Friday, 5 April 2013

Friday 5th April 2013

(Happy First Contact Day everyone.)

Ceri-ism of the day (after I asked her what she had most enjoyed about our holiday): "Pizza".

Picture of the day:
Flamingo Bay pool where we hung out most days.

Thing unexpectedly found to have sugar in it of the day: Garlic bread.

Hellen's Version

Went to Aquatica again. It was overcast and only 23 degrees and rained.

Everyone Else Version

Went to Aquatica again. There was hardly anyone there so no queues for any of the rides and slides. The water was warm, the sun shone occasionally, and we had a wonderful relaxing day. Suzy & Co. went to Gatorland.

So we're packing and getting ready to go home, and I'm wishing we had at least another week here and counting down the days until we can come back (1,095). I've put together a list of the abiding memories I'll have of this wonderful family holiday:
  • Finding that I’d packed a single table mat from my dining table at home.
  • Running from the hurricane, and Hari banging desperately on the wrong door.
  • Watching the Disney fireworks from the balcony each evening.
  • A three-hour timeshare-selling presentation which involved both breakfast and lunch, but during which Brian entirely failed to notice that he was trying to sell a timeshare to the people who already had one, and completely ignoring the person who hadn’t...
  • Jenny the ballet-dancing dolphin
  • Snorkelling through grottos with Gwen
  • Getting sunburnt so badly on my face that when my skin peeled off I looked like a zombie.
  • Hot and sour soup at China Buffet.
  • Falling in love with Windermere, even the Wal-Mart.
  • Sugar in everything, even the bread.
  • A bird stealing Gwen’s bread roll from the table when she went to get a drink.
  • Sitting on the back of a paddle boat as Hari and Clara argued about who was steering.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Thursday 4th April 2013

Anna-ism of the day (speculating on why an elderly couple we met yesterday used to drive for 24 hours to get to the Temple rather than fly): "Perhaps it was before the cheap flights thing took off?"

Picture of the day: Ceri with Rainbow Dash before she was stuffed (the pony, not Ceri).

Thing unexpectedly found to have sugar in it of the day: Tinned beans

Hellen's Version

Rained, and I got soaked (and lost) going to the post office.

Everyone Else Version

We're gearing up for going home, sadly. No, I won't leave, you can't make me! That means I'm starting to get worried about the fact that we only have 45 minutes to make our connection in Atlanta and get on the flight to Heathrow. Apparently the airport claim it's do-able, but that might mean that an Olympic sprinter with one carry-on bag can do it, rather than a party of ten including four children under ten. My amazing subconscious has a habit of sorting stuff out for me while I sleep (seriously, several times I've awoken with an answer in my head) and this morning I opened my eyes to the obvious solution: change the first flight to an earlier one.

So I phoned Delta, but was told that I couldn't do so unless there was a good reason, such as our first flight looking likely to be delayed due to bad weather. I'm hoping for thunderstorms on Saturday morning. It could happen.

Florida isn't always sunny as we discovered again today, and when it rains it's fun to watch the Floridians panic. All the same, rather than lounge by the pool today we took Ceri to Florida Mall to spend the money she got from both Grandmas. She decided to go to Build-a-Bear workshop where they had her favourite My Little Pony, so she made and adopted Rainbow Dash. We also found a toy shop which sold Littlest Pet Shop figures (which Ceri collects) so that made short work of her dollars.

I should probably be offended, because we walked past a salesgirl hawking family photography packages (salespeople in America are very pushy) and she leapt out at me and suggested I might like a photograph done. I  replied, "Not while I look like this," and she nodded aquiesence and moved onto the next person. I am currently an ideal candidate for an extra in a zombie movie since my face is sunburnt and blistered and peeling.

On the way back we passed a car with the number plate "GODSFAV". That should have been picture of the day, except that I was scrabbling around in my bag for the phone at the crucial moment.

Suzy and Phil took their offspring to Magic Kingdom, where I expect they had to buy waterproof Disney ponchos, did lots of the indoor shows and didn't have to queue for very long for the rides.

Meanwhile once the rain cleared Hari and I headed down to the pool for a late night jacuzzi. It was full of Americans having drinking contests, but was nevertheless warm and comfortable. Hari got bored after five minutes.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wednesday 3rd April 2013

Peter-ism of the day: "Is it true your brother likes my sister ... like that?"

Picture of the day (forgot to take my camera so it'll have to be this one from the web):
The Orlando Florida Temple

Thing unexpectedly found to have sugar in it of the day: Sliced ham

Hellen's Version

Coughed the whole time I was in the Temple. Taco Bell was a disappointment and it rained on our game of mini-golf.

Everyone Else Version

Today was a day for Roderic and I to spend together, in part as consolation for his having his birthday on a plane on the way here. We went to the Orlando Florida Temple first, since it's only ten minutes from our resort. It's a very big and extremely beautiful Temple, subtly decorated with symbols of the area, including intricately woven palm leaves depicted in gold tones across the ceiling. Since we both have bad coughs we opted not to do an endowment session for fear of spoiling it for everyone else, and instead we participated in sealings which is a quicker and more informal ordinance. As predicted I started coughing, but  as ever in the Temple we were well looked after and people appeared with cough sweets and water pretty quickly.

From there we went to Walmart and Boyd's LDS Books. The Walmart was smaller than the one near us (still much bigger than Morrison's though) and, dare I say it, really lovely. Still Walmart but ... nice, somehow. Beautifully neat and well laid out, much like the rest of Windermere (the area where the Temple is situated). We found we loved Windermere and would love to live there someday; it's the "posh end" of Orlando.

Taco Bell for lunch because we really liked Mexican food last time we were in America. Also since then the first three Taco Bell restaurants have opened in the UK, one of them in Basildon only ten minutes away from us. So we were quite disappointed to find that the US Taco Bell isn't anything like as good as the UK version. Mexican fries are the best!

Suzy had managed to make contact with an old friend who had emigrated to Florida twenty years ago, so we were excited to welcome her and her two sons to the joint apartment for dinner and a round of Pirates Mini-Golf.  It started raining as we were playing but, hardy Brits that we are, we carried on anyway. Until the thunder, at which point (possibly remembering last week’s hurricane) we returned the clubs and balls and headed back home pretty sharpish. Once there Suzy and her friend were able to renew their friendship and catch up on news from the intervening twenty years over  pizza and key lime pie.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Tuesday 2nd April 2013

[Note: Yes, there was probably a Monday 1st April yesterday. Can't remember much of it. I think we went to China Buffet for lunch and I had hot and sour soup for the first time and loved it, and the children all went nuts for fortune cookies. Apart from that it's a blank, though. What do they put in that soup?!?]

Picture of the Day: OK, so this is yesterday. Gregory with dessert. It didn't come out in the picture but he had  a huge plateful piled high with chocolate doughnuts and ice cream.

Thing unexpectedly found to have sugar in it of the day: Bean and cheese burrito.

Hellen's Version

Aquatica today, a water park better than Wet'n'Wild (not difficult)  but not as good as the Disney ones. The problem for me is that I'm terrified of heights, so while I'm generally okay with riding down a flume, I struggle to walk up the stairs to get to it in the first place, especially if those stairs are open. Disney waterparks are built around a mountain so rather than climb steps you wander up a meandering mountain trail, thus removing all the terror for me. Aquatica was all about the flights of steps, so I was limited in what I was able to go on.

Florida was too hot, and my girls and I all got horrendously sunburnt. I screamed all the way down one of the rides, much to the amusement of Gwen and Hari.

Everyone Else Version

Our family loves waterparks, and today it was a really relaxing day. We enjoyed the wave pool, rapids, lazy river (which takes you past dolphins and tropical fish) and the kiddie area was especially good, with flumes the adults could enjoy too. Food and drink was better value than the other parks had been too, and we all did the all-you-can-eat all-day buffet which was pretty good.