I Have Cosmically Ordered My Balls to Drop.

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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…..

 

A blog about other blogs.

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As I mentioned last week, I sit here tonight, tipping and a tapping at this keyboard completely free of the impending and disabling Sunday night gloom. I am off all week, and I can’t tell you how good that feels. I have to get some sleep, as I honestly feel totally knackered, so my goals for the week are to do plenty of that, relax a bit and maybe even take it easy some too. I really do intend to try to disconnect myself from the office as much as possible, and let my brain rest as well.

As I am officially on holiday now, (I’m sure I mentioned that!) I am going to be taking it easy with this post and simply blogging about other blogs that you should read.

Not being able to be there in person, I am scratching the itch of Florida by writing about it instead. Of course, by scratching it in this way I also make the itch worse, but you all know you have to keep scratching anyway.

This week, I contributed to another article for Floridatix all about the best beaches in Florida. If you would please have a click, a look, a read and a share that would be very helpful. It may not come as a huge surprise that I chose Vero Beach, but there is also some good info in the article about beaches I knew nothing about.

floridatix

During last week at work I found myself away for a night, and yet again, the glamour of glitz of doing so should not be underestimated. Having retired to my salubrious suite for the evening, I feasted like a king on the very best that the Sainsbury’s local had to offer, and found myself lay on my single bed, in a room that I could touch both walls with arms extended watching a programme all about Versailles on BBC Four. I am a wilder version of every hedonistic, wild man of rock that ever existed. The week dragged to be honest, and I was very, very glad to close the laptop at the end of Friday.

Emily was away last week too. She went to Leicester to spend some time with a friend of hers at University there, and to see a gig. You can read all about that in her latest blog post here. Do come back though!

Outside of work, and my experience of inferior hotels, last week did bring a small flurry of lovely reviews about All This And More, and it is always nice to know that folks are taking the time to read it, and coming away feeling good about the experience. I have collected a less than great review too, which I have given the time and thought it deserves. None. That should get you to click-through and read the reviews anyway! :-)

If you have any thoughts or comments on the book, then please feel free to comment here too. I’d love to hear from you.

I haven’t found the energy, time or inspiration to start writing something else yet. In a way, I am scared too, knowing how much effort was involved in the last one, I know that if I start it, I will be driven to finish it. It is how I am wired unfortunately. Let’s just say that I am resting my brain to allow it to come up with something worthy of that effort.

With a week out of work ahead of me, I may do something crazy and do some blogging mid-week. The universe may come to an end with this shift in the fabric of time, but by doing so I may be able to give a bit more time to a post, and do one that isn’t the usual round-up of the week’s events. Who knows what exciting news I may have to share!?

This weekend has been a lovely blur of not doing a lot, too much food and a Netflix extravaganza (again). We have, eleven years too late, discovered Arrested Development. We’ve watched it back to back non stop since watching the first one yesterday and it is great fun, well written, funny and packed with an excellent cast. Of course, everyone else in the world will already have watched it, but I thought I’d tell you anyway.

You can tell how far behind we are as Micheal Cera is in it, and he isn’t fully through puberty. I think he’s in his mid forties now! Well, nearly anyway.

So watch out for mid-week blogginess. I’m not promising anything, but that should keep you awake at night with excitement, or if that doesn’t, the fact that the Mkingdon Facebook page got to 700 likes this week should.

Till the next time…..

Eggs, Zombies, and a Bevy of Birthdays

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The late hour of this here post is all my mother’s fault. We have been entertaining both of our maternal units today, with cards, presents and a fine steak and ale pie that has been in the slow cooker since just after Christmas.

They have just returned home to get “seckled” for the night, clutching their identical gifts of the Saving Mr Banks DVD. It has been a week of non stop celebratory events, as our family appears to have had a conception fest around nine months ago across many years. The same week sees Louise, my niece Sarah and nephew George all have birthdays in the space of two days. This is highly inconsiderate from a budgetary point of view, and then Mother’s Day creeps up on us to run salt in the wounds.

One of Louise’s gifts was also a DVD, of Season 1 of The Walking Dead. It was my extra sensory perception that drove me to buy such a gift. Her saying for months on end that she wanted to watch it, and me searching fruitlessly on Netflix for it was the only hint I needed, and she was very happy with my choice.

So this weekend we have gorged on a series in a manner not seen since the heady days just after we discovered Breaking Bad. Ah, those were the days…bitches. We have almost finished Season 1 now, and I’m sure Louise exclaimed what every UK viewer of this series says. “Is that Egg from This Life?”. Indeed it is.

Ask if I am Egg one more time…I double dare you!

We’ve really enjoyed it so far and I can see us going on to devour the other seasons before too long. Yes, I do know that we are about a millennium behind the rest of the western world, but I never claimed to be on the cutting edge of modern culture. I like Level 42 for God’s sake.

I have taken the wise and welcome step of booking some time off work over Easter. Louise ends her current placement in a week’s time and then has a couple of weeks or so off. Bloody students! So having not had a break since Christmas, and feeling like I haven’t had a break since birth, the week after next seems me on holiday. My body yearns to spend it in bed and if not there prone in front of the TV, but I fear it may drift into housey tasks and inexplicable visits to B&Q. If you spot me there please, kill me. I may return to walk the earth as a flesh-eating zombie, but all you’ll need is an Egg and a blunt instrument, which there should be plenty of in the aisles of that DIY hell on earth.

I eye the week to come with a mixture of wary suspicion and hope that it passes me by as quickly as the one after it will. This time next week I shall be blogging free from the dark cloud of an impending Monday back at work. There shall be unicorns and rainbows, and sparkles everywhere. Honest.

Right now, I am writing through the fog of too much pie and more than one dessert, so I need to take this laptop off my bulging stomach, do some digesting, pick Rebecca up from work and then watch some dead folks try to beat an Egg.

Un Oeuf with the egg gags

Till the next time….

This Should Be The End

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I found myself all alone last night. Rebecca only pops home from time to time for money, food or to be transported somewhere else populated with cooler folks than her parents, so she was out and Louise and Emily went out to watch some singing show of some kind. Of course I was paying attention when they told me where they were going.

I was frankly too tired to be going anywhere and voted to stay at home and do absolutely nothing. With the usual choice of the obligatory singing contest or Ant n Dec’s (absolutely not Noel’s House Party) Takeaway, I was looking for something to watch.

I happened upon a film called This Is The End, so I gave it a chance. That was probably one more chance than it deserved to be honest. It was hard work, self-indulgent, and anything but funny. It features a lot of actors like Seth Rogen and James Franco who normally appear in gross out comedies such as Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and the like. The concept looked promising, but my God it was tedious.

After an hour I was bored, not entertained and found myself wondering what time Match of the Day was on. I did glean that the subject matter of the film was all about the end of the world, and that dear reader is where this long winding path was leading you.

We do not have a Florida holiday booked, and it is nearly April. If this does not signal the end of times then I don’t know what would. Some bloke down south has just won £108 million on the lottery, and he will probably still go to work and just put a conservatory on his semi, and we can’t afford a few grand on a couple of weeks of sun, fun and excessive eating. Third world famine and that fact prove that the world is a cruel and unfair place.

The pain is growing inside me at a similar pace to the resentment I feel towards that lottery winner. It hurts, and it hurts even more that I know we won’t be going. In past years, it has been touch and go, dependent upon us finding affordable flights, but in the end we always went. Not this year. I won’t bore you (again) with the circumstances that mean we cannot afford to go this year, but it is all Louise’s fault. As long as you understand that then that’s fine.

I was having a wee earlier (there was no pain involved in that thankfully) and I could hear, drifting down from Emily’s room (she is in the attic room), the emotional melody of O Canada. It triggered the memory banks and I was almost blubbing over the toilet bowl. With eyes closed I could just imagine the film in the Canada pavilion ending and Martin Short giving his closing lines. I’d also made a right mess of the bathroom floor, but that isn’t important.

So why life carries on as if nothing was awry I do not know. At any moment you should expect fire, plague and pestilence and my protruding bottom lip being a feature of the landscape for the forseeable future.

Damn you Disney for being so desirable. Your magic is like crack cocaine, and I am deep in cold turkey. Should you be in possession of a countdown to your US holiday, treasure it, stroke it, make it feel special. They are splendid creatures, and to be cherished. When you don’t have one, the world is a little less bright and the future a little less shiny.

Sigh.

In non resentful, Disney deprived sulky news, Louise and I are off to the cinema later. Having seen each other for several minutes last week due to work, shifts and the need for sleep, it will be nice to just be the two of us. Rebecca…well you know where she is, and Emily is out with one of her friends from some Frankie n Benny-ness and then onto the same cinema, but for a different film.

One of those isn’t a man!

Let us all hope that our choice of Monuments Men is a good deal better than the dross I endured last night. No matter though, whatever I am sat in front of there shall be sweets, and therefore I shall be happy. Happiness is all relative of course in a world of no countdown. Life is so cruel!

Till the next time.

 

Singh For Your Supper

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There’s a famous quote from George W Bush that goes something like, “Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice…we..er…shame…we won’t get fooled again”. I use it not (only) to highlight the amazing fact that this guy got elected to the most powerful job on the planet but also to tell you I stupidly ignored his wise words this week.

Unable to avoid a trip for work meetings to Marlow on a Thursday, after a stop over in High Wycombe’s finest Premier Inn, I had to then, for just the second time ever attempt the journey north on a Friday afternoon.

If you wanted to, you could go back through these blog posts and see me whining about a previous horrific journey on a Friday at some point in the past, followed by me swearing that I would never do it again.

Well, I did, and it was bobbins. Even with an earlier than usual exit from the office it took just under five hours. The M6 is just no longer fit for purpose and we should all get a refund. I could fly to New York in a similar time frame. Let me now declare once and for all that I shall not be doing it again, unless it is because I have had to drive to Head Office on a Friday to hand in my notice due to a lottery win.

The evening before I enjoyed a tasty (and large) curry, and we were entertained by an Indian Elvis.

He’s singing The Wonder Aloo

He was good fun, and made what might have been a fairly tedious mid week night away with work into a good laugh. Being the wild animals that me and my (similarly middle aged) colleagues are, we were up until at least 11pm. Crazy stuff.

The weekend hasn’t been anywhere near as exciting, mainly as Louise has been chained to the computer producing her latest assignment for her Nursing course. This has meant that I have had to amuse myself, sit around, eat, watch football, oh yes and do some ironing. Yes, I am that dream man who all men want to be, and all women want to be with.

Encouraged by the weather reports, predicting tarmac melting temperatures and the potential for my skin being burned from my face this weekend, I ventured out and took the dog for a walk this morning in a lack of layers not seen since last August. Imagine my delight to find the temperatures lower than George W Bush’s IQ. I have instructed my lawyers to begin proceedings against the Met Office. Oli seemed oblivious to the gloom, fog and cold.

cold oli

So if you had sun today, please keep any news of it to yourselves as I’ve just put the heating on again.

Before I go, thank you to those who added a lovely review for me following my request last week. The general underlying theme seems to be that folks are finding it to be better than they expected. Well, that’s fair enough, and that is more or less how I feel about it too! I got my hard copy this week and it looks OK, but I can’t bring myself to read the thing again. Not yet anyway. If you got it too, I hope you don’t feel the same.

Till the next time….

Top 8 Youtube Videos

mkingdon:

Emily has spent hours and hours on YouTube so you don’t have to!!

Originally posted on elmooose:

Happy Saturday!

Hope you’re all having a good weekend so far.

Since posting my last Top 10 Youtube videos post I have come across quite a few new videos so enjoyy!!

8 Dapper Day 2014 — Into the Magic Project Adventure!

I love this!! I’ve always always always wanted to go to Dapper Day, look how cute everyone looks!! The video for this is here.

7 Dubstep Disney 2 – Thru My Eyes.

Sawyer Hartman is probably one of my favourite youtubers and he’s super talented. I’m jealous of everyone who can just get up in the morning and be like ‘Oh hey lets go to Disney’ Jealous of you all. This video is a pretty similar style to number 10. I love videos like this so much. The video is here.

6 Spell Block Tango 

This is so perfect! I love this so much, Todrick hall is…

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All This And More…This Time It’s Hard!

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Having given you a week off last Sunday from any mention of THAT book, today I need to tell those of you who prefer it hard that All This And More is now available in that format.

Have it hard....

Have it hard….

As you may expect, having these printed costs a sight more than having it downloaded through the ether onto your device so be prepared. I haven’t yet received or seen my own copy yet, so hopefully it will be OK.

I’m not saying I don’t think the book is worth it, as of course I do think it is pretty good. That’s as close as you’ll ever get to me blowing my own trumpet. I am just not that flexible unfortunately.

I do have a request, aside from begging you to buy and read the bloody thing in any format, and that is, if you have made your way through it, and feel you could put together some positive words about it then please do so on Amazon. Even if you read the hard copy, reviews there really do help, not least with my minuscule ego.

For those unsure if it may be for them, do have a read of the six reviews left by the kind souls willing to do so already. You know they’ll be good ones or I wouldn’t point you at them.

This week has been bereft of any very notable events that I can tell you about, with the only news worthy of my ire being a fire in Salford which made my commute into the office more hellish than usual. Apparently the fire service decided it best to let the building burn for four days, and in turn close a load of roads around it which meant I spent two and half hours trying to get to the office on Tuesday, and then worked from home for two days, unwilling to do so again.

I was assured we would have Star Trek style teleportation abilities by now, and the fact that we do not upsets and disappoints me.

We also had a visitor stay over on Thursday night. As a trial run for when we look after him for two weeks later in the year, Baxter, my brother’s dog came to be mauled, bothered and toyed with by Oli. Sensibly, I went out to the cinema with my brother on that night, leaving Louise to referee the fun and games.

All Oli'd out.

All Oli’d out.

This is what you’d be like too after three hours of Oli’s close attention. He may not survive the holiday when it comes.

I’m going now as I’ve upset myself by mentioning the word holiday.

Till the next time…..

Bristol, Bangers and my hatred for Gok Wan.

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This week’s travels have found me in Bristol and London. As much as the company I had on both trips was top notch, travelling in this way is often a labour rather than a love.

As and when I have interviewed folk in the past, and they have cited travel as one of their interests or hobbies, I doubt they’d class a couple of days on an Industrial Estate in Bristol as one of their aspirations in life.

Travel, as a pleasure, is a selective activity of course, and I don’t hate it, I just don’t relish it, unless it involves a trans Atlantic flight and life threatening quantities of food. Hate is a phrase I reserve for the important things in life that are deserving of the word and sentiment like the cellophane wrapper you get around a new box of tea bags, and Gok Wan.

In the Top Ten of things I can’t stand, tea bag box packaging is irrationally up there fighting for top spot. Alas, Gok will always hold that safe, with his inexplicable fame and need to appear on my television when I’m least expecting it. His talk of bangers, girlfriends and “rocking” anything want me to remove his or my eyes with a rusty spoon to stop it happening again.

His appeal, like his talent, seems illusive to me.

Anyway, back to Bristol. On Wednesday evening I was out for a curry with m’colleague and my most favourite and longest standing supplier. It was delicious, and was going down a treat until, distracted by some idiot trying to talk to me whilst I was eating, I mistook a ghost chilli for a green pepper.

I was in child-birth levels of pain, and was rendered speechless until about Friday. I do not recommend it, as you might have guessed. After about three hours of snot and eye watering, m’colleague and I left the locals we dined with to find our hotel. We both regularly navigate ourselves all around the country on business, and equally as regularly (nearly) cross the Atlantic and find stuff without too much messing about.

However, in the labyrinth like city centre of Bristol it took us an amount of time I am too ashamed to admit to find our bed for the night. How we laughed. Google maps and directions from others did nothing to save us from the persistent drizzle and incessant loops of the same shops.

On Friday my travels, and the way the day turned out, saw me in central London with a few hours to kill. With the weather being one step up from the Apocalypse, my options were limited. I had a walk up and down the south bank passing the London Eye and the silly queue for it. I guess it was still half term somewhere.

The Biggest of Bens

The Biggest of Bens

Ultimately to beat the cold and the boredom I ended up just moving from one place to another to eat and/or drink. By the end of the day I was close to causing actual bodily harm to anyone even suggesting another coffee. Starbuck’s, McDonald’s and for tea Nandos all saw the inside of my wallet, and I rolled home on the train needing two seats.

It seems London is fueled entirely by foamy coffee, foreign accents and surly expressions. Oh and anyone who can find the elusive combo of free Wi-Fi and a plug socket wins London. I did both in some poncey South Bank Arts place, and as I sat there for an age sucking up their juice and cyber space, I could see the security folks eyeing me continuously. I left without having to give either of those valuable assets back.

I am traveling again next week, but to the familiar territory of Marlow, so that is becoming so routine I’m stopping classing that as actual travel, and just a slightly longer commute.

This week also saw us make some very, very, rough and some especially ambitious plans for the 2015 holiday. With it being Rebecca’s 18th that year she is keen to do a WDW trip, as Emily did, and so we have made a mental note that we shall aim for that. We have no plans at all about how to fund it, but we shall cross that bridge at some point before or after the trip.

If you are in the middle of planning a trip, then, firstly, I hate you, but secondly, perhaps you could consider a fellow Disney-er and Dibber (I think) who has recently struck out on her own in the travel agent business. As I receive endless help here for all sorts of stuff from you kind folks, Sue Shellard asked that I pointed folk at her business, and of course I was delighted to oblige. Give it a click and a Like, if you so wish. To those who have continued to give their endless and unrewarded help and support this week, for reasons I cannot yet divulge, I thank you. There are some really lovely people who read this crap!

I have to go now and pick Rebecca up from work. She is enjoying her new job, and I am enjoying her not asking for money from me every seventeen seconds. Emily too had an interview for a new part-time job on Thursday and she is going for a trial shift tomorrow so hopefully that will see her earning once again. At this rate, I shall be able to buy myself some new clothes for the first time since about 1995. As and when I need them of course!

Till the next time…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/SueShellardHaysTravel

 

 

 

Not More Of All This?

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Now that I am an author and stuff you would probably want to know how us literary, high brow types spend our weekends just after releasing our latest blockbuster.

Well, it has been a wild whirlwind of hoovering, peeling spuds, walking the dog, watching a bit of Netflix and moving furniture. Me and Stephen King love weekends like that.

So, as if you didn’t know already, the book…it is done! I’ve put a load of hours in over the last week, resulting in some late nights and unenthusiastic mornings, but somehow I got it to a stage where I felt it wasn’t going to get any better without starting again.

There is something very strange about finishing something you’ve been working on and thinking about for nearly four months, pressing a button to make it live, and then not being able to do anything else other than sit around and wait for folks to tell you what they think.

To each one of you that now possess it, thank you of course, and for everyone who has shared it, retweeted or told their granny about it, I am grateful. I have some lovely folks that come here to read these blogs. My last request is for you to add your glowing, positive reviews once you are done. If of course that is how you feel about it.

I shall retire now to make the tea and await the inevitable call from a publisher, and a dozen film producers who want to make into a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s bound to happen, right?

Book Cover

All This And More

Oh and for those awaiting the paperback, I have just approved and submitted that for creation so I shall ram that down your throat…sorry I mean let you know how to get that when it is ready.

You are now free to go and spend your evening reading a good book…I know of one if you are looking.

Till the next time….

 

I Give You…All This And More!

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It will be a huge relief to everyone here that the day has finally come for me to release my first novel, All This And More.

Book Cover

All This And More

It will mainly be a relief, as it might stop me waffling on about it each week….as I say…it might, but I can’t guarantee that.

The physical act of actually letting it go, and allowing it to be read is akin to sending your first born to school on that fateful first day. In some ways I am sick of the sight of it and will welcome the time away from it, but on the other hand, I’m not sure I’m ready or indeed more importantly, whether it is ready either. The temptation to do just one more read through, or even rip it up and start again haunt me like a post curry guff.

Anyway, I have to let go some time, and this is as good a time as any I suppose. The alternative is hanging on to it for eternity in a doom loop of removing and adding the same comma each time I read through the thing.

Today it is released in eBook format with a paperback version coming soon. The production process for the the hard copy takes a little longer.

As ever, I will remind you that if you do not own an eReader you can get a free app for most phones, tablets and PCs with which to get it, or of course you can wait for the paperback (but that will be more pricey of course).

I thank every single one of you who will read it in advance for doing so. Your ongoing support and encouragement is just incredible. I also have to give a huge amount of thanks to the volunteers who waded through the thing when it was (more of a) right mess, at first draft stage. Your time, patience, good grace and insight have made the thing much better than it ever might have been. Thank you!

To offer some form of reassurance that it might be worth giving it a go, here are some soundbites from those that have read it already.

“I could not put the bloody thing down. I have to confess to wondering if the genre was really my taste but My God, I loved every single chapter. You have brought the book together seamlessly, each individual person’s story being weaved into the main plot flawlessly. And THAT ENDING….”

“I have laughed at the Craigisms in the book, was gripped by wondering what would happen next, and I cried at the end”

“I can honestly say that it is one of the best books I have read in a long, long time. Not many books would keep me engaged for hours on end like yours has, with only the hours on the clock making me turn off my iPad to sleep”

“I want to congratulate you on your fantastic achievement – well done, I found the quality of writing very high.”

“I think it’s always a great indication of a good book when you start to think about it at work, and I did!”

“I got to the point where I wanted to keep reading and couldn’t put it down!”

“All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book.”

“I think it’s really very, very good. I found myself genuinely intrigued as to what was going to happen next and looking forward to having a bit of spare time to read a bit more!”

“My particular favourite bit was when… (edited spoiler). I thought this part was very clever, fast paced, and I certainly didn’t see it coming!”

“I really think that this is a brilliant book with an excellent and engaging story line.”

If I get no further feedback, and no bugger else ever reads it I am obviously delighted with comments such as those. These same kind folks also offered lots of constructive criticism, which has helped enormously.

Just so that nobody feels let down, I feel that I should reiterate that the book has no connection to the previous trip report books, doesn’t even mention Disney or Florida once, and is not an innuendo crammed smut fest. Apart from that, I hope you enjoy it….

Should you read it and like it to any degree, please leave a glowing review on Amazon, as that really does help.

I’m now off to rock slowly in a corner awaiting the first 1 star review.

Till the next time….

No post today.

We’ve had some awful news today, and it doesn’t feel right for me to spout the usual self-indulgent nonsense in light of someone passing away. So there won’t be a post from me here today.

We heard this morning that Louise’s brother-in-law has passed. Louise lost her sister to breast cancer many years ago, and so as you can imagine this is very upsetting as he was no age at all.

Instead of me prattling on, I will instead point you at Emily’s blog from yesterday, which is her best yet, and probably better than anything else I could produce at the moment.

Go read Emily’s blog by clicking this picture.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed next week.

Till the next time.

Singing Snowmen and a Waitressing Williams

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I need to lodge a formal complaint somewhere. The speed at which these meagre two-day weekends are passing me by is simply not acceptable. No sooner am I leaving the office on a Friday evening than I’m once again sat here at tea time on Sunday wondering what on earth I can write about here.

Yet, the passing of time from when I get in my car on a Monday morning to when I can get back in it again later that day to drive all the way home is glacial, tortoise like and annoyingly slow. This, I suppose is the theory of relativity.

That same theory of course means that I blinked and both of my children became adults. Rebecca started her new job today at a local pub called The Brewhouse.

She was quite nervous beforehand, but it seems to have gone well. She’s doing waitress stuff, and the first lesson she learned today was that she doesn’t know how to spell the names of the “strange beers” they serve. The bar staff are having to decipher her phonetic spellings, but she’ll get there I’m sure.

She’s next working on Saturday, so if anyone locally wants to go and give her a huge tip then do feel free.

Emily completed her Disney CRP application this week, and having helped a little bit, we feel it is much stronger than her last one. It is enormously competitive, so it is a bit of a lottery. She has relevant experience, an immeasurable love for Disney and a steely determination I have never seen in her for anything else. So, we can do no more at this stage.

She also got a lot of help from kind folks who read this blog, or we’re connected to on Facebook. I can’t thank all of you enough for taking the time to help Emily. Should she be fortunate enough to go any further, we may be back for more of the same!

For those reading Emily’s blog from yesterday you will know that she went to the cinema to watch the Frozen sign a long. She didn’t post this, but I have stolen it from her friend Meg’s Tumblr. Apparently they were the only ones singing. Have a click of the image below if you feel brave enough to listen!

singalong

Louise is going through one of those tough times of her course when she is on placement and still has a load of coursework to do, so he has been locked away for most of the weekend, toiling away at the computer. If you listen closely you can hear her continually muttering to herself “It will be worth it in the end” nonstop.

Speaking of toiling away at a computer, and I know you were desperate for a book update, I have been fine tuning as and when time has allowed, and despite STILL WAITING FOR TWO FOLKS TO FEEDBACK I think I’m nearly there. I think I’m looking at a February release on Kindle and maybe a week or so later in actual paper.

Oh and I shall leave you with this. Yesterday, for the first time since we got back from our last holiday, Louise confessed she wants to go back to Florida. She told me not to tell anyone that though, and it makes bugger all difference, as unless we win the lottery or I sell three million copies of the new book, then our wishes don’t matter. Sigh. I am away to weep for a while.

Till the next time…..

Hard Copies and Hard Work

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There’s something quite odd about reading something you wrote in actual print, in your hand. Mainly as with each minor typo, grammar aberration or sentence I wish I’d written better, I die a little inside.

If any of you did actually buy the thing in hard copy this week then thank you, and I hope you won’t be too disappointed with the quality of the pictures. It has been a decent learning experience for when I do All This And More shortly.

How shortly? Well, I am still awaiting two slow coaches to feedback on the first draft so it is all their fault. No pressure. Having seen Going Limp in print the act of committing a final draft to print forever, with it unchangeable, is a nerve tester, and I don’t know how I’ll resist “just one last check”.

This week also saw something else what I wrote being published, but this was in the more familiar format of a blog, and a guest one at that for FloridaTix on the subject of 10 Insider Tips for Walt Disney World First-Timers.  I pimped it all over Twitter and Facebook so I’m sure you don’t need prompting about it, but if for some reason you do not hang on my every word throughout the week do click the link and have a read.

There is some debate over one of my Top Ten Tips (the immigration queue one) no longer being valid. It appears to be a recent change as a traveler from November confirmed it to be there then, but others are now saying it is not. Hey ho, it just goes to show that I don’t go often enough. Either way I hope the rest of it is some use to someone.

In none me news this week, Rebecca has secured herself a new part-time job, at the local foody pub place and she starts next Sunday. I’m really pleased for her. There’s a lot to be said for having your own money and independence and I’d like to try it someday too.

On that same note, Rebecca is on a journey at the moment. Not an X Factor one where she sings a Journey cover, cries twice and talks about her dead budgie. This journey is a physical one. If you’ve read the trip reports over the years Rebecca has varied in size from one time to another, and has been known to be fed up about her shape and size, much like any teenager I guess.

With the help of her boyfriend, Tom, who is a personal trainer, she has been looking after herself a lot more, exercising and since January, going to the gym. The transformation is impressive and one that she should be very proud of.

Rebecca...yes, really.

Rebecca…yes, really.

The levels of dedication she is showing are incredible, and she is getting her just rewards. Likewise for Tom, and if he keeps going he’ll be something like me soon.

I used to be fat like that...

I used to be fat like that…

So that’s one more thing to add to the list which documents why I am proud of the girls. That brings me back nicely to saying that printing Going Limp, whether anyone else reads it or not, is absolutely worth it. What a wonderful way to capture special times, and precious moments from the girl’s lightning speed dash to adulthood.

Now, pass me the biscuits. I need to do some arm curls!

Till the next time…..

Going Limp…now with added hardness!

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I just wanted to do a quick post to let you know that the latest trippy, Mkingdon’s Going Limp in Orlando Tour 2013, is now available in hard copy, as an actual, real life book.

Now, before you all rush off and buy a dozen copies each, I need to add some caveats. I didn’t get this done in hard copy to sell really. Instead, there were two main reasons,

  1. I wanted to test out getting a book printed like this, as I plan to do it with “the book” when it is done.
  2. I thought it would be nice to give Emily a physical copy so she would always have it to remember her 18th birthday trip

So, those caveats….

  • It is quite expensive, perhaps not surprisingly. It is being sold at the absolute minimum allowed by the supplier…I promise….I don’t need another yacht!
  • The pictures in it are in black and white and the quality of them is average at best
  • You probably own it on Kindle already.

Anyway, when I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was trying out getting a physical book done, a few folks asked me to let them know when it was done. So I am!

If you want to have a look…..click the picture below…

This time, it is hard.

This time, it is hard.

As time allows, I will try to do the other trippy book in the same way.

That is all.

Till the next time…..

Shiny Shaved Holes

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I lied to you all last week.

We did not, as stated go and watch the Wolf of Wall Street as I said. The second after I clicked Publish on that post, Louise appeared to say she didn’t feel up to going after all. I didn’t mind, and after a minor dirty protest in the kitchen I settled down for a night in.

We did however go the following evening. Yes, we went out on a school night, that is just how CRAZY we are. It almost turned into Tuesday morning as the film is a long one. If you plan to watch it, a pre-film tactical wee is essential, or if not, a catheter. There are perks to being married to a student nurse!

The film itself was great. I would say that it fully deserves its 18 certificate, especially when you are watching it sat next to your 18-year-old daughter.  Leo DiCaprio (I call him Leo now, as we’ve spent so much time together) was superb, as was Jonah Hill. I think there were quite a few naked women in it too, but I didn’t notice any of them at all.

Apparently she was in the film!!

That was pretty much the highlight of the week, as the rest of it was work and wrestling shite from my dog’s backside. Yep, you read that right. Tuesday night into Wednesday morning was joyous. Somehow, Oli had got some poo stuck around his exit area just before we went to bed on Tuesday, and so I found myself in my kitchen in the early hours wiping, scraping and retching, as I helped the poor bugger out.

All I will say is that he now has a very clean, shiny and shaved hole. Which again, beings me back to the women in the film we watched earlier in the week. But I digress….

Oli seems to be unscarred by the events of that night, although we can’t look each other in the eye any more.

So having lost a lot of sleep, I never really caught that up again during the week and found myself limping through Thursday and Friday like some sort of zombie who has to answer lots of emails and go to meetings.

All of this led to a very rare event this morning when I had an actual lie in. Granted, I was up at 4.30am, to let Oli out for a wee, but once back under the duvet I didn’t open my eyes again until 11am. What is strange is that I have felt absolutely awful all day seemingly as a result. My body is so unused to good levels of sleep that it is struggling to come to terms with it. I have no energy, and I appear to be craving junk food. Oh no wait, that is absolutely normal.

With admirable discipline, and not without quality, Emily has been very diligent in keeping up her blog posts. Yesterday’s was very good indeed, and if you like Disney stuff, she will introduce you to some of the wonderful Disney content that exists online away from the official website. Her latest post outlines her….

Top 10 Disney YouTube Videos.

It is a good way to easily lose a few hours.

She’s been on the part-time job hunt this week, going for a trial for one, and dropping off applications for another, so wish her well, read her blog, or give her a job, as you feel is appropriate.

Time to go, these chocolate digestives won’t eat themselves.

Till the next time…..

 

 

Wolves, Wall Street and Wanging On.

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An earlier blog this week as once again we are going to give Cineworld half of my monthly salary this evening to watch a film. The Wolf of Wall Street is the choice for us, well, actually it is my choice as Louise wanted to watch Twelve Years a Slave. I’m sure it is a great film, but the Wall Street one just appeals to me more. It feels like it will be less hard work to watch it.

Ugly Leo

Louise quite rightly deferred to my preference, as she should only being a woman of course. Based on our usual restaurant experience where I always order the better option, she will thank me later. Emily is pleased anyway as Leonardo DiCaprio is in it, and he is only second in her eyes to Harry Styles.

I am determined to resist the lure of both the pick and the mix, as the waistline just will not take it. Besides, we have about four selection boxes left over from Christmas that need finishing off, so I’ll take them instead.

I had my first feedback on the book this week, and it was great. I don’t mean that the feedback said everything was great, as at this stage it clearly isn’t, but it was great for me and very constructive. Just from that one lot of feedback the book has come on leaps and bounds and is much better for it. I continue to polish whilst awaiting the conclusions of the other volunteers. I look forward to the rest, as it can only help and improve it further.

I’ve been doing some research into other places to make the book available, mainly in actual print, and I may have come across a solution for that. If that is the case, I may do the same for the two trippie books too, so should anyone be foolish enough to want a hard copy of them then they can. These things are not cheap however, but even if it means I can get a physical copy of the two Florida books, and one of this new novel they will be lovely keepsakes. The service I have found looks like a print to order service, so at least I don’t have to order a box load that will sit in a cupboard for ten years until they get pulped Alan Partridge style.

Dan!

The fear of missing a typo is multiplied by around a thousand at the thought of committing something to actual print though. No matter how much checking goes on, I just know on the first glance at a hard copy in print I shall spot a multitude of cock ups. That isn’t a hint at the actual content of the book by the way. It is a phallus free zone.

On that note, for those still interested in this book after me wanging on about it for what seems like forever, I feel I should say that it would be wrong to set the expectation that it is similar to the trip reports. There is (hopefully) humour in it, but those expecting the usual ratio of a knob gag every other paragraph will be disappointed I’m afraid. I haven’t made a conscious effort to make it different or all grown up, it is just the way it came out, so I hope that those kind enough to read it do not feel let down by that.

If I get the feedback returned in the next couple of weeks as expected then I would hope to get the thing completed and released quite quickly after that. I could sit looking at it for years, making minor adjustments but that seems silly and unnecessary. If nothing else it will stop me prattling on about it here every week which I think we can all agree will be a good thing.

Apparently I have to make the tea now as Louise has done the ironing or some such other trivial task. I shall make my specialty, namely whatever looks easiest to make in the fridge.  It will be delicious I’m sure.

Till the next time….

Jolly January and Unscratchable Itches

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Having asked for a volunteer or two last week to wade through the untidy mess of the first draft I got many, many more offers than I had anticipated. I should know better than to underestimate the kindness and support of you all, but I did.

The downside of that was that I felt like an absolute arse having to only select a few folks. It felt like I was throwing people’s kindness back in their face, so if you did volunteer, thank you and I am just sorry that I couldn’t let you all read the thing. I just couldn’t process that amount of feedback.

In hindsight I probably went a little early, which wouldn’t be the first time, as when I started to review that draft it was indeed messy, and I have spent a lot of time this week fixing stuff. Apologies to the volunteers for that, had I waited a week your job may have been easier and quicker.

I haven’t had any feedback yet, and as I am far too close to the thing to be anything like objective I still have no idea if it is woeful or not. Louise asked me the other week if I was happy with it, and I honestly could not give her an answer. I definitely need some third-party perspective just to do basic things like tell me if the story works and holds any interest for the reader at all. If the thing is never mentioned again you’ll know which way the feedback went!

My fear and loathing of the return to work last week did of course not live up to the actual experience, but it was still an awful shock to the system. I am told there has recently been a weekend too, but I refuse to believe that as I haven’t noticed one.

Last week, I also told you about Emily’s blog and she was delighted that so many of you have been to have a read. Having read her second post yesterday, I have to say that if she keeps writing them like that I shall stop promoting the thing as I may not get my readers back!

Her latest post is lovely, and covers the sad passing of a Disney institution. If you haven’t read it I suggest you do.

If my return to work was preceded by histrionics and over dramatic whingeing caused by a long time off work, then imagine how Louise is feeling tonight. She has been off now for about five weeks, although she has had course work to do, but tomorrow she returns to a placement in Preston. We did a dummy run today of the commute and it isn’t a nice one. No offence to Preston, but it is a right schlep from our house. Let’s hope the snow stays away! This placement sees her out and about in the community for the first time so if you have a dressing that needs attention in Preston, watch out!

Not that it matters, but this week has seen nearly all of us have a Disney moment or two. Even Louise came over all misty eyed when Emily was playing her new WDW CD, and the house was filled with the melodic beauty that is O Canada. As I tweeted at the time, O Canada should be the National Anthem of the world.

The longing for Disney is a routine occurrence at this time of year, with the post-Christmas lull, diets, return to work and crap weather. Don’t worry, it matters not, as it shall remain an unscratchable itch. We will not be booking anything. Instead I shall buy a sun lamp, put on my shorts and sit listening to that CD for the summer months.

The sad realisation that getting through that first week back at work after Christmas is not enough, and I have to do it again, every week, is it a bit of punch to the guts. It is usually an unaffordable holiday that helps us through that, but this year we shall have to do our best without it. This weekly posting could get ugly in the coming weeks, you have been warned.

As the first in what may be a long line of emotional crutches, allow me to share with you the latest offering from the restaurant that brought us the Donut Burger.

Get in my belly!

Get in my belly!

If these WDW urges continue I fear we shall be recreating that some time soon.

Till the next time…..

All This And More.

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After such a long time off work I am feeling a very real sense of bereavement at the ending of my holidays. I can’t describe the magnified Sunday night feeling that I have had since about Friday. It’s horrible. I’ve been a right grump to live with for a couple of days now, but I just can’t shake this horrible feeling of impending doom, early alarms and crap traffic.

I understand that many folks have had no time off at all and I am being ungrateful but it doesn’t change how I feel about it. The upcoming week will be grim. I have a night away too which is not helping me look forward to it in anyway. I have just enjoyed not being at work.

As I often say, I work for a great company, and have many reasons to be grateful to do so, but still it sucks that I am in work again from tomorrow. Enough moaning I think.

In my time off I have been relatively productive, getting my first draft to a stage where it is pretty much ready for feedback and that will be happening soon. I also designed the cover and decided upon the title.

Book Cover

All This And More

If anyone has a burning desire to review the first draft then let me know. I only need a couple of people or there will be too much feedback to deal with. I do need to say that the book is over 73,000 words so it is a fair undertaking to read it, especially as of course there is a chance you might hate it, and then it will be a really hard slog. Also bear in mind that, beyond spotting typos that I have missed, you’ll need to be honest about the thing as a whole too, as telling me it’s great when it isn’t won’t be very helpful. I won’t cry too much! Also I’d ideally like feedback within a couple of weeks, so if you think it would take you a month or so to get through it then please bear that in mind before volunteering.

If I get a few volunteers it’ll be pretty much first come first served unless one of you is a professional editor, English teacher or award winning novelist.

The first draft as it stands should be rubbish. That is what all the writers I have read about online say anyway. A book only starts to come together at second and third draft stage I’m told, so hopefully whatever feedback I get will help in that process. 

My work based sulk prevents me from writing much more today, but I do have to tell you that Emily has started her own blog (as of yesterday). Please go and have a look. I have no clue how often she will post, but if you can show your support that would be great.

Work sucks!

Till the next time….

2013 in review – Blog stats.

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It only seems like five minutes since I posted last year’s stats! Thanks to all of you for these silly numbers.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 63,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Year Older, Probably Not Wiser.

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OK, I think today might be Sunday and so it is blog time.

Much like everyone reading this by now I am fed up of eating, almost allergic to chocolate and (this might just be me) having to live in my dressing gown and that one pair of pants that fit.

Christmas was good here, and I hope yours was too. It doesn’t matter that I have two very grown up girls of sixteen and eighteen, we were still woken at around 7am by Rebecca. She sent a tactical text from her bed asking if she could get up, and we agreed as long as she was the one to go and wake Emily. We’re not stupid.

As tradition dictates I go downstairs first and switch lights on, and most years find some festive music to play whilst they open their presents.

As tradition also dictates Rebecca has all of her presents open within thirty seconds, and Emily takes around an hour. The presents this year and in recent years have changed of course from the impossible to open dolls, with most of them now being clothes or make up for Rebecca and this year almost exclusively being Disney or One Direction related for Emily.

It is always nice to surprise them though, and we managed to do that with both of them. Rebecca had mentioned months ago that she wanted a (fake) fur jacket she’d seen, so Louise had sourced one of those, and Emily had been trying for weeks to get hold of a CD, which of course was WDW related, but not available in the UK on iTunes or in physical form.

I almost broke the internet tracking it down, and despite the best efforts of US Customs it arrived just a few days before Christmas.

WDW CD1

It contains pretty much every song from the theme parks.

WDW CD2

Of course the festive music I had earlier found was immediately replaced with this. Now, suspend your disbelief for a second, whilst I tell you that with a trip to WDW in 2014 being out of the question I have been doing quite well in blocking any such thoughts from my mind. You’ll notice I haven’t really mentioned it here for a while?

Well, I even did quite well listening to the theme parks being present in my front room until one song came on. I cannot explain why this one song gives me an aching and physically painful yearning for WDW but it does. It isn’t even a song you might immediately think of when trying to guess what it is. I suppose it is because we have spent some (a lot) of my birthdays in World Showcase and this just takes me right back to those lovely times.

Between this CD and the Frozen soundtrack, Emily has been fully Disneyfied in her listening habits recently.

I got some cracking gifts too. This year was the first year ever that the girls got Louise and I presents. They got Louise a perfume she had expressed a liking for when out with them, and I got the latest Call of Duty game for the XBox. Louise also got me a decent shaver, as I think she was fed up of me leaving for work looking like a burns victim with half a loo roll stuck to my face after another bad wet shave experience.

Xmas presents

Once all the presents were done (Louise had wisely got hers a little while ago when out shopping, and I got her a handbag and a scarf which were just what she wanted! I have such good taste.) I made our traditional breakfast of Eggs Benedict.

Eggs Benedict

Soon after that family started to arrive and the rest of the day was a blur of more presents, cooking the meal, Eggnog and in Rebecca’s case too much Christmas spirit. She ended the day not feeling too well at all. We’ve all been there I suppose.

We were hosting my Mum and Dad and Louise’s Mum so the numbers were manageable. The meal itself was a success. Louise did all the hard work of peeling everything and getting it on to cook, and then I took over whilst she got ready and just kept my eye on stuff until it was ready. There was a minor incident with the roast spuds but I like them a little extra crispy!

The day whizzed by as usual, as have all the ones since to be honest. We sit here a few short days away from a new year now, and at the risk of being like every single TV show you will see between now and then, I suppose it is time to reflect on the year that has gone.

As it will have been for everyone else it has been a mixed one. To varying degrees we will all have had crap bits, and we too have had our fair share of knock backs, upsets, bad luck and down right kicks in the goolies, but in the grand scheme of things we still have much to be grateful for, even if I forget that sometimes.

On the positive side this year just gone has been full of landmark events, and even though I’m bound to miss some here are the ones I can remember.

Louise passed everything she needed to and got onto the second year of her nursing course at Uni. As we expected, her returning to study has been a challenge in many ways. Financially of course, but also of our organisational skills in juggling busy lives, shift work, endless coursework and a hectic household. We’re over half way now, and I’m sure we’ll look back when it’s all over and laugh. Won’t we?

Both the girls took exams in the summer, Emily passing her A levels and Rebecca getting enough passes at GCSE level to get onto the course of her choice at college. We have to be happy with that! Rebecca of course also had her prom.

Rebecca Prom Dress

I made that!

Shortly before her prom she turned sixteen. Hmm, this year has been chock full of important events. No wonder I’m knackered.

A short while after that in the summer Emily passed her driving test. As weird experiences go, having your daughter driving is right up there. Whether she is grabbing the keys and heading off on her own or if I’m sat in the passenger seat desperately trying not to break for her, I still haven’t got used to that.

On a personal note I did something I never thought I would. I wrote and self published two books. It still feels odd to say that, but it is true. I didn’t actually write the first one this year, other than trying to make it more readable and less error strewn, but you know what I mean. Mkingdon’s Tales of Family, Food and Florida and Mkingdon’s Going Limp in Orlando Tour 2013 were supported by you kind folks to a level that I could never have imagined, and I need to thank you all again for that.

The release of the latter led to a bit of a kerfuffle and a rant on my part, which led to two things. That blog post got a huge number of views and the fallout from that kicked me up the backside sufficiently to get on and do something I have been threatening to do for years. I have now actually written my first fiction novel, and am in the process of reviewing and editing it. Whether it is good, bad or indifferent, having it done and released (soon) will be something I should probably be proud of in itself.

Of course, another major landmark this year was Emily’s 18th birthday in July. Attached to that of course was her surprise trip to WDW as her present. The build up to the reveal was very stressful, but I have to say it was worth it. The way in which that panned out and her reaction is something that will stay with me forever. If you haven’t seen it, or want to do so again then have a look at that post here.

August of course saw us go on holiday to WDW. Emily spent most of it in tears, but they were happy tears. We did the Keys to the Kingdom Tour and loved it, and if it were possible this trip and that tour made Emily’s love for WDW even greater. The rest of us quite like it too!

WDW 2013

Door shot 2013

WDW MK

WDW Rebecca

The rest of the year was probably a blur of me moaning, Pick n Mix, things going wrong in the house and rants about crap TV. But then again that could be any year. I know I will have forgotten some major happening this year and I’ll remember it as soon as I publish this post.

We know that 2014 is going to be a challenging one for us with Louise coming to the end of her course in early 2015, but we know that it will be worth it once she is qualified, earning and done with most of the studying. I can assure you though that we will NOT be going on holiday next year. You have my word! Again.

I’m sure 2014 will be the usual mix of ups and downs so here’s hoping we can roll with the punches. I hope your 2014 is everything you want it to be and more, and I wish you and yours good health and happiness throughout it. Thank you for your interest, support, comments and patience with the Mkingdon output, and when the time comes to release the new book into the world I hope it doesn’t disappoint too much.

From myself, Louise, Emily, Rebecca and Oli, have a great 2014.

oli xmas hat

Till the next time….

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