Dig, Doug, Dougie

Apologies for the lack of blog last Sunday. We had a lot on and let’s face it, nobody cares.

I was inundated with one message asking if I was still alive, so thank you.

I doubt there are many other blogs where you can receive regular digging updates. It’s a niche market, but I’m happy to tackle it.

More digging has happened. We now have two “tiers” to complete the many other tears all this work is driving us to. To be fair, it has been relatively painless so far, for us at least. The digger driver did have a couple of interesting/terrifying moments in the smaller digger he used to do the final bits of shaping etc, as he traversed the moonscape that is currently our back garden, but the digging, at least involving the big machinery is done. Anything else will be done by hand now.

That is a relief in itself as just getting that sort of heavy machinery into position had the potential to upset the neighbours, damage property and see our field make an appearance in our kitchen.

We spent all week awaiting the delivery of all the materials so the reconstruction could begin. As with everything else in the country these days, building materials have become akin to precious metals and bugger all happened until yesterday as we awaited the delivery of rare commodities like wood and sand. The builders estimate about a week of work to get things complete once stuff arrives, so let’s say two and hope we’re somewhere close to done by the end of August. It’ll be lovely to look out at our new outdoor space through the drizzle and fog of Autumn.

The other news since we last “spoke” was our wedding anniversary on the 3rd. Twenty-six years of marriage and twenty-eight together. People often say things like “where has the time gone” in these circumstances. I know where it has gone. Mainly working, many lovely holidays and the usual mix of ups and downs. Literally, cest la vie.

In other news, and the latest “you couldn’t write it” episode of my life, one evening last week as I returned home from walking the dogs, I spotted some movement near our kitchen bin. What followed was twenty sweaty minutes of Louise and I trying to catch a mole that no doubt one of the cats had brought home and then lost or got bored with. It’s at times like these that you realise how much furniture you have, as the poor little bugger scuttles from one piece to another. Eventually, I threw some tupperware over it and took it outside to hopefully find its way home and not to another cat. We named him Doug. It felt appropriate.

To complete the Dig, Doug, Dougie trilogy, the latter has been a little unwell this week but a visit to the docs confirmed it was nothing serious. He was off his milk, which based on his track record to date, was very unusual. Anyway, he is on the mend and back to staying awake all day, smiling at everyone and eating.

With it being mid-August now, by rights I should be boring you to tears with the detailed coverage of our last-minute preparations for a WDW trip. This time of year has, more often than not, been our time of choice to visit Florida. It isn’t possible this year at this time for many reasons and for Louise and I, we just don’t know when it may be again with Mary needing the care she does. Respite care is not an option as the worry whilst away wouldn’t make for a relaxing time.

I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle WDW again yet anyway to be honest. It seems the more time that passes since our January trip, the less I feel inclined to combat the complicated mess that is visiting a WDW park. It’s like some mild form of Genie+ PTSD. Maybe it is better now? If you’ve been recently I’d welcome your feedback.

The CEO this week confirmed the one call I got right during the pandemic. The park reservation system is here to stay. As I guessed, this is just too useful to Disney in terms of their planning, cost management and ability to staff the parks, or perhaps more relevantly, limit the number of guests aligned to how many CMs they have available.

I don’t mind this too much. As someone who plans their days months in advance, mainly so we can eat where we want to, the chances of us rocking up to a park that’s full and having no reservation are slim to none. What I do object to is having to be awake and on-line around 6.30am to fight for the chance to pay extra money for Genie+ to have any chance of riding anything that resembles a headliner.

With a good number of new rides open or about to, this is only going to get worse. It may be years before folks get to ride a “new ride” even if they visit annually.

With no prospect of a holiday any time soon, the main reason I need to get one booked is that it is typically the only reason and motivation to lose a few pounds and let’s just say I should book about a dozen holidays to generate the weight loss required right now.

Let’s reconvene next Sunday with hopefully, news of a very nearly finished back garden. What could possibly go wrong?

Till the next time…..

I Seethe At Genie

It’s one of those weeks were horrific events somewhere in the world make the trivial nonsense here even more offensive. Usual caveats apply in that regard.

There was a brief moment around Wednesday, with a couple of White House Covid briefings that some semblance of hope surfaced about border news. It turned out that they were all about the booster jab programme and nobody even said the word border.

It was silly to hope but it’s what we do I suppose. With the passing of that potential update, hope for October is now all but extinguished I think. I am prepared to be wrong yet again but I don’t see us being allowed to go. It feels to me that the US administration are completely focussed on the Delta variant (and of course more so Afghanistan now) and getting that under some sort of control before they do anything. Battling with the governors trying their best to extend the pandemic is probably taking precedence over allowing tourists in.

The White House announced it was extending the travel restrictions for Canada and Mexico until September 21st this week so we know from that, the UK will be the same until that date and most likely beyond.

Now of course the thinking and theories could be that they will get those boosters delivered before they open the border. That would be a good few months. Overall, I guess they just want to get case levels down to a more reasonable level. As ever, the frustration is the lack of transparency. Most folks just want to know they aren’t going if they aren’t.

It’s tragically sad in its own little first world problem kind of way.

Then to kick a man when he is down Disney unveiled their plans to introduce paid for FastPasses. I honestly couldn’t be arsed to research it in much detail but I will share my uncalled for uninformed opinion regardless of course, as is the way on the internet.

As usual, it appears more complex than it needs to be but I think it’s $15 a day which on its own in the scheme of the holiday doesn’t sound too bad. But for UK folks doing 10 to 14 days, for a family of four it adds up to between £600 and £800 to your holiday. Sure you don’t have to buy it every day, but it just makes for a two tier system in the parks. You can probably ride all the lesser attractions, but if you want to get anywhere near Rise Of The Resistance or Flight Of Passage as examples, then you are paying extra for the Lightning Lane stuff, which, however you cut it, is a bit of a piss take. I know all the parks do it now, but any model where the park makes more money by being a bit crap at processing large volumes through rides only benefits one side of that deal. Who am I to suggest that they may intentionally inflate wait times to up their revenues.

Maybe the free version will manage the crowds in a way that will reduce the longest wait times, but you have to think that if that happened nobody would be buying the paid for versions and as much as we all love Disney, I think we know how that one goes.

I’m sure park reservations and the new Genie thing give WDW unimaginable data and insight on crowds in the parks and will allow them to marshal folks to quieter areas and rides and I can see the theory that this will make for a more enjoyable experience. I doubt it will get you onto the headliner rides though unless you get your hand in your pocket. Having shelled out over $20 to park, $15 a day per person on top or potentially unlimited amounts of the Lightning thing sticks in the throat a bit as it isn’t as if the park tickets are particularly cheap. It would have been a nice gesture to say, because of this we commit to not increasing park ticket prices for two years or similar. Again, this is pure fantasy I know. They are there to make money.

It’s another stage in the slow death of the feeling of excitement surrounding these holidays. It’s becoming a dark cloud of doubt and uncertainty hanging over us rather than a beacon of joy and excitement that we can look forward to. We don’t stay on-site typically but I have seen many folks bemoaning the slow removal of almost every previous benefit of doing so. It makes you wonder what the thinking is behind it. Maybe WDW has data that says that off-site guests are more profitable? Hard to imagine that is true but why else would they upset their own resort guests?

Usually I am very supportive of any change WDW come up with. I trust them to protect the experience and brand. It’s probably a symptom of my incredible frustration that we cannot be there, or even know when we might, that I am lashing out like some bitter ex.

I did briefly look at ADRs early in the week, mainly just to try and remember what it used to be like doing exciting things like planning. The pickings were not just slim, they were skeletal. I appreciate that I missed the 60 day window due to apathy and no belief that we will be able to go, but unless you plan to eat at Disney Springs there is nothing to book. I managed to find a couple of things we would be happy with but I’m just creating more things to cancel later.

I know it’s not like me but I will end with a couple of small positives, that are probably too late to save our current dates but may go someway to helping with later ones. On Friday (I think it was) the US delivered over one million jabs in a day for the first time in months. Even Trump endorsed getting the jab at his latest MAGA rally. He was booed of course as you can’t fix stupid, but maybe some of his less challenged followers will take the hint that all the MAGA dolts undermining the vaccine have had it. If that continues and cases start to plateau who knows, we may get in.

In summary, I am worried about how I am starting to feel about WDW and Florida. I have a real fear that things will never be a special as we perceived them to be in the past and if that is the case what a shame that will be. All this angst may well melt away once we are back to being able to go when we want to. In the meantime I shall continue to spit my dummy all over the interwebs in a vain attempt to make myself feel better.

The truly tragic part of that is that you have to tolerate or avoid it as you see fit.

Till the next time…….