The world can’t end till we’ve been on holiday.

Some weeks it can be difficult to find topics of sufficient interest to document here.  You will no doubt have noticed such weeks!

This week  has been different for two reasons –

1.  This week has lasted about seventeen years

2.  It has been a week full of quite incredible world events including corruption, massacre and self-destruction.

To address point 1 first.  My God, last week at work dragged.  I discovered that it is indeed possible to be both busy and bored out of your skull at the same time.  Towards the end of a countdown to a much longed for break, the final throes can be wearisome, whatever you are doing I suppose.  The fact that I don’t like what I was doing made it much worse.

Rebecca finally finished school on Friday, and she too can be bored at home alongside Emily, who has been doing that more or less since May.  Speaking of Emily, this weekend saw the celebration of her imminent sixteeness with a gathering of friends who got together to make my living room look untidy for a while.

The chosen theme for the celebration was Laser Quest.  A little odd for your typical sixteen year old girl, but I suppose she isn’t really.  So Saturday afternoon saw two jam-packed cars make the journey to the Trafford Centre, where we deposited them for a couple of games whilst Louise and I wandered picking up those last-minute essentials.  For me, this meant underwear.  I apologise for those having eaten recently, or intending to do so ever again, but this needs covering (I mean the topic!!).

Now, when you are forty and flabby, and you need under garments where else would you go other than good old M&S?  Me too, but despite several trips around the mens department, I left empty-handed.  Not one pair of attractive briefs could I find.  So we wandered, a lot, to other fine establishments only to be denied by a total lack of undies, undies that were simply ridiculous thongs or those overly tight trunk things, or sheer expense.  Only two people alive see my underwear so anything costing more than roughly a pound a pair is simply a crazy extravagance.

We left the place sans briefs and Louise got me some from Asda later that day.

jason bateman

I bet he buys briefs from Asda too.

Whilst we sought underwear, and other bits and bobs, the girls shot at each other, and we met them at 5.30 to take them back home so they could take over our house.  Takeaways all round, and we left them to it whilst we went to the pictures with my brother, sister and law and niece to watch Horrible Bosses.  It is very much in the vain of Hangover and Bridesmaids so I was looking forward to it.  Plus, Louise fancies Jason Bateman, so it was a simple choice.  I enjoyed it, and it is entertaining enough for a Saturday evening.  And yes, Pick n Mix happened.

We returned around 11pm, did the birthday cake thing and then fell into bed, and listened to the girls make too much noise until the early hours.  This is a tradition on these birthday sleepovers.

Cake

My monkey is on fire

Candles

A little less sixteen candles....

Along side all this business, we have completed other pre-holiday essentials, such as cleaning the oven, mowing the back lawn (not a euphemism), and this evening I shall be cutting my toenails.  No stone is left unturned in our preparation and planning.  We have even had Louise’s mum round for tea tonight, so we’ve been busy.  This is a good thing, as time has moved along nicely.  I fear Monday and Tuesday at work may not.  In those two remaining work days for me, I have checked my diary, and it seems that out of two full days at work, I am not in meetings for just over 100 minutes.  So add-on a few minutes to neck a sandwich and I am in one big meeting until I finish for holibobs.  I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing.  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

On to point 2 (remember?).  Wow, what a week.  It does seem that the world is quickly crumbling around us.  Everything and everybody is corrupt, and because of that papers like the News of the World are no longer around to report upon the absolutely atrocious events in Norway over the past few days.  However what is totally incomprehensible is that the death of a drug and drink addict, at her own hands, supersedes all these events on the news and in the newspapers!!  Have we really elevated so-called celebrities to such exalted heights that this is acceptable.

Some smacked up singer takes one shot too many, and finally fulfills her destiny, and over 90 kids getting massacred is relegated to the middle of the paper?  Really?  Are we happy with this?  My ghast is completely flabbered at this, and as this blog isn’t meant to deal with the heavy stuff, I’m not going to go into this any further.

Finally, in a week of head shaking, and wondering what the world is coming to, I was contacted by a fellow Dibber, Emma Smith, and asked if I could help spread the word about a special cause.  Whether it is a pitiful attempt by me to somehow try to compensate for the absolute and unending decay of civilisation, or just something any decent person would do, I’m not sure and I don’t care.  I could not say no, so I hope you don’t mind me pushing this here.

So, as this thread explains, Emma needs help to raise £2000 for treatment for her baby Max.  The fact that she is having to raise this cash for this treatment, rather just get it on the NHS is another ghast flabbering body blow.  Please, take a moment to read the thread, and if you can, donate at the just giving page.

As my ranting seems to have reached new levels both here and via other social media outlets, it prompted someone to say to me on Twitter, that it sounds like I really need a holiday.  I’ll second that.  So Tuesday is special in the week upcoming.  My eldest daughter turns 16, and we’ll have a small family gathering to mark the occasion.  Secondly, it marks me finishing work, and the start of our next adventure to the US.  A good day all round.  I would advise anyone to stay clear of the bright red Mondeo heading from Salford Quays to Bolton at around 6pm on Tuesday.  I will be taking no prisoners!!

So it is farewell for now.  We have a long journey ahead of us this week, and we should be stateside sometime on Thursday barring disasters and delays.  You are spared further rantage for the short-term!!  I hear you sigh collectively.  However, there may be a little Twittering so if you don’t already, you could follow me were you to be clinically insane and in need of vitriol and bile via your computer.

Till the next time…..

 

It was The Antiques Roadshow that made me do it m’lud.

You may well have witnessed me rant on several occasions (I could stop this sentence right now and it would be true but I shall clarify further), about the insulting nature of mass market Saturday night TV.  Fear not, I am not going there again.  Nope, instead I balk today at the insulting nature of mass market Sunday night TV.

I am couched at this very moment wrapped in the cloying banality of The Antiques Roadshow.  If television were a pair of corduroys then this programme would be them…..in beige.  It is the epitome of middle class, Sunday evening, have a small sherry, Daily Mail reading, cardigan bedecked, tartan slipper wearing (checks own feet, it’s ok mine are blue), Giles Brandreth liking niceness that is served up every week, all year round it seems, to remind everyone that the weekend is nearly over, and we are all about to be hurled back into the hell of a new working week.

Preceding this, Songs of Praise is about as enjoyable as Aled Jones is svelte.  Not very.  I haven’t looked but I will bet my love handles that later on ITV will be some retro fitted milder than Korma storylined dross set somewhere oop north, starring someone who used to be in Eastenders.  Nope, I lie, it is on NOW!!!  The Royal.  This is the bastard love child of Nick Berry and Tricia Penrose, and is about as intellectually challenging as a Rubik’s cube with all the same coloured stickers on it.

Please, Mr TV executives, let’s shake things up a little.  We don’t HAVE to vote for things on a Saturday, and we really, really don’t have to be averaged to death on a Sunday night either.  If it were not for Sky+, I would be roaming the streets of Bolton with a sawn off shotgun taking people out for watching Countryfile.

That said, if you didn’t know, in just over a week, I will be subject to American TV for just over two weeks.  This parade of adverts, separated by the odd punchline or news story is quite novel for someone like me, visiting for a short while.  I suspect if I lived there, I would be roaming the streets of Orlando with a sawn off shotgun taking people out for watching the Appliance Direct advert.

So has there ever been a more tenuous set up to get onto the subject of my holiday?  Probably, about this time last week.

Preparations continue, most come with a cost, namely Louise braving the Trafford Centre on a very wet and windy Saturday which meant that everyone within a fifty mile radius of the place had decided to do the same.  She returned with some clothes, which will now mean that we can go the entire holiday without looking at or purchasing any further items of clothing right??  Right???

This weekend I have gotten my planning folder out (yeh, like you don’t have one too) and been through everything from where we are sat on the planes (all four of them) to doing a Google streetmap view of our Travelodge hotel near Heathrow.  Worryingly, it isn’t actually finished on the street view thing, but I am hoping things have moved on since then!!

Regular readers of this and the oft referred to trip reports will know that I undertake a strict health regime prior to holidays to ensure I arrive in the sunshine state with a body like Ricky Martin.  No, sorry I meant Rick Waller.

jillian michaels

See, I look great!!

This year, I am shredding.  I am spending twenty minutes every day with Jillian Michaels in my bedroom, and at the end of it I am sweating and out of breath like you would not believe.  I’ve been at it now for over twenty days, and as you can probably envisage, I am ripped and toned in a way you can only dream of.

This DVD is a toughie.  It isn’t one of your Davina (insert any other minor celeb DVD released each January) put one foot in, one foot out type namby pamby nonsense.  No this is hardcore torture, so much so that I have been limping for the best part of two weeks having done untold damage to my left ankle on about day five.  Being ever so slightly OCD about doing this every day for the thirty days required, I have somehow soldiered on with a mix of determination, grimacing, ice packs and ibuprofen.

The injury is getting better now, and I’ve able to give it full welly again.

So, I enter my final full week at work.  It is funny that having endured so long since booking, these final few days feel like a lifetime.  Up until now the remaining days have nothing silly in them, like trips to London or other such strange places.  They are just filled with the usual mixture of banal meetings, and regular disasters to resolve.

How I shall feel a week on Tuesday at around 6pm as I drive home I cannot put into words.  If you hadn’t guessed this is when I finish.  It is also Emily’s sixteenth birthday, so a double celebration will be had that night.

So next Sunday shall be last bloggage for some time I suspect.  With the writing of trip reports to get done on my return, I may suspend bloggage for a time so that I can get that done as quickly as possible.  We’ll see how that works out I suppose.

I’m off now to put my foot through the TV before Fiona Bruce gets any more smug.

Till the next time…..

Proms and Pre Trippies

Another milestone came and went this week, not only in the countdown to our holiday, but in Emily’s high-speed non stop journey to adulthood.

Thursday was Prom night, and in one way or another we’ve been building up to this for quite some time.  Those with good memories will know that we bought Emily’s dress some months ago, and those with a sympathetic nature will recall my recent horror and devastation when buying the shoes that went with it.

Luckily, Louise’s day off each week is a Thursday, so this meant that it was the ultimate girlie day, with visits to the hairdressers, and about four hours of getting ready.  For once, for me being at work wasn’t the worst place to be.  Rebecca chipped in by helping out with the make up, and by the time I got home at around 6pm, stress levels were high, and the house was full of dressed up teens, and a large collection of relatives, who all turned up to get the photos and wave them off.  The departure point was our house of course!

However, stress and crowds aside, the end result was impressive.

Emily Prom

Prom diddly om pom

I have to say a formal thank you to my sister in law’s brother (no idea what the official title for that is!) for providing the transport.  I shall just say he works in the motor trade, and was able to select and drive a suitably glitzy Mercedes.  Really nice of you Dave, cheers!  So we waved them off at around 6.30, and I shall award absolutely no prizes whatsoever for guessing who was due to go and pick them up at the end?

Yep, the trusty old Mondeo is fine for picking up under cover of darkness!  The scenes outside the venue at around 11.30pm were a little chaotic, with a mixture of the tired and emotional, hyper and those simply more than ready to get the tight dresses and crippling shoes off, and that was just the boys!  My pick up party emerged with balloons, a photo or two and smiles, so all seemed well.

As the last few moments prior to them leaving had been, quite frankly, a chaotic nightmare with seemingly hundreds of grown ups all over the house taking photos and giving out hugs, I made Emily pose for a photo or two more when she got back, hence the darkness outside on this one, taken in a spot familiar to many of you.

Emily prom 2

A famous door

I could not be more proud of Emily.  Beautiful, sensible, funny, bright and far too good for any male on the planet!

The sight of the second most famous door in the country (the other one has a 10 on it), brings me onto the darn right imminentness (yes, it is a word) of our holiday now.  That very same door will be seeing more photo action in just over two weeks now, in the traditional start of the holiday pose that the girls enjoy so much!!  This led me this weekend to put fingers to keyboard and squirt out the pre trip report for this year’s jaunt.  I always say that I don’t quite get the concept of these, but I had a go anyway.

I think everything is now in place, with the dollars ordered and received, and all the relevant paperwork printed off and stored in my special planning folder.  You see, if I am not careful I run the risk of making myself sound a little sad here.  I care not.  A colleague of mine said to me this week that my approach to holidays is “out of the ordinary”.  I think he wanted to call me a sad OCD freak, but as he works for me he probably thought better of it.

I stand by my obsessive planning, as these trips are not normal holidays.  They are for folk who actually enjoy doing a lot of the DIY booking stuff, researching things for hours, and then making an informed choice.  They are not your one trip to Going Places and forget about it till the airport type things.  Well they aren’t for us anyway.  Writing the pre trippie this week reminded me just how much work goes into the planning and research, never mind the mind bending amount of actual work to get the money to fund them!!  This adds months of enjoyment of course, if you are that way inclined (and I am), but it can also add a large amount of pressure to the holiday.  After all that hard work you can be so wired about the whole thing that you forget to enjoy the bloody thing.  Don’t worry, I think I’ve cracked that one by now.

I will not be the only liked minded soul to cast a thought to a holiday for next year, before this years has even taken place.

As we get this close, it gets to stage where you don’t even mind weekends slipping by, as you know it is all gravy in the snail-like countdown to lift off.  Weekends now are spent buying the last few bits of clothing required by each of us.  In my twenty year rotation of the shorts collection, I have completed the usual addition of a couple of pairs this year, and will make the heartbreaking decision as we pack which two will be left behind.  It will be a heartbreaker, we’ve been through so much together.

Yes I know it is simply amazing that the same shorts still fit me after so many years.  It is simply a matter of eating right and regular exercise.  You know those two come naturally to me.

We’re entering the home straight folks.  It will drag more than a Coldplay gig, but it has to get here sooner or later.  I may become unbearable between now and then, particularly if you work with me, and don’t appreciate daily updates on the number of days remaining.  Steve, I apologise here and now!

Till the next time……

Henry

It has been a very sad week in our house.

On my return from London, literally as I walked into the house, my mobile rang, and it was a tearful Louise, at the vets with Henry, telling me that the vet had advised that it looked like time to let him go.  I had the thankless task of telling the girls and bundling them into the car so that we could go and say goodbye at the vets.  From that point on, tears have been an almost constant from someone in our house until, well, about now.  Saying that last goodbye and going through what needed to be done to send him to sleep was something Louise and I will both never forget and hopefully never have to repeat.  The girls were obviously in absolute bits!!

Fourteen years is a long time, as we got Henry when Rebecca was just a few weeks old.  Having two children under eighteen months old was obviously not stressful enough for us, and we added in a hyper active puppy for good measure.  From that day on he has been one of the family.  He has of course driven us mad at times, from eating numerous dummies, which involved me chasing him around the house with one in his mouth, to the fun of reading the foam letters in his poop, after he had pinched them from the bathroom and added them to his diet.

As the years went on, he developed a penchant for going for a wander, and when an open door presented the opportunity he would go for a walk all by himself.  The most legendary of which saw him make it the two miles down the road to my Mum and Dad’s house, crossing several major roads, and managing to find their house and sit at the back door waiting to be let in!

He was clingy, whiny, and in later years snotty, but the sudden loss of him hit everyone like a hammer on Wednesday night, and every time we look around expecting him to be there it hurts a little more.  The first time we came home and didn’t have him at the door wagging his tail was another punch in the guts, and the tears came again.

He has been a terrific dog with the girls, growing up together, never once showing any sort of anger or aggression to either of the girls despite some rough treatment in their very early years.  He has also welcomed and tolerated a procession of other animals into our house over the years, from other dogs, a plethora of cats, a rabbit and the odd guinea pig.  He had a wonderful nature.

It is impossible to capture in a brief post here the impact he had on our family, and the hole he has left behind so I’m really not going to try.  The stark realisation that he won’t be around again is a tough one, and it is sinking in very slowly.  Apologies for the very dry, straight forward and brief entry this week, but it is the very least the little bugger deserved to have a one of these to himself.

Henry, my mate, thank you for all the years you were with us, all the laughs and joy you provided, and the loyalty and unconditional love you gave us.  Wherever you are now, you are hopefully at rest and pain-free.  You will never be forgotten.

Henry snow

Henry in the cold stuff

Henry

Come to Daddy!

Henry in the car

Say Cheese

Henry the dog

Handsome Henry

Henry sleeping

Snoring again

Henry cuddle

Being spoilt

Henry water

Posing for the camera

Sleep well Henry. We’ll really miss you.

Till the next time…..