A week full of emulsion.

It has been a while since I have commented on our viewing habits, courtesy of our Tesco DVD Rental deliveries.

This week, we were pretty happy to get two titles that looked promising.  We usually like our weekend DVDs to be of a blockbuster style, nothing too challenging (subtitles are a no go), and sit back and let them entertain us.

The Expendables
The Unwatchables

With this in mind, Knight and Day and The Expendables seemed likely to tick all those boxes.  Both had a decent star quota and had been advertised to death upon release.

They were both atrocious!!

Knight & Day was slightly better, and we did manage to get all the way through it.  The Expendables however was absolutely shockingly bad.  It takes a lot for me to abandon a film before the end, but I simply had to.  Louise had long since fallen asleep, as we watched it on our new TV in our new bedroom (I’ll come to this shortly), and I waded through about an hour before realising that my mind was wandering, and I really could not give a toss what happened next.

The script was so cringingly crass and hackneyed I was almost predicting the next line, and the story was cheesy, predictable and had been done a million times before.  The cinematography was of the type where everything is dark, so you can never really tell what is going on, and with Sly Stallone in the lead role, most of the audio was so unintelligible that you had to have the volume at max, only then to be blown away by the next explosion or gun shot.

Knight & Day was OK.  Again, a premise that had been done a million times.  An agent who is indestructible, amazing at fighting, shooting and stuff, with a good-looking blonde tagging along.  It had all the ingredients for a decent action/romcom, but something about it just didn’t work for me.  The story was weak, and of course some of the action was so far-fetched it rivalled Con Air!!

These few hours being my only break from the paint brush since Wednesday made their crapness a real bugger!!  I have a right arm like Popeye’s, but not for the reasons you may think.  No, I have been painting stuff for so long, my arm keeps moving whilst I sleep.  I have glossed the equivalent of a football pitch.  We have more wood in our house than the Playboy mansion on party night!

My estimate of the decorating taking two days, leaving me Friday to relax was so off the mark, it made Andy Gray’s views look accurate.

Anyway, I get ahead of myself.  This was the week when the garage officially became our bedroom.

My brain has been wrecked with the best part of five days of intense paint fumes, so the final stages of the project have become a little hazy, but last night, for the first time we slept in our new bedroom.  It all felt a bit odd to be honest, and after what seems like forever from when we kicked this off, to be finally in did not quite sink in.

I had christened th’en suite shower earlier (not like that!!), and what great pleasure I took from it (I said not like that!).  Washing away days of engrained gloss and emotion, I mean emulsion, and with them the aches and pains of painting ceilings and all sorts of nooks and crannies at weird angles, felt very good.

The one slight pain point in our new bedroom is that we do not as yet have anything to cover the windows!!  Our custom-made blinds are two weeks away yet, and so getting in and out of bed requires a very impressive commando roll on to the floor, where I quickly assume my dressing gown.  Don’t get me wrong, if the neighbours want to see me in all my glory then they are welcome.  I am only thinking of them believe me!!  Our new window is so HUUGGEE that we cannot buy mere mortal window coverings, no, we have to drop a massive wad on custom made blinds.

Room 1
Size isn't everything

Room 2
I commando roll from here

Room 3
Twinkly lights

Room 4
Where the magic happens!

Anyway, in my decorating marathon, I have realised there are a set of rules for it –

1.  You will never buy enough paint and have to go to the shop covered in paint with just a little bit left to do

2. No matter whether you think glossing or emulsioning first is the right thing to do, you will think you made the wrong decision when you have to cut in the latter application to the former.

3. No matter how many times you stand back to check your work, before packing everything away, it is only when you have cleaned all the brushes, put them away and had a shower that you will see that bit you missed

4. Your partner coming home from work and criticising a small element of your eight hours of painting is likely to result in divorce at best, and cold-blooded murder at worst.

5. You will find gloss under your fingernails for the next three weeks.

6. You will somehow end up with more paint on your clothes than on the walls.

Anyway, I am finally done, and all we need now is a set of wardrobes to complete the room, and this will allow us to move all our stuff downstairs.  Rebecca has moved in to our old room upstairs and is loving the extra room.  She is as I type painting stuff on her walls.  I think it is getting a Hello Kitty treatment, but to be honest if I see another paint brush this side of Christmas I will not be responsible for my actions.

So a landmark week in the Williams household.  I must say that if you fancy something else where your garage currently is, and you live near me then you should consider the chaps who did ours, Nuspace.  They were excellent!

But, something that tops all these events, something that should be recorded in history.  Emily is out tonight at a gig at the Apollo in Manchester.  She is watching A Day to Remember. Who??

That is not the event to which I refer.  No, after said gig, someone else is picking her up and bringing her home.  I know!!  I could not quite believe it myself.  I shall still have to wait up for her, but I think I shall embarrass her by waiting in bed and then jumping up as she arrives and waving frantically at the window.  I may even wave my hands too.

So it is back to work tomorrow after three days off last week, and my Inbox looks horrific.  I looked at it earlier but did not have the heart to actually do anything about it.  For now, I have realxing to do.

Till the next time…..

A tale of two convertibles…..

Work has been inconveniently busy and stressful this week.  It isn’t enough that I turn up every (most) days whether I want to or not.  It seems in exchange for the money that arrives in my bank each month, they need to me to actually do stuff.  Stuff this week, seems to have been in the form of an endless conveyor belt of problems and panics, that to me don’t really sit with me to fix, but no bugger else seems to be having a go at, and so it has fallen into my lap.

This has severely restricted my ability to monitor the football transfer window via Tweetdeck, and all this having to attend, and pay attention in meetings is nothing short of just downright inconvenient.

Still without work, I would not be able to fund the runaway budget of our new bedroom.  See how I did not use the word garage there?  It can no longer be described as anything close to a garage, as it has electric, a window, and an ensuite that is all but ready to oblute all over.  I enjoy a good oblute.

A week ago the chaps working on it were telling me that it would all come together very quickly and they expected to be done in a week.  I laughed at this suggestion (not to their faces of course, they are big builder types), as it still looked like four walls and a lot of dirt.  True to their word, we have been drawing up snag lists for their last day on site tomorrow.  It did appear that every workman in the North West was at our house towards the end of last week, with electricians, joiners and plumbers falling over each other.

So the journey is almost complete…



Half Garage Half Bedroom


Nearly done..


En Suite
Th'En Suite

This positive news is however tinged with sadness, as it inevitably follows that now, the decorating must begin.  A choice between decorating and sitting on a hot poker would be a tricky choice for me, so to make sure I get on with it, yesterday we went out and ordered the carpet.  We have asked for it to be fitted on Friday of next week so that I have no option but to struggle on through the horror of turps and stiff brushes.  Not wanting to waste the next four weekends, I have booked three days off from work, so I can just get it done.

For those three days I can wear pants that display a spectacular builder’s arse, a T-shirt that is far too tight for wearing outside, but is fine for getting full of paint, and pretend that I am a manual worker, and not the office based, soft handed, namby pamby wuss that I really am.  I shall drink strong tea with six sugars, listen to the radio all day, eat steak pudding chips and peas for lunch and then present Louise with an extortionate bill.

To get a head start the work began today, and I have –

  • Hoovered (or should I say Dysoned) the room, trying to suck up weeks worth of dust and stuff
  • Put paste all over the newly plastered walls.  This was a tip from the builder, so either it will make the painting easier, or it is just something he tells idiots like me who work in an office to cheer up his working day
  • Glossed all the skirting boards and doors.

So with a decent effort on Wednesday and Thursday I can have it done, and then give the Xbox some hammer on Friday whilst awaiting the carpet delivery.

Speaking of delivery, finally, after a ridiculous wait for the new insurance documents, Louise got to pick up her new car on Thursday evening.  Here we sit in the 21st Century, and still Tesco Insurance tell me they cannot email, or would you believe even fax the new documents to me, and I had to wait for first class post to take four days to get to us.  I then scanned it in, emailed it to the garage, and picked the car up on the same day!!

Louise's convertible....the cat converts into a nuisance very easily

Thursday night was a stinker weather wise, and the final journey in the Mini was pretty horrible, and it seemed to take forever to get to the garage.  Half way there, Rebecca started to feel very unwell, with a lot of stomach pain based around that regular female event.  This added nicely to the pleasure of the journey, and upon arriving at the garage she was surrounded by every female member of staff in the building, offering hot drinks, seats and lots of advice.  Two strong pain killers and a hot drink helped, whilst I cracked on with the signature marathon that is the purchase of a new car.

How can it be so complex?  I must have signed a dozen documents, and been there the best part of an hour.  Daft!

Finally, Louise was let loose on the new car, and we set off for home.  After the marathon journey and signature fest, we decided to call in at Nandos near the Reebok Stadium for tea.  That helped.  I’m not good without food.

Upon leaving, we needed “some bits” from Asda around the corner, so Louise gave in to the girl’s pleadings to drop the roof.  Now, it was a very, very cold night, and by the time Louise hit second gear, the girls were pleading with her to stop and put the top back up again!!  The two minute journey resulted in frozen snot candles on them both, and a lesson learned that the top stays up until Easter at the earliest.

So here I sit, aching and sore from all my painting efforts, the girls are out a party somewhere, and Louise is starting the tea.  Tomorrow, I am in that there London for a meeting I could well do without to be honest.  I’m off to see a major sports brand in London, a brand that have sports bars, and I am more interested really in the fact that they are based in a Disney building, and all of the meeting rooms are themed.  I’m hoping for the Lion King room personally!!

Before all that, I have to be up at some silly hour to get the train from Manchester at 7.30.  The joy!!  I think I’d rather be decorating.

Till the next time….

Bob the Builder, can only build it in suitable temperatures.

This week I learnt something.  Apparently it is not possible to mix concrete if the temperature has the audacity to fall below freezing!

The cynic in me immediately assumed that the builders were simply work shy fops, who had some objection to working all day in the midst of snow and temperatures that would see  monkeys “sans globes”.  I could have checked this out via google or some such device, but felt better wallowing in my bitter pit of cynicism to be honest.

As the next stage of our garage conversion is the laying of the floor, apparently this concrete lark was pretty fundamental to progress.  Hence, we lost two days, and I can’t tell you how depressing it was to stare at the same desolate scene in the garage for all that time, especially after witnessing significant changes in week one.

On Thursday a builder returned, somewhat reluctantly, and progressed the project a little.  His day was spent trying to break up frozen sand.  Nice.

My infantile mind could not reconcile these practical problems encountered by the builders with my reality of dealing with these super low temperatures.  I have been moaning all week about having to walk three feet to my car, defrost my bloody car door handles, and thinking this was a major inconvenience.  I then proceeded to moan that the builders didn’t turn up for two days!!  I am an arse at times.  (Comments neither required or welcome).

With the house resembling one on Coronation Street at the moment, we had a debate about whether to postpone a long-planned visit this weekend from our friends Steve and Di.  I work with Steve, and have done for over ten years.  We worked together at my last place, and I persuaded him to make the move to the new job with me too.  They have also been lovely enough to be the source of DVC points for some of our prior visits to Florida.  In addition to that, they have even looked after my snotty cocker, which isn’t something anyone could do!  They are officially documented as being the nicest couple on the planet.

In the end, we decided to go ahead, and they are aware they must take us as they find us.  These weekends normally take the form of much eating, some drinking, a visit “out” somewhere if the weather and season permit, and then a Chinese takeaway of illegal proportions, and a chat about Disney, the Universe and everything in between.

We last visited them back in the early summer, and this was documented here in the Sindery and Snot blog.

The reason for the earlyish posting of this here blog is that I expect not have time this weekend to squeeze it in.

Our plan for this weekend is to stay nice and local, and just have a wander around the Last Drop Village, which is about five minutes from us.  The other suggestion was a trip to the German markets in Manchester, but we’ll see.  The coldness will be a major factor in our decision, and there you go, once again, my cynical ramblings about work shy builders is highlighted for the hypocritical nonsense that it is.

I have also promised Steve that I will show him Call of Duty Black Ops on the Xbox as he does not own it yet.  I am duty bound to honour his request as he is a guest in our house!  I’m sure there will be some hours spare whilst the ladies ready themselves for something at some point.

Rebecca Bring me the horizon
Bring me, bring me the horizon

On Wednesday this week the girls were at yet another gig.  The seem to spend as much time at the MEN arena as they do at school!  This time the headline act was Bullet for My Valentine, supported by Bring Me The Horizon.  Usually I can appreciate much of their musical choice, but these are both far too “screamo” for my tolerance.  I can’t say I could name you a song from either, but I do know that when they girls put them on in the car, I really have to bite my tongue to avoid the classic Dadism of  “who the hell are these jokers?”.

So the attendance of a gig, as usual, saw me in Manchester, at 10.30 on a school night, waiting in a sea of eyeliner and angst, to pick the girls and their friends up.  One of these times, their friends parents will do the honours!!  Sorry, did I say that out loud?

Rebecca had done herself some serious damage headbanging, and looked worse for wear all the way home. She was immediately despatched to bed with two paracetamol and a life lesson.  Emily, ever the sensible one, had “mini moshed” as she put it, in between taking 666 (a number worthy of the hard rocking devil worshippers she was watching) photos, most of which look the same, but of course are crucially different to those in the know!

Bring Me The HorizonStrangers to the Shower.


I got home around 11.30 after dropping off fringes all over Bolton.

Sunday sees them watching Youmeatsix at the same venue, and I can only hope some other parent will feel guilty enough to volunteer to taxi them around this time.

Emily’s mocks seem to be going OK.  I ask every night how she has got on that day, and the standard answer is a shrug of the shoulders and “Meh”.  Make of that what you will.  She has had one mark back already for one of her Maths papers, and it was a good one, so I’m playing it cool and accepting “Meh” for now.

She’s also been filming her media studies project, and has roped in her friends to star in her production.  It is inevitably a horror epic, and I look forward to seeing the full two-minute cinematic masterpiece shortly.  Homework was never that much fun when I was at school.  Dammit, I swore I’d never do “in my day”.

Cpl George Carey
Rebecca's great great great uncle (I can't be sure I have the correct number of greats there)

Rebecca has been working on a History project this week, and she needed to do a project on a soldier who served in World War One.  Luckily for Rebecca my Dad has been researching our family tree since he retired, and was able to hand her the entire contents of her project on a plate.  Well it was several sheets of A4 but you know what I mean!

He has done a cracking job though, all the way back to the 1600s, and he has photos and documents of many of the family.  It is also amazing that only two generations ago, having seven or eight kids seemed to be the norm!  I shudder to think.

For starters how would I get them all in the car after these gigs!!

Looking at the photo of George here, puts my moans about concrete, trips to the MEN, and well, everything else I whinge about in perspective.  He died aged 22, at Ypres in April of 1918.

I can’t and don’t want to imagine what he went through and saw in the three years that he served in the war.

So on that cheery note, I shall post this entry, and leave you to your weekends.

I will see you back here next week, on the other side of some beer and possibly a Chinese takeaway so large it may endanger my health.  Steve has an appetite to match mine, but he just manages to control it better….well control it some would be more accurate!!

Till the next time…..


Germans & Trenches!

The highlight of the week was without doubt the return of Rebecca from Germany.

German Trip
Team England in Germany

She had been a mixture of homesick, tearful, joyous and most things in between throughout the ten-day trip, and so we were very glad to welcome her home on Friday evening.  She arrived with a case full of dirty clothes and presents from “her german’s” family.  For some reason they were all ginger based, with several different variations on the theme of ginger cake.  That is in no way a complaint, any gift ending with the word cake is welcome in our house.

She had of course “fallen in love” with a German boy whilst over there, and within hours of her return was missing him.  Having longed to come home for half the trip, she was very soon wishing she was back over there!!  This was not helped by an incident involving her phone.  You may remember a few weeks ago that she got a new Nokia E5?  Well, just before she left for Germany she reported issues with it, but we didn’t have time to get it sorted before her departure.

As 99% of her phone use is text based, which was working fine, she managed whilst away.  On her return I phoned Orange and they diagnosed it as faulty, and impressively said a new one would be with us tomorrow.  Saying that I called them at around 7.00pm, that was pretty good.  So true to their word a new handset arrived the following morning, and we had to hand back the broken one.  Retaining the battery, sim and memory card was however not enough to preserve all Rebecca’s contacts, and the text messages she had from Tom, the boy from Germany!

She was devastated! I felt awful, and she is now in the process of sourcing all her missing contacts, but can’t get her texts back.  This was not a “Dad of the Year” moment I can tell you.

As is the way, she seems to have got over it now.

This week also saw the snow finally arrive in the North West.  We have been a pocket of resistance against the seemingly unstoppable snow until the back end of the week.  I wouldn’t claim to be snowed in, but even the threat of snow caused a two and a half hour journey to work on Monday (I travel twelve miles), so on Thursday with actual white stuff on the ground, I elected to work from home.

This wasn’t an option earlier in the week as the garage work has well and truly started, and this manifested itself, in the first day or so, in a complete lack of central heating, as the plumber moved the boiler to a new location.  Had it stayed where it was, it would have been in our future shower!

Garage Trench
Our poo will go through that!

Safe in the knowledge that the house would be warm, Thursday at home was productive, if not dust filled, as the first week of the job, it turned out, involved lots of digging, to put in drains and soil pipes to remove our future ablutions.  So watching this also made me very, very happy to be an office drone.  Tedious it may be, but at least it is warm.  Watching the chaps trying to dig a trench through a concrete floor in sub-zero temperatures more than convinced me that I am in the right place.  Yes they may enjoy the four days of summer more than I, but the pay off is simply not worth it.

Temperatures were so low during this work that they broke three digger machine things!

Our house, it will not surprise you is a mess.  The assurances that the work would be contained within the garage were ambitious.  Dust gets everywhere, and we temporarily have a washer and dryer in the middle of the kitchen until they can replumb them into their future homes.

Saturday morning, early, I was out in my finest bobble hat, digging out Louise’s mini from the snow.  The need for food was probably the only possible reason that I would undertake such work willingly.  The mini was the weapon of choice as it seems to cope far better with these conditions than the marauding beast that is the Mondeo.

Louise returned a little later with enough food to survive a nuclear winter, so we should be OK should we get any more snow.

So with a house with a look of Beruit we naturally went out on Saturday to get our Christmas tree!  After years of falsies, we went for a real one this year.  The main driver behind this decision was that the good old fake one lived in the garage, and now with that becoming a bedroom, it had no home and had to go.  It was about the same age as the kids, so it was time.

So battling road conditions, and the urge to stay in the warm, Louise and I went to the local Garden Centre, and picked one out.  The cavernous world of the Mondeo boot proved essential once again, as it easily swallowed up the 6ft tree, and laughed in my face, as if this would be any sort of test.  I’ll be finding pine needles in there for about six months.

The decoration of said tree took hardly any time at all.  The lights worked first time, and crucially, and unusually, did not take the customary three hours to unravel.  I always put them away wound up nice and neat, but at some point in the intervening months some bugger finds them and ties them into un-doable knots!

Louise had been to John Lewis earlier in the week and spent an obscene amount on specific baubles, so these are all that adorn the tree.  Most years we have everything plus the kitchen sink on the old false one, as it was huge.  The minimal look is a winner on all counts!

The Louise update this week is that she did not return to work as planned.  The doctor wanted to do some more tests, for the “other thing” she may need an operation for, and therefore suggested she stay off until those are done, and they know what they are going to do.  The plan now is for a return on the 14th of December.  She did however get some good news this week.  She had word from work that she has now completed her NVQ Level 3 Health.  With her health woes this has been a fine achievement, and hopefully once back at work, will mean progression, and of course some more cash!!

Health wise she is pretty much fully operational now, as evidenced by her shopping ability.  In fact having her back in work for four days a week may be welcome to restrict the amount of time available to her to demonstrate this in retail establishments around the North West.

To complete the family round up, Emily is building up for her mocks, and should be revising.  She assures us she is, and only has two days left at school this term, as the rest of the time is taken up with the mocks themselves, or study days.  Unluckily for her, Louise will be at home to make sure these are not Facebook and MSN days!!  Life is cruel sometimes.

So with the weather looking like this outside….


Winter View

The plan for this afternoon is to stay indoors with the TV and the Xbox, and enjoy some lunch which will no doubt involve something of a ginger nature.

Till the next time…..

Trifle and time machines.

Welcome back from France!

The last three posts have been a mini trip report of my time at DLRP, but fear not, these tales of exotic travels are at an end and we can get back to the really important stuff like how much I don’t want to go to work, my life of woe as the world turns against me, and my life as taxi driver and bank for the girls.  What more could you want?

Whilst we have all been away in France not a great deal has happened that I need update you on.  Garage wise not much has progressed as we still await a resolution to our gas issues.  Not an unfamiliar state for me.  At least now we have a date, and that date is the 29th of November.  With that in mind work actually starts on the 1st of  December.

We're going to sleep in there???

My efforts to ready the garage for the arrival of work men have long been documented via Twitter and this blog, and we are now seeing light at the end of tunnel, not to mention some floor space.  Previously, with the garage chock full of essential crap, every inch of floor space has been occupied.

After one fully loaded Mondeo, and a trip to the tip, yesterday saw me “break the back” of ridding us of about nine years worth of hording.  It didn’t all go.  Some stuff we want to keep has been redistributed to other areas of the house, where it can gather dust for another nine years.  But the stuff retained is worth it, as it was memory stuff.  Photos, school books, paintings by the kids, from a time when we could decide what they wore, and how their hair was.

Browsing through some of that stuff did delay the task yesterday.  There was a fair amount of head shaking, and wondering where the time went.

For those who plan to still be reading this nonsense in a few weeks time, the picture above, and the one below shall serve as the befores, compared to what will be several lovely looking afters at which we can all bill and coo.

Garage BeforeIgnore the bins, Louise will hate them being on this photo!

Speaking of wondering where the time went, earlier this week on Thursday, Louise and I spent the evening at school, attending an open evening for the sixth form college, as somehow she is now in her final year at school!!!  Seriously, how did this happen?  It was only last month that I was sat on a miniature chair in the school hall of the local Infant school, fretting at my eldest striking out on the scary road of attending school.

The night was very helpful, and it only took about half an hour for Emily to choose the subjects she wants to do at A level.  It was at this point that I officially became old.  I used the phrase “in my day”, whilst trying to explain to Emily that when I chose my A levels, I had a choice of boring traditional subjects, such as English, History, and I pushed the envelope by also taking Economics.

Our quick tour of the sixth form’s TV studio, editing suite and gallery convinced Emily to take Media Studies and Film Studies.  A further chat with another member of staff, and she added Photography to the list, having dismissed Product Design!!  To be able to study subjects that truly interest you must be a joy, and I “pecked Emily’s head” for the journey home, explaining how important it is to find a job/vocation that enables you to wake up every morning and not consider chopping your right arm off as an excuse for not getting in to the office.

She didn’t get it, as of course she is fifteen, immortal, and a million years away from all this adult nonsense.  All she has to do now to get into sixth form is deliver her predicted grades.  She seems quite relaxed about the whole thing, and I wish I could be too, but I seem to be living in a perpetual panic attack at the endless milestones hurtling towards us at a million miles an hour –

  • GCSEs
  • Getting into College
  • Will they go to Uni?  If so how will we afford it?
  • Learning to drive – fills me with fear and dread.
  • Relationships, and heavens forbid weddings!

I keep telling myself that there is no destination here, and the trick is to enjoy the journey, as the discovery of those photos in the garage demonstrated, if you keep waiting to arrive, you miss all the scenery along the way.  Nice words, but putting them into play is not my strength.

Rebecca is getting ready for her school trip next week.  Again, “in my day” would apply here, as she is off to Nuremberg on an exchange trip, rather than the local museum to see some bloke in a low quality costume talk about the life of a blacksmith.  She has been exchanging emails with her pen pal (although no pen has been involved) for a few weeks, so I hope they can stand each other in the flesh for ten days of the trip.

Getting ready for the trip translates to having clothes bought for her at the Trafford Centre yesterday.  I of course had other tasks at hand so Louise did the honours.  I am sure I got the better deal.

One trifle, two week's calories

So after a hectic Saturday, today has been a little more relaxed.  Some ironing aside for Louise, we’ve been what is called pottering, and Rebecca is making a trifle for tea.  Having seen the ingredients in her own special recipe, I’m either going to lose some teeth, or about five years of my life expectancy after eating it.

I’ve just booked our tickets for the Harry Potter film tonight, and my main concern is when to eat the trifle.  The last thing I want to do is take the edge off my sweet tooth before the film.  It looks like a long one, and may involve a double-header of Pick n Mix and Popcorn.  I’d hate to run short of eats at a crucial time in the plot, and become distracted.

No doubt I’ll spend the first half hour of the film marvelling at how grown up the three principal actors look.  I don’t have any photos of them in the garage, but the same time machine has been at play it seems.  How this can happen when I am not aging at all is, as Toyah once said, a mystery.  Not that I am old enough to know who Toyah is of course.

Looking ahead to next week, Louise meets with Occupational Health to assist her in her return to work, and I have a meeting in Harrow on Tuesday.  My how I am looking forward to those eight hours in the car, probably about as much as Louise is looking forward to going back to work.  Her knowledge of day time TV is very impressive, and her obsession with Coach Trip is quite frankly a bit worrying.

By the way, on the theme of time flying by, as it turns out this post has all been about, I am wishing this blog a slightly overdue Happy 1st Birthday.  It was the 5th of November last year that this thing sprang into life, with just me Louise and two others reading it.

I am astounded that I have kept up the postings and that now hundreds of folk each day come here to see what nonsense I am rambling on about.  I know, I find that hard to believe too.  Who would have thought it?

1st Birthday
Close your eyes and make a wish, and it can't be that there isn't a 2nd birthday!

So I will count Rebecca’s trifle as a birthday treat for my bloggage, and therefore I’ll be able to justify the few thousand calories with my name on them at the local Cineworld.  I’ll be coming down off of my sugar rush just in time for work tomorrow, and who knows, removing an arm may be more appealing than the M60.

Till the next time….

A Shed, never ending illness and a decent erection.

People often say that no news is good news.  In the world of trying to get your garage conversion done before Christmas, this does not apply.

No real updates on that front, and there probably won’t be until the good men of Gas arrive to move our meter about a metre.  The one thing that did happen this week was that the funds for said conversion arrived in our bank account.  I am a fairly sensible soul, but there were a few mad minutes where I imagined what sort of kickass holiday I could book with that amount of cash sat in the current account.

Shed's Up

Sanity, plus a healthy fear of Louise prevailed,and it got transferred to the savings account (nice to use it for something I suppose) and we wait.

But wait, Monday brings a major development in this whole Grand Design.  Our shed arrives.  Being frankly shite at anything that even includes the letters D I and Y, we have employed a crack team of shed fitters to ensure the erection is satisfactory.  I would hate to have an unsatisfactory erection anywhere never mind in our back garden where the neighbours can see it.

Once we have the erection in a satisfactory state, then the real work starts, and I will be working up a sweat I’m sure.  Yep, we have to empty the garage of vital crap, and put said vital crap into the shed, and jetison non vital crap to the skip via the cavernous delights of the Mondeo’s boot.

However, that shall not be next weekend, as I shall be away, jet setting in gay Paris.  An unfortunate choice of words perhaps, when I admit that I shall be so with a bloke I met off of the internet.  I refer you back to the earlier post in which I outline how I won a trip to Disneyland Paris courtesy of the DisneyBrit Podcast.

My journey starts next Friday morning and I shall be tweeting all the way there and back, so if you care, then please follow me! The prayers for fine weather have begun, alongside the hopes that the delightful French decide that next weekend is the one this year that they will not be striking over something important.  I’m hoping to travel light, but this is balanced against the worry that it will be bloody cold, and I therefore need to take three hundred layers.  This will of course be the reason for any unsightly bulk around my frame on any photos.  As you know, I have a fine physique.

Thursday evening saw Louise and I drag my disease ridden frame to the girl’s school.  Louise started at 5pm, for a meeting about Rebecca’s exchange trip to Nuremburg in November.  A quick summary is, it will be cold, it will be expensive.  Time well spent.

I joined Louise at 7pm for the next meeting, this time for Emily.  As she has just started Year 11 aka GCSE year, we had to attend a briefing on how to help our Year 11 children through this difficult year.  No bugger did similar for me.  When I was doing my O Levels (giving my age away), it was a solo effort, and all of my revision had to be slotted in around the 1986 World Cup.

Now it seems we have roughly as much to do as Emily, and we were told how to spot and deal with stress.  We were also shown how to use mind maps as a revision technique, along with a long session on how to plan and structure revision, course work, controlled assesments, and some sort of social life.  Jesus, if I wasn’t worried about it before, I am now.  Emily seems unfazed by the whole thing, and only appears from behind her fringe to ask for food and/or money.  As long as she knows I am here for her!!

I arrived home, tired, scared to death for the year ahead, starving and close to death’s door at 9pm!!  Smashing.

Now I know I may have let on more than once that I have not been in the rudest of health this week, but I have fought on valiantly, and made it to work all week.  I did give in and leave early on Friday, as the illness was peaking, and once I’d come out the other end of my meetings which ran from 9.30 until 2.30 non stop, I was neither use nor ornament to anybody.  The fact that some arse had been incompetent enough to have a bump on the M61 and made my journey home last over an hour only added to the magic of my Friday afternoon.

Where the wild things are
Wild Thing, you make my heart sink

Friday night was spent watching a couple of DVDs, interrupted nicely with some sniffing and coughing.  We watched Where the Wild Things Are and It’s Complicated.  The latter was much better than the former.  Where the Wild Things Are was just weird to be honest.  I can watch a kid’s film with little problem usually (no comments thanks), but this was just a bit boring to be honest.

No real plot to speak of, and this meant that the film just doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

It’s Complicated was better, if predictable.  It was one of those non challenging films that you can just let wash over you.  With a cast of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, you know you are in safe hands, and the plot is just about original enough to keep you interested.

Fair play to Alec Baldwin.  Being on the chunkier side, he had no issue in showing of his Party 7 (not six pack), and I for one applaud him.  If I had any weight issues I too would make a stand and have my kit off at every opportunity too.

My plan for the weekend is to do nothing….at all.  I have less than no energy, so this seems to be the correct plan.  Having felt rough for two weeks now I am getting seriously bored.  I haven’t been able to get to the gym due to this, and if this carries on I shall be approaching Baldwin territory, and I don’t mean Mike.

So next week (and the week after) are four day work weeks for me, having booked Friday and Monday off for Paris, and that is just dandy.  I’m not sure when and if I will be able to blog you again, with being abroad and stuff next weekend, but I would imagine Monday will be a good time to regail you with tales of missed trains, over eating and Space Mountain.  Frankly, I hope it is more Space Mountain than Brokeback Mountain…no offence Adam!

My aim during next week is to finish off the trip report for our 2010 Florida jaunt (don’t hold me to that), so that I shall be free to quickly document the Paris trip, in a compare ands contrast fashion.

As I type this, Louise is unusually out doing the BIG shop.  A task I normally undertake every Saturday.  This is because when Louise does it somehow the shopping bill is tripled.  We go to the same supermarket, and seem to eat the same food, so it is quite some acheivement.  I await her return with trepidation, a headache, sore throat and an impressive collection of snot riddled kitchen roll.

Have I mentioned that I feel unwell?

Till the next time…..

Elton Welsby, Lat Am and the battle between some Americans

This week’s ridiculous search term to find my blog is……  “hotel room littered with liquor bottles”.

I must have missed that particular entry, which is not too surprising if the room was littered with liquor bottles.

Moving quickly on to matters concerning the garage, this week’s update is thus.  We have permission from the holder of our freehold to go ahead with the conversion, despite there being a term in our lease saying our garage can only be a garage.  It is quite amazing how little such legal documents actually matter when compared to the large cheque they can have in its place.  Of course, for them to take the trouble to look at our letter, consult the lease and write back we have had to cough up the Brazilian (or is that UK now?) national debt.  It seems their favour can easily be bought.

If they had not given consent, we would have been faced with a choice of not doing the work or buying the freehold outright.  In the end the costs were pretty similar, but permission ever so slightly cheaper.  It was tempting to buy the leasehold though, just to be free from their money grabbing mitts.  However my natural tightness prevented my moral outrage from out doing my propensity to save money.

The pain of actually getting an answer was massive.  It took around a dozen phone calls over two weeks, and a week of delay whilst they wrote to us, yes as in a letter, not an email, as they think it is 1976, to tell me they needed more information.  Now I know what the process entails it enrages me to know that we could have sorted it all out with two emails and a phone call in about three hours.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

So the builder has the go ahead, and the critical event now is the moving of our gas meter from the garage to an outside wall.  Another small fortune has been squandered on that task as I moaned about last week, so I won’t again.

At work this week, I have been working with other departments, “bedding in” my new role and team alongside a change to the other department’s structure.  Not easy in a world of differing opinions and corporate egos, but I think we got there.  Once we’d done all of that, we then had to communicate it out to the rest of the company.

Being a global company it means a few “web meetings” with our international colleagues in Australia and the US. Whenever I hold meetings with my US colleagues, I have to remind myself that not everyone with a US accent is a Cast Member at Disney.  Alas our US offices are in New York and Arlington, and not Lake Buena Vista, but once I’ve got my feet under the table a little more I shall be suggesting a relocation, and a new US manager!!  Next week we do India and Lat Am.

Come on….seriously….you are going to let me get away with “Lat Am”?  It is used of course as a shortened version of Latin America .  Lat Am is the term used throughout our company when talking about our office in Buenos Aires.  The saving of the in and erica from the end of those words is just not worth it when balanced against the sacrifice of sounding like a character off of some corny American office drama.

Whenever I use it in the office (which so far has been twice), I either smirk or blush, at the sheer crassness of the whole thing.  I belive the folks in Argentina refer to us at Head Office as Great Man, sacrificing the er and chester for effect.

I hate corporate nonsense and buzzwords like this, and this week, I encountered another.  A colleague on one of these presentations was outlining a process, and was asked by a US colleague if we were open to ideas.  “Yes” he says,” in fact we’d welcome it, and we have a meeting planned next week, and in that we will reach out to all parties”.

Reach out????  Really???  This guy is from Wigan by the way.

Maybe I just don’t take myself seriously enough to buy into this nonsense.  I still feel like at some point soon I’m going to find a job that I really should be doing, rather than getting away with things in my working life, until someone finds me out.


Elton Welsby
Elton Rifles


I have, as you may have picked up on via Twitter, also being fighting a life threatening bout of mild man flu all week.  So this illness and a busy week of prep and meetings only served as a distraction from my constant monitoring of the sale of Liverpool FC to NESV.

I’m not sure if I have yet declared my colours football wise here, but I am and always have been a Liverpool fan.  I cannot really tell you why, I just have been so for as long as I can remember.

I guess being a child of the 70’s, if there was ever football on telly, then it was Liverpool.  Elton Welsby has a lot to answer for.

This week then has been fairly stressful, with more twists and turns than a twisty turny thing.  Thankfully at work I have full access to the internet and Tweetdeck (which I highly recommend by the way) which allowed me to keep up to date (when not buried under mountains of work of course).  I only hope the success off the pitch this week starts to be replicated on the green stuff pretty soon.

I like Americans as you probably know, but the exception to the rule are the two idiots that have been Liverpool’s owners for the past three years.  Hopefully, the new Americans will be much more like all the other Americans I have met, with the additional benefit of buying half a dozen world class players and a new stadium.


Social Network film
I'm a PC and Facebook was my idea!


The arrival of this weekend then was very welcome, but it seems I welcomed it naively thinking I would be able to get some ass on couch time.  Not as yet.

We went to a gig on Friday night, at a local pub.  I haven’t been in this pub for so long that the last time I wasn’t drinking legally.  Since then, perhaps not surprisingly, the owners have changed, and they have done a great job of turning it into a proper music venue, with a decent stage, great sound system and lighting.

We were there to watch my brother’s band, Mustard, rise phoenix like from the ashes of a two year hiatus, to gig again.  We had a good night, and if anyone is looking for an excellent pop/rock covers band, let me know, and (for a sizeable commission) I shall put you in touch!

Saturday saw me in constant perpetual motion between chores and Mondeo.  I did get a slight lie in until around 10am, but then the next time I was still was in the cinema watching Social Network last night.

So after a visit to the gym, taking Emily for her new glasses, doing the BIG shop at Asda and picking up some of the girl’s friends for an enormous sleepover, it was a good job that the film was good or else I would have been asleep before the trailers ended.  I was wary of going to see this film, as usually any tale of some young and talented upstart making huge amounts of money with an idea I wish I’d had would just make me grumpy, and you know that isn’t like me.

The film of course did make me grumpy, as I want to be a billionaire too!!  However, it was interesting and enjoyable to watch, and I think reminded me that history doesn’t all happen two hundred years ago, it happens all the time, and we just don’t notice.

On our return home there were frankly too many teenagers to count strewn across the house, and I did have a slight sense of humour failure when we had to “politely tell them to go to bed” at some silly early hour as their noise was getting ridiculous.  I am just counting the minutes now until I get my house back.

Today is also packed with tasks, and of course a very important football game at lunchtime.  I do however commit here and now that somehow by the end of today I will have completed Day 12 of the trippie.

Promises, promises…..

Till the next time…….

Level 42 – Channel 4 and other final scores.

Kevin McCloud is ignoring my calls it seems.

Not one person from Channel 4 has been on the phone following my last post about our intended Grand Design.  During the week I even tweeted my delight that he had joined Twitter (@Kevin_McCloud), and I thought this event was obviously driven by my last blog post where he was name checked.  Alas no.

So it seems our development will go un-televised.

Nearly all of the required ducks are now in a lovely row, enabling us to give the builder a go ahead, and brace ourselves for whatever disasters may befall us on our journey to four bedroom-ness.  I have ordered the alteration to our Gas Service (robbing bastards), and await a date when they may or may not turn up.  Unfortunately it seems that very soon we are going to have to begin the arduous and depressing task of emptying the garage of all our junk.

This means throwing away lots of stuff, but we need to find a new home for other stuff, and that means purchasing a shed for the back garden.  My journey to middle-aged conformity is complete.  I have two children, I drive a Mondeo, and will very shortly own a shed.  Tragic!

Anyway, I embrace my beige tinted middle of the roadity.  If time and memory permit I shall photograph the project at relevant stages so you can travel with us.  I’ll pop round to your house too, and throw some dust into your living room to increase the realism for you.

Better news this week is Louise’s continued return to something like health.  Crucially she feels up to doing some ironing now, and who am I to stop her?  The next major milestone will be her ability to drive, alas that is a few weeks away just yet.  She is becoming a little stir crazy at this point.


Level 42
Level 42 and a head


Onto events of the past week, I’ll start with last Sunday, when (as my belated birthday present) my brother took me to see Level 42 at the Manchester Apollo.  This was, I realised, a replica of my first ever gig, aged thirteen, at the same venue, with the same brother, seeing the same band.  This tour is their 30th anniversary, and having seen them countless times between 1983 and last Sunday, I’m fairly sure they do get better with age.  They are one of the tightest live bands I have ever seen.

From time to time they have a new member here and there, and this time saw a new drummer.  Well, I say drummer, but that intimates that he is human.  After watching him play for an hour and a half, I’m not sure.  I suspect he is actually some sort of multiple limbed alien being.

Have a look….

The audience was the usual mix of middle-aged chaps who were there back in 1980, who hate it when the ladies jump up to dance to the string of hits from the back end of their career, and dancing ladies who know about four songs who annoy all the grumpy blokes who just want to sit down and revel in the abject muso-ness of it all.

As you know, I was involved in playing music in bands and stuff, but frankly, every time I go to see the Lev, I struggle to equate what I used to do with what they do with such apparent ease.  As my Dad always says when he watches professional golf  “They play a different game to me!”, despite the fact that he has been a single handicapper for decades.

Well, in this case my handicap is an under abundance of talent.  Still, going to see a band that I have worshipped since puberty is lovely.  There is a real feeling of comfort, and you know that you are in safe hands as they rattle through the set.  Every now and again they throw in one of the old obscure tunes, if we are lucky an instrumental, and those “in the know” sit back and smugly watch the “glory hunters” who came along sometime around “Something About You”  look at each other quizzically.  Small pleasures!

The rest of the week has been relatively uneventful, other than the usual schedule of work, and the writing of trip reports.  I got two done this week, and hopefully one or two more to follow over the weekend.  We’re not far from the end now, which for those who bother to come here, I guess, will be sad to hear.  For others who do not enjoy the non stop deluge of knob gags interspersed with the odd photo, then The Dibb will soon be safe to return to.

Any plans for the early booking of next year’s trip have been shelved, as amazingly, the ample budget (we thought) that we had allocated to the garage conversion has been soaked up, almost to the penny.  It is as if every party involved knew upfront what our budget was, and have priced their elements in a conspiracy to get their hands on every penny.


Cobweb Cottage
Le Maison mon Frere.


So with things likely to go wrong/cost more, we need to just watch what we do until we are done and then take stock.  Knowing our luck with previous similar projects we shall be in a tent in the back garden next year.  As I’ve said already, I think all of us are ready for a change (although if someone is looking to fund us a trip just so I can do another trippie then don’t get me wrong, please contact me!!), and it may be time to do something very different.

The West Coast really appeals, and if funds allow this will be my first choice.  If funds don’t we may plump for a decent beach destination, and if we are really skint we’ll do a week at my brother’s house in France.  That may sound ungrateful, but I should explain that his house is WWWAAAYYYY out in the sticks, and is meant as a pure get away from it all and relax place, which with two teenage girls, has its drawbacks.  Mainly the complete lack of the internets!!

The only concern I have with a beach holiday (WARNING: SNOB ALERT) is the fear of getting to a hotel which is all kid’s clubs, Agadoo and knobbly knee contests.  I would literally rather eat my own earwax, and being honest often do.

As all self-respecting middle-aged, Mondeo owning, shed buying Dads say…..”We’ll have to wait and see”.

I shall see you soon for more riveting garage updates!

Till the next time….

Joey Tempest in bed…in my garage?????

OK, before we do anything else I just have to cover one thing here.

As part of the admin features of this here blog, there is a tool that tells you what phrases people have typed into search engines to come to it.  Usually of course, there are lots of variations of mkingdon, but just now, a phrase appeared that made my blood run cold.

Someone typed “Joey Tempest in bed”.  Forget the fact that my one random mention of the Nordic rocker meant that they ended up here, but for the love of God, what type of sick individual wants to see the results from that search term.  The internet is a weird place.

Anyway, moving on.

Louise’s recovery continues, and she is getting more mobile each day, but she discovered this week that there are problems with her wound, and she may have a hematoma in there somewhere, oh and her wound is infected!!  We are of course delighted with this, and she is having to go to the clinic every other day for check ups and new dressings.  She has a cold too!!!!  Nothing is ever simple it seems.  Speaking of which…..

The more attentive amongst you will have picked up on the fact, that amongst all the pre holiday hullaballoo, we put our house up for sale.  Our main reasons for wanting to move where twofold –

  1. We want/need more bedroom space
  2. With my new job, I can no longer drop the girls off at Grandma’s for breakfast, from where they can walk to school.

We live about ten minutes drive from school, but it is no longer “on the way” for either myself and never has been for Louise, so the girls are now faced with walking or catching the bus.

They have always insisted they were fine to do that, but our trust in them to get themselves up, dressed and on their way in time was about zero.  If we are not rounding them up, shouting at them, and bundling them into a car, then they would still be sat applying make up at around 10.30am.

Anyway, since returning to school, they have done OK on the whole walking thing, and haven’t yet been late.  Of course, they have had Louise around, post op, who can still administer the relevant motivation when required, but still the signs are good.

Add to that, the fact that we’ve had less interest in our house than the East 17 reunion, and our thoughts have been forming in another direction.

Kevin McCloud
Every McCloud has a silver lining.

As it looks like we don’t need to move the girls within five feet of school, we are hatching a plan to create another bedroom.  Don’t for one second paint pictures in your mind of our house sat in rolling hills of endless space, and us casually bolting on a new wing.  The only place we have not yet made into a room is the garage.

So, over the coming weeks, and no doubt months I shall be sharing the Grand Design style experiences and heartaches involved in a fairly major building project.  Like most things until you start to look into it, you have no idea how complex and involved they are, and this certainly applies here.

The idea is less than a week old and here is what I have found out already.

1.  Our lease prohibits the garage from being used as anything else but a garage, so we need to get permission.  To even ask this question involves a fee of £80, and then if they agree in principle there will be “other fees” to process the permission.

2.  We need to move both our gas and electric meter things.  Putting the astronomical costs aside for a second, trying to find out who to talk to in order to arrange this is a challenge they should put in place when recruiting new folk for Men in Black.  When you do, they then add considerable insult to injury by telling you their prices.  To move the electric board and meter, ooh, around a foot and a half to the left, they want £1400 and for the gas meter to go onto an outside wall is another £800.  I asked both parties how many men they were sending, and how many days they were staying for.  They didn’t understand the question until I pointed out that for those prices I was expecting the A Team to arrive by helicopter, and stay for at least a week!  No, it seems both jobs will take less than half a day.

It will also be at least eight weeks until they can get around to it too!!

3.  The bank seems willing to lend me endless supplies of cash, but despite banking there since 1987, I still have to spend forty-five minutes on the phone telling them all the information that they have on their computer, like, how much I get paid, how much we spend each month, and by how much one exceeds the other!!

So the pain has started.  However the end game still looks worth it, as we should end up with a decent sized fourth bedroom with an en suite.  Face it no-one wants to see me dashing through the house to the upstairs bathroom in my undercrackers do they!  Well, maybe the guy who searched for Joey Tempest in bed does?

All in all though, this to me still seems like the preferable option to moving.  Despite the cost of such a development, it gets us into a four bedroom house, in an area we love, without the pain of putting everything we own into boxes, and then taking it all out again.  When you weigh up the legal fees, stamp duty, removal costs etc, the conversion of the garage feels like a bargain!

Tomorrow we have our builder coming round to do some final checks, before he presents us with the official quote.  Depending on what that says, this could be the shortest development project in history.  However, if he is anywhere near our budget, we’ll crack on I’m sure.

Work has been hectic again this week, and the “highlight” was a training course on Wednesday in central Manchester at the offices of our PR agency.  A few of us were to be media trained!  I know, I know.

This basically involved learning how to do interviews with the press and how journalists try to trick you into getting info you didn’t want to tell them.  Then to my horror, a session on how to do pieces to camera, as we intend to populate our YouTube channel with lots of promo videos, explaining how great we are.  The horror of seeing yourself played back in 1080p cannot be fully understood until it happens.  Suffice to say, I don’t see a future in television for myself at this stage.  Plus, why didn’t anyone tell me I was losing my hair?????

They also say that the camera adds ten pounds.  I don’t know about that, I think it is more likely to be the 8,000 calories a day whilst on holiday!!

In other news, Rebecca came home with a letter this week about a school trip.  As you know, these days these are usually things like giraffe racing in New Zealand rather than a day in Cleckheaton.  This trip is an exchange thing to Germany, where she will go and stay with a “pen pal” and their family in November, and we shall return the favour next April.  It’s a good job we plan to have an extra bedroom by then!!

This may not seem odd to you, until you understand that not one pupil in Rebecca’s year actually learns German at school.  They all either do Spanish (like Rebecca) or French.  The benefits, of course, are around life experience, meeting new people etc, and learning to be independent, but you would think they could manage something like that in a country who speak the language they are learning??  I did study German for three years, and as a result, can now ask for a piece of Black Forest Gateaux with great confidence.  This is ALL I can do, but still, a glowing reference for a comprehensive education.

Ich mochte ein stuch schwarzwalderkirschtorte bitte.  Have that!

Till the next time….