Three, Is The Magic Number

I know this place is normally a constant source of joy, happiness, positivity and delight, but even I, the master of all those things am struggling not to stare down the barrel of winter’s gun and think, well, it’s all a bit shit isn’t it.

I could pap on about how dreadful infection and death rates are going to be over the winter and how the government until yesterday were using their “cross their fingers and hope it goes away” strategy to save us all, and what dreadful effects the new lockdown might have on the economy. As much as I am critical of the handling of this pandemic I do recognise the challenge of balancing the economy with the nation’s health. Add to all that the fact that nobody is seeing their Aunt Mabel this Christmas, which depending on your Aunt Mabel, might be a positive, I don’t know. Instead, well, frankly anything instead of that would probably be better received.

Well, let’s see, this week, some more Cast Members were laid off….nope, can’t do that……

How about America’s infection rates setting new records this week and hospitals there starting to become overwhelmed again so holidays seem a forlorn hope….nope…..not that either….

Erm, ah, of course, there is a beacon of joy and reason to be happy this week in the shape and form of my favourite little friend Freddie. He turns three tomorrow. Yep, three. Rebecca and Tom have taken him away for the weekend, having checked all of the relevant COVID rules etc, to Peppa Pig Land for a special Halloween celebration of his big day. I’m so pleased they got to celebrate with him before we go back into lockdown.

Here he is on Friday morning, ready for his Halloween party at nursery.

Because I am not doing negative things in this post I am not allowed to tell you how absolutely gutted we are that we weren’t able to take him to WDW last August and probably still won’t be able to in March, to blow his little mind with all the awesome stuff we could do. That will come I guess, so I won’t moan about that.

Hopefully, he is having a great time and we will see him tomorrow night for his birthday and the giving of presents. He is such a welcome and constant beam of light and happiness in our lives and for that, I am properly grateful.

Since I last mentioned him here he has mastered the potty thing, had about half a dozen different obsessions (currently it is Halloween, robots and dinosaurs, the latter being a constant for a while) and every time we see him, things are just that little bit better.

House wise, no news is being classed as good news right now. We await the survey on our new house to be done, which will hopefully get the mortgage approved and then we can start chasing solicitors to get stuff done asap. Hopefully, the latest lockdown won’t hamper progress too much. Whilst the process isn’t great, both in terms of the paperwork side of things and the horrors of decluttering which we are in the midst of, we are looking forward to the change, a new house and with it, a little more room, comfort and good things, which right now, are the gold nuggets we are all digging for.

During said painful decluttering, in our cellar, which was a museum to our past life, I came across a USB memory stick. Before ruthlessly throwing it out as I am doing with 90% of the stuff down there, I risked plugging it into the laptop to see what was on it. At some point in the past, I seem to have shoved a load of old analogue photographs onto it, including most of them from our 1980 “first-ever” Florida holiday. You’ve seen a good few so I’ll leave those for another time. Instead, let me leave you this week with some absolute belters from the bowels of Williams family history.

If you can’t work it out, my Mum is in the green dress, with a family friend who we went away with and two Spanish waiters. This is summer 1976, on a holiday in Spain before we figured out that WDW was better. That is some suntan is it not?

From the same holiday here is my Dad with my brother and me. It blows my mind that I am about twelve years older now than my Dad was in this picture. Emily always says he looks like a mafia boss in these pictures.

And as I pointed out to Rebecca earlier this week, this last one shows where Freddie gets his good looks from. This is me and my brother with some frankly, quite poor gifts from Santa, I’m guessing in about 1974. My brother has some extraordinary pants on.

If nothing else, these history lessons show that time marches on very quickly and these shitty depressing times will too. At some point in the future, we will look back on them with a mixture of disdain, despair and manic laughter. I will probably yearn for the ability to work from home full-time, whilst booking all those extra WDW holidays to make up for the ones we missed.

Oh, and in the spirit of positivity, we’ve had a change here at the Mkingdon blog and spruced up the look a bit. I hope you like it.

Till the next time….

Nursery Nopes

I suspect I’m not alone in feeling absolutely “over” winter. The recent weather has been like an endless Lewis Capaldi song, miserable, depressing and all too frequently experienced. Every dog walk sees me gearing up like some Arctic explorer and returning moist in places that have no right being so.

As I type I am looking out at sideways rain and a situation I do not want to be taking the hounds out into later. Spring cannot be far away now right? I need some sunshine, warmth and less moistness.

Last week was spent helping and advising Rebecca to navigate her return to working life. She had already secured herself a role in a nursery a couple of weeks ago, but shortly after starting found herself with two other offers to consider, both considerably closer to home which would alleviate the 6am starts she had been enduring.

Nobody could have predicted the difficulty of choosing between those two nurseries. It gets more complex as built into the decision is the fact that Freddie will be attending the same nursery so it has to be right on more than one level.

I won’t bore you with the tortuous deliberations, but it took a while and there were even a couple of twists and turns after making a decision that meant things turned on their head at the last minute. Anyway, she seems sorted now and will probably start a week tomorrow at the nursery at our local hospital, so she’ll be looking after the kids of the nurses and doctors who work there. She’s had to give two other nurseries a polite no, one of which mainly because even for a member of their staff they insisted on all of Freddie’s fees upfront for the first month. That’s just a big fat nope for someone just returning to the workforce like Rebecca!

In a strange twist of fate, Louise will also be back working at the same hospital, starting around the same time, so that will be handy. It’s funny how things work out.

I was astounded at the fees involved for Freddie to attend full time nursery. Safe to say that the majority of whatever Rebecca earns will be eaten up by those, at least until he turns three and they get some free childcare. In the meantime she gets back to the career she loves and wants to pursue and Freddie gets into a lovely nursery.

The other major event on the horizon is Rebecca’s hen party next weekend. Emily, as maid of honour, is in last-minute prep mode, making sure that everything is in place. I cannot say too much, as I do not wish to spoil any surprises, but I played my part yesterday by purchasing some items for the event online. I cannot tell you what they were, but safe to say my online personalised adverts will be something to behold for the foreseeable future. Of all the sacrifices I have made for my children over the years, this is right up there. May my cookies rest in peace.

Yesterday I was trying my best to do what we are probably all familiar with these days, in attempting to herd decades of photos into one “safe” place. Having lived long enough to take photos before digital cameras and the internet, sadly some are lost, but others are spread across different parts of the cloud and various devices. That is to say nothing of the video that still sits on old fashioned tapes in a bag somewhere that we MUST transfer into the internet before it gets lost.

There are still so many “memories” floating about that I need to get to, but I made some progress. You know what happens now through right? You get bothered with some of them. You have no doubt seen them all before, as I have I, but you don’t take photos to look at them just once.

It was particularly nice (and terrifying) to see a couple where Rebecca is Freddie’s current age. It also made me tragically aware of the damage the stresses and strains of the intervening twenty-odd years have done to me.

Oh and I also found one of the photos from my first ever trip to WDW in 1980.

You can tell it was our first time as I am holding a park map. Nowadays…

Christ, I look dreadful in that last one but still about 3000% better than I do today. Oh look, the rain has eased to a mere downpour, time to start layering up for the dog walk.

Till the next time…..

Breaking Stuff and Blasts From the Past

It has been head down and keep typing this week. It has been as ever interrupted by work, as I was away in Marlow again for a couple of days, but having now completed day eight of the new trip report I am fairly satisfied with the progress.

Bearing in mind the inconvenience of having to work for a living and our Breaking Bad addiction, that is fairly impressive progress! Whether the quality matches the quantity, we’ll see I suppose.

At the risk of becoming a dental bore (in addition to being a bore in general), thankfully on Thursday my current teethy troubles came to an end. Another hour in the chair saw me sweating like a single man at a Barrymore pool party, but at last it was complete.

I do not want to darken their door again for at least six months.

It has been an odd weekend as Louise has been working some crazy shifts in A&E. She was off for three days last week, but has then worked Friday, and yesterday had to endure an 8 till 10 shift. Yes, that is 8 in the morning until 10 at night. She’s in again today from 2 until 10, with similar tomorrow until a well-earned day off on Tuesday.

There is no way on earth I could be a nurse. Even forgetting some of the horrific encounters with bodily fluids, which invariably are someone else’s, those shift patterns are not for me. I tip my proverbial hat to them, and yet reserve the right to moan about my own job whenever I feel like it!

It would appear that it is once again the season for an endless litany of stuff breaking and going wrong. This week alone has seen us spring for a new tumble dryer and for a chap to come and sort some problems out on our roof. We are also waiting for a plumber to come and attend to some boiler issues, and yesterday the electrics in the bathroom seem to have gone all temperamental.  Of course I rise above these minor irritations with grace and good humour as usual.

In no way do I adopt a woe is me persecution complex and look for the nearest cat to take it out on. I think they recognise the signs of broken stuff now and make themselves very scarce.

But really, either we have bought a house which is the English equivalent of the Money Pit, or everyone has the same problems. To allow me to wang on about it, I refuse to believe the second option.

Money Pit
A typical day

Earlier today my Mum came round with some photos she’s found whilst doing a clear out. It was great to see some from our early WDW trips, not only to prove that I once had a fringe but also to see how things have changed. There were also a number of the girls that just show how time flies.

Taken yesterday
Taken yesterday

This one shows Emily and two cousins. Emily is sporting a Phoenix Nights style painted face, but luckily hers came off.

This one is from the first time we took the girls in 1999.

Party like it's 1999
Party like it’s 1999

Sarah, the blonde girl nearest the camera is now in her early twenties, lives with her boyfriend and is studying to be a teacher. Sigh.

At some point my Dad is going to scan in all these old photos to make sure they are safe, and hopefully then I’ll post a few more and you can marvel at my hairline and short shorts in some Disney photos from the late 80’s. Steady yourselves ladies.

There are even some “promo shots” from when I was in a band. It is all pouts and cheekbones. Yes, even I had some.

Right, I am on tea making duty, and there are teenagers faking death to pressure me into giving them food. Clearly they can’t locate the kitchen.

Till the next time…..

Monkeys, gurning and a selection of anoraks

To avoid another bit of bloggage about the banality of January, let’s wander back through the years.  My Mum popped round earlier with some old photos.  Louise had been asking if she had any really old black and white ones that we could frame and hang, she didn’t just appear out of the blue with random photos.

From a vast collection of photo albums (remember those) we looked through just three.  They were a mixture of really old photos of my Mum’s parents, and brothers and sisters through to some that were even in colour!

Before I shock and amaze you with my incredible levels of cuteness when I was younger, take a look at these of my Mum and Dad, or Tony Curtis and Doris Day…not sure which.

Mum and Dad
A scene from Goodfellas

I think at the time of this next one my Dad was in National Service.  It is amazing and scary to think that just a generation ago every male had to serve two years in the army! My soft under belly quivers at the prospect.  I am under no illusion that my Dad spent those two years in peace time on a switchboard rather than on a front line somewhere, but still, two years in uniform is a prospect I cannot compute.

On a similar note, I have been watching Band of Brothers (again) of a Friday evening on TCM.  It is probably one of the best, most compelling and watchable pieces of drama ever made, and this week was the one where they spent weeks dug into frozen holes with no supplies, ammo or warm clothes at the Battle of the Bulge.  I simply cannot comprehend that experience either.  But I digress….

Suave Dad
Suave Dad

Moving on a good few years, this next one caught my eye for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I look horrified, and second this was from a time when you could have your photo taken with a monkey outside of British Home Stores.  Or was that just Bolton?

Monkey and terror
Monkey and terror

There is also some top anorak action going on here along with some top gurning from my brother, more of which later.

So onto the cuteness I promised you.  I’m not sure if this next one is before or after the last, but my levels of cuteness only lead me to ask what went wrong?

Brace yourselves….


I’m pretty sure that is food around my mouth, so not much changes really.

As technology raced ahead, within only a few short years we emerged into a glorious world of technicolour, Polaroid cameras, large brown swivel chairs that only Dad could sit in, but for some reason still with dodgy anoraks.


My brother is one of those people who cannot have a photo taken without such an expression.  I think there are probably only half a dozen of them in existence where he looks “normal”.  Some of them are his wedding photos, but not all!!

It has been strange looking back through history.  Looking at myself seems like looking at someone else.  I sort of remember those times, but somehow see them as seperate to my life today.  I wonder how the girls will see themselves in years to come.

It will be different I suppose, as their life will be captured in many and varied ways.  Facebook and twitter have already captured their every thought in recent years, and with phones acting as cameras and video cameras, they will have a lot to reminisce about.  There are moving images of my younger years of course, but they are on silent jerky “cine” films which are buried somewhere in my Mum and Dad’s house.

I suppose I can only hope they have more happy memories than otherwise, and of course that I manage to stick around long enough to look back with them.  If Emily keeps taking corners on two wheels like she did again this afternoon, that could be in jeopardy.

Till the next time…..