Chloé’s 11th Birthday

This year I decided to take Chloé to Alton Towers for her birthday. I have taken Ryan previously as he was tall enough to go on all of the rides. Sadly, for Chloé, she wasn’t tall enough for all of the adult rides. She was 6cm too short bless her, however we did spend the entire trip going on all of the other rides.

We had a two-day trip to Alton Towers as one is not enough to get fully around the park and on all of the rides. It is also worth considering if you’re going, to invest in the fast track. This is expensive; however, it does provide a much better experience. When I say expensive, I do mean expensive. I purchased the fast track for myself and Chloé and this cost me £200 for one day!

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Snowdon Summit

Ever since I travelled to Wales in back in February 2015, I have been wanting to go again, but take the kids. Although I went back in July 2015 to do the three peaks challenge, I didn’t really get the opportunity to explore or really enjoy what I was seeing while I was there.

Fast forward to 2018 and I thought it was about time I took the kids around Wales to explore and enjoy what nature offers. August 2018 arrives and I have the kids with me for the summer holidays while they’re off of school.

We stayed in a hotel near Northop Hall for 6 nights, which isn’t too far from Chester and Liverpool. The majority of the holiday was to be spent around Snowdonia National Park which meant a little travelling, but not too much.

We set off from the hotel at around 7am and stopped in Conwy for breakfast at Premier Inn. £9.50 for all 3 of us to have a full English. After breakfast we stopped at Tesco to grab something for later on in the day and to make sure we carried plenty of water with us.

At around 11am we set off down to the Pen-y-Pass car park at the foot of Snowdon arriving shortly after at around 12pm. Upon arrival we found the car park completely full and no spaces available. I went back to Llanberis to check out their park and ride service and found it half way between the two. Upon parking I realised that I didn’t bring any change with me to pay. I found a layby closer to Pen-y-Pass and called for a taxi up to where we were originally going to park.

We finally got all set up and ready to start the trail at around 1pm. I decided to go The Miner’s Tack as that’s the way I took when I did the three peak challenge and it’s a nice walk and there is plenty to see along the way.

The walk started off nice and sunny and as we weren’t just walking to the top we were also exploring this was great. We stopped off at an old building at the end of Llyn Llydaw to have some lunch and have a little play. We left here around 4.30ish and continued on our journey. About another hour passed as we continued up the mountain and the weather took a crappy direction. It started to get foggy and it started to rain. Now this isn’t normal rain, it was extremely fine rain. The type that makes you wet throughout. Yeah ok, not too bad we could deal with that. At this point we were at Glaslyn and though, sod it, we’re almost there so might as well carry on.

About 45 minutes later walking up from Glaslyn the wind decided it wanted to chime in as well. So, there we were walking up the side of this mountain with fog, very fine rain and the occasional gust. We finally managed to reach the summit, thick fog as in can’t see more than about 50m in front of you thick fog, fine rain and gusty wind. Needless to say we raced to the top to touch the sun dial thing got our photos then went down to the visitor centre hoping it was open so we could catch the train down.

Needless to say the damn thing was closed. Everyone had gone and we were all up there by ourselves! Ok, well we stopped outside under a shelter near the entrance and had some refreshments. A couple chocolate bars and drinks. After about 30 minutes of resting we decided that we would make our way down and follow the Llanberis path. That path was covered in sharp slate everywhere you were stepping and was unavoidable, but was safer for the kids. Once we got down into the valley near Llyn Du’r Arddu the rain had stopped, there were no more gusts and the fog had gone. The end of the day was beginning to look a lot brighter. Finally reaching Llanberis at around 9pm that evening. Exhausted and tired, but happy we had all summitted Snowdon we walked around to The Royal Victoria Hotel and asked them if they could call a taxi for us to get back to my car. 25 minutes later, we were in the car changing into warm dry clothes and were heading back to the hotel to sleep.

The way I have described it sounds a lot more dangerous than it really was. I was with the kids at all times and made sure they were safe. We all had a source of communication and I had shown them the way we were going so we were all prepared for any eventuality.


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I’ve moved!

So, if you know me personally or have me on Facebook then you would have known that I have finally moved out of my Mum’s house after being in Kent for almost 4 years at that point. July 2017 I finally managed to scrape enough money up together to get a deposit and buy my own home in the centre of Maidstone.

It’s a two-bed apartment (this was a minimum requirement for when I had the kids down). It has its own parking bay and I’m on the top floor. There is a communal garden for people to share, but it doesn’t look like anyone uses it. I might have to start arranging a BBQ once a month (during the summer though) for everyone, just so we can all introduce ourselves and get to know one another in the building.

The asking price was £190,000, but managed to get them down to £180,000 and I bought a 40% share of that, which meant I paid £72,000 for my share of the property.

I still have to pay rent as well as a mortgage, but both combined is much cheaper than renting somewhere that I am not investing in long-term. Something I want to do for my next mortgage renewal is to not only reduce the interest but also the term of the loan. I borrowed £64,800, but as of today I still owe £62,448, meaning I’ve only paid off £2352 in 19 months. In reality I have paid over £6,400, meaning over £4,000 is interest alone! Talk about blind robbery! Unfortunately, having a good interest rate wasn’t an option I had at the time of my mortgage. Turns out that I wasn’t registered on the electoral roll while at my mums (although I still got voting cards through the post) which really messed my credit rating up. It’s all sorted now and I have a half decent credit rating, which should mean I get a decent deal on my mortgage renewal.

There is still some work to do on my place. I have a leaky tap and water filter. This should be getting replaced tomorrow at a cost of £165, but it means not having to worry any more about leaks.

At the foot of the kid’s bedroom door it is apparent that there was a leak from the bathroom. This has damaged the wooden door frame, and will either need some work rectifying it or to just buy a couple strips of wood to replace the damaged part, either way it will require painting with gloss. The down side to that means that the rest of the flat will require doing, as there is no way I am doing one part of a door frame and leaving everything else looking the same age, and there is a lot of skirting board in my place!

I also need to get the carpets replaced as I think they are still the original ones from when this place was built back in 2008. This is a large expense and I’m still not sure when I can get this done.

There are 4 radiators I want to get replaced in the property as I feel they are just too small. This isn’t necessary, but it is something I want to do long-term.

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Highways Inspector

That’s my new title! I applied for the position back on August 5th. I had my interview on August 30th and I started on October 30th! I now have a fully signed contract.

It’s been my ambition to become one of the highway inspectors for the best part of a year now. I had shown a clear interest in the role by spending time speaking to and driving for the inspectors, so when an official position opened up for the role I was happy!

I sat down and spoke to my then current boss and talked it through with him. He signed off on me applying for the role. Surprisingly he helped me a lot with the application, with my CV and helping to prepare me for the new role – for this I will be extremely grateful!

At the moment due to staffing issues I am still being shared between my old role and my new one. Primarily though I am now a highways inspector.

A lot of things will be changing for me over the coming months. The night shifts will be going, the long journeys to work will be cut down to just 14 miles instead of 40, and my hours will be cut from an average of 60 a week to just 37.5.

I believe all of my official training will begin in the new year, so I will be going back to college to hopefully do the highways inspectors course and the street works course, and I’m sure if I push for certain other things I can also do those too! Free education people! When its available take advantage of it – Knowledge is power!

There isn’t too much more I can tell you at the moment as I’m still finding out stuff for myself. I am excited for what next week will bring! For now – enjoy a mug shot of yours truly!

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Alton Towers

It’s now half term and the kids have some time off of school, so they were coming down to mine for just over a week, but first I thought it be good to take Ryan to Alton Towers for the weekend as now he is tall enough to go on all of the rides.

I finished work on the Friday at 6am and moseyed on home and slept until 4pm at which time I got up got showered and packed my things. It’s now 6pm and I’m driving to go and get the boy from his mums. I arrive just after 8pm and was greeted with massive hugs and kisses from both of the kids. I spend about 45 minutes there before heading up the A34 to our destination. 4 long hours later we arrive in Stoke at our hotel. Turned out to be the wrong hotel – I had put the post code for another hotel I was looking at in the Sat Nav. No big deal as the actual hotel was only 5 miles in the direction we just come from.

We arrived at the proper hotel just after midnight. Checked in and headed to our room. I go in and there are two single beds. I stand there scratching my head thinking “I’m pretty sure I booked a family room”. We went back down stairs to reception and they changed our room to a double as they didn’t have any more family rooms left. It means sharing the bed with Ryan, but that wasn’t a problem. He snores just as much as I do!

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We were up at 7.30am the next morning and headed off to the nearest Premier Inn hotel as they do some cracking breakfasts. We filled up on grub and then headed off to Alton Towers arriving just after 10.30. We entered the park after the 15 minute walk from the car park and headed straight to our first ride.

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Wonders of technology

A while ago my daughter came across a YouTube channel called Art For Kids Hub that essentially teaches kids how to draw, and it does this in a very positive, friendly and relatable way that anyone of any age is able to follow.

The show looks to be hosted by a professional artist with his children. He teaches them step by step how to draw characters such as Mario, or a Minion, or a dinosaur. He is very patient and promotes the fact that even if a drawing is not that great it’s ok because this is all about practicing, and becoming better.

This evening I wanted to spend time with my daughter and partake in a subject that she enjoys – drawing. What better way to do this than to sit on FaceTime, and both watch the same video together all the while following the instructions.

Admittedly I’m no good at drawing, but I am willing to give anything a go just to spend time with my children even if it is by using FaceTime.

I took several shots of our drawings (mine are the smaller inset photo as these are screenshots of FaceTime), and have posted them below along with a video from Art For Kids Hub.

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Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid


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Christmas 2015

Earlier in the year I had agreed with the kids mum that they could come to mine for Christmas this year. I picked them up on the 18th of December. They were due to go back home on the 30th.

Everyone wanted to go out for dinner on Christmas day, and I was going to stay at home with the kids as it would have been just me and them, and cook for us. I was really looking forward to this. Unsurprisingly they all changed their mind. I ended up cooking for 10 people, which wasn’t the greatest decision I had ever made.

I don’t know the exact amount of money I spent on the kids this year, but I am definitely sure they had more than enough. Having only spoke to them the other day, they still haven’t had been able to play with all of their toys properly yet!

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I only just finished wrapping the presents an hour before I picked the kids up from their mums.

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I didn’t have any Christmas stockings for them, so had to go and buy some. I checked several shops and only Morrisons had them! They feel well put together, and only cost me £3 each. That’s what I call a bargain!

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A Night at the Hilton

Up at 4am, working 10 hours, 90-minute drive to Gatwick, and then 10 hours of drinking.

Well that was my day in the simplest form. Obviously there was much more to it. There was an award ceremony, photos, silly antics, meet and greets, laughs, eye candy, and an all round drunken time.

As our company lost their contract it will be our last ever winter ball sadly, however a cracking good time was had.

I left work at 4pm ran to Asda and grabbed some vodka and then made my way to the Hilton. I arrived just before 6 and got straight into the shower. Shortly before 7 the friend I invited turned up. Drinks in hand we headed into the crowds and mingled.

Dinner and celebrations started at 7.30. After the awards the live music started, and the drinking began.

At about 10pm a photo booth was set up where people could dress up and take photos. I had to get in on it this year. We grabbed a few friends to come and join us to have a laugh. I even grabbed someone from upper management!

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C.E.R.N.

Visiting C.E.R.N has been one of the things I have been wanting to do for quite some time. I found out recently that they have tours of their facility and ordinary members of the public can request to join them.

After finding out they did tours I naturally got excited. It took me a couple of weeks to find a slot between seeing the kids, work and an availability in the tours. The next challenge was the price of the flight. I thought it was going to be expensive as hell to get a flight over to Geneva, Switzerland. Turns out it wasn’t! Using a website a friend from works introduced me to called Sky Scanner I was able to book a return flight for £42! It makes you wonder how it’s even possible!

I’ve never been on an aeroplane before, so the trip over to Geneva was going to be a completely new experience for me. I was so excited but so scared at the same time. I didn’t know what to expect.

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So this was the plane I was about to get on


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Day at the beach

It’s summer and its nice and hot. What is there better to do than to go to the beach? Thats exactly what we did. We packed our stuff and headed down to Camber Sands.

Unfortunately at the time of going to the beach Operation Stack was on which closed the majority of the M20 and caused chaos with the traffic in the local areas. We decided to go through Maidstone and down the A229 and then onto the A21 to Hastings heading to Camber from the West. It took a little longer to get there, but it was much more desirable taking that route than being stuck in hour upon hours of traffic!

We arrived just after 2pm at which time the parking becomes half price, so thats a bonus! We parked up and unpacked the car. I lathered up the kids with sunscreen and headed up the huge sand dunes over to the beach. We spent the next couple of hours playing about in the ocean.

We had loads of fun!

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