The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day One Monday 9th January

Day One – Monday January 9th

Here we go again. In case anyone missed the one post I was able to cram in about this trip before we went on it, the runners and riders were myself, Louise and Emily. The plan was a mix of on-site Disney hotels and an all-new (to us) Disney Cruise experience.

I should explain the title I suppose? Well, despite having lovely weather for January we did have a couple of very chilly days when almost every layer we had taken with us was worn, Joey from Friends style, so that explains the coats element.

Clearly, a big boat played a large part in this trip so that bit is obvious and the little scrotes part relates to the seemingly never-ending collection of screaming/naughty/noisy kids that haunted us at every turn.

Now look, this isn’t our first rodeo, and of course, you go to Disney, you get kids everywhere. At times we’ve even taken some of our own, but this time it felt different. Never have we encountered such a collection of screamers, shouters and all-round nuisance kids. I won’t be documenting each episode of this along the way as nobody wants to hear that, but trust me, we suffered, in a first-world problems kinda way.

Having gone through the usual pre-departure stresses and strains, mainly around Louise ironing everything in the house and cleaning anything that stood still long enough, we managed to get to bed pre-midnight, having been to pick up our house and zoo keeper Jack in the early evening. He would have his work cut out managing our menagerie and I spent most of the evening passing on instructions on all the weird stuff our house and pets do.

Alarms were set but not needed as Louise was up before them and therefore so was I. I had my usual stresses and worries about cases shutting and being overweight, but it was too late to start any diets now.

Having let the dogs out for very early wees, I put them back to bed with Jack and we made our escape after I had got a nice sweat on loading the cases into the car.

We were of course fifteen minutes later leaving the house than I had requested. We could only hope they would hold the plane for us.

Very few of you will know/remember or care what the weather was like in the early morning hours of January 9th, but let me tell you it was bloody awful. The drive to the airport was horrific and it felt like I held my breath the whole way there. Strong winds and sideways rain, in the dark on a motorway does not lead to pleasant motoring. I was very grateful to pull off the motorway and down the slip road to Terminal 2 at Manchester airport.

Entry into the car park was painless and despite it being full as always, as we had driven just one level up a car was pulling out and we gratefully accepted this gift, whilst at the same time cursing whoever made UK parking spots so narrow and/or cars so wide. The cases were released and as I always do, I took a photo of our location for when I have no memory of parking a car at all in two weeks time. A brief walk to the terminal and no queue at all for Premium check in. Yes, we are “those people” on this trip.

Security too was easy enough. No long queues which made me punch the air at not having spent all that money on a FastPass for it. Little wins!

Then as we waited for our stuff to emerge from X-Ray, we saw two of our trays had made it to the dark side. The side where a human needs to do things to it. So we waited.

Imagine about 30 minutes passing at this point……

There were two members of staff doing this checking and each bag seemed to take about a week to check. They were not, it is safe to say, busting any guts either.

Eventually our trays got to the front of the queue. Louise had a small tub of Vaseline in her bag and that was quickly resolved. Ryan on the other hand was to undergo more tests than a Russian athlete. The end result was a small bottle of talcum powder had caused all the fuss and there had been no reason to hold Ryan back after all. How we laughed.

Still, better that they are over cautious so we don’t get blown up mid air I guess.

With food and toilets on our mind we pressed on. With one of those taken care of we joined what now seems to be a customary queue to get anything to eat. I am not a fan. Open more restaurants FFS.

After twenty long minutes we were seated in San Carlos. From this menu….

We chose our breakfasts. To be fair we had chosen them about 18 minutes ago whilst stood in the queue.

Me – Full Works Sandwich

Louise a (not as good as the ones I make) Eggs Benedict

Emily – Avo on Toast

We had both coffee and juice as is the rule for airport breakfasts and quickly scoffed the lot. Still being hungry, we then ordered some toast too.

£54 lighter we set off to the shops where, despite having weeks to plan and pack Louise felt the need to buy a swimsuit at the airport for the highest price in the North West of England .

With more than enough shopping done we set off on the long walk to Gate A4. Boarding was both delayed and happening right now, so Louise’s need for evacuation had to be curtailed with a few encouraging messages from me along the lines of, “suck it up or stay behind”, and she appeared just in time for us to be the last to board.

Our first look at Premium revealed that it was all very nice. To be honest, it’s probably what Economy should be like as the seats are comfortable and your knees don’t touch the seat in front, but we were more than satisfied. Our plane today was Miss England, but we probably wouldn’t.

There was Prosecco and juice as we waited to push back at the obligatory later time than promised, but at around 10.12 (I checked) we left the gate and did the usual two and half hours of taxi-ing to the part where we actually took off.

Drinks were served and I watched a film called Unchartered with Tom Holland. I don’t know what he was doing on our flight but it passed about 90 minutes. I was inexplicably thirsty all flight and had to request three waters. I could have drank thirty but did not want to be a pest.

Safe to say our first “screaming child experience” happened for the entire flight. I’ve been told a million times that I can exaggerate too much, but that statement is fact. Food came.

I know it looks like apple crumble but it was Shepherd’s Pie and it was decent.

Louise had the same and Emily some meat free pasta thing.

I read a bit.

I played Solitaire on my seat back screen, no doubt annoying the person in front as I tapped away.

A bit later I watched another film, Bullet Train, which was much better than expected and that passed a lot of time quite nicely. We were about an hour out now and snacks arrived. Sandwiches and scones.

I played Solitaire again for the entire descent and all in all the flight passed quickly and was very good. The plane of course was a petri dish of disease. How much more are we aware of this stuff post pandemic?

Every cough (and there were so many) is noticed and it seemed 90% of the passengers were carrying some form of disease. Louise included, but more of that later!

We touched down at 19.30 UK time and we were one of the first off the plane, speed walking to immigration. We waited just a few minutes there and a few more for our cases before setting off on the frankly silly route to the main terminal. We had not, as I expected we might, arrived in Terminal C, and I had remembered to go to the A side as that is where the Toll Pass booth is. On the way we had to stop at Firehouse Subs in the food court for a drink as Emily needed to take some pills. Nine hours of a screaming child can do that.

There was no queue at Alamo. Has that changed? I seem to remember back in the day that you’d wait for ages to get your hire car. The last few trips there has just been me at the desk. I also no longer get any attempt at upsell. Maybe they sense my Jedi like powers and experience?

Over to the garage and we were pointed at the relevant row of cars. We did spend a good amount of time picking our transport and we did very well. In fact, I’d say it was one of the best cars we’ve ever had. I loved it. A Jeep thing. Here’s a photo taken much later in the trip.

It was in great condition and was a lovely drive.

We managed to get all the cases and ourselves in and then Louise and I had an argument as she couldn’t adjust her seat and this clearly was my fault. I stopped programming the destination into my phone, undid my seat belt, went round to her side and found the relevant button and all was well again.

Our route took us down the 417 and took about 25 minutes. We had seen via the app that our room was ready and as we arrived at Caribbean Beach the security guard scanned my band (not a euphemism) and directed us to Trinidad 3809. I had requested a room close to the Skyliner and it was about a five to ten minute walk away.

Our room was lovely and much more to Louise’s taste than the very themed rooms at Port Orleans on our last trip.

Louise had to pick up her toilet business from where she left off at Manchester airport so whilst she did that I unpacked my stuff. Louise did moan that I had taken all the drawer space up, but you snooze, you lose. The laides decided not to unpack and driven by Emily’s hunger (her snack option on the plane was inedible) we went out to eat. We let Emily choose and she plumped for Olive Garden.

There was no wait to be seated and we looked over the (very familiar) menu.

Naturally we started with salad and breadsticks. It is the law.

Me – Shrimp Scampi (this was chosen as it was light on the calorie count. Travel day always tends to involve about seven meals across multiple time zones so I wanted to do what I could to limit the damage this early in the trip).

Emily – Five Cheese Ziti

Louise – Chicken and Stuffed Ravioli

It was all very good and we were all very full. I paid the £100 bill on the machine on the table and we went over to the food mart across the road to get some waters for the room. I think I paid $10 for 24.

Back at the room we were all ready for bed. As we started to get ready to do so, we realised that Louise, only having one job to do for the holiday (get everything and everyone ready for it) had forgotten toothpaste. So I put my shoes back on and went out in search of the main building and a shop. It was a decent walk, but I didn’t mind as it obviously would burn off all the food I’d eaten today, right?

I got toothpaste, plasters, wet wipes and pain killers. Essentials for any of our trips. I had a quick look around too.

By the time I got back to the room everyone was asleep so I spent some time with Matthew Perry before closing my eyes around 8.15.

Till the next time…..

Tiers, Tears and My Third Trip in a Year

Hello again, it’s been a while since we had a normal, non-trip report post. Much has happened, most of it unpleasant and I won’t be going into a lot of detail about that stuff here.

All I will say is that most of it hasn’t sunk in yet I’m sure. We all feel like we are in some surreal alternative dimension with regular attacks of grief and disbelief.

We miss Mary and my Dad every single day and I think that’s all there is to say about that.

Anyway, before this gets too dark and depressing I wanted to clear something up. I was inundated with a question from one reader last week, desperate to know if the work we were having done out the back ever got completed.

Well, I could write a six thousand word post on this subject, covering the trials and tribulations we have been through, not to mention the enormous expense, but to cut to the chase, yes it is done!

We haven’t had a chance to “tart it up” yet with pleasantries like plants, flowers, lights and furniture mainly as it has rained non-stop here for about six weeks now, but you get the idea….

Before….from above…

and from below…

During (these give me PTSD)…

And after….

The journey to those three new tiers where once was grass resulted in more than three tears being shed. One of these days who knows, we may be able to remove the covers from the fire pit (top tier) and table and chairs (middle tier) that have barely been used in the two summers we have had them!

Being distracted by the declining health of our respective parents played a significant part in the job drifting a bit and the first set of workmen (yes, we eventually fired them), taking the piss a bit. The second lot were excellent, turning up every day at 8.30 on the dot, mob-handed and got the thing sorted in under two weeks. It only took them as long as two weeks because they had to undo most of what the other chancers had done and do it properly.

We are delighted with the results, just not so much the extended time to do it and added costs.

With that boxed off, I have just this one post before we go away again on another very indulgent trip to Florida. It is odd behaviour for us to go again so soon, but I suppose this is what the mortality and passing of close loved ones does. We are all definitely in a weird state and we’re just doing what feels closest to right, for right now.

The plan was pretty much sorted and dictated by another odd/new thing, the inclusion of a Disney cruise, so the rest of the schedule just fell into place around that. As tradition dictates, here is a rough outline of our plans. I am very satisfied with them, mainly as I managed to get a couple of “hen’s teeth” in at the last minute, in the shape of O’hana and a Fantasmic Dinner Package. Doesn’t it feel good to secure stuff like that when you’ve trying for weeks and weeks to get them?

If you didn’t know, the travelling party is me, Louise and Emily.

Monday 9th January

We fly tomorrow (still sounds weird and unreal), from Manchester with Virgin. We have for the first time booked Premium both ways.

We pick up our car from Alamo at the airport and drive to our first accommodation, Caribbean Beach Resort. This was chosen almost exclusively for the Skyliner option from there. We wanted to stay on-site, but didn’t want to pay for a Deluxe for the bulk of the trip and this option gives us car-free access to the Boardwalk area.

Tuesday 10th January

You know we will be in Magic Kingdom as it is our first full day. At the risk of becoming a bore, I have made a reservation at the Cheesecake Factory for 7.30pm for some Nachos.

Wednesday 11th January

Some resting, and the weather forecast looks OK with temperatures above 70 degrees, so we may be able to do some pool time in the morning. After many, many weeks of struggling to do so, over Christmas I managed to book us a Fantasmic Dinner Package at Mama Melrose (I would have taken one in any of the eateries) at 3.45, just to get us into the reserved seating for Fantasmic. With it just returning, we suspect queues for it will be long and this avoids that horror.

So we will pop into the park for that meal and kill a few hours until we need to take our seats around 7.30pm.

Thursday 12th January

It’s an Epcot day, focussing on Future World. We have plans to go and see Yeeha Bob again at Port Orleans in the evening so we will be leaving the park around tea time to do so. Drink may be involved.

Friday 13th January

Not due to any superstitions about the date, we are planning a full rest day today, anticipating some mild hangovers. I do have a park reservation just in case we want to bother, but the evening sees a return to Il Mulino at The Swan and hopefully a few hours at Jellyrolls.

Saturday 14th January

A full theme park day at Hollywood Studios today. Hopefully, Emily will get to do Rise for the first time. I know a Saturday at DHS may be crowdtastic but we’ll play it by ear.

Sunday 15th January

Another park day at Animal Kingdom with a dinner reservation at Yak & Yeti. We will need to pack to leave Caribbean Beach as tomorrow…..

Monday 16th January to Friday 20th January

We board our cruise.

Friday 20th January

We leave the cruise early doors and head for our final resort of the trip, our old favourite the Yacht Club. We plan to do World Showcase in Epcot in the afternoon and evening with some fireworks to finish things off. Dinner is booked at Via Napoli.

Saturday 21st January

Hollywood Studios again today, mopping up anything the crowds have denied us thus far.

Sunday 22nd January

Magic Kingdom of course for the last full day. Along with the aforementioned Fantasmic Dinner Package booking, I was very pleased to get an elusive reservation at O’haha around 8pm.

Monday 23rd January

We check out, kill some time at Disney Springs no doubt and head to the airport for our flight home.

I do have some trepidation about the WDW parks after our experience last January, but I am hoping things are a little more settled, with less “catch up” travel following the pandemic and Genie+ having a year under its belt to sort itself out. I see that from Jan 1st, the change to only allow Genie+ bookings on the day will be in effect so that may help?

Anyway, we have much to do today, starting with me checking in for our flights as soon as I post this. Louise has been really ill this week with a flu-type thing so the packing and prep have been a struggle. Hopefully, she is through the worst now and she doesn’t forget anything of mine or there’ll be trouble!

As ever I’ll use the Mkingdon Facebook page to share stuff along the way, and I’ll see you back here in late January.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Fifteen

Monday 3rd October

It won’t be too shocking to you to hear that Louise didn’t really sleep too well. She was up most of the night and I rose at my now regular time of around 6am.

We watched a bit of TV for a while and then got up, got ready and finished packing. I nipped down to Fuel again and got some coffee and breakfast. I had some overnight oats which I suspect are one of those things that are portrayed as healthy but probably have more calories in them than a Christmas dinner.

I had a look at our hotel bill on our TV and it was completely unfathomable. I am a man of moderate intelligence but the endless litany of debits and credits just made no sense whatsoever. I was in no mood to be picking over it, so I just clicked “Checkout” and thought any issues could be dealt with later.

We were out of the room a whole five minutes before the 11am deadline. By the time we arrived in the lobby I had already realised that I had left our keycard in the room and now had no means by which to get us out of the car park. So I had to go to reception and tell them this tale that they no doubt hear about 112 times a day.

Once in the car with all the luggage, with my freshly issued key card between my lips, I was delighted to see the barrier just rise automatically making my ten-minute wait in the queue at reception all the more worthwhile.

Of course, we needed an extra case as we couldn’t fit everything into the two we came with, so our first stop was Premium Outlet Malls to find one. We quickly found the Samsonite shop and discovered that the Premium in Premium Outlet Malls stands for the prices. $199 lighter, we left with an unremarkable averagely-sized case. Again, shopping around for a cheaper option was not something either of us felt like doing today.

Back at the car, we shoved the extra stuff currently loose in our trunk/boot into the case.

Our pre-airport meal was to be another visit to the Nachos capital of the world, the Cheesecake Factory. On the way, I stopped to fill the car up and a real sign of the economic times saw a $50 pre-payment not fill the tank from just under half full.

The place was empty but it was barely noon on a Monday.

Having learned our lesson on the last visit, we were just going to have some Nachos today, and possibly a slither of cheesecake too. We would play it by ear!

Isn’t that a magnificent sight? These were again all kinds of awesome and we cleared the lot.

With our return to the UK now imminent and a good deal of upset and unpleasantness in our immediate future, we battled on and got some cheesecake down us.

Mine was called an Old Basque for reasons that escaped me.

Louise had the Banana Cream Pie one. Can anyone say that without hearing Fozzy’s voice?

It was 1.15 now and having failed to fill the tank up on the first attempt, I stopped again for fuel and put another $10 in. The needle still didn’t look to be all the way to the top but that would have to do.

There was nothing left to do now and no time left to do it, so we headed for the airport. We arrived at 1.40 and returned the car with no fuss in car return B. I remembered to drop off the toll pass thing in one of the bins provided and we now had a bit of an adventure getting to the very newly opened Terminal C.

There’s a sign for Terminal C which says you can take the monorail and it will take five minutes or you can walk there in twenty. Unless you are running sub-four-minute miles this is nonsense. It is bloody miles to Terminal C. Even when you get off the monorail there was an enormous trek up and down multiple levels to get to the check-in area. I’m sure all this will improve over time but it was a real faff.

We waited about twenty minutes for check-in to open and we were headed home in Business Class. Aer Lingus invited me to bid for an upgrade before we left the UK and I did, bidding the lowest amount they would permit and we got it. We endured a large family group with many children making a load of noise as we waited. They were those parents who speak to their kids in a way that makes it clear they want everyone around to hear, and know what fun parents they are and how “entertaining” their kids are. Many of the party had those entirely amusing pink Stetsons on that you may see on a Blackpool hen do. Sure, I can be a snob when I want to be.

My tolerance for other people’s kids can be low at the best of times. Right now, it was not abundant.

Anyway, soon enough a camp man with an impressive tan opened up our check-in and we got a glimpse into what it is like to travel like wealthy people. I liked it. He really looked after us. He had a passing resemblance to Emperor Ming (ask your elderly relatives).

Security was empty and we were through to the new terminal. Most of it, not quite open.

I got changed into UK clothing in a loo before we checked into the Business Class lounge. That too was a bit makeshift, but we got free drinks and some seats in a quieter area behind some curtains.

To top the trip off we’d been hearing from Rebecca that Freddie was in the hospital! So we chatted to her to get updates and crossed our fingers that by the time we landed all would be better. In the weeks to come, he would be back in the hospital to undergo a scheduled operation to remove his tonsils as they were the root cause of an endless stream of infections and illnesses. Touch wood, he has been fine since!

We boarded at 5.30.

There was fizzy stuff and juice as we sat down and overall the experience was a good one. The food was a clear step up from the economy stuff. We had a very acceptable bit of steak.

The seat was able to go all the way down pretty much but neither of us managed much sleep as it just wasn’t that comfy, but that is churlish as the comfort levels compared to these night flights in economy was obviously much better.

The flight went pretty quickly thanks to a tail-wind and I have no clue what happened next as my notes finish there.

To say this was an odd trip would be an understatement. It was the first time Louise and I had been on our own and I have to say I really enjoyed the more relaxed, easier to plan and decide what to do element of that. Of course, I also enjoy the large family group trips too. They each have their merits. It was also just nice to have time for just us two.

Clearly though the trip was over-shadowed by firstly the hurricane and the now, in the context of later events, seemingly inconsequential disruption that brought upon us. Throughout the trip, we had the over-arching worry at all times about Mary and her respite care and of course, the worst happened so close to the end of the trip. Having cared for her at home for nine months prior to the trip, it was heartbreaking to lose her whilst away for just two weeks.

We returned home to arrangement-making, putting affairs in order and generally sorting stuff out for Mary. We weren’t to know that within two months my Dad would pass too. He had been a long-time prostate cancer sufferer and the bloody thing got him after 13 years, helped by Covid and a fall that meant he had to have a hip operation. He never came out of the hospital following that operation and his decline was shockingly quick. We are all still trying to process what we’ve been through this year.

It was that rapid decline of my Dad added to Mary’s passing that inspired us to return to Florida so quickly after this trip. We were very much in a “F*ck it, we have to do it whilst we are young and fit enough” mood, driven by what we had seen with our respective parents.

So almost immediately after getting this trip written up, we go again, this time with Emily along for the ride(s). Hopefully, we can enjoy a less stressful trip with no weather disruption and without the concern around Mary’s care and condition on our minds.

If you’ve not had more than enough already, it’ll be here for you to endure soon enough.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Fourteen

Sunday 2nd of October

We’ve experienced all kinds of things in Florida, the vast majority good of course, but you don’t visit a place as much as we do and avoid encountering upsets, arguments and downright upsetting stuff over all those years.

Today, however, is something I have no idea how to write about. Only my type A, OCD need for completing stuff sees me sitting at the keyboard and having to get through it. So here we go….

I was still waking up at 6am despite the holiday being almost over. Thanks, body clock. We watched another episode of Dahmer via Netflix and I think Louise nodded back off for a bit. Emily was with Mary back home and we were calling and messaging constantly with the latest updates etc.

At around 8.55am Florida time, Emily sent us two words. “She’s gone”.

She immediately called us, and Rebecca joined the call from her home too. We had all been preparing ourselves for this moment for at least eight or nine months since Mary had a stroke in December 2021 and had to come and live with us. There had been many times in those months that we thought she was leaving us, only to bounce back like the fighter she was, but all that preparation did not make it any easier now.

There were lots of tears, of course, accompanied by a numb feeling of disbelief. After a while, we all hung up and we began the process of informing those who needed to know and arranging things such as a funeral director. Thankfully, technology and much-improved roaming contracts made this much easier than it may have been a few years ago.

We also spoke to the nursing home and went through what would happen between now and when we would get home. As much as Louise feels incredibly guilty about being away when her Mum passed, any attempt to fly home earlier than scheduled, once we suspected we may not get back in time, would have seen us either in the air or in an airport at this moment, unable to make arrangements or speak with the girls as easily as we could now, so if there can be any good thing about a moment like this, we should cling to that.

Amongst all this, I had nipped down to Fuel in the Dolphin’s lobby, their take-out food option and got some breakfast and coffee, mainly as I didn’t know what else to do.

Once all the calls we could make were done, we had no idea what to do with ourselves so we just went back to the pool again around 11.30. Louise cried pretty much all day and I felt like a fairly useless spare part, lying there in the sun, feeling like we shouldn’t but not wanting to sit in the room.

More calls were received and made during the afternoon and I handled as many of those as I could to prevent Louise from having to.

At around 5pm we went back to the room and had showers and got dressed. At some point during the day, I had looked for somewhere to eat this evening and just chose the closest thing I could find, The Yachtsman’s Steakhouse at the Yacht Club. We were booked in for 7.30.

We walked over there, the gorgeous surroundings feeling all the weirder at a time like this.

We arrived with a little time to spare so we went into the Crew’s Cup bar for a drink. Louise had red wine and I had a chocolate martini again.

On a day that probably called for it, we had a second round, this time I swapped to a beer.

We checked in next door at the restaurant at 7.25 and we were seated after a five-minute wait. It was odd to experience the world carrying on as normal, with the Cast Members doing their jobs and greeting us happily. We were served by Marty and during the meal, we chatted with the couple at the next table who were from Minnesota. They were frequent visitors too and it’s always nice to talk to other folks bitten by the bug and pick their brains about all the stuff you haven’t done yet.

We started with another lovely bread service.

I ordered the New York Strip.

Louise, the Filet Mignon.

We had creamed spinach and mushrooms as our sides.

We were too full for pudding, which was the second saddest thing to happen today.

We strolled back to the hotel slowly, soaking up the environment.

With some perfect timing, the Epcot fireworks started right at that moment and I took far too many photos of very poor quality.

You know I love this place and I lingered longer than was probably needed just to soak it in a little more. I always think about the horrid winter waiting for us back home and how I have to charge my batteries with the life force from this area just to get me through it.

We were back in the room and quickly asleep after a day we will never forget, full of all sorts of emotions. The next day would see us fly home.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Thirteen

Saturday 1st October 2022

I heard a line in a film once, I can’t remember which film now, but it has really stuck with me ever since.

The line is something like, “The greatest lies a man tells are to himself”.

Never is this more true than when you swear you will not be eating breakfast the next day as you are so full after a huge meal that evening.

We were awake early and out of the room around 7.30 on the hunt for food.

The Dolphin has a buffet breakfast option at a place called The Market so only requiring a light start to the day we thought we’d go for an all-you-can-eat buffet, which makes perfect sense. As the law dictates we ordered coffee and juice and our server directed us to the food. Now, I do not wish to appear greedy or over-anxious to consume large amounts of food (again) but these buggers have their buffet set up behind a counter with someone plating up your food. This means that you have to ask them for everything you want on your plate and will discourage the multiple-trip eater from doing so for fear of being judged. Shame on you Dolphin, I have contacted Trading Standards.

My one and only plate looked like this.

How I was supposed to survive until lunch on this was a worry.

OK, there were two plates as this stuff was self-serve.

We paid the $65 bill and left. We are getting to some tricky ground now in this trip which is hard to write about. It was today that we started to understand that back home, Mary was very likely coming to the end. Louise was talking regularly to the care home in a nurse’s language that often needed translating for me.

Literally whilst she was on the phone with them I was standing staring at my phone trying to find any viable flight options to get us home earlier. With Hurricane Ian having just passed and the airports and flights having been shut down for three days, it was very slim pickings and any flight leaving earlier than our scheduled one took so many stops that it would only get us home a few hours earlier than we would anyway. It looked like we were here until our planned return in a couple of days’ time. All we could hope at this point was that Mary could hold on.

What I write here may seem glib and disrespectful in light of this situation but clearly, I am not going to burden you with the very serious conversations and feelings that were happening from here on in. I’ll concentrate on the food and the stuff we managed to do in between.

Back home, the girls were tag teaming being with their Grandma and we of course joined them via video whenever that was possible. We went to the pool to lie in a state of, well, I don’t know what state it was, but it felt surreal and not very nice.

At around 2pm our time, Rebecca called us from Mary’s bedside. Whilst she was clearly not in a good way, she absolutely responded to Louise’s voice and this was both uplifting and upsetting in equal measure. Whilst Louise did that I was making calls to the UK to try and arrange for a priest to go and see Mary who was a practising Catholic, as we knew from conversations with her, that she would want this.

Somehow I tracked someone down and like an actual angel, we saw him arrive in Rebecca’s phone that we were talking to her on within about twenty minutes. We will be forever grateful to him for that. We and Rebecca left him with Mary for a few minutes to do what needed to be done.

We just sat staring at the pool for the rest of the afternoon feeling helpless.

At around 5.30pm we went back to the room and changed. In our current dazed state, there had been zero thought given to dining plans so for ease we just walked on auto-pilot back to Il Mulino across the walkway from the Dolphin. We were seated after a ten-minute wait, at the same table as last night weirdly.

I had the same starter as it was fabulous and I didn’t think anything else could beat it.

Louise followed suit with a repeat of meatballs.

Tonight though we both went for the Rigatoni which was the cheesy pasta thing Louise had last night. It appears to have escaped my camera so just remember it from last night.

Tonight’s bill was $165 including tip which tells you how expensive my steak was last night.

We then just went back to our room and watched some TV before sleep.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Twelve

Friday 30th September

Another early rise which was a shock as we had been so active over the last few days!!

Some frantic phone checking was fruitless in the search for news of park reopenings at Universal. We were checking out today but if they were to open up we could still use a day of Front of Line to get Islands of Adventure done.

We got on with our packing hoping things would be clearer soon.

We like this hotel a lot, but frankly, at this point, we were both very much over the sight of the inside of this hotel room.

We were both showered and dressed by 8.30 and there was still nothing being said on any of the Universal social networks about the parks today so we had little choice but to check out and go and eat. We got a coffee from the market in the lobby and I paid a visit to reception to query a double charge on my credit card. At check-in, they had seemingly had issues trying to pre-auth my card for charging and had run it twice. Both times had worked it seemed.

I was reassured that would all be refunded automatically (we hadn’t charged anything) minus the frankly offensive parking charges and off I went. It may not astonish you to learn that neither charge was refunded and it took a good deal of faff, chasing and emailing to get that done once back home.

We left at 8.40ish and got the cases into the car before pointing it at Hash House a Go Go. If we couldn’t go and have some theme park fun we would go and eat dangerous amounts of calories instead. As we drove out of the hotel past the car park entrance for the theme parks we saw team members there with barricades up, preventing anyone from entering. This was as good a sign as any that they would be shut today. Why they could not put this out in an update seemed odd.

The car park looked empty and we were seated immediately.

There’s an unwritten rule that when having a ridiculous American breakfast you have to order two drinks, one hot and one cold so we did that in the shape of coffees and juices, mine Cranberry and Louise, Orange.

We both went for the French Toast.

It was magnificent and ridiculous all at the same time.

I just couldn’t fit those pieces of orange in though.

In the absence of any information from Universal, we decided to head to Disney Springs to get our gift shopping completed. The sat nav took us off the I4 a junction later than I might have chosen and we had an agonising ten-minute wait at some traffic lights waiting to U-Turn into Lime Garage. It was 10.10 and the queue to go through security was huge. Clearly, everyone was stir-crazy and with no parks to visit, here they were.

We started in World of Disney, which was unsurprisingly busy. We picked up a good number of gifts and moved on to the Co-Op Marketplace and Trend-D where more spending happened. Freddie’s latest obsession was Darth Vader so we got him a full costume. With Halloween approaching this would be his costume of choice for Trick or Treating in. Here is a glimpse into that future with Dougie taking on the role of Baby Yoda.

We walked all the way over to the M&M store for M&M addict Tom back home. Louise took a call from the care home and some family members who had been to see Mary. The juxtaposition of the blue skies and holiday activities versus what was going on back home was incredibly odd.

We were done shopping, so we walked back to Lime and pointed the car at the Dolphin, our final resort for this trip.

I self-parked and we checked in to find our room ready. We made our way up to room 1644W and dumped the cases and changed into pool attire. Our first impressions of the resort were very good.

I figured out where to get towels from and we did some hardcore relaxing by the pool, helped by a bucket of alcohol each.

We did very little until around 5pm when we went back to the room to get ready for dinner. Yes, we were hungry again despite that breakfast.

We were out by 7pm with no firm dinner plans. We wandered across to the Swan with nowhere in mind and stumbled across Il Mulino.

There was no wait to be seated and we were served by a chap called Howie, who was from the Wirral. Turns out he had done the Cultural Representative Programme about 18 years ago and never gone home, after marrying an American.

He looked after us excellently.

There was a phenomenal bread service to start, with some eggplant salad thing to dip stuff into. I appreciate this write-up is not one to trouble the food critics at The Times.

Louise started with Meat Balls.

I was busy devouring my starter, the Rice Balls, which was one of the best things to have ever been in my mouth.

You will already know that Louise had a “cheesy pasta thing”, but this one was exceptional.

If ever a photo did not do justice to a plate of food this next one is it.

I had the Tenderloin, which was not a condition for which CVS might supply an ointment, instead, probably the best steak I had ever eaten. It was stupidly expensive for a tightwad like me, but I really, really enjoyed it.

All in all, this was one of our best-ever meals in Florida. In all our years of visiting, this place had never once been on our radar and it goes to show that sometimes, despite all the planning and research, you just come across somewhere that is a delight. We would be back.

The bill was $205 including a good tip so this is not a cheap place to go, but as a treat, it was very much worth it.

Despite being fuller than a full thing, we soldiered on to Jellyrolls, resisting the huge temptation to just go to bed. We found an empty table, set up a tab and enjoyed the show. We hadn’t been for years and it was great to be back. We managed a very enjoyable hour before the desire to sleep was victorious. The last song we watched was If I Had A Million Dollars by Bare Naked Ladies, and if I did, I would eat at Il Mulino every night and then pop into Jellyrolls I think.

We even managed an episode of Dahmer back in the room before passing out.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Eleven

Thursday 29th September

I imagine you were excited about returning this week to read about another day spent in our hotel room watching weather happen in real life and on our telly? Yep, this is the good stuff. Buckle up.

I was awake at 6am, keen not to miss any of the excitement today. Rebecca called and thankfully Dougie’s A&E visit resulted in him being OK and back home again on the mend.

After some weather on the TV, we went down to breakfast and this time we were doing it properly, buffet style in the restaurant there.

I didn’t take many photos of the wide variety of things I put into my body but I did capture this breakfast staple before it went down the hatch.

Suffice to say there were multiple trips along the buffet and we left very full. Again, it was not the best buffet we have ever had but it was the best one currently available to us so it had to do. The most offensive element was that items that ran out were left not refilled for long periods. Eggs and pancakes being the things missing from the selection for all our visit. This is a grave sin in the world of buffet.

We went back up to our room and felt inexplicably tired, so we dozed or a bit.

At some point later, (the days were merging into one never-ending hotel room experience) we got up and showered. With the worst of the weather having passed over us last night as we slept, we thought we’d get some fresh air and go for a walk around the hotel grounds.

We started out on the bridge near the entrance to get a feel for what conditions were like.

One of those windows was our room. Look, there’s nothing to write about so details like this matter!

Whilst our immediate area seemed to have escaped the worst of the hurricane, I am sad to tell you that Shania Twain did not make it.

Satisfied that death was not imminent, we had a walk around.

We found ourselves close to Sapphire Falls.

So we had a wander inside for a nosey. These hotels are huge. This was just one of the many conference rooms.

We found our way up to reception where a lot of people were hanging around. This is a random photo of some stairs there.

We bought some gifts for folks back home in the gift shop and just wandered around a bit. Outside the weather was still very wet and windy but not dangerous.

We went back to Royal Pacific and had a drink in the bar there.

With all other options exhausted, we went back to the room and got ready to go and find some food. Whilst Louise ran the hairdryer for about four days I spoke to Mum & Dad for a bit.

We headed down to Jake’s feeling peckish. There was absolute heartbreak as we were greeted with a two and half hour wait time for a table. Not having any desire to revisit the Islands Dining Room we were a little stumped for ideas as venturing out was still not an option.

In the end, we had to resort to the Market counter service place and we had a hot beef sandwich (not a lady’s medical condition) and a pizza. There were barely worthy of a photograph.

Feeling deprived of food-based loveliness, we went back to the Market, bought a lot of chocolate, and went back up to our room. All weathered out, instead, we watched some real crime documentary things for the evening and tried to find information on whether the Universal parks would be open tomorrow, but there was no info to be found. We fell asleep not knowing what we would be doing the following day other than packing and leaving to move over to the Dolphin.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Ten

Wednesday 28th September 2022

This may not take long! Our activities today were severely curtailed by Ian.

I was awake at 6am and put the news on immediately to see what was happening. All the parks were closed today, so this was to be the way of things for the foreseeable. The worst of the weather had not reached us and we still had a good twelve hours or so until that would be the case, but of course, that did not mean the news channels would not spend every minute until then talking about it.

I nipped down to the Market in the lobby to get us some breakfast and I picked up some hugely over priced snacks for later on.

That was pretty much our day to be honest. Eating and watching reporters stand in bad weather in places we had never heard of.

Outside was looking like this.

To get a feel for our day today, imagine lying on your bed for many hours watching rolling news. Much time passed……

The worst of Ian was due to arrive overnight but by around 4.30, when I took this video, things were just beginning to turn nastyish.

Late in the afternoon I showered and got ready to find somewhere to eat. There are two restaurants at Royal Pacific and we did the other one last night so after a ten-minute wait, we had a table at the Islands Dining Room around 6pm.

Oddly the weather outside was still looking relatively OK saying that the entire state was petty much locked down.

Having spent all day in our room, clearly, we had gone a little stir-crazy as we somehow ordered a bottle of wine that cost $60. I suppose we had not spent any cash on anything else today.

To start we had

Me – Pot Stickers

Sure they look like something served in a bush tucker trial, but they were very tasty.

Louise had spring rolls

I continued with Street Noodles.

Louise had a sweet and sour chicken thing, which seemed very nice. She could not finish it and offered me the last piece of chicken. It was a large one, so I cut it in half only to find it was very much raw inside.

For those with delicate stomachs, look away now.

Louise was obviously concerned that she had eaten the rest of it and we feared impending illness but she was fine. I suspect this piece, being so much bigger than the rest had just not cooked, whilst the smaller ones had.

We, of course, told our server about the problem and he removed the item from our bill and apologised profusely.

With nothing else to do before getting back to the weather channel, I ordered a dessert. It was a coffee cake of sorts and was, to be frank disappointing.

This restaurant is not on our list of places to which we must return.

We headed back up to the room for more TV, and with the storm getting very close to us now we watched with more interest. We’d also heard from Rebecca around this time that Dougie (youngest Grandson) was in A&E and was not very well. This took precedence over the hurricane in our worry league table. Sleep came at some point to end an eventful yet uneventful day.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Nine

Tuesday 27th September

After over two decades of family trips to Florida, you’d imagine that everyone in the Williams/Mkingdon tribe would understand the five-hour time difference by now. Rebecca ringing us at 6.30am local time did nothing to support that theory. Why yes, it was the first time this trip I had slept past 5.30am, why do you ask?

We spoke for a while, then dozed a little and got up and packed for our move to Universal. We were out of our room by 8 and undertook an unremarkable journey up the I4 to Royal Pacific. I self-parked, checked in and was delighted to find our room ready. Maybe a symptom of the incoming Ian that rooms were available at this early hour? We made our way to room 1247. We dumped the cases and walked out to the water taxi. We were met with no wait and a captain that looked a bit like Tom Hardy. No, I didn’t take a photo, he isn’t a piece of meat!

We chose to do Universal Studios today as we wanted to try the “new and improved” Mummy ride. Knowing that all our decisions work out perfectly, what could go wrong? This was one of the attractions not included in our Front of Line pass, so we thought we’d get this out of the way first before the queues built up. As we entered the park the app was saying it had a 15-minute wait, but that was just to get your locker! I hate the locker crap at Universal.

We made our way into and through the park and no, I cannot explain this photo.

There was, as the song goes, dancing in the street.

and people….

By the time we got to the ride, it had a 35-minute wait, but we figured it was still very much worth doing it now. We lockered our stuff and entered what was a very slow-moving queue. Eventually, we made our way up to the front of the queue and we could see the vehicles now, so we’d be on in just a minute.

The ride broke down.

I seethed considerably as we waited about 20 minutes with nothing happening and the team members encouraging everyone to leave. We waited them out and at around 9.55 we were the first to board the (hopefully) now-repaired ride.

Other than the queue taking you up some stairs now, I have to say I couldn’t determine any major changes to this ride. It’s been a while since we did it, so maybe I just have a bad memory. Anyway, it’s been an equally long time since it took me almost an hour to ride Mummy. (Obligatory joke whenever we do this ride.)

We left in need of breakfast and stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and sandwich. Yes, the ones in Magic Kingdom were very average but why would that stop us from having them again? We sat outside eating, people-watching and feeding the birds our average food.

With food onboard, we made our way over to Gringotts.

Imagine some fire in that photo. I couldn’t be bothered to wait for it.

Delightfully we had Front of Line here and we sailed past the extensive standby line so quickly that I didn’t take many photos of the back clerks etc. Even with our specialness, it took 15 minutes to get onto the ride.

This is a very impressive ride and I think I’ve done it a handful of times now. Not once have I ever heard or understood what the story is meant to be about. It does not reduce my enjoyment of it though.

Onwards to Men in Black now.

We were sat as a two on a row made for three. To prove that I am in no way overly competitive I picked up the spare gun and shot two-handed all the way around. I scored 140,000 but this could not prevent a loss for our car as my colleagues, were, let’s say shite. Not one of them in the front row of our vehicle scored over 10,000.

We wandered now round to the Simpsons Ride. Somehow Louise had never ridden this before.

Being September we were seeing the Horror Nights stuff throughout the park.

An enjoyable ride if not a little rough, again, no doubt a symptom of my now advanced years. We stopped in the shop to get Emily’s boyfriend a particular T-shirt he wanted before making our way over to Rip Ride Rockit.

This is a ride that I know is not going to be good for me, but I ride it regardless. For this one, you have to almost strip naked and deposit everything into a locker before entering through airport-style detectors. We boarded, and it is typically during the vertical climb to start this ride that the familiar feeling of regret rushes through me. The clenching that had to happen during that climb is enough to do me a mischief and that is followed by unprecedented screaming for the duration of the experience. It’s a violent ride but in a good way.

In need of a gentler experience, we headed for Fallon, using our Front of Line to bypass no queue whatsoever.

That is one of those photos that, if you look at it in a certain way, Jesus appears in it.

We paused for a drink at this point getting water and a beer from the cart outside of Fallon. We sat in the little garden there and rested a bit.

We were both feeling a bit weary at this point but we had to push on as Ian was coming and we had no clue what if any further time we may get in the parks over the next few days. So Transformers it was.

I stand by my summary of this ride from January. It is Spiderman with a different film and vehicle. Good though despite it being one of just too many of these simulator-style rides at Uni.

Appreciating the ability to sit down in it, the Horror Make-up Show was next on our list.

This is a little gem, please don’t miss it out of your Universal day.

Minions next (how good is having Front of Line?) and we were straight in.

We followed this with a sit down for five minutes, looking at weather apps and the skies. Then we planned to do the Bourne show but made the mistake of walking to it via some shops. Louise got distracted, bought some stuff and by the time we got to the show it was full. I did not mind at all. It’s not as if we have never seen it!

The next show wasn’t until 3.45 and the rain was about to arrive so we decided to get a water taxi back to the hotel and hunker down.

We waited ten minutes for a boat and once back in the room rested and watched the non-stop coverage of Ian.

Not wishing to venture out of the hotel I had booked Jakes Bar at 6pm for dinner. Not one we would choose in normal circumstances but at this point, we were grateful for it and the staff manning it, allowing us to eat.

We shared a Mediterranean platter to start.

We both then had the New York Steak.

We shared, well, Louise had at least one bite of, a cheesecake.

It was a pricey $180 including tip. We did have wines and beers too.

We shopped for some snacks for what might be an interesting day or two and were back up in the room by 8.30. I couldn’t figure out a way to cast my phone to the telly, so no Netflix tonight. We watched more news before going to sleep around 10.

Ian is coming!

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Eight

Monday 26th September

Two parks days on the trot, on a trip that was not supposed to include any WDW parks. Madness.

I was awake at my usual 5.30am and when 7am rolled around I was onto the app doing the required admin to have some fun. Cheers Chapek!

I secured a LL for Flights Of Passage and Genie+ for the day.

Around this time, after this vast expense, Louise informed me that she wasn’t feeling too well. After throwing objects around the room for a while in frustration, I left her in bed and wandered to the main building for some breakfast. I had some overnight oats and a coffee as my body is a temple. On my way to breakfast, I had taken a load of dirty washing (it was ours, not some random pile) and put them on to wash in the laundry.

On my way back to the room I stopped in to move everything over to the dryer. See, this is the sort of content you come here for. International laundry.

I went back to the room for an hour whilst that happened and Louise was up and dressed at least, but was in no shape to do a theme park. We would be having a much gentler day and you will be having slightly more boring content to read. Blame Louise. I was theme park ready at 5.30!

Despite being in no fit state to go to Animal Kingdom, Target it seemed was a different matter so we headed there. On our way there, the nursing home called about Mary who wasn’t doing too great and right about now we started to wonder if we may need to head home earlier than planned. The home assured us that was not the case for now so we went on with our day.

Target took another $100 off us for bits and we headed back to the resort pool. Somehow we found our way to a back entrance to POR, and we were promptly turned around as that was only for Cast Members we were politely told.

We did this for quite some time.

We chatted to folks back home via the internet, read, swam and relaxed trying not to think about the chunk of change I’d dropped on Flights Of Passage and Genie+.

Soon enough thoughts turned to eating and we failed to secure a booking for the Cheesecake Factory and didn’t want to risk the wait as it is always horrific. So instead, as this time we had no vegetarian Emily with us, we booked a table at the Outback.

We also had to pack for our move to Universal so we headed back to the room around 4.30 to do that and get ready. After showers and things we were out at 6.45 and headed to Formosa, our usual stomping ground on so many previous trips. The traffic was bad again, with it being a Monday and the back end of rush hour I suppose and we got there at 7.20 for our 7.30 booking. Look at us all early. I told you Louise wasn’t her normal self.

The Outback, it seemed was undergoing something of a facelift.

It would not, we hoped, affect their cooking abilities.

We were seated quickly and greeted with the excellent bread service that we had forgotten about. It had been a while since we’d been here.

That’s where it was, moments earlier.

We ordered –

Filet Mignon x 2.

Mine with a jacket spud….

Louise with mash….

The food was great, but bloody hell it was cold in the restaurant. I had come out in just a short-sleeved shirt and I was sat with two napkins over my arms to fight off hypothermia.

To help us warm up we onboarded more calories in the form of a rare dessert.

Carrot Cake for me

The Thunder from Down Under for Louise (not a euphemism)

To cap off this action-packed day we drove home and were in bed for 9pm. I worked out how to get Netflix on the telly and we managed one episode of Dahmer before sleep took us.

Till the next time…….

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Seven

Sunday 25th September

Hungover? Yup.

For someone who does not drink, last night’s efforts were a serious boozy binge and there was a headache and some toilet shenanigans of note after waking at 5.30 this morning.

This affliction did not stop me from prepping as best I could for the day ahead which was to be Magic Kingdom. When 7am rolled around I was on the app booking a LL for Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Genie+ for the day. Louise slept through all this, oblivious to the hard graft that goes into a successful theme park day. All this pre-planning and research are vital ingredients to getting stuff done and having some fun.

Let’s gloss over the fact that I hadn’t noticed that there was a Halloween party this evening at Magic Kingdom and we’d be thrown out at 6pm. When I did realise this, as we made our way into the park I even considered buying tickets for the after-hours party, but it was sold out.

Due to Louise being horribly hungover and still asleep we did not leave the room until 9.15. A short drive to Magic Kingdom saw us park in Simba 121 and there was genuine delight to see the trams were running.

I say running. The one that was there at that moment had broken down and nobody was allowed to board it. A replacement arrived shortly and the CMs were having nervous breakdowns trying to coral the growing crowds away from the broken tram and onto the working one without someone injuring themselves.

Security saw me get pulled again for a full sack, back and crack inspection. Turns out it was the umbrella I had in Ryan just in case you want to avoid delays at security. We were then quickly at the monorail and onto the park.

We entered the park and I was keen to get some rides done. Louise’s delicate state was dictating that we get some caffeine and food first which was absolutely not a problem at all, in any way, honestly.

Louise decided we’d go to Starbucks, which made sense as 80% of the people in the park were already in there.

I’ll put my grumpy mood down to my slightly hungover state.

It was now past 10am as hordes marauded up Main Street as we queued, inflating all the wait times that we would eventually have to endure. Dramatic, me? Never.

We had a booking for Buzz at 10.35 and we just about got there by then after shoving the slightly above average breakfast down our necks.

OK, so now we’re on a ride at last, the day can begin. Here we goooooooo….

It broke down one minute in.

We sat with impotent guns with the ride fully lit for some time before it got going again.

It was no surprise, with all the distractions, frustrations and mild hangovers that our scores were poor, but at least mine was less poor than Louise’s which is all that matters.

Somehow, amongst all that was going on, I had secured a slot on Pirates which was now due so we wandered over there. Yes, it’s on the other side of the park….what of it?

Then Lady Luck smiled upon us. Back at 7am I had booked Splash for 9am, foolishly expecting to be anywhere near a ride by then. We’d missed that of course but fortune smiled upon us, as it had been down at that time and we got a “push” notification from the app that we now had an anytime/any ride LL in our back pocket. We decided to use it on Splash, as was always intended. We sauntered right to the front of the substantial standby line.

We took in what we assumed would be our final ride on Splash in this format.

As we left the ride we found a quietish spot to phone my Mum & Dad to see how they were doing. Louise was needed on another chocolate hostage release so I chatted whilst she did that.

As we did, the parade started so I was able to share that with Mum & Dad via the magic of my iPhone and chubby fingers.

Once we were done chatting and parading we called Rebecca.

This took us to our time for Big Thunder, which ironically was what Louise called her restroom visit.

I do take some bizarre photos.

That’s a great photo of the back of someone’s head.

Snacks were needed so we got an ice-cream and some popcorn from the cart by Big Thunder.

We had three rides “stacked” now, the first being our begrudgingly paid for ride on Seven Dwarves.

I resent the extra cost but I suppose I resent the 70-minute standby wait we bypassed too. As good as the ride is, it’s not worth 70 minutes of your day.

Once again, you should appreciate my expert levels of photography.

I’m not even sure if this is from this ride?

Onto Space Mountain next for our LL booking there.

This ride has become a barometer of my advancing years. Each time I ride it, it hurts a little more. I had things clenched for longer than anything should ever be clenched.

As an antidote, we did Carousel Of Progress next. A ride much more accommodating to my slow deterioration. I have to admit that my eyes may have closed for a moment or two on our journey around the stages. I blame the alcohol.

The theatre was not full but you would expect nothing less than us taking a seat at the end of the row.

Our gentle journeying continued with a lap around the People Mover.

I took a lot of photos of Tron to keep you all updated with its progress. Of course, these photos are now many weeks old, but where else are you going to get more recent updates? So I will spare you most of them.

We were a little peckish by now so we looked for a suitable snack. As ever, that searched ended with the closest food we could find and we had a hot dog from Launching Pad. We shared a Chilli Dog. It was during the eating of this that Louise earned her nickname of the day. Mustard Tits.

Feeling better for having some unhealthy food inside of us we walked over to Laugh Floor.

The main criteria we were looking for at this stage was places to sit down. It was around this time that I was quite grateful that the Halloween party tickets had been sold out as we were flagging by now and would not have made a late stay in the park.

Philharmagic next and en route there was a huge Pooh. Not as huge as the one Louise unleashed near Splash Mountain earlier mind.

We were one of the last into the theatre and thus unable to set a good example by walking to the end of the row. There was significant tutting.

The new Coco section is a welcome injection of new blood into this show.

Now our LL for Haunted Mansion, booked some time ago was due. We bypassed a satisfyingly long queue and entered the stretching room. As we moved through to the doom buggies and boarded we were then held just at the end of the moving walkway to accommodate a wheelchair user boarding behind us.

It was 5.15 as we left the ride and we were done. We hadn’t completed the park, we were just done and out of energy. We tried to browse the shops along Main Street on our way out but they were just too busy. I’m not sure if these shops have more merchandise and less space these days or if crowds are just heavier, but I don’t remember them being so crammed in years gone by. Probably selective memory.

We gave up and headed out, taking the resort monorail over to the Contemporary. This was a tactical stop to facilitate a restroom stop for me. There is a higher standard of stall I find at these Deluxe resorts.

With my work completed, a quick bag search saw us back on the monorail and out to the tram to get back to our car. We may have been too tired for further theme park touring but we were very much still able to eat. Our choice tonight was Olive Garden at Lake Buena Vista. As we joined the I4 the traffic was backed up, wth signs warning of a crash further up. Luckily, the right-hand lane flowed fairly well for the one junction we needed to travel to come off at LBV.

There was no wait for a table and we were soon digging into the famous salad and bread sticks.

My obsession with steak on this trip continued accompanied by some Fettucine Alfredo.

Can you guess what Louise had? Her “usual” Four Cheese Ziti.

We foolishly ordered a dessert, sharing the powdered donuts with chocolate dipping sauce.

We did poorly at clearing the plate.

The bill was $75 with a good tip. We always enjoy our meals here, but I have to admit the last two or three times the experience hasn’t been the one cherished in our memories of past trips. It is still good food at a reasonable price but something isn’t quite what it was.

On our way home we called at Walgreens for medical supplies. For some reason, all its lights were out and it looked closed but having seen a couple of people enter and leave from our spot in the car park I went in and got what we needed.

We were home and in bed watching more news on Hurricane Ian before long. Sleep did not have trouble in finding us.

Till the next time……

Dream It, Wish It, F**k it.

What is this madness? Two posts in one day? Often it takes a superhuman effort to squeeze out one, but we are mid-trip report, so my weekly nonsense about what is happening in life (and as ever, there is a fair bit going on) isn’t a thing. So I just wanted to share an update with you as it relates to the main reason this blog exists.

Despite only recently returning from our “couples retreat” trip in September, we have booked to return to Orlando, this time taking Emily along with us. Rebecca, Tom and the boys are already booked to go in April/May so Florida is getting its fill of Williams dollars it seems.

Oddly, I feel some sort of need to justify this ridiculous extravagance. Let me confirm, we are not very rich, just really irresponsible!

Before I share the plan, the reasons for the trip are many and include –

  1. First and foremost of course, we want to go again.
  2. Fantasmic is back and it needs watching. Or at least we need to go and try to watch it and no doubt end up disappointed.
  3. Our last trip, as much as we enjoyed it, and we really did, was beset with three days of a hurricane and of course Mary’s sad passing, so we feel like some of that trip was lost or impacted.
  4. My Dad isn’t in the best of health these days, and along with Mary’s passing, both Louise and I are firmly in the “f**k it” mindset of doing stuff we want to do whilst we are fit and able to do it. All too soon it will be too late.
  5. With one thing and another we’ve had a tough year or so and, well, as I say, f**k it.

We asked Emily if she’d like to come along as she’s not been since last January and has severe withdrawal symptoms. With saving for her own place being a priority for her now, she would be unlikely to return under her own steam for a while.

So enough apologetic justification for doing what we want to do. What is the plan?

We go on the 9th of January. We are flying with Virgin this time and managed to get Premium both ways for an acceptable price. We like Aer Lingus a lot, but they only offer Business Class as an Economy alternative and that is big money for the three of us. Premium is a decent halfway house between Economy and Business so they got our business this time.

We are staying at Caribbean Beach for seven nights to start. This resort was selected mainly due to the Skyliner, as it will enable us to visit our beloved Boardwalk of an evening without the need to drive. It’s a cheaper alternative to staying at one of the Boardwalk resorts but still allows us to do what we love to do there.

Yes, this time we are definitely going to do the WDW parks. January is not a time of year to depend on there being sunbathing weather, so the plan is to do Disney.

Even though Louise and I have three days of Universal tickets to use from our last trip, due to Hurricane Ian, we aren’t doing Universal on this trip as there isn’t time. Why you may ask?

Well for the first time ever we are doing a Disney Cruise. We move from Caribbean Beach to the Disney Wish for a four-night cruise to Nassau and Castaway Cay. Being a walking contradiction, Louise suggested/insisted we do this despite having told me for the last few decades that she would never do a cruise.

Had we added Universal to the plan then we would have been in a park every day and that way lies tiredness and a lack of enjoyment.

After the cruise, we then move back to Orlando to finish with three nights at the Yacht Club, where despite my nightly prayers, I suspect we won’t get another upgrade to Club Level. Go on Disney, you know it makes sense!

I honestly didn’t plan this but it seems if I continue to write up the last trip at the current rate, the last day will get posted the day before we go on the next trip. This is ridiculous, extravagant and at the same time awesome.

We’ve been watching a fair few Tracker vlogs recently as they now seem to live on the Disney Wish, so I feel we have a decent amount of knowledge about the cruise experience and The Wish, but as we were starting from zero knowledge, of course, if there are any cruise experts reading this, your tips and advice would be most welcome. Ditto Caribbean Beach.

So far our plans include dining at Il Mulino again, Yak & Yeti whilst in DAK and a brunch at somewhere new to us, City Works at Disney Springs. We also plan to spend another evening with Yeeha Bob.

It feels weird to be one of those folks who have multiple trips per year, but I come back to the recurring theme of this post, f**k it, you’re a long time dead.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Six

Saturday 24th September

Today, we rest, after of course waking up at 6am.

We watched some coverage of incoming Ian, knowing by now that we’d suffer some disruption, but there was bugger all we could do about it so, as you should with all life’s problems, we ignored them and carried on with the holiday.

We dozed for a bit and must have fallen back asleep as we were not up and out until 10.45. We walked to the main building and found some breakfast in the River Market.

We both had the Mickey Waffle Bounty Platter.

Whilst it was indeed a platter of bounty, being fat bastards, I wandered off and found us a cake each too.

Next, a highlight of the trip, as we wandered the gift shop looking for plasters for Louise’s poorly feet. Living La Vida Loca indeed. We secured some and some “bits” and left to walk back to the quiet pool near our building.

It was and remained very quiet indeed for most of the day. I was in “kneed” of some R&R.

It was lovely and hot today, perfect for doing not a great deal around some water.

At various points, we dipped our hot bodies into the pool and then lay in the sun for a while. It is this sort of content that makes for a thrilling trip report. To remedy that here is an exhilarating photo of the laundry and restrooms by this pool.

At one point I ventured into that building to liberate two bottles of water from the vending machine. There have been briefer hostage negotiations, as the witchcraft and guile needed to supply the relevant bills and coins in the right order for the machine to cooperate were laughable. We needed and enjoyed the water though.

We’d had enough of this level of excitement by around 4pm and we went back to the room to get ready to go and eat. You will notice we had not eaten lunch today. This frankly was irresponsible.

Our hunger no doubt hurried our readying and we were back out and in the car by 5.30 headed for Bahama Breeze at Lake Buena Vista. I had reserved a table online for 6.30 but time was tight as we wanted to get Louise the traditional new pair of trainers in an effort to stop her feet from preventing any further walking this trip.

I was feeling the stress of the ticking clock. The traffic was horrific around the Premium Outlet Mall of course. Parking was equally challenging but we were fortunate to fluke a spot quickly as we happened across someone coming out. It was now 18.05.

We walked briskly to the shops and soon found an Adidas shop. We had about ten minutes to find something suitable and by some miracle we did it. The first pair Louise tried on were the ones so I quickly paid and we made our way back to the car. We were off again at 18.25 and we just needed to make the short journey back to Bahama Breeze. The queuing traffic was the only thing preventing us from being on time.

After all our rushing and my stressing we were checking in at 18.35 with no issues. We were seated immediately and kicked things off with some Guac and Chips.

I “only” had a salad. As ever, a salad in Florida turned up needing three people to carry it, and it was delicious and incredibly filling. The menu helpfully told me this was “only” 860 calories. I know the runners and riders in this competition are limited, but this could well be the best salad I had ever eaten. Sure it contained melted cheese, but shouldn’t every salad?

You may have already guessed that Louise had a pasta thing. This may be her favourite pasta thing in the world as she always has the Jerk Chicken Pasta here.

Louise had a Long Island Iced Tea and I of course had a few diet cokes. Altogether the bill was £75 plus a good tip. I paid using one of those new fandangled machines on the table and we left.

We were going to spend this evening in the company of Yeehaa Bob, so back at the resort, I dropped Louise off at the main building and then went back to our building to park the car. Louise bagged us a table whilst I did that and we ordered some drinks.

I started with an Octoberfest beer and Louise of course had red wine while we waited for the main man to arrive.

Being very full and unable to continue onboarding large quantities of liquid I moved on to Chocolate Martinis. Yes, plural.

They were delicious and based on their taste, had no alcohol whatsoever in them.

Somewhere in this time Bob had turned up and started to perform. I seem to have only taken photos of what I was drinking.

After a Mai Tai, I was onto a couple of Negretos.

Oh, there he is.

It was all very enjoyable and I say that as someone who abhors shows with audience participation. You can choose to be involved as little as you wish. There was a large group down by the stage who did a lot of “participating, ” allowing others to sit back and enjoy. A really good fun night out.

We were both, I believe the kids would say “buzzing” and we didn’t leave the bar until about 12.30. You probably know that I do not drink very often and after the amount and variety of stuff I had necked tonight, it was impressive that somehow I navigated our way back to the room avoiding a large body of water and an unintended swim and we probably went straight to sleep. Turns out we’d spent about $200 on drinks, so yes, we definitely went straight to sleep.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Five

Friday 23rd September

You know what time I woke up. You’re not as bored of it as I was. The upside was that by 7.40am we were ready to go to the parks for some theme park action. Today was Hollywood Studios.

Another plus was that at the crucial 7am booking window I had already been awake for several hours and I was able to give Disney some extra money to ride something my park ticket should already cover. A LL for Rise of The Resistance was secured. I had also bought Genie+ for the day. We had one day in each park so had to fall on that sword, brimming with resentment, it must be said.

Once parked in Mickey 301, we walked in and straight up to Galaxy’s Edge, hoping to avoid the worst of the queues for Smuggler’s Run.

This rush was probably why all my photos will not be winning any competitions.

Slightly moist with a lovely early morning sweat, we were delighted to see a five-minute wait posted and we went in.

It probably took ten minutes, and I await my hefty compensation from Disney for that but we were soon being boarded for what would be Louise’s first ride of this one. We were to ride with a really cute American family. Mum, Dad and two young girls who were to be absolutely dreadful pilots, but the enthusiasm of the whole family and commitment to the storyline made the whole thing very enjoyable. They were from “The South” of the US by the sounds of things and the Mum sounded just like Holly Hunter. It was just lovely to see a young family really loving the immersive experience.

If you have ridden this, you will appreciate the skill and dexterity it took to take a photo mid-ride.

Now, I allowed breakfast to happen and despite my disappointment with the Ronto Wrap things in January decided to risk another. They were much better this time around and very tasty. We sat and consumed those and a coffee, waiting for 9.30 to roll around when we wandered down to Rise, ready for our 9.40 boarding group slot.

No spoilers here, (apart from the many photos below!) mainly as I am pretty much the last person on the planet to get to ride it, but what an awesome experience. This is not a ride, it is an experience. There is (at least to me) unfathomable complexity in the whole thing and I tip my hat to the Imagineers who got this up and running. Chapek can suck my round hairy things for charging me extra for riding it of course.

We were heading for Frozen next and we came out of Galaxy’s Edge and turned right walking past the ABC Commissary. At this point, Louise questioned this route as not being the most efficient. I reminded her that I am the map, and cannot be questioned on such matters.

As we approached the entrance we came across one of my pet hates in WDW. No, it isn’t clowns sitting down halfway down a row of seats, it is people loitering at the entrance of a ride, dithering about something and making everyone trying to get in navigate their way around them. They were on the end of one of my most severe tuts. To add to the misery they caused, once they had worked out their arses from elbows and decided that they did want to go in, after all, they made a huge deal about excusing themselves past everyone walking in for some reason. Idiots.

Luckily people were being forced to move to the end of rows or there would have been a scene.

The show was good fun as usual.

I’d booked a LL for Rock n Rollercoaster earlier for right about now so we went there next, wincing at the 50-minute standby queue. We waltzed straight to the front along wth a load of other LL folks so I have no idea how the standby line ever moved forward. This, in a nutshell, is the issue Disney are having with Genie+. Too many folks are buying it and making the standby lines untenable. This is why they have stopped you from buying it in advance and increased the price of it on busier days.

Once we were in the alley, there was a worrying delay and an empty car or two was run. I feared it breaking down but luckily all was well and we rode and screamed.

Tradition dictates this photo is taken.

I declared it snack time and we got this stuff.

Neither snack would make it into any of our all-time top ten lists of things we’ve eaten at WDW but they were OK. We eventually found a table to eat at as things were busy. At the one next to us two people were minding their own business eating something when a woman came to their table and gave them a load of verbal abuse.

“What are you doing at my table?! Can’t you see my scooter is parked next to it. Why have you sat here?”

Honestly, it was awful. How they were supposed to know the scooter abandoned by this table had somehow reserved it was beyond me. To their credit, they kept their calm, gave her a measured tongue-lashing and said she could put that table and scooter where darkness resides. They left her to it.

This woman then sat down and was looking around at us and other neighbours, trying to gain support for her approach. She said something to us like “Can you believe some people?”.

We replied that honestly no we could not and gave her more passive-aggressive disapproval.

We had a little time to kill before the Beauty & The Beast show at 11, so we wandered the shops for a while. This would turn out to be a costly mistake as ended up in the Pandora shop and somehow spent a crazy amount of dollars on three necklaces, one for Louise and one each for the girls. The guilt at not having brought them with us was strong.

We completed our purchase at 10.59 and had to speed walk back to the theatre, taking our place on the bleachers right at the back just as the show was starting.

It was good to see the show back to something like its original format and not the “socially distanced” version we saw in January.

The zoom on my “old-fashioned” camera is rather good. It had to be as we were a way back plus there was a chap in the wheelchair section who kept standing up to take endless videos. The irony.

Somehow in the midst of all this shopping and watching, I had managed to book a LL for Toy Story Mania, which is where we headed next, avoiding a 50-minute standby queue.

The scale of the defeat I inflicted on Louise was impressive.

Every ride had long standby waits now and we were unable to book any further LLs for the moment. As ever the fallbacks in this scenario in DHS are Star Tours and The Muppets.

Star Tours first.

We encountered a new (to us) film in Star Tours which is always nice after so many years.

We emerged to light rain and this increased the speed of our walk to the Muppets. The wait was just however long the pre-show had left to run. We entered when it was at this bit.

This is a classic of course and one we have to experience but I always have and still do detest Waldo, the spirit of 3D. Just me?

As the show ended we encountered torrential rain and had to shelter at the exit for ten minutes.

Louise needed the loo so we braved the wet and made our way to the restrooms near Pizza Planet. I sheltered near the entrance of the ride we had just left.

We were in need of some sustenance so we headed to the Backlot Express and shared a Cheeseburger whilst avoiding another rain shower.

We nipped next door to watch the next Indy show. The recent wetness had curtailed the extent of that show quite a lot but luckily we had seen it once or twice before!

Now we had some time to kill until out next LL at 5.40 so foolishly we wandered more shops. We did catch a sliver of a parade as it passed.

I cannot explain this photo.

We joined the huge queue for a Starbucks and it took us an age to get a couple of coffees. We queued next to what Louise described as “the most beautiful female she had ever seen”. I of course had no opinion on the matter but it would not surprise me to learn that she was friends with Jasmine, if you know what I mean.

We drank as we wandered to Slinky, picking up a Num Num on the way, but we had some cream for that back at the room.

The standby for Slinky was 100 minutes. It was clear why, as the LL queue was always busy and they had to keep letting those folks on as they had forked out the cash. The ride is always better than you think it is going to be, but not 100 minutes good.

Our final LL of the day was at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway so we headed there now.

As we were queuing we were joined by a fabulous chap, dressed in a full-length leather coat and knee-high leather boots. He looked like a mix of Homelander from The Boys and Joe Longthorne (ask your Dad).

This ride has a really creative pre-show but endless queues. Just when you think you may be getting close to riding, more lines await. The ride exceeded Louise’s expectations on her first time, but was no Great Movie Ride.

It was time to go. With no Fantasmic on, it felt weird to have no “finale” to the day, but instead, we had food to eat. Back at the car I searched for an Applebees and followed my phone to a new one for us near Celebration.

It was much quieter than all the other Applebees we had been to, so this was a stroke of luck. We were seated immediately.

Louise – Nachos of course

I had Parmesan Steak and Shrimp.

Both were very good and Louise benefitted from the 2-4-1 on drinks. The bill was a very acceptable $58 so I left $75.

We were both knackered and just wanted to go to sleep. I waited until I had driven us back to the resort before doing so at 10 after watching some news on an incoming hurricane. These things always just pass Orlando by right? It would be a lot of fuss over nothing no doubt!

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Four

Thursday 22nd September

Being awake at 5.30am again was very useful as we had no plans today. So I was awake nice and early preparing to do nothing much.

We were both up, showered and ready for breakfast by 7.30. We were checking out and moving on today so we packed and then had breakfast in the Club Lounge. We left the room at 10am and took our cases down to Bell Services.

Having tried the quiet pool the other day it would be remiss to stay here without taking advantage of what many call the best pool on property, so we headed to Stormalong Bay.

We soon found a suitable spot with some essential umbrella coverage and settled in, observing some of the wildlife.

I include in that category the folks next to us.

They were a very New York couple, who spoke at volumes audible in space and spent every moment of the day seemingly arguing with each other and then their extended family who joined them, in a voice like Joe Pesci, including the women. Here you can share our joy at watching him cut his toenails for about an hour.

He was rude to staff, his wife and his family and they all had to walk away at some point due to his behaviour.

We managed to relax despite all of that and just enjoy being here, in this fantastic location in glorious weather.

Once we were too hot we spent about an hour in the lazy river, which was very lazy today, as it was broken. So we didn’t move very far or very fast, but I managed to get my rotund belly sunburnt in the process. It was genuinely one of my favourite hours of the trip, just gently bobbing along in the sun.

We got out and dried off before heading for our one less-than-great dining experience of the trip. We grabbed some lunch from Hurrican Hanna’s by the pool. Louise had a Caesar salad and I had a Turkey Sandwich. Both were poor, to be honest, but they filled a hole for now. The gathering ducks by our feet had most of my sandwich.

Back to our beds for more relaxation now. At some point in the afternoon, all this food took its course and I had to retire to the restroom to take care of business. It was more a biblical event than a bodily function and I slowly made my way back to Louise to tell her all about it. As soon as I arrived back I realised I did not have my phone. Yep, twice in two days now.

I dashed, as much as I could in my current state, back to the relevant stall but it was gone. In a panic, I was at reception asking if anyone had handed it in, and starting the filling in of some form when a young chap tapped me on the shoulder and asked if the phone in his hand was mine.

It was. I almost kissed him as well as apologising for the biohazard he must have endured to find it. As I was walking back to Louise, Emily messaged to say some random American guy had called her to say he had a lost phone and she was the last number dialled. How had he opened my phone though? It was all very weird.

Feeling suitably ashamed, old and fearful of losing all my cognitive abilities I had a last lie down by the pool.

At around 3.15 we left the pool, picked up the cases and got them into the car. We were headed for Port Orleans Riverside. Having booked this trip last minute there had not been a lot of choices so I was hoping this was going to be OK.

Louise waited in the car as I went into reception to check in. I was handled by a cast member and her iPad without even having to get to the desk. Map in hand, I returned to the car and attempted to locate our building and room. We were in Magnolia Bend, building 90.

The room was, let’s say, heavily themed.

Louise was not a fan, finding it all a bit much, but the room was of course clean, functional and absolutely fine for our needs. When we sent Emily a photo she informed us that the headboards had firework effects in them. We set those off for a bit, (not a euphemism) not sure whether to laugh or cry.

I then set off in search of some drinks and to orientate myself with the resort. It is very lovely.

Feeling better that I now knew where things were, I wandered back and we rested in the room with our drinks before getting ready to go and eat. We unpacked pretty much everything as we would be here for 5 nights. We had been living out of our cases so far.

Tonight’s choice….

It never feels that this place gets the recognition and love it deserves and again, this evening it was very quiet in there. The bread service is still awesome and I hoovered that up in no time at all. The camera got nowhere near it.

Louise ordered “a pasta thing”….

I had Steak and Potatoes….

The twenty-something waiter saw me taking photos of the food and commented that he hardly ever saw an “old-fashioned” camera like that.

Once I had punched him to the floor, I told him that actually, my camera was the one that all the big vloggers use, actually, and actually, it was very cool, actually.

Both our entrees were excellent and we even found room for some dessert.

Cheesecake for Louise

Chocolate cake for me. I am getting some very up close arty shots tonight….

I finished with a Cappucino and Louise had downed four wines by now. The bill was $150 including a healthy tip. We needed some bottled water for the room so I stopped at a 7-11. Whilst queuing and witnessing all kinds of weird folks come and go, I feared for my life and was very glad to be back in the car and heading back to our Disney bubble.

We were in bed by 10, watching some TV before being overcome by sleep shortly afterwards.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Three

Wednesday 21st September

Another early rise. On recent trips, my body clock seems to be refusing to budge from UK time. I can only blame Brexit.

We took the chance to speak to folks back home, who we were still clearly operating on the same time zone as, and at around 7am, went out onto the balcony as we had nowhere to be in any rush.

Louise and I chatted for a bit and it was right around now that our plans and trip report title went out of the window. Honestly, pre-trip I had zero intentions of darkening a Disney theme park’s door. I had been scarred by our January experiences and did not need that stress in my life.

However, I suppose having been so close to Epcot for several hours, we were tempted. I “just had a look” to see if there were park reservations available and by now, we knew it was game over. I quickly booked a 4-day pass, reserved our entrance to Epcot that day and then things needed sorting. Never have I been so unprepared for a day’s theme parking.

Firstly, I needed to change. I was dressed for a day of swimming and relaxing and needed to get out of my current swim shorts and into some that would take the rigours of over 20,000 steps and my mighty undercarriage.

Whilst Louise was making similar adjustments to her wardrobe, I had also bagged a Lightning Lane for Guardians of the Galaxy. This, proving my well-made point from January that if you are off-site scum, this Genie+ thing is barely of any use to you in this regard.

We were out of the room at 7.40, walking towards International Gateway. As we did I cancelled our ADR for that evening at Sanaa as we would be in the park until late.

As would be the case every time we went near a Disney park this trip, Ryan and I got pulled aside for a full cavity search at security as we passed through the scanner. At the gate, I zapped my Magic Band and scanned Louise’s QR code from my recent ticket booking to get us in. Louise hadn’t even brought her Magic Band, so sure were we that we would not be doing park things.

For now, she had an old-school plastic card thing.

To add to our good fortune, we had early entry this morning as we were high-class on-site glitterati and we, therefore, went straight to Remy to remedy not being able to ride this thing in January.

There was a decent queue there already but nothing that wouldn’t clear in a few minutes once the ride opened at 8am.

All of my malice and angst from January were melting away and Disney was pulling me back from the brink, I could feel it.

I knew they would. They couldn’t keep getting things so wrong, could they? It was 8.05 now and the line was moving. There was genuine excitement at riding something for the first time. I was messaging Emily back home telling her all about our change of plans and that we were about to ride Remy. It was great.

Then the ride broke down, they shut it and sent all of the queue away.

Not only could we not ride it, but any advantage from our early entry was now squandered on a queue that led to nothing.

We walked back to World Showcase with me muttering unspeakable things and tripping over my bottom lip. All we could do now was walk down to Soarin’ and see if we could eke out any sort of advantage over the pleb crowds coming in through the main entrance. I was so upset that for reasons I still cannot explain we walked the long way around World Showcase rather than down through the UK and Canada. I realised this mistake sometime around Italy by which time it was too late and we were committed to the full loop.

Hot, sweaty and annoyed, we eventually got down into Future World.

Even my camera was angry.

There was a ten-minute wait posted but it was in effect a walk-on. No, this did not make me feel any better! We did get the top row, which did help a little bit and yes, it’s an awesome ride and one of my favourites so I suppose we will stay in the park today after all.

Food next and we just grabbed a breakfast roll thing from the Land food court. It was OK but America’s unfamiliarity with brown sauce was a loss.

We were definitely now back in park touring mode as we had just fifteen minutes to get that into us and then walk over to Guardians before our Lightning Lane slot passed. I necked mine in seconds and then “encouraged” Louise to do the same as if she were Adam Richman mid-food challenge. Full of sandwich and indigestion, we made it to Guardians in time.

It took just five minutes to get onto the ride.

Wow.

We just laughed for the entire ride, a mixture of appreciation for how much fun it is and the joy of riding something new. It is the perfect mix of innovation, just being thrilling enough with a huge dollop of fun. No doubt around 90% of the detail passed me by on this first ride but we loved it.

It was raining quite hard as we stood at the exit so we loitered in the shop for a bit resisting the need to buy a poncho.

As the rain slackened a little we dashed over to the Creations eatery, as it was the closest building and cover from the rain, which was new to us. It was no Electric Umbrella but it looks nice.

We made our way down to Spaceship Earth to find a queue of worrying length, but it turned out to be just ten minutes before we settled in to listen to Judy.

I was so relaxed during the whole experience that as I left the ride I did not notice that my phone had slipped from my pocket. Luckily, as you need to look at your phone every seven seconds in a WDW park, I did notice just as we entered the post-ride bit where you see your photos up on the map.

I quickly found a CM who gave me the “not another one” look and wandered back up to the ride. She had asked me to describe the phone to her.

“Well, it’s an iPhone in a black silicone case. Surely that is unique?” I said. “Oh, and the lock screen image is of the best dog ever to live”.

“Ah, Oli the Old English,” she said with a knowing look.

She quickly retrieved my phone from the no-doubt skip full of devices that we idiot tourists keep leaving on rides.

To settle the blood pressure we stopped to get a drink and some popcorn and had those at a table in the now lovely sunny weather.

Around this time, with a few seconds to spare, we thought about where we may eat that evening. Being last-minute Larrys, the choice was limited but we found a table at the Mexican place overlooking the water in World Showcase at 5.30.

Mission Space next, and only because the Orange lane had a long wait and absolutely not because I am getting old and the intense version makes me go all woozy these days, we chose Green.

We rode with a single rider who was riding for the first time as he overshot our circled places just outside the ride and tried to join the next party. I just hoped I would not mark the occasion of his first mission by barfing all over him. The story on Green was different and new to me (I think). Old age again?

By now it was 12.05 and way past time for lunch. We went back to Creations, forgiving it for not being Electric Umbrella and mobile ordered. Not being that hungry and with a relatively early ADR this evening we just went for a couple of salads. They were of course huge and we couldn’t finish them. Very tasty too. Those chucks of chicken were huge and plentiful.

We people watched through the window for a while just to have a rest and I remembered from somewhere in the dark bowels of my memory that at 1pm we would have a chance to get another slot for Guardians.

Everybody was on their phone outside the window through which we were people-watching, just waiting for the slot to open up. When the time came, I just clicked any button that appeared and somehow ended up with an estimated return time of 5.25. My celebrations were slightly curtailed when I realised that this clashed with our recently booked ADR. I tried and failed to reschedule our meal. I decided to ignore the problem for now and just see what happened, hoping the Guardians slot would creep forward a little.

Being two adults in our fifties next it was necessary to ride Journey Into Imagination so we walked over there.

As we exited, Emily face-timed us from the care home so we could see and talk to Mary. After that, we made our way to The Seas and rode the Nemo thing.

We then wandered around the tanks for a bit before Louise popped into the restroom to make her own release into the sea.

We grabbed a water on the way out. It was very hot now. We had a sit on a bench for a bit with our drink and we had about an hour to kill until our Guardian’s return time which was now saying it would be around 4.45, which was much more helpful. We decided to slowly wander in that direction but on the way, it started raining very hard so we ducked into Spaceship Earth and rode that again to avoid the rain.

That did the trick as it had stopped by the time we emerged, this time with my phone safely in my pocket.

We loitered not too far from Guardians relentlessly refreshing the app to see if the return time improved any further. We got the alert at 16.35 that we could now board. I was still a little concerned about how long it might take to ride it, as this time we had to do some queuing, not being a LL, and I had no concept of the queue structure so had no clue how long we would have to wait.

Fifteen minutes and we were in. From our first ride, I did have some clue as to the best places to stand in the pre-show to bypass some of the queueing after that which helped and we were out and done by 5.17. We got the same song again, (I Ran, which as tributes to a country go, is no O Canada?) and it wasn’t until returning home that I even knew there could be multiple song options on this ride.

We now had to walk briskly up to Mexico for our 5.30 ADR. We arrived at the podium at 5.29. It was a majestic demonstration of theme park touring. We did then have to wait five minutes behind the chap already being attended to, booking his party of 716 guests in and feeling the need to tell the CM everyone’s name, age, birth sign and inside leg measurement. The CM had only asked how many children were in his party and we all had to endure a rundown of names, ages and heights.

After some passive-aggressive sighing, we were seen to and soon seated.

We started with some Guac and Chips.

I had a beer and Louise a Sangria.

I have to say there was not a great deal of choice for Entrees and even by the time they were brought to our table neither of us could say with any certainty which we had ordered. It was all a bit of a blur and with most dishes carrying names in a foreign language on the menu, our tired brains could not retain that information for the ten minutes it took between ordering and their arrival. Anyway, what we had was very tasty.

The service was efficient, or in other words, we were out of there very quickly. No room for desserts. $150 including tip.

It was raining again so we dashed across to the Mexico pavilion.

We did some brief browsing…but I am more of a boxer’s man!

Then we rode the ride, chuckling as the boat almost tipped over backwards as we sat down. The folks in the front were not of equal heft.

I blessed Norway with one of my wees before quickly moving on to China. We wandered the shop for a bit, as usual buying nothing before a similar look around Germany and Italy.

At the Spain food booth, we got a couple of drinks, a beer for me and a wine for Louise. As we were served the CM asked us if we preferred waffles or pancakes. Our two answers of pancakes seemed to win him some game he was playing with the CM on the next register. Sadly it did not result in any free drinks for us.

We wandered some more before stopping at Morocco for another drink and a sit-down. A Sangria for Louise and I tried a Strawberry Daquiri. A band and belly dancer performed briefly before the rain put a stop to that.

The weather was getting a little unpleasant now, with persistent drizzle and a chilly wind so we decided to call it a night and walked up to International Gateway.

It was too wet and we were too tired to wait around for an hour to see the fireworks. We could see most of them from our room anyway!

It took a while to walk “home” as Louise’s feet were suffering. One year, after all these years of practice she will eventually find a suitable set of footwear that won’t cripple her after one day in a theme park! We had done a bit of walking to be fair.

We stopped in at the Club Lounge for a wine. coffee and cakes.

We got back to the room at 8.50. Louise watched the fireworks on the balcony but I collapsed straight into bed. I was knackered. I fell asleep immediately and didn’t even hear Louise shower or dry her hair!

Till the next time…….

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Two

Tuesday 20th September

You know what it’s like. After a long gruelling day of travel, stress and bloating (or is that just me on planes?) you could really do with a decent sleep and a good lie-in, but your body clock hates you and you find yourself awake at 4.30am. That’s bad enough, but on this particular morning, I had Louise telling me that Emily phoned a little while ago to report that our kitchen back home was completely flooded and they had the water turned off at the mains.

With all hopes of today being less stressful than yesterday abandoned before sunrise, I sprang (I’m being generous!) into action. I contacted a local plumber who had been to us a couple of times before and begged him to be available that day to go and save our house from water damage and crucially allow Emily to have a poo, as the toilets couldn’t currently be flushed.

He said he would do his very best and now being fully awake and coursing with adrenaline, a return to sleep was not going to happen. Instead, I got up, got dressed and went out for a walk around the Boardwalk, three times. This mammoth and impressive athletic undertaking burned an enormous 350 calories. How am I to retain my gloriously athletic frame when the odds are stacked against me in such an unfair manner?

It was still dark of course so the place looked glorious with all the lights a-twinkling.

Despite the early hour I encountered and awkwardly acknowledged several joggers making their loops at a much higher pace than I. It became more awkward each time we passed each other as we looped in opposite directions.

The closing of the ESPN bar had passed me by, so this was a surprise.

This new place was news to me too.

After my three laps, I returned to the hotel and found my way to the quiet pool by which we intended to spend today.

Back in the room, Louise was sleeping, so I went out onto the balcony and make no apologies for yet more photos.

Rebecca phoned and I shared my view and had a chat with her until waking Louise at 7am as I was hungry. I made us a coffee whilst Louise got dressed and then we made our way to the Club Lounge for breakfast. An impressive spread was on offer, with POG juice my drink of choice.

We made our way down to the quiet pool via the shop where we got some suncream and After Sun. Rebecca phoned again, as she had been called by the care home so had questions for Louise about some of Mary’s medication.

It was indeed a very quiet pool.

We met and briefly chatted with Wendy, one of my two blog readers, who was by the same pool and then spent a lot of time reading, relaxing and swimming.

My underlying stress levels about the potential carnage in our kitchen back home were niggling at me, but at around 11.15 (4.15 back home) the plumber called and told me the issue was caused by the disastrous standard of work carried out by an emergency plumber we had been forced to get out a few weeks ago, but he had fixed it all for £80. I was mightily relieved.

With that huge weight lifted from my shoulders, we went up to the Club Lounge to add a huge weight to my stomach instead. I had swam a whole six lengths so far, so with that and my walk this morning I would be wasting away unless I onboarded some serious calories. To be fair, the choice at lunch was light with crudites being the main fare, but still, it was all lovely. We chatted with my Mum & Dad as we lunched, and got back to the pool around 1.30pm.

We read and relaxed some more until about 4pm and then made our way back to the room where more relaxing happened.

Inexplicably, Louise had the hairdryer on for forty minutes which restricted my TV watching somewhat, but when she was 99.9% ready I got in the shower, got dressed and was still ready first.

I got the car and picked Louise up at the entrance and we were Target bound for the infamous holiday “bits”. I knew the Target we were going to, up past the Premium Outlet Mall, near the new Cheesecake Factory we had booked to eat at this evening. If you do wish to go to this one, book online. The waits are often horrible.

As we got to the end of Hotel Boulevard at Lake Buena Vista every bone in my body was telling me to turn right down to Bahama Breeze where I would then go left. The sat nav said to turn left at Crossroads instead so I trusted it and found a whole new way to a place I thought I knew fairly well, turning right by the Olive Garden we often frequent.

In Target, I secured my elusive shaver which was still cheaper than a tiny pot of moisturiser Louise “needed”. We picked up some other bits and left $111 lighter. This never happens to us, but we were early for our reservation and sat in our car people-watching for about fifteen minutes.

We went in and were seated immediately with the reception full of folks waiting for a long time. Book ahead!

We got drinks and a ridiculously good bread service.

During our multiple visits to the Cheesecake Factory in January, we had established that they served the best Nachos on the planet and there will be no debate about this. So we ordered those of course, with added steak.

Despite their vastness and the fact that in January five of us shared them, this happened.

I, as I would do a lot on this trip, ordered steak. This was a Ribeye and was very large. Here’s me trying to show how large it was compared to my chubby hands. The photo is a little blurry and you can’t make out that my watch says I had burned about 6,000 calories already…no sorry, I had eaten 6,000 calories.

Louise, as she often does, ordered a cheesy pasta thing.

A wine for Louise and diet coke for me saw the bill at $125 with a good tip. This was an awesome meal and we would be back.

Very full and tired I pointed the car at the Yacht Club, parked and picked up some water and went to the room. I managed to read for half an hour before dropping off around 10.30.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day One

Monday 19th September 2022

It had been a stressful build-up and countdown as you know. But here we are, with the alarm going off at 5am rousing us from our sleep to begin our journey. In the early stages of packing, with there just being the two of us, we had played with the idea of just taking the one case. Now, with minutes to go until we needed to leave, I was wrestling with two very full cases, arguing with Louise about what she would need to sacrifice for us to stand a chance of getting on the plane. A handbag and a large make-up case were jettisoned. I wouldn’t need them anyway.

Having let the dogs do what they needed to do outside, I launched them into Emily’s bedroom and said our goodbyes. Knowing it could be at least an hour or two until food, I fuelled up with some toast and a coffee whilst Louise took the customary half an hour longer to get ready than was desired. I had wanted to leave at 6 and ahead of schedule, we left the drive at 6.24 am. The first of many weird things about it just being the two of us on this trip meant there was nobody to take a “door photo” of!

The drive to the airport was problem free but I think we both thought that it didn’t feel real.

We arrived at the airport at 7.10 and headed for T2 West car park which I had now used twice and that familiarity would make things easier. As I pulled in, oddly, the machine at the entrance spat a token at me. Bit weird, but OK. It was busy and we had to journey up many, many levels to find a spot. I pulled the cases from the car but couldn’t shake the nagging doubt that something was wrong. Yep, it was me, I was wrong. Upon checking my booking confirmation we were in the wrong car park. Somehow, I had managed to book some meet-and-greet nonsense in another car park. I have no idea how this happened as I avoid meet and greet like the plague. I do not want my car being rallied across the UK by some bloke in a high-vis vest for 2 weeks.

So we loaded the cases back into the car, went down all the ramps we had just come up, paid the £6 fee and started looking for the correct car park. I’m not saying this was stressful or that my nerves were shot after the fraught countdown to this trip, but I almost pointed the car back at the motorway and went home.

After a few minutes, we spotted T2 East, which had a meet and greet sign over it and we queued, yes, queued to get into it. Once inside we were directed up to the right place, parked the car and spent a frustrating amount of time inside the terminal waiting for and then figuring out the ridiculously complex mechanism to drop your key off. Safe to say, I will make sure I never make that mistake again.

We arrived at the check-in desks once again to be astounded by the fact that nobody else seemed to have checked in online. What is wrong with these people? When I was doing that the day before, the Aer Lingus website crashed so I assumed everyone was doing the same thing at the same time. Apparently not.

We were diverted to a kiosk and without too much assistance from a human had our cases labelled up. One of the two was over 23kg so we had to do a quick reveal of some underwear to the terminal as we opened up one case to transfer some stuff to the other. Now the plane would be safe to take off!!

We then couldn’t find the luggage drop-off point (what do you mean I only did this in January and should know the drill??) and we had to get more human help to sort us out.

Cases dumped, we headed for security and used my fast track thing to bypass no queues at all. Despite being fairly regular travellers we still never know exactly what electronics go in the tray on their own and do we take our shoes off and do I need a full internal.

This whole pre-departure process is just overly stressful and unnecessary.

There is always a sigh of relief once security is done, mainly as next comes food. I had an unavoidable wee before joining the queue at San Carlos for a table. This took twenty minutes but felt like one hundred and twenty. Finally seated, with the bonus of having a window seat, we ordered.

Eggs Benedict for Louise (half eaten).

Breakfast Sandwich for me

Juice and coffee for me and two Mimosas for Louise. The bill was £37 and whilst we waited to pay, we Facetimed Rebecca to say our farewells.

Some shops were wandered. My shaver for the trimming of my manly beard and bald head had broken yesterday, thankfully before I started shaving things and not half-way through, so I needed a new one. Not one shop sold them. I would have to search one out stateside.

We bought some books, as of course we would not be doing theme parks this trip aside from a few days at Universal, so we would need something to entertain us on the long relaxing days around the pool. Right?

Louise went off to release a chocolate hostage and I wandered about a bit, stumbling across this chap, who I think was off on international duty with Belgium.

We moved down to the gate area around 10.15 in good time for our 11am departure. Boarding started at 11am so getting away on time was going to be a struggle! We marvelled at the queue as we do every time and boarded last.

Being the day of the Queen’s funeral, which was of course a surprise to the management at Manchester Airport, once on board and already very late in getting going, the pilot announced that all take-offs and landings had just been unexpectedly halted as a mark of respect, as the funeral had just started, so we sat some more. We finally pushed back from the gate at 12.15 and left the ground at 12.30.

This will sound mean and derogatory but I spent much of the first hour watching a woman across the aisle playing Bejewelled on her seat back TV. I say playing. Honestly, in that hour she did not move one “jewel” and just kept whacking the screen in frustration as she just could not work out how the game worked. It took all of my willpower not to lean over and show her how to do it.

Drinks came, then some food. A surprisingly good Beef Stroganoff.

I watched some episodes of The Office as the film selection was very poor.

It took some time but I eventually managed to hand over some money to get access to WiFi. With the situation back home we couldn’t be out of contact for nine hours. Yes, we were and would be worried about Mary for the whole trip but also had our workmen at the house (no the work still isn’t finished) and needed to be in touch with Emily who was supervising them much to her delight.

There was some unavoidable expenditure as Louise “had to” buy a set of three lipsticks on a plane, despite having frequented every retail outlet in the North West in preparation for this trip, which made absolute sense. I had a wee before settling into the cheese-fest that was the new Top Gun film.

Despite now being chock full of cheese courtesy of Tom Cruise, like some mid-90’s Nicole Kidman, somehow, I was starving and it felt like an age until we were served some sort of Chicken Tikka pasty. It was inhaled. The rest of the flight was pretty bumpy and we eventually landed around 4.05pm local time.

That lady was still trying to figure out Bejewelled!

Of course, the airbridge broke at our gate so we sat waiting some more, being teased by all of the Orlando outside of the window that we could not get to.

We were the last off the plane at 4.35 and through immigration in about fifteen minutes. Our cases were already making their way around the carousel so I grabbed those and then of course waited for Louise to go to the toilet. As I did, the magic of these holidays was reinforced as a large family group, also probably waiting for someone to go on the loo despite having been sat next to one for nine hours, were arguing. I didn’t get the full context but Grandma was shouting at Mum something about “getting the F**king car seat”.

With Louise now empty, we made our way to the monorail and the very welcome greeting from the Mayor.

Upon alighting we naturally headed to the “B” side as we have every single time we have done this journey. In fact, I would say that until January’s trip I had been unaware that there was an “A” side where you can get your hire car etc.

I waited five minutes to get an Alamo person to sort me out and then all we had to do before hitting the open road was pick up our Visitor Toll pass thing from their kiosk. I wandered up and down for about ten minutes before asking someone who told me they only have a kiosk on the “A” side! Seriously, that is just nonsense. So I trouped all the way over there, got my pass and walked all the way back. Yes I did the same thing in January, what of it? My cognitive decline is a growing worry.

We arrived at the row of cars we had to choose from. We spent more time than we ever have previously sizing up our options, and despite that still drove out in a car that I wasn’t that happy with. Don’t get me wrong, it ran fine and was comfortable, it was just fairly old with high mileage and no sat nav. We should have chosen better!

I did manage to drive to the Yacht Club without electronic aid. It has only taken forty-plus years of holidaying here to accomplish that. Once through the security gate, I dropped the bags and Louise at the entrance and went to park the car over in the Convention Centre car park as things were busy. Bell Services took our bags as the My Disney Experience app said our room was not ready, which was very odd at this time of day. So I went to reception and gave them my name.

“Oh hello Mr Williams. If you would follow me please I will escort you to your floor”.

Bit weird but I suppose this is a deluxe resort. As we headed to the elevator the Cast member explained that we had been upgraded to Club Level.

I was vaguely aware of what this was, but it had been so far out of our price range on our previous trips with larger family groups that I had never taken the trouble to look into it.

We were left at the reception up on floor five where two cast members sorted us out, gave us our room keys and explained how it all worked. We had timed it perfectly as the afternoon “snacks” were ending in about fifteen minutes so they ushered us into the Club room with a couple of glasses of fizz (mine had a man in it!) and we ate and drank some lovely stuff, a bit dazed and confused.

We exercised some restraint on the eating front as we knew we wanted to go out and eat in a bit, so we headed to room 5231

and could not believe the view we discovered.

We were a little gobsmacked at the whole experience and just sat looking at that view and taking too many photos.

I had a quick shower and then booked an ADR for Ale & Compass in the hotel for a little later. We checked in at the podium and then went next door into the lounge for a wine and Sam Adams.

Our table was soon ready and we ordered.

New York Strip for me

A chicken pasta thing for Louise

My steak was awesome and had some magical, unidentifiable sauce with it. I loved it as did Louise hers. I went crazy and ordered a Maple Old Fashioned which was also lovely.

At this point I was triple glassing it.

The bill was $120 with a very good tip included and we wandered back up to the Club room for a coffee and two tiny desserts.

We grabbed a couple of waters and were back in the room by 9.00, tired, shocked and happy to be here. To top off the day, as we went out onto the balcony the Epcot fireworks were happening.

I’d apologise for so many photos usually, but we may never be that fortunate again, to get such a view from our room. I know you know, but this is one of my very favourite places on the planet.

Grateful, and also just full, we went to sleep around 9.30.

Till the next time……

Mary

We’re back and many of you will have seen the news that Mary, Louise’s Mum, passed away last Sunday. Whilst not unexpected, it is of course very upsetting, especially for Louise as we couldn’t get back in time to be with her. Mary was not alone as she passed, and of course, there were video calls where love was shared and tears were shed.

The past week has been a blur of my return to work and the non-stop flurry of activity and arrangement-making that happens when a funeral is needed. There is a surprising amount of things to do and I have been fortunate up until now that I have never needed to be involved in anything like this. The funeral will be on the 20th, and we have made a lot of the arrangements now.

So it won’t be too surprising that I have not given any thought to anything as pointless as writing about our holiday. I probably will at some point. As trivial and silly as it may sound we had a good time for most of the trip aside from the usual array of eventful happenings that seem to come with us on holiday. Our time away included a flooded kitchen, a natural disaster, a death and a hospitalisation!

For now, the focus is on Louise, the funeral and coming to terms with Mary’s passing.

Thank you to everyone who left messages and love on Facebook about Mary. They are appreciated.

Till the next time…..

Yacht Club Or Bust.

This will be brief. We have so much to do that I can’t be spending too much time papping on here. As things stand, with mere hours until our flight leaves, we are going. That could change of course.

Mary was in very poor health on Thursday evening and we thought we may not be going, and for the sake of our mental health, I guess we have to stay in that frame of mind until we are airborne.

The home she will be in is absolutely equipped with everything and everyone needed for any eventuality, so it’s just a case of her remaining fit enough for us to take her in and us getting on the plane. I appreciate that might sound a little odd, but we need this break.

We’ll be dropping her off early this afternoon and have booked about six removal trucks to do so. She’s taking a fair bit of kit with her.

The last week at work has been a constant stream of meetings that I had to drag myself through. I feel like there are a million things I haven’t done, and that I am bound to forget to do something crucial like check-in for the flight online. Someone remind me!

On Thursday I went to the Post Office to grab a few dollars in cash. The least said about the exchange rate the better. It was borderline offensive.

So the plan for the rest of today is to take Mary in, stay with her for a few hours to make sure she is settled, and then meet Tom, Rebecca and the boys for some tea so we can say our goodbyes, before coming home so Louise can hoover the ceilings and re-pave the front drive, as is the tradition if we leave the country for two weeks. It is going to be a busy pre-holiday day.

Emily and her boyfriend Mikey are house and pet-sitting. With the zoo that we have this is a full-time job so please wish them good luck. With two dogs, three cats and a number of rats that I have lost track of they may have to sleep in shifts.

As ever I will be sharing stuff during our trip on the Mkingdon Facebook page so if you haven’t “Liked” that already, what on earth are you thinking? Go ahead and do that so you can see pictures of a lot of food. On our return, I will be doing some blogging around the trip of course but I’m not sure two weeks of pools and food will make for the most interesting reading. We’ll see.

If all goes to plan, in a few hours (well, a good few) we’ll be enjoying views like this, so keep your fingers crossed for us, please.

Image pinched from disneytouristblog.com

I have been watching my emails like a hawk for Aer Lingus emails, paranoid they are going to cancel the flight. I even checked availability on the Virgin flights tomorrow in case we end up in the lurch and need an alternative. As of yesterday, there were some seats left. Crazy, right?

I am reluctant to say it but it looks like we may actually be going, but I stand ready to be corrected on that.

So enough waffle, there are things to do and flights to check in to.

Till the next time……