Tiers Of A Clown

Well, where to start? Perhaps with a genuine question. How are you doing?

If you just want to rant, have a moan, or just get off your chest how you are feeling, then feel free to do so in the comments here. It is very unlikely I’ll be able to help of course. I’m just a portly middle-aged bloke stumbling through all this like everyone else, but, as I find with Twitter, it can sometimes help just to get things off your chest.

Yesterday saw the year rounded off with a crescendo of incompetence. A tribute to the constant litany of dither, delay, and mixed messaging that has seen the UK spend the most per capita on the pandemic and still have the worst death rate in Europe and the worst economic outcome. It isn’t the measures that piss me off. I’m usually on the side of supporting measures designed to restrict the spread of the virus and will fight that corner in the trenches of the Facebook comments section on an ever more regular basis, but as ever, despite all evidence to the contrary, the government make announcements that they think will make them popular/less hated and then right at the last minute, snatch hope away from millions with a U-Turn and a reversal to a policy that was obviously the correct thing to do anyway.

I know this is an unprecedented situation, but it is for every government and every country and yet we still set new standards in ballsing it up on a daily basis. This latest last-minute U-Turn saw hundreds of folks at London train stations last night trying to head north, spreading that lovely new strain of the disease to the parts of the country that currently aren’t seeing too much of it.

Being relatively unscathed by yesterday’s nonsense, sitting here in a consistent Tier 3 for weeks, I can only send sympathies to anyone who has just had their plans ruined at the last minute. If we had locked down longer and harder in the last few weeks to prepare for Christmas, and done a whole host of other things that would not have thrown away the relatively solid situation we were in during the summer, things may have been different again. That may have allowed some sort of Christmas. How much easier would coming to terms with just one day of limited relaxing of restrictions for Christmas have been had we known weeks ago? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but there have been experts saying this for weeks now. How often can you consistently make the wrong calls?

All we can do I think is cling to the hope of the vaccine that is being rolled out and the others that will hopefully be approved shortly to save us from further acts of incompetence. As of yesterday, I believe 350,000 people have had their first jab. Of course, the Health Minister promised “millions would be vaccinated by the end of the year”, but I think we just need to ignore this sort of stuff now and just see how things pan out.

On that subject, last Tuesday I took Louise’s Mum for her first jab. Mary is in her late eighties now and as is your absolute right at the age, has some pre-existing conditions. These have meant that lockdown has been pretty grim for her. So she called her GP to make sure she was one of the first in line, so off we went.

I was very impressed with the setup, to be honest. It was incredibly well organised with a mixture of clinical staff and volunteers corralling lots of old people into the various stages of the process. There was, and I know this sounds odd, a nice atmosphere. One of community spirit, pulling together and finally hitting back against the virus. It was great to see the place so busy, full of people doing their part in trying to get us out of this mess. In the interests of balance, from my limited experience, it is being executed efficiently and quickly and if that is the case, the government deserve credit for that.

Mary has to go back, three weeks to the day, for her second jab and then will be “protected” about a week or so after that. I am of course no expert on any of this, but I do try to read as much stuff as I can from trusted sources, and I came across an article that gave me some comfort and encouragement last week, so I clung to it like a drowning man to a raft. I offer you the same raft here.

It said something like if we vaccinate the over 75’s, which is about 9% of the population, then, based on the demographic of deaths we’ve seen so far, they estimate the death rate would reduce by about 70%. This would protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, which has always been the government’s main aim (they say), and that may well then allow many of the restrictions to be lifted. With younger folks much more able to get the virus, have a few shitty days and not go and die, then life may be able to edge back towards normality. I know people of all ages have died of this thing, but I’m talking generally of an approach that may see us escape most of the worst restrictions before the summer. Not just for the sake of our holiday, which seems more irrelevant than ever right now, but I hope that is the case because it really is something we’ve all now had enough of I’m sure.

In what has been a busy news week, the virus made an appearance in our little world last week too. Tom tested positive last Tuesday, along with his Mum and his brother, who all work together. This was not good news, and it meant all of us went into a period of isolation as we had seen Tom, masked and socially distanced when helping out with Freddie. We all had tests and thankfully, nobody else returned a positive result and we hope it stays that way. Tom has since had a negative test result.

At the same time, my brother messaged me to let me know his wife had tested positive too. Thankfully, she and Tom were not seriously ill with it and it is just a case of riding it out. This entire thing is, as they say, a shit show. Our collective isolations end around the 22nd or 23rd of December, and with us all testing negative and pretty much self-isolating between now and Christmas Day, we plan to stick to the Tier 3 rules of three households briefly getting together.

To make the gathering as safe as possible we have abandoned plans for a sit-down meal, replacing it with a buffet. Windows will be opened as per the advice, and folks shall be distanced, banned from hugging and generally told to stay away from each other. Is it the right thing to do? I have no idea. We have taken every precaution to make sure we are all negative, made the set up of the day as safe as possible and balanced the risks against the prospect of seeing mine and Louise’s parents sat on their own on Christmas Day, as they have for pretty much every day since March.

I know it is hardly worthy of any consideration right now, but on the subject of our frequently rearranged holiday, it appears I was right to move it when I did. When you are right as seldom as I am, I will bask just a little to say that I have started seeing posts in the various Disney Facebook groups about flight operators now cancelling flights for March and beyond. Having already gone through the pain of the reschedule, I’m pleased I don’t need to worry about that….yet. June is by no means guaranteed of course, more now than ever.

It seems trite to wish you a Merry Christmas as I cannot fathom where everyone’s head is at right now. Make the best of it you can, do take up my offer of having a rant and a moan if it will help and let’s just hope things get better as quickly as possible. As pissed off and bored as you might be, and lacking in faith that all and any government advice is not worth listening to, adhering to the basic rules as much as possible will accelerate that so I hope you can and will.

All the best to you all from myself and the family. x

Till the next time…….

I Should Be So Lucky……

As the week has gone on, the number of pricks all over the news has increased. But, I promised myself I would never blog about Brexit, so instead let me celebrate the start of the vaccine rollout. Indeed, Louise’s Mum is off to get her first dose next Tuesday. So after her second jab and a brief waiting-period, she should be “sorted” in early to mid-January. As much as she will need to remain vigilant, it should allow her to leave the house, which is something she has only done a handful of times since March.

I think it is fair to say that she is over the whole pandemic thing and has moved beyond stir crazy. So it shouldn’t be too long before she can re-enter the world and do crazy things like join us for Sunday tea. Hopefully, my Mum & Dad won’t be too far behind as they too are very much done with the whole thing.

As 2020 staggers towards its end, I begin my countdown to finishing work for my traditional extended Christmas break. One week people, just five little days until I get two weeks away from work. Technically, with my “desk” being the dining room table it means that I won’t be away from it at all, but I am looking forward to not having to join any video calls for a good period of time. I say this with full recognition that I am not digging ditches or saving lives, but I am knackered and in need of some down time.

Louise has Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off which is a nice change from recent years and she too is in need of a break, much more than I am, I would imagine. I can’t share with you some of the horrific incidents and fluids she deals with on a daily basis. If you knew, you’d immediately support a quadrupling of nurse’s salaries just to never hear of them again. To prevent Louise from spending her two days off shopping and cooking we have ordered in a buffet for Christmas Day. Most of us would prefer the more traditional sit down do with all the trimmings but, knowing how much time and effort goes into making that most years, we have decided not to play that game this year and be kind to ourselves.

So the plan is that sometime after lunch we lay out the buffet and let the very few folks in attendance graze at their leisure for however long they wish. As a double bonus, it should also reduce the amount of stuff to cram into the dishwasher and instead we can settle down to watch the glorious array of delights scheduled on the telly for the big night. I mean who doesn’t want to sit back and watch Call The Midwife and Mrs Brown’s Boys? In normal circumstances, I would sneer with derision at the numpties and their “Defund the BBC” nonsense, but looking at their output for the festive period, I could be tempted.

In the interests of balance, ITV does not escape my wrath. What, in the name of national lobotomy, is “The Real Full Monty On Ice”? How are we still being force-fed the endless rehashing of the “minor celeb learns a new skill” format? There are a species of “celebrities” that no longer actually do anything, apart from appearing on this endless round of gravy trains. Having said that, they are the showbiz elite compared to the dregs of society that appear on nothing but “Celebs Go Dating” abominations. I’m looking at you Callum Best. He is now in his mid-fifties (surely) and should know better. The other ex-Love Island desperados are perhaps understandably seeking out their six minutes of pseudo fame in the hope of getting a Misguided discount code named after them, but it should all be set on fire and replaced with the test card. Anyway….

A good few weeks ago we did hold out a very slim hope of getting into our new house for Christmas. It would have been lovely as it is a house seemingly purposely built to host the festivities, (not that we could actually host very many folks this year of course) but the glacial speed of solicitors, surveys and searches put paid to those hopes some time ago. Our buyer is ready now, but we are still some way off being so, as our searches seem to be being undertaken by Bob Cratchet with a quill and parchment, rather than in the 21st Century using the technology available to all. I’ll say it again, how can the process of house buying and selling still be so slow in 2020?

In better house news, you may remember me mentioning some weeks ago that Rebecca and Tom were also house hunting. Their struggles to board the property ladder have been enormous, but it does look like they are almost there. They have found a house, had an offer accepted and just last week, after jumping through more hoops than an agility dog, had their mortgage approved. It’s testament to their determination and hard work that two folks of that age can make that happen. They will almost certainly be in before we are, hopefully very early in the New Year.

So inevitably, at this time of year, thoughts turn to the future, as if the transition from one day to another at the end of December is actually that significant. This year, more than most, I suppose everyone will have high hopes for the year to come. That is of course based mainly on the absolute shit show that has been 2020. For us, as I’ve said a few times, we have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic. Thankfully Emily and I work for a brilliant company that is run extremely well and we have been protected from any financial impact. Louise of course is more in demand than ever, but she has had an incredibly busy and stressful last nine months. Nursing is always like that, but the dial has been spun a few times since March.

Rebecca works in a nursery, at our local hospital, so has had a busy time looking after the children of all the folks working in the hospital, so again has not suffered any risk of losing any income but has had a busy time. Tom has been broadly unaffected. He works for a company that designs and builds windows, bi-folds and conservatories etc and they have seen demand go off the scale. So for all my moaning, I know we’ve been lucky.

So for next year, some more of that luck would be good, with a lot less pandemic, so that Louise’s job may become close to tolerable at some point, and with a large dollop of holiday right in the middle of it. Hopefully starting the year in a new house, in a new town is an exciting prospect which lays down a marker for a new standard of good stuff coming our way.

Look at all that positivity and gratefulness. Don’t worry you are at the right blog. I am just (apart from on Twitter) ignoring the elephant in the room that is coming on January 1st at the hands of the idiots in charge. You will not find an equivalent act of national self-harm in modern history and I cannot fathom any upside whatsoever. Sigh.

So with loins girded for one last push of the grindstone, I shall see you here next week for the start of the festivities. For anyone not enjoying an extended break or any of the luck I have described above, I wish you well and hope things improve quickly for you.

Till the next time…..

Notes From No Man’s Land.

Greetings. Having spent the last fifteen weeks or so using my weekly blog to report on our latest US adventure, I find myself trying to use my now flabby and out of shape blogging muscle to somehow come up with something to write that isn’t based on rides and food. Bear with me as I ease myself back into the weekly discipline of thinking of something to write.

I am slap bang in the middle of a glorious two-week break from work. It felt needed, and of course, by the time I’ve relearnt how to do nothing, I’ll be heading back into the daily grind once again, rueing not spending the downtime more wisely by doing even less than I did.

Our Christmas has been gloriously unspectacular. We hosted on the day, somehow catering for nine, with only about eight hours of hard labour in the kitchen required and our house still hasn’t recovered, with pots, plates and presents still strewn about the place like the aftermath of a particularly wild party at Mary Berry’s.

I could post ten minutes of video here, showing Freddie ignoring every present but one at our house on Christmas morning, but it wouldn’t be fair to expect anyone not related to us to sit through that.

OK, I’ll post one of the clips at a mere five minutes or so which outlines the chaos of the unwrapping process with two dogs and the glories of the Bolton accent. Louise will love it…..

The dogs did, of course, get their own gifts, courtesy of Emily so it’s only right you see that too. There’s nothing like quality content and….well, you can complete the punchline.

Other than that we have had some lovely lazy days, doing not much more than hoovering up leftovers and clearing the fridge of all the stuff we overbought whilst binge-watching stuff. It’s what God and the baby Jesus would want.

I know I spent much of my trip report bemoaning illness, and in some ways, I have never fully recovered from that since my return to the UK. I have, it seems, been snotty, coughy and achy ever since. However, over the festive period, most of the family, and it seems most of the UK, have been struck down by cold-related illness, Freddie included, and it’s fortunate that we are off work to enjoy our respective conditions to the fullest.

If I were a proper blogger who spent time planning what spews onto the page this post would be a glorious retrospective review of the past year and indeed past decade, a decade for which I have blogged almost every week in its entirety.

Instead, I am stumbling around this Twxitmas no man’s land in a tired daze, wondering if it’s possible to eat yourself to death. Of course, should you wish to occupy your downtime in this festive wasteland, there are something like 450 blog posts from me you could wade through. That would save me having to apply any brainpower to looking back at all that time.

Having started blogging in November 2009 I have documented all manner of crap in that time. The decade about to end has, like with every one of you reading this, delivered some highs and of course some heartbreaking, soul-crushing lows. On the negative side, I will remember the decade for two of the most upsetting episodes in my life, which I won’t be sharing here, but, as you must, you suck it up, deal with it and move on. Of course, things could have been worse and we are blessed in many ways that I undoubtedly don’t appreciate enough.

Of course, one of those blessings has been the arrival of Freddie into our lives. It can be incredibly tedious to listen to someone pap on about their kids and grandkids, but hey, I’m not about to break the habit of a lifetime, but it has been THE highlight of this or any recent decade. What a fun-filled, joy-giving bundle of perfection he is and I apologise for my past and future Freddie related gushings.

A feature, and of course highlight of the last decade (or two) have been our Florida trips. We’ve been fortunate enough…no bollocks to that…we’ve worked our absolute arses off and endured all kinds of soul-crushing stuff to be able to afford them, and we’ve done all manner of glorious things and eaten all kinds of filthy nonsense. They have defined the childhood’s of the girls in many ways, and, fingers crossed they will continue to do the same for them and Freddie in the years to come.

So that’ll do for today. Hopefully, the new year and decade of blogging will see a glorious return to the incredible content I am renowned for producing.

Image result for spacey side eye gif

Look, I know I overuse this gif but it is useful in so many ways.

I hope the new year celebrations and whatever follows them are kind to you and yours and your WDW trips are frequent and glorious. Seasons greetings and best wishes for 2020 and beyond from everyone here at Mkingdon Towers.

Till the next time…….

A Tale Of Two Trees

Like my middle-aged paunch, Christmas has crept up on us without us really noticing. I have one full week left at work, which includes our team night out and our band night out, so that paunch will be getting a little paunchier by the end of it.

It was only five minutes ago that I was sneering at folks on social media for daring to mention the word and now mild panic is setting in that we’ve bought nothing and we’re only on our second Christmas tree.

Yes, you read that right. Having ordered a fake one from The White Company for the price of a small family car, as “it was perfect and would last us years” it arrived early last week and much time was spent decorating it. Twenty four hours later, Louise had declared that it was not satisfactory and it had to go. So it was stripped, boxed up and sent back and in its place now stands a seven-foot real one atop a three-foot pile of needles.

We’ve done well so far to only lose one decoration to the jaws of Bean, we can only hope it can go the distance to the big day. If it doesn’t then Bean may not either!

On Friday night, Louise and the girls went to an Anne Summers party hosted by one of Louise’s fellow nurses. Emily and Rebecca were quite worried about attending such an event with their mother, fearing it may scar them for life, and it is probably for the best that I don’t know what went on aside from the few Snapchats the girls posted. I took them there (and picked them up) which was quite a nice throwback to the “driving years” when my main role in life was to transport them around the planet.

It has been quite some time since it was the four of us in the car driving somewhere and it was in a strange way very nice. The night involved a fair amount of alcohol and with Rebecca not having drunk for a year and Emily being, let’s be frank, a huge lightweight when it comes to drinking, Saturday was pretty much a right off for both of them. Of course, I should also congratulate Tom for coping on his own with Freddie for the first time too whilst Rebecca was out.

At the moment, our Disney plans have assumed a position on the back burner of my priority cooker. This happens at times during a long countdown I’ve found. Beyond the occasional glance at flights, I haven’t given it much thought really. Well, I always give it thought, as in, it helps to get me through the two-hour commutes that I have been enduring over the last few weeks, but I haven’t really thought about it from a planning perspective.

I do need to find time to go over the plan in detail again, to firm up the day by day activities. I suspect my usual routine of doing the parks in the order we always do may need some attention as we have to factor in the day we will be at Mickey’s Not So Scary and the days that the running of that may impact on our potential planned visits to the Magic Kingdom. I also need to run the busy day guide against our plans. I don’t usually use these in any meaningful way, but it’s always wise to make sure there are no obvious clangers being dropped which can easily be avoided.

I have a suspicion that much of my well laid plan may be cast aside once we’re boots on the ground with young Freddie with us. Our activities will of course have to consider his needs and moods so there may be a bit of going with flows.

As some of you may have seen, I did a Facebook live on the Mkingdon Facebook page when Rebecca, Tom and Freddie popped round during last week. At such a young age he changes so much in the few days between visits and it’s just fascinating to see that happening. He’s had a cold recently which has been fun for Rebecca and Tom, but other than that he’s doing brilliantly, as are they.

He is photographed and videoed more than The Kardashians, which is only right, as he is more intelligent and newsworthy than all of them put together. I fear for the amount of coverage he will get during his first tour of Disney. He’ll never have another first time, so it may just be easier to do one long Facebook live for the whole two weeks!

I have big plans for the rest of the day and they are to rest my ageing tired body. With my taxi duties on Friday and another Mustard gig last night I have had two late nights and my middle-aged frame is protesting this morning. Louise is going out shopping for her outfit for her Christmas party so I intend to be best friends with the couch, watch some football and I have a song to learn for a Mustard rehearsal tomorrow. Next week’s blog may just be me moaning about how tired I am as this coming week, I have to work of course, but I have a rehearsal on Monday night, my team night out on Tuesday (huge Chinese meal and a few drinkies) and then our band Christmas night out on Friday (huge Indian meal and a few drinkies). I’m beginning to understand now quite how that middle-aged paunch happened.

Till the next time…..


Discount Disney Tickets


A Year Older, Probably Not Wiser.

OK, I think today might be Sunday and so it is blog time.

Much like everyone reading this by now I am fed up of eating, almost allergic to chocolate and (this might just be me) having to live in my dressing gown and that one pair of pants that fit.

Christmas was good here, and I hope yours was too. It doesn’t matter that I have two very grown up girls of sixteen and eighteen, we were still woken at around 7am by Rebecca. She sent a tactical text from her bed asking if she could get up, and we agreed as long as she was the one to go and wake Emily. We’re not stupid.

As tradition dictates I go downstairs first and switch lights on, and most years find some festive music to play whilst they open their presents.

As tradition also dictates Rebecca has all of her presents open within thirty seconds, and Emily takes around an hour. The presents this year and in recent years have changed of course from the impossible to open dolls, with most of them now being clothes or make up for Rebecca and this year almost exclusively being Disney or One Direction related for Emily.

It is always nice to surprise them though, and we managed to do that with both of them. Rebecca had mentioned months ago that she wanted a (fake) fur jacket she’d seen, so Louise had sourced one of those, and Emily had been trying for weeks to get hold of a CD, which of course was WDW related, but not available in the UK on iTunes or in physical form.

I almost broke the internet tracking it down, and despite the best efforts of US Customs it arrived just a few days before Christmas.

WDW CD1

It contains pretty much every song from the theme parks.

WDW CD2

Of course the festive music I had earlier found was immediately replaced with this. Now, suspend your disbelief for a second, whilst I tell you that with a trip to WDW in 2014 being out of the question I have been doing quite well in blocking any such thoughts from my mind. You’ll notice I haven’t really mentioned it here for a while?

Well, I even did quite well listening to the theme parks being present in my front room until one song came on. I cannot explain why this one song gives me an aching and physically painful yearning for WDW but it does. It isn’t even a song you might immediately think of when trying to guess what it is. I suppose it is because we have spent some (a lot) of my birthdays in World Showcase and this just takes me right back to those lovely times.

Between this CD and the Frozen soundtrack, Emily has been fully Disneyfied in her listening habits recently.

I got some cracking gifts too. This year was the first year ever that the girls got Louise and I presents. They got Louise a perfume she had expressed a liking for when out with them, and I got the latest Call of Duty game for the XBox. Louise also got me a decent shaver, as I think she was fed up of me leaving for work looking like a burns victim with half a loo roll stuck to my face after another bad wet shave experience.

Xmas presents

Once all the presents were done (Louise had wisely got hers a little while ago when out shopping, and I got her a handbag and a scarf which were just what she wanted! I have such good taste.) I made our traditional breakfast of Eggs Benedict.

Eggs Benedict

Soon after that family started to arrive and the rest of the day was a blur of more presents, cooking the meal, Eggnog and in Rebecca’s case too much Christmas spirit. She ended the day not feeling too well at all. We’ve all been there I suppose.

We were hosting my Mum and Dad and Louise’s Mum so the numbers were manageable. The meal itself was a success. Louise did all the hard work of peeling everything and getting it on to cook, and then I took over whilst she got ready and just kept my eye on stuff until it was ready. There was a minor incident with the roast spuds but I like them a little extra crispy!

The day whizzed by as usual, as have all the ones since to be honest. We sit here a few short days away from a new year now, and at the risk of being like every single TV show you will see between now and then, I suppose it is time to reflect on the year that has gone.

As it will have been for everyone else it has been a mixed one. To varying degrees we will all have had crap bits, and we too have had our fair share of knock backs, upsets, bad luck and down right kicks in the goolies, but in the grand scheme of things we still have much to be grateful for, even if I forget that sometimes.

On the positive side this year just gone has been full of landmark events, and even though I’m bound to miss some here are the ones I can remember.

Louise passed everything she needed to and got onto the second year of her nursing course at Uni. As we expected, her returning to study has been a challenge in many ways. Financially of course, but also of our organisational skills in juggling busy lives, shift work, endless coursework and a hectic household. We’re over half way now, and I’m sure we’ll look back when it’s all over and laugh. Won’t we?

Both the girls took exams in the summer, Emily passing her A levels and Rebecca getting enough passes at GCSE level to get onto the course of her choice at college. We have to be happy with that! Rebecca of course also had her prom.

Rebecca Prom Dress
I made that!

Shortly before her prom she turned sixteen. Hmm, this year has been chock full of important events. No wonder I’m knackered.

A short while after that in the summer Emily passed her driving test. As weird experiences go, having your daughter driving is right up there. Whether she is grabbing the keys and heading off on her own or if I’m sat in the passenger seat desperately trying not to break for her, I still haven’t got used to that.

On a personal note I did something I never thought I would. I wrote and self published two books. It still feels odd to say that, but it is true. I didn’t actually write the first one this year, other than trying to make it more readable and less error strewn, but you know what I mean. Mkingdon’s Tales of Family, Food and Florida and Mkingdon’s Going Limp in Orlando Tour 2013 were supported by you kind folks to a level that I could never have imagined, and I need to thank you all again for that.

The release of the latter led to a bit of a kerfuffle and a rant on my part, which led to two things. That blog post got a huge number of views and the fallout from that kicked me up the backside sufficiently to get on and do something I have been threatening to do for years. I have now actually written my first fiction novel, and am in the process of reviewing and editing it. Whether it is good, bad or indifferent, having it done and released (soon) will be something I should probably be proud of in itself.

Of course, another major landmark this year was Emily’s 18th birthday in July. Attached to that of course was her surprise trip to WDW as her present. The build up to the reveal was very stressful, but I have to say it was worth it. The way in which that panned out and her reaction is something that will stay with me forever. If you haven’t seen it, or want to do so again then have a look at that post here.

August of course saw us go on holiday to WDW. Emily spent most of it in tears, but they were happy tears. We did the Keys to the Kingdom Tour and loved it, and if it were possible this trip and that tour made Emily’s love for WDW even greater. The rest of us quite like it too!

WDW 2013

Door shot 2013

WDW MK

WDW Rebecca

The rest of the year was probably a blur of me moaning, Pick n Mix, things going wrong in the house and rants about crap TV. But then again that could be any year. I know I will have forgotten some major happening this year and I’ll remember it as soon as I publish this post.

We know that 2014 is going to be a challenging one for us with Louise coming to the end of her course in early 2015, but we know that it will be worth it once she is qualified, earning and done with most of the studying. I can assure you though that we will NOT be going on holiday next year. You have my word! Again.

I’m sure 2014 will be the usual mix of ups and downs so here’s hoping we can roll with the punches. I hope your 2014 is everything you want it to be and more, and I wish you and yours good health and happiness throughout it. Thank you for your interest, support, comments and patience with the Mkingdon output, and when the time comes to release the new book into the world I hope it doesn’t disappoint too much.

From myself, Louise, Emily, Rebecca and Oli, have a great 2014.

oli xmas hat

Till the next time….

The longest break between food has been whilst writing this….

I appear to have blinked and missed Christmas.  I know I am of an age now, but wow, it flashed by in a blur of calories and crap telly.  All of a sudden it is Wednesday, my holiday is half over (or only half gone depending on your outlook on life I suppose) and I am well into my second stone of weight gain.

As brief as it seemed it was very enjoyable, with Christmas Eve Eve spent with a takeaway, my annual Baileys and the new Peter Kay DVD.  He is still one of the few comedians who can make me laugh out loud.  Being more or less exactly the same age, and from the same town some of his references to his childhood etc do strike very close to home.  We did have a very similar childhood!

From that point on, I have never let my belly get any less than half full.

If we thought for one second that now we have very grown up teenagers that the excitement levels would diminish in the run up, we were very wrong.  Rebecca was excited enough for the two of them in the days preceding the big day, and having asked what time she was allowed to get up on Christmas morning, she arrived at our door at exactly 7.00am!  Emily was behind her, doing her level best to cope with the early hour whilst remaining something close to festive.  As usual no-one is allowed in the front room until Dad has been in to “make sure he’s been”, and to switch on the lights.

So, what was months of build up, present planning and buying, came to fruition in thirty second  frenzy of wrapping paper, especially from Rebecca’s side of the room.

Rebecca's presents
All present and correct

She is a full blown force of nature when it comes to opening presents.  Emily is much more measured.  Whether they have been aged fourteen and sixteen or four and six, this has always been the case.

Emily's presents
Ooh my piles!

One thing that has changed is that these piles are getting smaller.  These days they tend to contain fewer more expensive presents, whereas a decade ago, they literally had half of the room each filled with endless dolls and tat that I would then spend all day un-packaging.

This year, the main gifts were an iPhone 4S for Rebecca and a new “proper” camera for Emily, a Nikon D3000.  As ever, the look of proper shock and surprise from both upon opening these was worth the expense.  Yep, Louise and I are a collective soft touch.

We also had a new family member to buy for!

Once he’d got bored with that present, he looked around for entertainment elsewhere.

The day then went like this.

Breakfast was with my Mum and Dad, where once again I bedazzled everyone with the Benediction of some eggs.  They left us around lunch time, to enable us to either start making “the dinner” or sit and watch telly drinking a gin and tonic.  I shall let you draw your own conclusions as to which option I went for.

Louise’s mum joined us mid afternoon, and with a few minutes to go, I ventured into the kitchen to do manly things like carve some meat, and pick the best seat at the table.  The meal itself was a delight, and from our cocktail of prawns (a Grandma tradition), through the traditional turkey fest and onto the unneccessary yet obligatory dessert, I showed great stamina to keep going to the very end, however I fell at the final hurdle made of cheese and crackers.

The evening consisted of a walk of the dog, and a bum on the couch.  I endured as much of Downtown as I could, before making a run for the hills (bed) when I realised it was a two-hour “spectacular”.  There are only so many stiff uppers I can stomach in one go.  So I read my book (a present from Louise) for a while before placing my stomach on the mattress next to me and drifting off to a dream about leftovers.

Muddy Oli
His head was the clean bit....

On Boxing Day, we didn’t do much to be honest, other than take Oli out for a bracing and lengthy walk around a local reservoir.  He got a bit muddy.

So after an hour’s walk, there then followed a bath of around the same length.  From that point on, we’ve pretty much not done a great deal.  Louise did somehow manage to persuade me to go into town yesterday, as she had some vouchers to spend with a 24 hour expiry period (apparently).  We survived, albeit with a very close call on me spending a silly amount of money on a new coat.  It was on the wrong rack, and so the price I thought I’d be paying was almost double that amount when I got to the till.  I declined, almost politely.

Today, alas Louise was back in work (ah the perils of serving the public) so I spent the morning doing a couple of errands, and some washing (yes, I am THAT considerate), before settling in for a lengthy session my newly acquired Modern Warfare 3.  A Christmas tradition for me.

So here I sit, surrounded by sweets of all kinds, having just polished off some cheese and biscuits that I clearly didn’t need, after necking a large tea only a couple of hours before.  Somebody stop me!!!

So I have to go now to plan my outfit for the New Year’s Eve extravaganza celebration which will involve a helicopter arrival at some star-studded do, rubbing shoulders with celebs whilst quaffing expensive bubbly and posh nibbly food that isn’t from Iceland!!  Either that or I’ll be sat on my couch berating the shocking quality of telly on New Year’s Eve whilst increasing my waistline by another belt notch or two.  Don’t be jealous.  I hope your celebrations go well, and your new year even better.

Till the next time….