Well if yesterday saw a quiet house then this final morning felt even worse. By the time we were up though Barry & Ellie had arrived safely back at home in Norwich after an uneventful journey.
We were both ready to go home as well and the weather seemed to telling us that it was time to leave as well by being overcast. I had woken up feeling lousy either from tiredness or more likely a bug I had picked up. I ended up taking cold/flu tablets for the next 24 hours to try and get through the journey to offset the symptoms.
I had arranged with the owner of the villa that we could have a late check out as she was going to be the next person staying here from tomorrow. Trouble was I didn’t know how late, so we thought we would aim to be ready to leave from noon.
After breakfast we decided to start clearing the car & house and get packed up. It took a lot longer than we anticipated probably due to all the things we had bought that needed to be squeezed into our cases. Some of the purchases from our first couple of days I had completely forgotten about buying. I needed to ‘expand’ my case to get everything in. I put all the heavy things into my hand luggage to make sure I wasn’t over the weight limit. When we got to the airport and dropped off our bags, it amused us that both our cases weighed exactly the same and just under the limit at 22.6kg.
Around 10am we decided to have our last sit outside. I was pleased to find the pool heating had not been switched off and so sat in the Spa for the last time. It was nice despite the outside temperature not being great, but just not the same without everyone else here. We then showered and then started to clear up the kitchen. There were a few snacks we packed to take with us. There were a few open packs of things like butter we put into the rubbish bin, but left things that were not opened (like 3 beers) for the cleaners to either take for themselves or dispose of as they liked.
We ended up leaving the villa for the last time at 12.30pm. I said thank you to it for the part it had played in giving us the best of times.
It was still too early for the drive to the airport at Tampa for our evening flight so we went back to the Celebration Tavern for lunch. Today I had the Blackened Mahi Sandwich with the unbelievable chips whilst Karen went with the Potato Skins. Both were delicious. We were served by a lad from Swansea who had emigrated when he was 6 and had the most American accent possible. We walked back to the car to get Karen's final Starbucks of the trip.
Then it was time to leave for the airport. The drive was easy until the last 8 miles where we hit the usual Tampa congestion. We did have an interesting stop to fill up the rental car before handing it back. Not too sure where the garage was, but it was a very dubious one. It looked fine until we got out of the car by which time it seemed too late to try and find another. Whilst Karen was inside paying I was approached by a guy who leant out of his car trying to sell me his gold bracelet as he was ‘desperate’ for cash. I declined the very generous opportunity.
There was no problems dropping off bags and we were able to go through the TSA pre cleared Security line which had no queue. I was then disappointed to find that Tampa does not have any ‘Lounges’. We had to slum it with the general public - Do they not know who we are?
The time passed quickly and it was soon time to board behind 10 wheelchairs that were all lined up in a queue to get priority boarding. Karen contemplated getting in one herself to get on board quicker.
It was a newer plane that we one we had coming out here. It seemed though to have even less room though in Economy. Karen was not happy, not happy at all especially as she had the middle seat of a 3 row.
The trouble is that she has been split for the last year or so. We have either been able to upgrade using points, or been sat in a 2 format. I wanted a window seat as it gave me something to lean on when trying to sleep of which I wanted to get as much as possible as I had the drive from Gatwick to look forward to. Karen always claims she cannot sleep on a plane (not really true as many times she is asleep before we actually take off), also she can and does fall asleep anywhere. We also knew that as soon as we got back in the car she would sleep soundly till we stopped. Still at least, you would never have known she was unhappy at her middle seat from her face or demeanour and hardly moaned at all whilst I was awake (or should that be hardly stopped moaning?).
The flight was fine as was immigration and baggage collection. The car was waiting in the valet parking attached to the car park. Apart from Karen’s snoring, the drive was uneventful. I woke her up when we stopped at Starbucks on the A11 for a break.
It was raining and cold when we pulled into the drive. It was lovely to be home but I would rather be back at the start of the trip than at the end. At least the grass hadn’t grown too much, but sadly there was no big Premium Bond win waiting for us. Maybe next time.
And that was it, the end of our travels out of the country for the year. Wow, what a year and we had saved the best for last. In a day or so, I will write a end of year reflection.