It’s getting hot in here, so dig out my ill fitting shorts.

It’s been hot hasn’t it.  Aside from my scorched pate and realisation that the shorts are a little snugger than I recalled when they were shoved into the wardrobe last September, I have been appreciative of the weather, and the fact that I am not an Old English Sheepdog.  Oli has been feeling it this week, shaved or not, he’s a panting machine.

We have a fan just for him in the front room and he lies in front of it for hours on end.  He appears to be eternally tired in the hot weather.  We spent yesterday on a local park with the family, which included Baxter, Oli’s cousin.  He ran, played and harassed Baxter for around three hours solid, so when he got home, in front of his fan, he slept like a big hairy dog, who was tired and glad to be somewhere cool.

Baxter in the sun

Baxter in a sunhat of emotion

Today, Rebecca and I took Oli for a longish walk around the local golf course, and once again he is now sleeping it off, but this time on Rebecca’s knee being loved to death.

I am still in denial of certain real life events that I refuse to commit to bloggage at this stage.  I do confess to not being fully at the races in terms of my bloggage, and my usual inane ramblings on Facebook and Twitter, but hopefully soon this will all be done and dusted.   I will say it is work related, and that I hope to have things sorted out in the coming few weeks, but I am right royally pissed off with the situation, and in due course don’t worry I will piss and moan about it in great detail.  I want to get it sorted first though so bear with me.

So despite that dark cloud spoiling the virtual weather, we have loved the sunshine and I stand by my oft stated belief that the world is a different, and better place for a touch of warmth and sunshine.  I mean how much fun must it have been for Louise today to be able to do all the ironing out on the decking?  That is what dreams are made of surely.

This evening, a strange occurrence happened, in that the entire family gathered on the sofas to watch a football match.  Usually this is a solitary pursuit of mine, but with a team filled with the likes of Gerard (what accent have I got today) Butler, and Jason Isaacs Louise suddenly became all interested in football, and add to that two idols of the girls in Will Ferrell and Mike Myers and everyone had a reason to be watching.

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On my head son!

Even Oli watched with us.  As you see, the warm weather resulted in my shorts being dug from the back of the wardrobe.  Steady yourself ladies.

As nice as it was to watch something as a family, Louise was on fire with her comments, which had us in stitches and with head in hands in equal measure.

Example 1

Voice over chap on the telly says that Roy Keane is the finest living Irishman.  Louise responds (to the telly) by saying “What about Tom Jones?”

Example 2

Robbie Savage makes a comment that Aston Merrygold from JLS should change his name to Martin as he is so quick.  Louise responds (to the telly) with “Who the hell is Martin Merrygold?”.

Example 3

The teams are lining up in the tunnel.  Louise asks who the big chap is behind Johnny Wilkes in the England team.  David Seaman says I.  Oh, says Louise, and what country is he from?

There were many others, and I can confirm that not one drop of alcohol has passed her lips today!  If this had been a competitive match, and even worse involving Liverpool, I fear I would now be filling in a big hole underneath the patio, and we don’t even have a patio!

You will have noticed a complete lack of me whittering on about Disney stuff and my endless planning.  As I said earlier, crappy real life stuff is keeping that on the backest of back burners for now, but as soon as I have this sorted, believe me, I will be back on that at full throttle, and you’ll be sick to death of it I assure you.

For now, I am getting my blog done whilst in the same room as The Only Way is Essex, and feeling quite proud of the fact that I have not carried out some form of dirty protest across the telly screen.  It surely is a crime against all that is vaguely intelligent.

So I hope you have all enjoyed your BBQs, beer gardens and burnt bits, and let us all play spot the pinkie tomorrow at work.  By that I mean those of us that have over indulged in the sunshine and not Brian in accounts with his todger out again.

Till the next time……

 

Take me out to the ball game.

There are times when writing down what is going on in the real world is simply not an option.  Having to live through it day to day, and then write it down of a weekend is just adding insult to considerable injury, so this week I am going to block out the real world from these ramblings and instead, do a random blog about something I do want to write about.

The premise upon which many of you come here each week is the ever loosening connection between this blog and Florida.  For most weeks of the year, it is hardly mentioned, and then most years, around springtime, we raid a symbolic piggy bank and book another trip, and for those few months, these pages are crammed to the rafters with my self satisfied smugness as I trot out all the things that we are planning to do.

I doff my blogging cap to those proper Disney/Florida bloggers who stay true to their original theme, at all times, and can write article after article that actually helps people plan a trip or at worst enjoy one vicariously.  So as I need to not write about last week, this blog will attempt to be a “proper Florida blog”.

Now, there are millions of Disney blogs, and with a casual glance at google I suspect there is not a piece of Disney property that has not been blogged to death.  With this in mind I have chosen my subject carefully, and I hope that it can therefore actually be useful to some readers, as it may be something they have never thought of doing, or didn’t know where to start.

When you’ve been a few times, you start to look outside the gates of Disney for other attractions and activities, especially if your partner threatens to confiscate your crown jewels if she has to watch Spectromagic again on the next trip.

With this as motivation, I can get quite creative.  Many folks who are multiple Florida visitors, first of all fall in love with the razzmatazz of Disney, but over time there comes a realisation that it isn’t only those forty odd square miles that hold you in their spell.  The magic extends, first to off property eateries, and other theme parks, and eventually to an admission that your love affair is with the atmosphere and excitement of the US itself.  Now I know that us visitors to Florida are not seeing the real America.  Still, my generation were raised on a staple diet of US TV shows that have engrained comforting stereotypes into our minds, so that when we encounter them for real, we are once again that eight year old boy sat in front of The Streets of San Francisco in his pyjamas, marvelling at the sheer scale of the country and Karl Malden’s nose.

One way we have discovered to unearth a little of the real America, is to attend a baseball game.  We have not yet attended a major league affair, preferring instead to get closer to the action with a minor league game.

With a non sport friendly wife, and two teenage girls who would rather eat their own earwax than watch sport on TV, I must admit, my main driver for selecting a minor league game over major was that the cost per ticket was $7 each rather than something like $50.  Should they get bored after the first innings then I would have no issue in abandoning the event without having to sulk for the rest of the holiday.

However, I am very happy with that choice as the atmosphere, and family involvement is excellent, and we have had an absolute ball (pardon that pun) on every occasion.

On our first visit we chose the Daytona Cubs as our team.  Admittedly this was driven by our location, as we were spending a couple of days by pool and sea at Daytona, but the choice was a good one.

If you want to see which team suits your location, then The Official Site of Minor League Baseball is the place to go.  Here you can see all the teams, their schedules and book tickets.

We arrived early on game night, and were welcomed despite our accents and lack of baseball knowledge like one of the locals.  We noticed right away that these games were a big community event.  Everyone seemed to know each other, and we soaked up the pre-game build up eagerly, looking out onto the empty diamond.

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The players began to warm up, the girls picked out which ones were “fit”, and I suddenly realised how ridiculously fast they threw that ball!

What became apparent very quickly was that the ball game itself was almost a side-show to the endless flow of entertainment and games laid on to keep everyone happy.  You will know that US sports all take at least seventeen hours to complete, and all the breaks in play were used expertly with games of all sorts.

There was a burrito eating competition.  If only I had known beforehand, I could have claimed glory for the UK!

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At times the game itself broke out, and we all enjoyed that too, with my rudimentary run down of the rules being enough for the women folk to take an interest.

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Every end of innings brought ever more creative games onto the field, with the most surreal being three Dads having to catapult sponges at the floodlights whilst watched by two girls from Hooters.  The Premier League have much to learn.

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With a couple of beers from a passing vendor, and every food stuff you can shake a stick at on sale, you want for nothing.  The atmosphere is friendly and fun, and the result of the game pretty irrelevant from what we could see.

Towards the end of the evening, all the kids gather at one end of the field, and then when given the signal they “run the bases”.  This looked like great fun but I fear I just missed the age cut off.

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The evening went on for hours, with more and more fun as it went.  With us needing to drive back to Orlando, and a touch of raining coming in we decided to leave as the game went into extra time tied at…well, I have no idea what the score was, but we were all smiling as we left.

I remember that drive home being one of the worst experience of my life, as torrential rain and pitch black roads made for a tense hour and a bit.  I think I went the whole journey without blinking or talking.

So if you have a spare evening in your plans and want to sample just a little of the life outside of the sterilised walls of the theme parks then I would heartily endorse a night at the ball game.  However, one word of warning.  On our second visit, to a different team, the following year I bought myself a pretzel.  If they ask if you want it with salt say no.  There was an inch think layer of the stuff all over it, and I was thirsty for about three weeks afterwards.

Other than that, enjoy the game!

Till the next time…..

Sunshine, Lollipops and a Westlife!

This week has been full of shit.  Pardon my French, but this statement is true in more than one way.

There comes a time when you get past annoyance, self-pity and a persecution complex and just resign yourself to being on the wrong end of life’s stick with brown stuff on it.  Of course, my trials and tribulations are just normal day-to-day ones, and as ever I doff my virtual cap to those folk facing real problems in life.

So the week started with bad news on the house move front, which to cut a long story short simply cost us a load of money we were not expecting.  Whilst a body blow, I suppose you always have to expect these things, and it will make life tougher for a while.  I entered into an enormous sulk at this point as this is clearly what sensible mature chaps of my age should do in these circumstances.

As punishment that very evening I was stricken with an illness of a magnitude to match my immaturity.  At around 4am on Wednesday morning I was awoken by a rebellion in my body.  I then spent the next several hours doing my best to evacuate said rebellion from all and any orifice through which liquids could pass.

My body’s ability to surprise me in this regard is endless.  Even in the strongest of wretches or strains at some level I was impressed with my body’s ability to expel something that it didn’t want in it.

Wednesday was therefore a complete write off.  I should have been in Newcastle that day and the next, but I was just as likely to make it to the moon in the state I was in.  Louise was concerned enough to phone the doctor, and I was even more concerned to hear that he would be coming out to see me, which immediately made me think my condition was a lot worse than even I thought!

He prodded a bit, from a distance, whilst telling me he’d seen an outbreak of these cases recently, and that I should live through it.  With a couple of prescriptions left behind he made his exit and I continued to be a passenger to my body’s own exit strategy.

I spent Thursday at home too, having stopped ejecting stuff, but still unable to take anything more than water in either.

The days following have been interesting.  I have mainly eaten toast, fearful of incurring the wrath of my innards again, and maybe this has led to a complete reversal of fortune in the bodily functions department.  That issue persists, and although I have lost a pound or two, I suspect when that event comes to pass I may set a new Weightwatchers record for weight loss in one week.  The need to “evacuate” is getting to a worrying point, and I am in desperate need of a Westlife, maybe even a Westlife and a half.   If you don’t know what a Westlife is, well, all I will say is “four stools”.

westlife stools

I need a Westlife like you wouldn’t believe

Hmm, that was a much more detailed a description of this week than I had anticipated.

So back at work on Friday still not feeling terrific, Louise called me with the great news that I had a speeding ticket, from my last visit to Newcastle.  Great, another £60 down the swanny.  However, the Gods diddled on my chips a little more when I got home to read that in fact I had two fines…four minutes apart.  Having taken a wrong turn, I had obviously been zapped going the wrong way, and then again four minutes later going back the right way!  Both times I was eight miles an hour over the limit.  How the plods must have chuckled.

At this point the only choice was to accept my fate, and resign myself to a spiritual shafting.  This isn’t like me at all.  I have a highly polished persecution complex, but I think it was just the fact that I could not comprehend all this crap at once, and have this weekend, been relatively sanguine about things.  The alternative was that at some point over the weekend I’d be stepping over dead bodies loading a fresh clip.  The fact that I have no idea how to load a clip was probably instrumental then!

Louise may tell you that I have had my moments though.  Since selling the house, we have all been holding our collective breath that the house would stop breaking, and that it would remain standing until we complete.  Don’t get me wrong, it is structurally fine, but the little things inside it seem to be on a mission to self destruct.  We have had wooden trim come loose in the hall, and the upstairs shower came close to blowing up earlier today.  Just a few more weeks house, that’s all I ask!

I do claim a small victory in one event this weekend.  Randomly my key fob for the car stopped working for no reason this week.  To get a dealer to fix that, and empty my empty ashtrays was looking like the wrong side of £100.  However, armed with a new £1 battery, and google, I have successfully reprogrammed the bugger, and my jump in the air with full fist punch on the drive may have raised an eyebrow or two in the neighbourhood.  I take my wins where I can.

To redress that balance, Emily is trying to print off her Photography coursework at the moment, and the printer and computer, who are obviously friends with the upstairs shower are playing up like you wouldn’t believe.  I dislike computers a lot.

To distract myself from these horrors, I spent a little bit of Friday evening on some holiday planning.  It may not surprise you to know that the focus was on eating.  It dawned on me that we always eat at the same places, and whilst we still will do our favourites, I felt it was time to look for fresh fields.  A bit of Dibbage with a sprinkle of Google led me to a couple of places that we will try.

orlando ale house

You’d better stock up!

Mannys seems to be a popular choice of lots of folk, so that is on “the planner” and having salivated all over my laptop at their menu, the Orlando Ale House is another that I have decreed that we shall try.  The amount of pleasure taken from this planning activity is abnormally high, but there you go.

As Louise often tells me, I just need to “deal with stuff” so that is what I am doing.  Hopefully, if there are swings and roundabouts the coming weeks will bring a few ups, and I don’t mean the contents of my stomach.  Until then I am googling how to load that fresh clip.

Till the next time…..

 

Battles, Bruises and Baxter.

It’s been a bit of a week really.

I think both Louise and I feel pretty battered and bruised by the last seven days for different reasons.  I have done a mini UK tour, taking in London on Tuesday, which is always a chore and never a pleasure, and then Newcastle over Wednesday and Thursday.

I always find traveling for work, especially when mixed with overnight stays tiring and laborious, especially when the venue for said overnight stay is the very glamorous Premier (you must pronounce it Pree-Meer) Inn.

After a one meeting jaunt to London on Tuesday I drove up to Newcastle on Wednesday morning to open our new office there.  There was no gathering of local dignitaries unfortunately.  The grand opening was pretty much just me, carrying a new PC, and our new starter.  To his credit he settled in very quickly, and the two days passed without much incident.

One highlight of the stay was dinner with Steve, my ex-colleague, but thankfully not ex-friend.  He was in Sunderland on that day so we had arranged to meet up.  Every day is indeed a school day as when we came to order our pre-dinner drinks in the exclusive Pree-Meer Inn bar, the two Guinnesseseseses we ordered were served up from a tin, looking all flat and uninviting, but then they were placed on some contraption, in a little pool of water, and as if by magic, agitated into a fully fledged perfectly acceptable pint.  It was as if I had just witnessed the invention of fire!

Food wise dinner was OK, but it was great to catch up with Steve, and I only rubbed it in a little bit about our recently booked trip.  I have to be gentle with Steve as I never know when we will next need loan of some DVC points or a dog sitter!

Towards the end of dinner, we were delighted to hear the dulcet tones of the fire alarm.  Of course everyone sat looking at each other for a good few minutes hoping to not have to move, but alas the staff ushered us outside.  Now, up in Newcastle I am classed as a southern jessy, and I confirmed that status by coming close to death whilst stood outside in the sub-zero temperatures of an early May evening.  It was bloody freezing, and of course being a resident of the hotel my nice warm coat was enjoying itself up in my room watching some channels it shouldn’t have been.  Well, that’s my excuse for them appearing on the bill!

newcastle fire engine

It was too cold for snow!

Eventually, the fire engines came and went, and we were allowed back in to thaw out.  Steve set off for home and I watched crap telly in my underpants.  Don’t worry I did go to my own room first!  It truly is a showbiz lifestyle I lead.

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Homeward bound…..

So there you have my bruising week.  Whilst I was living the Vida Loca by the Tyne Louise was having all sorts of fun and games with the vendor of the house we are buying.  This fun and games was made all the more interesting as she is “family”.  I won’t go into details here, frankly as we are all now absolutely sick of talking and hearing about it.  In summary the survey on our new house flagged some issues, and these had a material impact on the valuation the bank gave to the house, and in turn to the amount they would lend on it, and so began two days of heated debate about us trying to “rip her off” etc etc, when it was absolutely nothing to do with us.

That is the tip of that iceberg but it shall remained submerged here.  All I will say is that you would not believe some of the goings on if I wrote them here anyway!  Suffice to say, we ended the week in a position where we can progress, and the move is still on.  This was not the case for some of the week, so it has been a bit of a roller coaster.

So we arrived at the weekend, thankful to hear the bell for the end of the fight, and for the extra day off, and needing a good sponge down, running repairs to a couple of cuts, and some words of wisdom from Buster Meredith. (He was in Rocky(s))  Excellent use of brackets there!

Holiday wise, there hasn’t been much time to drool over Disney websites or plan too much, but I did manage to book the minivan, and start to put a plan together.  The plans so far involve a meet up with Jakki, Steve and the kids whose names I dare not try to spell.  We have arranged a golf day for the men folk where Steve and I will be easily beaten by a man in his mid seventies.  I love golfing in Florida! Then that same evening, the Cooper and Williams clans will convene at a suitable Applebees for feasting before invading Epcot for fireworks and frivolity.

The only other thing we’ve committed to do is return to Daytona to watch the Cubs play baseball whilst we eat!

The weekend so far still has not yielded too much time for Disney planning as we’ve been busy with other things.  There is still tomorrow of course but that is Rebecca’s birthday, so much, no, all of her day will be spent readying herself for her birthday meal tomorrow evening with five friends, and Louise and I will be on taxi duty.  I hope they eat well before they come!!  Rebecca has a new outfit, shoes, jewellery and enough make up to keep the cast of Chicago going for months.

After spending this afternoon at a steam fair I shall be doing similarly exciting and sexy things tomorrow no doubt.  Garden Centres, Stannah stairlift demonstrations and walk in bath showrooms will not be safe from me.

To be fair we had a nice afternoon at the Last Drop Village.  We met up with Mum and Dad, and my brother and his wife, who took their dog Baxter.  Much hilarity ensued as he and Oli spent about an hour chasing each other and playing like things possessed.  I think they tired each other out so it has been a peaceful evening.

baxter

He’s eaten a whole wheel of cheese.

We entertained Louise’s Mum for tea, and then spent our evenings watching films we’d seen before or browsing the internet.  Louise was looking at stuff we can’t afford for our new house, whereas Emily was watching YouTube videos of the Fantasyland expansion to see if anything new would be open when we go.  Not much will be it seems, but my obsessive planning ways seem to have made it down the family tree well enough!  My work here is done.

Speaking of which…

Till the next time…..