Lockdown Life

Thank you for all your comments, messages and well wishes last week. I am much better now. The cough is slowly subsiding and the only remaining symptoms seem to be that I have become 87 and need to be in bed by 9.30. I literally can’t keep my eyes open. The tiredness is real. A walk of the dogs has me spent and breathless so I won’t be posting one of those “inspirational” home workout videos anytime soon.

I’d rate my illness level at about 7 out of 10 compared to all other forms of illness and flus I have experienced. Two days were touching an 8, with most others being a 6 or 7. There appears to be no tangible end in sight for the country as yet and indeed I think the next few weeks will see things get a lot worse before they get better. I am still annoyed and frustrated at the lack of testing and the preparedness of the NHS, but I’m not going to soapbox that here.

Rebecca is recovered but now Tom has the symptoms, which is not surprising. He has had a high temperature and a cough for a few days. I guess it is inevitable that if you put several people in the same house as someone who has symptoms, they will too.

Having said that, neither Emily or Louise have had any tangible signs of the virus. Louise has had a feeling of a temperature from time to time, but nothing she would consider out of the ordinary. She is, like many, convinced she had the thing about three weeks before I did, as she had a week of struggling to breathe with a terrible chest. Hopefully, an antibody test will be available to soon to give us all a clue.

As weird as things currently are, I have to say, I am not yet missing the commute. I’m sure as the weeks and months go by I will yearn for my usual three hours a day in the car, but right now, my work-life balance actually exists and I feel less “murdery” after a day’s work and the drive home.

We’ve been occupying ourselves as best we can. My daily dog walk is now something to look forward to, rather than a chore I used to dread. That is for two reasons. Firstly, it’s my one time out of the house every day and a token nod towards any form of exercise and secondly, I usually walk the dogs after my commute home and recently in sub-zero temperatures and sideways rain, so the better weather and lack of the drive home has improved the task no end.

We have been watching a lot of stuff of course and if you aren’t yet watching The Imagineering Story on Disney+ I can’t help you. That is right in my sweet spot and ticks all of my Disney geek boxes. It has also, if possible, elevated Roy Disney to a new level of hero status in our household. He never gets the credit he deserves, other than from Emily, who cried last night when his management of the Magic Kingdom construction and subsequent death was covered.

It was Louise’s birthday yesterday. Obviously, it was a strange one but hopefully, we made it as nice as it could be in the circumstances. There was a lot of relaxing, a Zoom quiz in the evening hosted by my brother and sister-in-law and a huge amount of takeaway Indian food. In a gesture of huge irony, I had a couple of Coronas.

Rebecca’s wedding is now pretty much re-arranged for early July. All the suppliers were able to move with us apart from the DJ who we will need to replace, and all we can do now is hope that by that time wedding venues are open and we have some sort of ability to go out of the house again.

These are very strange times and right at the bottom of every list of priorities are upcoming holidays. I have no idea if the world will have returned to any form of normality by late August or indeed if the airline industry will still exist, but all I can do is this….

and try to pretend that everything will be fine by then. Of course, should the gimp in the White House get his way, the US will be re-opened at Easter and annihilated by June, which would render our trip null and void.

In the spirit of trying to keep some sense of normality in these weird times, I have continued to book our ADRs, and I’ll share here how we’ve done, knowing all the while that they may not happen at all. I don’t know if talking about something as trivial as where we might eat is appropriate with everything going on, so if you aren’t in the right place to read that sort of stuff, now’s the time to pull the ripcord.

Overall, we did OK and got what we wanted. The major changes are around my actual birthday with California Grill not offering any times that worked for us, but in a way, it may have worked out for the best. I’ll come to that shortly.

Our first ADR is for our first day fittingly enough. We are being bold and assuming that at the end of the magical first day in Magic Kingdom we will be awake enough to do Ohana. I have booked it nice and early at 5.35, so we should be able to make it that far. Should we really be “on it” who knows we may spend some time down on the beach after dinner watching the sunset. It’s funny how simple things like this sound so appealing right now.

We are eating off-site for the next few days at the likes of Teak Neighbourhood Grill and Bahama Breeze before going to one of our traditional regulars at Animal Kingdom on day five. Yak & Yeti, at an OAP-tastic early hour of 4.30, is booked. We might do Rivers of Light, or we may not. This is just part of my flexible, devil may care approach to trip planning.

This brings us to day six and my birthday. So the original plan was to have a character breakfast, do some World Showcase and then have dinner at California Grill, ending with a balcony viewing of the fireworks. The breakfast was straight forward. Cape May Cafe is secured, with the added bonus of facilitating parking at the Beach Club rather than Epcot’s main car park. However, California Grill was only offering times that wouldn’t work with our plans. Neither 5.30 or 9.30 suited us. A 5.30 reservation would mean us having to head back to the villa around 3pm to allow for showers and makeup with me sat on the couch waiting for everyone to get ready. This is not how I wish to spend my birthday. The later 9.30 slot would be too late for Freddie.

This forced a bit of a re-think of the whole day, and whilst not having the “glamour” of Cali Grill, in a way I feel better about the new plan. It’s a traditional one and due to that is tried and tested.

Breakfast remains at Cape May Cafe at 10am. We shall then wander into Epcot just after World Showcase opens and spend a relaxed day touring the pavilions. Rather than then leave the park and waste a large part of the day driving and waiting for folks to get ready, we shall remain in Epcot, with dinner now booked for La Hacienda de San Angel at 7.30. We ate there for my birthday the year before last and really enjoyed it. Hopefully, we can secure a table seat again and we can play it by ear whether we watch the fireworks from the restaurant or find a spot outside.

The idea is that we have a day without too much queuing or stressing about getting on stuff or the logistics of being places at set times and just enjoy being in one of my favourite bits of the planet.

We are then at Univeral for the next few days, so there is no need for ADR bookings. We return with a bang on day 11 with a booking at Sanaa for all of the breads. I’ve gone for 6pm, hoping to get there a little early, see some animals and then eat.

Day 12 saw another ADR failure I’m sad to say. Homecoming was the ambition, but the only slots were late in the evening so again, I have simplified things, and kept us in the park of the day rather than travelling out to eat.

After a break of what must be almost twenty years, we are returning to the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom as that is where we are spending the day. Freddie was very much in my thoughts as I think he will love it. It also gives us another shot at Rivers of Light if we haven’t done it at this point.

Day 13 sees us back at Epcot and an ADR for what is becoming a regular and a firm favourite. Via Napoli is booked for some fine pizza at 6.40. Hopefully, we shall emerge from the experience feeling overly full into the glorious embrace of World Showcase at dusk.

With that, we are done. The remaining days are scheduled to be off-site eateries and then we come home, assuming we actually get to go in the first place.

Of course, current uncertainty is robbing us planners of much of the joy of the build up to the trip. It is a problem that deserves hardly a mention or consideration in the context of what is going on, but, it’s OK to be a little sad about it. We have the capacity to be sad about multiple things at the same time on many different levels. If reading this nonsense distracts you from the proper stuff for a few minutes then that’s good.

I don’t wish to add to anyone’s woes, and I’m not saying the world is ending, but it appears to be snowing at the moment here in Bolton, at the end of March…….

Till the next time…….

My Corona

My Corona

As far as I know, I got the coronavirus last week. With no testing, of course, I can’t say for sure, but I had the classic symptoms of a dry cough and a high temperature so I will assume that I did. I thought it would be of interest to document my week for anyone who may suffer the same fate in future. I caveat everything with my absolute lack of knowledge about my condition. This may have been something else and I guess I’ll never know unless I get it at some point in the future.

If you can’t be bothered to read the below, and I don’t blame you, just take one message from this.

YOU DO NOT WANT THIS DISEASE.

For the love of whichever God you prefer, follow the advice, stay at home whenever possible. The thought of any of my more elderly relatives getting this is terrifying, and as much as you might very well ride this out, if you directly or indirectly infect somebody who won’t, that is a bit more important.

Today is Mother’s Day, and if you don’t live with your Mum, the best gift you can give her is to NOT visit her today.

I wrote this at random times as this week went on, so I apologise for the illness impaired quality. It’s a car crash of mixed tenses and half-formed thoughts. Having re-read it, some of it is all over the place but I’ve left it as is, as a warning to anyone taking this lightly. This is how badly your thought process can work if you get this thing. It also demonstrates how quickly things have changed in just one week.

Friday

I decided to work from home and offered the same option to all my team even though the government and company advice wasn’t to do so. I felt a bit crap and with no face to face meetings to do that day, thought it better to be safe than sorry. I had no cough and no temperature as far as I could tell and pretty much carried on with life as normal.

Saturday

No real symptoms as yet. I wasn’t feeling 100% but that could of course have been for any number of reasons. I was heading down hill a bit as I unusally felt the need to have an hour in bed in the late afternoon before heading out to a Mustard gig. Being very conscious of the virus I kept myself to myself, didn’t buy a drink from the bar, concerned about the diligence of the bar staff’s hand washing and instead drank my bottle of water. I felt fine all evening with no corona symptoms at all apart from some mild brain fog towards the end of the night which led to a few less than perfect notes. But hey, that’s no different to any other gig.

However, upon arriving home I had a cup of tea and then took the dogs out the back for their pre-bed time wees and poos and whilst outside I suddenly felt dreadful. I began to violently shake, feeling incredibly cold and went to bed where I didn’t sleep for a good few hours as I just couldn’t get warm. I fell asleep in the early hours for a little while and woke up mid-morning feeling pretty dreadful.

Sunday

The cough had appeared and when I took my temperature today, for the first time it had gone over 38 degrees. At all times prior to this, it had been 37. I had to nip next door to help my Dad with something. I was very mindful that this wasn’t ideal and I took something to open doors without me touching any surfaces and washed my hands as I entered their house. I was taking paracetamol and Ibuprofen every four hours and now as it came to the end of those four hour periods my temperature returned with a vengeance and I felt pretty bad. At around 11pm I HAD to go to bed as I felt so bad. It took a while to get to sleep, but I did and then slept until about 4am.

Monday

I was downstairs popping pills and drinking coffee at an early hour when Rebecca messaged me with a picture of her own temperature reading of 39 degrees. Clearly, working in a nursery, she needed to stay at home. At this point, for the first time, I went to the NHS 111 web site and it confirmed that we both should stay at home for at least 7 days. What I couldn’t find was any advice for family members in a household where one member has the symptoms but they do not. Should they also stay home? I had to resort to asking Twitter for help, which, being frank was piss poor. There seemed to be a huge black hole around detailed help and advice.

I felt a little rough, but as my job is not a manual one I did feel OK to work so set out with the intention of working from home.

I managed to get through the day operating at less than my usual 1000% work ethic. Towards the end of the day, the government updated (created) their advice that family members should also stay at home if one person has symptoms. Whilst it wasn’t welcome news at least there was clarity.

Louise also had no symptoms and Emily was doing her own isolation up in her loft bedroom trying in vain to avoid two weeks away from her boyfriend! Louise did have a very bad chest infection/cough about two weeks earlier and she was beginning to wonder if that had been “it” and this was why I wasn’t infecting her.

It was clearer at this stage what an absolutely catastrophic effect this was going to have on the economy and the country. Pubs, restaurants, football and anything but a supermarket are all going to be losing huge amounts of income. With the advice that “at risk” people should avoid social contact for up to 12 weeks, this cast doubt over Rebecca’s wedding date on the 23rd of May, so we attempted to contact the venue to see what our options were.

Some binge watching happened in the evening and as was the case last night, as it got later I felt a lot worse. I had been awake since 4am of course so at around 10.30 I had to go to bed.

Tuesday

I slept better I think. I must have been asleep by 11.30 and didn’t wake until around 6.30. I awoke feeling like I desperately needed my pills, so I went downstairs to hunt out the paracetamol and Ibuprofen. Everything ached, and I had a serious headache.

I spent some time on social media, trying to get my head around what was happening and of course failed. I read about something called super spreaders, who it seems are all the bell ends on the news and Facebook still going to pubs and concerts.

I also watched a video sent to me by a Florida resident (thanks Steven) of a deserted WDW. It was strange to watch it, not knowing when it would re-open and if our August trip would be on.

This morning was the worst I had felt so far. It felt like the fever had gone up a notch, with earache, headache and entire body ache now being in play. It was also around this time that I read some stuff about Ibuprofen perhaps not being advisable with coronavirus. Now, because I couldn’t get tested, so didn’t know whether this was THE virus or just some other thing, and having got the news from Twitter about Ibuprofen, I made the conclusion that healthcare seems to be some sort of lottery and in years to come, surviving generations will be studying history to see how not to die. Seriously, where is the co-ordinated, official communication on this shit?

During the evening Louise facetimed with two ex-colleagues, community nurses and their experiences were truly terrifying. Of course, they HAVE to go and see all their usual patients, even those with symptoms, however, they have zero PPE (protective gear) and neither the patient or the nurse can be tested. This really is a scandal and a massive failure in preparation for something that’s been coming for months. My ill health was, at this stage, adding to my exasperation and despair.

I collapsed into bed early at around 9.15 with a headache that cannot be described. I also had a lot of neck pain, a fever and a cough. I was cartwheeling downhill quickly. I managed to sleep for two hours, waking up with a head pumping with the beat of my bloodstream. I was some time from my next pills and this upset me greatly. I went downstairs and watched all sorts of crap on TV whilst being outstandingly ill.

This was proper tackle. I tried to go back to bed around 3am, but from nowhere my cough went into overdrive and my fever was causing minor hallucinations. Having kept Louise awake for a nice amount of time, I gave up and went downstairs again. Back to bed at 8.30am for two hours.

Wednesday

The morning found me a little better than last night but that wasn’t hard. This was still next-level stuff. Please, do not underestimate this thing. Again, I caveat that with the fact that I had no idea if this was COVID-19 or not.

Four days in, and I was praying that I had ridden the worst of what the beast had to offer, but there was no sign of this going away.

The rest of the day was a fairly consistent level of shitness, sprinkled with a couple of episodes of high fever, which had me shaking violently. The main symptom, or the worst at least, was my headache. It was a lovely migraine style throbber and when I coughed it felt like my head was a balloon and any particularly violent cough would see the top of my head splattered on the ceiling.

I spoke to my GP on the phone in the afternoon. That was a coincidence and a pre-booked follow up to some recent blood tests for a non-pandemic related condition. Once we’d covered that I told him I had the plague and although being understanding, and confirming that it did very much sound like COVID-19, there was little he could do. If I became “worryingly breathless” I should release the big guns and call 111. Ideally, I’d like to be tested so I know if I have had it and can then relax a little armed wth my immunity and be free to visit and help our parents.

Imagine how well prepared the UK might have been if we’d seen this happening in another country in December 2019. No test for me, because there aren’t any available.

Having had zero sleep last night, I made it until 8pm before falling asleep, but only managed three hours until I was awake and chugging down paracetamol to stop the shivers. I had realised by this stage that trying to do anything crazy like lie horizontally in bed resulted in my lungs attempting to leave my body by any orifice they could find. So, with that in mind, I slept in a “very comfortable” slumped position on about 23 pillows.

Once the pills kicked in, I did pretty well though, sleeping from around midnight until 5.30am.

Thursday

Paracetamol. My lifeline. They were swallowed within seconds of being awake, noticing that we were getting low now my only thought was that if we can’t find any more, then I will be resorting to burglary to get my fix.

Salvation. Paracetamol was sourced from family members and delivered through the front door. Life was worth living again. I honestly thought that today I would need to finally admit defeat and actually be off work ill. There was just one call I had to do first thing and then I could retire.

Well, that one call led to one of the busiest and more stressful days of recent times and when you’re operating at a good way below your normal 1000% sparkling best, that’s not good.

Weirdly, I felt a little better come the afternoon. My headache was still bad but it had morphed now into more of a neck and somewhere near the ear pain. Louise diagnosed it as an aneurism and said I would be dead by morning…probably.

Work was full on until around 5.30, I walked the dogs, slowly and then collapsed a bit and had a half an hour lie down until our tea arrived, a no contact pizza delivery.

The cough was still around, but it felt like my temperature was improving if only I could shake this head pain. I managed to stay downstairs until my normal bedtime and slept almost normally for about six hours.

It was today that Rebecca and Tom made the decision to move the wedding. Hopefully, the new date in July will be far enough out to be viable. Everything is a guess and gamble at this stage.

Obviously, they were both upset, but it seemed the obvious and sensible thing to do. Luckily, Freddie was blissfully unaware and was enjoying his time at home with Mum & Dad.

Freddie in a blanket

Friday

The cough was still there, and in fact a little looser/worse, but the temperature seemed to be going away now. The decent sleep seemed to have helped the pain in my head and neck, which, on reflection may have been caused by having to sleep at a right angle on Wednesday night.

I was still having hot flushes. As I type this, my dressing gown is open to the waist and if anyone comes to the front window it may take their sight.

I felt OK through most of the day, to be honest. I was able to be half decent at my job, which is often as good as it gets. I was in that semi-euphoric “I think I might survive after all” phase that comes as you start to recover from a grotty illness. I, of course, did too much, peaked at about 6pm and went downhill quite quickly afterwards.

I lasted until about 10pm I think and slept initially until around 2am, and was then up for an hour before sleeping again until 8am.

Saturday

Upon waking I was again immediately scrabbling for the pain killers as the migraine style headache was back. I rested, waiting for them to kick in for half an hour until the Asda delivery guy turned up about 40 minutes early and I had to spring into action and some clothes very quickly. The headache was that bad I was navigating the route from the front door to the kitchen using memory and a sense of smell, as everything looked blurry.

My favourite substitution was definitely this.

The headache cleared after another hour or two and the cough was still around and yet again a bit looser.

I was definitely on the mend today with just some tiredness to cope with. I walked the dogs with Emily and enjoyed not doing much else to be honest.

I slept OK, from around midnight until 5am, and then managed to get off again until about 7.30.

Sunday

The headache/pain in the neck is back. (Insert your own joke). I don’t know if it is sleeping position induced or some other issue but I can’t bring myself to bother anyone in the medical profession with it right now, to be honest.

I don’t know if my perception of this crisis is tainted because I’ve been ill, presumably with “it” as the week has unfolded, but I have been constantly astounded by so many people not giving this the attention and respect it deserves and demands. In my ill state, I have watched some horrific things on social media, with some of the footage from Italy’s hospitals being absolutely terrifying. To then follow that up by watching a couple of gormless gimps in the their twenties stood drinking in a pub, shrugging this off as something less important than a pint of lager fills me with rage.

Perhaps they won’t be smiling when they aren’t able to attend their Nan’s funeral that they caused by being absolute dicks.

I’ve been a bit preachy over on Twitter so will try to restrain myself here. What terrifies me most about all this is that we seem to be stumbling into a hurricane with a dustbin lid and fly swatter hoping to defeat it.

The question I got asked the most when I told anyone I thought I had COVID-19 was along the lines of “When do you get your test results?” or “Are you getting tested?”. This is just not an option. There are not enough tests to offer to anyone but the critically ill. They are not even testing frontline NHS staff who are battling this thing without the required basic equipment. The claims that all the Personal Protective Equipment has suddenly turned up isn’t true. I don’t say this stuff for dramatic effect, I just want you to stay home. It’s the only thing that gives us any chance to avoid tens of thousands of deaths.

The illness I had last week was relatively mild. It wasn’t pleasant, but nothing worse than other flus and illnesses I’ve had. That isn’t the point. For many others it will kill them so you need not to give it to them.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay home.

Till the next time……

The Andrex Apocalypse

There is, of course, only one topic that I could blog about this week. It’s one of those situations where any other topic would be ridiculous and yet I am neither qualified or grown-up enough to write about it. In a situation that if it appeared in a film, might get dismissed as unbelievable, the world seems to be making its way to the hot place in a hand cart.

Working life has been dominated by the C-word all week. Every meeting inevitably comes around to the one subject, planning for worst-case scenarios and wondering if and when it will be the right time to have everyone work from home. For me, it is always the right time to work from home, but money still needs to be made and business needs to carry on, as much as it can. However, I think it is now just a matter of time until those that can, do.

As the working week drew to a close the bombshell dropped that Disney parks were closing around the world. It makes absolute sense really as if you were to design the perfect method of spreading a virus, a few hundred thousand folks crammed into theme parks in a tropical climate would be right up there at the top of the ideal scenario list.

I know that there are many more important issues linked to this virus, but that is a tangible benchmark as to how serious this stuff is getting. These parks only close when they absolutely need to. My heart breaks for those who have spent large amounts of cash and time preparing for their WDW trip only to find the parks closed for the rest of March at least. In the scheme of things, a ruined holiday is nothing and may seem even more insignificant as this thing escalates, but people are absolutely allowed to be upset.

I was particularly upset to hear the College Programme was cancelled and all the kids sent home. That would be heart breaking for all those who worked so hard to earn their place on that.

Of course, these are all the very definition of first world problems and goes to show how much of a cosy and untroubled existence most of us normally lead. Shit, as they say, is about to get real, and life as we know it will have to go on hold.

Our own personal concerns beyond the health of our family members include Rebecca’s wedding at the end of May, which I guess is at risk currently only as we just don’t know how things will play out over the coming weeks. Of course, we also have our WDW trip at the end of August, which, we’d have to hope will be OK, but with Trump at the helm over the pond, who can really know how the land will lie then.

So a global recession, a pandemic claiming thousands of lives and a toilet roll shortage lie ahead. You never see The Walking Dead address the issue of a lack of means to wipe your arse, do you?

To those of you who work in healthcare, I wish you nothing but good luck, good health and endless gratitude. This is going to be a testing time as if your normal duties are anything but!

Whilst this infection for most of us would, it seems. only mean mild symptoms, I wish you all the luck in the world in avoiding it but more importantly, look out for your elderly relatives and friends. It’s going to be an impossible balance between staying away so as not to potentially infect them and looking after them in what could be a lengthy lockdown.

On a lighter subject, it’s likely to be a few weeks or months of film and box set binging so do let me have your favourites. There may be little else to do for a while. I’ll also be up for your vlogger suggestions, but as you know my tolerance for those is fairly limited so they have to be top-notch. 🙂

Stay safe, stay sane and let’s try to get through this the best we can.

Till the next time…..

Bad Things Happen To Good Places

Bad weeks happen all the time, all over the world, to varying degrees. Even the places that are supposed to be the happiest on earth have them too.

Whilst you all had a great week last week as I did not blog, the place that is never supposed to have bad things happen suffered a bit recently.

Safety whilst in the parks is not something that ever crosses my mind to be honest, but it just goes to show that even the most perfect of places can have an off day or three. In recent times WDW has been in the wars.

It started with the sinking of a Jungle Cruise boat a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know how long that ride has been around and it’s not even worth googling. It’s been a long time and as far as I know incident free. So I suppose the law of averages state that something was bound to happen at sometime. Thankfully of course nobody was hurt apart from some moistness and mild shock.

Then just days afterwards , there were reports of two people mover trams “slamming into each other”. Now, slam may be an over exaggeration knowing the speed these things travel at, but I can bet it wasn’t pleasant.

With photo credit to @wrightculpepper on Twitter you can see the evacuation taking place after the event. Again, if you had to pick two of the safest rides in WDW, Jungle Cruise and People Mover would be up there I suppose, but to quote the greatest philosophers of our time, shit happens. Of course, there was also a very public issue with the new gondola system shortly after go-live which after all the testing we saw happening for such an extended period was very shocking.

So those relatively minor incidents in quick succession were oddly out of place with what to the casual observer may seem like a fairly blemish-free accident record. I’m sure that’s not the case and you don’t have to spend too long on google to see rumours and reports of lots of other accidents and incidents.

One of the most quoted rumours about WDW is that “nobody dies on WDW property”. We’ve all heard the tales of folks passing away but not being declared so until they are safely away from WDW. I don’t know if that were ever true but putting those two minor bumps into sharp insignificance was the horrendous news out of the Contemporary Resort where it appears someone committed suicide by jumping from the building. That is just horrific in every way and it shows even in places like WDW people can do the darkest and most tragic of things.

It feels a bit grubby even writing about it so I won’t share any links etc, as I’m sure you all saw the news anyway, and I apologise for inflicting such horridness on your Sunday, but I guess sometimes, real life is like that and not even WDW can help.

My thoughts are with the poor woman and her family and anyone else who was involved in that horrible situation.

There’s no jovial coming back from that, so I won’t attempt any light-hearted sign-off. I know this is supposed to be a place of trivial nonsense, and it nearly always is but that struck a chord with me, being the most tragic of events against the “happiest” of backgrounds.

If anyone is struggling, as we all do from time to time, then please use the help that exists.

Till the next time…….

Nursery Nopes

I suspect I’m not alone in feeling absolutely “over” winter. The recent weather has been like an endless Lewis Capaldi song, miserable, depressing and all too frequently experienced. Every dog walk sees me gearing up like some Arctic explorer and returning moist in places that have no right being so.

As I type I am looking out at sideways rain and a situation I do not want to be taking the hounds out into later. Spring cannot be far away now right? I need some sunshine, warmth and less moistness.

Last week was spent helping and advising Rebecca to navigate her return to working life. She had already secured herself a role in a nursery a couple of weeks ago, but shortly after starting found herself with two other offers to consider, both considerably closer to home which would alleviate the 6am starts she had been enduring.

Nobody could have predicted the difficulty of choosing between those two nurseries. It gets more complex as built into the decision is the fact that Freddie will be attending the same nursery so it has to be right on more than one level.

I won’t bore you with the tortuous deliberations, but it took a while and there were even a couple of twists and turns after making a decision that meant things turned on their head at the last minute. Anyway, she seems sorted now and will probably start a week tomorrow at the nursery at our local hospital, so she’ll be looking after the kids of the nurses and doctors who work there. She’s had to give two other nurseries a polite no, one of which mainly because even for a member of their staff they insisted on all of Freddie’s fees upfront for the first month. That’s just a big fat nope for someone just returning to the workforce like Rebecca!

In a strange twist of fate, Louise will also be back working at the same hospital, starting around the same time, so that will be handy. It’s funny how things work out.

I was astounded at the fees involved for Freddie to attend full time nursery. Safe to say that the majority of whatever Rebecca earns will be eaten up by those, at least until he turns three and they get some free childcare. In the meantime she gets back to the career she loves and wants to pursue and Freddie gets into a lovely nursery.

The other major event on the horizon is Rebecca’s hen party next weekend. Emily, as maid of honour, is in last-minute prep mode, making sure that everything is in place. I cannot say too much, as I do not wish to spoil any surprises, but I played my part yesterday by purchasing some items for the event online. I cannot tell you what they were, but safe to say my online personalised adverts will be something to behold for the foreseeable future. Of all the sacrifices I have made for my children over the years, this is right up there. May my cookies rest in peace.

Yesterday I was trying my best to do what we are probably all familiar with these days, in attempting to herd decades of photos into one “safe” place. Having lived long enough to take photos before digital cameras and the internet, sadly some are lost, but others are spread across different parts of the cloud and various devices. That is to say nothing of the video that still sits on old fashioned tapes in a bag somewhere that we MUST transfer into the internet before it gets lost.

There are still so many “memories” floating about that I need to get to, but I made some progress. You know what happens now through right? You get bothered with some of them. You have no doubt seen them all before, as I have I, but you don’t take photos to look at them just once.

It was particularly nice (and terrifying) to see a couple where Rebecca is Freddie’s current age. It also made me tragically aware of the damage the stresses and strains of the intervening twenty-odd years have done to me.

Oh and I also found one of the photos from my first ever trip to WDW in 1980.

You can tell it was our first time as I am holding a park map. Nowadays…

Christ, I look dreadful in that last one but still about 3000% better than I do today. Oh look, the rain has eased to a mere downpour, time to start layering up for the dog walk.

Till the next time…..

Meet Pie

Meet Pie

Often, when there isn’t much to report on the WDW planning front I will regale you with “edge of your seat” updates on the exciting life that I lead. I will often look back on the week just gone and select just a smattering of highlights from the many to choose from.

I’d like to do that now, but I was in a meeting. Yep, all week. It was one of those weeks in which events conspired to see me busier than a busy thing from start to finish. It was not enjoyable. As is the way of the working world these days, many of those meetings were “virtual”, either via an online “thingy” or video conference. I checked the calendar and it is 2020 which makes me wonder why these things are still, at times, absolutely bobbins.

“Hi, who just joined?”

“Can you see my screen?”

“I think he’s joining now.”

“Sorry, can you go on mute, there’s a load of background noise!”

Round and round on this carousel we go, discussing things that, given a choice, we probably wouldn’t, over sub-standard audio, and often, whilst on mute, not really listening and instead waging war on the endless shite pouring into your inbox.

I’m not sure this is the pinnacle of civilisation envisioned by those phoenicians half way up Spaceship Earth. Recognising this, the weather Gods expressed their distaste for my woeful week and my Ark is coming along nicely.

Last night, Mustard were taking yet more steps along the showbiz highway in Earby. If you haven’t heard of Earby, don’t worry, the people who live there haven’t ether. It’s out in the hinterlands around Burnley and the weather on the drive to and from the gig was underwear threatening. Sideways torrential rain, gusting gales and heart stopping puddles of water on the motorway reminded me of one of those drives many of us have had along the I4 during a Florida thunderstorm when the wipers just won’t go fast enough. There are fingernail shaped dents in my steering wheel as concentration levels were high.

In other, non moany work related news, Rebecca’s wedding draws ever nearer. Louise took Rebecca for her hair trial yesterday and by all accounts it went very well. I’m not sure when my hair trial is, but I hope it’s soon.

It’s only two weeks until the hen do. They are off to Liverpool for the weekend and Emily, to her enormous credit has worked tirelessly to arrange a full programme of events and activities that they will all have to tackle from behind huge hangovers. This hen do has been a labour of love for Emily for many months and I’m sure it will be a huge success. I shall be spending that weekend in glorious peace and quiet, missing them all, surrounded by take away containers and the PS4.

Planning wise, there has been time for none of that. We are hurtling at surprising speed towards our ADR window. At the end of this month we can begin the process of determining where we are going to eat in several months time. All of those plans are already set as you know.

One thing I did find a few seconds to notice last week (so I can’t have been that busy after all, right?) was one email. On our last trip, I signed into the Perkins WiFi during our breakfast trip there. One of the conditions of that was, it seems, signing up to them spamming me every day with their promo emails.

That can be annoying and it’s easy enough to unsubscribe, but when they send you content like this, why would you.

I have thought of little else since receiving this email. Indeed it saw me through one particular conference call which ran for six hours. Sucks to be me right?

Till the next time……

A Bob Iger Come and Get Me Plea….

I have often suspected the senior leadership team at Disney sit poised to read my weekly blog. Having just last Sunday laid out my own personal gripes in great details about the FastPass tiers, specifically at Hollywood Studios, I was pleased, but not too surprised to see them take my thoughts to heart and change things up.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been added to the top tier of FastPasses at Hollywood Studios. Coincidence? I think not. There may come a point when I need to start invoicing them for my consultancy services.

With three rides now in that tier that can only help to spread the demand out and make it even easier for us to fail in getting one for the two we really now want and begrudgingly settle for one for Slinky Dog.

In terms of career aspirations, I don’t harbour too many any more other than for a better commute and enough money to fund further trips to WDW, but if I could be one of those folks you see wandering around the parks in slacks, a remarkably non-sweaty shirt and an earpiece, then yes a position somewhere within Disney management would appeal. Imagine going to work every day to do something you are truly passionate about. The downside would be that if we did live in Florida I would need to be winched out of my front room within 12 months of our arrival as the smorgasbord of culinary delights on offer would see me behave like some sort of adult Augustus Gloop in a place where everything is seemingly is edible and either covered in Cinnamon or double Cinnamon.

This new railway ride opens in March. Demonstrating once again why this isn’t a blog you should rely on for up to the minute Disney news, I have no clue what this ride is. There are no height restrictions which is good for a party like ours with a Freddie in tow, so it won’t be rivalling Rock n Rollercoaster for thrills, but these family “everyone can join in” rides are for me, really important for WDW. I believe that the whole idea for the parks came from Walt having to sit and watch his daughter’s go on fairground rides without him. There are times when you do want a G force laden thrill a minute ride, but there is equal joy, perhaps more, in watching the face of the younger members of your party experience rides that everyone can do together.

On better Disney blogs than this one I’m also seeing rumours of Disney abolishing free FastPasses and the ability to book them ahead of time. That, to me sounds like a very bad idea. Not only do I not want to pay more for what I now get for free, but Disney must surely realise that the complex planning that a lot of WDW visitors do months in advance is very much part of the trip. The rumour is that you would only be able to buy FastPass privileges on the day and then I guess see what you can get.

That way carnage lies. A trip to WDW is already VERY expensive and no doubt by the time we get back there it’ll be costing somewhere close to $100 to park for the day, so charging for FastPasses as Universal does for off-site guests would be a very unpopular move in my view. Hopefully, it holds as much water as most WDW related rumours do and this never comes to pass.

Knowing as I do that all the top Disney execs read this, here’s my advice –

  • Leave the FastPass system alone
  • Stop increasing parking costs every few weeks
  • You need to either build a fifth park or undertake some major expansion to one or two of the others.

I say the last point as the continual addition of new resorts and rooms means they are pumping more and more guests into parks that have a finite capacity. Sure, there are new rides and lands, but the real estate they are in is pretty much what it always was. There are no longer any real quiet periods at WDW now, with Disney doing a fantastic job of inventing seemingly endless events and festivals to get people in.

This is good, as it gives them higher revenues which to their credit they then re-invest into the parks, but we’re coming to a point now where people will stay away if the very crowded scenes that happen at peak times continue. There’s little to no fun in that scenario.

Now, I do know that in December 2019 Disney bought 235 acres of land just west of Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course.

In January 2019, Disney also bought 1,575 acres for $11 million in Osceola County and before that, it bought 965 acres for $23 million from nearby B-K Ranch in December 2018.

Disney has made no announcements about potential uses for the land, but it is located near other Disney golf courses. It would be an anti-climax if all that land was for golf, as much as I do like a round of that in Florida.

With Universal launching a new park in, I think 2023, it is usual for Disney to respond so I’m hopeful we get that long-awaited “fifth gate”. For as long as I can remember, a Villains Park has been rumoured. I think to be honest that rumour has just been a product of internet speculation and it may be more likely that another land is added to Magic Kingdom in that theme, as that to me would work well.

The worst-case scenario could be that they just use this newly purchased land to build more resorts. That would just compound the issues in the parks now. It’s almost as if I’m suggesting that some idiot from Bolton knows more about the workings of an organisation than those who run it.

So Bob Iger and the lovely Disney execs. I am available for consultancy and/or full-time employment at competitive rates and will take partial payment in food.

Till the next time…..