Stripping – A Beginner’s Guide

I have sensed the anticipation and excitement building for a few weeks now. Everyone is talking about it and so I can deny you no longer. Here, after two weeks of tangible yearning, is the photo of our new fireplace that I promised you. I was inundated with a request to share this so here you go….

Exciting stuff for sure. Last week the decorator came and re-decorated the front room. It was a true dilemma, as my natural tightness was fighting with my absolute hatred of wall papering, but sense prevailed and every penny spent on my not having to do it was worthwhile.

In under two days he had stripped all the old paper off, glossed everything that should be glossed and re-papered. For me that would have been a two to three weekend job and a real threat to my will to live. It helps when you have the right tools of course. He had some instrument of medieval torture to strip the walls with which had a blade so sharp he needed no steamer or much elbow grease. He just applied a little water, wielded his diamond edged blade of death and not only did the wallpaper surrender itself with ease, it had the good grace to leave the old lining paper on the walls too. The pathetic stripping tool we own is pitiful in comparison and it takes several days in steam room like conditions to get a few strips off the wall.

When it came to the actual papering he had a pasting machine. Who knew these things existed? He just passed the paper through it on some roller thing and it applied a perfect layer of paste in about three seconds. No wonder I’ve been crap at decorating. I just don’t have the right equipment!

He’s done a great job, better than I could ever have of course, so it is money well spent.

Having just spent a couple of hours at a garden centre, crammed full of Christmas shoppers decorations, I would struggle to put most of the latter into that same category. We bought a few things, mainly some new lights for our tree as last year’s new lights will be in a ball somewhere in the cellar. With a few extra bits for Louise’s colour scheme this year we left with our financial health relatively unscathed. Having looked at a few items which we thought were nice only to find we’d need to sell the house or a kidney to have them, we decided to try elsewhere.

Being a Grandad has clearly changed my life immediately, as spending Sundays in garden centres is my destiny and I embrace it. I have ordered my cardigan and slacks and my Honda Civic is due to arrive any day now.

I had a night off from gigging last night, and it was nice not to have to load all the gear into the car in the rain (it always rains when I do that) for a change, so we had a look for a decent film to watch. Now, we have several streaming services at our disposal, with literally thousands of films to choose from. Nothing jumped out that we haven’t already seen, so we (well, it was Louise’s choice) decided to invest a fiver to buy a film from the Virgin Movies thingy. That film was a Tom Cruise film, which usually promises an hour and a half of turn your brain off entertainment and action. In this case….not so much.

We watched The Mummy. It was incredibly poor.


Before I get to the “plot” it was most confusing that the woman out of Peaky Blinders used more accents than a french person spelling lots of words with Es in them. British, a bit of American, a touch of Irish and many more. Perhaps she was demonstrating her vast range of dialects for future projects.

The plot was wafer thing, been done to death, not least by all the previous Mummy films and I fell asleep for about half an hour which did not prevent me from understanding what happened. Spoiler alert, The Mummy is defeated, Tom gets the girl and the comedic sidekick makes some very poor jokes just before the titles roll.  Poor Tom, very poor. Must do better. By the way, you owe me a fiver and about ninety minutes of my life back.

The most worrying thing about it was that the ending pretty much guaranteed their plans to make this into one of those franchise things, with multiple sequels being a distinct possibility. Having done so earlier this week, I can assure you that I really would prefer to watch paint dry.

Right, I have stuff to do, Emily is sat watching Hercules for the gabillionth time and at some point the dogs need walking.

Till the next time…..

Woah, what a feeling, when I’m rollering the ceiling!!

If you are likely to be bored by updates on the growth of Oli, then this week’s bloggage may not be for you.

I’m taking photos and video to track his growth, as this is something we didn’t have with Henry our last dog. This was because the technology was much clunkier back then in the good old days of 1997, and at the time we had a new-born baby and an eighteen month old. So add a new puppy to that and we barely had time for our nervous breakdowns.

Here is the little (big) chap playing on Saturday afternoon. All the female folk were out clothes shopping. Rebecca needed a new winter coat and Emily yet more jeans. I stayed home with the big fella and watched the footy with him.

I keep telling myself, that it is too early to say what I’m about to, as it will surely bite me on the arse, but he does seem to be house trained now. We have to still make sure we have him outside regularly, but he knows to wait until we do, so as silly as it might be to assume the worst it over, it looks like it might be.

Again, at the risk of premature announciation, he is also very good generally. He’s fairly calm for a puppy, doesn’t mind spending time alone in his crate when he needs to, and generally is pretty chilled. Cue the next week being the one where he destroys the house and undertakes some sort of dirty protest!

Thursday sees him being walkable. I know of course that I’ll be the idiot out with him at 6am every day once the novelty of day three has worn off, but it will make it easier all round.

The decorating of the kitchen has continued this weekend, and my contribution has been to paint the ceiling. I have a sore neck and a desire never to paint again. Louise has worked really hard on the rest, and it needs just the finishing touches now. It looks lots better of course, but nothing will ever justify the living hell of undertaking any decorating whatsoever. What do you mean that may be an over exaggeration??

Poor Emily is ill. She’s got tonsils like space hoppers and a snot filled nose. She is rubbish at being ill though as she struggles to swallow tablets. Anyway, she’s been to the doctors and got some antibiotics. She is gutted though as normally (since she was a toddler) she has had banana flavoured medicine. For some reason this time it is strawberry and tastes, and I quote, “grim”. Yes, she is 16!!

Sunday has seen me finally put the 2011 trip report to bed. It is a relief to be honest. My oft mentioned OCD about stuff being an incomplete state has not made this easy. To return from holiday on the 13th of August, and not complete the trippie until mid October is something of a new record, but hey, I’m busy!!

I do need to thank everyone (again) for the reading of the trip reports and these ramblings. As much as keeping up with stuff is a pain, I do enjoy writing, and would, given any sort of chance, like to have a go at it for a living of course, but I suspect that turtle head jokes and knob gags are slightly less in demand than whatever it is I currently get paid for. Anyway, having folk read what I come out with is welcome, so thank you.

The posting of the last day is often greeted with questions around another trip. Well, as ever, right now, we’re going nowhere, and look unlikely to do so by next summer. However I am long enough in the tooth to know that these things change, so we’ll see.

In the mean time, I have teeth to grit and endless working weeks to endure, which currently mean lovely twelve-hour days, and working some of the weekend too. It’s a good job I love what I do so much isn’t it? I’m knackered and I must look it, as Louise refused to let me do any more of the decorating as I “looked like crap”. Well, every cloud has a silver lining then eh?

Oh look, the X Factor is on now. Must go and throw things at the telly.

Till the next time….

Decorating and Digby the Dulux Dog

I suspect it is often quite easy to get a feel for my state of mind and mood by reading both in between and on the lines of these blog updates.  You could search every word for hidden meanings, and every sentence structure for implied nuances.  This week it is really easy to judge my state because….

I have been decorating!

Those four words tell you all that you need to know.  Now, before you have images of me buried in roll upon roll of wall paper, weeks into endless stripping, priming (I never prime by the way) and sanding, I must confess that I did about two hours worth of painting on Sunday afternoon.

The amount of time spent is not the point.  The fact that decorating is even happening gets to me.  Being a control freak Virgo with hints of OCD, the mere existence of disruption in the house makes me uneasy.  I like to make omelettes without breaking eggs if at all possible, and the kitchen and dining room being “upside down” whilst we give it a lick of paint is enough to drive me to drink!!

Louise has done most of the work, and I probably spent more time putting the room back together than actually painting yesterday, but I felt better once the room was as normal as we can get it.

So that is how the weekend finished.  It started with me going to the pub with a group of teenage girls.  This is not, as it may sound, some mid-life crisis episode.  Instead it was me, Emily, Rebecca and several of their friends going to the Railway Pub to see my brother’s band Mustard!

Emily and Rebecca have never seen them so it was overdue.  However, after feeling bruised battered and beaten following the usual working week, topped off with a Friday to beat them all, I did not feel like going.  Louise declined the outing based on the fact that if she were more than four feet from our toilet things might get unpleasant.  So it was left to me to either tell the puppy eyed daughters that I could not be arsed venturing out into the rain, or to bite the bullet and take them and their mates to the pub.

The evening was good once we were there of course.  Rebecca and her friend danced all the way through the first set, which in a pub which was not yet packed, takes more bottle than I ever possessed at 14, hell, even now to be honest.  Our milkman is quite confident though!

Surviving on nothing but pints of Diet Coke, I coaxed my tired frame through to midnight, and the final “Thank you and Goodnight”.  Louise had been home minding Oli, so she may have had the more tiring time of it.

Oli Growing
Not the best photo I know, but if you watch it long enough you will see him grow!

Speaking of Oli, he grows literally by the hour.  Normally when you see someone or something every day you can’t see a difference, but each morning he seems to have added inches and pounds over night.  Those of a certain age will remember the Digby film?  I’m quite concerned at this stage.

Generally though he’s been very good so far.  I do not want to talk too soon, but we are someway down the path now with the house training stuff.  This success has been built on the premise that he now knows that every evacuation, of any variety earns him a puppy treat.  So he is currently “going” about 27 times a day.  This may of course be fuelling the growth we are seeing, but I don’t care if it keeps the house wee free!

He has recently started “wanting to go out” rather than just deciding to do it where he stands, so this is a breakthrough.  Other than a few times when he has a mental half hour, and anyone in a mile radius of his needle like teeth is at risk, he has been very calm and well-behaved.  He is also fully injected up now, so from a week on Thursday he can go out into the big bad world.  We can’t wait.  The girls, as they want to show him off, and I, as it will get them off their backsides and doing some exercise, and it will burn off some of his energy, which might stop the bugger growing!

When we got Oli, my brother and his family came to see him, and their daughter (the one in the photo last week with Kelly remember) fell in love and asked if they could get a dog.  The expected responses of absolutely not were heard, but some two weeks later, they were as strong as I was in their stance, and they picked up Baxter on Saturday!

He is a cross between a Westie and a Shitzu (I think you spell it like that).  We popped round to see him, and he is indeed as cute as, well, a puppy!!  I’m sure he and Oli will be great friends over the years!

In a glass box of emotion (Anchorman reference!)

On Sunday I edged closer to the completion of the latest trip report too.  It has taken forever I know.  We left for this holiday in late July for goodness sake.  But work, the writing of stuff for WDW Dads and this blog have all eaten up time, as well of course as having a real life to do, and a new puppy, so I have plenty of excuses.

I have one day left to do, and it is usually the hardest as it involves the journey home, and the summing up of the trip.  It is at this point that I always say to myself that this report shall be the last, and the online world may heave a huge sigh of relief as they are saved from the onslaught of turtle head and toilet gags.  I don’t know, we’ll see.  It probably won’t matter all that much as we are more likely to visit the moon next year than Florida.  But as you all know, I’ve said that before…probably about ten times in the past ten years.  Anyway, I am stealing my own thunder for the trippie.

For those still interested, I’ll try to get that posted this week, and then my Virgo OCD side can relax knowing that loop is complete, that loose end snipped off, and one more thing is tidy and complete.  I’ll feel better for that!

Now, just the decorating to get finished….

Till the next time…..

A week full of emulsion.

It has been a while since I have commented on our viewing habits, courtesy of our Tesco DVD Rental deliveries.

This week, we were pretty happy to get two titles that looked promising.  We usually like our weekend DVDs to be of a blockbuster style, nothing too challenging (subtitles are a no go), and sit back and let them entertain us.

The Expendables
The Unwatchables

With this in mind, Knight and Day and The Expendables seemed likely to tick all those boxes.  Both had a decent star quota and had been advertised to death upon release.

They were both atrocious!!

Knight & Day was slightly better, and we did manage to get all the way through it.  The Expendables however was absolutely shockingly bad.  It takes a lot for me to abandon a film before the end, but I simply had to.  Louise had long since fallen asleep, as we watched it on our new TV in our new bedroom (I’ll come to this shortly), and I waded through about an hour before realising that my mind was wandering, and I really could not give a toss what happened next.

The script was so cringingly crass and hackneyed I was almost predicting the next line, and the story was cheesy, predictable and had been done a million times before.  The cinematography was of the type where everything is dark, so you can never really tell what is going on, and with Sly Stallone in the lead role, most of the audio was so unintelligible that you had to have the volume at max, only then to be blown away by the next explosion or gun shot.

Knight & Day was OK.  Again, a premise that had been done a million times.  An agent who is indestructible, amazing at fighting, shooting and stuff, with a good-looking blonde tagging along.  It had all the ingredients for a decent action/romcom, but something about it just didn’t work for me.  The story was weak, and of course some of the action was so far-fetched it rivalled Con Air!!

These few hours being my only break from the paint brush since Wednesday made their crapness a real bugger!!  I have a right arm like Popeye’s, but not for the reasons you may think.  No, I have been painting stuff for so long, my arm keeps moving whilst I sleep.  I have glossed the equivalent of a football pitch.  We have more wood in our house than the Playboy mansion on party night!

My estimate of the decorating taking two days, leaving me Friday to relax was so off the mark, it made Andy Gray’s views look accurate.

Anyway, I get ahead of myself.  This was the week when the garage officially became our bedroom.

My brain has been wrecked with the best part of five days of intense paint fumes, so the final stages of the project have become a little hazy, but last night, for the first time we slept in our new bedroom.  It all felt a bit odd to be honest, and after what seems like forever from when we kicked this off, to be finally in did not quite sink in.

I had christened th’en suite shower earlier (not like that!!), and what great pleasure I took from it (I said not like that!).  Washing away days of engrained gloss and emotion, I mean emulsion, and with them the aches and pains of painting ceilings and all sorts of nooks and crannies at weird angles, felt very good.

The one slight pain point in our new bedroom is that we do not as yet have anything to cover the windows!!  Our custom-made blinds are two weeks away yet, and so getting in and out of bed requires a very impressive commando roll on to the floor, where I quickly assume my dressing gown.  Don’t get me wrong, if the neighbours want to see me in all my glory then they are welcome.  I am only thinking of them believe me!!  Our new window is so HUUGGEE that we cannot buy mere mortal window coverings, no, we have to drop a massive wad on custom made blinds.

Room 1
Size isn't everything

Room 2
I commando roll from here

Room 3
Twinkly lights

Room 4
Where the magic happens!

Anyway, in my decorating marathon, I have realised there are a set of rules for it –

1.  You will never buy enough paint and have to go to the shop covered in paint with just a little bit left to do

2. No matter whether you think glossing or emulsioning first is the right thing to do, you will think you made the wrong decision when you have to cut in the latter application to the former.

3. No matter how many times you stand back to check your work, before packing everything away, it is only when you have cleaned all the brushes, put them away and had a shower that you will see that bit you missed

4. Your partner coming home from work and criticising a small element of your eight hours of painting is likely to result in divorce at best, and cold-blooded murder at worst.

5. You will find gloss under your fingernails for the next three weeks.

6. You will somehow end up with more paint on your clothes than on the walls.

Anyway, I am finally done, and all we need now is a set of wardrobes to complete the room, and this will allow us to move all our stuff downstairs.  Rebecca has moved in to our old room upstairs and is loving the extra room.  She is as I type painting stuff on her walls.  I think it is getting a Hello Kitty treatment, but to be honest if I see another paint brush this side of Christmas I will not be responsible for my actions.

So a landmark week in the Williams household.  I must say that if you fancy something else where your garage currently is, and you live near me then you should consider the chaps who did ours, Nuspace.  They were excellent!

But, something that tops all these events, something that should be recorded in history.  Emily is out tonight at a gig at the Apollo in Manchester.  She is watching A Day to Remember. Who??

That is not the event to which I refer.  No, after said gig, someone else is picking her up and bringing her home.  I know!!  I could not quite believe it myself.  I shall still have to wait up for her, but I think I shall embarrass her by waiting in bed and then jumping up as she arrives and waving frantically at the window.  I may even wave my hands too.

So it is back to work tomorrow after three days off last week, and my Inbox looks horrific.  I looked at it earlier but did not have the heart to actually do anything about it.  For now, I have realxing to do.

Till the next time…..

Hurry up and wait.

I’m knackered.

The weekend has been less than restful, and it is only now that I have planted my backside on the couch, found an episode of Two and a Half Men I have only seen about twelve times, and commenced the me time.

Yesterday saw me tackle a task that has been festering at the back of my mind for months.  I threw the back seats down in the car, ready for the trek to the tip,  took a deep breath, and ventured into the garage.  Someone once said that it is crazy that we leave thousands of pounds worth of car on the drive, and stuff the garage full of worthless crap.  We had indeed, and it took many, many hours to get to a stage where you can now walk through the garage without striding over stuff.

To put the level of work into context, in one box we found the photo from the twelve week scan of Rebecca!  Rebecca is 13 years old.

So with two trips to the local tip, we said goodbye to stuff we had kept for years, under the illusion that we would need it someday.  Sod’s law says that we will next week.

The afternoon, as last week, was spent at the gym, and then Asda.  I truly am living the dream.

This morning saw me wrestle with the downstairs loo.  By that I mean that Louise had started to decorate it this week, and it was therefore my job to finish it.  The room, as you might imagine, is small, so why is it then that it took me bloody hours, and it still isn’t finished.  I ran out of wall paper just before I ran out of patience.  There are so many nooks and crannies in there that not one piece of paper went on in one piece.  The complexity of wallpapering is directly related to the level of bad language.

Pleased to have a reason to stop, I did.

So, that explains my opening sentence!

Keep going....

This week saw me produce a pre trip report, which was perhaps a little premature, but hey, such is the story of my life.  I’m not a big pre trip writer, and have only done one a couple of times, as I’m never really sure what to put in there.  Anyway, with my countdown racing to a conclusion, I felt obliged.

As a result of posting this, there may be a few new readers here at so welcome to you if that is the case.

I don’t know if anyone else feels like this, but when we get as close as this to a trip, I try to tell myself to enjoy having a countdown, and in some way, fear the holiday racing past all too quickly, and then I’m sat back here staring a bleak winter in the face, wondering when the next trip will be possible.

So for now, it seems I can think of nothing else than the upcoming trip.  I am looking forward to so many things it would be difficult to list them all.  These things are not necessarily the big events either, it is also the silly things.  For me, the sheer joy of the morning of the outward journey is pure magic.  For once, no-one minds getting up at silly o’clock, and the drive to the airport is a jolly affair.  Even the hours spent at the airport are special, and somehow I don’t mind paying over the odds for an average breakfast, and if the girls are looking to get anything bought for them, this is a good time to get me!

I don’t think Louise enjoys this as much though, as her fear of flying is pretty bad.  I wouldn’t say that I enjoy the flight, but mainly due to an over eagerness to get to the front of the car hire queue.  Louise however, is genuinely afraid of the entire thing.  I suppose it shows how much she enjoys the holiday that she puts herself through it every year.

Seat plan
Two by Two

This year, I’ve booked seats right at the back of the plane, based on the assumption that if we hit any mountains then we’ll be OK, as you never hear of any planes reversing into these things.  The layout of the plane is typically 3-3-3, but right at the back it narrows to 2-3-2.  This means we don’t have to worry about one of us (me of course) having to sit with another family, and we can just concentrate on annoying each other.

In years gone by one of the grown ups (yes, that includes me) would have sat with one of the girls, as we would have had Polly Pockets to dress, and food to cut up, but these days the girls can sit together, share iPods, films and their opinions on any boy unfortunate enough to wander by.

The films on board look pretty good, with the latest Shrek, Iron Man 2, Valentine’s Day and a few others I can’t remember available so these should pass a few hours.  For me, the worst part of the flight is just after the food, drinks and duty free have been around, and things settle down.  It is at that point that I realise that we still have about six hours left, and the girls start asking me how long to go!

The big kid in me just wants to get there, beat everyone though immigration, be the first to get the car, and be free of the airport and en route to the villa.  I will remind myself now, to savour every moment, even those that I find boring and frustrating, as they are all better than being back at work!!

I don’t usually deal with queues and people particularly well.  You may wonder then why I continue to go to the one place on earth guaranteed to inflict both on me.  I can’t answer that really, but I do know that this peaks on the outward journey, with a multitude of tuts heard at every stage, from the check in desk to the restaurant we have breakfast in.  I promise to restrict my Meldrew-esque moments to a minimum Louise!!

Oh yes, I just remembered.  A historic event happened yesterday.  You may remember in a previous post my disdain at Louise’s suggestion that I may need some new shorts.  I made the point that I only wear them for two weeks every year, so in effect, regardless of the fact that they are older than the kids, they are almost brand new.

Anyway, I bought some new ones!  They should see me right till my 50th now!

I’m waffling now, so I should stop.  My excitement is over-riding my ability to edit myself.  If you think this post has been a winding piece of nonsense, lurching from one thought to another, all holiday related, just wait until next weekend, when it will be my last blog post pre holiday.

I’m not sure yet if I will be tweeting from Florida, I need to ask the IT chaps at work if my phone tariff will inflict thousand of pounds worth of data charges by taking it to the US.  In a way I hope it does, as it will mean two weeks away from email.  On the other hand, I could do with my phone to act as sat nav, mobile internet look up, and tweeter whilst away.

I really will stop now.  Till the next time…..