I know the weather is spectacularly poor at the moment, but I shan’t be complaining, after reading the fab blog written by Simon at Halley Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
-19 degrees C at Halley at the moment, and no sun in three months. And I’m moaning about grey skies!


That’ll teach me to blog. Running for a bus last night, some wag yelled out “Everybody off! He’s got a bomb!” Highly amusing. This is in Reading, by the way, hardly terrorist central. However, I’m now seriously contemplating changing my bag, which at least should have the effect of cutting down the amount of crap I’m lugging around with me these days. For example, today I’ve got my iBook, iPod, associated chargers, library books to go back, writing implements, assorted bits of paperwork, for some reason a tube of Krazy Glue, and this is before we talk about my phone, keys, wallet and travelcard secreted about my person. It’s a good workout, but starting to tire me on too many different levels. Maybe I should just invest in one of these.
On a related note, apparantly a girl toting a big rucky on the tube yesterday had a note pinned onto it saying “Don’t shoot me, I’m going camping.” Made me laugh, anyway.

Back in England, things aren’t quite so rosy. Coming into London is of course a jolly experience. There are signs at both Reading and Paddington listing bus services for those too un-nerved to travel by tube. If you are brave enough, try not to be dark and in possession of a rucksack, unless you’re prepared for a journey filled with sideways looks and uncomfortable shiftings from your fellow passengers. I suppose I should be grateful I didn’t get more of a tan on holiday. Meanwhile, the weather continues to disappoint and the jet lag from the flight back still has it’s claws in. And I haven’t shaken the cold I caught on the plan. And I cricked my neck at work last week and the bloody thing’s still twingeing.

Hi ho. Post-holiday grumpiness makes for poor blogging. I will get me some happy and write again when smiling.

Last day blues. I get up early for one final swim in the pool. I’m the only one there, and I luxuriate in the feeling, peeling off long, lazy lengths that take up often the whole width of the pool as well. It’s kind of like star-fishing in bed when you’re on your own except, well, wetter. It’s warm. The air is fresh and coolly scented. The sky is a delicate, flawless blue.
Then back for a shower, and a cup of tea. I pad around the apartment in shorts and bare feet. Everyone else is in bed. All is silence and calm.
The last day of a holiday always has a certain feel. We’re not flying out till 8ish, so we have a whole day ahead of us, but I know it still won’t feel like a holiday. There’s that knowledge that, no matter how early you check in, you can feel your passport and tickets home in your pocket. All day, you’re half on the plane.
Still, doleful don’t get diddly done. We’re going to try to fill in some of the gaps in our holiday plan, maybe one more whiz round the shops, before Big Bubba goes back in his kennel at about 4.
It’s been a brilliant two weeks. I can’t really single out any one moment as the best. The whole experience for me is already merging into one big fuzzy hug. I’ll muse more on this over the next few days, and try and compare it to the feelings I get about flying back to my poor beleaguered country. It’s gonna be a strange week, that’s fur shure.
Anyway, there’s movement now, and packing to finish. In Ian and Sandi’s case, there’s bags to be bought to pack all the stuff they bought that won’t fit in the luggage they bought with them. Land of the free? Hardly!
Time to be gone. With joy and best wishes, we have been the Orlando 5. Thanks for listening.

We’ve had a quiet couple of days after our theme park binge, chilling by the resort pool, having a ride in one of those funny five-seater bikes, which in this hot weather is not that sensible an idea. Still, got us a bit of exercise.
We took a day trip up to Daytona Beach, which as you can see by clicking the hotlink allows you to drive right onto the sands! Hot rods and beach buggies putter up and down all day, and the vibe is nicely chilled. Unlike the weather, which was fricking hot. The surf was glorious, but we were caught out by how quickly the tide moves, and Camp Bubba ended up underwater at one point. With no dry towels, everyone and everything ended up coated in a fine layer of sand.
Yes, everything. Oh, the chafing.
Oh, and apparantly Daytona Beach has a major problem with jellyfish. Which we found out about the day after. I feel so much better about disporting in the surf now…
Tonight, we’re off to Charley’s Steakhouse, as part of Ian’s quest to seek out the finest lumps of animal on the planet and get them down his cakehole. I, of course, will be picking at a chef’s salad with a supercilious expression on my face. And not indulging. Heavens, no. The thought of chowing down on a beautifully aged, wood-grilled USDA steak doesn’t appeal at all…

Things I’ve learnt at Theme Parks:

Everyone has a rollercoaster face.
Most rides now have a camera attached to record a punter’s reaction as they are being flung groundwards upside-down at 60mph. I’ve done enough rides with my companions over the last few days to ascertain that these faces do not usually vary. Ian is always laughing. Sandi, looks calm, serene almost. I have my head thrust forward, my eyes pop-wide and am yelling, as if screaming into the abyss. Which is normally the case at the point these photos are taken.

Queueing will eat up your day.
Trite and obvious, I know, but come on. If a park has five rides you want to see, and you’re queueing for an average of an hour at each, that’s half your day gone just waiting. There are ways and means around this dilemma. Disney, for example, has a FastPass system that lets you book a slot on a chosen ride for later. There is a common piece of park lore that says that if you turn left as you enter the park as opposed to right, you’re going against the stream and can cut down on the amount of time you spend in the queue. To be frank though, the best way round it is to do the parks with someone who has a disability Blue Badge. Then you just go straight to the front of every line (be prepared to ignore indignant stares from the punters as you swan past). It makes the whole experience much more pleasurable, and allows you to plan the day your way, as opposed to working around everyone else.
Thanks for getting your white stick out, Sandi.

Rides are always worse than they look.
From the ground, a ride may look scary. When you’re perched at it’s highest point, looking out over the flat Florida countryside, contemplating the corkscrew turns and flat spins ahead of you, you realise that you’ve just let yourself in for the sort of experience that normally comes under the banner of astronaut training. Sheikra does this pretty well. In fact, I have a new marketing slogan for this particular ride if the Busch Gardens guys are willing. Sheikra: Holy Crap, My Nads Are Nudging My Eyeballs! While we’re on the subject, another common truth is that the worst part of any ride is the moment before you get on.

You will never look happier than when you are photographed with Mickey Mouse.
Seriously. I didn’t look that blissed on my wedding day. Talk about cultural reprogramming. Thank you, Mickey.

To summerise. For the past few days we have mostly been doing theme parks. We have had the funnest time.