Party Of Seven

I shall start with what the kids these days call a shout out! It is a double one in fact as today is not only Mother’s Day, but also my Mum’s birthday, and a significant one too. Happy Birthday Mum and Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the other Mum’s in my life, Louise, Mary (Mother in law) and Rebecca. You are all awesome and I’ll be seeing you all later to state this in person.

It’s been a busy week of organising what we’ll be eating in 180 days time. This is completely normal. I don’t know what we’re having for tea tonight, but I do know our dining arrangements for late August/early September.

Last week’s post brought news of our first ADR at Whispering Canyon. So far that successful streak has broadly continued despite some hurdles along the way. My spider senses were spot on with my concerns over trying to book Beaches & Cream for a party of seven. My first few searches resulted in a quack quack oops (ah, DLT, may God have mercy etc) and this was disturbing as I really want the Kitchen Sink experience for the newbies in our group.

By reducing our party size I did begin to see some options appearing and eventually booked a table for three at 3.50. Once that was secured, I went to edit it and tried to up the party size to seven. It was having none of it, but it did let me increase it to four. In an act of desperation I fell on my sword and had to make *that* phone call to Disney. Now, I haven’t phoned for an ADR in years so can someone please explain how I remembered the phone number, international codes and all? I spoke with an actual cast member, put on my best Hugh Grant accent and asked for a table for three around the same time. The cast member was lovely, but had nothing. Ah well, at least I had exhausted all options.

So the plan is for four of our party of seven to go and do that and Louise and I, with either Freddie or Mikey to walk up to The Fountain at The Dolphin for a similar soda shop experience, if of course we can’t secure a walk up around that time.

The next day was relatively straight forward in comparison as we were not trying to fit a party of seven into a restaurant the size of our front room. Via Napoli, Emily’s choice, was our aim and albeit a little earlier than we had originally planned we snagged a table for seven at 3.40. I’m fairly happy with that time as by the time we finish, it won’t be long until dusk, when Epcot’s World Showcase transforms from one of my favourite places in the world to one of my favourite places in the world with twinkly lights and fire torches.

Having stated on several occasions that “we don’t need many ADRs” the next day was our first ADR free day so there was no booking to be done. For those who care, it is a day filled with Toothsome for lunch and Applebees for tea (dinner). I see no issue with that, and that may indeed be a problem.

We are now up to the 3rd of September and the plan says it contains one of the few full theme park days. We will be Hollywood Studios and there had been a request from Louise to dine at the Hollywood Brown Derby. With food, as with her men, her taste is for the classy. Now, I had done a little research into the Fantasmic Dinner Package. Despite several years in the noughties where we booked this thing at vast expense only for Fantasmic to be rained off, I am a glutton for punishment and wanted to book that again. Not having to sit on those bleachers for an hour with a numb bum and a bored ten month old appealed to me.

I don’t know why, but currently there are no dates beyond August for booking this package. Whilst this raises a small concern about Fantasmic being down (surely not), for now I have booked us an ADR at The Brown Derby and I’ll keep an eye on things and swap that to the package as and when it becomes available.

Onwards to the next day which again is a non ADR day with just some light bites at Keke for breakfast and Cowfish for tea. I may have a problem. I admit that.

The following day is another of those full theme park days at Animal Kingdom. This always has to include Yak & Yeti or Louise won’t let us go to Florida again. When trying to book this one we came up against the party of seven issue again. Not one option for that party size at all, so we had to search for a party of four. Having plenty of options for that and having booked for 6.30, another search for a party of three returned nothing, with a link to view my existing plans. This suggested to me that the web site knew I had a booking already and for that reason wasn’t letting me book another. We got a bit sneaky at this point, and we used Emily’s My Disney Experience account to search. Sure enough, she was presented with plenty of options and booked for three at 6.15. This seems a lot of faff for larger parties but as all Disney’s top executives read this every week, it’ll soon get sorted I’m sure. If for no other reason that as two seperate prties they can’t automatically add the 18% gratuity for parties larger than six.

Yesterday, I was looking at our plans for the 6th of September, when we plan to do the Not So Scary party. The plan says Olive Garden, but I had a tentative option of trying to get us into Be Our Guest. I was quite amazed to see an option for a party of seven and in a blur of excitement I booked it. It was only when the dust had settled that I realised it was Quick Service lunch at 2.30. With a second look, there are no times being offered beyond 2.30. Usually you can search for any time and just get no results, but there are no later times shown as a search option, so I’m guessing that’s because of the early closing of the park for the party.

Anyway, I cancelled that Be Our Guest reservation as we’ve done lunch there before and it doesn’t compare to the dinner experience so I’ll see if we can get that booking on another day.

So that’s been my week. I’ve somehow managed to fit in a really busy week at work and a gig this weekend too. I am impressed if nobody else is!

We are pretty much done now for ADRs beyond that vague intent to try and get into BOG at some point and Edison. However, if we get BOG, we may have to sacrifice Edison to fit that in. NASA have less complicated plans for space exploration.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after all that.

Till the next time….

Panic! At the Tesco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time…..

Full Of Freddie

I promise that I will try not to become a grand chlild bore each week bombarding you with nothing but Freddie stuff.  However, this week is not the time for that. It’s felt like a long week, and a tough one for Rebecca and Tom as Freddie was in hospital for pretty much all of it.

He wasn’t feeding too well and was generally taking a while to recover from the trauma that is birth. Frustrated at wanting him home and at the same time worried that he’d be OK, after probably the longest week in the world, Rebecca and Tom were finally able to bring him home on Friday. They were a little naughty and just turned up at our house with him out of the blue having told us earlier that day that they hadn’t heard anything about him coming home.

With him being in special care until this point I hadn’t been able to hold him so this was a special moment which I celebrated by growing an extra chin.

So putting that week of stress and worry behind them, he was taken home so that his parents could then start a whole new phase of stress and worry about important things such as poo, eating and sleeping, which sounds like one of my normal weeks.

That new phase of stress and worry for Rebecca and Tom, I shall needlessly point out, will never end!

There have been lots of gifts and stuff purchased for the new family unit. One thing I gave them was something I wish we had been lucky enough to have. It is free but yet priceless. I set up a YouTube channel for Freddie. I know he won’t be vlogging for a while (if at all) of course, but the idea is that it is somewhere to put as many videos as possible of him, so when his Mum & Dad become middle-aged nostalgia machines they will be able to look back at any given point in his life and watch it all over again.

To make this easier we also got them a vlogging camera. Now, I have no idea if that channel will be made public, that’s up to his parents, but that isn’t the point. Our memories of the kids are scattered across photo albums, trip reports (thankfully) and other stuff crammed into drawers. With technology as it is, this won’t be the case for young Freddie.

So we’re all getting used to our new life with another member of the family in place. Even Rebecca said it felt surreal and unreal but within a very short period of time it will feel like he’s always been here I’m sure. We are all absolutely smitten with him and when you look at these photos, you will probably see why. I say that with not one hint of grand parent bias of course!

He’s a sleeper so far, which is a blessing. He’s already doing six hours or so through the night in between feeds. That’s better than I do! That all may change over time, but it sounds very much like Emily who we had to prod whilst asleep to make sure she was still alive. Nothing has changed there to be honest and if left to her own devices would only wake to be fed and then go back to sleep.

So with very few apologies there ends an entire post dedicated to having a Freddie. It may happen again but I will try not to be the online equivalent of that bloke who keeps showing you the photos of his grand kids in his wallet. Maybe….

Till the next time….

Looking For An Oasis In This Blur

My God life is busy right now. It’s an expected symptom of both Louise and I working long hours I suppose, but with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, during which Louise had one day off, and everything else that goes on in real life we are dizzy at the moment.

I know Louise is feeling it especially. In her job as district nurse she’s working like a mad woman. Eleven or twelve visits a day leaves little time for lunch or sensible thought and in the odd few hours that she’s at home a vegetative state is required to give her body the chance to recover. I’m not too different to be honest although I am grateful that my job doesn’t involve things that ooze puss, discharge or any of the other bodily fluids she tells me all about.

There are DIY decorating projects half-finished all around the house and I really should be doing one of those now, but to be frank I’m just too tired. Louise has been working all weekend so I’ve been on tidying, washing and soon to be ironing duty and still haven’t done the other stuff I should have, like take all the xmas crap to the tip…yep, that’s how far behind we are. I also had Mustard’s first gig of 2017 last night and as much as I really enjoy my hobby, a late night at my age takes about three days to recover from.

So it is safe to say that we are all gazing longingly at the upcoming holiday in April. It is a hazy mirage seen through the whirling dervish of reality. We can almost make it out now but there is still a long way to travel before we can luxuriate in its sunny, relaxed loveliness. As much as I have moaned a bit about the lack of time we have planned in theme parks, right now, that week on Siesta Key Beach is looking pretty good. I may be bored out of my mind on day three but I plan to sleep for the first two beach days anyway.

As weekends go, I’ve had better then. There’s been pretty much zero relaxation time and this was reduced even further yesterday when I had to take an unexpected trip to the opticians. I had allowed myself a lie in until at least 9.30, with the dogs joining me once Louise left for work, as they normally do, for what I thought would be the useful peaceful lie on the bed. I must have drifted off to sleep as when I woke up and wandered to get my glasses from their usual resting spot on the radiator cover I stood on something that I didn’t recognise. With a puppy in the house it was a change for that not to be liquid or at least soft but on closer inspection I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…and not because I didn’t have my glasses on.

What I picked up were the mangled remains of what were my spectacles. In disbelief I plotted Bean’s death for a good few minutes and then proceeded to pointlessly wave them in front of her face whilst swearing a lot. Her confused expression and wagging tail suggested she wasn’t clear on the message I was trying to get over.


So my plans of a tip run and some decorating evaporated and I ended up having to do the unimaginable and drive into actual town on a Saturday and go to a shop. Having only had my glasses for a few months, the optician could quickly re-order what I needed. It was slightly less easy to hand over the huge sums of cash necessary for them to do that. They will be ready next week and in the meantime I am wearing my old pair. They are a fractional improvement on total blindness.

So life is a bit of a blur for me for more than one reason right now. I either need it to speed up a little more, like fast forwarding the adverts, until we hit April 10th or it would be nice to be a little less busy for a bit so we can all catch our breath. I’m off to the next task now….

Till the next time…..

Look At My Ageing Baubles…

Thank you to you all for your kind wishes and lovely comments on last week’s post. If I could I would invite you all to the wedding but I’m tight so I won’t. That looks like it will be in 2020 by the way, which is a pleasingly long time off giving us some time to eBay our every possession to fund a wedding that a Russian Oligarch may find opulent (probably).

Louise has been working this weekend tending to the weeping sores and boils of the Bolton community which has meant that the enormous responsibility of putting the xmas decorations fell onto the shoulders of Emily and I. Louise normally does it as that is simpler than us doing it and then her re-doing it all shortly afterwards. She is quite particular about such things and to be fair it pays off as out tree always looks lovely.

So I did the wise thing and just did the heavy lifting of locating the tree, assembling it and moving around all the furniture to accommodate it in the nominated space. I then bowed out gracefully and left Emily to execute this year’s colour scheme.

She did well and the final result passed the ultimate test and not one bauble was moved. As we found the suitable baubles to match the instructed colours we did of course come across some blasts from the past.


The fact that a delicate bauble has survived pretty much intact in our house for fifteen years is a Christmas miracle. Some though have not fared quite so well and the ravages of time, so familiar to my aging body have not been kind.


Safe to say he did not make the tree this year. The theme was not shabby woolen tat.

Once complete Emily captured the dogs posing in front of it.



Don’t worry, they got the doggy treat Emily was dangling above them to get them to pose like that.

My four-day working weeks continue and it is lovely to think that I now only have eight more days at work until my long festive break. I may spend the entire fortnight in my dressing gown and a food coma.

As we move closer to Christmas then our holiday moves into sharper focus too. We’ll need to be getting our Disney park tickets early in the new year so that we are in position to do our FastPass + bookings in February. I think we’re going to go with one of those Magic Your Way things as we only have four days in Disney. Did I mention that we have a lot to cram in? Those 4 day hoppers are currently around £312 whereas a 14 day ultimate is about £100 more each. Normally I like to have the flexibility to be able to pop into to Disney at any time but with time so tight and the price difference it just isn’t worth it.

We can pick up the Universal tickets just before we leave with no such incentive to have them 60 days before we get there. I wonder how long it will be before they cotton on to that.

By the way, after I highlighted the cabana nonsense a couple of weeks ago, did anyone see the news about the “express” bus service being offered at WDW? $15 a day per person to get some sort of VIP experience. Now, we always hire a car, as that independence is really important to us, plus we like to venture out and about off site a lot and to be honest I like driving over there in what is usually a lovely motor. So the thought of paying extra for that sort of thing is not something we’d ever do, but it’s another extra earner that doesn’t really feel right to me. Is anyone thinking of using that?

From what I’ve read one thing that might be worth using the service for is that they intend to go through some backstage areas to speed up journeys. That might be interesting to see, but I doubt it will be taking a route through anywhere too interesting or sensitive. For a family of four, I’d venture that for $60 a day you could Uber your way around the parks, could you not? Anyway, I suppose if some people do use this new thing it will lessen the load on the normal service which may be helpful.

Anyway, time to go and walk several animals and then think about what is for tea. Louise has been taking it easy at work all weekend but she’ll expect to be fed when she gets in.

Till the next time……

Meet Bean!

With the passing of bonfire night, Christmas is now in full swing. This of course means that somewhere in a large warehouse on a cold and windswept industrial estate, probably just outside Northampton, thousands of copies of Mary Berry’s fitness DVD are already being shrink wrapped ready for January the 2nd.

This is the true circle of life, moving from one reason to shop to another. We live these days just to give advertising execs a reason to exist it seems. Perhaps it’s the absence of Florida sun from this year but I’m feeling a bit jaded with it all to be honest.

These feelings of being out of step with humanity weren’t helped by the events in the US this week. I never do politics here as firstly I don’t know enough about that stuff to even think about blogging about it and of course anything like that inevitably ends up with people falling out. I will make a minor exception to my no politics rule to suggest that Trump’s election, is, in my view, a huge step in the wrong direction for a country I have a lot of love for. As I tweeted, blurry eyed on Wednesday morning…

This is like when your daughter chooses an idiot for a boyfriend. You just have to sit tight until she sees the light.

I speak from a position of experience.

It’s worrying that so many people feel that this man is required. If the political landscape of the world moves any further to the right we all may fall off the edge.

That lack of a break this summer is catching up with us all now I think and I know I really need my lengthy holiday from work over the Christmas period to recharge my batteries. Not having spent my holiday allowance in the US this year (did I mention we didn’t have a holiday this summer?) I had a load of days left, so I finish work on the 16th of December and don’t go back until after New Year. Even with that booked I had a load of days I still hadn’t used so I have gone part-time between now and then by booking off every Friday. Crazy right? It’ll be like working in the Public Sector (winking smiley face). Even with those booked I’m carrying five days over into next year. Bloody hell it’s no wonder I’m jaded, I’ve been working all year!

Wow, I can feel the lack of energy and moaning tone of this post oozing back at me through the keyboard. To balance this, let me share something a little more joyous with you. We have a new addition to the family here in Williams World. As we only have the 78 animals in our house the sensible thing to do of course would be to get another one. Bean has been with us now for quite some time, as we got her in the late summer. Her arrival shall we say was a little bit of surprise to me, but it does seem she is here to stay so say hello…


She is actually quite a big bigger now as she is five months old but that photo shows her cuteness when she arrived. Oli has been pretty good in accepting this massive disruption to his routine, displaying patience and tolerance beyond the call of duty with only the odd telling off. The horrors and hard labour of house training are starting to pay off and she is largely well-behaved in that respect now.

The house is a constant bomb site, with the floors strewn with toys and stuff she shouldn’t be chewing, and it’s been impossible to watch any form of television since she arrived due to the nightly noisy games her and Oli play, which mainly involve them chasing each other and barking a lot, but she’s settling in.

I suppose there are worst things in the world with strangely coloured hair.


Till the next time…..

A Capital Weekend

This is a first. I’m on the train back from London blogging from my phone. The typos will be numerous….

We’ve just had a lovely and at times very emotional weekend in the capital celebrating Emily’s recent 21st. We decided to take her to watch Les Miserables in the West End. It’s a show she has been listening to for as long as she can remember. She used to pretend to be Cosette and do the Castle in the Cloud number in our front room at a very young age.

When they made the film version it became an obsession and she watched it more times than I can count.

So our journey began yesterday with the 9.23 out of Manchester and quite possibly the worst breakfast from one of those food court thingies at Piccadilly. I had forgotten I’d upgraded us to first class on the way down so that expense and experience were not necessary after all. We made use of the free coffee at least as we sped South.

We Ubered to the Holiday Inn in Mayfair for less than the tube would have cost us and we were able to check in early and dump our stuff in the room.

We had a wander across to Buckingham Palace and as you do we bought our 21 year old daughter a stuffed corgi from the shop over the road.

We then wandered aimlessly for a bit through the parks nearby and ended up in Trafalgar Square. After a bit of a sit down we wandered into the National Gallery for some culture. That lasted about ten minutes before Louise’s face told me we’d had enough of that.

We walked back to the hotel enjoying the history and architecture (hark at me, ten minutes in a gallery and I’m John Humphreys) whilst Louise moaned about her aching feet. Those dolly shoes were no match for mine and Emily’s trainers!!

Showers baths and resting happened before another Uber down to Shaftesbury Avenue. With the myriad of top class dining options at her disposal Emily had chosen to eat at the Rainforest Cafe.

We were seated quickly after I had used all my powers of persuasion to have the bartender serve Emily some alcohol. Nachos to share as an appetiser before the mains arrived.

We were stuffed and all of my dessert intentions were cast aside as my belt rebelled against my stomach.

With a few beers, wines and multiple cocktails it was £130ish. Pricey but good fun and it was for a special occasion.

We then made our way down to the theatre.

At this point Emily was shaking with excitement. After ordering our interval drinks we made our way to Row C. Well done to whoever secured those gems!!

Emily started crying somewhere in the opening number and was a gibbering wreck for most of the show until the end. The emotional peaks were the end of the first act which is a proper goosebumps and lump in the throat thing and of course the finale which if it doesn’t get you right in the feels you need to seek medical help. The theatre is surprisingly small as was the cast but the noise they generate is incredible. 

Wonderful music, singing and staging led to us being on our feet cheering as they took their bows. We were so close that a few of the cast could see Emily in bits, make up down her face as they took the deserved standing ovation!

We strolled back to the hotel with the tears still flowing and as we had a nightcap in the hotel bar she still could not gather herself. Rest assured she loved it….a lot.

Sunday morning was a lazy one with brunch in a nearby eatery with terrible service and decent food followed by a look around the shops before getting on the train.

It’s been a dear do of course but an experience Emily will never forget and therefore of course money well spent.

I’m now going back to concentrating on not throwing up as I’m travelling backwards at high speed with blurry countryside to my right. Ugh.

Till the next time….

Sent from my iPhone.