DAYS 1 & 2

TUES 28th & WEDS 29th 1999

Well, we are back and now you have to suffer the epic 21 day trip report. This is going to be the Gone With The Wind of trip reports. A sprawling roller coaster of a trip report. A gigantic block buster of a trip report. A huge, mind expanding, ground breaking, history making trip report.
Oh dear, perhaps I've gone a little bit over the top. The truth is that it will be big and possibly a little boring if you like short concise reports but, hey, I never promised quality, only quantity.
Just to let you know up front we had a glorious time and the Millennium celebrations were amazing. Regrets? We had a few but then again too few to mention. Hang on, I've heard that somewhere before.
We are all depressed but happy with our memories. Can you be happy and depressed at the same time?

Let's have a quick introduction to the intrepid travellers:

Kevin (me): 41. Getting older but no wiser. You will all be pleased to know that my famed good looks are not diminished in any way, in fact I think that I look even more distinguished as the years go by. Sniggering is a sign that women are attracted to you, right?

Tammy (wife): 35. Still makes this wolf whistle. Bright enough to handle me. She knows when to massage my ego and when to laugh derisively. Not that she does that often. Laugh I mean. After all I am practically perfect in every way.

India (daughter): 9. As bright and cheery as ever. Likes to try nearly all the rides. I have just asked my family how I should describe India, and Georgia said 'A genius'. Whether this is factual or sisterly love you will have to decide.

Georgia (daughter): 6. Pretty and loving but moodier than her sister. I also asked India to describe her sister and she said 'A smelly little piggy'. I said that I couldn't put that in my trip report, so she said 'OK, a smelly little piggy with big blue eyes'. I'm not sure whether this tells you more about India or Georgia.

Dorothy (my mother): 74. My mother is an amazing woman. At 4' 10" tall she even makes Mickey Mouse look big. What she lacks in height she more than makes up for in character and energy. Her physical prowess was tested more than a few times in this trip, as you will come to see. Although she is my mother, while in the presence of the girls she is usually referred to as Grandma, so that is what she will be called in this trip report. This may become a little confusing to you, the reader, but frankly that's just too bad as this is my trip report and I will write it however I like!

DAY 1 - TUES 28th DEC

Unfortunately I have to start on a sad note. Our dog, Duke, died just before Christmas. Tammy and I had taken him to the vets for an X ray but he was riddled with cancer and they advised us that the best thing to do was to put him to sleep while he was still under the anaesthetic. It surprised us just how much we miss having him around. He had been an excellent dog, never getting in the way and never once biting either of the girls although heaven knows he had enough to put up with from them when they were babies.
Don't feel too sorry for him because he was 13 and had a good life since we rescued him from a dogs home when he was 3.
When we took him to the vets for the last time he messed all over their courtyard. Now, this is probably a piece of information that you may not have wanted to hear but it makes me chuckle as I imagine him thinking 'Damn vets! I'll show 'em!'.

Anyway, on to the trip report proper.
The morning of departure is spent rushing around cleaning the car, cleaning the house and packing. We have been planning this day for 3 years and still end up rushing around at the last minute.
We are finally set and leave home at 2:00 PM. It is a pleasant, sunny day and the drive to Gatwick takes just over 2 hours.. We book into the Corner House Hotel and dump our suitcases into the rooms. The 4 of us are in a family room while Grandma has her own little room.
After the long(?) drive a drink is required, so we head off to a pub we have seen on the way in that has a play area for children. They get to let off steam in the Wacky Warehouse (horrible name) while we sit and discuss our forthcoming adventure. It isn't the most relaxing of environments but who am I to complain, I've got a beer in my hand so I'm perfectly happy.

Back to the hotel where we eat our evening meal, which is very good. After this there is some debate as I want to watch Match Of The Day (football) back in the room while the women all want to watch Pretty Woman. A compromise is reached and it is decided that I will sleep in the small room while all the ladies share together. Result!

DAY 2 - WEDS 29th DEC

Up at 8:00. The ladies have had a somewhat restless night with a game of musical beds at 5:30 in the morning as Georgia wakes up scared in a very dark room. Shame. I slept very well thank you.
We have a very nice cooked breakfast. If you want to stay somewhere before your flight but don't really want a big brand name hotel then this place makes a nice alternative.

We drive over to Tammy's Godmother's house where we are going to leave the car and spend a pleasant hour or so having coffee and talking before leaving for the airport around 10:30. Check in is swift and easy for our 1:25 Delta flight to Atlanta and we begin our usual last minute shopping. Tammy goes to a chemist to stock up on all sorts of pills to try and prevent any of us getting the flu as it is rampant at the moment.
Our usual duty free fragrance sniffing session is less painful than usual this time and we probably only try about 20 each. The combined effect probably doesn't smell too good but it keeps the flies off.

We board the plane and walk through first class casting envious eyes about us. Why do they board the first class passengers first and then make the economy class passengers walk past them to get to their seats? I suspect it is to make the rich people feel good. Oh look at us, we can afford this luxury you know. Off you go back to the cheap seats now.
Anyway, the flight takes off on time and I am a little worried, things are going too smoothly. You can't win really, can you? I'm worried if things are going well and worried if things are going badly. Mind you, I'm not as bad as Tammy, she checks everything 10 times and cannot really relax until we are actually in the air.

The food on the plane is quite good. I have the salmon but Tammy is not so impressed with her chicken. The first film we get is awful. Something about a football playing grandson who gives up a kidney to save his grandmothers life. A nice sentiment but done in such a sickly manner as to be nauseating. Never mind straight to video this one went straight to airline! I would gladly have given one of my own kidneys if they had turned the damn thing off.
The next film is better, the live action version of 101 Dalmatians. OK, so I know I'm twisted but I always want the villains to win. I love Glenn Close as Cruella DeVil and also Horace and Jasper. The only bad thing about this film is where do the skunks and racoons come from? These are certainly not native to the UK.

The girls have been excellent so far and this is further helped by the third film, Inspector Gadget. I find this to be reasonably entertaining but nothing spectacular. Yet another gripe of mine, why is it that in Hollywood films all Brits are either rich aristocrats or evil villains? Having said that, I myself am an aristocratic villain, unfortunately a poor one.

We land in Atlanta at 6:15 local time. Immigration and customs go very smoothly and we recheck our luggage for the Orlando flight.
Now here is where the problem starts. Half an hour before take off an announcement is made. They cannot shut one of the plane doors. Now I don't suppose this would do much for the confidence of any nervous fliers but give me a crow bar and I'll do it.
They have to find another piece of 'equipment'. What the heck is that? Do they mean another plane? I have visions of us being transported to Orlando by train or Tibetan yak. 'Ladies and Gentleman, thank you for flying Delta airlines, please be careful while descending from your yak'.
Well, Delta comes up trumps and another plane is made ready, eventually we take off just one hour late. I had visions of an overnight stay or at least a long delay.
I usually judge a business not on what goes wrong but on how they react to put it right. I must say that I was impressed with the speed with which Delta acted.

We land in Orlando at 10:30 and are met by Asfar from Tiffany Town Car. They provide an excellent service and after a quick stop at Goodings for essentials (beer!) we are off to the All Star Movies. We check in around midnight and are allocated rooms 1516 and 1517 in Fantasia which are very handy for both the food court and the bus stop.
We don't unpack, just tumble into bed at 1:00 AM. The girls drop straight off to sleep and Grandma is tucked up safely in her own room.

Well, that's the end of the first couple of days. I know it was long but don't say I didn't warn you. I suggest you keep your seat belts loosely buckled because it is going to be a long and bumpy trip.