Pouting and Parties

It’s been an eclectic week as they go. Last Sunday was great fun. We did a band photo shoot with James Lloyd. I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to it before hand. The thought of being photographed in normal life isn’t one of my favourite things, so having to do it for promotional purposes, in broad daylight, in the middle of the Northern Quarter was a bit daunting. For those who don’t know the Northern Quarter is the world capital of converse, beards and thick rimmed glasses. It is a super cool area of Manchester with great restaurants and more hipsters than you can shake an avocado at.

To the enormous credit of James he did a great job of putting us at ease and it wasn’t long until we were laughing a lot and hopefully getting a decent photo or two. Now, it may surprise you to learn that we aren’t the prettiest band around, so James really had his work cut out.

We haven’t seen the results as yet. Photoshopping that many chins out of each photo really does take some time, but here’s one we’ve had as a taster.

Thanks to James and I’ll share a few more for your merriment as we get them back.

The week just gone was another busy one. Work was an inconvenient and unwelcome dominant presence, including a trip to Marlow. The traffic both ways was absolutely shocking and Friday was a bit of a blur after arriving home late on Thursday with a life threatening cold.

Saturday was all about Rebecca and Tom’s Baby Shower. To their enormous credit, having only decided to throw one a few weeks ago, they worked really hard to secure a venue, catering, DJ (me, using Mustard’s PA) and a million little details to have the room looking a lot nicer than it did when we first turned up in the afternoon.

Drinks were had, Bolton’s famous and finest, Carr’s Pasties were consumed and kids slid across the dance floor on their knees and chased each other until they were balls of dripping sweat. So a traditional family do in a function room.

On the subject of parties, I also want to wish a happy 25th anniversary to our friends Steve and Di. They had their celebration yesterday, and because I’m an idiot and can’t read or manage a calendar, we were unable to attend. We know you will have had a great time and we are so sorry we couldn’t be there.

So Rebecca has just a few weeks to go now. She’s had enough of being pregnant, but to be honest that has been the case for about 30 weeks now. It is weird to think that in the next thirty days or so Freddie will be here. The poor little soul has no idea that he already has a holiday planned for him.

Speaking of which, last week’s post caused me another planning conundrum. Morag and Nathalie threw a spanner into my works with their comment that we should try Keke’s Breakfast Cafe.

Knowing what the result would be, like a fool, I looked at the web site and read the menu and about thirty seconds later, I knew I had to find a slot in the spreadsheet for it…..and I did.

Some highlights of that menu for you….

Banana Split Waffle
Banana, pineapple, fresh strawberries in glaze, chocolate fudge syrup & pecans 9.99

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Bananas and Hershey’s® milk chocolate chips cooked in the pancakes 8.49

Turtle Stuffed French Toast
Pecans, caramel, chocolate and cream cheese topped with powdered sugar 9.99

So, as you can see, I had no choice. So now, on one of our days, we do Keke’s for breakfast and Cowfish for dinner. Pray for us.

After all of that varied madness over the last few days, today will be filled with as little as possible especially after the very tiring effort of writing these few hundred words.

By the way if you are going to suggest any Orlando eateries that I will have to fit into my plan I love and hate you in equal measure. So be mindful of the pain you may cause…

Till the next time……


Living La Villa Loca…..

I know that at times it is hard to tell me apart from rock Gods like Jon Bon Jovi. We look so alike that this is understandable. However, one major difference is how feel right now. Mustard were out gigging last night after a few weeks off for our summer holidays (that I didn’t have!).

Getting to bed at 2am after a full on night of hard rocking, fierce funking and more importantly lugging several tonnes of equipment in and out of the venue, my body hates me. I don’t imagine Mr Bon Jovi is sat in his dressing gown in front of Sunday Brunch nursing a non alcoholic hangover. Middle age is a bitch.

Louise has been working all weekend and by the time she gets to the end of Monday she will have worked nine days straight. That is, frankly, a bit shit so if you are having your wounds dressed, injections given or wounds packed anywhere near us, be thankful to the kind soul who turns up to do it. They will be over worked and under paid.

So, as promised, let’s turn to the embryonic plans for Florida 2018. Whilst writing the last few posts of the last trippie, I was multi-tasking very impressively by giving brain space to our next visit. We should of course be waiting a bit until Freddie is older and can do things like go to Jellyrolls with us, but all in good time, for now, we’ll be the idiots with the 11 month old on the plane.

Another strong reason not to wait is that our future son-in-law Tom has never been to WDW and as a lot of you will appreciate, taking a first timer is a joy and a pleasure. He is already, quite rightly, giddy with excitement. Of course, despite a good amount of internet research and us boring him to death about everything on offer, until a first timer goes there can be little appreciation of what will be encountered.

The rides and attractions are of course something he is looking forward to, but, like someone destined to become part of our family, he LOVES his food. Unlike me, Tom turns that love into muscle at the gym, so he’s a big lad but in a positive way…

His appetite is astounding and this is coming from me who could eat himself to death in one sitting. So the food on offer is a major focus for him. That’s handy of course as you know my planning starts with where we’ll be eating every day. He and Rebecca have already spent a good amount of time studying the menus of our planned eateries and in some cases pre-selecting his dining choices. I think he’s in for a good time.

But I get ahead of myself. I should give you an outline of the plan as it stands. Well, the first thing to say is that we shall not be making the mistake of not having enough time at WDW this time. With two first timers in tow, ALL we are doing is Disney. Recognising of course what a different trip this will be with a very young child in the party, there seemed very little point in attempting Universal at the hefty expense of an on site stay and other thrill ride heavy parks like Busch similarly made little sense.

Taking in to account the size and make up of our party, on-site accommodation didn’t really make sense. After our last visit, frankly we’d want to be staying at the Beach Club or similar and two weeks in multiple rooms just becomes very, very expensive. Along with that, for Rebecca, Tom and Freddie especially two weeks crammed into one room would be tough, so we (I) decided we’d be doing a villa.

Now, selecting a villa is a double-edged sword. It is lovely to be scouring the internet for that perfect place of course, as it means you know you are returning. The downside is that there is so much choice that a few hours in you get villa blindness. They all start to look the same. However, we (I) had very specific requirements. In previous visits compromises have been made, mainly due to budget, which haven’t really detracted from the trip, but niggled at me from time to time.

Our needs were –

Location – Suspecting we’ll be doing partial days in the parks with Freddie in tow, being close to WDW was a must. Knowing that every villa in Florida says they are fifteen minutes from Disney, I ignored those claims and used my local knowledge. The villa had to be in or around the Formosa Gardens area. Villas here are so close to Animal Kingdom you can smell the elephant dung.

Pool size – Rest days will be plentiful and vital so we wanted a lager than average pool and lanai. This meant going for a villa a bit larger than we actually needed. It should not be overlooked, and be south-facing to satisfy Louise’s sun hunger.

We needed two master suites.

Beyond those, I was just looking for villas that caught my eye. Things I look out for are poor quality photos and/or photos clearly taken a long time ago, suggesting the villa may not be quite as nice now as it once was.

It took a while, but eventually I found one that ticked all the boxes. I was delighted that it is situated on Emerald Island. We have never stayed there, but have driven past those dolphins many times whilst staying in the area.

The fact that this development is literally round the corner from our favourite arrival day dining tradition of The Outback is just the cherry on top of a nice cake.

The villa itself is called Simba’s Pride.

Click the picture to see details of the villa…..

A deposit is paid, which means we are definitely going. That feels good.

Flights won’t be booked for a while. I’ve never not booked the flights first, but with Freddie still being in Rebecca right now, there was no choice. Well, we could have waited to book the villa, but where’s the fun in that?

The main part of the planning now will be learning how to do WDW with a youngster under one. There’s a lot I don’t know about that.

The only other thing which has already been planned is the restaurant list. That includes some places you HAVE to take first timers to, such as Whispering Canyon and 50’s Prime Time.

The bad news is that between now and the 29th of August 2018, yes, I forgot to mention when we were going, you will be subjected to every tweak, development and booking. The timing of the trip is a mix of impatience and various work related challenges and commitments. We *could* have gone in a more off-peak time, but that would mean waiting longer. Flying out at the time should be OK as most folks limited to school holidays will be coming to the end of their trips and of course the US schools will already be back.

Irma has of course reminded us that this is very much hurricane season so we can only hope we continue our lucky streak in that regard.

So, enough for now. There will be time aplenty to blog about this in future for which I apologise.

Till the next time….


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