Premature Celebrations

Happy New Years Eve. We did our going out last night in an attempt to avoid crowds, vast expense and knob heads. Think of it as being at the park for rope drop to get on Toy Story Mania. Such premature celebrations mean we can be safely positioned on our couch when the dogs go beserk at all the fireworks at midnight tonight. I am really looking forward to that.

Louise, Emily and I went for a lovely Chinese. Not that this recommendation will be much use to either of my readers who live miles away, but if anyone else stumbles across this, Tung Fong in Worsley is excellent. I think the name translates to Fat Bastard.

In trying to keep my hand in for trip report writing in about 240 days, I took some food photos.

My lack of practice is displayed there, with half of my lemon chicken being in my belly before the camera captured it. What is more amazing than how full I was on the drive home was the fact that I woke up hungry this morning.

Aside from the madness of going out on New Year’s Eve my biggest issue with it is the concept of new starts, new diets, resolutions and all that stuff. Sure, I need to lose some weight and I will, as I’m ready to, but the immediate switch of all the adverts from food excess to gyms, weight watchers and fitness DVDs drives me up the wall.

I’m not too big on lengthy reviews of the last year either. This is mainly as I struggle to remember what happened, but my summary of last year is this. Freddie’s arrival was a huge and monumental highlight. We had a great holiday in April and Mustard have gone from strength to strength during the last year.

Pretty much everything else seems to have been a great big hairy ball sack of never ending stress, drama, worry and shite. Now, I recognise that this isn’t 100% true. I’m quite good at not remembering or recognising the stuff we are blessed with. We’re all healthy, housed and here after all, but 2017 has seen some of the worst, darkest and most testing times that my little family unit has ever been through. I probably say that every year, but this year it is less melodramatic than usual. We’ve been through some really deep shit this year.

Standard caveat time –

I know many folks, including both of my readers will have been through worse. Indeed to remind me of this fact, my Dad has spent the last few days in hospital following a planned procedure. I will not include the details of what he has been subjected to, as it will make your eyes water, but safe to say that it has been a traumatic end to the year for him.

Our Christmas was a bit strange as, apart from Christmas Day, Louise has worked every day. That has been rubbish if I’m honest. mainly for her of course, but it hasn’t felt too much like Christmas due to that. The day itself was lovely, with Freddie getting lots of presents he has no concept of, and the meal going pretty smoothly. I got some great presents this year. Louise got me one of those fandangled Virtual Reality things for my PS4. It is weird! It is very immersive and a bit discombobulating but great fun.

I got some delightful Dunhill smellies from Rebecca and Tom, which was handy as my Sex Panther had run out some time ago.

Louise also got me some Sauvage as I must remind her so much of that bloke in the advert…

Either that, or getting two lots of after shave just means I smell and they are staging an intervention.

Emily got me a new camera. Clearly she is being paid for too much if she can afford to spoil me in this manner. It is a belter and I can only hope it will finally allow me to capture at least one firework photo that isn’t blurry nonsense.

So now, with the tree in our front room looking tired and droopy, representing quite nicely that feeling of Christmas ending, and everyone’s bloated excess, thoughts turn towards the return to work, the fear that none of my work clothes will still fit and the realisation that I haven’t missed it at all. I also know that at some point in the coming days we have to undecorate the tree and somehow wrestle it outside, in the process spreading pine needles to every corner of the house where we will still be finding them in August.

At the ending of a year, I do need to thank everyone who has read any of this stuff over the last 12 months. I’ll be honest and say it amazes me that you still do and I am very grateful for every one of you. Some weeks, these posts are easy to do and others not, which I would imagine also relates to the reading of them, so many thanks for your perseverance and loyalty through the bad and above average content. From me and everyone in the Mkingdon family, I hope your 2018 is everything you want it to be and if at all possible it involves a chunk of time in Florida if that is your wish.

Till the next time….

Panic! At the Tesco

Well done, we’re nearly there. The countdown to Christmas that started on the 1st of November is almost over. You may now only need to see that John Lewis ad another half a dozen times before they start thinking of the next one.

The fact that is it Christmas Eve, and yes I can confirm it is actually Sunday, means that this will be a short one as there are a million things to do as is, I’m sure, the case for both my readers.

We are now in those dangerous last few hours when panic sets in and Louise heads out to Tesco on some kamikaze mission to buy something, anything before they shut. Having agreed upon and the then totally ignored the original budget, now we are in dangerous territory of panic purchasing, and I always breathe a sigh of relief when those shop doors close for the end of the day on Christmas Eve. The fact that we don’t have Glace Cherries will not make a material difference to our celebrations.

This year may be different as Louise has just got home from her work’s do. She stayed over despite the hotel being about seven minutes from our front door, so with any luck a near terminal hangover will present any further last-minute damage to the girl’s inheritance. She has just gone back to bed, hopefully until Tesco is closed. As an aisde, I am yet to understand why there is passion fruit in our fruit bowl but I am sure it is part of some master plan to which I am not yet privy.

I’ve had two very late nights due to Mustard engagements. Friday was a corporate do in centre of Manchester which meant a bed time approaching 3am and last night a more civilised affair in a local hostelry seeing me in bed just before 2am. I was awake after five hours sleep this morning so today should be fun as we battle to get the house ready for our guests, who are us, the girls, Tom, Freddie and Louise’s Mum who see the house in a right state on a very regular basis.

I am sad to report that I had to break my duck yesterday and physically enter a shop. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to secure any Hollandaise sauce from our online supermarket shop for our traditional Eggs Benedict on Christmas morning. This meant enduring about forty-five seconds in our local Co-Op before escaping the retail madness. That’ll do until next year.

As well as the cleaning and tidying today we must also undertake another traditional task and that is the making of the Eggnog. We’ve done this for a good few years now and despite whisked eggs, milk, sugar and rum not sounding the best combo, sprinkle some cinnamon on it and all is well. The same can be said for almost anything though right? It is the most calorific-ally filled thing since Rick Waller but worth it so we can emulate the Griswolds, as let’s face it, Clark is my spirit animal especially on our trips overseas. Look out for social media updates later of the preparation of this liquid master peice.

Speaking of which (seamless segue-way), earlier in the week whilst watching a TV show that probably involved Kirstie Allsop making decorations out of belly button fluff and the tears of immigrants, I was messaged by a former colleague who is currently out in Florida. I think I can claim some responsibility for his now impressive Florida obsession and he plans correctly and generally does it in a way of which I approve. Having said that, the reason for his message was that he was changing the plan. I put that to one side and read further.

He needed somewhere to eat in his new plan that was around I Drive as they were at Universal, his wife was craving a salad after many days of stodge and he wanted a good steak. Now, I won’t tell you all the options that fell from my brain within seconds of that because you’ll all have your own views and they’ll be wrong. Suffice to say that I was able to begin typing immediately and offer four alternatives. I could have gone on but didn’t want to make the choice too hard!

You would probably be able to guess that Teak was one of them. I’m sure they do salad, right? Anyway, they ended up going to Texas De Brazil and it seems they enjoyed it very much as I was sent photographic evidence of their food comas. His wife was able to fill up at the salad bar (rookie mistake) whilst the endless swords of meat (I’ve watched that film on pay per view whilst away with work) satisfied the cravings for steak.

It’s always nice to share the knowledge and experience built up over all these trips. It almost made up for my jealousy of them being there when I’m not!

Enough already….it’s time to get the house ready for festivities and of course begin eating. From everyone here in the world of Mkingdon, we wish you a Christmas that brings you everything you want and need and of course some good presents too.

Till the next time…..

Jolly Jedis

Only one of the Christmas dos I talked of last week actually happened. The work one, which is a small intimate affair with just my team, had to be postponed due to the illness of one of the team. We’re only a small, yet (of course) highly effective, group and rather than go ahead without one of us we all decided to do it in January when everyone could be there.

My waistline was grateful. I don’t typically go to the office wide do, which also happened last week. Call me a Grinch or Scrooge if you like but, I spend far too much time with these buggers for 52 weeks of the year. Unless compelled to do so, I’d rather take the chance to not be at something work related. This is why we do a smaller meal based event for my immediate team, as it’s a chance to get together away from our desks and we do genuinely get on so there’s no hardship involved. As I organise it, it won’t be a surprise to discover it is entirely food based with a token couple of drinks beforehand.

So that is something to mess with all of our January diets and we all may need to do a couple more Davina McCall DVD workouts to make up for it.

The one that did go ahead was the Mustard one. Being hardcore rock n roll legends, I cannot go into the finer detail of what actually happened. Whether I had four or even five alcoholic drinks I cannot recall. Once you get to that level of excess, things become a little hazy. We had a lovely curry, lots of chat and then ended the night watching a live band in a venue we play at regularly. That’s a bit like going to watch someone write some emails and attend a couple of meetings on your work’s do. It was good to see another band in action as we seldom get the chance as we are mostly gigging at those times and it was even nicer to be able to leave when they finished without having to pack up any gear.

Yesterday was all about the Christmas shopping. Louise told me it was really hard work and I commend her for it. I do not go into actual shops during the month of December and I have made my contribution to the process this morning by making a list and making some online purchases. Like some sort of masochistic shopping machine she has set off again for town armed with an inadequate budget and a disregard for financial responsibility. I am afraid.

Later yesterday we went to see The Last Jedi.

I of course will not reveal anything that could be classed as a spoiler. I enjoyed it. Making a new Star Wars film is the ultimate definition of a hard act to follow. The previous films, especially the original three, mean so much to so many that I applaud any film maker brave enough to take these new ones on. I would say that it will withstand two or three watches to take everything in and jog your own memories of what has happened in forty years of film. Yep, the first came out forty years ago and I can still remember being sat in the ABC in Bolton and being astounded at the sound level as the two space ships came into view over our heads in the opening scene.

You can relive it here and if the hairs on the back of your neck don’t stand up when the music starts we can’t be friends.

As ever, I was astounded by the number of people who had to leave the film for a wee within the first half hour. Firstly, don’t you people plan ahead and have that pre-film wee? Secondly, you’ve just paid a tenner to watch a film, cross your bloody legs, think of dry things and be an adult. It also mildly annoys me that many people were sat in the middle of rows but I appreciate this may be more my problem than theirs.

In more positive news, we still have the same Christmas tree as last week. I’m beginning to think this one might be the one, but it’s too early to say for certain.

I have three days left at work officially. With some largish projects coming to a head I suspect I shall be delving back into that joyous world over the festive period but at least I can do that from the comfort of my sofa/bed/food coma. Mustard have two big Xmas gigs next week too which I’m looking forward to. It’s never too early to book us for your 2018 do (we are the Park Hampers of bands) so get in touch for prices and availability! You know it makes sense.

So I’ll see you back here next week for the last blog before the big day. Having told ourselves it made no sense to spend loads of money on presents for Freddie as he has no clue what Christmas is, we have of course, spent loads of money on presents for Freddie. I suspect Rebecca isn’t quite ready for the harsh reality of her no longer being the child who comes downstairs to a huge pile of presents. Such is the circle of life.

I hope your shopping and preparation is going well and if you could send all your gifts for me nice and early so that my poor postman isn’t having to deliver them all in one go. Thanks!

Till the next time…..

A Tale Of Two Trees

Like my middle-aged paunch, Christmas has crept up on us without us really noticing. I have one full week left at work, which includes our team night out and our band night out, so that paunch will be getting a little paunchier by the end of it.

It was only five minutes ago that I was sneering at folks on social media for daring to mention the word and now mild panic is setting in that we’ve bought nothing and we’re only on our second Christmas tree.

Yes, you read that right. Having ordered a fake one from The White Company for the price of a small family car, as “it was perfect and would last us years” it arrived early last week and much time was spent decorating it. Twenty four hours later, Louise had declared that it was not satisfactory and it had to go. So it was stripped, boxed up and sent back and in its place now stands a seven-foot real one atop a three-foot pile of needles.

We’ve done well so far to only lose one decoration to the jaws of Bean, we can only hope it can go the distance to the big day. If it doesn’t then Bean may not either!

On Friday night, Louise and the girls went to an Anne Summers party hosted by one of Louise’s fellow nurses. Emily and Rebecca were quite worried about attending such an event with their mother, fearing it may scar them for life, and it is probably for the best that I don’t know what went on aside from the few Snapchats the girls posted. I took them there (and picked them up) which was quite a nice throwback to the “driving years” when my main role in life was to transport them around the planet.

It has been quite some time since it was the four of us in the car driving somewhere and it was in a strange way very nice. The night involved a fair amount of alcohol and with Rebecca not having drunk for a year and Emily being, let’s be frank, a huge lightweight when it comes to drinking, Saturday was pretty much a right off for both of them. Of course, I should also congratulate Tom for coping on his own with Freddie for the first time too whilst Rebecca was out.

At the moment, our Disney plans have assumed a position on the back burner of my priority cooker. This happens at times during a long countdown I’ve found. Beyond the occasional glance at flights, I haven’t given it much thought really. Well, I always give it thought, as in, it helps to get me through the two-hour commutes that I have been enduring over the last few weeks, but I haven’t really thought about it from a planning perspective.

I do need to find time to go over the plan in detail again, to firm up the day by day activities. I suspect my usual routine of doing the parks in the order we always do may need some attention as we have to factor in the day we will be at Mickey’s Not So Scary and the days that the running of that may impact on our potential planned visits to the Magic Kingdom. I also need to run the busy day guide against our plans. I don’t usually use these in any meaningful way, but it’s always wise to make sure there are no obvious clangers being dropped which can easily be avoided.

I have a suspicion that much of my well laid plan may be cast aside once we’re boots on the ground with young Freddie with us. Our activities will of course have to consider his needs and moods so there may be a bit of going with flows.

As some of you may have seen, I did a Facebook live on the Mkingdon Facebook page when Rebecca, Tom and Freddie popped round during last week. At such a young age he changes so much in the few days between visits and it’s just fascinating to see that happening. He’s had a cold recently which has been fun for Rebecca and Tom, but other than that he’s doing brilliantly, as are they.

He is photographed and videoed more than The Kardashians, which is only right, as he is more intelligent and newsworthy than all of them put together. I fear for the amount of coverage he will get during his first tour of Disney. He’ll never have another first time, so it may just be easier to do one long Facebook live for the whole two weeks!

I have big plans for the rest of the day and they are to rest my ageing tired body. With my taxi duties on Friday and another Mustard gig last night I have had two late nights and my middle-aged frame is protesting this morning. Louise is going out shopping for her outfit for her Christmas party so I intend to be best friends with the couch, watch some football and I have a song to learn for a Mustard rehearsal tomorrow. Next week’s blog may just be me moaning about how tired I am as this coming week, I have to work of course, but I have a rehearsal on Monday night, my team night out on Tuesday (huge Chinese meal and a few drinkies) and then our band Christmas night out on Friday (huge Indian meal and a few drinkies). I’m beginning to understand now quite how that middle-aged paunch happened.

Till the next time…..

Discount Disney Tickets

Stripping – A Beginner’s Guide

I have sensed the anticipation and excitement building for a few weeks now. Everyone is talking about it and so I can deny you no longer. Here, after two weeks of tangible yearning, is the photo of our new fireplace that I promised you. I was inundated with a request to share this so here you go….

Exciting stuff for sure. Last week the decorator came and re-decorated the front room. It was a true dilemma, as my natural tightness was fighting with my absolute hatred of wall papering, but sense prevailed and every penny spent on my not having to do it was worthwhile.

In under two days he had stripped all the old paper off, glossed everything that should be glossed and re-papered. For me that would have been a two to three weekend job and a real threat to my will to live. It helps when you have the right tools of course. He had some instrument of medieval torture to strip the walls with which had a blade so sharp he needed no steamer or much elbow grease. He just applied a little water, wielded his diamond edged blade of death and not only did the wallpaper surrender itself with ease, it had the good grace to leave the old lining paper on the walls too. The pathetic stripping tool we own is pitiful in comparison and it takes several days in steam room like conditions to get a few strips off the wall.

When it came to the actual papering he had a pasting machine. Who knew these things existed? He just passed the paper through it on some roller thing and it applied a perfect layer of paste in about three seconds. No wonder I’ve been crap at decorating. I just don’t have the right equipment!

He’s done a great job, better than I could ever have of course, so it is money well spent.

Having just spent a couple of hours at a garden centre, crammed full of Christmas shoppers decorations, I would struggle to put most of the latter into that same category. We bought a few things, mainly some new lights for our tree as last year’s new lights will be in a ball somewhere in the cellar. With a few extra bits for Louise’s colour scheme this year we left with our financial health relatively unscathed. Having looked at a few items which we thought were nice only to find we’d need to sell the house or a kidney to have them, we decided to try elsewhere.

Being a Grandad has clearly changed my life immediately, as spending Sundays in garden centres is my destiny and I embrace it. I have ordered my cardigan and slacks and my Honda Civic is due to arrive any day now.

I had a night off from gigging last night, and it was nice not to have to load all the gear into the car in the rain (it always rains when I do that) for a change, so we had a look for a decent film to watch. Now, we have several streaming services at our disposal, with literally thousands of films to choose from. Nothing jumped out that we haven’t already seen, so we (well, it was Louise’s choice) decided to invest a fiver to buy a film from the Virgin Movies thingy. That film was a Tom Cruise film, which usually promises an hour and a half of turn your brain off entertainment and action. In this case….not so much.

We watched The Mummy. It was incredibly poor.


Before I get to the “plot” it was most confusing that the woman out of Peaky Blinders used more accents than a french person spelling lots of words with Es in them. British, a bit of American, a touch of Irish and many more. Perhaps she was demonstrating her vast range of dialects for future projects.

The plot was wafer thing, been done to death, not least by all the previous Mummy films and I fell asleep for about half an hour which did not prevent me from understanding what happened. Spoiler alert, The Mummy is defeated, Tom gets the girl and the comedic sidekick makes some very poor jokes just before the titles roll.  Poor Tom, very poor. Must do better. By the way, you owe me a fiver and about ninety minutes of my life back.

The most worrying thing about it was that the ending pretty much guaranteed their plans to make this into one of those franchise things, with multiple sequels being a distinct possibility. Having done so earlier this week, I can assure you that I really would prefer to watch paint dry.

Right, I have stuff to do, Emily is sat watching Hercules for the gabillionth time and at some point the dogs need walking.

Till the next time…..