Saturday, 31 December 2011

Down with the beer and out with the year

New Year's Eve in our house hasn't quite panned out as envisaged, but the nice food and champagne (...and Guinness and lager and wine and...) are in the fridge, Jamie and Charlotte's Auntie Vicky is on her way and we fully intend to have an evening to partially remember.

Having had some unexpected time to kill earlier, Vanessa and I decided to do what we do best.

That's right, humiliate our children. 

Do you reckon Jamie makes a good Woody from Toy Story?

What about Buzz Lightyear?

OK, my final offer. 

Charlotte as a snowgirl?

Whatever you're doing tonight, I hope it's great.


Friday, 30 December 2011

Pull the other one

I got in tonight to hear that Barratts Priceless are to make more than 1,600 staff redundant after a buyer for the company could not be found. 

It's horrible news at a terrible time for those affected.

However, this morning I had a hint of why the firm is where it is.

I was in Barratts in Leeds and picked up a size 10 shoe which I quite fancied.  So I tried it on, had a shuffle around and asked the nice man at the till if I could try on both together.

He disappeared off for a couple of minutes before returning, looking a touch embarrassed, with remarkable news.

"I'm afraid we only have one size 10 shoe left, sir," he said, "although we do have a pairs in size 9 and size 11."

I do hope his day didn't get worse after I thanked him and left - empty-handed.

Robin Daddy

I've just got back from an afternoon at this year's Bradford pantomime, Robin Hood, featuring the now omnipresent Billy Pearce in the lead role.

And fair play to him and everyone else involved. 

The special effects were genuinely top drawer, the cast were hugely enthusiastic and the laughs were plentiful.

Bradford fully deserves its now well-established reputation as home to the best panto - year in, year out - in the North of England.

And the high point for Jamie?

The Lightsaber I was forced to buy him on the way in.


A day of contrasting results

Yesterday, after more than six months of trying, I finally realised why our broadband was operating at carrier pigeon speed and managed to fix it.

Bully for me.

But did this wondrous achievement counterbalance the "disappointment" felt after I broke the garage door several hours earlier and had to cough up £125 to get an emergency man out to repair the damage?

Er, no, it didn't.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

All's well that finally ends

Above you can see pictures of my mate Paul "Merv" Gaile and REM lead singer Michael Stipe. I can't say for sure which is which.

A few weeks ago and under the influence of the demon drink, Paul persuaded me to enter an "easy paced  Christmas fun run" called the Chevin Chase. It takes place every year on Boxing Day in and around Guiseley.

Unlike me but in common with his chilled-out partner Mandy, Paul - a proud Coleraine man - is a very accomplished distance runner and both of them have run the Chevin Chase in the past.

"You should do it this year," he enthused, "you'd love it!"

So I entered the race online and told him I'd look forward to seeing him and Mandy on the start line.

"Oh, we're not doing it - bugger that!" he said (or something similar).

The "easy paced  Christmas fun run" turned out to be a seven mile trek straight up into space and back, across muddy fields, dirt tracks, boulders and a tiny bit of tarmac.

And who did I meet at the top of the highest climb yesterday morning?  Yup, Paul and Mandy.  Wrapped up in their winter woollies, as warm as toast.

The good news is that I did get to the end, although my body is getting its own back in some style this morning.

The even better news is that, about two minutes after I arrived back home, Paul and Mandy pulled up outside after making a special trip to say well done.

And then the drink came out. 

 I like stories with a happy ending.

Monday, 26 December 2011

I trust you had a good day

Good morning all - and how's your head?

I can certainly recall feeling more sprightly than this and, at 11am, matters will take a serious turn for the worst.  However, more on that next time. 

First, Christmas Day at our house and a fine occasion it turned out to be.

I didn't undercook/overcook our turkey (crown) - which means it must have been nigh on perfect. 

Jamie and Charlotte got all they desired from Santa Claus. 

And they even had the chance to camp it up with their cousins later in the day. 

In many ways, it could be described as a Christmas classic.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

It's Merry Christmas from them (and me)

As I write and according to Google Earth, Father Christmas is whizzing over Mount Everest en route to the UK.  All good (if you've been good).

We Whites have just returned from a somewhat bizarre mass nativity play at a local church in which everyone (i.e. you didn't have to be a child - there were two women in it almost as old as me) was invited turn up in costume and play whatever part they wished.

This obviously provided an ideal opportunity for Jamie to get a third and final wear out of his Wise Man outfit - so up on stage he went.

Not only that, he got to deliver his first ever line through a microphone when he informed the packed audience that he'd brought the baby Jesus some myrrh.  (He hadn't).

And, of course, Charlotte was there too although, as an elf, she didn't get to perform much.

This was in contrast to her cousin Holly (below centre) who was quite magnificent as an angel.

The kids are now having tea. After baths and the inevitable battle to get them into their scratchers, it will be time to wait for his nibs. 

In the meantime let me wish you and yours the very merriest of Christmases.

And genuine thanks for continuing to even occasionally read this rubbish.


Magic stardust deposited in back garden...

...brandy, cake and carrot left by the chimney...'s over to you know who.

Friday, 23 December 2011

I apologise for any inconvenience caused

Over recent days, I've seen countless of those electronic Christmas "cards" that are now the rage.

The funniest one for me was from East Coast trains. But I don't think it was meant to be amusing.

My point is this: what would the chances be of an East Coast train running on such a snowy day? 

Methinks almost none.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Oh no, not him again!

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?

Well, obviously not - it hasn't got wings.

No, it's a reindeer.  And not just any reindeer.

It's his reindeer.  

Tonight Santa was on his annual pre-Christmas visit to Guiseley.  It's organised by Guiseley Lions and local charities are the beneficiaries.

We Whites waited outside our house for as long as Jamie and Charlotte's patience would allow us (about five minutes) before going in search.

But thankfully Father C seemed happy to be found.

Only four sleeps to go.

As an aside, I mentioned last week that our fridge/freezer was so cold it had gone on strike.

Well, six days on, it suddenly decided that it quite likes Christmas too and wants to be part of the fun. 

Lazurus, it's good (and timely) to have you back.

The countdown to Christmas (and summer)

Despite today being the shortest day and the countdown to summer officially beginning tomorrow, I am starting to feel particularly Christmassy. 

Never more so than this morning when our milkman brought our first festive pintas.

I have questioned several times in recent months whether paying a bloke on a bike to bring our milk was really the best use of family resources when Morrisons is but a mere sprint away from our house.

But today, I feel happy with our choice and warm towards our milkman.  

That said, two other Christmas moments this year have made me smile even more. 

First was the news that three police cars and a police dog were scrambled to a hotel in Hartlepool - after a row broke out at the local plain clothes detectives Christmas party.

The second was when a man phoned in to a radio programme to relay a conversation he'd just had with his young son. It went like this:
"Daddy? I need to write another letter to Santa."
"Oh, why?"
"You know I asked him for a bike?"
"Well, I don't need one any more."
"What do you mean you don't need one any more?!  Why don't you need one any more?!!!"
"Because I've just found one hidden behind the sofa." 

Monday, 19 December 2011

A big day for a little lady

Christmas might not be far away but, in our house, there was a very important landmark to celebrate first.  

That's right, Charlotte was born a year ago today.  I can hardly believe it.  

Party hats were purchased...

...guests were ferried in...

...a cake was baked...

...presents were bought (thank you to everyone for your kindness)...

...opened (with brotherly help)...

...and closely inspected.

And, d'you know, I think she had fun.

I hope she'll let me play with her again tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

T'is the season to be Santa

Yuletide kicked off good and proper in our house this morning, when Jamie and I followed a visit to see Arthur Christmas on the big screen with a brief hook-up with the main man himself. 

And, despite living in the North Pole, it appears Father Christmas grew up in West Yorkshire. 

I also got the impression he was looking forward to Christmas Day much more than anyone else, but perhaps for different reasons.

"Ey up, little boy," he growled to White Junior.

"This time next week I'll be back in t'Lapland and Christmas will all be over for another year.  Eeeee!!!"

Methinks he'll have had at least a crate of Christmas spirit by this time next week too. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

It's so cold, our ice cream has melted

I was a bit annoyed/downcast/bereft last night, and it was all because of our "big fridge." 

We have two fridges, see.  It's not because we're posh.  In fact, it's the opposite - it's because we can only get a small fridge into our kitchen.  And, upon moving to Guiseley, we put our old/big fridge into our garage.  

Still with me or just bored? Don't answer that.

Last night I paid a visit to our big fridge (pictured above). In fact, I'll be more specific.  I paid a visit to the freezer compartment of our big fridge.

I was after some ice cream - Bailey's Haagen Dazs, since you're asking - which, to my horror, I discovered had gone soft.  A bit of rummaging around soon revealed that everything else in there was also soft.

But how come? I checked the fridge part of our big fridge (i.e. the bit that isn't the freezer compartment) and the light was on.  So it wasn't a power issue. 

Nope, the freezer compartment was kaput and we'd have to buy a whole new big fridge. Just before Christmas. Great!

I even got my laptop out and began investigating what Argos had to offer at a reasonable price. (Answer: very little).

Then I had a thought. Would the fact that the temperature in our garage was around -1C have anything to do with it?  So I checked the user manual, which advised the following: "The fridge-freezer should not be located in a cold place such as an unheated garage, cellar, outhouse or cold kitchen."  Oh good. 

But I read on: "If you cannot avoid locating your fridge-freezer where low temperatures will prevail, you may need to set the thermostat dial to 4 or 5 during the winter months." 

It had actually been set at just below 3, so I knocked it up to 5. 

And tonight...our ice cream is still soft.   As soft as last night?  Hard to tell.  But, by this time tomorrow, we should know for sure what way this riveting tale is going to end.

What an exciting life I lead.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Very happy to show you mine

Jamie's nursery nativity has come and gone - and it was predictably hilarious. 

Unfortunately, I can't show you any of those on parade other than Wise Man #3 (R Jamie).

The reason is that, whilst pictures were allowed and I do have plenty, there were objections from parents last year when images of their little lambs (literally in some cases) appeared online. 

I have no such qualms, however.  

So, here's when Jamie's costume rode up at the front...

....and, later, at at back.

Oh, and Charlotte was there too.

Good night.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Wee Wise White

Tomorrow night's delayed broadcast of the Royal Variety Performance (which was in Salford, meaning only Princess Anne could be arsed to turn up) should be our nation's stage highlight of the day. 

But it won't be.  Hell no.

Because also tomorrow, Jamie will take what I hope will be many bows after he's been a Wise Man in his nursery's nativity play. 

It will be the second of two performances, the first being today.  But I wasn't there so that doesn't count. 

Above you can see him in his full regalia during one of many dress rehearsals in our kitchen.  And I hope you agree he looks the part.

But can he play it?

All will be revealed at 4.30pm tomorrow - followed by a full review here. 

I trust you're as excited as I am (although, if you're not, I understand).

Monday, 12 December 2011

I look horny

Yes, that is me (629) with my antlers during yesterday's Reindeer Stampede in a park near Bradford.

A brilliantly organised event (and I'm not just saying that because my pal Simon organised it) raised what I hope was a large pile of cash for Action Epilepsy. 

Funnily enough, I had no qualms whatsoever in handing my adornments to Jamie immediately afterwards. But I would expect Charlotte to make a more powerful claim for them next year should I be persuaded to enter the 2012 event.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A round of applause for a song about Claus

Jamie's public performance career got off to something of a rocky start this time last year after he threw away his crook and stormed down the aisle during the local church's nativity play.

Matters improved a little a few days later when, dressed as George Pig, he sang a few bars of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" at his nursery's festive revue.

Moving forward 12 months, his biggest artistic challenge of 2011 will come next week - much more on that then. 

But first, this morning, and his music class's guest appearance with a very odd group of individuals who describe themselves as "an orchestra." (I would more accurately describe them as "bored").

However, with the stage set, our tiny heroes did their thing - and you can watch a bit of it by clicking on the play button below.  Jamie's the one with the wooden block.

Needless to say, Vanessa, Charlotte and I were immensely proud. 

OK, Charlotte thought everyone should really be looking at her instead, but still. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Surprisingly, he doesn't drive a Mini

I spent my two nights in London this week staying with Wee John.

Above you can see his flatmate Shane (left) and brother Charlton (top right) enjoying our low key, sober dinner on Tuesday.

Wee John and Shane moved properties just a few days ago and, with the new flat, came a new, personal parking space.

It took me several minutes to work out why Wee John's space had the initials "AD" daubed on it.  And then it came to me.

"A Dwarf."

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A false start to the party season

I was working in London for the past couple of days, hence no updates here.  And last night I was due to attend the annual Irish Embassy Press Party.

I've been to the Irish Embassy several times before but, before setting off there yesterday, thought it best to re-check its location on Streetmap.  I found that it was pretty much right beside Marble Arch Tube station.  Easy.  So I arranged to hook up with an old friend before going on to the main event. 

I spent longer with my friend than I had intended, meaning I got to Marble Arch with only 45 minutes of the two hour party remaining. 

But there was no sign of the Irish Embassy.  So I did what I do when I'm lost; I walked around in circles - and got more lost.

25 minutes later and with a mere 20 minutes of the party left to go, I asked a doorman outside a posh hotel if he knew where it was. 

He had no idea, but helpfully pulled out a handheld thingy to look it up on Streetmap.  And there it was, right beside the Tube station.

Hyde Park Corner Tube station, not Marble Arch Tube station.


"It will only take you 20 minutes to walk there sir," he said. 

I decided against it.