The Hundred Day Bore

For hardened rock and roll legends like myself, there’s a condition that afflicts us all, especially when you are of a certain vintage. Gigamortis is ravaging my body this morning after a Mustard outing last night at a 30th birthday party in Stockport. I told you I was rock and roll.

As enjoyable as playing is, it comes with a lot of pre and post show effort and of course a late night, so waking up the next morning feeling stiff (and not in a fun way) is an occupational hazard. It feels like I have been run over by a truck. I think it was the third stage dive, or maybe the twelve foot knee slide that may have tipped me over the edge.

On second thoughts it may be that I was sat in the lounge at 1.50am with a cup of tea and three jaffa cakes that destroyed my body. There’s only so much candle burning anyone can take.

Louise is working all weekend again ( I do wonder why these politicians keep going on about moving to a seven day NHS?) so that gives me a great excuse to do very little aside from the daily walking of the dogs. Rebecca, Tom and Freddie are due for Sunday tea later. In my current state the chances of me making a Sunday roast are zero, although I make good one, so a Chinese is on the cards.

You know that food is important to this family, and I suspect most of those coming for tea will be pleased with my decision. On the subject of food, whilst I was out gigging last night, a prior crime caught up with me. Here is a snippet of our family group chat of which I am not proud, but, you leave stuff like that in the fridge for more than a couple of days and there is only one outcome.

Now then, whilst you are here, look, we are at an important milestone….

Is there anything more tedious and tiresome that some idiot telling you how many days it is until their holiday? Suck it up, I’m telling you anyway. The digits will be double tomorrow and this countdown does seem to be progressing nicely. Being busy at work helps with that I guess, and on this week’s to do list was the renewal of my passport.

Much has changed in the ten years since I got my last one. Firstly, it seems a lot easier to do it now. It’s all online and you can supply your own photo. Last time I was up at the local Co-Op pumping pound coins into the photo booth trying not to recreate the Tenacious D video for Tribute (Google it). There were also a load of forms to fill in and post off if I remember rightly. We’ve come a long way baby.

The other thing that has changed is my photo. If you compare the two photos from this week and 2009 all I can say is that they are a fair reflection of the trial and tribulations of the last decade. I won’t be sharing the new one as I have the look of a stroke victim or a very tired middle aged man. Either way, it didn’t enhance my fragile sense of self-confidence.

It takes around three weeks for the new one to arrive and then I’ll have to go online and update all of our ESTAs, as Louise and I both have new passports and we need to put our US accommodation details for this year in. I’m not sure that really matters, but if it saves me a cavity search at Orlando airport it seems a small price to pay.

I have resisted the ADR urge this week. There was a brief moment whilst watching a Tracker video that a dessert party was almost booked (it was the Star Wars one at DHS we were watching, and the food looked tremendous) but a quick google confirmed my suspicions that it wouldn’t be on when we are there as Galaxy’s Edge will have just opened and you’ll need a FastPass just to get into the parking lot.

One thing I am trying to build into this year’s plan is something I’d be open to your suggestions on please. One thing we like to do, Louise especially, of an evening is to head back to the villa for showers, a liberal application of After Sun, and some loose fitting clothes and to head out for a nice meal. You know all that of course, but as an additional bonus, somewhere laid back to have a drinkie or two can be lovely if we can stay awake long enough. As an example, in previous years we have done so on the deck of Bahama Breeze whilst listening to the steel drum man. The Boardwalk can offer a similar experience, Disney Springs has a few places with this on offer and City Walk is a busier place to do this. In the absence of beach side bars, anywhere you know of that ticks these boxes would be interest. I thank you.

I am away now to cosset my gig ravaged body, take some drugs (Ibuprofen) before spending five minutes trying to make it look I’ve tidied up before Louise gets home.

Till the next time…..

Failing, Football and (TGI) Fridays

I am a weak, weak man. I have the backbone of an amoeba and the integrity of a politician. Having committed to something in the sanctity of a blog post, I have reneged, defaulted and failed that promise in spectacular style.

What is this heinous crime?

I booked another ADR.

I know what I said. But honestly, it makes sense, and I should know having spent more time than I should justifying it to myself before doing the deed. Sure, we need to be on a tighter budget on this trip, and on-site dining is expensive but…..but….well, I wanted to.

The justification goes like this.

I have booked it on my birthday, therefore, it qualifies as a treat for me. We will (of course) be in Epcot all day, right though to Reflections of Earth, for the last time ever on one of my birthdays, and that deserves commemorating. We therefore don’t want to be having to leave Epcot to find an off site eatery. That takes two hours plus out of the day, and what finally pushed it over the edge……I loved the pizza at Via Napoli last year and I want to eat it again.

To be exact, everyone loved the pizza at Via Napoli, and that plus its location right in the middle of my traditional World Showcase birthday pilgrimage makes all sorts of sense. So there we go.

To be honest….

Joey Im Not Even Sorry GIF - Joey ImNotEvenSorry Friends GIFs

Other than a needless countdown update (107 days folks), there is little else to report holiday planning wise from this week. On Tuesday we went out celebrate Rebecca’s birthday at a newly opened TGI Fridays. It’s almost American-ness peaked our anticipation for the two weeks of awesome eating we have in store. Freddie in particular is, based on his reaction to every dish’s arrival, which was a “WOW” and eyes like dinner plates, is going to have his mind blown. One year at his age makes such a huge difference in him knowing what is going on of course. At my age, it’s reversed and thankfully not (yet) quite as drastic.

I went full American and had nachos (yes, I know….) and a burger but shamefully I could not manage a dessert. Although, to reassure you all, I did manage a slither of birthday cake instead…..I’m not that much of an amateur. It is safe to say though that in my advancing years my appetite is not what it once was. That’s a good thing, as my ability to gain weight is without rival and if I could eat like I used to in my twenties I would be featured on one of those “My 600lb Life” programmes and need to be winched out of bed every morning.

 

Those of a football disposition may raise an eyebrow at the timing of this celebration. You may know that I am a life-long Liverpool fan, and Tuesday night saw the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. Now, after the first leg, missing the second to celebrate Rebecca’s birthday, which by the way, was never a competition, I like football, but it doesn’t compete with things like one of the girl’s birthdays, wasn’t too hard as the mighty reds were 3-0 down and very unlikely to go through.

Having seen a few Liverpool comebacks over the years I did record the game on the off chance something miraculous happened. I decided to do a “Likely Lads” (ask your Dad) and try not to know the result until I got back home, so that I could watch the game “live”. I didn’t remove my phone from my pocket for the entire meal and briefed everyone else not to breathe a word of any news they may come across.

To cut a long story short, I found myself sat in my front room, past midnight, being a little bit more emotional about a football game than a man of my age should be as the final whistle blew (two hours after it actually did). It does strange things is all I can say. If you get it, you get it, if you don’t, you’ll think I’m an idiot.

That is all I have time for today folks. We are off to meet Rebecca, Tom and Freddie at the local park before I settle in for more Liverpool related nail biting. I am even less hopeful of a miracle today, but it’s the hope that kills you in football.

Till the next time……

Handmaid’s Tales and Grandparent Fails

This is happening a little later than normal as we’ve had a bit of a lazy day. Normally, weekend days are just a series of tasks and chores that need to be done, but today we’ve ignored them so far, and spent our time binge watching stuff.  We are currently knee-deep in The Handmaid’s Tale. We like to be right on the cutting edge of the latest releases! Next, we move on to Bless This House.

There’s a tip run that should have happened as we have our old blinds and a microwave which exploded spectacularly during the week to get rid of, but they sit outside our back door making our house look like Steptoe & Son. It’ll do no harm. I mean, I’ll go tomorrow when it’ll be nice and quiet…..on a Bank Holiday Monday, right?

Speaking of nice and quiet, this week Disney announced that Hollywood Studios will be opening at 6am from the 29th of August for a few days. That’s our first day in Florida, so technically, with the typical first morning wake up in the early AM, we could be there for that. Not a chance. We shall we making our way to the Magic Kingdom which will hopefully have the crowd levels of an Accrington Stanley reserve game. I think that time is only for on-site folks anyway, but regardless, down that path lies a perfect example of how not to enjoy a theme park.

I suspect DHS will be carnage for our entire two weeks, but we will strategically dip in and out to hopefully do stuff and specifically Toy Story Land, hoping that will be quieter than our last trip and we shall retreat gracefully to somewhere else should we encounter the cast of Ghandi.

Our countdown as of this morning sits at 114 days, so two weeks today we shall be gliding gracefully into double digits. Bring it on.

In other news, wedding plans continue to be made. Cake tastings happened this week. That I have to say has been one of my highlights for obvious reason. Less interesting (to me) conversations are ongoing about bridesmaids dresses etc and I think there’s a suit try on looming on the horizon. That’s all fine, but it’s no cake tasting is it?

Louise also had some good news this week. Ages ago, she went through the application process to return to study, this time, to move into midwifery. After weeks and weeks of waiting she heard this week that she had been offered a place. It’s a mighty fine achievement as the competition for places is very tough, so all things being equal, on our return from Orlando she will be back at Uni, at UCLAN, learning how to get babies out of women. I think that’s the correct technical term.

To finish the brief trip through our week just gone, I shall leave you with a masterclass in grand parenting. Yesterday, whilst Rebecca and Tom went to the cake shop to return with the samples I hoovered up, we were looking after Freddie. Louise nipped out to the shops to buy him more stuff we could spoil him with and I was in sole charge. We were playing, and he was doing his usual thing of wandering around the house fiddling with stuff and pressing every button he could find. I was with him of course, and as he made his way to the washing machine I thought I’d get my phone out and take a picture.

Here it is.

The button he was to press one second later actually started the washing machine with a loud whoosh of water. It shocked Freddie so much that he jumped backwards and in complete slapstick style landed bum first into the dog’s full bowl of water.

His little face was a picture of shock and horror as he sat there waist deep in cold water. I whipped him out immediately of course, which was not easy when laughing so much. He was stripped off and wrapped up cozy on the couch watching Paw Patrol by the time Louise got back a few minutes later.

There’s no need to involve social services.

Till the next time…..

Veggie Plight Sandwich

I am pleased to report that I have been strong this week and no further ADRs have been made. I applaud my own restraint.

One change and planning consideration on this trip is that Emily is now vegetarian and I was very proud of myself for remembering to order her a vegetarian meal on the flight! She has been busily scouring the menus of our favourite haunts looking at how well she will be catered for. Most places of course accommodate veggies very well, but a couple don’t seem to have recognised them as a customer base. Teak doesn’t seem to offer much to them (we’re still going though, she can have a salad!) and the biggest sacrifice Emily will be making for the sake of animal kind is to miss out on the lasagne at Olive Garden.

This dish is Emily’s most favourite thing on a plate on the planet and there is no veggie version.  So if any of you are seasoned Orlando veggies I am sure she will be delighted to hear of any tips, recommendations and advice.

One new place we have added to the plan is Sweet Tomatoes. We’ve heard good things about it for years and yet never been. Recognising that this place is very likely to be appropriate for Emily’s veggie needs, it looks like it would still offer enough stuff to interest the carnivores in the party. A lunch here is on the cards which means that if any of us are feeling meat deprived we can make up for it during the evening meal!

It’s been a bit of a busy work week despite its four-day nature. Louise worked the bank holiday Monday and has been doing the same every day including this weekend. That’s a tough stretch. I mean it’s very tough that I have had to do the washing and tidy the house completely unaided this weekend. I have also done a few finishing touches to the bedroom, glossing some bits that were added post decorator to remedy some of the snag list stuff we noticed. I hate doing it but I do seem to have managed not to destroy the entire room which is always a positive when I pick up a tool of any kind.

I know I haven’t shared any photos yet. I will but we are still waiting for some things to get it 100% complete. Our blinds, ordered in early April, are still being made. Their delivery and installation is something I am very much looking forward to as currently, with nothing up at the windows, the now very bright mornings are restricting my ability to sleep. I crave some darkness.

We also have some bedroom furniture on order and that isn’t due until late May. This staggers me. What are they doing, growing the trees from scratch? Anyway, once all that is in place I’ll do some photos so you can all see what I’ve been moaning about all these weeks. The room looks a million times better than it did of course and we are happy with it. The spare room is suffering a little, as there is still a load of stuff dumped in there that needs to either thrown or found a new home for. Why do your possessions always outnumber your capacity to store them?

On Thursday (I think it was Thursday anyway) we all went to a wedding evening at the venue for Rebecca and Tom’s wedding. It was set up to show what it would look like when properly decorated etc and there were a few suppliers flogging their wares. We were entertained by a close up magician, which was handy, as if he’d been far away we wouldn’t have been able to see what he was doing, and discovered wonders that might be available to us such as a doughnut wall. Yep, that’s a thing and I suspect it may be a thing at Rebecca’s wedding too. Whilst we were there we were given a tour of the bridal suites on offer and Rebecca chose the one she (and Tom) wanted. Tom was off watching the Avengers film so he’ll be staying wherever he is told. Not that his presence on the night would have made a huge difference to the decision making process of course.

A few things are beginning to get booked in now, with the make up lady being the latest. I hope she can manage my complex skin tones. It’s a complex business this wedding lark. Luckily, we have years of experience of planning complex family based activities and Rebecca specialises in a list. I can’t think where she gets that from.

Time to go, I have dogs to walk, and then I am on Freddie minding duty later this afternoon whilst Tom watches End Game again, this time using the excuse of taking Rebecca with him!

Till the next time…..

Yo Motha’ Lovers

It doesn’t happen very often, maybe only once every five minutes, but last week I was wrong. It came to me a few hours after posting last week’s blog that it had all been based on a non-truth. Those photos we discovered were actually from 2001 and not 2003. I understand that this makes little difference to sentiment of the post, and of course that you don’t care but my confession is an attempt to satisfy my “things have to be correct” demon.

Those of you who have been around a while, reading these weekly word vomits may have thought, if indeed you think at all about this corner of the internet, that this week would just be me whinging about the troubles and hassle of having workmen in all week. Well, you’d be right. It’s been everything I expected and more.

We’ve done enough of this now that this should not have been a surprise, but it’s a bit like childbirth, yet more painful. You forget how bad it was last time and decide to do it all over again.

On Monday alone I was summoned upstairs several times to be consulted on minor decisions and major emergencies. Every such consultation of course meant more cost, hassle, time and cost. The week continued in that way and we stand now at the crossroads of any such job, where the demolition and destruction is done and now we start the process of putting the room back together. Looking at it now, I am struggling to imagine ever having a habitable bedroom ever again. It is freshly plastered, with the remains of our old carpet knee-deep in plaster blobs and dust. It’s grim.

We timed the work with Louise’s planned trip to Rome with her work colleagues and during that time I was holed up in the spare room, sleeping amidst the piled up crap from our bedroom. Originally by now we had hoped to have the room back in a good enough shape that we could sleep in it, alas with all the scope creep and disasters, work is taking longer than we imagined and we are now both enjoying the smaller bed and lack of floor space in what was Rebecca’s room.

The plan now is that tomorrow will see the chaps return to do the joinery stuff, such as skirting boards, doors and other wood based activity along with the electrician to fit our new lights ‘n’ stuff.

We had booked the decorator to come tomorrow, but with the delays he has had to be pushed back to next week, so our pain will endure a little longer.

All this detail is I’m sure an essential part of your Sunday!

In more positive news, assuming we can find some clothes in the crap mountain in the spare room, later today we are off out for a family meal to celebrate Louise’s birthday and the awesomeness of the various Mothers in our family. It’s the same place we went for our Christmas meal last year and my ever growing belly is alive with anticipation.

Louise’s verdict on Rome by the way was that it was lovely and fascinating. It is literally dripping in history. It was slightly marred by lots of beggars and dodgy folks trying to sell tat on the street, but overall she had a lovely week, filled with walking, pasta and interesting tours of old stuff. I recognise that is not up to trip report standards of detail, but firstly, I didn’t go and secondly she only got back late yesterday so I’ve only seen a few photos and had a quick debrief (not a euphemism).

Let’s hope for a better week construction wise so that you may have a better blog experience next Sunday….but it is not within my gift to promise that.

Till the next time…..

My Wardrobe Is A Time Machine

I’m not sure how your Sunday started. Perhaps a lie in, breakfast in bed, a pleasant stroll in the spring sunshine or a hearty brunch somewhere. Mine? Oh I just had my cocker spaniel’s anal glands milked. There’s no need to be jealous. All you have to do it mix six-week old milk with fish guts and close your eyes and you too can enjoy that experience.

Bean was at the vets for a check up as she had developed some sort of eye infection last week and they were making sure everything was in order. Whilst she was there we asked that the other end be addressed as the odour was becoming offensive.

So, happy Sunday…..

You will know as I have done nothing but moan about it for three weeks that we have work starting tomorrow. Nine tenths of the house look like one of those TV shows which show hoarders and their houses. The remaining tenth is now our bed room which is almost completely clear of all the crap we had crammed into our wardrobes. It has been a process as painful as I expected and to say I am not looking forward to the next week or two is the biggest understatement since someone said Coldplay were turgid music magnolia makers.

Anyway, whilst pulling dusty stuff out of cupboards, we have of course stumbled across many things we deemed important enough to keep, but had of course completely forgotten we had. Amongst that, and a few dozen trips to the tip, we happened upon some good old-fashioned proper photos from earlier Disney trips. When I started doing trip reports, we were right on the cusp of the whole digital thing and I think for the first report in 2003 certainly we were analogue.

Many of the photos are now long-lost, although we will probably find them when we renovate the next part of the house in the year 2070 (I’ll be ready to go again by then), however a few fell into our laps and I will of course share them now.

The quality is poor, as they are photos of a photo, but it does also show how far technology has come in sixteen years that all of our phones are now capable of much better photos than even the moderately expensive analogue stuff I used to cart around. I’m not sure the girls could now comprehend or contemplate not being able to see a photo they just took until you’d been to Max Spielman weeks after the holiday. As an aside, we also seem to have about half a dozen undeveloped rolls of film knocking around the house. Surely they will be beyond developing now? I’m not sure how long they survive in that state, but we should try to get them done and see what is on them I suppose.

I think all of these I’m sharing today are from that 2003 trip. Rebecca was four and Emily six. Look how Mickey was just wandering about near International Gateway. Now, you need a FastPass, security clearance and retina scans to meet the main mouse.

This one is from the Garden Grill. We were having breakfast I think and we have video footage of this somewhere. That also reminds me that we have hours of such footage that I need to edit and upload somewhere before it gets lost forever.

Here is some young handsome chap stroking a goat. This photo is also likely to upset Rebecca as it features her favourite hat that we lost somewhere in Mexico (the pavilion, not the country) and she cried for about three weeks about it. I should point out that the genie wasn’t in this photo. Many of these were made into a collage that was hung for a while and we had chopped up a photo with him on it for said collage and now if I remove it, the main photo will be damaged. Make sense?

Ah the days of autograph books…..this was taken in MGM Studios, on the steps outside what is now the Frozen sing a long thing. I can’t even remember what it was then. Anyone?

Here, we display exemplary parenting skills. Clearly Rebecca was being blinded by the sun, but the photo needed to be taken regardless.

More Chip and Dale, this time in Animal Kingdom, on the pathway down to what was Camp Minnie Mickey. Nobody mention that hat. The junior bum bags though, matching of course, were another crime of parenting.

 

The thing that strikes me in all of these is how happy the girls look, even when stood next to a giant Pooh.

And we’ll end where we began, with the meeting of Mickey at International Gateway.

Such lovely memories of a time that feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago in equal measure. If you really wanted to, you could go back to that first 2003 report and see if you can match the photos to the actual events. I would….but I’ve got a bedroom to finish clearing and some more stressing to do about two weeks of disruption. Did I mention that?

Till the next time……

 

Freddie Fun and a Few Other Fings

I do try and prevent this blog from becoming the equivalent of the bloke at work who keeps showing you photos of their kids/grand kids. It’s hard at times as of course Freddie is the most special being on the planet and my track record for not sharing stuff like that is poor as I have spent every year since 2003 writing about the girls on our holidays, but I think I’ve done OK.

So you’ll forgive me I hope a couple of short videos from last night. We had the pleasure of Freddie’s company for a few hours whilst Rebecca an Tom went to the cinema. We did all the things that grand parents are supposed to do, like let him refuse to eat his tea and instead fill him up with yoghurts and chocolate, no doubt making him difficult when he went home. It is the circle of life.

You can see from video one that he may have had some previous experience with his Mum and camera phones. Also, I know that the music is annoying, but you only get a few seconds of it, not the whole evening.

And in this second video, ignoring any recent revelations about the artist, he does like a bit of a dance and MJ is one of his favourites.  You may also spot him attempt to shout at Alexa. It is amazing what they pick up, and he is obsessed with technology, buttons and fiddling with things he shouldn’t.

I resisted the urge to measure him and then try to calculate how tall he will be in late summer 2020 for our next trip, for now.

The week just gone has been a blur. Busy, stressful, problem ridden and wet, and that was just the commute. That does not sound like a set of ingredients for a week of joy and indeed it was not. Having to work for a living does place serious limitations on my ability to enjoy day-to-day life.

I am vexed that this eating of my time has not allowed me yet to investigate any of the villa tips many of you sent me a few weeks ago. I mean, time is tight, we are literally now only eighteen months away from our intended departure. This shall need to be addressed promptly. I should also thank you all for the many comments and thoughts last week on the Star Wars Land opening. It was a real mixed bag, but I think almost everyone had big concerns over crowd levels.

I do wonder, with my “I want to be a Disney Imagineer” thought bubble on, how they plan and consider these things. You see, those are some meetings I would like to be in and not spend half of it wishing I wasn’t. My mind boggles at the data analysis, planning and general interesting stuff that must go into just the opening of such a thing, never mind the building of it.

Almost every part of WDW will be affected, from hotels bookings and obvious things like that, but how do they accommodate the costuming requirements for all the new cast members and characters, where do they store them, are the car parks going to cope, what impact might there be on the other parks, which merchandise is de-ranged to make way for the new stuff in the shops as again they have finite amounts of shelf space. It’s no wonder Disney employ so many folks. Think of all the project plans in play at once for this stuff.  Imagine being the person responsible for the thing being ready on time. That must involve a few sleepless nights.

I’m sure my tiny brain can’t even come up with 99% of the considerations for this type of thing. The number of moving parts in play just to facilitate folks like me going on a few rides is unfathomable.

Right, with this post meandering around aimlessly I should probably go and be more productive elsewhere. At the back of my mind, my stress levels are being enhanced by the impending arrival of workmen to destroy and then reconstruct our bedroom. We have to empty the room before that, and find places to house all that crap until the work is done and then it’ll be weeks before we are totally finished. I do hate this disruption and it makes me stress more than it should for any sane person. I’ll address it today, not by getting on with the work of emptying the room of course, more by watching the football and doing things that will make me forget it’s happening.

You know it makes sense.

Till the next time…..