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Old 5 Feb 14, 06:37 PM  
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Arrow Returning to Jamerica! Day 1 - Travel Day / BA & High Grove

"Returning to Jamerica!" November 2013


Previous Day

Day 1 – Travel Day / BA & High Grove

Thursday 7th November 2013

After a fairly peaceful night’s sleep, all things considered, morning soon arrived. I woke occasionally during the night, checked the time and went back to sleep, but nothing more than that. It certainly wasn't enough to take Premier Inn up on their Good Night Guarantee offer anyway. In case you didn’t know, Premier Inn will refund you for your room if you don’t sleep well. And it works! We’ve stayed with them before pre-flight and had a terrible night’s sleep. From about 3am we could hear the people in the room above us walking about. Obviously with it being an airport hotel, you expect people to be up and about all through the night and would expect to hear some padding about. Oh no……. this was an incessant thud, thud, thud for over an hour. Funnily enough, my Mum had experienced the same thing, and yet she was in a different part of the hotel to us!

Anyway, at reception the next morning we were asked if we’d had a good night’s sleep and just mentioned that it had been really noisy , but also said that it’s to be expected, but the receptionist took our details, and we did indeed get a full refund. And as we had booked the stay & park deal, we got the parking refunded too – Result!

However, no such complaint this time, and at around 6.30am I was awake for good. I’m going to confess now that I cannot for the life of me find my trippy notebook, and so some of the details of this report are going to be a bit sketchy, but I will do my best. Anyway, by 7am everyone was awake, and soon after that I sent a ‘wakey wakey, brekkie in half an hour?’ text to Mum.

All up, dressed and reassembled, we headed down to the restaurant at about 7.45am. I don’t know what was different about this travel day, but I was feeling extremely relaxed, so much so that I joined the gang for breakfast. I can’t normally eat first thing in the morning, and definitely not before a flight, but today I was fine.

I had some of the hot offerings – eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, beans etc. Simon had his usual healthy fruit & yoghurt with some poached eggs on toast. Mum had little bits of everything, Daniel a couple of muffins, then a couple more muffins! And Adam’s plate resembled the bakery counter in Sainsbury's, loaded up with toast, croissants, muffins, crumpets etc.

I said he should have something else, just to balance it out, so off he went, returning with a bowl of Coco Pops – not quite what I had in mind, and I guess expecting him to return with a bowl of fruit was too much to expect!

It’s a good breakfast at the Premier Inn, plenty of choice and it’s not bad quality, and once finished (no bill to settle remember), we went back to our rooms. Everything gathered, just before 9am we headed over to the airport.

I get a bit of a knot in my stomach looking at these pictures, wishing that I could go back to that moment (but I’d then like to fast forward to actually arriving at the villa – don’t want much do I?! ). There’s so much excitement and expectation, and the months of planning are beginning to come to fruition. And I just know that once you step off that plane at the other side, everything seems to shift to fast forward. Still, let’s not get all depressed already, I’ve still got two weeks worth of holiday to tell you about!

Once in the terminal building we made our way to security. There was barely any line and we were through without any problem. Daniel was selected for an extra pat down, but the guard was very friendly with him which I was thankful for as this was something that Daniel had been worried about. My bag of liquids was taken aside for extra interrogation, I have no idea why, and before long we were released into the departure lounge.
Having no V room to go to this time, we set up camp just outside Dune the shoe shop, and took it in turns to go exploring, not before checking out the information board first, just to make sure our flight was real!

Adam was desperate to have a look round WH Smiths, he is a voracious reader and wanted to stock up for the flight. He’d brought a few books with him, but had already finished one in the car yesterday. Apparently he’d spent the journey with his nose buried in his book, feet up on the dashboard. Before you start wondering just how long Adam’s legs are, he was in the front seat, Mum in the back with Daniel (who slept most of the way!)!

He picked up three more books on a 3 for 2 offer, and we also picked up some Starbursts, Haribo and water. I’d brought a load of snacks from home for the flight, biscuits, crisps, grapes, brioche, crackers etc, and also had my fingers crossed that there would be something edible for the boys within their meal.

Simon & I then went for a wander around duty free where I stocked up perfume. I have to be careful with what I wear as a lot of perfumes give me headaches. I remember one time on holiday being attacked by a bottle of Angel and feeling so sick that I can’t even look at the bottle now without turning green……. So anyway, my usual, predictable Chanel Allure purchased, we rejoined my Mum and the boys for a sit down.

Daniel then wanted a wander around so I took him off for a bit. I thought he’d developed some sort of PG rated Tourettes as he suddenly began shouting out insults - that is until I realised that he was simply telling me he’d spotted one of my favourite shops….

(or should that be Fart Face – see pre-trippy part 9! )

Daniel didn’t really want anything and so we went back to base camp and then Simon decided he too wanted a book to read, and so back to WH Smiths we went, where he settled on Harry Redknapp’s Tales of Tax Dodging, (or whatever it’s called). And unlike Simon’s last holiday read (Bear Grylls eats things even worse than what you’d find at a Ponderosa breakfast buffet ), which remained in his man-bag for the entire holiday, he did actually read Harry’s book.

Simon then went off to get himself a baguette for the flight, and I asked him to grab me one too, even though I couldn’t really think about eating anything on the flight right now. Pre-flight nerves were starting to kick in just a little bit – although not quite as bad as whoever had been sat here

Adam went with Simon, and came back with a pesto, mozzarella, panini type thing, and a tale about how the Portuguese guy who served them in Pret a Manger had given him a lecture about missing school. Seriously?! Perhaps he had a sticker on his back saying ‘my other occupation is surgeon’.

Simon & I killed a bit more time by having a browse around Boots, picking up some more ‘essentials’. I don’t know why I bother with all the lists and preparation before we come away as Simon really does do his holiday shopping last minute. We gathered our bits but what we didn’t realise at the time was that the £5.59 we paid for a box containing a tube of Zovirax turned out to be an empty box containing nothing at all. Robbing little b******s. Of course, we didn’t realise that until many weeks later, when that ‘first little tingle’ was felt……

Eventually, at around 10.30am, our gate number was called. I have no idea what the number was (damn you lost notebook), but you can bet your bottom dollar it was pretty much the furthest one down the walk way.

And here is where my photos for the day dry up a little, and therefore any recollection of what happened for the rest of the day is going to have to be drawn from the murky depths of my fading memory….

We were all boarded on time, and ready for take off, which was due to have been at 11.45am, but as time ticked on, it was obvious that we weren’t going to be taking off then. It turned out that we were waiting for luggage for passengers that had been on a flight from Glasgow, and we eventually took off almost an hour late, sucking & chewing on Starbursts as we did which seems to have become a tradition for us now. In fact I think the boys are under the impression that if we don’t have a Starburst, the plane won’t actually leave the ground...

Mum sat in the window seats with the boys, and Simon & I were directly across from them in the middle section, Simon on the end, me in the middle sat next to a gentleman that reminded me a bit of my Dad. I don’t know his name, but for the purposes of this report, I’m going to call him Bob. He looked like a Bob. I offered Bob a Starburst too, seeing as he was an honorary member of our party for the next 9 hours, but he declined.

Once up in the air we all settled ourselves down for the rest of the day, with the various gadgets and books we had brought to keep ourselves entertained. I had downloaded MKingdon’s latest trip report onto my Kindle, so had that to keep me entertained and build up the excitement, and also had some games downloaded onto the iPad. Bob even joined in with the iPad card games on occasion when I was stuck. I miss Bob……. I wonder if he’s ever played Blob? (see previous trippy if that means nothing to you! )

Mum had brought some trashy mags with her, so I also planned to kill a bit of time insulting various members of Made in Towie under my breath….

The BA IFE was absolutely fine, but it was missing the games that Virgin’s IFE offered – something that Adam was most disappointed by. He had been worried on our last flight with Virgin that he wasn’t going to have enough time to watch / play everything he wanted to!

I had a flick through the films and decided on The Internship with Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson, knowing that it wouldn’t require too much brain power & concentration.

It was okay, and did make Google look like a really fun place to work! I also watched The Heat with Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy (and Bob next to me! ).

It was sooooooo funny! Bob & I were out of synch slightly, and every now & then I’d hear him laugh, only to do the same a couple of minutes later. Coincidentally, the last film I watched on a plane that I really loved was Bridesmaids, which MM is also in……….

Daniel spent most of his time drawing and doodling on his little notebook, as well as playing cards with Grandma and also playing on the iPad. He watched a bit of the IFE too, Goal Busters and a bit of Planes, but mostly kept himself entertained. Adam watched Turbo, Monsters’ University & Planes – he’s a real film buff and loves movie night or trips to the cinema whereas Daniel isn’t so bothered.

I’m not sure what Simon watched. I’ve sent him a text to ask him, but so far he hasn’t replied. World’s End rings a bell, so we’ll stick with that. I don’t suppose it matters too much in the grand scheme of things!

*Update – it was World’s End. The integrity of this report now remains intact!

Our meal was brought round at about 2.30pm, and the usual anticipation was met with the usual underwhelming disappointment as the little cartons were revealed to us.

To be fair, the butter chicken wasn’t bad. In fact, Adam preferred it to his kid’s meal (which I think was some beef pasta thing), and ended up eating most of Grandma’s! The salad was okay, but the bread rolls were proper tooth breakers. The pud was a rather delicious chocolate orange mousse, but turned out to be deceptively small as the pot has an inch high indent at the bottom. I had a glass of white wine with my meal. I have no idea why, I’m not really a wine drinker – perhaps I was being misled by Bob?

I can’t imagine that Daniel had much of his meal at all, perhaps a box of raisins and a baby bel? He probably gnawed his way through our unwanted bread rolls too…… Him & Adam will have tucked into the snacks brought from home, Adam after taking one sniff of the Panini he’d got at that airport and deciding he didn’t like it…..

The first few hours of the flight passed by quite quickly, but there always seems to be a lull in the middle, after the food has been cleared away and you know you’ve already served 3 hours of time, and yet there’s still sooooooo long to go. I killed a bit more time filling in the little white form, and again, and again! On the third attempt I finally got it right.

The boys amused themselves by trotting to back of the plane to help themselves to the little bars of chocolate and cans of pop that were available. This isn’t widely known, but I had read about it on The Dibb.

Continued in the next post...

Edited at 06:09 PM.
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Old 5 Feb 14, 06:38 PM  
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Continued from above...

About an hour before landing we were brought sandwiches – however, I’d already had a lovely tuna baguette from Pret, as well as a Panini, so I did what every self-respecting person would do, I tucked into their lovely chickeny mustardy offering too….. I think the boys had cream cheese finger sandwiches, as well as jam, but I can’t be sure. (I’m so sorry, really cursing the lack of notes – but of course, I’m bound to find the book as soon the trippy is finished! )

Despite the hour delay in taking off, we managed to make up a fair bit of time and so landed at around 4.30pm (best guess! ). I do find it funny how you can be sat next to/around people for 9+ hours, and yet it’s usually in those last 20 minutes as you start to land that the most conversation is had! Obviously Bob and I had shared some special times during the flight, but that was mainly without words. During those final moments I found out that he was with his wife & daughter, and that they were going to visit a friend and he wasn’t bothered about going to Disney, he was just doing as he was told. If only I’d known all that before, I could have given him an education!

It didn’t take long for us to get off the plane and into the immigration hall. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing what was awaiting us there, but actually, it was empty! I had been thinking that we might have ended up being stuck behind the passengers on the early Virgin flight, but perhaps the delay had meant that they had already gone through. How considerate! Within 15 minutes we were at the front of the snaking queue. Mum went separately while the rest of us went to the most miserable immigration officer I’ve ever had the pleasure of being intimidated by.

I handed over the white form, and where I had put the villa address as ‘Sunset View, High Grove’, he insisted on the exact address, house & street number. Thankfully I had it handy, but I was worried for my Mum who didn’t. He questioned why we were there, how much money we had, took our finger prints (I was tempted to show him one particular finger), which I realise is all usual practice, but honestly, he was sooooo scary. I was secretly praying that the children wouldn’t choose this moment to start bickering or fighting as I’m pretty sure we’d have been frogmarched back to the UK……..

After an excruciating 5 minutes (it seemed like 5 hours) we were finally in! Mum was waiting for us the other side – turned out her immigration officer was the polar opposite of our one and had wished her a good vacation with Mickey, blah blah blah….. And this is what I have a problem with, the inconsistency. If our officer absolutely had to have the full villa address, why didn’t the other one? I’m thinking of sending him a little gift…..

Anyhoooooo……. Over to the luggage carousels where our good fortune in the length of the immigration line was brought to an abrupt halt. We waited, and we waited, and we waited some more. And then we waited some more. Other people were arriving and collecting their bags, but not one of ours came off that carousel. The line (because I’m in the U S of A now ), for the second immigration guy was getting longer & longer in direct correlation to my patience getting shorter & shorter. Of course, thinking about it logically, as we had done twilight check-in, our bags would have been on one of the first cages to have been loaded, therefore would be one of the last to be unloaded. Oh joy! Eventually though, all cases appeared, and what I think must have been an act of pity, a nearby worker escorted us the ten or so footsteps to the huge line that was still forming, and pointed us towards a very short one that had just opened up. Others saw this and tried to join too but he was having none of it and sent them skulking back to where they’d come from. I could almost feel the daggers in the back of my head, but I didn’t care, and would have cared even less if I’d known what was about to happen……..

We went through the second check, where I asked the friendly (yes, friendly) officer to clarify what I should have put on the white form with regards to food, as this always gets brought up on the Dibb. I always put “yes”, as we do take certain things in our cases (tea bags, marmite etc), and also had some snacks left over from the flight. He was extremely vague and said that you don’t really need to, but it doesn’t matter if you do and perhaps you should, but if you don’t it doesn’t matter etc etc etc. So that cleared that up then!

I think after the inconsistency displayed by the officers at the first checkpoint, I’ll continue to put yes, just to be on the safe side…….

So……. Through to the conveyor belt to offload our luggage once again, ready to be reunited with it a few minutes later after a swift trip on the monorail, right? Wrong………

Our trip on the monorail was pretty uneventful, apart from me being stood next to a yoof sharing with the rest of us his excellent gum chewing skills. If there’s anything that annoys me most in the world, it’s the sound of people eating, and he was making so much noise I actually wanted to chew my own ears off. Still, that’s more my problem than anyone else’s but it reeeeealllllly wound me up! However, being on that first monorail trip of the holiday was a pretty special moment (despite the camel impression over my shoulder), and is always a bit of a ‘We’re Here! ’ moment.

Once we got to the other side we scurried off to be reunited with our bags, when we discovered that we’d probably have been better off trying to lug them onto the monorail ourselves. There were no bags at all on the carousel, which wasn’t even moving. We waited a little while, but still nothing. Eventually, the carousel clunked into life, and delivered a couple of bags into view then shut itself down again. A few minutes later, the same thing again. One or two bags would appear, evoking a flurry of activity from everyone waiting, jostling for the best position to retrieve their long lost luggage, only for the machine to shut down again minutes later.

Look how annoyed I was as we waited...

Those boots really did pinch...

This went on for what seemed like an eternity, and eventually Simon went off to try and find somebody who might be able to shed some light on what was happening. The reason he was given is that British Airways don’t have their own baggage handlers at MCO, and so there isn’t a dedicated team there to GIVE US BACK OUR BAGS!

This happened to us once before after a flight back to the UK. There was some kind of baggage handler strike going on at Gatwick and so nobody was getting any luggage at all. We were kept entertained though as someone started putting random items on the carousel, so all of a sudden a banana would appear, then someone would add something else, or a little note. That was fun!

Anyway, eventually, once everyone else at MCO had their cases back, us poor BA passengers began to get ours and finally we had everything we needed and could make our way to Avis Car Rental over the road.

It was dark once we got outside, but at least it was warm & dry, unlike our previous welcome, which had been to torrential rain! I spied a familiar couple ahead of us, about to cross over the road. I was sure it was BLDY&McGoo from The Dibb (sorry Beth, but you will always be ‘Baldy & McGoo to me! ), and having read Beth’s own trippy from that day, it looks like they were there at the same time as us, so hello Beth & Scott!

We went straight to the Avis desk in the garage, rather than waiting in line in the terminal building. I had signed up for Avis Preferred and attempted to link our booking through BA, and so was relieved when our booking was recognised and we were directed to where our car was waiting for us. We had been allocated a black Dodge Caravan, exactly the same car as we’d had last time.

We loaded up the cases, positioning those that wouldn’t fit in the boot in and around Mum and the boys and at around 7pm we were finally free! Simon familiarised himself with the car while I got the map and directions handy, as well as change for the tolls and we headed on out of the airport and onto the open roads. It felt soooooo good to be back! We headed down to the 417, and yet despite knowing the way, and following the perfect directions that Jackie, the villa owner had sent to us, we still managed to go wrong when we got to the turning at Celebration to get onto Hwy 192.

In an attempt to get us back on track, we once again found ourselves on Disney property a day earlier than we were supposed to. Daniel had his eyes closed as he didn’t want to see any Disney signs until tomorrow, and it wasn’t long before we were where we were supposed to be on Hwy 192.

We had already decided that we would kill two birds with one stone for tea tonight. Adam wanted to have a Papa John’s pizza at some point during the holiday, and we wanted something quick and easy tonight. We also wanted to call into Publix to pick up a few bits and I’d seen that there was a Papa John’s next to a Publix so that all seemed far too convenient a plan to ignore.

As we passed by all the restaurants, hotels & shops, it was hard to believe that it was over 2 years since our last visit. Everywhere seemed so familiar and it really did feel like we had been plonked back down to carry on from where we left off in October 2011, although, obviously, we were a man down, (poor Grandad! )

Simon pulled into Publix at Orange Lake, opposite the Rolling Oaks retail park, somewhere we knew we would be visiting several times over the next couple of weeks. We drove past Applebee’s and had a quick scout around the car park for Papa John’s, but could we find it? No we could not! As we were here anyway, Mum, me & the boys popped into Publix while Simon babysat the luggage. He wasn’t going to let it out of his sight again until we were ‘home’!

We grabbed some essentials – water, bread, butter, cheese, fruit, a pumpkin carving kit (yes, really!) etc, and $110 later and approaching 8pm, we were back out to the car. Simon had taken another drive around the car park to see if we’d missed the pizza place. By now I knew that his attempts to find it were futile as I’d asked a lady in Publix where it was, and apparently there’s another Publix further along with a Papa John’s conveniently placed right next door…….. Ooops!

It was almost 1am UK time by now, and as we’d been up since 7ish that morning, I knew that it was only a matter of time before there would be some kind of meltdown from somebody, and as we pulled back out onto the 192, I could already feel the tension rising, and not without just cause……. The traffic was at a standstill.

Roadworks. Oh great! And they were going to be there for months. Just perfect! Now, my usually laid back, placid husband isn’t very good on travel day, I’ve mentioned this before. But up until this moment his behaviour had been exemplary. He then tried to suggest that once we got moving, the last thing he wanted to do was to stop for Pizza, and that we’d just make do with what we’d picked up in Publix. And there it was, the spark to light the blue touchpaper. It was a fair suggestion, granted. But nobody, NOBODY stands between Adam and his promise of a pizza. And so began a row of epic proportions. I tried to keep out of it and lighten things up, but deep down I was really gutted about the thought of spending half an hour every evening stuck in traffic (and was waiting for the accusation that it was my fault, and why hadn’t I read anything about this on the Dibb?! – Ironically, someone did post about it, the very next day! ). If it wasn’t the weather conspiring against us, it was roadworks! Now, I know all this sounds completely over the top, and looking back it was. But you all know what it’s like when you’ve been travelling all day long, are tired, and then hit what seems like a brick wall of disappointment (roadworks for Simon, lack of pizza for Adam), there’s no way around it.

But we did stop to pick up some Pizza. And eventually got to High Grove at around 9pm (2am UK time).

The directions were spot on, the instructions for how to get into the Villa were very straightforward, and finally we were in. And relax! The boys had a good look around the villa while we unloaded the car. The villa was really impressive, and was exactly as we had imagined, but somehow I felt really flat. With hindsight I can put it down to tiredness at the time, as the villa really was wonderful, but I felt so sad that we weren’t back at Windsor Hills, creature of habit that I am. Our previous villa had been exactly the same as the one before that so it had felt like going home, and I really missed not feeling that same way this time. Very silly I know, and is soon rectified, but that’s just how I felt at the time.

Still, we tucked into the pizza and other bits & pieces, got the boys ready for bed, quick showers for me & Simon and before long we were tucked up ourselves, thankful to put the worst part of the holiday behind us. Well, almost the worst part of the holiday……

Day 2 - Magic Kingdom & Crystal Palace / Applebee's

Edited at 06:12 PM.
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Old 5 Feb 14, 06:56 PM  
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Yeah ! Have been waiting for this !
A long and tiring day for you all - I feel your pain
But isn't the next morning fab when you have that lovely feeling that your holiday is all stretched out in front of you ?
Looking forward to reading more x
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Old 5 Feb 14, 06:57 PM  
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P.S . Forgot to say - love your travel outfit and those killer heels !
Lol x
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Old 5 Feb 14, 06:59 PM  
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Good travel day, its always such a long day though isn't it, you just want to be in the villa and settled! Not too stressful for you though, looking forward to more, Pussycat

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Old 5 Feb 14, 08:41 PM  
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Great read, very long day for you all, look forward to reading more.
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Old 5 Feb 14, 09:31 PM  
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Hi Jo, been looking forward to this one...

There's definitely something going on with those Premier Inns...we stayed in one in Falkirk a couple of weekends age, and it was the same thing as you had... someone wandering about above our heads all night! I'll remember their "guarantee" for next time though

Anyway, on to the trippy... Long day for you all, although the flight seemed pleasant enough. I know what you mean about that middle stretch, when you feel like you've been cooped up for hours (you have!) and there's still the same amount of time to go again... Thankfully it soon passes and you're there!

OMG that traffic jam... hope you didn't get caught up in any more of those. Glad Adam got his pizza though. It's hard to keep a lid on the frustrations when everyone's tired.

I'm sure your villa is lovely, hope it feels like home for you soon
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Old 5 Feb 14, 10:22 PM  
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Great Day 1 report for me to read but doesn't sound like much fun for you.
We're staying in a High Grove villa too this year so I'm interested to hear more from you regarding the location.

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Old 5 Feb 14, 10:49 PM  
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Oh Jo you are such a good writer, glad you got through travel day, I must say I am not looking forward to that when I go in October, I have a little girl who is a bookworm and loves a good film, but also a four year old boy whose attention span isn't the greatest 😁

So glad you've posted, can't wait to read more x
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Old 5 Feb 14, 11:02 PM  
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Lovely read as always. As a famous dibber, hat and shades were a good idea at the airport . Glad you made it eventually, travel days are always sent to test you. I think you all managed very well. Now on with a fabulous vacation...
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Euro Rates
ASDA  €1.1033
Covent Garden FX  €1.0957
M&S  €1.0884
Sainsburys  €1.0979
TESCO  €1.0821
Travelex  €1.0947
Updated: 06:00 04/06/2020