To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Seventeen April 27th 2017

It won’t surprise you to learn that I am very sad. This applies to the now me, sat typing this, and the trip report me back in April. Going home isn’t easy at any time and by writing this bloody thing I’m doing it for a second time.

It isn’t helpful that I sit typing this at this time in August when for more years than I care to remember we have been in Florida. I shall solider on.

One of the many traditions of our trips is that I make absolutely zero notes of what we do on our last day. It’s a rebellious bout of sulking as the universe has conspired to make me work for a living.

Save $8 on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket!

So we woke up at some point and tackled the horror that is packing.

Yeah that last photo is a blurry mess. Do I care?

It’s hard to articulate to those not of a similar inclination the very physical pain involved in looking at photos like this and knowing you won’t be back there for a while.

Whilst there, it seems you are cossetted in a bubble wrap of loveliness, protected from real world shite by the sweet embrace of the Florida warmth. I can’t describe the love I have for particular small, inconsequential things. Such as after an early evening shower, putting on a light summer shirt and some shorts and it being forgivable to wear sandals. Meandering to your eatery of choice for too much food, served to you by someone who gives a toss. Getting back in the car and hearing that soft “bong” warning tone from your car that UK cars never have. Sigh….It doesn’t take much to make me happy….just a persistent Florida holiday.

Emily was feeling it too.

This is the posh bag she bought herself yesterday at Magic Kingdom, when the world was a better place than it was this morning.

We did all the horrible packing crap, and wrestled the cases downstairs. I got the car for the last time (sob) from the car park and drove back to load it up. We drove across, for the last time (sob) to the All Stars for Mum & Dad and headed towards Disney Springs. The need for a ridiculous amount of food outweighed any desire to shop for Louise, Emily and I so we dropped Mum & Dad off and headed for Perkins at Crossroads.

The messaging on their menu takes me back to one of those pay per view films in that hotel….OK….not again.

Emily demonstrated how we were all feeling.

I resolved to take my angst and anger out on my body and decided to order the largest amount of food possible. As an absolute minimum requirement it had to arrive on two plates.

For me…

Plate 1

Plate 2

It was a scramble of some kind.

Eggs Benedict for Louise. I can only applaud the fact that Perkins feel that a dish as good as this requires a muffin as well.

I think this was some sort of Fried Chicken Sandwich for Emily…

It was fantastic and stupidly good value for money. I think it was about $33 for the three of us.

Full of food and dread of real life, we headed back to Disney Springs.

We walked around a bit, apparently, and no doubt bought some stuff.

I’m not sure why I took this, but I suspect it was to have a record of what a blue sky looks like.

I have to say, the appearance of that ring carving booth at Disney Springs was a shock….why would anyone want a carving of their ring?

We always enjoy looking around the art shop and as the next photo exists then I guess we did that.

More walking about…

It was very hot and we needed a drink so we found a table by the lake. The mood was…well…like this

We were waiting for Mum & Dad to find us so that we could head off to the airport. I have absolutely no recollection of that drive to the airport. Maybe that’s for the best.

Dropping the hire car off was as painless as ever. They really do have that down to an art.

I do remember that security was a pain and took an age but eventually we were sat in the departure lounge awaiting the inevitable.

We wandered duty free for a bit, got some drinks and moped about appropriately.

We boarded pretty much on time and as always happens, no matter how much we wish it didn’t, we took off, leaving Florida behind again when we really didn’t want to.

Again the flight is something my mind did not capture for posterity. I think the in flight entertainment was the same as on the way out which was a bit crap. I don’t think I slept, but probably dozed for a while, who knows.

Eventually the greyness of Manchester enveloped us once again and we bumped down into the monochrome reality of real life. Trivial things such as the queue to get back into my own country and waiting for the bags just happened. Our taxi guy wasn’t stood at the exit to arrivals of course, they never are. A quick phone call later saw him turn up like the shop owner in Mr Ben and we were all in the van and enduring rush hour M60 when just a few short hours ago I was a fully paid up member of the Beach Club elite.

The last thing to report happened as we pulled up outside our house. Everyone disembarked eager to see Rebecca and as I was dragging cases out of the back of the van Louise got out very quickly. That speed was due to the fact that she fell in dramatic style, head first into our front garden wall. It turns out the arm rest of the seat she was leaning on to support her as she left the van gave way and with that her body made contact with the floor in alarming style.

It could have been a very nasty fall, but thankfully she was OK and we were then all allowed to laugh. Brews were made and we chatted to Rebecca and Tom about our adventures, said hello to the dogs and made our peace with being backing home.

So there we go. Another trip done and dusted. The one silver lining of coming home was seeing Rebecca of course as we’d all missed her. It was weird and often hard for us to not have her with us for the first time but as you may know now, she was in the early stages of a pregnancy and she’ll be due this November.

Here we go with the usual end of trip report soppy melancholic nonsense. It’s not intentional, it is more a true reflection of my feelings whenever a trip ends and we are inevitably a long way from returning.

I always struggle to articulate the hold Florida has on me. God knows Louise has begged, moaned and pleaded to go elsewhere for years but thankfully she has always given in to my enormous sulks and allowed us to go back time after time, and I think has mostly enjoyed it when we have. I just feel so comfortable there. Sure, we go to the touristy artificial version and not the real Florida. I’m not daft. But that suits me fine.

It has taken me quite some time to get this trip written up. We got back in late April!! So in the time that’s been going on of course thoughts have turned to our next holiday. It looks like it won’t be until August 2018 (sad face), but in the spirit of the circle of life, joining us will be two first timers.

If all goes to plan, Tom, (Rebecca’s fiancee) and of course young Freddie will be claiming their 1st Visit badges. It has been many, many years since we took any young children and we have never taken one as young as Freddie will be at the time. Rebecca was two the first time we went and Freddie won’t even be one when we travel.

I apologies now to all those who will be sat on our plane.

Over the years, I’ve read and even written lots of advice on the age old question, when is the best time to take your children to WDW?

For me, it’s simple. I understand all the arguments about waiting until they are a little older and it makes a lot of sense, but you know what, whatever you do those kids are always going to get older but they will never be the age they are right now ever again. So my advice? Take them now, take them whenever it is possible to afford to do so. For very small kids of course there are many things they cannot experience, but as we’ve done everything a lot, we don’t care. This will hopefully be his first trip of very many and if he doesn’t remember it, we will.

Finally, a genuine thank you to everyone who continues to read this blog. Your loyalty is astounding. Each week’s post gets almost an identical number of views which suggests both of you come back each time 🙂 I am genuinely thankful and astounded that you still give some of your time to read what is written here when you could be spending your WDW related reading time much more productively getting banned from It’s Orlando Time on Facebook.

The bad news is that from next week you’ll be back to enduring random nonsense rather than tales of our Florida adventures. Of course, there is a whole new trip to plan, so that’ll be fun right?

Thanks for reading!

Arsene Wenger…….

From the day he arrives on the planet
And Freddie becomes our grandson,
He’ll have more to see than can ever be seen
Disney’s more than can ever be done

There’s far too much to take in here
More good fun than can ever be found
But the years which roll by
Will see me always try
To show him all of that hallowed ground

It’s the Circle of Life
Hear the theme parks call
Years of fun we hope
As we share our love
Disney’s warm embrace
Through his eyes reminding
It’s the Circle
The Circle of Life

 

Till the next time….


Discount Disney Tickets


LEGOLAND Florida - Special Offer: Save 30% on Tickets!

Halloween Costumes

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Five April 15th 2017

The first phase of the holiday was ending today. A part of me was saddened by this. After all the planning, waiting and build up I always try to cling onto each moment of the trip as it escapes through my fingers like fine sand.

There was still far more to come than had passed but I am strange like that. Today was moving day, Universal was over and we were heading to Siesta Key. As all we had to do this morning was put the possession explosion that had happened in our room back into our cases there was no mad rush to get up. We lazed in bed until a crazy 9am. It took an hour to pack and just after ten we left RPR for the last time and headed over to get Mum & Dad. More fun and sweating was had with the quart into pint pot game involving the luggage and car. We did find a slightly different configuration which improved things but Dad still had a case on his lap.

Thankfully we only had a ten minute drive this time. We were heading for Hash House a Go Go and a life threatening amount of food. As we entered the car park we noticed it was as packed as my underwear. Thankfully they had complimentary valet parking. So once we had released Dad from his suitcase companion, we handed over the keys and headed in. It’s usually at this point that I imagine the news headlines –

“Stupid Brit Gives Complete Stranger Posing as Valet His Car Keys”.

The lure of food was greater than my worries so I continued onwards.

We were faced with a fifteen minute wait and a tractor.

We were seated just before 11am and began the daunting task of navigating the menu. It is HUGE.

We stalled the waitress by ordering some drinks. Coffees and juice all round and Louise ordered a special Mocha which she declared to be the best she ever had. My nickname is mocha by the way!

I didn’t get a picture as I was too busy choosing food, but here’s one I found online.

We eventually decided upon –

Me, Dad and Emily – Andy’s Fried Chicken Benedict

Andy’s sage fried chicken w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs.

All Benedicts served on a fresh split biscuit with griddled mashed potatoes

Mum – Tractor Driver Combo with French Toast

Two Eggs w/ bacon sausage or potatoes with 1 HH signature flapjack. Add one buck for HH famous flapjack.With Vanilla Waffle With Griddled french toast

Louise – Portabella Mushroom

Fresh portabello mushroom, roasted red peppers, basil pesto & griddled goat cheese all on a fresh baked wheat bun

As my attempt looked like this….

Here’s a competent photo taken by someone else.

It is hard to describe the food here. I struggle to find a word that captures what I thought about it. It was superb, delicious, huge, different, fun, huge, unique, huge and huge.

Emily threw the towel in with her plate looking untouched. I made a very good effort but couldn’t finish. It was just so full of things that are designed to fill you up. Mash, Fried Chicken, Biscuit and smothered in a delicious spicy sauce. Safe to say this place will be on the plan for every future trip we undertake.

My notes failed to capture how much it cost, but frankly I didn’t care. You have to try this place!

Slightly more of us left at 12.40 than had arrived. Our car was returned to us and noticeably groaned as we inflicted our increased girth upon it. We found ourselves stuck in traffic trying to get onto the I4. I did think that the traffic was much worse in and around Universal and I Drive than it ever is around WDW and Kissimmee. With only one U Turn required (unlike Theresa May…ooh bit of politics….) which was totally the fault of our sat nav and not me, we found the Interstate and headed for Disney Springs. We arrived at 1pm and parked in Lime. That’s one of the new car parks. The theme parks are full of breath taking technology delivering jaw dropping immersive experiences. However, the fact that you can see if a row has a space without driving down it blew our collective minds. We live in exciting times.

Disney Springs is, as we expected, almost unrecognisable from what we first encountered as Disney Village in 1980 and as Downtown Disney in more recent times. We arranged to meet Mum & Dad later and set off to do what I hoped would be browsing.

The D Life, Beauty & The Beast themed shop was lovely.

Next was Sephora. I have no idea what any of the items they sell are but clearly I am almost alone in that as it was packed.

Louise was still searching for some sandals. Not just any sandals. We of course encountered many pairs of such in the many shops we visited, but none ticked the boxes they needed to.

Emily got a couple of sweatshirts which somehow I paid for despite her being 21 and gainfully employed.

It was very hot and we needed some water which we picked up from the Poutine Place. Upon getting to the counter and seeing some food, I almost threw up there and then, my stomach protesting at the thought of me trying to put anything else into it. It was an act of self protection and I applaud it for that.

We entered the vast expanse of World of Disney next and spent days wandering the endless array of Disney merchandise. By some miracle and completely by chance we left via the same doors we came in, which is a first for us. It was time now to meet Mum & Dad and so we headed back to the Lime car park entrance.

With Louise still needing footwear and a swimming costume I googled for a Walmart or Target having had all the posh boutiques at Disney Springs let us down and set off.

Never has the phrase cockpit been more apt.

Louise was slightly excited for a second in case this was the bloke from Sons of Anarchy.

It wasn’t.

The Target google found for me was actually the same one we spent far too much time in last year kitting out Emily for her time working in WDW. The same retail park contained a Ross in which we spent more time than any man should have to endure.

Then we went next door to the large sports store. We spent only a few minutes exploring the huge Dicks. Thankfully, the required sandals were discovered in Dicks. There are specialist web sites for that I believe. OK enough desperate attempts to make innuendos out of Dicks. In Target she also found some shorts.

With all the shopping I could tolerate done we now headed for Siesta Key.

It took just under two hours in total.

The last mile driving down the “front” was slow and tortuous but we eventually got to our house without incident or getting lost.

The house was lovely. Quirky certainly, a little rustic and not your typical polished, clinical new home but it was in keeping with all the other properties in the area.

Emily and I went to find the local supermarket. It was somewhere we would spend many happy hours over the coming week.

We had gone for some “essentials” and left $137 lighter about forty minutes later.

With the shopping packed away thoughts turned to dinner but nobody was really hungry so we stayed in the house and snacked instead watching some TV.

Apparently wine was an essential I forgot to pick up during my first visit to the shop, so I remedied that now with another trip. The drive to the supermarket took me up the main road on which all the bars and restaurants are. I did have a slight worry that I may not have brought us to the most suitable place as it looked tonight like Magaluf or Falaraki. However, this was a Saturday night at the tail end of Spring Break and my slight fears were unfounded as we would find out during our stay.

Upon getting back to the house I was knackered and fell into bed, managing about ten minutes reading before sleep.

Till the next time…..