A Busy Blog About Being Busy

It has been a busy week. It has been a busy weekend too, and so I won’t have much time to be waxing lyrical (or whining and moaning) here much today.

Work is stupidly busy at the moment. The upside of that is that the days and weeks do tend to shoot by. Home life too is hectic, with Louise’s final weeks of her placement and studies before she qualifies, Emily preparing for her departure and Rebecca popping in every now and again for food, money or bail money. Yesterday she was involved in a minor car accident. She wasn’t driving and thankfully everyone is absolutely fine but it’s just another minor drama that we seem to take in our strides these days.

I may have mentioned last week that I was slightly upset with my car. It had more ailments than a hospital ward and so I resolved to get rid, rather than spend the fortunes to fix it. Courtesy of one of these “We Pay You Much Less Than You Car Is Worth.com” services I did exactly that on Saturday morning. As pleasing as that was to get that done and out of the way so quickly I now have no car. This is a mild inconvenience to say the least.

Hopefully that shall be resolved tomorrow, on a short term basis at least.

The rest of this weekend has been spent playing my bass. Of course you all know that I am a guitar God, and that I have been playing regularly for the past twenty years. I play once a year, regularly. Since my last gig sometime around 1995 my playing has been limited to showing Rebecca a few bits and bobs, so it is safe to say that I am very rusty.

The reason for the playing of the bass is that the band my brother has been in for some years is in need of a bass player and I am to give it a go. Having learned about 25 songs on Saturday my head hurts, but not as much as my fingers, arms and hands. We shall see if my brain and meagre talent will be enough to be able to do a decent job of it. If not I shall bow out gracefully, but fingers crossed I’ll be OK. Well, I would cross my fingers but the huge blisters on the end of them are getting in the way. Luckily, even though I haven’t kept up the playing, my rock star six pack has remained so I have something to bring to the party.

So with my head spinning from such a hectic week and weekend I hurtle into a new week for more of the same. Conscious that I am short-changing you word count wise this week, I shall point you at a blog from Emily. It’s been a while, but she brings news of final preparations and paperwork from Disney.

We’ve just filled out her Visa application (another £130 plus trains and a hotel in London again) and booked her appointment at the US Embassy for early March. Have I mentioned what a long arduous and expensive slog this thing is? This is her last administrative hurdle before the plane.

As it’s taken me three hours to type this using the few fingers that do not have blisters on them, I shall call it quits and try to get some R&R in before the madness starts again.

Now then, how does Jump by Van Halen go again???

Till the next time…….

Exciting Emails and Catalytic Converters

At last there are small signs of the world emerging from the dark, cold and lifeless days of winter. There was actual sunshine today as I walked Oli, and I had seriously overlayered for the temperature I encountered.

As a metaphor for the hope of spring being imminent, something exciting arrived this week. An email. It wasn’t an email to me. I get thousands every week and very few, maybe even none at all contain anything I could get excited about. No, this one came to Emily and looked like this….

prepare email

Some twelve months (and a bit) after filling out her online application, we are now in the final countdown to her departure. If you have stumbled across this blog looking for information on the CRP, this might give you some idea of the effort, commitment, cost and most of all persistence and patience required to go the distance. This is not something to do on a whim. If you do, you shall fall by the wayside along the way, distracted by something else. This programme is for those who want to do it above anything else and are determined to wait it out, take every hurdle and of course fund every stage.

Now, there is much paperwork to complete, insurance to arrange, CRBs to send off and excitement to savour. Why Emily is still filling paperwork in I don’t know. There isn’t a personal detail she hasn’t supplied at least a dozen times, but still they ask for it again and again, on a slightly different form. The next major step will be to journey to London to undertake her Visa appointment and once that is done she’ll be packing for her departure on the 7th of April.

We’ve been watching lots of videos like this one….

I’ve tasked Emily with getting chosen to do the next one of those.

And lots and lots of these…

and literally hundreds of these vlogs…. (this one chosen at random)

with crucial decisions to make about which complex she puts as her preference. Being under 21 she will be housed with others of the same age as they will be in an alcohol free complex. Courtesy of the Facebook group she is in, Emily knows that at least 40 people, from all the different countries in the Showcase, will be arriving on her date, so maybe she’ll be in an apartment with some of those.

So it’s all getting very close now and of course excitement is mixed with the thought of waving her off for a year.

Away from that excitement my week has been a heady mix of car repairs (I have a cracked catalytic converter, which sounds less expensive than it turns out to be!) and Louise and I making our way to the end of our Sons of Anarchy marathon. We’re deep into series 5 now with one eye on Better Call Saul as our next Netflix experience. These catalytic converters are similar to nuclear grade plutonium judging by how long it takes for them to be ordered and delivered. I have been driving around in a 107 that sounds like one of those cars from the stunt show in Hollywood Studios for a week now. Hopefully, tomorrow the thing will arrive and I can gladly hand over a large chunk of money to have it fitted.

My 107’s days are numbered now. It has betrayed me and my wallet once too often, and it is only a matter of time until I get a real car instead.

It’s been handy having Emily’s boyfriend on hand (he works at a garage) to give honest advice and costs for such repairs though. I think, if you had a list of occupations for future husbands for your daughters it might go something like this –

1. Generous billionaire with a healthy respect for the in-laws and several properties in Florida.

2. CEO of Disney.

3. No-one at all….face it, nobody is good enough.

4. Plumber.

5. Car mechanic.

All of that assumes they absolutely insist on getting married to anyone of course. Time to go, my eBAY auction for my kidney finishes soon and I hope to get enough to fund the car repairs.

Till the next time…..

The Smelling of Roses

Welcome to the third in a series of posts all about avoiding blogging about real life, and instead clinging to WDW like some half inflated lilo three miles off the coast of France.

Rebecca’s friend, Sarah, who will joining us on our next adventure came round last night. The first words out of her mouth to me were “How many days till we go?” I may adopt her. The answer was 200, and her excitement levels are impressive for someone who has not been before. I say that, as by default, first timers cannot usually get excited enough as they do not know what they are about to experience.

She really is very, very excited. It’s lovely to see.

It struck me recently that it has been a very long time indeed since we have been with anyone going for the first time. Members of our party are all veterans by now, and so things happen like clockwork. For example, I say we have to be out of the villa by 8.30, and like clockwork we leave just before ten. When we arrive at Animal Kingdom, we all use our tickets to get in, and then they are handed back to me in a silent ceremony before we all set off at top speed to secure Everest FastPasses (old school paper ones!).

It just works. So this time we really must recognise the huge responsibility we have to make sure that we make time and allowances for Sarah, and do not rush past the proverbial roses just because we’ve seen those roses a dozen times before. There is something truly magical about watching someone see this stuff for the first time, and I’m sure we’ll love seeing that wonder in her eyes.

So, as I seem to like lists at the moment here are some things I thought of that we must not breeze past and stop Sarah from appreciating them.

6. The Fireworks.  Whether it is Wishes, ROE or Fantasmic, these spectaculars are still impressive after all these years. Someone seeing these for the first time must be given the time and space to appreciate them in all their glory. These are quintessential Disney, and right at the heart of the Disney experience.

5. Main Street, Magic Kingdom.  Now, I’m not suggesting anything stupid like wandering through shops as we first arrive, as there are rides to be done. However, this walk up Main Street is special even for us, despite our numerous visits, so we must give her the time to soak this in. Later in the trip when time is not as important as our first morning, explaining the names on the windows, wandering the shops, getting a Starbucks and literally smelling the roses is something we must do.

4. Characters. I’ll be honest, it’s been a good few years since we have invested any time in waiting to meet characters. Should an opportunity present itself we take it, but they are rare. I think it is only fair that we set some time aside to introduce Sarah to the whole character experience. I doubt we’ll do two hours (and the rest) for the Frozen girls, but if she doesn’t go home with a good few character photos we won’t have done our job right.

It's been a while

It’s been a while

3. Resorts.  We are big fans and advocates of spending some time in the Disney resorts and I would assume this isn’t something most first timers would do. Wandering the Yacht & Beach and the whole Boardwalk area, especially of an evening is another side to Disney away from the hurly burly of rides and attractions that we should share.

2. Food.  No list on my blog would be complete without it. Sarah can eat, and isn’t one of those young ladies who picks at a salad like a budgie, so she will be in her element in Florida. We have lots of lovely places lined up, with a few new ones even for us. Little things that US folks take for granted, like free refills, outstanding service, great quality and quantity and every meal being an event should make this first experience of US eating a good one.

1. Parades.  Again, having been a lot we don’t tend to invest much time in parades these days. If we happen to be in the right place at the right time we take advantage, but we often do the rides whilst it is quieter and avoid the crowds staking out a section of kerb. For a first timer though these are an essential part of your early WDW experiences. I don’t care if you are eight or eighty, if we didn’t show her these ultimate Disney spectacles at each park we would be letting her down.

image3228

I’m sure there are hundreds more that won’t come to me until we are there, but if you have any experiences a first timer shouldn’t miss let me know.  With Sarah and Rebecca unable to drink in the US they can embrace their childhoods once again and I hope Sarah throws herself into the whole experience head first. With those two together, I’m not sure WDW will know what has hit them!

Till the next time…..

The Winners in the World

Thanks to everyone who has already read my latest article for The Dis. My Country Needs Me is all about the UK pavilion in Epcot, so if you haven’t yet please do have a look. Having only recently done so myself, I would also recommend liking their Facebook page as all the latest news is there for you plus of course some very talented contributors!

I never truly understood the scale of the Dis to be honest, but if these figures are true, and I don’t see how they can be, surely I am pretty much famous now? I think they represent the whole section rather than just my little post!

dis shares

Having waved January off with two fingers, February is upon us, and we chalk off one more month on our countdowns. I use the plural as the three I have in mind are, (in chronological order) Louise starting work, Emily going to WDW for her year and then of course our trip starting in August. Wedged in the midst of all of those is Rebecca’s 18th birthday. Rebecca’s countdown to that started just after she turned five I think. She’s excited. Not that we have a great deal planned for it. Her trip to WDW is most of her present, as it was for Emily, although with May and August being so far apart it is not ideal and I’m sure we’ll do what we can to make the actual day as special as possible.

Anyway, following on from last week’s post, where I listed stuff I have never done in WDW, it would appear that these list things are quite popular blog wise as I had a good few comments, and most of you buggers read and run every single week!

So, on the theme of my Dis post above, where I whinge about the UK pavilion being a bit short on stuff to entice us in, it got me thinking about my favourite pavilions in the World Showcase, so here (imagine Fluff Freeman music at this point) are my top five….

5. Norway. This one gets points for effort as it has a ride, and probably the most intense one in the whole showcase, which I know isn’t saying much. It has a bakery which always scores well with me and the pavilion tends to be staffed by young female blondes who have no choice but to be nice to me. What’s not to like?

4. Mexico.  This pavilion scores very highly for theming. The night-time all the time interior is excellently done and no holiday is complete without shaking my maracas in public and the trying on of a big hat. The restaurant is also one our favourites in the World Showcase with the candlelit tables and moonlit backdrop doing a great job of replicating al fresco dining. Mexico would have been more of a contender for top spot had they not changed the fabulously kitsch 70’s film on the boat ride for the Donald Duck thing that is there now.

3. China. The food here of course has an influence as I love a Chinese, although the restaurant here isn’t the best example in the world. The counter service option is superb though and we’ve over ordered and over eaten there several times. I mark this one highly for the entertainment value. The frequent shows from the acrobats both amaze and shame me, as I wonder how two bodies, built basically the same way can be so different. These acrobats can perform feats that I would get inured just watching. As much as I do not like too much shopping, the shop here is always worth a good look around as it always has interesting items to browse and not buy.

2. America. Size isn’t everything but the scale of the place is impressive. However, my appreciation for this pavilion is based upon the unbelievably good Voices of Liberty. The soprano regularly communicates with dolphins with her high notes and when they start singing the patriotic American songs I want to invade a small country under the star spangled banner.

1. Canada. The song alone wins it for me. As you know I am likely to be in tears at the opening bars. If I were actually Canadian I don’t think I could cope with listening to it all the way through such is the effect it has on me. Add to that of course the excellently humorous film with Martin Short and one of the better eateries on property, and you have a clear winner.

My affection for the World Showcase is of course evident from all the birthdays I have spent there, and no doubt my top five will change based upon our next set of experiences in the summer, but those are my current favourites.

You may have noticed that I am trying to block out the reality of these cold winter times with thoughts and blogs about sunnier places and happy travels. Next week, as I did this, I have less happy travels down the wintry motorways to Head Office. As I scrape the ice from the windscreen at 5am on Tuesday, I shall be humming O Canada and closing my eyes hopeful that when I open them I will be stood in shorts and T Shirt in the ultimate happy place. I’m sure that will work!

Till the next time……