A Little Less 21 Candles….

I often see posts on Facebook where parents are wondering where the time went before telling everyone that their child is now whatever age they are. I’ve done similar many times I’m sure.

The perception is that you blink and then somehow find your kids are no longer kids, you are three stone heavier and persistently feel the need to nap. Just me? OK.

I think I know where the time goes. It passes at the same rate whether you are doing something you hate or something you love, it’s just that you just tend to block out the former and so your memory recalls only a percentage of all the days, minutes and seconds you’ve spent with your kids. It’s a bit like childbirth. Lord knows I was mentally scarred by the pain of horror of it all the first time around. How Rebecca came to be I don’t know, as after all that sitting around and waiting for Emily to pop out, you would have thought it had put me off for life!

This time perception confusion is just one of life’s mysteries, like why I’m still paying the mobile phone bills for my daughters every month even though they are 19 and 21!

Yes, Emily turns 21 next week and we have been out this weekend to celebrate that with some of the family. As usual, a Williams celebration involved food, and probably more than was healthy or necessary. The main benefit of this milestone is that she’ll be able to come to Jellyrolls with us when we go on holiday next year! This is great news as up until now we’ve had to leave the kids outside with of bottle of pop and a rape alarm.

I think she will need to carry ID well into her forties though as she has never looked her age. This burden will become easier to tolerate as she gets older I’m sure.

It is only natural for me to treat any meal out as an excuse to pretend I’m doing a trip report and take pictures of everyone and more importantly their food. For anyone localish we went to the Retreat in Adlington and it was lovely.

Here are Rebecca and Tom doing a good job of being cheerful even though food has not yet arrived.

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Emily and her Nana…..

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Food at last, this was Emily’s Beef Nachos appetiser (yes I said appetiser, what of it?)
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Louise and I had Halloumi Fritters, but I believe there is an over the counter cream for that….

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Tom, quite rightly ordered using the “which dish is the biggest” method and went for an appetiser of “Meat Platter”. He also had half of Rebecca’s garlic bread and finished off Emily’s nachos.

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Most of us had the Jack Daniels Bourbon Beef Skewer, which is not a euphemism.

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A few cocktails later….

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I am clearly out of practice as I’d started my dark chocolate cheesecake before remembering to take a photo…

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Emily had Creme Brulee, which I finished off.

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Once we were back home the inevitable Disney themed cake was set on fire with twenty-one candles.

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Emily’s birthday is not actually till Tuesday and she shares it with Oli. Look how happy he is about it!IMG_0168

Emily with her Grandma who is clearly off her nut on champagne and frosting.

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Emily picked up quite a few of her presents last night with a couple to come on Tuesday no doubt. Her main present from us is a trip to London in a couple of weeks to watch Les Miserables in the West End. She may never stop crying!

Happy Birthday Pud. Here come the usual collection of photos that will embarrass you…..

dad scruch nose

Taken yesterday

WDW 2013

chip n dale

emily nose pierce

Emily prom 2

Girls good food

Till the next time…….

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Ain’t That The Tooth?

Years ago, when the girls were at school and we still did things like put them to bed, I remember many an evening sat on the foot of one of their beds listening to them fret about some upcoming event at school that they were not looking forward to. At the time it wasn’t appropriate for me to then spend an hour telling them about all the stuff I had coming up that I didn’t fancy either and instead I would do my best to reassure them that everything would be OK. I would tell them that worrying about this stuff would do no good and once whatever they were dreading had happened they would no doubt realise that it wasn’t actually as bad as they imagined and they would wonder why they worried so much in the first place.

These days of course my advice is seldom asked for, yet I still cast it, like bread onto a pond without ducks whilst they feign interest and resist the urge to roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders.

Last week’s blog was filled with me whining about my impending dental treatment and I have to admit that I spent a good deal of time with it on my mind. It was casting an ugly shadow over what was already looking like a crap week as we were having the house taken apart to improve it. I did not, it probably won’t surprise you, follow the golden advice outlined above that I used to impart to the girls.

As they always do, Tuesday rolled around and I made my way to the dentist feeling less than enthusiastic. Once in the waiting room I was having to do breathing exercises to prevent some sort of cardiac mishap before I was called into THE CHAIR. I assumed the position, put on the protective orange Roy Orbison glasses and paper bib and girded my loins for an abundance of pain.

“I’ll just take a quick X-Ray to see what we’re dealing with” said my dentist before leaving the room to expose me to dangerous amounts of gamma rays just like David Banner.

“Don’t make me petrified, you wouldn’t like me when I’m petrified!” I replied.

She retired to somewhere behind me to look at said X-Ray and after a couple of tuts and a sigh asked me to join her there. I stumbled across the room, confused by the out of focus orange blur everything had become to look at an image of what I assumed were my teeth.

To cut a long story short, she wasn’t happy to proceed with what she had planned as I had a shorter than expected root. Insult to injury sprang to mind, but sensing the chance to leave the place minus any pain or financial exploitation I did. The plan is to “wait and see” and review it all again in six months. I have several options at that point it seems, none of which cost less than a grand unless I have things extracted. I pray then to God of dentistry that whatever glue she used to stick my implant back in is like that Ultra No Nails stuff they sell in B&Q.

If not, well, faced with those potential costs, I think this is a good look…

You may wonder, as have I since, why she did not take that X-Ray when I went to have my implant stuck back in and she told me what the longer term solution was. My short root was, after all, of her doing when I endured the horrors of root canal work “under” her. Had she X-Rayed me back then it would have saved me many hours of fretful nonsense and it would have removed the need for you poor souls to listen to me whine about it.

Anyway, not only have I avoided something I was dreading,  but I have proved once for all that I know best, my advice is gold dust and I should be heeded and obeyed at all times….girls……are you listening?  Girls?! Oh never mind.

As Ying to that Yang however, the pain of the disruption to the house has been very real. Every evening has been spent moving all our furniture from one room to another, stripping wallpaper and generally not being able to relax. We’re not 100% finished but things are almost back to normal and I am telling myself the worst is over. That’s a lie of course as now we have to re-decorate the living and dining rooms. My lack of interest in such a task is only matched by my lack of prowess to do it well.

So having learned a great lesson this week about how worrying doesn’t help, things are rarely as bad as you imagine them and I am a big nancy when it comes to a dental visit, the only thing left for me to do is to create some inspirational message about all of this, add it to some suitably inspiring stock photograph and launch it at Facebook for everyone to like, share, comment on and then do exactly the opposite when they have shit to deal with.

fretting meme

Till the next time…..

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Builder Me Up Buttercup

We’re busy today so this won’t take long to read.  We have impending building work about to take place in the World of Williams and so today we are clearing out two cupboards that are about to be removed.  You may relate to the fact that over the years these have become a dumping ground for all that stuff you think you have to keep but haven’t used or looked at this stuff since you crammed into that cupboard all those years ago.

It’s been a morning of mixed emotions as we throw away a lot of the crap in there along with lots of sighing at old school photos of the girls, drawings they did and a clay cow one of them made which has clearly been exposed to radiation. This picture is one of my favourites….

drawing

I hate the process of having work done to the house. Disruption does not sit well with me so the coming week or so will not be a comfortable one for me. We’re having a wooden floor through the dining and living room along with the removal of said cupboards, which currently sit in the alcoves either side of our dining room fireplace, which is also about to bite the dust. Louise is a big fan of the phrase less is more and so renovations tend to take the form of removing stuff and making things simpler.

So we have spent all morning cramming the stuff we “really” want to keep into other already full cupboards around the house. We need a bigger house or less stuff…or maybe both.

Speaking of removing stuff. One day last week I was minding my own business eating my lunch when disaster struck. Mid plum, I thought I felt the plum stone floating around in my mouth. Upon removing it, I felt as sick as you will when reading this, to discover it was my “implant” that I had fitted into one of my tooth holes when I endured root canal work a couple of years ago. In deep shock, my mind raced at the pain and expense this would inevitably lead to. I called the dentist immediately to get an appointment.

I had to wait until the following morning, with what felt like a hole this size in my mouth.

Eating was tricky and I didn’t sleep too well as I am a massive coward when it comes to the dentist. Thank Mr Stevens, my childhood dentist, who took pleasure from pain.

Thankfully, my dentist was able to glue that thing back in fairly easily but of course, life is never that simple. It needs a more long-term solution involving procedures that make my toes curl and my wallet weep. I am back there on Tuesday to have things like rods fitted and a crown added, which spookily costs what a real crown does. The fun doesn’t end there. Nope, this is a two visit procedure, so the misery and anticipation stretch out for weeks.

I am in no way feeling nervous about it……..

So if you had to dream up a really crappy week for me, you would have the builders in my house and my mouth at the same time. Still at least I get to go to work too!!  I can’t wait.

Till the next time…..

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My Work Here Isn’t Done

Well, I don’t care how you voted, the past week has been a shambles and an embarrassment to the country. What a depressing state of affairs that those who are supposed to be in charge of shit have just confirmed that they are in fact a set of self-serving cockwombles.

Our current reality makes The Thick Of It look like an episode of Panorama. Although I would like to unleash a real life Malcolm Tucker around Westminster to sort a few of these expenses cheating, personal agenda obsessed , out of touch with reality shit gibbons out.

As for the football. I have previous experience of being Hodgsoned as I am a Liverpool supporter. Never have I experienced a more tepid, expectation lowering, confidence sapping charlatan as good old Roy. The showing of the England team at the Euros was just the shot in the arm the country needed after such a harrowing and worrying week. Thanks!

Anywho, whilst the Western world crumbled around us, last week brought us some good news.  Rebecca passed her driving test!

rebecca driving test

It is to her credit that she did so in torrential rain and terrible driving conditions. Her teacher had no time for such conditions being used as an excuse for not taking the promotional photo for Facebook, hence Rebecca’s vain attempts to protect her “do” with her hood in the photo!

This passing of the test is good news for several reasons. She’s been at it a while, through no fault of her own. She had to change teachers half way through which set her back a bit, and then took a break from lessons for a few months for reasons I wont bother you with and at one stage was specialising in failing her theory test by one mark.

Anyway, on her second attempt she passed and is now trying to comprehend that she never has to do that again and is free to go out and drive whenever she likes, once she has sold some internal organs to enable her to be insured on a car.

It feels like a landmark for Louise and I too. It’s one of the final commitments we feel as parents in setting the girls up with the right life skills. This is now added to the list of all the other major developmental and life landmarks, such as –

  • Breathing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping (although Rebecca took longer to master this than driving by about three years!)
  • Not going to the toilet in their clothes
  • Getting them into the right nursery, primary school, secondary school….
  • Riding a bike
  • Attempting to learn about seventeen different musical instruments only then to decide they weren’t that bothered really
  • Their first discos
  • First roller coasters
  • GCSEs
  • A Levels
  • Proms
  • Jobs
  • etc etc etc

It’s funny that as you come up to each of these landmarks they are seen as tasks and challenges to get through and as soon as they are behind you, you feel better for it. This tends to prevent you from appreciating and enjoying the landmark for what it is.

At the risk of sounding all poncy and introspective, these things are the destination, not just the journey. You tend to rush at them, driven by the fear that your children will be slower, worse, or in some other way lesser to those other kids we all know who have parents that have all their shit together. They only feed their kids organic pulses, spend three hours every night doing homework and wholesome activities and restrict them to ten minutes a week online.

Well, we were typically too tired for all that and we bumbled our way through parenthood, I suspect, like most do, allowing Lizzy McGuire and That’s So Raven to be a fairly large part of their childhoods, happy to get to the next weekend and another half arsed attempt at a lie in. Constantly being the parents who discovered at 10pm the night before that they needed something for school the next day that was definitely unobtainable at 10pm the night before, we had times when we felt like terrible parents for letting them down.  In that blur of their early years, through unending tiredness, attempts to build some sort of career and still be something resembling a parent we were hopefully somewhere above average.

With them both able to drive it feels like we must be coming to the end of that list now. Once we’ve tucked away a wedding a piece, maybe some kids, their first houses, a bit of baby sitting and interfering in how they bring their kids up we should be…wait….oh crap, this stuff never ends does it??

Till the next time…..

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Man With A Plan

Last week felt like a long one didn’t it? Or was that just me? It may not have helped that I had a life threatening cold for most of it. It’s always surprising to rediscover just how bloody awful you can feel with just a cold.

As I sat in the office sniffing and coughing up vital organs, all I could hear around me was colleagues doing the same thing. The first day of summer seems to have brought with it a plague that is sweeping through the nation. Apart from fighting off a deadly virus last week was fairly quiet. Oh apart from the political infrastructure collapsing, friends and family turning on each other and Facebook becoming a more dangerous battle ground than Afghanistan.

I’ve never done politics here and won’t start now but by Christ what a mess we seem to have found ourselves in. Good luck to those now charged with sorting it all out.

Whilst the voting was going on we had a band rehearsal. We are pretty much reinventing our whole set as we find ourselves having to replace a member of the band. It’s a gentle and amicable hand over so we’re taking the opportunity to make some big changes to the songs we do as they have been largely the same for some time now. It’s good fun learning new stuff, although when you are musically barely competent as I am, the main panic when someone suggests a song to do is the fear that you won’t be capable of playing it. Although the only thing worse than that is when you have learned a song and then it’s discovered that we need to do it in a different key and then my tiny brain has to move everything I just learned to new places on the fret board. I envy those with real musical ability!

This weekend I have been employed as a Disney planner. Naturally, as this was for Rebecca and Tom, there was no fee involved. They had thought of holidaying somewhere exotic and beachy, such as Bali, but with some more thought and of course encouragement from me, they have moved their plans to Florida. It made perfect sense (to me anyway) as their requirements were sun, stuff to do, great food in large quantities and a flight time under double figures.

Tom is an eater of epic ability. He has never been to Florida and I suspect he may never return to the UK as it is surely his spiritual home. Due to their age, hiring a car becomes expensive so I have suggested an on-site package, with Magical Express at a value resort. Between Disney buses and Uber they can get where they want to get to for a lot less than the very high surcharges hire car companies tend to charge for those under 25.

disney site

The free memory maker now included in these packages is quite handy when travelling as a couple, otherwise you struggle to get photos of the two of you together.  However, the dining plan offer has never really appealed to me and I have passed that prejudice on in my advice. Rebecca wants to take Tom to the places we have always loved such as Applebees, Teak, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze etc and so the restriction of always eating on site wouldn’t really suit them.

Anyway, their planning is in early stages and they may change destination entirely, but again it seems the pulling power of the Sunshine State is strong, especially if you ask me for holiday advice!!

On the subject of the plans for Louise and I in March, I haven’t done a great deal more than pencil in a rough sketch of the theme park days and of course where to eat on those days. Most of our trip is beach based so the planning requirements are less demanding. There’ll be more to do once the ADR window opens up in September and then FP+ in January. Hopefully the dollar rate will rally between now and then, but my breath is not held.

So it seems my use as Taxi Dad is not what it was, but I still come in handy when it comes to holiday planning. I think that’s not a bad deal!

Till the next time…..

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Full House

It’s been an odd time of late. I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a funk for a while without really knowing why. I suppose we’ve been through an unusually high number of changes and challenges as a family recently which may be the root cause. For all the crap I do share here, anything that’s really personal, I tend not to. That rule was made even stricter by the incredible trolling, vitriol and in some cases the very real and personal threats messaged to us after Emily’s first go at working for Disney was cut short. If you think I’ve been radio silent about that whole experience since, you now know why.

Anyway, much water has passed and if I’m to continue to bother blogging at all (and at times it’s been a close call) then I should return to sharing as I used to or what’s the point? This thing started as a personal diary anyway, so if I don’t document what’s going on then when I read it back it will be worth little.

I digress. I suppose the largest reason for this feeling of funk may be the all too familiar empty nest syndrome. You may recall that as we returned from holiday last September we did so to find two empty bedrooms where the two largest parts of our lives used to be. For anyone, that can take some getting used to. It had been coming a while, but as we left one daughter in America and waved another off to her new home with her boyfriend we just sort of got on with life. Don’t get me wrong, in some ways it was great, peaceful, less stressful and definitely cheaper, but after giving so much of our time, hearts, wages and attention to two other human beings, not having them around was an adjustment and a half.

It’s as clichéd as the mid-life crisis to document the ins and outs of that empty nest experience so I wont.  Some ten months on from that return from holiday and as inevitably as my waistline increasing year by year, things have changed once again. In that time we’ve experienced a couple of things with the girls that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but life doesn’t let you choose and after these events knock a bit more stuffing out of you, all you can do is dust yourself down and attempt another run at stuff. Personally, I’d say those two things have been the toughest things I’ve (as yet) had to deal with but that’s my job I suppose. Pardon the lack of detail. If you knew those details you would understand.

Anyway, to avoid this whole post being one big digression, I can now report that we find ourselves with a full house once again, because as of a few weeks ago, Rebecca returned home to complete the set after she and her boyfriend decided that this house renting lark was all too expensive and was severely restricting their fun and shopping activities. So we are not only back up to the full complement of Williams’s, we have an extra one for luck in the shape of Tom, Rebecca’s boyfriend, living here too. So much for that empty nest.

As much as the battle for the bathroom is real, it’s no real hardship having the house full again. Ultimately, if they are both happy, healthy and settled then despite all of our huge parenting mistakes, dropped balls and abandoned good intentions over the years, it’s all we can hope and aspire to. It doesn’t stop me fretting, faffing and fiddling in and around their lives and I don’t suppose I ever will. It also doesn’t stop us having those head in hands moments at some of their decisions, choices and cock ups but as adults now, those are theirs to make. My priceless advice to the girls is normally greeted with the same attention as a party political broadcast. I give it anyway as it will at least allow me the odd “I Told You So” somewhere down the line.

On the subject of advice, I can often be found boring any new parent to death about two things –

  1. As your kids get older, the problems and stress don’t decrease, they just change into different problems and stress.
  2. There is no ideal age to take your children to Disney World. Only worry when you can’t take them, and at any time you can, you should.

These new parents don’t even have to ask for that advice. I force it upon them, àpropos of nothing, uninvited with great gusto.

At least now with everyone back at Casa Williams, there may well be content worthy of some blogging which will save you all from my weekly moans about all sorts of oblique nonsense that nobody cares about.

So to bring everyone totally up to speed with happenings in the World of Williams, Louise has a new job, working in operating theatres at a local hospital and has now been a qualified nurse for over a year, Rebecca, as well as being back at home is doing really well in her apprenticeship at a local nursery and Emily has a full-time job too and is actually lucky enough to work with me now, learning lots, mainly about how absolutely shite my commute has been all these years.

I continue to work for far too many days a week, whilst not having sufficient time to research holidays, play bass in my band or write that second book which still sits there taunting me with its incompleteness.

So to end this post, with some appropriate Father’s Day advice, if you are one of my younger readers, do yourself a favour and listen to your Dad (and Mum) every now and again. We’re not always right but the percentages are high and whilst you’re at it, clean your rooms, run the Hoover around without being asked every now and again and take less time in the shower.

Till the next time……

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The Top Three Things I Hate About Blogging – You Won’t Believe Number 3!!

Did you click that link to find out what number 3 is? I don’t hate blogging of course. Imagine someone using a blog post title to encourage clicks. These days it seems that everyone has a blog. Most seem to have one or two posts on them from 2011  before they realise that it’s actually quite difficult to think of something to write on a regular basis.

It is only my compulsive, task driven, incompletion averse personality that compels me to write this thing every week. I don’t really consider myself a normal blogger, mainly as I don’t have a theme. I’m definitely not a Disney blogger although many of my posts talk about it. A Disney blogger, to me, is someone who has the patience and time to find out everything that is going on in that world and write informative, fact based posts that help others keep up.

I don’t have the time or inclination to do that to be honest and so my Disney content is only personal to me and what is relevant to my next trip. I could never keep up to date with everything going on and I’d never be able to publish that before the four trillion other Disney bloggers do. Most of my posts are just me moaning about the twists and turns of my average, middle class, middle of the road life with hopefully enough humility and bits of humour to keep them readable.

Anyway, I do have a few pet peeves about blogs in general, so let’s see if I can get to three…

  1. Click bait titles – If you see one, (like the one I used) then click it with the knowledge that it’s being used for a reason. Every blogger wants views. Although I don’t blog to get a certain number of views I am pleased when a post I write gets more than usual. Everyone likes that sort of pat on the back. I don’t monetise my blog with ads (if you see any, they are placed by WordPress and I don’t see a penny), but for those who do, then these types of teaser titles are mainly looking to drive numbers up and page impressions mean ad views which ultimately means more cash.
  2. Quitters – Blog or do not, there is no try. I understand this is due to my Type A personality, but if you’re going to announce to the world that you’re going to be blogging and sharing your wisdom and wit, don’t pack it in after the traditional “Hello World!” post.
  3. Over promoters – Look, I blogged, read it, like it, share it. Everyone does different stuff to attract readers to their blog but there is a limit and if I see the same post tweeted out forty-seven times a day, I tend not to read it on principle.

I’m a moaning git aren’t I? Of course these days, blogging is a bit last decade and the big thing is vlogging. The rise of the YouTuber (along with smartphones, tablets and smart TVs) will continue to revolutionise how we watch content over the next few decades. We’re already seeing big time YouTubers crossing over now on to mainstream broadcast media and in the Disney community there are thousands of them. The Trackers are the only ones I watch semi-regularly as they produce enjoyable, interesting and engaging content presented nicely.

Vlogging is not for me. I don’t have the personality or delivery to carry that off so I salute those who do it well. For me, beyond being engaging on-screen and knowing how to deliver to camera well, the real skill with vlogging is editing. If I can get through someone’s vlog without wanting to fast forward huge chunks of it I’m pretty likely to watch future videos.

On the flip side, some more traditional celebs have taken to YouTube to engage with their fans and they are becoming almost as well-known for that as they are for their original career. Tom Fletcher falls into that category and he and his extended family have always seemed very switched on to potential of social media.

I’m not an expert blogger by any means. I probably make loads of mistakes on a regular basis, but for me it’s not that important as I don’t make money from it, I don’t live or die by how many people read this guff and you, dear reader, tend to be very loyal and forgiving of some of the crap I churn out. For me, it started out as an experiment to better understand blogs (which back in 2009 were still fairly new) and a bit of a diary to track what happens as life flashes by at a million miles an hour. I do dip into the archives every now again to read in great detail what I was whinging about in 2011.

If you’ve thought about doing a blog, maybe started one and stopped, I would encourage you to give it a go. For me, and in my very own personal worthless opinion, you have to write for yourself first about stuff you care about or are just thinking about at the time and see if anyone else likes it too. I am sure over the years I’ve purposefully written stuff I know would appeal but I suspect that’s a symptom of having to think of a post every week! If any of you do blog, or are going to, send me a link and I’ll happily share it out here in a future post which may send my reader your way!

Till the next time……

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