The irony of sleeping in until 7.45, the latest lie in of the whole trip, on the day we fly home was not lost on me. It made it clear to me that in future I clearly need more than just two weeks of a holiday to allow my body to begin to adjust to vacation mode.
The next hour or so was filled with the unavoidable packing and tidying in preparation for our departure. It was relatively pain-free, to be honest. It’s almost as if we’ve done this a few times before and are finally getting the hang of it.
Tom and I collected all the now full cases and girded our loins for the task of forcing them into the back of the van. We struggled at the airport upon arrival so this was looking like a challenge and a half now our luggage contained several purchases and half a ton of plastic tat collected by Freddie along the way.
If anyone can explain to me how we slotted everything in with ease I’d appreciate it. The only rational observation is that upon arrival I was tired, emotional and a little incompetent and at least two of those can’t be true.
Breakfast was the first order of business and we pointed the van north towards the 192, happy to eat at whatever relevant establishment we saw first. Ideally, it would be a restaurant.
A IHOP caught my eye and we arrived like a SWAT team storming an embassy. I think we were hungry. It was busy but we were seated immediately so nobody got hurt.
We had a lovely server. Her chatting was pleasant at first, but as it stretched into more than three minutes, preventing us from eating, it started to lose its charm a little. At last we ordered –
Freddie had smiley faces, which would probably be the only ones seen today.
He made sure his Dad was cutting them up to his liking…..
I had blueberry pancakes and they were all kinds of awesome.
Rebecca had birthday cake pancakes and Tom had what you can see there. I didn’t capture its name…sue me.
Emily had chocolate chip pancakes and they were every bit as good as you might imagine.
Louise had something called a Split Decision.
With coffees and juices and a very nice tip the bill was $100.
Back into the van now and off to Disney Springs. We parked in Lime and spent more time than was ideal in Uniqlo. Things were purchased and then the pain was done. Next, the inevitable last-minute gift shopping in World of Disney. I think we spent an hour in there buying things for other people who already have nearly every possible gift from someone who has holidayed in Orlando. It gets harder each year.
It was another hot day so we found a shaded seat near a bar and listened to a chap with a guitar for a bit. There were some final cocktails consumed by the non-drivers and we sat and contemplated the horror of returning home.
We took Freddie on the little carousel there and he met one of his new friends again.
The view before us made the thought of the M60 on a cold, dark rainy Monday even more disconcerting.
For one final time, Freddie somehow got the camera again….
Just a few highlights there from the 78 photos he took.
With drinks consumed, we moved on to the Marketplace for some browsing of expensive shiny things.
Louise spotted a necklace she liked and I was really struggling to find a reason not to buy it. The Gods smiled upon me. As it was taken from the case for further inspection the assistant realised it was actually broken. I shed a small tear.
On the way out we popped into Amorette’s just “for a look”.
It was good….
We could not put it off any longer. We boarded the van and pointed it at the airport at 2.50. It felt like they had built a few more tolls on the way back than we saw upon arrival. Undeterred we arrived at the car hire return at 3.20.
All sweat and regrets, we pulled the luggage out and headed for check-in. There was a ten-minute queue to do so. Security was a whole different matter. What a slow-moving, joy void that was. Just the tonic for those travelling home after a holiday.
We boarded the wrong sort of monorail and headed for the gate.
We wanted to spend our last moments in Orlando eating, as nature intended. We tried Bahama Breeze, but the wait was too long so we walked over to the Outback instead who were able to seat us immediately.
Alas, this airport version was a pale imitation of the place we enjoy so regularly at Formosa Gardens. A limited menu and virtually no vegetarian options whatsoever. They had to come up with some sort of attempt at a salad for Emily which wasn’t worthy of a photo.
I had an Asian Chicken Salad so that I wouldn’t put too much weight on during the holiday.
Freddie had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
Rebecca, Chicken Tenders.
Louise and Tom a Steak Sandwich.
All in all, the food was a decent reflection of going home from a WDW holiday. It was so underwhelming, I actually had a beer to console myself.
We boarded without incident or queue, as we waited for everyone else to queue up for their guaranteed seat before getting on last.
Freddie was changed into his comfy flying clothes and readied for take-off.
My notes end here. The flight wasn’t great, mainly as Freddie was a little bit unwell and had a temperature, meaning the he had a period of upset and crying about halfway home. Shout out to the family sat behind Rebecca, Tom and Freddie for complaining to the flight crew about Freddie crying and stopping them sleeping. You stay classy.
You don’t want or need to hear about our landing and endless waiting for luggage at Manchester. All I will say is that we were the last out of the place as one of our cases was missing. I had to fill out a load of forms about that before finally going to meet our now very tetchy taxi driver who had been waiting for over an hour. He took it out on me all the way home by regaling me with his right-wing, racist views, not stopping to draw breath. He was a message from the Gods as punishment for being so stupid as to leave Orlando. The return to the stark reality of the UK could not have been better signalled.
So we’re done. I would typically at this point wax lyrical about WDW, and Florida in general, as some sort of attempt to explain my relentless desire to return. Chances are, if you are reading this, you know.
Despite my never-ending illness, and the week-long threat of weather-induced devastation, I have to say this trip was a beauty. We all enjoyed it enormously, due in no small part to the thrill of showing Tom and Freddie something that means so much to us all. The joy of spending uninterrupted time with Freddie is just a happy and joyful bonus of course. He has brought so much happiness, fun and enjoyment to our every day lives, that being in WDW with him is just something we treasure. I contest that there is no better place on the planet to spend time together as a family. For those of a certain age, like me, who seem to spend more and more time looking back at the girl’s younger years and getting annoyed and upset that I can’t actually remember huge chunks of their lives, these overly detailed trip reports have been a godsend, in forever capturing at least some of our time together. Same goes now for Freddie of course.
So I won’t drone on. I don’t know how many words I’ve written detailing this trip, or how many hours I’ve spent doing so, but I could have saved us all the trouble by just posting these two twenty-second videos the day after we got back. They say it all.
Thank you for your perseverance for making your way through another one of our trips. After all these years it really is touching and mind-boggling that so many of you still care enough to read this stuff.
Unfortunately for you, we’re doing it all again next year as I celebrate my 50th in the only place I ever could. If you missed it and want to read about how that plan is going, this is the link you need.
Things have worked out very neatly with the ending of this trip coinciding with Christmas. So I will take this opportunity to wish you all a lovely one and if at all possible a Disney filled 2020. Every view, read, comment and like is always very much appreciated, probably more than you know. It’s a small corner of the internet, but I’m delighted you join me in it of a Sunday.
Till the next time…….