Spring Means Only One Thing (again)…..

Spring. The country emerges from the depressing cold tundra of traveling to and from work in the pitch dark, blinking and stumbling blindly into the unfamiliar sun. Lawn mowers are dug out of the garage or shed (the BEST thing about our current house is the absolute absence of any grass), people flock to B&Q on auto-pilot to buy Rattan furniture which will stay covered for all but six days of the wet summer and everyone posts on Facebook about their first barbecue of the year in that freakishly warm week we always get in April.

That’s what normal people do. What seems to happen to us, no sorry, Louise, is that the start of March triggers a Pavlovian response which involves the need to book a holiday. It’s as natural a reflex reaction as you’ll see from any dog hearing a bell at feeding time and so now we are wrestling with which planned home projects to back burner to facilitate said plans.

I should say any such plans will be for quite a different holiday this time. If we go at all, we don’t really know where to go. It will be much more beach based than anything we’ve done for the last decade and a half and who knows who will be in our traveling party.

One destination under consideration is the US of course. As we can go outside of school holidays these days (we are looking at end of September into October) we need to be looking at long haul to ensure the temperatures are high enough to satisfy Louise’s sun cravings and obviously southern parts of the states tick that box. Knowing Florida pretty well, it is tempting to head back there I guess, trying new destinations such as Miami or even the west coast of the state, which for some weird reason we still have never been too. There’s something about that Floridian beach culture that I really like. I’m no fan of the song really, other than the fond feelings and memories it conjures up of previous relaxing stays on US sand, but this sort of sums up the feeling I’m talking about.

The few days we spent at Key Largo on the beautiful private beach of the Hilton there have lasted long in the memory and this song takes me right back there along with the other Hilton we’ve done a couple of times at Daytona. The vivid colours of the clear Floridian sky, fluffy clouds (in between storms) and the white sand mixed with the incredible heat, and I just feel instantly relaxed. There’s a nice excitement at this stage of any planning. Aside from the key decision of whether we actually do go away or not, the almost limitless possibilities feel nice and that is just those available in Florida.

We paid a very brief visit to the Keys a few years ago and a return for a slightly longer stay feels justified. Naples was superb too or should we finally go to Clearwater, St Pete’s or Siesta Key? Of course, the old favourite Vero Beach then comes into the equation too. Do we go Caribbean? The Maldives look incredible but I may have to sell the house to fund that one. My brain hurts from the planning decisions and up until we actually decide to go I can enjoy wrestling with them. Is it strange that I enjoy this?

The knowledge we have of the sunshine state draws us back like a tractor beam. The (lack of) a language barrier, if you discount the fact that nobody in the US can pronounce my name of course, the food we love, the eateries we return to time after time and the knowledge that pretty much everywhere touristy delivers outstanding service make it a tough proposition to beat.

So over the coming days and weeks we can indulge ourselves in that lovely warm feeling of speculative holiday planning which delivers its own joy with no cost, up until the time you decide to actually go and have to press some expensive buttons on the internet.

Of course, for once, common sense may prevail and we will invest our funds instead on the things closer to home, like that new bathroom we need, some decorating and Louise has this crazy idea of needing a new car too. We’ll see. I may open up the betting market so that you can lay some money on what you think the outcome may be. I do know that this won’t be the normal Williams style of holiday. It feels right to do it differently now, whether that difference ends up only being that we’ll be in a slightly different part of the same place we always go to!

On a totally unrelated note some kind soul left a lovely review for my novel, All This And More, this week, so thank you for that as it means I can plug it again here without sounding overly needy to do so.

Till the next time…..

Viewers In Need Of A Change

I should warn you, the grump factor in this post is strong!

So, if you wanted to benefit from the stunning discount on my superb first novel, All This and More, you can’t. It has expired and you shall now need to invest a whole £1.99. should you wish to experience it, which of course you should. I thank all of you that did take me up on the offer and I hope you enjoy it.

I sit here typing this through the fog of a near death experience. Yes, I have a cold. Although I suspect I have invented some new form of hell in the form of this disease as there is no snot, just a throat like glass, a hacking cough and an ache in every muscle I possess. I grant you the last of those is not something I am suffering too badly from which is a happy side effect of being flabby and unfit.

This condition came on last Thursday and like the hero I am, I still managed to make it through a full day at work on Friday. I did do the day in my dressing gown, but that was because Children In Need day is always a pajama day at work. As this fancy dress requires the least possible effort on my part, it is the one event that I tend to take part in. We have dressing up days very regularly at work, most of which I sit through in normal attire bathing in the glow of being a miserable git.

I am not a huge fan of Children In Need. I mean of course the day itself and the TV show, rather than the concept. I donate of course, but I find the whole “event” side of it very grating and forced. It’s a very British thing I think to think it acceptable to go to work in a dressing gown, or as Captain America, (who was shaking his bucket at me on Friday morning at the first set of lights I stopped at on the way to work!) in the name of giving a few quid to a deserving cause. It may be what they call giving fatigue, brought on by constant charity appeals, but seeing the seemingly same group of women being interviewed on local TV dressed as schoolgirls whilst ratting buckets of change in an intimidating manner is all a little tiresome don’t you think? Again, not the raising of the cash, just the same old TV format, trotted out year after year, with those rushed awkward interviews with those six blokes who shaved off their pubes and ate them to raise £178.56. Such “wacky” behaviour just pushes my grumpy buttons no end. It’s like the false and enforced pressure to have “fun” on New Year’s Eve when mostly it’s a squib so damp it makes you wonder what a squib is.

It is also a master class in wooden TV presenting. I never got the Wogan thing when he was on telly every other day. He comes over to me as stilted and false, and he seems to have passed those skills on well to his female cohort Tess Daly, who must be the reason the mute button was invented. Watching them stumble over their autocue for hours on end is like enduring some nails down a blackboard whilst chewing foil. Hey, but it’s for a good cause.

The autocue has stopped…..

If I have to see the cast of Eastenders murder some musical theatre classic one more time, I may have to commit a dirty protest at Media City quicker than you can say Shane Richie is a blue coat who got lucky. Maybe my illness is making me more weary and cynical than I usually am. But I doubt it. In my younger years at the first sign of such an outburst my Mum would say I was overtired and make me go to bed before Minder finished.

I propose that we all up our tax contributions by an elective amount each year to cover all such charity donations so that this marathon of toe curling cringey TV does not have to air. Why did I watch the thing again? Well, One Direction were to blame. Emily wanted to watch them and so we endured the first couple of hours until they were done.

See, serious illness and blogging do not good bedfellows make. It darkens my thoughts, restricts my sleep and makes me all moody. Hopefully I shall return to health during next week, as very unusually, the next few weekends are a heady whirl of social engagements. Next Saturday it is my brother’s 50th birthday and he is having a party to celebrate his half century. It involves real ale and pasties so I am not as concerned about the hangover as I am the heartburn and resultant wind. Hopefully, Louise will take it easy and I won’t suffer too much from the latter from her.

The weekend after that, Louise and I are off to North Yorkshire to visit our friends Steve and Di, where again, much food and some drink shall be consumed, as we are always looked after like royalty when we go there. This means we wander around their village shaking hands with strangers and making small talk whilst little girls curtsy at us.

Then the following weekend I am away for my Christmas Do with work in Minehead. I can confirm it is not Butlins, but instead a lovely looking old country house miles from anywhere, but mainly miles from my house. By the time I get home from that on the 6th of December I could be missing a liver but have gained a stone or two.

For now I shall continue with the medication and persist with the tried and trusted remedy of feeding a cold. I do undertake that approach all year round as a preventative measure of course. The fact that I have not repelled this cold is simply proof that I need to up my calorie intake. Pass the chocolate digestives!

Till the next time…..

All This and More Old Age

It’s been a while since I politely rammed one of my books down your throats so please open wide!

My first novel, All This And More is on offer for a short while at a silly price of just 99p. Had you so far resisted the urge to indulge in the finest work of literary genius since Katie Price’s (auto) biography, then this opportunity is one you should not be passing up.

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

I’m not sure what else you can buy for 99p these days that would give you hours (or minutes) of entertainment, so as an investment, you know it makes sense Rodders!

I am still battling to make any sort of real progress with the next one. Life and work especially is just very, very busy and this is rather annoyingly getting in the way of me doing much writing. I am quite indignant that nobody has yet offered me a million pound advance to go and sit on my balcony in my newly acquired Florida property overlooking Vero beach, whist I ponder over my latest plot twist and how many pancakes to have for breakfast. To make that happen, you should feel obliged to invest 99p in my dream, read the thing, leave me a glowing review and then petition every single person in the UK book business to sign me up and sort me out. Thanks.

Last week seemed to  manage that impressive combination of going really quickly, and seeming an age from one weekend to the other. It’s probably an age thing to be honest. There are unavoidable and irrefutable signs that I am not the lithe coiled spring of youth that I once was. I am having to hold reading matter at arm’s length to get it into focus, I no longer seem able to lie in, long after the days of my children having me awake at silly hours of a weekend and, to top it all, I find my finger finding the preset button to take me to Radio 4 more often these days.

Don’t get me wrong I can still tolerate minutes of Radio One from time to time. You will be aware that I am totally awesome and down with the kids, attending gigs for the likes of Panic! At the Disco, and getting that important exclamation mark in the right place. However, it is unusal for me to last more than once record nowadays, just ask Louise! Radio Two is a safe bet of course, but some bits of that irk me, as at times it comes across as the audio equivalent of a Women’s Institute Meeting in rural Surrey. For example, the Friday drive time all request thing hosted by Simon Mayo (who I like a lot) appears to be dominated by people called Camilla proclaiming it wine o’clock before taking India to the Gymkhana the next day. I also wonder, when faced with the entire musical output of several generations and endless genres, everyone who gets through seems to pick one of the same six songs!

Anyway, Radio 4 is becoming a larger part of my ever-expanding commute and I often revel in its bizarre randomness. It is like a whole other world sometimes, and in the daily “comedy” slot at 6.30, slap bang in the worst battles of my journey home, I have yet been caused to smirk never mind laugh, but still, I continue to listen, feeling somehow soothed by the noises, like some sort of near term baby in the womb of my Peugeot.

Old age is a weird thing. As they say though, it does seem much more appealing than the alternative.

I have again done zero holiday planning and to be honest almost zero holiday thinking such has been the hectic nature of this week, including another visit down south to Head Office. I learnt, whilst there that our Christmas do is confirmed for Minehead. Yep, Minehead. If you were looking for the venue furthest from my home address that would be it. It involves a country house, shotguns, archery and some drinking. What could possibly go wrong? I am lucky enough to work for a company that pays for all this, so I am not moaning at all. I just hope my aged bones can cope with the alcohol.

Right, I have to complete the making of our tea, having bashed this post out whilst cooking it. Impressive I know. Enjoy your week!

Till the next time…..

 

Who’s The Daddy?

We really enjoyed the film last Sunday. I thought I’d start with that as I often say we’re going to see a film and then never report back on what we thought of it. There are few films I watch that make me laugh out loud, but A Million Ways to Die in the West did. If you like a bit of silly, rude, sweary humour you should go and see it.

So it’s Sunday evening again already. It’s drizzling, I have work tomorrow, no holiday plans and England lost last night. It is a good thing I am such a naturally cheery soul or else these sorts of things could be getting me down. Having stayed up until after 1am to watch the football last night, as grateful as I was to be woken with breakfast in bed with a Father’s Day card and present, an hour or so later wouldn’t have gone amiss. Gone are the days when Louise or I have to buy the relevant card and present for the Mother or Father’s Day occasions. Emily seems to have become a black belt on Moonpig, and to know the girls actually gave the thought and time to make sure they had something to give me makes it more special.

fathers day card

So, I shouldn’t grumble about the early hour. It’s the first time Emily has been awake before me since 2008. Rebecca immediately retreated to bed as she had been up until who knows what time on a Netflix marathon watching Orange is the New Black, which I think is about young girls with a false tan addiction.

Louise and I haven’t yet had time to watch this one. Louise is deep into a Tudors marathon, as she loves all that bodice ripping stuff. I’ve seen the odd few minutes of it and it appears to comprise around 90% sex scenes and 10% dialogue. That may be reason enough for me to break my “no period drama” resolution.

Louise finished her latest placement this week, which she was pleased about. They are a definite mixed bag these placements, with some being a delight and some being, well, not so delightful. It’s all one more hurdle cleared towards qualification. Once we get past Christmas I think she starts applying for jobs which is no doubt frightening for Louise yet heartening for the bank manager.

In other news I am writing again. I have made a start on the next book. It is very, very early days and I am under 10,000 words, but still it’s a start. Why? I honestly don’t know why. I just feel like I should, or need to. It’ll give some folks something to write bad reviews about anyway. I have a title and everything. Well, I say everything, I don’t have a fully formed plot, chapter plan or an ending, but apart from that, yes, everything. It is a sort of sequel to the first one, but should work as a standalone book too. However, what you all clearly need to do now is read the first one so that you are fully up to speed to read the new one as soon as I complete it, which will be any time this decade.

Having done the really scary bit (that being to write the first few words on the blank page) I am getting back into it slowly, and with a million miles to go, I am starting to get the odd waft of enjoyment as the brain starts whirring away to solve plot points and things start to fall into place. It would be nice to do it for a living, from my beach front house on a Florida coast, but then again it would nice to do anything from my beach front house on a Florida coast.

So with another working week stretching ahead of me like a Krypton Factor assault course of tedium and monotony I shall retire to my Sunday night during which I think we’ll be watching my Father’s Day gift, Anchorman 2 on DVD or maybe the football, it is Father’s Day after all. I should of course be grateful that I have a week of work ahead of me. I could be one of the unfortunates that are out of work, you know, like the bloke who used to be in the Go Compare ads. I expect his prospects for alternative employment are quite limited.

Till the next time…..

Give Me Strength

In any other year since 2003, today would have seen me aboasting and abragging about my shiny new countdown to a wonderful holiday in Florida.

Each year, without fail, comes a day like this, when Louise finally breaks, and declares that we simply must return to the promised land, and no matter how much I argue, I am forced to do the deed. My yearning for returning is pretty constant, at a solid 10 out of 10, sometimes peaking at around a 26 on a bad day.

It takes Louise a little longer to get to this position, but today, she did, and it has resulted in me explaining in great detail all of the reasons why we cannot. Most of those involved a bank statement and the stains of my tears upon it, but I think I have made my point, and the credit card remains undamaged in my wallet. Don’t get me wrong, this did not prevent me from darkening Kayak’s door to “just have a look” at what deals might be available, should we be looking to book. If I showed half as much self-restraint with food, I’d be about six stone lighter.

Louise’s pleadings included offers of selling vital organs, but I did point out that nobody would really want her liver anyway.

I know it seems odd that I have resisted so fiercely, but, I am playing the long game. With Emily (we hope) lined up to be working over there for a year at some point, we know that we’ll want to be over there visiting her during that time, and with one less body to transport over the Atlantic, some lovely cast member discounts on hotels and tickets, that trip seems a lot more attainable and realistic. It is certainly more realistic than doing one this summer and then having to fund that one too!!

So, still, we are not going this year. I pray for the strength to keep it that way, as one more bout of pleading from Louise and I’ll be whipping it out and doing the business. I might book a holiday too.

So real life, and its constant demands on our bank balance continue to deny us the pleasure of the Florida sun, and at any one time, we have a list of stuff that needs attention and money that we’d rather be spending on some biblical amount of food in some Orlando eatery.

As I always say though, never say never. I continue to play the lottery, despite the fact that the last time I won a tenner was in the late nineties, or if I sell about 400,000 copies of any of my books, then that will do the trick too.

I have been formulating an idea for another book, and have actually written several words to start it, but then it has stalled. This is a symptom of some busy times at work, and I guess, also a lack of motivation. Just as I think I am ready to crack on and reinvent modern literature, some insightful soul leaves a shitty review for the last one, and I think, well, what’s the point? Of course, in this scenario, I totally ignore the 95%+ of reviews which are glowing, and focus on the tiny percentage that aren’t. If you wonder why, then clearly you don’t know me at all even after all this time.

What I am trying to do is remind myself that the fact that I have actually accomplished a life long ambition and got a book out there, which is complete, and in my view not too bad, is something to be proud of. I often forget how awesome that is, (the achievement, not necessarily the book).

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

This evening, with Emily at work (check out her latest blog post about the interview at Disney HQ) and Rebecca of course out with her boyfriend, Louise and I are going to the cinema to watch A Million Ways To Die In The West.

Hopefully it will bring many laughs and some ridiculous amounts of sugar. I shall let you know.

Till the next time…..

 

 

A Bulging Blog.

Some weeks when I come to write my post, I stare at the blank page wondering what on earth I am going to ramble on about. Somehow, I always manage to find something to fill the void with, but no doubt you can spot those weeks as much as I can.

Then, other weeks, such as this one, my usually quiet and uneventful life takes a mad turn and I have oodles of stuff to talk about. Whether or not it is of interest to anyone other than me is questionable of course.

I’ll get the book stuff out of the way first for you. This week All This And More had its first ever book blog review. Thankfully it was positive, so I was able to share it with you all. In total there are seventeen reviews of the book now, and again, despite all of my worst fears when publishing it, it is very pleasing to see folks enjoying it. Following closely on the heels of that review, I did my first ever author interview for the same book blog this week, which was pretty surreal to be honest. Seeing that published online was nearly as scary as the photo which accompanied it.

On Wednesday, Rebecca turned 17. Many parents question how things like this happen. They say things like “How can I have a (enter age) year old son/daughter”. Well, without pointing out the biology behind such things, it is usually because certain things happened that number of years ago, leading to their offspring being that age now. I do sympathise with that view of course, as between blinks, I seem to be sharing a house with three grown women all of a sudden, which, if you’d told the 18-year-old me that, he simply would never have believed you!

Gone are the days of Bratz, Barbies and character cakes. Instead we bestowed upon her driving lessons, paying for her holiday to Turkey later this year and some Mac make-up. The latter was definitely in contention for being the most expensive item on that list!

The rest of the week has been a blur of nights out (two) and entertainment extravaganzas. On Thursday, Emily and I went to see Panic! At The Disco at the Apollo in Manchester. Not for the first time this week, I may have been the only forty something bloke in the audience, but I think I got away with it. The gig was superb. For those not familiar with the group I’ll post one of their better known songs here, as a form of education!

So we had a good night, and it is always nice to spend some time with one of the girls like that.

The very next night, all four of us had a night out at the McBusted gig at the Phones4U arena in Manchester. Busted hold a special place in the hearts of the girls as they were their first real band, and the first one they ever saw live back in 2003. Once news broke of this tour with McFly we had to get tickets, and again it would just be lovely to be out as a four again. We do it so infrequently these days.

You may question why a man of my style, taste and undoubted good judgement should wish to attend such a gig? Well, I’m not ashamed to say I like McFly. There are a couple of reasons beyond their songs being decent pop stuff too. Tom Fletcher is a huge Disney fan, regularly visiting WDW, so he’s worth a follow on Twitter, which is what I’ve been doing for a while. Danny Jones from McFly grew up literally around the corner from us, so we’ve always taken an interest in how he was doing with his band as his fame and success increased. I think they write decent songs, and suffer from being tagged with a boy band label, and as such largely don’t get the credit they deserve.

So we got ourselves to the arena, and after a small kerfuffle when our seats didn’t exist, we were reallocated, closer to the stage and we waited.

mcbusted girls

After three support acts, the average age of which were less than most of my underpants, the main event started and I have to say I loved it. The effort that had gone into the production was incredible, ranging from a DeLorean car on stage, to a full size space ship descending from the sky with the band on it. This was the highlight for us, as our newly allocated seats were literally next to it and we had a great view for that section of the show.

mcbusted space ship

The girls took loads of video too, but I’ll leave that to Emily to post on her blog as I think that is the subject of her next one. I’ll point you at it when it is up of course. I’ll just show you one video, which, is the best I managed, if you ignore the fact that for some reason I turned my phone sideways towards the end!

Overall it was just a really good night, a great show with an enormous amount of thought and detail going into it, and something that put a smile on all of our faces. It was lovely to see the girls jumping up and down, singing and remembering all the words to the Busted songs they lived and loved over ten years ago.

So we’ve had an entertaining and busy week. To finish it off, we’re off to the cinema tonight to watch Bad Neighbours, with Zak Effron. He’s in it, he isn’t coming with us! Emily seems keen to see it for some reason! This by the way, is the reason for the early posting today. I hope this break from routine does not blow your minds too much.

Lastly before I let you go, my latest guest blog for Floridatix, How to Enjoy Orlando Without the Queues, was published last week too. It would be very helpful if you could give it a click and a read and a Like etc. It covers things to do in Florida that you don’t need to queue for. You will notice it does not then include the bathroom in our villa/hotel room!

Till the next time….

House of Pain

I write to you today from a house of pain. Most of it mine, so I shall only battle through a few words in order to satisfy my own undeniable need to keep up the tradition of posting each Sunday.

The pain that is not mine is owned by Emily, who has been nursing one of her first ever hangovers. No doubt Rebecca had one too, but she stayed out last night so we have not witnessed it. Both the girls went to a party at Rebecca’s boyfriend’s house, held to celebrate both of their birthdays. Tom had his birthday last week and Rebecca has hers in just over a week, so they had arranged a do to celebrate both events. I have only seen minimal social media evidence of the event, but Emily’s arrival home at 3am, and a day spent mainly in bed are sure signs that they had a good time.

Emily did briefly surface this morning for water, but after being the subject of Oli’s affections for half an hour she quickly retreated to bed and hasn’t been seen since.

hangover sunday

It was only yesterday that the parties the girls went to took place at the hell on earth that is a ball pool, and me and or Louise had to tolerate thirty plus kids screaming, sweating and ejecting snot and noise everywhere. Instead last night, just the two of us (and Oli) stayed home and watched a George Clooney film. The Descendants was both a very good, touching film and probably the best advert for Hawaii since Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

For clarity that is George and not me

Hawaii is now another place on the list we can’t afford to go on holiday to.

So what is the pain that is mine, I hear you say fretfully? Well, at around 6.30am today I was rudely awakened from my sleep with a huge amount of pain in my shoulder and neck. Who knows what caused it. Maybe I sleep in some odd positions, but by Christ it hurts. I have been suffering greatly since, unable to turn to the left or right without doing do from the hips, and looking like a ninety year old with piles each time I need to get up from my chair.

I have the pain tolerance of David Carradine from Kung Fu (ask your Dad) of course, so I am bearing up well, and not mentioning it every few minutes as you can imagine. The very act of typing this here post is causing me child-birth levels of pain (trust me I know, I’ve been through it twice) and so I shall be wrapping this up shortly to go and mope around some more.

I trust I shall be in your thoughts constantly now until I report a full recovery, and for that I am grateful. If you fancy buying All This and More, I know for a fact that each purchase and reading of it will decrease my pain levels by a notch or two. Consider it a small price to pay, literally.

I shall see you back here next Sunday, if not before, for hopefully pain-free postings, and reports of me entering the best seller list on Amazon. Over to you!

Till the next time….