Monday, 22 July 2013

Catching up

Considering we've only been home for three weeks we've been busy...

I've been after a sign like this for over a year. On my birthday I finally treated myself.

Matt took me to The Smokehouse for my birthday. I've wanted to go here for months and months and in the end I was kind of underwhelmed. There was nothing wrong with what we ate (we both went for the brisket) and it was reasonably priced coming in at £40 for two mains, three sides, two cokes and a beer but there was something missing. I still can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the atmosphere and surroundings, eating BBQ in such a polished place was a bit odd. I much preferred our experience at Fire Island. Amazing onion rings though.

My David Austin rose came out, it was gorgeous! I got so lucky with this rose, I bought it in the sale from Blooms over a year ago and it sat unloved in my parents garden until earlier this year when I decided that I really ought to plant it. The other rose I bought at the same time is currently flowering, it has the smallest and most delicate looking rose flowers I've seen. If I had a larger garden I'd have lots more.

I took a trip to Bath for the day to say goodbye to a friend who is off to Dubai for a couple of years. I can't believe she won't be down the road from me anymore! We sat in the sun and wandered around until we finished off in the Pump Room for tea and scones, it was a wonderful way to say goodbye.

The week after getting back from holiday it was time for the conference that I've helped to organise. Two days at the Millennium Stadium as well as a dinner/dance, this is me and Nat admiring the view before the delegates arrived. It was a wonderful evening, I'm especially thrilled at how the dinner venue looked.

Me on day one of our conference, yes I'm on the (concrete) pitch and so happy about it.

The day after booking onto my first Christmas party of the year I saw these beauties in the sale at Next. I wasn't going to get them but thanks to the brilliant persuasion skills of my mother I snapped them up. So sparkly! So Christmassy! 

Matt has removed two of his vegetable boxes from the garden after pleading from me. It means that we'll have a larger decked area and the cats won't be able to use that area as a giant litter tray (gross). Instead we bought some pots and planted his chilli plants and a lone but rather huge tomato plant in them. I tried to make them a little prettier by adding a few bedding plants here and there.

This summer I'm mostly obsessed by fuchsia plants, I want them everywhere!


Sunday, 21 July 2013

My Orlando top tips

We've been back in the UK for three weeks now, I'm still missing Downtown Disney although now that the UK is having it's first proper summer in years it's helping me pine for Orlando a lot less. I'm definitely not missing the humidity there, that's for sure.

Now that we're back I thought I'd put together some of my top tips for those of you who are off to Orlando on holiday soon. 

1. Keep hydrated. Water. Water. Water. Drink it. Lots of it - you'll be sweating absolute buckets walking around theme parks all day so you'll need to carry a bottle of water around with you. All parks have water fountains but in some of them the water was gross, Magic Kingdom in particular was really bad. Downtown Disney, Animal Kingdom and Epcot had good water which meant you could take a couple of empty water bottles with you and fill up as needed.

2. Slather on the sun protection before you step foot out of your hotel. Reapply if you go on a particularly wet ride. When we were at Islands of Adventure I practically took a bath on Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and stupidly forgot to reapply my sun cream so I burnt in the afternoon. The sun is really strong in Orlando so I wore factor 30 the entire time we were there, personally I wouldn't want to go any lower than that.

3. If you go in summer expect rides to shut during storms. You can tell the time by the storms in Orlando, come 3 or 4pm it'll storm most days, I think it didn't storm at that time on one day we were there. The Disney parks in particular are really strict about closing rides, they close them as soon as there's lightening anywhere near. Either plan on getting to the parks when they open so you're gone by then or plan the shut downs into your day, so use that time to eat or visit the indoor rides and shows. 

4. Get park hopper tickets, they're worth it. We would have been lost without our Disney hopper ticket, it meant we could go to Magic Kingdom, pop to Epcot on the monorail for dinner and then back to Magic Kingdom for the parade and fireworks. 

5. If you're not staying on a Disney resort (and perhaps even if you are) hire a car. I don't know how people go on holiday to Orlando without a car, it gives you so much more freedom. Our hotel offered free shuttles to all the parks but you were dropped off when the parks opened and then picked up when they shut (with the exception of Magic Kingdom when the pick up time was, weirdly, at the start of the fireworks) - there's no way I could have handled this. 

6. Plan what rides you want to get fast passes for and time your trip to the parks accordingly. Fast passes were a true life saver, why stand around for an hour when you can grab a fast pass then ride other rides for an hour or so before going back and jumping straight on the ride you want?

7. Pack less clothes than you think you'll need. I packed way too many clothes, I came home with a lot of them unworn. We had a laundry room in our hotel so at the end of the first week we washed everything and re-wore them same outfits the following week.

8. Forget about a full face of make up. If you're used to wearing full make up everyday then you can leave most of your makeup at home, you'll sweat it off if you go in the summer time so why waste your makeup? 

9. Have a couple of lazy days, days when you don't go to any of the parks. Have a lie in, rest your feet, order room service, lay by the pool. Remember, you want your holiday to be relaxing as well as exciting.

10. Lastly, enjoy it! Orlando was a truly amazing experience and one that I want to repeat. Planning is a must but don't get too caught up in planning every day out, you'll need to be a bit relaxed when going around the parks because they're so busy. Lots of people + heat = stress. For the first few days I found the parks hard work, all those people, it was so hot, I was dripping in sweat - it was easy to not enjoy it, but soon I learnt to go with the flow and had a blast.

My top three favourite parks/areas
1. Magic Kingdom
2. Epcot
3. Downtown Disney

My three least favourite parks/areas
1. Sea World
2. Animal Kingdom
3. Hollywood studios

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