Sunday, 28 December 2014

Dads are boys too

It's that time of the holiday period when the pace has eased a little bit and you have time to properly review what gifts have kindly come your way.

For my part, this includes my brand new drinking cap - which I'll be testing out very shortly - a pair of Guinness bottle top cuff links and a cocktail-making kit.  Spot the theme.

However, I would be lying to you if I didn't admit to taking more than a passing interest in some of Jamie's gifts.  

This includes his "big present" from Father Christmas, a PlayStation Vita which will shortly add a rugby game to its portfolio - compelling me to order an advance copy (for myself) yesterday.  (I can pretend to be the Ulster rugby team and everything, doesn't get better than that).

The other gift which has caught my eye - and which I may or may not have lobbied very hard for inclusion on Jamie's Santa list - is Electronic Battleship.

As a kid, I always fancied having Electronic Battleship on my own Santa list but it never quite worked out.  This meant I never actually got to play the game until last night when I set Jamie's up to "test" it - without telling Jamie.  Who then caught me in the act and forced me to let him join in.  Kids.

Charlotte soon took an active interest too and, before we knew it, all-out war was being waged across our dining room table.

Later, we're having a Boys v Girls house battle with Jamie and I pairing up against Vanessa and Charlotte.

And I'll not be happy until I see Charlotte cry at the demise of the female fleet.  I'm sorry, but war is cruel and she might as well know that now.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

So there it was, Merry Christmas

Well, that's Christmas kind of over for another year (although I fully intend to tear the arse out of it for a few days yet).  I trust you and yours have had a memorable time thus far.

Briefly and in chronological order, all seemed to go well here for us Whites.

Jamie and Charlotte were eventually carted off to bed after leaving the obligatory refreshments out for Santa Claus and the reindeer with the shiny nose whose name currently escapes me.  

And thankfully they came, leaving two kiddiewinks particularly pleased with the outcome on Christmas morning.

(That's a remote-controlled toilet Jamie is holding, by the way.  "Corners smoothly without leaving skid marks," according to the box).

We then moved on to lunch, featuring special guests Grandma Judy and Granddad Mike.

Following Vanessa's French onion soup starter, it was time for the main event, namely Old Mike the Turkey.

Taking a mere six hours of preparation and cooking, I must confess to having felt a tad smug with my effort.

I'd never done that "shove butter under the skin" lark before, and was apprehensive. My appetite also took a bit of a hit early on when Vanessa passed by whilst I had both hands rammed inside Old Mike.
"Now you know what it's like to be a midwife," she said.  Indeed.

But anyway, that was all good.

Then came Boxing Day when, for the fourth year running, I made the mistake of entering the Chevin Chase.  It's a seven-mile trail race through a country park to the highest point almost 300 metres above sea level, and back down again.  It's muddy, it's cold and it's dangerous (I broke a bone in my foot when I first did it).  It's also traditionally won by one of the Brownlee brothers, reigning Olympic triathlon champion Alistair taking the tape yesterday with younger sibling Jonny not far behind.

Unlike me, who was far behind - in 542nd place.

Poetry in motion.

The low point for me was being passed by a man dressed as a tree whilst running through a clump of trees.  Irony in its cruelest form.  

But I just about earned my afternoon in the pub afterwards, which was the plan all along.

Which reminds me, it's now time to treat the kids to a pub lunch.  Selfless, we really are.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Time for another White Christmas

It's 3pm on Christmas Eve and, being partial to the occasional cliché, I'd like to say it's the "calm before the storm."  But it's not for me, and probably isn't for you either.

For years I tried to reach common agreement on a "traditional" White family Christmas Eve tea - and got nowhere. That was until last year when Jamie came up with the ingenious idea of fish and chips "with a twist."

Twelve months ago we sat down to devour a three-fish roast, albeit from Morrisons, accompanied by my (burnt) homemade chips.   And this evening, I'm going to have a go at fish goujons served with another attempt at (hopefully less burnt) homemade chips.  It'll probably be a disaster, but Santa loves a trier

Later, it will be cheesy Christmas telly, snacks out for Father C and Rudolph, and him and her off to bed.  Before we wrap.  And maybe even rap.  (A pretend Eminem has released a naughty version of Jingle Bells which we might have a crack at).

Then tomorrow I cook again.  But enough of all that, you might have your own bird to worry about (if so, I trust you bought her something nice).

I hope you have an excellent night tonight, that your hangover is eased when you discover Santa has been good to you, and you don't fall out with too many cheating in-laws once the Monopoly comes out.

Or put more simply, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I trust there's cash in his sack

With Charlotte's birthday celebrations finally at an end (she's the one on the throne, obviously), today it was time to get back on with Christmas.

Enter Santa Claus.


Yes, Christmas has changed a lot since my day.  And one of the most noticeable "progressions" has been the birth of the omni-present Santa. 

Honestly, Jamie and Charlotte must've met the old giffer eight or nine times over the past few weeks.

He's been everywhere. And every time the meets them, he gives himself extra work.

For example, neither Vanessa nor I were aware until this afternoon's encounter at Aireborough Rugby Club (above) that Jamie wanted an Iron Man suit in his big stocking.  And now Father C (or maybe his accompanying elf) will have to knock one up. 

Serves him right. 

I hope he's also happy to pay for it.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Rainbow princess

I suspect I'm not alone in having spent a lifetime wondering what lies at the end of the rainbow.  And today I discovered the answer.  That's right, a car park.

If you look closely at my not very good camera pic above, you'll see the rainbow continue down in front of the trees onto the road outside Asda in Guiseley.

And it was kind of appropriate that I saw such a memorable sight today, Charlotte's birthday.

Four years and a few hours ago, this was her look.

But she's worked very hard on her image since then, and this was how she processed around the house after nursery late this afternoon.

Understated, I know. Inevitably, there were further costume changes.

For example, this was her early morning "opening family presents" attire.

And this was her coffee and mints look not long before bedtime.

Okay, milk and biscuits, but same idea.

It's very nice to have her around.

Monday, 15 December 2014

They wish you a Merry Christmas

A special moment at Guiseley Infant School first thing this morning, when Jesus was born for the eighth time in the past week.  According to headteacher Mrs Bell, two further births are expected over the next 24 hours as reception and year one stage their final performances.

Yes folks, it's the nativity season and I was one of many proud parents in attendance today as year two did their thang for the second and last time.

Jamie was one of the three kings on show - some traditions are thankfully unbreakable - and I've helpfully indicated his regal presence for you above, together with his formal title.

Following his casting a few weeks ago, I asked him a few questions about the nature of the role.

"Do you have any words to say?"

"Er, no."

"Do you get to hand your gift over?"

"Er, no."

"What do you have to do?"  

"Stand there.  I just have to stand there."

"Right, excellent.  Sometimes I find it hard to stand at Christmas time, so that's a tough one.  Good for you.  Do you get to sing?"


"Brilliant.  Sometimes when I'm finding it hard to stand, I like to sing really loudly.  You'll be great."

And he was.  He didn't fall over once and his lips were definitely moving every time Mrs Wotsit struck up the piano.  Just like his classmates, who were all equally wonderful.

I hope Father Christmas is kind and generous to each one of them.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

One card trick

Here's a bit of fun.

You'll hopefully be aware that Vanessa I recently set up a PR and communications company, VANBAR associates, which we hope will make 2015 a year to remember.  

Things have been progressing and we expect to be able to announce news of some new business very soon.  

But we've just had another little win.

I went to my first Rugby Business Network meeting in Leeds on Wednesday evening, which you can read more about on our blog, VANBAR VIEWS.

On the way into the room, guests were invited to drop a business card into a champagne cooler as a means of entering a free prize draw.  So I did and thought nothing more of it.

To avoid hanging around waiting for a train on a dull and dirty night, I left shortly before the meeting ended - and presumably missed the winning card being drawn by England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster .

It was therefore with a mix of surprise and childish excitement that I opened an email no more than 20 minutes ago.

And this is what it said:

"Congratulations Barry!!

You have won the business card draw from the Leeds Rugby Business Network Event on Wednesday night!

You have won a meal for two to the value of £50 and a bottle of wine @ the Midtown Grill at the Marriott Hotel, Leeds.

I have sent the voucher to you in the post to your offices

Hope you enjoy it

Have a fab Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Well I never.  It can double up as our staff Christmas do.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Christmas Story by Charlotte White (aged 3 11/12)

With Christmas Eve now just a fortnight away, Charlotte thought you might like a quick refresher on what happened in a stable in Bethlehem around about 2014 years ago.

I hope it helps get you into the festive mood.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pre-Christmas Gift

You might recall that I took on the Great North Run in September in memory of my sadly departed friends Mags and David who passed away over the last 18 months.

Many of you were incredibly kind in sponsoring my little venture which was in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.    

When I crawled over the line, the "running total" (HA - gets me every time) was just over £1,100, and a couple more donations came in shortly afterwards.  But I forgot about the Gift Aid.

I was therefore very pleased to receive the following email this morning:

Dear Barry,

I hope that you are well. We have just received the remaining funds from your JustGiving page which has now expired. All of the sponsorship has been transferred safely and securely.

I just wanted to take a moment to express our thanks and gratitude for your support. I hope that you enjoyed taking part in the Bupa Great North Run 2014. We received an amazing £1445.99 in donations (inc Gift Aid) via your page and this will be invested into future blood cancer research. We cannot thank you enough for your efforts and I hope we’ll have you on the team again soon.

If there is anything else that I can help with then please do let me know.

Kind regards,

Jenny Desborough
Sports Events Coordinator
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research  

Thanks again if you did put your hand in your pocket.  

Saturday, 6 December 2014

'Twas the Whites before Christmas

A year goes fast, and today it was time for the annual Guiseley Infant and Nursery School Christmas Fair.

Having spent four hours at the school yesterday helping to set things up, Vanessa was determined to reap her rewards at the adult tombola.  She failed.

But thankfully another treat lay in store.

On the way out, we called into a converted classroom to see our friend Ruth - a proud servant of Guiseley Baptist Church - who was taking some pics on behalf of the congregation.  And they were pics with a difference.

Ruth doesn't do things by halves.  And so the sight of a full-size stable and manger set shouldn't have been a shock.  Neither should the rows of costumes on offer to families wishing to dress up for their very own Christmas picture.

Needless to say it was an offer we couldn't refuse.

My mother has always said I'd be a star one day.

Let the festive season begin.        

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Can cook, does cook

A rare treat this afternoon, when I was one of several proud parents invited along to sample the culinary delights lovingly prepared by the chefs of the Guiseley Infant School Cooking Club.  

For five weeks now, Jamie and pals have been discovering the secrets behind a range of signature dishes including Big Snack Bruschetta (no meat), Sunset Pasta (ditto), Fruit Muffins (clearly) and Apple Crumble (not a sausage).

And whilst I trundled up the path with fatherly pride in my tummy, as a committed carnivore I also felt a bit sick at the prospect of tackling something a little but, er, "drab."    

But I need not have worried. Because today's special offering was nothing less than Cheesy Bacon Jacket Potatoes.  That's right, BACON!  Get in there (i.e. my mouth).

Plus, being from Ireland, potato is obviously a vegetable I was force-fed in the womb so no problems there either.

And I have to say, they really were rather good.  So much so that I queried whether the kids had really had a huge amount of personal involvement in their preparation.  (Yes, bad daddy, I know).  But Jamie quickly put me right after revealing that two fellow mini-cooksters had independently impaled themselves on the cheese grater.

My thoughts are obviously with them, not to mention the school governors who must be praying the parents don't sue.    

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Is this Britain's smallest dad?

People keep asking me what's happened to my tiniest pal, Wee John, who hasn't featured on here as often as before.

Well, the short explanation (do you see what I did there?) is that he's been preparing for fatherhood.  

And for those who don't already know, I'm thrilled to report that at 9.35am yesterday, Baby Josephine India made her regal entrance, weighing in at 3.355kg (or 7lbs 3oz to my mother and me).

Mummy Rosie and daughter are doing well.  And, 24 hours on, Daddy still hasn't slept a wink

I'll raise a glass to all of that, although someone seems to have beaten me to it.

Congratulations wee man.