Great Expectations

Some weeks, I’ll be honest, it can be a struggle to find something to blog about. My life isn’t that exciting! For the first time, today I am going to inflict two posts on you. As promised, a little later I will post day one of the To Siesta Key….and Beyond Tour 2017. Before I do though I have important news to share with you all.

Rebecca is expecting! She and Tom are beyond excited and delighted and we couldn’t be happier about it. This lovely news is now finally sharable with you all after she announced it earlier this week having hit the twelve week milestone.

Everyone’s joy is doubled as this journey has been a rocky one. I share this with Rebecca and Tom’s permission of course, but the past fourteen months or so have been a roller coaster for them and everyone close to them as they have suffered the agony of three miscarriages. I cannot explain here the heartbreak this has involved and if you remember me alluding to crappy stuff going on in recent times, then a lot of that was related to these events.

Anyway, enough of that. Now is the time to look to the future and the journey Rebecca and Tom are starting on with Thing 1.

It is also Rebecca’s birthday today, and we’re having a little family gathering to celebrate her special day. Happy Birthday pud!

At some point around early November your own little pud will arrive and your life will change forever, nearly exclusively for the better! 🙂 Enjoy every minute.

Till the next time…..

Is It Because I Is Back?

Hello? Is this thing on?

My body is back in the UK, but my mind is yet to accept this. Mentally I am still in the technicolour wonderland with a warmer climate where every meal is a brush with a cardiac arrest and the amount of money spent doesn’t count as dollars aren’t real money. I do quite like it you know!!

It always blows my mind that within a few short hours you go from wandering around a baking hot Disney Springs (don’t we all do that before going to the airport?) to landing in an ever grey Manchester.

I am avoiding reality for now. I haven’t dared go anywhere near the scales and I refuse to admit to myself that I have to work for a living again on Tuesday. I’m not dressed yet and I sit here in my dressing gown eating something between breakfast, lunch and supper watching people go past our window doing grown up things like jogging, walking their dogs and generally engaging with the world in a way in which I simply cannot right now.

Sigh.

We had a blast. We narrowly avoided a visit to a medical facility which is the exception rather than the norm for one of our trips, although we came close a couple of times. Instead, we spent more time in pharmacies than theme parks and if anyone needs a cream or potion for any ailment on earth, give me shout as we’ll have it.

That feeling of being at home over there gets stronger with every visit. I know after the amount of times we’ve been that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but the feeling is strong.

I won’t steal any more of my own thunder as I need to get on with a trip report. I have made the token gesture of downloading all the photos to my laptop and getting them up on photobucket ready for inclusion but beyond that, the fog of jet lag and the fact that I am struggling to see the laptop over my stomach have restricted my progress…well, progress indicates that something is actually happening, which it isn’t yet.

I will say that we and especially Emily and I realised that we didn’t have enough time at Disney. We knew that before we went I think, and it was intentional that the trip would be different, but there was a feeling of being slightly robbed of time there as we inevitably missed out on some stuff that we love. As fantastic as our time at Universal and Siesta Key was, as soon as we got to the Beach Club there was a strong feeling of belonging, peace of mind and joy that reaffirmed what we probably already knew. Any future visits will be WDW centric. Still, moaning about that after almost three weeks over there seems churlish.

I feel confusingly knackered and refreshed in equal measure. Mentally it always does me the world of good I think, but physically I feel close to a hundred years old right now, not helped by gigging last night on seven hours sleep out of the previous 48 hours.

So I shall leave it there for today. I will commit to day one being ready for next Sunday as if I write it down here I will have to crack on despite my working week looking grim. Thanks to all of you that followed our trip online in real-time and hopefully I can keep your interest for the trip report to come. Oh and discussions for our next trip started before we got home….but hey, what’s new?

Till the next time….

Health, Hurdles and Heresy

So we made it. Work is done, and whether we are ready or not we’re due to fly on Tuesday.

I have to be honest, it has been a countdown that hasn’t been as enjoyable as it should have been for many a reason…

  1. Rebecca is not coming with us.
  2. The house has resembled the Somme for three weeks and the bathroom still isn’t done!
  3. Louise’s Mum has been quite ill and Louise has been worried about leaving her.
  4. My Mum has also been ill and has spent Friday and Saturday in hospital.

It has been a rocky road to this holiday for sure and here we are, literally a few hours from departure and only now are we fairly confident that my Mum can travel.

Even work had an unsatisfactory ending. It feels like I have left loose ends everywhere and in the back of my mind there are already concerns about the stuff I will have to return to.

This is normal though right? The trepidation, stress, worry and anxiety? I know it is, but we seem to be off the scale for this trip. Usually those feelings are just about whether your ESTA is really valid, you’ve forgotten something important, that property you rented will turn out to be a vacant building lot or you turn up for your flight on the wrong day. Health matters trump all of those of course and our collective fingers are crossed that everyone remains on the road to recovery.

Assuming all that turns out OK we then have other appendages crossed that we will actually have a working bathroom for showers on Tuesday when we are up at  crazy o’clock to begin our journey. We are close now, but it will be touch and go if that is the case.

Sigh….so my usual joy at finishing work for a US adventure has been tempered. Preparations continue as they must, with the added work of digging the house out from under a three-inch blanket of dust. I have also been digging out T-shirts and shorts from various dark recesses of the house. I’m fatter than I should be so the larger ones are getting picked. I’ll just have to watch what I eat over the next few weeks!!!

So having limped, stumbled and fallen over the line, we find ourselves on the cusp of departure. Louise is a whirling dervish of dust, cleaning implements and vigor and I have been similarly busy throwing stuff into skips, hosing things down and more latterly preparing Ryan for the trip.

Most of the time Ryan is my gig bag, carrying all the leads, connectors and trappings of your every day rock star to gigs and back. Having done our final gig before we leave last night, he has been emptied and restored to his rightful role of holiday rucksack. He is now sat holding our camera, passports, US sat nav and all the other stuff he is so familiar with.

I have also ticked off the equally vital task of going to the driving range with my Dad to make sure I could remember how to hit a golf ball in preparation for our 18 holes of sweaty golf whilst we are at Siesta Key. It’s all go!!

I’m quite glad we are off to Florida now as we will beat the rush created by Ant N Dec’s Saturday Night Advertisement Show. That’s a master stroke by Disney that. A ninety minute ad on prime time Saturday night telly. With a crap dollar rate and a gibbon in the White House I’m sure visitor numbers are dropping. I suspect that one show last night has generated a huge demand for this summer and beyond.

I didn’t see the show myself as I was out being a Rock God, but I caught up with some of the “highlights” this morning. I much prefer them in I’m a Celeb as this Saturday Night Noel Edmonds tribute act is a bit twee for me. I tip my hat to those responsible for the logistics of making that show happen though. Live telly, from the US, in a theme park, with links to folks in the UK strikes me as a military operation to get right. It was very impressive. That thing at the end of the show though had my toes curling I’ll be honest. I know this is heresy and I’ll be in the minority but it was all a bit of a cheesey showbiz cliché and well, I’ve said this before, but like this…

Anyway, enough of being a party pooper. It was lovely to see that the weather looks nice and hot at the moment and it’ll be nice to be back “home” very soon.

So I leave you in peace now for a few Sundays, there is packing to be done, chores to be carried out and those million and one things to get done before we start having fun.

I’ll be tweeting, facebooking, hitting up Insta (yeh, that’s right, I’m cool like that) and maybe Snapchatting but I doubt that as I still can’t work it. It was built specifically only to be used by those under 25. So follow me on any and all of those for some live videos, photos and pithy nonsense.

And away we gooooooooo….

Till the next time…..

Is It Because I Is Blue?

I feel a little guilty moaning about anything when we are so close to a Florida trip that I can smell it, but I’m gonna. We are now two weeks in to operation update our house from the 90s. Two weeks with no bathroom and it still looks like a cell in a Far East prison. We have another week to go before we have the ability to cleanse ourselves in our own home and have any surfaces in the house that are not under three inches of dust. To add to our heartache the next set of workmen turn up tomorrow to create a double bubble of renovation chaos.

I am more stressed than Trump’s press secretary. To add to all of that I have to paint the bathroom ceiling today. I will store the required paint on my protruding bottom lip.

My much feared dental trip last week passed with little or no fuss. There was a little bit of grinding action required but it didn’t last long, as tends to be the case. I escaped with a slight sweat on after ten minutes happy to be declared dentally fit for my trip.

Anyway, with all of that self-pity and woe out-of-the-way we can now begin.

Louise tells me that I am often guilty of assuming a certain level of knowledge in my blog posts. I use WDW acronyms and don’t explain anything in enough detail for anyone who hasn’t spent a large chunk of their lives in Florida. So with that in mind, will you please join in with our SDD.

What? SDD…you know…oh OK, it is our Single Digit Dance day today. We are nine days out people.

Around this time, the milestones come thick and fast. Yesterday, a few short hours after pay-day, our dollars arrived. The exchange rate is so bad that instead of actually sending me dollars they just took money out of my account and sent me a voucher for a Perkins breakfast. Not quite of course, but a rate of 1.23 hurts I can tell you. You can shove your Brexit up your arse!

Yesterday saw Louise, Emily and I go shopping for essential holiday clothes and stuff. We didn’t go together. Good God, no that would have ended in a fist fight outside of C&A. What? C&A doesn’t exist…really??  It was there the last time I went into an actual town centre. Louise and Emily went together and I spent a lengthy twenty minutes or so in one shop to get everything that I needed.

Now, one of the items I needed was a lovely new pair of trainers. This is always a necessity prior to any US trip but it is now also a tradition and a key part of the countdown process. Because I am a creature of habit, middle-aged and tight these trainers have always tended to be the luminous white Hi-Tec numbers that can take down aircraft if the sun catches them the wrong way. I have dozens of pairs of these around the house in various states of decay…

I had another pair on my feet in the shop yesterday and I was just about to head to the tills when I went all crazy. I ventured into unknown territory and tried on another brand…..and……..wait for it……colour. It was almost in jest as just before I pulled on those non-white interlopers (or interloafers) I took a look at the price tag. Now, it doesn’t matter what Jessie J says, I never forget about the price tag. You cannot spend half of the GDP of Guatemala on US holidays AND buy expensive goods on a day-to-day basis.

As my foot entered these expensive follies I was very upset. It felt like I had put my foot into a warm otter’s pocket. It embraced and caressed me like a mother cradles a new-born. It was feetal heaven. Damn it!

I then spent a good few minutes calculating what I could stop Louise buying to allow us to find room in our budget for this indulgence. To cut what is becoming a long story short, I left the shop with them. I have never spent that amount on a pair of trainers in my life. Oh, and they are blue!!  Yes, blue!!

I can only apologise. I sacrificed tradition on the altar of comfort.

Louise and Emily were out for close to 72 hours and returned with one item of clothing each. I cannot comprehend how that happens and can only thank whatever God you believe in that I wasn’t with them.

In a return to the sanity of online shopping I added some rechargeable batteries and an SD card for the camera to my list of bought items in line with another tradition where I can never seem to find the exact same items I bought before every other trip we’ve done and have to buy some more.

Louise and Emily are busy arranging all sorts of treatments and procedures that I don’t want to know the details or cost of and I too am booked in for my back, sack and crack treatment ahead of my strutting up and down on Siesta Key beach in my thong. I shall leave you to embrace that mental image for the rest of your weekend!

With gritted teeth, I am hunkered down for one last week at work, mixed with a house full of workmen, chaos and dust whilst desperately trying to remember how to write a half decent and amusing trip report.

Till the next time…..

 

A Loss Of Form

Today’s blog post is a salute to all Mothers, but mostly mine and Louise’s. Thanks to you both for everything you have done and continue to do for us.

I had a right old whinge last week about a load of problems that weren’t really. In the end, last week wasn’t as bad as I feared. It was worse. Now of course, I don’t have any real problems and events in London last week reminded me of that, but with that considered, in my own little world I had a week so stupidly busy that I didn’t even have time to moan about it.

Our bathroom renovations started and we currently have an empty room, stripped back to brick and a lovely collection of dust on every surface in the house.

Our boiler is in though and it is just delightful to have a boiler that is younger than me. It is amazing that having just one room out-of-order can seemingly send shock waves throughout the entire house. There is mess everywhere and where this isn’t mess there are large boxes containing stuff to be fitted into said bathroom in the coming days (hopefully).

Our chosen workmen have been great and were at the front door like clockwork every day at 7.30am. They have worked their socks off and made good progress. We are through the worst now I think, and from here on in the room starts to look better, not worse!

They have a week and a bit to go and just before they finish more workmen will arrive to dismantle almost all the gubbins at the back of the house, like our car port, walls and anything else in the way, to erect our new one large wall and roller shutter door thing for our cars. We like to do things the hard way.

My busy state was created by all of that house nonsense and a million other things going on at home plus my actual work life. Due to a perfect storm of team holidays, unavoidable meetings out of the office and yet another million things going on at work, I can’t remember a week when I’ve worked harder or faster. I earned my money for sure.

Monday was especially fun. Louise was due to collect her new car at 6pm, and with that in mind I dug out the V5 form for the car we were trading in at 8am that morning, from its secure holding place where it could not be lost from. Louise took it to work with her and we went about our day. Fast forward to 5.50pm and I get a call from Louise. She had lost that V5 document. It had lived safely in my secret special documents place since the day we got the car nearly two years ago, but within a matter of hours Louise managed to lose it. She had placed it in her diary which she carries with her to all of her patient appointments every day. What could possibly have gone wrong??

So this led to a whole load of faff, stress and last-minute nonsense with the garage having to undertake administrative somersaults to still allow Louise to take her new car home. Those somersaults would cause a load more admin for us too as they couldn’t pay off the remaining finance until we got a new V5 and that would mean we were paying for two cars until that was sorted. I was not pleased.

A replacement was £25 and a good few days to get hold of one but Louise told me to hang fire until she had a look for it in a few of her regular patients’ houses. I seethed for almost 24 hours, until she text me to say she had found it in a care home. This falls into the “only Louise” category. The form was dropped off at the garage and hopefully that will be the last of it.

Living life at a million miles an hour as I did last week did mean that it flew by. With only a few days to go now before we holiday that is always welcome. I have a couple of gruesome milestones to endure in the remaining time, such as a dentist trip tomorrow to hopefully sort out a developing issue and a particular meeting I am not looking forward to the week after, but as life has taught me over the years, these things come and go before you know it and we really are entering the final part of our countdown now. I’m not sure who will be most pleased when we get to the airport, us travelers or you lot, as you heave a huge sigh of relief that I can’t wang on about it anymore.

I do not like the dentist. My childhood dentist had all the bedside manner of Freddie Kruger and ever since I have dreaded every visit, more so since I had to start paying for it too. Needs must though as I cannot go on holiday and take on all that food with a set of gnashers not operating at 100% efficiency. They have a big job on.

Till the next time…..

Building Up To Our Departure

Life can be feast or famine at times. There can be long periods of time when stuff just rumbles along, the routine is just that and there’s nothing of note going on. I look forward to when that happens for us!!

I’m not sure how we manage it but we always seem to conspire against ourselves to make things as busy and at times, as stressful as possible. Here we sit twenty odd days from a trip that has been so long in coming that I can hear you all sigh that we haven’t gone already and I’m still banging on about it. Between now and when we do go, we have somehow managed to cram in what is, for me at least, one of the most stressful things on the planet…..having the builders in, and for multiple separate projects. With that, work and other real life struggles I have enough balls in the air for now thanks….

Stressed Juggler

More balls than a Chippendale’s dressing room…..

We have had these home improvement plans for ages and despite it all being literally months in the planning, by chance, it all happens in the next three weeks. I HATE having work done to the house. The mess, disruption and angst is not something I enjoy. Having had the pain of the kitchen being renovated just over a year ago, we are now going for the other room in the house which causes the most pain when it is out of action, the bathroom. We are also having a new boiler and the back of the house redone to give us more parking space.

To add a touch of spice and extra stress to the day tomorrow, Louise gets her new car too, admin, paperwork and sorting the insurance permitting. Rest assured we have not won the lottery. It just so happens that a lot of things a long time in the making have all happened at once, as always seems to be the case with us.

I am not filled with joy at the prospect of this work to the house I have to say. Living next door to my Mum & Dad comes into its own here of course as it means we can wander in to have showers etc when we are without a bathroom, but I am still sticking to my sulking guns. I just want it to be over, especially as when it is, we’ll be heading for the airport. At least our house and pet sitters, Rebecca and Tom will have a shiny new bathroom, boiler and a choice of parking spots when they are here.

They have the dubious honour of looking after all of the pets. We have too many of course. Oli, I approve of, he’s my mate and a fully fledged member of the family. Bean, well, she’s almost there I suppose. She seems fairly settled and content anyway…

We’ve had our two cats, Pumpkin and Daisy, a lot longer than Bean, and everyone in our house apart from me, would tell you that they definitely are family members, but I’ve never bought into that. I am not a cat fan. They are all effort and no reward. Still, they need feeding and so that falls to Rebecca and Tom.

On that note, it is now hitting home to everyone that Rebecca won’t be with us on this trip. We all understand why. They have just got their own place and that among other things needs to be their priority right now, but it doesn’t stop them, us and me especially stamping my feet like a two-year old at the unfairness of it all. Real life has no right getting in the way of trips to Florida.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, after re-sharing the video of our 2008 trip, I have almost kept my word and the work on the next video has started. 2006 happened to be the tape in the camera when it came out of the case so the import process is underway and hopefully time for editing can be found, more likely by Emily than me. Having watched he raw footage there seems to be about seven hours of the girls playing in the pool for some reason. Clearly we’ll edit that down, but of course, for us, if for nobody else, there’s some lovely stuff there too.

Rebecca can be heard talking with her pre-tonsil removal voice that bears no resemblance to her current one. I won’t promise it being complete by a certain time as who knows, but best endeavours are promised.

So today is filled full of prepping the house and ourselves for what looks to be a messy and busy time. We’ve also got to pop round to Louise’s Mum to do some DIY there and I have a football match to cram in somewhere…well specifically at 4pm, oh and walk the dogs should it ever stop raining, and iron some clothes for next week and find the spare key for the car we’re trading in tomorrow and look, the shopping delivery has just pulled up!!

AAAGGGHH….first world problems abound.

Till the next time…..

Changing Gear

A month today we shall be full of first day adrenaline, charging around our first park of the trip. Jetlagged, jubilant and just about staying awake beyond tea time, that first day is always a good one. There are two days in most years that I don’t mind being awake in the early hours. The first is the travel day when typically we’re up around 4am to start our journey. The second day is that natural early start on the first day in Florida, brought on by the time difference and excitement that usually sees us sat waiting for a theme park to open and then eating lunch at 10.30.

Unusually for us we won’t be spending it in Magic Kingdom this time. That unwritten rule has been obeyed on almost every trip and as I have often said, if you are going shopping, to Sea World or any other such nonsense, then you’re doing it wrong. The last time I made that tongue in cheek assertion I was attacked in the comments on my own blog and banned from a certain Orlando based Facebook group. The internet is a funny old place.

However, this trip is different and Universal is our first stop. As this trip started off as one for just Louise and I at some posh hotels and the beach, then we tore up the rule book a little. So this year we will find ourselves having an early morning meeting with Mr Potter and his friends.

Another key difference is Emily’s age. She has been pondering all of her alcohol based selections as this will be her first post 21 trip. Of course the other more upsetting difference is Rebecca’s absence. We’re already upset at the prospect of leaving her behind. It just won’t feel right. A bit like today when we all went to see her new apartment that she has moved in to with Tom. It’s lovely. Modern, spacious, secure and a lovely place to live. It doesn’t change the fact that we still call one of the bedrooms in our house Rebecca’s room and probably always will.

Emily has been making changes of her own and having recently bought her first car, she has been discovering the independence that can bring. After passing her test she was never the most confident driver, but now with a car of her own choosing and with it being automatic too, she is finding driving a pleasure and is just driving for the fun of it, discovering parts of her home town all by herself.

Her mini, which of course is called Mickey, is lovely and has more gadgets than some space stations. It compares very favourably to my first car, which was a V reg Fiesta. I didn’t love it any less than Emily loves hers.

During the process of buying Emily’s car, Louise was seduced by a car she saw in the showroom. On what was probably one of the best day’s of the young salesman’s life, an order was placed for one after some negotiations and bartering. Being a new one, that car won’t be with us for a few weeks yet, but it is a lovely looking thing.

It’s one of these…

We’re trading in what was my car, a Peugeot 308, which is starting to get on a but, I’m now driving the car Louise got just over a year ago and she will be having the new mini. Confused? Me too. It’s a miracle I get into the right car of a morning.

Louise has loved minis for a long time and this new Clubman with the extensive boot now allows her to have one and still be able to cram all her nursing gear in the back without her car becoming a one seater mobile medical store.

It’s all change, all round it seems. I’m told it’s as good as rest, in which case I should be more perky and energetic than I normally feel.

Till the next time……