If Only Kanye Had Been This Brief

I’m going to be brief. Mainly as I don’t have a great deal springing to mind to share with you, but sometimes, come this time on a Sunday I am not engulfed with the desire to blog. However, such is the drive of my minor OCD about completing things, not blogging on a Sunday may tip me over the edge of the compulsive cliff.

Not a great deal has happened this week, apart from working and enduring a little more trolling from the parts of the internet where idiots live. There has been no holiday planning progression, mainly as it has been planned to death already. I have been researching some golf courses but nothing has been booked as yet. I have to save some planning for closer to the time or I may have to do some work instead.

Oh, I tell a lie. We did sort out our transport to and from Manchester airport. I researched airport parking and my Dad looked into mini bus options. He popped in mid-week to let me know he’d found a reliable chap at a price the airport parking couldn’t compete with so we shall be driven there and back without the need to negotiate the M60 after twenty minutes sleep on our return home.

Right now, Rebecca is trying to fit the proverbial quart into the pint pot for her trip to Barcelona tomorrow. You may remember that was her surprise present for her birthday back in May. I don’t know why she is taking a quart with her, or indeed why she is carrying it in a pint, but Easyjet’s luggage rules have always confused me. She may only be going for four days but still it seems that half of our house is currently in her room vying for space in her postage stamp carry on.

The flight is very early tomorrow, so early I am just glad that I am not on drop off duty. Monday’s are bad enough without adding a 3am start on the front of one. Tom (her boyfriend) has talked his Mum into doing the honours. Both of the girls are of course seasoned flyers and travelers but it won’t stop me giving her a four-hour lecture on safety abroad before she goes. I know she is looking forward to it.

As I write this, I have the travesty which was Kanye West’s “performance” from last night on the iPlayer. I was certain I wouldn’t like it, but felt that I had to witness first hand the outrage that played out on my social media last night. By the Lord of autotune what a jumped up load of over hyped emperor’s new clothes this excuse for an artist is. Suddenly his marriage to the other vacuum of talent makes a whole load of sense. As much as he really is an arse for forcing this crass, talentless talking over music onto us, the bigger idiots are the ones buying it and making him the multi-gazillionaire he is.

I’ve added him to my list of rant inducing musical acts. It’s a long one, but includes the likes of Example, Coldplay, U2 and Diana Ross, the latter being solely for inflicting Chain Reaction on to the world. Her and Lulu’s “Weeeeeeeeeelllllll” at the start of Shout besmirch every wedding and family party in the western world and both make me want to take a steaming dump on the DJ’s equipment, and that’s not a euphemism.

I’ll confess that Mustard (the top North West covers band, perfect for your function, reasonable rates assured, that I play bass in) do perform a Coldplay track. I get through it for the greater good and I maintain that playing it is different to listening to it voluntarily anyway.

So much for being brief. I have to go now and set fire to the BBC iPlayer.

Till the next time…..

Posted in mkingdon | Tagged | 1 Comment

Plan vs Food

Welcome to the new look Mkingdon blog. That’s if you’ve noticed that we’ve had a bit of a redesign. It’s been a long time since a change was made so I hope you like it.

I’m blogging a little early today as Louise is working. This is her first weekend at work since qualifying and so it makes sense to get it done whist she is out at work. It is also of course Father’s Day and I sit here in the after glow of a breakfast of enormous proportions. Now that the girls are old enough to operate cookers and stuff I get more than I used to in the heady days of cereal and toast.

Pardon my knees

Pardon my legs

I have a fine collection of presents which also include ludicrous calorie numbers, a T-shirt and an Xbox game.

My breakfast today represents the struggles of the week just gone too. In time that absolutely should not have been spent working, I have been wrestling with our WDW plan this week. Trying to predict Emily’s movements and meetings as she starts work is just one challenge I am trying to rise to, but the main one has been not having enough days. This has surprised me, as we are going for our longest trip ever at 18 nights. With that in mind I had thought we’d have endless rest days and time for the smelling of roses and all that jazz. To be honest, theme park wise, we’re doing OK. Even with Disney and Universal to fit in, we have the odd day without firm plans. The real tricky bit has been the eating plan.

Having been to WDW a lot, we have built up a back catalogue of favourite eateries that we have to do each time. We also like to fit in a new one or two as well, so this week I came to the conclusion that I simply don’t have enough days to eat all the stuff we want to. By around Thursday I had somehow slotted in all of the following –

Outback
Crystal Palace
Be Our Guest
Applebees
Rose and Crown
Market Street Cafe (Celebration)
Romanos Macaroni Grill
Hard Rock Cafe
Cowfish
Beaches and Cream
Miller’s Ale House
Whispering Canyon
Bahama Breeze
Olive Garden
Teak Neighborhood Grill

I still had a couple of places, such as the Cheesecake Factory that I couldn’t find a slot for unless we were to eat four meals a day. Then, yesterday, whilst chatting through the plan with Emily she was a very bad influence and threw up a couple of dining “must dos” that I had totally forgotten about. Whilst looking for availability on the Disney app for a reservation at O’hana (that we never did get), we were reminded that Sanaa had been a new one that we had wanted to try for a while and so with a bit of juggling we slotted that one in too, quite early in the trip.

Whilst searching for that reservation for Sanaa we also saw Trail’s End mentioned and remembering our previous visit there that quickly got added to the must do list. Don’t ask me how, but that’s now booked too!

I am pleased with all our plans but I have to say that I’m also a little worried about the amount we’re going to be eating. I’m sure we’ll manage. I’m not suggesting that we are food obsessed or that our touring plans start with where we will be eating, but Emily already knows what she is ordering at certain places. For example, at The Market Street Cafe she will be having –

Cheese Fries
With Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, topped with bacon and served with ranch dressing. 6.95

Banana Cream Pie 5.50

Milkshakes
Cookies & creams 4.50  add malt .50 

At Sanaa, I think it is fair to say that most of us will be going for this as an appetiser –

Indian-style Bread Service

Choice of Three Breads – Traditional Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kucha, or Paneer Paratha. Choice of Three Accompaniments – Red Chile Sambal, Cucumber Raita, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Garlic Pickle, Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, or Tamarind Chutney.

It goes without saying that when we go to Teak I will be having the Doughnut Burger. That has to happen. On a similar note, when we visit Cowfish at City Walk, there is only choice for me and that is the  –

The Cowfish Has Offically Left The Building (A.K.A. The Hunka, Hunka)

Full-pound beef burger, creamy peanut butter, fried bananas, applewood bacon, brioche bun. Choice of side.

It’s ridiculous. I am still stuffed after my breakfast and now I am drooling over my keyboard! I’m putting weight on just writing about this stuff. I shall have to walk Oli for an extra few minutes. That will burn a few thousand calories, right?

I hope your Father’s Day is a good one should it be relevant to you and I shall go now to see mine. The effort of walking all the way next door may well burn a few hundred more calories!

Till the next time…..

Posted in mkingdon, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Gig With Midges….Ure.

I sit here with another gig under my belt. This might explain the unsightly bulge, but with each one, I feel I’m getting somewhere closer to the standard required. We played a charity gig last night, and despite it being a little chaotic in the early parts, once we got set up and playing it was good fun. It’s always nice to get a good reaction and we did. The fact that most of the audience had been drinking all day had nothing to do with it I’m sure.

charity gig grapes 13-6-15By the time we got on it was bloody cold and we made a lovely meal for the entire midge population of Bolton too. It was good fun though and I was home at a much more reasonable half twelve as well.

The only other bit of news this week is one that we’ve been sitting on for a while. You may remember my hysterical over emotional rant back in April when Emily came home from the Cultural Representative Programme? It seems half the internet got involved and some of the nastiness and abuse I got, both publicly and privately was truly a bit scary. I didn’t share any of that on here as I didn’t want to fan the flames, but trust me, it was vitriolic and worrying. This meant that when I posted an update to that rant a few days later I was suitably vague about how Disney had redeemed themselves.

This was mainly because I felt that had I shared what had happened, certain parts of the internet may have exploded in disbelief and outrage and with our emotions still all over the place it was the last thing anyone needed, especially Emily.

With considerable water under the bridge now and my blog visitor levels back to the usual readers (mainly) hopefully I can share the news with you without having to check under my car each morning before turning it on. Crucially, this week Emily decided to blog about this so I feel it’s OK now for me to mention it here. It would always be her call.

So when I said that Disney had been in touch, they had. The Head of Recruitment called Emily about three days after she got home and said that they had found her a role in Merchandise (where the offending tattoo can be covered) and gave her a range of dates to consider. Surprisingly, they even offered to fund her flight back to the States. So after a lot of thought she chose to start this August and finish next June. We are hopeful that she can fly out with us when leave for our holiday. We’re just waiting for confirmation from Disney that this will be OK and that they have booked it for her.

I really, really, don’t want to open up any more debate about the rights and wrongs of what happened. I’ll say now that I won’t publish any comments (nasty or nice) about the rights and wrongs if they go any further than wishing Emily well.  It is likely those so intent on abuse last time will come across this update and want to continue to call me anything from a liar to much, much worse. My blog, my rules. Only Emily and to some extent us know everything about what happened and nobody was without blame. Hopefully, this news can just be taken for what it is, which in my view is just a good end to a not very good situation.

I have another request. If you are connected to Emily and want to send her a message, please avoid doing so publicly on her Facebook. Her current managers, who were kind enough to immediately take her back on when she returned would see that.

So for those who have asked recently if Emily was coming on holiday with us etc, this is why I have avoided answering you. Sorry!

Obviously we are very pleased that Emily has a second chance at this experience and I thank those at Disney who were gracious enough to make it happen. We are also very proud of Emily who handled the issue better than I did at the time and has had the courage to go back and try this again despite the experience she had last time.

It certainly feels good to have shared that at last!

Till the next time….

 

Posted in mkingdon, Walt Disney World | Tagged , | 49 Comments

Esta-hausted

I’m tired today. You may think this is because, like the Rock n Roll God I am, I was out gigging last night and didn’t get home till 2am. That may have contributed a little, but the fatigue has mainly been brought on by completing our ESTA forms this afternoon. Bloody hell they go on a bit don’t they?

I’m sure they weren’t always so detailed. In the past, a passport number, date of birth and your name and you were in. I’ve just had to give them stuff like my employer’s name and doctor’s sexual preference!!

I’ve only done four of us and I’ve had to have a little lie down to recover. Having to pay $14 a shot adds insult to injury. How dare they ask for about £9! I almost cancelled the whole trip due to that extra expense. With Rebecca now being over 18 I’ve also had to source her some travel insurance as she is no longer covered on the policy we get with my bank account. I sorted out Sarah (her friend) too so I’ve had a busy admin afternoon.

Going back to my 2am arrival home. I haven’t been out that late since I got up around that time to get to an early work appointment down south. We played at a wedding last night and it was good fun. Ignoring my usual smattering of bum notes, it all went pretty well. We got ourselves set up and then passed the time wisely until we were to perform.

wedding 6-7-15

craig 6-6-15

 

wedding 6-6-16(2)

 

I just need a week off work now to recover from that late night! You can see some more photos (if you like) on our Facebook page.

All I’ve managed today is a dog walk, some ill-advised DIY and what will be a very short blog post. Ozzy Osbourne I ain’t.

One piece of very welcome news this week was the incredibly generous offer from our friends Steve and Di, to take Oli in whilst we go on holiday. Aside from saving us enough money to have another holiday, it is just a huge weight off our minds to know that he will be looked after and non stressed whilst we are away. He doesn’t get on with kennels very well and so we were looking for a dog sitter to take him into their home and this is the very best outcome we and he could have hoped for. He is to enjoy his own little holiday in idyllic North Yorkshire. I just hope they are ready to wake up with an Old English Sheepdog between them most mornings. Sorry in advance for that!

With that, my last remaining shreds of energy have left me and I need to go and be weak somewhere that doesn’t involve a keyboard. We’re gigging again next Saturday, this time at an open air charity gig. I could make it sound very spectacular by saying that we are headlining, but then you’d find out it was just at a local pub and it would be less impressive. Still, we’re worth a watch so if you’re local, come along and we shall entertain you.

Till the next time…..

Posted in mkingdon, Walt Disney World | Leave a comment

The Hyatt Of Luxury.

Apologies for the late hour of this posting. It’s been a busy Sunday and I have only just had chance to put fingers to keys. I apologise again, in advance for the inevitable brevity that shall ensue.

Regardless of anything that has happened at work, the biggest achievement of the week has been the completion of the planning around our stay at the beach in Florida. There is something entirely satisfying about such things, both in terms of the hunt (researching and deciding upon something) and the execution (usually ending in a smoking credit card).

So on the 6th of September we have a night booked at the Hyatt Place Oceanfront, Daytona Beach. We usually stay at the Hilton which has always been lovely. The one annoyance about that hotel is the charge creep. The room can be booked for a paltry amount but from the moment you arrive extra charges are piled on. Resort fees, parking, valet tips and other odds and sods mean that you typically pay double what you booked for. The Hyatt, whilst a similar price, promises to include parking, breakfast, WiFi and all that stuff. It also has a superb rating on all the usual sites so for one night, it looks a good bet.

There’s something vaguely magical about thinking that at some point soon we’ll be looking out over this sort of view in unimaginable heat and only having to worry about which crevice that sweat has run into.

hyatt1 hyatt2The plan is to rise early on that Sunday morning and make haste towards the coast as fast as the minivan will (legally) carry us so that Louise can spend every hour God sends crisping up her skin. After a day of sweating, we shall shower, change and head out for the fun that is a night at the Minor League baseball.

I was mildly concerned and confused that the team we normally watch, the Daytona Cubs (I say normally, we’ve been twice) seemed to have vanished, only to be replaced by the Daytona Tortugas. It seems a change of franchise could explain that and everything else looked to be the same. I have invested the princely sum of $8 each, $6 for the seniors, to watch a game against Brevard County. From what I can see it may be the last game of the season and the evening is themed Funday Sunday. If that isn’t worth $8 of my hard earned, I don’t know what is.

The last time we went we opted for seats behind the mound. This is, I learned, not a euphemism, and although it was interesting to have balls coming at my face at incredible speed, it was not as much fun as the first time we went. That first time we sat in the bleachers, which resulted in a numb bum around innings five, but we were in amongst the locals who are there for a good time rather than the more sports fan types in the proper seats.

Throw in some typical US game food and beverages, and it’s a night I’m really looking forward to. We shall then make the short journey back to the hotel before another day on the sun beds until wee eventually head back to Orlando whenever we damn well please. Hopefully my Dad will enjoy it as I don’t think he’s watched live baseball since the 80’s when we went to Boardwalk and Baseball which of course is no more.

It’s been another busy band week with more songs to learn, another rehearsal and some more bookings coming in. We are now making plans for some sexy photos and promotional material to be done. We are aiming for this sort of thing….

Next weekend sees wedding season start with our first one of the summer. Don’t forget should you want to be rocked, popped and souled to your very core do get in touch to book us. Bass player aside, we’re actually pretty good.

That’s enough now, time’s getting on and I need to get a few hours sulking in before it’s time to go to bed and then go to work.

Till the next time…..

 

 

Posted in mkingdon, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Theory of Booking Everything

Last night our viewing pleasure took in both ends of the intellectual spectrum. We started the evening with The Theory of Everything, the highly acclaimed life story of Stephen Hawking. It was very enjoyable and of course it showcases an extraordinary life of a chap who was blessed with an incredible gift of intelligence and cursed with a very cruel disease. It was very impressive that he still carried on with his career despite the challenges his disease inflicted upon him, but more incredible was the way in which his wife coped with a load of kids, looking after her husband and getting her own PhD.

Once that had finished we moved from the sublime to the ridiculous and watched some Eurovision. It is always silly, over the top and cringeworthy but last night’s seemed quite dull to be honest. Where was the hermaphrodite clown on stilts wrapped in tin foil singing in operatic style about a hedgehog? Europe seems to be forgetting what the contest is about. All this trying to write proper songs, performed by people who look normal is just not on. Unfortunately (I think) we missed the UK entry but I shall take the two points we received as an indication of the quality of it.

In planning news, I haven’t booked our Daytona night yet. To be honest, I haven’t had a great deal of time to get it done this week with work being  annoyingly insistent on my attention. More crucially I also need pay-day to roll around before pressing the book button. This scope creep is a persistent problem for us serious Florida holiday planners. As the booking and planning usually takes place over a prolonged period, what tends to happen is that things get added as you go. Once you’ve planned everything else within an inch of its life the mind wanders to other possibilities, and in my case, the thought process usually goes something like this….

No, we’re spending enough already, we should probably not do that……..Well, we’re going all that way so we may as well do it whilst we are there. It is the ultimate upsell, like when Currys try to flog you a warranty for your £30 toaster, and we all do it to ourselves.

Time is rattling along at a fair old pace, shown by it being June very shortly. So during June, it will be ESTA time and hopefully we’ll get both the Daytona hotel sorted along with the tickets to the Daytona Cubs which are all of $8 each. It could well be the best value night out in Florida. The last bit (possibly) of research beyond that is to find a golf course. Whenever my Dad comes along it is traditional to undertake a round of golf. I play regularly, at least twice a year, every year, and usually one of those rounds is in Florida. We usually play at Highlands Reserve, but I think we’ll have a change this year so I need to have a look around at the courses close to our villa.

Then of course, thoughts will turn to less glamorous aspects such as airport parking. It usually ends up being cheaper than a mini bus to and from the airport and of course it is better to be under your own steam once you have landed back in the UK. After a night of no sleep on the plane, waiting an hour for your cases and then emerging into the cold grey Manchester morning, the last thing you want to do is have to ring the taxi company to find out why your carriage isn’t sat waiting for you. He will of course have “just turned the corner at the top of the street”, which means he has just got out of bed and you’ll be stood in the drizzle for forty minutes wanting to commit actual bodily harm.

These holidays don’t just happen, clearly.

To come full circle in this post, I need to tell you about a hidden gem that we have been enjoying on Netflix.  We had never heard of it, as it has none of the promotion or indeed word of mouth of other Netflix hits, but it is a belter nonetheless.

Damages has a great cast, including Glenn Close and Tate Donovan. It has some great plot lines and unexpected twists, so if you are looking for that next binge watch addiction give it a go. There are five seasons, so fill your boots. No doubt we shall be doing so this evening.

Till the next time…..

Posted in mkingdon, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

By The Power of Olly Murs’ Hair Transplant

If life were fair then obvious anomalies, such as Olly Murs playing Wembley, would be unheard of. This modern-day Sid Owen autotunes his way to another sold out night at a huge venue whilst genuine talent such Jessie J plays relatively tiny venues like the Manchester Apollo when touring. Now, I’m no avid Jessie J fan, in fact I’d struggle to tell you more than a couple of her songs, but in terms of singing talent there is little contest. Such is the power of the record buying demographic I suppose. Young girls are the king makers of the pop industry.

This is undoubtedly the only reason why I cannot make a living from playing gigs and not have to accommodate the nine to six existence of my day job. Age, no hair, limited talent and a tendency to be a couple of stone the wrong side of my fighting weight may also contribute, but you get the idea.

Yes Friday night witnessed my second gig this century and I enjoyed it very much. Sure it was a cramped, hot, sweaty pub but that did not diminish the amount of enjoyment. It also helped that I felt like I knew at least some of the songs this time around and so I was able to relax a little more. Overall, it went well, folks enjoyed themselves and I think we picked up a couple more gigs as a result. Even packing up after midnight in a moderate drizzle was tolerable. You won’t see Olly Murs doing that as it would play havoc with his hair transplant.

Whilst on a creative roll, my first (and hopefully not last) novel, All This And More,  is currently gracing Amazon at a ridiculous 99p. That’s hours of entertainment for not a lot of cash. Should you have not yet purchased a copy, firstly, shame on you and secondly now is the time. Who knows when this crazy offer will be repeated. It is a time limited offer so don’t delay!

Book Cover

With the year motoring along now our thoughts are starting to turn to our WDW trip. Louise especially declares herself very ready for our holiday and is even doing silly things like trying to have a say in what we do when we go. I know, crazy right? This weekend she has been trying to add a night away at the beach. The implications and complications this sort of late change can make is incalculable. It is only because I am a planning genius that I can begin to contemplate such madness. We were always going to drive over to Daytona to watch some baseball on Labour (Labor is no way to spell that word America) weekend, but I was not planning for us to stay over.

Today then, I have been looking into hotels over in Daytona to make Louise feel as if her input is valid. The benefit of doing so is that it fills up that weekend when we shall not be going within five miles of a theme park as all of America and several other countries will be trying to ride Soarin’.

The current front-runner is Hyatt Place, which looks like this.

Hyatt Place

It fits our (small) budget for this unplanned excursion and has lots of good reviews. If nothing better turns up as I continue my research then that shall be booked and the plan altered. It will soon come to a point where the plan cannot be amended again as it will be laminated and stored away for safe keeping!

With my eye on Orlando so to speak I have noticed a couple of new attractions which seem to share two themes. The first is that they both involve heights and the second is that Louise won’t be going anywhere near them due to that first theme.

The Orlando Eye, much like the London one, will be familiar to many. I very much doubt we’ll be paying a visit as Louise would need to be unconscious to darken its doors.

Having said that, there would be more chance of Louise living the rest of her days going round on the Eye if the alternative was to go on the other one just once.

The Vomatron looks like fun but I fear that I’d feel like death for about a week after riding. Rebecca and her friend Sarah may have to be the volunteers from our party should we get to Old Town!

We are 101 days away from departure and it is nice to have that so close now. With everything else we’ve had going on it hasn’t been something we have thought about or focussed on too much. Hopefully I can now bore you to death over the next few weeks with every small planning detail, most, as you know, will involve food.

Speaking of which, time to eat.

Till the next time…..

Posted in mkingdon, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments