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….

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…..

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….

It’s August and I’m Annoying.

Well, hello August!!

For anyone without a current countdown to a WDW holiday we are now entering the zone where these weekly blogs will be unreadable…well, more unreadable than this stuff normally is. Florida is getting so close now, I can almost smell it, and the potential to upset those not due to holiday there with my constant countdown nonsense is immense.

One thing I try to do every trip, but seldom succeed in doing, is to savour these last days of the countdown. It is so easy to simply wish them away, desperate to get to the departure day, but, I honestly never know if and when we’ll have another countdown, so I try to fight my natural instincts and enjoy the fact that we have everything booked and the trip is so close.

This week we went sub 30 days on our countdown and for the first time ever this has meant booking some Fastpasses ahead of time. It went pretty smoothly for the couple of days we’ve done, but for our first day we’ll be there so early that it will hardly matter. We have a lunch time ADR at Crystal Palace and once that food hits our stomachs all we’ll want to do it head back to the villa and vegetate.

One the subject of these Fastpass plus things…I would welcome comments and advice from anyone who has used Magic bands and stayed off site. Our plan is for me and Emily to nip to Downtown Disney on our first evening and at Guest Services convert Emily’s Magic Your Way voucher into a ticket (she has a 4 day ticket to use before she checks in and gets her Cast Member one) and buy Magic Bands for all of us. Looking at the MDE app/web site it appears you can link Magic Bands to your tickets via that. Has anyone done this? Is it easy? This would certainly be easier for us than getting everyone to go to Downtown Disney in person when they will be tired and trying to unpack etc. We’d also rather get it done before we head to Magic Kingdom on our first morning as any delay at a ticket window and/or Guest Services will have me in fits of rage at the thought of all those people getting on rides whilst we faff about.

I also ordered and received some dollars. I say some, as they will no doubt not be enough. I have paid absolutely no attention to the dollar rate since booking. Until I physically have the cash ready to change there seems little point in stressing about it. On Friday when the time came I did about four minutes research into recent trends to quickly discover that all and any recent variances would mean about a $20 difference in total, so rather than sit watching the rate for the next twenty odd days, I just ordered.

As we speak, Louise is out “holiday shopping”. This may be a wasted task as she tells me that she is so terrified of the flight this year that she may well not get on the flight. To be fair, this is an annual event, but every year she tells me she feels worse about it. I’m sure with the correct prescribed medication and the usual red wine or two she’ll get through it. My hand usually comes off worst with nail marks there for weeks after as she grips it for dear life upon take off. The reward at the end the flight has always been enough for her to tough it out and so I expect this year to be the same.

So after this post today, there are just three more blog posts (Sundays) until we go. I shall shortly be procuring the customary new bright white trainers that are as much a part of a WDW holiday as Mickey Mouse and Ryan the Rucksack, and I am in the middle of my annual struggle to lose enough weight to allow me to eat like a lunatic in Florida and not have to buy a whole new wardrobe upon my return. Progress has been made, but not enough and the struggle continues.

As a distraction to the now almost endless obsession with the never-ending slow creep towards our holiday, (what did I say about trying to enjoy the countdown?) I am quite busy over the next couple of weeks with some gigging. Last night we played a lovely wedding in Cheshire and we have two more next weekend too. Last night was good fun, at a lovely venue, Hollin Hall In Bollington, with an appreciative crowd who never left the dance floor.

Here’s a lovely shot of the back of my head. I can’t believe nobody told me I had a bald spot!

hollin hall 1-8-15So I’ll see you here again next week for more stunning gig photography like that and more tiresome countdowning to our holiday. What more could you ask for?

Till the next time….

 

The Hyatt Of Luxury.

Apologies for the late hour of this posting. It’s been a busy Sunday and I have only just had chance to put fingers to keys. I apologise again, in advance for the inevitable brevity that shall ensue.

Regardless of anything that has happened at work, the biggest achievement of the week has been the completion of the planning around our stay at the beach in Florida. There is something entirely satisfying about such things, both in terms of the hunt (researching and deciding upon something) and the execution (usually ending in a smoking credit card).

So on the 6th of September we have a night booked at the Hyatt Place Oceanfront, Daytona Beach. We usually stay at the Hilton which has always been lovely. The one annoyance about that hotel is the charge creep. The room can be booked for a paltry amount but from the moment you arrive extra charges are piled on. Resort fees, parking, valet tips and other odds and sods mean that you typically pay double what you booked for. The Hyatt, whilst a similar price, promises to include parking, breakfast, WiFi and all that stuff. It also has a superb rating on all the usual sites so for one night, it looks a good bet.

There’s something vaguely magical about thinking that at some point soon we’ll be looking out over this sort of view in unimaginable heat and only having to worry about which crevice that sweat has run into.

hyatt1 hyatt2The plan is to rise early on that Sunday morning and make haste towards the coast as fast as the minivan will (legally) carry us so that Louise can spend every hour God sends crisping up her skin. After a day of sweating, we shall shower, change and head out for the fun that is a night at the Minor League baseball.

I was mildly concerned and confused that the team we normally watch, the Daytona Cubs (I say normally, we’ve been twice) seemed to have vanished, only to be replaced by the Daytona Tortugas. It seems a change of franchise could explain that and everything else looked to be the same. I have invested the princely sum of $8 each, $6 for the seniors, to watch a game against Brevard County. From what I can see it may be the last game of the season and the evening is themed Funday Sunday. If that isn’t worth $8 of my hard earned, I don’t know what is.

The last time we went we opted for seats behind the mound. This is, I learned, not a euphemism, and although it was interesting to have balls coming at my face at incredible speed, it was not as much fun as the first time we went. That first time we sat in the bleachers, which resulted in a numb bum around innings five, but we were in amongst the locals who are there for a good time rather than the more sports fan types in the proper seats.

Throw in some typical US game food and beverages, and it’s a night I’m really looking forward to. We shall then make the short journey back to the hotel before another day on the sun beds until wee eventually head back to Orlando whenever we damn well please. Hopefully my Dad will enjoy it as I don’t think he’s watched live baseball since the 80’s when we went to Boardwalk and Baseball which of course is no more.

It’s been another busy band week with more songs to learn, another rehearsal and some more bookings coming in. We are now making plans for some sexy photos and promotional material to be done. We are aiming for this sort of thing….

Next weekend sees wedding season start with our first one of the summer. Don’t forget should you want to be rocked, popped and souled to your very core do get in touch to book us. Bass player aside, we’re actually pretty good.

That’s enough now, time’s getting on and I need to get a few hours sulking in before it’s time to go to bed and then go to work.

Till the next time…..