Veggie Plight Sandwich

I am pleased to report that I have been strong this week and no further ADRs have been made. I applaud my own restraint.

One change and planning consideration on this trip is that Emily is now vegetarian and I was very proud of myself for remembering to order her a vegetarian meal on the flight! She has been busily scouring the menus of our favourite haunts looking at how well she will be catered for. Most places of course accommodate veggies very well, but a couple don’t seem to have recognised them as a customer base. Teak doesn’t seem to offer much to them (we’re still going though, she can have a salad!) and the biggest sacrifice Emily will be making for the sake of animal kind is to miss out on the lasagne at Olive Garden.

This dish is Emily’s most favourite thing on a plate on the planet and there is no veggie version.  So if any of you are seasoned Orlando veggies I am sure she will be delighted to hear of any tips, recommendations and advice.

One new place we have added to the plan is Sweet Tomatoes. We’ve heard good things about it for years and yet never been. Recognising that this place is very likely to be appropriate for Emily’s veggie needs, it looks like it would still offer enough stuff to interest the carnivores in the party. A lunch here is on the cards which means that if any of us are feeling meat deprived we can make up for it during the evening meal!

It’s been a bit of a busy work week despite its four-day nature. Louise worked the bank holiday Monday and has been doing the same every day including this weekend. That’s a tough stretch. I mean it’s very tough that I have had to do the washing and tidy the house completely unaided this weekend. I have also done a few finishing touches to the bedroom, glossing some bits that were added post decorator to remedy some of the snag list stuff we noticed. I hate doing it but I do seem to have managed not to destroy the entire room which is always a positive when I pick up a tool of any kind.

I know I haven’t shared any photos yet. I will but we are still waiting for some things to get it 100% complete. Our blinds, ordered in early April, are still being made. Their delivery and installation is something I am very much looking forward to as currently, with nothing up at the windows, the now very bright mornings are restricting my ability to sleep. I crave some darkness.

We also have some bedroom furniture on order and that isn’t due until late May. This staggers me. What are they doing, growing the trees from scratch? Anyway, once all that is in place I’ll do some photos so you can all see what I’ve been moaning about all these weeks. The room looks a million times better than it did of course and we are happy with it. The spare room is suffering a little, as there is still a load of stuff dumped in there that needs to either thrown or found a new home for. Why do your possessions always outnumber your capacity to store them?

On Thursday (I think it was Thursday anyway) we all went to a wedding evening at the venue for Rebecca and Tom’s wedding. It was set up to show what it would look like when properly decorated etc and there were a few suppliers flogging their wares. We were entertained by a close up magician, which was handy, as if he’d been far away we wouldn’t have been able to see what he was doing, and discovered wonders that might be available to us such as a doughnut wall. Yep, that’s a thing and I suspect it may be a thing at Rebecca’s wedding too. Whilst we were there we were given a tour of the bridal suites on offer and Rebecca chose the one she (and Tom) wanted. Tom was off watching the Avengers film so he’ll be staying wherever he is told. Not that his presence on the night would have made a huge difference to the decision making process of course.

A few things are beginning to get booked in now, with the make up lady being the latest. I hope she can manage my complex skin tones. It’s a complex business this wedding lark. Luckily, we have years of experience of planning complex family based activities and Rebecca specialises in a list. I can’t think where she gets that from.

Time to go, I have dogs to walk, and then I am on Freddie minding duty later this afternoon whilst Tom watches End Game again, this time using the excuse of taking Rebecca with him!

Till the next time…..

Battles, Bruises and Baxter.

It’s been a bit of a week really.

I think both Louise and I feel pretty battered and bruised by the last seven days for different reasons.  I have done a mini UK tour, taking in London on Tuesday, which is always a chore and never a pleasure, and then Newcastle over Wednesday and Thursday.

I always find traveling for work, especially when mixed with overnight stays tiring and laborious, especially when the venue for said overnight stay is the very glamorous Premier (you must pronounce it Pree-Meer) Inn.

After a one meeting jaunt to London on Tuesday I drove up to Newcastle on Wednesday morning to open our new office there.  There was no gathering of local dignitaries unfortunately.  The grand opening was pretty much just me, carrying a new PC, and our new starter.  To his credit he settled in very quickly, and the two days passed without much incident.

One highlight of the stay was dinner with Steve, my ex-colleague, but thankfully not ex-friend.  He was in Sunderland on that day so we had arranged to meet up.  Every day is indeed a school day as when we came to order our pre-dinner drinks in the exclusive Pree-Meer Inn bar, the two Guinnesseseseses we ordered were served up from a tin, looking all flat and uninviting, but then they were placed on some contraption, in a little pool of water, and as if by magic, agitated into a fully fledged perfectly acceptable pint.  It was as if I had just witnessed the invention of fire!

Food wise dinner was OK, but it was great to catch up with Steve, and I only rubbed it in a little bit about our recently booked trip.  I have to be gentle with Steve as I never know when we will next need loan of some DVC points or a dog sitter!

Towards the end of dinner, we were delighted to hear the dulcet tones of the fire alarm.  Of course everyone sat looking at each other for a good few minutes hoping to not have to move, but alas the staff ushered us outside.  Now, up in Newcastle I am classed as a southern jessy, and I confirmed that status by coming close to death whilst stood outside in the sub-zero temperatures of an early May evening.  It was bloody freezing, and of course being a resident of the hotel my nice warm coat was enjoying itself up in my room watching some channels it shouldn’t have been.  Well, that’s my excuse for them appearing on the bill!

newcastle fire engine
It was too cold for snow!

Eventually, the fire engines came and went, and we were allowed back in to thaw out.  Steve set off for home and I watched crap telly in my underpants.  Don’t worry I did go to my own room first!  It truly is a showbiz lifestyle I lead.

Homeward bound…..

So there you have my bruising week.  Whilst I was living the Vida Loca by the Tyne Louise was having all sorts of fun and games with the vendor of the house we are buying.  This fun and games was made all the more interesting as she is “family”.  I won’t go into details here, frankly as we are all now absolutely sick of talking and hearing about it.  In summary the survey on our new house flagged some issues, and these had a material impact on the valuation the bank gave to the house, and in turn to the amount they would lend on it, and so began two days of heated debate about us trying to “rip her off” etc etc, when it was absolutely nothing to do with us.

That is the tip of that iceberg but it shall remained submerged here.  All I will say is that you would not believe some of the goings on if I wrote them here anyway!  Suffice to say, we ended the week in a position where we can progress, and the move is still on.  This was not the case for some of the week, so it has been a bit of a roller coaster.

So we arrived at the weekend, thankful to hear the bell for the end of the fight, and for the extra day off, and needing a good sponge down, running repairs to a couple of cuts, and some words of wisdom from Buster Meredith. (He was in Rocky(s))  Excellent use of brackets there!

Holiday wise, there hasn’t been much time to drool over Disney websites or plan too much, but I did manage to book the minivan, and start to put a plan together.  The plans so far involve a meet up with Jakki, Steve and the kids whose names I dare not try to spell.  We have arranged a golf day for the men folk where Steve and I will be easily beaten by a man in his mid seventies.  I love golfing in Florida! Then that same evening, the Cooper and Williams clans will convene at a suitable Applebees for feasting before invading Epcot for fireworks and frivolity.

The only other thing we’ve committed to do is return to Daytona to watch the Cubs play baseball whilst we eat!

The weekend so far still has not yielded too much time for Disney planning as we’ve been busy with other things.  There is still tomorrow of course but that is Rebecca’s birthday, so much, no, all of her day will be spent readying herself for her birthday meal tomorrow evening with five friends, and Louise and I will be on taxi duty.  I hope they eat well before they come!!  Rebecca has a new outfit, shoes, jewellery and enough make up to keep the cast of Chicago going for months.

After spending this afternoon at a steam fair I shall be doing similarly exciting and sexy things tomorrow no doubt.  Garden Centres, Stannah stairlift demonstrations and walk in bath showrooms will not be safe from me.

To be fair we had a nice afternoon at the Last Drop Village.  We met up with Mum and Dad, and my brother and his wife, who took their dog Baxter.  Much hilarity ensued as he and Oli spent about an hour chasing each other and playing like things possessed.  I think they tired each other out so it has been a peaceful evening.

He’s eaten a whole wheel of cheese.

We entertained Louise’s Mum for tea, and then spent our evenings watching films we’d seen before or browsing the internet.  Louise was looking at stuff we can’t afford for our new house, whereas Emily was watching YouTube videos of the Fantasyland expansion to see if anything new would be open when we go.  Not much will be it seems, but my obsessive planning ways seem to have made it down the family tree well enough!  My work here is done.

Speaking of which…

Till the next time…..

Ask them why they bombed our chippy…..

Right, this may be brief as I have an appointment with the couch and TV for the conclusion of the Masters.

Along with an early summer, this week brought with it a German invasion of our little corner of the country.  The preceding few days had seen a one woman attempt to reverse the retail spending figures from Louise, as we readied the house and the spare room for her arrival.  I’m sure Kathl, our German, now thinks that all English bedrooms smell of paint and pot pourri.

By the time I got home on Thursday evening, Kathl was tucking into sausages and mash, and none of your Germanic nonsense, these were Asda’s finest, literally, and full of English porky goodness.

It soon became apparent that Kathl is a delight.  Polite, multi lingual (German, English, Spanish and just to rub it all in a little Latin too) and a credit to her parents.  Her one weakness does seem to be the ability to pack, as her case was the size of a small house, and almost needs its own room!!

As usual, with our girls, no matter what the nationality of the friend, without exception, we host all get togethers and events.  Friday was no different, as I single-handedly oversaw a sleepover of mammoth proportions, with Louise out with work for a meal and drinks.  Luckily, for most of the evening all the kids were out for a meal and then the cinema.  Yep, that’s right these German kids are bright enough to sit through an English film at the cinema and understand enough of it.  This meant they got home at around 10pm, and from there I retreated to my bedroom, watched The King’s Speech, and left The League of Nations to sort themselves out.

Carnage International

There was no disharmony that I could make out, and it was more football in between the trenches at Christmas than fixed bayonets over no man’s land.  The noise subsided quite early with the German folk still tired from a long journey.

The morning saw the largest example of cultural difference so far, with a choice of bacon barms or chocolate brioche, not one of our foreign guests plumped for a bacon barm, and vice versa.  When I asked them if they would like a bacon sandwich they looked at me as if I’d asked them to eat each other!!  This is no doubt why they lost the war….oh, don’t mention the war!!!

Saturday was slightly easier as once we had all eight, yes eight females out of the house, we dropped them at the Trafford Centre and left them there for a good five hours.  It was certainly good for me!

You will have noticed that we dropped everyone off, and yes we then picked them all up again later.  Why change the habit of a lifetime.  Thankfully, Saturday evening saw another parent host a BBQ, and we made the most of the chance and went out for a sneaky curry with my brother and his wife.  A lovely night it turned out to be, with the amount eaten just being enough to start to cause me physical pain, which is always a sure sign of a succesful meal.

Today, we have had a wander around The Last Drop Village.

Rebecca and Kathl
Thatll be Kathl

Then we bit the bullet, and despite the lovely weather guaranteeing that half of the western world would be doing likewise we took a drive out to the coast, and had a walk up the beach at St Anne’s.

The sea is out there somewhere

It was very nice, despite the overwhelming amount of milk bottle coloured torsos on display, with the tell-tale pink shoulders of those who will regret it in the morning.  Have chav will travel!  We took Henry with us too, which is always a risk as he is truly awful in the car, but today he was OK and slept most of the way there.  He did his usual trick of finding a piece of wood to carry around for half a mile and then insisting on burying the bloody thing with his hooter.  No wonder he has cost us a small fortune at the vets with his snotty nose!!

No-one nose why???

Kathl did not know what a chav was, but after a loo stop at the local Toby Carvery, and five minutes in the beer garden, she does now.  The benefits of these cultural exchanges cannot be ignored!!

So overall, things are not going badly at all.  I have used my expansive range of German, much to Kathl’s amazement, and just to prove the point further, I ensured that our weekly shop included my entire repertoire of German knowledge, so that I could again slip that into the conversation.


Three years of German study was not wasted for me!!  I know you will be surprised to hear that my one recollection of a German O Level would be cake related.  I also today remembered the German word for pregnant, but I shall draw a veil over that.

As I type, we have a collection of children again, encamped upstairs, up until now peacefully.  As long as they do not interrupt my golf and gateaux then there will be no need for cruel recriminations.  For me, the weekend is over….

Oh and finally, this week’s title is a contribution from my Dad, who has a natural flair for international relations.  He can speak any foreign language, as surely that is just English but louder?  When told we were entertaining a German girl, his first reaction was to recount a tale of a bombed chippy in his youth, and this, along with a myriad of other reasons is probably why we shall not be taking Kathl to meet him!!

Till the next time…..

Bob the Builder, can only build it in suitable temperatures.

This week I learnt something.  Apparently it is not possible to mix concrete if the temperature has the audacity to fall below freezing!

The cynic in me immediately assumed that the builders were simply work shy fops, who had some objection to working all day in the midst of snow and temperatures that would see  monkeys “sans globes”.  I could have checked this out via google or some such device, but felt better wallowing in my bitter pit of cynicism to be honest.

As the next stage of our garage conversion is the laying of the floor, apparently this concrete lark was pretty fundamental to progress.  Hence, we lost two days, and I can’t tell you how depressing it was to stare at the same desolate scene in the garage for all that time, especially after witnessing significant changes in week one.

On Thursday a builder returned, somewhat reluctantly, and progressed the project a little.  His day was spent trying to break up frozen sand.  Nice.

My infantile mind could not reconcile these practical problems encountered by the builders with my reality of dealing with these super low temperatures.  I have been moaning all week about having to walk three feet to my car, defrost my bloody car door handles, and thinking this was a major inconvenience.  I then proceeded to moan that the builders didn’t turn up for two days!!  I am an arse at times.  (Comments neither required or welcome).

With the house resembling one on Coronation Street at the moment, we had a debate about whether to postpone a long-planned visit this weekend from our friends Steve and Di.  I work with Steve, and have done for over ten years.  We worked together at my last place, and I persuaded him to make the move to the new job with me too.  They have also been lovely enough to be the source of DVC points for some of our prior visits to Florida.  In addition to that, they have even looked after my snotty cocker, which isn’t something anyone could do!  They are officially documented as being the nicest couple on the planet.

In the end, we decided to go ahead, and they are aware they must take us as they find us.  These weekends normally take the form of much eating, some drinking, a visit “out” somewhere if the weather and season permit, and then a Chinese takeaway of illegal proportions, and a chat about Disney, the Universe and everything in between.

We last visited them back in the early summer, and this was documented here in the Sindery and Snot blog.

The reason for the earlyish posting of this here blog is that I expect not have time this weekend to squeeze it in.

Our plan for this weekend is to stay nice and local, and just have a wander around the Last Drop Village, which is about five minutes from us.  The other suggestion was a trip to the German markets in Manchester, but we’ll see.  The coldness will be a major factor in our decision, and there you go, once again, my cynical ramblings about work shy builders is highlighted for the hypocritical nonsense that it is.

I have also promised Steve that I will show him Call of Duty Black Ops on the Xbox as he does not own it yet.  I am duty bound to honour his request as he is a guest in our house!  I’m sure there will be some hours spare whilst the ladies ready themselves for something at some point.

Rebecca Bring me the horizon
Bring me, bring me the horizon

On Wednesday this week the girls were at yet another gig.  The seem to spend as much time at the MEN arena as they do at school!  This time the headline act was Bullet for My Valentine, supported by Bring Me The Horizon.  Usually I can appreciate much of their musical choice, but these are both far too “screamo” for my tolerance.  I can’t say I could name you a song from either, but I do know that when they girls put them on in the car, I really have to bite my tongue to avoid the classic Dadism of  “who the hell are these jokers?”.

So the attendance of a gig, as usual, saw me in Manchester, at 10.30 on a school night, waiting in a sea of eyeliner and angst, to pick the girls and their friends up.  One of these times, their friends parents will do the honours!!  Sorry, did I say that out loud?

Rebecca had done herself some serious damage headbanging, and looked worse for wear all the way home. She was immediately despatched to bed with two paracetamol and a life lesson.  Emily, ever the sensible one, had “mini moshed” as she put it, in between taking 666 (a number worthy of the hard rocking devil worshippers she was watching) photos, most of which look the same, but of course are crucially different to those in the know!

Bring Me The HorizonStrangers to the Shower.


I got home around 11.30 after dropping off fringes all over Bolton.

Sunday sees them watching Youmeatsix at the same venue, and I can only hope some other parent will feel guilty enough to volunteer to taxi them around this time.

Emily’s mocks seem to be going OK.  I ask every night how she has got on that day, and the standard answer is a shrug of the shoulders and “Meh”.  Make of that what you will.  She has had one mark back already for one of her Maths papers, and it was a good one, so I’m playing it cool and accepting “Meh” for now.

She’s also been filming her media studies project, and has roped in her friends to star in her production.  It is inevitably a horror epic, and I look forward to seeing the full two-minute cinematic masterpiece shortly.  Homework was never that much fun when I was at school.  Dammit, I swore I’d never do “in my day”.

Cpl George Carey
Rebecca's great great great uncle (I can't be sure I have the correct number of greats there)

Rebecca has been working on a History project this week, and she needed to do a project on a soldier who served in World War One.  Luckily for Rebecca my Dad has been researching our family tree since he retired, and was able to hand her the entire contents of her project on a plate.  Well it was several sheets of A4 but you know what I mean!

He has done a cracking job though, all the way back to the 1600s, and he has photos and documents of many of the family.  It is also amazing that only two generations ago, having seven or eight kids seemed to be the norm!  I shudder to think.

For starters how would I get them all in the car after these gigs!!

Looking at the photo of George here, puts my moans about concrete, trips to the MEN, and well, everything else I whinge about in perspective.  He died aged 22, at Ypres in April of 1918.

I can’t and don’t want to imagine what he went through and saw in the three years that he served in the war.

So on that cheery note, I shall post this entry, and leave you to your weekends.

I will see you back here next week, on the other side of some beer and possibly a Chinese takeaway so large it may endanger my health.  Steve has an appetite to match mine, but he just manages to control it better….well control it some would be more accurate!!

Till the next time…..