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2019 - Florida - Travel Day


Here we go again.

The final trip of the year is a 3 weeks and a day trip to Florida.

Remarkably this is our first trip to the Sunshine State this year. It is also the trip I have been most looking forward to all year. Not just because we really enjoy the weather and the place but because we will be joined out there in just over a week by 3 very special people who will bring a different dimension to the holiday.

If I was to name just one reason why Florida works for us I think I would struggle. It is the place where as a couple and a family we have had the best of times over the years. Going this time of year should mean we get the last of the really good weather without any of the excess humidity. It is a place where we can and do really relax. Not too much driving either (but probably far too many theme parks this time).

This time we have booked 2 villas. The first in Bradenton on the West Coast and then we move back to Kissimmee for the last 15 nights.

The time since our last trip seems to have flown by. It made me question again whether we are doing too many trips. The answer is unquestionably Yes, but we need to get them out of our system. Whilst we can, we will continue to do so, but I still don’t feel we have got the right balance of where and when.

In between trips I had managed to actually see 2 games at Carrow Road. They may well prove to be the best and worst of times (games of the season).

We have been to the various Theatres numerous times along with the Cinema. There’s been a couple of trips to London and several to the coast. We have discovered some new restaurants and visited some old favourites. We have almost caught up with all of our family and friends since the last trip as well. I have played 9 holes of Golf at least once each week as well as continued to have a few lessons. My scores may not have improved but I do feel as if I am hitting the ball better and there are times when it does all come together.

As always Karen got herself very stressed before we left. As always it was a combination of lots of Supply work, catching whatever virus from the children at those schools, and general exhaustion. As always I took the brunt of it, but heh ho. Miserable wife - miserable life.

My packing for 3 weeks takes just over a hour and that includes all the admin stuff. Hers takes nearer 48 hours, involving spreadsheets of what tops can be worn with what shorts etc. I just open my drawer and count out whatever T shirts lay on top. Quite often it just empties the drawer completely. Hers is much more considered and scientific.

We set off to Gatwick around 7.15pm after Karen had returned from her holiday haircut. We had debated whether to just get up early and drive the following morning but as Travelodge were only charging less than £30 for a room at the airport thought we would take the easy option. The drive was easy enough as we listened to the latest Brexit debacle in Parliament. The room for the night might have been cheap but the Hotel car park was £16! I was not happy as I was only expecting eight pounds but had no option but to pay through gritted teeth.

The next morning we drove to the official valet parking at the terminal as I had managed to book this in advance for less than Purple Parking or anything else I could find on Just Park. It was very easy and we were soon on our way into the terminal itself. There was about a 10 minute delay dropping bags and we managed to get one of the automated kiosks that broke as soon as we got to it.

Security was quick and smooth and we then made our way to the newly opened Aspire Lounge. This was nice and empty as we seated ourselves and had the free hot breakfast. The time passed quickly but as soon as the gate number was shown on the departures board then as ever Karen was eager to make a move.

We had about a 10 minute wait at the gate before we boarded a very tired BA plane. For what I assume the UK still thinks off as its flagship airline, it is really quite poor and deteriorated year on year. It could be that we are always unlucky with the plane allocation but each one always feels as though it has seen much better days. Sitting in Economy didn’t help (we had actually had to pay money for this flight so no upgrade for us). The seats in a 3-3-3 format were tight and cramped. The overhead lockers were small and with both of our bags in one we could not get it too shut. In order to allow others to pass we took our seats. My bag ended up being moved back 4 rows by the stewardesses and I was less than impressed with that. Half way through the flight I moved it back and with a big of jiggling and brute force got the locker above us closed.

The food was poor again - well in my faddy opinion anyway. A choice of Spicy Chicken smothered in Tomato or Vegetarian Pasta smothered in Tomato. I don't like tomato. I didn’t bother trying either and instead ate my £1 sandwiches from Boots.

The screens for the entertainment were tiny and not much bigger than my phone. Nevertheless I managed to watch 3 films all of which I realised afterwards were musicals. I enjoyed Wild Rose about the Glaswegian country singer. It was less about the music and more about life getting in the way of someones aspirations. I then watched Yesterday. Obviously after starring in it, we had been to watch it at the Cinema. I enjoyed it even more the second time. Of course I liked seeing the various film locations, but this time I really loved the relationships between the characters and how the song choices moved the story along. I thought that both main actors were very believable. The final film I watched was Aladdin which I thought was actually well done and watchable as a plane film.

Getting off the plane was fine and getting through Immigration was a breeze with Global Entry although again we picked a machine that wasn’t working properly and so we had to input our passport details manually.

It took a while for our cases to come off the carousel and then via 2 monorails we made our way to collect the rental car. We had booked this through BA and added our Avis Preferred status which meant we could collect direct from garage without queuing up. In the garage our name was not on the welcome board and so we had to talk to someone to get their resolved. It only took a minute and we were directed to our car - a White Chevolet SUV. It had plenty of room and lots of gadgets inside so I was happy.

We set the Sat Nav up and hit the road. We headed towards the villa in Bradenton which was just over 40 miles away intending to stop at Outback and Publix supermarket on the way. After about 10 minutes we hit congestion on the Interstate which delayed us about 15 minutes. The sky though was blue and the temperature was reading 86f so we were happy.

We went into the Outback and I had the usual. Karen just had a house salad as she had taken lots of food onto the plane and had eaten the meal. We were in and out within 45 minutes and went across the road to the supermarket where we got the basic provisions for the next few days. It was then about a further 7 miles onto the villa which we found easily.

Our first impressions of the villa were very favourable. It is enormous having 4 double bedrooms. Karen also declared herself happy with the cleanliness of it as well. Once we had unloaded I made some tea which we drank outside by the pool in the warm night air. Lets just hope that we like the villa as much when we see it in daylight in the morning.


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