Dear Disneyland

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Dear Disneyland,

How do you do the things that you do? How do you transform a family day out into something so much greater than the sum of its parts?

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I mean, this was meant to be the ultimate post in the Family Days Out Are a Big Mistake series. And yet…

How do you enchant people enough to want to queue for hours at a time? A wait of an hour in a snaking line of people to have a 30-second flight on a carbon fibre elephant! 110 minutes to sit in a rat!!! And then the rat ride broke down…and yet people didn’t revolt; they – we – just went and stood in a different queue for something else.

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I know! It’s crazy! And yet you get us all to do it without complaint. Or at least without outbreaks of violence. And it must be something that you do because the second we were across the threshold there were nearly blows on the shuttle back to the hotel. What spell do you cast?

Because, please, I can’t usually get Noodles to sit still for long enough to eat his lunch, but for you even he waited…and waited…and waited.

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Ok, he made a break for it as we queued for Peter Pan’s Flight (thank goodness for fast reactions and hoods on kids’ coats!) but by and large he was the most obedient I’ve seen him. Thank you for that. But can’t you pass on the smallest of tips that I can use in everyday life? Please?

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Or maybe it was the combination of not having a clue as to what was going on and repeatedly being put on things that whizzed him around. It would explain the omnipresent look of befuddlement he wore for most of the day.

How do you make us stand outside in the cold (although thankfully this time not the rain) for 12 full hours again without complaint from kids and grown-ups alike? We all felt the chill, Parisian breeze and yet, like Elsa, the cold never bothered us. How do you do that?

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Come to think of it, how do you get your visitors to sustain themselves for the length of your days? With children high on adrenalin and parents fraught with making the experience the best it can be, how are there not more meltdowns? Anywhere else families would crash and burn under the pressure of such a (financially/emotionally/physically) highly-charged day out. But with you it keeps on going, the experience one of sustained excitement and anticipation. Even after a 5.30am start and 10 hours on a coach the day before. Even after a late night with excited children. Even after a broken night’s sleep thanks to the hotel fire alarms going off at 3.20 am. It can’t all be down to the croissants snaffled at the breakfast buffet and smuggled into the park.

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What exactly do they put in those pancakes? Is it really sugar on top of their waffles? Hmmm.

How do you also transform us all into the biggest kids? How do you make us truly believe that it really is Mickey Mouse or Snow White or any of the other characters we sacrifice our time into waiting for. In our heads we still know it’s just someone in costume, but in our hearts…? That’s a different matter!

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And how do you get us to open our wallets so willingly? Our house now resembles one of your stores thanks to the toys and the t-shirts, the costumes and the sweets, every last one an essential purchase at the time. Teflon Man even cracked open his wallet and paid for stuff. It’s a rare trick you managed there indeed!

I can only imagine it must all have something to do with pixie dust.

But however it is you do what you do, thank you. You do it all so very well. I imagine it must be relentless for you to churn so many people through your gates every day, keeping the Disney Magic alive for each and every one. Like your Disney Dreams, you really are spectacular!

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Many thanks,

(An absolutely exhausted yet besotted)

GSM xx

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The ‘Ch’ Diet: Diet Without Denial

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You’d never think it to look at me, but once upon a time I was skinny. Not just thin, but a proper skinny Minnie. Then I discovered that when dinner wasn’t all about gristly mince and peas and plastic turkey and sausages with dubious filling that I actually liked food. And over the years I’ve gone from being faddy to being a fattie! Not good.

If you put more calories in than you expend then fat gets laid down. It seems so easy in principle, but it doesn’t stop me from stuffing more grub into my face five minutes later.

I need some self-control.

Because it seems that all my skinny friends come with shedloads of self-control. Whether it’s resisting carbs or meat or not eating dinner, self-denial seems to key. To be fair, some of it brinks on an eating disorder, but I don’t want to be uber-thin, I just don’t want to shudder when I look at a photograph of myself.

But the thing is, our time on the planet is brief – there are so many meals that can be eaten in that time. I refuse to waste those meals on slim shakes or wheatgrass. Even if Kate Moss is right and nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, nothing tastes as good as bacon.

Denying myself slim shakes and wheatgrass hasn’t worked though. I need a plan.

And then it struck me: what if I eliminate foodstuffs not based on food groups or anything so logical, but on the alphabet? What if I stuck to only foods beginning with ‘ch’?!

Obviously, I wouldn’t ACTUALLY recommend this as a proper concept in eating. But still, I think I could cope if I was limited to the following:

BREAKFAST

Actually, I’m already sort of regretting not going for a ‘c’-food diet as otherwise it could be coffee and croissants for breakfast. Instead I’d be stuck with Cheerios. Not the same.

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Maybe I’d just go for a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate)…or is that cheating so early on? Oh well, I normally skip breakfast anyway.

LUNCH

Say ‘cheese!’ as that would mostly be lunch. I could cope with that though. It still gives you almost an entire supermarket aisle to play with. Cheddar, Cheshire and Chevre Blanc would obviously be the preferred option, but the cheese umbrella would still allow for other cheesy choices. Especially served with chutney.

Cheese and chicory salad would definitely be permissible. I think I could cope with that.

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Or on a colder day chowder could be the go-to option. (We’ll just turn a blind eye on the constituent parts, shall we?)

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Or nip out for a cheeky cheeseburger! Positively recommended on the ‘ch’ diet!

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DINNER

Chicken and chips may not be a particularly healthy choice, but in terms of the rules of the diet it couldn’t be better!

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Or how about a chilli?

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With (tortilla) chips on the side.

Or something with chorizo?

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Or, if you want a night off from cooking a Chinese takeaway is still permissible, especially chicken chow mein or chop suey! What’s not to like?!

DESSERT

Yes, you can have your cake and eat it…just as long as it’s chocolate. Or cheesecake!

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The addition of cherries would be both literally and metaphorically the thing to top it off. Bring them on!

Or, even better, a chestnut and chocolate charlotte! I’d never even heard of one before a google stumble, but I can see some further investigation pending.

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Or, how about some deep-fried churros with melted chocolate to dip them in?

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Choux pastry, chantilly cream and chocolate sauce would all be more than acceptable, both to the rules and the diet…which essentially means chocolate eclairs are allowed. Which has to be a good thing.

And Chelsea buns too. Marvellous! Another bonus point for the cherry!

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Or just bring on a mountain of chocolate. Always an adequate option!

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BEVERAGES

Aw, water is out! So no more guilt about not drinking 8 glasses a day. Instead, how about 8 glasses a day of champagne or chianti?

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By which point you’ll be too sozzled to have the inclination to spend the evening scoffing foods of any letter of the alphabet. Perfect!

Looking at the options though I’m not entirely convinced that it would lead to weight loss. Liver damage and increased cholesterol more likely, and that’s NOT the effect I was after. But at least I wouldn’t begrudge the meals. I’d just be fattest food bore on the block. Oh well, back to the drawing board and the size 14s, I guess.

The Upside of Autumn

Yesterday I was despairing. A week of rain and the house was wetter inside than out. (Which you might think would prompt Teflon Man to chase up the roofing contractors to fix our sodding roof…but, d’oh, not in my world.) Being dripped on every time I needed to go to the fridge wasn’t pleasant. Considering I’ve previously broken a toe slipping on a post-rain utility room puddle, it was a tense situation too. I wasn’t happy.

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When they say ‘bringing the outside in as an aspirational decorating choice, I’m not sure they’re referring to rainwater pouring through the roof.

However, come 9 o’clock, with both children tucked up in bed I took to mine and indulged in the upside of autumn: comfort viewing. The visual equivalent of cheap chocolate or a McDonalds: if anyone catches you indulging you’ll feel ashamed and you know it won’t really satisfy you, but in that moment it just hits the spot!

And thus, to banish fears of the roof caving in or the prospect of having to put on a coat that hasn’t fully dried out (yuk – a very bad icing on the cake of it’s-going-to-be-a-horrible-day) my shallow viewing pleasures for the weeks ahead are:

Made in Chelsea

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I want to slap each and every cast member. Just when I think no one of Earth could be more annoying than Louise – too petite and giggly to be likeable – then the lads pop up being all posh-laddish, and especially Proudlock and his stupid ponytail/glasses/name and Louise is comparably fine. But then they’re usurped by Mark Francis and Victoria looking down their noses at everything that isn’t them…and I fear I may self-combust with rage.

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But, with all of its faux-reality set-ups and awkward silences as someone drops their alleged bestie into a pit of trouble with a shock revelation, I realise that they can have their endless glamorous parties, swanky lunches, flash pads and rolling holidays. I don’t want to be wrapped in wealth if that level of shallowness and relationships that wooden are what come with it. But I do want to gawp at its ostentatious, awfulness each week.

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The Apprentice

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I’ve been craving this since the summer as the World Cup pushed it back in the schedules. But it’s back and we might only be one episode in, but it’s promising to be a doozie! (*Rubbing my hands with glee.*)

Again, it’s more very annoying people, but, even better than in MIC, this time we get to see them mess up royally and get fired! Yay!

It was just a shame that the girls won tonight as Sarah very much deserves to be given the boot early on as she massively cocked up being PM tonight by:
a) Rubbing her PM position in everyone’s faces even though she was doing horribly in the post;
b) Informing the girls that they needed to wear lots of make-up and short skirts in order to sell. (Surely it depends what you’re selling, and as the task wasn’t about literally whoring themselves around London – although surely that would be an interesting week! – it was an insult in the extreme.);
c) Just being awful. At everything.

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You could practically hear the nation’s collective jaw hitting the floor every time she opened her mouth.

But then as soon as one gobby, obnoxious loudmouth talks themselves out of the running another cock-up in a suit takes their place.

But yet again I can’t look away, but instead relish the schadenfreude. Marvellous!

Gogglebox

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By now it may be clear that when I’m in a trashy mood (which is somewhere close to always) I have a thing for ‘constructed factual’ TV. You can keep your quality imported dramas. I don’t want to have to puzzle pieces together and work out bluffs from double-bluffs. If I have to retain plot twists in my brain I fear for what information it could replace. I already struggle with my kids’ names and online passwords – I daren’t risk it. I especially don’t want to have to deal with subtitles on top of having to work stuff out. (The exception being The Returned, which was fantastic and I’m gutted that its not yet returned itself.) I want things nice and light and easy. Even if it’s not a credible use of my time.

But Gogglebox is turning out to be everyone’s dirty little Friday night secret. Mention aloud that you like Gogglebox and someone somewhere will leap out shrieking ‘Oh my God! Me too! Whose you’re favourite?’ Which is a stupid question because everyone’s favourite are perma-drunk posh couple, Steph and Dom.

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But not only do I get to feel better in comparison with the dubious intellects and opinions of several featured on the show, but best of all not having a social life is now fine because you know that those people who are out on a Friday night really wish they could be uncool and just stay at home to watch. There may be catch up TV, but that’s such a faff. And you can’t keep up with water cooler chat/Twitter reaction if you’re behind. Ha! Take that, popular young people. I win this round! #SmallVictory

Strictly Come Dancing

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Ah, the sequinned, fake-tanned cheese-fest that is Strictly! Funnily enough, it’s right up my street! There’s so much about it that drives me insane: the time they waste on filler even when they’ve got to plough through 15 routines, the inability of some celebs to pick up even the most basic of steps despite 40+ hours of one-to-one top-class training per week; how I could never be as skinny/have hair as fabulous as the pro dancers; the devastating realisation that I would now qualify as an older celeb were I to become famous and get on the show. (Surely one day they’ll be scraping the barrel so much that barely-recognised bloggers will qualify. Well, at least that’s my dream.)

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But then someone will come out and WOW! Last year it was Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s charleston. This year, already (and we’re only in week 3) Jake Wood’s salsa was a joy to behold.

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Goosebumps are always worth having to sit through the dreadful dancing/the annoying opinions of Bruno Tonioli* for.

(*Seriously, Bruno, SIT THE FUCK DOWN and calm down. What is wrong with you?! Why can you stay in your seat?!)

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And this Saturday nights are happily spent at home too. My ambition of being a winter-hibernating creature are partly coming true. All I have to do now is set Dominos Pizza on speed-dial and hope the roof doesn’t give in and I’m set at least until Christmas. And then I guess it’s the true meaning of ‘bleak midwinter’ but let’s deny that bridge is going to need crossing any time soon. In the meantime let me use trash TV as my crutch to get me through autumn. It may not be healthy, but it’s better than the other option of gin.

At a One Direction Movie No One Can Hear You Scream

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Now, I’m not adverse to cheesy pop. I’m not a music snob like Teflon Man. To be honest, I haven’t got time for challenging rhythms and in-depth lyrics that need dissertation-level analysis to be appreciated. So if five pretty boys want to sing simple ditties about love and stuff then it’s fine by me if Boo wants to listen to them.

I’m even happy for some of the songs to get stuck in my head. Well, it makes a change from sodding Frozen songs.

And yet I felt I was taking one for the team taking Boo to the cinema today to watch the One Direction concert movie.

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Where we were, as it happened, was sat in our normal cinema, surrounded by other tweens and their parents, paying over the odds to watch those five pretty boys sing their little ditties in front of a crowd of 80,000 screaming Italian teenage girls (and possibly a couple if Italian teenage boys). ¬£12.00 for my ticket alone?! If I hadn’t charged the whole thing to Teflon’s card I would have choked on my popcorn.

And they made us listen to the five pretty boys not just sing but also talk. Couldn’t we just get on with the songs already? Still, I can now differentiate between the pretty boys beyond Harry (the very pretty pretty one) and Niall (the blond baby-faced pretty one). I learnt that Liam (the unshaved pretty one) is the only one who can get through a concert without going for a wee and Louis is really bloody annoying and has a squeaky little talking voice that Boo didn’t appreciate me laughing at. Zayn I could probably still walk past in the street without recognising who he was. Which is a shame because I’d like to ask him why he can’t spell his name properly like a normal person.

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Not that he’d probably hear me anyway. To spend so much time surrounded by so many thousands of people screaming at you, it’s got to do something to the hearing.

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It’d do my nut. An hour of Dolby 7.0 surround sound was enough. So much screaming. So much crying.

How exciting to be picked from the crowd by the camera, to have a moment on the big screen, testament to your devotion to the five singing pretty boys. But as a blubbering wreck? Mascara-streaked and snot-nosed because Harry may have glanced in your (one) direction? Seriously, girls, play it cool.

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(And, yes, maybe it’s just sour grapes because I never got to see Bros in concert in 1989 or whatever.)

And there the younger generation were at the cinema, in all their innocence following in the footsteps of the screaming girls, singing along and jiffling in their seats with excitement.

To be honest, it could have been worse. Everyone under the age of 20 looked like they were having a good time and it was1-D Lite. To have actual concert tickets would have been a bigger experience, but it would have been a pain in the arse too. And a heck of a lot more expensive. Hopefully Boo will be happy to wait until she can go to such things unchaperoned, or I’d be in the crowd screaming for a completely different set of reasons. Not that anyone would hear me.

And surely it’s only a matter of time before this:

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becomes this:

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I’d bet an admission ticket on it being a different group of five pretty boy singers to scream at by then mind you. Which is a shame as I think I’ve finally learnt the lyrics to Best Song Ever (even over all the screaming).

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

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Family life can be Hell, particularly when there’s sickness involved. Sharing personal space can be bad enough. Sharing that space with other people’s bodily fluids is always a step too far, no matter how much you love them.

Damn and blast them for putting ‘in sickness and in health’ into the marriage vows. Couldn’t we have had just one marital loophole?

Personally I make neither a good patient nor good nurse. Thus the family have suffered on more than one level this week.

I’ve had gale-force sneezes combined with a nose seemingly congested with acid. Grandy has been coughing and coughing and coughing some more. Poor Boo seems to have picked up a water infection and had not one but two accidents at school yesterday.

And then there was Noodles. He was still asleep in bed yesterday when I left for work. But then there was a text from Eve:

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Scenes from The Shining sprang to mind. Would I likely come home to corridors of blood? Wrong film, as it turned out. A phone call next: Noodles was being sick. Ah, so not so much The Shining as The Exorcist.

Still, better out than in, as the next time I check on him he’s back to his usual self, having smashed two packets of crisps on the floor. Isn’t Calpol wonderful?

Just one person has been utterly unaffected by the torrent of germs: Teflon Man. But of course!

Meanwhile I’m contemplating dipping us all in Dettol and marking our front door with a big black cross. At least that way people can’t say they weren’t warned. Although if anyone wants to volunteer to come and dish up endless rounds of chicken soup it could just be what the doctor ordered.

Move Over Miss Marple

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Move over, Miss Marple – there’s a new super-sleuth in town! Oh yes, (despite the over-consumption of alcohol) GSM managed to WIN the murder mystery tonight at Down Hall Country House Hotel.

Indy acted as my sidekick, but my lightbulb moment did it and we nailed it on every level! (Although I couldn’t possibly divulge the identity of the murderer…let’s just say I can identify with a disappointed wife when I see one – may that be a warning Teflon Man!)

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(Alcoholic consumption was evidenced by the undoing of my hair.)

My prize? An undisturbed sleep in an uber-comfy bed…and a journey home starting at 6am!

But we got certificates. #EasilyPleased

Bad Juggling at the Freak Show of Life

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Roll up! Roll up!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, come and wonder at the world’s most rubbish juggling act.

Watch as Gluestick Mum tries to juggle the balls of life. Blindfolded! With one hand tied behind her back! And with a small child clutched limpet-like to her leg! Observe as she stumbles and staggers through her daily routine.

See her strive to balance between work and family. Can such a feat be achieved without an overwhelming feeling of failure?

Gasp as she dashes from one place to the next with not enough time. Amaze at how she manages to let so many people down instead of pleasing them all. Marvel at how she takes on pressure from all-comers and buckles under their weight.

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And that’s not all! Wonder at Teflon Man is doing as he lazes in bed and wanders into town rather than taking charge of the childcare. Be amazed at how he manages to repel any responsibility. Be in awe at the ability of a fully-grown man to still spit a dummy out of the pram.

The drama! The tension!

There will be sweat! There will be tears! Just how many balls will she drop? How many people will she manage to disappoint?

Just exactly how strong is that Lycra?!?!

Roll up! Roll up! This spectacle can’t last forever. Just watch out for tumbling balls!

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And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my yesterday. If it hasn’t been for my able assistant, Eve – who looks infinitely better in Lycra – I would have collapsed under the weight of life’s metaphorical collapsing circus tent. Here’s hoping the tricks end here.

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