Monday, 28 September 2015

The Rugby World Cup comes to town

The Rugby World Cup rolled into Leeds this weekend.  And it was magnificent.

The fun began at Aireborough Rugby Club on Friday evening when the entire USA squad called in to say hello.

And nothing was too much trouble for them.

At times they seemed even more excited than the kids, who felt like they were walking on air.

They won a lot of friends and, I suspect, stole a few hearts while they were at it.  Absolute respect.

The first of the weekend's two games was on Saturday, when Italy took on Canada at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United.

The fun began before we left Guiseley when Jamie met some travelling Italian fans.

Joined by my rugby mad Kiwi friend Hayden and in a first for me, we had a pic taken with a man-sized rugby ball.

Before this walked off the train from Edinburgh.

Yes, everyone has a pal named Dave and this one is mine.  

Despite the garb, he's actually from Northern Ireland.  We went to school together and I'm a proud but poor godfather to his son, Huw.  

He wore his kilt for the entire weekend, assisted by Sudocrem.  

Italy were fortunate to triumph in an entertaining game.

Most importantly, Jamie loved it - giving me an excuse to get to more rugby matches in the future.   

Dave and I were back again on Sunday to see Scotland take on our new American friends.  

Thankfully, Dave blended into the crowd much better than the previous day as Scotland won by a distance.

Then it was off to the Fan Zone to see Ireland stuff Romania on the big screen.

And, in a final treat, we bumped into Scottish rugby hero turned administrator John Jeffrey. 

He's a bit of a legend, old John.  A farmer by trade, he once expressed his one regret about the location of his land on the Scottish borders: "If I stand on a hill I can see England."

He also famously received a six-month ban from the sport after he and England's Dean Richards damaged the one of the oldest trophies in sport, the Calcutta Cup, after playing football with it in Edinburgh city centre.    

A terrific end to a wonderfully memorable weekend.  

And, sticking with the rugby theme, there's one more thing.  Yesterday my old team mate and captain Mark Buchanan posted a picture on Facebook which made me feel old and nostalgic in equal measure.

It's the 1991 Northumberland Colts County Cup Winners, Newcastle Gosforth RFC.  We had a great night.   

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Pet hates

The White family is set to expand in number.

Yes, we're thinking about getting a pet.

In truth, neither Vanessa nor I want to tread this rocky path. After years of nappies and knocked-over potties, it remains a relief that the constant smell of poo has finally gone.

But Jamie has been piling on the pressure.  And as much as we've tried to put him off, he's become rigidly unputoffable.  Plus, as ex-childhood pet owners ourselves, it does seem a bit harsh to tell him that he can never have one himself.

So tonight we had a family meeting to discuss what he/we might get.

A dog was swiftly ruled out.  Too much effort required.  And Charlotte is convinced it will eat her.  Not going to happen.  The end.

I've always had a soft spot for cats, but Vanessa has put her Converse down.  She thinks they're evil. I could point out that this situation would never have happened if we'd had a cat. I got him in the end, followed by another five.  But the lady's not for turning.

A hamster?  "Too boring," declared Jamie.

A gerbil? "It's just like a hamster," noted Charlotte.

A guinea pig?  "No," grumped Jamie.

Charlotte said she'd quite like a pet fish.

"What kind of fish?" I enquired.

"A cod," she replied.  "Or maybe a salmon.  We could call her Sally."

At least there wouldn't be a cat around to eat it.

The meeting concluded with the passing of a unanimous resolution to visit the local pet shop for a browse.  A rabbit is now a slight favourite in the betting stakes.  But I'm not yet convinced.  I don't trust rabbits. They hear everything with their big floppy ears and are notoriously indiscreet.

I'll keep you informed.  

Monday, 21 September 2015

Swinging and in pain

We had ourselves a family day out yesterday.

Well, we let them out eventually.

But it wasn't just us Whites who were involved in our pilgrimage to Flamingo Land theme park in North Yorkshire. Hell no.

Below left you can see Jamie and Charlotte's daredevil cousin Holly, the bravest junior lady I've yet encountered.

She was the most delighted balloon occupant when the basket eventually rose high into the air.

And she was even more thrilled after joining cousin Oliver at the front of this ride, known as Kumali.

I mean, look at the size of it.

Holly's dad, Jonathan, was almost as brave sitting a few rows behind.

And perched as far back as you could go was Uncle Barry, having just been to the gents.

My problems began early after the ride lady viciously slammed the metal harnessy thing right onto my poorly shoulder, before locking me in like a sweary sardine.

Then it was time to begin the slow ascent to the top of the ride, the bit I hate most.  It probably took about 30 seconds, but felt like most of my adult life.

And then this.

Honestly, it was brutal.

Jamie and Charlotte thought I was very brave.  They'll find out eventually.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Flash Dad

One of those golden moments this morning when both Jamie and Charlotte were packed off to school together for the first time; Jamie into year three, Charlotte to reception.

Well, I say together. Charlotte doesn't actually start officially until later this afternoon as she and her fellow mini-inmates begin the process of "settling in."  But she was determined to go along with Jamie in all her new garb before returning home.  In fact, last night she insisted on sleeping au naturel so she could slip into her uniform as soon as she woke up.

St Oswald's C of E Primary School will be their new home for the next few years after a bit of a rejig of education places in Guiseley.  And the look and feel of everything there so far has been more than positive.

Of course, when you're new somewhere, it's always good to seek to create a positive impression - and that includes the parents.

After coiffuring Jamie for what seemed like hours this morning - Vanessa "did" Charlotte - I climbed into a pair of sensible trousers and put on a shirt, just so I didn't let the siblings down.

And when we arrived at the playground, I spend the next 15-20 minutes smiling manically at all and sundry with teachers at the head of my mental queue.

It was only as I walked back out the school gates that I realised my zip had been open all along.

Tomorrow, whatever the weather, I think it's best not to turn up in a long plastic coat.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A final flog of the Turkish horse

Almost 48 hours after arriving home from Turkey, I finally feel strong enough to talk about it.

Honestly, coming back from holiday is always a big ordeal for.

And the hardest part of all?  Passing beaming, pasty-faced new arrivals - either in the hotel lobby or at the airport - who are about to steal our fun.  I. Hate. You. All.

More positively, we did conclude our week-long trip on a series of highs.

Above you can see the audience selfie taken after Sunday's final show.  We're in there somewhere.

I dad danced all night and my calf muscles continue to grumble as a result.

Afterwards Charlotte got to meet her new stage heroine, Jess, the female lead.  

Ms White insisted on it after male lead "Smithy" (below centre) posed for a pic for me.

We also had a photo with the charming Pickthalls, our new friends from Milton Keynes, who we look forward to seeing again soon.

And then we stopped off for a final nightcap before bed.

Jamie was wise enough to stay on soft drinks as he was booked in for a climbing session the following morning.

The low point of the week?

Undoubtedly Vanessa's failure to win the star prize - a Russell the Brussel tee shirt - in Saturday evening's quiz.

And the highlight?

No question, my karaoke performance of "Forever in Blue Jeans" on the first night.

Sadly it was only a highlight for me.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

48 hours till summer's end

It's the start of a long weekend and our last two nights at Holiday Village Turkey.  And that's probably about right.

Honestly, this all-inclusive lark is very bad for your health.

This morning we had a late cooked breakfast followed by a visit to the Pancake Lady.

After Jamie and Charlotte are released from their kids clubs (it's Archery and Mini Monsters respectively), it'll be time for lunch and first thoughts of a drink.

That said, with Ireland due to beat England at rugby on TV this afternoon, I don't want to peak too early.

Yesterday was our boat trip in the company of Captain Popcorn.

Yo-ho-ho and I'll have another beer if you're asking.

We had four swim stops in all, although Charlotte only jumped in once because her life jacket wasn't pink.

How undignified.

Jamie found the courage to enter from the top deck.

(So did I but you're not seeing my half-cooked body).

Sadly, I wasn't given the chance to dress up like a pirate, which hurt my feelings a bit.

But thankfully it wasn't as painful as when I cut my heel on a rock and turned the sea red.  For a second I was sure Jaws was going to rise from beneath the foam and bite me on the arse.

It's Chinese night in the restaurant tonight.

Before the Widgets take to the stage .

And, if the evening ends like the last two, it'll be off to the Chill Out Bar for a bedside drawer full of night caps. 

For now though, it's back to my book.

See you in the wind and the rain any time from Tuesday.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Village People: Episode IV

Greetings from Turkey where, as we approach the halfway point of our week-long holiday, I've finally got my backside onto a sun lounger.

After three years of taking the kids to a Holiday Village, this summer we chose to have a good think about where we might go. Then we booked into a Holiday Village.

But we like Holiday Villages so that's OK.

That said, we are having some trouble persuading Jamie and Charlotte to go to their kids clubs/borstals.

Thankfully they did break their duck yesterday. Charlotte led off with a visit to Cowgirl School. 

Note the face paint (which I thought only Red Indians wore). She's also holding a self-made "dream weaver."  What that's got to do with being a cowgirl, only Calamity Jane knows. But it kept her occupied for an hour and a half which was very welcome. 

Then, last night, both she and Jamie visited Space Camp where they made rockets and stuff whilst Mummy and Daddy played out. 

We were very grateful. 

Earlier, we went on a shopping trip into the nearby village. 

Goods on offer included a pregnant Barbie.

And some genuine fake Ferraris. 

Charlotte also bought a hair clip which, as the evening went on, I think even she had some nagging style doubts about. 

Jamie was never convinced. 

With an all-day boat trip planned for tomorrow, we're aiming for an early, sensible night tonight.

Aye right.