Bristol, Bangers and my hatred for Gok Wan.

This week’s travels have found me in Bristol and London. As much as the company I had on both trips was top notch, travelling in this way is often a labour rather than a love.

As and when I have interviewed folk in the past, and they have cited travel as one of their interests or hobbies, I doubt they’d class a couple of days on an Industrial Estate in Bristol as one of their aspirations in life.

Travel, as a pleasure, is a selective activity of course, and I don’t hate it, I just don’t relish it, unless it involves a trans Atlantic flight and life threatening quantities of food. Hate is a phrase I reserve for the important things in life that are deserving of the word and sentiment like the cellophane wrapper you get around a new box of tea bags, and Gok Wan.

In the Top Ten of things I can’t stand, tea bag box packaging is irrationally up there fighting for top spot. Alas, Gok will always hold that safe, with his inexplicable fame and need to appear on my television when I’m least expecting it. His talk of bangers, girlfriends and “rocking” anything want me to remove his or my eyes with a rusty spoon to stop it happening again.

His appeal, like his talent, seems illusive to me.

Anyway, back to Bristol. On Wednesday evening I was out for a curry with m’colleague and my most favourite and longest standing supplier. It was delicious, and was going down a treat until, distracted by some idiot trying to talk to me whilst I was eating, I mistook a ghost chilli for a green pepper.

I was in child-birth levels of pain, and was rendered speechless until about Friday. I do not recommend it, as you might have guessed. After about three hours of snot and eye watering, m’colleague and I left the locals we dined with to find our hotel. We both regularly navigate ourselves all around the country on business, and equally as regularly (nearly) cross the Atlantic and find stuff without too much messing about.

However, in the labyrinth like city centre of Bristol it took us an amount of time I am too ashamed to admit to find our bed for the night. How we laughed. Google maps and directions from others did nothing to save us from the persistent drizzle and incessant loops of the same shops.

On Friday my travels, and the way the day turned out, saw me in central London with a few hours to kill. With the weather being one step up from the Apocalypse, my options were limited. I had a walk up and down the south bank passing the London Eye and the silly queue for it. I guess it was still half term somewhere.

The Biggest of Bens
The Biggest of Bens

Ultimately to beat the cold and the boredom I ended up just moving from one place to another to eat and/or drink. By the end of the day I was close to causing actual bodily harm to anyone even suggesting another coffee. Starbuck’s, McDonald’s and for tea Nandos all saw the inside of my wallet, and I rolled home on the train needing two seats.

It seems London is fueled entirely by foamy coffee, foreign accents and surly expressions. Oh and anyone who can find the elusive combo of free Wi-Fi and a plug socket wins London. I did both in some poncey South Bank Arts place, and as I sat there for an age sucking up their juice and cyber space, I could see the security folks eyeing me continuously. I left without having to give either of those valuable assets back.

I am traveling again next week, but to the familiar territory of Marlow, so that is becoming so routine I’m stopping classing that as actual travel, and just a slightly longer commute.

This week also saw us make some very, very, rough and some especially ambitious plans for the 2015 holiday. With it being Rebecca’s 18th that year she is keen to do a WDW trip, as Emily did, and so we have made a mental note that we shall aim for that. We have no plans at all about how to fund it, but we shall cross that bridge at some point before or after the trip.

If you are in the middle of planning a trip, then, firstly, I hate you, but secondly, perhaps you could consider a fellow Disney-er and Dibber (I think) who has recently struck out on her own in the travel agent business. As I receive endless help here for all sorts of stuff from you kind folks, Sue Shellard asked that I pointed folk at her business, and of course I was delighted to oblige. Give it a click and a Like, if you so wish. To those who have continued to give their endless and unrewarded help and support this week, for reasons I cannot yet divulge, I thank you. There are some really lovely people who read this crap!

I have to go now and pick Rebecca up from work. She is enjoying her new job, and I am enjoying her not asking for money from me every seventeen seconds. Emily too had an interview for a new part-time job on Thursday and she is going for a trial shift tomorrow so hopefully that will see her earning once again. At this rate, I shall be able to buy myself some new clothes for the first time since about 1995. As and when I need them of course!

Till the next time…..







My Buddy Gyles Brandreth

All the kerfuffle over the last few weeks has brought quite a few new readers to these parts, so I sit here staring at the blank page all of a quiver at the extra pressure brought on by these newbies.

My regulars know and tolerate the quality to be expected here, so I merely wish to delay the disappointment of those brought here to read my ramblings.  Here goes…

So last week saw me undertaking “executive travel” once again, with Tuesday in London, an overnight stay in the five-star, sorry I mean 0.5 star Prince of Wales in Marlow, and Wednesday in HQ in the same town.

As I’ve often said, I do appreciate London, in short doses and usually once back on the train with it shrinking into the distance.  My meeting was in Piccadilly Circus, which as usual, saw this simple Northern Lad staring slack-jawed at the twinkly signs and all that stuff we only see on the telly.  I did my best to avoid all eye contact on the tube, and to stand on the correct side of the escalators to avoid being mown down by some swarthy investment banker as he sweeps past on the way to his next bonus.

Like most northerners I assume that the streets of London are strewn with celebrities, and I often spot one or two in those brief few hours in which I enter and retreat SAS like from it’s smoggy grip.

Alas, this time, I only saw Gyles Brandreth.  I was coming up out of the underground at Paddington to catch the train back to Marlow, and he was filming, I assume for The One Show.  No doubt it was a twenty-minute piece on some crucial story such as who invented tin foil or the percentage of the population with a third nipple, as is the norm for The One Show.

Gyles Brandreth
Almost a celeb

I sauntered through shot all casual like, trying to act all blase, like getting on TV is something that happens every day.  Do watch out for me on The One Show as I shall obviously feature heavily.

Our family of course are regulars on it!


The only other times I have appeared on TV were way back in earlier decades.  Whilst working for Nat West, we “volunteered” to work on ITV’s telethon programme at Granada Studios in Manchester, and my legs and shoes appeared briefly on national TV behind Richard and Judy.

The other time was a close shave in more than way, as I was handing a drink to runners in the Bolton Marathon, and having spotted a camera, I risked life, limb and my childhood innocence by dashing through an army of runners to hand Jimmy Saville a drink.  He was very gentle!

As claims to fame go, I suspect there are more impressive ones.  Oh yes, I did also used to work with Howard Donald, from Take That…….’s cousin.  I think I’ll stick with walking past Gyles Brandreth.  Not something I would want as my epitaph or on my gravestone of course, unless someone wants to pay £10 million for my funeral in which case I would have a headstone that wouldn’t look out-of-place in Vegas.

I would never do politics here, but regardless of your views on our recently deceased ex leader, do we really need to spend £10m to put a box of skin and bone into the ground?  I can think of better uses of that cash to be honest.  I need a holiday for a start!

Friday night saw a rare night out for us (minus Rebecca of course who is constantly attached to her Tom).  We went to the cinema, and it was one of those trips to the cinema which was more about having a night out, rather than seeing a particular film.  In the end we decided upon Identity Thief, and it was better than I expected. It was, I thought, going to be another gross out comedy spawned by the Hangovers and Bridesmaids we’ve seen recently, and it was I suppose, but good all the same.

Identity Thief
Better during a sugar coma

The trailers before the film though confirmed that Hollywood is struggling for an original thought, as Hangover III was shown, along with another trailer straight after that for what looked like a Hangover Junior, you know, a bit like S Club Juniors when S Club 7 were starting to implode in a haze of weight loss tablets and in fighting.

I forget what it was called, but basically the similarities leave me hoping that it is actually a spin-off, and not being passed off as a standalone effort.  Don’t get me wrong I’ll be watching Hangover III, and of course Anchor Man 2, but I wonder if we’ve used up all the original ideas in the world.  God knows, I’ve used the same seven gags in ten years of trip reports so I speak from authority.

Anyway, we enjoyed the film, and I went for the double trouble option of Ben & Jerrys and Pick n Mix.  Sugar induced nausea adds to the enjoyment of any film, and when asked to pay for my snacks, it also gave me another better use of that £10 million we’re spending on a funeral!

Till the next time….

PS – Buy my book!

Entertaining Wees and Some Cold Turkey!

Regular readers know that on the odd occasion that I have to go to London, I do so with a heavy heart and a desire to get in and out as quickly as possible.  Last week was no different.  It was the first journey to the capital with the new company, and so had added elements of dread as I am still very much in the zone of trying not to look like a right tit as much as is possible.

Upon reaching London I do go a bit touristy to be honest, and with a new company comes a new office venue, and this one in the heart of the West End.  As you might imagine, the streets in this part of London, are filled with hundreds of theatre types dancing on top of taxis in pink leg warmers, the dancers in leg warmers, not the taxis!  We stopped for a £7 coffee in Haymarket, and had to wait ages for Bob Hoskins, Julie Walters and Robert De Niro to decide whether they wanted a croissant or a skinny muffin.

So having walked with slack jaw past Eros, those large boards with Coke on that you see on the telly (and I don’t mean Frankie Cocozza’s dressing table) and a myriad of theatres I got to the offices and proceeded to blag my way through a series of meetings, nodding when everyone else did, and somehow fumbling my way through a presentation or two.

The reason for all this pre-amble is that during a break in proceedings I had a wee, and I think it may be a contender for an award for The Wee with the Best View in Britain!

london wee view
A loo with a view

These are the perks of working in the heart of the capital I imagine.  A nice as it is to look at the London Eye whilst peeing all over your shoes, it does not (for me) make the daily use of the tube anything like bearable.  I am much happier sat in first gear for an hour traveling the twelve miles or so to the office!!

So the day was pretty much a success, as the meetings went well and I was back home before 8pm.

The highlight of the day, without doubt though was the phone call I got from Emily on the way down.  She was due to pick up her GCSE results for her Maths re-take.  Having inherited the Williams aversion to Maths, she too did not pass it first time around.  This is a family tradition, and having retook it recently she had not exuded confidence about passing this time either.  I do admit to being a little nervy for the first hour of the journey, whist trying to engage in jaunty badinage with the boss next to me, but once she’d called the trip seemed a little more bearable all round.

Thankfully, her call to me was a joyous one, as she had passed, and we were all absolutely delighted.  Having mastered algebra and isosceles triangles she can now forget them forever and just wave her certificate at employers.

One downside of the journey down south was that I missed Rebecca perform in her GCSE Dance group that evening.  One of the very few school performances I have missed since they started being sheep in the nativity in nursery!  She did very well according to Louise, as a zebra!  I imagine it very similar to the Lion King Show in the Animal Kingdom!

The rest of the week was relatively uneventful, my Mum’s birthday aside today.  We popped round with a present and a card, and I spent a comfy hour in the restful grip of my Dad’s brand new “ladyboy” chair.  Only the die hard long standing trip report readers amongst you may get that reference!!

We are now in the full maelstrom of March which is officially the busiest and most expensive month of the year in the world of Williams.  It contains four family birthdays and three Mother’s days.  Yes that’s three.  My Mum of course, Louise’s Mum and Louise.  As grown up as the girls are they still seem incapable of finding their way to a shop and procuring their Mum a pressie.

In other news, I, no we, as I include Louise in this, are in the full grip of WDW cold turkey.  Like the full-blown addiction it is, we are metaphorically rocking ourselves slowly in the corner, quietly whispering random words such as Philharmagic, Applebees, Epcot, and overdraft.  I cannot lie to you, we have both this week spent time on websites that contain flight searches.  This has not helped, and in fact only reinforced how much we cannot afford to go this year.  This makes me sad, in more ways than one.

So our house is like some scene from Trainspotting, but the train in question circles the Magic Kingdom. I made the very big mistake earlier this week of re-reading one of my trip reports as someone had just commented on it.  In light of the coldness of my turkey, this was not a wise thing to do.  It did reinforce my thinking that the writing of these trip reports is well worth the effort at the time, as reading them some years later really does allow you to transport yourself to the exact time and place.  Let’s face it, that’s a lot cheaper than paying for flights.

Till the next time…..



Seven Tears, Two Trains and Too many tweets.

I fear that I may have been over active on the media of Twitter and Facebook, especially on Thursday.  I’m afraid this is what happens when you trap me in a steel tube for four hours with only the internet for amusement.  Due to these over frequent updates, you will no doubt have gathered that I was in the capital this week for a “meeting” regarding an “opportunity”.  The existence of those speech marks is probably irrelevant.

There is nothing secret about this opportunity, as I have as you also know already resigned and am preparing to start my new job next week.  However, I just don’t want to jinx anything by talking about it before it is anywhere close to being in the same vicinity as my bag, never mind in that bag.  I will say that the meeting seemed to go OK, and I have just heard that I am through to the next stage of the process next week, again in frickin London, so location aside, that’s pleasing.  This opportunity is quite different to the job I have accepted in many ways, and it would make a significant difference to us as a family in all sorts of ways.  First priority is to get the offer, then decide if it is the thing to do.

Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of these trips to the capital.  By some quirk of the ticket web site I had managed to secure First Class tickets for pence more than standard, so it was slightly more bearable.  Your ticket involves food and WiFi access.  Having done the bare minimum amount of work in the first few moments of the journey down, I was then in the unusual situation of having spare time and the internet.  Usually, whenever I’m on the internet I’m “doing something”, like work, writing stuff for here or the WDW Dads, or looking stuff up.

Having all that time, and all of the internet at my disposal I was a bit lost to be honest.  Discounting all those web sites that men have been known to visit when alone, as this was probably not suitable for the carriage, I found my way to Youtube.  Alas, the internet access was pants, and I spent about two hours buffering.  Now, as I said, I avoided those web sites that usually involve any sort of “buffering”, and doing that for two hours would improbable and impressive in equal measure, so I do mean that the videos were taking an age to load and then freezing half way through.  Very frustrating, as I could easily have busied myself for hours looking at all the sad 80’s bands that I used to love.

You’d be amazed at how many Goombay Dance Band videos you can find!  There simply isn’t enough fire eating in pop these days.

If you do watch that video clip, what a superb week that was in the charts.  So many iconic 80’s songs in the Top Ten in one week.  Most were crap of course, but still iconic.  Haircut One Hundred, The Associates, Tight Fit, ABC…..all songs that are still known and played today.  All topped off of course by the permed fire eating power house that led the Dancers of Goombay.

I shall leave you to ponder which of those songs and artists I actually do like, and which I offer in jest!

In other more important news, Louise’s Mum is on the mend.  She is something close to her old self now, but we are not kidding ourselves that she is out of the woods, so we continue to keep a very close eye on her.  This typically takes the form of Louise spending long periods of time on the phone with her, being told the same tale seventeen times, and then fighting the urge to stick a sharp object in her own eye afterwards.

The week ended with the annual disabling of the entire country by a few flakes of snow.  As well as earning every weather person and reporter invaluable overtime as they stand outside some random location, delivering tales of chaos and calamity, it also introduced Oli to the white stuff for the first time.  He is obsessed!!  He’s spent nearly every waking minute in the back garden, charging around, rolling in it and shoving his nose into it.

Oli snow nose
He nose it's snowing

There are hours of endless fun available now by watching him charge around, slipping and sliding his way from one pile of snow to another, a bit like Frankie Cocozza on a night out I suppose.

So I shall leave you to dig yourselves out of the snow, should you have it, as we are going out tonight.  Due to the complete absence of cash since all this job nonsense started back in November we haven’t been out in ages.  So the plan, Louise tells me, is to go and have some tea somewhere and then the cinema.  We did have a minor disagreement when she came out with the statement “Cos then we won’t need sweets for the cinema”.  I countered with the only phrase that was apt in the face of such lunacy, “Are you out of your mind?”.

I shall be a picking and a mixing tonight.

Till the next time….