Positivity Payback

Like some sort of legendary mythical siren, calling sailors onto the rocks, my positivity packed post last week seems to have summoned the combined forces of negativity and doom onto our shores.

I apologise and promise to just piss and moan every week from here on in.

I don’t know if it is more a symptom of where my head is, but this week, I have just sensed a collective groan and downturn in the mental health of the entire country. I’ve seen social media posts from friends expressing despair, downheartedness and downright depression. I don’t know specifically what it is, but the mood seems to have slumped.

Yes, we are rolling out the first jab at an impressive speed, but I think there have been a good few signals that this isn’t a silver bullet that will deliver us relief as soon as we would like. The government briefings have continued to be a mess of blaming everyone else and moving the goalposts and it has led, I think, to a dreary realisation that as much as there may light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel is very, very, very, very long.

My younger foolish self, all that time ago last week, was fairly upbeat about the prospect of international travel by the late spring or summer. Whether I am just drinking the kool-aid and reacting to the downbeat and cautionary messaging from those in charge to make us all realise this is far from over, but now, being much older and wiser, a full seven days later, I am much less optimistic and I have to say I am now in the mind that we will need to rearrange again.

I am very open to being wrong. Six months is a long time I suppose.

My vlog watching has not diminished. For someone with a very low tolerance for vloggers, or should I say most vloggers, we have settled on a trio of folks, The Trackers of course, who seem to be approaching Bill Gates levels of earnings from their efforts, and good luck to them, Prince Charming Dev and Paging Mr Morrow. Between the three of them, they do just about produce enough content to occupy the short windows of time I need them to fill as I do my twenty minutes on the bike or during that wasteland of TV around the time we eat our evening meal. Of course, they sometimes all chase the same content as events happen and parks do new things, but overall they are deserving of my eyeballs.

What I would say, is in recent weeks, since the end of the Christmas celebrations at the parks, they have all been enjoying how quiet the parks are. Riding Flight Of Passage with no wait, getting onto Rise Of The Resistance on a whim and generally just walking onto everything. I understand that this makes the experience on the day a nice one, but I am a little concerned about this. I know the parks are quiet at this time of year, but in light of where we are, and looking at the amount of time still to go before the parks can enjoy “normality”, they need to survive. If this quietness continues I worry for more layoffs, closures and other bad things.

The parks need to be there for us all when we can return. I am in no doubt that once we can, there will be the mother of all bounce backs, but I fear for them in short term. It’s probably unfounded as these companies no doubt have more of a clue of how to structure their finances than, and I know it may shock you, some random bloke from Bolton, but I often find that I don’t have enough to worry about, so I take this on as well.

Speaking of stuff to worry about, I do admit that this house move nonsense is getting to me. I think it’s getting to us all. I include Rebecca and Tom in that, as their move last Friday did not happen due to seller idiocy and solicitor delays, with a hint of Covid related issues. They are battling with all of those to try and get their deal over the line and get the keys.

We waited all last week for an update from our solicitor only to find that when we got it, they just confirmed that things were exactly where they were the last time we had an update. It is beyond frustrating. We are unable to plan anything needed for the move whilst at the same time living in a house that is now 45% bubble wrap and cardboard. We await another promised update early next week after of course, I have had to chase them half a dozen times to remind them to give it to us.

Louise is dealing with it all by going and sitting outside our new house. It exists between where we now live and where she works so she often pops by to make sure it is still standing.

After her snow ridden day at work yesterday she called on her way home to see how bad it was to get to when the white stuff hits. It was just about OK.

I have to point out that as large and impressive as that looks, it isn’t all ours. The old farm it is within also houses a couple of other properties inside those gates. However, we are lucky to be moving to somewhere like this. I’ll be honest, it has only been possible as nowadays the mortgage application form has a new section where employees of the NHS can declare the amount of claps they have received and they now count towards your income. Which is nice.

So on we go, into another week, just like the last. I think a lot of folks who bother to read this guff do so because of a shared love of holidays. For many, if you are anything like me, these trips act as both incentives and relief for the day to day slog of going to work. Without them, like now, it feels like there is no wind in the sails. There is literally no choice other than to hunker down, battle through and persist. In a few years time we will, I’m sure, look back on this period as we sip a cocktail on the lanai at Bahama Breeze or tuck into a Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream and laugh/weep.

There I go being positive again. I apologise for the inevitable payback that will bring.

Till the next time…….

Positively Positive

Wow, last week was just jam-packed with positivity and good news.

No, really it was. OK, well not jam-packed, but it had some good stuff in it…OK in the grand scheme of the usual shit show of recent weeks and months, it wasn’t as bad as all the others. Look, a couple of things went well….let’s leave it at that.

Early in the week my Mum & Dad were invited for their vaccines. They went yesterday and that’s another weight off my mind. That weight has of course transferred to my stomach.

Then on Thursday, Louise had her first jab too. So a good number of our immediate family are (almost) protected and that’s got to be a good thing. Nobody has grown a second head or lost a limb, so all in all, I’d say getting the vaccine is a good thing to do. As someone who has made the odd negative comment on the government’s handling of this pandemic, I am obliged to say that the rollout seems to be going well. All that can stop it now are the “Bill Gates” fearing crowd refusing the vaccine for non-sane reasons.

I think that will be it for vaccines in our family for a while. The rest of us are some way down the priority list. I’ll be next, based on my advancing years, but I suspect that won’t be until the summer at the earliest. The kids are well down the pecking order but I read yesterday that every adult should have been offered their first jab by September.

It is of some comfort and reassurance that each week hundreds of thousands of folks are getting vaccinated now in the UK. With the arrival of a sane leader in the US next week and his promise to do 100 million in 100 days then, and I hate to say this out loud, but could international travel be on the distant horizon?

I have to say I still think our mid-June plan is a flip of a coin. If it does go ahead then it was pretty much confirmed this week, that as I thought, you will need to have a negative test within 72 hours of departure to be allowed to fly. Or I suppose you could show proof of vaccination, but, other than a flimsy bit of card, I’m not seeing any tangible, electronic record of that which could be produced.

Of course, if you test negative three days before you fly, then you could still be positive by the time you board the plane. Everyone needs to be responsible and observe all the common-sense rules between taking such a test and flying. You could make an argument that everyone should take one of those rapid test things at the airport but for folks like us can you imagine investing all the money, time and emotion into a trip to WDW and then rocking up to the airport still not certain you are going to be able to travel?

If this remains in place and we do somehow get to go in June, we’ll be getting tests right on the 72-hour window. You know by now, I am a “need to know” certainty craving idiot.

Each year, I am taken by surprise by spring. I am not good with winter. Then each year, there tends to be a watershed weekend, where the weather suddenly changes and the world just seems a much better place all of a sudden. I am crossing everything that this spring/early summer will be the mother of all that and we will emerge not only from the shitty weather and being cold at all times, to the sunlit uplands of spring, an easing of restrictions and the opening of borders. I am not naïve enough to think everything will go back to how it was, but I am hoping very hard for a step-change in all this as we round the bend out of winter.

To continue this abundance of positivity and joy, Rebecca and Tom get the keys to their new house on Friday. They are overjoyed to be getting onto the ladder and having somewhere of their own. They won’t move in immediately as there is some work to be done first, but they can at least get their furniture in, get the work underway and look forward to getting settled in very shortly.

We have had no such news just yet but we have to be close, right? My prediction of us moving on the same day as Rebecca and Tom now seems very unlikely, which is probably a good thing as we have a shit ton of packing still to do, but I suppose whenever we have to be ready, we will be.

So after such a gloriously positive(ish) week, for the first time in a long, long time I have some belief at least that our June trip might happen. Much will depend on the US of course. It is a country of contradictions, with Florida more or less fully open and the Senator hiding the stats and arresting folks who want to publish them compared to California, with Disneyland never having opened since the first lockdown. The latest rumours/thinking about travel to the US seem to be centred around May. That is, of course, cutting it very fine for us and in the back of my mind, I am already thinking about a “what if” plan for new dates should they be required.

All in all though, with a vaccine rolled out to as many that will have it, as we get into the second half of 2021, we have to be able to think about being able to book a holiday and actually going on it. Imagine that. I am very much imagining it and as all good planners do, my tentative plans for the trip after next is already on the back burner in my overtaxed tiny mind.

OK, that’s my limit for positivity. I need a lie down to recover.

Till the next time…….

If The Stress Doesn’t Give Me A Heart Attack, This Doughnut Will.

For those with the ability to remember all the way back to last Sunday and the much smaller subset of folks who care enough about the moan-fest that was last week’s blog, I should give an update. Mary, Louise’s Mum did get her second vaccine jab on Tuesday. That’s good news of course and hopefully by around now her body is much better equipped to keep her safe from the virus.

In less better news I am still no wiser as to what the actual policy is for vaccinations. Are folks going to get the second one three weeks later or is it twelve? I have no qualifications to dispute either approach but whatever has been decided for heaven’s sake communicate it clearly. My Dad had his letter about his vaccine late in the week so it would be nice for him to know what to expect. But, let’s focus on the positive, that folks are getting some protection at least. Looking at the figures, we desperately need it.

In a world ravaged by a pandemic and where one of the globe’s superpowers repelled a coup attempt last week, you might think that the trivial matters troubling me may have been put into some sort of perspective. You might think that if you have never read this blog before, but of course you’d be wrong. I am troubled by world events. However, my own little world is a busy one and my mind is a whirling mess of all the stuff that is going on.

The putting of our house into boxes has begun. I feel better now a start has been made, but at points during that process, I have stepped back and forlornly looked around at the sheer scale of the task and felt as powerless to affect things as I do with global events. All we can do is plough on and hope that at some point we actually do get to move. After all this time it feels like the day will never come. There has been a little bit of significant progress as we now have the contracts to sign for the sale of our house and we will be doing the signing of those over some form of a video call with the solicitor during the week to come.

There are a million other things to do. They are all little things, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but nonetheless, they play on my mind. From the sorting of broadband for the new place to telling every company I give money to that we have moved, the more I think about it, the more things I come up with that need doing and it can feel overwhelming. If only I were one of those people that couldn’t eat when stressed. Alas, I am the opposite and if this carries on much longer the removal men may well be carrying me out of the house with the aid of a winch and pully system.

This is where the grown up, buried deep within me tells me it will all be OK, things will get sorted and it will all be worth it in the end. Good pep talk, now back to the stress headaches and lack of sleep.

In other house news, you may remember me mentioning weeks ago that Rebecca and Tom were house hunting? Well their purchase is progressing about as quickly as ours. Despite them being first time buyers moving into an empty property, they too are sat waiting for legal folks to collect various bits of paper before they can get in. What is the betting that we get the same moving in date. It’s one of those odd quirks of fate that I can see coming.

So, I could do with a holiday. To be honest, I’d settle for the knowledge that I was going to get one as planned. On that note, I still don’t have my refund from Virgin. After a full week of trying to extract some sense from their automated text system, I think I did get an actual human to respond, who just said they have referred it to a supervisor who will chase the refunds team and they can give no timescales. Well, I don’t know about you but that makes me feel loved and all warm and fuzzy inside. I am desperately trying not to take out my stress and frustration at other stuff out on someone just doing their job.

Let’s end with something not related to a global pandemic, the breakdown of democracy or my own petty little stresses about everyday life, shall we? Remember the old days when I would blog about holiday plans and food. Let’s take a small step back in that direction. This last week or so saw two new places open in Disney Springs. Gideons and Everglazed. The former is a cookie place and the latter, doughnuts. Those two acts in themselves have made the world a slightly better place. I have watched a vlog or two about Gideons and it looks great. The shop is wonderfully themed and the cookies look amazing. I did see that it had to temporarily close again but I am ignoring that for the time being in this hunt for normality.

One thing that really caught my eye was from Everglazed. Long time readers will know of my fascination and love for the Doughnut Burger at Teak, so something about that sweet and savoury mix pleases me greatly and along those lines I saw this…The Grilled Cheeeeeese

A grilled cheese sandwich on a doughnut seems all kinds of right to me. The article reviewing all the menu items, from which I pinched the image above can be read here. There’s nothing like a little bit of food porn to brighten your Sunday.

Let’s quit whilst we are ahead on that slightly positive note and reconvene next Sunday to see if I have had a stress-induced stroke.

Till the next time……

New Year, Snow Change

I’m probably not alone in feeling that 2021 is a little to similar to 2020 so far. After a very different Christmas and New Year, and mostly not for the better due to the current situation, we all slid into 2021 hopeful of better. It will take some time of course and luckily I am extremely patient and laid back so this is no problem.

I am fighting every urge in my ever-expanding body to not piss and moan about the abject and endless incompetence we are suffering on a daily basis from the government. The fact this paragraph exists suggests I have lost that fight. The latest goal post moving on the vaccine, along with the usual hokey cokey approach to policymaking around schools is just another apparent attempt to make this shit show last as long as possible. I know this is hard and unprecedented but we are ten months into this now. At some point, you have to wonder if those making decisions are just incapable of competence.

I know this isn’t the place you come for real-world stuff and political opinion but this is beyond politics now. Ultimately all this affects my ability to holiday and is relevant to the core focus of this blog, but before all that, we have to stop people dying.

Where is the communication? Why is all this vaccine uncertainty being allowed to gather momentum, cause confusion and undermine confidence in the only way out of this mess? Louise’s Mum is due to go back for her second jab on Tuesday. Or is she? At 89, with no internet access, her news sadly comes from the Daily Mail and the news on the telly. She literally has no clue whether she should keep her appointment. She hears that the second jab is perhaps now at 12 weeks but she has had no contact from her GP, who will no doubt be bombarded with incoming calls about this, giving them no chance to make any proactive calls to either reschedule or reassure those due to have their second dose.

Luckily, she has family who can try to find out for her, but what about the thousands of other octogenarians who don’t? This latest act of wilful neglect will cost lives and prolong the pandemic. My frustration is indescribable. Sigh………

Louise has worked for most of the festive period. This, alongside the six-figure salary, is one of the main perks of being a nurse. She has not enjoyed it. If you ever come across some comments online about the pandemic being over-exaggerated and the NHS being quiet and not struggling, please, do not believe it. Every day is a horror show, with staff constantly off ill or self-isolating, leaving those still standing to pick up the pieces and ever-increasing demand. Louise has finally been issued with some PCR rapid testing kits that she has to do twice a week. I’d like to slow hand clap that, as it’s only been the ten months that Louise has been working with COVID positive patients on a regular basis.

I blame my impending return to work for the unexpected ranting today.

House wise, almost everyone involved has had the audacity to take the whole of the festive period off. Imagine doing such a thing. So not a lot has happened. We have not started any of the packing we desperately need to do. It is just too hard and I suspect we will need the looming presence of a deadline to force us into action. Never had I wanted a day to be over more than the one on which we eventually move house. Over the Xmas break, we have had the results of our Home Buyer’s Report back from the surveyor. There are no show stoppers, but there are it appears about a million things that could go wrong and cause us issues at some point in the future. We are assuming this is the standard form of these things with the surveyor covering his arse just in case those aliens do land and sabotage our electrics and roof.

So as the working world wakes up again next week, I’ll be looking to get a decent update from our solicitor about how quickly we can now get this done. It feels like we have been “moving” forever and I just want to get that ominous cloud from over us.

In cheerier news, as is the law, I must report to you that we have had some snow over the last few days and for the first time ever, Freddie has been out playing in it. In his previous short years, he has either been too young or the snow has not been substantial enough. He loved it.

As for my weekly ever-changing moods on any chance of international travel, well, this week it has ebbed to a pretty low point, even for a mid-June departure. As the UK government continue to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, over in the US the outgoing abomination is determined to leave things as badly broken as possible to show his successor in the worst possible light. Add to that, the Florida governor, who is falsifying death rates and taking what could be politely called a “laid back” approach to vaccine distribution and that is not a recipe for the quick resumption of holidays to the US.

Virgin currently aspire to resume flights to Orlando on the 18th of March, but in a similar way I aspire to wear 30″ waist jeans. Right now, I’d settle for Virgin processing my promised refund from my altered booking that was “guaranteed” to be with me by the end of last year. I am currently in yet another endless wrestle with their infuriating automated text system.

At times I do wonder if I will just endlessly blog about a holiday that I constantly move back and never actually have. It’s a form of planner’s purgatory.

So it’s nice to start the new year in the right frame of mind I find. Happy New Year?

Till the next time…….

Rescued by Rennies

Greetings from the no man’s land of extra pounds, empty Quality Street wrappers and cheese and biscuits. For those like me, lucky enough to be off for the duration, these are the lost days and you are lucky (or unlucky) that I have remembered that today is Sunday.

Our 2020 style festivities were as lovely as they could be in the circumstances. We didn’t hug, we stayed as far away as possible from each other and the day was shorter than usual. Louise’s Mum was wrapped up and put next to a radiator to combat the breeze from the open window and the switch to a buffet, rather than a “sat down really close to each other” meal was great. Our fridge is still bulging with the leftovers. I think I should be able to stop onboarding Rennies by early March.

As the older generation left us to get “seckled” for Call The Midwife etc, those left ended the night with a disturbing game of Cards Against Humanity and a decent amount of alcohol.

Freddie of course had the time of his life, opening presents for about eight hours solid.

He still has a number of unwrapped presents boxed and pristine here which will need to be opened and played with whenever he can return. He was a little superstar all day as he always is (yes I am biased) and it was just lovely to spend that time with him.

Louise was working on Boxing Day so my day involved making Eggs Benedict for those not working, (it’s one of our little Christmas traditions) and a little bit of tidying. Our house was unrecognisable, buried under the chaos of the day before, so there was a little bit of reconstruction, but not too much as the exertions of the day before had taken its toll on my age ravaged body. I had a little play of one of my new PS4 games, which was 90% waiting for stuff to download and 10% playing.

So the last Christmas day (barring disasters) in our current house was a nice one, but I think it’s fair to say that we are all looking forward to all those to come in our new one. It is a bit bigger and more able to host what can hopefully be larger groups, with no restrictions in years to come.

A number of my gifts were new house related. Louise got me a lovely map of WDW to hang in what will be my office, along with a very good quality pair of proper Wellies as we are of course becoming landed gentry with a little chunk of land out the back of the new house. They will be essential for the walking of the dogs on it. Louise also put a huge amount of time and effort into finding an exact replica of Ryan the Rucksack. As the original is well over twenty years old then that is very impressive. We’ll now have two “Ryans” to travel with us. As if the OG is going to be retired!!

In the same vein, I got Louise a picture/painting she had admired in a shop we ordered our new couch from a few weeks ago. It will look lovely wherever Louise tells me to hang it in the new place.

One of Emily’s gifts was a large mirror for her new bedroom and Rebecca and Tom’s main gift was also new house-related, with us contributing to some improvements they want to make as soon as they move into their new place. It’s fair to say that we are all focussed on these new beginnings coming early in 2021.

The focus for me over the next week is one of recharging and relaxing if I can. I think there will need to be a start made to the packing up of stuff and with that in mind, we have been collecting boxes for weeks now. Many of those boxes have come from us trying one of these meal delivery services recently. We had fallen into the trap of eating the same meals every week, and as I got a healthy discount for a trial period via work, we gave it a go. So we’ve had some nice meals in recent weeks, which has been a lovely change and each cardboard box will be ideal for moving. They keep pestering me to recruit other folks to their service so if you were thinking about it you can get £20 off using my special code thing. Believe me, this is in no way sponsored. No bugger gives a toss about my blog enough to be giving me paid promotions.

I hope your Christmas was as good as it could be. I will improve it a little by putting a stop to this rambling drivel now. My brain is semi-disengaged and this post is proving that. By the time we meet again, 2020 will be behind us. I still think we have some tough times to endure in the early parts of the new year. I don’t think New Year’s Eve will be any form of an immediate watershed between bad and good (are they ever?) but let’s keep our fingers crossed that as we move into Spring and Summer, 2021 gives us back some form of normality.

Please accept best wishes for the new year from myself, Louise, Emily, Rebecca, Tom and Freddie and if there is one thing to cling to it is that the atrocity that is Mrs Brown’s Boys is now behind us. The only way is up.

Till the next time……

Tiers Of A Clown

Well, where to start? Perhaps with a genuine question. How are you doing?

If you just want to rant, have a moan, or just get off your chest how you are feeling, then feel free to do so in the comments here. It is very unlikely I’ll be able to help of course. I’m just a portly middle-aged bloke stumbling through all this like everyone else, but, as I find with Twitter, it can sometimes help just to get things off your chest.

Yesterday saw the year rounded off with a crescendo of incompetence. A tribute to the constant litany of dither, delay, and mixed messaging that has seen the UK spend the most per capita on the pandemic and still have the worst death rate in Europe and the worst economic outcome. It isn’t the measures that piss me off. I’m usually on the side of supporting measures designed to restrict the spread of the virus and will fight that corner in the trenches of the Facebook comments section on an ever more regular basis, but as ever, despite all evidence to the contrary, the government make announcements that they think will make them popular/less hated and then right at the last minute, snatch hope away from millions with a U-Turn and a reversal to a policy that was obviously the correct thing to do anyway.

I know this is an unprecedented situation, but it is for every government and every country and yet we still set new standards in ballsing it up on a daily basis. This latest last-minute U-Turn saw hundreds of folks at London train stations last night trying to head north, spreading that lovely new strain of the disease to the parts of the country that currently aren’t seeing too much of it.

Being relatively unscathed by yesterday’s nonsense, sitting here in a consistent Tier 3 for weeks, I can only send sympathies to anyone who has just had their plans ruined at the last minute. If we had locked down longer and harder in the last few weeks to prepare for Christmas, and done a whole host of other things that would not have thrown away the relatively solid situation we were in during the summer, things may have been different again. That may have allowed some sort of Christmas. How much easier would coming to terms with just one day of limited relaxing of restrictions for Christmas have been had we known weeks ago? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but there have been experts saying this for weeks now. How often can you consistently make the wrong calls?

All we can do I think is cling to the hope of the vaccine that is being rolled out and the others that will hopefully be approved shortly to save us from further acts of incompetence. As of yesterday, I believe 350,000 people have had their first jab. Of course, the Health Minister promised “millions would be vaccinated by the end of the year”, but I think we just need to ignore this sort of stuff now and just see how things pan out.

On that subject, last Tuesday I took Louise’s Mum for her first jab. Mary is in her late eighties now and as is your absolute right at the age, has some pre-existing conditions. These have meant that lockdown has been pretty grim for her. So she called her GP to make sure she was one of the first in line, so off we went.

I was very impressed with the setup, to be honest. It was incredibly well organised with a mixture of clinical staff and volunteers corralling lots of old people into the various stages of the process. There was, and I know this sounds odd, a nice atmosphere. One of community spirit, pulling together and finally hitting back against the virus. It was great to see the place so busy, full of people doing their part in trying to get us out of this mess. In the interests of balance, from my limited experience, it is being executed efficiently and quickly and if that is the case, the government deserve credit for that.

Mary has to go back, three weeks to the day, for her second jab and then will be “protected” about a week or so after that. I am of course no expert on any of this, but I do try to read as much stuff as I can from trusted sources, and I came across an article that gave me some comfort and encouragement last week, so I clung to it like a drowning man to a raft. I offer you the same raft here.

It said something like if we vaccinate the over 75’s, which is about 9% of the population, then, based on the demographic of deaths we’ve seen so far, they estimate the death rate would reduce by about 70%. This would protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, which has always been the government’s main aim (they say), and that may well then allow many of the restrictions to be lifted. With younger folks much more able to get the virus, have a few shitty days and not go and die, then life may be able to edge back towards normality. I know people of all ages have died of this thing, but I’m talking generally of an approach that may see us escape most of the worst restrictions before the summer. Not just for the sake of our holiday, which seems more irrelevant than ever right now, but I hope that is the case because it really is something we’ve all now had enough of I’m sure.

In what has been a busy news week, the virus made an appearance in our little world last week too. Tom tested positive last Tuesday, along with his Mum and his brother, who all work together. This was not good news, and it meant all of us went into a period of isolation as we had seen Tom, masked and socially distanced when helping out with Freddie. We all had tests and thankfully, nobody else returned a positive result and we hope it stays that way. Tom has since had a negative test result.

At the same time, my brother messaged me to let me know his wife had tested positive too. Thankfully, she and Tom were not seriously ill with it and it is just a case of riding it out. This entire thing is, as they say, a shit show. Our collective isolations end around the 22nd or 23rd of December, and with us all testing negative and pretty much self-isolating between now and Christmas Day, we plan to stick to the Tier 3 rules of three households briefly getting together.

To make the gathering as safe as possible we have abandoned plans for a sit-down meal, replacing it with a buffet. Windows will be opened as per the advice, and folks shall be distanced, banned from hugging and generally told to stay away from each other. Is it the right thing to do? I have no idea. We have taken every precaution to make sure we are all negative, made the set up of the day as safe as possible and balanced the risks against the prospect of seeing mine and Louise’s parents sat on their own on Christmas Day, as they have for pretty much every day since March.

I know it is hardly worthy of any consideration right now, but on the subject of our frequently rearranged holiday, it appears I was right to move it when I did. When you are right as seldom as I am, I will bask just a little to say that I have started seeing posts in the various Disney Facebook groups about flight operators now cancelling flights for March and beyond. Having already gone through the pain of the reschedule, I’m pleased I don’t need to worry about that….yet. June is by no means guaranteed of course, more now than ever.

It seems trite to wish you a Merry Christmas as I cannot fathom where everyone’s head is at right now. Make the best of it you can, do take up my offer of having a rant and a moan if it will help and let’s just hope things get better as quickly as possible. As pissed off and bored as you might be, and lacking in faith that all and any government advice is not worth listening to, adhering to the basic rules as much as possible will accelerate that so I hope you can and will.

All the best to you all from myself and the family. x

Till the next time…….

I Should Be So Lucky……

As the week has gone on, the number of pricks all over the news has increased. But, I promised myself I would never blog about Brexit, so instead let me celebrate the start of the vaccine rollout. Indeed, Louise’s Mum is off to get her first dose next Tuesday. So after her second jab and a brief waiting-period, she should be “sorted” in early to mid-January. As much as she will need to remain vigilant, it should allow her to leave the house, which is something she has only done a handful of times since March.

I think it is fair to say that she is over the whole pandemic thing and has moved beyond stir crazy. So it shouldn’t be too long before she can re-enter the world and do crazy things like join us for Sunday tea. Hopefully, my Mum & Dad won’t be too far behind as they too are very much done with the whole thing.

As 2020 staggers towards its end, I begin my countdown to finishing work for my traditional extended Christmas break. One week people, just five little days until I get two weeks away from work. Technically, with my “desk” being the dining room table it means that I won’t be away from it at all, but I am looking forward to not having to join any video calls for a good period of time. I say this with full recognition that I am not digging ditches or saving lives, but I am knackered and in need of some down time.

Louise has Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off which is a nice change from recent years and she too is in need of a break, much more than I am, I would imagine. I can’t share with you some of the horrific incidents and fluids she deals with on a daily basis. If you knew, you’d immediately support a quadrupling of nurse’s salaries just to never hear of them again. To prevent Louise from spending her two days off shopping and cooking we have ordered in a buffet for Christmas Day. Most of us would prefer the more traditional sit down do with all the trimmings but, knowing how much time and effort goes into making that most years, we have decided not to play that game this year and be kind to ourselves.

So the plan is that sometime after lunch we lay out the buffet and let the very few folks in attendance graze at their leisure for however long they wish. As a double bonus, it should also reduce the amount of stuff to cram into the dishwasher and instead we can settle down to watch the glorious array of delights scheduled on the telly for the big night. I mean who doesn’t want to sit back and watch Call The Midwife and Mrs Brown’s Boys? In normal circumstances, I would sneer with derision at the numpties and their “Defund the BBC” nonsense, but looking at their output for the festive period, I could be tempted.

In the interests of balance, ITV does not escape my wrath. What, in the name of national lobotomy, is “The Real Full Monty On Ice”? How are we still being force-fed the endless rehashing of the “minor celeb learns a new skill” format? There are a species of “celebrities” that no longer actually do anything, apart from appearing on this endless round of gravy trains. Having said that, they are the showbiz elite compared to the dregs of society that appear on nothing but “Celebs Go Dating” abominations. I’m looking at you Callum Best. He is now in his mid-fifties (surely) and should know better. The other ex-Love Island desperados are perhaps understandably seeking out their six minutes of pseudo fame in the hope of getting a Misguided discount code named after them, but it should all be set on fire and replaced with the test card. Anyway….

A good few weeks ago we did hold out a very slim hope of getting into our new house for Christmas. It would have been lovely as it is a house seemingly purposely built to host the festivities, (not that we could actually host very many folks this year of course) but the glacial speed of solicitors, surveys and searches put paid to those hopes some time ago. Our buyer is ready now, but we are still some way off being so, as our searches seem to be being undertaken by Bob Cratchet with a quill and parchment, rather than in the 21st Century using the technology available to all. I’ll say it again, how can the process of house buying and selling still be so slow in 2020?

In better house news, you may remember me mentioning some weeks ago that Rebecca and Tom were also house hunting. Their struggles to board the property ladder have been enormous, but it does look like they are almost there. They have found a house, had an offer accepted and just last week, after jumping through more hoops than an agility dog, had their mortgage approved. It’s testament to their determination and hard work that two folks of that age can make that happen. They will almost certainly be in before we are, hopefully very early in the New Year.

So inevitably, at this time of year, thoughts turn to the future, as if the transition from one day to another at the end of December is actually that significant. This year, more than most, I suppose everyone will have high hopes for the year to come. That is of course based mainly on the absolute shit show that has been 2020. For us, as I’ve said a few times, we have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic. Thankfully Emily and I work for a brilliant company that is run extremely well and we have been protected from any financial impact. Louise of course is more in demand than ever, but she has had an incredibly busy and stressful last nine months. Nursing is always like that, but the dial has been spun a few times since March.

Rebecca works in a nursery, at our local hospital, so has had a busy time looking after the children of all the folks working in the hospital, so again has not suffered any risk of losing any income but has had a busy time. Tom has been broadly unaffected. He works for a company that designs and builds windows, bi-folds and conservatories etc and they have seen demand go off the scale. So for all my moaning, I know we’ve been lucky.

So for next year, some more of that luck would be good, with a lot less pandemic, so that Louise’s job may become close to tolerable at some point, and with a large dollop of holiday right in the middle of it. Hopefully starting the year in a new house, in a new town is an exciting prospect which lays down a marker for a new standard of good stuff coming our way.

Look at all that positivity and gratefulness. Don’t worry you are at the right blog. I am just (apart from on Twitter) ignoring the elephant in the room that is coming on January 1st at the hands of the idiots in charge. You will not find an equivalent act of national self-harm in modern history and I cannot fathom any upside whatsoever. Sigh.

So with loins girded for one last push of the grindstone, I shall see you here next week for the start of the festivities. For anyone not enjoying an extended break or any of the luck I have described above, I wish you well and hope things improve quickly for you.

Till the next time…..

Another Damn Plan

When you’ve been writing a weekly blog post since 2009, it can be challenging at times to come up with content. Lord knows you know that. Some weeks I wouldn’t read it, and I wrote it!

However, living through a pandemic that is playing havoc with travel plans is, oddly, a blessing in that department. The same trip has now given me three iterations of the plan that I can share with you. You didn’t care about the first two, but if you think that will stop me sharing the third then I’m not sure I can help you.

I often find that sharing it here helps me to visualise it more clearly than when it is just in my spreadsheet. What? You don’t have a spreadsheet for your holiday? I’m not sure we can be friends.

So here we go, with the third time’s a charm plan for my 50th birthday trip (yes, that is still a thing).

Day One 14th June – Travel

Sigh, how I miss and yearn for that morning at the airport buzz. I’m all new trainers and gassy excitement, happy to pay £30 for an average breakfast and sit in a metal tube for almost nine hours.

We are scheduled to take off at 10.30, so that will mean we will taxi down the runway sometime after 11. We are still flying Virgin (hang in there, we are all counting on you!) and we are in something called Economy Delight on the way out. I do wonder if any aspect of flying Economy can be a “Delight”, but we’ll see I suppose.

We are scheduled to land at 14:30 US time. My original car hire booking with Us Rent A Car had to change as our new dates saw their price double. How I laughed. It was cheaper to cancel that and lose the £50 deposit and go elsewhere, so our Full-Size SUV awaits us.

The big change at this point is that we will head straight to Universal. As we are on a hedonistic 16-day trip (but no so hedonistic that I would pay for anything other than a 14-day WDW ticket), we cannot enter a Disney park for the first couple of days as that would mean the 14 days would be up before we got to the end of the holiday and if we are not in Magic Kingdom weeping on our last day then have we even had a holiday?

So we need to keep our WDW powder dry. We have two nights booked at the Hard Rock Hotel. We will arrive all sweaty and tired, check-in, and head to City Walk for dinner. As an added bonus, we don’t have to unpack as we’ll be moving again in a day or two, so after a quick stock up on waters etc for the room we can go eat. The first restaurant of our trip will be Cowfish. The Cheeseburgerooshi is one of the most pleasant things to enter my mouth. It is delicious and I know I will be having that….and a pudding.

Full and tired we shall retire to bed.

Day Two 15th June – IOA

Hopefully, rising early we shall be at the park for rope drop and make full use of our front of line access. If I go into as much detail for every day as I did for the travel day we’ll be here till next week so let’s keep it brief.

We plan to eat at City Walk again, at Antojitos.

Day Three 16th June – Universal Studios

We will have checked out nice and early, stored the cases somewhere and be off for another day in a Universal theme park. Once we’re done, we will hopefully have dinner at Teak as it is up in that neck of the woods, and then check into our villa, having done a supermarket run to stock up on essentials.

Day Four – 17th June – Magic Kingdom

We might need a rest day ideally here, but how long do you think we can wait to get into a Disney park? Adrenaline and jet lag, with lots of coffee and calories, will get us through I’m sure.

Dinner plans involve an ADR at Ohana should it be open and should we be able to secure one.

Day Five – 18th June

A rest day for heaven’s sake. We shall do some of that at Typhoon Lagoon. A day for some skin crisping and lying down.

Dinner is another step in our relentless calorie quest, tonight at The Cheesecake Factory.

Day Six – 19th June

Epcot at last. How I have missed this place. We will probably focus on Future World, whatever is left of it now, trying to bag the big rides.

Dinner plans are Italian at Via Napoli and who knows, maybe some fireworks.

Day Seven – 20th June

Hollywood Studios, getting frustrated at not being able to ride Rise of the Resistance. Dinner at Bahama Breeze.

Day Eight – 21st June

Amazingly I only have half-formed plans at this stage. I have it as either Magic Kingdom or Volcano Bay. It’ll probably firm up as we get closer or who knows I may leave it fast and loose and we can just decide how we feel the night before. Madness!

Whatever we do, dinner intentions are firm at Homecomin’, should we be able to get an ADR of course.

Day Nine – 22nd June

Animal Kingdom. We will return to Tiffin’s for lunch on one of our AK days as we loved it last time, but I don’t know if that will be this day. Crazy! However, we ALWAYS do Yak & Yeti for dinner.

Day Ten – 23rd June

For my birthday, I was given a night at the Beach Club. It is my favourite resort. We will be staying here today, enjoying the resort and pool(s) as a rest day. We might do a character breakfast at Cape May and there’s a strong chance we will wander into Epcot after dark for some World Showcase action. Dinner plans are Cantina De San Angel.

Day Eleven – 24th June

A proper Epcot day, tidying up any missed rides and getting around World Showcase. Dinner plans are mainly bread at Sanaa.

Day Twelve – 25th June

Back to Hollywood Studios to continue the frustration about not riding Rise of the Resistance. Dinner is off-site today at Olive Garden. Bring me the breadsticks!

Day Thirteen – 26th June

We are off to spend the weekend at the beach. Vero Beach to be precise. It’ll be an early start so that Louise can be prone on the sand by the time the sun rises. Dinner will be at the resort. I think it’s called Wind and Waves.

Day Fourteen – 27th June

More beach, more sunburn and probably a lot more calories. Not sure where we will eat. Hit me up (sorry!) if you have any suggestions for good places close to Vero please.

Day Fifteen – 28th June

Checkout from Vero, Louise will cry all the way back to Orlando and the intention is to go to Animal Kingdom. Dinner is tentatively planned for Romano’s Macaroni Grill at Lake Buena Vista. We had a break of a good few years from eating there but returned last year. It was awesome.

Day Sixteen – 29th June

Our last full day so you know where we will be. Assuming these things are back on, we *may* make Fantasmic over at DHS our farewell show. The MK fireworks, now not being Wishes, haven’t yet captured us, so as the last remaining “traditional” nighttime spectacular that may see us head over there, for tears and dread of the return home.

Day Seventeen – 30th June

We have a late flight home at around 7pm, so the day will be spent frantically packing, onboarding life-threatening amounts of food, probably some Disney Springs and then admitting defeat with a drive to the airport. We are flying home in Premium, so that’ll make up for having to come home right?

For the love of all things holy and not, please let this bloody thing happen. If for no other reason that you can’t go through another change of dates. It will break you.

Till the next time……

We March To June

I am not, it may shock to you learn, a “wait and see” kind of guy. One thing I am not blessed with is a laissez-faire, let things unfold attitude. Things escalate quickly with me, and after digesting the news and implications of the vaccine announcements last week, it became obvious to me very quickly that the 1st of March was going to be too soon. I suspect that the act of writing my thoughts down in last week’s post actually helped me to process all the information and options. So, yes, you guessed it, here we are, with this holiday rearranged again, on its third set of dates.

Why did I come to the conclusion that March wasn’t happening? Well, my thinking is….

  1. Our government seem to be suggesting that Easter 2021 will be a reasonable timeframe to vaccinate most of the vulnerable folks and begin relaxing restrictions etc. That’s April at best.
  2. Biden won’t have a chance to do much until late January so the US vaccine rollout will probably be worse and not better/quicker than ours.
  3. Even if borders are open for March, it would (in my view) still see theme parks with mask policies and that’s not ideal especially with a three-year-old who won’t understand why he is being forced to wear one.

So, I began the initial investigatory work on new dates in earnest early last week. The real push to do so actually came from a blog reader and long time Dibber/Disney associate, Matt, who contacted me after last week’s blog. He noted that I had said our current villa would not be available for any dates next year should we need to rearrange the trip again and he kindly suggested that his villa might be suitable. It just so happens that when he sent me the link, his villa was a gorgeous and glorious affair, very close to where our last booking was.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself a little. At that point, I had defaulted to our usual late August range of dates. I’m not sure why. I guess my inner diva wanted my birthday in WDW, having been denied it last year and we have just always gone at that time. After chatting with all members of our travelling party though, for reasons I won’t trouble you with, those dates may not have been ideal for various plans already in place for 2021.

So after discussion, it was suggested we look at earlier dates in the summer. So we needed a time that was far enough away that things may be somewhere adjacent to normal but close enough to avoid the reasons that late August wouldn’t suit some of us.

Typically for me, within minutes of that discussion, I was a whirling dervish of planning, spreadsheets, google searches and waiting to speak to Virgin. I was a little upset to see that US school kids are on holiday in June, but a little research suggested June was not as busy as July and early August. To be honest, I think all bets are off for what counts as busy for 2021 once things start to free up a bit.

I was a multi-tasking, multiple chat window planning animal. I had the usual chuckle whilst Virgin tried to tell me the price of our new flights, as they had apparently more than doubled for the first dates I suggested to them. It almost made the 90 minutes on hold worthwhile. A couple more tries with dates and a play around with cabins on a few dates saw new flights secured for less than the ones we had booked in March, so I’ll be getting a nice refund once they process that, so most likely it’ll hit my bank account just before next Christmas.

A quick request to Matt to change his quoted dates from August to June for the villa and that was secured too. So, before I get into any more details, I will share our new villa here, as everyone likes looking at Florida villas, don’t they? Here’s a random room from it.

I have taken the opportunity to start from scratch with the plan. There are some radical new ideas and approaches being taken for reasons I will share with you even though you don’t care. Those crazy new ideas have also been joined by something of a greatest hits element, with us somehow squeezing more into the time we are there and going back to some of our favourite hotels.

We will still be staying at the Hard Rock, and Louise and I will still get our night at the Beach Club that I was given for my birthday. The most radical change, breaking the unbreakable law that you have to be in Magic Kingdom on your first day is that we will begin our holiday at the Hard Rock. When working through the change of dates, I spotted a huge flaw in my original plan and that was that our 14-day WDW tickets would run out a day too soon if we went to a Disney park on the first day of our trip. So I had to go left field and have us go directly to Universal from the airport for two nights there, enjoying Front of Line access to everything.

From there we check into our villa and begin our time at the Disney parks. Our one night at the Beach Club slots in nicely in the middle of the trip and then, in a real quart and pint pot extravaganza, I have somehow shoehorned in two nights at the beach towards the end of our trip. This is always popular with sun-worshipper Louise but we all know that Freddie will also love time on the beach and a couple of days of not having to be somewhere at set times will be welcome for all.

I had toyed with the likes of Clearwater, St Pete’s and Cocoa Beach, but like a tractor beam built of familiarity and reliable quality, Vero Beach pulled us in, with our resistance being futile. We haven’t been there for many years and it will be lovely to go back.

So, having skipped this crucial detail so far, our new dates see us departing on the 14th of June and returning on the 30th of June 2021. Come on vaccine….do your thing and get us to some state of normality by then. I am missing WDW very badly indeed and need some incentive to shed some lockdown pounds too.

At this point, I just want a holiday that actually happens. I still don’t feel totally confident that even these dates will go ahead yet, but hopefully, as we move through the winter and spring, with lots of folks getting the jab, restrictions will fall away and life can begin again. As much as I do enjoy and (if I may say so) excel at planning all this stuff, having done so three times now, I do need the actual release of having the holiday at the end of it. Let’s have a collective crossing of fingers for this and everyone else’s upcoming trips.

Till the next time……

A Pandemic Prick

As a fully-fledged, badge-wearing social media keyboard warrior, armed with nothing more than an opinion and a mood swing, I often attempt to put the world to rights. It doesn’t look like it’s working, to be honest, but whichever omnipresent being you subscribe to loves a trier.

Similarly, when I look back at the content of these posts each week since the pandemic started, I have contradicted myself more frequently than a government press conference. Theories and thoughts about how this pandemic will play out, specifically, relating to my ever so important holiday, have been a pick ‘n’ mix of ever-changing word vomit. This week shall be no different of course, but I feel better about things when I demonstrate a least a soupcon of self-awareness.

With the ever encouraging news around vaccines, it finally looks as though there may be an end to all this. It will be a more welcome prick than all the others we have endured so far in this pandemic, myself included.

With that news, I have of course, outside of proper worrying about real, important things, been applying these new facts to our holiday and how it all fits together. To keep true to form, I am literally having arguments with myself, simultaneously getting excited because March isn’t very far away now and fretting about how hard it will be to rearrange everything for late summer as March will absolutely not happen.

I try to keep informed as best anyone can with zero actual qualifications and knowledge on a subject so here, let me present the cases for both as they are forming in my mind.

  1. It won’t happen

The vaccine will probably start to get deployed in December. You need two jabs, a month apart and then there is another 14-day waiting period until you are “immune”. That alone takes us deep into February even for the first to be jabbed to be sorted out and then before any form of serious relaxation of restrictions for anything can be relaxed, including non-essential travel, it will need to be seen that these steps are keeping the level of daily deaths down to “normal” levels and hospitals aren’t busy with COVID patients.

The above only really applies to the UK of course. Many of you will have gathered that I have little faith in any competence being displayed in anything COVID related by our current government. Surely….surely they cannot mess up the vaccine rollout? It is literally the thing they have been praying for which will allow them to not have to focus all their time on the pandemic and get back to their routine agenda of punishing the poor, destroying our relationship with Europe, enriching their friends, removing our freedom of movement and intentionally making us all poorer because they don’t like foreigners.

However, we also have to consider the US in this equation. With the soundly beaten former President barricading himself into the Oval Office and his golf cart, refusing to allow a smooth transition, this incredibly and unforgivably will have an impact on the speed and efficiency of the US rollout of a vaccine. Assuming Biden can’t do much until the orange one is dragged from the White House in late January, then their timescales are inevitably pushed back. It’s not a question of course of whether the parks will be open, as they already are, but of course, more crucially are US borders open to us and then as a special bonus point, are the parks able to stop insisting on masks and social distancing.

I put it to you, m’lud, that all of the above result in us having to move stuff again.

2. It will happen

The aviation and travel industry are on their knees. As soon as the most vulnerable start to get immunised, then the rest of us can be a bit less careful and social distancing rules could be relaxed and things can start to open up again. These industries will be crying out for help and the earliest possible resumption of their normal schedules. As long as the most at risk are taken care of, and advised to continue to self isolate until their vaccine is effective then economies may return to some form of normality.

A member of Sage, the medical folks, not the accounting software, today has suggested that in the UK, early Spring could see the “lockdown” stuff being relaxed as the most vulnerable are vaccinated.

Could it be that our departure date, being the 1st of March and a signal that winter is over, be the actual date flights resume and we are on the first flight out to MCO, cheering, waving and being greeted at Orlando by cheerleaders and Joe Biden?

I rest my case(s).

On balance, the former seems to outweigh the latter if I am honest. The 1st of March just seems too close for everything to fall into place. As much as I like planning and booking stuff, the pain of doing so again fills me with dread and a foreboding of more expense as there is always more expense.

I already know our villa isn’t available for the rough dates we might like to move to and I am also filled with the horror of how busy everything might be in the late summer if things are normalish. I cannot cancel our villa and book another one now as I would lose the hefty deposit we have paid until travel is confirmed as not possible of course. Flight availability, a lack of decent villas and crowded parks are just the tip of anxiety iceberg.

As ever, these are trivial issues in a non-trivial situation, but hey, I need something to blog about right? It hasn’t helped (you) that the last week was a complete non-event house move wise, with no news, drama or updates to moan about. On that note, thanks for all the lovely comments and messages last week about our intended new home. Thank you for at least attempting to limit your eye rolls and disdain for the distasteful boasting. Once we’re in let’s have a blog reader house warming party. All three of you can stay over too.

Till the next time…….

C*ntry House

As the great poet and philosopher George Formby said, it turned out nice again. In what is and has been par for the course in Mkingdon land since our time on earth began, drama, crisis and faff are the currency in which we trade and somehow, inexplicably, often things turn out OK. There are many times they don’t of course, but let’s not go there.

I ended last week’s post with a minor fib. Forgive me. For those of you who can’t remember, didn’t read it, or really don’t care, let me remind you that I dropped a subtle hint of some upcoming kerfuffle with the purchase of our new house.

The seller, some five weeks after accepting our offer, still had not found anywhere to move to. This was causing our buyer and their buyer some concern and they were applying a lot of pressure to us to come up with some progress towards a moving date. Our seller also refused to even contemplate moving into rented accommodation to preserve the chain.

I get it. They were downsizing and finding it hard to find something that didn’t feel like a shoebox compared to their home of the last few decades, but it did not solve our issues and protect us from losing our buyer. We had looked at renting, but everything was a six-month minimum term and our menagerie of pets would have restricted our options to a field or a shipping container.

After several chats with our estate agent last week, their advice was to give our seller a deadline and start to keep an eye on what else was on the market as a Plan B, just in case. Unbeknownst to them (and Louise) I already had said plan B in my locker in the shape of a house I saw come onto the market just after we had our offer accepted on the original house. I had put it to the back of my mind, happy with our choice but as this situation developed I have to admit to looking at it, wondering if it were still available and half wishing the purchase might fall through so we could consider it.

So last Saturday morning I planted that seed in Louise’s mind. By 3pm, we were inside it (the house, not Louise’s mind) having a look around and by about 3.05 we were both exchanging knowing looks, certain that this had to be ours.

So taking our usual measured and considered approach, as we drove home from the viewing we phoned and made our offer. The vendor wanted time to think and would let us know on Monday. So you see dear reader, I knew all this last week but did not want to tempt fate or jump any guns by sharing it with you all.

The thing that sealed the deal for us was that the vendor had no onward chain. He has already bought a new house and is close to completing on that, so any issues with them finding somewhere to go were solved.

Monday came and as we had not heard by 11am I of course chased them up. What is it with people? Just do it. There followed a fairly intense day of negotiations and faff, resulting in an accepted offer at around 4.50pm, leaving me precious little time to inform estate agents and other interested folks.

We did feel bad about pulling out of the previous purchase, but, from their reaction, it feels like we did them a favour. They have “other stuff” going on in their lives, since agreeing to sell, and apologised for the lack of progress, wished us well and said they would take theirs off the market and come back to it next year. So we didn’t feel so bad after that.

What then followed was a week of very heavy admin, amending mortgage applications and informing solicitors to get everything moved over to the new house. Most of that is now done and so we now just wait for the survey, conveyancing and all the other stuff to happen before we can move. The estimated timeline seems to be January at the earliest.

Louise and I are both happier with the new place if I am honest. It is slightly further away from our current location, more rural, which is nice, bigger, better and just more suitable for our needs by quite some distance. Crucially, unlike the other house, Louise cannot think of any major works that it requires, so that’s just peachy.

It’s an old converted farmhouse and has retained a fair bit of land with it. It is a type and standard of house that we did not expect to ever be able to get, but for (almost) the same price as the other one, it seems we can, due to it being outside of our current location which carries a high premium due to the local schools. We care not one jot about schools at this point in our lives so that extra ten to fifteen minutes to get back to see our parents is worth every mile.

I do shudder at the thought of how braggy and crass all this is, and it makes me very uncomfortable (hence the title of this post) but you get all sorts shared here, the good and the bad, so I can only apologise.

So with another apology for the hideous nature of all this, here are some photos.

I’m looking forward to being a bit more out in the sticks and the dogs will love the extra outdoor space. So by feeling more genuinely excited about this new property than the previous one, I take from that it is meant to be and it, as I said at the beginning, turned out nice again.

Enough vomit inducing not so humble bragging. Let’s move on to vaccines and holidays.

The news of a vaccine coming within weeks was welcome of course. Many will have concerns about having it which is fair enough, but hopefully, it is a major step towards some form of normality. Looking at the rollout schedule, Louise will be eligible early doors I think as a health care worker, with the rest of our family then being fairly close to the end of the queue, so I don’t think this will rescue our March holiday if I am honest. Whether, once the most vulnerable are done, travel is opened up, I, of course, have no clue, but my thinking right now is that we’ll be more likely to be able to go in the late summer, when there’s a fair chance that most folks will have had the chance to have the vaccine and we may be able to move away from masks in the parks and social distancing.

Knowing Disney and their understandably risk averse nature, those two things may take longer still, but hearing about their recently announced losses, I would imagine they are very keen to get back to full capacity and no restrictions too.

However all that shakes out, it does seem that in the next six months or so, the worst of this may be behind us and that is at least some hope to cling to. The only trouble is, the longer we wait to go on holiday, the more airline seats I will have to book to cope with my work from home, lockdown inactivity ever-expanding girth which is accelerating at an alarming rate. How much are those ECVs to get around the parks? This whole thing has confirmed my thinking that it has only been WDW holidays and the fact that I had to leave the house to go to the office that has stopped me from eating myself to death.

I did ten minutes of gentle exercise yesterday and almost had to go to A & E. The long journey back to my legendary athletic build may be a long one, but as we get back to being able to look forward to stuff it may keep me honest and on it, which since March I have absolutely not been.

Till the next time……

Un-Presidented Joy

I’m Craig Williams, in Bolton and THIS is CNN.

What a surreal week it has been. Not that I have missed a moment of work to do so, but I have watched CNN for about five days straight. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. It has been its own parallel universe of interactive maps and incredulity at how long it takes to count votes. If nothing else, my geographical knowledge of America has increased by about 3000%.

Before this week I have dipped into CNN from time to time. If I screw up my eyes really tight and eat something that tastes of cinnamon, I can almost imagine I am in Florida whilst doing so. This week though felt like a week of holding my breath. This won’t be a political rant but, it was nice to exhale yesterday when the result was confirmed. I know little about Biden and have no idea if he will be a great President or not. In my view, it doesn’t matter who replaced Trump, just that somebody did. The rest can be worked on.

Getting back to the recent core focus of this blog, and whether we will be able to go on holiday at some point on the future, will this change make that any more or less likely? I have no clue. I’m an increasingly overweight alleged middle manager in a northern backwater and my insight into global pandemics is not something I would include on my CV.

I was really encouraged to see one of the first things Biden announced was his intention to at least have a go at sorting things out. He was taking briefings on the virus even whilst waiting for the results and has now said he is going to set up a task force to tackle it. The pleasing change is that it will be led by actual experts and scientists. That’s got to beat trying to ignore it, right?

Whether that will mean the timeframe for the US opening up to overseas tourists will be closer or further away is anyone’s guess. If they make a significant difference quickly then it may open up the borders, or if they know they have to play it safe and keep things closed for longer then it may not. Either way, I still suspect our March 1st departure is unlikely right now and we may have to go through the pain and expense of rearranging one more time.

I’m strangely sanguine about it and will just be happy for the adults to have a go at sorting it. If only the UK would take the same approach. The latest update there is that the £12bn test and trace system is currently managing to contact about 60% of people exposed to the virus. You can’t go to the pub, cinema or see your elderly parents but your kid is sat with 30 others in a small unventilated room with no mask. I for one cannot understand why we sit in the foreboding shadow of a second wave.

This very strange “Que sera sera” attitude towards a WDW trip is very unlike me and I suppose the intense focus on the house move is probably responsible for giving me something else to fret and obsess about. Perhaps once that is sorted I will be back to rocking in a corner listening to the Epcot Futureworld loop music.

As there is literally no better use of your ears (other than listening to O Canada) then I will point you at this. It is just ten hours of Epcot loop music, but you can always just start it again when it finishes.

Should we have to move the trip again, then I suspect we would move it to late summer, to pretty much a year after we should have been there. That’s a kick in the guts, but for my sanity’s sake let’s hope things are normal enough to do fun things again. Heaven knows how heavy the crowds are going to be whenever that happens. I’m not saying we won’t be there, enjoying the fact that we can jostle shoulder to shoulder with other folks to get a decent view of the fireworks, but I do think the park reservation system will stay for a while to cope with something other than the limited capacity due to a pandemic. With the prospect of the parks hitting full capacity for some time once restrictions are no longer needed, that would make sense. It’s far from ideal of course, but right now, that’s a step forward.

House wise, there is a sniff of some kerfuffle on the horizon as our seller still hasn’t found anywhere to go and is refusing to contemplate going into rented accommodation to save the chain. It’s been a month since they accepted our offer and we and the rest of the chain below us are all some way down the road now in terms of conveyancing and surveys etc so we are starting to apply some pressure (nicely) as there is a risk that buyers below us in the chain may get tired of waiting and look elsewhere, seeing the whole thing crash down. We have some options and tactics to pursue as next week begins so stay tuned for a bit more stress and hassle.

For those of you who know how well I deal with uncertainty, it will not be a surprise to you that the house and holiday situation are causing me stress, heartburn and a lack of sleep. To once again highlight the cruel injustice of the world, where some people see higher stress levels as a route to weight loss, it would appear my body needs triple its normal calorie intake to cope. This may not end well.

Till the next time……

Three, Is The Magic Number

I know this place is normally a constant source of joy, happiness, positivity and delight, but even I, the master of all those things am struggling not to stare down the barrel of winter’s gun and think, well, it’s all a bit shit isn’t it.

I could pap on about how dreadful infection and death rates are going to be over the winter and how the government until yesterday were using their “cross their fingers and hope it goes away” strategy to save us all, and what dreadful effects the new lockdown might have on the economy. As much as I am critical of the handling of this pandemic I do recognise the challenge of balancing the economy with the nation’s health. Add to all that the fact that nobody is seeing their Aunt Mabel this Christmas, which depending on your Aunt Mabel, might be a positive, I don’t know. Instead, well, frankly anything instead of that would probably be better received.

Well, let’s see, this week, some more Cast Members were laid off….nope, can’t do that……

How about America’s infection rates setting new records this week and hospitals there starting to become overwhelmed again so holidays seem a forlorn hope….nope…..not that either….

Erm, ah, of course, there is a beacon of joy and reason to be happy this week in the shape and form of my favourite little friend Freddie. He turns three tomorrow. Yep, three. Rebecca and Tom have taken him away for the weekend, having checked all of the relevant COVID rules etc, to Peppa Pig Land for a special Halloween celebration of his big day. I’m so pleased they got to celebrate with him before we go back into lockdown.

Here he is on Friday morning, ready for his Halloween party at nursery.

Because I am not doing negative things in this post I am not allowed to tell you how absolutely gutted we are that we weren’t able to take him to WDW last August and probably still won’t be able to in March, to blow his little mind with all the awesome stuff we could do. That will come I guess, so I won’t moan about that.

Hopefully, he is having a great time and we will see him tomorrow night for his birthday and the giving of presents. He is such a welcome and constant beam of light and happiness in our lives and for that, I am properly grateful.

Since I last mentioned him here he has mastered the potty thing, had about half a dozen different obsessions (currently it is Halloween, robots and dinosaurs, the latter being a constant for a while) and every time we see him, things are just that little bit better.

House wise, no news is being classed as good news right now. We await the survey on our new house to be done, which will hopefully get the mortgage approved and then we can start chasing solicitors to get stuff done asap. Hopefully, the latest lockdown won’t hamper progress too much. Whilst the process isn’t great, both in terms of the paperwork side of things and the horrors of decluttering which we are in the midst of, we are looking forward to the change, a new house and with it, a little more room, comfort and good things, which right now, are the gold nuggets we are all digging for.

During said painful decluttering, in our cellar, which was a museum to our past life, I came across a USB memory stick. Before ruthlessly throwing it out as I am doing with 90% of the stuff down there, I risked plugging it into the laptop to see what was on it. At some point in the past, I seem to have shoved a load of old analogue photographs onto it, including most of them from our 1980 “first-ever” Florida holiday. You’ve seen a good few so I’ll leave those for another time. Instead, let me leave you this week with some absolute belters from the bowels of Williams family history.

If you can’t work it out, my Mum is in the green dress, with a family friend who we went away with and two Spanish waiters. This is summer 1976, on a holiday in Spain before we figured out that WDW was better. That is some suntan is it not?

From the same holiday here is my Dad with my brother and me. It blows my mind that I am about twelve years older now than my Dad was in this picture. Emily always says he looks like a mafia boss in these pictures.

And as I pointed out to Rebecca earlier this week, this last one shows where Freddie gets his good looks from. This is me and my brother with some frankly, quite poor gifts from Santa, I’m guessing in about 1974. My brother has some extraordinary pants on.

If nothing else, these history lessons show that time marches on very quickly and these shitty depressing times will too. At some point in the future, we will look back on them with a mixture of disdain, despair and manic laughter. I will probably yearn for the ability to work from home full-time, whilst booking all those extra WDW holidays to make up for the ones we missed.

Oh, and in the spirit of positivity, we’ve had a change here at the Mkingdon blog and spruced up the look a bit. I hope you like it.

Till the next time….

A Prick Of The Conscience

Moving house, or attempting to, seems to elevate your waking state to a constant mild hum of stress, with occasional peaks. Mostly, I am just sick of people being in my house, be that for valuations, energy certificate surveys, viewings or as we had last week our buyer’s survey. Those with dogs will know the pain of corralling them away from visitors so they do not love them to death and potentially scare folks who don’t do well with dogs. It’s just all a bit of a faff.

From the second the surveyor left our house and we began the wait to hear the results, we did, of course, think that would return all sorts of negative stuff that would either reduce our sell price or completely scupper the sale. Our glass was on its side, rather than in any form of fullness, half or otherwise. We felt a little battered and bruised by the rough and tumble of the short process to date.

Last week I also spent a silly amount of time on the phone to the bank formally applying for our terrifying new mortgage. The chap from the bank now knows more about us and our spending habits than our immediate family. Again, we now await the decision of that jury. Waiting and stress. It’s just a lovely combination.

I don’t know when we might move. I guess there’s an outside chance of it being before Christmas should winds be blowing in the right direction and no hitches be encountered. Our estate agent has warned that the stamp duty exemption has created a spike in activity and solicitors are and will be busy so things may take a little longer than normal. For a process that is not known for its swiftness, this may mean we will have one last Christmas in our current house.

Of course, should the survey show our house was held together with sellotape and spit and was worth about £7.50, then the whole thing would be irrelevant and we’d be back to square one, just minus all the money we’ve now spent on surveys and other move-related things. Did I mention elevated stress levels?

Anyway, on Friday morning we received a phone call to confirm that our buyer’s mortgage offer had been issued, meaning that the survey was all good. This was good news of course and now meant that the harsh reality of moving was very likely a thing we’d have to actually go through with. Between now and then we will have to undertake one of THE biggest declutters the world has ever seen. Yesterday I began the enormous task of clearing out our cellar. Imagine a place where for eight years you have put stuff you don’t really need but don’t want to throw out. Well, now that has caught up with us and I’ll be rectifying it at length.

What I really need is some form of holiday or break to look forward to. Luckily I have such a thing booked for next March. How I am looking forward to that definitely going ahead.

I have to say that I have pretty much-made peace with the fact that this will not be happening. I would love to be convinced otherwise, but I cannot see anything that will significantly change between now and then. I do of course hope that very shortly the US gets a President who is not incompetent, deceitful and seemingly intent on killing his own citizens. If the US gets something like a plan in place that’s got to help, but it doesn’t fix our issues or open up the airways from the UK to the US.

Should we not be able to travel by March, I’m not sure what we will do. I suppose it will depend on the cancellation policies of the companies involved. I suppose we would rearrange to a later date again, mainly as I really fear for the future of many of these travel companies and want to spend some money with them to keep them viable for when this is all over, but the temptation to cancel the whole thing and come back to it when some form of normality is available is growing.

Florida seems to be doing OK if the published figures are accurate. I say OK, in the context of the number of deaths every day is stable as is the number of new cases. The theme parks seem safe, mainly as they are doing a good job of mask enforcement and social distancing. Maybe there’s a clue there for the rest of the world? Crowds are growing it seems, with Universal yesterday reporting that the parks hit capacity by mid-morning. Nobody really knows what capacity limits the parks are operating at, but with so little open in most parks, queues are long.

As that, of course, doesn’t look too enticing, some part of me thinks it would be better not to go in those circumstances, but another part of me would just like to be there.

The wild card in this game of holiday roulette is a vaccine but within the timeframes, we are working in, that seems unlikely. Would I have it? Yes. I suspect other countries might insist on incoming visitors having proof that they have done so, and for that and many other reasons, I would gladly endure the prick. However, I will not endure any prick who comes at me with anti-vax bollocks, and similarly that the COVID virus and resultant death toll is a hoax. Facebook is awash with “medical experts” spewing up this shite and if it’s not too much a contradiction, I wish a pox upon their collective houses.

I try not to let that make me too angry as it isn’t productive. These days, as you will know from my Twitter activity, there is much to bring despair and anger to daily life and the world is not in good shape. I keep that political stuff out of my blogs as nobody comes here for that. However, this week I am going to make an exception without apology. The decision to not provide food for kids who might need it over the school holidays was an abhorrent disgrace and I just needed to get that off my chest. How anyone can make peace with that is an absolute mystery to me. Sure, some parents are a bit shit, and maybe a few fit the Daily Mail stereotype of pissing their meagre funds away on iPhones, cigarettes and Sky, but even if that were true of the parents of every hungry child, how on earth is that the fault of the children? Honestly, if you can imagine any child in your life being truly hungry and without food and be able to imagine not doing whatever it takes to feed them, then please read another blog. Sigh…..

Let’s get back to more normal topics. For now, the whole house move thing is proving to be stressful, but in a way, a welcome distraction from fretting about the holiday every minute of every day. Even I have a limit as to how many things I can stress about at once.

As that house move shifts into the realms of reality, we are now confronting the “problems” of where all our stuff will go in the new place. This brings to light the lunacy of buying a house. It is odd, is it not, that the biggest purchase you are ever likely to make is decided upon within the few minutes you wander around a house. Now, as we have to think practically about what we will have and do in each room, I realise that I can’t actually remember most of the rooms in any detail. I say that as if I will have any input into those decisions. Of course, Louise will be doing that.

Let’s pull this meandering rant to a close with a collective wish for that vaccine. Ideally, all the medical experts from the Facebook comments section will be recruited into the teams trying to come up with a vaccine so that their undoubted expertise can speed things up.

Till the next time…..

Back In The Chain, Gang!

It’s funny how, when you look back on “horrible times” after they are all sorted, you then can’t really imagine or appreciate why you were such a worrywart/dick about the whole thing. Human nature I suppose.

Having sat and stressed all last weekend about our property predicament, Monday came……and then went without any progress from the potential buyer of our buyer’s house. He was still fannying about speaking to his mortgage advisor, Childline, The Samaritans and anyone else he could speak with to inject further delay before actually doing something crazy like making an offer on a property he wanted to buy.

On Sunday afternoon, I had contacted our estate agent to express my lack of confidence in this chap ever actually doing something and said that we should get our property back on the internet. We’d been holding off doing that as this chap was “really close” to making an offer and sorting the whole thing out. Having given him a week, it was time to do something. Louise might tell you that this was her idea, but don’t let her fool you.

So by tea time on Sunday, we were advertised again and we were feeling suitably annoyed that every house we went to view had 412 offers on it within seven minutes of being on the market and here we were still looking for a buyer who had a buyer, who had a buyer etc etc.

By early afternoon on Monday, we had a call to book a viewing in. So we did for that evening. I admit I had little to no hope of a new viewer being the saviour we needed but absolutely didn’t mind spending hours preparing the house again.

So, we tidied up, again, and got the house into a state that suggested nobody actually lived in it to make someone think they wanted to. Louise was working a late shift so Emily took the dogs out whilst I showed the couple round the house.

I made all the same small talk I had made on the other viewings, and did my best to sell them probably the most expensive thing they had ever bought in their lives to date. They made all the usual noises about it being lovely and off they went. My spirits were not soaring with hope and expectation. We were, I thought, still relying on “delay man” to rescue our chain.

Earlier that day, we had been told that our buyer’s buyer (delay man) had a final call with his mortgage chap at 10am on Tuesday after which he would know whether he could offer or not. Sigh.

Tuesday began and at 9.30ish my phone rang and as by now I know our estate agent’s number by heart, I knew it was them. Expecting another tale of delay and dither I answered with zero expectations.

They were calling with feedback from the viewing the day before. Apparently, the couple liked it. The tone of voice being used suggested an incoming but. However, the call took a mighty fine turn when they told me they wanted to make an offer and it turns out it was exactly the same offer we had accepted from the last ones to do a similar thing.

Joy, deep and long-lasting, flowed and it was only surpassed by a huge sigh of relief. I tried to call Louise, many times. I messaged her, many more times. She did not reply. This was not unusual as when she is at work she can often have her hands in places that do not facilitate them handling a phone. However, this went on all day and the news that she had waited over a week for could not be delivered because, as I would discover when she got home, she had left her mobile in our bedroom!

Even when she returned home, I was then on endless work calls, and it was only an hour later that I was finally able to tell her the good news and a large dark cloud lifted from over us. For now (I do recognise, these are early days in this process) we had a buyer, a chain and no reason to think we would lose the house we were hoping to buy.

As much as I overshare all sorts of crap all over the internet and have for years (Louise still berates me for the Vagisil episode from a trip report a million years ago), I’m not going to post a link to the property we hope to buy here. It may, of course, all fall to pieces as the UK property market seems to exist as a deck of cards that the slightest tremor can destroy but it feels a bit crass to be doing stuff that could be a bit “braggy” when no doubt many folks are struggling at the moment.

We have been incredibly fortunate that the pandemic has not impacted us financially and we have been able to carry on with our long-held plans to upgrade the house a bit. I will though, share a couple of photos so you get an idea of what it’s like.

I guess now we can now claim to be truly middle class as we will have an Orangary!

And that, as I believe they say, is where the magic will happen!

Again, let me attempt to keep the evil forces of bad luck away by stating that we have a long way to go until we know for sure that we’ll be living there, but compared to this time last week, we feel better about it.

Typically the house we are hopefully getting does not fit the exact criteria that we set out as essential when we started this process. It shows that house buying is more of an emotional thing than a logical one. Firstly it is over budget and secondly, it doesn’t have a few of the things that we thought would be deal-breakers.

Ultimately it felt right and struck us as a really lovely family house that would serve us well for the next stage of our lives that will hopefully be filled with grandkids and rats (Emily has expanded her rat family again this week!). It is also within the geographic boundaries that we wanted to be in so that we can still be close enough to our parents to help them out and borrow DIY tools from my Dad.

If nothing else, the endless stress and occasional joy of this process have distracted us from the endless shitshow of the pandemic. My “are we going on holiday in March meter” is at rock bottom. I just do not see what will change by March that will see holiday travel being allowed again. That then leads into a spiral of doom, as that scenario may well be terminal for airlines and theme parks. So, with that in mind, I hope you can forigve the indulgent smugness of talking about spending some cash on a house.

Till the next time…….

Unchained Malady

In the context of “first world problems” and “others have it far worse”, last week was an absolutely unmitigated shit show of epic proportions.

Before anyone gets worried that anything serious has happened. Not really. It’s all house related, and as this has been the entire focus of my last week, it is, therefore, the most important topic on the planet. My self-awareness is only matched by my self-pity.

I am reluctant to retell events here as it will only enhance my PTSD, but I suppose as this stuff isn’t over, then I can drop the P from that. As we ended last weekend, and at this point, I am struggling to piece together all the events in some sort of accurate order, I think I was telling you about some offers we had made on some houses.

So these offers we made. On one property we had already offered significantly over asking last Saturday afternoon to “get it off the market”. I’ve watched a few Location, Location, Locations over the years. That failed completely of course and the vendor, being the most avaricious vendor on the planet, went to “best and final”. This irked me and this probably reflected in my less than enthusiastic best and final, which was almost “shove it up your arse”. We were not successful in that process.

That house was always plan B to honest so nil desperandum, we just needed to know if our other over asking price offer might be accepted. Monday dragged on endlessly without news, so I called the agent around lunchtime. What do you mean I may be impatient? I was told that they had spoken to the vendors and they felt it “likely” that they would accept our offer, but the lady needed to talk to her husband about it.

It’s hard to express our frustration at this point. We made the offer at 9.45 on Saturday morning. Had they been locked in separate rooms ever since?

So we went back to waiting. About an hour later my phone rang and it was an estate agent. Not the one I was waiting to hear from, but instead, ours.

They delivered the bombshell that our buyer had lost their buyer. The feeling of a thousand rugs being pulled from under us was mixed with a kick in the goolies. This was not good.

As we came to terms with that and spoke with our agent about what we could do to resolve the situation, my phone rang again, and in an expected ironic twist, our offer had been accepted on THE house Louise had fallen in love with and the one we both agreed was the first choice. Sigh.

So the race was on to reconstruct our chain. We had more viewings booked pretty much immediately, including a second viewing yesterday from someone who saw it on the one previous day we did viewings. We are waiting for feedback and maybe an offer from that second viewing (the estate agents are of course closed today), but all week, we have been more invested in the sale of someone else’s house than you could ever imagine.

Our buyer has had lots of viewings. As they are selling via the same agent as us, and they clearly want to sort out us and them, they have been updating us on their progress. They have had many viewings and one potential buyer has been tantalisingly close to making an offer since Wednesday. Every day, we ring our agent, hopeful and expectant that this nightmare of limbo and risk of losing our house might be over. Every day, there is one more delay and reason that the offer, whilst still expected, has not been made.

Apparently, there are historic issues with the property, that have now been rectified, but the potential buyer understandably wanted all the documentation for that and to do their own checks. How very selfish of them. That is now complete and they just now need to check their mortgage company are happy with that before making an offer. Sigh.

The time window to resurrect our chain is short before we lose the house on which our offer has been accepted. It’s a form of torture. In the very short time we have been involved in this moving house thing, everything that could go wrong has, aside from getting our offer accepted of course. To think this is just the beginning of the process, and we are stumbling over this first hurdle multiple times, horrifies me.

As I have tried to recount the events of last week, I’m not even sure what happened on which day anymore and I have without doubt, and mercifully for you, left out a lot of agonising, moaning, self-pity and swearing.

Still, as often happens, the universe in its infinite wisdom balances things out. Whilst it clearly takes away on the moving house thing, yesterday, to make sure my week really couldn’t get any worse it also gave back. I thought I would weigh myself. Lockdown has not been filled with exercise and healthy eating so the damage will be significant. Bracing myself for the worst, I pulled the scales out, blew the dust from them, like Indiana Jones would from some relic not seen for a thousand years, and stood on them.

Knowing that my tolerance for disaster has been fully expended for one week, the God of self preservation stepped in and the scales told me that I weighted Lo. My weight hasn’t been “Lo”…….well, ever, so that was good news right? The battery running out at that moment was clearly a guiding hand from some higher being, preventing me from spiralling into some nose dive depression. Now, all I have to decide is whether I buy another battery and confront reality or just keep getting bigger T Shirts from the denial store. One battle at a time right?

So next week promises to go one of two ways. Tomorrow, our buyer gets a new offer and our chain is repaired and we can all put this nonsense behind us. Alternatively, that could turn to dust and we lose our house and you have to fear for next week’s post. For all sakes, cross your fingers.

Till the next time……

A State Agents

In an effort to keep my blood pressure and stress levels nice and high, just as the major drama, activity and worry about changing our holiday settled down a bit, I have very cleverly replaced it with aorta threatening levels of stress by trying to find somewhere to live.

The last week has been a blur of swiping right or left on Rightmove and wandering around stranger’s houses mixed with large dollops of disappointment and frustration. With our “sale” having been in the bag for a little while now, the pressure to find somewhere to go is increasing.

We did find a house last week that we liked. As with everything we view, as soon as something decent goes on the market, the vendors have 73 viewings on day one and around 72 offers to consider. After making our first offer on something on Friday morning, we were sad to learn that we had not been successful. Silly us for only offering the asking price!

Even in the short few hours between viewing and hearing we hadn’t got it, emotional investment and attachment had happened. Plans had been made, which in Louise’s case always includes where the Christmas tree would go. It’s difficult to move on but move on we must and we have viewed two further properties that are contenders. We have upped our game in terms of aggression and speed with both, recognising the current market is no place for timidity or sloth.

What has completely bamboozled me is that in a market that is so competitive and fast-moving most estate agents take Sunday off. So for 50% of the time that most folks can search, view and make offers on houses, their offices are shut. I cannot tell you how completely frustrating this is. I know folks need time off but surely you need to operate in the hours that your customers do, like Louise does who has been driving around dressing, injecting and de-soiling folks she looks after all weekend.

In fact, the market is so competitive that second viewings are an alien concept. As Louise has been working all weekend, one of the houses we have now offered on was one she hasn’t even set foot in. Rebecca and I had a look at it yesterday and we were empowered to decide whether or not it would be suitable. That’s like picking your fiance’s wedding dress, but only if she then had to wear that dress every single day for the next decade.

So as Saturdays go, I have had less stressful ones. The fact that we now have to kick our heels for all of Sunday without an update or opportunity to find out where we are up to is not ideal. Regular readers will recognise that I do not deal well with uncertainty, wishy-washy responses and not being in control of my own destiny.

The two current contenders offer very different pros and cons and we would both be happy with either, but with lessons learned we are continuing to search for others whilst proactively harassing, chasing and cajoling estate agents to be competent, but right now I’d settle for them being open.

As often tends to happen in our world, several things converge to make things interesting. Rebecca and Tom are also in the market for their first house after renting for some time. They were also out house hunting yesterday so helping and advising them was also very much a thing. I wouldn’t have it any other way and as first time buyers I hope and expect them to be sorted before we are.

It will not surprise you to know that there wasn’t a lot of holiday thinking done last week. There was some, clearly, as it is who I am, but it is back burnered to some extent as other matters are more pressing. As I don’t have a clue what will happen, it seems silly to spend too much time worrying about it, but if you think that’s what will actually happen then clearly you don’t know me at all.

So it’s been a bit of a week, but of course, as ever, something comes along to remind me that I’m a big girl’s blouse, living a fortunate and privileged life that I should be grateful for.

Firstly, 28,000 cast members lost their jobs this week. I follow a few on social media and it was very sad to see them reacting to the news. To their credit, they all handled it with grace and dignity and that probably goes a long way to explain why they were excellent CMs in the first place. It is a tragic day for them and for what those cuts may mean for the future of the parks and resorts. We can only hope that as things get better they may be able to return should they wish.

Then just as I was just about to post this blog my Mum phoned to tell me that my Aunty Dot died last night.

She was my Mum’s sister and well into her nineties. She had been in a care home for a couple of years and in many ways had left us then, but still, the sadness of losing someone is still there and she was an absolutely lovely lady who played a large part in my childhood.

So with our current “trials” pulled into sharp perspective I’m off to give myself a stern talking to about over-dramatising stuff to folks on the internet.

Till the next time…….

Do Two Wrongs Make a Flight?

In my extensive array of skills, being wrong seems to be right up at the top of the list. It was only seven days ago that I came out with this whopper.

“My expectations of being able to go next March change on an almost daily basis. Right at this moment, I’d say I am slightly leaning towards it being possible. I can’t really articulate clearly why I feel that way. We have what is going to be a very challenging winter ahead of us and anything could happen, but ultimately it feels like as time goes by the world is learning to live with this thing a little more. You may remind me of this unusual optimism when I am undoubtedly proved wrong.”

Within 48 hours of that nonsense, I was indeed proved wrong and it now feels like I could not have been wider of the mark had I tried. With the incompetence driven second wave and lockdown seemingly all but inevitable, and new restrictions being in place possibly for six months, then our March 1st trip seems less likely than ever.

It’s just so sad. There is no other word for it. The seemingly endless woe is getting to us now, and even though I dread most winters, this one is going to be a doozy. I don’t know about you, but we’re all feeling the darkness of the tunnel which currently seems to be without an end for there to be light at.

As we watched various “leaders” from different parts of the UK deliver their addresses mid-week, it really did feel like we were watching some far fetched disaster movie. How we took stuff for granted pre-COVID.

Then, later in the week, Florida went all Florida and announced that COVID is apparently over in the sunshine state and all restrictions were being lifted. We can only hope that people keep up the stuff they have been doing to stay safe. Theme parks, I am putting my faith in you to keep the rules you currently have. Increase capacity if you must, but for all our sakes, keep the masks and distancing.

Let’s hope they realise that the numbers of sensible folks who recognise it’s worth taking precautions to increase the chances of folks not dying outweigh the number that drive to the parks in a car wearing seatbelts and on the correct side of the road to avoid death, but think that a face-covering suggests their lives aren’t their own. I think if they lifted all the current safeguards they may lose more visitors than they gain.

So in one week, I may actually have (and not for the first or last time) been wrong twice. The UK put rules in place, potentially for six months, that suggest I’m going to no further than the kitchen till April and then Florida ripped up the rule book and kicked off a COVID party. You can perhaps see why my thoughts around our holiday taking place change on a regular basis.

In other news, you may also remember last week me telling you how we had put the house up for sale? We went “live” on the internet on Monday evening. We had three viewings on Tuesday and accepted a very pleasing offer on Wednesday morning. Other than not knowing where we are going to live next, this is a mighty relief and shows that a pandemic seems to be a good thing for the property market. I suspect the current stamp duty exemption offer is driving a lot of activity. The joy at knowing we don’t need to go through the superhuman efforts of getting the house that clean and tidy again is lovely.

Not one to dwell on pleasing things, my mind is now crammed full of all the things that could go wrong and the horrors of physically moving all our crap to a new location. Before it can be half full, I need to find a glass.

So now we find ourselves looking for a place to live in a property market where everything is selling within 48 hours for more than the asking price. We have two viewings today and if neither of those work out then, based on the current stuff for sale in our area and budget, I may be shopping for tents and portable heaters.

So, leaving the inconsequential nonsense of where we might live and returning to the more crucial subject of our Disney trips. All of you out there with trips booked, no doubt having already moved them once or twice, how are you feeling now? Do you think the lifting of restrictions in Florida is another step towards overseas tourists being allowed in? Will it matter what the US do if the shit show in the UK continues?

These questions are going to be repeated for us all for many motnhs I fear.

Till the next time…..

A Moving Post

With the holiday that wasn’t now out of the way and my significant birthday behind us, it feels like this could be a watershed moment. A very welcome chance for me to stop bloody moaning about the same stuff and try blogging about something else.

Well, OK. But let me just say that being back in a form of lockdown and not being able to see Rebecca, Tom and Freddie sucks the largest of hairy ballsacks. The growth of my sense of resentment about that is only beaten by the rate of knots by which the number on the scales is increasing.

With that being said, we can move on. Literally.

Back in the old days, there were times when I would blog about “normal things”. These weekly posts weren’t just me ranting about cancelled holidays and inconvenient viruses. Anyone remember that?

In the spirit of that moving on, I can report to you today that, not content with battling a pandemic, rescheduling a wedding (twice) and losing out on a holiday, we have decided to move house too.

A few weeks ago I reported that we were wrestling with the dilemma of either moving or improving our modest abode. For the last few weeks, maybe months, we have literally been flip-flopping between the two options. Endlessly scrolling through Rightmove, pointlessly looking for a house we were in no position to buy, mainly to judge whether, if we did sell, would there be something we could afford that would get us what we want, alongside looking at photos of houses that had “extended” in the way we planned to.

We did venture down the improving route for a while, but the costs involved could have built the US/Mexico border wall twice over and for a house not worth that much in the grand scheme of things, that size of investment for “a bit more kitchen” just didn’t make any sense.

So the decision sort of made itself, and we have recently been through the process of readying our place to go on the market. All those DIY tasks that you ignore if you didn’t plan to sell needed to be done and after a variety of valuations, some comedic at both ends of the scale, on Friday our For Sale board went up. Yesterday we had our photos done and hopefully, in the next couple of days, we shall appear on the internet.

Having moved house just three times in my adult life, that is more than enough to have me dreading every second of the process. These early days seem to involve looking at the same twenty houses on the internet that match your search criteria and getting stupidly excited when a new one appears. Seconds later, when it is dismissed as not suitable you are back to scrolling through your regulars again. Should we sell quickly, the fun and games of finding somewhere to live will really begin.

What do we want?

Ideally, a 4 bed, with a large drive, garden and one of them cliched family-style open plan kitchens. If it can be within five minutes of where we live now that would be a bonus too. Shouldn’t be too hard, should it? You will, without doubt, be told how hard or easy that turns out to be in glorious detail as the weeks go by.

I like to offer variety here and the anticipation you must feel, not knowing if you will get moaning about the virus, not going on holiday or moving house is almost spoiling you.

I bet you wish I was still papping on about the holiday now, right?

Speaking of which…you knew I couldn’t resist. My expectations of being able to go next March change on an almost daily basis. Right at this moment, I’d say I am slightly leaning towards it being possible. I can’t really articulate clearly why I feel that way. We have what is going to be a very challenging winter ahead of us and anything could happen, but ultimately it feels like as time goes by the world is learning to live with this thing a little more. You may remind me of this unusual optimism when I am undoubtedly proved wrong. Hopefully, we’ll at least be in our new house by then with all that horror behind us!

Till the next time……

The Joy Of No Jetlag?

In a world that doesn’t suck big hairy devil balls, today’s blog post would have been me moaning about just having landed back in the UK, being jet lagged, cold, dreading work but at least having a decent reason to be the weight I am now. I’d also have to be trying to motivate myself to start the trip report.

Just think about all that moaning you have been saved from. That’s at least one thing you can thank the pandemic for.

So I suppose in some small way I should feel better now. Had we just got back, we wouldn’t have a countdown, it would be at least a year until we may go back and there would be a whole lot of real-life stretching out before me.

To fill the void in my life, I have been doing some regular vlog watching. I couldn’t for the longest time. It was too painful. It still is, and there are times when I see a certain location on a vlog and I feel physical pain at how much I am missing it, but on balance it is helping a little.

I have two go-to vloggers now to get my fix of the parks, which is precisely double the amount I had pre-lockdown. The Trackers, of course, are the default setting, and now thanks to a recommendation here some weeks ago, Paging Mr Morrow. They do cover much of the same stuff of course as many vloggers do. Indeed, I think half of the current park visitors are vloggers, but they do it quite differently.

What I like about Paging Mr Morrow is that he indulges in food like a tourist should when in the parks. Multiple beers and snacks are the default setting for most of his videos. In fact, some of them make me feel like I am the model of restraint.

I’ve also continued to review and edit our own home movies from the last couple of decades in an attempt to fill the void. You can subscribe to my very own YouTube channel if you like (guys), so as I upload you can watch them. That channel has existed forever as more of a dumping ground for random videos I wanted to save, but with our WDW videos now digitised, I do aim to edit and post all the “good” bits there. I have been gaining subscribers at the rate of around one every five years, so it’s only a matter of time until I too can give up my day job and rely on the advertising revenues my “content” generates.

Yesterday I added a couple more videos. One was spectacularly badly filmed footage of the Osborne Lights in what was MGM back in January 2005. The second was one that really only has interest and value to us, but I’ll share it with you. It’s a lovely clip of us in Olive Garden, again on the same trip over December 2004 and January 2005 with Rebecca playing rock, paper, scissors with her Grandad. There was some glorious cheating going on, and I’ll leave you to ponder who that was being done by.

It’s a daft little video and probably of little interest to anyone but us, but I uploaded it to make sure we never lost it. Yes, there are large spectacular events on a WDW holiday. Fireworks, shows, parades and all the castle stuff, but sometimes these little moments mean more. You can see we are all knackered, but we’re happy, full of good food and just enjoying being there.

I had totally forgotten this had happened of course. It is just one meal in a cavalcade of eating experiences over the years, so to find it within all the other footage was lovely.

Of course, it didn’t help with my feelings of missing the place. We’ve eaten in that particular Olive Garden more frequently than many of the restaurants near our house. I can almost feel the atmosphere there, the smells and of course the breadsticks and salad which, and I will not enter into any debate on the subject, are the best on the planet.

So as we slip back into all sorts of new lockdowns, and us Mkingdons feel like we are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of work and not a lot of fun, loins are having to be girded, and teeth gritted as we try to get through what feels like a bit of a grim time right now. For so many of us who congregate here of a Sunday, our trips to WDW are a bright light at the end of our tunnels, and right now they are a very dim glow, so far in the distance that they are almost invisible.

So you see, I shamelessly lured you into a blog post by telling you how in different circumstances I might be moaning about stuff and then, like some form of politician, I pull a sucker punch and deliver moaning anyway, just of a different flavour.

With Louise working all weekend, I shall step away from the keyboard now to attend to my chores. It’s probably best for all concerned.

Don’t forget (guys), Like, Subscribe and all that jazz on my YouTube channel (that’s what you say to become an internet sensation right?) so that within a matter of weeks I can be earning my living doing brand endorsements for funeral plans and incontinence pants. I’ll be uploading exciting content as regularly as ever, which to date has been about three videos a year. Watch out Tracker, I’m coming for ya!

Till the next time……..