Boyle put a banging donk on it.

Excitement in the Williams household is reaching epic proportions. We probably say this every year, but we are definitely in the space of really NEEDING this holiday.

The trials and tribulations of this year so far are well documented here, and they have taken their toll for sure. Even the girls seem much more excited than usual. Rebecca especially, who most years can seem quite cool about “another” holiday, tells me most days that she cannot wait to go.

Emily is of course a confirmed addict, and proved the point again by spending her evening yesterday watching You Tube videos of Disney Parks. Yes, she even cried at the Beauty and the Beast show. She is beyond excited.

I don’t need to tell you how I feel. Apart from tired, you can pretty much guess how I am feeling right about now. The yearning is becoming an actual physical pain.

With pay-day happening this week, the final bits of the planning were completed this week. Firstly, park tickets. I’d always planned to get a 14 day Ultimate, as of course the rule this year is Disney first,second, and last. We tried the no hopper Magic Your Way things a couple of years ago, and if you are doing other parks as well, they can work well, and certainly present a saving, but I absolutely want the flexibility this year of being able to hop, and go for part days.

This plan did not stop me from spending an unhealthy amount of time researching things just to make sure that I could not somehow find park tickets for a tenner. I couldn’t, and therefore went ahead and bought them from Florida Escapes. They say they will arrive within 18 days, which is handy as the countdown stands at 21 currently.

With those in the metaphorical bag, I moved on to the dollars. We always have a card or two along for company anyway, but unlike in the UK, I do like to carry cash too. I did the Money Saving Expert thing to find the best deals. They have a calculator that works out not only the best rate, but the best overall deal once take everything into account like delivery charges.

So despite only ordering them on Friday, they arrived Saturday morning, and I spent a few moments alone with them, having a sniff and a feel. Yes that is incredibly sad, what of it?

So we’re ready, in fact more than ready. For the next three weeks or so, I’m just going to sit on my packed case by the front door waiting for the taxi.

Along with that good stuff, Friday brought Emily back to us, courtesy of Easyjet. We’d missed her, and she was honest enough to admit she’d missed us too. She was suitably brown, and tired, and glad that it was only for a week. As much as she likes her friend, a week of non stop time together is very different to a few hours at college.

I can summarise my week’s other activities in one word….painting. Every evening and most of the weekend have seen us get Emily’s room almost ready for the carpet which we have ordered to come on Tuesday. I never want to see a roller again. I know the room is big, but every time we thought we’d finished we spotted another bit that mocked us with its unpaintedness, or needed a second coat.

Tomorrow, we just need to finish off the white gloss bits, which I’m hopeful Louise and my Dad will have under control by the time I get back from work. If I drive home slowly enough I’m sure they will.

Pictures will be blogged next week, and if anyone sees that I’ve missed a bit, please feel free to keep it to yourself. I intend to burn the decorating implements once we’re done.

I haven’t posted a video here for a while so just to prove I haven’t forgotten how to you can have this one. It is Oli and me play fighting. The teeth and pain are real, and the noise he makes is very silly.

Having now seen my incredible media skills, I cannot let this week go by without doffing my cap to every single person involved in the opening ceremony for the Olympics. I’ll be honest, I was concerned beforehand that we may look a little stupid if we did not deliver something close to our predecessors. Knowing that we were starting the whole thing with sheep and people cutting wheat, you can appreciate my lack of confidence.

Rings of Fire

I have never been more wrong. I loved every minute of it, and was blown away by the whole thing. I even stayed up to watch all 4000 teams enter the stadium, and unlike nearly everyone else I didn’t mind McCartney at the end either. Of course he isn’t what he was, and the voice isn’t there any more, but if any other country had produced The Beatles, and had one or two still alive, you can bet they would have used them too. The alternative was probably Elton John or Coldplay so all in all, I thought it was a decent call.

Danny Boyle did a wonderful job, in taking what could have been (to paraphrase the Muppets) a glorious five hour tribute to all countries but mainly the United Kingdom, and making it cool. As Rebecca would say, he put a banging donk on it. I think that is a positive thing.

Right, I’m off to stare at the clock for the next twenty odd days.

Till the next time…..

School’s out for a few weeks!

This week saw the end of the school term, which is welcome in many ways.  Of course the girls are happy to be off school for a while, but it also relieves Louise from a fair bit of ironing duty every Sunday with no uniform for Rebecca to do, and fewer items for Emily, who is past the uniform stage.

Of course the most important reason for enjoying this milestone is that it is exactly that, another milestone in the countdown.  I hate to wish the girl’s summer holidays away, but I will, a bit.

With school done, the main event of this week saw Emily jetting off for the first of her holidays.  Her friend’s grandparents have a villa in Spain (Marbella I think) and she was invited to go out there with her friend.

manchester airport
Dropping off is no fun!

So this meant a very early start on Friday morning.  It was so early in fact that it may still have qualified as Thursday night.  Emily’s alarm went off at 2.30 in the am.  As her room is still not ready, and as we did not want her to disturb my Mum and Dad (she is sleeping there at the moment, remember) she slept on our floor on a spare mattress.

So having insisted on setting her alarm for 2.30am, so that she could have a shower, I was delighted to have to get out of bed to turn it off and gently kick her awake.  Of course, she could have had her shower the night before and given us all another hour in bed, but no, apparently her hair doesn’t look right in the morning if she does that!

With readying complete we all trudged out to the car at around 3.45am heading for the airport.  Yes, we all went, even Rebecca!  The drive to the airport only heightened the anticipation of our journey there in a few weeks time.  We queued up with them to make sure they checked in OK, as they were flying alone, with the grandparents already being out there.

It did feel very strange waving her off as they trudged off through to security, and we had to head for home, and a very long day at work.  As I watched her disappear into the crowds in the passenger only bit, she still looked far too young to me to be embarking on such an adventure alone.  She is only sixteen (for a few more days), and she is and always will be my baby.  Both Louise and I felt the paternal tug very painfully at that time.

So I was at work very early, and delighted to get a text from her to say she had arrived safely and was eating breakfast overlooking the yachts in the marina.  No matter, I tucked into my cheese sandwich at my desk which was equally as delightful!

By mid afternoon I was knackered and headed home early.  Bed was not long from claiming me.

The weekend has been a blur of DIY with skirting boards going on in the loft, and as much as I was the usual labourer to my Dad’s skilled craftsman, on Sunday I actually fitted some myself!!  This is quite a breakthrough, and I shall be forever proud of those bits of wood attached to the wall.

Now, the painting begins.

The only other news of note this week is Oli’s haircut.  It is a little brutal, but much needed as he was hot, knotted and smelly.  Mainly the same criteria which determine when I need a haircut too.  He does look like a totally different dog though.

oli haircut

This evening, we are out at a pub quiz with my brother and sister-in-law, and so I need to ready myself.  With that in mind I shall leave you with this brief update, and no doubt dominate the quiz with my skills and knowledge as long as the questions are all Disney and food related.

Till the next time…..

I am now fully aware of speed, and how it passes at different rates.

Let us take a moment of reflection.  Let us bow our heads and send all of our  thoughts and best wishes to someone who needs all of us to support him at this awful time.

Gordon’s back off holiday!

It will be a familiar feeling to most of you reading this, but nothing can prepare you for the full unadulterated horror of that immediate and jarring return to reality.

Judging by the tweetage live from WDW, the times had by the McBains were tremendous and that of course multiplies the horror once back in the UK.  I think I say this after every trip, but the UK appears to be in black and white when compared to the multi coloured razzle dazzle of the US.  I know of course that spending a holiday in and around WDW, the vacation capital of the word,  is not a fair comparison to flying back into Manchester, which of course isn’t, but still this is real pain.

It is the eternal problem.  You book a holiday, and the days before departure seem endless.  You wish them away, desperate to set off into the magic.  Alas, not only do the actual days of the holiday go at normal speed, they whizz past in record time, seemingly like some end of life experience, and before you know it, you are sat on your couch staring at cases that need unpacking and a fridge that needs filling.

I am therefore trying very hard to relish these last few weeks of our countdown, whilst at the same time, counting every second.

To luxuriate in every element of the planning is the key.  I spend money all the time, certainly at the moment, with us discovering that our new house and its contents has been held together by sellotape and string, the outflowing of cash if like a fiscal diarrhea.  I can tell you that I do not enjoy the spending of one penny.  However, when it comes to holiday related stuff, I can actually take pleasure in laying out cash.

This week’s activity has been the booking of our round of golf.  It took a great deal of research, again, enjoyable, and after some consultation with my golf partners (Dad and Steve), we have a tee time of 9.10am on the 24th of August.  Putting a small dent in a credit card was strangely pleasurable.

legends golf club
Aptly named

That has been it holiday planning wise this week as we are pretty much done.  We are approaching the ticket time, where I have to get those booked, and finally wrestle every last cent out of the dollar purchase.  I shall savour both.

Back in the real world, Rebecca completed her second week of work experience at a local nursery (child, not plant), and promptly caught an awful cold which sees her currently on the couch watching crap telly.  Emily’s provisional driving licence turned up (the paper bit anyway), and more stuff broke in the house.

The weekend has been a little testing to be honest.  Saturday saw me punished for my speeding crimes reported some weeks ago.  I had to drive to Mold.  No, that wasn’t the punishment!!  I attended my speed awareness course.  I promise I shall never speed again if it means sitting through another four hours of that.

speed awareness
Not my actual course

Due to the aforementioned breakage of stuff, I had ordered our new fridge yesterday to replace the two integrated ones that were, well pretty much broken.  I checked the website last night, and it said that delivery would occur between……6.29am and 10.29am.  Yep, you read that right.  So I was up at 6am.  To make way for the new fridge, I had to demolish the integrated unit things housing the fridges, and then get them outside ready to be recycled.

With help from my Dad, this next door neighbour thing has its benefits, we eventually wrestled the bloody thing into bits and out of the house.  You will of course have guessed that the new fridge turned up at 10.27am.

It was installed quickly, and that just left me and my Dad to drive around and try to find matching tiles to the ones that should have been underneath the old fridge units but weren’t.  No problem, as they can only have been twenty years old!

Two stops later, and we had a sort of match, or close enough for tiles that will be 90% hidden under the fridge.  We get them on Wednesday.

A big shop later, and I was back home and ready for bed.  It was 3pm.

The loft (almost Emily’s bedroom) is approaching completion, from the builder’s point of view anyway.  It is more or less fully plastered now and we are hoping that a couple of days more work from them next week should see us decorating….for about six weeks.  The one good thing about gutting that room and starting from scratch is that we’ll know that nothing can break in there.  The room will be unique in that respect.

I did a little more writing this week too, with a second article on The WDW Dads site in a matter of days.  I think I’m ill.  Please have a read if you see fit.

Also please, remember to send Gordon and his family all your support at this very difficult time.  I’m sure he will also enjoy you all constantly asking when Day 1 on the trip report will be done.  It won’t be long until that is us, and probably most of the readers of this bloggage.

With that in mind, I will just drop in that we go in 35 days!!  Ave it!!

Till the next time…..

So much writing it’s wrong

I’ve done a lot of writing this week, which is a symptom of being able to concentrate on anything for more than ten minutes again.  Which is nice!

As well as last week’s blog of course, I took the time to pen the pre trip report for our upcoming holiday.  I have mentioned that we’re going on holiday haven’t I?  If you have read it, thank you, and if you left a nice comment even more of a thank you.

It was a bit of a long one, and came a little bit early.  There you go, I am limbering up nicely for this year.  My innuendo muscle is responding nicely to the training.

I also made a long overdue return to the WDW Dads, and posted an article there.  I’d been asked to consider the main differences when planning what our US friends consider to be “very long” trips to WDW.  Funny that, as every holiday I’ve been on there seems to flash past in about three days.

Somehow I also seemed to make time to write a guest blog for Lucy over at her Disneyroobs blog.  I believe she is having a series of guest writers in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for those.  I won’t spoil things by saying what my post is about, but I doubt it will be a massive surprise to any of you!  I don’t know exactly when mine will be used, but don’t worry I will shamelessly publicise when it is.

So I haven’t had much time to do anything else really.  I did collect my new car on Tuesday, so I have been getting used to that.  It may be a little smaller than my last car (but let’s face it, most cars are) but it still gets the job done!

The other main task of this week has been the appointing of a builder to sort the loft out.  As I’ve mentioned, this is to be Emily’s bedroom.  It is a fully fledged room already, as the house was originally built with it as a room.  However, I don’t think it had been touched very much since.  So after two weeks of demo, we are ready for the builders.

The quote was of course much higher than we were hoping, but if we are to do it, we may as well do it properly and not cut any corners.

It is always hard to show a room off on photos, but in the spirit of a before shot, here is what we currently have.

loft stairs
Stairway to a mess

loft 2

Lofty ambitions

We are using the same chaps that did our garage conversion at the old house, and they reckon within a week they will be done and we can start decorating.  Now there is something to look forward to!

We hope to have the whole thing done before Nana and Granddad go to France in early August as Emily is currently sleeping at their house, and she wouldn’t be keen on doing so on her own!

This morning I moved all the boxes we’d shoved up into the loft when we moved in, so that the builders can start work.  They are all currently rammed into our ensuite bathroom, so going to the loo in there takes a certain talent and a very good aim for the next week or so.

With that and a bit of house tidying done, I took Emily to the Trafford Centre so that she could get some more holiday clothes for her two, yes two, upcoming holidays.

She is off to Spain with her friend in late July.  Her friend’s grandparents have a villa there, and she has been invited along for a week.  We took Nana shopping too so that she could step in whenever I wanted to strangle Emily. She is officially the worst and most frustrating shopper in the world.

We returned without violence, and she got herself a load of stuff so that was good.  Whilst I was out Louise wallpapered Rebecca’s bedroom.  Well, one wall of it anyway.  Most of her walls are covered in fitted wardrobes and drawers, but she wanted the wall behind her bed doing in a specially selected (about three months ago) vintage look wallpaper.  You see, I would rather go to the Trafford Centre than do DIY!

There is nothing so tiring as walking around a large shopping place.  I’m sure they pipe mogadon through the air con.  I had that familiar shopping foot ache, and a thirst that could not be quenched.

Emily found it tough going too.

emily couch
Over tired!

To be fair that was more a result of me watching the end of the tennis.  Emily declared it “even more boring than football”.  High praise indeed.

After Murray’s inevitable defeat, I made tea, ate it and that leads us right up to now as I sit writing this.

Before I leave you I should say that I am really enjoying the live updates from our friend Gordon, as he tweets and Instagrams his way around WDW.  Make sure you find him on a social media site near you, where he is invariably called The_Finkelstein.

He will back all too soon, and I ask you that you all support him at that terrible time.  From the look of things he is having an absolute ball, and the back to reality crash may be a big one.

I on the other hand will be deep into my final countdown and I shall be rubbing that in at every opportunity.

Till the next time…….

My weekend with two strippers.

With another quiet uneventful week behind us, here we are at blog time once again.

Last week of course meant starting a new job.  As much as I was happy to be able to do exactly that, it did not lessen the usual misgivings and apprehension that something like this always brings, even when you’ve been working for (quickly does the maths) 25 years without a break.  Wow, I am very old.

Week one went OK.  I didn’t do a great deal that I could feel enormously proud of, unless you count setting up my laptop, finding the toilets and making the odd brew.  I am in the “too new to be useful” phase, which I hope will not last long.  I am expecting to be launched into the deep end from tomorrow, which is preferred to sitting reading induction material!

Typically, since starting the new job, every call I’ve had has been from someone trying to talk to me about a job for which “I am absolutely perfect”.  Such is life, and it does take a fair amount of will power to tell them I am off the market, and not be tempted to see if the grass on offer is any greener.  I have so far managed to be strong.

With some sort of normality restored, I have thrown myself wherever possible into preparations for our upcoming holiday.  Have I mentioned that we’re going away?

Last week that took the shape of completing our ESTAs.  I resisted the urge to moan about the $14 charge much as my natural instinct was to do so.  Rationally, in the scheme of a holiday costing multiple thousands of pounds, it does seem a little odd to moan about a tenner each to get into the country.  Again, I managed to remain strong.

With the four of us assured entry into the US (their economy could not cope with our absence), I talked my Dad through the online process and was relieved to know that we are all allowed to go!  So onto matters more fun.  I found my way to the relevant website to book us tickets for the Daytona Cubs.  With relevant discounts from $7 to $6 for seniors and children, the bill for that evening came out at around £30.

daytona cubs
Swing batter, batter, swing.

I am really looking forward to that, especially with Mum and Dad in tow as they have not seen live baseball since the 1980s, when we saw a college game at Boardwalk and Baseball.

These types of activities are some of the few that I enjoy spending money on!

So after my first four days in work, I headed home looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend with my feet up.  You really should know better than that. Saturday meant an all out attack on the loft (soon to be Emily’s bedroom).  The task was so huge that we gladly accepted the offer of help from my brother and sister-in-law.  We were so glad of that help, as the task was more vast than we had imagined.

We thought we’d now just be stripping off the sixty year old wallpaper.  For this reason we had secured the services of two strippers.  They got very steamy for hours on end, and they quickly removed the necessary items to our satisfaction.

This stripping was the main task, but the real work ( you can guess which the men did!!) was in cutting up and transporting the carpet down two flights of stairs, along with endless bags of crap.  Heavy crap too, as most of them contained the walls knocked down last week.  We filled a skip and the cavernous back of the Mondeo and still had stuff to get rid of.

However, a long, long, hard day ended with the job done.  It also ended with four very tired, stiff and sore individuals.  After a gap filled with showers and a nap or two, we reconvened at our house where I prepared a delightful meal of Mango Chicken.  We had made this many years ago, but couldn’t find the recipe.  Despite having to guess at most of the ingredients and the cooking methods, it turned out very well.  Well done me.

We spent the evening absolutely not moving and watching a film whilst our every muscle stiffened up to the point of rigamortis.  The beer and wine went some way to lessening the pain.

The evening did not involve the strippers in any way.  I was in no fit state anyway.

Sunday surely must have brought hours of endless relaxing?  Not quite.  A small lie in until around 9am was followed by a tidy up of last night’s meal, and some general faffery until we set off for the bed shop.  You may recall we have a bed for the making of the magic?  Well, Louise (Princess and the pea) Williams tells me the mattress is too hard.

The terms of the purchase allow us 40 nights within which to swap out the mattress, so this is what we are doing.  Louise lay down on a few mattresses and settled on one that should fit the bill.  I nodded in the appropriate place, as I’m pretty sure I will be able to sleep on it.

A big shop later, and I was back home for lunch.  Following the collection of Louise’s new car last week, I had gotten to thinking about getting one for myself.  Now, I love my Mondeo and it has been an excellent car, but I made the fatal mistake of calculating what the pleasure of driving it costs me over a year.  Wow.  Safe to say it is a holiday’s worth.

99% of the time, I am sat in it all on my own so it’s sprawling expanse is largely wasted.  To cut a long story short, we went back the garage this afternoon and picked out one for me.  Between the two cars, we should be saving a whole chunk of cash every month.

Whether it is my recent stressful job situation, and brush with financial meltdown or a subliminal desire to help us get to WDW in future years I don’t know, but I just could not justify the huge wads of cash leaving the bank every month for something I queue up in twice a day.

money pit
Why do they put the wrong names over the actors?

Another factor maybe that we have found that our new house may well have been featured into that film The Money Pit.  We were perhaps a little naive to think that a house of this age, bought from someone in the latter years of their life would be anything but riddled with nasty surprises.  The outlay on new bulbs alone would bring Greece to its knees, as every single light fitting in the house has at least one bulb that needs replacing.

Add to that all the lovely appliances we were left.  Every one of which have decided now to give up the pretense of working that they fooled us with last week and give up the ghost.  It would seem that we are going to have to systematically replace every single thing in the house.  However, not until I have had my bloody holiday!

Last week alone we have had issue with the cooker, dishwasher, fridges and the windows.  The latter being my favourite.  The previous owner had misplaced the keys to all the windows, so we enjoyed a lovely sauna at night, unable to get any fresh air in.  Luckily a locksmith was able to locate a key that would work, and for another chunk of money, we can breathe again.

On our return from the garage this afternoon, Rebecca has bathed Oli, and Louise is making us a chilli for tea.  (Top tip from Louise, do not put your finger up your nose after chopping Chillis).  Time to relax now and enjoy the weekend!  Oh bugger, it’s Monday in a few hours.

Till the next time……