Right then. I appear to be almost back to my normal self. I went to bed on Thursday morning for a few hours when we got back. The plan was to sleep until about 11am, just enough to stave off the tiredness, the flight times meant we didn't get a sleep on the plane. Normally it's a full overnighter home but we left the States at 2.30pm and instead of the usual hours spent in darkness on the plane with a pillow and blanket we were only in night skies for 2 hours out of 7 as we crossed the atlantic. The plan went tits up though and our few hours sleep turned into 5 hours which effectively meant the kids were up until 2am and Better Half and I didn't get to sleep until 6am on Friday morning! Never again. I will resume my usual trans-atlantic thing of staying up when I get home!
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!