Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Weak after week

It's only me. (Who were you expecting?)

We've now been in our Portugese parallel universe for precisely a week and have three nights left.

(Just to prove the regular strangeness of the place, they've just starting playing the American national anthem on the poolside PA system).

To be fair - and this might sound like guff - but I do think we'll be ready for Blighty come this Friday. The kids are wrecked, my liver is crying foul and Vanessa is talking health kicks. None of these developments are positive.

The problem with all-inclusive is that's it's there, it's paid for and it won't be there next week (when we'll still be paying for it in one way or another).

And with that, Sweet Child O´ Mine by Guns N´ Roses starts to blast out. Which reminds me, I'd better go and check on Charlotte......

.......who's fine.

She's doing a bit of drawing with a group of kids who don't speak Yorkshire. Or Ulster for that matter, the Londonderry and Donegal contingents having gone home yesterday.

A quiet day is planned for today after we pretty much burned the candle at both ends over the past couple of nights.

We headed into the Old Town on Sunday evening where drink was taken.

Followed by an unconventional taxi home.

Then yesterday we returned to Zoomarine to do all the things we weren't organised enough to squeeze in last week.

These included the sea lion show.

The dolphin show, always a favourite. 

And just to remind us that we're somewhere foreign, we were encouraged to point and laugh at a bearded midget in a dress.

I'll probably miss him most when we leave.

We've also reached souvenir time.

Jamie plumped for a stuffed bald eagle which he's chosen to christen Squaky.

Whilst Charlotte chose one of those yappy mechanical dogs which I've taken it upon myself to name Annoying Little F*cker.

I hope it gets the mange. 

So that's how things stand in Albufeira as lunchtime approaches this Tuesday afternoon.

I'll probably check in with you one last time before departure because I know how you worry.

Keep smiling.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Belly wellie

It's day six of the holiday, which means we're only halfway through.

So, as a means of celebration, let's bring on the belly dancers!!!

Yes, they might've been a day late, but there was a quite remarkable array of talent on show last night.

As well as a lot of flesh.

But such skill.

Such poise.

Such filth.

I'm just relieved I didn't miss it.

In other developments, I had a fun couple of hours in the pub with my old mate Stephen Barr.

His hugely entertaining partner Ruth took the picture, before settling down with drink number two from the cocktail menu.

Steve and I just had another pint.

And Charlotte (wearing the hat) joined the very long tattoo queue.

Was it worth the wait? 

Let's just say it's not something a wire brush and a splash of Dettol can't deal with.

Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday weekend.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Birds and stuff

Welcome back to the Algarve where the local time is Saturday. That's as much as I know.

From memory, yesterday was Friday and we spent the day at the Zoomarine theme park.

It was busy but it was fun with a number of clear highlights.

One was when we found Dory, which will save us a few quid in cinema tickets and popcorn when we get back.

Another was witnessing our first public hangings.

Here they come.

And there they went.

In fact, this was their third mass execution of the day, demonstrating commendable bouncebackability if nothing else.

Anyone who has ever been on an all-inclusive package holiday will be very familiar with the sight of big birds. 

But, aside from the one three sunbeds up from me as I type, this specimen at Zoomarine was the biggest I've seen.

And not a muffin top in sight.

Back at the hotel and staying with the feathery theme, it was Parrot Show Night (the belly dancer having tragically failed to show up).

I must confess, I don't mind the occasional parrot performance.

Top of my wish list was seeing one on a stunt cycle.

And gloriously, my dream came true.

But that was just the start.

Have you ever seen a parrot power a scooter?

I spoil you, I know.

And I've even saved the best till last.

Nope, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed a parrot on rollerskates. 

I'm not sure my life will ever be the same after witnessing that.

In other news, Jamie and his mates acted out an ancient proverb.

Sorry, wrong picture.

And nasty Mummy force-fed Charlotte her daily ration of fruit.

S'not fair.

But all else appears to be well.

Tonight is the hotel's hotly anticipated Moroccan Night. How they're going to get a camel through the front door is anyone's guess. But I'm already looking forward to finding out.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Big Willy rises to the occasion

Once again you join me from the luxurious comfort of a cheap sun lounger having not had to rise at 5.30am to secure it. This run of luck surely cannot continue.

Yesterday I speculated about the "turn" likely to take to the stage last night. It turned out to be me.

Yes, it was karaoke evening for us and I dare not let my public down. To be fair, I had no plans to woo the masses and my name was submitted by her indoors. (I can only assume Mrs White loves the sound of my voice). But my rendition of Forever in Blue Jeans, by common consent, eclipsed any version Neil Diamond himself belted out back in the day. I rock.

Sadly, the stage was not exclusively mine as Jamie and friends ended the night with a quirky cover of Happy.

But they'll never take my crown.

Aside from our first proper visit to the beach, the other main headline of today was the return of Big Willy.

We met Big Willy in Turkey last summer and, such was the impact he had on all of us, we decided to bring him back to Guiseley to live in our house.

He's been feeling a tad deflated over the winter months. 

But the prospect of a return to the water seems to have really puffed him up.

Big Willy, it's good to have you back.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Postcard from Portugal

Welcome to Albufeira where we're surrounded by people from Guiseley and Northern Ireland. It's always nice to get away.

I jest. We knew there would be at least one other Guiseley family here, including one of Jamie's best mates. That was his big surprise. And it's happily catapulted him straight into the spirit of things.

Meanwhile Charlotte, like most ladies I know, has chosen to ease herself into the trip a touch more gently.

We've now been through a full cycle of meals, and all is well in that department with a wide selection of deceased land animals and sea creatures available. I'm nothing if not bloodthirsty.

And on the drinks front, it's literally on tap from morning till night. (I did have a mini panic attack when we first arrived because I couldn't find the wine machine, but it soon turned up).

The evening entertainment isn't quite up there with Glastonbury or even most local pubs holding the appropriate licence. Last night we had what I can only describe as a poor man's Shadows tribute act. Wank Marvin, if you will. I'm not entirely sure what turn we'll be treated to tonight. However, it would be unfair of me not to admit that I'm already looking forward to Friday and the belly dancer. (That said, part of me is fearful that we'll be landed with a fat bloke from Newcastle).

So, all in all, it's been a good start. Indeed, the only mild irritation thus far has been the sadly predictable early morning scramble for sunbeds.  It's pretty much par for the course wherever you venture these days. But it gets right up my chuff and I'm not playing this time. Indeed, the fact that I'm ranting to you from the comfort of a sunbed confirms that there's more than one way to skin a fellow European.

That'll learn them.

I'll be in touch.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Hey-ho and away we go

Fraternal greetings from somewhere over the English Channel, with France speeding ever-closer.

But Les Blancs are not larging it up with the Frenchies on this summer holiday. Mais non.

Instead it's Portugal for us, more specifically Albufeira.

It's a brand new destination for Jamie and Charlotte, which only adds to their sense of bubbling excitement. 

However, for their mother and me, it's visit number two after spending a fortnight there back in the days when packing was a lot less complicated and mealtime was a little more relaxed.  It was something of an infamous trip for your correspondent that one, following a somewhat unfortunate collision with a bathroom mirror during the grand finale of a Neil Diamond tribute gig. I might return to that subject in the coming days.

As for now, I must confess that I'm not yet fully appraised of what to expect over the next week and a half. This is largely because Vanessa - our in-house travel agent - doesn't regard such information as really any of my business.

What I do know is that, for the first time since Charlotte joined the team, we're not going to a Holiday Village. But, from the few points of detail that have fallen my way, the template is pretty much the same.  So we'll not go hungry and I most definitely will not go thirsty, although daddy dancing would appear to be a remaining danger.  Plus, Jamie will be in for a fun surprise. 

But whatever lies ahead, we will seek to make the best of it.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Portmagic plus

I've been lying very low to the ground since returning from our annual summer jaunt to Northern Ireland.  Well, I've been in bed sick for a lot of the time and that's fairly low to the ground.

Man flu.  Worse, probably.  But I'm not one for complaining (COUGH!)

Thankfully I'm now close to being back in the game so on we go.  Bravely. (Seriously, I'm such a trooper. COOUUGGGGHHHH!)

That's Jamie and Charlotte at Water World in Portrush a few days ago, together with their big cousin Katie.  They've gone there every summer for the past few.

The picture below was taken last year, and haven't they grown since?! (Answer: Yes, Barry).

Sadly last week was likely to be their final trip as the local council plans to close the place.    

But countless other leisure options will remain.

This was Katie and Jamie on the Ghost Train at Barry's last August.

What a "brave" boy,

Charlotte joined them this time.

No, really.

I promise.

She really is in there.

To be fair, Jamie was much more courageous on the Big Dipper which he's finally big enough to board.

Indeed, I had my first go in 25 years.

And credit where it's due.  I only sobbed just a little.

Charlotte also manned up too by going on the up-and-down thingy.

Although she did appear to regret her decision.

Elsewhere on the trip, we went to a farm,

To begin with, the petting Portakabin was everything you might expect. 

Until Jamie got his big snake out.


But it wasn't all about the kids,  Mrs White and I had a couple of nights out too.

Neptune and Prawn - the newest addition to the Ramore complex - instantly became our new favourite restaurant.   

(Agreement between us on such matters is not normal form, which tells you just how good it is). 

And we even finished up with a touch of the Caribbean at the nearby Atlantic Bar.

Northern Ireland truly has everything these days.

Needless to say, it also has Johnstons Bar which recently-appointed Northern Ireland Minister Kris Hopkins took the opportunity to visit.

You meet all sorts in there.

But back to the real kids.  

They had tremendous fun and were very sad to leave.

Our flights are already booked to see in the New Year.