Man vs. Disney

Ding, ding!

In the blue corner, all the way from Pragmatic Town, in the county of Prudent is the challenger, “stay at home this summer”.  In the red corner, from Rash Decision USA, is the reigning champion, with over ten years of victories under his belt, you all know him, it’s “sod it, we’re going no matter what the consequences!!”

In the battle outlined above, we have seen some very one-sided contests over the past eleven years, with the challenger, never really troubling the scorers.  This year as you are all painfully aware has been a much closer fight.  With a house move, to a house that needs work doing, me just two months into a new job, and Louise giving up work to take the easy option of becoming a nurse (I mean really get a proper job!), you can see how the odds were heavily stacked against the reigning champion.

The fight has been bloody and painful, with all of the family taking some real body blows from the realisation that defeat looked very much on the cards, and our summer would be more tent in the back garden than the Garden Grill.  With Emily’s constant playing of Disney music at high volume, and Louise posting angst on Facebook most days, it has only been Rebecca and I that have managed to keep a lid on our feelings!

Out of the four of us I think I was bearing up the best, if you can imagine that, and I was hunkered down for a summer of work, crap weather, and not having to bother to lose weight!  We have a house move to organise, and it was during some activity related to this that this week’s major news unfolded.  Louise was clearing out the Narnia style wilderness that is our “under the stairs” ready for the move.

I was at work, working.  I say that as in the past at this time of year, I would pretty much either be spending eight hours a day on flight websites, or if already booked, indulging in some other crucial planning activity.  With no such pleasures to distract me, it was left to a text from Louise to do that.

Here is how the conversation went….

Louise Williams    19th April – 10:21am. 

I want to go to Florida

Craig Williams    19th April – 10:21am

Me too!

Louise Williams   19th April – 10:22am

Well pull your finger out and make it happen

Craig Williams   19th April 10:30am

Oh I can make it happen no problem.  Are you OK living in a tent?

Louise Williams   19th April  10:30am

Blah

Louise Williams   19th April 10:33am

Still tempted though! How can we make it happen then?

Craig Williams   19th April  10:40am

OK, it’s booked!

Louise Williams   19th April  10:41am

Don’t joke.  I’m not joking, all I need you to say is sod it, let’s go in August.

Louise Williams   19th April  10:45am

Stop working and pay attention to me!!

Louise Williams    19th April 10:59am

DON’T IGNORE ME!

Craig Williams    19th April  11:07am

I was having a (word removed for decency purposes)

Louise Williams    19th April  11:10am

So?

Craig Williams    19th April   11:11am

I’m looking at flights!

So you can see the terrific fight I put up there.  From there, began several days of deeper, more intelligent conversations about how we could manage to go, once I’d discovered that flights were indeed bloody expensive, and some of those conversations were even done face to face rather than text!

I can confirm that I did use up all of the internet for those few days, and if a website was capable of spitting out a flight price to Florida, I was on it, completing a spreadsheet with every conceivable permutation of dates.  This in itself was complicated enough.  With Louise starting Uni, but having not yet started (at the time) we were not sure of what her holiday dates would be.  We had to wait several days to get absolute clarity on that.

Then the logistics of going away on holiday when you are stupid enough to have three cats and a dog is something similar to organising the D-Day landings, especially when all the family members likely to do pet sitting duties had the nerve to have booked a trip to France right in the middle of the dates we had in mind.  This thought process and the asking, leading to begging took a few further days too.

Oli on park

It's a good job he's cute

Once Louise had her dates confirmed, and we knew the extent of the costs, we were down to the nitty-gritty of actually doing something about it.  Louise’s confirmed holiday dates did at least help us slightly with animal fostering as they were after the return of my Mum & Dad, and Emily’s friends return from her holiday who we had volunteered to feed our cats.  I told you this was complex.

At this point I called my Dad to ask him if he’d like to adopt some form of pet for a while this summer, as now we were looking to leave the day after he got back from France…unless, I said, you want to turn right around and come with us?  Never for a second thinking that they would consider or afford that.  To cut that part of the story shorter, that evening my Mum & Dad came to our house to have a chat about it, and within around seven minutes of them arriving, we had booked the flights.  Honestly, my Dad has less will power than I do in these matters!

So there you have a brief summary of what has been around a week of stressful searching, organising and strategising.

Now I am sure many of you are wondering if we have sacks of money lay under the bed.  If you had seen our bed and the age of it, you would know that is not the case.  What I have outlined above is purely the undeniable tractor beam that is WDW and Florida working its magic once again.  Over the years we have sacrificed many things to get there, and this time our sacrifice is that the work that needs doing on our new house will be undertaken, in the main, by us, (and my brother and my Dad, but they don’t know that yet) rather than taking the easy option and throwing lots of money at someone to take the pain away!

Anyone that knows my views on DIY will know the level of sacrifice this represents for me.  It is one step down from losing one of the twins!  Speaking of which, Oli lost both this week, and has hardly blinked or even noticed.  But I digress.  This is a WDW only zone this week.

So finally we get to the details of this upcoming trip.  With Louise fairly and squarely now to blame for two things –

  1. Booking this holiday
  2. Not doing Disney at all last year, and then halfway into the holiday announcing that she missed it.  How we laughed!

I can assure you all that the ONLY thing we will be doing this year is Disney, in terms of theme parks anyway.  It also helps keep the costs down.

Our flights were OK, price wise, when compared to the majority of flights I had seen in horror, for most of my searching.  We ended up paying £598 each for indirect flights on the 19th of August.  I had spent far longer than was healthy on the internet looking for flights, but ironically, we booked off-line through a company my Mum found with one Google search, Fly and Save.  Other than them having the right badges on their website, I suspect they operate out of a shed somewhere on the outskirts of Walthamstow.  Until I had the confirmation number and was able to select our seats on the Delta site I was mildly concerned that our cash was being laundered through the Eastern Bloc, but it seems all is in order after all.

Accommodation wise, simplicity is the key this year.  In past years we have done all sorts of multiple moves, and enjoyed them, but this year it is one villa, for the two weeks, no messing about.  Again, costs being a factor too.  We have chosen a lovely looking four bedroom villa on Silver Creek, off of the Dibb of course.

You can have a look here….

2012 villa

Our house, in the middle of our street...for 2 weeks...

The minivan is booked, and we’ll sort out park tickets much nearer the time.  We’re also going to go back to Daytona, to watch the Daytona Cubs baseball team.  We might tie that in with a drive up to St Augustine, I’m not sure yet.

No matter, the facts are that we’re booked, we have some vague plan for paying for stuff, and all the animals are housed for the duration!  Hurrah!

Phew, it has been a right old-time.  Add to that, a house move, a new job, two teenage daughters, too many animals, and if I don’t have a heart attack before I’m 50, I deserve a medal.

So I can now settle into a few months of planning, spreadsheet writing and most importantly some Disney food porn.  It is half the fun of these things, but hey, if you’re reading this you probably know that anyway.

So if you are still with me after what has turned into a long, long blogathon, well done.  You have witnessed first hand the absolute power of Florida and more specifically WDW.  It is so powerful that it has now infected Louise, who just a few short years ago would want to do silly things like decorate the house or re-do the kitchen before booking such a holiday.  Now, we just have to do both!!  Fair enough.

Let the countdown, and the diet begin.  Since booking I keep getting little jolts of excitement as I remember something we can do, now that we’re going, that I had safely locked away in the “don’t remember that, it’s too painful” part of my brain.  In that list so far…..

  • A kitchen sink
  • Jellyrolls
  • A long list of restaurants
  • Baseball

and the rest are pretty much food related.

The adventure begins, and this time, we’re taking the parents!!!

Till the next time….

Sad news and a very brief blog.

A week is a long time in bloggage.  I was writing of our pain last week and this pain endures, but it now rests in the context it deserves due to the events of today.

It is proving hard to get into the flow of this week’s stuff for any sort of blog post, as we had some sad news this morning, with a bereavement in the family.  This isn’t the place for details of course, but we had a dash up to the hospital this morning where Louise’s cousin hard passed away.

It was a surreal experience, and one that makes the pithy nature of these blog entries a little irrelevant.  So I’ll keep this brief if you don’t mind.  I will attempt a mid week update, should I have anything of note to report on the week’s events, but until then I shall respectfully draw this to a close.

Should you be looking for reading material, you can always head over to WDW Dads and catch up on quite a few new articles from the past few weeks, and I will be back with you in full moany sarcastic mode asap.

Till the next time…..

A week of pain, and I don’t mean the piercings.

We are a family in pain.  We are in a bad way, with high levels of suffering.  What is the cause?  Severe WDW withdrawal symptoms!!

I have Louise posting on Facebook roughly every seven seconds about how hard she is finding the fact that we aren’t going, and I have Emily, listening to Spectromagic on repeat on her iPod and Rebecca joined in the self-inflicted pain by sitting with Emily at the iPad watching WDW parades this evening.

parade pic

Craig, I miss you!!

Me?  I am coping admirably, and I don’t think about it much at all really.  I would say there are several seconds in each day where the thought of going on holiday does not cross my mind.

It does not help that I have two cyber friends fully immersed in Disney-dom with @tweetwizzo tweeting about ten times a minute whilst on his fourteenth trip in eighteen months, and Gordon in full planning mode, clogging up my twitter and Facebook timeline with WDW footwear conundrums and questions about dining options.  Thanks chaps!

I have to admit that I have spent some part of today on websites related to the booking of such trips.  We ABSOLUTELY cannot afford one, and it is only the fact that I want to eat in the coming months that I have not followed this searching with some plastic damage.  Louise wants to go more than I do….so she says….but I think I just hide it better to be honest.

With a house move this summer, and then once moved, quite a bit of work to do to the house to make it acceptable, I have to save all my available credit card balances for that, and not squander them as usual on a trip to the States.  Now, of course there is always Christmas…….stop it, and more importantly, stop me before I do something stupid!!

Speaking of the house move, things have kicked off, and I spent most of today filling out endless paperwork, and sending off pretty much every important document I possess to prove that I work, earn, exist and live as I claim I do.  It is complex stuff this house move business, and I expect many a twist and turn before we eat that traditional take away amidst unpacked boxes on our first evening in the new place.

Planning a house move is substantially less fun than planning a trip to Florida.  The costs are pretty similar, but the levels of resentment attached are just not in the same ball park.  I can justify any cost attached to WDW, but paying some legal bloke a few hundred quid to check there isn’t an open mine shaft under my new house is just throwing money out of the window to be honest.

So with much expense to bear in the coming months if at any time you see me near a computer, all misty eyed, credit card in hand, please do the decent thing and stop me.  I’m either just about to book a trip I can’t finance or I’m on one of those websites that require a credit card to proceed, and neither will lead to long-term happiness.  Both give short-term relief to certain problems of course, and you do only live once!!

In other news, Louise became unemployed on Friday, leaving her steady regularly paid employment to become a student again.  She has immediately bought three Smiths albums, some weed and two dozen pot noodles.  On the plus side she won’t need to shower or wash her clothes for three years so that should save some cash!

This new lifestyle has also driven her to include the kids in this new hippy student lifestyle.  Despite me putting my foot down and insisting it would NOT happen, both the girls had their noses pierced this week.

emily nose pierce

I nose this will be trouble

I enjoy my position of ultimate authority in our house.  I have absolute power of veto as log as Louise agrees with the decision.  In my experience, one out of two of every piercings goes wrong in some way, and involves yet more expense for lotions, creams, antibiotics or trips to the doctor, and this time my money is on Emily.  Call it fatherly intuition.

So with three students in the house now, I expect to come home to a smoke-filled house, with three females suffering the munchies and searching through last week’s dirty washing to find something they can wear inside out.  If we don’t own at least one Levellers album in the coming months I will be astonished.

So we plod on, holiday-less and hopeless, suffering the intense pain of absolute WDW cold turkey.  Should any of you have a pot of money you aren’t using, and feel the need to donate us a trip, I would be delighted to accept, and even name the trip report after you.  I have a minimal amount of pride I can assure you.

Someone please end this pain…..

Till the next time……

 

Cut, Thrust, Stab.

It has been a week of offers, counter offers, industrial espionage and daring do, of the likes not seen since Gordon Gekko bought a new pair of braces.  Yes, that’s right, we have been embroiled in the cut and thrust of property sales and purchases this week.

gordon gekko

Not a penny under the asking price, and the lounge curtains are non negotiable!

Following our viewing last Sunday, the working week began with an offer, the obligatory derisory sneer from us at such an offer, and from there a spiral of further offers, poker faces and letting folk sweat, until at some time on Wednesday we received an asking price offer.  This is not the glorious victory it may sound like as we had reduced said asking price by a chunk in previous weeks, however, a win is a win as they say.

We were glad our viewers were able to get there financially as they were lovely, and we will be delighted, should the next couple of rocky months deliver us closure, to see them live in “our house”.

For our part, we have had our house picked out for, well, a couple of decades really.  The house we want has been in Louise’s family for nearly thirty years, and my Mum and Dad have lived next door to it since 1984, so we are quite familiar with it.  We offered, and it was accepted.  All very painless really, mainly as we’d agreed the price with Louise’s family member up front, but again, I’ll take a win where it comes.

Following the abject horror of discovering the full extent of the legal costs in simply buying some bricks and roof, I recovered enough to instruct someone to handle it.  For the prices involved, I expect him to rebuild it brick by boring brick to ensure it is fit for purpose.  The bank have agreed the mortgage in principle, that principle being that I will continue to be their bitch until I am close to death, and so we have the wheels in motion.

So with all that admin and faff complete literally by 5.30pm on Thursday, we could no more as Easter arrived to shut everyone down.  Whether we now wait six weeks or twenty-six, is now in the hands of a lawyer I found on the internet and some call centre mortgage clerk just outside of Birmingham.

To celebrate spending large amounts of money, Louise and I went out on Friday night to, quite aptly, TGI Fridays.  It is the closest dining experience to the US we have in the UK, whilst at the same time being so far away from it, as to remind you why you want to go back so much!  Upon arrival, it was busy, and we were handed a vibrator and told to go to the bar.  I’ve heard about these types of drinking establishment, but haven’t yet visited one.

A tenner’s worth of wine and diet coke later, and we are soon seated.  The food is good, there is no denying, although the waiters all seem a little forced, rather than the natural good moods and charm of their US brethren.  However, as I drove home on the receiving end of Cheesy Nachos, a Chicken Fajita Salad and Cookie Dough Cheesecake, I certainly felt full enough to imagine I had just eaten US style.  The only difference being that on holiday in the US, I would be doing all that again within a matter of hours.

The long weekend is doing us nicely, with not a lot going on beyond planning stuff for the (hopefully) new house, with even the girls getting quite excited about the prospect of their new rooms, and the sheer volume of expensive tat that they can procure to, as Louis Walsh might say, make it their own.

Every year, pre Easter, our house echoes with the cries of “Girls, you’re not going to get as many eggs this year as you are too old now”.  This is all in vain, as now, there is so much chocolate in the house, I’ve had to hire a couple of oompa loompas to stock pile it.  We usually find a couple of Emily’s eggs down the back of her wardrobe just before Christmas, whereas if Rebecca’s make it to Tuesday that will be a new record!  Dad might just have to help out a little I suppose!

Before I get back to my restful long weekend, I need to express my thanks for everyone who has taken the time to “Like Me”.  This is not an outward expression of my neediness,  no, I keep that to myself mostly, but more a recognition of all those who gave a toss enough to get over to Facebook and like my new Mkingdon page.  I still don’t know really what will happen there, but we seem to have had fun this week??

mkingdon fb

122 Likes!!

Finally, we’ve had a make over here at mkingdon.com.  I don’t mean that I have parted my hair on a different side, although I might!  Instead, I have changed the look and feel of this here blog, as it had been the same for ages.  I hope you like it, but if it gets the same sort of reaction that a change to Facebook gets I expect to receive the parcels of dog poo through the letter box shortly.  The internet is odd like that.

I hope you all enjoy the break and love eggs.  Wait, no, love eggs is something altogether different and in no way related to Jesus.  Still, whatever floats your boat.

Till the next time……

 

You, Me, A Fence and some birthdays at Six

Greetings all.  It has been a week more hectic than a hectic thing, and I feel like I have not come up for air until about now.  The week at work was just stupidly busy, and on top of that at home we had numerous birthdays to celebrate and events to attend.

On Wednesday it was Louise’s birthday, and she was greeted upon waking by me in my underpants, two sleepy teenagers, a card and a present.  That sounds like an extract from Russell Brand’s autobiography, but really is was quite normal for birthdays in our house.  Louise did a decent job of concealing her underwhelmedness at unwrapping a couple of books rather than the state of the art laptop she really wanted.

The books were relevant if not exciting as they are related to her impending studies.  Yes, two books on how to mop up blood, sick and poop should cover everything the modern nurse needs!!  It was not until much later in the day when she received the second part of her gift package at work that I felt better about the level of presentage.

Later that evening, all four of us ventured out to Mr Fu’s for a slap up meal.  I don’t know what makes a meal slap up, but I think ours was up on the slapped front.  We over ordered majestically, felt so full that vomiting was seen as a route to relief, and enjoyed the doggy bag left overs for tea on Thursday night too.

Wednesday also saw our nephew George turn six, so we popped round to give him his present after our meal, and as all six-year olds should be on their birthday he was still up, full of cake, excitement and pick and mix.  He’d had a good day.

Thursday brought with it another family birthday, with my niece turning 21.  You may remember we attended her party recently? Thursday also brought the taxi duties involved in the girls attending a gig.  Luckily Thursday is Louise’s day off, so she was able to deliver them to the Manchester Apollo about eight hours before the gig so the girls could wait to catch a glimpse of the band as they arrived.  Eight hours on a pavement to see half a beanie hat and a silly fringe through a crowd is commitment.  The band in question?  Youmeatsix.

Youmeatsix

What do you mean you haven't heard of us??

Youmeatsix

The Gig!

I of course was on pick up duty, and by the time I got to them around 11pm, they were ready to start eating parts of the car, having not eaten since lunch, so a stop at the Golden Arches was in order on the way back.  Still full from two chineses, I refrained.  I am not a monster!

So after a manic week at work, signalled by my almost complete absence from any form of social media, what I obviously needed was to spend the weekend relaxing and doing something I love.  With that in mind, I have been painting a fence for two days!!!  I did not, until this weekend, appreciate the sheer level of fenceage that we possess.  I have also realised that every single one of these spray your fence in six seconds contraptions is a  f*%king con.  I tried two different ones and they were both bobbins.  In the end I resorted to the brush and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

The reason for the painting was another viewer for our house today.  Our last viewers did come back with an offer, which I am still chuckling at, and then a second one, less ridiculous, but still not tempting enough so they bowed out of the process as they could afford no more.  Fair enough.  Our viewers today were a young family, who brought their young son, and their parents so we had five folks trailing round the house for what seemed like an age.  We have taken this as a good sign, as even after they left the house, they stood at their car looking back at it and pointing at stuff.  Either the roof is about to fall in and we haven’t noticed or they like the house.

We shall see what derisory figure they may pluck from the air.

If we can make the figures work, then we do have a house in mind.  It isn’t far from where we live now, but it is crucially very close to the girl’s school, which will make our lives a lot simpler as it will be walkable for them, and, it is actually next door to my Mum & Dad, and literally a one minute walk from Louise’s Mum.  My brother also lives a stone’s throw away, so it will be a complete Williams zone.  There is a long way to go until this plan comes together so I am remaining quite cynical about the whole thing, and assuming it won’t happen.  Louise on the other hand has pretty much moved in, picked out a new fireplace, and no doubt several wallpapers.

Before I go, I thought I’d let you know that I have set up a Facebook page for Mkingdon!  I know, I know that sounds so far up my own arse that I’m coming out the top of my head, but bear with me.  I have no idea if it will work, be of any use to me, or of any interest to anyone else, but I thought I’d give it a go really just to see how these things work.  I intend to use it to post stuff I write on this blog, and the stuff I do for WDW Dads.  I may get bored with this very quickly, as I am reaching social media overload.

I have called it MkingdonWDW, as I do intend to write more stuff about WDW in future.  If I can’t go there, I’m gonna write about it instead.  I know you love these banal updates on fences, dog haircuts and family events, so I shall try to get the balance right!!

If you feel interested or sympathetic then please visit my Page and give me a Like.  This matters it would appear, and if I get over 30, then special things happen.  I think Mark Zuckerburg visits my house with a commemorative plaque.

Till the next time…..