Exactly one year ago, something very special happened to me. Actually, it began 9 months before that, but that is another story.

If I put all the wonderful things together that has happened to me in my life (and that is a lot!), it would not come close to the little package that I held tightly in my arms on Wednesday 10th October 2007. That package was something that I had been waiting for for 5 years, 8 months, and 3 weeks exactly … a new pal!


The look on my face says it all. The most incredible sensation … holding my son … now I can truly understand how my father felt, especially since he had two daughters first!

That look/smile has been plastered on my face since Day 1. When looking back through the photos, I recognise the look in my own eyes … even though in some pictures, Nathan’s look is more like ‘Of all the fathers, in all the towns, in all the world, I end up with him.’


But as the minutes turned in hours, which turned into days, which turned into weeks, which in turn turned into months, we reestablished the ‘boys’ club! We travelled together, ate together, slept more or less at the same time, chilled out together, watched tv together, and had great times playing! Basically, we just did what we were best at!


And we continue to do what we are best at!


But today, Friday 10th October 2008, we pay tribute to a special little boy who turns ‘1’! And there was no shortage of recognition of this momentous occasion! His very first birthday table was brim full!


Of course, no birthday would be complete without Leija-ma’s special chocolate cake. Even though Nathan was unfortunately too young to appreciate the cake, Daddy had sufficient appreciation for the both of them and without hesitation continued to put the cake in a safe place … namely his stomach!


Present time could not be put off any longer … Daddy had waited too long to play with his son’s new toys … in a supporting role of course! Present after present after present, made Nathan’s eyes just grow bigger and bigger!


One thing we do know is that he is a real ‘de Haas’ … wheels, steering wheel, and other car accessories are the basis of a good present! Even at such a young age, it is remarkable how absorbed he gets when a car is placed in front of him!


Ultimately, two presents were a real success (even though one was well used before Nathan got his hands on it – Auntie Angie knows what I am talking about). I will not say from whom they were from, but that trip to Marks ‘n’ Spencers did the trick!


Oh yes, I nearly forgot, exactly one year ago, something very special happened to Mummy too.

Happy 1st Birthday my boy! Love Daddy & Mummy xxx

What I failed to include in my entry ‘Great North Run 2008 – Great Fundraiser!’ is my sincerest thanks to Richard. Why? I will tell you a story so shocking that even Santa Claus will be revising his ‘naughty & nice’ list after reading this entry.

Once upon a time … there were three female members in our family. To keep their identities secret from Santa Claus, we will only refer to them as Anita, Angie, & Leija.

Well these three anonymous ladies were to be part of the JJ’s Supporters Club … moral support for the start, and nursing support at the end of the Great North Run! Not very unreasonable … until they found out that we would be leaving at 7:30am on Sunday morning to get to Newcastle. 7:30am on Sunday morning! Their faces went pale. That translated into having to get up at 6:00am – 6:30am to get ready on time.

Now women’s logic kicks in with the first in a series of statements. “Well is it necessary for all of us to be at the start? I mean that it will be too busy to park and watch the start, so basically we will be just dropping you off. Therefore, Richard can take you up to Newcastle at 7:30am and we will follow a bit later and see you at the finish.”

Now to calculate when JJ will cross the finish line, so they can be there to see the hero cross the line. Right … logic statement No.2 … “Run starts at 10:40am … JJ is in Zone G … so another 20 minutes for him to start … expected running time … 2 and bit hours … so around 1:15pm … ish … in South Shields. Right, lets go to the MetroCentre shopping centre in Newcastle and play it by ear.”

So the ladies finally leave at 9:30am (well that is what they told me) and go to the MetroCentre. Must have arrived around 11:30am with Anita’s driving, so a healthy amount of time before going to South Shields. In the meantime, faithful Richard is trekking over to South Shields, navigating through all the road closures for the run, amongst the other supporters of the 52,000 participants.

At around 1:00pm, the Great Run message service sends out 3 text messages that I have finished the run. One finds Richard’s phone, conveniently located in South Shields … the other two text messages manage to penetrate deep into the bowels of the MetroCentre, not quite located in South Shields.

So there are Richard and JJ in South Shields, perfectly in time to see the spectacular display of the Red Arrows. The pictures in my previous entry barely do them justice. I pity anyone who did not get to see them (hint hint … say no more).

Now we have a slight logistical issue. Getting to South Shields is now basically impossible and parking is one step further than impossible if you did not have a 4×4 vehicle. The fact that Richard parked a 30% incline demonstrated that. Logic statement No.3 is now triggered … “Since we are too late to get to South Shields and it would be mad to try, why don’t you guys wiggle out of there and meet up with us at the MetroCentre? We can wait for you here.” So it was agreed to let the ladies suffer a little longer in the shopping centre.

Getting out of South Shields was impossible. All the cars/roads were gridlocked. Only if you were armed with the following three things, there was hope:

  • A navigation system highlighting roads not suitable for cars.
  • A 4×4 vehicle.
  • Richard behind the steering wheel.

All I can say is that we saw parts of England that the locals never knew existed. At one point, a Vauxhall Corsa followed us, but we never saw it again. I can only assume the enormous muddy potholes swallowed it up.

I may have survived the run, but Richard was really the ‘Man of the Day’. Thanks Richard!!!

As the sun was setting, Anita, Angie, Leija, and JJ headed back home (Richard stayed in Newcastle in case anyone was wondering) and promptly joined the traffic jam stretching the length of England with 51,999 other runners trying to get home! By this point, I was too knackered and fell asleep, so I did not suffer the long journey home. wink

Love JJ xxx

When I stepped off the plane on Saturday at Leeds Bradford airport, I was welcomed by a bitterly cold wet Yorkshire autumn wind. It was so cold, I noticed Eskimos heading south for the winter on the next Jet2 flight! It was a horrifying moment of realisation that I would only be wearing my running gear for the Great North Run in this weather. Ok … I know that it is a horrifying moment of realisation for anyone trying to picture me in my running gear, but nevertheless have some sympathy!

Fortunately on Sunday, whilst it remained cold and wet in Holland and the South of England, the hills of North England basked under the sun and the beautiful clear blue sky! The runners were escorted by the magnificent ‘Red Arrows’, who flew overhead and provided amazing breathtaking displays at the end.

GNR_2008_001 GNR_2008_002

All in all … the Great North Run remains an amazing event with 52,000 runners appearing as an endless human carpet from Newcastle to South Shields.


And with a time of 02:05:21 hours, awarding me the place of 16,064th, I am really enjoyed my last Great North Run … wait a minute … I still did not beat Richard’s time. Bugger!


Next year is all about beating Richard … bring on 2009!