New Non Surprising News?

Sat staring at the electronic blank page of this post I’m not sure how or where to start with this week’s effort. I suppose in the natural turn of events I would have entertained you with the latest set of tragedies and woes in our remake of The Money Pit, where I, as a slightly older, heavier Tom Hanks laugh maniacally as I stare into the abyss where my bedroom and will to live used to be.

I’m sure you’ve all been looking forward to that all week. In reality, we are through the worst now. The decorator comes tomorrow, the carpet on Friday and the electrician should be returning to do the stuff he couldn’t do last time due to issues with our wiring.

Then we have to choose some blinds when the blind man comes on Tuesday night. I don’t think he has issues with his vision though. It’s a ridiculously long road for the doing up of just one average sized bedroom, but we don’t tend to do things by halves in that department.

So yesterday, Louise and I were out delivering some quantitative easing into the stagnant carpet and furniture economy and something weird happened. It had been brewing all day, being first mentioned by Louise as we were tidying and waiting for the carpet measuring man and Asda delivery. I dismissed it as playful banter at first, but the topic kept returning to our conversation all day as we wandered from shop to shop and by tea time, it had moved from fanciful nonsense to almost a reality.

An online chat including the girls in the conversation happened to confirm everything and it’s fair to say they were very shocked by this turn of events. What am I on about? Well, we now we sit staring down the barrel of a Florida holiday this summer when I would have put more money on my hair growing back just yesterday.

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I know you probably won’t be, but I’m in shock. Mainly as it was Louise’s idea and secondly that we’ve found a way to juggle stuff around and pay for it. If negotiating Brexit were as important to politicians as WDW trips are to us, we’d have cracked that nonsense in an afternoon.

So we have our dates mapped out. The complexity of agreeing on dates is more challenging than a moon landing. The NHS give out holidays to staff like gruel to workhouse kids so we have to wait until tomorrow for Louise to get official permission before we can press the button. I have Mustard gigs already booked to avoid disrupting and all of that and more is before I wandered into the minefield of finding flights with acceptable prices. It’s been a busy last few hours.

We *think* we will be going on the 28th of August. The party is me, Louise, Emily, Rebecca, Tom, Freddie….and of course Ryan, and I am just beginning the villa search. It will be as budget as these things can be. Disney parks only, hardly any or no on-site dining, instead grabbing counter service stuff or enjoying our wide range of off-site favourites and no extras such as MNNSHP etc.

Flight wise, it looks like Thomas Cook have direct flights for much cheapness. I say that, as on Kayak they show at £350ish, but by the time you’ve added luxuries like a suitcase, a meal and a seat reservation it’s back up to the £450 mark I would have expected. We’ve made the decision to get Freddie his own seat, even though he will still be just under 2 when we fly. 16 hours in economy with him on laps is a horror not to be entertained.

I know we’ve done the whole, “we definitely aren’t going this year” bait and switch a million times, and I am probably much more shocked than any of you, but this one really did come out of the blue.

There is much now to do, so leave me whilst I spend far too many hours obsessing over every small detail that could be better spent elsewhere…..NOT!

So unless the NHS holiday Gods deny us, we should have a relatively short countdown to our next adventure. Fancy coming along, virtually, of course? I mean you are welcome to go to Florida at the same time, but I’m not paying for you.

Let the planning, countdown and diet commence, we are going home!

Rebecca Beaches and CreamBeach Club

 

Till the next time…….

Blow By Blow….

Now that all the changes and faffing are done (hopefully) and the dust has settled on all the re-arranging of stuff for our next holiday, I thought I’d share our my (weirdly over thought and scarily detailed) plans with you for our trip even though it’s not until next April. Yes, I know that’s a long way away, but sharing this stuff makes the trip seem closer and reality a little further away, plus, with your combined expertise and knowledge, dear reader, you can point out any glaring errors or omissions. Your opinions are more than welcome, as long as I agree with them, otherwise you’ll just get yourself banned!!  That’s how the internet works, right?

This is all still pretty loose. Well, when I say loose, I of course know where we are eating most days and which parks we’ll be in for the Orlando time, but loose as in each second is not yet accounted for. It is bound to change a few times between now and departure date as I see and remember stuff we have to do….

Day One

We fly out of Manchester courtesy of Mr Branson at around 12.45. I have yet to experience a flight that actually left the ground at the time advertised so let’s say we’ll be airborne sometime in the early afternoon. Once home, myself Louise and Emily will drop off Nana and Grandad at the Holiday Inn Across from Universal (official title, not a description) and head off to check in at the Royal Pacific Resort. Once checked in and short pants adorned we shall collect some grandparents and head out to the Outback. It’s become a tradition that this is our eatery of choice for this first night. It became so as we stayed around Formosa Gardens for quite a few years in a row and it was convenient. A few Bloomin’ Onions and Cheesey Fries later and it’s become a must do.

With us staying quite some distance from Formosa of course, I’ve substituted it for one on I Drive, trusting that the quality will remain regardless of location. With full bellies we shall retire to a fitful sleep, ready for the early rising which is of course inevitable.

Day Two

With us no doubt being awake before it gets light we shall make best use of this by using the early hours access to the Potter stuff. With the grandparents “off site” they may have to wait at City Walk with a coffee until the muggles are admitted. We have five days here so at some point they’ll be able to do the Potter stuff they are allowed to go on. Heart conditions permitting!

Dinner is planned at Cowfish on City Walk. We tried this for the first time on our last trip and it was excellent. I intend to repeat my choice from that trip too with a

The Cowfish Has Offically Left The Building (A.K.A. The Hunka, Hunka)

Full-pound beef burger, creamy peanut butter, fried bananas, applewood bacon, brioche bun. Choice of side. (Make it a SINGLE HUNKA LOVE, half-pound beef burger for $13)

I will not be making use of the $13 option!

Day Three

Today is the tired day. The journey, the early morning wake up and a day in a theme park mean that this is always down as a rest day for us. We shall spend it by the pool at RPR but we shall make the effort to get across to the new Toothsome Chocolate Factory for lunch, which may just be made up of milk shake and pie. We are on holiday!

Dinner is pencilled in for Celebration. We usually do the Market Street Cafe but I have been warned that a change of ownership has not gone well so we may look elsewhere in Celebration. The main thing we want to do is meet Otis again, who we bumped into and fell in love with last year.

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Should time and energy allow we may pop to Disney Springs for a look and a wander (but no spending, unless it’s food).

Day Four

Refreshed and revitalised we shall tackle Universal Studios today. A train ride across to IOA may come into play should we be done early before heading off for dinner at the Teak Neighbourhood Grill. It’s very much a favourite of ours and we’re much closer to it than we normally are so it cannot be missed.

Day Five

It’s our last full day at Universal so we shall mop up any stuff we haven’t done or want to do again, no doubt with a bit more pooling too. The plan for dinner is a Disney one and assuming the ADR Gods are smiling upon us when the time comes, O’hana is the plan. We haven’t been since the girls were very small and that was for a breakfast. We did dinner there back in 2003 I think, so I think we’re due a visit.

Day Six

Our first move and it sees us pack up and head for the beach. We check into Siesta Key, here…
final siesta

and relax. We plan to do the beach, food and some cocktails and beer over the next week. Should we, by any chance get bored of days here…

We always have the option of popping to Busch Gardens for a bit of theme park action.

Day Seven

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Eight

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Nine

A radical change today as golf is on the plan for me and my Dad as we leave the ladies to do the beach. The two courses currently contending for our custom are Rosedale Golf Club and Palms at Forest Lakes. Whichever presents the lesser chance of me losing a dozen golf balls in water will get the nod.  I have planned to drive out for dinner to the nearest Applebees. Again, a firm fave and we don’t have time to fit it in during our Orlando time.

Day Ten

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Eleven

Beach! Again, a drive out for dinner to the local Olive Garden. A perennial treat for us. Nothing fancy, just great food, great value and Emily’s favourite Lasagne on the planet. The bread sticks and salad are as addictive as crack cocaine ( I would imagine!).

Day Twelve

Beach! Food and alcohol for dinner.

Day Thirteen

We leave Siesta Key and head back to Orlando. The plan says Epcot from whatever time we get there and at some point we will check into All Star Sports (Nana and Grandad) and Beach Club (the rest of us) for our final few days and whistle stop tour of the Disney parks. We’ve done the resting, now some proper theme park days!

Dinner is tentatively planned for Beaches & Cream and the night will be spent watching some duelling pianos at Jellyrolls.

Day Fourteen

Hangovers permitting, an earlyish start to get to Animal Kingdom and hopefully we will have enough stamina to make it all the way to the new night-time stuff too. Either way, Louise, Emily and I will all want to ride Everest in the dark.

We always seem to end up having lunch at Yak & Yeti, hopefully leaving enough room for a late dinner at Sanaa, ADR permitting. The bread starter thing is a thing of beauty and delight.

Day Fifteen

Hollywood Studios today for another park day. I’m hopeful of catching Fantasmic so it could be a long day and we may pop out late afternoon to eat at Bahama Breeze before heading back into the park for the show.

Day Sixteen

Where else, but Magic Kingdom to end the holiday. It isn’t everyone’s favourite but it’s the symbol of everything Disney and my tradition is to fight back the tears as we walk out of the park for the last time each trip. Emily does less well at the fighting part!

Dinner may very well be at the end of the boat trip across to Fort Wilderness at Trail’s End, which is too becoming something of a habit/tradition, but we’ll see how the day goes.

Day Seventeen

We have a full day in Orlando as our flight isn’t until around 8pm so I would imagine we’ll be doing our normal last-minute shopping at Disney Springs for gifts, souvenirs and those last few thousand calories before heading off to the airport, long pants and an enormous sulk.

As things change, I shall keep you updated of course!

Till the next time……

The Votes Are In…..

I’m so grateful for your responses to last week’s post. I had so much great advice from many folks who are clearly more expert (obsessed) with US travel than I. Via every medium available on the internet I had replies and help, so thank you for giving a toss about my trivial travel plans.

As far as the voting goes the results were as follows.

poll

I didn’t know what to expect, but I suppose I was slightly surprised to see California come out on top, or perhaps more specifically, Orlando not to.

Beyond the voting I got some very detailed, well thought through advice with one very kind soul even sending me their planning spreadsheet for their California trip in 2014. Thank you Sue! It is very nice to know, as I suspected, that many others are sad enough to have their holidays in such detailed Excel formats!!

Beyond the US there were great suggestions for destinations such as Dubai, Mexico, Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, Tokyo and Thailand along with many suggestions of a cruise.

So what did we decide to do? Well, I have to say that Louise and I were leaning towards California and the results of the poll and the comments I got were encouraging us in that direction. However, with a little bit of research following up on some cautionary advice from those who have been before, it had to be discounted for the simple reason that in February, or even March, the temperatures are too low. Looking at various weather sites it would seem that we’d be lucky to see anything in the 70’s most days and for us a holiday can’t involve fleeces and long trousers during the day!!

However, at some point very soon in our holiday future, we WILL do California. Your feedback has confirmed that we must.

As far as cruising goes, that is a bit of a non-starter. Louise is very strange and along with her irrational fear of flying she also has a bit of a thing about the sea and boats…no matter how big they may be.

So we were then looking at either one of the other destinations listed above or a return to the familiar embrace of Florida. As much as Louise likes a beach and a sunbathe, even she had to admit that a whole holiday of that may not be for us after all these years of “doing stuff” for most of the holiday, So, with absolute predictability, that is how our journey back to Florida has come about. We have decided to push our dates back to March, as we got advice (thanks Di) about Florida in February being on the chilly side and so seeing that March seems to be in the mid 80’s most days, that is much more acceptable. Those extra few weeks before we go will be tortuous, but one thing I have learned about countdowns is that they always eventually end!

So, with that decided, I then moved on to making some rough plans. With warm weather back in play, the beach came back in to focus and so with startling speed, a day by day plan formed in my mind. I was actually quite shocked at how quickly and easily this came to me. A sign of where all my thoughts, time and money has gone for many years.

With flights not yet available for next March, nothing can be booked as yet (booking flights first is the law) but this has not stopped me from looking at lots of hotels around our pencilled in locations. So far, we’re looking at something like –

Flights into Miami

Four nights in Miami/Fort Lauderdale

A two hour drive up to Vero Beach (either at the Disney resort itself or another hotel in the area) for three nights there.

Over to Orlando for four nights on site at Universal

Four of five nights on site at Disney, ideally around the Boardwalk area, or if budget dictates somewhere like Old Key West.

Flight home from Orlando

See, easy this isn’t it? I believe flights should be available from around the end of April to mid May for our travel dates (current thinking is mid March departure) so until then I am coiled like an oily spring, consumed with pent-up planning tension waiting for the sweet release of hitting the book button. Such is the life of an obsessive such as me and you, judging by your responses last week!

Thanks again for all your help. I was delighted and surprised by your interest and generosity. If anyone has any recommendations for hotels in and around Miami or indeed the Vero area, should we not go the Disney route, then please do let me know. Should anyone have DVC points sitting on a shelf they may not need then again we may well be interested in those too.

Till the next time…..