Saturday, 11 February 2012

To America and Beyond (well just a little bit past the start)

Monday 30th January to Saturday 11th February 2012

I am sure that I have mentioned this before, that her indoors has been very industrious in the past and has not only cutback the paintwork to remove the oxide layer but has now twice polished the boat.

We have been told on a number of occasions, the latest of these being Mo (nb Balmaha) when we saw them last week that you can use some baby oil to maintain the shine to the appearance.

As you get older I have found that it can become a bit of an ordeal to ask a young female shop assistant where the baby oil is, and so it came to pass this week that I needed to leave that easy transferrable task to the good lady wife.

How to fit in things to do into an already reasonably busy week (lesson 1) – throw in a football match with ManU v Stoke where Rory DeLap may be playing and then “she who must be obeyed” will be asking for tickets and making plans on how we will get there.

Man United and Stoke on the way out - as close as it was all night

Tickets acquired – check off the list
Car arranged – check off the list
Plans sorted and dog being dog-sat – check off the list

It was actually a very good idea to do this as we needed to sort out a better way to see mid-week matches than trying on the train – there is literally no way to get home at that time of night. So now we have found a safe decent place to park; right near a decent pub; within easy walk of Old Trafford; and relatively easy to drive away from after the match – we were back on the boat by midnight, safe with the knowledge that the “reds” had won again and that the blue side of Manchester would be crying in their beers with an ex-Red (Darron Gibson) scoring for Everton to beat City.

Dog was disposed of the following day – not literally - but driven to the kennels – he doesn’t like change and hates being away from Diane, but he is not able to come with us; which just left Diane with the packing – mine was done in about 2 minutes flat – she was just a little bit longer than that.

We headed off on Thursday to Stafford to catch the train down to Gatwick – as we had an 11:30am departure on Friday – the trip down was very good with no problems – managed to find our way through London to Victoria via Euston.

We very much liked the twilight check-in that Virgin Atlantic have – so we were able to deposit our luggage there and then; fixed up the boarding passes and so then we were off to the Ibis and able to relax a bit.

Friday morning was no problem whatsoever – knowing that we didn’t have to particularly rush – with no bags to have to worry about. We were there in plenty of time but not too early.

The flight was not long by our standards – just 9hrs and 30 minutes – pity that it was an older style plane with the older entertainment system – the controls were fixed into the side of the chair arm – I really couldn’t get at them – so didn’t bother.

We touched down in Orlando about 20 minutes early, so we then needed to clear US Customs and Immigration – as nice as Americans try to make you feel welcome, it really didn’t work for me – I think the process is designed to make you feel intimidated and the officials don’t raise a smile at all. Coming out of the shuttle train into an area leading to the general airport concourse, gave me the feel of being under close scrutiny all of the way – way too many officers and officials on one side and the other was glass with people lined up to look in at you the whole way – not having had the experience, it felt a bit like what I would describe as the arrival at a prison as a new inmate.

However, once through all of that it was very relaxed.

The kids soon arrived – Mitch from Las Vegas and Sam from Los Angeles – sorted out a taxi to take us to the resort which was very nice and much larger than we have seen in our past exchanges.

The two munchkins - Mitch and Sam

Of course, we found out about all of the wintry conditions that have beset all of Britain, and then found out that if we had been a day later in setting off, we may not have made – a train derailment on the line into London and the conditions could have combined to prevent us getting away in time – but we did make it out.

An email from Gill and Malcolm (nb Shoehorn) advised us that there was 6” of snow on the boat, so we have some disappointment at missing the snow, but we do feel a few degrees warmer at the moment.

Look what we have left behind

and this too looks cold - even from here

Hope you are all coping OK with the conditions and that there are no problems there.

Getting familiar with new surroundings is always a bit of a time consuming job, but the staff here made it much easier and we felt a bit easier after a short while – even though we were all very tired from our travels for the day.

One of the outdoor guests where we first stayed

Saturday turned out to be a bit of a sleep in day for Diane and I – well at least for me – not up until 830. We had a relaxed breakfast before tackling Day 1 of Disney.

Off to Magic Kingdom – despite everything seeming to be around the area it still takes a fair while to get to anywhere – we used the facilities of the shuttle bus (at a cost).

Magic Kingdom - Disney day 1

Three of the four of us on one of the rides

The hat maketh the man ?

It turned out to be a particularly long day as we didn’t read early enough the times that the bus returned for pick up – no way we could get to the 17:30 bus and the next was at 22:45 – so another late night.

It was a great day at Magic Kingdom and we enjoyed it immensely – I have completed Sam’s need to drag me onto some roller-coaster rides, so I can sit back and pick and choose a little bit from now on.

Sunday is Super-Bowl day here in America and all the news and talk is about who will win and who will play well.

Mitch was a long-time follower of the Patriots and naturally he needed someone to take the other side as their own – which I did – expecting to have some of his jokes directed at me as to their worthiness to be there.

Well, always pleased to say that the underdog won the day – 21-17 result for the Giants.

Monday was back on the Disney trail with a trip to Epcot – which was originally designed to be a showcase for what the future would hold – it has however not worn well and is a bit dated.

Just a big kid at heart

The international area with an insight into many different countries was a change and one that was pleasing to visit – although on this day we restricted ourselves to Canada and England – having lunch in the English pub – the beer was OK and lunch was fine – the price however was a bit on the high side.

We have to say that what we are seeing here at Disney and surrounds (including where we are staying) would not / could not be construed as anywhere near to being representative of America – it is very much skewed to the more well-off of the population.

Tuesday was a “relaxation” day for three of us – Sam in her infinite enthusiasm for all things Disney went solo for the day to Animal Kingdom; the remaining three of us (well me at least) stayed behind for a truly relaxing day.

Gorilla(s) of the forest - no mist to be found

Please smile for the camera

Birds of a feather - all these one-legged flamingoes
The drumsticks must be quite tasty.

Amongst my many definitions of pastimes and fun, I do not include shopping as meaning anything remotely associated with rest and recuperation.

Diane on the other hand found it a perfect day to capture the talents of Mitch and I at carrying around packages.

Wednesday we returned to the fold with a trip to Hollywood Studios land – having completed my allowance for rides involving free-falling I opted away from the Hollywood Tower of Terror with its promised 100 feet fall and the intensity of the screams of young (and older) women, and most likely a number of boys and men.

The weather has been what many would describe as perfect – sunny, warm and with a light breeze (mine would be a slightly different description, but it was nice).

We have gone again to visit Animal Kingdom, been back to Magic kingdom and re-done Epcot – to see parts that we missed the first time; to re-do things that we have already enjoyed; and to have a good time.

A local at Epcot

The three Cabaleros - plus a mate
Balou and King Louie with friends

and Tigger too !

Everything we have seen and encountered and everywhere we have been, everyone of the people we have come across, whether it be in the hotels and resorts, the buses, the restaurants and cafes, the parks and attractions, has come out to be without imperfection.
Oh how I am craving for something not to go just perfectly – a little bit of not quite right will do me just fine, as will a dose of practicality and improvisation – anything resembling true life.

Saturday started off brilliantly – the Man United v Liverpool game was on live (7:45am) – of course a 2-1 win makes it worthwhile; Diane and Sam were off to the parks again – their last day – Mitch had left yesterday for New York so we couldn’t sit down quietly for a couple of beers – but we have already had done this – just the two of us together.

I had a chance to complete all of this for the blog update and just to sit and watch everyone else for a change – without being part of the cast.

I have not warmed to America, but I have enjoyed the efficiency of what people do; there are many aspects of life here which I have so-far found to be what I would imagine that I couldn’t tolerate for a long time – I do enjoy the Australian ability to find fault with oneself and to enjoy a bit of a laugh at your own expense – it just doesn’t feel like something that people here would be able to cope with – I have found far too much seriousness amongst people.

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