With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick Ho, ho, ho!
For our final morning we woke to a lovely Florida day with sunshine and blue sky. Although not an alarm setting day everyone was up bright and reasonably early to make the most of the day. We were also all checking that the airport was now open and whether our flights had been impacted. So far all we could see was that Barry & Ellie’s flight seemed to have been put back just over 1 hour whilst ours appeared to be still scheduled to be on time at the moment.
I had been able to arrange a late check out of the villa as nobody else had booked it starting from today. This gave the day a whole new feel and we felt as if we had gained an extra day’s holiday. Normally we would have had to been out of the villa at 10am. Our flights were not until almost 9pm which would have meant a long day trying to kill time with all of our luggage in the car.
I had done most of my packing in a break yesterday so that I was free to be able to do whatever whenever. That turned out to be sitting outside with everyone until around 11am, when I set off with Neil to play Disney mini golf for the final time this trip for a decider after drawing last time.
We headed off this time without Karen who chose to stay by the pool. I was delighted to find that the radio station in the car had switched to non-stop Christmas music from today and that the second track we heard was Mr Grinch, which is always a family favourite.
We were soon at the Summerland/Winterland mini golf courses at Blizzard Beach. We ended up playing the nicely themed Winterland course. On the 5th hole I had a disastrous 6 and by the start of the 10th was 4 shots behind Neil. I then had two holes in one and by the 17th we were tied with everything to play for. Sadly, I caught the edge of one of the ‘presents’ that Santa had left on the course meaning I took a 3 whilst Neil navigated passed it for a 2. That won him the round and the title of Golfer of the holiday. It was good fun and we both enjoyed it.
It didn’t take long to leave Disney property for the last time and we were soon back, ahead of Barry & Ellie who had done well and got themselves onto the Guardians ride in Epcot for the last time.
I then had my last dip in the now cooling hot tub as the heating had been turned off by the management company earlier this morning, before packing up the rest of my stuff.
As we all busied around, we talked about the trip and agreed we would all do it again sometime soon. I awarded myself the ‘Husband of the Holiday’ award whilst Child of the Holiday was not awarded at all.
We all agreed the funniest moment had been two nights earlier was when playing cards and it came to Karen’s turn to shuffle. The cards went flying everywhere time after time. She blamed her broken arm but we kept pointing out that she was using little arm movement and what there was originated in the less recent broken one. Indeed, as part of my packing away I found another card under the table, which the boys claimed voided the results of the game.
Sadly, it was then time to leave for the airport. Pleasingly there wasn’t too much food that we left behind, but anything left is a waste to me. It is though always hard to judge how much of what we need when we go shopping and shops only seem to sell many things in bulk.
We made our separate ways to the airport after taking a couple of final photos by the car.
We used Waze to direct us whilst Barry looked on Google Maps beforehand. Waze had been really good all trip but not this time. It turned us into some quite bad traffic hold ups which was frustrating. It also didn’t take us past any garages to fill up with petrol before handing the rental car back. We had to get some at the airport where it was 10% more expensive. By the time we were at the rental car drop off, Barry & Ellie had already dropped off their car and were already on the shuttle to Terminal C.
Neil guided us to take the monorail rather than the shuttle. It was easier with our bags but a much longer walk. Check in was quick and straightforward. Karen and I were able to go through the TSA pre-approved Security line which was quick as well. Neil had to go through the longer normal queue. However, we caught Barry & Ellie up as Ellie had ‘done a Karen’ and left a bottle of water in her bag which then had to be searched.
I tried to get everyone into the Lounge. However, as Terminal C only has one lounge open so far, it was full which was disappointing. Instead, we eventually found a table where we all had some food and drink which sadly, we had to pay for. Neil & I got ours from Shake Shack and although at airport prices was still good.
Then it was time for Barry & Ellie to go their gate for their flight back to Gatwick. We all had a hug and said our goodbyes. About 45 minutes later we went to our gate.
Our hope was that everything from here on in would be on schedule and that Neil & I would be able to get to the match at Carrow Road after taking Karen home first. We knew with the timings though that we had little or no contingency. Boarding for the flight was 20 minutes late starting which was not a good sign.
There was a little hassle over our seats as like several families we had been split up. The air stewards are apparently not allowed to ask people to move because they don’t know if anyone has specifically paid extra for a particular seat. Instead, they encouraged us to sort it amongst ourselves. It could have been solved quite easily for everyone but one girl refused to move from her window seat to another window seat. That caused some grumpiness around us as without her moving, no other moves achieved anything. Karen and I were just separated by the aisle.
I started watching a Christmas Film and was half way through it before we took off a full hour behind schedule. I then tried to sleep the rest of the journey and did so intermittently. I missed dinner being served and didn’t miss much. I was sat up ready for breakfast which was a hot bagel and was fine.
Arriving at Heathrow we got almost to the gate when we were stopped on the runway as apparently the gate guidance system for our gate was switched off. We waited over 30 minutes for someone to sort it before pulling in so we could get off the plane.
The immigration gates were all working well and we were soon at the carousel waiting for the bags to start coming off. We were there for 30 minutes waiting before anything happened.
By the time we met Sunny to collect the car we had been on the ground for almost 2 hours. Waze told us we would not be home until 3.30pm. Our new plan was to drop Neil at the ground and then for me to take Karen & the bags home and go back to pick Neil up. I would have liked to been dropped at the ground as well but Karen was too sleepy to drive anywhere and could never have lifted the bags out of the car.
As Neil got out of the car at the ground, we were one nil up. Sadly, by the time he got back in when I picked him up we had lost 2-1. He was very grumpy about it all.
And so that was it, our final trip of the year complete. We had had a wonderful time. It was the trip I had been looking forward to the most all year and it hadn’t let me down.