Take Me Down To Cardboard City….

What am I doing here? I haven’t got time for this? People will often say “I have a million things to do” and currently, in my case, that seems literally correct.

The good news is that we did move house on Friday. How I have longed to type those words and have that horror behind us. For more months than I wish to count I have dreaded the day of moving. In fact, way, way back when we were deciding whether to extend or move, I was seriously contemplating months and months of building work just to avoid the experience of packing up and moving to a new place.

Seems silly? Well, you weren’t in my shoes on Friday when those fears were realised. It was not a pleasant day.

I’m not going to go into the multiple horrors in detail. To help my PTSD I need to move on and concentrate on the new beginnings and all that but I will give you some edited highlights.

I don’t know if I told you but we actually had two solicitors, one for the sale and one for the purchase. This was because our first one was relatively newly qualified and when she realised the complexity of our purchase, (due to it being old and with some rights of way issues) she passed that file over to a more experienced colleague. Throughout, that more experienced colleague has been a bit shit.

This held true right to the end. After a fairly easy morning, with the removal men making relatively short work of all the items I had stressed about moving for six months, we got the call before lunch that our sale had completed. We were now homeless for a bit and our selling solicitor had passed everything onto our buying solicitor to do her stuff.

So we actually sat down for a bit, had some lunch and waited for the next call to say we could go and get the keys. As the clock rolled around to 12pm, I was bored with waiting and I set off for the estate agents where the keys would be. This was a good half an hour away so I thought it better to be poised outside for when things happened.

So I arrived and waited. This went on for some time. I called my estate agents, and the seller’s and neither had heard anything. I was trying not to bother my solicitor as they would clearly be busy on a Friday throwing money around for everyone moving house. Ten minutes later and I could wait no longer.

Amazingly I got through and she genuinely seemed surprised to hear from me. I asked for an update. She told me she had sent the money “a while ago” but had not received confirmation from the seller’s solicitor that they had arrived. I explained that my household contents were in a van, I was outside an estate agents in Accrington and our buyer was en-route to my ex-house. These should not be things that need to be explained to a conveyancing solicitor.

“Perhaps you could give them a call?” I suggested, cheerily.

She did and two minutes later I was out of the car, sprinting (Dad jogging) to the estate agents. We had the keys. It was going on for 3pm but we had them.

Sigh.

The rest of the day could have gone better. Our removal men buggered us about by diverting off to another job as we had waited so long for the keys, and that meant we were still emptying our old house late into the afternoon with its new occupants smiling politely and telling me it wasn’t a problem that our fridge and several other items were sat in their new house as they were trying to move in.

Anyway, by about 6.30pm, we waved off the removal van and stared at our new house full of cardboard boxes. A take away happened and then an early night as I was broken both physically and mentally.

Things looked better the next morning. The house didn’t of course as we hadn’t unpacked anything but I took the dogs out on our field (ooohh, get me) and just took a minute to realise we were in, it was done and the worst was over.

I could go on, but honesty I have so much to do. Every room you walk into has a thousand tasks that need sorting, mainly in the shape of a box, so I will leave you to your Sundays.

I need to thank my Mum and Dad for looking after the dogs for the day when we moved. I don’t know what we would have done without their help on the day. The same goes for Rebecca, Tom and Emily’s boyfriend Mikey who have all helped in numerous ways and we are incredibly grateful.

In my immediate future are around 412 tip runs to rid the house of the cardboard mountain we have acquired, and today I am going to try and sort out my office/man cave as I have a desk, chair and other stuff coming early next week.

Overall though, right now it feels like we’ve gone away somewhere nice for the weekend, and it hasn’t quite sunk in that we live here yet, but I suppose that’s a good sign that we’ve done the right thing, despite all the tasks and teething troubles we are currently facing. That’s all natural I suppose when you start to learn to live in a new place after 8 years in another.

More news and photos probably next week when we are a bit more settled.

Till the next time…..

Positivity Payback

Like some sort of legendary mythical siren, calling sailors onto the rocks, my positivity packed post last week seems to have summoned the combined forces of negativity and doom onto our shores.

I apologise and promise to just piss and moan every week from here on in.

I don’t know if it is more a symptom of where my head is, but this week, I have just sensed a collective groan and downturn in the mental health of the entire country. I’ve seen social media posts from friends expressing despair, downheartedness and downright depression. I don’t know specifically what it is, but the mood seems to have slumped.

Yes, we are rolling out the first jab at an impressive speed, but I think there have been a good few signals that this isn’t a silver bullet that will deliver us relief as soon as we would like. The government briefings have continued to be a mess of blaming everyone else and moving the goalposts and it has led, I think, to a dreary realisation that as much as there may light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel is very, very, very, very long.

My younger foolish self, all that time ago last week, was fairly upbeat about the prospect of international travel by the late spring or summer. Whether I am just drinking the kool-aid and reacting to the downbeat and cautionary messaging from those in charge to make us all realise this is far from over, but now, being much older and wiser, a full seven days later, I am much less optimistic and I have to say I am now in the mind that we will need to rearrange again.

I am very open to being wrong. Six months is a long time I suppose.

My vlog watching has not diminished. For someone with a very low tolerance for vloggers, or should I say most vloggers, we have settled on a trio of folks, The Trackers of course, who seem to be approaching Bill Gates levels of earnings from their efforts, and good luck to them, Prince Charming Dev and Paging Mr Morrow. Between the three of them, they do just about produce enough content to occupy the short windows of time I need them to fill as I do my twenty minutes on the bike or during that wasteland of TV around the time we eat our evening meal. Of course, they sometimes all chase the same content as events happen and parks do new things, but overall they are deserving of my eyeballs.

What I would say, is in recent weeks, since the end of the Christmas celebrations at the parks, they have all been enjoying how quiet the parks are. Riding Flight Of Passage with no wait, getting onto Rise Of The Resistance on a whim and generally just walking onto everything. I understand that this makes the experience on the day a nice one, but I am a little concerned about this. I know the parks are quiet at this time of year, but in light of where we are, and looking at the amount of time still to go before the parks can enjoy “normality”, they need to survive. If this quietness continues I worry for more layoffs, closures and other bad things.

The parks need to be there for us all when we can return. I am in no doubt that once we can, there will be the mother of all bounce backs, but I fear for them in short term. It’s probably unfounded as these companies no doubt have more of a clue of how to structure their finances than, and I know it may shock you, some random bloke from Bolton, but I often find that I don’t have enough to worry about, so I take this on as well.

Speaking of stuff to worry about, I do admit that this house move nonsense is getting to me. I think it’s getting to us all. I include Rebecca and Tom in that, as their move last Friday did not happen due to seller idiocy and solicitor delays, with a hint of Covid related issues. They are battling with all of those to try and get their deal over the line and get the keys.

We waited all last week for an update from our solicitor only to find that when we got it, they just confirmed that things were exactly where they were the last time we had an update. It is beyond frustrating. We are unable to plan anything needed for the move whilst at the same time living in a house that is now 45% bubble wrap and cardboard. We await another promised update early next week after of course, I have had to chase them half a dozen times to remind them to give it to us.

Louise is dealing with it all by going and sitting outside our new house. It exists between where we now live and where she works so she often pops by to make sure it is still standing.

After her snow ridden day at work yesterday she called on her way home to see how bad it was to get to when the white stuff hits. It was just about OK.

I have to point out that as large and impressive as that looks, it isn’t all ours. The old farm it is within also houses a couple of other properties inside those gates. However, we are lucky to be moving to somewhere like this. I’ll be honest, it has only been possible as nowadays the mortgage application form has a new section where employees of the NHS can declare the amount of claps they have received and they now count towards your income. Which is nice.

So on we go, into another week, just like the last. I think a lot of folks who bother to read this guff do so because of a shared love of holidays. For many, if you are anything like me, these trips act as both incentives and relief for the day to day slog of going to work. Without them, like now, it feels like there is no wind in the sails. There is literally no choice other than to hunker down, battle through and persist. In a few years time we will, I’m sure, look back on this period as we sip a cocktail on the lanai at Bahama Breeze or tuck into a Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream and laugh/weep.

There I go being positive again. I apologise for the inevitable payback that will bring.

Till the next time…….

If The Stress Doesn’t Give Me A Heart Attack, This Doughnut Will.

For those with the ability to remember all the way back to last Sunday and the much smaller subset of folks who care enough about the moan-fest that was last week’s blog, I should give an update. Mary, Louise’s Mum did get her second vaccine jab on Tuesday. That’s good news of course and hopefully by around now her body is much better equipped to keep her safe from the virus.

In less better news I am still no wiser as to what the actual policy is for vaccinations. Are folks going to get the second one three weeks later or is it twelve? I have no qualifications to dispute either approach but whatever has been decided for heaven’s sake communicate it clearly. My Dad had his letter about his vaccine late in the week so it would be nice for him to know what to expect. But, let’s focus on the positive, that folks are getting some protection at least. Looking at the figures, we desperately need it.

In a world ravaged by a pandemic and where one of the globe’s superpowers repelled a coup attempt last week, you might think that the trivial matters troubling me may have been put into some sort of perspective. You might think that if you have never read this blog before, but of course you’d be wrong. I am troubled by world events. However, my own little world is a busy one and my mind is a whirling mess of all the stuff that is going on.

The putting of our house into boxes has begun. I feel better now a start has been made, but at points during that process, I have stepped back and forlornly looked around at the sheer scale of the task and felt as powerless to affect things as I do with global events. All we can do is plough on and hope that at some point we actually do get to move. After all this time it feels like the day will never come. There has been a little bit of significant progress as we now have the contracts to sign for the sale of our house and we will be doing the signing of those over some form of a video call with the solicitor during the week to come.

There are a million other things to do. They are all little things, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but nonetheless, they play on my mind. From the sorting of broadband for the new place to telling every company I give money to that we have moved, the more I think about it, the more things I come up with that need doing and it can feel overwhelming. If only I were one of those people that couldn’t eat when stressed. Alas, I am the opposite and if this carries on much longer the removal men may well be carrying me out of the house with the aid of a winch and pully system.

This is where the grown up, buried deep within me tells me it will all be OK, things will get sorted and it will all be worth it in the end. Good pep talk, now back to the stress headaches and lack of sleep.

In other house news, you may remember me mentioning weeks ago that Rebecca and Tom were house hunting? Well their purchase is progressing about as quickly as ours. Despite them being first time buyers moving into an empty property, they too are sat waiting for legal folks to collect various bits of paper before they can get in. What is the betting that we get the same moving in date. It’s one of those odd quirks of fate that I can see coming.

So, I could do with a holiday. To be honest, I’d settle for the knowledge that I was going to get one as planned. On that note, I still don’t have my refund from Virgin. After a full week of trying to extract some sense from their automated text system, I think I did get an actual human to respond, who just said they have referred it to a supervisor who will chase the refunds team and they can give no timescales. Well, I don’t know about you but that makes me feel loved and all warm and fuzzy inside. I am desperately trying not to take out my stress and frustration at other stuff out on someone just doing their job.

Let’s end with something not related to a global pandemic, the breakdown of democracy or my own petty little stresses about everyday life, shall we? Remember the old days when I would blog about holiday plans and food. Let’s take a small step back in that direction. This last week or so saw two new places open in Disney Springs. Gideons and Everglazed. The former is a cookie place and the latter, doughnuts. Those two acts in themselves have made the world a slightly better place. I have watched a vlog or two about Gideons and it looks great. The shop is wonderfully themed and the cookies look amazing. I did see that it had to temporarily close again but I am ignoring that for the time being in this hunt for normality.

One thing that really caught my eye was from Everglazed. Long time readers will know of my fascination and love for the Doughnut Burger at Teak, so something about that sweet and savoury mix pleases me greatly and along those lines I saw this…The Grilled Cheeeeeese

A grilled cheese sandwich on a doughnut seems all kinds of right to me. The article reviewing all the menu items, from which I pinched the image above can be read here. There’s nothing like a little bit of food porn to brighten your Sunday.

Let’s quit whilst we are ahead on that slightly positive note and reconvene next Sunday to see if I have had a stress-induced stroke.

Till the next time……

New Year, Snow Change

I’m probably not alone in feeling that 2021 is a little to similar to 2020 so far. After a very different Christmas and New Year, and mostly not for the better due to the current situation, we all slid into 2021 hopeful of better. It will take some time of course and luckily I am extremely patient and laid back so this is no problem.

I am fighting every urge in my ever-expanding body to not piss and moan about the abject and endless incompetence we are suffering on a daily basis from the government. The fact this paragraph exists suggests I have lost that fight. The latest goal post moving on the vaccine, along with the usual hokey cokey approach to policymaking around schools is just another apparent attempt to make this shit show last as long as possible. I know this is hard and unprecedented but we are ten months into this now. At some point, you have to wonder if those making decisions are just incapable of competence.

I know this isn’t the place you come for real-world stuff and political opinion but this is beyond politics now. Ultimately all this affects my ability to holiday and is relevant to the core focus of this blog, but before all that, we have to stop people dying.

Where is the communication? Why is all this vaccine uncertainty being allowed to gather momentum, cause confusion and undermine confidence in the only way out of this mess? Louise’s Mum is due to go back for her second jab on Tuesday. Or is she? At 89, with no internet access, her news sadly comes from the Daily Mail and the news on the telly. She literally has no clue whether she should keep her appointment. She hears that the second jab is perhaps now at 12 weeks but she has had no contact from her GP, who will no doubt be bombarded with incoming calls about this, giving them no chance to make any proactive calls to either reschedule or reassure those due to have their second dose.

Luckily, she has family who can try to find out for her, but what about the thousands of other octogenarians who don’t? This latest act of wilful neglect will cost lives and prolong the pandemic. My frustration is indescribable. Sigh………

Louise has worked for most of the festive period. This, alongside the six-figure salary, is one of the main perks of being a nurse. She has not enjoyed it. If you ever come across some comments online about the pandemic being over-exaggerated and the NHS being quiet and not struggling, please, do not believe it. Every day is a horror show, with staff constantly off ill or self-isolating, leaving those still standing to pick up the pieces and ever-increasing demand. Louise has finally been issued with some PCR rapid testing kits that she has to do twice a week. I’d like to slow hand clap that, as it’s only been the ten months that Louise has been working with COVID positive patients on a regular basis.

I blame my impending return to work for the unexpected ranting today.

House wise, almost everyone involved has had the audacity to take the whole of the festive period off. Imagine doing such a thing. So not a lot has happened. We have not started any of the packing we desperately need to do. It is just too hard and I suspect we will need the looming presence of a deadline to force us into action. Never had I wanted a day to be over more than the one on which we eventually move house. Over the Xmas break, we have had the results of our Home Buyer’s Report back from the surveyor. There are no show stoppers, but there are it appears about a million things that could go wrong and cause us issues at some point in the future. We are assuming this is the standard form of these things with the surveyor covering his arse just in case those aliens do land and sabotage our electrics and roof.

So as the working world wakes up again next week, I’ll be looking to get a decent update from our solicitor about how quickly we can now get this done. It feels like we have been “moving” forever and I just want to get that ominous cloud from over us.

In cheerier news, as is the law, I must report to you that we have had some snow over the last few days and for the first time ever, Freddie has been out playing in it. In his previous short years, he has either been too young or the snow has not been substantial enough. He loved it.

As for my weekly ever-changing moods on any chance of international travel, well, this week it has ebbed to a pretty low point, even for a mid-June departure. As the UK government continue to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, over in the US the outgoing abomination is determined to leave things as badly broken as possible to show his successor in the worst possible light. Add to that, the Florida governor, who is falsifying death rates and taking what could be politely called a “laid back” approach to vaccine distribution and that is not a recipe for the quick resumption of holidays to the US.

Virgin currently aspire to resume flights to Orlando on the 18th of March, but in a similar way I aspire to wear 30″ waist jeans. Right now, I’d settle for Virgin processing my promised refund from my altered booking that was “guaranteed” to be with me by the end of last year. I am currently in yet another endless wrestle with their infuriating automated text system.

At times I do wonder if I will just endlessly blog about a holiday that I constantly move back and never actually have. It’s a form of planner’s purgatory.

So it’s nice to start the new year in the right frame of mind I find. Happy New Year?

Till the next time…….

C*ntry House

As the great poet and philosopher George Formby said, it turned out nice again. In what is and has been par for the course in Mkingdon land since our time on earth began, drama, crisis and faff are the currency in which we trade and somehow, inexplicably, often things turn out OK. There are many times they don’t of course, but let’s not go there.

I ended last week’s post with a minor fib. Forgive me. For those of you who can’t remember, didn’t read it, or really don’t care, let me remind you that I dropped a subtle hint of some upcoming kerfuffle with the purchase of our new house.

The seller, some five weeks after accepting our offer, still had not found anywhere to move to. This was causing our buyer and their buyer some concern and they were applying a lot of pressure to us to come up with some progress towards a moving date. Our seller also refused to even contemplate moving into rented accommodation to preserve the chain.

I get it. They were downsizing and finding it hard to find something that didn’t feel like a shoebox compared to their home of the last few decades, but it did not solve our issues and protect us from losing our buyer. We had looked at renting, but everything was a six-month minimum term and our menagerie of pets would have restricted our options to a field or a shipping container.

After several chats with our estate agent last week, their advice was to give our seller a deadline and start to keep an eye on what else was on the market as a Plan B, just in case. Unbeknownst to them (and Louise) I already had said plan B in my locker in the shape of a house I saw come onto the market just after we had our offer accepted on the original house. I had put it to the back of my mind, happy with our choice but as this situation developed I have to admit to looking at it, wondering if it were still available and half wishing the purchase might fall through so we could consider it.

So last Saturday morning I planted that seed in Louise’s mind. By 3pm, we were inside it (the house, not Louise’s mind) having a look around and by about 3.05 we were both exchanging knowing looks, certain that this had to be ours.

So taking our usual measured and considered approach, as we drove home from the viewing we phoned and made our offer. The vendor wanted time to think and would let us know on Monday. So you see dear reader, I knew all this last week but did not want to tempt fate or jump any guns by sharing it with you all.

The thing that sealed the deal for us was that the vendor had no onward chain. He has already bought a new house and is close to completing on that, so any issues with them finding somewhere to go were solved.

Monday came and as we had not heard by 11am I of course chased them up. What is it with people? Just do it. There followed a fairly intense day of negotiations and faff, resulting in an accepted offer at around 4.50pm, leaving me precious little time to inform estate agents and other interested folks.

We did feel bad about pulling out of the previous purchase, but, from their reaction, it feels like we did them a favour. They have “other stuff” going on in their lives, since agreeing to sell, and apologised for the lack of progress, wished us well and said they would take theirs off the market and come back to it next year. So we didn’t feel so bad after that.

What then followed was a week of very heavy admin, amending mortgage applications and informing solicitors to get everything moved over to the new house. Most of that is now done and so we now just wait for the survey, conveyancing and all the other stuff to happen before we can move. The estimated timeline seems to be January at the earliest.

Louise and I are both happier with the new place if I am honest. It is slightly further away from our current location, more rural, which is nice, bigger, better and just more suitable for our needs by quite some distance. Crucially, unlike the other house, Louise cannot think of any major works that it requires, so that’s just peachy.

It’s an old converted farmhouse and has retained a fair bit of land with it. It is a type and standard of house that we did not expect to ever be able to get, but for (almost) the same price as the other one, it seems we can, due to it being outside of our current location which carries a high premium due to the local schools. We care not one jot about schools at this point in our lives so that extra ten to fifteen minutes to get back to see our parents is worth every mile.

I do shudder at the thought of how braggy and crass all this is, and it makes me very uncomfortable (hence the title of this post) but you get all sorts shared here, the good and the bad, so I can only apologise.

So with another apology for the hideous nature of all this, here are some photos.

I’m looking forward to being a bit more out in the sticks and the dogs will love the extra outdoor space. So by feeling more genuinely excited about this new property than the previous one, I take from that it is meant to be and it, as I said at the beginning, turned out nice again.

Enough vomit inducing not so humble bragging. Let’s move on to vaccines and holidays.

The news of a vaccine coming within weeks was welcome of course. Many will have concerns about having it which is fair enough, but hopefully, it is a major step towards some form of normality. Looking at the rollout schedule, Louise will be eligible early doors I think as a health care worker, with the rest of our family then being fairly close to the end of the queue, so I don’t think this will rescue our March holiday if I am honest. Whether, once the most vulnerable are done, travel is opened up, I, of course, have no clue, but my thinking right now is that we’ll be more likely to be able to go in the late summer, when there’s a fair chance that most folks will have had the chance to have the vaccine and we may be able to move away from masks in the parks and social distancing.

Knowing Disney and their understandably risk averse nature, those two things may take longer still, but hearing about their recently announced losses, I would imagine they are very keen to get back to full capacity and no restrictions too.

However all that shakes out, it does seem that in the next six months or so, the worst of this may be behind us and that is at least some hope to cling to. The only trouble is, the longer we wait to go on holiday, the more airline seats I will have to book to cope with my work from home, lockdown inactivity ever-expanding girth which is accelerating at an alarming rate. How much are those ECVs to get around the parks? This whole thing has confirmed my thinking that it has only been WDW holidays and the fact that I had to leave the house to go to the office that has stopped me from eating myself to death.

I did ten minutes of gentle exercise yesterday and almost had to go to A & E. The long journey back to my legendary athletic build may be a long one, but as we get back to being able to look forward to stuff it may keep me honest and on it, which since March I have absolutely not been.

Till the next time……

Three, Is The Magic Number

I know this place is normally a constant source of joy, happiness, positivity and delight, but even I, the master of all those things am struggling not to stare down the barrel of winter’s gun and think, well, it’s all a bit shit isn’t it.

I could pap on about how dreadful infection and death rates are going to be over the winter and how the government until yesterday were using their “cross their fingers and hope it goes away” strategy to save us all, and what dreadful effects the new lockdown might have on the economy. As much as I am critical of the handling of this pandemic I do recognise the challenge of balancing the economy with the nation’s health. Add to all that the fact that nobody is seeing their Aunt Mabel this Christmas, which depending on your Aunt Mabel, might be a positive, I don’t know. Instead, well, frankly anything instead of that would probably be better received.

Well, let’s see, this week, some more Cast Members were laid off….nope, can’t do that……

How about America’s infection rates setting new records this week and hospitals there starting to become overwhelmed again so holidays seem a forlorn hope….nope…..not that either….

Erm, ah, of course, there is a beacon of joy and reason to be happy this week in the shape and form of my favourite little friend Freddie. He turns three tomorrow. Yep, three. Rebecca and Tom have taken him away for the weekend, having checked all of the relevant COVID rules etc, to Peppa Pig Land for a special Halloween celebration of his big day. I’m so pleased they got to celebrate with him before we go back into lockdown.

Here he is on Friday morning, ready for his Halloween party at nursery.

Because I am not doing negative things in this post I am not allowed to tell you how absolutely gutted we are that we weren’t able to take him to WDW last August and probably still won’t be able to in March, to blow his little mind with all the awesome stuff we could do. That will come I guess, so I won’t moan about that.

Hopefully, he is having a great time and we will see him tomorrow night for his birthday and the giving of presents. He is such a welcome and constant beam of light and happiness in our lives and for that, I am properly grateful.

Since I last mentioned him here he has mastered the potty thing, had about half a dozen different obsessions (currently it is Halloween, robots and dinosaurs, the latter being a constant for a while) and every time we see him, things are just that little bit better.

House wise, no news is being classed as good news right now. We await the survey on our new house to be done, which will hopefully get the mortgage approved and then we can start chasing solicitors to get stuff done asap. Hopefully, the latest lockdown won’t hamper progress too much. Whilst the process isn’t great, both in terms of the paperwork side of things and the horrors of decluttering which we are in the midst of, we are looking forward to the change, a new house and with it, a little more room, comfort and good things, which right now, are the gold nuggets we are all digging for.

During said painful decluttering, in our cellar, which was a museum to our past life, I came across a USB memory stick. Before ruthlessly throwing it out as I am doing with 90% of the stuff down there, I risked plugging it into the laptop to see what was on it. At some point in the past, I seem to have shoved a load of old analogue photographs onto it, including most of them from our 1980 “first-ever” Florida holiday. You’ve seen a good few so I’ll leave those for another time. Instead, let me leave you this week with some absolute belters from the bowels of Williams family history.

If you can’t work it out, my Mum is in the green dress, with a family friend who we went away with and two Spanish waiters. This is summer 1976, on a holiday in Spain before we figured out that WDW was better. That is some suntan is it not?

From the same holiday here is my Dad with my brother and me. It blows my mind that I am about twelve years older now than my Dad was in this picture. Emily always says he looks like a mafia boss in these pictures.

And as I pointed out to Rebecca earlier this week, this last one shows where Freddie gets his good looks from. This is me and my brother with some frankly, quite poor gifts from Santa, I’m guessing in about 1974. My brother has some extraordinary pants on.

If nothing else, these history lessons show that time marches on very quickly and these shitty depressing times will too. At some point in the future, we will look back on them with a mixture of disdain, despair and manic laughter. I will probably yearn for the ability to work from home full-time, whilst booking all those extra WDW holidays to make up for the ones we missed.

Oh, and in the spirit of positivity, we’ve had a change here at the Mkingdon blog and spruced up the look a bit. I hope you like it.

Till the next time….

A Prick Of The Conscience

Moving house, or attempting to, seems to elevate your waking state to a constant mild hum of stress, with occasional peaks. Mostly, I am just sick of people being in my house, be that for valuations, energy certificate surveys, viewings or as we had last week our buyer’s survey. Those with dogs will know the pain of corralling them away from visitors so they do not love them to death and potentially scare folks who don’t do well with dogs. It’s just all a bit of a faff.

From the second the surveyor left our house and we began the wait to hear the results, we did, of course, think that would return all sorts of negative stuff that would either reduce our sell price or completely scupper the sale. Our glass was on its side, rather than in any form of fullness, half or otherwise. We felt a little battered and bruised by the rough and tumble of the short process to date.

Last week I also spent a silly amount of time on the phone to the bank formally applying for our terrifying new mortgage. The chap from the bank now knows more about us and our spending habits than our immediate family. Again, we now await the decision of that jury. Waiting and stress. It’s just a lovely combination.

I don’t know when we might move. I guess there’s an outside chance of it being before Christmas should winds be blowing in the right direction and no hitches be encountered. Our estate agent has warned that the stamp duty exemption has created a spike in activity and solicitors are and will be busy so things may take a little longer than normal. For a process that is not known for its swiftness, this may mean we will have one last Christmas in our current house.

Of course, should the survey show our house was held together with sellotape and spit and was worth about £7.50, then the whole thing would be irrelevant and we’d be back to square one, just minus all the money we’ve now spent on surveys and other move-related things. Did I mention elevated stress levels?

Anyway, on Friday morning we received a phone call to confirm that our buyer’s mortgage offer had been issued, meaning that the survey was all good. This was good news of course and now meant that the harsh reality of moving was very likely a thing we’d have to actually go through with. Between now and then we will have to undertake one of THE biggest declutters the world has ever seen. Yesterday I began the enormous task of clearing out our cellar. Imagine a place where for eight years you have put stuff you don’t really need but don’t want to throw out. Well, now that has caught up with us and I’ll be rectifying it at length.

What I really need is some form of holiday or break to look forward to. Luckily I have such a thing booked for next March. How I am looking forward to that definitely going ahead.

I have to say that I have pretty much-made peace with the fact that this will not be happening. I would love to be convinced otherwise, but I cannot see anything that will significantly change between now and then. I do of course hope that very shortly the US gets a President who is not incompetent, deceitful and seemingly intent on killing his own citizens. If the US gets something like a plan in place that’s got to help, but it doesn’t fix our issues or open up the airways from the UK to the US.

Should we not be able to travel by March, I’m not sure what we will do. I suppose it will depend on the cancellation policies of the companies involved. I suppose we would rearrange to a later date again, mainly as I really fear for the future of many of these travel companies and want to spend some money with them to keep them viable for when this is all over, but the temptation to cancel the whole thing and come back to it when some form of normality is available is growing.

Florida seems to be doing OK if the published figures are accurate. I say OK, in the context of the number of deaths every day is stable as is the number of new cases. The theme parks seem safe, mainly as they are doing a good job of mask enforcement and social distancing. Maybe there’s a clue there for the rest of the world? Crowds are growing it seems, with Universal yesterday reporting that the parks hit capacity by mid-morning. Nobody really knows what capacity limits the parks are operating at, but with so little open in most parks, queues are long.

As that, of course, doesn’t look too enticing, some part of me thinks it would be better not to go in those circumstances, but another part of me would just like to be there.

The wild card in this game of holiday roulette is a vaccine but within the timeframes, we are working in, that seems unlikely. Would I have it? Yes. I suspect other countries might insist on incoming visitors having proof that they have done so, and for that and many other reasons, I would gladly endure the prick. However, I will not endure any prick who comes at me with anti-vax bollocks, and similarly that the COVID virus and resultant death toll is a hoax. Facebook is awash with “medical experts” spewing up this shite and if it’s not too much a contradiction, I wish a pox upon their collective houses.

I try not to let that make me too angry as it isn’t productive. These days, as you will know from my Twitter activity, there is much to bring despair and anger to daily life and the world is not in good shape. I keep that political stuff out of my blogs as nobody comes here for that. However, this week I am going to make an exception without apology. The decision to not provide food for kids who might need it over the school holidays was an abhorrent disgrace and I just needed to get that off my chest. How anyone can make peace with that is an absolute mystery to me. Sure, some parents are a bit shit, and maybe a few fit the Daily Mail stereotype of pissing their meagre funds away on iPhones, cigarettes and Sky, but even if that were true of the parents of every hungry child, how on earth is that the fault of the children? Honestly, if you can imagine any child in your life being truly hungry and without food and be able to imagine not doing whatever it takes to feed them, then please read another blog. Sigh…..

Let’s get back to more normal topics. For now, the whole house move thing is proving to be stressful, but in a way, a welcome distraction from fretting about the holiday every minute of every day. Even I have a limit as to how many things I can stress about at once.

As that house move shifts into the realms of reality, we are now confronting the “problems” of where all our stuff will go in the new place. This brings to light the lunacy of buying a house. It is odd, is it not, that the biggest purchase you are ever likely to make is decided upon within the few minutes you wander around a house. Now, as we have to think practically about what we will have and do in each room, I realise that I can’t actually remember most of the rooms in any detail. I say that as if I will have any input into those decisions. Of course, Louise will be doing that.

Let’s pull this meandering rant to a close with a collective wish for that vaccine. Ideally, all the medical experts from the Facebook comments section will be recruited into the teams trying to come up with a vaccine so that their undoubted expertise can speed things up.

Till the next time…..

Unchained Malady

In the context of “first world problems” and “others have it far worse”, last week was an absolutely unmitigated shit show of epic proportions.

Before anyone gets worried that anything serious has happened. Not really. It’s all house related, and as this has been the entire focus of my last week, it is, therefore, the most important topic on the planet. My self-awareness is only matched by my self-pity.

I am reluctant to retell events here as it will only enhance my PTSD, but I suppose as this stuff isn’t over, then I can drop the P from that. As we ended last weekend, and at this point, I am struggling to piece together all the events in some sort of accurate order, I think I was telling you about some offers we had made on some houses.

So these offers we made. On one property we had already offered significantly over asking last Saturday afternoon to “get it off the market”. I’ve watched a few Location, Location, Locations over the years. That failed completely of course and the vendor, being the most avaricious vendor on the planet, went to “best and final”. This irked me and this probably reflected in my less than enthusiastic best and final, which was almost “shove it up your arse”. We were not successful in that process.

That house was always plan B to honest so nil desperandum, we just needed to know if our other over asking price offer might be accepted. Monday dragged on endlessly without news, so I called the agent around lunchtime. What do you mean I may be impatient? I was told that they had spoken to the vendors and they felt it “likely” that they would accept our offer, but the lady needed to talk to her husband about it.

It’s hard to express our frustration at this point. We made the offer at 9.45 on Saturday morning. Had they been locked in separate rooms ever since?

So we went back to waiting. About an hour later my phone rang and it was an estate agent. Not the one I was waiting to hear from, but instead, ours.

They delivered the bombshell that our buyer had lost their buyer. The feeling of a thousand rugs being pulled from under us was mixed with a kick in the goolies. This was not good.

As we came to terms with that and spoke with our agent about what we could do to resolve the situation, my phone rang again, and in an expected ironic twist, our offer had been accepted on THE house Louise had fallen in love with and the one we both agreed was the first choice. Sigh.

So the race was on to reconstruct our chain. We had more viewings booked pretty much immediately, including a second viewing yesterday from someone who saw it on the one previous day we did viewings. We are waiting for feedback and maybe an offer from that second viewing (the estate agents are of course closed today), but all week, we have been more invested in the sale of someone else’s house than you could ever imagine.

Our buyer has had lots of viewings. As they are selling via the same agent as us, and they clearly want to sort out us and them, they have been updating us on their progress. They have had many viewings and one potential buyer has been tantalisingly close to making an offer since Wednesday. Every day, we ring our agent, hopeful and expectant that this nightmare of limbo and risk of losing our house might be over. Every day, there is one more delay and reason that the offer, whilst still expected, has not been made.

Apparently, there are historic issues with the property, that have now been rectified, but the potential buyer understandably wanted all the documentation for that and to do their own checks. How very selfish of them. That is now complete and they just now need to check their mortgage company are happy with that before making an offer. Sigh.

The time window to resurrect our chain is short before we lose the house on which our offer has been accepted. It’s a form of torture. In the very short time we have been involved in this moving house thing, everything that could go wrong has, aside from getting our offer accepted of course. To think this is just the beginning of the process, and we are stumbling over this first hurdle multiple times, horrifies me.

As I have tried to recount the events of last week, I’m not even sure what happened on which day anymore and I have without doubt, and mercifully for you, left out a lot of agonising, moaning, self-pity and swearing.

Still, as often happens, the universe in its infinite wisdom balances things out. Whilst it clearly takes away on the moving house thing, yesterday, to make sure my week really couldn’t get any worse it also gave back. I thought I would weigh myself. Lockdown has not been filled with exercise and healthy eating so the damage will be significant. Bracing myself for the worst, I pulled the scales out, blew the dust from them, like Indiana Jones would from some relic not seen for a thousand years, and stood on them.

Knowing that my tolerance for disaster has been fully expended for one week, the God of self preservation stepped in and the scales told me that I weighted Lo. My weight hasn’t been “Lo”…….well, ever, so that was good news right? The battery running out at that moment was clearly a guiding hand from some higher being, preventing me from spiralling into some nose dive depression. Now, all I have to decide is whether I buy another battery and confront reality or just keep getting bigger T Shirts from the denial store. One battle at a time right?

So next week promises to go one of two ways. Tomorrow, our buyer gets a new offer and our chain is repaired and we can all put this nonsense behind us. Alternatively, that could turn to dust and we lose our house and you have to fear for next week’s post. For all sakes, cross your fingers.

Till the next time……

Do Two Wrongs Make a Flight?

In my extensive array of skills, being wrong seems to be right up at the top of the list. It was only seven days ago that I came out with this whopper.

“My expectations of being able to go next March change on an almost daily basis. Right at this moment, I’d say I am slightly leaning towards it being possible. I can’t really articulate clearly why I feel that way. We have what is going to be a very challenging winter ahead of us and anything could happen, but ultimately it feels like as time goes by the world is learning to live with this thing a little more. You may remind me of this unusual optimism when I am undoubtedly proved wrong.”

Within 48 hours of that nonsense, I was indeed proved wrong and it now feels like I could not have been wider of the mark had I tried. With the incompetence driven second wave and lockdown seemingly all but inevitable, and new restrictions being in place possibly for six months, then our March 1st trip seems less likely than ever.

It’s just so sad. There is no other word for it. The seemingly endless woe is getting to us now, and even though I dread most winters, this one is going to be a doozy. I don’t know about you, but we’re all feeling the darkness of the tunnel which currently seems to be without an end for there to be light at.

As we watched various “leaders” from different parts of the UK deliver their addresses mid-week, it really did feel like we were watching some far fetched disaster movie. How we took stuff for granted pre-COVID.

Then, later in the week, Florida went all Florida and announced that COVID is apparently over in the sunshine state and all restrictions were being lifted. We can only hope that people keep up the stuff they have been doing to stay safe. Theme parks, I am putting my faith in you to keep the rules you currently have. Increase capacity if you must, but for all our sakes, keep the masks and distancing.

Let’s hope they realise that the numbers of sensible folks who recognise it’s worth taking precautions to increase the chances of folks not dying outweigh the number that drive to the parks in a car wearing seatbelts and on the correct side of the road to avoid death, but think that a face-covering suggests their lives aren’t their own. I think if they lifted all the current safeguards they may lose more visitors than they gain.

So in one week, I may actually have (and not for the first or last time) been wrong twice. The UK put rules in place, potentially for six months, that suggest I’m going to no further than the kitchen till April and then Florida ripped up the rule book and kicked off a COVID party. You can perhaps see why my thoughts around our holiday taking place change on a regular basis.

In other news, you may also remember last week me telling you how we had put the house up for sale? We went “live” on the internet on Monday evening. We had three viewings on Tuesday and accepted a very pleasing offer on Wednesday morning. Other than not knowing where we are going to live next, this is a mighty relief and shows that a pandemic seems to be a good thing for the property market. I suspect the current stamp duty exemption offer is driving a lot of activity. The joy at knowing we don’t need to go through the superhuman efforts of getting the house that clean and tidy again is lovely.

Not one to dwell on pleasing things, my mind is now crammed full of all the things that could go wrong and the horrors of physically moving all our crap to a new location. Before it can be half full, I need to find a glass.

So now we find ourselves looking for a place to live in a property market where everything is selling within 48 hours for more than the asking price. We have two viewings today and if neither of those work out then, based on the current stuff for sale in our area and budget, I may be shopping for tents and portable heaters.

So, leaving the inconsequential nonsense of where we might live and returning to the more crucial subject of our Disney trips. All of you out there with trips booked, no doubt having already moved them once or twice, how are you feeling now? Do you think the lifting of restrictions in Florida is another step towards overseas tourists being allowed in? Will it matter what the US do if the shit show in the UK continues?

These questions are going to be repeated for us all for many motnhs I fear.

Till the next time…..

A week of pain, and I don’t mean the piercings.

We are a family in pain.  We are in a bad way, with high levels of suffering.  What is the cause?  Severe WDW withdrawal symptoms!!

I have Louise posting on Facebook roughly every seven seconds about how hard she is finding the fact that we aren’t going, and I have Emily, listening to Spectromagic on repeat on her iPod and Rebecca joined in the self-inflicted pain by sitting with Emily at the iPad watching WDW parades this evening.

parade pic
Craig, I miss you!!

Me?  I am coping admirably, and I don’t think about it much at all really.  I would say there are several seconds in each day where the thought of going on holiday does not cross my mind.

It does not help that I have two cyber friends fully immersed in Disney-dom with @tweetwizzo tweeting about ten times a minute whilst on his fourteenth trip in eighteen months, and Gordon in full planning mode, clogging up my twitter and Facebook timeline with WDW footwear conundrums and questions about dining options.  Thanks chaps!

I have to admit that I have spent some part of today on websites related to the booking of such trips.  We ABSOLUTELY cannot afford one, and it is only the fact that I want to eat in the coming months that I have not followed this searching with some plastic damage.  Louise wants to go more than I do….so she says….but I think I just hide it better to be honest.

With a house move this summer, and then once moved, quite a bit of work to do to the house to make it acceptable, I have to save all my available credit card balances for that, and not squander them as usual on a trip to the States.  Now, of course there is always Christmas…….stop it, and more importantly, stop me before I do something stupid!!

Speaking of the house move, things have kicked off, and I spent most of today filling out endless paperwork, and sending off pretty much every important document I possess to prove that I work, earn, exist and live as I claim I do.  It is complex stuff this house move business, and I expect many a twist and turn before we eat that traditional take away amidst unpacked boxes on our first evening in the new place.

Planning a house move is substantially less fun than planning a trip to Florida.  The costs are pretty similar, but the levels of resentment attached are just not in the same ball park.  I can justify any cost attached to WDW, but paying some legal bloke a few hundred quid to check there isn’t an open mine shaft under my new house is just throwing money out of the window to be honest.

So with much expense to bear in the coming months if at any time you see me near a computer, all misty eyed, credit card in hand, please do the decent thing and stop me.  I’m either just about to book a trip I can’t finance or I’m on one of those websites that require a credit card to proceed, and neither will lead to long-term happiness.  Both give short-term relief to certain problems of course, and you do only live once!!

In other news, Louise became unemployed on Friday, leaving her steady regularly paid employment to become a student again.  She has immediately bought three Smiths albums, some weed and two dozen pot noodles.  On the plus side she won’t need to shower or wash her clothes for three years so that should save some cash!

This new lifestyle has also driven her to include the kids in this new hippy student lifestyle.  Despite me putting my foot down and insisting it would NOT happen, both the girls had their noses pierced this week.

emily nose pierce
I nose this will be trouble

I enjoy my position of ultimate authority in our house.  I have absolute power of veto as log as Louise agrees with the decision.  In my experience, one out of two of every piercings goes wrong in some way, and involves yet more expense for lotions, creams, antibiotics or trips to the doctor, and this time my money is on Emily.  Call it fatherly intuition.

So with three students in the house now, I expect to come home to a smoke-filled house, with three females suffering the munchies and searching through last week’s dirty washing to find something they can wear inside out.  If we don’t own at least one Levellers album in the coming months I will be astonished.

So we plod on, holiday-less and hopeless, suffering the intense pain of absolute WDW cold turkey.  Should any of you have a pot of money you aren’t using, and feel the need to donate us a trip, I would be delighted to accept, and even name the trip report after you.  I have a minimal amount of pride I can assure you.

Someone please end this pain…..

Till the next time……