Hagrid Makes Me Happy

I have long been an admirer of Disney. I appreciate this may not be a surprise to many of you, but it is true. I do recognise they are not without their flaws. The fact that they insist on charging me to enter their parks and stay at their hotels being the largest. They are also a money-making machine, as is their right, but I do feel like many others, that they price things a little too high, and it has only been fifteen minutes since they increased the price for parking at one of their theme parks.

What really impressed me this week was their control of the weather. I know that may sound odd but there is no other explanation. Clearly, at the last Disney board meeting, as they were studying my latest blog posts, there must have been real concern and the risk of a profits warning at the news that we would not be returning any time soon. So they called the weather department with an urgent request.

Said department were clearly instructed to crank up the temperature and reveal the long hidden sun in the UK. These February balmy temperatures cannot be explained away with any other plausable scenario. Why did they do this I hear you ask?

Well I will tell you. If you trawl back through last (almost) ten years of this nonsense (who is sillier, me for writing these for ten years, or you for reading them? Think on) you will see that every time we say we have no Florida plans, it is pretty much always at the first sign of spring that we buckle and find some way to do so. Now, I am not saying at this stage that anything is booked. Certainly this year will not be possible, but alongside the Disney weather Gods making the weather nice, they also got their fierce competitor to announce a new roller coaster.

What nonsense is this? What am I going on about? Well, they realise that the decision to go to my happy place is always dependent on the green light from Louise. They also know, from my blogs, that Louise is a huge Universal fan too. So due to the combo of the nice weather and Disney making Universal do their bidding, this happened.

For those concerned for Louise’s health, she had been close to the toilet for many hours this week. You know she doesn’t mind me sharing this stuff, right back to the Vagisil episode of an earlier trip report.

So having sworn that we would not be darkening Florida’s shores within the foreseeable, with a caveat that nothing yet is guaranteed, the Disney board, along with their weather department and spies within Universal may have influenced Louise enough to have opened a door. It’s impressive.

When Craig, I hear you ask? When will you be returning? I don’t know dear reader, but thanks for asking. All I know is that next year contains a significant birthday for me and if I’m not stood in Epcot at some point during that day either the world will have ended or Louise will have changed my mind. It’s on!

For now, there’s no formal planning in progress (or real clue as to how to fund it) for many reasons. It needs to ferment a little in my mind first. Clearly Universal is “in scope” due to the newly announced roller-coaster successfully chipping away at Louise’s will, so that needs to be considered, and baked into the overall schedule. But, and this may shock you, I intend to learn the lesson of the last trip and not over plan things. This may strike you as strange and going against everything I stand for, and you would probably be right, but it needs to be done.

Things will be planned and organised of course, but I intend to leave more to ever-changing winds of freewill and the going of flows.

There is also the as yet un-researched (as I was sulking due to us not going) imminent opening of Stars Wars Land to look into. There are some practical things of course, like a wedding to organise and pay for yet, but the die is cast and the cogs are turning.

So thank you to the Disney weather department, you have played a blinder. I thank you, even though my retirement savings plan may not. Rebecca, Emily, don’t ever plan on inheriting a penny, you have and are enjoying it in the form of sunshine, fun and food, and I suspect you respect my decision.

Now that I have blogged about this, it shall be so, and the green light cannot be over turned. That is the law.

Till the next time…..

We Shall Rebuild!

With a couple of days with temperatures in the double digits allowing me to venture out without the need for more layers than a lasagne, the annual emergence from the bleak, dark chill of the winter cave begins.

My allergy to the dark, cold winter is covered in-depth in previous blogs, and this welcome appearance of lighter nights and warmer days literally brightens my mood. After last week’s bleak blog of breakages, the week just gone has felt like a literal reconstruction of our lives as things got sorted one by one.

Monday, our trusted and long time joiner/builder of choice came to start the process of figuring out how to fix the broken curtain in our bedroom. This may seem like overkill, but when you learn that rather than replace a £10 curtain rail, our plan is to destroy the bedroom entirely, take it back to brick and start again at a cost which would fund a holiday, that may be more of a surprise. It was to me!

As much of a shock to the financial system that is, it is long overdue. We’ve been here almost seven years now, and our bedroom was dated when we got here. It was acceptable in the 80’s I suppose and the previous occupants clearly spent a chunk of change on it, but it is at the stage that it is embarrassingly naff and definitely showing its age, so rebuild we must.

Whilst he was here quoting us for that, he took a look at our catastrophically broken kitchen unit. It took him about thirty seconds to fix it. Reinforcing my reputation as a DIY disaster, he kindly said that everyone has different skills and left to laugh it up in his van.

So that was fix number one.

Wednesday the dishwasher man came. He said some words about what was wrong with it like circuit board and element before taking some money off me. At least the long struggle of washing up by hand for several days was over. Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

Thursday saw a man arrive with a car for us. No we haven’t bought a new one. It was a courtesy car to use whilst Louise’s was off being sorted. She is currently in a fraught legal battle with a lamp-post which was clearly not looking where it was going as she reversed at speed off a pavement. This careless lamp-post doesn’t have a leg to stand on and Louise’s car has the scars to prove it. That will be back, all shiny and new in a few days.

We are also in the process of decluttering the house a bit. We have built up our furniture levels to one that is not sustainable and we need to get rid. Our coffee table went to a new home this week giving us a little more room, but we still have a dining table and chairs and four seater sofa with matching chair to go. Don’t ask how we got to this state, you wouldn’t believe me. So if you are looking for either, hit me up, as the youngsters say.

What a fun week, even before the strange mixture of comedy and tragedy that is work.

Anyway, we now have a quote and plan for the bedroom and work starts at the end of March. I do so love building work going on in the house. Anything that can deliver the greatest disruption is fine with me. I can’t wait…..(Spacey gif).

Louise will be away at the time on her “girl’s holiday” with folks from work. She’s off to Rome to celebrate her and her colleagues 50th birthday. I meanwhile will be sweeping up and taking dust out of every orifice and no doubt sleeping in the car.

On the subject of holidays, and what is this blog without such, I had a tweet last week (thanks Paul) pointing out that I hadn’t mentioned the “F word” in weeks. I know, I know. It is all part of the process of denial. If I do not say its name, the fact that there are no current plans will not be real and I will not have to deal with it. The after effects of the last trip are wearing off and the levels of “F word” in my bloodstream are starting to get low. I must put such thoughts from my mind as with bedrooms and weddings in our imminent future there is nothing to be done about it. Again, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.

I shall have to take comfort from the meagre positives such as not having to wear my attractive bobble hat, scarf and gloves to walk the dog the last few days. Yay?

Till the next time…..

House of Cards

Well this is a first. I am writing this first bit of this week’s blog at a Mustard gig on a Friday night. Firstly, I never pre-write these things, certainly not on my phone as the spelling will be carnage and at most gigs there isn’t time.

Tonight is different as there are two bands on and so we have some down time whilst the other lot do their thing.

We have done our first “spot” and they are now on their second before we close the night in a bit. The place is rammed and therefore the band not currently on stage (us) has nowhere to sit so I am tucked away in a stairwell listening to a long string of songs I’d forgotten and frankly I was glad to. Well executed they are, but a bit too predictably pub rock for my tastes.

I’m also starving as I had to come straight from work (well I shot home to walk the dogs and load the gear) so all I can think of now is what I’m going to eat when I get in. You see, it’s this rock and roll lifestyle that has denied me a six pack. Eating that late is not a good thing no matter how amazing it tastes and feels. It’s those thoughts of food which will normally distract me mid set and cause me to make a right ricket in a song or two.

The week just gone has been another meeting fest. After a while, sitting in meetings, just contemplating all the stuff building up that you should be doing but can’t, as you are in a meeting, just gets stressful. Again, I can drift off mid meeting thinking about that and of course what I’m going to eat. That’s pretty much a constant if I’m honest.

At this point, Friday’s writing stopped, I did some bass playing and writing was resumed on Sunday.

The other theme of this week has been that our house is falling down. I am not one to over exaggerate the negative as you will know, but things are just getting stupid now. We have a broken dishwasher, which refuses to run a cycle and instead puts on a dazzling performance of flashing lights. I have googled this stuff and the results are full of all men who can handle a tool belt talking about how easy it is to just take the thing to bits, clean some sensor or other and then put it back together.

In our house that just leads to a dishwasher in a thousand pieces, me in a rage and dishwasher sales going up by one. I am in the process of securing a repair person to come and make the problem go away.

We also lost one of our curtains in our bedroom. They just fell down. They were hung on rickety old tracks/runners or whatever you call them and I’ve just been ignoring the fixing or replacing of that as there are literally 671,234 things I’d rather do instead. So now we are paying the price and it serves me right that Louise is using the opportunity to look at some of these fandangled shutter things. Again, folks will be arriving to measure, quote and bankrupt us.

Then on Saturday, Louise was opening one of our fancy, hydraulicy, lift up doors on one of our top kitchen cupboards and that fell off too. How we laughed. Again, having spent moments looking at it, drawing on previous countless similar experiences, I declined the urge to try and fix it myself and I shall again support the local tradesman economy and hopefully they are coming tomorrow.

This series of unfortunate events has been taken as a message that the house may now be showing the signs of all our great holidays and we need to sort it out. A list is being drawn up and projects are beginning. I am a little bit afraid.

Amidst all this carnage a normalish weekend was attempted. Bean went for a haircut yesterday and has spent the hours afterwards shivering and giving us dirty looks.

Then, in the evening Louise and I went out for some tea at our local authentic Italian restaurant, Frankie and Bennys….. I over use the Kevin Spacey gif but it does serve almost every purpose and would work again here….before heading to the cinema next door. Twice in two weeks. Crazy I know.

This time (and I’ll just point out here that again it was Louise’s choice) we watched Glass.

Image result for glass film

We both loved the previous film in this series, Split, and thought James McAvoy was excellent in it. He was again very good in Glass, but alas, in our view the film itself was, and I shall try to be all highbrow and analytical here, a bit shit.

The premise is that McAvoy is a person with multiple personalities and struggles as they battle for “the light”. In this film, seeing that Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willis were in it, it looked like little could go wrong. It did.

I won’t spoilt it, but there’s a comic book theme to this one, which, not being in any way a comic book fan or indeed very fond of any super hero films to be honest, it left me and Louise a bit cold. The film didn’t really feel like it knew what it wanted to be and the dark, evil themes of the first were lost as demonstrated when the last twenty minutes sees Samuel L Jackson sat in a wheelchair in a car park in a purple shiny suit. It was, at best a lost opportunity to showcase McAvoy’s incredible range playing the 20+ characters in one body. Anyway, my ice cream was delicious. A three scoop, Rum and Raisin, Chocolate and Strawberry bowl of pleasure, so every cloud etc.

Right, I must away, to secure other parts of our house of cards before this anarchy gets any worse.

Till the next time…..

I Don’t Want To Build A Snowman

I left you last week with a cliffhanger about us going to the cinema. It was the equivalent of the Netflix thing of just having to watch the next episode and the fact that you are here now proves that you could not resist knowing what happened next…yes?

To prove that point, I was inundated with a request to give my feedback on our experience.

It was decent. A strong start, quite sweet, but went to pieces towards the end. But enough about my bag of popcorn, we watched The Favourite and enjoyed it very much.

It’s a two-hour job, so that’s either good value for money or a reason to take a cushion with you. You may be aware, from previous bloggage of my absolute hatred of period dramas. This is more to do with their ever-presence on Sunday night telly as some omnipresent reminder that Monday is coming for you and it ain’t gonna be pretty. So this probably wouldn’t have been my first choice for a film to watch, but Louise was very keen, and the reviews had been very favourable so I allowed Louise to watch it.

Image result for spacey gif side eye

It was a really enjoyable watch. It became clear early on that they were using modern language so you won’t be battling with thees and thous, but you will encounter some colourful words of a very modern nature.

The story, whilst not a blockbuster style action fest held the interest with ease and there were several very funny moments too. The ending was just a bit weird if I am honest but I won’t spoil it of course. All in all, I give it four out of five stars and a strong Mkingdon thumbs up. I do wish I had gone Pick N Mix, but we had plans for a large tea that evening and I didn’t want to be spoiling that, but I knew I’d regret it! Life is cruel at times.

The working week has been a little more bearable than last, mainly due to a couple of snow days at home which always make working more pleasant. The snow and ice have made other tasks more challenging when really it just shouldn’t. Simple jobs like walking the dogs turned into a form of water skiing with me gliding across the ice ridden pavements whilst Oli and Bean searched out their next sniffing place, typically three feet from the last. With the fields temporarily being snow crusted delights and not the usual mud fests they are for six months of the year it did allow me to venture onto the local playing fields and let them have a good run without ending the walk like a Tough Mudder contestant. This does tire them out which makes for a more peaceful evening.

Things got very real in this laughable snowmageddon when the bin collections were cancelled on Wednesday which means we are now two weeks away from the next one and facing endless fun and games with our plastics and cardboard. In a time before my blogs, I do wonder how you made your lives work without such crucial updates.

The ultimate travesty was when I went to do our usual weekly big shop. I have long since stopped venturing to an actual shop to do this. It is an online experience and usually works out well. Upon starting up the app I discovered that every delivery slot for the next four days was full. Now, either they had cancelled deliveries due to the light dusting of the white stuff or the entire population of Bolton has decided to stock pile three months worth of food to cover the next few days of nasty weather. Brexit? What could possibly go wrong?

Now I have to actually leave the house and go to the supermarket and undertake a “Click and Collect”. I shall be taking a receipt so they can reimburse my fuel expenses. So enough snow now thanks, as we just cannot function in its presence.

With that click and collecting the next task on my endless list of weekend chores I shall leave you having uplifted your Sunday with these essential and world-changing updates of my week.

Till the next time…..

Winter, Work and Whinging

Note to self. Don’t take time off work ever again. Sure, it’s all fun and games when you’re knee-deep in Homes Under The Hammer, viewing it through a hazy vista of drugs and self-pity, but when the inevitable return to work happens there’s more payback than you can shake a pack of paracetamol at.

So this week I have been in a meeting. I think there were changes of subject at times, but from the start of Monday until late Friday I was either physically in a meeting, some of which were down south, or sat on conference calls not quite being able to hear people, asking who has just joined and confirming that yes I can see your screen. I’ve had better weeks. All of this was endured manfully whilst still not being 100% fully fit. This lurgy just will not die.

Sure, earlier generations had jobs like coal mining, and at times that could be tough I’m sure, but they will never appreciate the misery of working in a warm office, filled with free coffee, having to listen to some blert talking down the phone line about the art of the possible and reaching out. The first victim of a conference call is my will to live.

To continue my ill-advised and unjustified whinging, added to all of this was the soul-destroying relentless winter weather. Everything feels harder in these dark, wet, cold and sometimes snowy months. Indeed, my drive down to Marlow earlier in the week was remarkable for the snow which seemed to follow me all the way down, only to be joined by freezing fog from somewhere around Warwick. I ended the drive realising that I had everything tensed with concentration for the previous four hours. I yearn for the more relaxed, lighter and warmer times for those three days in July when you don’t need a coat.

Louise now finds herself full of a cold. Clearly, it isn’t the same illness as I had. There’s no way she could handle that level of illness of course. Her affliction is a little more traditional than mine, as the mucus excess is real whereas I was too ill for such trivialities. I doubt I am to blame for passing that along. More likely she has picked it up from one of her many patients whilst undertaking one of the unmentionable procedures and treatments on them. Again, I’m sure that’s a tough job, but there’s no comparison as sometimes I have to work from home and do things like create Powerpoint presentations or write some emails. As the song goes, nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.

With us both feeling less than brilliant, last night, with a weekend off from Mustarding, we took the chance to order in a curry and binge watch something. We absorbed all of Killing Eve off of the iPlayer and loved it. It was one of those things we’d heard good things about but hadn’t got round to watching. If you are in that same boat, seek it out. It’s a good one.

We are hoping to venture out later to the cinema to watch The Favourite so I can provide another gloriously in-depth review of that next time if I remember. I am the Barry Norman of Bolton. Anyway, things to do, must crack on….

Till the next time…..

Ill Behaviour.

Thanks for all your well wishes last week. They didn’t work, but thanks anyway.

Sweet Jesus monkey balls, I have been ill. Whatever it was that came for me took me out at the knees and reduced me to a sweaty, quivering, moaning mess for all of last week and I’m still not 100% yet. So this week’s musings will be brief again due to my continued roughness and the fact that you really don’t want me to document what I did last week. It was not pleasant.

It wasn’t a traditional cold or similar as I have been without the trademark excess mucus. Instead, it has been a high temperature that has seen me hot, cold and everything in between in the space of a few minutes. At its peak, I have been rocking myself back and forwards in bed, emitting low moans pleading for help or death, whichever would be quickest. Sleep has been a stranger for most of the week too due to the fact that I was instead locked in some hallucinogenic hell, with every muscle aching and a headache like Oliver Reed’s throughout the seventies.

It was only on Friday that I started to return to normality, and beyond bored with daytime TV and watching emails build up in my Inbox I did some work from home. I won’t claim it was my most productive day, but having lost almost a full week and cancelled more meetings than I care to think about, I felt better somehow having got back into it on a Friday, so the Monday to come won’t be as gruesome.

I don’t think they got it from me, as they wisely stayed away from my grottiness, but now Tom, Rebecca and Freddie all have colds. They went out last night to celebrate their anniversary and Freddie stayed with us.

A lovely meal, drinks and paracetamol is not the ideal mix for a night out but, they soldiered through and have just taken Freddie home for an afternoon of cuddles and TV on the sofa which always makes things better.

So with apologies for the very poor word count, I have little else to report after my lost week of illness. Hopefully in the coming days I can declare myself back to full fitness and then we can get these blogs back to the thrill a minute action fests they always are. Right?

Till the next time…..