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Florida 18 - T2 - Day 16 - Outlets, Monorail & Ed Sheeran


Another hot morning and another early morning walk. I could really get used to this.

Neil wanted to visit the Premium Outlets mall this morning so we left Barry basking by the pool whilst the rest of us took a short trip to the shops. We parked 'on the other side' of the road to the main shops as it is always easier to park and

Neil wanted to visit the Old Navy Outlet. From here we walked across to the main bulk of the shops. We then 'parked' Karen in Starbucks whilst I accompanied Neil to the Disney Character Warehouse store. This is the official Disney shop where they sell either over stock or last seasons stock from all over the world. It was chaotic to say the least. Neil found a couple of items he wanted and I offered to queue for him whilst he had a look in other shops.

45 minutes later, yes I will repeat that 45 minutes later I finally got to the front of the queue to pay. Unbelievable. mind you the prices are unbelievable too. There are things we have seen in Disney Springs reduced from $24.99 to $3.99. No wonder people were going mad purchasing them.

I found Karen outside Starbucks alongside Neil who had by then finished the rest of his shopping. We made one more stop in the Columbia Store before heading back to the Villa.

We had a swift turnaround for lunch before heading out again with Barry. Our first stop was the Polynesian Resort. I love this place. The smell, atmosphere and feel just has something about it. We wandered around and then the boys both had a Dole Whip which has limited availability anywhere but a couple of Disney parks or Hawaii. Karen & I visited the Dole Plantation when we were in Hawaii. The Dole Whip is very nice but I abstained as usual. Interestingly it is a dairy free product which always amuses me.

We then caught the monorail to the Contemporary Resort and had a quick wander around here including a look at their full size gingerbread house representation. Back on the monorail saw us changing lines at the Transportation Centre to ride the Epcot loop. We like doing this as it almost feels like you are visiting in Epcot itself as you whizz all around Spaceship Earth. We were envious of the people we could see in the park still enjoying the Food & Drink Festival.

Arriving back at the Transportation Centre we alighted and walked back to the Polynesian Resort and headed to Traders Sam's for drinks. This was something Barry had particularly been looking forward to.

Now no family is perfect. Ours certainly isn't. No one is perfect and none of us are exactly perfect (despite how I like to think of myself as Mary Poppins - practically perfect in every way). I do worry that these blogs may seem to sugarcoat everything. Everyone has their niggles from time to time, and again our family more than most. We can be loud and boisterous. There is lots of normally friendly banter. Nevertheless we are always there for each other, supportive when needed but also ready to bring each other down a peg or two when needed.

Our boys are very different characters. Both bring different strengths to the party. Equally as do everyone they have characteristics that make them unique. We love them both equally without favour and would willingly give up everything without a seconds thought for either them. We have never tried to treat either of them differently although as they have become adults our approach with them both has had to differ somewhat.

Just as Karen & I have our 'blow-ups', so the boys sometimes. One of these happened whilst having drinks at Trader Sams. It was trivial and I cannot even remember what it was over. It was nothing major but harsh words were exchanged. Neither of them got really upset. However I did. For some reason it got to me and I took it badly as I always want everyone to get along and be happy all the time. Stupid I know. My fault and nobody else's.

The one thing that I would wish for our family is for the boys to be much closer. When we are together they get normally along and bounce off each other in a lovely way. Yet I wish they would get together often when we are not with them. YI know though that if one needed the other they would be there without hesitation.

By the following morning all of this had be blown over and forgotten about and I will be pilloried by everyone for writing this. Yet this blog is supposed to a record of our trip and that happened and happens to most families from time to time.

We were slightly later back to the Villa than planned which meant a very quick turnaround for Karen & I before heading to the Raymond James stadium in Tampa as we had tickets to see Ed Sheeran again. This is the third time we have seen him on this tour (previously LA & Wembley) as Karen really loves seeing him Live. He really is a great performer and the songs sound so much better performed in the flesh. This was not the boys 'thing' so we left them to have a chilled night in the Villa with Pizza and a fridge full of other things.

The 69 mile drive was horrible. There were traffic hold ups all the way and it took just over 2 hours before we approached the stadium. We hadn't pre booked parking and so were grateful when we came across some in a small office block for $20. The couple running it assured us we would not be blocked in and would be able to make a quick getaway afterwards. It was however a 1.1 mile to the stadium which we did in quick time. Security around the stadium was tight but we soon gained access and make our way up to our seats. The view was excellent. The main support act Snow Patrol were still playing as we sat down so we got to see/hear their best tracks.

There was a good age range of people in the sell out crowd who let out an enormous roar as Ed Sheeran took to the stage. Despite being a 'Tractor Boy' we still felt some pride that a good East Anglian lad can with a few seconds get thousands of people singing along with him. He was definitely on form and varied from previous set lists to include some songs he had written for others and not released himself. The one that got the best reaction was 'Love Yourself' that he had given to Bieber.

As our seats were the wrong side of the stadium for where we had parked we decided to leave as the encore started to beat the crowd as I had read that it could be a nightmare otherwise. We made our way back to the car in such haste that Karens Fitbit congratulated her on her 'workout' once we got to the car. We just managed to get out of our spot and turn left as needed as the traffic built up and would have prevented us from doing so. The journey back only took just over a hour and despite it being midnight we stopped on the 192 to get petrol so that we didn't have to worry about it on the way to the theme park the next day.


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