I’ve Never Done That!

January seems intent on sticking around forever. The last time I got paid Dave Lee Travis was hosting Top of the Pops. It seems that time has slowed down, and these cold, dark days and nights are clinging on for dear life.

I’m probably not the only one pining for a payday, but the slow march of January (pun intended) just illustrates how far away August is, and late August at that when we board that plane for Orlando.

I’ve been around long enough to know that as you get older, as m’colleague Steve will often tell me, you seem to eat breakfast every ten minutes. This isn’t literal of course, but meant to illustrate how time slips away as we get older. When I had six weeks holiday in the summer as a child they lasted for about four and half years each. Now, I look back on photos from ten years ago and if pushed would guess it was three, four years maximum since it was taken. So, if that is true then these next 213 days should pass by next Sunday. The trouble with that of course is that the holiday itself lasts about seven minutes. Which by the way is a totally respectable amount of time to last.

So having finished the vast majority of my booking and planning about five minutes after we decided to go, I have been looking for ways in which I can bring a little WDW joy into this bleak mid-winter. So, here we go with my list of things I have never done in Florida despite having been more times than I could admit to without seeming sad and narrow-minded.

1. A Dole Whip – Nope, never had one. Every year I vow to and then somehow don’t.

2. Cirque Du Soleil – Everyone raves about it and having loved Blue Man Group, despite fearing I wouldn’t, now I suppose it is only my inherent tightness that prevents me laying out for the tickets.

3. Swiss Family Treehouse – technically, I have done this, but it was so long ago it almost doesn’t count. It was on my first ever visit (I think) and having never done it with Louise and the girls, we still walk past it year after year.

4. Main Street Vehicles – whether that is the horse-drawn thingy or the trolley bus thing, we’ve done none of them. Our walk up Main Street on our first day is too full of slack-jawed wonder that we’ve made it back again to do anything but wander towards the castle fighting back tears.

5. The Rose and Crown – I’m sure we’ll remedy this on our next trip with Emily situated there but in all our trips we have never eaten, or for that matter had a drink in the Rose and Crown. I suppose we feel we should explore all the countries we don’t actually live in first.

6. Atlantic Dance Hall – I know this will shock you, as you’d be right in thinking I am a snake hipped devil who shouldn’t deprive any dance floor of my presence. We’ve done Jellyrolls next door a good few times but never made it into the boogie barn next door. The fact that I called it the boogie barn is probably why.

7. House of Blues – I don’t count sitting outside drinking a diet coke, which we have done a few times. We have never eaten there let alone attended a gig of one of the popular beat combos that appear there regularly.

8. The Hoop De Doo Review – Again, I know not why we haven’t done this one yet. There are some inherent flaws with a dinner show, in that the show can get in the way of me eating stuff, but still, we should.

9. Main Street Barber’s Shop – That’s right, laugh it up. Yes, I know I wouldn’t keep any barber busy for very long but I keep meaning to do the whole hot towel shave thing and get both hairs cut, as long as I get pixie dust and little Mickey heads in my hair too.

10. Any of the numerous running events – Let me state, just to be clear, that I have no intention ever of running any distance longer than the fast paced walk from entrance at rope drop to the preferred first ride of the day. Run? In Florida?  HAHAHAHAHAHAH.

This goes some way to answer the question regular visitors to WDW are asked. Namely, aren’t you bored of doing the same things every year. Well, firstly, are you out of your mind? Secondly, no, as there is always something new to do and experience. That list of ten came to me easily, so if I really tried I’ll bet there’s a lot more besides, certainly if I extended that thinking to other attractions and parks in the area.

So, what about you? What’s on your list of stuff that for some reason you’ve never got around to doing?

Till the next time…..




Breaking (Bad) Appliances

Let me get the book plug (not butt plug) out of the way first, as I am forever conscious that this sort of promo isn’t something many enjoy. I often feel uncomfortable pushing my wares here, but then I remind myself that the fact I completed an actual novel, figured out how to self publish it and have had some half decent feedback means that I should be more proud and pushy about that.

Anyway, I found another route via which to offer a proper actual physical paperback version of All This And More.

paperback coverKnowing how hard I am finding it to eek out any time to write the next one, with each passing day the admiration I have for myself for getting this book out there is growing!

I know few of you will make the purchase. It’s £6.99 for goodness sake, which cannot be avoided, but I have been asked a few times if a physical copy is available, so there you go. I will take the chance to ask those of you that have read it and vaguely enjoyed it to share your gushing appreciation via an Amazon review.

I have looked into doing similar for the trip report books, but the large number of photos in them means it isn’t really viable. You could buy yourself a holiday to WDW for just a little more than the price of the book would need to be to cover the costs of production.

It’s been a busy yet uneventful week, with the “highlight” being as mundane as our new toaster arriving. Normally I would not bother you with such nonsense, but it is the latest (and hopefully last) item in what appears to be an electrical appliance revolt in our house. In the past couple of weeks we have replaced the TV, microwave, kettle and toaster. My annoyance at such outlay on these unexciting, yet essential purchases is only outweighed by the joy of the retailer I have bought them from. Someone less grumpy may point out that we’ve had each of these items for many a year and that everything has its limited lifespan. To that I say, sod off smart arse, I’m skint.

After what feels like weeks (or in the case of the Daily Express, who start their “worst winter ever” stories in June, months) of warnings about incoming snow we got some over the weekend. It was sadly not enough to see me stranded in the house for a week unable to do the commute to work, but it did afford Oli some play time. He does enjoy a good frolic in the white stuff. In that regard he has a lot in common with Lindsay Lohan.

Louise has seen little of the snow, TV, our new toaster or the outside world beyond work as she continues to wrestle with her last ever assignment. It is due in very soon and if you are connected to her on Facebook, you will know that she is not enjoying the writing of it. A cloud will lift from the house when it is submitted I am sure. The fact that this is the last one is no doubt playing its part in the struggle but it is one more milestone on the long and arduous journey to nursedom.

Emily is more or less fully mobile again after her ankle injury over Christmas just in time for her countdown to becoming even shorter. We shall soon be off to London again for her visa appointment at the Embassy which signals the final stages of her build up.

Rebecca continues to adjust to single life after her two-year relationship ended recently which mostly involves doing things that Louise and I need to worry about. Is there a phrase that strikes fear into a parent’s heart more than “I’m just going out for a drive with (insert friend’s name)”? From these outings and her rare nights out in town, there is no better feeling than knowing she is back home, safe and sound, once again. I am assuming that keeping your daughters in their rooms in bubble wrap until they are thirty is frowned upon?

In our ongoing quest to find a replacement for our Breaking Bad addiction we have been down many avenues on Netflix. We have enjoyed many without ever feeling that they could hold us as Walt and Jessie did. Our latest binge watch obsession is Sons of Anarchy. It’s up there with the best of the rest, but still hasn’t taken over our lives and thoughts as Breaking Bad did. I’m not sure anything ever will. If you haven’t yet watched that, what are you doing wasting your time reading this crap? Get yourself an internet connected device, a Netflix subscription and about 100 hours of your life. You will not regret it.

So in summary, buy my book (any of them), write me a good review, convince my daughters to stop doing stuff that they might enjoy which causes me stress and watch Breaking Bad. Thanks!

Till the next time….


Celebrity Tip Runs.

Wow, that first week back after two weeks off was grim. How about you? I have to say I struggled to get through it and felt totally wiped out by about 11am on Monday! Hopefully the weeks can only get easier from now on.

I have suspected for some time that I suffer from this winter illness thing. I’m sure I’ve blogged about it before, but hey, when you blog every week for this many years that is just inevitable. I find the lack of daylight an overbearing shadow on my day-to-day life. Everything is harder in these cold, dark mornings and evenings. Moods match the darkness too I find and I certainly have less get up and go at this time of year.

I spend far too much time pondering how I can transport my life to sunnier climes for more than the two weeks each year we spend on holiday but as yet, I have drawn a blank. Our roots are deeply laid here in many ways, but who knows at some point we may be able to spend all of our time in shorts and T-shirts in the sunshine state.

Instead, a year which started with illness (Louise is now much better) and injury (Emily is semi-mobile again and managing to do some shorter shifts at work) continued with the need to spend a load of money. Imagine my disgust that the TV I bought back in 2009 started to misbehave. Why don’t they make things to last anymore? It began randomly turning itself off and back on again just before Christmas and as the new year began it became a real pain in the arse. Now, buying a new TV isn’t a chore. I did relish the research, but it still involved an outlay we hadn’t planned for which hurts.

Having said that, it is superb. We have upped the ante by a good few inches on our last model (I told Louise she has no such option) and of course since we bought one last, TVs have gone all smart and slim (unlike myself) so we are pleased with the result, as is Emily as the older model is now up in her room and so far behaving itself for the short periods she uses it for. Add this purchase to a new microwave and kettle, which both died within hours of each other like some electrical suicide pact and as well as having no money anymore I also had the inevitable date with the local tip, to drop off old broken things and enormous amounts of packaging.

So that is where I headed earlier with my poor little 107 bursting at the seems with crap. My 107 is playing up too of course and hasn’t been fully well for some time, but replacing that will have to bloody wait. Arriving at the tip I sighed as the long line of cars waiting to enter meant I was in for a wait. Having done that wait, I was gobsmacked to find that the queue only existed up to the bloke in a High Vis Vest telling folks which containers to use for their crap. Once past him it was plain sailing up to the area where stuff is dumped. Each of these containers of course has a huge sign on them telling what goes in each, so unless a large percentage of Bolton’s population can’t read, the queue and the bloke at the head of it were completely redundant.

Anyway, amazingly I managed to make sense of the signs without further help from the experts at hand and deposited my stuff successfully. As I got back into my car I had an unexpected brush with a showbiz personality. Reversing into the spot next to me, not surprisingly in a Mercedes and not a 107, was one of Bolton’s most famous Kay’s, Peter. I contemplated trying to get a photo with him but then came to the realisation that nobody wants to be at the tip and I guessed that if you are famous you certainly don’t want to be at the tip having photos taken with buffoons in the car next to you. So I put my phone down and started to pull away only to see one of his kids open the car door and almost become one with my front driver’s side. I gave him a knowing smile and moved away as Peter began to shift his own shite and cause quite a stir with the folks doing likewise. Even millionaires have to go to the tip after Christmas it seems. With cries of “Garlic Bread” ringing around the bin bags I left them to it and drove home to walk the dog.

You see, I, as a world-renowned trip report writer and novelist live a normal life just like the rest of you muggles. They’ll be talking about the day that Peter Kay and Mkingdon turned up at container seven at Bolton tip at the same time for years to come. Won’t they?

Elsewhere in the world, and by world, I mean Disney, they have started to take the hat down in Hollywood Studios. It would seem that this landmark used as the logo for this park is to be replaced by the Tower of Terror in future. Don’t mention this to Emily, she isn’t happy, but change is constant and whatever comes as a result will be enjoyed I’m sure. On the subject of Disney, this week, my niece booked to go to WDW with her partner. She’s been many times with her Mum & Dad of course but this is their first solo trip. She’ll be there just after Christmas next year and into 2016. As much as Emily may not have time to breathe over the busy festive period, it will be nice for her to have a family and friendly face over there at that time. Hopefully they can find time to catch up.

Disney have warned those working over there not to have family come out at Christmas as they will be working twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week. As much as that makes sense, were finances not an issue we’d be out there like a shot. You never know.

Two trips in one year? As if we’d do anything so silly….Oh yes, I remember now, we’ve done that before!

Till the next time…..


A New Year, A New Hope.

As I spend my traditional post Christmas break Sunday wondering if I’ll fit into my work suit tomorrow, I welcome you to 2015. I embrace the new year with an unusually positive outlook as it signals the confirmation of the official sighting of light at the end of a very long tunnel. Indeed for a good few years, I wasn’t even sure where the tunnel was, or what light might look like, but with Louise due to qualify and start work in April, a return to normality and solvency is so close I can taste it.

The road to qualification has been very tough (as I have mentioned on several hundred occasions) but the end is in sight and praise your Lord for that. However, before I get too happy clappy, for all of 2015’s promise it hasn’t covered itself in glory yet. Last Sunday night, Emily went out on her work’s Christmas do, had a few too many and fell down a six inch step. We then spent that night in A&E and a subsequent follow up a few days later as it was getting worse. Thankfully there was no break, and after a few immobile days and starting the year on crutches she is now able to at least put some weight on it and hobble about. She was most upset that this meant she couldn’t go out on New Year’s Eve but alcohol and crutches do not a good combination make. She and her boyfriend stayed in whilst Louise and I went wild, going to the pictures and then getting a take away on the way home.

At the same time as Emily was incapacitating herself, Louise had the nerve to go and get Pleurisy. So to complete the tour of health establishments we spent Saturday morning at the emergency doctors and she’s been in a bad way for a few days, again starting the new year on a high. There are signs that the drugs are kicking in and hopefully a few more days will see her right.

Despite the dodgy start, 2015 does have the potential to be better than many of the years which have preceded it recently, but let’s be honest that won’t be too hard. Louise starts her job in April, we have a holiday booked for late August to the best place on the planet, Rebecca completes her studies and strikes out into the world of employment in early summer and in what will be a busy and emotional month Emily begins her American adventure in April when she starts work as a cast member for Disney.

With Emily’s countdown now under 100 days it is starting to become real. Plans need to be made, visas obtained and excitement needs to be enjoyed. I know she’s a little nervous about the whole thing but that is to be expected as it will be her first time away from home, and it isn’t exactly around the corner. She’ll be fine. I may be a gibbering emotional wreck, but she’ll be fine.

Our countdown is now 234 days and with the turning of the year, planning and anticipation have been allowed to kick up a notch. I have today marked my calendar to note when I am able to make ADRs (not that we’ll need many) and of course when we can try to get some FastPass+ things booked too. It’s all part of the countdown process and I like it.

I have hinted at some planning changes recently so I shall bring you up to speed. We had a very emotional and upsetting end to 2014 as in the last couple of months of the year Rebecca’s relationship with her boyfriend disintegrated and they are no longer together. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved to outline the ins and outs here, but of course he was a knob, behaved atrociously and our lives and holiday will be better for his absence. I will not entertain any suggestion of bias!

So with flights and all sorts booked for him this caused some problems of course, but thankfully with some persuasion and negotiation I have been able to transfer the flight to Rebecca’s best friend, Sarah, who I am delighted to say will be traveling with us for her first visit to Florida. She is giddy beyond belief at the prospect. Here she is…

sarah prince

Speaking of Rebecca, she has done a bit of modelling recently. One of her friends from school has started her own clothing business, and she had Rebecca showing off some of her range. I know I am biased (again) but she did a great job.

The company Urban Route can be found here, and I’m sure any support or orders will be appreciated, but other than that do have a look at Rebecca’s efforts in the photo gallery.

model 1

model 2

So welcome to our Disney year. I am going to get giddy as the weeks go by and I make no apologies for doing so. Should you also be in planning mode, but find yourself struggling to find the time and/or information then a Disney pal and Florida blogger has launched a new venture, Disneynine Florida Holiday Planner, which you may find useful. Do have a click though and Like and use as you see fit.

Till the next time…..