To North Yorkshire…and Beyond!

I know it’s late. How have you coped in these few hours this evening without my words of wisdom? Oh, you hadn’t noticed the lack of a post? Rats.

We have been away in North Yorkshire this weekend, being pampered, treated and fed enormous amounts of food by our friends Steve and Di. We traveled over to Harrogate for Saturday lunchtime and met them (already drinking) in a bar. We then spent a lovely few hours wandering around quirky and interesting shops, made even better by not buying anything, other than a delicious mulled wine in an ancient pub. Of course we *had* to visit Betty’s Tea Room and have a look at the yummy wares on display. I’ll leave it to you to decide if anything was actually bought (Thanks Di).

As darkness fell, we wandered back to the cars and made our way over to Sinderby, the tiny village where they live to partake in a food extravaganza of epic proportions. It was so outstanding that I totally forgot to take any photos until my jeans were screaming and the puddings arrived. To summarise the party in my mouth, our starter was goat’s cheese with pear, then the mains were a tangine (not a small orange apparently) of some lamb dish, slow cooked for a million years so it fell apart when I looked at it. The dish was gorgeously unusual containing pomegranate too which was the perfect finishing touch.

Dessert (or one of them) was Baklava, a Greek (I think) dish made of chopped nuts syrup and filo pastry. It is just orgasmic. Emily demanded we brought her some home as she was with us the last time we had it. There were also Macaroons (from Betty’s) and Victoria Sponge hand crafted by Di.

Beer and wine flowed and we chatted the night away about Disney (they are DVC members), who would play the next James Bond and almost every other subject under the sun until we all craved our beds at around 11. Yes, we are party animals. Louise was so full she was in actual pain and I think it took me multiple seconds to fall asleep.

Today, following a sensational full English that I surprised myself by being hungry for, we headed off up to Northallerton to Kiplin Hall.

Exceedingly good old house.

There was a Christmas Gift Fair but the highlight was the tour of the house. It has been recently restored and is full of detail, information and incredible history.

We also saw a very impressive bush…which is always nice.

We spent a lovely couple of hours learning about the house and it’s owners and imagining life before central heating!

Then, back to Steve and Di’s for one last brew, and a bit more cake before making the journey home across the Pennines. It may shock you to learn that we have done without any tea. I know!! We are slaves to our waif like figures. There could be a spot of supper whilst watching Homeland shortly!

To compensate for all the lovely stuff over the weekend, on arriving home I undertook a DIY project with the much needed help of my Dad. We’d been promising to put Rebecca’s TV on her wall and all the gear had been delivered to do so over the weekend. It took much longer than it deserved too, and it left both my Dad and I sweating and swearing at the fiddly badly designed nature of the whole experience. I hope she appreciates it, and uses the now TV free wardrobe space to house all the crap that is usually all over her floor. My hopes are not overly high.

So that’s been our weekend, and it’s been superb. Thanks to Steve and Di again for making it so, we loved every minute.

Till the next time…..

Five Guys, Six Beers and Fifty Years.

I often take a look at the search terms put into Google that bring folks to my blog. There are of course a lot of mkingdons, mkingdoms and other obvious stuff but I have a huge sense of satisfaction that some people come to read my stuff having googled “dwarf sex”. Firstly, why, and secondly how dissappointed they must be when they get here.

It’s the small things.

This week we went to the Trafford Centre. I know this is folly, as any visit there post October is bound to be like a journey through the gates of hell but it could not be avoided. However, it was compensated for nicely with my first ever Five Guys burger. Contrary to popular belief, my diet does not consist of many burgers, I just like good ones, whether they be between doughnuts or simple bread. I did find the Five Guys experience a good one, and the stuff was obviously of a higher quality than your McDonalds or Burger King but I suppose it should be as it is twice the price.

The hours of shopping were somehow more tolerable with a ludicrous amount of food in my belly. I even bought a shirt! My clothes shopping is pretty much confined to American malls, but having missed our trip this year, there was no avoiding it. There’s nothing like trying on new clothes in the unforgiving lights of a hot changing room to start a diet!

The crazy investment in new clothing was driven by our year’s entire social activity taking place over this and the next two weekends. Last night, we attended a party to celebrate my brother’s 50th birthday. It’s always nice to see folks for the first time in ages at these gatherings and last night was no exception. I spent most of the night chatting to an old friend, Paul, who I was in bands with for much of the late 80’s and early 90’s. We both had more hair at the time, and I certainly had a smaller waist, but we are still rock Gods despite the advancing years.

It’s always very easy to slip back into a friendship forged in cold rehearsal rooms, recording studios and enhanced by the natural laxative of live performances. As ever, we vowed to keep in touch and get together more often. This time we really must! Hopefully, Paul will follow through on his promise to dig out our old recordings from his loft and if it is technically possible I shall share them with you, whether you like it or not.

There are rumours of photographic evidence of our devastating pop star looks in the form of some photoshoot pictures. I suspect I am all cheekbones, fringe and smoking good looks. That’s how I remember it anyway, I think.

A good night was had by all with my brother’s band Mustard performing a great set despite the onset of many beers. There was dancing, joviality and most importantly pasties, oh yes and alcohol. This was one of the results.

photobooth

As the event drew to a close around midnight, Rebecca reminded everyone that we really were getting on a bit, as we headed home for a cup of tea and bed, she went off with her friends into town. I think I remember that sort of thing. I was impressed with myself for making it to midnight to be honest.

Today has been a gentle affair with not much done beyond a dog walk, and now a blog post. I suspect it has been the same for most of the attendees of the party.

Next weekend we are off to Yorkshire to stay with our friends Steve and Di. We always look forward to this as they are lovely, fantastic hosts and great at feeding us. On my return I may have to go shopping again for another shirt in the next size up.

The rest of tonight will involve picking up Rebecca from work and allowing her to drive me home. There is little else worse for a control freak like myself so I shall have to be brave! Then we have some TV to catch up from last night, and then tonight’s to enjoy. Thankfully this Downtown nonsense is over and we can concentrate on proper stuff like Homeland. I salute it for being good Sunday night telly without a period costume in sight.

I shall leave you with a tease about some news I had earlier today. Inexplicably I have been signed up to blog for a large Disney site (it’s US based so not the Dibb) and I shall be working on my first post soonish. I shall be calling upon you all to click links and stuff to give them the illusion that people might be interested in stuff I produce. Don’t let me down. More details shall follow.

Till the next time…..

Viewers In Need Of A Change

I should warn you, the grump factor in this post is strong!

So, if you wanted to benefit from the stunning discount on my superb first novel, All This and More, you can’t. It has expired and you shall now need to invest a whole £1.99. should you wish to experience it, which of course you should. I thank all of you that did take me up on the offer and I hope you enjoy it.

I sit here typing this through the fog of a near death experience. Yes, I have a cold. Although I suspect I have invented some new form of hell in the form of this disease as there is no snot, just a throat like glass, a hacking cough and an ache in every muscle I possess. I grant you the last of those is not something I am suffering too badly from which is a happy side effect of being flabby and unfit.

This condition came on last Thursday and like the hero I am, I still managed to make it through a full day at work on Friday. I did do the day in my dressing gown, but that was because Children In Need day is always a pajama day at work. As this fancy dress requires the least possible effort on my part, it is the one event that I tend to take part in. We have dressing up days very regularly at work, most of which I sit through in normal attire bathing in the glow of being a miserable git.

I am not a huge fan of Children In Need. I mean of course the day itself and the TV show, rather than the concept. I donate of course, but I find the whole “event” side of it very grating and forced. It’s a very British thing I think to think it acceptable to go to work in a dressing gown, or as Captain America, (who was shaking his bucket at me on Friday morning at the first set of lights I stopped at on the way to work!) in the name of giving a few quid to a deserving cause. It may be what they call giving fatigue, brought on by constant charity appeals, but seeing the seemingly same group of women being interviewed on local TV dressed as schoolgirls whilst ratting buckets of change in an intimidating manner is all a little tiresome don’t you think? Again, not the raising of the cash, just the same old TV format, trotted out year after year, with those rushed awkward interviews with those six blokes who shaved off their pubes and ate them to raise £178.56. Such “wacky” behaviour just pushes my grumpy buttons no end. It’s like the false and enforced pressure to have “fun” on New Year’s Eve when mostly it’s a squib so damp it makes you wonder what a squib is.

It is also a master class in wooden TV presenting. I never got the Wogan thing when he was on telly every other day. He comes over to me as stilted and false, and he seems to have passed those skills on well to his female cohort Tess Daly, who must be the reason the mute button was invented. Watching them stumble over their autocue for hours on end is like enduring some nails down a blackboard whilst chewing foil. Hey, but it’s for a good cause.

The autocue has stopped…..

If I have to see the cast of Eastenders murder some musical theatre classic one more time, I may have to commit a dirty protest at Media City quicker than you can say Shane Richie is a blue coat who got lucky. Maybe my illness is making me more weary and cynical than I usually am. But I doubt it. In my younger years at the first sign of such an outburst my Mum would say I was overtired and make me go to bed before Minder finished.

I propose that we all up our tax contributions by an elective amount each year to cover all such charity donations so that this marathon of toe curling cringey TV does not have to air. Why did I watch the thing again? Well, One Direction were to blame. Emily wanted to watch them and so we endured the first couple of hours until they were done.

See, serious illness and blogging do not good bedfellows make. It darkens my thoughts, restricts my sleep and makes me all moody. Hopefully I shall return to health during next week, as very unusually, the next few weekends are a heady whirl of social engagements. Next Saturday it is my brother’s 50th birthday and he is having a party to celebrate his half century. It involves real ale and pasties so I am not as concerned about the hangover as I am the heartburn and resultant wind. Hopefully, Louise will take it easy and I won’t suffer too much from the latter from her.

The weekend after that, Louise and I are off to North Yorkshire to visit our friends Steve and Di, where again, much food and some drink shall be consumed, as we are always looked after like royalty when we go there. This means we wander around their village shaking hands with strangers and making small talk whilst little girls curtsy at us.

Then the following weekend I am away for my Christmas Do with work in Minehead. I can confirm it is not Butlins, but instead a lovely looking old country house miles from anywhere, but mainly miles from my house. By the time I get home from that on the 6th of December I could be missing a liver but have gained a stone or two.

For now I shall continue with the medication and persist with the tried and trusted remedy of feeding a cold. I do undertake that approach all year round as a preventative measure of course. The fact that I have not repelled this cold is simply proof that I need to up my calorie intake. Pass the chocolate digestives!

Till the next time…..

All This and More Old Age

It’s been a while since I politely rammed one of my books down your throats so please open wide!

My first novel, All This And More is on offer for a short while at a silly price of just 99p. Had you so far resisted the urge to indulge in the finest work of literary genius since Katie Price’s (auto) biography, then this opportunity is one you should not be passing up.

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

I’m not sure what else you can buy for 99p these days that would give you hours (or minutes) of entertainment, so as an investment, you know it makes sense Rodders!

I am still battling to make any sort of real progress with the next one. Life and work especially is just very, very busy and this is rather annoyingly getting in the way of me doing much writing. I am quite indignant that nobody has yet offered me a million pound advance to go and sit on my balcony in my newly acquired Florida property overlooking Vero beach, whist I ponder over my latest plot twist and how many pancakes to have for breakfast. To make that happen, you should feel obliged to invest 99p in my dream, read the thing, leave me a glowing review and then petition every single person in the UK book business to sign me up and sort me out. Thanks.

Last week seemed to  manage that impressive combination of going really quickly, and seeming an age from one weekend to the other. It’s probably an age thing to be honest. There are unavoidable and irrefutable signs that I am not the lithe coiled spring of youth that I once was. I am having to hold reading matter at arm’s length to get it into focus, I no longer seem able to lie in, long after the days of my children having me awake at silly hours of a weekend and, to top it all, I find my finger finding the preset button to take me to Radio 4 more often these days.

Don’t get me wrong I can still tolerate minutes of Radio One from time to time. You will be aware that I am totally awesome and down with the kids, attending gigs for the likes of Panic! At the Disco, and getting that important exclamation mark in the right place. However, it is unusal for me to last more than once record nowadays, just ask Louise! Radio Two is a safe bet of course, but some bits of that irk me, as at times it comes across as the audio equivalent of a Women’s Institute Meeting in rural Surrey. For example, the Friday drive time all request thing hosted by Simon Mayo (who I like a lot) appears to be dominated by people called Camilla proclaiming it wine o’clock before taking India to the Gymkhana the next day. I also wonder, when faced with the entire musical output of several generations and endless genres, everyone who gets through seems to pick one of the same six songs!

Anyway, Radio 4 is becoming a larger part of my ever-expanding commute and I often revel in its bizarre randomness. It is like a whole other world sometimes, and in the daily “comedy” slot at 6.30, slap bang in the worst battles of my journey home, I have yet been caused to smirk never mind laugh, but still, I continue to listen, feeling somehow soothed by the noises, like some sort of near term baby in the womb of my Peugeot.

Old age is a weird thing. As they say though, it does seem much more appealing than the alternative.

I have again done zero holiday planning and to be honest almost zero holiday thinking such has been the hectic nature of this week, including another visit down south to Head Office. I learnt, whilst there that our Christmas do is confirmed for Minehead. Yep, Minehead. If you were looking for the venue furthest from my home address that would be it. It involves a country house, shotguns, archery and some drinking. What could possibly go wrong? I am lucky enough to work for a company that pays for all this, so I am not moaning at all. I just hope my aged bones can cope with the alcohol.

Right, I have to complete the making of our tea, having bashed this post out whilst cooking it. Impressive I know. Enjoy your week!

Till the next time…..

 

Liking Lots of Likes.

I wanted to start this week with an expression of gratitude. Earlier this week I was looking at the reviews left for my books on Amazon. I hadn’t looked for a while, and I was blown away, not for the first time, by the generosity and support I am offered.

To add to that warm glow, it would appear that my Facebook page has just received its 800th Like. That’s madness! I stated that page on a whim as an experiment, so I am gobsmacked at the way things have gone. If you are one of that 800, I salute you for your good taste and tolerance for this weekly tosh.

The fact that I get any sort of interest for anything I write is a constant source of amazement, and so this week I was once again delighted to be asked to write for the Floridatix blog. This time I decided to write about something I know a fair bit about, and that is of course food. So if you wouldn’t mind having a read of my article, The Top 5 Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. Comments are appreciated as are Likes and shares and all that fandangled modern stuff.

Rebecca has had a busy Halloween, spending a few nights out and about applying horror make-up to folks. I know I’ve shared a lot of that recently so I’m sure you know where to find it if you want to have a look. The way she conducted what was her first venture into the working world, with professionalism, courtesy and great customer service made me very proud. Especially how she reacted to the inevitable idiots who let her down at the last minute.

We have been out driving again, and I can see an improvement since last time. She was much more relaxed and confident and she is, I’m sure, going to be a good driver. I’m not sure I’ll ever be relaxed at any time either of the girls are behind the wheel, whether I’m with them or not.

You may recall a couple of weeks ago, I appealed for help in finding our next TV addiction. I have stored all those suggestions away but recently we have stumbled across two almost by accident. The first, Luther, may not be that much of a surprise, knowing our track record for enjoying gritty murder mystery stuff, but we are enjoying that very much. What may be a surprise, as it was to us, is the second series, Million Dollar Listing – New York. It’s reality TV for a start, which normally sees me reaching for the remote and sick bucket, but this is great fun. It has top quality property porn with price tags in the millions thrown around as if people were buying a sandwich for lunch, and the main characters are definitely that. For a post work brain turn off and relax session it is perfect.

So I shall leave you now, mainly as tea is ready, but also as you all have an article about Magic Kingdom restaurants to read…..haven’t you!!

Till the next time…..