Saturday, April 29, 2006
I've got the burgers, the beer and the wine. This will be a common shoping list from now until September no doubt as we often have a few BBQ's to go to throughout the summer.
This one will be a bit different though. It will be the first time in about 18 months that this particluar group of friends have all been in the same place at the same time since our infamous "christmas brawl" in 2004. We seem to have a bit of difficulty playing nice sometimes so it will be intresting to see how it goes. I'll admit I have my doubts it will go without incident...there still seem to be some issues unresolved...but I'm willing to give it a go as it's being hosted by my good friends and it would be nice to be able to resume our friendships and get on with things.
I was brought up never to cause a scene in anyone else's home (instilled by my Dad who was big on manners in someone else's home!) and I've always stood by that so if there does appear to be any niggles or comments I will simply remove myself and head home!
Fingers crossed it all goes well. The trouble is we are all different in nature and when drink is involved we can all get a bit much. There's been a lot said and done between us all and a lot of lies and not quite true rumours have been spun around the group in recent times. It is supposed to have all had a line drawn under it...I'm not so sure...but if we can't forget what's been said and done here's hoping we can try and forgive. We've had some great times together in the past and it would be a shame if we couldn't do so again!
My home for the last fortnight...16931 Sunset Vista Drive, Sunrise Lakes, Clermont, Lake County. Bigger and better than I could ever have here! The garage was home to a games room and there was a private pool to the rear. Bliss.
Jake (in the black and red cap) and my nephew Dean meet Spidey! He chatted for ages with them much to their amazement!
My Mum and My Sis. They bought the T-Shirts after getting soaked at Universal. We were heading to the Hard Rock for dinner and they didn't fancy being in an air conditioned restaurany in soaking clothes!
Mum posing in her convertable with Chloe and Jake. Her and My Sis thought they'd be like Thelma and Louise driving around in it. More like Dumb and Dumber!
Sheikra at Busch Gardens. Busch is owned by the company that make Budweiser and they very kindly let you drink it for free in the testing stations at the park! They were trying out new beer shots as well...so you can pep us your beer with an alcholic shot of melon, lime, mango or even chocolate...they are hoping it will appeal to women and encourage them to drink more beer!
My handsome boy! This was taken at Busch Gardens shortly before we headed back up the road. Boy wonder fell asleep during the journey and left green face paint all over the car
Friday, April 28, 2006
The majority went to season ticket holders and the rest to shareholders with none available for Joe Public! The fact that my team are in a final and there are no tickets left could have been enough to send me over the edge. However like Yogi I am smarter than your average bear and have gotten my hands on 5 tickets!
Don't ask how I managed it. It's top secret. Oh alright I'l tell you. We're going hospitality like we did for the semi and I was clever enough to phone my contact at the company and ask her to hold tickets for me in the event they went on sale prior to my return. I'm a clever girl! Tickets are like gold dust but I've got my grubby mitts on 5 thanks to my new best friend Janet at PB Events.
So it's the road to Hampden for us (kids included!) on May 13th. Hurrah!!
It's been a good 2 weeks though and worth buggering up my body clock for!The flight over was uneventful. It was a bit odd as we boarded in Glasgow only to stop again in Belfast to pick more people up...much to the annoyance of one couple who were from Belfast and were told there were no seats on the flight from there and so had to travel with their quads (!!) from Belfast to Glasgow to get on a flight which was boarding not 30 minutes from their home! We had booked a car for our arrival in Sanford but the company had mistakenly run out of cars big enough to accomodate the 8 of us...however it meant Granny got the chance to run about in a convertable for a few days as it was all they had left. Better Half and I got a much more sensible Grand Voyager for the first few days. Then we took them back and swapped them for the obligatory Ford E350 battle bus which seats 12...5 year old likes it as he thinks it like his very own Mystery Machine!
The sun was shining...we managed a weather record of 94f while we were there which is the hottest it's been in April for 23 years! Of course we chose that day to head to Typhoon Lagoon water park...cue lots of sunburn! Home for the last fortnight has been a very nice 4 bedroom villa. Better Half and I bagged the Master Suite which had an en suite and a dressing room both of which were bigger than my bedroom back here. Americans just do this house building shit much better than we do! I'll stick some photo's of the trip up on another post for ya'll to see.
We had a fantastic thunder storm while we were away. They are not uncommon when you're over there and we've seen a few on previous trips but this one lasted hours and the thunder was really loud. It sounds mad but you could almost feel the rumble! A few counties away from where we were 2 trailers were trashed when a mini tornado lifted them up and dropped them again! There's nothing like sitting in crazy heat watching the rain hammer down and the lightning run across the sky...we rarely get Thunder storms here and when we do they're usually crap! In all we got 2 days of rain much to the delight of the Floridians who hadn't had any for 2 weeks and the joy of Jimmy, the chief weatherman on Central Florida News 13 who was overjoyed and couldn't stop smiling as he told us of the impending downfall! Turns out his flowerbeds really needed a drink and his sprinkler was goosed! You gotta love Floridian newscasters and weather reporters...truly entertaining unlike our serious BBC news! They do weather on the 1's...every time a 1 appears on the clock...truly repetative but they love it over there!
We gave the Disney parks a miss this year and instead spent most of time doing the Universal parks and Busch Gardens in Tampa. The kids love Islands of Adventure and Jake and Dean were chuffed to meet Spiderman (again!) and spent a good 10 minutes with him looking awestruck as he chatted away to them.
My favourite part of IoA is Suess Landing which you may well have sussed out is all about Dr Suess and his characters. My first ever reading book at school was a Dr Suess book which probably goes a long way to explaining my mentality! I'm a sucker for anything involving the Grinch! The place is decorated out in bright colours just like one of the books and there are random signs which have quotes on from the books. They appear to make little or no sense but are genius all at the same time.
As we'd never been to Busch Gardens on our other 4 visits we decided it was time to head for Tampa. I was looking forward to having a wee shot on Sheikra the newest ride in the park. It's one of those vertical drop coasters. 200 feet up they hang you over the edge for about 20 seconds and drop you straight down before turning you upside down and repeating the process from around 120 feet.
Much to the strange looks from some adult observers who were too afraid to try it my 9 year old couldn't wait to get on either. She really enjoyed this years trip as she was too little on our last visits to get on the big rides but this year she made it by the skin of her teeth and with a little help from some thick soled flip flops! She's not tthe tallest 9 year old on the planet...she's not a midget either but with her Dad only reaching the dizzy heights of 5ft 6" she was never going to be a giant! Compare her to my niece who was able to get on all the big rides 2 years ago aged only 8 and you get the idea! We joined the queue and waited for our turn. Without doubt this is the best bit of any ride for me. The wait to get on, the adrenaline starting to go and the nerves kicking in. The ride was great and the views from the top were spectacular. I was amused to see my 9 year old and her cousin (who's 10) with their hands in the air during the ride!
I consider myself lucky to have kids who will try the rides and are unafraid of them. I've yet to see any of them scared by a ride or unwiling to give one a go. They are all mini adrenaline junkies. 5 year old is gutted because he is still to small for the really big coasters...his time will come! All of them love nothing better than going "no hands" on the coasters. They come from a hardened stock of ride lovers...my Dad loved theme parks and my Mum is still going strong at 55 she's not one of those Grannies who sits and watches, she's right in the queue with you!
As well as the parks there was a bit of time spent shopping. Always a must for us Brits travelling to the States. Better Half again managed to find himself an official NBA shop and had a nice time running up the credit card bill in there. He was more chuffed to find himself in Florida as the NBA Playoffs began as he was able to watch his Miami Heat live at a decent hour instead of staying up here until 2am to see them. I, naturally, was in shoe heaven and we have returned to Scotland with 13 new pairs between the 4 of us! I am all K Swissed out! Still I can justify it by reasoning that the purchase of 4 new pairs of trainers for us here would set me back about £150 at least. I paid just $320 (£200 or so) for 10 pairs. That I think you will agree is a bargain!
Anyway who cares what you spend. The credit card is maxed but I'm happy and we may now need to live on beans and toast for months but we will be well dressed as we do so! I also indulged in a bit of "silly" shopping...buying teeth whitening products and toiletries you don't get here! Toiletries are my second favourite purchase so I was in heaven spending a few hours in Wal-Mart (which is basically Asda down to the same brand and slogan!) trawling round the various body lotions, fake tans, toothpastes and cosmetics!
There was, as is normal with my family, more than a few funny moments while we were away. We seem to all have a knack of saying or doing things which cause others to crack up laughing and we always return from a trip with at least one stand out moment which will not be forgotten for a long time. Last time we went ensemble to Florida my Dad won the prize hands down after getting up from his seat by the pool to fetch another beer and promptly walking straight into the patio doors much to the hysterical amusement of all of us watching him.
Dean was up there in the running for moment of the holiday this time round with his Toaster/Torpedo comment. My Mum made a few good attempts at the title with various stupid remarks...like when we seen a mother duck and her 12 ducklings. I pointed them out and my Mum decided to tell me "they won't all be her ducklings, there's too many of them, she's obviously fostered some of them!" Excuse me? Fostered them? Who knew Ducks did that? My Sis had a stab when her daughter pointed out some birds circling over head and my sister decided they were Phoenix's! The other kids all had their silly moments as well but I am proud to say that I win the prize for stand out holiday moment of the year. I did something which will I will forever be reminded of by my family and which was the cause of much hilarity among them.
We were in Universal Studios and had just come off the Revenge Of The Mummy ride. While we had been inside the heavens had opened and it was hammering down (as it does in Florida!) and being hardy Scots we decided not to take cover from the rain but to keep on strolling. I had on a pair of flip flops which were proving difficult to walk in given my feet were soaking so as we walked I decided to remove them to make life a bit easier. I reckon I'm part gypsy anyhow because despite my love of shoes I love being barefoot. Anyhow we are sauntering along nicely and are heading towards the bit they call Amityville via San Francisco when I step on a fake tramline on the ground and...fall on my ass!
*Note for future reference - pissing rain, bare feet and wet tramlines are not good. Tramlines become slippy when wet and stepping on them could cause you to fall on our ass.
So down I go and the hysterics begin. Better Half missed the fall but caught the aftermath of me in hysterics and my Sis (who had seen it all) absolutely doubled up. Of course it was fucking typical for me that because it was pissing rain there were literally scores of people all standing around hiding under things to keep them dry everyone of them was watching to see my ass hit the ground. Still it was a funny moment and due to having a fair amount of padding on my butt I was unhurt...a lesser, skinnier woman could have recieved a serious injury! I did have one scar to show though...I chiped the nail polish on my newly manicured toes!
It's kind of odd that it would be me who fell given I'm normally the most stable on my feet...Mum and Gill are both prone to falling head over tit! Still I'm always happy to play to the crowd and raise a smile!
There was also plenty of eating to be done...another great thing to do in the States and always a pleasure and never a chore! Almost every restaurant has an "all you can eat" buffet for silly money and we took good advantage! We decided one night to go a bit posher and headed to a local Italian place for dinner. Better Half and I decided we'd pick up the tab for this one and I expected it to be a bit more than our usual fill your wellies bills were. Even so I knew it would be a damn sight cheaper than we'd pay back home. We each had 2 courses and drinks...I was getting tucked into the cocktail list... and the bill came to a ridiculously low £57!! Talk about fucking rip off Britain! I've paid more for Himself and I to eat out for two!
All in all we had a great time and all too soon it was time to come home again. I never look forward to flying much. I'm not a big fan of being so high in the air in a big metal contraption which weighs so much but apart from that fact my body ain't keen on the whole thing either and due to my metabolism being fucked I tend to swell like a beach ball. However it wasn't too bad as the doc had given me some new drugs to try out. Mum decided to upgrade her seat on the return home to first class. There were four seats left so she took all four of them. It was helpful as she got extra baggage allowance and kindly agreed to check in all my luggage along with her one case...which was just as well as all of mine were overweight by shitloads! One guy was charged £230 in excess baggage and he had less weight than I did...but hey shoes can be heavy!
First class obviously had it's advantages and me and mine stayed in cattle class while Sis, Kids and Mum did the posh thing. It was all leather seats, free booze, nice meals etc. Our 2 kids swapped with Sis's 2 for a while and 5 year old promptly fell asleep in the posh seats with his in flight eye mask on! Mum was kind enough to bring me through a Pot Noodle which was yet another perk of being in the posh seats! However it's not all glamour up the front! Mum was pleased to hear that those in first class get their baggage off first. She hates having to wait at bagage reclaim. When we finally got off at Glasgow, tired and cold, we waited for bloody ages on the bags coming through. A trickle began and Mum was amazed to see all my Sis' bags appear first...the ones I had checked in through cattle class! After the intial trickle of bags there was nothing for nearly 25 minutes! Sis had gone as she had all her bags but there were loads of us left waiting. Being Scots we were starting to get a bit vocal at the length of the wait and there were more than a few shouts of "This is fucking ridiculous" and "what the fuck is going on?" from round the hall! Eventually the bags began to appear again and the hall emptied. Except us. I had all my bags but Mum's never appeared! To say she was going fucking mad is an understatement. One loudly made complaint later to the servisair staff and we were on our way...minus Mum's case which they said they'd look for!
I'm pleased to say it turned up a day later intact. Turns out it had been in Belfast! Mum has come down of the walls now!
And so another holiday comes to a close....only 8 weeks till my next one!
Florida threw up another insight into the bizarre world of Dean. We had been to Universal Studios which has a ride/simulator called "Twister". We didn't go in as we've done it before. Later my Nephew says to my Sis "Eh Toasters can be dangerous Mum". My Sis wonders what the hell he's talking about but agrees that yes Toasters can be dangerous. "It's good we didn't go on that ride Mum" Dean says "Because of the winds and rain". My Sis has realised what he's talking about now and says to him "It wasn't called Toaster it was called Twister". "Yeah that's what I meant Mum, It's about winds and stuff" replies Dean. "It is" says my Sis "It's about a tornado". "Cool" says Dean "They're dangerous too, they shoot them out of submarines".
Wee Sis was laughing too much to begin a new conversation about torpedos.
Bless...He's only 7! One thing though...don't ever ask him about Egyptians you'll be there all day. He did it as a school project. He may not know his handbags from hambags or his twisters and toasters from his tornados and torpedos but there's nothing he can't tell you about Egyptians!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I've got 2 things left to do before I am officially finished. The first is simple...the dog needs to be dropped at the kennels. The second is a bit more like a military operation...packing the kids rucksacks for the flight. Experience has taught me well on this though. I am well rehersed in the "9 hours on a plane + 4 hyper kids excited at going to Florida = Chaos" thing. So at this moment in time I have Gameboys, Ipods, Portable Dvd's and Nintendo Ds's attached to chargers all round the house. Next on the agenda is to pack the various games and dvd's that they will want to take with them for their gadgets. This is where my diplomacy skills come into play as 5 year old seems to think he can take his entire dvd collection and every game he owns!
So I will go now and get the last of my jobs done before I head to the sun.
Be good while I'm gone and I expect to read all about what you've all been up to when I get back!
Sunday, April 09, 2006
"I have gotten through another 365 days without my lovely Daddy and I am no longer angry with him"
I've got to admit that it both amazes and humbles me that people commented on this line. The reason for that is because you think that when you lose a loved one and the time begins to pass that they are forgotten to everyone else but you. It is truly lovely to hear that others still think of him with kind thoughts nearly 2 years later.
It's strange but true that even though time has moved us all on there is not a day that passes when I don't think about Dad at some point. This will be even more significant in the next fortnight as we all head to Florida a place Dad loved and the last place he ever went on holiday to. It will be the first time Mum and Wee Sis have been back since we all went with Dad 8 weeks before he died. I headed back there last summer and instantly was reminded of Dad but rather than feel sad I felt happy remembering all the things we'd done there together. I hope Mum and Wee Sis feel the same when they get there. I know they are both a bit worried about going back.
All his grandkids associate Florida with Grandad and I'm sure his name will be mentioned by them a fair bit in the next few weeks. It is remarkable that even though my baby was only 3 when my Dad died and some of his memories of Dad are fading he can still recall word for word things Dad said on a certain ride in Florida or silly things he did with him.
Gone but not forgotten right enough.
Friday, April 07, 2006
They seem to be doing the trick as my chest feels a bit less tight today (not that my chest is any way loose I might add!) and my nose is now blocked rather than runny!
Looks like with the help of my little friend Mr Amoxicillyn I will be fit and well before my holibobs on Wednesday. Pity the same can't be said for my Mum, Better Half and Wee Sis...they all appear to have come down with a bug in the last 24 hours. Mum is losing her voice, Wee Sis feels like she's dying and Better Half has serious Man flu (if he has man flu does that mean I have bird flu??). Anyway apparently I am to blame for the fact that they are all feeling shitty.
I have been spreading my germs around according to my Mum. Can I help it if I was brought up to share??
I hope they all feel better in time for Florida. If they don't I've got the kids and my niece and nephew to keep me company and get into mischief with...much more fun than being with grown ups anyway!
Who cares though because in Florida it is currently 89 degrees and feels like it's 89 degrees. It is sunny with a few clouds and the humidity is sitting at a manageable 37%.
And in less then 5 days I will be there to enjoy it!
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
I've been wondering what the hell to write...how do you put such a great day into words? Why should I even try! I'll leave it to those who write for a living. Here's a few quotes from Mondays press in Scotland...
"As the first half began the gaps in the East Stand didn't fill up and the Hearts fans sang "You couldnae sell aw yer tickets!" to a very quiet Hibs support"
"The horseshoe of Jambo's meanwhile, had been shoulder to shoulder from 11.30am with barely a spare seat in sight"
"They rocked the place...over 20,000 sang "oh the hibees are gay-ay" over the guitar riff from the White Stripes Seven Nation Army as it blasted through the PA system. There's just no comeback from that!"
"The opener, the essence of Hearts in one murderous break"
"A maroon tide was sweeping forward"
"The second was magnificent, the Hibs keeper thought he could out think Hartley. What a stupid assumption to make"
"And in only 58 minutes and at 2-0 down the Hibees headed for the exits in droves"
"The third goal proved that Hibs need to be looking for a keeper in the close season"
"Jankauskas was left with nothing to do but slot the ball into the empty net as the Hibs keeper looked on"
"The gaping holes in the Hibs end grew and grew as they streamed from the ground"
"Ivan Sproule was sent packing. Mikolinus was too good for him and he hit out in a fit of childish petulance"
"Hartley never stopped, he was magnificent"
"Hibs lost the plot and so did Gary Smith, the Ref had no choice but to show him the red card and point to the spot"
"Down to 10 men, down to 9, down to handful of masochists suffering in silence"
"Hartley was on for a hat-trick, the first of his career and no one in the maroon end had any doubt he'd get it"
"Hartley slotted home the icy cool penalty...and the scoreboard showed 4-0"
"Scotland's own Zico humbled his old club Hibs with a treble to treasure"
"Hartley wrote his name all over the biggest ever Edinburgh derby. He covered himself in glory, Hibs covered themselves in shame"
"Hibs were a shambles, all over the place"
"Tony Mowbrays men were...massively outnumbered, massively outgunned"
"Hibs looked emptier than their end of Hampden"
"For 90 minutes and more the Hearts fans danced and sang, the response from the Hibs end was pitiful"
"And so went the final whistle to end the misery of these Hibs players and more so the few hundred fans who stayed to the end"
"Hearts boss Valdas Ivanauskas rates Hartley's destruction of Hibs as one of the best solo displays he's seen in football"
"What a numbing, horrible, crushing day to be part of the green half of Edinburgh"
"What a day, What a season to be a jambo"
Enough said really.
Ticket to the match - £25
Cost of travel - £17.50
Refreshments - £5.00
Beating the Hibee's 4-0 in the semi - Priceless!
2nd of April 2006 is a day that will live long in the memory. I had the biggest and best birthday party. There were 40,000 thousand people at it. There was singing. There was dancing. There was loads of hangovers on the Monday morning.