The players :
Me - Ieuan (39 at the time)
Diane - very much younger
Lucy - Age 9
Georgina - Age 5
We had endured a very stressful time in work - where Diane and I work together! So we were both pretty stressed! One morning whilst sitting in bed I decided that we should go to Florida - not for the usual 17 nights but for four weeks. Striking whilst the iron was hot and in the best Carpe Diem mode - I booked the flights. Before we had our girls, Diane and I spent a wonderful two weeks exploring Florida. We drove to Miami and made it as far as Key Largo. We always swore that one day we would return. This was the perfect opportunity. We toyed with the idea of RVing our way across the state - but decided that maybe a 45ft RV may not be the best tool for exploring the Keys. So this was late October and we had a couple of weeks to formulate a plan....
Friday 21st December
I escaped from work at midday. Got home and Diane went to spring the kids from school. We did the Virgin online check in and hit the road for a night in Manchester Airport Travelodge. Along the way we stopped at Frankley services for a frankly disgusting BK. Made it to Manchester without any hold ups despite it being black Friday. It was freezing and very noisy at the hotel - with lots of excited people heading out for the holiday. We Had an extremely restless night in the Travelodge - what with the kids being excited and me having a really bad cold (as usual on holiday.)
Here we are leaving the Travelodge
Saturday 22nd December
Up at 8AM - and I defrosted the car whilst Diane carried the bags and the children from the room to the carpark. We took the car to the long term car park. I found the car park we had arranged and then was redirected to another car park. Parked the car in a deserted corner of a compound and dragged the bags onto the tarmac to wait for the bus. After about ten minutes the bus arrives and we have to drag the heavy bags onto the bus. The bus dropped us at the terminus. As we alighted from the bus Lucy was ill all over one of the cases. After this distraction and the cleanup with two thousand wet wipes I proceeded into the building. Diane called me back and pointed me in the opposite direction.
As we attempted to cross the main road with the trolley the cases spilled off into the road. It was a scene which could have featured in any Laurel and Hardy film. If transatlantic travel had featured in a L & H film that is.h As I struggled to load the cases back onto the trolley I pointed out to Diane the other people crossing the sky bridge above us. The temperature got even colder and some tumbleweeds blew past. We struggled on until we came to the end of the path. There were obviously some building works taking place at the airport. We had to manhandle the trolley off the pavement and across the road and back into the terminal. We found the bag drop and got through security.
We then waited an age for Diane to get a sausage sandwich from the café. I indulged in another fast food encounter. Then we headed for the gate. Ladybird was waiting for us.
We boarded the aircraft in the usual orderly fashion (not!) We had picked seats 27abc and 28 abc. So we had plenty of room. We were all boarded on time and the driver announced that the flight would take about 8 hrs 30 mins - Hooray! But there was a mix up with the luggage that had to be reconciled so we took off 50 minutes late Boo!
It was nice to be leaving a very cold and damp Manchester behind!
Uneventful but surprisingly uncomfortable and draining flight. For me at least - for other members of the team it was pretty good fun
Diane insisted I attach the above picture - I know not why.
As we were landing at 18:05 the FSM told us the Gatwick flight was right behind us so run for It. Got through immigration no problem - no queues. Got the bags - got through customs gave the bags up. Got the tram. No security - no x-rays no shoes off - just lots of stern looking ladies and gents watching us. Got the bags back - got the car -Dollar Express was very good - jumped quite a big queue. Screeched out of the parking garage - bound for I drive - grab a checkers grab some water and M&Ms - get to the Best Western Universal. Where they have comedy big beds - tallest bed I have ever seen. We all crashed - all awake at 4AM.