pretty71's DIBB Photo Blogs

Firstly I have to apologise for not cracking on with this report!! I am determined to finish it though as I want us all to be able to refresh the memories later and I hope that all of you will get a taste of a very different Florida holiday.

I am also spurred on by Geoffa as I loved reading his reports so much it is shameful that I cannot finish mine! so I am doing this for him too...what an inspiration and I will miss those reports.

We also travel back in 30 days and I want to do a report again, but this time I will go back to doing it daily as everyday life just gets in the way too much on our return.

Anyway enough of my waffling...I am lucky that from about day 5 I did write up the notes daily, I have now caught up with the missing few days so I aim to get a day posted every day....hopefully!

Hope you enjoy reading

So those first night challenges! I woke up at 1.50am (most unfortunately!) and I stayed in bed counting sheep until 3am when I gave up. I went out into the kitchen as quietly as possible and made a cup of tea with the Winn Dixie tea bags and just managed to sit down and drink that before Grace arrived next to me as quiet as a mouse.

Grandad made plenty of tea and he also made Grace some toast ... needed something to keep us going.
I had caught up with my emails and seen that AA had raised a case (no pun intended) for the 2 missing cases and it said their expected time of arrival was 6.30am! Now I know they could see them in Charlotte and that they were coming down on the next flight last night but I couldn't believe they would be here that early!

Grace and I (well Grace really) emptied out the cupboards with all the games in them and I had a look through the books that were there and had a flick through the villa file. Nothing new really just remembering when trash day was and seeing if there are any new restaurant recommendations.

Nanny soon arrived at 4am, she had been awake a little while but hadn't heard us so had stayed in bed and Grandad another half hour later. The tea by the way was not a bad substitute if your desperate (we were!) but not perfect...

Daddy was up at 5.20 (he is always last) as I was by that time moving around unpacking some more and not quietly! It was made clear that when I crashed out somewhere between 2 and 3pm he was in charge of Grace lol.

I filled everyone in on the suitcases and we had left instructions with the airline to leave them on the doorstep if we were out and we also agreed we were not going to have them delivered at 6.30am anyway so we decided to go out to breakfast as originally planned. And come straight back and do our big Walmart shop tomorrow morning.

We got ready and were out the door at 6.20am, glad to be back on the familiar drive to our now usual first morning restaurant. Bob Evans is where we were heading and it's just a short 20 minute drive away. We went in and there was one other person seated but that was it, well what do you expect at that time on a Sunday morning

We were told we could sit anywhere so we chose our "usual" table a round one at the far end near the felt really good to be back! The lady who was serving us then came to see if we wanted coffee and do you know she actually remembered us from last year!! Amazing as I didn't recognise her at all but everyone else did. How nice to be remembered ...could be for the wrong reasons though I suppose ha ha.

We all ordered coffee (me a de-caf to be awkward which she had to put on for me) and Grace had an apple juice. Apologies but I have not written down what we had and I really can't remember! I know that we had a free short stack of pancakes coupon so Grace had those with extra chocolate chips. I had an omelette and so did Grandad but that's all I can remember.

Everyone enjoyed, even Grace ate all of hers...big success. We drink a lot of coffee and the server was very good at keeping us topped up..she even said she wished she could leave the coffee pot with us (so did we!) but she couldn't..too hot, health and safety I suppose.

We left the restaurant with full tummies and very happy indeed. we arrived back at home at 8.15 (no cases on the doorstep) and went straight in that pool.

Sun loungers in place, pool toys emptied from the garage and happy times commenced! We did encounter a very light shower which only lasted 10 minutes but didn't stop our fun.

I kept checking my phone to see when the suitcases were out for delivery and eventually it said they were, yippee. Poor Nanny and Grandad didn't have any swim suits you see. Grandad was wearing a pair of shorts which he could go in the pool in but he was waiting it out until he knew the others were on their way. This lifted us once we knew they were coming not that we were really fussed but it was nice to know they were coming.

I then had a call on my phone and it was a USA call so we assumed this was the cases guy. I picked up but he didn't connect and I couldn't understand why he didn't ring the villa as I checked and we did give them that number. Anyway Daddy was brave and he phoned the number that had rung my phone from the villa phone and he picked up. The guy was called Herb and was in Cape Coral and so was about an hour away still but was on his way. He arrived at 2pm and apologised for being so late as he doesn't normally do this on a Sunday and he was in church this morning so later coming out...bless...what a nice job too everyone must be so happy to see him lol.

After he had phoned,Grandad was straight in that pool! We had had lovely weather today we were very lucky, Nanny came in for a swim too and we enjoyed our time in the pool together. Yesterday on the plane Grace had eaten an apple that Grandad had given her and it really moved her slightly wobbly was now very wobbly and this was her first one ever to fall out. Loads of her friends in class have lost loads but Grace was doing a sterling job of hanging on to hers. I keep telling her the longer she can keep the baby ones the better! Anyway, super wobbling all day today and she disappeared in to the bathroom and came out with it in her hand! She had gone in there and pulled it out! Clever girl! We were very pleased that it had not spent all holiday hanging on by a thread!

Soon after I went in for a shower, that early morning catching up with me! The weather outside was still gorgeous but we had to get moving before we all crashed out! Everyone followed and we were soon back in the car and driving to Grandad's favourite restaurant and where is now the first night tradition, Longhorns. This is a stones throw from Bob Evans that we went to this morning and there are a few here and around the Mall in Port Charlotte.

The car was saying it was hot! You know it's hot but you sort of forget how hot that actually feels when you are there...phew!

We were sat in a booth after no wait as it was practically empty and started to look at the massive menu. Grace had the mini fillet steak from the kids menu and I had the shrimp skewer with rice. Daddy had the salmon fillet which was massive and Nanny had Tilapia. Grandad always has a Flo's fillet with mash. We did order starters (which we probably didn't need!) Green fried tomatoes (delicious) and the Texas Tonion...if you have never had this go there and order it! We also had the salad and gorgeous bread, by the time we were finished we were stuffed. Nanny was the only one who ordered dessert a peanut butter pudding and Grace helped her, where they put it I have no idea!

We then came straight home it was 6.30pm and Grace was on her knees, I put her to bed and she was asleep by 7pm, she had been in the pool for most of the day so I am not surprised.

We all sat outside for a bit but we did not last long. We had had a lovely first day, tomorrow we would food shop first and go from there.

Thanks for reading along

Saturday 12th August 2017 Travel Day

So, all things considered I didn’t have such a bad night This is very unusual in more ways than 1! Firstly any night in a hotel is never as good as a night in your own bed, secondly especially if you are going on holiday the next day

We got up at 5 and went down to have breakfast at 6am, apparently Daddy didn’t sleep that well but then he is lucky and can probably sleep on the plane!

I think the restaurant opened at 6am so we were not too previous but we got a nice table and I had scrambled eggs, bacon and beans followed by some yoghurt and fruit (should probably have had that the other way round but hey ho)

Grace is not a good eater in the mornings and likes to take her time before eating anything so there were no surprises that she ate absolutely nothing! Daddy just had yoghurt and fruit too. I didn’t write down what Nanny and Grandad had sorry!

We were out in the car park to the cars at 7am, what a great view of the planes coming in right behind the hotel. We are in the Bath Road Premier Inn by the way next to the Purple Parking multi-storey. We stand to watch the planes for a good few minutes its an impressive sight...those A380’s are massive!

We are parked for the first time ever with a meet and greet service, we have to drive to the short stay car park 3 and park on level 3, we find it only a few minutes up the road and queue to get in and up to the right floor for a good few minutes. We manage to find a space and get all the luggage out of the car, Grandad is with Daddy and Nanny has come with us, this is so there are no dramas of people getting lost! As it was, Daddy decided that level 2 was a good option so ended up faffing about while we parked up. I had provided clear written instructions for them, firstly they couldn’t find the instructions and secondly they obviously didn’t bother using them anyway!

Grandad then decided to go and ask “someone” about where to leave the keys and of course asks the wrong company, so Grandad thinks he is taking his keys to Florida with him and I have to tell him that that is not likely! I go and see the right guy and hand over our keys so they can take our cars to God only knows where! The less I know about it the better! We are given a piece of card with returning details and we are then off on a very merry dance to try and get in the terminal building. Honestly we must have been in about 5 lifts to get literally just over the road! Finally we make our way in and find the AA check in thingys where you do everything yourself. Only Daddy and I go up to the machine as to be honest you can’t swing a cat around the area what with people and luggage everywhere. Mick gets talking to a couple on the same first flight as us, they are on their way home to Kansas and are staying in Charlotte for the night before going on. They were telling him what a great connecting airport Charlotte is, this makes me happy! After what seems an age and going through all the questions I went through when I did online check in yesterday! I have put all the bags and got them tagged and it has printed me out a new set of boarding passes exactly the same as I already had printed from my lovely own printer at home!! #whatawasteofmyownink....

We then have to head over to bag drop (why we have to do every little thing one after another instead of all at once in one place is beyond me but that is the joy of an airport I suppose.) We join the queue at 7.45 which considering I have painted a picture of queuing in traffic, driving around the wrong floor of the car park, talking to the wrong car park people and playing in lifts is not at all bad.

Now something hopefully quite exciting was going to happen for us at the airport this morning. Mick’s cousin works at Heathrow as an armed police officer and he was on duty this morning and was hopefully going to come down and say hello. We have never ever seen him in uniform before so were really looking forward to this, and as luck had it he text while we were in the bag drop queue to find out where we were.

Next thing we know he was right next to us, we were nearly at the front of the queue so he stayed and chatted. We had to go up one family at a time and were asked a million questions before they took our bags finally. We then stood to the side and had some picture taken with Paul. Nanny and Grandad were very proud to have their pictures taken with their nephew

Paul then asked if Grace would like to go out and see the police car, did we have time...well there was no way my husband was going to miss that so not only was everyone in the terminal staring at us as we were being “questioned” we were now all being lead out to the cop car!! Ha ha a little bit embarrassing but also quite are a couple of photos...never mind Grace look how excited Daddy is!

We finally said our goodbyes and hoped we may see each other on the return and then we were soon going through security just an hour later at 8.45.

First traditional stop for us a bottle of bubbly...I had researched the best place for this and ended up in The Curator. We had a large bottle to share and Grace had a glass of water and a croissant...obviously she is now ready to eat! Luckily we managed to find the end of a table to perch at and raised a toast to a nice holiday...perfect way to start I think

When we had finished we found a place to sit and left Grandad with the hand luggage while Nanny and Grace went to find a magazine and Mick and I went off for water and a sandwich for Grace (just in case the plane food is pants) and we also looked at aftershave...Mick got some Calvin Klein on offer so he was happy. We were called to gate 24 at 9.45. It was a bit of a trek and we were in a little off side few of gates where we had to get a bus to the plane. It was all very organised but they were asking for people to go off the flight and get on a later one for a few dollars (can’t remember how much) so the flight was obviously over sold!

We settled down in our seats in row 14 nice and close to the front, I was happy about the announcement that said we were all on time and should arrive 15 minutes ahead of schedule at that point, which made me breathe much easier...this gave us 1hr 40 between flights #stillmadness....

It was a good flight IFE great, free drinks including alcohol and the food was shepherds pie, pasta salad and cherry pie crumble. Unfortunately I had to chuckle to myself as Mick hates mashed potato with a passion so didn’t like the shpherds pie and the vegetarian option had cheese on it which he also can’t stand. I gave him my roll and my pudding and Grace didn’t eat hers either so he did alright on the extra things.

I don’t tend to watch the films anymore on a plane, I just can’t seem to get in to them since Grace has travelled with us..its the constantly having one ear open and getting interrupted I think. I looked at some magazines and watched the map throughout. I also had my eye on the landing time...which appeared to be getting later and later and was now 15 minutes over at 3.15!! stress!!

We had afternoon tea served about an hour and a half before landing which was ...wait for it...cheese sandwich lol my poor husband! so again I gave him my chocolate cake thing while I had his sandwich. They also come round earlier with an ice cream wafer thing which was yummy.

We were soon landing at 3.21pm...not impressed..our next flight was in an hour at 4.24! I was just about resigned to not getting on that flihgt and having to wait especially after it took AGES to taxi to the stand and AGES AND AGES for them to open the door!!!! We actually didn’t get off that plane until 3.37pm! I mean really.

We hurried off, thankfully we were by the door remember and I was filled with the anticipation of what on earth that immigration hall was going to look like...

It was EMPTY....I literally turned to Mick while we were running along saying come on we can do this

We had one family in front of us and then it was us and we were through, my goodness it was absolutely amazing and I was flying high now...

Next up was getting those suitcases so it was round to baggage. None of the cases were there, we had 3 in total 2 were ours (with another case inside for the return) and Nanny and Grandad had one. Both of ours came through and then we had just one more to get...honestly it took no more than 10 minutes but I so wanted out of there with bag drop and security still to go!

We then had to go and see the customs man. We knew the family in front of us were booked on the same flight (that’s my husbands earwigging for you) and they were in front of us as we got to the customs goodness why did they not have the card out in their hand!! We had to wait behind them while they got it out and I was behind them literally waving mine! We jumped to the otherside and went passed them and then round to baggage drop.

With all 3 bags safely in our possession we went over to bag drop to get rid of them again. One of the men was saying we didn’t need to wait just leave the bags and they will put them on, well I didn’t need telling twice, the bags were dumped and we ran off to find security.

There was a bit of a queue here and it was already 4.05 and I had no idea what the next gate was or how far it was going to be. Security was painful I have to admit, it was busy and Nanny got caught up with a second scan too until the guy realised she was in a hurry and asked her and let her through after doing a less thorough pat down! Grace and I were through first so we ran up to the screen to find out where we had to be ...D4 where was D? Lol it was round to the left. I went back to tell everyone, they were all putting their shoes back on now so we were good to go at 4.15! We rounded the corner and I yelled that I was going to run for it and then they would wait, I could see gate 4 and Grace stuck with me, we came running up and the lady behind the desk just said Fort Myers? She looked surprised and I for a moment couldn’t think where we were going but then said Yes! Wow we had made it...I said we were 5 and the others were just there then. We were asked if we had some from the London flight and we proudly said yes

The pilot was at the gate too and he said “wow you are cutting it fine” I just replied that we liked to play it cool...

We had 4 minutes to spare, thank goodness they don’t close the door there until right at the last minute.

I cannot begin to tell you how good we felt getting on that plane. I couldn’t believe it after being put on standby in Atlanta 2 years before and it being completely awful we had now made it. It was all thanks to coming in to a smaller airport and it is definitely the way forward, I will never fly in to Atlanta again!

We had a very enjoyable flight down to Fort Myers, landing at 6.10pm...this was great as I knew the next flight from Charlotte to Fort Myers was 6pm and we were already there. If anyone is interested there were plenty of empty seats on that plane too so if any connection is missed you should feel hopeful of getting on the next flight.

So now we had bags to collect, followed by a car and we would be on the road. This is where the hiccup happened. We made it down to baggage reclaim (another lovely little airport by the way) and one of the cases was already going round. This case was one of ours a great big samsonite orange others arrived and it became clear very quickly that this was all the luggage from the flight...It wasn’t rocket science, the connection time was tight, we made the flight, not all our luggage did. The luggage office was right there so we popped in and I found the luggage tickets from check in and she traced the bags to being in Charlotte and they would come down on the next flight and they would bring them out the next day. Now Nanny and Grandad had no bag but luckily we had one so we could get by as I had made a big song and dance when Grace helped me pack as I explained to her we put half of everything in each case just for this reason. AA were great they gave out little kits with toothpaste, shaving foam, soap etc for Nanny and Grandad and we filled in a couple of forms and had to describe our bags and what was in them...funnily enough I just said another suitcase

We could do no more, we went off to find the car hire garage, no point being upset about it, the cases were not lost and we knew we would/should get them tomorrow!

We found the garage and I had booked the car with Avis and had a preferred card. I knew my name would not be on the board as this was the first time I had used it but the man at the window helped us queue, no wait and we were allocated a car. A great big thing but more details on that tomorrow! We luckily had the case with Graces booster seat in it so we got that out and chucked the bags in...we were a little disappointed we didn’t get to do our Tetris game trying to get the bags in! In fact what was the reason we had ordered such a great big car??

The sat nav was plugged in and programmed, I roughly new the way from studying google maps and in a couple of turns we were out on the I75 heading North and looking at that big big sky...Love it.

We were out of there at 7.06pm so considering we had to sort the bags out in the office which took at least 20 minutes I don’t think we had actually spent too long in an airport that afternoon. We pulled up in to Winn Dixie (after driving straight past it and having to turn round!) Daddy and I went in and got water, tea, coffee (as these were in the other case...the tea and coffee, not the water lol) and milk along with some bread and butter so we could have toast when we got in Back in the car and arrived home by 8.45, perfect!

This was also the same time we had arrived last year I think by travelling on a directed flight from Stanstead to MCO and then having to do that 3 hour drive down. This way we had saved just over 300 each and also not had to do that awful drive...I was very very happy!

We got everything in and accessed how we would manage with luggage missing and then retired an hour later happy to be back in this lovely villa.

Thanks for reading along....I do have more photos but they are on my camera so just need some time to work out how to get them over...

Sorted the photos 😀

This is Grace enjoying her croissant.

Lovely glass of bubbly!

Only a bus ride away to that plane.

First leg of the journey off to Charlotte we go!

Off we go!

Finally I get to start this...I know it’s taken ages but time flies by but no more excuses I am getting this done!

So we are back and I have decided to another trip report after a couple of Dibbers said it was a good thing to see a bit more of Florida. I am hoping that it is not going to be just a straight repeat of last year but there you go

So here goes...I am Angela 46 years young and a lover of Florida...I love all things there, especially the weather but also the shopping, the giant cars, the food, the supermarkets, the friendly people, I could go on and on. I have been going to Florida for many years and this is my 22nd trip there.
I am married to Mick who turned 40 this year (and has been milking it for months!) and who I introduced to Florida in 2009 and this is his 7th trip (I think) he also loves it there and his favourite park is The Magic Kingdom...he loves that Disney Magic

Also tagging along is our 7 year old Daughter expert traveller who copes very well with the heat but is scared stiff of meeting Disney characters! More of that later.

Micks Mum and dad also come along with us, they love the States, especially the food and that sunshine!

I will get a photo of us all out later!

We are flying out on Saturday 12th August from Heathrow to Fort Myers via Charlotte, this will be our second indirect flight...the first was not very successful so I am apprehensive but hopeful and I think I have done everything possible to get everywhere we should be on time...eeekkk.

So 2 weeks in the sun in the villa we stayed in last year on Rotunda West, its beautiful, peaceful, friendly and close to some fantastic come and join us on our journey.

Pre Travel Day 11th August 2017

Today I woke up at 5am!! Goodness that is holiday stress for you waking me up...well stress or excitement! One or the other. I managed to sneak down and have a peaceful cuppa on my most favourite thing in the world before my little one woke up and remembered today was the day!

Her Daddy arrived home at 6.45am as usual and she ran out to the car to greet him super excited...she rarely does this so she must have been excited! (In case you haven't read any of my other reports Mick always works nights so has come home to sleep before we leave later.

As today was a special day I made some American pancakes for Grace for breakfast and Daddy had houmous and crackers (he has recently discovered he likes houmous and is one of his favourite things at the moment also have to remember it is evening in his head so I have had him eating weird and wonderful things at 7am in the morning...soup..not one of my favourites, to drinking red wine...I don't think I will ever get my head around it

So I did what all good people do before they go on holiday and cleaned for the burglars! I did the bathroom first then some washing, hoovered throughout and as I did this continued to chuck things in the suitcase I thought we might need!

We were more or less in a great place packing wise as I had sorted myself out finally over the last week, online check in was my main thing for the day.

At 9.30 Grace and I went out, first down to Tesco which is not at all far from us (can't remember what I had to get in there but I am sure it was completely essential) and then down to my little local Boots so I could use my NO7 voucher which saves me a fortune on my face cream and it expired the day we got back so couldn't afford to not go! Armed with 3 pots of cream for a much reduced price we arrived home and I was happy.
I then started some ironing I needed to take while waiting for Nanny and Grandad to collect Grace at 11am as they were taking her to the Premier Inn at Heathrow.

They could leave whenever they like, so to avoid any M25 misdemeanours on a Friday afternoon they were going early and taking the munchkin with them. I of course was waiting for daddy to get up at about 1pm before we left. I had not planned this that well as online check in opened at 11am too so Nanny text me to say they were on their way (they are only 1 mile away) at the same time I was trying to log in and get sorted! They arrived and I abandoned the computer to get the car seat sorted and make sure Grace was organised with all her stuff. It was her birthday 2 days previously and we had got her a Smiggle rucksack which we obviously knew she would want to use as her hand luggage so once that was in the car and they were happy I dashed in to sort out the online check in waving as I went I managed to get logged in no problem and we're glad to see that our seats had not been changed for the flights tomorrow.

I had booked the flights the previous October on a BA code share for a great price and I booked the seats for free at the same time, these had all been good for the whole time around to our flight until they had changed one flight, the first part on the way back where the flight had changed to an hour earlier. They had said our seats were honoured but in the change they had dropped off ( I suppose these things happen) and I could not get them back on so had eventually ended up ringing them where they happily sat us altogether again!

We were flying from Heathrow Terminal 3 to Charlotte, then Charlotte down to Fort Myers with a 1hr 40minute connection time...I know I know and to be honest after we got stuck in Atlanta once missing our flight down I always said I would leave 3 hours but that was not meant to be and I was now flying by the seat of my pants with a short connection!!
Coming home we were doing the same in reverse but with better timings.

The only flight I was really worried about was the Heathrow to Charlotte leg on the way out as I had booked us in row 14, very close to the door. These seats all remained as I said so we were good to go and after a little faff managed to print out 10 boarding passes for our flights tomorrow.

Daddy got up at 12.30 and we had a quick cuppa, passed some goodies from the fridge to our neighbour, said our farewells and were in the car for 1.15. We avoided the Dartford Bridge (I hate that bridge) and went anti-clockwise round the M25 to the Heathrow turning, this proved to be a wise decision as it was chaos at Clacket lane all through to the Surrey stretch so we definitely did the right thing. We were slow from junction 20 but it was just weight of traffic no incidents and we were constantly moving so we were happy with that. We got to the hotel (after a mini detour at the end ahem) at 3.15...this we were more than happy about and we were soon driving in to see Grandad greeting us to help us in.

Grace looked very happy and it was nice for us finally to be all together to begin our journey. We checked in to our room and went up and dumped our stuff to go right back down and get in that bar, We had a coffee from Costa first (I love the Costa Coffee in these airport hotels) Grandad had a beer from the bar and I had a decaf Americano and Nanny and Daddy had a cappuccino. Grace had an orange juice from the bar...and relax we are on our holidays. We very much see the hotel stay the night before and an extension to our holiday and now we had left home I could relax for the rest of the day, whatever I had forgotten I had forgotten and I could chill a bit. I never completely relax until we are actually in our villa as I find the whole getting on the flight,checking in etc, getting the car sorted when we get there and then the driving to wherever we are going all stressful, I never completely chill until we actually get there. That is down to the problem that I organise everything and even though I wouldn't have this any other way, I find this a giant can to carry.

Anyway I digress, next we all have a drink from the bar, Nanny has a Bacardi, Daddy a red wine, Grandad a Carling and I have a vodka and tonic...lovely!

I had booked a table already with the hotel for 5.30 when the restaurant opened so we sat in the bar until this time and were then showed to our table.

We had eaten in this restaurant 2 years before when we flew from Heathrow and had had a good meal this one was not going to be the same experience unfortunately. They do a kids Buffett here which suits Grace as she can pick and choose so I took her up first of all. I then remembered I had left my dinner voucher upstairs so I ran up to get this but we ordered our drinks before I went up. I got the voucher and was back and the drinks still had not arrived. We waited and waited and eventually they came so we then ordered straight away...I had real terrible trouble deciding what to have but ended up ordering the chicken and chorizo filo pie which I have to say was delicious. Grandad ordered the chicken escalope and daddy ordered the curry. Nanny ordered the same as me. We had starters but I haven't written them down! Daddy had the potted crab but that's all I can remember to be honest there was a wait for these but not too bad. From the time we got the starters to the time we got the main course though was ages and ages! It was pretty awful and the restaurant wasn't even full it was disappointing. We had waited so long it was 7pm so I took Grace up as she was tired and the others soon followed after Nanny got her dessert. It was not good and I was annoyed that the service was so slow and it was not the ideal start...anyway onwards and upwards.

Grace had a bath before she went to bed and she was asleep by 8pm, I couldn't believe it! Daddy always crashes out on the single bed and Grace and I sleep in the big bed, that way I don't have to leave a light on for when she wakes in the night and tries to find me. This means Daddy is always asleep right after Grace (if I am honest it is usually before!) and I watched the puppy programme I had downloaded on iplayer. I did email my brother in law and Dad with details about where we were staying and the flight etc as I hadn't got round to doing this yet! It was then lights out by 9 ready for our busy day tomorrow!

I will leave you with a couple of pictures from our relaxing afternoon 😊

My Little Traveller

We woke at 6.30am and today we had to leave this amazing villa and go home
I had a bagel for breakfast and basically just got on with gathering our stuff and finishing the packing. We had to leave by 10am but we had agreed we would leave as soon as we were ready.

Our flight was back on the Thomas Cook Hi Fly at 5.05pm, our drive was a 3 hour drive though and we had not pre booked seats so did not know what we would get or if we would sit together so really I was thinking the sooner we got the there the better. We had agreed we would eat at the airport and not detour somewhere else, especially with the bags being in the car.

In a moment of wonder, I don't have many! I decided to see if I could check in online. It didn't work on the way out which is why I hadn't given it much thought but do you know I managed it! I could see we were all in row 24, so I was happy we were altogether.

So we did have to squeeze and shove all the stuff in, and the weight was really tight but we got it all in and wrapped up and we were in the car by 9.14am.

I had a good look in every room before locking up the villa and I had my sentimental peaceful moment out by the pool saying goodbye. Thanks so much to Derek and Wendy for letting us stay in your beautiful home and we look forward to the same time next year

The drive was uneventful and a little boring when you are not full of adrenaline like we were on the way down. We put $15 of petrol in the car as we had paid for the full tank and I hoped this would be about right. I knew it was roughly 160 miles and we had half a tank now. We got on the I-75 and did a stop at the rest area where we got some snack out the back of the car and munched those on the way to the I-4.

We were soon on very familiar ground and took the photo above..Grace was glad she saw the Mickey ears because she had been asleep on the way down.

We arrived at the airport at 12.15pm 3 hours after we left and got someone to help with the luggage, we find this much easier. We had no issues with the car, and as I drove in to the airport the fuel light came on so I was happy with that

We were soon at the Thomas cook check in which did not open for 35 minutes but we were only about 4th in the queue so we stuck it out. I took a deep breath when they weighed the bags and they were all between 21 and 23 kg. we were all done and we were free now to find some food. I had done some googling the night before and had looked at the restaurant in the Hyatt. This is actually the high light of the day. It was quiet, great food and very relaxing to be away from the hustle and bustle and have good table service. If you have time and want to do something different I can definitely recommend this.

We had a flat bread for the table again which we thought Grace would eat most of it (she didn't like it!) and Grandad ordered a lentil dip to start. Then I, Daddy and Grandad all had burgers and nanny had a chicken sandwich. All really nice and a great server. We were out of there by about 2.20pm, so we went down to the food court to get some dessert and myself a Cinnabon ...this I had promised myself before we even went out.

Yum yum, it was completely delicious and very very filling, but I loved it

We then took some very essential photos.

We then went through security rather uneventfully apart from I who had to go in one of those scanner hints where you have to put your hands above your head! That was a new one on me!

We were going from gate 85 and thankfully the flight was on time. We got one last Starbucks and waited patiently until boarding began at about 4.30pm. It was really busy as a Virgin flight was also leaving at the same time. We beat them though, which did make me chuckle. We were due to arrive 15 minutes ahead of schedule at 6.10am. The flight was a good one. Nanny and Grandad had 3 seats to themselves and a family of 3 on Daddy's side moved due to the IFE not working, and I had an issue with mine so when they had moved Daddy moved over there so I did manage to get nearly 2 hours sleep over the 3 seats. Grace watched the IFE for a couple of hours then slept all the way home.

We landed at 6.08am it was a good flight and we were very happy with the Hi fly after all the negativity.
We were straight through passport control and had our bags within 50 minutes of landing, our longest wait was for the mini bus to get to the cars! Stanstead was fantastic and again, no complaints.

Were soon back in our cars and indoors by 8.30am, tired but happy to be back.
So we have tried to muddle through today and I am still awake we are all shattered but we will put Grace down at 7 and go up then ourselves for a catch up.

Thanks to all of you for staying with us on our trip, it was a great one and I will do some highs and lows and sort the index etc out in the week.

We have booked the same villa for the same time next year, so hopefully we will see you then.
Thanks again
Angela X

"The hunt for sharks teeth"

I am late putting this on, so sorry I was busy enjoying the last day. I am now at our gate waiting for our flight so I will do as much as I can now.

Our day started at 7am, it was not a good sleep as we had had a lot of storms for the first half of the night, but it was our last day and we were not going to let anything stop us.

After a house meeting we decided a trip back to Stump Pass beach was in order so we had a speedy breakfast and we were off.

This is what we saw when we got there, love this beach. This was the beach where we saw the manatees and dolphins the other day so we had high hopes this morning. Our first mission was hunting for sharks teeth. We had found a sieve in the bucket box it was small but we didn't let that stop us. First dunk and we found the beauty in the first picture

We tried 4 or 5 other goes and got nothing so glad we had already got one or we would have given up!

Due to the storms the water was choppy and we found some new shells too and unfortunately some jelly fish. We then just started to see the Sharks teeth on the beach itself. We got a few in the end and Daddy and Grace loved it .

We left the beach for the last time as happy people. It was a little overcast but clearing fast and it was warming up nicely.

We were home indoors by 10am. We did some pool cleaning and I put some coffee on too, these had become daily rituals!
Daddy and I then went for a bike ride, twice round again and again I went under duress! This morning we took some photos of our favourite houses and views, the above photo being one of them.
We were outside until 2.50pm, when it decided to be raining and sunny at the same time? We had really been trying to spot a gator today too but our efforts were pathetic, there was a bit of grass and debris floating around due to the storm which were red herrings

We got showered and changed and were off after much debate to Chillis for our last night. We got there for about 4.10pm and were seated at a really nice table. It was not overly busy but there were a few tables which made for a nice atmosphere.
Daddy ordered an iced water, nanny a strawberry lemonade, Grandad a bud lite and I had a Chardonnay ( in fact I had 2!)
We ordered a flat bread to share and some fried asparagus, both lovely.
Grace ordered the kids pizza and I have to say it was delicious and she ate over half of it. My husband had a smokehouse burger ( he LOVES these!) I had a burger with guacamole, delicious! Nanny had the burrito and Grandad had prime rib tacos and a million sides. We also had dessert, Grace came in to her own tonight as after eating the pizza also shared Daddy's Cookie dough skillet and Nanny had a toffee brownie.

I really enjoyed the meal here, the total was $114, very reasonable and very good food. We all enjoyed it.
We popped in briefly to dollar tree as Daddy wanted some deodorant? I also popped in to Publix to get some alcohol for tonight

We were back indoors for 6.40pm where we began packing and I did that until I put Grace down at 7.30pm. We spent the evening getting Inge together and then having a drink altogether and we then had an early night due to a big travel day the next day. We were in bed for about 9.15pm

Tomorrow is travel day back home

I also found these pictures. One of the clouds as we left the villa for Chillis, I thought they were beautiful and the second is Grace eating her yummy pizza

"The day of the animals"

After a night of musical beds, which actually wasn't too disturbing...we woke up at 6.30am. I decided that now would be a great time to make salad?? So that's what I did in preparation for our lunch. I had a big bowl of fruit salad that my husband had prepared the day before and Grace had a yoghurt, to be honest I had no idea what anyone else had

We left for our beach trip at 7.34am and today we were off to Blind Pass, just up from Englewood. There it is in the picture, it was a lovely beach but the facilities were not as good as they were being refurbished which was a shame. They had portaloos instead. The water was a bit more vigorous than the other beaches though, there was def a current there.

There was a lady searching for sharks teeth there who we had a quick chat with and she showed us some she had found. The first animal sighting ( hence today's title) was Pelicans, closely followed by Dolphins, 3 of them and closer than the other day which was lovely Grace loved seeing them.

I promised you a picture of the turtle nests, there are just loads up and down all the beaches we have been to.

The shells were beautiful in this beach as all the others. It was over cast this morning which meant it was not so hot which was nice, but my craving for the sun to come out was high 😀

We were back by 9.30am where much of this above continued! Daddy had to really twist my arm to go out on that bike today. The sun was out now and I was happy lying n that sunbed, but he made me feel bad so we went out and to be fair I was glad I did. We did 2 circuits round, there was a little breeze it was very pleasant. It took about 20 minutes I think and it was 11.30, I like to go earlier really but with the breeze today it was ok.

We had a quick swim and then a dry off before I put the lunch on. We had chicken, fish fingers (I wonder who they were for!) garlic bread and salad with tortillas today, it was lovely.

Grace spent the whole day as usual in the pool and managed to swim the whole length today, finally 😀 and she also started to jump off the side completely unaided. We are so proud of what she has achieved in that pool this holiday, we really cannot believe it and she has really loved it.

We have been constantly watching in the river for any more gators and Daddy saw one today, not too far away this time either. He was very happy that he was the one that spotted it too.

I got out at about 3.15pm, the weather had been great and we thought it would have clouded over by now so we really made the most of it. I showered while Daddy and Grace played out there a little longer and then they got ready too.
We had decided to go up to Port Charlotte mall and see if our rings were ready on the off chance and to pop back in to Macy's.

Not content after coming inside Grace then decided to play in the bath too!

We left at 4pm and were soon pulling in to the car park. After we pulled off the drive we saw what looked like foxes about half way done the road. We drove closer at this stage there was only 1 but as we drew closer another one joined as we realised they were young Bob cats...what a treat I couldn't believe it, a shame we had to drive by and disturb them but fantastic to see.
I wanted to go back to Macy's to get a Calvin Klein dress I had tried on e week before. I had plenty of spending money left so decided to treat myself. I was a little frantic as they had changed everything round, but I found it and they had one in my size. I went up and paid, I paid $5 for a voucher that gives you 20% off so the dress was marked up at $134 and after the coupon and tax I paid $100. I was very happy with that.

Next we went to Starbucks for our usual order and whilst Daddy did that I popped to Kay's to see if our rings had arrived. They were not due in until tomorrow but they had just had a delivery and they were there so we were re united. I was very happy with the work they had done too and we were both glad to get our rings back on our fingers!

We planned just to go to Hollister next to see what they had. I just went straight to the back where all the bargains were and my goodness I found some

I got some shorts (3 pairs) all high waisted as I will not wear anything else, these suit me best and they were basically just over $7 each! I also got a denim skirt (all the shorts were denim too) for the same price. I will take some pics in the morning and add them to tomorrow's report. Daddy got a coat and a body warmer thing both $29.99. I was very very happy!
We came out and I dashed back to Macy's ahead of everyone else so I could get a little bit of Clinique I needed and then we were back in the car. It was spitting a little but we headed more or less opposite to a Walmart as Nanny wanted to get a couple of things for presents. We were in there when we could hear the heavens had opened! We paid and Daddy went and got the car as it was dipping it down.
Now Grace was quite spooked by the storm they had at home whilst Daddy and I were shopping the other night, so she was very apprehensive in the car, we had quite a down pour on the way home and to be honest it is still raining and thundering now but she coped well.

We got in just before 7.30pm, she had another yoghurt and then I put her to bed. We haven't gone outside tonight just in case Grace wakes up and can't find us so we are inside eating and drinking stuff so it doesn't go to waste, you know the random combinations you can have

So it is jus after 9 and I will sigh off for today. Tomorrow is our last day and I know we will do a beach trip in the morning and will eat at Chillis at some point so hope you can join us. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.

"Shut up and dance with me"

Today was more of the above picture, after a busy day yesterday I felt we deserved this. We didn't even go to the beach this morning, very lazy. Grace didn't go to be until 8.30pm last night apparently so we were not awake until 6.30am and got about about 15 minutes later.

I got straight in to doing the trip report from yesterday and Nanny and Grandad went out for a walk. When they got in I made some scrambled egg for myself, Daddy and Grandad. Nanny had some toast and goodness only know what Grace had a yoghurt as usual I think. We had breakfast by the pool and I saw something in the river outside as I went in as I came back out it had moved and I was sure it was a was! After all these days of looking we had finally seen one, we were very happy

We then went through all the things we had got last night and showed Grace her new stuff, she was over the moon

It was out by the pool after that the weather was lovely as usual and we enjoyed a couple of hours. Daddy then convinced me it was time for a couple of goes around the block on the bike. I hadn't done it for a few days, I had got away with it due to being poorly but felt I could not use that excuse any more! Once out I actually enjoyed it, it was a little windier today which made it more difficult but nice.

We nearly got run over by someone pulling off their drive, who clearly was not in the mood to look to see if anyone was coming! He pulled straight out and we had to stop, he didn't even acknowledge us!

We had a few hours out in the sun and our next move was to go to Farlows in Englewood for dinner. We came in about 2.45pm as we had a very very light shower so we got ready and made a reservation for 4 o clock.

We arrived right on time and were seated at a lovely big table with a view out the window. The menu is massive and it just took me ages to decide what to have. Everyone else always looks at the menu before we go but I do not like to choose until we get there so I was way behind. Even the drinks menu is massive and I had to ask the server to give me some time.

I eventually order a tropical fruit punch, Grace had apple juice, Daddy had water and Grandad a beer. Nanny had a Pina Colada. We ordered a couple of appetisers to share some calamari as I know Grace will eat that and some conch fritters (they were nice and came with a lovely dip) and Grandad had a bowl of clam chowder.

We ate these before ordering the mains. Nanny had stuffed flounder, Grandad stuffed scallops, Daddy and I both had a red snapper in different sauces. I ordered Grace Grouper bites and fries. It was all really really good and came with salad and warm bread. Grace had so much bread she hardly touched her fish!

I had another cocktail and Grandad had a few beers, it is a lovely place right on the river, the service was great and it was a good meal. Nanny and Daddy had pudding, Daddy a chocolate molten cake and nanny some pecan ice cream. Grace was so full she didn't share with anyone! We all had coffee too.

The bill was $225.77, pricey but good quality and a nice experience and we haven't eaten out all the time so it was well worth it. We had some pictures taken outside afterwards.

We left there at around 5.30pm and had to do a stop in Walmart for a few running supplies, we were not in there long tough as I really wanted to get Grace to bed at a better time tonight.
On the way home in the car we got the inspiration for today's title, the song, "shut up and dance with me" Grace loves this song and it has become the song of the holiday. She can turn the radio in the car up from the back and she did just this, it was loud and we all sang along

We were indoors for 6.45 and we messed about for 15 minutes then I put Grace to bed, whilst I was doing that Grandad went to bed too! He has either drunk to much or didn't want to eat any more so went to bed ha ha.
So I finish this and we will go outside for a glass of vino.
There is a feeling in the camp that the holiday is coming to an end, but we still have 2 full days before we fly home on Sunday so we will be making the most of them.
thanks for reading and we will see you tomorrow

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