Pouting and Parties

It’s been an eclectic week as they go. Last Sunday was great fun. We did a band photo shoot with James Lloyd. I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to it before hand. The thought of being photographed in normal life isn’t one of my favourite things, so having to do it for promotional purposes, in broad daylight, in the middle of the Northern Quarter was a bit daunting. For those who don’t know the Northern Quarter is the world capital of converse, beards and thick rimmed glasses. It is a super cool area of Manchester with great restaurants and more hipsters than you can shake an avocado at.

To the enormous credit of James he did a great job of putting us at ease and it wasn’t long until we were laughing a lot and hopefully getting a decent photo or two. Now, it may surprise you to learn that we aren’t the prettiest band around, so James really had his work cut out.

We haven’t seen the results as yet. Photoshopping that many chins out of each photo really does take some time, but here’s one we’ve had as a taster.

Thanks to James and I’ll share a few more for your merriment as we get them back.

The week just gone was another busy one. Work was an inconvenient and unwelcome dominant presence, including a trip to Marlow. The traffic both ways was absolutely shocking and Friday was a bit of a blur after arriving home late on Thursday with a life threatening cold.

Saturday was all about Rebecca and Tom’s Baby Shower. To their enormous credit, having only decided to throw one a few weeks ago, they worked really hard to secure a venue, catering, DJ (me, using Mustard’s PA) and a million little details to have the room looking a lot nicer than it did when we first turned up in the afternoon.

Drinks were had, Bolton’s famous and finest, Carr’s Pasties were consumed and kids slid across the dance floor on their knees and chased each other until they were balls of dripping sweat. So a traditional family do in a function room.

On the subject of parties, I also want to wish a happy 25th anniversary to our friends Steve and Di. They had their celebration yesterday, and because I’m an idiot and can’t read or manage a calendar, we were unable to attend. We know you will have had a great time and we are so sorry we couldn’t be there.

So Rebecca has just a few weeks to go now. She’s had enough of being pregnant, but to be honest that has been the case for about 30 weeks now. It is weird to think that in the next thirty days or so Freddie will be here. The poor little soul has no idea that he already has a holiday planned for him.

Speaking of which, last week’s post caused me another planning conundrum. Morag and Nathalie threw a spanner into my works with their comment that we should try Keke’s Breakfast Cafe.

Knowing what the result would be, like a fool, I looked at the web site and read the menu and about thirty seconds later, I knew I had to find a slot in the spreadsheet for it…..and I did.

Some highlights of that menu for you….

Banana Split Waffle
Banana, pineapple, fresh strawberries in glaze, chocolate fudge syrup & pecans 9.99

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Bananas and Hershey’s® milk chocolate chips cooked in the pancakes 8.49

Turtle Stuffed French Toast
Pecans, caramel, chocolate and cream cheese topped with powdered sugar 9.99

So, as you can see, I had no choice. So now, on one of our days, we do Keke’s for breakfast and Cowfish for dinner. Pray for us.

After all of that varied madness over the last few days, today will be filled with as little as possible especially after the very tiring effort of writing these few hundred words.

By the way if you are going to suggest any Orlando eateries that I will have to fit into my plan I love and hate you in equal measure. So be mindful of the pain you may cause…

Till the next time……

A Peak At Planning

Right, let’s get the stuff you aren’t so bothered about out-of-the-way. I wrote a chapter this week. I appreciate that is not in the same prolific league as James Patterson, but with everything going on in my daily life that is a step forward and hopefully a catalyst for more. What I really need if I’m honest, is a good chunk of time to re-read what I’ve written to date and then do the book plan. I know that I have everything in my head somewhere, I just need to formalise it into some sort of structure, decide on the outcome of the book (no spoilers here) and that should enable me to write more freely once I know where I’m going.

I feel better about the whole thing now that I’ve broken the ice again.

Sadly, that huge investment of time did not leave me much (any) time for the planning of WDW stuff. All my plans start in the same format and always have. As soon as I know our dates I create a simple template of those dates in Excel with blanks to fill in…

There are some givens that go in before anything else happens…like the travel days and the fact that we’ll be in Magic Kingdom on the first and last day.

Then, I make a list of all the eateries we want to do. I appreciate that this may seem strange to some, but the importance of the food on our Florida trips cannot be over estimated. The challenge with this list is fitting in all the places we have fallen in love with and want to do again, whilst also trying all the new places that I’ve heard good things about. For this trip, with Tom being a first timer it has more of a greatest hits vibe as we want to take him to all of our favourites….and it looked like this…

Next, I try to allocate one of those dining choices to a day on the plan, bearing in mind how I want the theme park days to flow. Over the years we seem to have established a routine as to how we tackle the parks. We of course start with Magic Kingdom as this is the law, we then do Epcot, Hollywood Studios and finally Animal Kingdom. I suspect that this being the order in which they opened was not an accident to my subliminal planner self.

Of course, tradition dictates that our first meal on arrival day is The Outback at Formosa Gardens if at all possible, so that goes in first and the rest follow like this….

For this trip, due to the touring party make up, it’s a WDW only affair so there are many more rest days than there may have been for an adults only trip. This means we can have two days in each park and if needed do extra visits on the afternoon of rest days. It makes for an easier planning experience. However, it doesn’t solve the issue you can see at the bottom of the plan. Where on earth do I put Sanaa? We may have to just eat more on some days! I do have a gap for dinner on our first day. I’m reluctant to put anything in there that we need an ADR for as there is no way to know how young Freddie will be adjusting to the time difference and long flight so we may need to be flexible. I know Rebecca would just be happy with some corn dog bites from Casey’s.

On that note, we are going to try something new on our last day in Magic Kingdom. I have it down as a snack day. We’re going to take the opportunity to eat all the stuff available in and around the parks as snacks and counter service, such as the stuff at Casey’s and a couple of things we’ve never had in all these years, a turkey leg and a dole whip. Funnel cake may also be on the agenda.

So this is where I’m at right now.The only other piece of the jigsaw tentatively in place is the intention to do MNSSHP on Wednesday the 4th of September. Having had glowing reports from all last week, it looks like we have no choice but to do it and much of the advice centred around not doing it too early after it starts and not to do it on a weekend.

What happens now? Well, over the coming weeks and months I shall tinker and mess about with the finer details. At some point I typically transfer it onto the Vacation Planner tool on The Dibb. I don’t use the forums over there any more but that tool is useful. It is helpful as somewhere to record all your booking references, ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations), flight details and that jazz.

What is bound to happen over the coming months is that I will come across some new dining experience that I desperately want to do and I shall wrestle with what to drop out of the plan….or of course there’s always the option of extending our stay! The latter won’t be a viable option this time due to the work/holiday restrictions of Louise and Tom so something will have to give should that be the case. I have already made the heart breaking decision to take Romano’s out of the plan and replace it with The Cheesecake Factory.

So there you go, this post turned unintentionally into a look at how I actually plan. I’m sure everyone has similar yet different methods. Let me know how you go about it so that I may shamelessly steal your great ideas.

Now, I must leave you as I’m off to a photo shoot this afternoon with Mustard. No, really, I am.

Till the next time….
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Scary Stuff

Well what do you know, it’s October. At this rate we’ll be heading to the airport in about ten minutes. Speaking of which my niece and her fiancée have done exactly that this morning as they head to WDW for their long-awaited holiday.

Have a great time Sarah and Tom!

However, not one moment of last week was spent planning due to the great inconvenience of having to work. Now, when I say there was no planning, that only means that I didn’t at any point sit down in front of a spreadsheet and the internet and formally plan stuff to do. Of course. subconscious planning happens at all times. For example, in the middle of some very tedious work related stuff, it popped into my head that Sanaa wasn’t currently on our plan. This is a grave issue. We love Sanaa, specifically the bread service, but as it stands there is simply no room for it unless we sacrifice something else.

To be honest my thinking is that for Tom’s first time and with a small child at the table, Whispering Canyon and 50’s Prime Time feel more relevant and suitable. There will other times for Sanaa.

Even though we will be flying out in August, as WDW tend to do, by the time we get there Halloween will be in full swing. We are very used to the parks transforming into an autumnal pumpkin fest towards the end of our previous August holidays. In the past we’ve been pretty much on our last day when this happens, but next year we’ll be just arriving. As such, I suspect MNSSHP will be happening. For anyone not in the WDW nutter club, that stands for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We’ve never done this so it makes sense that we take the chance to do so.


Being in about three thousand WDW related groups on Facebook means that I am bound to get some mixed reviews of this event. For anyone who has done it, would you say it is worthwhile? My gut feel is yes for two main reasons.

  1. In all these years we never have.
  2. It will at least stop us having to leave the park early.

The tickets this year seem to start at around $74 each. That seems OK to be honest. In fact, in candy alone, Tom will break us even in the first hour.

If we go, then I don’t know if we’ll dress up. Again, any feedback on whether that is worth it or not would be welcome.

This time last week I said I had 20,000 words of the second book done. Well, this week I have a few less. Still that’s progress. I found about half an hour to open it and read some of it. This resulted in me editing out some words. So in this case I suppose less really is more. Having not looked at it for so long it was weird. It was like reading something that somebody else had written.

So not the most productive of weeks, outside of the stuff I am actually paid to do.

Louise is working again this weekend. It really isn’t fair. That means I have to do all the washing and tidying up. It really is rather inconsiderate of her. She knows I’m always a bit tired after gigging and Crumpsall lies in tatters this morning after Mustard blew it to pieces last night. She can make it up to me when she gets home later after eight days at work.

Right, I have to go, Liverpool are on TV shortly…erm, I mean I have lots of housework to do.

Till the next time…..

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