OK, I know I haven't published anything from our trip to Madeira yet. Worry ye not, a single longish blog will be completed shortly.
And yes, I know that our trips seem to be getting more frequent. But this is what we have always planned to do. We haven't got the balance right yet. Nor the trips scheduled in the right order, but its trial and error. But it is a nice problem to have and great fun working through.
Anyhow here we are and here we go again. This time a 3 week trip to Florida in May. The first time we have ever visited in May, supposedly the best time of year for the weather (if anything is going to put the jeepers on the weather for this trip, then putting that in writing surely will).
We are moving about for the first week (including picking Neil up from Miami airport in a couple of days time) and then moving up to a Villa in Kissimmee for the last 2 weeks.
As ever the run up to the holiday was fraught with last minute panics. Karen was still picking up supply work constantly and I seemed busier than ever with just general 'stuff'. Upstairs in the house was a mess, as we had bought all new office furniture and had to clear the office completely in preparation for it to be decorated. This meant everywhere was organised chaos and trying to pack amongst this was a challenge.
We chose to fly on May 3rd so that we around to celebrate Barrys birthday on the 2nd. We had a lovely day with him despite the weather , including lunch at The Victoria - Holkham and then a celebratory meal at The Earlham Arms.
The following morning saw us up by 6am aiming for a 7am departure drive to Gatwick. We were ready on time, but after reversing the car out of the drive, I had to run back to get my headphones I had remembered were still in my Jeans pocket.
The drive was easy and we had time for a quick stop on the A11 for Karen to get her free Starbucks. I had prepaid valet parking at Gatwick which was very quick and easy. Although not as cheap as we had paid in January, it was not much more than using Park at my House dot com.
We had checked in the day before and so went straight to baggage drop off with BA. This was a new experience as it involved us scanning boarding cards and passports, followed printing luggage labels, attaching to the bags and putting onto belts ourselves. I made Karen do her own, as if hers went missing again I didn't want the blame for 'probably not doing something right'.
After security we went to find the Lounge. We had some free passes through one of the credit cards. However as we weren't able to book in advance, we couldn't get in as they were full. Never mind we will use in July instead. So we opted for the usual Wetherspoons instead.
Once our gate was allocated we made our way over to it.
Some 3 hours later we were still there waiting.
The air con on the plane had stopped working. To be fair BA were very good about it. They gave regular updates. The best bit was when the captain and his co pilots came out to the gate and wandered round to chat to us all. I suggested to them that they just opened a window to cool the air down, to which they smiled politely. So I offered them a sweet (sugar free) instead, but I think they thought I might be trying to poison them so they declined.
When we eventually boarded, we took our pre booked 2 aisle seats and were pleased to find that neither of us had anyone sitting next to us. This was an added bonus of travelling outside of the school holidays, coupled with the lack of kids around in general.
The food was awful. BA is now just shadow of its former self. The plane was tired and the service was just about adequate.
I managed to watch The Darkest Hour which I thought was excellent and Paddington 2 which was a real feel good film.
The pilots made up some time en route, which was a bit of a shame really. If we had arrived 3 hours later than planned then we would have been entitled to compensation of over £500 between us. However being 2 hours 34 minutes late meant we were just later and more tired than planned but financially not compensated.
The Global Entry process worked like a dream. It was a good investment 2 years ago for the number of times we have used it. We were the first people in the baggage area from our flight. It was of no help though as Karens bag was one the last off the belt. But at least it made it this time.
As we had booked our rental car with Alamo I had been able to complete the check in online and so we were able to by pass the long queues at the counters and went straight to the garage to choose our car from the SUV row. I chose the biggest there - A maroon Nissan Rouge with Illinois license plates. So far it seems a good choice.
It was 92 mile drive to the Holiday Inn Express at Vero Beach, but an easy straight forward one despite my tiredness of having been up over 21 hours by this point. Much of the stress is removed just by having the Sat Nav take the strain away from having Karen trying to navigate, which was always the source for many a good shouting match.
Our room was the standard Holiday Inn type, although being a Gold elite member means we got an upgrade and they made a fuss of us when we arrived.
After checking emails and a quick cuppa, we were both soon sound asleep.