I Missed A Bit

It turns out those 67 coats of the conservatory ceiling were still not enough and it probably needed one more. Did I mention my hatred for painting freshly plastered ceilings?

We’ve had a frustrating lack of activity on the whole getting things finished this week. Our conservatory man had van issues early in the week and then tested positive for COVID, so he won’t be with us until next week. The angst of being at about 95% completion is like waiting for those last few percentages to load for your new Play Station game when you have average broadband speed like in our front room.

Life continues to be busy and chaotic and we aren’t choosing to just take one day at a time, we just have no choice as we don’t have time to think any further ahead. We are dropping balls all over the place, not speaking to parents as often as we should and not spending time with the girls and grandkids as much as we’d like. Mary has not been well this week and has needed a lot of TLC and more basic and less pleasant attention for a stomach upset, and of course, we continue to try and integrate little Woody into our house. He’s doing OK and finding a routine but he still needs a lot of attention.

Yes, he has his own Instagram account. Blame Emily and Louise for that.

Rebecca and Tom are moving house this weekend. Of course, I feel for anyone going through that experience, as those scars are still very real for me, some eighteen months after we did it. I am hopeful their experience will be better as their move isn’t one all being done in one day so they have got some time to move their stuff over time. They got a lot done yesterday so hopefully, the worst is behind them now.

Dougie is doing well. He recently slept from 10.30 till 5.30 which is better than I normally manage. Obligatory Freddie/Dougie photo incoming.

They were at our house on Friday and I had the pleasure of being able to feed Dougie. Whether it’s wind or an actual smile is there anything more lovely than a baby smiling at you?

I spent all day yesterday painting the conservatory. I know painted windows may be an odd look but we are going with it. Of course, the painting was not of the glass but instead the seemingly small areas of plaster and wood that I thought might take an hour or two but I started at 10 and finished around 5.30. Even after doing two days of the same last weekend. That involved one more coat of the ceiling and two coats of the walls. Thankfully Louise has chosen a darker colour for the walls so just the two coats seem to have done the trick.

Today there were more “finishing touches” to do before we get the last of the construction done by our hopefully soon-to-be COVID-free builder one day next week. As another sign of my surprising DIY prowess, I used a drill this morning and there was no fire, hospital visit or damage to property.

Then it took me another hour to clean all the frames and windows of all the dust, crap and plaster that had happened to them during the construction process. All that work and a long-overdue visit from my Mum and Dad are the reasons for the late hour of posting this thing. I won’t speak of the time spent cleaning all the paint speckles off the floor tiles. I had put covers down but somehow this stuff found its way to the floor.

So with time a precious resource that’s the lot for this week. I’m going tp nip over to Rebecca’s new house now to have a look around. Louise went on Friday as they started the move and will have to stay home with Mary today as she needs 24/7 care.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your sunny weekends and endured less painting than I did. There surely can be nobody on the planet who has spent more of their weekend painting than I? Persecution complex? Never!

Till the next time…..

Dougie, Doggies and What We’ve Been Doing

This is the first non-holiday blog in forever so let’s see if I can remember how this works.

Let’s start with the obvious update. Last Sunday morning little Dougie joined us and due to an arduous birthing process and one that we should not repeat please Rebecca, he and his Mum did not come home until Wednesday.

The thing that Rebecca had been yearning for was to introduce Dougie to his big brother who had been patiently waiting at home unable to visit the hospital, along with the rest of us apart from Tom, due to Covid regulations.

Here is the moment they met.

It’s fair to say they have been inseparable ever since.

Rebecca is recovering well after her emergency C section and thankfully all the drama of that is behind us. For those eating and/or a little squeamish that is all we shall say about that.

We got our chance for a hold and a squeeze of Dougie on Thursday evening and it was glorious.

So that’s a delight and a relief!

The last time I wasn’t doing trip report things here, we were just about to go away to Florida (maybe, depending on Omicron…remember that?) and Louise’s Mum suffered a stroke. She went into hospital in late December, which led to Louise staying home to look after her. Mary came out of the hospital in early January and came to live with us, under the expert care of Louise who has given up her job to look after her Mum.

It would take too long to go through all the ups and downs of this past almost six months now but safe to say it has been a mix of good times and tricky ones, both in terms of Mary’s health and the challenges presented in caring for her. She was back in hospital recently with pneumonia but is home with us once again now.

Outside of that, just to add some spice to life, we are halfway through getting our conservatory replaced and you all know how I love having jobs done around the house with all the mess and disruption that goes with them.

There is some sad news since we last “spoke” about our lovely Old English Sheepdog, Oli. Sadly we lost him unexpectedly in late January and we were all incredibly upset. Time helps, but I still get overcome with it at points when things remind me. Everyone says it, but he was truly a special dog and a huge part of our lives. It still hasn’t really sunk in that we won’t see him again. It happened so suddenly that I still feel traumatised by the events of that evening. All these months later I still find myself expecting to see him in his favourite spots around the house.

Our other dog, Bean, has been soaking up all the extra affection and attention (and food) since we lost Oli. In her bereaved state, Louise finally let Bean up on the couch and she seems quite happy about that situation.

In other animal news, and we have a lot, you may remember that Emily has pet rats? Well, there have been turbulent times there too with three of those sadly passing away in recent times. They all have a forever resting place in our field now and Emily has added a couple of new babies to her collection. They really are lovely pets and cute little buggers and if only pets didn’t pass away that would be great.

So with all that and my work being especially busy and stressful in recent times, it has not been a time of great peace and quiet, but when is life ever?

As mentioned towards the end of the trip report we unusually have zero holiday plans. Louise especially is in need of one, but that isn’t possible for now. I have finally watched a vlog now though. Only one, and perhaps it is quite telling that it was a Universal one, but maybe the urge to return is slowly starting to awaken from its slumber. However, the more I read and remember about the WDW park situation now, the more that cost and complexity just make me reluctant to go through that stress. I have enough of that in real life. We all know we’ll return at some point of course. I can only hope by that time it is recognisable as the WDW we love so much.

So there we go, a whirlwind recap and you are up to date I think. I have no doubt forgotten some stuff but that’s enough for anyone on a Sunday.

Till the next time…….

Freddie Fun and a Few Other Fings

I do try and prevent this blog from becoming the equivalent of the bloke at work who keeps showing you photos of their kids/grand kids. It’s hard at times as of course Freddie is the most special being on the planet and my track record for not sharing stuff like that is poor as I have spent every year since 2003 writing about the girls on our holidays, but I think I’ve done OK.

So you’ll forgive me I hope a couple of short videos from last night. We had the pleasure of Freddie’s company for a few hours whilst Rebecca an Tom went to the cinema. We did all the things that grand parents are supposed to do, like let him refuse to eat his tea and instead fill him up with yoghurts and chocolate, no doubt making him difficult when he went home. It is the circle of life.

You can see from video one that he may have had some previous experience with his Mum and camera phones. Also, I know that the music is annoying, but you only get a few seconds of it, not the whole evening.

And in this second video, ignoring any recent revelations about the artist, he does like a bit of a dance and MJ is one of his favourites.  You may also spot him attempt to shout at Alexa. It is amazing what they pick up, and he is obsessed with technology, buttons and fiddling with things he shouldn’t.

I resisted the urge to measure him and then try to calculate how tall he will be in late summer 2020 for our next trip, for now.

The week just gone has been a blur. Busy, stressful, problem ridden and wet, and that was just the commute. That does not sound like a set of ingredients for a week of joy and indeed it was not. Having to work for a living does place serious limitations on my ability to enjoy day-to-day life.

I am vexed that this eating of my time has not allowed me yet to investigate any of the villa tips many of you sent me a few weeks ago. I mean, time is tight, we are literally now only eighteen months away from our intended departure. This shall need to be addressed promptly. I should also thank you all for the many comments and thoughts last week on the Star Wars Land opening. It was a real mixed bag, but I think almost everyone had big concerns over crowd levels.

I do wonder, with my “I want to be a Disney Imagineer” thought bubble on, how they plan and consider these things. You see, those are some meetings I would like to be in and not spend half of it wishing I wasn’t. My mind boggles at the data analysis, planning and general interesting stuff that must go into just the opening of such a thing, never mind the building of it.

Almost every part of WDW will be affected, from hotels bookings and obvious things like that, but how do they accommodate the costuming requirements for all the new cast members and characters, where do they store them, are the car parks going to cope, what impact might there be on the other parks, which merchandise is de-ranged to make way for the new stuff in the shops as again they have finite amounts of shelf space. It’s no wonder Disney employ so many folks. Think of all the project plans in play at once for this stuff.  Imagine being the person responsible for the thing being ready on time. That must involve a few sleepless nights.

I’m sure my tiny brain can’t even come up with 99% of the considerations for this type of thing. The number of moving parts in play just to facilitate folks like me going on a few rides is unfathomable.

Right, with this post meandering around aimlessly I should probably go and be more productive elsewhere. At the back of my mind, my stress levels are being enhanced by the impending arrival of workmen to destroy and then reconstruct our bedroom. We have to empty the room before that, and find places to house all that crap until the work is done and then it’ll be weeks before we are totally finished. I do hate this disruption and it makes me stress more than it should for any sane person. I’ll address it today, not by getting on with the work of emptying the room of course, more by watching the football and doing things that will make me forget it’s happening.

You know it makes sense.

Till the next time…..

Appy Eater

Unlike last week’s pity fest, this post will be a moan free zone….probably.

That is more a case of my restraint from inflicting more of it on you, than there being nothing to moan about, but still, that’s progress on last week, yes?

Our holiday officially started yesterday. Sure, there were still 180 days before we stepped onto the plane but that doesn’t matter. I booted up the My Disney Experience app, updated our touring party and got on with sorting out our first ADR.

It’s not that I expected to have too much trouble getting that first one in the bag but it is still nice to get the first part of the puzzle in place. The hardest part of this ADR for our first day was predicting our energy levels at that time of day and knowing what time to make the reservation for. After the first day awakening sometime after 2am, I am slightly concerned that we may be asleep by 5pm Orlando time, but I think first day adrenaline will see us through.

I don’t expect us to have gone the whole day in Magic Kingdom and then go straight over to Wilderness Lodge, but hey, if we do then that’s a bonus, but in reality I would imagine we will head back to the villa mid-afternoon for resting and showers before driving to Whispering Canyon.

If anyone is feeling a little drowsy then the servers will soon see to that!

I’ve just tried to get our next ADR, for the following day, which will be my birthday. The Disney app is not awake yet and is giving me errors when I try. I am a little concerned about this one as we need a booking for a party of seven at Beaches & Cream. Knowing the layout of that establishment pretty well, that may not be physically possible. Hopefully they will let us book as a seven and then split us between two tables when we are seated.

We have been seated at the counter previously with a party of six, which was OK but I’d prefer a couple of booths/tables. This level of knowledge and preparation for some ice cream could be seen as over the top. You and I know better don’t we?

The time we want may help, as I’m hoping to get us in around 2pm, when hopefully the lunch rush is coming to an end, and once we have ingested a week’s calories, we shall be off for my usual birthday tour of the World Showcase with the day ending with ROE. That is of course unless Disney have replaced it by then. Rumours have surfaced this week that that this is likely and it may not be too far away. Now, as much as I would rather this didn’t happen, I always trust Disney to get the replacement right, but I would rather it happened after I had one last time to watch and appreciate it in a torrent of tears and snot.

It has been a weird juxtaposition this week. With the weather here, walking the dogs has been an absolutely painful experience. I do not handle the cold well, it is obvious that I should be living in Florida’s glorious climate. At times, as the dogs played in the snow, the biting wind was coming close to having things fall off my body, some of them I still use. Literally at the same time I was on my phone, looking longingly at ludicrous wait times for rides and watching a few Tim Tracker videos on the telly (well, I was working from home due to the snow!). Hang on, this is bordering on a moan, let’s move on.

Last night, Louise was out on a do with work, so I took the opportunity to take a beautiful twenty two year old to the cinema. Emily and I watched Game Night and it was very good. I don’t think it’ll be winning any Oscars, but it was really good fun and an enjoyable watch.

In other news, tonight we have a very welcome guest. Rebecca and Tom are off out, and we are looking after this chap.

He is even sleeping over, so we are very excited. However, if he wakes during the night, I shall be less so. Freddie has started on a few spoonfuls of baby rice this week. He is developing so quickly it is scary. Mind you, he does have to get ready for a Doughnut Burger in September so it’s for the best!

On the subject of Freddie beginning his journey with food, this was being discussed this week in our family Facebook chat group. I have to say I was quite pleased with my GIF skills, so in a rare show of self congratulation I shall end this week’s post with this…

Till the next time…..

Full Of Freddie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time….

Ready Freddie Go

The subject of this week’s blog will come as no surprise. Let me start by thanking everyone who sent their congratulations and lovely thoughts when I posted Freddie’s photo on Facebook earlier this week.

I’m going to try and talk you through the events of the last week but if I’m honest my head is a bit scrambled and I’ll probably get bits wrong. It’s been a heck of a week for all sorts of reasons, not least becoming a Grandad!!

At the start of the week we knew it was likely that he would be coming soon. Rebecca was being monitored daily as she was having a few health issues herself. The main one was Strep B, which I’d never heard of but there was a risk it could be passed on to Freddie so a plan was hatched to kick-start things sooner rather than later.

By Wednesday Rebecca was in hospital knowing that she wouldn’t be going home until he arrived. It took some time and a lot of drugs to start her labour and as much as that was tough for her and Tom, trying to carry on with every day life knowing what was going on and what Rebecca was going through was tricky.

By the end of the working day on Thursday it was clear that he would soon be with us and sure enough at 9.16 that evening he made his entrance at a healthy 7lbs and 14oz. His first few minutes were a little worrying for Rebecca and Tom as he wasn’t doing a great deal when he first popped out and the delivery room soon filled with literally dozens of medical folks all doing their thing to sort him out.

Thankfully all was well but he spent his first night in the intensive care unit just to make sure. He was then quickly moved to special care where he still will be until (fingers crossed) tomorrow when he goes home. He was on a drip for a while just making sure he had no infections but over the next couple of days he’s made steady progress, coming off that and starting to feed etc. The biggest landmark so far was when Rebecca was allowed to dress him. That first outfit had been planned for a long time!

So on Friday we made the trip up to the hospital to meet him. We were all excited and eager to get there which made Louise’s insistence on stopping at several shops to buy a balloon not at all frustrating, making the twenty-minute trip to the hospital last over an hour!

Rebecca was obviously tired but thankfully safe and sound which was a relief after months of privately being terrified about her going through labour. Because they had to speed up her labour dramatically for Freddie’s benefit they put her on some very strong drugs to take her contractions to warp speed. She was told she wouldn’t be able to cope with the pain levels that would bring so they said they would give her an epidural. Unfortunately, they struggled to get that done and it took two hours to administer it during which she was in inhuman amounts of pain. I am a bit glad I didn’t know that until after the event. She has some impressive bruising for her troubles.

We are all incredibly proud of her and also proud of Tom and thankful for supporting her through labour and the last nine months which have not been easy for Rebecca.

One by one, as only two were allowed into the unit at a time, Rebecca took us in to meet him.

With him being in the special care unit in a glass case of emotion it wasn’t possible to hold him, we have that treat to come later today, but it was amazing to have him hold onto my finger and for us to say hello.

Thankfully, after not too long, over the weekend, he was able to be held by his Mum and Dad.

Rebecca was discharged yesterday and if all goes to plan they should be able to bring Freddie home tomorrow but we’re not sure yet.

It all feels a bit surreal at the moment. I’m sure that will change once he’s home and normal life can begin and I can’t wait. The next generation begins, and I’m sure it will be an adventure for all but mostly Rebecca and Tom. There’s a huge sense of relief all round that he’s finally here and everyone is fit and healthy. Here’s to a new chapter signalled by his arrival.

I have to go and get ready now as I have a date with my Grandson during which I’ll hold him for the first time. I shall be starting the Disney indoctrination by talking him through the plan for his first trip!

Till the next time….


Best of Orlando

Summer Summed Up

Hello again. It’s been a while hasn’t it? Value for money is making your holiday last from early April to the start of September!

I’m going to ease myself back into this normal life blogging gently with a short catch up if that’s OK?

When we last spoke, our bathroom and other renovations were 99% complete. They got finished off whilst we were away and every day life is better for it. It should be for level of the investment made both in financial and disruption terms. We have a stunning bathroom now even if I say so myself and our parking situation which was, frankly a pain in the arse previously is now a joyous and more secure experience.

What else? We have a new sofa and chair as of a few days ago too. We are finally tackling all the house stuff that our holidays have prevented previously. Every decade or so Louise has to have her way I suppose.

The major news is that Rebecca is getting quite large now. She’s 30 weeks pregnant as of yesterday and looks radiant and blooming. She doesn’t feel like that to be honest. She’s uncomfortable most of the time and just wants the whole thing to be over, but that’s a lot to do with her Veruca Salt tendencies and she just wants young Freddie to be here NOW!!

Here he is…

They have been busy moving into a new house, and then re-decorating with a little help from me. That’s love for you. Me voluntarily doing DIY isn’t something I do lightly. His room is ready, all the major purchases made and now we’re just waiting. I have to say the thought of my daughter going through childbirth isn’t something I’m looking forward to. Knowing pain is coming her way and I can’t do anything about it isn’t something I can be comfy with, but it can’t be avoided.

Work has also begun on our next trip to WDW. It is a first in that I’m currently planning for someone who isn’t born yet, but I have the necessary skills. It looks like we’ll be going in late August 2018 and I’ll bore you with more details of that in the coming weeks.

The accommodation is sorted and that’s about it, so much is still to be done.

Oli and Bean are good too. Since we last spoke Bean is a little less womanly than she was. There shall be no Oli/Bean miniatures now thankfully. Her brief time in the cone of shame wasn’t pleasant.

I still need to work for a living I’m sad to say. The less said about that the better. Louise too is still a slave to her meagre NHS salary.

So there we go, that’s five months updated in a few hundred words, well, the shareable stuff anyway. How are you all? Please do let me know. One thing that I wouldn’t mind more of are your comments and feedback. You were all very shy during the posting of the trip report, so please feel free to add a comment, telling me what you’d like to hear about, whether you want to kill this blog with fire and never write another word ever again or what you’re up to.

I thank you.

Till the next time…..