Channeling Fred Dibnah.

Tags

, , ,

It is rare that the content of these weekly outpourings are unique in any way. However, this one is rare if not unique, as I don’t think I have ever written one at this time in August. This of course is because I have usually been on holiday.

So this (and next week) will be a bonus post, whether you think that is a positive or negative thing is your call of course.

I am technically on holiday now, just like most years. I finished on Friday, and I don’t go back until the 2nd of September. I did not leave the office in the usual pre-holiday manner, as nice as it is to not have to work this week, I could not muster the same levels of enthusiasm. There is little that beats that feeling of leaving the office for the last time before a Florida adventure, so it all felt a little underwhelming to be leaving for a staycation.

I have already DIYed. That is of course insult to injury, but it needed doing, and the Type A freak in me does feel better that the wall ruined by our (not so) recent flood is now restored to glorious wallpapered splendour. On that note, we have a large erection at the back of our house now. I do of course refer to the scaffolding that arrived last week, ready for my Dad and I to tackle the chimney stack that needs removing. We went up said erection yesterday to measure up, and I have to say, the bricks making up that chimney look a damn sight bigger than they do from ground. Getting the buggers down will be fun I have to say.

Blokes from Bolton are good at taking chimneys down

My aversion to manual labour is only intensified by doing it at a silly height above hard concrete. Bad weather aside, I shall be getting dirty and tired on our roof tomorrow. Still, it’s probably better than going to work. Maybe.

Being at home next week, and if I avoid A&E, I am hopeful that I will be able to nag Emily enough to finish the 2008 video trip report. I have seen what she’s done so far, and it looks good. Of course, with me in it she has some very good raw materials to work with, but she’s doing a good job.  Her main issue is not wanting to include herself in any footage. I am of course making sure she does. Her horror at her 14-year-old self is probably understandable from the distance of now being 19, but I guilted her into including stuff by telling her she’d be robbing me and Louise of our memories!

I of course look no different at all. Ahem.

Louise had some good news this week. She passed her OSCE. That isn’t a type of gall stone. Instead it is a practical exam where she had to examine a dummy in a scenario whilst being evaluated. She of course was certain that she had failed it, but was delighted to hear she got 70% and passed. This represents yet another hurdle on her journey to qualification. She remains chained to the PC cranking out her latest assignment. Anyone would think that nurses need to know a lot of stuff or something!

I shall endeavour to enjoy my downtime of course, despite the hard labour that awaits. If I do not blog next week someone had better come and scrape me up from underneath that scaffolding.

Till the next time…..

 

I Told You So!

Tags

, ,

See? I told you we weren’t going this year. This weekend is traditionally the one on which we jet off for our annual adventure. I know many of you did not believe my declarations that we would not be doing it this year, but here I sit, in a cold Bolton, watching sideways rain and gale force winds blast past the window.

I take absolutely no satisfaction whatsoever in being right. My sense of loss is tangible and ever present. It comes over me in waves of physical pain, and I can almost taste the atmosphere, sights and smells of our favourite places. That is both a good and a bad thing. The unique feel of different spots that we love are both lovely to remember and painful to recall.

If I imagine myself in the warm embrace of an evening on the Boardwalk, cosseted in the warm night air, full from a ludicrous intake of calories, and strolling around aimlessly, yet joyfully, I tend to well up. What? That’s normal right?

Don’t worry I’m not going to spend all of this week’s post moaning about not going. I’ll just spend a bit of it if that’s OK? It’s not fair, I want a holiday, I should be in Florida, life is unjust etc etc.

OK, I think that’s out of my system.

So instead of living la vida loca in the US what can I possibly do to fill the next two weeks? Well, I’m in work next week, so that of course is easily as good as being on holiday, and then the week after, I am on holiday. I use the term loosely, as I shall just be at home, doing that wallpapering that’s needed doing since we had that flood weeks ago. I am also going to be dismantling a chimney.

Please try to hold back your excitement and awe, I know how impressive that is. Our house is old, and on the back of it there is an ancient, now unused chimney stack that is doing nothing but collect water and deposit down into our bathroom. It dates back to when most rooms had a real fireplace rather than central heating. I shall be providing the unskilled labour to my Dad’s expertise, as it is taken down and replaced with roof tiles and stuff that will make it all better. I think you’ll all agree that this is a much better use of my time and money than one of those daft trips to Florida.

I know that I’ve been trailing this for about four years, but as I type this, Emily is sat editing the first Williams family vacation video. She’s adding music and all sorts right at this minute so it can’t be too long now. For reasons I can’t explain, the first one to be done is from 2008, which does nothing for my OCD orderly tendencies. Having waited so long for them, I’m not going to complain.

I have to also let you know about our latest Netflix addiction which we completed this week. The Killing was one we stumbled across having never heard of it before, but it was superb. It had more twists than a twisty thing, which, if you are watching it with Louise is a recipe for disaster or divorce as she is compelled to second guess things at every turn. Rather than sit, watch it and enjoy the fact that you haven’t got a clue what’s going on, she spends half of it postulating and theorising about who done it, when clearly there are still several episodes and a dozen twists to go. Anyway, find it, watch it and enjoy.

Bereft of a go to series to binge watch, we’ve been ploughing through The Walking Dead series 2. We’re enjoying it, but on the come down from The Killing it hasn’t quite captured us in the same way. We may go old school, and watch all seven seasons of The West Wing which appears to be available on catch up now.  I know we are a decade or so late to it, but it means we can do the whole lot, minus adverts, and I can pause it several times an episode so Louise can tell me what she thinks is going to happen.

Once we’ve done that, well, it may be time to go on holiday again. Either that or we’ll be going so far back into the archives that it may be Dixon of Dock Green. At least the football is back, which is good for me, and less so for Louise. The only downside of its return is the sign that with it comes autumn and winter. It feels like we’ve been waiting for summer to get going and now it’s over. We’re back into the nine months of winter again, before a few brief weeks of summer with grown men wearing flip-flops in Asda and people drinking Raspberry Cider and thinking that’s normal.

I think I need a holiday.

Till the next time……

Gatorland? Are You Out Of Your Mind?

Tags

, , , ,

There seems little point in cranking out a blog post this week as pretty much anybody I am even mildly connected to appears to be in Florida, and will have no interest in reading this drivel. I am of course very happy for them and in no way scrolling quickly past their non stop Facebook posts swallowing hard and fighting back the tears. You may think that is a joke. It is not.

My overblown sense of entitlement means that I feel wronged and deprived not to be heading over there. We should be packing now, and I should already have lost the customary few ounces on my annual diet. Instead, I teeter at the top end of my weight range, and stare unimpressed at unending weeks at work stretched out in front of me.

I have actually booked a week off work at the end of August around the bank holiday and my birthday. I have decorating to do, and at least if I am not at work, I can focus properly on the world-class sulking I will be undertaking at that time.

As I always say, I never say never, and there could yet be a lottery win. Having said that, has anyone actually won the lottery recently? I don’t mean the multi-million pound jackpot which results in your own helicopter and a swimming pool tiled with pound coins and unicorn spit. I haven’t heard of anyone winning anything for ages. I have been playing the main Saturday draw every week since it started back in 1994. I’ve used the same numbers too, and over that time I have maybe recouped about £50. I have to play the same numbers now, as I know the one week I don’t, they will come up and I will be found with a smoking shotgun and half a head in our garage.

We haven’t had even a small win for years. Clearly, as you know from last week’s post, Louise won the lottery eighteen years ago when she was lucky enough to marry me.

I have a sneaky feeling that since the financial downturn the government have just been pocketing the whole lot, and fibbing about anyone getting any sort of payout. It’s either that, or the fee for Nick Knowles and Dale Winton is now taking up almost all of the proceeds, even at £2 a ticket.

Orange Saturdays

Every now and again of course you see that couple win big. You know the ones. He works in a factory and says he won’t give up work, but he is going to take his family to Abersoch on holiday. For me, these types should be disqualified for being crap. If you don’t know what to do with that amount of money then you shouldn’t be allowed to win it.

That reminds me of a conversation I had earlier with Emily. She was reading some questions posted in a Facebook Orlando group, gradually getting herself more and more wound up. She has definitely inherited my Type A control freak genes, and believes that things need to be done a certain way. People asking questions about buying Yankee Candles, or whether Gatorland would be a good idea for their first day just drive her crazy. The first day is to be spent at the Magic Kingdom, and there is to be no debate about that in her mind. There shall be none of this Sea World stuff, or a day by the pool and some shopping.

We decided that once you get through immigration at Orlando airport there should be another desk through which you need to pass to begin your holiday. This desk would probably be manned (or womaned) by Emily, and she will determine whether you are allowed entry to Florida based on your answers. If you call WDW Disneyland, then not only will you be denied entry to the US, but she may also have you shot. Failure to answer satisfactorily will see you back on the plane to the UK on the basis that you are doing it wrong and therefore don’t deserve the holiday. You can do some research and try again next year if you like.

You are doing it wrong!

You are doing it wrong!

I understand that I am probably responsible for the Disney monster I have created in Emily, but she is what she is, and happy with it. The fact that I once found her throwing things around her bedroom because someone on Twitter had said they were going to Disney World that day, when they meant the Magic Kingdom perhaps suggests it may have gone a little too far. Maybe.

We are all dealing with our Disney grief in our own ways. I am off to unfriend anyone posting WDW stuff on Facebook.

Till the next time…..

Don’t Mention the Mushrooms!

Tags

, , ,

To paraphrase a very famous song, it was eighteen years ago today. However, I do not refer to any member of the armed forces teaching folks to play musical instruments, instead, it was the day on which all of Louise’s dreams came true. Today, is our wedding anniversary.

Right about now eighteen years ago I was stuffed full of the wedding meal (we had chicken, but no mushrooms…that’s important. The mushroom debate seemed to take up about six weeks negotiation, angst and debate in the build up to the wedding due to certain family members not liking them) with that meal ending with some legendary profiteroles that we still remember to this day. It will come as no surprise that some of the most vivid memories from the day are food related. I also remember spending ages planning and organising all sorts of things for the big day but then managing to completely forget to even give a moment’s thought to the speech I would have to give at the reception. I don’t recall what I said, but it was a mash-up of thank yous and a lot of errs and ums.

A recurring theme of my ramblings here is the speed of passing time. This is all relative of course, as I know tomorrow at work will feel like twenty-five years, but the time since this photo was taken feels just a bit longer than a commercial break, and I don’t mean one of the Appliance Direct ads in the States.

wedding

 

A lot has happened in the years since I looked so dapper (Louise looked OK too I suppose), including a lot of great holidays, oodles of hard work, a fair few crappy decisions, lots of fortune both good and bad, and I may have gained a pound or two, but I’m not sure. We’ve done a decent job with the girls, I think, managed to keep a roof over our heads, and not kill each other, although Louise may have come close on an occasion or two. I  understand that I can drive the ladies crazy with my outright adorableness at times. Apparently porcelain is the symbol of eighteen years of marriage. For anyone desperate to get us a gift, you can keep your tea cups thanks, we’ve got some. I believe that the traditional symbol for a nineteenth anniversary is First Class flights to Orlando, so just hang on until next year as we haven’t got any of those.

Our celebrations have been fairly low-key. If you can call Louise working on her latest assignment for most of the weekend, watching our new obsession, The Killing, on Netflix, followed by a few episodes of The Walking Dead Season 2 celebrations.

We did celebrate Rebecca’s return from holiday this week. It is always a relief to have them home again isn’t it? Especially with half of the world seemingly desperate to kill each other and any overhead planes at the moment. She appears to have brought half of Turkey home with her after discovering a local market she liked. She returned with handbags, clothes, jewelry and make up, and I hadn’t even asked for a present!! She had a great time, although found it a bit too hot at times, and it hasn’t managed to usurp America from her number one holiday spot. I don’t think that was ever in doubt though.

By the way, last week I forgot to mention that the first big book of trip reports had been formally reviewed by a book review blog. You will know that it was favourable as I am mentioning it now. If you’d like to read the review, and explore the rest of that blog to get some ideas on what to read next then you can do so at Random Redheaded Ramblings here. The fact this book now has 72 five-star reviews on Amazon is just crazy, and I thank every single one of you that has taken the time to say how much you enjoyed it. Hopefully, the next one won’t be too far away!

If you have read any of my books, and liked them, please do try to find a few moments to tell the world on Amazon. It makes a difference to any folks considering buying them, and of course satisfies my endless craving for attention and praise.

I’m away to Facebook now to view pictures from what seems to be everyone I know being in Florida at the same time, posting updates just to make me even more wistful and moany about not being there myself. You know who you are!!

Till the next time…..

N N N N N Nineteen.

Tags

, ,

It has been a birthday week in the Williams household this week, with Emily turning nineteen. Of course, now she is over eighteen, all presents, gifts and cash must stop, as those are the rules. Well, that’s what we’re telling her anyway.

Whatever we did this week, we could not live up to what happened this time last year, with (even if I say so myself) a perfectly executed reveal of her 18th birthday present, a trip to WDW. This year was a much more low-key affair, especially as Rebecca is still overseas on holiday in Turkey. The day was spent by Emily with her best friend Meg, and her boyfriend Joe, doing what I believe the youth of today call “hanging out”. When I do that, it is usually due to the age of my underwear.

Present wise, she had to settle for cash, some perfume and this addition to her newly acquired laptop.

macbook snow white

Emily and Joe went out for a meal and Louise baked her a cheesecake, her favourite cake in the whole of the world, but of course this did not remove the requirement for the standard Disney birthday cake too.

disney cake

 

She was more excited by this than most nineteen year olds may have been, but then, I suppose you know that by now?

Rebecca’s having a lot of fun on holiday, with days at water parks, and a go at scuba diving.

rebecca scuba 1

rebecca scuba 2

rebecca and tom water park

She’s due back home on Thursday and we will of course be delighted and relieved for her to be so. She has had a really good time, however, she did say “It isn’t America.” Years of training are not forgotten in two weeks in Turkey it would seem.

It is some form of miracle that I have got so far into a blog post without whining about my lack of America. I will admit that there have been actual conversations this week between Louise and I about a trip next year. To be honest, we both sort of knew one would be on the cards if and when Emily is called over to WDW for her programme. I won’t go into the details of the lengthy five-minute discussion, but all I will say is that the words “well, we just have to go next year” came from Louise’s mouth.

The biggest shock to you from that conversation was that I was the one advising caution, and not leaping immediately onto the nearest flight website, to rape and pillage the closest credit card. I have to admit though, even the merest, slim, outside chance of a trip has a positive effect. I read an article this week entitled something like Ten Things You Can Do Right Now To Be Happier. As soon as I saw that number one wasn’t fly to Florida, my hopes were lowered, but I persevered through all the boring obvious stuff like sleep more, work less, move closer to work to shorten your commute and finally got to a point I definitely agreed with.

There was actual scientific proof, it said, that even planning a holiday can relieve stress and increase happiness. Even if you don’t actually take the trip, the benefits are still real. The very small chance of a return home has kicked off some very low-level butterflies of anticipation, which have been greatly missed. The thought of seeing places such as Vero Beach, the Boardwalk and Applebees again are proving to be a mild anti-depressant. Yes, I know I’m strange.

So now I need to go and sit on Kayak for a bit to help my mood. I actually have already found suitable flights, so I’m just going to stare at the website for a bit. Then, I might look at endless villas for a few hours, making a detailed spread sheet comparing features, attributes and costs in a complex pivot table to arrive at the best choice. If we actually really decide we are going, then I may not survive the excitement.

Time for more cheesecake!

Till the next time…..

Don’t Care How, I Want It Now!

Tags

, ,

As the world continues its journey to hell in a handcart, in my own little universe, Rebecca left us for two weeks for her holiday. She has been very excited about her trip for a long time, and has been counting down the days for the past couple of weeks. Quite right too, as she was off to what looks like a lovely place, with outstanding weather. However, it was noticeable that as we got in the final few hours of her preparation it started to dawn on her what was happening. All of her teenage know-it-all bravado evaporated in a panic about airport security and flying without us.

She was honest enough to admit that she was feeling nervous about flying without Louise and I. Her apprehension continued to build as I drove her and her boyfriend to the airport on Thursday. She was unusually quiet on that half hour journey, and by the time I had pulled up and relieved the car of their cases her quivering bottom lip was a tell-tale sign of her true feelings.

One extra-large hug later, and half of her makeup all over my T-shirt, she seemed better, and waved happily as I drove away. Are there many worse feelings than waving your child off to a flight you won’t be on? I’m sure there are lots but I couldn’t think of any on the drive home. I certainly couldn’t think of any when a few short hours into her flight the news came in of the tragic fate of flight MH17 over East Ukraine. In the following minutes I was really wishing I had studied harder in Geography at school as I couldn’t tell you how far Turkey was from there, and that was a cause for concern.

A little googling told me it was a fair distance, but frankly, not far enough, and with a bit more browsing I was literally watching her flight make its way across Europe and down to Turkey. It may have been one of the longest ninety minutes or so that I can remember. To see the flight show as arrived was a delight, and I knew I could tone the worrying down a little, for two weeks at least until she flies back!

Safely arrived, she is now having a ball in 40 degree heat, and treating us to envy inducing photos like this.

Rebecca is the one without the beard.

Rebecca is the one without the beard.

They are staying at Tom’s parents place near Bodrum (I think), and it looks delightful.

The customary hot dog shot

The customary hot dog shot

All of this of course is doing nothing for those of the Williams clan that are left behind. You may have picked up on my subtle hints in the last few weeks that the lack of holiday blues have kicked in. I don’t like to talk about it too much so you may not be aware! I shall not lie to you, there has been a modicum of flight searching this weekend, but very much for 2015. I shall also not lie to you about the fact that right now we have no means to pay for such a thing, but hey, that’s never stopped us before.

Much depends on our plans moving forward, not least what Emily ends up doing with her place on the programme. No sign of a date yet, so we wait, and we’ll see. Also, these days, any trip “home” will need to probably accommodate one or more of these here boyfriends both of the girls seem to have acquired. That will make for a larger touring party, unavoidable complications and a compromise or two. Such is life and its ever-changing ways. The girls are absolutely building and living their own lives these days, which of course, as Tim Rice said, is all part of the circle of life. I have no great desire to stop them from doing so, as going back to sleepless nights, nuclear nappies and doing all of their homework from school is not something I really pine for.

So we shall see what happens to our 2015 plans. We all desperately want, and in some cases, need to go, but having been so often we can’t be too greedy. No, balls to that, I am greedy and I NEED to go. I am the Veruca Salt of Florida holidays.

Just book the sodding flights Willy!

Yep, I don’t care how, I want it now.

I wish you all a lovely week to come, especially those teachers out there facing a horrendous six or so weeks away from work. Frankly I pity you. I don’t know how I would cope with such a hardship. Sigh.

Till the next time……

 

Bikinis and Belly Aching.

Tags

, , ,

Later this week, on Thursday, Rebecca goes on holiday. She is off to Turkey with her boyfriend and his family for a couple of weeks. So the house is filling up with the tell-tale signs of an impending journey abroad. Summer clothes hang freshly ironed around the house, bikini shopping has happened, and excitement levels grow. None of that of course applies to me, aside from the bikini shopping. You can never have too many of those.

It isn't polka dot...

It isn’t polka dot…and yes, that’s her new phone!

The horrific realisation that we are actually not going to have a holiday this year has hit Louise and I like the proverbial tonne of bricks. I’m sure Emily is feeling it too. I know this as she keeps shoving videos and photos of the new stuff at Disney and Universal under my nose and demanding to know why we aren’t going! She of course should be going anyway, once her date comes through for her programme, and she is also distracted with her recently acquired new boyfriend. Joe is his name, and he of course will never be good enough for her. That is nothing against Joe. I’ve met him, he’s nice, but that statement about not being good enough applies to every male drawing breath on the planet so he shouldn’t take offence.

So there is a fairly high level of sulkage going on in our house at the moment. At work, the holiday season has started, and for the next four of five weeks, somebody from my team is away somewhere nice, and I am not. I am wishing them lovely times through gritted teeth.

For me, endless weeks of work stretch out like untouched very monotonous snow. That Groundhog Day, hamster on the wheel feeling is hard to escape. Sure, I’ll have some time off, probably in August to coincide with Louise’s holidays from University, but it just won’t be the same. Not being at work is nice of course, and I’d rather be at home than working, but there’s a real sense of bereavement at the loss of our annual injection of fun, luxury and incredible amounts of food.

Now, I am fully aware that in the grand scheme of things, these are not real problems. God forbid that we actually have something serious to deal with, but it does little to lessen the blow. There is always someone better and worse off than yourself, and whilst recognising that, I reserve the right to have a massive cob on until I have a new countdown to gloat over.

In slightly more upbeat news, Emily took delivery of her shiny new laptop this week. She has long coveted and craved a Macbook, and having been working for some months now, she has saved enough to get herself one. I have to admit that it is a thing of beauty. One thing it has finally enabled us to do is to start the long process of uploading and editing over ten years worth of Florida videos. We tried a little while ago, using my brother’s Mac, but came upon some technical issues and Emily gave up. After some tricky research regarding the required cableage to connect our aged camcorder to this brand new piece of technology, we ordered the doings we needed and yesterday started to upload the first lot.

For some reason 2008 was the first one uploaded, mainly as that was the one in the camcorder at the time. This was the year we went for Emily’s birthday. I think she turned 14. She’s 19 in two weeks time! I think the tapes go back to 2004, so this all might take some time, but finally, finally, we hope to get them all edited down and up onto YouTube sooner rather than later. Hey, this could enable you all to buy the trip report books and then indulge in a multi-media extravaganza by watching the relevant videos too. It’s like we are living in the future! Having watched 2008 last night as it uploaded the main thing that struck me was just how uncomfortable we, no I, am on camera, how much the girls have changed and how much my Dad loves being on camera.

It also made me realise how much I miss Vero Beach. We have had some of our loveliest and best times there over the years. It is a special place, nestled close to lots of other special places…to us anyway.

So I am very aware that this post has sounded full of self-pity. That is because it is full of self-pity. There will come a time when we return to our true home, and when I do, you will be praying for posts like these when I bleat a bit about not going, as the amount of gloating, over planning and smug countdowning I shall be doing will be more unbearable than what you have just read. No, believe me it will, no matter how unlikely you may think that is.

I’m off now to ready myself for another joyous week at work.

Till the next time……

 

Not a Week for the Weak.

Tags

, , ,

So how’s your week been? Mine? Well it has been an exercise in bouncing from one disaster to another. That’s right, after last week’s break from my usual litany of moanage, the angry gods of shite came down upon me with mighty vengeance.

Let me talk you through it so you can all pity me, in almost equal measures to the amount I pity myself.

Firstly, last Saturday night Rebecca went out for the night with her boyfriend and some friends. As I woke on Sunday morning I was greeted with a tearful Rebecca, sharing tales of her stolen phone and a night out she wanted to forget. After reporting said theft to the police, we then heard from a kind soul who had found her phone and taken it home with him. Luckily for him he called, as no doubt the Greater Manchester Police were just about to deploy the SWAT team to take him out after I had given them the location of the phone courtesy of the Find My Irresponsible Daughter’s iPhone app.

It'll end in tears!

It’ll end in tears!

I spent most of Sunday arranging to go and collect it, and then buying and taking a bottle of whiskey with me to say thank you for not having it on eBay within minutes. As he handed over the phone I quickly saw why he could not have done that, even if he were that way inclined. The front screen looked as if a small nuclear reaction had gone off just under the glass. The thing still worked, but using the touchscreen meant collecting shards of glass in the ends of your fingers.

Luckily, we have our mobiles insured, but still, a hefty excess makes the replacement of it painful.

Having barely recovered from the stress and heart-break of parting with that chunk of change, on Monday, whilst trying to look busy at my desk Louise phoned me, beginning the conversation with the words nobody wants to hear.

“You’re going to go mad!”

I did. It turned out whilst running the bath a couple of phone calls had distracted her and we now had a lovely water feature in the kitchen below. It sounded as if the Apocalypse was happening in my house as I sat with my head in hands at work.  None of the electrics were working, wallpaper was off, and I was weeping causing a similar flood at my desk.

By the time I got home, things were a little calmer, and I managed to get the electrics back on, and it seems all we have to make good is one wall which now has no wallpaper on it. I’ll need to leave that for about six months so it can properly dry out of course.

Things were all calm on Tuesday, which was nice. However as I arrived home from work on Wednesday I was greeted at the car by Oli and Louise, and I knew something was up. Louise told me that all the electrics were off again, and nothing was bringing them back.

“Oh deary me, what a week we are having,” I said, unable to suppress a smile!

I went to the fuse box thing and fiddled expertly with stuff, but to no avail. It was only after that fiddling that a thought occurred to me. This is a power cut. A quick check with next door, and yes, they had no power either. This was inconvenient as Louise’s new phone had just arrived, as she had just upgraded. I needed power for the WiFi, so that I could set it up.

Speaking of WiFi, about a week earlier, Louise’s old phone, with just days to go before we could upgrade, decided to break, and develop the world renowned “greyed out WiFi button” that it seems has befallen half of the iPhone 4s in the universe.  She hadn’t noticed for a few days and gone massively over her data limit, at great expense.

Now, with her upgrade date so close at hand of course this wasn’t too much of an issue, but upon upgrading I was looking forward to trading the old phone in for a few quid, which would probably now not be an option. I am still wrestling with it to make look like it works for the purposes of the testing said trade in folks will undertake.

Sigh.

Yesterday, I attempted to change the fuse in Rebecca’s GHD straightener things as they had stopped working. Of course, that did not do the trick and they lie dead under her bed. I don’t care one bit that she has used them every day for the past five years. The fact that they broke this week is evidence of the revenge being exacted upon me. It’s a good job GHDs are so cheap to replace isn’t it?

Today, the hoover, or more accurately, Dyson packed in. Again, we’ve had this for years and years, but why today, why this week? I had a new one all selected, with my finger poised over the Buy button on a suitable web site, but something within me told me to fight back, and not take this cosmic rogering lying down. I pulled at stuff, I disconnected stuff, I huffed and puffed and wrestled with pipes and brushes. With a good sweat on, I arose victorious, arms aloft. The bloody thing was working again. I had fixed it. In that contest of Man V Machine, Man was victorious.

Emily asked me why I was walking around the dining room with my arms aloft. She wouldn’t have understood. It is these small, insignificant acts that (just) keep me sane. It is this act of saving a few quid on a new hoover that stops me from going all Michael Douglas in Falling Down through the village.

I don’t know which one is Chumba….

In the historic words of Chumbawumba, I get knocked down, but I get up again. Usually after a quick cry, and a few hours of sulking and swearing, but still, I do. I am hopeful that having been the play thing of the Gods of the shitty end of the stick, the week to come will include a lottery win, a 32″ waist and a Florida beach. I’ll let you know!

Till the next time…..

Where It All Began…..

Tags

, , ,

Rather than subject you to another few hundred words of banality surrounding my dislike for going to work, and joyous news of more stuff breaking and going wrong, I thought I’d go back, way back in time to where this very unhealthy obsession with Florida started.

I’ve told the story many times about being talked into a Miami holiday rather than Majorca by a high street travel agent, and he does have a lot to answer for. Whilst at my Mum and Dad’s earlier today I had a look at some old photo albums from that trip, and whilst this is no attempt at a trip report, as I can barely remember last week never mind 1980, here are some of the highlights.

We flew (I think) with Air Florida, which of course is now long gone. The US air crew were our first real exposure to real life Americans, and they blew our minds with their service and film star looks. For a boy of nine they probably started my puberty!

(By the way, these photos, are actually photos of photos so please excuse the quality)

Hot Damn!

During the flight those old enough to, partook in the Miami Whammy.

Whhhaammmmyyy!

Those not old enough simply practiced their Jimmy Osmond impression. My collars actually cut our flight time by about an hour.

This photo is at the end of the flight and includes some tired travelers and a tank top.

My own Florida fringe

We actually stayed in Miami for almost all of our holiday, but crucially we drove up to Orlando for two nights to visit what was at that time the only theme park on Disney property. Epcot was being built at the time. Whilst much of the trip is now long forgotten, something obviously stuck with me, and rooted itself deep within my subconscious. Much of what we saw and did is still there today, but it is also lovely to look back and see how things have evolved since.

Driver, we are clear.

Some things are no longer available. This was taken inside the castle, which I think is still inaccessible.

The Williams brothers.

You don’t see this guy wandering about so much either.

Not in Nottingham.

If you are below a certain age then this next photo won’t make any sense whatsoever. I can still remember going on this one….

Under the sea

For some reason we seem to have bumped into Earth, Wind and Fire in the Magic Kingdom.

More wind than earth or fire.

Back in these days, my Dad was the party leader rather than myself. You can tell that as he has the balloon of authority.

Is that you Clark Griswald?

Another ride that is no more is of course the Skyway thing that you could go on over the park. It closed many years ago amidst rumour and urban legend all around folks losing life and limb trying to get it to stop.

I did not spit on anyone!

We did of course meet some characters, and in those days you could do so just wandering around. There was none of this waiting in line for three hours, or Fastpasses. Donald might just walk right by and be grabbed for a picture like this.

I have a big neb.

Hot Dog

Of course, like all future Williams trips, ultimately everything began and ended with food. We started as we meant to go on.

I’m not happy at having to stop eating to have a photo.

Having spent a few hours looking at these photos, I have to say it hasn’t eased any of the pain of not being able to go this year. However, that is no reason not to look back on lovely memories whether they are from 1980 or just last summer. That is after all much of the reason that we all go is it not?

The place was very different back in 1980 as indeed were we. More parks and resorts have sprung up, expanding the World beyond recognition, but one thing is constant and that is the way the place gets into your bloodstream, infects you with the desire to return and makes you all misty eyed at the sight of a firework set to a Disney tune. I hope the break from the norm has been welcome, and that the old Disney stuff was of interest.

Rest assured next week I’ll be right back on the moaning bandwagon heading for nervous breakdown bay.

Till the next time…..

 

 

My Big End Has Gone!

Tags

, , ,

Right, I can’t stay long, we are two-thirds of the way through Series 4 of Game of Thrones. I know you’ll understand!

I have made a mental note to draft a very stiff letter of complaint to the producers and indeed George Martin about the lack of dwarf sex thus far in this series. What the producer of the Beatles can do about it I don’t know, but it is worth a try. Game of Thrones without dwarf sex is like a summer without a trip to Florida. Unheard of, unfair and something I should not be subjected to. I need both dawrf sex and Florida holidays in my life. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d be typing.

The main news I wish to share this week is good, I hope. For all those of you that have been saving up to buy my book, and had only managed to save up 50% of the required fee….well, for the next few days, you now have enough to enjoy probably the finest piece of literature ever written, by someone called Craig Williams from Bolton.

Yes, All This And More is just 99p!

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

Having the book on promo does seem to have worked, with the rate of sales rising quite dramatically over the last few days. Hopefully, those taking the plunge will like it and tell the world about it in the form of a glowing review. (That’s a hint).

The most exciting part of the week just gone was the realisation that the MOT on Louise’s car had expired, let’s just say, a little while ago. It was a genuine oversight (officer), and resulted in a panic ridden call to our newly regular mechanic. He’s a mobile one. This doesn’t mean he turns up with two turntables, a string of neon lights and some Boney M records. No, instead he comes to us for servicing and stuff, and so far has seemed extremely trustworthy in terms of not inventing issues to relieve us of our meagre wealth.

One of the great fears of a non petrol headed office worker nancy boy like myself is the trip to the garage where they sneer at my soft hands and work suit and proceed to shake their head whilst telling me my big end has gone. It would be nice if they would have the decency to actually be looking at the car when they say that, but nevertheless I get my wallet out anyway.

So despite the overdue nature of the MOT a pass was received, and with mine done just a few weeks ago that makes two out of two. So there we have used up all of our good fortune until around 2019. It is nice to be legal once again, which was a phrase Jimmy Saville and his mates may have done well to heed.

The weekend has fallen through my hands like sand again, with the  main event last night being the attendance of a “charidee” fundraising event. It was perhaps not quite as grand as that phrase may infer. It was a pie and peas with beer evening at my brother and sister in-laws. They had laid on said delights in return for donations towards Paula’s (my sister-in-law) upcoming bike ride. She is hoping to raise money for stammering children by cycling from London to Paris over four days next April. This is quite clearly madness and the damage to one’s rear end on such a journey will no doubt eclipse whatever the mechanics would say had happened to my big one.

Anyway, the pie, peas and beer were all very nice and a good amount of cash was raised, as well as my team being not just victorious, but imperious in the France and England based quiz. I have the trophy and medal to prove it.

Should you wish to find out more about Paula’s endeavors here is the info you need.

Right, episode seven beckons.

Till the next time…..

 

Who’s The Daddy?

Tags

, , ,

We really enjoyed the film last Sunday. I thought I’d start with that as I often say we’re going to see a film and then never report back on what we thought of it. There are few films I watch that make me laugh out loud, but A Million Ways to Die in the West did. If you like a bit of silly, rude, sweary humour you should go and see it.

So it’s Sunday evening again already. It’s drizzling, I have work tomorrow, no holiday plans and England lost last night. It is a good thing I am such a naturally cheery soul or else these sorts of things could be getting me down. Having stayed up until after 1am to watch the football last night, as grateful as I was to be woken with breakfast in bed with a Father’s Day card and present, an hour or so later wouldn’t have gone amiss. Gone are the days when Louise or I have to buy the relevant card and present for the Mother or Father’s Day occasions. Emily seems to have become a black belt on Moonpig, and to know the girls actually gave the thought and time to make sure they had something to give me makes it more special.

fathers day card

So, I shouldn’t grumble about the early hour. It’s the first time Emily has been awake before me since 2008. Rebecca immediately retreated to bed as she had been up until who knows what time on a Netflix marathon watching Orange is the New Black, which I think is about young girls with a false tan addiction.

Louise and I haven’t yet had time to watch this one. Louise is deep into a Tudors marathon, as she loves all that bodice ripping stuff. I’ve seen the odd few minutes of it and it appears to comprise around 90% sex scenes and 10% dialogue. That may be reason enough for me to break my “no period drama” resolution.

Louise finished her latest placement this week, which she was pleased about. They are a definite mixed bag these placements, with some being a delight and some being, well, not so delightful. It’s all one more hurdle cleared towards qualification. Once we get past Christmas I think she starts applying for jobs which is no doubt frightening for Louise yet heartening for the bank manager.

In other news I am writing again. I have made a start on the next book. It is very, very early days and I am under 10,000 words, but still it’s a start. Why? I honestly don’t know why. I just feel like I should, or need to. It’ll give some folks something to write bad reviews about anyway. I have a title and everything. Well, I say everything, I don’t have a fully formed plot, chapter plan or an ending, but apart from that, yes, everything. It is a sort of sequel to the first one, but should work as a standalone book too. However, what you all clearly need to do now is read the first one so that you are fully up to speed to read the new one as soon as I complete it, which will be any time this decade.

Having done the really scary bit (that being to write the first few words on the blank page) I am getting back into it slowly, and with a million miles to go, I am starting to get the odd waft of enjoyment as the brain starts whirring away to solve plot points and things start to fall into place. It would be nice to do it for a living, from my beach front house on a Florida coast, but then again it would nice to do anything from my beach front house on a Florida coast.

So with another working week stretching ahead of me like a Krypton Factor assault course of tedium and monotony I shall retire to my Sunday night during which I think we’ll be watching my Father’s Day gift, Anchorman 2 on DVD or maybe the football, it is Father’s Day after all. I should of course be grateful that I have a week of work ahead of me. I could be one of the unfortunates that are out of work, you know, like the bloke who used to be in the Go Compare ads. I expect his prospects for alternative employment are quite limited.

Till the next time…..

Give Me Strength

Tags

, , ,

In any other year since 2003, today would have seen me aboasting and abragging about my shiny new countdown to a wonderful holiday in Florida.

Each year, without fail, comes a day like this, when Louise finally breaks, and declares that we simply must return to the promised land, and no matter how much I argue, I am forced to do the deed. My yearning for returning is pretty constant, at a solid 10 out of 10, sometimes peaking at around a 26 on a bad day.

It takes Louise a little longer to get to this position, but today, she did, and it has resulted in me explaining in great detail all of the reasons why we cannot. Most of those involved a bank statement and the stains of my tears upon it, but I think I have made my point, and the credit card remains undamaged in my wallet. Don’t get me wrong, this did not prevent me from darkening Kayak’s door to “just have a look” at what deals might be available, should we be looking to book. If I showed half as much self-restraint with food, I’d be about six stone lighter.

Louise’s pleadings included offers of selling vital organs, but I did point out that nobody would really want her liver anyway.

I know it seems odd that I have resisted so fiercely, but, I am playing the long game. With Emily (we hope) lined up to be working over there for a year at some point, we know that we’ll want to be over there visiting her during that time, and with one less body to transport over the Atlantic, some lovely cast member discounts on hotels and tickets, that trip seems a lot more attainable and realistic. It is certainly more realistic than doing one this summer and then having to fund that one too!!

So, still, we are not going this year. I pray for the strength to keep it that way, as one more bout of pleading from Louise and I’ll be whipping it out and doing the business. I might book a holiday too.

So real life, and its constant demands on our bank balance continue to deny us the pleasure of the Florida sun, and at any one time, we have a list of stuff that needs attention and money that we’d rather be spending on some biblical amount of food in some Orlando eatery.

As I always say though, never say never. I continue to play the lottery, despite the fact that the last time I won a tenner was in the late nineties, or if I sell about 400,000 copies of any of my books, then that will do the trick too.

I have been formulating an idea for another book, and have actually written several words to start it, but then it has stalled. This is a symptom of some busy times at work, and I guess, also a lack of motivation. Just as I think I am ready to crack on and reinvent modern literature, some insightful soul leaves a shitty review for the last one, and I think, well, what’s the point? Of course, in this scenario, I totally ignore the 95%+ of reviews which are glowing, and focus on the tiny percentage that aren’t. If you wonder why, then clearly you don’t know me at all even after all this time.

What I am trying to do is remind myself that the fact that I have actually accomplished a life long ambition and got a book out there, which is complete, and in my view not too bad, is something to be proud of. I often forget how awesome that is, (the achievement, not necessarily the book).

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

This evening, with Emily at work (check out her latest blog post about the interview at Disney HQ) and Rebecca of course out with her boyfriend, Louise and I are going to the cinema to watch A Million Ways To Die In The West.

Hopefully it will bring many laughs and some ridiculous amounts of sugar. I shall let you know.

Till the next time…..

 

 

A Tale of Two Gigs, One Direction and No Hope of an Early Night

Tags

, , ,

Tonight I am on the taxi duty from Hell. I have to drop off and then pick up Emily and Rebecca, as they attend the One Direction gig at the Etihad. I have been investigating ways in which I could parachute them in, and then undertake some SAS style extraction once it is all over, as the traffic will be like Mordor on a Monday morning.

How do I know it will be awful? Well, the last time the girls watched them was at the infinitely smaller Phones 4 U Arena, and the entire area was at a standstill for what felt like months. Secondly, on Friday night I got caught in the post 1D traffic after their first gig at the venue. At 11.00pm, it took over an hour and a half to get out of Manchester and home. I was not, you will not be surprised to hear, working late at the office until that time. No, instead, my brother and I attended a gig of slightly smaller proportions in the city centre.

When I saw slightly smaller I do of course mean the diametric opposite, as we were watching The Francis Dunnery Band at the Manchester Uni student union. Francis who? Well, he was big in the 80’s….a bit, with his band It Bites. The only hit anyone really knows by them is this one.

After that and a few minor follow-up hits they proceeded to have a decent career with albums and were worshipped by musos for their musical ability.

So fast forward a few decades and he is back in the UK from his American base, with a band, doing a small tour of even smaller venues. Not that there was a great deal of competition, but we were on the front row, and regardless of his now advancing years, and the size of the venue, it was still exciting to be so close to someone who was, and still is, a musical hero. Don’t let the fact that you haven’t heard of him persuade you that he isn’t one of the best guitarists in the world. The solo in this song should be proof enough of that.

By the way, that video was taken by my lovely new phone, which was the subject of a post a few weeks ago. It is a thing of beauty and a modern marvel of technical loveliness.

He played a mix of old and new stuff, and we had a great night. It is amazing how songs first heard in the mid eighties can be dredged up from your memory banks to prove you still know all the words. They can also transport you back immediately to that period of time, when I was mostly sat listening to those songs and wondering if I would ever be able to play like that. The answer was of course no I wouldn’t, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

So after that gig we set off for home, only to quickly stumble upon gridlock in every conceivable direction, caused by One Direction. I didn’t get home until Saturday morning, which is frankly unheard of at my age.

So tonight, think of me as I loiter in Manchester side streets, hoping for a painless route out of Manchester once the girls find me. We have to set off very shortly so I shall leave you in peace. For those who didn’t see it yesterday, Emily has posted her next blog which is all about the first part of her application process for Disney. Have a read if you are interested.

I am off to Hades!

Till the next time…..

The Next Florida Adventure.

Tags

, ,

I know we are at that time of year when a blog with this title would be announcing that we have abandoned all fiscal common sense and booked another trip to Florida. As I have said many times with great regret, not this year. This is news of a different kind.

For months now, this household has been living under a cloud of anxiousness, stress and worry. Finally, yesterday, that cloud was lifted, and we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.

What am I talking about? Well, since early February, Emily has been going through the long, arduous and patience testing process of applying to work in Walt Disney World in Florida on the Cultural Representative Programme. For anyone that doesn’t know, this is the programme done by those folk you see working in the UK pavilion in World Showcase in Epcot.

Like these folks….

CRP people

It is a process with many stages, lots of travelling, and more than anything lots and lots of waiting. Finally, last night, the email was received to say that she had been accepted onto the programme, and she is now on what they call the “Wait List” to be allocated a role and a date to go out there. There are a small number of those on wait list each year that for one reason or another don’t get to go, but barring any such disaster, she should be on her way before too long.

To say we are thrilled and proud does not cover it. This is a very competitive process, and for someone like Emily who is not naturally outgoing or gregarious it was a real test. I have never seen her so determined, driven and focussed, and add to that the fact that she was the youngest candidate of the bunch by some distance, she has done incredibly well. She was up against folks in their early to mid twenties with years of work and life experience. In short, she nailed it.

You may remember an earlier blog of mine in which I talked of killing time in London? Well, that was her first interview, with Yummy Jobs, the agency who front the whole thing for Disney. A few weeks after that we were in London again for the second stage, the face to face with actual Disney cast members.

london

The Streets of London….killing time.

I won’t detail all of the ins and outs of the actual process as I’m sure Emily will be doing that in her own blog in her next few posts, which I’ll give you a link to at the end of this. The amount of preparation she did was incredible, and here I have to thank many very kind folks for helping her through it all from the initial application form to the final stage interview.

Emi Watson and Becky Ellinson, both former CRP cast members, were incredibly helpful in prepping answers, and Leanna Parsons, a soon to be College Programme cast member was a big help around the first interview stage as she had just been through it herself. Janine Pipe has been Emily’s cheerleader, moral support and life coach throughout what has been almost nine weeks of waiting since that second interview. They all go to prove that there are some really nice folk out there.

Yes, that’s right, we have been in limbo for over two months!! I cannot begin to describe how stressful a time that has been, and I have found it hard to concentrate on much else, so God knows how Emily has been feeling.

So, we may not be going on our usual holiday this year, but at least one member of the Williams clan will be representing us over there at some point in the coming months. The programme lasts for a year so it is a big step for Emily. I’m sure it will be a fantastic adventure, and a life changing experience.

More than anything, we are just so proud of what she has already achieved. Those long journeys to London, the hours of me walking the streets of the capital whilst she interviewed, the slightly dodgy hotel we stayed in just around the corner from the Disney HQ and all the weeks and weeks of waiting have been worth it.

I strongly recommend that you follow Emily on Twitter and at her blog to hear all about her excitement, preparation and first, some more waiting to get a date. It hasn’t quite sunk in that she’ll (hopefully, if you know what I mean) be away from home for a year, but I can’t think of a better place for her to be.

Well done Emily!

Till the next time….

 

Kevin Bacon? My Arse!

Tags

, ,

As a fitting balance to last week’s celebrity and entertainment special, this week I shall be sending mundane stuff your way.

I have no photos or videos of handsome young chaps with large instruments, instead, a tale of modern life that just makes me full of woe and worry for the way of the world.

If at all possible, I will undertake any day-to-day task online. This is a symptom of my dislike of most human beings I come into contact with on a daily basis, and the fact that I do online stuff for a living. Both of these factors make me feel more comfortable self-serving in this manner.

So after many, many years with the same mobile phone network, it had come time again to upgrade the handset. I have been on various iPhones now for a long time, and to be honest fancied a change. The 5S doesn’t look like enough of an upgrade from the 4S, and I had been hearing a lot of “buzz” about a new HTC handset. The fact that I describe news of a new handset as “buzz” probably tells you all you need to know about the excitement levels in my life.

So in the past couple of weeks I have been logging on to my mobile phone account to check the upgrade date and to take a cursory look at the deals that may be available to me. When the day finally came when I could do the deed on Friday, I logged on, absolutely in my own time and in no way during working hours, only to find their “Manage your Account” bit of their website was broken.

It wasn’t down, just throwing up lots of nasty error messages. Now as I mentioned, I do this online stuff for a living and totally understand that from time to time shit happens and a web site can have such issues. Typically, if it happens on my watch I am battering technical folks with a large blunt instrument until they resolve said issues, hopefully within a few minutes of it happening. So, being all understanding and empathetic, I left it an hour and tried again. Nope, still broken. I sent them some feedback via their feedback form, even pointing out the technical name for the error I was seeing. I am a dream customer indeed.

So after all of Friday had passed without any sign of resolution, I got the hump, and started to look around the other network operators for a similar deal. Having mentally noted what my network were offering a few days ago, imagine my dismay to see that I was struggling to find a deal equally as bad as the one I was being offered as a long-standing and loyal customer by my own network. Once I’d added in some Quidco cash back it was making a load of sense to jump ship, and had completed everything on another (working) web site, and I was just one click away from doing the deed.

I even checked my own network’s new customer prices, and they were far better for an identical deal that I had seen online a few days ago. I had the right hump. Whilst doing that, one of those fandangled chat things popped up and asked if I needed help. Well, that’s more like it I thought. Two minutes in and my hump had quadrupled in its size. After explaining all my woes and their online failings I was promptly told that this chat service was only for new customers and I, as a scummy existing one would have to email someone instead. My irateness knew no bounds.

At that point I called my own network to get my PAC code so that I could transfer my number and cancel my contract. They asked me why, and so I told them. I was immediately transferred to their retention department. So after a few minutes “chat” a deal that had started off with a huge upfront cost for the handset, and a monthly fee about 20% more than any other new customer deal I could see, I ended up with -

  • A free handset (quoted at £159)
  • A monthly fee less than I could find anywhere else, as I fibbed a little about the deal I was leaving for. It is £5 less than I have paid for the past two years!
  • Four times the amount of data allowance I currently have and 4G.

So, after toying with them for seconds, I agreed, and my new phone arrives tomorrow. So thank you EE for having a broken web site (by the way it is still down), truly shockingly bad deals for customers who have been loyal to you for years, and having the under hand tactic of getting you to the brink of leaving before dropping your drawers and offering deals you should be doing in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, having four mobiles in the house on different networks, I know that none of them are exemplary. Vodafone for example refuse to limit the data use on Rebecca’s account as she keeps going over it. Aside from sending her a text when she is close to her limit, typically three days into a new month, they will not simply stop data being used when she goes over her allowance. This is profiteering of the highest order.

All in all, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth, and a lesser view of a company I have been a customer of for years. On the bright side, I have a shiny new toy arriving tomorrow, for less than I’m paying now, with a much better contract. Tomorrow evening will be awash with me fiddling and a faffing with my toy, transferring contacts, installing apps and the like. The fact that I am moving from iOS to Android will surely only add to the fun. The old phone is off to be traded in for a tidy sum too. I shall endeavour not to do as I did with Rebecca’s last trade in, when I left her sim card in it! Maybe that is why she keeps using so much data. There is some guy in the trade in factory browsing YouTube on her contract allowance!

Anyway, for those sad of mind this is the beautiful new thing that shall arrive tomorrow.

Come to Daddy

It is the HTC One M8, and is according to the reviews I have read, THE best smartphone in the world ever, amen! I shall let you know of course.

I’m off to throw darts at my photo of Kevin Bacon and burn my copy of Footloose. Well, maybe not the latter, let’s not be too hasty.

Been working so hard, I’m punchin’ my card….

Till the next time…..

A Bulging Blog.

Tags

, , , ,

Some weeks when I come to write my post, I stare at the blank page wondering what on earth I am going to ramble on about. Somehow, I always manage to find something to fill the void with, but no doubt you can spot those weeks as much as I can.

Then, other weeks, such as this one, my usually quiet and uneventful life takes a mad turn and I have oodles of stuff to talk about. Whether or not it is of interest to anyone other than me is questionable of course.

I’ll get the book stuff out of the way first for you. This week All This And More had its first ever book blog review. Thankfully it was positive, so I was able to share it with you all. In total there are seventeen reviews of the book now, and again, despite all of my worst fears when publishing it, it is very pleasing to see folks enjoying it. Following closely on the heels of that review, I did my first ever author interview for the same book blog this week, which was pretty surreal to be honest. Seeing that published online was nearly as scary as the photo which accompanied it.

On Wednesday, Rebecca turned 17. Many parents question how things like this happen. They say things like “How can I have a (enter age) year old son/daughter”. Well, without pointing out the biology behind such things, it is usually because certain things happened that number of years ago, leading to their offspring being that age now. I do sympathise with that view of course, as between blinks, I seem to be sharing a house with three grown women all of a sudden, which, if you’d told the 18-year-old me that, he simply would never have believed you!

Gone are the days of Bratz, Barbies and character cakes. Instead we bestowed upon her driving lessons, paying for her holiday to Turkey later this year and some Mac make-up. The latter was definitely in contention for being the most expensive item on that list!

The rest of the week has been a blur of nights out (two) and entertainment extravaganzas. On Thursday, Emily and I went to see Panic! At The Disco at the Apollo in Manchester. Not for the first time this week, I may have been the only forty something bloke in the audience, but I think I got away with it. The gig was superb. For those not familiar with the group I’ll post one of their better known songs here, as a form of education!

So we had a good night, and it is always nice to spend some time with one of the girls like that.

The very next night, all four of us had a night out at the McBusted gig at the Phones4U arena in Manchester. Busted hold a special place in the hearts of the girls as they were their first real band, and the first one they ever saw live back in 2003. Once news broke of this tour with McFly we had to get tickets, and again it would just be lovely to be out as a four again. We do it so infrequently these days.

You may question why a man of my style, taste and undoubted good judgement should wish to attend such a gig? Well, I’m not ashamed to say I like McFly. There are a couple of reasons beyond their songs being decent pop stuff too. Tom Fletcher is a huge Disney fan, regularly visiting WDW, so he’s worth a follow on Twitter, which is what I’ve been doing for a while. Danny Jones from McFly grew up literally around the corner from us, so we’ve always taken an interest in how he was doing with his band as his fame and success increased. I think they write decent songs, and suffer from being tagged with a boy band label, and as such largely don’t get the credit they deserve.

So we got ourselves to the arena, and after a small kerfuffle when our seats didn’t exist, we were reallocated, closer to the stage and we waited.

mcbusted girls

After three support acts, the average age of which were less than most of my underpants, the main event started and I have to say I loved it. The effort that had gone into the production was incredible, ranging from a DeLorean car on stage, to a full size space ship descending from the sky with the band on it. This was the highlight for us, as our newly allocated seats were literally next to it and we had a great view for that section of the show.

mcbusted space ship

The girls took loads of video too, but I’ll leave that to Emily to post on her blog as I think that is the subject of her next one. I’ll point you at it when it is up of course. I’ll just show you one video, which, is the best I managed, if you ignore the fact that for some reason I turned my phone sideways towards the end!

Overall it was just a really good night, a great show with an enormous amount of thought and detail going into it, and something that put a smile on all of our faces. It was lovely to see the girls jumping up and down, singing and remembering all the words to the Busted songs they lived and loved over ten years ago.

So we’ve had an entertaining and busy week. To finish it off, we’re off to the cinema tonight to watch Bad Neighbours, with Zak Effron. He’s in it, he isn’t coming with us! Emily seems keen to see it for some reason! This by the way, is the reason for the early posting today. I hope this break from routine does not blow your minds too much.

Lastly before I let you go, my latest guest blog for Floridatix, How to Enjoy Orlando Without the Queues, was published last week too. It would be very helpful if you could give it a click and a read and a Like etc. It covers things to do in Florida that you don’t need to queue for. You will notice it does not then include the bathroom in our villa/hotel room!

Till the next time….

I Don’t Care!

Tags

, ,

It’s been a busy week over at WDW, with several announcements, dedications and celebrations.

However, as I’m not going any time soon I couldn’t give a shit! That’s a little harsh, but it is amazing how my interest in such things wanes when there isn’t a countdown with my name on it.

From my casual glances at the internets this week it would appear that a dedication ceremony happened for the new Mine Train ride at the Magic Kingdom, and in it they confirmed it will open on May the 28th. In any normal year that would be perfect timing for our usual tour in the late summer.

So what else happened that has no relevance to my immediate plans?

Well, there’s been a birthday at Hollywood Studios. It was 25. Any time now it should getting to the age where it meets another park it likes and starts to reproduce smaller parks that will grow up too quickly. The fireworks were up to the usual standard of course, and I post them here with the highest possible endorsement. Emily says they are great!

As if that wasn’t enough to taunt me, Disney then go for the hat trick by unveiling some new fandangled night-time thing at the Animal Kingdom. That’s just rubbing salt in my wounds. Even in my sullen mood I can be thankful for this. Animal Kingdom was always the park that could be done in less than a day, and with its early closing, felt like it lacked something. Now, there’ll be something at every park that folks can start to reserve spots for just after lunch!

The Rivers of Light Nighttime Spectacular looks to be a Fantasmic style affair, with water, lasers and stuff. See, I can’t even bring myself to enthuse about it or outline any further detail.

This apathy has been apparent all the way through this barren no countdown period. There have been roughly six hundred and twelve thousand announcements and updates all about FastPasses and some new fandangled type of coloured bracelets. I know nothing, because I don’t need to. As and when the stars align and allow us another countdown I’ll be the one on popular Disney forums asking stupid questions about that, and all of the above. I shall try not to ask how much spending money I may or may not need.

If all or any of the above are relevant to you, as you have an impending trip, then bully for you. Really, I’m delighted for you, truly ebullient. Did that sound sincere? Well, I tried.

In other news this week, I picked up a flurry of Twitter followers following a mention on a book review blog. They all had about a gabillion followers, proper publishers and probably some actual talent for writing. I felt fraudulent and amateur and have been double checking the spelling of all my tweets since. Most of my tweets only contain four letter words so I think I’ve done OK. I shall say this though, if you think I over promote my writings via social media, then, as someone once said, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Don’t worry, I won’t emulate them by upping the adverts for the books. Besides, you’ve all bought them by now, right?

Till the next time…..

House of Pain

Tags

, ,

I write to you today from a house of pain. Most of it mine, so I shall only battle through a few words in order to satisfy my own undeniable need to keep up the tradition of posting each Sunday.

The pain that is not mine is owned by Emily, who has been nursing one of her first ever hangovers. No doubt Rebecca had one too, but she stayed out last night so we have not witnessed it. Both the girls went to a party at Rebecca’s boyfriend’s house, held to celebrate both of their birthdays. Tom had his birthday last week and Rebecca has hers in just over a week, so they had arranged a do to celebrate both events. I have only seen minimal social media evidence of the event, but Emily’s arrival home at 3am, and a day spent mainly in bed are sure signs that they had a good time.

Emily did briefly surface this morning for water, but after being the subject of Oli’s affections for half an hour she quickly retreated to bed and hasn’t been seen since.

hangover sunday

It was only yesterday that the parties the girls went to took place at the hell on earth that is a ball pool, and me and or Louise had to tolerate thirty plus kids screaming, sweating and ejecting snot and noise everywhere. Instead last night, just the two of us (and Oli) stayed home and watched a George Clooney film. The Descendants was both a very good, touching film and probably the best advert for Hawaii since Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

For clarity that is George and not me

Hawaii is now another place on the list we can’t afford to go on holiday to.

So what is the pain that is mine, I hear you say fretfully? Well, at around 6.30am today I was rudely awakened from my sleep with a huge amount of pain in my shoulder and neck. Who knows what caused it. Maybe I sleep in some odd positions, but by Christ it hurts. I have been suffering greatly since, unable to turn to the left or right without doing do from the hips, and looking like a ninety year old with piles each time I need to get up from my chair.

I have the pain tolerance of David Carradine from Kung Fu (ask your Dad) of course, so I am bearing up well, and not mentioning it every few minutes as you can imagine. The very act of typing this here post is causing me child-birth levels of pain (trust me I know, I’ve been through it twice) and so I shall be wrapping this up shortly to go and mope around some more.

I trust I shall be in your thoughts constantly now until I report a full recovery, and for that I am grateful. If you fancy buying All This and More, I know for a fact that each purchase and reading of it will decrease my pain levels by a notch or two. Consider it a small price to pay, literally.

I shall see you back here next Sunday, if not before, for hopefully pain-free postings, and reports of me entering the best seller list on Amazon. Over to you!

Till the next time….

Johnny Depp and Love Eggs. A Normal Weekend.

Tags

, , , ,

One of the side effects of Louise studying to become a nurse is that when she isn’t on placement and working silly shifts, she is at home locked in the bedroom, tip tapping away at a keyboard for hours, and days on end. She is, as I type, wrestling with an assignment, this time being a case study of the care of a lady with breast cancer.

Before last night, we had last bumped into each other at some point during last week when I was getting ready for work and Louise turned over to go back to sleep. So with that in mind, last night we resolved to go out, without any kids and see if we recognised each other. Emily was working, and Rebecca was out with her boyfriend’s family for his birthday meal.

I had spent almost all of yesterday watching all of Homeland, but despite this, we decided to go to the cinema. Not being huge fans of super hero films the Spider Man and Captain America films were not options we wanted to take. Beyond that, unless we wanted to go and watch a Bollywood film, we were really only left with a new Johnny Depp film called Transcendence. Yes, I know it sounds like an energy drink you might buy from Aldi, but knowing little about it, we took a chance based on Mr Depp’s presence in it.

After a swift drinky in the bar, we took our seats and overly priced confectionery and settled in.

It was shite.

I won’t spoil the plot in case you see it in the future, but it just seemed to totally lose its way as a film. It started off as a half decent premise about Artificial Intelligence (like the cast of TOWIE), but then sort of wandered off into a semi-war film, with a very silly battle scene where random men in khaki fired shells at solar panels….really.

Depp himself was OK, although he seemed to be going through the motions, and overall, the film resembled one of those motions you have after eating the nachos with jalapeno peppers, as Louise did, during the film. The lead woman appeared to have been cast because they couldn’t get Scarlett Johanssen and there was also that bloke who was in the film Wimbledon a few years ago and that woman who played a reporter in House of Cards and got her norks out a bit. She didn’t even do that in this film, so her performance was marked down immediately. Morgan Freeman also appeared, but I think he has made them remove him from all promotional material.

Despite our whelm being not very overed, the pick n mix and actually having a night out made the evening worthwhile. Thankfully, I had laid my hands on some freeby vouchers for the cinema in question, so aside from the £100 for sweets, we didn’t actually pay to watch this nonsense.

In less than twelve months now, Louise should be qualified, and employed which should mean we can once again afford to eat and see each other for multiple hours per week.

The Easter break brought with it several hours of actual sunshine on Friday, and I undertook my first dog walk of the year with fewer than seven layers. It was glorious. The fields through which Oli and I usually battle the elements were strangely firm and unmoist, and we posed for what I believe the youngsters of the day may call a selfie.

sunny oli 22014

The future looked so bright I had to wear those glasses that go dark in the sun and make me look “special”. Of course, since Friday, we have been back to the brutal biting winds and several layers, but summer was nice whilst it lasted.

I hope your eggs are lovely. I have no eggs, of either the chocolate or love variety, which is a disgrace. I shall have to rely on stealing Emily’s, as she often has Easter eggs left at Christmas. Well she would if I didn’t go and release them from her storage/hiding place in her wardrobe. It has become a tradition.

Send eggs….and money….and flight tickets to Florida!

Till the next time…..

I Have Cosmically Ordered My Balls to Drop.

Tags

, , ,

Life is all about balance. For example, I completely failed you on my promise of mid-week bloggery whilst off work. However, I was very, very successful in forcing myself to do nothing, so that balances it out. It may sound odd to you that I have to force myself to do nothing, as I am quite competent at parking my arse on my seat and vegging for hours at a time, but as I have mentioned before, I am wired to be task driven, and more importantly task completion driven. This is why Louise can put three brushes worth of paint on any surface in the house, leave all the brushes and implements out and know that I cannot stand it to be half done.

So yes, with a week off, with no plans, I did very well at doing nothing. I pottered a bit, did a bit of taxi-ing and walked the dog every day. I also watched about eleven episodes of Homeland (never seen it), and about six hundred and four episodes of Arrested Development all courtesy of Netflix. So I’d call last week a win overall. I feel better for it, and speaking of balance again, whilst this Sunday is followed by the horror of an impending Monday, there is but four days at work, before another four days off. On balance, that’s a good thing too.

This week of no work has reinforced what I have long believed. Having done pretty well at not getting dragged into work emails, although I didn’t avoid it entirely, I now know for sure that I could retire tomorrow, not miss work one bit, and enjoy my days immeasurably more. There would be no moping around the house, with me missing the cut and thrust of corporate life, I can assure you of that. Not that I do much cutting and thrusting, but you know what I mean. I trust that the lottery Gods are listening/reading, and using a technique embraced by Noel Edmonds, Cosmic Ordering, I am ensuring this will be my destiny before the week is out.

Deal!

Many say that money can’t buy you happiness, and we’ve all heard many tales of woe and hardship from millionaire celebrities, but frankly, they are just doing it wrong. Give me a few million and I’ll show you how it’s done, and I can guarantee I’ll be generally happier that I am sat in the commute to office. Hark at me, going on about Cosmic Ordering, and the like. One week off work and I’m sat here wearing open toed sandals and a kaftan with flowers in my hair. Give me till lunch time tomorrow and I’ll be spitting bile and vitriol all over social media again. Work is quite clearly bad for me.

There is still no chance of me booking a Florida trip this year. So sure are we of not going that Rebecca has arranged to go away with her boyfriend’s family to their place in Turkey. Yep, we really are NOT going this year. Of course, now that I have cosmically ordered my balls to drop then she will simply have to have two holidays once those millions are tucked away in my account. I think she’d be up for that.

Both girls continue to give me reason to believe we may have done a half decent job at this parenting lark. They both have part-time jobs, at which they both work hard and do the best they can. Rebecca continues to show determination and motivation that she could not possibly have inherited from me in her quest for the physique she desires. It is awe-inspiring, literally, how committed she is, and the results she is seeing. She is also doing very well at college, needing no policing in her attendance, and pretty much has her life planned out. That will all change of course but she is driven, conscientious, unstoppable and based on all of that, probably the milk man’s.

Whilst Emily has no such long-term plan yet, which is fine by us, she has herself a job that keeps her ticking over, gives her some great experience, and I’m sure things are going to come into focus for her before too long.

So having delivered you a largely positive blog, no doubt brought about by my chilled week off and today’s football (Up the pool!), I shall leave you to wonder if it was really me that wrote this whilst I go and roast my potatoes. Alas, that is not a euphemism.

Till the next time…..

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,438 other followers