A Tale Of Two Trees

Like my middle-aged paunch, Christmas has crept up on us without us really noticing. I have one full week left at work, which includes our team night out and our band night out, so that paunch will be getting a little paunchier by the end of it.

It was only five minutes ago that I was sneering at folks on social media for daring to mention the word and now mild panic is setting in that we’ve bought nothing and we’re only on our second Christmas tree.

Yes, you read that right. Having ordered a fake one from The White Company for the price of a small family car, as “it was perfect and would last us years” it arrived early last week and much time was spent decorating it. Twenty four hours later, Louise had declared that it was not satisfactory and it had to go. So it was stripped, boxed up and sent back and in its place now stands a seven-foot real one atop a three-foot pile of needles.

We’ve done well so far to only lose one decoration to the jaws of Bean, we can only hope it can go the distance to the big day. If it doesn’t then Bean may not either!

On Friday night, Louise and the girls went to an Anne Summers party hosted by one of Louise’s fellow nurses. Emily and Rebecca were quite worried about attending such an event with their mother, fearing it may scar them for life, and it is probably for the best that I don’t know what went on aside from the few Snapchats the girls posted. I took them there (and picked them up) which was quite a nice throwback to the “driving years” when my main role in life was to transport them around the planet.

It has been quite some time since it was the four of us in the car driving somewhere and it was in a strange way very nice. The night involved a fair amount of alcohol and with Rebecca not having drunk for a year and Emily being, let’s be frank, a huge lightweight when it comes to drinking, Saturday was pretty much a right off for both of them. Of course, I should also congratulate Tom for coping on his own with Freddie for the first time too whilst Rebecca was out.

At the moment, our Disney plans have assumed a position on the back burner of my priority cooker. This happens at times during a long countdown I’ve found. Beyond the occasional glance at flights, I haven’t given it much thought really. Well, I always give it thought, as in, it helps to get me through the two-hour commutes that I have been enduring over the last few weeks, but I haven’t really thought about it from a planning perspective.

I do need to find time to go over the plan in detail again, to firm up the day by day activities. I suspect my usual routine of doing the parks in the order we always do may need some attention as we have to factor in the day we will be at Mickey’s Not So Scary and the days that the running of that may impact on our potential planned visits to the Magic Kingdom. I also need to run the busy day guide against our plans. I don’t usually use these in any meaningful way, but it’s always wise to make sure there are no obvious clangers being dropped which can easily be avoided.

I have a suspicion that much of my well laid plan may be cast aside once we’re boots on the ground with young Freddie with us. Our activities will of course have to consider his needs and moods so there may be a bit of going with flows.

As some of you may have seen, I did a Facebook live on the Mkingdon Facebook page when Rebecca, Tom and Freddie popped round during last week. At such a young age he changes so much in the few days between visits and it’s just fascinating to see that happening. He’s had a cold recently which has been fun for Rebecca and Tom, but other than that he’s doing brilliantly, as are they.

He is photographed and videoed more than The Kardashians, which is only right, as he is more intelligent and newsworthy than all of them put together. I fear for the amount of coverage he will get during his first tour of Disney. He’ll never have another first time, so it may just be easier to do one long Facebook live for the whole two weeks!

I have big plans for the rest of the day and they are to rest my ageing tired body. With my taxi duties on Friday and another Mustard gig last night I have had two late nights and my middle-aged frame is protesting this morning. Louise is going out shopping for her outfit for her Christmas party so I intend to be best friends with the couch, watch some football and I have a song to learn for a Mustard rehearsal tomorrow. Next week’s blog may just be me moaning about how tired I am as this coming week, I have to work of course, but I have a rehearsal on Monday night, my team night out on Tuesday (huge Chinese meal and a few drinkies) and then our band Christmas night out on Friday (huge Indian meal and a few drinkies). I’m beginning to understand now quite how that middle-aged paunch happened.

Till the next time…..


Discount Disney Tickets


Diary Of A Flabby Kid

As life tends to be, last week has been a glorious mixture of loveliness and joy in the 8lb shape of young Freddie and brutal, bruising shite from other stuff that isn’t for the blog. I think in reaction to the latter, I reached out, as is often the case, to the distant promise of our next Florida adventure for some solace. That took the form of my first serious glance at flights for next August.

I checked them out last when we were picking our dates and booking the villa and despite everything the world is doing to destroy itself, the prices haven’t changed that much. Thomas Cook still seem to be the likely recipient of my hard-earned, as Virgin, as ever, in my experience seem to be asking me to buy the plane rather than hire a seat for a few hours.

For the first time we are in the position of our dates being fixed now with the villa booked, but to be fair they were anyway due to various work commitments, so I know I am at the mercy of the search results as to what we will pay. We’re probably not going to book until January or February unless some price miracle happens before that, but I shall be a slave to Kayak and Skyscanner in the mean time. The losing of myself in holiday planning for a few moments helped and as I have often done over the years in times of stress, upset and objection to everyday life, I brought up our villa’s website and had a walk around. Don’t judge me!

One of the bits of last week that was not too pleasant was saying goodbye to one of our cats. Now, I have never been the biggest fan or lover of cats, even our own, but this is never a nice thing to do. She’d been ill on and off for some time and over the last few weeks it had become increasingly clear that all wasn’t well. She was very thin and that was because every time she ate she immediately threw it up again.

Louise had the unenviable task of taking her to the vets and it was the kindest thing to do to let her go.

I will add that the fees involved for the vet to give her that injection and deal with her afterwards are absolute robbery. It wasn’t our prime concern at the time and I’m sure they know that.

In other, mundane every day news, we had a new fireplace fitted. *THIS* is the stuff you come to the blog for I know. Since we moved into the house we’ve had a very naff early nineties fireplace that never worked and looked totally out-of-place in our very old house. It has taken us this long to replace it as we’ve had more pressing matters such as holidays to have (as well as doing the kitchen, bathroom and a million other things). We are on a programme of updates and improvements before our next trip and that was the latest part. Now we need to redecorate our front room. The amount of horror that this filled me with drove me to seek out a professional to save me from it. He comes next Monday and will have it stripped, the paintwork redone and the papering done in 2-3 days when it may have cost me every weekend between now and Christmas, along with my will to live.

I shall share a photo of said fireplace once that’s done as it currently sits on a bare chimney breast as we stripped the wallpaper from that before it was fitted. How will you be able to live with that level of anticipation?

Continuing with the diary element of my ever so exciting existence, last night, Mustard were gigging. We started working for a local agent about a year ago and most of their gigs are in Phoenix Nights places. It is alive and well and exactly as that programme shows it. It hasn’t changed at all. Louise did the club circuit twenty years ago and some of the clubs I am now playing with Mustard are the same ones Louise and I went to back then. The same artiste photos are up in the dressing rooms and the same bingo, open the box and play your cards right have to be avoided between our first and second spot. However, they are lovely places to play with genuine people who take great pride in their clubs and do their utmost to make it a nice place to be for all concerned.

Last night’s gig was only possible due to Louise. Having packed up my car and driven forty minutes to the venue, I immediately realised that I had forgotten a box of stuff that was crucial to our PA working. So I had to phone Louise and ask her to bring it over. I put it down to a stressful week and me being stupid.

In the spirit of rock n roll I got home after the gig at around one in the morning and had four crumpets. Not a euphemism. Now, the rest of the day will be spent doing as little as possible.

Till the next time….

Tired & Toothsome.

Is it possible to have a duvet day from your own blog? I’m a bit tired today as yesterday was my company’s annual kick off event. It’s where we all get together at a poshish venue to talk about some business stuff and then have a meal and a drinkie. These days it has to be a heck of a hotel as there are 1,000 employees now and of course this year Emily came to her first one since joining the ranks a few months ago.

It’s always a busy time leading up to it, preparing presentations and videos for the day so it’s always a nice relief to have to have it done. We have driven back up from Birmingham this morning, only stopping to get Emily her hangover reducing McDonalds.

As we grow in size and struggle to find venues large enough to house us, I will of course be suggesting that we all go to those conference venues that will definitely be big enough…you know like the Swan and Dolphin at WDW. I am not too hopeful that the already enormous budget for these things would stretch to that.

There are a lot of us though…

kick-off

 

Although I didn’t really drink, today I have that “lost voice” feeling after hours of shouting above very loud music and having managed about three hours sleep in an unfamiliar bed with crap pillows, I am feeling it to be honest. I’m not cut out for these late nights and galavanting at my advanced years.

In more important news, we are now within one month of being able to make ADRs for our time at The Beach Club. It is these small milestones that help to fool me into thinking this holiday is going to actually happen. It seems so far away. We only have a couple of reservations we want to make but you know that feeling of pressure as the time comes near, hoping you can secure that meal upon which your day and maybe entire plan depend upon? No? Just me…OK.

I see that the Toothsome place at Universal officially opened this week too, after a few weeks of soft opening. This is good as it means they will be very proficient in making those calorific creations before we arrive. I want my coronary thrombosis to be caused by food of the highest quality.

This opening is a great example of why Universal and Disney are good for each other. Well, they are good for us punters. You could see how someone might have to choose between doing Beaches & Cream for their ice cream related death sentence or this new place. Indeed, we have sacrificed Beaches from our plan as we definitely want to try Toothsome and now just can’t squeeze Beaches in. As we’ve done it a few times, it was an easy choice. So when one of Universal or Disney open a new thing, it keeps the other on their toes. How will Disney respond?

Now, whether you get your milk shake off of Disney or Universal is no big deal, but, on a larger scale, you could argue that Disney not getting the Potter park franchise a few years ago caused them to up their game and they came back big with the Star Wars purchase and the plan to basically reinvent Hollywood Studios based on that (and Pixar). Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom may make little sense today with the film almost forgotten, but with more films in the barrel, let’s hope that pans our for them. The Star Wars franchise looks a good bet to compete with the Potter stuff at Universal, as there are many, many new films planned and of course for now there seems little chance of new Harry Potter films. In theory, younger kids of the next few years will see Star Wars as more current and relevant with new films coming out every couple of years. Universal no doubt have something up their sleeve too.

So in this way, us customers get fantastic, cutting edge attractions from both as they compete for our dollar. Our only issue is how the hell do we fit it all in? Well, I for one obsess about my planning for months on end and bore my blog readers with every thought and detail. You?

 

Till the next time…..

Decorating and Digby the Dulux Dog

I suspect it is often quite easy to get a feel for my state of mind and mood by reading both in between and on the lines of these blog updates.  You could search every word for hidden meanings, and every sentence structure for implied nuances.  This week it is really easy to judge my state because….

I have been decorating!

Those four words tell you all that you need to know.  Now, before you have images of me buried in roll upon roll of wall paper, weeks into endless stripping, priming (I never prime by the way) and sanding, I must confess that I did about two hours worth of painting on Sunday afternoon.

The amount of time spent is not the point.  The fact that decorating is even happening gets to me.  Being a control freak Virgo with hints of OCD, the mere existence of disruption in the house makes me uneasy.  I like to make omelettes without breaking eggs if at all possible, and the kitchen and dining room being “upside down” whilst we give it a lick of paint is enough to drive me to drink!!

Louise has done most of the work, and I probably spent more time putting the room back together than actually painting yesterday, but I felt better once the room was as normal as we can get it.

So that is how the weekend finished.  It started with me going to the pub with a group of teenage girls.  This is not, as it may sound, some mid-life crisis episode.  Instead it was me, Emily, Rebecca and several of their friends going to the Railway Pub to see my brother’s band Mustard!

Emily and Rebecca have never seen them so it was overdue.  However, after feeling bruised battered and beaten following the usual working week, topped off with a Friday to beat them all, I did not feel like going.  Louise declined the outing based on the fact that if she were more than four feet from our toilet things might get unpleasant.  So it was left to me to either tell the puppy eyed daughters that I could not be arsed venturing out into the rain, or to bite the bullet and take them and their mates to the pub.

The evening was good once we were there of course.  Rebecca and her friend danced all the way through the first set, which in a pub which was not yet packed, takes more bottle than I ever possessed at 14, hell, even now to be honest.  Our milkman is quite confident though!

Surviving on nothing but pints of Diet Coke, I coaxed my tired frame through to midnight, and the final “Thank you and Goodnight”.  Louise had been home minding Oli, so she may have had the more tiring time of it.

Oli Growing

Not the best photo I know, but if you watch it long enough you will see him grow!

Speaking of Oli, he grows literally by the hour.  Normally when you see someone or something every day you can’t see a difference, but each morning he seems to have added inches and pounds over night.  Those of a certain age will remember the Digby film?  I’m quite concerned at this stage.

Generally though he’s been very good so far.  I do not want to talk too soon, but we are someway down the path now with the house training stuff.  This success has been built on the premise that he now knows that every evacuation, of any variety earns him a puppy treat.  So he is currently “going” about 27 times a day.  This may of course be fuelling the growth we are seeing, but I don’t care if it keeps the house wee free!

He has recently started “wanting to go out” rather than just deciding to do it where he stands, so this is a breakthrough.  Other than a few times when he has a mental half hour, and anyone in a mile radius of his needle like teeth is at risk, he has been very calm and well-behaved.  He is also fully injected up now, so from a week on Thursday he can go out into the big bad world.  We can’t wait.  The girls, as they want to show him off, and I, as it will get them off their backsides and doing some exercise, and it will burn off some of his energy, which might stop the bugger growing!

When we got Oli, my brother and his family came to see him, and their daughter (the one in the photo last week with Kelly remember) fell in love and asked if they could get a dog.  The expected responses of absolutely not were heard, but some two weeks later, they were as strong as I was in their stance, and they picked up Baxter on Saturday!

He is a cross between a Westie and a Shitzu (I think you spell it like that).  We popped round to see him, and he is indeed as cute as, well, a puppy!!  I’m sure he and Oli will be great friends over the years!

Baxter

In a glass box of emotion (Anchorman reference!)

On Sunday I edged closer to the completion of the latest trip report too.  It has taken forever I know.  We left for this holiday in late July for goodness sake.  But work, the writing of stuff for WDW Dads and this blog have all eaten up time, as well of course as having a real life to do, and a new puppy, so I have plenty of excuses.

I have one day left to do, and it is usually the hardest as it involves the journey home, and the summing up of the trip.  It is at this point that I always say to myself that this report shall be the last, and the online world may heave a huge sigh of relief as they are saved from the onslaught of turtle head and toilet gags.  I don’t know, we’ll see.  It probably won’t matter all that much as we are more likely to visit the moon next year than Florida.  But as you all know, I’ve said that before…probably about ten times in the past ten years.  Anyway, I am stealing my own thunder for the trippie.

For those still interested, I’ll try to get that posted this week, and then my Virgo OCD side can relax knowing that loop is complete, that loose end snipped off, and one more thing is tidy and complete.  I’ll feel better for that!

Now, just the decorating to get finished….

Till the next time…..