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Old 30 Nov 17, 11:06 PM  
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GopherLass
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The Uttermost Parts of the Sea ** COMPLETE** Florida begins with Post 206

The Uttermost Parts of the Sea




DCL’s 2017 Westbound Transatlantic, New York City, Montréal and Orlando


To read the whole holiday, begin with this post.

To skip to the Disney Cruise (The Westbound Transatlantic from Barcelona to New York), click HERE.

To skip to New York City, click HERE

To skip to Montréal, click HERE

To skip to Florida (Post 206), click HERE


Welcome to this all-in-one Highs & Lows/Trippie for our Autumn 2017 family holiday. We are a family of three:


I am April (the feckless one):



My husband is R.C. (the unconscious one):



And our DS is Poot, aged 10 (the sanguine one):




Also making a brief appearance in this thread will be my DM, Judybat (The Queen):





This holiday was MEANT to be:

A relaxing drive to Spain from our home in the Vaucluse - and then a couple of fun days exploring Barcelona. After which Poot and I were to cruise to New York on the Disney Magic and see the city - before meeting R.C. and The Queen in Montreal for the World Gymnastics Championships.


But that’s not QUITE what happened…and in fact it’s not even CLOSE to what happened. Sigh.



Per usual, here’s what to expect in this thread...


Poorly executed selfies:




Amusing signs:




A Little Righteous Indignation:





A LOT of commas, hyphens, parentheses...and ellipses.


And probably (Oh, who am I kidding? DEFINITELY!) cultural stereotyping and the occasional fnarr fnarr.


Poot has only contributed a little to this first post. His words will be in blue; mine will be in black.


Now...the lovely Goldia has scolded me in the past for starting posts in medias res, so I won’t be doing that here. Instead, please enjoy (?) this VERY (hmm...maybe not so very) condensed version of what happened to us all in the run-up to the cruise. Sorry for those of you for whom this is old news. Please message GOLDIA with any complaints. Or PM me and I will give you her phone number at work.


So…


Poot and I had a fortnight in Minnesota in August. We flew Norwegian for the first time. CRAZILY it was cheaper to go premium on Norwegian (into Boston and out of JFK) and then get separate flights to and from Saint Paul - than it was to fly premium (or whatever Delta calls it) direct. And when I say cheaper - I mean including hotels in both Boston and New York. BONKERS.


But Poot was over the moon, as flying this route ensured that he could finish up the Freedom Trail and earn his:




Now before we flew Norwegian, I was a little bit anxious - I knew they were classed as a budget carrier. Had I booked us on a long-haul Ryanair?




I scoured the Dibb for info and snaps, but didn’t have a lot of luck - so here’s a brief review for those of you considering Premium on Norwegian:

At LGW Premium has dedicated check-in, followed by lounge access at No. 1 Gatwick.



In the lounge, Poot had lasagne (delicious):



I had this:



...which Poot christened “The Paltry Ploughman’s”. I definitely lost the lunch battle with this one.

We shared a brownie…



...and made for the gate. It was the middle of the afternoon, so the lounge wasn’t madly busy. In fact, we actually had a RELAXING time, which was a first for me at No. 1 Gatwick.


Poot was delighted with our plane, which featured Roald Dahl on the tail.



I wondered if all the planes in the fleet sport a Norwegian hero...but no. Not enough famous Norwegians, I guess. Perhaps I should write the CEO and suggest my mother?




ANYWAY…


Premium has priority boarding and I was REALLY impressed with the seating in the cabin. The windows on the Dreamliner are noticeably bigger (love the dimmer feature, too):




...and this was my leg room:




I am 5’7” - so you can see how much room there really was there. And both Poot and I both found we did indeed have less jet lag (we DEFINITELY noticed this upon our return to Europe).

Our seats came with free earbud-type headphones and blankets, but no pillows. The seats recline PRETTY far back, and have an attached footrest. The IFE was fine, and all the seats had USB ports and power points.

BUT...neither the food nor the service was anything special. The food came in an incredibly long (and rather difficult to manage) cardboard box…




...and when I took a bite, I was grateful I had eaten the Paltry Ploughman’s a few hours before!

Not long before landing we were presented with a snack box:






My, what an...interesting...assortment. A tiny quiche, orzo salad, beetroot in mayonnaise (?), Boursin (sorry, everyone I met later that night!) and a tiny pack of Ferrero Rocher. It was like one of those “clean out the fridge” meals that we tell our kids are “fun” and “surprising” - when we all know that we’re eating this mélange because MOTHER IS CHEAP.

Ah, well - Poot loves Ferrero Rocher.

Service on the flight was somewhere between economy and premium, I’d say. But I still debarked that plane very happy with Norwegian.


Boston from the Air:




The next day was set to be an EXTREMELY hot day in Boston (why is it always “unseasonably warm” whenever we go to America? Why?). Poot was determined to walk the whole of the Freedom Trail and finish his badge, but when we were both up at stupid o’clock, he asked if we could go over to Harvard first. Sure!

Harvard:








The Freedom Trail next:






The Sacred Cod:




For those of you who like your fruit fat:




Last year we posed Poot outside this restaurant - he’s a lad who loves his fromage, as some of you know. And we said we’d eat there when next in Boston...



But this year Cheeseboy was gone! Now it’s a chicken place. Boo! So we just grabbed a bag of popcorn at a nearby CVS and kept walking the trail.

We headed over the river to climb the Bunker Hill Monument:






Like anyone who grew up with “Schoolhouse Rock”, my first thought on seeing this statue was, “The Rebel Colonel Prescott proved he was wise…”. For those of you not fortunate enough to have shared your childhood Saturday mornings with “Schoolhouse Rock” - I offer “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World”:




Poot was a VERY colicky baby, and this was one of the many songs that I used to sing to him as I paced endlessly up and down our hallway. R.C. had a more limited repertoire (just “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Four and Twenty Virgins Down From Inverness”).

At the top of the Monument (sweating buckets):




We finished our day at the USS Constitution:



...where Poot was (AT LAST!) sworn in as a Junior Ranger:




Loved this sign on the bridge over the Charles:




We were out that day for something like fifteen hours. But it was great.


Off to Minnesota to visit Grandma!


Snoopy at MSP:



(Poorly executed) Baseball Selfie:



State Fair Fun:








Poot, after winning a butter-sculpting contest:



Poot and Princess Kay of the Milky Way:



Outside Target (The Fifth Theme Park*):



*Colette's joke

It was super funny - we were taking this photo and a Target employee yelled out to me, “Expat? Do you want me to get a picture of the two of you? Maybe with the cart?”

Poot (shaking his head pitifully): I was born RIGHT HERE in Minnesota. But I’ve had to live my WHOLE LIFE in Europe. And there are no Targets in Europe. None at all.


(Another poorly executed) selfie of Poot, my best girlfriend, her son - and me):



Fun at the Football:







Now I told you I’m the feckless one…


SO...one of the things we were PLANNING to do while visiting my mother was to drive down to Missouri (seven hours or so) to watch the (total) solar eclipse. But that was before I broke my brain.

It just didn’t seem responsible to make that long drive not knowing how my health would be. I haven’t had an “episode” since September, but back in summer I was very anxious that I would lose the feeling in my feet while driving on a freeway - and cause an accident.

And, having said that, we knew that NASHVILLE was in the path of totality, too. So with exactly ZERO thought to how much it would cost...I booked us flights and a hotel room in Nashville. Oops.


The Loews Vanderbilt:



Per usual, we had a great experience at the Loews. EXCEPT...for a conversation Poot had with a concierge…

Here he is to tell you all about it:

I went downstairs to get the newspaper. The concierge that day was a very tall man, and when he heard my accent he asked me where I was from. I said that it was complicated, but that we lived in France and England. And then, in a weird and snobbish accent he said, “Toast and marmalade, please.”

And I said, “That’s actually not how English people speak. And I don’t even like marmalade.”

But he kept going on with all these weird phrases that I think he thought SOUNDED English. And I think he thought my accent was posh and fancy, which it TOTALLY isn’t. Anyways, he hurt my feelings, kind of a lot. Because he just wouldn’t stop.



April again here. I didn’t know about any of this until much later, when (on the cruise) Poot kept trying to avoid telling people where we live…


The Nashville Loews is right across the street from the campus of Vanderbilt University.





We had a little wander around the campus our first afternoon - it was so green! And BOY did that help, because Nashville - I kid you not - was hotter than a cathouse on nickel night. Even Poot, who LOVES the heat, was wilting. I always forget just how hot summers in the South are, until I’m in the South during summer. Nothing like putting the telly on and seeing:



YUK.


The Loews had really made an effort for their eclipse guests. When we returned from our wander around the neighbourhood, a young lovely was standing in the lobby handing out:




I won’t lie - Poot got the joke before I did.


We watched the eclipse from Centennial Park. And I just don’t have the words to describe what it was like. Just WOW.

Melting and squinting before the eclipse:



Watching the moon advance:




Poot got this snap with my tiny pocket camera. Not bad!:




The Nashville Parthenon in eclipse-light:



And its interior (if you can see Poot in this snap you’ll get a sense of how BIG the Athena Parthenos really is):



By the way, how much do I love the Nashville Parthenon? Why can’t MORE parks have full-scale replicas of ancient Greek temples?


The eclipse was undoubtedly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen - natural wonder-wise. America gets totality again in 2024. And I will not be missing that.



Maybe Buffalo?


So Nashville was worth every penny, even if poor Poot did get “Skeeter Syndrome” from the mosquito assault he endured while waiting for the big moment:



Huh? I never knew that such a thing existed.



American sojourn over, we flew back to Europe via Kennedy. And here’s where it all began to go a bit...sideways.


Now, some of you know that Poot had to have a (benign) tumour removed from his back last year. But the oncologist at Great Ormond Street was very clear with us. Should Poot develop another mass, we were to call him straight away - his “type” of tumour is sometimes cancerous. And on the flight up to Kennedy, Poot said to me, “I think I have another one of those tumours. In my face.”

Oh, crap.


So I felt his face. Yep. Another one.

Me: Hmm...well, let’s see what the doctor says, eh?



So my brain was very busy on that flight. And then AFTER we got to Kennedy…

We had too much luggage to get public transport to our hotel, but we were staying pretty close to JFK, so I assumed it would be both a cheap and straightforward taxi journey. More fool I!

(à propos of nothing - how excited am I that not only is Kennedy getting an on airport hotel - but that it’s going to be in the old Eero Saarinen (TWA) terminal?!)

twahotel/


Sorry, I digress. So the taxi captain put us in a cab - and I told the cabbie where we wanted to go. Explicitly. But (like most NYC cabbies) it was obvious that his English was... limited. So he typed what he must have THOUGHT I said into his satnav - and up popped CLARK, NEW JERSEY (Distance 28 Miles). And off he drove!

Now I promise I started off using my nice voice. But before too long I had ramped it up to my “Listen here, young man!”. And eventually I had to resort to “Oi!” (hangs head in shame).

“Oi! Pass that GPS back to me right NOW! I will type in the address myself! Yes! Pass it to me NOW!”


So he passed it back to me. And THANK GOD I had written down the street address of the hotel. Which popped right up on the satnav screen - Distance 1.3 Miles.

No woman alive was ever so happy to see a Hampton Inn, kids.




After dinner that night, I talked to R.C. on the 'phone. And he knows me so well…


“Darling, please at least tell me you didn’t tip him.”



Why am I telling you this?


Here’s why:


Our 2017 “family holiday” was meant to be an eight-day jaunt over to Montréal. My mother and I were going for the World Gymnastics Championships. And Poot and R.C. were going to come, too - for non-gymnastics activities.


WELL...after we got back to Europe (but before we heard from the oncologist about what we were supposed to do with Poot’s face) - I was on the phone with The Queen. I told her the story about our near kidnapping in New York (which of course I thought was FUNNY, since it all turned out OK).


But telling her that story was a COLOSSAL MISTAKE.


Because a couple of days later she called me and said, “I’ve been thinking about what happened to you in New York. And what if something like that happens to me in Montréal? If I get separated from you...I don’t speak French.”

Me: What are you saying?

Her: I’ve actually been worrying about this for months. And I kept telling myself I just needed to get the taxi to the hotel and from that point either you or R.C. would be with me. But I think I’ve gotten too old to travel on my own now, especially in a place where I don’t speak the language.

Me: But the taxi captain will speak English. Or I can arrange a town car for you. Let me do that. A town car will bring you right to the hotel, and the staff at the hotel will speak English.

Her: No, I’ve already decided. I can’t do it.

Me: O...K…?


So there you go. ONE DOWN. Luckily I was able to cancel the hotel room in Montréal with no penalty. And we were soon to need that money, BECAUSE…


The oncologist called. He and I had a long, LONG conversation (how much do I love my 3 “Feel at Home” contract?) while I did a bunch of checks on the mass in Poot’s face. And at the end of it all, I was relieved (SO RELIEVED!) to hear him say, “I think it can wait until you get back to England in November.”

Me: Great. We’ll look for the letter from your secretary. Thanks so --- Wait, sorry, my husband is reaching out his hand for the 'phone.

R.C.: Professor? (Poot’s) father here. I would really feel better if you could see Poot sooner rather than later.

Oncologist: Oh, um...OK...I’m sure we can arrange that. I’ll have my secretary call you later today.


Now, am I GRATEFUL that my husband wanted to ensure that everything was OK before Poot and I sailed off into the mighty Atlantic? Yes, of course. HOWEVER...I couldn’t help but feel a bit frustrated. Instead of having a week and a half of peace in France before heading down to Spain, we were now going to have to get up to London, and then back down to Provence - and on to Barcelona - all in the three days before we sailed.


SO, here’s how the few days before the cruise ended up going:


Cruise minus 3 days:

Put cruise luggage in boot of car. Drive the two hours from our house to Avignon. Leave car in long-term parking at Avignon TGV Station. Thank God that the French train strike was YESTERDAY. Get train to Paris. Arrive at Gare de Lyon. Get taxi to Gare du Nord. Thank God for the first funny Parisian cabbie I’ve ever had. Get Eurostar to St. Pancras. Get train to Potters Bar. Get taxi home. Crash into bed.


Cruise minus 2 days:

Spend all day at Great Ormond Street. Test, test, test. Get the all-clear. Feel VERY relieved, but also slightly irritated with R.C. for insisting this be done now when the doctor said otherwise. Crash into bed.


Cruise minus 1 day:

Get taxi to St. Pancras at 5:00 AM. Get Eurostar to Avignon. Drive to the last rest area before the Spanish border. Sit with Poot on a picnic blanket while R.C. sleeps in the car for two hours. Drive to Barcelona (in pouring rain). Arrive in Barcelona at 10:00 PM. Thank God that the Spanish eat late and send R.C. down to the hotel restaurant for a well-deserved steak dinner. Crash into bed.


OK, I am typing this in Google Docs, and it’s already twelve pages long. I think I’ll break here for this week and pick it up next week with the cruise. I’m sure it has now become obvious to you that this will be a BIT more than Highs and Lows…sorry.


Rats! I forgot these snaps earlier:

At Kennedy, Norwegian passengers use the Alitalia lounge.



And the Alitalia lounge had some of the most interesting snacks and drinks I’ve ever seen in America.



Look! Chinotto!

They also had cold sandwiches all boxed up and ready to go. After “experiencing” the food on the flight over, you better believe we grabbed a couple of these little beauties, too.



Oh, and for those of you who were wondering...our ‘plane back was:



The Amy Johnson (an Englishwoman! )


The Cruise Next!
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Old 30 Nov 17, 11:46 PM  
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A fab start April, so glad Poot was okay and here’s a photo of the Amy Johnson statue in Herne Bay to compliment the one on the tail!

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Old 1 Dec 17, 12:27 AM  
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Originally Posted by Mamie Baldwin View Post
A fab start April, so glad Poot was okay and here’s a photo of the Amy Johnson statue in Herne Bay to compliment the one on the tail!

Pamela!

I've never been to Herne Bay, but R.C. used to go there with his father. They had some happy days there.

I never knew Amy's Johnson's name (or indeed her amazing story) until I was an adult. R.C. and I were visiting some cousins of his in Australia, and dessert one night was:




Amy Johnson slice!


Me: Why is it called 'Amy Johnson' slice?
R.C.'s cousin: After Amy Johnson, of course.
Me: Who's Amy Johnson?
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Old 1 Dec 17, 02:34 PM  
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Great start, looking forward to read more. You must have been so worried about Poot - hope all is well with him now. You don't do things by half in your family - that 3 days before your trip sounds hectic.
BTW please pass on to Poot my shared annoyance at people thinking they can do an accent. I actually had to tell a co-worker his constant attempts at a Geordie accent (I'm from the North East and still have a bit of an accent apparently) were really irritating.
I for one am very happy that this is morphing into a trip report rather than highs and lows as you do them so well.
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Old 1 Dec 17, 04:12 PM  
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Originally Posted by unixgirl View Post
Great start, looking forward to read more. You must have been so worried about Poot - hope all is well with him now. You don't do things by half in your family - that 3 days before your trip sounds hectic.
BTW please pass on to Poot my shared annoyance at people thinking they can do an accent. I actually had to tell a co-worker his constant attempts at a Geordie accent (I'm from the North East and still have a bit of an accent apparently) were really irritating.
I for one am very happy that this is morphing into a trip report rather than highs and lows as you do them so well.
Hey, Liz!

Thanks so much for checking in - I hope you are having an amazing time in America. Looking forward to hearing all about it (or some about it, no pressure).

Those days before the cruise were a real Chinese Firedrill. It's all funny now, of course (except when I think about what we paid for three last-minute round-trip train tickets from Avignon to London). We always take the car over to France, so it was interesting to try out the Eurostar all the way to Avignon. OH how I (dearly) wish we could do that every time. But obviously we need our car in France, too.


I will pass your message on to Poot. It never even dawned on me that he would take that chap's stupid "jokes" so personally. But Poot's accent is very strange (as is mine), and wherever we live/go - he is obviously "foreign". Here in England people think he's American. In America, people think he's English. And in France everybody KNOWS we're not French. We're lucky to have such an interesting life - but I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to really BELONG - all of us - to the same place.

PS: One of my favourite cousins married a Geordie (they're the couple who live in Delft). That accent is HARD TO DO WELL.
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Old 1 Dec 17, 05:19 PM  
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Hi April

What a few months you have had. So happy to hear that Poot's tumour was nothing sinister - must have been a worrying time for you all.

I understand Poot's frustration at the accent thing. I often get people trying to speak English to me (I speak fluent French but with a very British accent) and their English is terrible - nicish that they are trying to help but they aren't as they don't understand me if I speak English (I speak quickly!) and I understand their French 100% Drives me potty!

I think I am looking forward to reading more but am wondering/concerned about what went wrong!
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Old 1 Dec 17, 07:01 PM  
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
Hi April

What a few months you have had. So happy to hear that Poot's tumour was nothing sinister - must have been a worrying time for you all.

I understand Poot's frustration at the accent thing. I often get people trying to speak English to me (I speak fluent French but with a very British accent) and their English is terrible - nicish that they are trying to help but they aren't as they don't understand me if I speak English (I speak quickly!) and I understand their French 100% Drives me potty!

I think I am looking forward to reading more but am wondering/concerned about what went wrong!
LOL, Mel. One of the reasons I loved Quebec so much? People told me EVERY DAY what "elegant" French I had. Can you guess how often that has happened to me in France...?

Yep. ZERO times. And my accent is good. Unlike R.C.'s. His French is perfect, but delivered in what must have been the accent of his public school French master. Nothing like cut-glass French (shudder).


But as you say, I try not to take it personally - R.C. has a niece who lives in Belgium, and when she comes home to France everyone in the family mocks her terribly. It's only recently that I have been able to hear the differences between French accents - Quebecois French is SO OBVIOUSLY different, but I can't "hear" Belgian French yet.

Poor Poot, though - when I was trying to winkle out of him (on the cruise) why he didn't want to tell people where we live, he was practically in tears. He loves being "American" - and it's hard for him when his own countrymen (it's complicated, but you know what I mean) see him as a foreigner. We met a woman (a DOCTOR no less) who kept asking him to say "Harry Potter". And then she was disappointed that he didn't pronounce it "like Alan Rickman would". It was weird.


I suppose that's enough blather. It's so lovely to hear from you - I thought of you (in Montréal) when we walked past Eggspectation.
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Old 1 Dec 17, 09:19 PM  
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I couldn't believe it when the trip report I stumbled on to "lose myself in" was yours. And how do you begin? With a lovely ellipsis...but where are all the emojis? I think you have forgotten? I'm trying to resist the urge to use them all. Oh what the heck : ):blus h: I think they are some of your favorites.

Now, my 2nd form Latin teacher would be turning in her grave that I had to look up in media res. As usual I am learning something in your trip reports and we haven't even really begun yet.

More Boston and more baseball, it looks like you had a blast.

Hurrah, it's the weather channel, wow, that is hot. Poot got a great photo of the eclipse, but that looks like a horrid bite.

Hmm, Buffalo 2024, I'll note it in my diary.

I like your relaxing pre travel days before the cruise, I'll have to make a note of that for our next holiday, a round trip for several hundred miles on the eurostar with a bunch of hospital tests thrown in for good measure. Oh April, at least it was good news.

I'm looking forward to the actual cruise highs and lows, whenever they appear.
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Old 1 Dec 17, 10:12 PM  
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Ooh Chinotto ...

Thanks for educating and entertaining us as usual, and I hope all is now tranquil chez GopherLass and lads.

DH's repertoire in colicky circumstances was a bit of Cliff (Mistletoe & Wine) and Shenandoah - as soon as DD was capable of independent movement she would reach up and put her hand over his mouth

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Old 1 Dec 17, 10:18 PM  
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Originally Posted by Goldia View Post
I couldn't believe it when the trip report I stumbled on to "lose myself in" was yours. And how do you begin? With a lovely ellipsis...but where are all the emojis? I think you have forgotten? I'm trying to resist the urge to use them all. Oh what the heck : ):blus h: I think they are some of your favorites.

Now, my 2nd form Latin teacher would be turning in her grave that I had to look up in media res. As usual I am learning something in your trip reports and we haven't even really begun yet.

More Boston and more baseball, it looks like you had a blast.

Hurrah, it's the weather channel, wow, that is hot. Poot got a great photo of the eclipse, but that looks like a horrid bite.

Hmm, Buffalo 2024, I'll note it in my diary.

I like your relaxing pre travel days before the cruise, I'll have to make a note of that for our next holiday, a round trip for several hundred miles on the eurostar with a bunch of hospital tests thrown in for good measure. Oh April, at least it was good news.

I'm looking forward to the actual cruise highs and lows, whenever they appear.
I am rather proud of my minimal (ahem) use of emojis in this post. They felt less necessary to me this time, because it feels like I am writing for a specific audience - the ladies I have come to know through our trippies. And when I was writing, it felt like you (all) would pick up my tone and intention without all the...wee faces.

That was just ONE of Poot's bites. I've never seen so many mosquitos out at midday before - I felt foolish for not packing bug spray - but I just didn't know! According to the Mayo Clinic website, people (like Poot) who grow up where there are few mosquitos are way more likely to have significant reactions to the bites. It was really weird - the swellings (is THAT a word?) felt like cricket balls under his skin.

And yes - we did have a blast. We love R.C. - and miss him when he's not with us...but a lot of the things we both like (yomps in the sweltering heat, baseball, butter-sculpting) - he only tolerates. One of the good things about Poot getting older - he can understand that Dad would sooner listen to Fran Drescher read out "Tolley on Torts" than go to a football game.

Oh, and we do Latin every afternoon at 2:00. Perhaps you can participate via Skype.
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Posted in Florida
On 21st November 8:54am
Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro revealed Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind... Read More »
Posted in Seaworld
On 4th November 11:54am
Experience SeaWorld as the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with more than 3... Read More »
Posted in Mickey
On 22nd October 4:51pm
Guests can now start their magical adventure before their visit with their very own personalised... Read More »


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Exchange Rates
US Dollar Rates
ASDA  $1.2967
CaxtonFX  $1.2902
Covent Garden FX  $1.3034
FAIRFX  $1.2929
John Lewis  $1.2954
M&S  $1.2750
Post Office  $1.2741
Sainsburys  $1.2935
TESCO  $1.2963
Travelex  $1.2945
Updated: 20:00 04/12/2021
Euro Rates
ASDA  €1.1471
CaxtonFX  €1.1406
Covent Garden FX  €1.1492
FAIRFX  €1.1434
John Lewis  €1.1485
M&S  €1.1308
Post Office  €1.1291
Sainsburys  €1.1448
TESCO  €1.1470
Travelex  €1.1406
Updated: 20:00 04/12/2021

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