The Hyatt Of Luxury.

Apologies for the late hour of this posting. It’s been a busy Sunday and I have only just had chance to put fingers to keys. I apologise again, in advance for the inevitable brevity that shall ensue.

Regardless of anything that has happened at work, the biggest achievement of the week has been the completion of the planning around our stay at the beach in Florida. There is something entirely satisfying about such things, both in terms of the hunt (researching and deciding upon something) and the execution (usually ending in a smoking credit card).

So on the 6th of September we have a night booked at the Hyatt Place Oceanfront, Daytona Beach. We usually stay at the Hilton which has always been lovely. The one annoyance about that hotel is the charge creep. The room can be booked for a paltry amount but from the moment you arrive extra charges are piled on. Resort fees, parking, valet tips and other odds and sods mean that you typically pay double what you booked for. The Hyatt, whilst a similar price, promises to include parking, breakfast, WiFi and all that stuff. It also has a superb rating on all the usual sites so for one night, it looks a good bet.

There’s something vaguely magical about thinking that at some point soon we’ll be looking out over this sort of view in unimaginable heat and only having to worry about which crevice that sweat has run into.

hyatt1 hyatt2The plan is to rise early on that Sunday morning and make haste towards the coast as fast as the minivan will (legally) carry us so that Louise can spend every hour God sends crisping up her skin. After a day of sweating, we shall shower, change and head out for the fun that is a night at the Minor League baseball.

I was mildly concerned and confused that the team we normally watch, the Daytona Cubs (I say normally, we’ve been twice) seemed to have vanished, only to be replaced by the Daytona Tortugas. It seems a change of franchise could explain that and everything else looked to be the same. I have invested the princely sum of $8 each, $6 for the seniors, to watch a game against Brevard County. From what I can see it may be the last game of the season and the evening is themed Funday Sunday. If that isn’t worth $8 of my hard earned, I don’t know what is.

The last time we went we opted for seats behind the mound. This is, I learned, not a euphemism, and although it was interesting to have balls coming at my face at incredible speed, it was not as much fun as the first time we went. That first time we sat in the bleachers, which resulted in a numb bum around innings five, but we were in amongst the locals who are there for a good time rather than the more sports fan types in the proper seats.

Throw in some typical US game food and beverages, and it’s a night I’m really looking forward to. We shall then make the short journey back to the hotel before another day on the sun beds until wee eventually head back to Orlando whenever we damn well please. Hopefully my Dad will enjoy it as I don’t think he’s watched live baseball since the 80’s when we went to Boardwalk and Baseball which of course is no more.

It’s been another busy band week with more songs to learn, another rehearsal and some more bookings coming in. We are now making plans for some sexy photos and promotional material to be done. We are aiming for this sort of thing….

Next weekend sees wedding season start with our first one of the summer. Don’t forget should you want to be rocked, popped and souled to your very core do get in touch to book us. Bass player aside, we’re actually pretty good.

That’s enough now, time’s getting on and I need to get a few hours sulking in before it’s time to go to bed and then go to work.

Till the next time…..



The Theory of Booking Everything

Last night our viewing pleasure took in both ends of the intellectual spectrum. We started the evening with The Theory of Everything, the highly acclaimed life story of Stephen Hawking. It was very enjoyable and of course it showcases an extraordinary life of a chap who was blessed with an incredible gift of intelligence and cursed with a very cruel disease. It was very impressive that he still carried on with his career despite the challenges his disease inflicted upon him, but more incredible was the way in which his wife coped with a load of kids, looking after her husband and getting her own PhD.

Once that had finished we moved from the sublime to the ridiculous and watched some Eurovision. It is always silly, over the top and cringeworthy but last night’s seemed quite dull to be honest. Where was the hermaphrodite clown on stilts wrapped in tin foil singing in operatic style about a hedgehog? Europe seems to be forgetting what the contest is about. All this trying to write proper songs, performed by people who look normal is just not on. Unfortunately (I think) we missed the UK entry but I shall take the two points we received as an indication of the quality of it.

In planning news, I haven’t booked our Daytona night yet. To be honest, I haven’t had a great deal of time to get it done this week with work being  annoyingly insistent on my attention. More crucially I also need pay-day to roll around before pressing the book button. This scope creep is a persistent problem for us serious Florida holiday planners. As the booking and planning usually takes place over a prolonged period, what tends to happen is that things get added as you go. Once you’ve planned everything else within an inch of its life the mind wanders to other possibilities, and in my case, the thought process usually goes something like this….

No, we’re spending enough already, we should probably not do that……..Well, we’re going all that way so we may as well do it whilst we are there. It is the ultimate upsell, like when Currys try to flog you a warranty for your £30 toaster, and we all do it to ourselves.

Time is rattling along at a fair old pace, shown by it being June very shortly. So during June, it will be ESTA time and hopefully we’ll get both the Daytona hotel sorted along with the tickets to the Daytona Cubs which are all of $8 each. It could well be the best value night out in Florida. The last bit (possibly) of research beyond that is to find a golf course. Whenever my Dad comes along it is traditional to undertake a round of golf. I play regularly, at least twice a year, every year, and usually one of those rounds is in Florida. We usually play at Highlands Reserve, but I think we’ll have a change this year so I need to have a look around at the courses close to our villa.

Then of course, thoughts will turn to less glamorous aspects such as airport parking. It usually ends up being cheaper than a mini bus to and from the airport and of course it is better to be under your own steam once you have landed back in the UK. After a night of no sleep on the plane, waiting an hour for your cases and then emerging into the cold grey Manchester morning, the last thing you want to do is have to ring the taxi company to find out why your carriage isn’t sat waiting for you. He will of course have “just turned the corner at the top of the street”, which means he has just got out of bed and you’ll be stood in the drizzle for forty minutes wanting to commit actual bodily harm.

These holidays don’t just happen, clearly.

To come full circle in this post, I need to tell you about a hidden gem that we have been enjoying on Netflix.  We had never heard of it, as it has none of the promotion or indeed word of mouth of other Netflix hits, but it is a belter nonetheless.

Damages has a great cast, including Glenn Close and Tate Donovan. It has some great plot lines and unexpected twists, so if you are looking for that next binge watch addiction give it a go. There are five seasons, so fill your boots. No doubt we shall be doing so this evening.

Till the next time…..

By The Power of Olly Murs’ Hair Transplant

If life were fair then obvious anomalies, such as Olly Murs playing Wembley, would be unheard of. This modern-day Sid Owen autotunes his way to another sold out night at a huge venue whilst genuine talent such Jessie J plays relatively tiny venues like the Manchester Apollo when touring. Now, I’m no avid Jessie J fan, in fact I’d struggle to tell you more than a couple of her songs, but in terms of singing talent there is little contest. Such is the power of the record buying demographic I suppose. Young girls are the king makers of the pop industry.

This is undoubtedly the only reason why I cannot make a living from playing gigs and not have to accommodate the nine to six existence of my day job. Age, no hair, limited talent and a tendency to be a couple of stone the wrong side of my fighting weight may also contribute, but you get the idea.

Yes Friday night witnessed my second gig this century and I enjoyed it very much. Sure it was a cramped, hot, sweaty pub but that did not diminish the amount of enjoyment. It also helped that I felt like I knew at least some of the songs this time around and so I was able to relax a little more. Overall, it went well, folks enjoyed themselves and I think we picked up a couple more gigs as a result. Even packing up after midnight in a moderate drizzle was tolerable. You won’t see Olly Murs doing that as it would play havoc with his hair transplant.

Whilst on a creative roll, my first (and hopefully not last) novel, All This And More,  is currently gracing Amazon at a ridiculous 99p. That’s hours of entertainment for not a lot of cash. Should you have not yet purchased a copy, firstly, shame on you and secondly now is the time. Who knows when this crazy offer will be repeated. It is a time limited offer so don’t delay!

Book Cover

With the year motoring along now our thoughts are starting to turn to our WDW trip. Louise especially declares herself very ready for our holiday and is even doing silly things like trying to have a say in what we do when we go. I know, crazy right? This weekend she has been trying to add a night away at the beach. The implications and complications this sort of late change can make is incalculable. It is only because I am a planning genius that I can begin to contemplate such madness. We were always going to drive over to Daytona to watch some baseball on Labour (Labor is no way to spell that word America) weekend, but I was not planning for us to stay over.

Today then, I have been looking into hotels over in Daytona to make Louise feel as if her input is valid. The benefit of doing so is that it fills up that weekend when we shall not be going within five miles of a theme park as all of America and several other countries will be trying to ride Soarin’.

The current front-runner is Hyatt Place, which looks like this.

Hyatt Place

It fits our (small) budget for this unplanned excursion and has lots of good reviews. If nothing better turns up as I continue my research then that shall be booked and the plan altered. It will soon come to a point where the plan cannot be amended again as it will be laminated and stored away for safe keeping!

With my eye on Orlando so to speak I have noticed a couple of new attractions which seem to share two themes. The first is that they both involve heights and the second is that Louise won’t be going anywhere near them due to that first theme.

The Orlando Eye, much like the London one, will be familiar to many. I very much doubt we’ll be paying a visit as Louise would need to be unconscious to darken its doors.

Having said that, there would be more chance of Louise living the rest of her days going round on the Eye if the alternative was to go on the other one just once.

The Vomatron looks like fun but I fear that I’d feel like death for about a week after riding. Rebecca and her friend Sarah may have to be the volunteers from our party should we get to Old Town!

We are 101 days away from departure and it is nice to have that so close now. With everything else we’ve had going on it hasn’t been something we have thought about or focussed on too much. Hopefully I can now bore you to death over the next few weeks with every small planning detail, most, as you know, will involve food.

Speaking of which, time to eat.

Till the next time…..

Big Birthday Blog

It has quite rightly all been about Rebecca this week as we celebrated her 18th birthday. I suppose legally, we no longer have any children. In practice of course the reality is very different.

As far back as we can remember birthdays have been very important to Rebecca and she would often plan them for months before the day arrived. In those days of course we would be heading to a Tumble Jungle or other such nonsense with about 30 other kids. How I enjoyed those afternoons!

Her 18th was relatively low-key in terms of plans, with a family meal on Thursday night and a more raucous affair on Saturday with her friends. All that matters is that she enjoyed both and is certainly paying for it this morning, which I can assure is not a lingering aftermath from Thursday.

The family affair was at a local Italian restaurant.

Rebecca and Tom 18th

With the average age well above 18, it was left to Rebecca and Emily to indulge in cocktails as I savoured my pint of lager shandy. We returned home for a decadent brew and slice of birthday cake.


Those of you who have been reading this stuff for a while may remember Emily’s 18th, with the extravagant video reveal, telling her about the surprise holiday to WDW. Once you do that for your eldest daughter there is little point trying to do the same for the second so Rebecca has known about the holiday in August since we booked it. Despite the time between her birthday and the holiday, we will be celebrating it whilst in Florida. A birthday badge will be worn by Rebecca whilst we are there.

However, despite having no big surprise to reveal, it was only fair to inflict all the embarrassing photos on her as we did with Emily, commemorating her first 18 years on the planet. I post it here, but warn you that it is quite long and for anyone not in our family it may be beyond your interest limits.

It isn’t as Disney themed as Emily’s equivalent, as the end game wasn’t a Disney holiday, so the music chosen represents the different tastes and phases (at least some of them) of her childhood.

If you do make it to the end, then you will see that we did slip a small surprise in, with a short break to Barcelona for Rebecca and Tom at the end of June. She seemed happy enough with her present and she is looking forward to some sun and no doubt some sangria.

Today she is recovering from her first legal bout of drunkeness and is currently watching trash TV in her room in a post McDonald’s food coma. She is also nursing the first phase of her brand new tattoo. I cannot say I am entirely happy with her having it done, but she is legally an adult and there is little I can do. She has another couple of hours to complete it and again she’s happy with it so I suppose that’s the important thing.

So that’s both childhoods done. It’s been a pleasure (mostly) and all things considered we’ve done OK. Now, we go onto the next phase and whatever that brings for both of them. On a personal note there is still a small amount of birthday cake left and that represents my immediate next phase of life.

Till the next time…..

No News Is….Tricky To Blog About.

After a couple of weeks of record visitors to this blog, I think it is safe to say it is now the electronic equivalent of fish and chip wrapping. That’s good. Indeed should any non-regular readers be knocking around looking for a little more controversy, then this week’s mundane update should shoo them away for good.

It’s been what the media might call a slow news week. You know, like one of those were reporters stand outside a doorway for twelve hours talking bollocks just because a baby was born. Louise got her “pin” through this week though, which for those that don’t know means she can now actually start doing real nurse stuff to actual people. Until that arrived she had been undertaking lesser duties but now as of Monday she’ll be up to her elbows, often literally, in all manner of gruesome activities.

My week involved far too much work, commuting and office for my liking but then again most weeks do. Mustard rehearsed again on Thursday night and that was good fun. We attempted a few new songs, well, to be honest, all the songs are new to me, but you know what I mean. We shall play a few of them at our next gig on the 15th which should make for an interesting evening.

Despite the week being a heady whirl of not a lot, I did manage to squeeze in one more ADR for our holiday. Recognising that we have a first timer with us, I thought it only fair to do the decent thing and get a Kitchen Sink in. So I booked us in at Beaches and Cream. With the size of our party, we may need to order two Kitchen Sinks to make it more of a fair fight!! On that subject, to enable me to take on board the record level of calories that a Florida trip can entail I need to get my arse in gear and shed a few pounds. I’m sure that I look my normal hunky toned self but there is a middle-aged spread that comes to most men and it does feel as if I have taken on that spread for myself and a few other men besides.

I often use the excuse of a lack of time to exercise, beyond my daily lunch time walk, but being honest it is more a lack of desire and sometimes energy and I just need to make myself do stuff to burn off some of the crap my body has to contend with. Next week won’t be a great time to start, with a meal planed on Thursday for Rebecca’s birthday followed by the customary cake but a start must be made. Mind you it can’t be that bad as all my old T Shirts still fit me.

The lack of a Monday at work tomorrow is a source of joy of course and I notice with interest that Sky Movies are embracing the May the 4th be with you thing tomorrow, and showing all the Star Wars films. I approve of that, but less so the endless tweets and Facebook posts of that phrase, each one with the verve of joy as if the poster was the first person ever to post it. Imagine someone writing the same old gags, time after time, and expecting them to still be funny or even tolerated. On a totally unrelated note, have you read my trip reports? 🙂

I have also taken two days off next week, on Thursday and Friday, to be at home for the birthday stuff that shall be going on, but mainly so I don’t have to get up for work on Friday, having eaten enormous amounts of cake on Thursday. A two-day week at work seems much more tolerable to me and I implore whoever leads the country come Friday to implement this immediately.

I hope you enjoy your extra day of rest should you be getting one. The lack of much happening in this week’s blog should easily be enough to get you all sleepy for your lie in tomorrow.

Till the next time…..