Tired & Toothsome.

Is it possible to have a duvet day from your own blog? I’m a bit tired today as yesterday was my company’s annual kick off event. It’s where we all get together at a poshish venue to talk about some business stuff and then have a meal and a drinkie. These days it has to be a heck of a hotel as there are 1,000 employees now and of course this year Emily came to her first one since joining the ranks a few months ago.

It’s always a busy time leading up to it, preparing presentations and videos for the day so it’s always a nice relief to have to have it done. We have driven back up from Birmingham this morning, only stopping to get Emily her hangover reducing McDonalds.

As we grow in size and struggle to find venues large enough to house us, I will of course be suggesting that we all go to those conference venues that will definitely be big enough…you know like the Swan and Dolphin at WDW. I am not too hopeful that the already enormous budget for these things would stretch to that.

There are a lot of us though…



Although I didn’t really drink, today I have that “lost voice” feeling after hours of shouting above very loud music and having managed about three hours sleep in an unfamiliar bed with crap pillows, I am feeling it to be honest. I’m not cut out for these late nights and galavanting at my advanced years.

In more important news, we are now within one month of being able to make ADRs for our time at The Beach Club. It is these small milestones that help to fool me into thinking this holiday is going to actually happen. It seems so far away. We only have a couple of reservations we want to make but you know that feeling of pressure as the time comes near, hoping you can secure that meal upon which your day and maybe entire plan depend upon? No? Just me…OK.

I see that the Toothsome place at Universal officially opened this week too, after a few weeks of soft opening. This is good as it means they will be very proficient in making those calorific creations before we arrive. I want my coronary thrombosis to be caused by food of the highest quality.

This opening is a great example of why Universal and Disney are good for each other. Well, they are good for us punters. You could see how someone might have to choose between doing Beaches & Cream for their ice cream related death sentence or this new place. Indeed, we have sacrificed Beaches from our plan as we definitely want to try Toothsome and now just can’t squeeze Beaches in. As we’ve done it a few times, it was an easy choice. So when one of Universal or Disney open a new thing, it keeps the other on their toes. How will Disney respond?

Now, whether you get your milk shake off of Disney or Universal is no big deal, but, on a larger scale, you could argue that Disney not getting the Potter park franchise a few years ago caused them to up their game and they came back big with the Star Wars purchase and the plan to basically reinvent Hollywood Studios based on that (and Pixar). Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom may make little sense today with the film almost forgotten, but with more films in the barrel, let’s hope that pans our for them. The Star Wars franchise looks a good bet to compete with the Potter stuff at Universal, as there are many, many new films planned and of course for now there seems little chance of new Harry Potter films. In theory, younger kids of the next few years will see Star Wars as more current and relevant with new films coming out every couple of years. Universal no doubt have something up their sleeve too.

So in this way, us customers get fantastic, cutting edge attractions from both as they compete for our dollar. Our only issue is how the hell do we fit it all in? Well, I for one obsess about my planning for months on end and bore my blog readers with every thought and detail. You?


Till the next time…..

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Hair Today…..

There has been very little in the way of Disney thinking and planning this week. Work has been stupidly hectic. I can never say there has been no holiday thinking and planning as even when at my busiest my subconscious is working on things without my knowledge. I will be processing that thing I saw, that restaurant I heard about or that refurb news that came out and somehow applying that to my plans.

Anyway, it was all subconscious last week and remarkably the plan has not been touched or changed since the addition of The Cheesecake Factory.

A lovely thing happened this week though. One of my daughters proved, as they tend to do on a regular basis, that they are nicer people than I.  For years now Emily has had very long hair. Clearly it’s something she has inherited from me. Fancying a change she decided to get rid of a lot of it, but in doing so, decided to donate it to The Little Princess Trust, who provide real hair wigs to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland that have sadly lost their own hair through cancer treatment.


As you can see there was a lot to go at and she had around thirteen inches lopped off to send to the charity. This still left her with shoulder length hair, which frankly is just showing off and is absolutely not fair.


She’s had long hair for such a long time that there was a fear it would be a mentally scarring experience but she says she feels much better for it and it may help her to look a little more like her 21 years…..or maybe not!🙂

It’s stuff like this, along with when I watch Rebecca deal with small kids in such a warm, friendly and loving way that I can almost convince myself I had a hand in raising two humans who are the making the world a better place. They balance out my grumpy, selfish, curmudgeonly traits to some extent allowing me to remain that way with less guilt.

Rebecca and her boyfriend Tom had a week off work last week and drove down to Thorpe Park for a couple of days. Knowing they were driving that far, and with the newly passed Rebecca threatening to do most of the driving, did nothing for my stress levels, but as it turned out Tom drove whilst Rebecca snapchatted, so the worry was for naught.

They had a great time and returned to regale us with tales of many excellent rides. They got a great deal, with two day’s park tickets and a night in a hotel for £100! Sure, a hot dog was nearly £8, but that is to be expected.

It’s been a while since I gave you an update on my pop career, so you can have some now. We (Mustard) are deep in rehearsals for our return from a mini hiatus following the departure of our singer and the recruitment of another. It’s going very well and we can’t wait to get back at it. We have our first live outing with this line up next week with gigs lined up beyond that to the end of the year. As and when I get any video worthy of sharing I shall and you can marvel at my tight leather pants and nipple rings.

In other news, Louise and I have done series 2 of Narcos over the last week or so and loved it. We now know several rude words in Colombian so it was also educational. I recommend it if you are searching for your next binge watch bonanza. See, I told you last week had been busy!!

For now, I may just cast my eye over the holiday plan and see if anything has peculated from my subconscious. I’m sure there’s room for more food if I really try…

Till the next time……

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Cheese? Cake?

It’s been an upsetting week. I was back at work and to make matters worse I had to spend a couple of days away from home down in Marlow. It’s a lovely place don’t get me wrong, but a 4am start and lots of driving on top of actually having to work as well, just don’t make for a restful week.

This is a mere bagatelle however when compared to the horrors of the first cold mornings and darker evenings when I haven’t had a summer holiday. The weather is yet to turn properly of course but there has been enough of a chill in the air, certainly this morning, to suggest what is on the way.

I think it is safe to say that both Louise and I are feeling the pain now and all the signs are that it is going to be a long winter…..sort of Game of Thrones style. Winter is indeed coming and not only have I not eaten hundreds of thousands of calories in the sunshine state, but the bright white trainer industry in the UK is suffering significantly as I have not invested in their wares as I normally would have. It’s a lose, lose scenario.

Still, our new floor, kitchen, windows and decorating look nice, so I feel much better.  -_-

The hardest blow this week however was delivered by text. Following on from my lengthy and detailed blog a couple of weeks ago detailing exactly how you should plan a holiday and at the same time demonstrating how you shouldn’t, if you have any sort of actual life, you will be familiar with my struggle to fit in all the activities meals we want to into the short time we are there. I have already added a couple of extra places which is going to mean eating when we’re not hungry, but on Friday Emily sent me this image.


That my friends is the counter at The Cheesecake Factory. Why was I so upset about receiving this picture? Well, I couldn’t fit it into our plan and I wanted to…a lot. Emily and I discussed at more length than any rational human beings should how we might force it into our plan and bellies but we couldn’t come up with anything that I thought could work without us spending the holiday like this…


I did not admit defeat. Oh no, you don’t get a body like mine by throwing in the towel just because you’re already planning to eat more meals than a small town in just over two weeks.

If the image of all those cheesecakes isn’t enough of an explanation as to why it must be done, then you check out their full menu here.  There are two, yes two full pages of their menu dedicated to cheesecake…and I make no apologies for sharing all of them here….

The One that Started it All!
Our Famous Creamy Cheesecake with a Graham Cracker Crust and Sour Cream Topping
The Original Topped with Glazed Fresh Strawberries. Our Most Popular Flavor for over 35 Years!
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Topped with Hazelnut Crunch and Nutella®
Caramel Cheesecake and Creamy Caramel Mousse on a Blonde Brownie all Topped with Salted Caramel
Hershey’s® Cheesecake Topped with Housemade Marshmallow and Honey Maid® Graham Crackers
Creamy Cheesecake Layered with Oreo® Cookies, Topped with Oreo® Cookie Mousse and Chocolate Icing
Lemon Cream Cheesecake Topped with Layers of Lemon Mousse and Meringue
Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with Caramel, Peanut Butter, Butterfinger
and Reese’s
Peanut Butter Cups
Flourless Godiva® Chocolate Cake, Topped with Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse
Layers of Red Velvet Cake and Cheesecake Covered in Cream Cheese Frosting. Finished with White Chocolate
® Peanut Butter Cups in Our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel
Layers of Our Original Cheesecake, Fudge Cake and Chocolate Truffle Cream
Caramel Cheesecake Topped with Caramel Mousse and Almond Brickle on a Vanilla Crust
Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with White Chocolate and Raspberry
Chocolate Chip Coconut Cheesecake with Layers of Chocolate Cake, Brownie and Coconut Pecan Frosting
Topped with Mango Mousse on a Vanilla Coconut Macaroon Crust
Banana Cream Cheesecake Topped with Bavarian Cream and Fresh Sliced Banana
White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Swirled with Macadamia Nuts and Caramel on a Blonde Brownie Crust
Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse
Our Wonderful Cheesecake and Tiramisu Combined into one Amazing Dessert!
Silky Chocolate Cheesecake Topped with a Layer of Belgian Chocolate Mousse
Creamy Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Topped with Vanilla Mousse and Whipped Cream
Layers of Our Fudge Cake, Chocolate Cheesecake, Vanilla Mascarpone Mousse and Chocolate
A Rich Brownie, Topped with Kahlua® Cheesecake, Creamy Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Ganache

Hershey’s® Cheesecake Between Moist Chocolate Cake with Creamy Chocolate Frosting and Chocolate Chips
Creamy Cheesecake Loaded with Our Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough and Walnuts
Our Original Cheesecake, Baked Apples, Caramel and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Walnut Streusel
Key Lime Pie in a Cheesecake! Deliciously Tart and Creamy on a Vanilla Crumb Crust
Smooth and Creamy with a Graham-Walnut Crust
Graham-Walnut Crust with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Pecan Brownie and Caramel-Fudge Swirl Cheesecake, Topped with Caramel Turtle Pecans and Chocolate
Creamy Cheesecake Topped with Snickers® Bar, Fudge and Caramel
Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Swirled Together, Topped with Cream Cheese Icing and Roasted Almonds
A Classic! The Original Topped with Cherry Preserves
World Famous! Available From September
Cheesecake from 6.95 to 7.95
A La Mode 1.95 Extra with Hot Fudge 1.95 Extra

It will take me until next April to choose which one (or two) I will have.

You may realise whilst looking at the link to their full menu how I have solved this tricky problem. You didn’t doubt for one second that I would find a way did you? Yes, there is a Cheesecake Factory close to Siesta Key. Our time in Orlando may be short but this will not keep me from life threatening amounts of calories. We are saved, and it now sits proudly in the plan like the ticking time bomb those calories will become within my fast hardening arteries.

I’m calling that a successful week after all!

Till the next time…

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Gaston Toys With My Emulsions

That plan that I outlined last week in all its gloriously detailed sadness…..well, it won’t surprise you to learn it has changed a little. That’s a good thing though. It isn’t yet at the “laminated” stage and the tweaks I’ve made were a direct result of some great information and suggestions following last week’s post.

I shall now re-type the whole thing including those changes….no, don’t worry, I’ll spare you that.  To summarise the tweaks, I have somehow managed to fit in another meal, on the day we move from Universal to Siesta Key. Once we have checked out we will breakfast at Hash House a Go Go (thanks Alison). The menu looks awesome and as we can’t check in until mid afternoon we can indulge in a huge breakfast and maybe do a spot of shopping before driving out to the coast.

I also got a couple of suggestions for eateries close to Siesta Key (Thanks Dawn) which we will try to get to too. Another tip was to go to the Outback on Kirkman Road on our first night, rather than I Drive, as it will be closer to Universal (Thanks Ian)…so that’s been tweaked…in fact just read the comments from last week to see all the great info I was given. Thanks to everyone for your input, it is very much appreciated.

I also juggled our Sanaa meal to another day. With just four days to do four parks at WDW, it will take some particularly cunning planing to make sure we get to do the stuff we want to without killing everyone with exhaustion. Originally we were doing Sanaa on our Animal Kingdom day, like this….

Day Fourteen

 Hangovers permitting, an earlyish start to get to Animal Kingdom and hopefully we will have enough stamina to make it all the way to the new night-time stuff too. Either way, Louise, Emily and I will all want to ride Everest in the dark.

 We always seem to end up having lunch at Yak & Yeti, hopefully leaving enough room for a late dinner at Sanaa, ADR permitting. The bread starter thing is a thing of beauty and delight.


but that might have proved tricky as we want to stay at DAK to see the new Jungle Book thing at night and ride Everest in the dark. So now, Sanaa will be done on the first night at WDW instead, when we will be arriving from Siesta Key, doing some Epcot Fastpasses and checking in. The idea is to get to Orlando some time around 10.30am, do some rides till late afternoon, shower and change before a 6.30pm ish ADR at Sanaa before heading back to Epcot for ROE followed by Jellyrolls. Clockwork, right?

I did have Beaches & Cream down for dinner that Epcot day night, but that is now on the “if we get chance list”. We’ve done it a lot over the years and we may just have to pop in for an ice cream whilst we are staying at the Beach Club. These are tough calls I’m making here.

Our Animal Kingdom day will probably see us do a large later lunch at Yak & Yeti, or even dinner…we love it there and it means we don’t need to leave the park.

I’ve had time to percolate these things as I have been off this week. It was my birthday, there was some decorating to do and I just needed not to be working for a few days after a very busy period. Usually, or at least more often than not in recent years, I am not in the UK for my birthday. It has just worked that way as we had to travel in the school holidays, and the last two weeks of August were (I think) the quietest in the parks with the US schools back in session.

Fortunately though, this year we are not in Florida. Our decision was particularly prescient as those poor unfortunate souls unlucky enough to be in the happiest place on earth are all getting wet and stuff with a couple of storms over Orlando. I have kept a casual eye on Gaston and Hermine and as far as I can make out, there’s hopefully no major damage or danger going on, just a lot of rain (apologies if there was any of the former, I’m not fully up to speed) so that would clearly have ruined our whole trip wouldn’t it? It’s best we didn’t go…..right? Right!

Instead, I have worked my nuts off for two days straight finishing off the decorating of our dining room that Louise had already spent many days on. Our dining room isn’t that big but I seem to have glossed the equivalent of the surface area of the moon. Never under-estimate how much white crap you have in one of your rooms….it goes on forever!!! As for the emulsion involved….suffice to say I am an emulsional wreck.

So in summary, the plan is tweaked, we are “lucky” not to have to endure Florida at the moment as it is a bit wet and my body is broken from decorating.

Till the next time….

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Blow By Blow….

Now that all the changes and faffing are done (hopefully) and the dust has settled on all the re-arranging of stuff for our next holiday, I thought I’d share our my (weirdly over thought and scarily detailed) plans with you for our trip even though it’s not until next April. Yes, I know that’s a long way away, but sharing this stuff makes the trip seem closer and reality a little further away, plus, with your combined expertise and knowledge, dear reader, you can point out any glaring errors or omissions. Your opinions are more than welcome, as long as I agree with them, otherwise you’ll just get yourself banned!!  That’s how the internet works, right?

This is all still pretty loose. Well, when I say loose, I of course know where we are eating most days and which parks we’ll be in for the Orlando time, but loose as in each second is not yet accounted for. It is bound to change a few times between now and departure date as I see and remember stuff we have to do….

Day One

We fly out of Manchester courtesy of Mr Branson at around 12.45. I have yet to experience a flight that actually left the ground at the time advertised so let’s say we’ll be airborne sometime in the early afternoon. Once home, myself Louise and Emily will drop off Nana and Grandad at the Holiday Inn Across from Universal (official title, not a description) and head off to check in at the Royal Pacific Resort. Once checked in and short pants adorned we shall collect some grandparents and head out to the Outback. It’s become a tradition that this is our eatery of choice for this first night. It became so as we stayed around Formosa Gardens for quite a few years in a row and it was convenient. A few Bloomin’ Onions and Cheesey Fries later and it’s become a must do.

With us staying quite some distance from Formosa of course, I’ve substituted it for one on I Drive, trusting that the quality will remain regardless of location. With full bellies we shall retire to a fitful sleep, ready for the early rising which is of course inevitable.

Day Two

With us no doubt being awake before it gets light we shall make best use of this by using the early hours access to the Potter stuff. With the grandparents “off site” they may have to wait at City Walk with a coffee until the muggles are admitted. We have five days here so at some point they’ll be able to do the Potter stuff they are allowed to go on. Heart conditions permitting!

Dinner is planned at Cowfish on City Walk. We tried this for the first time on our last trip and it was excellent. I intend to repeat my choice from that trip too with a

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

Full-pound beef burger, creamy peanut butter, fried bananas, applewood bacon, brioche bun. Choice of side. (Make it a SINGLE HUNKA LOVE, half-pound beef burger for $13)

I will not be making use of the $13 option!

Day Three

Today is the tired day. The journey, the early morning wake up and a day in a theme park mean that this is always down as a rest day for us. We shall spend it by the pool at RPR but we shall make the effort to get across to the new Toothsome Chocolate Factory for lunch, which may just be made up of milk shake and pie. We are on holiday!

Dinner is pencilled in for Celebration. We usually do the Market Street Cafe but I have been warned that a change of ownership has not gone well so we may look elsewhere in Celebration. The main thing we want to do is meet Otis again, who we bumped into and fell in love with last year.



Should time and energy allow we may pop to Disney Springs for a look and a wander (but no spending, unless it’s food).

Day Four

Refreshed and revitalised we shall tackle Universal Studios today. A train ride across to IOA may come into play should we be done early before heading off for dinner at the Teak Neighbourhood Grill. It’s very much a favourite of ours and we’re much closer to it than we normally are so it cannot be missed.

Day Five

It’s our last full day at Universal so we shall mop up any stuff we haven’t done or want to do again, no doubt with a bit more pooling too. The plan for dinner is a Disney one and assuming the ADR Gods are smiling upon us when the time comes, O’hana is the plan. We haven’t been since the girls were very small and that was for a breakfast. We did dinner there back in 2003 I think, so I think we’re due a visit.

Day Six

Our first move and it sees us pack up and head for the beach. We check into Siesta Key, here…
final siesta

and relax. We plan to do the beach, food and some cocktails and beer over the next week. Should we, by any chance get bored of days here…

We always have the option of popping to Busch Gardens for a bit of theme park action.

Day Seven

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Eight

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Nine

A radical change today as golf is on the plan for me and my Dad as we leave the ladies to do the beach. The two courses currently contending for our custom are Rosedale Golf Club and Palms at Forest Lakes. Whichever presents the lesser chance of me losing a dozen golf balls in water will get the nod.  I have planned to drive out for dinner to the nearest Applebees. Again, a firm fave and we don’t have time to fit it in during our Orlando time.

Day Ten

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Eleven

Beach! Again, a drive out for dinner to the local Olive Garden. A perennial treat for us. Nothing fancy, just great food, great value and Emily’s favourite Lasagne on the planet. The bread sticks and salad are as addictive as crack cocaine ( I would imagine!).

Day Twelve

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Thirteen

We leave Siesta Key and head back to Orlando. The plan says Epcot from whatever time we get there and at some point we will check into All Star Sports (Nana and Grandad) and Beach Club (the rest of us) for our final few days and whistle stop tour of the Disney parks. We’ve done the resting, now some proper theme park days!

Dinner is tentatively planned for Beaches & Cream and the night will be spent watching some duelling pianos at Jellyrolls.

Day Fourteen

Hangovers permitting, an earlyish start to get to Animal Kingdom and hopefully we will have enough stamina to make it all the way to the new night-time stuff too. Either way, Louise, Emily and I will all want to ride Everest in the dark.

We always seem to end up having lunch at Yak & Yeti, hopefully leaving enough room for a late dinner at Sanaa, ADR permitting. The bread starter thing is a thing of beauty and delight.

Day Fifteen

Hollywood Studios today for another park day. I’m hopeful of catching Fantasmic so it could be a long day and we may pop out late afternoon to eat at Bahama Breeze before heading back into the park for the show.

Day Sixteen

Where else, but Magic Kingdom to end the holiday. It isn’t everyone’s favourite but it’s the symbol of everything Disney and my tradition is to fight back the tears as we walk out of the park for the last time each trip. Emily does less well at the fighting part!

Dinner may very well be at the end of the boat trip across to Fort Wilderness at Trail’s End, which is too becoming something of a habit/tradition, but we’ll see how the day goes.

Day Seventeen

We have a full day in Orlando as our flight isn’t until around 8pm so I would imagine we’ll be doing our normal last-minute shopping at Disney Springs for gifts, souvenirs and those last few thousand calories before heading off to the airport, long pants and an enormous sulk.

As things change, I shall keep you updated of course!

Till the next time……
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Plastering and Pining

Events have conspired to make this past week a toughy.

We are, as I have mentioned before, undergoing some home improvements. This week has seen us getting plastered. Of course, that’s a messy thing and my oft mentioned dislike for disruption and mess has been in full effect. This work is also a blatant reminder of where a lot of our cash has been going recently, when it really should have been going on practical, sensible things like getting us across the Atlantic to Florida.

When we made these plans earlier this year, involving getting some stuff done to the house this summer and planning a trip early next year seemed OK, even manageable and it certainly demonstrated much more common sense than we have in the past decade or more.

Now, however, with my social media feeds full of people on holiday, the weather resembling November and my house like a building site, the irresponsible child in me is screaming that I should be on some roller coaster somewhere with pancakes in my belly.

Work has been extremely busy too, but to add to my longing for our usual American adventure, that’s because a member of my team is currently away, yes, on holiday. He isn’t in the US, but it is Canada which is close enough for me to put that into the same bucket of stuff that I shall keep to remind me never to be so bloody sensible ever again.

April seems a long way away.

Pining for Siesta Key…..

Our dose of US sun normally girds our loins sufficiently to get us through the grim, dark, cold and miserable UK winter. We shall have to take it on this year without that in our tanks and I fear for us. I also fear for you lot as you’ll see this manifest itself in a series of whinging, bleak and self pitying blogs. What do you mean you’re used to it?

On the subject of social media feeds and them being filled with Orlando stuff, of course that’s my own fault. Your social media content is of your own doing (mostly) and mine of course are made up of folks with similar obsessive interests in Florida. I joined a few of those Facebook Orlando groups some time ago, but never really contribute to be honest. They feel too big and impersonal and just a a diluted version of all that was good about the Disney forums most of us used back in their heyday. Plus, there’s some right crap on there too🙂

From questions that make my toes curl, to people who make me want to scream “Stop doing Orlando wrong!!” at my phone, to what seems to have become a stream of “blogs” or “trip reports”, I feel that these groups aren’t for me, other than to keep my eye on any news /updates I need to be aware of. Call me old fashioned, but jotting down a couple of paragraphs around a few photos from your phone isn’t a trip report. It’s fine to do that of course, it’s nothing to do with me after all, and it will still be nice to look back on of course, but for us old school Orlando folk a trip report involves a lot more effort than that. Endless notes, extensive photographs, details of everything, some of which nobody wants to know about and more words than anybody in their right mind would ever want to wade through (and no singing!!). THAT’s a trip report. These Facebook things are just status updates, valid all the same, and each to their own, but let’s not use the wrong term for them eh? There’s another example of my up and down relationship with Facebook!

Hmm, not sure where that rant/trip report snobbery/Disney forum nostalgia came from….perhaps I need a holiday? Maybe that or a new Disney forum we can all use that somehow is protected from cock wombles and trouble makers? I’m not volunteering by the way, but if you find one let me know?

Till the next time…..

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A Capital Weekend

This is a first. I’m on the train back from London blogging from my phone. The typos will be numerous….

We’ve just had a lovely and at times very emotional weekend in the capital celebrating Emily’s recent 21st. We decided to take her to watch Les Miserables in the West End. It’s a show she has been listening to for as long as she can remember. She used to pretend to be Cosette and do the Castle in the Cloud number in our front room at a very young age.

When they made the film version it became an obsession and she watched it more times than I can count.

So our journey began yesterday with the 9.23 out of Manchester and quite possibly the worst breakfast from one of those food court thingies at Piccadilly. I had forgotten I’d upgraded us to first class on the way down so that expense and experience were not necessary after all. We made use of the free coffee at least as we sped South.

We Ubered to the Holiday Inn in Mayfair for less than the tube would have cost us and we were able to check in early and dump our stuff in the room.

We had a wander across to Buckingham Palace and as you do we bought our 21 year old daughter a stuffed corgi from the shop over the road.

We then wandered aimlessly for a bit through the parks nearby and ended up in Trafalgar Square. After a bit of a sit down we wandered into the National Gallery for some culture. That lasted about ten minutes before Louise’s face told me we’d had enough of that.

We walked back to the hotel enjoying the history and architecture (hark at me, ten minutes in a gallery and I’m John Humphreys) whilst Louise moaned about her aching feet. Those dolly shoes were no match for mine and Emily’s trainers!!

Showers baths and resting happened before another Uber down to Shaftesbury Avenue. With the myriad of top class dining options at her disposal Emily had chosen to eat at the Rainforest Cafe.

We were seated quickly after I had used all my powers of persuasion to have the bartender serve Emily some alcohol. Nachos to share as an appetiser before the mains arrived.

We were stuffed and all of my dessert intentions were cast aside as my belt rebelled against my stomach.

With a few beers, wines and multiple cocktails it was £130ish. Pricey but good fun and it was for a special occasion.

We then made our way down to the theatre.

At this point Emily was shaking with excitement. After ordering our interval drinks we made our way to Row C. Well done to whoever secured those gems!!

Emily started crying somewhere in the opening number and was a gibbering wreck for most of the show until the end. The emotional peaks were the end of the first act which is a proper goosebumps and lump in the throat thing and of course the finale which if it doesn’t get you right in the feels you need to seek medical help. The theatre is surprisingly small as was the cast but the noise they generate is incredible. 

Wonderful music, singing and staging led to us being on our feet cheering as they took their bows. We were so close that a few of the cast could see Emily in bits, make up down her face as they took the deserved standing ovation!

We strolled back to the hotel with the tears still flowing and as we had a nightcap in the hotel bar she still could not gather herself. Rest assured she loved it….a lot.

Sunday morning was a lazy one with brunch in a nearby eatery with terrible service and decent food followed by a look around the shops before getting on the train.

It’s been a dear do of course but an experience Emily will never forget and therefore of course money well spent.

I’m now going back to concentrating on not throwing up as I’m travelling backwards at high speed with blurry countryside to my right. Ugh.

Till the next time….

Sent from my iPhone.

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