A clear, bright day in Florida. Hurricane Dennis, which has been giving a fat chunk of the southwest a wedgie and stealing it’s lunch, passed by the Orlando area with zero fuss. A perfect day, therefore, for a helicopter ride and fun with gators.
It was Clare’s first time in a helicopter, and she was clearly nervous. However, we are talking about a five-minute flight in a little two seater, which should be small beer indeed for a girl, who’s crossed the Atlantic without a blink two days earlier. And indeed this was how it turned out to be. She was grinning madly throughout, and proclamed the whole experience to be extremely cool. Seeing Orlando from above renders the scary looking rollercoasters, and indeed the vast scale of the place, down to much more manageable levels.
A qiuck whiz round the model train museum attached to the helicopter hire place. Much cooler than it sounds, crammed with detail. Clearly a labour of love, and it’s worth doing these sorts of things with a train obsessed three-year-old. Cynicism is simply not allowed.
THen a whiz down the Orange Blossom Trail to Gatorland. The first trip highlight. This place is the absolute antethesis of polished corporate Florida tourism. It’s all wooden walkways and ramshackle charm. And of course, lots and lots of alligators. They’re everywhere (well, not serving at the concession stands or getting under your feet, but you get the picture.) Gatorland has a major breeding programme ongoing, a huge wild bird sanctuary and just a charming look and feel. Oh, and a train, so Ali’s happy. (I told you he was obsessed.) There’s something about being a few feet away from something that’s clearly thought “”This’ll do” when it came to evolution, and has not felt the need to go any further. Something ruthless and prehistoric, that’s looking right back at you.
Chills? What do you think?
Some retail therapy to follow at the Premium Outlets (God bless you, strong pound!) then back to the resort for lazing around the pool and soaking up the beer.
Which reminds me. Sandi and I both got carded for trying to buy alcohol with lunch. We’re still not sure whether to be flattered or not…

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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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