And Oli makes five.

I still haven’t managed to mow the back lawn.

I trust you have all been enjoying the wonderful British autumn?  What was it that some famous poet bloke once said (I got an A at English Literature O level you know), it is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness?  My arse.  Once we get into September it is just one long grey miserable drizzle filled mess until the snow comes.  I am sick to death of everything just being moist, dank and grey.

There are rumours of an Indian summer to come this week, which probably means a half day break in the drizzle.

There is only one topic this week to blog about and that would be the new arrival into the Williams household.  After four weeks of waiting, Tuesday evening crept around, and with the girls more excited than a hundred Christmases combined, we set off to the darkest recesses of East Lancashire to collect our new Old English Sheepdog.  The four weeks since we had seen him had resulted in him doubling in both size and cuteness.  His name has been settled since before we even chose him.  Emily had decided upon Oli.  Not Ollie, or Olly, certainly not Oliver but Oli.  This is important, as he is named after someone called Oli Sykes.  I include a photo so you can get some appreciation of what Emily’s bedrooms walls are like!

Oli Sykes
Our Oli is cuter

With a nervy drive home behind us (no-one wants a wee soaked Mondeo), we introduced him to this new house, and to be honest, he settled in straight away.  We were all ready for an interrupted night’s sleep, well, Louise was, as she had taken a few days off to help him get used to us, we did not hear a peep out of him all night.

This was partly due to the fact that Louise and I were not in for most of it.  Louise had been suffering with a painful foot for a day or two, and it chose tonight to flare up into what turned out to be a severe bout of tendonitis.  At around 2.30am, I joined Louise in being awake, and we toddled off to receive the necessary medical attention, in the form of an xray and medication.  If you do need to go to A&E, I would recommend 3.00am on a Wednesday morning as we were seen straight away, and with not one drunk in sight.

After getting a luxurious hour or so of sleep on our return, I zombied my way to work and somehow ambled through the day.  Louise began the constant supervision of Oli.  To be fair to Emily she was up at 6.30am that morning to look after him, and has been every day since.  Her body is in shock, and this can’t last forever!!

My main fear in getting a new puppy (I say main, as I had a few) was the horror of house training.  We’re still under a week in, so I don’t want to jinx anything, but the little fella is doing alright.  We are extremely vigilant in making sure he is taken outside at all the right times, but he is getting the hang of knowing when and where to do stuff.  He is also doing fine during the night in his crate.  All in all it could be a lot worse!

Aside from the chores of looking after him, it is safe to say we have all fallen for him, along with the extended family, and we’ve never had so many visitors as we’ve had in the past few days.  As you can see from the photos he is so cute that he doesn’t look real, and in real life he is all that cute and more.

My Dad in particular seems smitten, mainly as it brings back lovely memories of Kelly, the Old English we had when I was still at school.  I, like Emily, promised to look after her, and so by default, she became my Dad’s dog!!

Dad came round to see Oli, and brought with him a photo of Kelly, with my niece Sarah, who is now twenty years old by the way!!

Kelly and Sarah

The red fridge magnet is a recent addition, as that is where the photo now lives!!  Standby for Oli overload!

Oli 1
First night photo
Oli 2
Oli 3
He's found his spot
Oli sat
He IS real

Louise’s foot has improved a little during the week so she’s been able to chase after him well enough.  I’ve spent more time on our decking in the past week than in the previous several years since we had it built.  It has been drizzling for every single minute of that, and applauding and cheering at every “movement” could be viewed as a little odd, but it is, so I read, a key process in the training of your puppy!  I’ve also learnt that drizzle covered decking allows me to put on my own Bolero most evenings, as I skate around the thing, trying not to triple salco into the latest pile of “Success”.

Today is my turn to settle him in, so I have booked a day off work.  It is amazing how something as simple as that can change your whole Sunday!!  The retribution for that is on Tuesday in the form of a flying visit to London for a meeting.  Yes, four hours on a train, for one meeting….at 4pm!!

I shall leave you with even more Oli, this time in video form.  I will warn you that my camera technique may leave you feeling sea sick, and our decking is a wet mossy mess!  Enjoy

Till the next time…..

A bit of blog for the (WDW) Dads

Final preparations continue for the new arrival.  This week we erected Oli’s crate, and sacrificed half of the kitchen to accommodate it.  We are all quite excited about our new family member, mixed, certainly in my case, with a fair bit of trepidation.  For the girls of course all they can see are the good, fun bits, but although it is a while now since we had a puppy in the house, I can still remember how hard it is.  Louise said tonight that it will be like having a new-born baby in the house again. However, they can wear nappies!!

As much as the week just gone must have dragged for the girls as they countdown to this arrival, it passed me by in a blur of constant and perpetual motion.  Being busy does make the time fly, which is a bonus when it is time at work.

wdw dads
Big Daddy

Outside of work this week, I found another outlet for my written ramblings.  For reasons that I cannot explain, a Disney website by the name of WDW Dads have added me to their roster of writers.  I have been billed as “International writer”, which is perhaps the most exotic way in which I have ever been described.  If you so wish, feel free to have a virtual wander over there.  My first offering can be found by clicking this piece of text.

It is a fairly simple view of how a trip to WDW differs when you live on this side of the Atlantic. Now if you were all to make your way over there, and leave highly complimentary comments on that article, well who am I to try to stop you???

After the first article of course, I now have to think of stuff to write about in future, plus come up with someone to waffle about here, and finish the trip reports.  Luckily, work is a dream and is not taking up any of my time currently!!

At home, yet another weekend has rolled by where I have been unable to mow my back lawn, and by that, I do mean the grass behind the house and nothing else.  We have had a week of relative dryness, so I was hopeful that I would be able to tame the wilderness out there one last time before the ravages of winter roll in, sometime in early October.  I haven’t had a mower on it since just before our holiday which is going on for six weeks now.  Since our return, a mixture of a little bit of apathy and a whole lot of rain has denied any reduction to the green stuff.

Thinking this weekend would be the time, as I lay in bed early on Saturday yet another tropical style storm paid us a visit, and pretty much hung around all weekend.  The lawn is wetter than the Total Wipeout course, and so it stays wild another week.  Maybe it is possible to mow a lawn whilst it is covered in frost?  I am not lay awake at night worrying about this, but I do fear for young Oli.  We may lose him forever in the knee-high jungle that is our back lawn.  Is it just a sign of old age to believe that every summer is worse than the last, and the only decent one we have ever had was in 1976?  Perhaps, but I can’t remember a wetter one than this year.

Now that I have dazzled you with exciting lawn news, I could perhaps tip you over the edge with excitement, by dropping in that I have also got a new pair of slippers.  Does anyone know where I can buy a pipe?

So to balance this level of banality, next week, rather than go to work, I am off to Rio, with Keith Richards and half a ton of Class A drugs.  Maybe not.  However, if the mood takes me I may lob my PC monitor out the window of the office, which would be very bad news for the swans and Canadian Geese that swim past my window all day.  Salford Quays is an exotic place!

keith richards
He cares not one jot about his back lawn

Don’t worry, next week I with fill this space with multiple puppy photos and tales of naughtiness and puddles on the floor.  This has got to be an improvement on rampant lawns and slippers?

Till the next time…..

Two and a Half Men and a Dog.

How quickly we move from summer straight into winter.  This isn’t really a comment on the atrocious state of the weather, as talking about it will only encourage it.  The noticeable gear change from the theme of summer happens more or less overnight, as soon as the kids go back to school.  (Apologies to those North of the border who operate in a whole different term time universe).

The programming on our TVs is the biggest indicator of this change, with the rolling out of “the big guns” like Strictly Come Dancing.  The mere appearance of this in the listings brings sundown forward by at least an hour.

It was but five minutes ago that we were bathed in late April, early May sunshine, thinking this would mean a summer of hose pipe bans, frying eggs on car bonnets and water fights in the streets.  Well, I suppose the rioting in early August qualifies as the water fights, and maybe the torching of several cars was just someone getting the egg frying terribly wrong?  No doubt a hose pipe ban was in place at one point or other, which would explain why Cameron refused to roll out the water canons to disperse the rioters!

george michael
A worrying recurring theme

So we’re into the next regimented phase of the year, which for me means I’m back to making packed lunches every day for me and the girls.  For a task that takes about two minutes I cannot begin to express my hatred of it.  Well I did just begin, but you know what I mean?

Inevitably, folks now are mentioning Christmas, and it will only be a few short weeks until we hear the unwelcome strains of the usual crowd; Slade, Cliff, East 17 and George Michael.  Hmm, why do all my blogs reference George Michael???

Both Louise and I, feeling the groundhog nature of the festivities would love to go away for the whole thing, just to do something different.  We have done one Xmas overseas, and that was back in 2005/6, when we went to Florida (shock horror!) just after Christmas and stayed into the new year.  It was brill.

It is a very different holiday in some respects to a summer jaunt, with evenings being downright chilly, but the “magic” is tenfold if that is possible, with the decorations and lights being simply second to none, apart of course from that one house we all have locally who turn their semi into a fairy light filled grotto for two months every year!!  Classy.

With this distinct plunge directly into winter from summer, do not pass Go, do not collect £200, comes a very significant event of course on the 20th of September.  It is an event that has caused great excitement in our household, and there will be much happiness and merriment upon that day.

Yes, the new series of Two and a Half Men is shown on Comedy Central.  Sure, Charlie Sheen is no more, and it could all be pants with such a major change in the cast, but I have enjoyed all of the previous episodes so much that I am ever hopeful that it will continue to be genuinely funny, perceptive, filled with smutty innuendo and at times nice and silly too.  Of course, with Ashton Kutcher now in the show, getting any and all of the females in the house to watch it with me should not pose a problem.

two and a half men
The new breed

Oh yes, our new dog, Oli, comes home on the same day too!!

So all this talk of Xmas holidays is not a pre-amble to me announcing a surprise trip to Orlando for Christmas.  Imagine for a second I had somehow embezzled or borrowed the required funds, then we have the fact that within a matter of days now, our family will be swelled with the arrival of Oli the Old English Sheepdog.  Running off on holiday weeks after his arrival would be downright bad form, but hey, it doesn’t stop me dreaming.

However, dreams for next summer are absolutely valid and are in full swing!  Oli will be housed with some willing (or unwilling) volunteer I’m sure.

The girls are now fully embroiled in the new school year, with Emily getting to grips with being treated quite differently now she is in sixth form.  She has study (free) periods in her timetable, and the teachers seem to be treating them like the mini-adults they are I suppose.

Not having to wear a uniform now, has of course meant a minor shopping spree to increase the collection of jeans and tops so that she fulfills her required level of coolness.  Readers of my trip report will not have missed that we spent fortunes in Hot Topic a month ago, but still it seems more clothes were required.

Rebecca is still trapped within her uniform, and like most pupils is trying everything she can to push the boundaries on what is acceptable whilst avoiding punishment!!

So with Oli’s arrival on the horizon it feels very much like the calm before the storm, with last week being quite uneventful really.  It contained lots of work of course, in which I still have pretty much no interest other than how long it is until pay-day (too long is the answer).  I know I am doing a really bad job of hiding my resentment that I have to spend so much of my time doing things I don’t want to.

This plethora of work is also impacting the old trip reportage with progress quite slow, and when I do get to sit down and do one, my brain feels worn out from all the stuff I don’t want to do, which is maybe making them not all they could be.  C’est la vie.  Folk are still leaving very kind comments, and when I look at the number of people reading them it is a little mind-blowing.  If only they all paid a pound each????!!!

So a wandering, non event of a blog this week, no doubt a symptom of the current malaise, which is a state of mind, not a salad dressing.  Next week will be the last blog pre Oli, and after that it will be chock full of mischief, cute photos and messy floors, and I’m sure the dog will feature too!

Onwards and…..well onwards really.

Till the next time……

Wham Bam….

This new stuff at work is proving to be fun.  If nothing else it is reinforcing my theory that is absolutely possible to be really, really busy and bored out of your head at the same time.  If anyone reading this does something for a living that they are truly interested in, and/or enjoys, then you are lucky.

Not having any real interest in what you do for a living is, I guess, a curse brought on by not having any sort of career plan whatsoever at any stage, and just sort of stumbling my way from thing to thing over the years.  Beyond wanting to be a pop star, I had no specific ambitions to be honest, and this has resulted in me doing stuff which just best pays the bills over the years.

As the often prophetic George Michael once said many years ago…

“Do you, enjoy what you do? If not just stop, don’t stay there and rot!”

Alas it is not that simple my hirsute Greek friend.

This lack of burning career ambition and direction has also resulted in never really feeling properly qualified as “anything” in particular either.  I hate being asked what I do for a living as I have no idea what to reply.  A good all-rounder, or jack of all trades master of none are both suitable answers, which leave me with a constant feeling of just being about to be “found out” for the charlatan that I am.

All this woe is me stuff can easily be dismissed of course with a counter argument about earning “good money”, and not having to do anything like proper work, involving manual labour, cold weather and getting my hands dirty, all of which is true.  I just wouldn’t mind getting up each morning to do something that I have a remote interest in, beyond hoping the job is still there so that we have somewhere to live, and holidays to go on.

This thinking is why I am in no way concerned about the girls’ life choices.  Emily’s choice of A level subjects have almost entirely been driven by what interests her, and not what might take her to some career or other.  She is doing Media Studies, Film Studies, Photography and English Literature.  What she ends up doing next, I’m not too bothered, but hopefully it will be something that fits with her interests.

Rebecca too, having just selected her GCSE options, has chosen stuff that the fellows at Oxbridge may not deem to be academically “on message”.  With Drama, Dance (yes there is a dance GCSE), Art and Music, at least half of her lessons will be things that she enjoys, which will surely help her get through the must haves such as Maths, English and Science etc.

Louise too is thinking of a career change, with a possible return to study at some point in the near future.  All I need now is someone to match my current salary in return for me writing pithy, moany blogs and tweets, whilst travelling the US on some sort of eternal travelogue.  Surely this isn’t too much to ask??

Until that happens, the charade of interest continues, attending meetings I don’t want to go to, talking about stuff that I’d rather not talk about, in places I don’t want to be.  It’s all a bit of a game really, and one I don’t particularly care if I win or lose, as long as the salary hits the bank each month.

Monday Motorway
Living the dream

So yes, this (if you had not noticed) is the inevitable and annual return to work after holiday blues blog.  A few more weeks of drizzle, crap traffic, and working weeks will have me re-conditioned back into the swing of normality again I’m sure.  Until that time I reserve the right to be maudlin, gloomy and aggrieved.

Louise feels much the same I know, as she posted this morning her unbound joy of a wet, grey miserable Monday morning on the way to Rochdale to take pictures of stranger’s boobs.  Nothing against, Rochdale or the boobs of strangers I’m sure.

I suspect we are not alone in our thinking, as any cursory glance at Facebook or Twitter of a Sunday evening/Monday morning will see a procession of protestations around the inevitable and unavoidable bill slavery that befalls many.

I shall take my half empty glass now and spare you any more of this self-pitying tosh, and hope that by the next update here I have something more jolly to share with you.  I never said these would always be pretty….did I?

What did George Micheal know anyway, he also said…Do you love your monkey or do you love me?

I am ambivalent to my monkey George.

Till the next time…..