Look At My Ageing Baubles…

Thank you to you all for your kind wishes and lovely comments on last week’s post. If I could I would invite you all to the wedding but I’m tight so I won’t. That looks like it will be in 2020 by the way, which is a pleasingly long time off giving us some time to eBay our every possession to fund a wedding that a Russian Oligarch may find opulent (probably).

Louise has been working this weekend tending to the weeping sores and boils of the Bolton community which has meant that the enormous responsibility of putting the xmas decorations fell onto the shoulders of Emily and I. Louise normally does it as that is simpler than us doing it and then her re-doing it all shortly afterwards. She is quite particular about such things and to be fair it pays off as out tree always looks lovely.

So I did the wise thing and just did the heavy lifting of locating the tree, assembling it and moving around all the furniture to accommodate it in the nominated space. I then bowed out gracefully and left Emily to execute this year’s colour scheme.

She did well and the final result passed the ultimate test and not one bauble was moved. As we found the suitable baubles to match the instructed colours we did of course come across some blasts from the past.

2001-bauble

The fact that a delicate bauble has survived pretty much intact in our house for fifteen years is a Christmas miracle. Some though have not fared quite so well and the ravages of time, so familiar to my aging body have not been kind.

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Safe to say he did not make the tree this year. The theme was not shabby woolen tat.

Once complete Emily captured the dogs posing in front of it.

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Don’t worry, they got the doggy treat Emily was dangling above them to get them to pose like that.

My four-day working weeks continue and it is lovely to think that I now only have eight more days at work until my long festive break. I may spend the entire fortnight in my dressing gown and a food coma.

As we move closer to Christmas then our holiday moves into sharper focus too. We’ll need to be getting our Disney park tickets early in the new year so that we are in position to do our FastPass + bookings in February. I think we’re going to go with one of those Magic Your Way things as we only have four days in Disney. Did I mention that we have a lot to cram in? Those 4 day hoppers are currently around £312 whereas a 14 day ultimate is about £100 more each. Normally I like to have the flexibility to be able to pop into to Disney at any time but with time so tight and the price difference it just isn’t worth it.

We can pick up the Universal tickets just before we leave with no such incentive to have them 60 days before we get there. I wonder how long it will be before they cotton on to that.

By the way, after I highlighted the cabana nonsense a couple of weeks ago, did anyone see the news about the “express” bus service being offered at WDW? $15 a day per person to get some sort of VIP experience. Now, we always hire a car, as that independence is really important to us, plus we like to venture out and about off site a lot and to be honest I like driving over there in what is usually a lovely motor. So the thought of paying extra for that sort of thing is not something we’d ever do, but it’s another extra earner that doesn’t really feel right to me. Is anyone thinking of using that?

From what I’ve read one thing that might be worth using the service for is that they intend to go through some backstage areas to speed up journeys. That might be interesting to see, but I doubt it will be taking a route through anywhere too interesting or sensitive. For a family of four, I’d venture that for $60 a day you could Uber your way around the parks, could you not? Anyway, I suppose if some people do use this new thing it will lessen the load on the normal service which may be helpful.

Anyway, time to go and walk several animals and then think about what is for tea. Louise has been taking it easy at work all weekend but she’ll expect to be fed when she gets in.

Till the next time……

Landmarks and Not So Little Girls

Some of you kind enough to read this stuff every week have been with me for many years, a few even from way back in the days when I used to write funny trip reports. One of the loveliest things about that for me is your kind and sincere interest in my family and our journey as the girls have grown up.

I often get comments from you saying that you feel you know us even though we’ve never met and that to me makes all the effort of writing the reports and the blogs worth it. You are a lovely lot.

In all that time you’ve shared all the landmark moments of the last thirteen years or so, most of them good, a few not so much and seen the girls turn into the lovely young women they are today (even though I say so myself).

Like most parents with grown up kids I spend most of my days wondering what happened to all those years and at times wishing they were little again. I’m sure when they were little I was wishing they were grown up already. That’s life I suppose.

In these blogs in the past I’ve documented first boyfriends, bad boyfriends and the odd good one too. All Dad’s of little girls joke about the time when their girls start dating and it’s all bravado to acknowledge that really they are pretty powerless when it comes to the choices their daughters make in this area. Both Rebecca and Emily have made some really bad decisions at times and all you can do is keep your eye on them, offer advice that will be ignored and then breathe a huge sigh of relief when finally they see the light and move on to better things.

Well, today I need to share another landmark moment with you. You may know that Rebecca has been seeing Tom for a good while now.

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Well, a little while ago Tom came to see us to ask me and Louise THAT question. Could he ask for Rebecca’s hand in marriage. I did wonder why he has was asking me that as surely Rebecca is still only eleven years old and is far too young for that sort of thing. Apparently she is a fully grown adult now and this was all fine from a legal perspective.

Tom is the sort of boyfriend that you wish for if your daughter has to have one. He treats her very well, works hard, respects her family and knows that Rebecca is a princess and he behaves accordingly. With all that in mind he is one of the few humans on the planet that we would entrust one of our most treasured things to, so we said yes.

With that done he went away to plan the event, helped and supported by Emily for inside knowledge and a girl’s perspective and last night it happened.

He had secretly booked a hotel room in Manchester, telling Rebecca they were just going to the Christmas markets. He decorated the room in a Beauty and The Beast theme and Rebecca shared a bit of this shortly after he popped the question.

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proposal

What followed were probably the most excited texts we have ever received from Rebecca as she told us all about it and how incredibly happy she was. As you know the rule is that if the girls are happy then we are too (generally!).

I am so pleased for Tom that he managed to keep it all a secret and that it all went to plan as he put a lot of thought and effort into the whole thing. I hope he now understands that he has set the bar very high for every other special occasion they share and that the hard work only starts now!

This morning they are both hungover and excited in equal measure and sharing the news with family and friends.

So there you have it. That little girl you saw in the stroller in the theme parks for all those years is now engaged. As with most things in life you think you have all the time in the world until all this stuff happens and then it just does. My bank manager and I pray for a long engagement but I am sure she already has it all planned. You will no doubt here all about it as it unfolds!

Till the next time…..

Fantastic Beasts and Bobbins Tents

I’m quite a fan of a four-day week. Having had my second Friday in a row off, it does make a lovely difference to your weekend. These shorter working weeks will be something we can all enjoy when the economy collapses properly, the pound is worth about as much as winning The Voice and we move to a three-day working week. Look at me and my second political comment in two weeks. That’s enough of that.

I spent my Friday off doing what most people do I think. I went to the tip. Since the council replaced our bin with a thimble, this is becoming a weekly occurrence. I then did some pottering, tidying, small amounts of DIY and then played my bass. It’s this hedonistic lifestyle that will no doubt see me in an early grave.

I did have a quick look at the dollar rate too. Horrific isn’t it? I was hoping for a silver lining to the Trump win in the form of a dollar collapse and the pound climbing against it somewhere close to the 1.40 mark. It hasn’t moved at all. Come on America, please can you make major economic shifts and decisions to make my dole whip a bit cheaper next April. It’s the least you can do.

On Friday evening I went to the cinema with Louise and Emily to watch the Fantastic Beasts film. It was OK. I don’t know what I was expecting to be honest but we were a little underwhelmed. It wasn’t bad in any way, and it was an entertaining enough way to spend an evening, but it just struggled to get going, didn’t seem to have much of a plot and Eddie Redmayne was still playing Steven Hawking (pre-illness).

Like most films these days, it relied heavily on CGI effects and the last twenty minutes were just an extravaganza of huge effects, destruction and fast paced action. It also seemed to end about four times. I know that sounds odd but there were about four different points were we thought it was ending only for it to go on for a bit longer. I’ve probably made it sound worse than it is to be honest but when you extend a franchise like Potter, you have a lot to live up to.

I did see a lot of potential for how this could fit into the Universal parks though. I have no idea if this is planned or not, but this Potter landscape in the 1920’s would work really well. A coaster type dark ride based on capturing escaped Beasts perhaps, or a tamer attraction showcasing all sorts of Fantastic Beasts in a walk though sort of thing. See, I should totally be working in Florida right now making up this stuff for a living. Right?

If I were doing that for either of the major theme park companies, one thing I would have done everything within my power to stop (aside from Stitch’s Great Escape of course) would be these new cabana things in the Magic Kingdom, assuming this rumour is true.

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The rumour is that for $650 a day you can rent one of these things for the day.  Food and drink is extra apparently, so you can sit in a white tent whilst charging your phone in a theme park. If the date were April 1st this would make sense, but what are they thinking? Aren’t they going to sort of kill the theming of whichever area of the park these go in? If you are going to shell out $650 doesn’t that mean you could probably afford to stay at one of the monorail resorts, so if you got hot and or tired you could nip back there for an hour or so?

It is clear to me that these Yanks need some middle-aged Boltonian to put them right on what should and shouldn’t be in their theme parks. I shall sit by my phone this evening awaiting the call. I know all the high ups in Disney wait for my post every week so it shouldn’t be long. I’ll let you know when we move out there.

Till the next time……

 

 

 

 

Meet Bean!

With the passing of bonfire night, Christmas is now in full swing. This of course means that somewhere in a large warehouse on a cold and windswept industrial estate, probably just outside Northampton, thousands of copies of Mary Berry’s fitness DVD are already being shrink wrapped ready for January the 2nd.

This is the true circle of life, moving from one reason to shop to another. We live these days just to give advertising execs a reason to exist it seems. Perhaps it’s the absence of Florida sun from this year but I’m feeling a bit jaded with it all to be honest.

These feelings of being out of step with humanity weren’t helped by the events in the US this week. I never do politics here as firstly I don’t know enough about that stuff to even think about blogging about it and of course anything like that inevitably ends up with people falling out. I will make a minor exception to my no politics rule to suggest that Trump’s election, is, in my view, a huge step in the wrong direction for a country I have a lot of love for. As I tweeted, blurry eyed on Wednesday morning…

This is like when your daughter chooses an idiot for a boyfriend. You just have to sit tight until she sees the light.

I speak from a position of experience.

It’s worrying that so many people feel that this man is required. If the political landscape of the world moves any further to the right we all may fall off the edge.

That lack of a break this summer is catching up with us all now I think and I know I really need my lengthy holiday from work over the Christmas period to recharge my batteries. Not having spent my holiday allowance in the US this year (did I mention we didn’t have a holiday this summer?) I had a load of days left, so I finish work on the 16th of December and don’t go back until after New Year. Even with that booked I had a load of days I still hadn’t used so I have gone part-time between now and then by booking off every Friday. Crazy right? It’ll be like working in the Public Sector (winking smiley face). Even with those booked I’m carrying five days over into next year. Bloody hell it’s no wonder I’m jaded, I’ve been working all year!

Wow, I can feel the lack of energy and moaning tone of this post oozing back at me through the keyboard. To balance this, let me share something a little more joyous with you. We have a new addition to the family here in Williams World. As we only have the 78 animals in our house the sensible thing to do of course would be to get another one. Bean has been with us now for quite some time, as we got her in the late summer. Her arrival shall we say was a little bit of surprise to me, but it does seem she is here to stay so say hello…

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She is actually quite a big bigger now as she is five months old but that photo shows her cuteness when she arrived. Oli has been pretty good in accepting this massive disruption to his routine, displaying patience and tolerance beyond the call of duty with only the odd telling off. The horrors and hard labour of house training are starting to pay off and she is largely well-behaved in that respect now.

The house is a constant bomb site, with the floors strewn with toys and stuff she shouldn’t be chewing, and it’s been impossible to watch any form of television since she arrived due to the nightly noisy games her and Oli play, which mainly involve them chasing each other and barking a lot, but she’s settling in.

I suppose there are worst things in the world with strangely coloured hair.

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Till the next time…..

Sticking In A Sloth?

There are recurring themes in my blogging, which is another way of saying that I probably write the same blog post roughly every six weeks. Today’s theme is that I don’t really have time to write a blog this week, but such is my tragic obsessive nature that I sit here writing a blog to let you know that I don’t have time to write one. As I type I can see the bits of paint on my hands that I haven’t quite got rid of after painting various things in the bathroom a few minutes ago. If a pre-Monday isn’t bad enough, you only have to add DIY to it to make it a whole lot worse.

Add to that we have guests coming for tea (poor people’s dinner) in the form of Louise’s Mum and Rebecca and Tom and I have to somehow cram in watching a football match and it’s a marvel I’m not having a nervous breakdown.

The entire weekend has been somewhat scuppered by a stupidly late night on Friday when I was out being a rock and roll demi-God with Mustard. We played a new venue in Rochdale and didn’t come off stage (yes, there was even a stage) until just after 1am. With packing up and driving home that was a 3am bed time and my aged ravaged body has been playing catch up ever since. I have a good sense now of what it feels like to live to be a hundred years old.

Last week was so busy that I didn’t do ANY holiday planning at all….oh no wait, that’s a lie. Emily and I had a text conversation (despite sitting across from each other at work) about something new we may be considering adding to our stupidly full plan. Wild Florida is in our thoughts, mainly as Emily is obsessed with sloths and they have a sloth encounter amongst many other things which look like a good day out.

We haven’t had time to say it is absolutely locked and loaded into our plan as it may just be an activity too far, but it does look good. If anyone has been I would really appreciate your views and experiences.

So with apologies for what is a very brief post today (the game is about to kick off!) I shall leave you to enjoy your Sunday.

Till the next time…..

Cram Packed Planning

Thanks for your votes and thoughts last week. For those interested, it seems we are a trusting bunch around these parts…

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How productive was your week? I had a good one and got lots done, despite being at work for far too much of it.

As soon as we booked our next trip I added calendar reminders to my work diary on the days we could book the ADRs we wanted. That way, nothing silly like work would make me forget to get those sorted asap. Last week saw three of those reminders pop up and I snaffled them all with great gusto. Who he is and why there was a magician at work I don’t know?

We’re only on Disney property for four nights, so four ADRs seems an awful lot for someone who keeps saying they will be eating off site mainly. Whichever idiot planned to only have four nights on site at WDW is now desperately trying to cram in all the stuff we need to do and it may not be pretty. For example, our only day in Epcot (which is at least a two-day park) is the day we leave Siesta Key and check in at the Beach Club. So half the day, or at least half the morning will be taken up traveling back and checking in etc, so we won’t get into the park until close to lunchtime I think. I am planning on setting fire to the Siesta Key rental in the early hours of that Saturday morning just to make sure we’re all up and out nice and early though.

To make matters worse one of our must do ADRs (Sanaa) had to be on that day, so we’ll need to leave the park in the late afternoon to allow getting ready time (seven minutes for me, a couple of hours for Louise) to get to our reservation in time. It’s an early one as I want us back into Epcot before 9pm to catch Reflections. That may seem tiring but hey, we’ve just done a week at the beach, so be prepared to use up all that saved energy in the next few days.

So with only a few hours for such a large park I was getting a little concerned. At Emily’s suggestion I checked to see if Epcot had Extra Magic Hours that night, with us being on-site superstars and all that but alas it did not. However, I did see that Epcot has EMH the very next night. Well, that works nicely as we are at Animal Kingdom that day, which closes early at 7pm. So once done there, having eaten at Yak and Yeti (an ADR success from this week) we can head back “home” to the Beach Club, and stroll on into Epcot for another couple of hours until 11pm. If our legs can carry us, heck, we can even do Jellyrolls after that if we want to. It’s on our doorstop!

Sure we have to be up nice and early the next day to get to Hollywood Studios for another twelve hour park day but we have a whole nine hours of sitting down to do on the plane home a few days later so it’s all good.

Our final ADR is becoming a little bit of a tradition. Trail’s End is a nice way to break up our final day which of course is always at Magic Kingdom. A lovely boat ride over to the campgrounds, an all you can eat buffet that will threaten to sink that same boat on the way back in to the park just as the sun sets. That’s always a favourite and magical time for me and I love the parks at that time.

In theory we could do a park on the day we fly home but usually we spend that shopping for all those gifts we saw on day two and said something like “we’re here for ages, we’ll get it later” and then have to panic and run around in the final hours trying to remember where we saw it. That and eating. Speaking of which, I posted a few weeks ago about the Toothsome place at City walk.  I’ve also posted recently about WDW and Universal being good for us tourists as they have to compete. Well, as if I knew what I was talking about, did anyone see the extreme milkshakes that are on the way at the new Planet Hollywood place?

Image credit to Inside the Magic

Image credit to Inside the Magic

Yes, one has a full slice of cake on top, what of it?

The problem now is of course, I have to shoe horn these buggers into my plan too. I’m not sure what will kill me first, the calories or the stress of planning.

Till the next time…..

What Would You Wish For?

Who’d want to be a Disney Imagineer eh? Well, me for a start. For location alone it’s in my all time top four dream jobs just behind millionaire, musician and best selling author. As good as the job seems they and in turn Disney will, in my view, always be between rocks and hard places when it comes to developing the rides and attractions. The challenge of keeping up with the noisy neighbours at Universal, introducing new stuff to keep folks coming back as well as retaining the magic and memories that everyone is so attached to is a delicate balance to maintain.

I will personally never forgive the Imagineers responsible for Stich’s Great Escape, but that’s one aberration in a long line of success.

This quandry was brought to mind this week when I saw a rumour posted into my Facebook timeline (thanks Val Ramsey!). The article suggested that Disney were testing a new fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom, postulating that this may be to replace Wishes.

Now, that is just a guess and is a million miles from confirmed. They could just be testing the fireworks for the Christmas stuff they do which will be starting soon, but a new fireworks show could make some sense.

  1. There is currently no night-time parade at MK and they need to announce one for when the Halloween and Christmas parades finish. A new set of fireworks could fit into that.
  2. Wishes has been around for a good while now and it could be due a refresh.

Now something like this is going to draw mixed reactions from the Disney faithful. For some, like Emily, their reaction is horror and instant mourning for something that hasn’t yet died. For Emily, Wishes is all she has known so perhaps the reluctance for change is understandable. For others of course there’s excitement and anticipation for what may be to come. I honesty can’t remember what came before Wishes but I know I will have seen it and as sad as it may be for Wishes to be retired, I do wonder what the next generation of fireworks show may look like. I’d expect Disney to up the ante though with technology now being available that wasn’t when Wishes came along.

There have also been rumours that Paint The Night will come to the Magic Kingdom so of course nobody really knows, unless you’re the boss at Magic Kingdom. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Some folks have even been bold enough to suggest that there will not be a replacement parade at all. Claims that cost cutting will be at the root of this drastic action. Personally, I cannot see that at all. The Magic Kingdom and parades are synonymous, and I just can’t contemplate that Disney would be so silly as to break that tradition.

Whatever happens I’m confident enough to trust that Disney will get it right. The nighttime activities at MK are a show piece event and they have to maintain a standard so that it will mesmerise and entertain their audience, as well of course, making sure it makes a good proportion of them cry, or maybe that’s just Emily?

In twenty years or so, when some other idiot is blogging about Disney changing whatever does or doesn’t come next, there will be a similarly split reaction I’m sure and I just hope I’m still going there to see whatever it is.

So, time for your thoughts, what do you want Disney to do?

Till the next time…..