Originally the plan had been for me to drive up alone while Mrs H took The Boy for his weekly swimming lesson, then catch a train to join me in Newcastle later in the afternoon. But this plan fell down because Transpennine Express proved to operate direct trains from Manchester to Newcastle every hour throughout the day, with the solitary exception of the hour in which Mrs H wanted to travel, when their service terminated at York for some unspecified reason.
So I ended up asking my guests whether they would mind having the company of a toddler at what was supposed to be what we might laughingly call a business lunch. Then ringing Café 21, where the youngest customer I had seen before yesterday was a Newcastle United first team player, to ask whether they welcomed children. They claimed that they did, though the answer to “Do you have a children’s menu?” proved to be “Oh yes, sir, we have a special lunch menu and our full à la carte”, which is not quite the same thing. Still, a high chair was waiting in readiness at our table and The Boy liked the sound of the fishcakes and chips from the à la carte, and they cut down the portion size and charged pro rata, which seemed fair enough to me. He enjoyed it, too, and behaved impeccably. Well, he slung so much food onto the floor that it required someone with a zoo-keeper’s brush and bucket combo in more or less permanent attendance, but at least he did not scream. In fact, he was rather better behaved than I was the last time I was here with a couple of fellow columnists from The Journal, and we drank four bottles of wine between the three of us as we set the world to rights.
It was dark by the time I had had a haircut, and we had a slowish drive home in the snow, but it was clearly going to be very pretty indeed when we got up this morning. In fact I found myself lying awake remembering how exciting snow was when I was a child, and anticipating how thrilled The Boy would be when I took him out to play in it. Completely wrong, of course. He was quite pleased with it for a couple of minutes when he was standing on the back doorstep watching Mrs H and me chucking snowballs at each other, but pretty fed up by the time he had walked around to see our next door neighbours and positively howling by the time we had built a very small snowman.
|Setting off on an exciting adventure|
|Can't we get a move on? I'm cold|
|The Boy helping to build his very first snowman|
|Really quite fed up now|
|Are you seriously trying to tell me that this is your idea of FUN?|