Being poorly and purile

I have to admit to not feeling my best today. It can’t be the usual Sunday malaise brought on by impending work and some shite period drama on telly, as work is not on the horizon until Tuesday, so I must be ill for realz. I can’t put my finger on what it is, other than feeling less than great, a bit tired, sluggish and under the weather. I should have been a doctor you know!

As my Mum would diagnose every illness known to man in my childhood as “being tired” it may be that, as life is hectic and busy on all fronts. Work, family, band, holiday planning and putting weight on all take up a lot of time these days, along with having to commit many minutes to writing this codswallop every week, so perhaps I just need some R&R. It is such a pity then that this bloody holiday is still 290 days away.

The real problem is probably that I have now been working for a living for 29 years. I did those maths the other day and it shocked and saddened me. Who had the crazy idea that so much of your time on the planet should be spent this way? I mean, five days a week? Really? Every week? Seems a tad harsh. I know and understand that others work much harder than I do. Some may scoff at my five-day working week, tucked up in a nice warm office, sat on my arse pushing buttons, but, as I always say, the fact that someone has it worse than me doesn’t diminish my right to piss and moan.

This is bordering on classic mid-life crisis territory I know, but if you step back from it for a second, it seems crazy, or is it just me? I don’t hate my job and the company I work for are great, but I’d just rather be doing other things.

Anyway, on a brighter note, Louise changed her car this week and she is very happy. She has been driving a bit of a heap for a while and so a change was overdue. Since picking it up on Friday I’ve seen her for about seven minutes as she is constantly finding reasons to go out and get stuff that involve driving her car. She also starts her new job after the bank holiday. I’m not 100% sure what it involves other than it’s working in an operating theatre whilst folk have unmentionable procedures done to them. The fact that she’s excited at the prospect should perhaps be a concern. That also no doubt also falls into the category of jobs that are tougher than mine!

She’s out now getting some “bits” for tea, as we have parents coming. Getting “bits” usually involves spending more than we just did on her car! I am sat writing this blog post whilst watching the Radio 1 Big Weekend thing. Currently it is featuring some young man with a cap on backwards bobbing up and down behind his laptop, whilst it plays songs he’s “written” using 90% of other people’s songs.  It offends me.

With apologies for the brevity and random moaning, I’ll leave you now so that I can tend to my illness, whatever it may be so that I may be fit enough to go to work on Tuesday. There’s something fundamentally not right with that it seems.

Till the next time……

Feel The Burn

I don’t really have much of an ego. In fact I tend to spend most of my life admitting to how crap I am at stuff, but should there be one horn I would toot about my abilities in life, I think it would be a horn related to the researching, planning and booking of our American adventures.

This week I have been deep down the planning and research hole. I have been flexing my research muscles and powering through even when, at times, the going got tough. Feel the burn!!

As a result, this week has seen things become firm. Yes, I do get excited during the cut and thrust of some serious planning, but it is our itinerary which has become firm too during the last week and I am very pleased with how things are shaping up.

Of course, the plan as it stands now bears little resemblance to the stuff I’ve been on about here for the past few months, but such is the way of the shifting sands of trip planning.

Our (second) original intention (after abandoning Miami) was to land in Orlando and then drive over to Siesta Key for a week or so. Upon spending more time than even I wished to trying to secure some accommodation there it soon became apparent that Siesta Key is a bit odd. Firstly, they don’t really do hotels. Everything tends to be a condo or cottage type thing, which was no problem for us as staying in one room can be a bit of a tester once everyone spreads all their crap around the room ten minutes after arriving. The extra space appeals to us when it’s an extended stay of more than a few days.

The real problem was two fold.

  1. We seem to have picked spring break as the time of our visit.
  2. As this makes our desired week “in season” nearly every renter only offers Saturday to Saturday rentals which didn’t fit into our plans at all.

Now, spring break did strike a bit of fear into my heart. I imagined this sort of thing at every turn…

and that would be terrible, wouldn’t it!?

I even did some googling to find out how bad it might be and found mention of things such as bikini contests on the beach. Now that sounds OK, but I would need to invest in a new one before we go. Anyway, it turns out that Siesta Key isn’t a college kid mecca and having also chatted to an owner or two there, they confirmed that whilst a bit busier, we wouldn’t be battling hormone riddled, booze addled college kids. Just middle aged ones similar to ourselves.

With regards to the Saturday to Saturday thing, well, eventually I admitted defeat and changed our entire plan to fit in with that. It’s funny how quickly, with the help of the internet you can get into the detail of something when you need to. From that first google search of a destination, (which for me is typically a map of the area and a read of some trip reports and blogs of those who have gone before), you start to get a feel for the place. Then, with the help of some lovely blog readers who got in touch about Siesta Key, the peeling of the onion continues revealing more and more info as you go.

By the end of the research, which is typically when something is booked, you easily recognise street names and the buildings and feel like a resident, as you’ve spent so much time on street view on Google Maps. Just me? Ok……

So now, our plan is thus.

We will be going to Universal from the airport for four nights at the Royal Pacific Resort. We want to wallow in the Potter stuff having ran through it on our last visit (or so it felt) and be able to dip into the parks for a few hours as well as cocktailing by the pool.

Then we drive down to Siesta Key for a week in this lovely little thing.

siesta key 1

Then for the remainder of the trip we have booked into The Swan at WDW for some on site, without really being on site stuff, during which we’ll celebrate Louise’s birthday in the US for the first time.

A car has of course been reserved for the duration and all of this happened using some built in muscle memory action that launches into auto-pilot when required. It is enjoyable and some of the best (albeit expensive) medicine you can take. The happiness gained from this expensive planning drug is one of those unanswerable mysteries of life, like why does David Walliams pretend to be gay when he isn’t, and why do people find that funny?

Now, normally I am a “do it all yourself” type of planner. I have never used a travel agent as to be frank, with most of the high street ones, I feel like I know more than they do and I will definitely put more effort into getting me a better deal. However, this time I have been helped enormously by one, but to be fair, he is a Florida specialist. I’ve been Dibb and Facebook friends with Robert for ages and since he started to work at Ocean Florida he has from time to time tried to help and tempt me with great flight deals that he knew about.

I have always stayed strong (skint) and resisted but when I was looking around I thought I’d see if he could help at all. He was great. There was absolutely no hard sell or pressure and he even told me which bits I’d be better to book direct and which he would quote for. With that advice, both RPR and The Swan are reserved with no deposit. That’s at if you are interested.

So I thought it only fair to give him a plug here and should you wish to receive similar help do get in touch. Oddly, as another person with the same name existed at Ocean, he has to use another name, so do ask for Thomas at or his Facebook link is above.

It’s always a bit gutting when all of this is sorted and all you have is a poorly credit card and a long wait ahead of you, but of course with a Florida holiday there are plenty of other things to be doing. Now, decisions around theme parks and dining need making for the Orlando days, and unusually for us, we can now also make plans for places such as Trader Sam’s and Jellyrolls for alcohol related activities with all of our party being over 21.

Our countdown has just dipped under 300 days, which seems like an eternity but again with many years experience of countdowns I know that sooner than we realise we’ll be at Manchester airport again paying too much for an average breakfast before putting all the weight I’ve just lost back on again in two weeks. It’s the Circle of Life.

Of course, via this blog, you can share my countdown in all its gruesome detail for which I apologise now.

Till the next time…..

Rip It Up and Start Again

Forget everything I said. All those previous posts and considerable amounts of planning are all for naught. For a mere mortal such a monumental change might be too much but I have rolled with said punches admirably and adjusted quickly and seamlessly like the trip planning Jedi I aspire to be.

I spent most of last week down south due to work. It’s never great being away from home for days at a time but I used my evenings to good effect giving some thought to our holiday plans. As time has moved on, flights now are searchable and I was looking at many options in line with all the previous thinking which was (to recap) a flight into Miami or somewhere close, some time on the beach in that area, a drive up to the Vero area before ending the holiday at Universal and Disney.

I had a few different flight options on the go, some into Miami but others even including into Key West as a left field option. However, upon running said flights past Louise a veto was played, as those flights, on the outward leg were not direct. Louise can control her fear of flying to some extent, but the ordeal of landing and then taking off again is typically and understandably a step too far. So, this is how it came to pass that all the plans had to be re-evaluated.

The only direct option really was flying into as well as back out of Orlando. We were always going to fly home from there, but landing there meant that Miami was no longer really an option. We could have reversed the entire holiday I suppose and started in Orlando and made our way down to Miami, but we still had the same issue of either driving all the way back to Orlando to fly home or do an indrect from Miami.

So with all that in mind, and wanting to keep the basic structure of the trip the same, the plan now has changed to –

Fly into Orlando, looking like with Virgin on the 14th of March.

A week or so on the West Coast of Florida, somewhere we have never been to in all these years (other than a few days at Naples). My current preference is to stay in Siesta Key.

We could do Busch Gardens whilst over there.

Back to Universal for a healthy number of nights at the Hard Rock.

A few nights onsite somewhere around the Boardwalk for Jellyrolls etc.

Fly home from Orlando on the 30th of March.

My idea to stay in Siesta Key is driven by a couple of folks we know having done so in recent years and then being very complimentary about it and with a cursory bit of research the fact that it looks to be exactly what we are after. Lots of beach and sunshine in the day time with then a walkable night life with a good variety of restaurants, bars and shops to wander around of an evening, without of course the loud night club scene that we are way too old to tolerate!

Plus it looks like this….

I will also be able to take my new hobby of beach volleyball to a new level…did I not mention my long standing interest in this sport?

I know that St Pete’s and Clearwater are options too, and are a little bit closer to Orlando for that bleary eyed drive after landing, but, Siesta Key looks more suitable for our needs. Of course, again if anyone has experience of one or all of those places I would love to hear from you. I think the north of Siesta Key is the place to be, in and around Siesta Key Village, but do tell me if I am wrong!!

With that rough plan now built around fairly firm flights the search for accommodation begins. Siesta Key looks to be short of hotels as such and a cottage/townhouse may be the way to go. I haven’t done enough research yet to know for sure. Again, for those in the know, should you wish to point me at places please do.

So, like some sort of irresistible tractor beam Orlando has pulled us in once again. However, it will be a different type of trip for all sorts of reasons, dominated by more leisurely activities, with only a sprinkling of theme park elements. The force is strong in MCO!

Till the next time…..


We are having a family gathering today to celebrate Rebecca’s 19th birthday and so with apologies, I don’t have time to have an original thought and come up with a decent blog. (Do I ever??) Some of you may of course point out that there is very little original thought in these things anyway….but still….

So like most TV channels do these days, with their +1 channels, showing the same stuff an hour later, I shall instead let you re-enjoy the content from last year for her 18th in the form of video…so it’s plus one year rather than an hour!

You should be out enjoying the sun anyway!

I shall make one small observation. For those of you with young children, wondering when the madness will end and you won’t be constantly exhausted, worried and a general basket case. Don’t hold your breath. As a small example of the different ways your older children may torment you, last night, well technically this morning, about an hour after going to bed my phone rang. I didn’t wake in time to answer, and so saw I had a missed call from Rebecca. Knowing she was out celebrating, we of course wondered why she had rung and if she was now in some ditch or en route to some drug den having been kidnapped.

Texts, calls and Facebook messages were unanswered and so Louise and I spent a lovely forty minutes or so in a mild state of panic. Of course, we then got an apologetic text telling us she had dialed me by mistake and all was well.

It took about another hour for the adrenaline to wear off and for us to get back to sleep. Sometimes, I yearn for changing nappies!

Till the next time…..

Pointing Towards My Incompetence

Welcome to May. How nice it is to look out of the window and see those lovely blue spring skies with temperatures well into the teens.  Wait…..what???

This weather MAY be crap

It is because we live in such a diabolical climate that we are such a testy and irritable bunch most of the time. Sitting with the heating on watching the rain pound against the window does nothing to lift the spirits after such a long and weary winter.

We live in a house that is fairly old and having stood for over a hundred years enduring a climate which typically includes about 300 wet days each year, it has of course developed its fair share of issues. These issues are the house’s way of expressing its own disgust at the shite weather it had the misfortune to be built in. It has younger cousins sat in lovely sunny temperatures in other parts of the world that post selfies on the internet to taunt our house.

Since we’ve been here, which is over three years now, our gable end (that technical term is the absolute extent of my building jargon) has had issues. We’ve had bouts of damp which is no surprise as this wall stands unprotected against the worst that Bolton’s weather can throw at it. I’ve been in denial for all of that time that it needed re-pointing. Most of that reticence has been down to the cost of what sounds like a horrendously expensive job of course, but some of it has also been down to the fact that I don’t really know what pointing is, beyond it being something I can’t do.

This is where my Dad steps in. Jobs like this roll off his back like the perpetual rain does off our leaky wall. It helps of course that all of his working life was spent in the building trade rather than sat at a desk poncing about on a  computer. It was only when he went into the office as estimator and then Director that he was afforded the luxury of working inside.

So whilst I have ponced about on my computer my Dad called a friend and arranged for some scaffolding to be put up. This is black magic in itself and I went to work one day with a bare wall and returned with a structure more complex than Spaceship Earth at Epcot attached to the end of my house. Over the next few days my Dad made his way up and down said scaffolding with whatever mixture you need in order to point something, making things better. My Dad doesn’t believe he is the age he is of course, so did not give this a second thought!

Once the pointing was done he then went on to spray the wall with some magical mixture that waterproofs it for the next couple of millenia. Suffice to say that our gable end now needn’t fear the weather or indeed nuclear holocaust within my lifetime. I have no idea what we would have done without my Dad’s intervention and expertise, other than employ some bloke to do it and sacrifice our entire disposable income for the next decade to do so.

So we’re grateful for the help and in return all I can offer is to continue to sort out his iPad every now and again. Slightly less manly but no less essential skills.

This lack of spring hasn’t stopped Louise going into full spring clean mode and I sit typing this surrounded by clutter from our various cupboards that I now have to sort through and place into a “bin it” pile and a “save it forever” pile. Somehow it seems that my Mum saved every single book for every single subject I ever did at school. Amongst them is a Life Story project from primary school which is looking a little worse for wear now, but includes gold such as this….

life story 1 life story 2 life story 3

Looking back at the quality of this, it is no wonder I went to have such a high-flying career and went on to write several best-selling novels…oh, wait…..never mind.

Till the next time…..