Happy Birthday Emily…Don’t Burn Down The House!

As I mentioned last week, Louise and I are homeless this weekend whilst Emily has friends round to do birthday things, so I am trying out a fandangled way to schedule this post that was written a couple of days ago. The pace at which things are changing means that it will be even more irrelevant than usual but at least I tried.

Perhaps I should stick to safer ground than having any sort of opinion on the shambola of COVID and travel. It’s been a scorcher hasn’t it? It has looked lovely outside and the temperature almost matched that of my laptop that I have been chained to for almost all of the week.

Sleeping has been intermittent with the duvet abandoned for a single sheet and the precious fan we possess being trained on Oli rather than ourselves as we are big stupid soft buggers.

As mentioned above Emily has her birthday tomorrow and will be 26. Hard to fathom of course for many reasons…

  1. She was 12 last week
  2. She pretty much still looks 12
  3. I look far too young and athletic to be having daughters over 25.

But 26 she is and time marches on and the only constant is the appearance of the usual photos to commemorate the date. We start with a rare “not at WDW” photo from the archives.

OK, on to the elephant in the room and the crushing and incessant shitefest that is the hunt for an international holiday. Nobody could have predicted of course that case numbers here would rocket with daily deaths now inevitably following…oh wait…yes everybody could and that, very understandably led the US to put the UK on its “DO NOT DARKEN THE DOORS OF THESE IDIOTS” list. Whilst I long gave up trying to second guess what may or may not happen nobody can say that is a positive move at this stage.

The totality of the plan in the UK seems to be this.

Lalalala - Reaction GIFs

Maybe if we believe hard enough the virus will recognise that we’ve had enough now and pack its bags. The trouble is, even with packed bags no other country will allow it in as it is travelling from the diseased centre of the world the UK.

With the news of the UK being put on the US naughty list I have to say our collective hope for October lies in tatters currently. I just cannot see an end to this. I was going to put a timeframe on the end of that sentence but it seems pointless to do so.

Sigh. I miss holidays, Florida, WDW and generally not being in the UK.

Louise started a new job this week, still working in Community Nursing but with a new team. It’s always a strange time, with new things to know and learn, and a never ending pandemic won’t help. She appears to have survived so far.

My working week was an overwhelming cavalcade of too much to do and not enough time to do it with a highlight midweek of presenting to “the board”. These are the non Exec folks who preside ethereally over the company and unless you are made to present to them, you’re never really sure they exist. I remain employed so how badly could it have gone?

As we stand right now, Mustard (remember them?) are due to recommence gigging on July 31st. I say that cautiously, as between now and then is time for several U turns, backtracks and incompetence to put an end to the party we are playing at. We’ve put a decent amount of work into a new line up and a new set so that would be a shame.

So I hope this scheduled post thing worked and as you are reading this I will be out and about trying to find things to do until we are allowed home again. Modern technology is marvellous isn’t it. If it didn’t work then, you’ll be reading this much later than usual I suppose.

Till the next time……

50,000 Positives Is Why I’m Negative

They say it is darkest just before the dawn. Well, for those of us hoping to holiday in the US this century, dawn must be imminent because things are looking very bleak in my view.

All the major carriers are now cancelled up until late August, so that’s the school holidays goosed. To summarise a litany of glass half full thoughts, I’m struggling to find any positive indication that travel to the US for pleasure will be allowed any time soon.

Cases are soaring, both home and abroad and all in all it’s a bit of a shit show.

I have seen various rumours and quotes from random sources. A couple have been consistent, with both Fauci and some senior government official in the US “mentioning” September/Labor Day as a time when things will be “looking good” for international travellers to enter the US. Then last week there were noises out of the DHS (not Hollywood Studios!) in the US that allowing borders to open for tourists was definitely under consideration and that the President may offer some form of update in the next week or so. It’s the unerring certainty that I enjoy the most!

If that September rumour is true (and I think it’s the earliest it could happen) then it seems neither side of the pond have any appetite for allowing the school holiday masses to holiday in the US. Perhaps the fact that by then all adults (and maybe some older kids) will be fully vaccinated is the driver rather than any school holiday thoughts.

All in all, I’m a bit weary with it and this constant state of limbo for 18 months, with a whole chunk of change sunk into a never happening event is getting on my wick.

As if to rub salt into the confused wounds, there are things going on in and around Orlando with mask restrictions returning. WDW have not changed yet but I suspect they will. Whilst not a game changer to wear masks indoors, (and I’m supportive of continuing to do so over here where it is sensible to do so) this rolling back of progress is just another kick in the nads for hopeful holiday makers.

I think the most trivial yet disheartening thing is that all the usual build up joy has been sucked from these trips. Me papping on each week about what we might eat in a few months time and where, is part of the fun in doing these trips. Browsing menus, chatting about what looks good and how you can squeeze three sit down meals into one day is as much a part of the trip as actually doing thise things.

For those of us that plan these holidays you will know what I mean. Detailed and intricate timelines balanced on a knife edge just so you can ride some rides and eat some food may not float everyone’s boat, but for some it’s almost as fun as going on the trip itself. You know what I mean. The reason most of you bother to read this nonsense each week is probably because we used all the same internet communities to do exactly what I have just described!

Sure, at some point we’ll be normalish, and living with this thing in some modified way and just booking and then actually going on holiday, but I don’t know when that might be so I am well within my rights to pout and stamp my virtual feet all over this corner of the internet, incandescent with mild rage as to how unfair it all is.

So whilst you may find a few folks with a hopeful glint in their eye on various Disney related Facebook groups, buoyed by the “Biden may announce something soon” rumour, this week, you will not find that here I am afraid. He may well announce something but thinking it will definitely be positive news for us in the UK when we literally have the largest number of daily cases in the world, and I don’t mean per capita, is not something I can get on board with. I shall just welcome it should it happen.

It would not be too surprising to me should the official media of the UK government start to drop hints about a return to restrictions in the coming days and weeks, no doubt blaming the EU or foreigners in general. That is the beacon of light and joy I am with regard to travel right now.

Hey ho. October is some time away yet I guess and hopefully with the very clever and measured policy of *checks notes* completely removing any and all restrictions whilst case numbers are doubling in a week, things may very well improve quickly and dramatically, right? I mean there’s only about 50 people dying every day from this thing, so it’s all good.

As if I have a clue. Sigh.

Outside of pissing and moaning about holidays I spent another three hours mowing grass yesterday, Rebecca, Tom and Freddie are all ill and with negative COVID tests with some other bug it seems and next weekend Emily is kicking Louise and I out of the house so she can host a “small get together” to celebrate her birthday. The one positive for that for you all is that I may not be near enough to a keyboard to come up with more words of joy, hope and encouragement in a blog post. You can send Emily your messages of thanks on various social media channels.

I hope you enjoy the sunny weather of the next few days. If you close your eyes real tight and shove some cinnamon up your nose you might just fool yourself that you’re in Florida? OK, maybe not.

Till the next time……..

Give Us A Clue

I have absolutely no clue.

This statement is applicable to me on a regular basis, but right now, it has seldom been more true. It is both horrific and hilarious that we are sat here approaching 18 months into the pandemic and we still have no clue on whether we will ever be able to travel for fun again.

Why am I so befuddled? Well, I do try and look at the facts and what is going on and draw some sort of sense out of it. You will know from reading this drivel each week that I have been spectacularly wrong on a spectacularly consistent basis so I think it best I give up. Here are the current states of play that are causing me so much confusion…

  1. The UK government have declared the pandemic over and announced we no longer need to modify our behaviour in any way (in England anyway) in a couple of weeks.
  2. COVID cases are rising at a ridiculous rate and the R number seems to be somewhere around 14.
  3. The FCDO have changed their guidance and said it is fine to travel to the US for non-essential purposes pretty much on the same day that…
  4. Virgin and BA seemingly cancelled all flights until late August/early September.
  5. Hospitalisations and deaths are rising again but obviously at much reduced rates than before due to the vaccines.

Some of those things don’t seem compatible with each other. The government policy of herd immunity laid bare now worries me for non-holiday reasons, but in the context of going to some theme parks, I do very much worry that a country with potentially 100,000 cases a day in a few weeks won’t be the one the US really want to invite into their country.

I’m all for lifting restrictions and trusting the vaccines, don’t get me wrong. We have to get back to some sort of normal asap, but I’d just appreciate the feeling that those we have making the decisions could tie their own shoe laces. It would at least be helpful if both the UK and US governments would treat us as adults and share their thinking with us, so folks could make some sensible plans rather than the endless moving of dates and uncertainty we have now.

I have long stated that I think our government have little appetite for getting foreign holidays back up and running and would much rather we spent our cash here this summer. Or maybe they are terrified of letting Brits holiday in Europe as that would expose the joy of standing in a non-EU member passport queue for 12 hours whilst we marvel at our sovereignty.

The government here must know what they are doing….right? I mean, on the face it, letting the disease rip through the under 18’s and unvaccinated with no regard for long COVID or facilitating vaccine escaping mutations might seem like a stupid idea. I mean it would be like….

  1. Allowing the pandemic stockpile to dwindle to nothing so that when one happened nurses had to wear bin bags…..oh
  2. Sending schools back for one day in the middle of the pandemic so that the pupils could nicely infect each other before schools were shut again, taking their newly acquired COVID home to their older relatives….oh
  3. Telling the country that the PM thinks it’s fine to still be shaking hands with COVID patients in hospital at the start of a global pandemic…..oh
  4. Telling the country they could mix freely for 5 days over Christmas before then changing that to 1 day at the last minute when everyone had made plans…oh
  5. Deciding to send untested elderly people back into care homes to facilitate the death of thousand of grannies….oh
  6. Knowing that a more contagious variant was running riot in India and not restricting visitors from that country as the PM didn’t want to upset the chances of a trade deal, despite putting two neighbouring countries on the red list three weeks earlier than India…oh
  7. Spending £37bn on a test and trace system that at its peak was contacting 60% of exposed contacts….oh
  8. The bloke in charge of the nation’s health swapping spit with his mistress after being on telly every day telling us we couldn’t hug our families….oh
  9. Launching Eat Out to Help Out last summer which a University study claimed drove new infections up by between 8 and 17%….oh
  10. The PM’s main advisor blatantly taking the piss by having a trip out for his wife’s birthday undermining the adherence to lockdown rules for millions of people…..oh

Sadly, that list is not exhaustive and I could go on, and if you follow me on Twitter, I often do, but I list those things to demonstrate that those running the show have absolutely no clue what they are doing and are setting out plans based on popularity polls and pressure from newspapers and MPs they cannot afford to upset.

So on a daily if not hourly basis, my belief that we’ll be in WDW in October changes like the wind. I tell myself that there is no way the US will be letting our Delta riddled asses anywhere near their border anytime soon, but then reconcile that with the fact that they would insist on a negative test before entry and most folks would be double jabbed so maybe they would?

In an ideal world it would be great if the US said that double jabbed folks were welcome, and anyone not able to be so could provide a negative test very shortly before arriving. That would seem to be the most sustainable solution but I suspect it may not be that simple.

So where do I think we are with all that being said? Truly, I have no clue. However if Virgin and BA are now cancelling nearly all of August then it seems the US will not be an option until our kids are back in school. That still fits with our dates of course but we’ve been here before and who knows if I will be sat here moaning still in September as our October flights get cancelled too.

To make matters worse I now have to go and do some mowing. Insult on top of injury when all I want to be doing is planning with any degree of certainty which meals I will be eating in a few months time. Is that too much to ask?

The longer all this goes on the more weary I become and I may continue to lash out at those I perceive to be the root of the continued pandemic, as evidenced by the above. I am sure Johnson is terrified! I appreciate that not everyone will share my vitriol and blame assigning, but hey, it’s my blog and I can be emotional and potentially wrong (I’m not wrong) if I want to.

Till the next time…..

We’ll Be Back?

Another week rolls by and it’s another in which I have not shelled out five grand to sit in a cottage in Cornwall and look at the rain. You can still shove your staycation up your arse.

I would much rather shell out considerably more than five grand to stare at the Floridian rain thank you very much.

Still, the bumbling ball sack in charge continues to drop hints and leaks about what “might” be possible at some random point in the future. Hopefully in the coming days we will have it confirmed that July 19th will signal an end to restrictions here and those having enjoyed two pricks can travel to Amber or Green destinations without quarantine on their return. There will no doubt still be a ludicrously costly testing regime involved but if you insist on spending your holiday cash with them dirty “forriners” then they are going to get some money out of you another way.

Noises out of the US this week, from the President’s Press Secretary suggested the US would not be insisting on the vaccine to enter the country, but I would hope that those of us having had it would be afforded some advantage over those who have not. Ideally, double jabbed folks won’t need to test at all or at least not as much as those unprotected.

This comes amid endless Facebook group rumours about certain flavours of vaccine not being good enough for various things. This seemed to relate to the fact that the AZ shot has not been approved in the US. A quick look at the CDC’s web site confirms this is indeed nonsense and any vaccine approved by the WHO is fine.

This is just an inevitable symptom of endless uncertainty, stress and worry from those desperate to get away who have been starved of any real information for months.

On the never ending roller coaster of confidence levels in our current dates, I would say that I am as confident now as I have ever been that we may actually be back amongst the coasters and calories before too long. Whilst the Johnson Delta variant runs riot across the country still, the vaccines are working and keeping hospitalisations and deaths down and from Johnson’s bumblings on the news this week he seems intent on sticking to the July 19th date. Again, he did state we would be through the worst within 12 weeks over a year ago so there isn’t any breath held in this household.

The latest set of leaks and briefings do seem to suggest that the UK will be restriction free after the 19th of July. I’m sure we all have our own views on that and of course everyone should continue to act in a way that makes them feel comfortable. I fear somewhat for the unmasked and unvaxed in schools who seem to be part of some herd immunity programme, but Scotland have already begun their summer holidays and the UK is a few weeks away from that so hopefully that will help.

With that complete relaxation looking to be the case it would seem incredible, yet not impossible, to have travel restrictions in place at the same time. For those travelling to Europe, enjoy the queues to show your passport as you marvel at all the control we have taken back. Those of us who travel to the US have been familiar with the immigration hall queue and often steely glare from someone you just want to stamp your passport for some time.

Should we succeed in our battle to have a holiday I think it’s going to be busy when we are there. The 1st of October seems to be the date upon which Disney is unleashing the Kraken of new and re-opened things. It will be what it will be and we will deal with it.

Last week of course fireworks returned to the parks, Casey’s Corner opened and no doubt countless other things made a step back to “normal” that I missed.

I do, every now and again try to keep an eye on Florida case numbers etc but it seems that has stopped now. The graphs I used on Google no longer update daily and the sporadic numbers I do see seem unreliable. I guess if De Santis doesn’t let anyone see the numbers, he’s doing a decent job, right?

To reflect my dogged determination and current optimism around getting on a plane, next week, unless some world shattering event that I cannot resist forcing my view upon you happens, I am going old school with my post. I am going to share with you a day by day plan for our trip (as it stands) just like in the old days when you didn’t need a crystal ball and medical record to go on some rides. We still can’t book ADRs so it will be full of hopes and aspirations, but you’re having it anyway.

And to end this post on a note of celebration and delight, this week in the calendar is marked by an excuse to listen to two of the best songs ever written on repeat, not that I need such an excuse.

The 1st of July is Canada Day and as I shared during the week, you are compelled to listen to this for roughly 23 hours a day.

This attraction in World Showcase is currently closed, seemingly until September. If this is not open by October there will be strongly worded blog posts as an inevitable result.

Secondly, as today is July 4th, I join with my US brethren to celebrate their Independence and frankly, their lack of gratitude with this absolute banger that I never tire of hearing.

So we are now on a seven day countdown to see if I remember to blog my plan as promised. The anticipation and tension will only be rivalled by any updates from government about which rules they will no longer need to break whilst we follow them.

Till the next time…..

600 Not Out.

The life of a WDW obsessed freak is seldom a boring one. There is always some new thing, rumour or experience to obsess over. This past week has been a glorious extravaganza of news and new stuff, all related to the 50th celebrations of Magic Kingdom from October 1st.

Our move to the 3rd of October now seems like strategic genius until of course we are still not allowed to travel to the US until 2025 and we all have a collective nervous breakdown and sit sobbing in a corner remembering the old days when we could go on holiday.

So you will have all heard the news I’m sure. My weekly slot will never give you new information but here we go with the main headlines.

A new fireworks show at MK

A new fireworks show at Epcot

A new day time show at DAK

(By the way, Fantasmic…it’s fine to join in!)

Ratatouille ride at Epcot opens October 1st

Add to that the stream of daily news about restaurants and shows reopening and basically WDW is seemingly determined to show that the pandemic was a figment of someone’s imagination and normality has always been the norm. I’m all for it. If you’ve done your bit and had the jab (if you can) then we should be heading back to normal (whilst being sensible).

By the time we go (if we go), all of our party (Freddie aside of course) will be double pricked and ready to party.

It is ironic and painful to see this dash to normality in and around WDW when we are sitting here watching our case numbers sky rocket and our ability to travel is restricted to the UK and holiday hot spots such as the Falkland Islands.

It’s almost as if folks who should be concentrating on pandemic related stuff had other things on their minds recently and forgot to lock the door to a more contagious variant.

I’ve been mildly enraged by the incompetent and fraudulent handling of the pandemic for some time now, but luckily for you, I hide it well. With Hancock’s disgraced exit over the weekend I am noticing a good number of folks join me on that particular journey.

Let The Hate Flow Through You | Know Your Meme

The weapons grade hypocrisy layered on top of the fraudulent lining of their mates’ pockets and spectacular incompetence is too enraging for words.

If there had been any suggestion just a couple of months ago that we would be staring down the barrel of another wave, prolonged restrictions and still no holidays by the end of summer, even I may have believed that to be beyond the ability of government to achieve and yet here we are, with even our October dates still looking unknown and uncertain. Maybe we will just roll seamlessly into the inevitable winter lockdowns and really make sure the airlines die a slow horrible death.

You see, it is positive and cheery messages like this that has seen you enjoy endure 600 of these posts now. That’s right, I noticed as I started this one that I have to date posted 599 of these things and today will make it 600. Some may argue, and be absolutely correct, that this is about 599 too many, but on the odd occasion I don’t post, my inbox is full of a message asking where it is. I have to listen to the will of the people.

I suppose my growing anger is fuelled by seeing WDW racing back to normality and really, really missing being there and having any chance of rectifying that being pissed away by chancers with no concern other than their own personal gain and gratification. Let’s keep it about trivialities like holidays and not get started on what the NHS has been through or folks who have lost close ones and had to say goodbye on an iPad and not have a proper funeral.

And breathe.

So, by October, it’ll all be fine right? This is the equivalent of those unending posts on the various Disney Facebook groups where (daily it seems) some poor soul posts a

“We’re booked for (insert date a few weeks away). Anyone else still hopeful?”

This is followed by a mixture of views ranging from absolute certainty that by “then” it will all be OK and doom mongers who predict that anyone travelling outside of your own post code will be shot on sight. It’s just all so bloody draining isn’t it?

Yep, I’m tired and emotional. I have next week off work though so that’ll fix that. Next week’s 601st post will be a deluge of positivity and delight. Indeed, last week Johnson “hinted” that double jabbed folks may be able to travel “somewhat freely” at some unspecified point in the future to destinations not yet made clear. It is this clear and precise messaging that is the reason he is in charge.

Somebody take this keyboard away from me….

Till the next time……

One Date More…

Another day, another destiny, this never ending road to Kissimmee…

We move our trip another time, if we can’t go I’ll lose my mind,

One date more….

The time is early afternoon, the day last Wednesday. I’m at work, attending to things that don’t really matter, but somehow demand all my attention and time when somewhere in my “socials” I see the news.

Aer Lingus had cancelled all their Manchester flights up to the 30th of September. Well, that was just rude.

I’ll be honest. There was a period of around half an hour where I just sat and stared at my keyboard genuinely not knowing what to do. I mean, that is often the case with work related matters but seldom with holiday stuff.

Staring down the barrel of a fifth set of dates, the wind was well and truly out of my sails. I pissed about on the Virgin Atlantic website laughing out loud at their prices for our dates. I really, really did not want to have to pick up and move everything again, but switching airlines was clearly not an option.

We were moving. Again.

I think coming to that conclusion was the catalyst and kick up the arse I needed to spring into action. As much as I had cursed Aer Lingus for their out of the blue decision, when I phoned them, settling in for a few hours on hold, their automated message told me I could change my flights on their website. Virgin, take note. Also, Virgin, any time you want to give me my refund for the flights you cancelled over two months ago, that would be lovely. We are at the “our dog ate your refund” stage of excuses now. It’s bordering on fraud at this point.

The ability to move my own flights was excellent and allowed me to manipulate a series of dates to find the set that suited us best. I was resolute in my desire not to spend another bloody penny on this trip that never is, so my main criteria was getting flights for the same money.

It took some fiddling but I managed it. We had to sacrifice a day off the trip so it’s 16 days now, not 17, but to be honest the extra length of the trip was in honour of my 50th celebrations which seem so long ago now that it kinda feels right to sacrifice that specialness.

So with the flights moved, it was onto everything else. Our new dates are the 3rd of October to the 18th of October. We’ve been in October once before back in 1999, so we know it well.

A Collection of House of Cards' Best Frank Underwood Side-Eye GIFs | Frank  underwood, Kevin spacey, House of cards

I once again saluted the flexible nature of Travel Republic and Discount Florida Car Hire, who have made all this pissing about a lot easier. Alas, Hard Rock is not available for our new dates so we have defaulted to the Royal Pacific, as we have in the past, so no great hardship there.

I am getting incredibly efficient and effective at this now. Within about an hour I had cancelled/rebooked/moved almost everything I could. Two elements remained outstanding.

  1. Vero. Borrowing DVC points via a broker is probably not the wisest move in a pandemic as it seems we are likely to lose that cash now. Unless borders are still closed on August 20th, we won’t be able to get a credit note for our bookings. It stinks and I probably won’t use this company again, but it is what it is.
  2. Park tickets. The ones we bought, sometime in the late 90’s it now feels like, were set to expire at the end of September. My Dad’s tickets which at this point were somewhere in the postal system having only ordered them a few days ago may also have had a similar end date. An email to Floridatix was replied to a few hours later and it seems our dates had been extended and certainly for the ones I had in my grubby mits, I was able to book new park reservations for our new dates. Yesterday, my Dad’s tickets turned up and they are all park reservationed up now too.

I am very much over all this now. We just need to go on holiday.

I am refusing to let myself believe these dates will happen. I daren’t. Florida it seems is charging back to normality at lightning pace as we lurch back into more lockdown having pissed away all the benefits of the vaccine programme. These are just the latest set of dates in the diary. When we are sat on the plane, wheels up, I may let myself think we’re going.

Trying to fill my glass at least half way, if we go on these dates the 50th celebrations for Magic Kingdom will have started. I am telling myself that WDW will for all intents and purposes be back to normal by then and there will be lots of new things specifically for that anniversary that we may not have seen otherwise.

It will be Halloween. I mean, it’s Halloween in WDW from August, but you know what I mean. I don’t think we’ll do the Boo Bash thing as it seems pricey for what you get and I suppose we could try and do Halloween Horror Nights at Universal but it isn’t suitable for Freddie and Emily may well pass out with fear if we subject her to that. The weather will be slightly less hurricaney and we’ll be safely back in the UK before the half term crowds are unleashed on the US from the UK.

Last week brought all the usual speculation and reading between the lines on when travel may be allowed. Fauci was interviewed and seemed to suggest September and it makes you wonder if the airlines have been given some form of heads up to that effect that may have informed Aer Lingus’ decision?

Other rumours are that it will be late July/early August. From a UK perspective Johnson has seemingly painted himself into a corner, saying that July 19th is a “terminus” day and if that is the case there can be little wiggle room not to allow leisure travel at that point. The balance to that logic is that he also said we’d break the back of it in 12 weeks in late Spring 2020 so there is that plus an entire back catalogue of lies, incompetence and failure.

There are even leaks and rumours that double jabbed folks will be relatively unrestricted in terms of the faff required to fly etc. Nobody knows and if anyone thinks the clowns we have running the show have any sort of masterplan then I can’t help you. Literally every case of Covid we have in this country is the one that was allowed in from India by not adding them to the red list at the same time as Bangladesh and Pakistan. I know I piss and moan about governmental incompetence a lot but it makes me angry. Of course they are screwing our holidays up but think of all the businesses that had recruited and planned to open on June 21st. It’s gross negligence.

So as much I enjoy planning these trips, the ratio of five lots of planning to zero actual trips is not one I can get on board with. I am weary of it all and just want any form of certainty at this point.

Away from moaning about governmental incompetence and travel uncertainty, I will end today’s post with a Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all those who assume that role in any form.

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From my perspective it is the best job in the world interspersed with occasional horror but it’s the only job I’ve ever had that I never wanted to change.

Join me here next week for more head in hands incredulity linked to the simple act of booking a holiday and going on it.

Till the next time………

White Van Man

Before we get started, for all of you that enquired about the hot tub, it’s sold. Sorry, I know that will be disappointing but I had to go with the highest offer out of the one I received on eBay, so to the none of you who expressed an interest, I am sorry you missed out.

So that was pleasing news this week. Cash in my sky rocket and the neighbours won’t need to bleach their eyes after seeing me sit in a blow up bath on the back lawn.

It’s been another rage inducing week of things getting worse Covid wise, with all the talk now of things not opening up. Biden met with Johnson this week of course and there is every possibility that having done so he launches the nukes rather than open his borders.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, mainly due to Aer Lingus telling me, honest Injun, that there were only four seats left at that price on our flight, we have had to take the plunge and get seats booked for my Mum & Dad. We’d hoped to leave things loose until later in the summer when things may be clearer about travel to the US, but their marketing technique worked and now my Mum & Dad have joined me in the speculation market surrounding holidays.

The “only four seats left” trick seemed a little fibby when I was able to request seats next to our existing booking with ease, but I am sure they were being totally honest. This triggered a series of other planning requirements that I executed yesterday. The complexity of the adding ons, rearranging and planning is high, but I am, I think, up to that challenge. My life to date has brought me to this point and I have developed a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

Having done some research on vehicles that would accommodate our engorged numbers and all their equipment it seemed I had three choices. A 12 seater transit van type thing (with windows), a 15 seat monster or start taking lessons for my HGV licence. I opted for the first of those and we now have a “Transit van equivalent” reserved with Discount Florida Car Hire. Their flexible approach has been invaluable in all this mess. Way, way back when I was much more naïve, I had booked our (much cheaper) car hire with my usual US Rent A Car. I’m afraid their policies were still the rigid and expensive model if you wanted to make any changes so I cancelled them some time ago sacrificing my £50 deposit and haven’t looked back.

So, according to their web site this is the beast I shall be aiming down the I4 after a nine hour flight and little sleep.

So that we can secure theme park reservations for Mum & Dad an order has been placed with Floridatix for 14 day Disney tickets. They should come next week. They have heeded my advice to give Universal a miss on our first two days. It will give them time to recover from the flight, receive and get used to their scooters and not waste a chunk of change on theme parks that don’t offer that much they would wish or are allowed to do.

Two days by the Hard Rock pool should be a nice way to begin their holiday.

So it’s been a busy couple of days in the planning of the trip that never happens.

Outside of that I have fixed our boiler. I say fixed, it wasn’t really broken, and shouldn’t be, as it is pretty much brand new and state of the art, but that, like many things in this house was the problem. The previous guy liked a gadget and therefore everything is “smart” or has a remote control or both. All that had happened was a drop in pressure on the boiler. Now, I may not be the handiest of men but I have always known or been able to figure out how to do that. Not with this boiler. There was no tap or lever to do this anywhere. I watched endless You Tube videos in which plumbers skirted around the issue and when I did find a video about our specific boiler it seemed my guy had a non-standard option installed with regard to refilling pressure. Of course he did.

I even sent photos to a plumber (he asked I don’t send any more of “those” photos and keep it to ones of the boiler) and even he was stumped. After many hours, I took the front of the thing off again, pulled some bits down that were pull downable and there hiding behind a black pipe was a small brass thing. I tentatively stuck a screwdriver into it and turned and the sweet sound of rushing water and a rising pressure gauge told me I had cracked the Da Vinci Code. Why so hard?

Then, yesterday I moved onto the grass. Yes, I know I only moaned about cutting it two weeks ago, but it seems when I cut it back then I just made it angry and it has in that time put a lot of effort into making me mow it again.

I did two hours yesterday and got about half way down the field. I did briefly consider wonder how much it might be to pave the bloody thing, but I may be out there again today trying to tackle the rest. I hear lots of advice about getting sheep or similar, but we have enough pets thank you and that restraining order from the RSPCA is still in place anyway.

So, the plan has changed, again. The number of travellers increased on the Dibb Vacation Planner (the one thing I still use The Dibb for) and it now has more moving parts than our boiler. If you plan to be in Florida in September, firstly, let’s hope we get to be there, but secondly if you see a white van hurtling around WDW with two scooters strapped to the roof that’ll probably be us. Give us a wave.

Till the next time…..

Do You Wanna Buy A Hot Tub…?

I’m sure there is some legend or custom somewhere that says something like everyone endures their own personal purgatory or hell. For me, someone who has been known to enjoy a trip to WDW, this never ending waiting and re-booking of such a trip seems to be mine.

Like some memory deficient goldfish, each time I move the dates I am, in that moment, absolutely convinced it will go ahead. Then, sometimes, moments or days afterwards, I am kicking myself for my fanciful naivety as I stare down the barrel of another postponement and more admin and expense. How I yearn for the heady days of booking a holiday and then going on it.

To quote the leather clad love God David Coverdale, here I go again.

Classic rock glam metal GIF on GIFER - by Gardazuru

Another government briefing and a backward step in the hunt for a holiday. The only meaningful country on the green list is back to amber and with cases here rising by 160% recently, you can almost hear Joe Biden tutting in disappointment and disbelief that we did this to ourselves despite Matt Hancock pleasuring himself in public last week at how good a job he has personally done in delivering every single vaccine himself.

Experts have been warning (deja vu, right?) for weeks that because we didn’t do anything about incoming folks from India in early April, and removed masks in schools full of unvaccinated kids, re-opening stuff would lead to another wave but yet again, those “in charge” take action too late, driven more by their own PR and agenda than doing what is required. We didn’t need to be here.

So our nailed on September trip, unencumbered by masks (probably) now looks incredibly unlikely in my view. Why on earth would the US (or anyone) let us in when we’ve imported a more contagious and deadly variant just so we didn’t upset a country we need a totemic trade deal with to pretend that our self-inflicted collapse in trade with our neighbours is all OK?

Angry? Yep!

Sure, it’s only a holiday (and believe me, in real life, outside of writing this stuff each week, I know there are many more important issues and problems…more of which later) but let’s not forget the travel industry which if not already dead, is being stamped on repeatedly just to make sure. And if I see one more article or tweet about a staycation I will be kidnapping Judith Chalmers until this madness is ended. Not sure if she’s still with us, but either way….

I will be a long time dead before you see me holidaying in some rain soaked British “resort” spending thousands for an inferior experience I don’t want to have.

As if somehow subliminally I know we will be spending our summer in our garden we have been kitting it out with stuff. Recently I was fortunate enough to win some garden stuff via an incentive at work. So that included some of this ever so on trend rattan furniture, a voucher with which we bought a fire pit and a small hot tub.

On that note if anyone wishes to purchase a hot tub, still in box, for much cheapness compared to what John Lewis flog it for, then hit me up. It’s only a small two person inflatable thing but me in my budgie smugglers in the back garden is not something I wish to inflict on anyone so yeah, hot tub fans, get in touch and we can do a deal.

We also purchased a BBQ. So once the furniture arrives (it’s been a while already) our garden will be fully equipped. It’ll be fun sat inside seeing it all get rained on as I watch some more vlogs from a place we can’t get back to.

Yes, I am watching vlogs again. Having what I thought was a realistic chance of going soon put me back in the mood. How long that will last nobody knows.

In more upbeat news, last week both Emily and Tom had their first jabs. They aren’t officially old enough yet but they took advantage of one of the many walk in facilities currently on the go in Bolton as it is the new Wuhan at the epicentre of the global pandemic. Stu Francis will be mortified. A sore arm here and there aside they are fine and will both be double jabbed come the end of July.

I am now as of yesterday, a double prick. I have the sore arm and mild aches to prove it. To quote another musical legend, David Guetta, I am now Titanium.

In less nice news last week saw both Louise’s Mum and Rebecca enduring short hospital stays. Both are back home and hopefully on the mend, so whilst I do primarily rant about the lack of our holiday each week, do understand that I hold it in the appropriate level of importance outside of what you read here each week.

During last week’s extended weekend we hosted a BBQ. Discussions turned as you might expect to holidays in a certain place and my Mum & Dad, who probably had come to terms with the fact that they had done their last such trip began to consider another foray into the breach once we established that a scooter rental for the duration of the trip would be affordable. Slugging it out around the parks on foot is not an option for them now, but this would open the possibility of going again.

After checks with medical professionals, they were green lit and it does now look as though they will ride again, literally. We are now in the early stages of adding them to everything, in a measured and relaxed way, as we still do suspect the trip may not be allowed, so the booking of low deposit, cancellable things is being done first.

I am now looking at our car hire options and wondering what vehicle will take eight people and two scooters. Do they do double decker buses?

So our eternal flame of hope (how many pop legend references can I get into one post…..with that cap doff to Suzannah Hoff and her Bangles) still shines, if not a little dimmed from last week. Whilst I still sit cursing the incompetence that has us set fair for a fourth wave and international shunnery I still keep booking stuff and planning this trip that never happens.

Despite Roger Daltrey’s wise words, I will, it seems continue to be fooled again.

Till the next time……

Let It Lingus

Hello again. I was inundated with a message last week regarding the lack of a post last Sunday. I’m grateful for anyone giving a toss of course but I just gave myself, and perhaps more mercifully, you the day off from another post with me spouting uneducated guesses about things that are unknown. The day was filled with other stuff (mainly mowing tbh) so I just chose not to burden myself and others with the blogging thing.

Things still aren’t known of course but I’m back at it, whether I or you like it.

To quote a random millennial from off of Instagram, with regards to this bloody holiday I have been at the “I can’t even…” stage for a while. We’re all still here with no clue as to what and when the US might do and our own government, unable to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, have somehow enabled a variant to instigate a climb in case numbers that could very well be putting Biden off letting us in.

Over in the States they are doing their best to remove all the stuff that was putting us off from going, with restrictions being removed quicker than EU citizens from the UK. Yet still, perhaps understandably with the UK having impregnated itself with this new variant for no good reason, they may well now be reticent to let us in.

Biden is over here in early June and it may well be then that we learn some more about if and when us dirty infected Brits can once more eat ourselves into diabetes in a Dennys.

Our loose and tentative plans for September have remained in place, as much as they could with zero financial commitment for a while now. Then, on Thursday the stars aligned and some real world stuff we’d been waiting to hear about fell into place and despite the nagging voices in my head telling me not to do it to myself again, flights were soon thereafter secured.

It will not be a surprise for anyone that we have still not had our refund from Virgin for our now cancelled June flights. With it now being over two weeks since I got their email confirming my request for a refund, I got in touch. Many hours passed and it turned out they had no record of my request for a refund. Seemingly they had just randomly emailed me about a refund I had not requested, confirming that I had requested it.

I re-requested it. We wait some more.

Anywho, luckily Aer Lingus, who will have the honour of carrying my not inconsiderable frame across the Atlantic, offered a deposit only booking with more flexible options for cancelling and/or moving than you could shake a Shillelagh at. So I feel as comfy as you can these days that whatever happens we’ll be OK.

I had tidied up the last piece of the June cancellations this week, being a month out from our intended Vero stay I was allowed to convert that into a credit note for future use. I got those credit notes on Friday and have started the process of rebooking our days at Vero this time in September.

Outside of holiday news, now we are allowed, we’ve done things like have Rebecca, Tom and Freddie for tea last Sunday and Freddie even stayed over at ours on Tuesday night. That’s been lovely.

I’ve done another five hours of mowing on our field and it already looks like it needs doing again. This is mainly because it has rained constantly, apart from the five hours I spent mowing, since April. I am also delighted to report that the frustrating WiFi woes we have been battling since we moved in have been defeated by my technical genius. Well, I say technical genius. I spent £40 on a new router from Amazon and a 30m ethernet cable to run to my office. Anywho, on our wireless network pre-upgrade I was getting 7 Mbps and after 70Mbps. That is the single most impressive thing I have done for many a year. Plusnet, the routers you provide are a bit shit. FYI.

Work has been a bugger recently. Lots of plates spinning, some coming very close to hitting the ground and one of my team had some horrendous family news this week and we’ve been supporting him through that in whatever way we can. It’s seems churlish of me to complain about work in light of that, but I suppose I still will.

So, in summary. We go again, again. My planner is rejigged once more and it has been so that often that it is dizzy. I had, despite the lack of interest and belief that we’d be allowed to go in September, booked theme part reservations for our September dates so that’s all good. I am now beginning to fill up the days with the important stuff. Where are we eating?

This is trickier than normal as many on-site places remain closed but we only really want two of those, Sanaa and O’hana and I’m hopeful they will be open at least by the time we go. Whether we can get an ADR remains to be seen. Other than that our list will include all of our Greatest Hits such as –

Cowfish

Hash house a go go

Teak Neighbourhood Grill

Romano’s

Olive Garden

Bahama Breeze

Cheesecake Factory

With some new ones for us, such as Antojitos at City Walk.

For all our sakes let us hope that this is it now and we get to do this trip. It is now a war of attrition and I will either have this holiday or bore everyone to death trying.

Till the next time……

Hit Me Baby One More Time

I think it’s fair to say that this time last week as I was as close as it may be possible, for me, to fall out of love with the idea of a WDW trip. Three sets of dates and over a year of endless speculation, stress and worry can do that to a person.

Well, if a week is a long time in politics then it’s currently an age in the realm of Florida trip planning. All I can say is…

I'm Ready To Be Hurt Again GIFs | Tenor

This is of course madness as we still have no solid information about when borders will re-open in the US or what ludicrous testing expense will be involved in any trip, but the tractor beam of fun and food has pulled me back in. Frankly, we’ve already missed enough time over there, especially with Freddie, so despite there being several reasons why we probably shouldn’t dive right back in, the speedos are on and I am perched on the edge of the diving board with all my flab wobbling.

With some real life stuff to bear in mind, our window of opportunity is a small one and for reasons I will probably share with you at some point, we really need to get this thing done before the end of September.

During the week, I have been slowly bringing myself back around to believing we may actually go again, ever. Even though I thought the chances would be slim of managing to thread the needle of family logistics, dates and borders re-opening, I did, despite “not feeling it” book some stuff that incurred no expense. So, car hire was secured (and wtf is going on with car hire pricing?? I want to drive it for a couple of weeks, not bring it home!) with Discount Florida Car Hire who offer no deposit, free cancellation reservations, which is gold dust in these crazy times.

I had already moved the villa booking to some dates close to what I thought we would do (sorry Matt, I’ll be changing those again any day now!) rather than just cancel it, as it is too nice of a place to risk losing, and just because I could, I did some theme park reservations. Yes, this is what me not being in the mood to plan a trip looks like. I never said I was normal.

There are some other practical considerations to the September deadline too. Our theme park tickets expire on the 26th of September. Sure, I could cancel or move them but that is hassle, and our DVC Vero booking points have to be used by the 1st of October. If those two things alone aren’t a message from the Gods I don’t know what is.

So as I sit here today, I am very much in the mind of “Christ, we need a holiday to hell with the consequences”, and my finger is metaphorically hovering over the button that has..

Alexander Vlahos on Twitter: "Just booked a holiday & now I'm all:… "

on it on the Aer Lingus web site. I can do so with a deposit, and they have what seems to be flexible cancellation/rearrangement terms should this Indian variant gifted to us by the dither and incompetence of the corrupt blancmange in Number 10 do it’s worst, we should be OK. By the way for our “new” dates (see how I am already talking as if this is a done deal?) Aer Lingus are at least £1000 cheaper than Virgin. What idiot wouldn’t book that, right?

Hey, and look, the dollar rate is 1.4ish so the holiday pretty much pays for itself, right?

Ideally, we should sit back and wait for everything to play out. The confirmation that borders will open and when and what will be needed to travel etc. My concern is that once all that is done there will be a rush of bookings and the decent flight prices I see today may rocket.

On the subject of testing, I think I saw something from Virgin about £55 tests but didn’t read it in detail as at that point I was sulking. I also wonder if the US may not require testing for vaccinated folks flying in, as the mask policies now seem to be based on those who are vaccinated, even though there is no way of knowing who is and isn’t of course. For flights, there is a way to check (my vaccine now shows in my NHS App by the way) so it may be either a vaccine or a negative test.

To be honest, my return to the fold of trip planning also contains a large dollop of not letting this thing beat me. All that time ago, I booked a trip to WDW and by hook or by crook I am determined to bloody have it. Also, should I not give myself some hard deadline by which I need to stop eating shite constantly and lose some weight I will need to do something drastic like buy some bigger clothes.

It has been a great week for the return of some form of normality should we go ahead too. The CDC in the US have issued guidance about wearing masks outside, and within what felt like minutes all the theme parks announced that masks were now optional outdoors. This makes a huge difference. Come September, based on the incredible pace of change we are seeing now, masks could be optional everywhere, but if not, popping one on as you enter an air conditioned attraction, shop or restaurant is infinitely more tolerable than having to wear one everywhere.

I would imagine as the summer progresses and assuming vaccinations keep happening and cases numbers dropping, more and more of what we all recognise as normal in WDW and beyond will return. I’m looking at you fireworks and parades. With park capacity already being increased it makes sense that these shows and parades will need to come back to give the extra guests something to do, and hopefully Fast Pass too. I have, however, thought for some time that these park reservations may remain forever though.

The data and ability to plan that this gives Disney must be gold dust. For them to know exactly how many (and which) guests are coming to a park on any given day allows them to staff up accordingly plus a million other operational efficiencies that a pleb like me can’t even imagine.

So with my “I’m done with this whole WDW trip” strop over after just a few hours I am off now to ponder booking our flights, with the worry that Biden is sat in the Whitehouse shaking his head at the UK for allowing the Indian variant in for absolutely no reason whatsoever and wondering if this continued stream of national self-harm will continue much longer.

Let’s hope this does not stop the borders being opened to UK tourists as expected in early July as rearranging this trip again may be too much for me and I’d then have to sulk about it for a few hours and then jump straight back on the planning horse and start again. Again.

Till the next time…..

Cancel Culture

I have, over the years, had better weeks. I’m not one to moan as you know, but amongst other things I have spent a good amount of time this week cancelling all our June bookings and plans. There is literally zero joy in any of that work, especially when there are no new dates yet to replace the old ones.

However, having done so, and knowing it was the only call to make really, despite no official announcement having been made (at the time) there comes with it a form of liberation and release from the stress of analysing and worrying about every little announcement, nuance and tweet related to travelling to Florida in the coming weeks.

I know now that we won’t be doing so until late summer at the very earliest and if I were looking for sliver linings to this cloud of shit, then the fact that things will have settled down, become clearer and hopefully more normal by then has reduced my stress levels considerably.

Everything related to our June trip was cancelled by mid-week where possible. Virgin and our Vero DVC points booking remained outstanding and then on Friday I got the email from Virgin telling me our flight was cancelled. For once, it turned out I was right. Their email came before the 5pm announcement of green countries so clearly airlines etc had been given a heads up, and Virgin’s move to start flights again to Orlando from July 1st ties in with all the predictions around when the US could open their borders.

The Vero booking, should borders not be open by the 26th of May, (one month before our stay there) will become a credit note.

The dates of any next trip remain uncertain. I know it doesn’t seem like it just by reading what I put here most of the time, but there are a couple of real world things that we need to get clarity on in the coming weeks and maybe months before committing to new dates and this is why I cancelled the Virgin flights rather than just move them. That in addition to their flight prices being ludicrous for later this year of course. So we wait for these real life events to sort themselves out and for Virgin to give us a refund. Who knows which will happen first.

On a more general note the stats in the US and UK continue to be excellent. Much better than the models predicted I think and as I said last week, I think it is clear now that WDW and Universal are very much planning for as much normality as possible by the time we get to “the fall”. What Mark E Smith has to do with it I don’t know. (Ask your Dad). Only yesterday, or was it today, cast members working outside now have the option to wear a mask or not. Over the coming weeks and months I expect almost all COVID related restrictions and practices to be removed from the parks and resorts.

My vlog abstinence continues. I just can’t bring myself to right now. That’ll change as our plans emerge from this fog of uncertainty but for now, it’s too soon.

It was pleasing to see TUI take a lead on the testing front. For as long as those are required, the absolutely ridiculous prices that PCRs are being offered at are profiteering of the highest order and TUI’s offer of £20 a head is much more like it. That will surely now force the hand of the other airlines and operators to offer a similar service. Again, by the time we go, hopefully with all adults having been able to get a couple of jabs, the vaccine will be enough.

In other more pleasant news, Friday saw Rebecca turn 24. I say it every year, but does that make you feel old? It was only about 18 months ago you were reading about her in my trip reports as a small child. She was a small child not you, I suspect.

Here come the usual set of photos to commemorate her big day.

A second birthday amid COVID restrictions for Rebecca then but Tom was able to take her out for an al fresco meal at least this time.

So the excitement and anticipation of having a countdown is gone, although I can’t say I have been too excited about any of the three sets of dates we’ve had booked recently, as we always suspected they wouldn’t happen. Hopefully, we can rectify that soon to avoid any prolonged huge man baby sulk on my part and weeks of me whinging on about it here.

I know you wish for it too.

Till the next time……

June’s Too Soon

You will be glad to hear that I cannot bring myself to spew out another post all about the ifs, buts and maybes of a potential holiday. This will make for a beautifully short post for you this week. This is mainly as it is now confirmed that we definitely won’t be going in June. But for anyone who is looking for a summary of another crazy and fast moving week in the world of international travel resumption here is where I think we are.

  1. It seems clearer by the day that the US will re-open its borders to some at the end of June.
  2. Virgin seem to have pushed back resumption of flights to MCO to the 1st of July
  3. Although they denied this was the case when I contacted them. I suspect they want to rearrange/cancel all the May bookings before dealing with those in June
  4. There has been a ton of progress in terms of removing and reducing COVID restrictions in and around the theme parks
  5. There’s a roadmap for mask mandate removal linked to vaccination rates, and temperature checks and hand washing stations are all being removed from the parks sooner rather than later. The parks seem to be planning for “normality” or close to, over the summer months.

So as soon as Virgin admit what is going on I will cancel our flight with them and settle in for the wait for the refund, along with all the other cancellable bits booked for June and take stock as to what we do next and when.

As and when the border re-opening is confirmed for late June as is now widely predicted that will be good news for everyone booked for later in the summer. In line with the expected mask mandate roadmap, by the time we get to the late summer/autumn it could be that masks are pretty much gone and even social distancing will be lessened or removed. It is testament to the efficacy of the vaccines that this is looking possible. They seem to be much more effective at everything it was hoped they would do than anyone could have hoped.

Certainly by 2022, assuming the variants knocking around continue to be handled relatively well by the vaccines and whatever boosters are produced, then I think we should be able to start to dream of a Florida holiday as we used to know them.

So if you have something booked for July and beyond it is looking like you will be allowed to go if you wish. How do you feel about that? Are you going regardless of the remaining restrictions and testing requirements or have you decided to leave it until the day that we can think of a trip as “normal”?

There is still a lack of clarity around tests I think. Last week Grant Schapps said in an interview that the test requirements were no big deal as they were already offering everyone free tests. Those of course are lateral flow so was he saying they would be acceptable or did he mis-speak?

It was also announced that the NHS app will be your proof of vaccination. Because I am wired the way I am, I downloaded it to see if my first jab was there. It isn’t, so I wonder if it only shows up once you are fully vaccinated? I’m hopeful that in coming years, an up to date vaccination for COVID will negate the need for any tests but as ever we can only wait and see.

So as things take shape week by week, some clarity is emerging for future trips. Now it’s clear ours will not happen, it’s time to take a breath and some refunds and regroup. Alas, you will hear all about it as usual.

Till the next time….

Mow, Mow, Mow

Another week drifts by and it had been largely filled with more nothingness, rumour and confusion. It’s almost as if the government don’t want anyone going abroad and giving those nasty foreigners our money this summer.

I know this next statement makes me an absolute whopper, in light of the horrific scenes out of India at the hands of this virus, and of course when compared to those anywhere in the world suffering financially and with their health but as ever the ramblings here are my own little world and mostly holiday and travel related so please accept the large grain of salt provided to you free of charge. At least I am not gathering with thousands of other dickheads on the streets of London to protest that I cannot do the very thing I am actually doing.

I am getting annoyed and frustrated at the eternal state of limbo now with this trip.

There I said it. My own little temper tantrum and foot stamping written down for all to see.

I know no updates were promised or expected specifically last week but all this vaguery cannot be good for the industry, never mind my inner two year old. They are going to need notice to recruit or rehire staff, put petrol in the aircraft and other such vital safety measures.

Update wise, there was a little kerfuffle in the land of Disney Facebook groups on Thursday driven by an article in some newspaper about the US putting the UK on some do not travel list. My understanding is that’s where we’ve been for the best part of a year and nothing has changed, but crucially needs to if we are to go.

Then an article from the chap who had been my beacon of hope until now suggested that the US would open up around the 28th of June.

We are due to go on the 14th.

A few quotes from the article….

I understand the Government will reveal which countries are in the new traffic light colours of red, amber and green on either 6th or 7th May

The USA will go green before 4th July Independence Day, as Biden re-opens borders to the British as part of a reciprocal deal.”

“So, this suggests 28th June would see the US opened up.”

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m at a point of not being arsed either way, I just wanna know.

Should that prophecy come true then we are back to rearranging again and all the faff goes with it but, if he is right we should know on or around May 10th if the US is not open for our dates, from a UK perspective anyway.

My plan B, if rearranging again is my fate is September. Why?

  1. Our current theme park tickets are valid until the 26th of September
  2. Our borrowed DVC points used to book Vero have to be used by October 1st
  3. Mask requirements may be less than they are now by late summer
  4. I don’t want to wait until January

With that in mind and in light of the article above I once again contacted Virgin during the week. Once through to someone (via text) I asked about our options and it does seem the rules change every time you speak to them. This time it turns out –

  1. As I have made two changes already any further ones would incur amendment fees and price difference
  2. When they actually went to price up the new dates I was told that my fare didn’t actually incur any amendment fees. I have no clue why.
  3. The price difference was £2500 on top of what I paid for June
  4. I had priced up the new dates on their web site and got a price that was about £900 more, but I couldn’t have that apparently as when moving dates I had to retain the same cabins, Economy Delight and Premium and with those in place the price was silly.

So we are trapped in the current dates until it is known that travel will not be allowed on the 14th of June as seems more likely now, or it is and we get to go.

I suppose if the US does not make it onto the green list for the 17th of May then that would at least allow us to move forward and do something. Maybe. Would Virgin take that as enough to allow me to cancel, as is now my wish? I will explain why shortly. My worry is that the US is on our green list, but the US don’t respond and we are waiting who knows how long to know whether we can travel or not.

Should we ever know that the 14th of June is not allowed, my current plan is to cancel my Virgin flight and book instead with Aer Lingus who have much more acceptable prices for our September dates, but of course over time that may change if and when demand increases and this frustrates me greatly.

Not really feeling motivated to do so, I had dipped my toe half-heartedly intro the ADR pool in the early part of last week only to be met with disappointment and dull dining options. I get it. Most eateries are not yet open in WDW, but all our dining plans are in the bin it seems should we be able to travel. We won’t starve of course, but much of the fun of these trips is the build up and planning of such things. All of which have not applied so far. I have made one ADR for House of Blues. None of our other planned options have been available and this popped up and seemed OK and somewhere we should have tried by now, so it is in the bag for now.

I never thought I could feel so underwhelmed less than 60 days out from a (potential) trip but these are not normal times. It’s the mixed messaging which is the most frustrating. One minute it’s all dangerous variants and the next it’s the vaccine is doing its job and the stats are incredible. I’m just venting frustration here at not being able to move on with life never mind the holiday. I know these are unchartered waters and all that, but doing our trip or not alters our cash flow significantly and not going means we move ahead with some house stuff whilst going means that waits.

How many more weeks are you going to be subjected to this self-obsessed whinge fest about visiting some theme parks?

Right, on a change of subject, and in better news, we have taken advantage of the less strict rules to spend some time in the garden. We have equipped said garden with all manner of things that a three year old would approve of as you can see.

It’s been lovely to see a bit of sunshine and family members in our new garden. This was a large part of why we moved house and we are very glad we did.

However that theory was tested yesterday when, having spent about 100% more than I ever wished to on a lawn mower I had to tackle the meadow/field thing that came with our new place. Still, judging by the lockdown paunch sported here, a few mo’ mowings wouldn’t hurt me for sure.

Apologies for the horrific quality. Louise posted it on Facebook and the only way I could include it here was to video the video.

This was about half an hour into what turned out to be around three hours of mowing. With about 5% of the field remaining the mower gave up, presumably overheated, much like the idiot pushing it.

So my endless torment linked to a simple holiday abroad continues. I’m at the point where I can’t watch vlogs currently as I get annoyed about that uncertainty and not knowing when we will return and it takes away from my usual enjoyment of vicarious visits.

I wear my tantrumming tit badge with pride.

Till the next time……

Feast and Famine

After a busy and confusing blog last week, documenting the all you can eat buffet of news and announcements about international travel, this week has seen us stricken with a famine of facts. Having hyped ourselves up to think we may get to go away in June, for whatever kind of trip that may be, now we seem to be in a vacuum of updates, without even a firm timeline for when we may know more.

The death of Price Phillip probably hasn’t helped as the country has been consigned to a six month mourning period it seems and nothing can happen until that is over.

So what are we waiting for now?

  1. The US to be added to the green list for UK travellers. The timeline here is “early May”.
  2. The US to confirm they will accept UK travellers. No timeline here, only rumours. I’d hope it coincides with the UK’s publishing of the green list of course.
  3. Confirmation and clarity on what type of tests will be needed to travel.

We only need the first two in order to know if we can go or not, but the third would be nice. Much is said on the news and by politicians about whether or not folks could and should book a summer holiday this year, but the many people like us who have had a trip booked since 2019 that still hasn’t happened, despite shifting it multiple times, seem to be ignored. Our money is spent (to some extent) and sunk into a trip that never seems to happen. It’s hard to cancel and often costly and any rebooking after that sees prices sky rocket compared to what we booked at. It’s a shitty situation.

As time pushes on, balances become due, employers need to know if we’re going and generally the whole pandemic is becoming an inconvenience to my ability to undertake a holiday. If that isn’t the real cost of this virus I don’t know what is! I joke of course, but for the likes of us, it has been an 18 month exercise in planning and logistics, just trying to lose as little money as possible in the whole debacle.

Due to the lack of clarity and a timeline my confidence of going in June has dipped a little from last week, but I suspect nothing has fundamentally changed it is just phycological. We are fast approaching critical timelines though. By the middle of May our balances for the Hard Rock Hotel, villa, car hire and our stay at the Beach Club will all have been due and it is fairly likely we still won’t know for sure if we can go.

If us travellers are feeling like this imagine the boardrooms of airlines and other travel related companies right now. How will they cope with another summer of lost revenues?

Speaking of which, one confusing and surprising piece of news came out of Virgin yesterday.

As I saw on the Brit’s Guide to Florida Facebook group, oddly, Virgin have chosen to push back the resumption date of flights to MCO to the 1st of June from Manchester and Heathrow. With travel possibly being allowed again from May 17th that seems an odd move, unless of course they know something the rest of us don’t? I can’t imagine these huge companies with thousands of staff on furlough won’t be in regular contact with the government, but I am as ever just guessing.

What this means for us I don’t know. That new date is still two weeks before we are due to go, but it may just be now that Virgin are moving their dates back by smaller margins now as we hopefully start to approach some form of normality.

Should we get to go, and mask policy becomes something we need to be aware of, there were further murmurings of relaxation in Florida “towards the summer”. I guess at some point, the vaccine has to be trusted to do its work and maybe a move towards masks being optional outdoors or something similar could happen. I don’t know but the Mayor of Orange County, interviewed again this week, was suggesting a phased approach over the coming months. It will all depend on the stats of course and I guess we have to assume that it will be what it is now and anything better will be a bonus.

I’m at a point of being fine with going or not, but I just need to know one way or another. It is impossible to plan life, never mind the holiday, with all this up in the air with around 60 days to departure.

On that note, tomorrow we can book ADRs for our first day at Disney. My plans there too lie in ruins as the first one on my plan was O’hana which, as yet, is not open. It’s the ultimate first world problem I know, but I live in a first world country and I have problems!

I suspect it may be open by the time we are there but with all the pent up demand, for this and other eateries it could literally be like The Hunger Games trying to get reservations.

All we can do is hope that the data remains good, and the roadmap can be adhered to. I do worry what may happen after May 17th when indoor hospitality opens, based solely on the number of images I’ve seen of people shivering to death around a drink they have been able to have at home for a quarter of the price. With many of those who will want to go drinking not yet being eligible for a jab, case numbers will surely surge at that point? Perhaps it is then that herd immunity can be obtained, with the younger ones getting it and not dying and the ones who may be most severely affected having been jabbed. Alas, my O Level in Biology does not equip me with the required expertise to know.

In my own little coming out of lockdown, later today we are once again able to rehearse and so Mustard will reconvene this afternoon to see if we can still play things. With most of us being very old, we are jabbed up and to facilitate social distancing we have chosen a rehearsal space so large we may not be able to hear each other. Baby steps.

The road back to normality may well be as long as the one we’ve been on trying to get to WDW, but as a wise man once said…

“Stop papping on about your holiday you middle aged, middle class arse biscuit”. And I think we can all get on board with that sentiment.

Till the next time…..

The King Of Wishful Thinking

Right, if you are busy today and want a summarised version of the next few hundred words in a handy gif, to save you the trouble of wading through them, here you go.

The Hangover GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Usually when it comes to writing these posts, I rock up the laptop at some point on a Sunday morning and spew out whatever word salad comes to mind. You can’t tell can you?

This week, with so much happening in the world of travel I thought I would get ahead of the game and jot some thoughts down during the week. Now, as I sit here on Sunday, most of those thoughts have been overtaken by events, so what follows is a mish mash of old and new news and it all leads to a mass jumble of confusion. Enjoy!

Things are changing quickly and this last week has seen significant news. The general mood still feels a bit, two steps forward and one step back, but, and this may shock you, as things stand right now, I am probably in a confident state of mind that we will be able to go on June 14th.

The key word is able. Whether we will or not is still slightly debateable, but I think if we can go it will be a case of…..

Me Leaving The Bar GIF - Scrubs AllAboard ChooChoo GIFs

Anyway, having suggested travel may be possible, allow me now to argue the case, proving that I really do know nothing.

Why do I now think we will be allowed to fly by mid-June? Well, as expected Johnson’s “update” on international travel last Monday was another masterclass in a lack of detail and information. However, and bear with me as this is a bit of a stretch, my first step in the “convince myself we will get a holiday trail” was this.

Three times in his ramble he made a very obvious point of saying something like, “I see nothing in the data to make us deviate from the roadmap”. With this mind, and with the 17th of May being outlined as the date from which international travel may be possible, politically he needs to have some travel start on that date. If we know one thing it is that his actions are always driven by his own needs and desires so this encourages me a little.

The traffic light system has since been announced but with little detail (the story of the pandemic so far for this shower in power) but what is clear is that the destination country needs to be green and travellers need to tested negative before they can travel.

So assuming some travel is to be allowed on that date, which countries could be green if not the US? Only Israel and the UK have vaccination rates and improving stats similar to the US and there have been rumours about a mid-May opening of borders by Biden for a while. I suspect this has already been discussed and negotiated and assuming the data does not change significantly in the meantime I would guess that the US will be technically and legally do-able on May 17th.

Airlines do seem to be planning for travel to resume, as my reading between the lines (or reading into things what I want to) of their activity and tweets from travel industry folks indicates. One such pundit confirmed a while ago that one key US airline plans to have all its fleet operational by the end of May including its long haul jumbos.

He also seems very confident that some travel to a growing number of “green” countries will be confirmed for May 17th.

More recently he is more bullish.

If you want to follow him he is https://twitter.com/PPaulCharles

So all those factors and thoughts led us this week to begin facing the decision of what we should do. We know from my chat with Virgin that if travel is permitted, our options are very limited. Indeed all we can do is change the dates, paying all the fees and price differences (and My God the prices are high for late summer/early 2022) if we do not want to go in June.

One other small factor is our Vero booking, made with DVC points via a broker. If we can travel and don’t, it is very likely we will just lose that cash. It’s not the end of the world, but I’d rather not if we can help it.

As we all chatted about this, watching the snow tumbling in April, freezing our arses off, I suspect the lack of any sun or holiday since September 2019 really started to hit home and despite us all dreading the prospect of masks everywhere, and knowing that going on holiday would mean the most serious dieting effort ever known to man, we started to come up with ways to convince ourselves that it might be OK.

Option 1 would be to go and not do any parks. Now, that looked favourite at the start of the week, and it would be OK. Sun, food and not being at work or in lockdown all sound pretty good but it would be tough to know the parks are “right there” and we can’t go to them.

Then, out of the blue, two significant pieces of news came out. Firstly (and I caveat all this with it being almost certainly just wishful thinking) the Mayor of Orange County suggested in an interview that he thought it would be possible to look to reduce or remove the mask mandate as they got to 50% vaccination rates. This, he said, should be possible by June or July. Just too late for us possibly, but a move in the right direction nonetheless. I did think that whatever he might do, Disney would ignore it and stick to their policy of masks being enforced until 2022, but then, a bombshell. An out of the blue change to WDW mask policy, that guests can remove masks for photos. A small change of course, but the first sign that things are getting better.

A cynic may just think that they want to flog more Memory Makers of course, but I read that they are also in the process of rehiring a large number of cast members which also suggests they are planning to open more stuff and increase capacity for the summer, and maybe that is because they are hoping for the return of international visitors. Added to that Disney also announced a large programme of extended park hours through to mid June. So I do think they are expecting international guests to return and are gearing up for that.

This gives a glimmer of hope that within the next two months they could move again on masks. Perhaps only mandating them indoors or for adults only. Who knows? Certainly not me. Baby steps and each one is welcome.

So assuming my guess is correct and travel is allowed. What hoops will we need to jump through? Some travel experts had been predicting that everyone, vaccine or not, will need to do a full blown test both ways (not just the lateral flow things that the government are happy to trust a 12 year old to do themselves to prove schools are safe) and this could add a big chunk to the costs. This seemed to be confirmed by the government later in the week, but there is still, just for a novelty factor, a lack of clarity, as far as I can make out anyway, about which tests may be needed and that will massively impact the costs.

So with all this going on, I think, right now we are at the collective head space of thinking that if we are allowed to go, we will (despite the testing hoops potentially being onerous and costly). On balance, the cost of any tests is less than the costs and losses of moving the trip to new dates.

We would even try the parks. Freddie is being introduced to masks, gently and in small doses, just to get him familiar, but we would make of it what we could and if anyone is uncomfortable we would retreat from the parks and do something else. With nine weeks still to go till we travel we suspect other things will change, and hopefully improve in that time.

On that note, another area of slight concern is the flight. Current Virgin policy is masks for everyone over two. This seems to me that it may change too in the coming weeks. Why? (Inserts usual caveat of wishful thinking and not having a clue what will happen).

Well, if leisure travel is allowed on May 17th, to even get on the plane you need to be in possession of a negative test and of course large numbers of customers will be vaccinated. You have to de-mask to eat and drink anyway (that is maybe 25% of the flight?) and Virgin reassure their passengers that…

“You can breathe easy with our onboard HEPA filters, which use a vertical airflow and extract more than 99.999% of particles from the air, including bacteria and viruses.”

Now, if everyone has tested negative and/or is vaccinated and with the above filters in mind, why insist on masks for just 75% of the flight? I know that I know nothing. I am no expert, but perhaps with May 17th and new travel rules they may change that?” Who knows? I’m old enough to remember there being smoking sections on a plane with a curtain being the only thing stopping the clouds of smoke forcing their way into the non-smoking section!

In the end, I suspect our desperation for some sun, fun and food may see us overcome the large number of worries and obstacles we still see. We will make the call when we have all the information I guess. The complexities and mess around getting on a plane may just be too onerous but we can only wait to see what is announced.

We recognise that this trip, if it happens, will come with challenges –

  1. It will be hot – Having been in August for decades, we know and like hot. Masks may make it harder, but it’s not like we are first timers. We can do less parks if we need to.
  2. It will be busy – I refer you to point 1.
  3. It won’t be the full experience with no fireworks and shows – Agreed. Although let’s see what happens between now and then, but we’ve seen them before and we’ll see them again.

The thing playing on my mind most right now is that I am at this stage lacking all the details I crave about the testing requirements and the logistics of it all. It seems unavoidable that we will need to do a test 48 hours before leaving the UK and if I understand it correctly, do the same 48 hours before leaving the US. If that is the case I really hope that the likes of Virgin will partner with some US tester and offer appointments somewhere (maybe Disney Springs like their luggage drop) where their passengers can get their tests. Otherwise there will be lots of Brits googling testing providers in Florida and trying to source their own.

In truth, I hope the moans of the travel industry and the clamour to allow lateral flow tests instead of the full blown and costly PCR test come to fruition before the 14th of June as that would just make things a lot easier. A country being “green” by definition means it has low COVID rates and no real variant concerns and the reasoning for a PCR test is to track new variants. By next year of course it will be full on vaccine passports I think and these tests may not be required. Yes, of course I am simultaneously already planning next year’s trip. I don’t know why anyone might be shocked by that!

Having been all bullish up to now, of course the glass half full part of my brain has something to say about that and it needs to add some balance. As we open up more from next week and again in May, our case numbers will inevitably rise. It will be critical to not see deaths and hospitalisations also rise for all and any travel plans to be potentially scuppered. Having the US accept UK visitors, regardless of our own government’s policy of course is key and whilst they are delivering incredible numbers in terms of jabs into arms, the vast, diverse and in some cases stupid nature of the population means anything could yet happen there and their numbers could of course still worsen.

Looking at Florida’s numbers, taking into account the lunacy seen over Spring Break and knowing that the state has been fully open for some time now, their case rates are steady, if not rising a little. At this point their death rate is actually falling, but it could just be that the lag between new cases turning into deaths means that will come or, of course it means the vaccine is doing its job.

Since when did statistical analysis become part of holiday planning? I probably need to get out more, but can’t yet.

If, in the end, all my stabs in the dark do not come to pass and it turns out we cannot fly on June 14th then I think plan B is to move the whole thing to either later in the year, if we can find flights that do not double the amount we have already paid, or into 2022.

It all remains a mess, but as we edge closer to our booking’s date, it is forcing our hand to at least decide what we might do in each scenario. The people most pleased about all this coming to end one way or another will be you dear readers.

Much like Johnson and his infamous writing of two articles on either side of the Remain or Leave debate, I could easily have published a post today outlining why travel to the US for a holiday in June is less likely than flying to the moon, but I chose to be positive and I will almost certainly be proved very wrong.

By next week everything may have changed again, and that will only mean more of this guff for you to read. Sorry.

Till the next time…….

How To Sweep Her Off Her Feet

Happy Easter all. This may be a brief one as I have a few things to get done today.

So let’s address last week’s cliff hanger regarding Louise’s present. I appreciate cliff hanger may be a little strong as I doubt anybody lost sleep, but I’m going to tell you anyway. It didn’t arrive until Tuesday but when it did it was received very well.

Now, having been married for a long time now I am more than aware that you should never, ever, buy domestic appliances for your wife on her birthday. However, as an exception that proves the rule, this year I did and I lived to tell the tale.

So what was it? Meet Trevor, our new robot hoover.

To understand why I broke the unbreakable law of not buying your wife a hoover for her birthday, we have to go back to just after we moved in and Louise suggested, several times, that we should get one as it would be ideal to keep our kitchen floor clean without us having to hoover every day manually.

So after all that kerfuffle, late it might have been, but it did the trick.

On Monday of last week, not able to wait any longer to do something about the holiday, I contacted Virgin. I don’t know if I was just lucky or if they have finally managed to sort out their wait times over 12 months into the pandemic, but my message was answered very quickly.

I just wanted to assess my options really. Of course, as right now our flight on the 14th of June is running, they are limited. I can cancel and get about £7.50 refunded to me or as I have now had my two free changes, if we move it again, it will incur change fees and price differences. I tried new dates in January. That resulted in me having to pay the price I had already paid again unless we dropped Premium on the way back in which case it was just £30 each to move it.

I didn’t, which was an amazing show of self-restraint for me as I need to let things play out a bit yet. Who knows if masks will be gone even by January anyway.

We have been chatting about our options and a lot depends on what is decided for May 17th by the governments involved. It is being suggested that the US may be on a “green list” by May 17th allowing travel, probably with proof of vaccine or a negative test going out and coming back in for those not yet able to get one. If so, of course our options with Virgin come down to either going or moving it to a set of dates like January where the financial pain of doing so is not too high.

We aren’t too keen to go in June I have to say. As amazing as that sounds, it would no doubt entail masks for the nine hour flight and at the airports. We probably wouldn’t do the parks for that reason too and so it would be a chance to relax, eat, recharge and just be there. I’m sure we’d enjoy that but it isn’t the holiday we have planned.

If we move, then when do we move it to? Masks may be a thing at WDW for a long time yet. Maybe January would be more tolerable in the cooler temperatures, but who knows if the winter might bring a rise in COVID rates and new restrictions anyway.

All the while, what really upsets me is the time that is passing and the lost opportunities to have Freddie experience what we have all known and loved for so long. It’s a mess really.

I guess there is one last option of, if allowed, going in June, doing the parks, sucking up the mask thing and doing the best we can. The worst that could happen is that the parks become no fun and we end up only doing them a little bit and wasting the money on our park tickets. Also, with the lack of shows, fireworks and all that jazz, Freddie’s memories of the first trip he will probably remember would be a shadow of what they should be.

Sigh.

We may know more tomorrow as the PM is due to give another of his clear, concise and enjoyable briefings and it is rumoured to cover international travel. The US did 4.1 million vaccines yesterday which is just mind blowing. It is amazing what can be done when you don’t have an idiot in charge.

Who knew that going on holiday could ever be so hard?

OK, I did warn this may be brief. I can feel the weight of my outstanding chores on my shoulders so I need to crack on. More unhelpful waffle about US travel options next week no doubt.

Till the next time……

Thinking and Perkins

If you thought last week’s post was a hot mess of confusion with absolutely no value, help or conclusions on when holidays may happen, you’d be right, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The only thing I am more sure of seven days later, is that my burning desire to be there is multiplying rapidly.

My twitter feed is a stream of contradictory thoughts and predictions which, tweet by tweet, see me swinging from “Where are the suitcases, I’m gonna pack” to “I’m burning my passport as nobody will ever travel internationally for leisure ever again”.

I still don’t think the 14th of June will happen though.

A week on post vaccination and I have seen no side effects beyond an arm that isn’t really sore, it just feels like I need to scratch it. If that isn’t a metaphor for my desire to be travelling to WDW I don’t know what is. I have been scratching that itch since 1980.

So with the unchangeable and unstoppable passing of time, Easter is nearly up on us and the clocks have gone forward, robbing us of an hour in bed, but delivering on the promise of lighter nights and maybe a summer. For some reason since moving in here I have been awake before 7am every day. I really hope that stops soon.

With those significant changes and events, let’s hope that my longed for step change in our collective fortunes comes soon after. Restrictions start to be lifted, more people get more jabs and hospital and death rates become something we don’t need to be looking at graphs of every day.

With the US going gangbusters on the vaccine, surely at some point this summer, Brits will be eating themselves to death in an Applebees or an Olive Garden in Orlando as God intended. One thing I need to share with you, linked to the topic of eating yourself to death, is a strange fascination I have developed for an email I get every day.

On our last trip we visited Perkins. It was an unplanned breakfast and was glorious. By using their free Wifi they had gained my email address and I figured getting the odd email was a fair price for using their internet. Well, I love it. I look forward to it every day, no doubt driven by my sad longing to be anywhere in Florida, but these emails are great and demonstrate the incredible value and quality you can get in these “lower end” eateries should you want or need to. Look at what they send me….

If $20 gets you all that I could be dead within a week. Honestly, whether you ever intend to eat there or not, sign up to their emails. It’s like a ray of sunshine into your inbox, but it will make you hungry.

On the subject of my waistline let us all hope for the existence of a definite trip soon. Lockdown has made it clear to me that the only things preventing me from appearing on My 600lb Life have been having to go into the office for work and knowing I had to keep my weight down in preparation for a WDW holiday. Without either, things are not good in the scales department right now and I need some form of carrot and stick to help me, although neither of those sound very tasty.

With my employer announcing a “hybrid” working policy this week, which is basically don’t take the piss and work from home all the time but broadly do what you want, I fear it may only be a holiday that is going to save me from buying a whole new set of clothes with size tags that begin with multiple X’s.

Away from Florida, and believe me I am aware that I am every single day, today is Louise’s birthday. Hopefully it will be the last family birthday where we can’t do what we want with who we want as it’s getting a bit tiresome now. I am not one to leave the buying of birthday gifts to the last minute, as you may imagine, but today I have been unable to give Louise hers. Why you ask?

Well, I ordered it in plenty of time. It is a present from myself, Emily and Rebecca and Tom so I had collective responsibility to get it here on time. It was due to arrive last Monday and after the time slot for delivery changing all day, just after 8pm I had a message that delivery was attempted at 8.01 and failed. Well, we were in. Where else can we go? A further attempt was scheduled for the day after.

This time it did arrive and luckily and unusually, before wrapping the thing I opened the packaging to have a look. Inside were two large boxes of washing powder. How lucky is Louise, I hear you cry. Well, this year as a change, I had not ordered her domestic cleaning products and I was shocked to see that had been sent. Clearly, some thieving rat had clocked what was in the box, had it away and swapped the contents.

I contacted the seller, and was given a returns label and a speedy refund. I re-ordered. When the delivery of that item followed the same pattern as the first, missing its original day and then arriving the day after, with obvious resealing having happened, I knew what I would find in the box. As an added surprise, this time it was washing powder and dog food.

Another return was arranged and it sits awaiting collection as did the last.

In the end, I have ordered another from a totally different company, but as this had taken us up until 6.30pm on Friday, it could not get here quickly enough and it may be Monday or Tuesday when it does. What a mess.

I can’t tell you what the thing is yet of course, as Louise doesn’t know, but it turns out they are more sought after than class A drugs. Let’s hope Louise actually likes the thing when it arrives.

Right, I am off to go and stare at Twitter a bit more and endure the rollercoaster of emotions caused by the varying rumours and predictions of when folks can travel for fun again.

Till the next time……

My Little Prick

Sure, I may have missed out on my long-awaited 50th birthday WDW trip due to a deadly virus but now that I am that old, on Friday I was able to have the jab that will hopefully prevent me from dying from it and also maybe help prevent me passing it on to someone else who might.

The experience was quick and I hardly noticed. If that isn’t a perfect sentence for a blog post with this title I don’t know what is.

My arm is a little bit sore and I felt extra tired yesterday but that may just have been the fact that I didn’t sleep very much on Friday night due to a bout of heartburn brought on by my own gluttony.

By the 5th of June, I will have had both shots and a little while after that will benefit from the full effects. Ironically, that would make me holiday-ready for our current date of the 14th of June, but my expectation of that trip going ahead is very low currently. This is based entirely on WDW’s mask policy, to be honest, as each day seems to hint that the US might be getting its act together now the orange blancmange isn’t in the White House.

Just this week, Fauci hinted that masks and social distancing might be relaxed around the 4th of July, and then Biden was said to be considering relaxing travel restrictions by mid-May. Whilst I am delighted to see the US vaccinate literally millions of people every day I still think I’ll be rearranging stuff again.

To highlight the constant conflicting thoughts as we all try to interpret the signs and signals, in the same week, a UK government minister was talking to the press and telling them that any chance of summer holidays abroad this year was unlikely. Now, his lips were moving at the time, and if, as he said, they were concerned about new variants being brought back to the UK by returning holidaymakers it does make you wonder why then it took them twelve months of the pandemic to introduce proper controls on who was entering the country and where they went. Someone more cynical than me may also think that they want everyone to spend their pent up holiday cash in the UK this year rather than let Johnny Foreigner have it.

So new dates and more rearranging will probably be needed. But rearranging to when? It’s a tricky one this, as you may have gathered by now that I like to have things sorted and if I could, I would be battling with call centres already, trying to move everything for the third time (is it the third? I’ve lost count) but until we know when masks will no longer be required at the parks, I don’t think I can.

I would imagine that the travel companies current approach of “Yes, book something, book anything, and you can change it for free a million times if Covid affects it” will very quickly revert to “You want to add a full stop to your booking? Well, that will be £6000 please,” once things start to return to some form of normality, so I imagine this next change will need to be the last.

The challenge will come if the US does allow us in by mid-May, and then the UK also allow international travel on their May 17th timeline (to the US, not Europe I expect, as they seem to be struggling with a potential 3rd wave) but the mask policy is still in place in the parks. We just don’t want to have to battle with Freddie about wearing a mask as he will not understand or tolerate it for that length of time. Hopefully, we will still be allowed to shift the thing without enormous penalty.

One outsider in this list of options is, should we able to travel in June, but masks still be required, then we could still go, skip the parks and just have some time in the sun, eating to life threatening levels and having some sort of holiday at least.

Ideally, we’d like to go this September. Well, no, ideally we’d like to go asap and not have to wear a mask, but we are where we are. Frankly, we’ve waited long enough now and I have September in my head as probably the earliest WDW and Universal may change their mask policies. Why? Well, by then everyone who wants a vaccine here and there will have had one, case numbers and deaths should be low due to that and for Disney, they will be about to start the 50th celebrations for Magic Kingdom and that has to be a big opportunity for them to claw back some of the cash the pandemic has cost them.

Conversely, they may be thinking that they definitely need to keep masks in place for a long time, as that may allow them to expand capacity and still be seen to be being careful with their guest’s health. I guess what they cannot do is welcome in “normal” capacity crowds for the 50th celebrations and abandon social distancing and masks at the same time.

My ability to argue with myself, on both sides of the debate is impressive.

Of course, all this is my very uneducated guess and I don’t trust myself enough to pick up the holiday and move it anywhere just yet. I can only do that once we know of course. So what happens if we get to a few weeks before our current dates and there is still no news on masks? I don’t know.

Assuming we are allowed to, without huge cost or penalty, our only option would be to move it to early 2022. The current Disney mask policy is that they will be required for all of 2021, so that would seem to be the only vaguely definite way to be sure. I’d say early March would be our dates of choice.

There are a lot of moving parts to all this and it is, as ever, a confusing mess. Basically, I have not one clue what to do or when to do it. But to quote the very wise Joey Tribbiani…

I Wanna Go GIFs | Tenor

See how quickly my blogging returns to holidays after months of ramming our house move down your necks? Like childbirth, it is now seemingly forgotten. It isn’t of course. We are still learning how to live in a new place. We had some guttering replaced yesterday at a moderate expense, and the list of repairs needed is a modestly long one, but don’t think we’re not glad we made the move. It’s lovely here.

We are still missing some curtains and our couch, both of which have worse lead times than our Sky installation and we’ll feel better once those are here. Sky you say? Well, after exchanging several shit-o-grams with them I eventually got a call from a nice Scottish lady from their “Shit-o-gram handling department”.

To cut that long story short I finished the call with about 75 apologies and some compensation for them cancelling my install on the day, leading to an almost three-week wait for a new date. That was only fair as had I done that, I would have been charged for doing so. The engineer is due this afternoon, so fingers crossed for no more cock-ups and the ability to watch football on something other than my laptop.

So with little or no respite from my “this house move is stressing me out” season, you have been plunged directly into the “this bloody holiday planning is stressing me out” season. With the vaccine now inside of me and about 25 million others in the UK then as D:ream once said, things can only get better, right?

I don’t know when we’ll get to go back to WDW but I know for sure that we are going to make the absolute best of it and never take another trip for granted ever again.

Till the next time…….

Getting Seckled

A week can feel like a lifetime on occasion, and over the last week, it does feel that a lot has happened and a lot has been done. From the chaos of last Friday, every day has seen significant improvement and it has certainly been eventful.

We suffered an 8-hour power cut last Monday. It affected the whole surrounding area and we sat in the cold for a long time cursing the power that didn’t be stopping us from getting stuff done. We’ve also learnt a lot too. One of the main lessons was that as pleased as we were to discover that the previous resident has invested in top-notch kitchen gear, those fancy Neff induction hobs are no good to you unless you have the correct pans. We did not, and after a lot of frustration and swearing, Tom discovered via his brother, who also moved into a house with one of these, that we needed to invest in a new set of pans. Had we known before moving in, that would of course have put an end to the deal of buying the house in the first place!

It is true to say that the previous resident liked a gadget. It has been a week of figuring out remote controls (including one that does the kitchen lights…I kid you not) and swearing about why everything needs to be so complicated, but we’re getting there now.

I have constructed my office and despite it being the smallest room in the house it contains all the essentials for work, a 55″ TV, my PlayStation and an exercise bike so that I have somewhere to hang my clothes. it is also of course festooned with Disney knick-knacks and photos. I have, in the words of Louis Walsh, made it my own.

We have taken endless deliveries, both of big-ticket items like a new washer and dryer and new ridiculously large TV for the lounge as well as a cabinet thing to sit it on alongside multiple Amazon deliveries of bits and bobs we have discovered we now need.

We’ve already painted one room that was inexplicably orange and Emily is halfway through painting hers too. We only have about half a dozen boxes to unpack now, and all of this of course has been peppered with tip runs to discard the cardboard mountains we have created.

I went back to work on Wednesday. That long commute down the landing to my new office was glorious, but work was busy and stressful but needs must as the mortgage won’t pay itself.

On Wednesday we were due to have Sky installed. We’ve been waiting for a long time to ditch Virgin and this move was our chance. Well, frying pans and fire seem to be all the rage. Our install was booked weeks ago, for Wednesday between 1pm and 5pm. The chap rolled up at 4.20pm and told us he had only just been given the job, and he finishes at 5.30pm and he had a maternity appointment with his wife that evening. Having enjoyed his life story, I explained that we’d booked this weeks ago and we needed the install doing. He called his boss, who told him to survey the job to see how long it might take. It may amaze you to discover that he estimated it would take just long enough that he didn’t have time to do it.

I was not happy and told him as much. He assured me a new appointment would be arranged for the next few days. Long story short, the next installation slot isn’t available until the 21st of March and I am currently in a robust conversation with Sky’s complaints department. Alas, they are the only horse in town for us if we want TV up here so I cannot, as I wanted to, tell them to show their dish somewhere unpleasant. I yearn for companies who are competent. Sigh.

The dogs have settled in very well. They love the field at the back of the house and the fact that they now get to have the run of the place as the layout means we have no way to keep them downstairs at night. We have awoken during the night to Oli’s arse on multiple occasions.

All in all, we’re loving it. The idea that we were buying a house where nothing would need doing has been rubbished of course. In the ten minutes you wander around a place before deciding to buy it you are never going to spot that bit of dodgy guttering or a conservatory window that needs some attention, but nonetheless, it’s what we wanted and more.

I said I would share some photos. I’m being a bit lazy by just pinching some that Louise posted to Facebook earlier in the week, but here is one I took when I was out with the dogs earlier. By the way, the weather has been shocking since we moved in. We’ve had gales, hail and sideways rain non-stop. I was not aware that we had moved to a whole new climate. You can feel how cold it was on the field in this photo.

You can just see the top of our conservatory behind the goalposts. We are hunkered down into the hill.

Freddie’s playroom
Lounge
Kitchen
Kitchen again

We’re still missing some curtains here and there and our new couch has been delayed to the end of March but you get the idea. So enough not so humble bragging. With things settling down with the house and no longer having the constant looming cloud of the move on my mind, thoughts are turning to the holiday of course.

As it stands the dates in the government’s plans don’t change things soon enough for us but it all comes down to when the parks remove the need for masks for us. There is no way Freddie will or can wear one all day, so until that is lifted we are a bit scuppered.

Whilst thinking about alternative dates, and the time is fast approaching when I will make a change, I am hanging fire a little as the vaccines are being rolled out at an increasing pace, especially in the US so there is a small part of me that thinks/hopes this summer may see travel permitted and masks no longer needed in the parks. Then I catch myself and tell me not to be so stupid. I think I have been spectacularly wrong with every prediction so far! WDW are risk-averse and have already said that policy will remain for all of 2021 so I expect that to be the case.

Some day, we will return to WDW. Some day.

Before I leave you to your Sundays, let me wish a Happy Mother’s Day to my Mum and to all those who do “Mum” stuff. Let’s hope this is the last such day where we can’t all be together and do normal stuff.

Till the next time……

Take Me Down To Cardboard City….

What am I doing here? I haven’t got time for this? People will often say “I have a million things to do” and currently, in my case, that seems literally correct.

The good news is that we did move house on Friday. How I have longed to type those words and have that horror behind us. For more months than I wish to count I have dreaded the day of moving. In fact, way, way back when we were deciding whether to extend or move, I was seriously contemplating months and months of building work just to avoid the experience of packing up and moving to a new place.

Seems silly? Well, you weren’t in my shoes on Friday when those fears were realised. It was not a pleasant day.

I’m not going to go into the multiple horrors in detail. To help my PTSD I need to move on and concentrate on the new beginnings and all that but I will give you some edited highlights.

I don’t know if I told you but we actually had two solicitors, one for the sale and one for the purchase. This was because our first one was relatively newly qualified and when she realised the complexity of our purchase, (due to it being old and with some rights of way issues) she passed that file over to a more experienced colleague. Throughout, that more experienced colleague has been a bit shit.

This held true right to the end. After a fairly easy morning, with the removal men making relatively short work of all the items I had stressed about moving for six months, we got the call before lunch that our sale had completed. We were now homeless for a bit and our selling solicitor had passed everything onto our buying solicitor to do her stuff.

So we actually sat down for a bit, had some lunch and waited for the next call to say we could go and get the keys. As the clock rolled around to 12pm, I was bored with waiting and I set off for the estate agents where the keys would be. This was a good half an hour away so I thought it better to be poised outside for when things happened.

So I arrived and waited. This went on for some time. I called my estate agents, and the seller’s and neither had heard anything. I was trying not to bother my solicitor as they would clearly be busy on a Friday throwing money around for everyone moving house. Ten minutes later and I could wait no longer.

Amazingly I got through and she genuinely seemed surprised to hear from me. I asked for an update. She told me she had sent the money “a while ago” but had not received confirmation from the seller’s solicitor that they had arrived. I explained that my household contents were in a van, I was outside an estate agents in Accrington and our buyer was en-route to my ex-house. These should not be things that need to be explained to a conveyancing solicitor.

“Perhaps you could give them a call?” I suggested, cheerily.

She did and two minutes later I was out of the car, sprinting (Dad jogging) to the estate agents. We had the keys. It was going on for 3pm but we had them.

Sigh.

The rest of the day could have gone better. Our removal men buggered us about by diverting off to another job as we had waited so long for the keys, and that meant we were still emptying our old house late into the afternoon with its new occupants smiling politely and telling me it wasn’t a problem that our fridge and several other items were sat in their new house as they were trying to move in.

Anyway, by about 6.30pm, we waved off the removal van and stared at our new house full of cardboard boxes. A take away happened and then an early night as I was broken both physically and mentally.

Things looked better the next morning. The house didn’t of course as we hadn’t unpacked anything but I took the dogs out on our field (ooohh, get me) and just took a minute to realise we were in, it was done and the worst was over.

I could go on, but honesty I have so much to do. Every room you walk into has a thousand tasks that need sorting, mainly in the shape of a box, so I will leave you to your Sundays.

I need to thank my Mum and Dad for looking after the dogs for the day when we moved. I don’t know what we would have done without their help on the day. The same goes for Rebecca, Tom and Emily’s boyfriend Mikey who have all helped in numerous ways and we are incredibly grateful.

In my immediate future are around 412 tip runs to rid the house of the cardboard mountain we have acquired, and today I am going to try and sort out my office/man cave as I have a desk, chair and other stuff coming early next week.

Overall though, right now it feels like we’ve gone away somewhere nice for the weekend, and it hasn’t quite sunk in that we live here yet, but I suppose that’s a good sign that we’ve done the right thing, despite all the tasks and teething troubles we are currently facing. That’s all natural I suppose when you start to learn to live in a new place after 8 years in another.

More news and photos probably next week when we are a bit more settled.

Till the next time…..