well in her world.

However, the following year, Mags was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Thankfully, she beat it with a minimum of fuss, dusted herself down and got back on with her life.

Then, last autumn, Mags was told she had leukaemia.

To cut a very long story short, Mags underwent three bouts of chemotherapy and in January, had a bone marrow transplant after being matched up with an anonymous donor via the Anthony Nolan Trust.

Against some serious odds, she's now positively bounding along the road to a full recovery.

When things were at their worst, I wanted to do something to help.  Being tested as a potential donor was ruled out as I wasn't a blood relative. 

So I had another idea; Wee John and I would team up to tackle the Great North Run and raise a bit of cash!

Sounds silly doesn't it?  And it was.  After all, John has spent the majority of his adult life smoking and drinking like a pissed up steam engine with an exercise phobia. 

But he agreed without hesitation, and we entered our names into the ballot.

Perhaps with fate on our side, we were both successful and chose Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research as our obvious charity of choice. 

We have done a little bit of training thus far but, with more than three months still to go, it's not quite panic stations yet.

However, do you know what would encourage us to put a bit more effort in?

That's right - the contents of your wallet.

You can donate to our joint appeal fund by clicking here and following the on-screen instructions.

You don't even have to do it straight away because, believe me, I will be giving you plenty of reminders between now and our big day on Sunday 18 September.

But please do give - and we promise to be really, really sore when we eventually flop across the finishing line.

By the way, we're not doing it dressed like this.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Five rings when we get there

Just over a month ago, I reported that I had just made myself liable for a total bill of £3,181.48 if all my Olympic ticket applications had been successful.  

And that didn't quite happen.

In fact I wasn't even close.

Total tickets sought: 65

Total tickets secured: 4

Total cost: £200 (plus £6 for them to stick a stamp on the envelope)

But, in truth, I'm not in the least downhearted.

Many good folk have missed out entirely, and the four tickets I do have will enable Vanessa, me and our two boys - that's Jamie and Wee John - to experience something just a little bit special.   

Just what that will be, however, remains a mystery.

The possibilities are a night at the athletics, a session of track cycling, some boxing semi-finals or Coleraine's Alan Campbell (and assorted others) going for gold in the rowing finals.

Beggars can't be choosers, so I'll genuinely be happy with whatever we get.

However, Vanessa doesn't really fancy the boxing - so it's bound to be that.

We find out in 23 days' time.