I always vow to make serious notes on our travel home day. I usually fail and this year was no different. Don’t get settled, this won’t take long.
Despite doing nothing but moan about being tired all holiday, for reasons I cannot fathom I appear to have been awake at 3.45 am. I dozed off again around 5.30, waking properly at 8. That set me up nicely for the long gruelling journey home.
At this point, Louise was packing stuff into our cases, I of course had to venture out to buy an extra case as, much like me and my T-shirts, we simply wouldn’t fit everything in on the return leg. Favouring cheapness over quality I ventured round to the shops close to the Outback. Sensing that Louise would not be impressed with me returning with a couple of supermarket shopping bags, I drove a little further and found one of those classy gift shops.
I invested $35 in a medium-sized case that I felt had a 50/50 chance of surviving the journey home.
Once back at the villa I spent what felt like hours recycling and generally throwing stuff out. When Louise had completed the very easy task of packing everything I undertook a task that is only rivalled by landing on the moon. I had to get all the cases into the car. Every failed attempt meant wrestling every heavy case out of the car before getting them back in again in the next failed configuration. I had a sweat on and a desire to burn all the possessions we were trying to take home.
Eventually I got it all in but had to sacrifice one of the back seats, meaning that one of the passengers would be sitting on the half-sized, not quite a seat on the back row of the bus. I didn’t care which, they would have to fight it out Hunger Games style before breakfast.
With a final check of the villa and everyone crammed sweatily into the car, I set the alarm for the last time and girded my loins and other fleshy areas for the next twenty-four hours.
We made a pit stop at Winn Dixie for Freddie supplies for the journey home before setting off for Disney Springs to do the check in thing.
Not being a regular Virgin flyer I had no clue where this was and it only took one detour before we spotted it. Cases were dragged across the car park and placed on to a make do set of scales. Shockingly our main case was too heavy and with a deep joy, I had to open it and re-distribute stuff into other cases. No, really, it was no problem.
Not being a Virgin holidays customers we were robbed of $10 per person for the privilege of checking in here. Forcibly resisting the urge to outwardly show my disgust at the $60 I had just been robbed of, we set off, in a much roomier vehicle to get some breakfast for which I would happily pay double that.
We headed for the nearest breakfast place I was aware of, which was the Perkins at Crossroads. The breakfast on the final day has to be a festival of gluttony, punishing our bodies for needing to be back in the UK.
We all ordered the usual double whammy of coffee and juice and read the menu a couple of dozen times. A balloon artist (is that the right word?) came over and Freddie very much enjoyed her work.
We ordered –
Me – Big Country Skillet and Pancakes
Emily – Pulled Chicken Sandwich
Louise – Eggs Benedict
Tom & Mikey – Hearty Man Combo
Rebecca had a “Three Egg thing”. The piss poor attempt at the name of it and the lack of a photo serve as the perfect gauge of my mood at this point.
The food was excellent and the bill was $130 including a bountiful tip.
We headed back to Disney Springs for the traditional last-minute scramble for gifts. We parked in Lime.
We spent the next hour in World of Disney buying presents for those at home and Emily bought herself a Dooney and Bourke purse.
With the gifts purchased, Rebecca, Tom and Freddie decided to get a caricature done. It only took about fifteen minutes and the result was excellent.
Time was pushing on now and we needed to call at the Premium Outlets on the way to the airport so we rushed back to the car and headed in that direction.
We split into smaller groups for maximum efficiency. Louise and I went into a children’s clothes shop and bought Freddie’s winter wardrobe for back home. Mikey splurged oodles of dollars in the designer shops. We had arranged to meet up at 3.30 and Mikey was seen sprinting towards us several minutes after that time laden with lots of bags that I wasn’t sure how we’d get onto the aircraft. We did.
Onwards now to the airport. I somehow missed the turn off for the car return at the first attempt so we did a nice circuit of the airport before getting it second time around. The investment I made pre-holiday in the huge car seat bag was repaid now, as we were able to use it not only for the car seat, but also for all the random bags we now had from our shopping trip.
We found the place to check that in before going through security, slowly and then onto the monorail.
We arrived at gate 87 and I handed Emily and Rebecca my remaining dollars to fund a Starbucks run. I don’t know what I had as I always just tell the girls to get me whatever they are having. It tasted nice.
We boarded at 6pm and took off forty minutes later.
And there dear reader, my notes end. The flight, I remember, was the usual mix of discomfort, average food and a few films. Freddie was great yet again. He took a little while to go to sleep but once he did that was pretty much it. We had no free seats on the return leg alas so sleep was sparse and fitful.
We landed, got the cases, taxied home and well, got back to real life. Sigh.
So there we have it. The end. I wish I could say that I planned the dates of the trip so that the writing of the trip report would nudge nicely up to Christmas. I didn’t. What this trip has taught me is that I ain’t all that at planning to be honest. The balance between being able to show first timers as much as possible versus keeping everyone rested, and ready to go was not achieved if I’m honest. Despite building lots of rest days into the plan, our over eagerness to then use those days to not rest bit us on the arse a little bit. Ah well, you live and learn.
Before we left, all the concern, if that’s the right word, was around Freddie of course. How would he cope with the long flights, hot weather and the sensory overload of a trip like this. We had absolutely no reason to worry. He was, and I use this word intentionally, perfect. He was never an ounce of trouble and only enhanced the experience at every step. The memories of sharing his first Disney experience will always outweigh any of the inevitable tired, not so magical times we had. That, and don’t be offended dear reader, is why I have chronicled this trip here. As I did with the girls when they were young, these trip reports were always written so that we had a record of their experiences. Now, we will all always have this set of badly written drivel as a reminder of the time Freddie first went to Disney.
Hopefully, it won’t be the last, well, it won’t if I have anything to do with it.
There are no plans for further adventures just yet. Not Disney ones anyway. Other plans await us as a family which will become clear in the fullness of time.
Thanks as always for reading this stuff. It always amazes me that you do, and it is not taken for granted. I appreciate each one of your views, likes and comments.
If you and yours are undertaking a Florida adventure soon, I wish you a wonderful time and of course, as we have coincidentally landed at the end of this at this time of year, please have a magical Christmas and a wonderful 2019 from everyone here in Mkingdon land.
Till the next time…..