Saturday, 31 March 2012

And now, the end is near...

Not a great sight to wake up to, but there's worse.

That's right, a brace of Fultons.

But then things improved.

Charlotte certainly had the right idea, and it's an example I intend to follow for the rest of the day. 

After all, the next time I'm 40, I'll be 80.  And I'll have to go to the toilet a lot more and will miss half the fun.


Friday, 30 March 2012

Guess who's coming to party?

The first guests are on their way to our humble abode as my 40th birthday weekend finally climbs into the starting blocks - the big day/night is tomorrow. 

It turns out a few of them actually got together last night and, as you can see above, they seem to have had a good time. 

Let's hope they left plenty in the tank, because I'm still really, REALLY young (if only for another 24 hours).

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

3+1 = 40

My left front crown tried to make a run for it last night.  I'm due at the dentist tomorrow morning to have it glued back in. 

But the fact that bits are literally falling off me should hardly be a surprise; I am 40 on Saturday after all.

Yes folks, it was on 31 March 1972 - Good Friday - when I began. They say that when one life ends, another begins.  So I must've passed Jesus in the lift.

I remember being incredibly disheartened upon reaching 30.  Indeed, I recall talking to an older and much wiser individual than me at the time.

"Barry, son, 30 hit me hard," he said.  "40 and 50 came and went, and I hardly noticed.  But then I hit 60 and realised I was an old man." 

Thankfully (Lord) Ken Maginnis is still going strong well into his 70s, and will no doubt be causing rows for many years.  But his words have stuck with me for the last decade and, thus far, my experience is similar to his.

Hitting 40 hasn't sent me on a downer.  It's just kind of happened and I'm going to make the best.

This process will begin in earnest at lunchtime on Friday when the first birthday weekend guests are due to arrive.

More on that next time.  For now, I think it might be prudent to have an early night.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Who's that standing between Vanessa and Alison?

There was a beaming soul wandering Leeds city centre this morning, when Angela Griffin got to meet Vanessa and work colleague Alison.

Probably best known for her role as hairdresser Fiona Middleton in Coronation Street, she has also appeared in Emmerdale, Holby City, Cutting It and Waterloo Road.

Most recently, she has been in Sky One comedy Mount Pleasant (a personal favourite of mine - Wee John lookalike Bobby Ball is a co-star) and The Great Sport Relief Bake-Off where she was a finalist.

But today was the day when Ms Griffin finally knew for sure that, if you work hard enough at it, showbiz does bring its rewards.

I would expect her to speak of nothing else for the remainder of her lifetime.

Just hanging around

I'm all for people having a little rest when the sun comes out but, arriving home yesterday, I sensed that Jamie and Charlotte were at risk of becoming plain lazy.

Thanks go to their granny back in Norn Iron for their brand new "toy."

Monday, 26 March 2012

Not The Savoy

I'm not saying the pub Vanessa and I stayed in on Friday night was pants but, to avoid obscenity, I did consider keeping mine on when I was in our "en suite" shower (three feet from the bed, four feet from the  telly)  in case I dropped the soap.

And whilst I applaud the owners' tough line on drugs, I wouldn't want to be on their team at a spelling bee.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

I am the champion

Something of a turn-up today when I managed to win the local six-mile Sport Relief run in nearby Menston. 

However, two factors may played a part in this unexpected outcome.

First, there were only three people doing the six-mile version - me and two girls who appear to have ticked the wrong box on the entry form.    

And second, my final lap of the course did seem quite a bit shorter after I think I took a wrong turn.

But, you know, a win is a win and the mitigating circumstances which may have influenced the result will be forgotten as the years go on. I guarantee it.

Congratulations to those in the gaggle pictured above who took it upon themselves to complete either one or three miles, raising plenty of money for a very good cause.

This afternoon's healthy activity was in stark contrast to my behaviour over the past couple of days when, essentially, I drank a lot.

Last night our friends Paul and Mandy came round to watch Coleraine Football Club lose horribly on Sky Sports.

Both of these fine individuals are due to run the Boston Marathon in a few weeks' time and, despite the overindulgence, got up this morning to run 18-20 miles in preparation.  (Yes, really). 

And on Friday, Vanessa and I were privileged to attend the wedding of two other friends, Sarah and Chris, at Gisborough Hall in North Yorkshire.

Anyone who knows me reasonably well will understand that when I say I danced, it means I had a few - and I did, so I did. But it was a great night. 

And what about this for a memorable wedding shot?

Needless to say they weren't posing for me, but thank you again to the nice cameraman who kind of let me hang over his shoulder (whilst he shouted "Look at MY camera!" with more than a hint of irritation.  Sh*t happens).

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Here's a challenge

Her and me are off to a wedding and an overnight stay in the morning, and him and her aren't coming (which I'm is the most pleasing aspect, if truth be told).

They had their respective heights measured earlier tonight. And, as you can see, Jamie was found to be higher than Charlotte.  That's as much as I know. 

Meanwhile, you, like me earlier this evening, may have watched funny Scouseman John Bishop cycle, row and run the thousand miles distance between Paris and London.

His heroic feat coming off the back of David Walliams achievement in swimming more than one million miles up the Thames, both in aid of Sport Relief.

But that pair have nothing on the Whites.

Because on Sunday, Vanessa will be running three miles and I'll be running six miles for the same worthy cause. 

Now I appreciate that you may well be taking part in a Sport Relief challenge of your own or have already sponsored someone else who you like more than us.

But if not, click on this link and channel your dosh - via us - to the Sport Relief grand total. 

We have set ourselves the stifling target of £10 - so a tenner will do very nicely.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

As the painting stops, The Apprentice starts

I can just about recall that feeling I used to get when I was in the middle of my exams and all I wanted was the end to arrive.  And, eventually, the end did arrive. (Unfortunately, shortly afterwards, so did my results).

I feel a bit like that tonight as my paint tins have been closed, my brushes have been washed and put away - and the decorating is finally at an end. 

Painting five rooms in one sweep was not my plan when I started off in what seems like the winter of 2004, but the early evening sunshine and the first smell of cut grass (not ours, I hasten to add  - give me a chance!) have brought a feeling of quiet satisfaction that everything is out of the way.

All that now remains is to sit back and watch my children cover each freshly-painted wall, door and skirting board in dirty paw prints. 

But, in truth, I don't really care. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

And now, the end is near - honest

If ever evidence was needed that my painting crusade has gone on a little too long, it came last night when I was touching up a few defects in Jamie's room.

Tongue out, Pollyfilla in hand, I felt a presence that turned out to be my son.

"Daddy?" he said, "why do you keep painting my bedroom?"

Tomorrow I will stop, I promise.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Nearly done - as am I

Weekend five of my decoratathon is almost at an end - seven hours yesterday, six and a half today - and thankfully so too is the work.  

With Jamie's room and the dining room already out of the way, today I finished the shower room and, with the ceiling done, put the first coat of paint on the kitchen wall (above).  All that now remains is another one  tomorrow night, two coats of gloss on the skirting boards there and in the "toy room," final touch ups all round - and we're done. 

Jamie was most impressed by Daddy's Big Pole.  And quite right too.

Meanwhile, Charlotte was up for bit of hide-and-seek. 

Today, of course, was Mother's Day - and it didn't go unmarked.  

Thankfully everyone did seem to enjoy themselves more than the picture might suggest.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Eve Of St Patrick's Day Day

An Ulsterman 365 days a year (366 this year, being a leap year, so lucky him), Jamie is normally only permitted to be Irish on days when Ireland play rugby.

But there are a couple of exceptions.  The first and obvious one is St Patrick's Day, which is tomorrow. 

The second is on nursery St Patrick's Day theme days which are held when St Patrick's Day falls on a weekend (still tomorrow). 

So this morning he was dressed up as Jamie O'White and sent out to drink Guinness and tell bad jokes until his heart is content. 

And this year he even had company.

Have a great Eve Of St Patrick's Day Day. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The truth doesn't get bent more than this

You, like me, may have been one of the several million viewers who tuned into tonight's MasterChef Final. Alternatively, you may have a life - and I envy you. 

MasterChef will forever take me back to Wee John's 40th birthday weekend during which someone (I can't remember who) told me that hosts John Torode and Gregg Wallace were live-in lovers.

And I believed them.  Indeed, I believed them until very recently when I remembered to check.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that they're not.

And so do you.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

He's a warmer

I've been in London for the past couple of days and, last night, had the dubious privilege of Wee John cheffing for me.

Well I say cheffing but, in truth, all he really did was warm things up.

Together with his flatmate Shane and blokemate Pav, we had warmed-up prawns and chilli on warmed-up bread to start, and warmed-up chocolate pudding for dessert.

In between, we were presented with warmed-up chips, warmed-up onion rings, warmed-up Yorkshire puddings and warmed-up pepper sauce.

To be fair, he did pan fry the steaks, because you kind of have to do that with steaks.

But then it soon became clear why he relies so much on his oven.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Do not touch - and definitely do not twist

An awkward moment at bath time last night, when Vanessa walked in to find Jamie twisting Charlotte’s nipples.

“What are you doing?!” a rather startled Mummy demanded to know.

“Playing with Charlotte’s buttons,” replied Jamie. “What are they for?”

“Not for playing with!” (would have been my answer. Tragically, I wasn’t there ).

Monday, 12 March 2012

Groundhog Weekend - Part IV

I spent a mere 19 hours decorating this weekend, turning the "toy room" - as Jamie calls it - from what you can see above to what you can see below.

Sadly, the walls still need another lick and I haven't touched the woodwork yet.  After all that, it'll be time to begin the kitchen.

So determined was I not to be interrupted that I employed the services of two pirates to keep unwanted visitors at bay.  

Despite their good work, rum was banned from the premises.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Less than a remote possibility of this happening again

Ever since he's been old enough to know better, I've made house rule number one very clear to Jamie: never, EVER touch the TV remote control.  

He's become very aware of this rule but, given half an opportunity, cannot help but attempt to break it. 

And the temptation is made worse by the fact that there are four remote controls to choose from - a Sky and telly remote in the living room and the same again in the kitchen.

So you can imagine my horror when I came down the stairs this morning to see what you can see above; that's the Sky remote in his hand. 

However, what I then didn't expect to see - and didn't notice when I first walked in - was this sight.

I think Charlotte is now equally aware of the fact that the TV remote is also none of her business.  And how she managed to get her tiny paws on it is beyond me.  (Well, not really - her brother must have handed it to her for badness). 

Anyway, I hope they enjoyed their big moment because the next one will be a long time coming.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Let's hope she licks it soon

Vanessa's tongue has gone for a wander.  In fact it's gone geographic. 

Until today, I'd not been aware of the term - or should I say "condition" - known as "geographic tongue."

And neither was Mrs W.  But now she is and it's in her mouth.

She went to the doctor's first thing this morning to seek a diagnosis of her poorly licker, and her symptoms matched up. 

These include (and I quote from some random site I found on Google):
  • Map-like appearance to the surface of the tongue
  • Patches that move from day to day
  • Smooth, red patches and sores (lesions) on the tongue
  • Soreness and burning pain (in some cases)

All lovely, I'm sure you'll agree.

Treatments are uncertain, although I have suggested an indefinite ban on tongue-lashings aimed in my direction.

If she agrees to that request, I'll know she really is sick.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Me and Jim

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

That's all I can say about Jimeoin live on stage in Leeds tonight.

Two reasons:
  1. He was
  2. I've been drinking since 5.30.
Let's "speak" tomorrow.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Guaranteed to be a Lovely evening

I'm all excited. 

Thanks to him and her, a night out continues to be something of a rarity for she and me.  But tomorrow our luck will be in when we go to see Jimeoin live at the City Varieties in Leeds.

For those of you who have never heard of the great man, Jimeoin is a comedian who, although huge in Australia, has only risen to proper prominence over here in the last couple of years.   

And he's from Portstewart in Northern Ireland.

He's not particularly rude, he's not even especially edgy.  But he is incredibly funny. 

I've read a couple of reviews of his new show - simply entitled "Lovely" - and subjects for discussion will include toe movement and whether or not to wear a coat outside.

Despite leaving the North Coast 24 years ago, he has retained his accent. 

I therefore purchased two tickets on the second row, right in the middle; my thinking being that, whilst I'm not saying I'll definitely interact with him, he is likely to be one of the few people on any English stage with a chance of understanding what I'm saying. 

We'll see how it goes.  

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Come dine with me

I'd love to think that today will be forever remembered for me finishing painting our dining room.

But it won't. 

Because Norn Iron's Rory McIlroy has just become the world's number one golf player. And Antrim man Mark Allen has won the final of the World Open snooker. 

Like most Ulsterfolk, I'm very, very proud. 

But while I have you, what do you think of our dining room?

I appreciate that it might look a bit dull.  But new curtains, some pictures on the walls and a new carpet are on their various ways . Plus, it's all my own work so don't insult me (please). 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

I intend to dine out on this

As I write,  it's getting quite late on a Saturday night, so you'll probably not read this until Sunday, Monday - or not at all (the most sensible option, if it were me).

I haven't actually left our house today because, as boringly trailed, I'm back on the decorating horse with our dining room the focus of this weekend's productivity.

What you can see above is how it looks at the present time (despite 10 hours of effort).  But, by tomorrow teatime, it should hopefully look different again.

I'll have two main objectives when morning comes:
  1. That the wall colour will be even
  2. That the wall colour will not be pink
At least I have some help.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

WANTED: All clear/evidence of a brain

I had my first CT scan 12 years ago when I lived in London and my sinuses were giving me dixie. 

And I remember it being quite a daunting experience. 

I was working for the then Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble and Mo Mowlam was Northern Ireland Secretary of State.  Mo was continuing her well-publicised battle against a brain tumour which ultimately and tragically cost her her life.

And when I was transported into the scanner, all I could think of was her.

Tonight I had my second CT scan at the Leed General Infirmary - my sinusitis is back - and, for the first couple of moments, it was a case of deju vu all over again.

But then, as is my wont, my mind began to wander. 

The next thing I knew was being woken up by a nurse, 

"Oh, sorry," I said, "how long have I been in there?"

"Four minutes," she replied. 

Well, I have been very tired of late.  But at least I appear to have conquered my dislike of CT scanners.