Just thank you!

So….it’s been a quiet weekend.  How about you?

I just wanted to post a quick and simple thank you to anyone and everyone who took an interest, posted something or indeed bought my book.

I have been stunned at the support, encouragement and generosity of spirit of you all.  At the risk of being sincere and serious for once, just thank you so much.

Yesterday was crazy.  I just couldn’t keep up with the messages, tweets and posts, so if I missed anything from any body I apologise.

As I type, the book is number 1 on Amazon in the Family Travel category, number 4 in the Travel category and number 528 in the overall Kindle book category.  It is hard to take that in really.

For those of you now reading the book, I apologise again for the grammar and spelling mistakes.  Proof reading 350,000 words all on your ownsome is tough, as after a while you develop word blindness, and as I look through the book now on my tablet I see mistakes which drive me mad.  I’m updating and correcting as quickly as I can and you may well get an alert from Amazon to get your hands on the update at some point.

For those who have reviewed the book, an extra thank you.  Fourteen five-star reviews at the moment.  Incredible.

So to stop me gushing any more I shall leave it there and get back to correcting stuff.

Just wow!

Till the next time….

That Book What I Wrote

What is this madness?  A blog from me on a Saturday?  Crazy I know, but these are not normal times we live in.  For a start, it feels like a Sunday due to the Goodness of the Friday I just had.

What is the reason for this earth shattering deviation from the comforting grip of routine and normality?  Well, I’ll tell you.

Some weeks ago, I undertook a detailed and extensive teaser marketing campaign, as I said…

“As some sort of teaser marketing campaign, I shall …..erm…tease you by letting you know that I am working on a “secret project” at the moment and at some point soon I may reveal it to you.  As an added bonus one or two of you might even give a toss.”

All none of you picked up on this, and I was inundated with absolutely no enquiries as to what I was up to.  As teaser marketing campaigns go, it may not have been the most successful in the history of advertising.

Weighed down by the massive sense of expectation this campaign created, I have been working hard on this project, and can now reveal all to you.

As I said at the time, sadly it is not the annual booking of our holiday.  If it were that would be the least surprising reveal since Duncan from Blue announced he was gay.  It is holiday related, and is in fact the news that I am now a published author!

That sounds grander than it actually is, as frankly anyone can be a published author as long as you can figure out the labyrinth of complexity involved in Amazon’s self publishing programme.  But still, published I is.

So it is with great pleasure that I can reveal to you all my first (and probably only) book, Mkingdon’s Tales of Family, Food and Florida.

Book Image

Mkingdon’s Tales of Family, Food and Florida

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to fund our next trip with the sales of this book.  Believe me, once Amazon and the tax man have had their share I would need the population of China to buy a couple each to be able to fund more than the taxi to the airport!

It is more that I have been meaning to do this for a while now, mainly to preserve them forever on somewhere other than a certain Disney forum.  Who knows when that might blow up or self-destruct in a fire-ball of reclining seats, tipping and right-wing views?  If it did, all the work I had put into these would be lost and I couldn’t have that.  I spend less and less time on there now, so felt that I needed to reclaim them for myself, and of course if I sell a couple (I have already bought one copy, so just one more sale to reach my target) at the same time then that would of course be lovely.

It’s a big book, and should represent decent value for the (random) price. (Amazon’s pricing engine is slightly more complex than space travel).  With ten year’s worth of holidays in it, the page count is as impressive as the photo quality isn’t.  Amazon’s file size restrictions mean they have to be a thumbnail of a thumbnail!

Some of the grammar and spelling will not win any awards.  I have tidied them up a little, but you will still find typos and the like, but hey, that all adds to the charm, doesn’t it??

So, please tell your friends, and even your enemies that such a thing exists, and if any of you are kind enough to invest in a copy, that in itself would be incredible, but should you even enjoy it, then that is what the review system is for on Amazon so don’t be shy to add one!

So there we go, I finally got my arse in gear and created a book from stuff what I wrote.  Enjoy!  We all enjoyed making the holidays that are in it.

Till the next time….

I just Asda know..is my shopping coming?

Being creatures of habit and routine it doesn’t take me much to upset our funk.  A little bit of snow on Friday evening put our whole weekend out of whack.  You may know that food is a central pillar of our lives, and so the delivery of the BIG SHOP on a Saturday morning is a critical part of our weekend.

Asda called us on Saturday morning saying that they had to cancel our delivery as there was “snow on the pavements”.  Naturally then, if it were unsafe for their delicate drivers to make it out to our house then all the Asda stores in the country must be closed too, for fear of endangering the general public, who would be braving these treacherous footpaths to get themselves a loaf and a pint of milk?

No, it seems they were happy for the risk to be that of their customers.  This upset was made worse as last week Louise did the big shop, and it was a contentious one.  The girls and I thought it was bobbins, as we’d run out of drinks by Tuesday, and with no “real” food in the house by Thursday, the fact that we had no shop arriving on Saturday saw Emily resorting to “popping next door” to see Nana, and get some food whilst there!

I on the other hand got creative and my lunch on Saturday was made up of the shrapnel thrown to the back of the biscuit cupboard from the posh Christmas hamper I got from work.  Those upscale, top of the range Cheddar infused crackers didn’t do much to dent the appetite.

Having collected Louise’s poorly car from the (now) wealthy garage owner at lunchtime, Louise was dispatched to forage for supplies in an actual shop.  How quaint.

She returned some hours later with the ingredients to make a couple of recipes she’d spotted in a magazine earlier in the week.  So we were safe at least until breakfast on Sunday.

I had called Asda back and asked them to re-arrange our order to be delivered on Sunday, but met with such stunningly apathetic and average customer service that our custom may well be finding its way elsewhere from here on in.

It took a while to get through to them as they employed the very customer friendly technique of a recorded message saying “We re busy, you will have to phone back later” before cutting me off.  A master class in customer care if ever there was one.

I persevered, as after all, there was food at stake here.  Upon reaching a human, I went through security checks similar to those undertaken at the safety deposit boxes in a Swiss bank, before being allowed to explain how I had been let down, and my wife had resorted to leaving the house, and was now baking some Jamie Oliver inspired dish that we’d both agree was pants at some point during Ant & Dec’s Takeaway later.

With zero empathy I was told that they were having “system issues” and were unable to rebook things at their end, but I could do it via the webs site.  So, let me get this straight.  The internal systems at Asda were broken, yet the web site was functioning fine, and would allow me to rebook?

I won’t bore you with what I do for a living, but it is something that allows me to smell a very large rat here.  I suspect this translated to, we can take more calls if we refuse to help rebook orders, so we’ll spin some yarn about systems issues and let the mugs do it themselves.

“So” says I, “I just go online and re-schedule my order?”

“Erm, did you save your order as a list?”

“No, spookily I saved it as an order…as that was what I wanted it to be.  You know, I order, you deliver, I give you money in return?”

“Ah, well then you’ll need to do the shop all over again.  Goodbye.”

Stunned, I quickly browsed all and any supermarkets who deliver to see who had a slot for Sunday.  No-one did, except Asda so I’m afraid I ordered there, probably for the last time.  Our need for a shop was greater than my immediate need to protest.

So here we are again, scratching our heads at why an inch or two of snow, (believe me that is all we had here) can disrupt our lives so much.  I feel immediately compelled to buy a Volvo, a turtle neck sweater and marry Ulrika Johnson.  Sweden does snow without it being a national emergency.

I do appreciate that some parts of the UK have been very badly affected this weekend.  Let’s face it the news has covered little else.  It does puzzle me how these “roving reporters” seem to be able to navigate to any part of the country no matter how bad the weather and roads though.

It is vital to get an understanding of the fact that we have snow to have some berk stood on a country road mid blizzard with a big furry microphone.  Otherwise we simply won’t believe the story!!

Sigh.  All of this tells me that I need some sunshine, desperately.  Yes of course I’d love to be telling you about an upcoming holiday, but right now I’d settle for some double-digit degrees here.  With the weather like this it takes me so long to get ready to walk the dog that by the time I’m ready he’s gone to bed.

That’s snow dog

Oh for a few days where we don’t need the heating on, and the walk from the car park to the office is not like some scene from the Grinch.

It is becoming hard to believe that in this country we actually have days where I might be able to go outside without a coat on, never mind in daft things like shorts.

There is a condition I believe that is brought on by these dark, cold winter days.  It is called  being majorly pissed off and cold!

Till the next time…..

Now is the winter of our discontent.

The persistence of the winter weather is doing nothing for my lack of WDW blues.  Or maybe the weather gods realise that as soon as I see daffodils and a couple of hours of sunshine I have to sacrifice a credit card at the altar that is Kayak.com.

My seasonal body clock is so conditioned to the spring booking of a holiday that maybe this prolonged winter is just God’s way of telling me that it isn’t to be this year.  Or, perhaps we are now in a four-year long winter, like those off of Game of Thrones, and anytime soon I’ll be having dwarf sex and expressing my road rage by cleaving someone’s head from their incompetent shoulders with a huge sword fashioned from the bumper of a Ford Fiesta.

Strange days indeed.  More strange happenings on Saturday when I found myself driving to the Trafford Centre, and I wasn’t at gun point.  Instead, Emily and I were on a mission to deposit her CV and desire to work at the Disney Store there.  The journey was horrific as someone had been incompetent enough to prang into each other on the M60 at a very inconvenient (to me) location.

Having taken much longer than it should, we battled our way through the throngs, using maximum body swervage and tuttage.  A brief chat with a Cast Member, CV left, and we were off again back to the car, keen to spend as little time in that place as possible.  If anyone happens to know the manager of said Trafford Centre Disney store do put in a good word.

On Friday evening, Emily and Rebecca went to watch One Direction at the MEN arena in Manchester.  We booked the tickets well over a year ago, so the fact that band still existed was a bonus.  Thankfully, at the ages of soon to be 16 and 18 they were more than capable of finding their own way there on the train.

Apparently, they had some obnoxious fellow travelers.

They wished they were not going in One Direction

They wished they were not going in One Direction

Of course they loved the gig, had decent seats, and screamed a lot.  Much as they did at the Jonas Brothers a year or two ago.  Ah, whatever happened to them?

I of course was on pick up duty after the gig, and upon the girls texting me that the second to last song had started I joyfully trotted to the car and headed for Manchester at 10.20.

The fact that I didn’t get back home until 12.20am was a major cause of a sense of humour loss.  Two hours you say?  Why on earth would it take two hours?  Well, the square mile around the MEN was at an absolute standstill.  So there I sat amidst hundreds of other driver Dads in their slippers, looking at the 1Ders walking past us in the pouring rain and answering texts from impatient and cold daughters asking where the bloody hell we were.

I’ve done so many post gig pick ups over the years but this was the worst by a mile.  Maybe EMO gig attendees walk home and don’t need Dads and Mums to pick them up?  I suppose the average age at a 1D gig will mean that parents are more likely to drive them home, but I also noticed that the major road through the city centre had been pedestrianised since last I did this taxi run.  At the risk of sounding like Alan Partridge, that didn’t help.

Can someone please reverse that before I have to pick them up from the MEN again please?

On the positive side, it meant that I missed a fair chunk of Comic Relief.  Having had to dress up in 80’s fancy dress at work this week, and have “fun”, missing Lenny Henry’s “katanaga” for the twenty fifth year was welcome I can tell you.  Me, miserable?  Never.  I don’t mind donating, just don’t inflict seven hours of folk being wacky and zany on me.

Does it make me a bad person that I really don’t want to hear Sharon from Huddersfield tell the nation she raised £300 by dressing up as a tampon and being dunked into a water tank?

The endless procession of Kevins from accounts dressed as teletubbies desperately trying to get into camera shot with oversized cheques just makes me want to self harm.  No doubt I am going straight to hell, where I shall have to watch Davina McCall and Claudia Winkleman present inane tosh for eternity.  It’ll be called Children in Red Noses Day.

Till the next time…..

 

A Smorgasbord of Success and a toilet.

This week this post will contain none of the usual bemoanment of woes, well not for the first few paragraphs anyway!  This week has seen the Williams household bestowed with a cavalcade, a cornucopia, nay, a truck load of good news and success.

So bountiful has this week been, that I may have to resort to a bullet pointed list to record them….

  • Emily passed her driving theory test.
  • Rebecca got an A in a major piece of her Drama GCSE
  • Louise passed the first year of her nursing course, confirming that she can move onto the second year
  • Emily scored a C Grade in her Film Studies AS level

I am now just concerned that I’ve missed something off this list.  You will note that I added not one jot to that list.  I will have to be content with my natural every day state of awesomeness.

So yay, whoop and all those celebratory exclamations.

In other important news, Emily announced to us that a major attraction had made its debut at Walt Disney World.  What is this major headliner attraction that had her all exited?

Was it a multi-million pound roller coaster?  Was it the fantastically themed Be Our Guest restaurant in the new Fantasy Land?

No.

It was a new Tangled themed restroom.

Don’t get it tangled!

Some of you may know that much of our WDW time can be spent in these places, hence the title of my first ever trip report, The Williams Tour of Florida Restrooms.  So for some future point in time when we are able to return, this must now be crossed off our list of restrooms to visit.

To say that Emily is taking on the Disney obsession baton from me is an understatement.  It is getting to the point now where she is my major source of WDW related news.  From Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, she is now a Disney knowledge sponge.

After our recent move over to Virgin for our TV services, with whom it is possible to sync your TV with your smart phone, enabling you to watch YouTube from your phone on the TV, she has done little else.  Most viewings are WDW related.

So most of our Saturday evening was spent viewing a guided tour of these new loos, and less worryingly the new Be Our Guest place.  Wow, what a reminder of how well Disney do this stuff.  The quality and the detail of this themeing looks incredible, down to the snow falling outside of the large window.

Let ME be your guest!

Let ME be your guest!

Not having a trip on the horizon, I haven’t really paid much attention to the new Fantasy Land stuff.  I sort of knew something was happening, but in sulky protest I have turned a cold shoulder to it.  Emily to her credit is much less fickle, and is, as they say all over it or up in its grill.

For now it seems the pain of knowing she isn’t going any time soon is eased and not increased by watching it from afar.  I am not so confident that I am the same way inclined.

This may be the first time that a child of mine acts more of a grown up than I.  Actually, I’m sure that isn’t the case at all.  Who am I trying to kid?  It’s just one more step on the slow and steady journey to the girls wiping drool from my chin and changing my adult nappy.  Hopefully we’ll get a chance to use the new Tangled restroom a couple of times before that happens.

Till the next time….

Cath Kidston and the £8 lunch

This will be a blog free from slagging off all the bands and singers you like and I don’t!  I promise.

It has been a fairly ordinary week to be honest.  Work wise I was once again down south in Head Office in Marlow.  As much as the 4am start to get there for the beginning of play is painful, at least the roads are quiet.

Of course by the time the working day is ending the body is telling you that it has been far too long a day too, but the upside to the couple of days away is that it really breaks up the working week.

After driving back home on Wednesday evening, the bulk of the working week is done, and the weekend is almost winking at you with flirty intent.

To add spice, interest and exhaustion to this trip down south, on Tuesday after driving down to Marlow, I had a meeting in central London to do too.  Every day is a school day of course, and I learned that as posh as Marlow is, if you want to get a train anywhere other than Maidenhead from there you have to change!

To get into Paddington took an age, with the stress of a thirty-second slot to make the connection.

The meeting was at 2pm, and as I am wired this way, I of course arrived early.  Having had breakfast at a ridiculous hour, by the time 12.30 rolled around I was sucking the front of my coat to absorb the remnants of lunches gone by that had no doubt found their way down the front.

Not to fear thought I.  As soon as I emerge from the tube station in central London,  everyone knows that every other shop is a Starbucks or Costa, so securing lunch would be a breeze.

My meeting was near Harley Street, so I tubed it to Regent Park station. Right then, let’s get lunch sorted.  A cursory glance raised a concern.  Lots of very nice looking buildings of course, but a distinct lack of java.

My Kingdom for a butty

My Kingdom for a butty

So I seemed to have found the only area of central London without a Starbucks on each corner.  So I had to set off in search of food.  A good fifteen minute walk took me to Marylebone High Street, so I’d soon be in business here surely?

Alas, being one of the bohemian and upper crust areas of London, the array of shops left me underwhelmed.  It was all Fromageries and Cath Kidston.  Had I wanted to lunch on guava and jalapeno marmalade with a dark rye poppy-seed foccacia my choices would have been unlimited.  Frankly, I was looking for a golden arches for familiar food and free WiFi.

It took me half an hour to find a Starbucks which was too full, so after a free wee, I carried on the search for food.  Almost back where I started, I finally stumbled across Entre Nous.  This was as downbeat as it got around here.

It was trendily run down, and by this stage it would have to do.

Eight quid for a cheese sandwich and a coffee later, and I purposefully sat in there for a full hour, at least getting some value from their heating for my £8.

Feeling ever so regional and non cosmopolitan I took my absurd accent off to my meeting.

It went well, despite me being distracted at my £8 outlay, and I was soon back on the tube, and then trains to get back to Marlow just in time to end the working day.  By this time, I was more than ready for a quick evening meal (thankfully on expenses) and a swift retirement to the exclusive five star country retreat in which we are always housed when away with work.  Despite an early night, sleep was fitful and interrupted, as it always is in the crappy beds provided.

Whenever I get home from these adventures, it certainly makes me appreciate my own bed.

The joy of it all is that I am doing the whole thing again next week, but before that I have a wonderful visit to the dentist to look forward to on Monday.  It involves drilling, and I’m not happy.  It must have been that £8 cheese sandwich that did all the damage.

Such is life.

As some sort of teaser marketing campaign, I shall …..erm…tease you by letting you know that I am working on a “secret project” at the moment and at some point soon I may reveal it to you.  As an added bonus one or two of you might even give a toss.

Either way, I’ll update you and inflict it upon you as and when it is complete.  Don’t bother guessing, it won’t be that, and I can assure you all it is NOT planning for a holiday!

Till the next time…..