Much A Blog About Nothing

The week just gone was bereft of any WDW planning. With so little time before we go this is very remiss of me. I should be able to pull it back, but that’s because I’ve been a few times and I know what I’m doing. I don’t suggest any newbies attempt this reckless approach to their Florida holiday.

That tardiness was in no small part down to series 3 (or season if I aspire to the American culture) of Narcos. The first two seasons were excellent and centred on Pablo Escabar, or Emilio Estaban if you’re Louise. Spoiler alert – He dies at the end of season two, which meant that I was a little worried that the next season may suffer. If anything it was better. It centres this time on the Cali Cartel and it was gripping from start to finish. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading right now and go and binge watch all three.

The world of Mustard is also keeping me nice and busy. We’re back from a summer break and into a solid period of gigging now, along with rehearsing a good chunk of new stuff. Our next session to reinvent the world of music is tomorrow when we’ll be improving several classics and sending our versions to the original artists to show them how it’s done.

Over the summer we did mange to record some stuff in the studio (hark at me all Dark Side Of The Moon).

The intention was to create a short promo video to show to potential clients. So should you have any wedding, function or party band requirements then you know where I am!

Last night saw us blowing minds in Burnley. On the evidence of a couple of the audience members, there wasn’t that much to work with. Still, we went down very well which always makes it enjoyable.

You see some odd behaviour in some of the places we play. Last night’s highlight was one “excitable” chap who seemed obsessed with being on the stage with us. I tip my hat to Graham our singer who diplomatically and non violently encouraged him off again about a dozen times. This chap’s other obsession was shaking hands with each member of the band. That’s lovely, however he insisted on doing this mid-song. Most of the time we need both hands to be doing what we’re doing but he didn’t seem able to work this one out. Bless him.

So after such a night of gigging Sundays tend to be a restful affair. I suspect our hand shaking friend from last night may well be needing a little more resting than I.

In other creative news, about a thousand years ago I self published a novel. Several people even read it (thank you) and I am currently about 20,000 words into another. To be honest, I have been 20,000 words in for well over a year and haven’t looked at it in ages. Time to do so has been in short supply. I am calling myself out for this piss poorness in an attempt to get me back into it. Now, roughly 19,000 words of those are likely to be absolute crap, but unless I make the effort to open the bloody thing and crack on, nobody will ever know.

Encouraging me to get this done may not be in your best interest as if it ever gets done I’ll be bugging you all to read it.

So there we go, a half decent job of blogging about nothing. Watch and learn aspiring social media wannabees!

Till the next time….

Sticking In A Sloth?

There are recurring themes in my blogging, which is another way of saying that I probably write the same blog post roughly every six weeks. Today’s theme is that I don’t really have time to write a blog this week, but such is my tragic obsessive nature that I sit here writing a blog to let you know that I don’t have time to write one. As I type I can see the bits of paint on my hands that I haven’t quite got rid of after painting various things in the bathroom a few minutes ago. If a pre-Monday isn’t bad enough, you only have to add DIY to it to make it a whole lot worse.

Add to that we have guests coming for tea (poor people’s dinner) in the form of Louise’s Mum and Rebecca and Tom and I have to somehow cram in watching a football match and it’s a marvel I’m not having a nervous breakdown.

The entire weekend has been somewhat scuppered by a stupidly late night on Friday when I was out being a rock and roll demi-God with Mustard. We played a new venue in Rochdale and didn’t come off stage (yes, there was even a stage) until just after 1am. With packing up and driving home that was a 3am bed time and my aged ravaged body has been playing catch up ever since. I have a good sense now of what it feels like to live to be a hundred years old.

Last week was so busy that I didn’t do ANY holiday planning at all….oh no wait, that’s a lie. Emily and I had a text conversation (despite sitting across from each other at work) about something new we may be considering adding to our stupidly full plan. Wild Florida is in our thoughts, mainly as Emily is obsessed with sloths and they have a sloth encounter amongst many other things which look like a good day out.

We haven’t had time to say it is absolutely locked and loaded into our plan as it may just be an activity too far, but it does look good. If anyone has been I would really appreciate your views and experiences.

So with apologies for what is a very brief post today (the game is about to kick off!) I shall leave you to enjoy your Sunday.

Till the next time…..

My Weekend With A Hairy Ass.

After a very busy week at work, the weekend has been similar. There has been zero progress holiday wise, mainly due to the lack of flight availability as yet. The brain has been percolating possibilities in the background of course, but I have nothing further to report. I do object to working full-time when it restricts my ability to spend endless hours researching my holiday.

The busy week was made more taxing by the events of Thursday evening. For those with no interest in football and perhaps those who do but are not Liverpool fans, it may have passed you by. For me, as a life long fan, watching that roller coaster of a game through my fingers and at times tears of despair left me emotionally spent, yet happy after one of the most dramatic and spectacular comebacks ever seen. Sure, I may be over egging that, but grant me that as we’ve had little else to celebrate for a while.

Straight after work on Friday I was off to the latest Mustard gig at a local pub where we play very regularly. After getting home at around 12.45am, I slept for a few minutes before getting up to get ready for our trip over to North Yorkshire to see our friends Steve and Di, who live in Sinderby near Thirsk.

It was bloody cold, and at times wet, but we managed to dodge the showers during the times we were not eating to give Oli a decent walk in the country side.

Oli car April 2016

He got nice and muddy and worried a sheep or two before we stopped off to donate some Polos to a couple of donkeys.

donkey april 2016

The visit to Steve and Di’s, as they usually tend to, included a lot of chat about holidays and Florida (as well as lovely food and alcohol) as Steve and Di are long time DVC members and very experienced travelers. As much as I thought I had our plan sorted, at least in my mind, our conversations have now raised a trip to The Keys as a contender.  I do feel that our previous half day excursion to Key West didn’t really do it justice so I may need to ponder on that one a little more.

It didn’t help that the day we went saw temperatures only usually involved in the frying of chips. Patience and tempers were tested and we soon retreated to the welcome air con of the car and drive back north to our hotel for shade, swimming and drinks. Yes, clearly going to Key West in August is likely to be on the warm side. Even a planning genius can make the odd schoolboy error. As Louise often reminds me, and she did again this weekend, I was the one who booked us into the Sun Viking Lodge in Daytona a few years ago. I won’t bore you with the story again, I’ll just say, if you are thinking of staying there, don’t!

Having got home very recently, the relaxing pants are now on, and I intend to do lots of nothing for what remains of the weekend before another busy week to come. The fact that we have returned home with most of the Coffee and Walnut cake we couldn’t eat last night means that the outlook for this evening is a good one.

So that’s your lot, I’m knackered and in need of nothingness.

Till the next time…..

A £125 Pumpkin!

This week, dear reader I have failed you. I intended to be posting day one of the trip report about now, but alas it is not finished. That said, it is further along than the one paragraph I reported last week, but real life has been upsetting my rhythm all week and I have struggled to find the motivation and indeed time to get it done. If memory serves, about now we are over the Atlantic somewhere watching Granddad sleep and eating average food. That may not sound like much progress, but there’s a lot of words involved in getting us so far.

Not to make excuses, (but I will), I was away with work for two days and then I have had a double-header of gigs over the weekend. I need to retire really to give me enough time to do the things that work stops me from doing. There are so many hours during the week that are poured into activities I really have little interest in and they could be so much better spent on other things. Sadly, those other things do not earn me the money I need to do those other things. Life is a bitch and a huge Catch 22.

Louise and I have experienced our first week in an empty nest and to be honest we’ve both been so busy that I’m sure the change hasn’t hit us yet.  We have of course noticed small things like less noise, a smaller food shop and slightly less mess but I’m sure in the coming weeks it will hit us more forcibly. Hopefully all this won’t sink in for a while as I may just realise just how much I miss the girls and that probably won’t be a good thing. Emily too is feeling a little homesick over in Florida, despite enjoying herself amongst the parks, so if you do find yourself near the UK pavilion you have my permission to seek her out and give her a hug from us. A jaffa cake or two may also help.

Rebecca and Tom seem to have settled in well to their new home and they also seem incredibly happy, which is all you can hope for really. Tales of Rebecca cleaning a bathroom and tidying up leave us wondering if there has been some sort of body swap but long may that continue. She’ll be starting her new (first full-time) job shortly so she really is a big girl now!!

Last night, on the second night of our two date weekend world tour, we played at a local wedding. As you know, I am not one for the blowing of trumpets that are mine, but we are very good at them! It is always great to see a packed dance floor all night.

bleachworks 3-10-15

If you, or anyone you know is having a wedding, or any sort of party, then do get in touch for special Mkingdon discounts for your dash of Mustard. A live band makes such a difference to any event I think. Having watched many a “DJ” stand and press play on a compilation CD, there’s something a bit exciting about live music. (Advert over).

There are a couple of family members that I don’t often mention, mainly as I don’t like them. They are our two cats Pumpkin and Daisy. Cats, to me, are useless. They offer nothing to the household beyond an inside toilet and scratches on stuff you don’t want scratched. Pumpkin has been a bit unwell for a while and my approach of “she’ll be fine if we leave her long enough” was roundly ignored last week and Louise took her to the vet. One consultation, an injection and blood test later and we are handing over £125. Imagine our delight when the vet told us a few days later that the results of all that showed nothing amiss and her regular throwing up after eating may just be a reaction to her food. She then suggested that we should feed her chicken and fish for a bit to find out. Now, call me a cynic, but surely that advice should come before 125 quids worth of useless stuff? Safe to say my regard for the cats has not improved following this episode. If anyone wants to buy a cat for £125, I have a selection of two you can choose from.

By the way, you have no idea how much self-restraint it took to not have today’s post titled something about expensive pussy!

Earlier this afternoon I finally got around to looking at some of the photos we had taken of us when we were the Grand Marshalls of the afternoon parade in Magic Kingdom. We got a few free at the time but the rest are now online for us to choose from. I’ve ordered just a couple as the prices are typically Disney, but the whole experience was surreal and excellent so we should have some mementos of what will be a one-off experience. Hopefully they will arrive in time to include them in what will be day two of the trip report. Having said that, at my current pace of writing they could arrive at Christmas and still be in time! I won’t steal any more of my own thunder by saying much more about it here other than we felt honoured, delighted and a bit overwhelmed with how we were treated.

I won’t use the word promise, but I will try my very best to have the first day ready for next Sunday, as it will least save me having to come up with a post next week! 🙂

Till the next time…..

Living in Slow Motion

Traditionally, in the coming few days, we should by rights be setting off for another American adventure. The fact that we aren’t, yet, means that the next two and a bit weeks loom over us like some ominous time vacuum standing between us all and where we want to be.

Yep, we are now at that stage in the countdown where time slows down. The rational part of me understands that every minute, hour and day is of equal measure, but right now, the remaining time at work seems insurmountable, chocked full of days that will last for weeks.

Planning wise, I have spent a lot of time this week on the My Disney Experience app and website, booking further Fastpasses. What I only realised this week was that you can also add other stuff to your plans beyond Fastpasses and ADRs. I’ve found it quite handy to add in the entertainment schedule around the World Showcase on the day we will do that for example, so that we can try to have our tour around the countries coincide with the goings on in each pavilion.

Sarah, Rebecca’s friend, who is coming with us this year, popped round this week for a preparatory chat. It is fair to say she is just a little bit excited. I think all of us old timers are just a little jealous of what she is about to experience as a first time visitor and we are definitely hoping and planning to make it as special as possible. She likes rides and food and as such, there can surely be no better holiday experience for her.

We talked her through the essentials to take, which in summary was two pairs of comfy trainers, and an appetite, and walked her though the plan. I suppose it is quite an alien concept to have each day of a holiday mapped out in any level of detail, but as I explained to Sarah, it is key to know where we will be most days as then we know where we will be eating, which let’s face it, is the most important part of the planning. As I talked her though each day all she could greet it with was “I’m SO excited!”. Well, so am I.

Another landmark was passed this weekend with the final Mustard gigs before the holiday. We did two weddings this weekend to bring our “summer tour” to an end. Most of my fellow hard rocking amigos from the band are also heading off for holidays from about now and by the time we are all done we will reconvene in September to begin gigging once again.

wedding 8-8-15

Ryan the rucksack, who has recently been drafted into band duty, carrying around my leads and other musical paraphernalia, will now move back to his true calling as we prepare for departure. He is nothing if not versatile. I will need to ransack a few wardrobes now to find out where I safely stored my bumbag two years ago and there’s a US sat nav knocking around somewhere that I’ll need to blow the cobwebs off before we go. I’ve also noticed that Louise’s passport isn’t in “the folder” with everyone else’s, as she needed it for work recently. Louise, if you are reading this, please return it to “the folder” asap.

As I do before every trip with a few weeks to go, I got “the folder” out this week and went through everything to make sure it was in order. By that, I actually mean in order as in, correct but also, in the right order. I appreciate the OCD nature of this but I arrange the relevant documents in the chronological order in which they will be needed. This starts with passports of course, this year it is then security fastpasses, moving on to the car hire voucher, and well, you get the picture. That picture being that I am a sad individual who clearly needs to get out more.

As my social media is awash with folks currently over in Florida, it is whetting the appetite nicely. If you are one of those lucky folks, I only hope you can forgive me for wishing your holidays away. When you realise you are coming home already and it only feels like you’ve been there for five minutes, you can blame me.

So wish me well with the slog through the rest of the countdown. The struggle is real. I only hope the holiday goes as slowly as the next two and bit weeks will.

Till the next time….

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Mustard.

Holy hell, I have spent some money today. My aversion to doing so is well documented in the many years of writing this blog, but if you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know there are some chunks of change that I spend with a smile on my face. Today has been such an occasion.

After booking way back last October, we now have just eight weeks to go until our trip. It has certainly snuck up on us and as they say shit just got real. The first expense today was to pay the balance on the villa. If you’ve forgotten, never knew or don’t care either way, the villa we will be staying in is the Disney Palms Villa.

With that all paid for now, at least we’ll have somewhere to sleep!!

Bearing in mind the 30 day window for the booking of these new fandangled FastPass+ things, I also had to sort out our park tickets so that they arrive at least 30 days before we go. I always sort of dread and relish this in equal measure, as it involves a lot of hard work, but it also means the trip is close.  The task of working out the best value options for your park ticket needs can be a complex exercise, but I have to give a big thank you at this point to someone who has done a huge amount of work to make this task so much easier. Slinky Malinki, a user on the Dibb forum has put together a comparison spreadsheet which does all the work for you.  Using that, I have got 21 day ultimate tickets for Disney and 14 day 2 park tickets for Universal for what appear to be the best prices currently available. When your party is six adults, that’s a hefty transaction.

(Disclaimer – If you use it and something isn’t right then don’t moan to me!)  

Never have I spent so much cash with a smile on my face. This week I also went to the huge expense of getting us a FastPass, this one being for security at Manchester Airport. Whether or not it helps that much I don’t know but at £3.50 each it’s worth the risk I guess.

Earlier in the week saw both the girls return home. Louise and I had the house to ourselves unusually last week and it was strangely peaceful and drama free. Still, it was good to have them both back, Rebecca from her Barcelona trip and Emily from a few days dog sitting for a relative of her boyfriend.

Rebecca loved Barcelona and they had a great time. Most of the photos we saw were similar to this. I don’t know where she gets this from?

barcelona pic 1

With the occasional….

barcelona pic 2

 

Personally, I am on the other side of another 2am finish last night after the mighty Mustard gigged once again. Of all the gigs I’ve done, I have to say that playing at a stadium is my favourite kind!  I took this as we were setting up.

macron pci 1 4-7-15

We were playing at a gala dinner for a local running club who were celebrating their 30th anniversary. The venue, audience and atmosphere were excellent and I made my fewest amount of mistakes to date, so all was good. Everyone seemed to have a good time and the packed dance floor throughout was testament to that. We had a good few photos taken which will be up on the Mustard website at some point in the future, if you wish to see middle aged rock gods at work.

So I end the week with a full house, an empty back account and a lack of sleep but I don’t really mind any of them.

Till the next time….

By The Power of Olly Murs’ Hair Transplant

If life were fair then obvious anomalies, such as Olly Murs playing Wembley, would be unheard of. This modern-day Sid Owen autotunes his way to another sold out night at a huge venue whilst genuine talent such Jessie J plays relatively tiny venues like the Manchester Apollo when touring. Now, I’m no avid Jessie J fan, in fact I’d struggle to tell you more than a couple of her songs, but in terms of singing talent there is little contest. Such is the power of the record buying demographic I suppose. Young girls are the king makers of the pop industry.

This is undoubtedly the only reason why I cannot make a living from playing gigs and not have to accommodate the nine to six existence of my day job. Age, no hair, limited talent and a tendency to be a couple of stone the wrong side of my fighting weight may also contribute, but you get the idea.

Yes Friday night witnessed my second gig this century and I enjoyed it very much. Sure it was a cramped, hot, sweaty pub but that did not diminish the amount of enjoyment. It also helped that I felt like I knew at least some of the songs this time around and so I was able to relax a little more. Overall, it went well, folks enjoyed themselves and I think we picked up a couple more gigs as a result. Even packing up after midnight in a moderate drizzle was tolerable. You won’t see Olly Murs doing that as it would play havoc with his hair transplant.

Whilst on a creative roll, my first (and hopefully not last) novel, All This And More,  is currently gracing Amazon at a ridiculous 99p. That’s hours of entertainment for not a lot of cash. Should you have not yet purchased a copy, firstly, shame on you and secondly now is the time. Who knows when this crazy offer will be repeated. It is a time limited offer so don’t delay!

Book Cover

With the year motoring along now our thoughts are starting to turn to our WDW trip. Louise especially declares herself very ready for our holiday and is even doing silly things like trying to have a say in what we do when we go. I know, crazy right? This weekend she has been trying to add a night away at the beach. The implications and complications this sort of late change can make is incalculable. It is only because I am a planning genius that I can begin to contemplate such madness. We were always going to drive over to Daytona to watch some baseball on Labour (Labor is no way to spell that word America) weekend, but I was not planning for us to stay over.

Today then, I have been looking into hotels over in Daytona to make Louise feel as if her input is valid. The benefit of doing so is that it fills up that weekend when we shall not be going within five miles of a theme park as all of America and several other countries will be trying to ride Soarin’.

The current front-runner is Hyatt Place, which looks like this.

Hyatt Place

It fits our (small) budget for this unplanned excursion and has lots of good reviews. If nothing better turns up as I continue my research then that shall be booked and the plan altered. It will soon come to a point where the plan cannot be amended again as it will be laminated and stored away for safe keeping!

With my eye on Orlando so to speak I have noticed a couple of new attractions which seem to share two themes. The first is that they both involve heights and the second is that Louise won’t be going anywhere near them due to that first theme.

The Orlando Eye, much like the London one, will be familiar to many. I very much doubt we’ll be paying a visit as Louise would need to be unconscious to darken its doors.

Having said that, there would be more chance of Louise living the rest of her days going round on the Eye if the alternative was to go on the other one just once.

The Vomatron looks like fun but I fear that I’d feel like death for about a week after riding. Rebecca and her friend Sarah may have to be the volunteers from our party should we get to Old Town!

We are 101 days away from departure and it is nice to have that so close now. With everything else we’ve had going on it hasn’t been something we have thought about or focussed on too much. Hopefully I can now bore you to death over the next few weeks with every small planning detail, most, as you know, will involve food.

Speaking of which, time to eat.

Till the next time…..