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Sun,Sand, Snow,Smiles and Sam

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S: Sun, Snow, Sand, Smiles and SAM. December 2007

BC: Heres To Our Next BIG Adventure | LU XXXX | Our world

FC: Yesterdays Dreams Are Todays adventures And Tomorrows memories | This is a book full of wonderful people, amazing places, and memorable events.

1: Andy Life is not about the destination Its about the journey. This is a book full of wonderful people, amazing places, and memorable events. Thank you for letting me share your journey through life. lu x x x x

2: Contents | Neath to Manchester. . . . . . . . . . . . 4 | Page | Manchester to Florida. . . . . . . . . . .5 | Fantasy 0f Flight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Florida to Champaign . . . . . . . . . . 11 Sam`s First Christmas . . . . . . . . . .20

3: Returning to the sun . . . . . 28 Bush Garden . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Last day at the beach. . . . 45 The flight home. . . . . . . . . . 48 Christmas in Yorkshire. . . 49 | Contents | Page

4: Neath to Manchester Saturday, December 8, 2007 The first leg of the journey was for me to get from Neath; South Wales to Manchester where Andy was going to met me. The trains are direct and run every hour and it takes about 4 hours. I left home at about 11. A friend (Robby) gave me a lift to the train station so I had no worries about taxis and got to the station with 25 minutes to spare. The 12.05 was showing on time. It was a typical December day raining heavily and very cold. Time passed, the wind blow and the rain fell and the train didn't arrive, first it showed as delayed and then at 12.30 it was canceled. Nothing for it but to wait for the 13.05. More time passed, more wind blew and more rain fell and the train did not arrive. First it showed as delayed and then canceled. I asked if the 14.05 would arrive and was told it was hopeful. Even more wind blew and even more rain fell and the train did not arrive. First it showed as delayed. I got colder, crosser and gave thanks for the fact that we weren't flying till tomorrow so I wasn't in danger of missing the flight. Then at 14.35 the train arrived and I was on my way. I arrived at Manchester at about 8.10 due to further delays on route. Andy met me and we went for a curry. We went back to his place to finish packing. Had cross words about the amount I wanted to take. (We always do.) Repacked, booked a taxi for the morning and went to bed. | 4

5: Manchester to Florida Sunday, December 9, 2007 At last the big day is here and we are off to the airport. Booked first and last leg of our flights from Manchester to Sanford Florida return and 2 night's accommodation and car hire with Travel City Direct. Take off was at 13.10. Right on time. The flight was great and the food was OK. We arrived at Sanford in the late afternoon. Picked up our car at the airport and drove to International Drive where we where staying at the Best Weston Movie Land. Dumped our stuff off and went for a meal at a nearby restaurant and then went back to the hotel for a swim before turning in for the night | 5

6: Fantasy of Flight Museum Monday, December 10, 2007 Got up late and had brunch at a near by restaurant. Then drove down to Fantasy of Flight Museum Polk City, which is between Orlando and Tampa on the main highway. It was very reasonably priced 25 dollars each and we expected to send a couple of hours there but in fact we stayed till closing time and still didn't have enough time. | One of my favorite exhibits was The Sunderland Flying Boat which is currently valued at $1,000,000. It was one of two that flew regularly to the Caribbean in the 40's and 50's. This Sea Plane is still air worthy and is flown in air shows around the USA. | The History of flight was told from its earliest beginnings with displays of hot air balloons. The role aviation played in the First World War was highlighted with displays depicting the trenches in France. Next we moved on to the time between the wars and then on to the Second World War with a wide collection of aircraft (both British and American) and an explanation of their roles in warfare. | 6

7: The Bar | Sunderland Flying Boat | The Dining Room | The Bar | The Kitchen | 7

8: We were having a great time when we came across a sign advertising flights in a biplane. Waldo Wrights Vintage Barnstormer. It was a chance to good to miss and we got tickets. It was 65 dollars each. | The poster that took us to the clouds | 8 | The Captain | Us in the cockpit | 9

9: We were airborne for 20/30 minutes (didn't really time it) The view of the Airport and lakes was amazing. It was a breath -taking experience and one we will never forget. The take off and landing were a little bumpy but all in all it was great. I can well believe that this museum is the Number 1 best kept secret in Florida. After our flight there was only time for a last look round and a play on a few of the simulators, before it was time to return to International Drive for supper and a last swim in the pool before bed. | 9

10: A Great Day | 10

11: Florida to Champaign Tuesday December 11th | Got up and repacked our cases. Went out for breakfast and then loaded the car for the short trip to Orlando International Airport. We dropped off the car and boarded the plane for the next leg of the trip. The next 8 days are what this trip is all about. We are visiting James and Leah, my son and daughter in law and our wonderful grandson Sam. Sam will be 9 months old when we see him but we haven't seen him since he was 6 weeks old. | Sam at six weeks | 11

12: We were really excited as we boarded the plane. I had booked the internal flights with Trans Am. We were flying into Med-way. When we arrived it was very cold and had been snowing. But it was now raining so the snow was getting washed away. We had to take a courtesy coach to pick up our hire car. When we got to the pick up point it was raining heavily really cold and getting dark. There was only 1 car left in the size range we had ordered and it only had 2 doors and we had ordered a 4 door. So I asked the guy on duty if they had anymore in our range. He asked if we were English and I said we were. He told me I could have any car I liked in the lot as they liked to look after their English customers. I picked a silver 4 door and we drove away happy. As the Sat Nav takes a little while to settle we pulled into a car park and Andy happily got used to our second hire car in 2 days. While he was busily pressing buttons the car started to talk to us. Wanted to know what our emergency was and how he could help us. Apparently the car has an emergency link with a help desk and Andy had accidentally pressed the help button. After we had assured the voice that there was not emergency and that we and the car were all fine the voice disconnected. As the Sat Nav had got a signal we set off. As it was now rush hour and still raining the first hour or so of the journey was very hard for Andy but when we got on the freeway things improved greatly. 3 hours after leaving Med-way we pulled into the drive way of Leah and James house. It was wonderful to see them and Little Sam had stayed up to meet us. | 12

13: We had bought Sam a little plane at Fantasy of flight and he seemed very pleased with it. It was really lovely to catch up with all the news and we stayed up very late. | We were only staying 8 days in Champaign so we decided to have our own Christmas day on Sunday 16th December. | The next few days were spent getting to know Sam. He is a really good baby, happy and sweet natured, and Andy and I had great fun with him. He is a very vocal little chap with plenty to say. Unfortunately we couldn't quite make out what he wanted to say but we managed. | 13

14: Getting to know you | 14

15: Only two things really seem to upset Sam. One is bed time and the other is when Mommy goes out and leaves him. We were looking forward to baby sitting while Leah did last minute shopping for our first Christmas but Sam wasn't a bit impressed. Andy and I sang the same song over and over (Only in Kenya ) one of Sam's favorites. As soon as we stopped singing his little bottom lip would quiver and big tears would roll down his face. This carried on until he fell asleep. | We didn't make many trips out while we were there as we have visited Champaign often and we know our way about. We did however go shopping. On one of our visits to Target we had a call form James. He was worried about us as it had started snowing badly while we were in the store and he was worried we would run into trouble on our way home. | 15

16: As you can see by the photo it did quickly get nasty. We did (thanks to Andy's good driving) get home safely and Andy said he did enjoy driving in the snow. By the following morning (our first Christmas Eve) the view from our window had turned into a winter wonderland. . Snow lay thickly everywhere. It seemed a perfect time for me to do a Christmas photo for work. So pulling on my boots and jacket I went out into the snow. | 16

17: It was a perfect day. Crisp and very cold. The snow was so clean and fresh it seemed almost unreal in the bright sunshine. I quickly wrote a message in the snow on the windshield and Andy took a picture, | I then took one of Andy with the same message for him to send to his friends and family at home. We decided when we had de-snowed the car to do same last minute Christmas shopping at the Mall. Its only about 10 minutes from the house so we set off. Already all the surrounding roads where clear, and when we reached the mall we found the car part was clear too. We sent off to do the shopping but couldn't resist taking a few photos on the way. | 17

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19: We spent a couple of hours in the mall shopping and then returned home. Spent a little time playing with Sam and then James and Leah bathed him and got him ready for bed. He wore his special Christmas PJ's and Leah read him a bedtime story. `The night before Christmas'. A board book that I had bought for him and a story I had always read to the boys on Christmas Eve. While Leah was settling Sam for the night, James Andy and I has a few games on the Wii and then we went to our rooms for last minute present packing and stocking filling as tomorrow was to be our first Christmas in 2007, AND SAMS FIRST CHRISTMAS EVER | 19

20: Christmas morning and the stockings were opened. With the snow outside, the beautiful tree and part of my family gathered together it had all the makings of a great Christmas and we weren't to be disappointed. Sam opened his presents with a little help from his parents. | S A M S F I R S T | C H R I S M A S | SUNDAY 16TH | DECEMBER 2007 | 20

21: This one is good enough to eat | Is this for me | Granma and Grandpa Flying | Whats in here | What to look at next | delighted in the wrappings and the gifts | DECEMBER 2007 | 21

22: After Sam had opened his presents we opened ours. Christmas Dinner was a very enjoyable meal. Wendy a friend of Leah and James joined us; Glen (Wendy's husband and friend of James and Leah) was in Seattle and due to the bad weather was unable to return. It was almost a traditional British Christmas with the addition of sweet potato casserole made by Wendy and green bean casserole which Leah made. Wendy also made a desert but we were all to full to eat it, but did it justice later in the day. The remainder of the day was spent playing with Sam, chatting and later playing games on the Wii and watching a video before bed. | Christmas Bib | Glen and Wendy | 22

23: We did briefly pop out to the supermarket. When we returned Sam had a black eye. Andy and I had got him a wooden baby walker for Christmas and while we were out James and Leah had put it together for him. He really seemed to like it but lost his balance and banged his face on the wheel. | Resulting in his first black eye. Although it looked really sore it didn't seem to bother him too much. | The truck | The black eye | 23

24: Monday was to be our last full day with the family and we wanted to make the most of it. Unfortunately James had to work but Leah Sam Andy and I went out for breakfast/ lunch at about 11. We went to a pancake house that Sam and Leah visit all the time. Every waitress in the place seemed to notice the black eye and had to come over to ask about it. After we had eaten Sam and Leah went home for a nap. I had promised to buy my mum a particular perfume and so far had been unable to get it. So Andy and I went for a last look around the shops, still no luck with the perfume. I did however take a picture of the rest room at the Mall. After which we got Sam a Bob the builder balloon.. When we got back I finally put the last stitches in a blanket I had been making for Sam since before he was born. Wendy and Glen joined us for dinner ( a really good takeout Chines.e.) After which we chatted and played on the Wii. Then Andy a I packed up our things and turned in as we were leaving in the morning. | 24

25: 25

26: The morning was a very sad time as we got ready to go. Andy got the snow off the car,after which James said his goodbyes and left for work. We packed up the car, had a last play with Sam and a final kiss and cuddle and then we were on our way. | I think I cried for the first hour of our trip to the airport as leaving part of our family is always the hardest thing I ever have to do. But its great to know they are a happy loving family group who always make us welcome and that we can get to see them often. | 24

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28: The trip to the airport was a very sad one as really we would rather have stayed in the snow than fly back to the sun , but we were on our way. There was still a lot of snow about but thanks to the snow plows the roads were clear and we made good time. We stopped at a garage and I had my photo taken with Santa Leah had had a photo of Sam taken with Santa and I got this one out for a look and started crying again. | Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Returning to the sun | 28

29: eventuality we arrived at the airport We dropped off the car and got the bus to the terminal. We were flying with Air Trans. Their departure gate was quite a walk from check in and as you can see by their signs they have a sense of humor. | 29

30: The view from boarding area window was interesting and we watched the world go by until it was time to board. Take off was prompt and there was a wonderful sunset to watch which last for ages. By the time we arrived back at Orlando airport it was dark. We picked up car number 3 from the dollar desk and made our way back to the hotel. | We stopped for a meal on our way as we were hoping to get a swim in before bed. Unfortunately the pool was closed for maintenance so we had a walk along International Drive and then an early night. | 30

31: he next day was really unplanned. First we decided to swim before checking out but the pool was still closed for maintenance. Then we decided to try a few shops to get Mum's perfume (with no luck) so we had breakfast and then checked out of the hotel. We drove round for a while trying other perfume shops and at last we got what we wanted. . | Happy that Mum wouldn't be disappointed we set of for the coast. We weren't in any rush and stopped several times when we felt like it. towards the end when it was dark we did begin to wish we had spent less time shopping and more driving. We had booked a room with veranda at the Flamingo Hotel Fort Myers Beach. We stayed there for one night the last time we had visited Florida and liked it so much we had decided to spend the rest of this holiday there. We arrived at the Flamingo at about 8 checked in and then went down to the beach. It was wonderful. The sand was still warm and the sky was a mass of stars We walked quite a way paddling and splashing. The water wasn't so cold and the night was magical. After a while we returned to our room, got changed and went out for something to eat. We found a great little tobacco shop where all the locals meet to smoke, drink beer and chew over the events of the day. we were there for ages deciding what to buy for Robby and in the end got a selection of flavored little cigars and some vanilla cigarettes. Then back to our room for a good long sleep. | 31

32: Flamingo Hotel | Our Room | Our Balcony | 32

33: The walk to the beach at night | The Beach at night | 33

34: Fort Myers Beach Florida Thursday December 20th 2007 Woke early. Got up and looked out of the window at the blue sky and tiny white fluffy clouds. Admired it for a while and then went back to bed for several more hours of sleep. There is a really nice diner across the road from the hotel and we went there for breakfast/lunch. We sat outside and couldn't help thinking that life really can be good. Afterwards we drove to the shops for beach towels, suntan lotion and other thing that we had no need of in Chicago. Then back to the hotel to change and then a 2 min trip to the beach. The Hotel have a large supply of beach chairs, parasols, beach and water toys which they are happy for you to borrow, also a huge pile of beach towels so all your needs are taken care of. We set up camp on the beach, it was glorious. As the beach was almost deserted there was plenty of space for us to fly our kites. Which we did. We also swam in the sea which was cold but very refreshing and I attempted to snorkel. It seemed appropriate to write a Christmas message in the sand which we did and then took a snap of it to email our friends at home. We sat in the shade of our huge umbrella watching the birds and at the end of the day watched the most amazing sunset. | 34

35: The walk to the beach. About 2 minutes | The Message | Flexifoil Rage | Kite called Symphony | 35

36: 36 | His

37: and Hers | 37

38: We gathered up our belongings and returned to the hotel to shower and change before going out to dinner. The last time we had stayed here a local Chinese restaurant had been recommended to us and we had, had a really enjoyable meal there. So we decided to visit it again. It was only 5 minutes drive away and the food was excellent. There were also huge amounts of it. . | . Much too much for 2 people but we did our best. Then back to our hotel where we made coffee and took it out on to the veranda where we relaxed , had coffee and made plans for the next day's trip to Bush gardens. | 38

39: 39

40: Bush Gardens Florida | Woke early again, but this time to the sound of rain. It was hammering down and when I looked out of the window I saw part of the car park was flooded. Andy put the weather channel on and we tried to decide if we should postpone our trip till the next day. It's about a two and a half hour drive to Tampa and in the end we decided to risk it. It turned out to be a good decision as an hour into our journey the rain stopped and by the time we arrived at Busch it was a very hot, very sunny day. Busch Gardens is one of our favorite themed parks. It has lush gardens, | 40

41: A family group | a Great way to see the park | Hold on tight | amazing animals in what is very close to their natural habitat. And best of all some of the best white knuckle rides in the world. When we visit Busch (as we have done several times) it is best to have a plan. As there is so much to do in one day, timing is very important. First we check the schedules to see if there are any shows we want to see. Most of them we have seen but the Christmas spectacular looked good. | Not our car | 41

42: We decided to do the wet rides first to give ourselves a chance to dry off before the drive home. I love the wet rides. Andy is not so keen but puts up with them for my sake. First we did the Congo River Rapids, got pretty wet and then did the Tanganyika tidal wave by which time we were drenched. I tried to convince Andy that it was time to do one of the big rides as hurtling though the air at high speed has a sort of tumble dryer effect. He wasn't convinced but we had bought spare clothes which we had left in a locker so we got changed before attempting one of Bushes world class coasters. | 42

43: Kumba is one of my favorites. There were hardly any queues on any of the rides so we did Gwazi, then Montu (twice) Sheikra (3 times) and then stopped for a bite to eat. We eat at the colonial building where we had a lovely beef roll with gravy and mashed potatoes. But it has to be said the worst coffee we have ever tasted. We walked around the park for a while (to let our meal settle) and then went back to the rides. | 43

44: Andy's favorite has always been the wooden roller coasters so we made sure we did Gwazi again. We also rode the train around the park and had time to buy an ice cream and watch the Christmas spectacular. Which was very good. Time then to make our way back to the flamingo, Stopping for supper on the way. By the time we got back it was time for bed. | 44

45: Last Day at the Beach Saturday 22nd December Woke up this morning with a sad feeling as this was our last full day at Fort Myers Beach. We went in search of pancakes for breakfast. Found a great pancake house and had a really good meal. Went back to the hotel to change and then headed for the beach. as it was Saturday the beach was a little busier but still plenty of space for all. Not far from where we set up our stuff there was a half circle of chairs. We wondered why as there was no-one sitting anywhere near them. We went for a swim and another attempt at snorkeling for me. when we got back to our stuff a table and flowers had been put with the chairs. We went off to do a bit of kite flying and when we got back yet more flowers had arrived. Shortly after this a group of people arrived and sat in the chairs. Later still a young man arrived and also a minister and soon after that a bride. Yes it was a Florida beach wedding. It was lovely. | 45

46: 46

47: We watched for a while but then went back to our kites as it would soon be sunset .So this would be our last chance to fly for quite a while. Soon the sun began to set . The wedding party returned to their hotel, and Andy and I watched a beautiful sunset before packing our kites away. | Sadly we made our way back to the hotel to shower, change and plan our last evening. We had heard very good reports of Charlie's Boathouse Grill. It's about 5 minutes walk from the hotel and we decided to try it. The food was excellent and although it wasn't cheap (about $85.00 for 2) it was money well spent. As we left, we noticed a really unusual fisherman mailbox. We went for a short walk, looking around the local area. We saw a manatee mailbox wearing a Christmas hat. As I love manatees we had to have a photo. We Also saw a nice Nativity Scene. We carried on walking to the beach. Once again it was a wonderful evening with the sky full of stars. We walked along the shore for a while and then returned to the hotel. Repacked our cases, made coffee and took it out on the veranda to drink it by the light of the moon and then went to bed. | 47

48: The flight home Sunday December 23rd | Got up and had coffee. After we had loaded up the car we went to reception to check out and say goodbye to Joerg and his lovely wife and family. Then we set off (stopping for breakfast on the way). When we reached Orlando we did some last minute shopping before driving down to Sanford for our flight. Dropped the car off with Dollar, checked in and had coffee before boarding. We had booked extra legroom seats so we were very comfortable. The meal on the flight was nice. The films seemed good but we had our DVD player so decided to watch The Hog Father. Very appropriate as it was now Christmas Eve. We slept for a while. We were woken up for breakfast which again was very nice. The landing at Manchester was smooth, but it did take quite a while to collect our bags and get through customs and passport control. We took at taxi back to Andy's. We did some repacking, and some Christmas wrapping. Then we loaded up Andy's car and set off for Guiseley West Yorkshire. | 48

49: We stopped on route for something to eat and arrived safely at about 7pm. We were staying with my sister Carol and her husband Bryan. They have 3 children, Justin the eldest lives in York with his partner Susie. They were driving over on Christmas day, Anna is a teacher who lives and works in Manchester, but had been at home for the last few days and David the youngest who still lives at home. They also have a little dog called Archie. Carol and Bryan had driven down to Wales at the weekend to pick our Mum up. My son Rob and his partner Anna were driving up from Swansea after work | Christmas in Yorkshire | Monday December 24th | 49

50: The house was looking very festive. Carol and Bryan always have a party on Christmas Eve and we wanted to be ready before the party started. When we were all ready Bryan opened a bottle of Champagne and we had a toast before the first guests arrived. Soon the house was full of people. Their parties are always brilliant with lovely food plenty of drink and lots of interesting people. Andy and I knew a lot of the people there as we had met them at several parties. And the evening went with a swing. When we had been up in Sept for Carol's Birthday (Another great Party and a great weekend) we had met Trevor and Lindy. They are neighborers and also very good friends of Carol and Bryan. They give Carol a wonderful painting of a market which I very much admired. It turned out that Trevor was the artist and a great idea was born. I never know what to get Andy for Christmas or Birthdays so I asked Trevor if he would paint a picture of Andy flying his kite on a beach. Trevor agreed and I said I would email photos of Andy and his favorite kite for Trevor to work from. We settled on a price and the deal was done. We agreed that they would leave it a Carol's in time for Christmas day. | 50

51: I was delighted to see Trevor and Lindy at the party but I couldn't say much about the picture as Andy might overhear. They were going to bring it round in the morning in time for present opening. All in all it was a great party. Rob and Anna arrived at about 11. It had been nearly 3 weeks since I had seen them so there was a lot of catching up to do. We chatted and eat and drank but at about 1 o'clock the long day started to catch up with us and we slipped away to bed. I don't know what time the party finished but we could hear the sound of singing as we drifted off to sleep, | The guests start to arrive | The house looked festive | 51

52: Christmas Day. Got up, showered and dressed as it had been agreed that stockings would be opened before breakfast at 11 o'clock. Rob and Anna arrived and stockings were opened. David then made and distributed the bucks fizz as Carol and Bryan made bacon and sausage sandwiches and rolls. After which we loaded up the dish washer and set off for the pub. | 52

53: We meet Marge and Perry there and had quite a few drinks before Justin and Susie arrived. After a few more drinks we returned to the house for present opening. as you can see from the photo`s there where a lot to distribute and then open . It took until late in the afternoon. . It will always remind us of this Christmas and all the great kite flying we did on holiday. | Andy loved his painting | 53

54: When the last present was unwrapped Bryan and Susie put the dinning room in order for Christmas dinner, Carol made (as usual ) a wonderful job of the meal and it was a great occasion. | 54

55: Another thing I will always remember this Christmas for is poker. Bryan had a great poker set from Carol for Christmas and when Lindy and Trevor came round we all played. I think Lindy must have been a card sharp in a past life as she know all the rules, the terms and she could scuffle and deal like she was born doing it. It was great fun and we played well into the night. | 55

56: On Boxing Day (Wednesday) Rob and Anna had to return to Wales. It is a family tradition that on Boxing Day Carol makes leek and potato soup, and Bryan makes Turkey pie. Unfortunately Rob and Anna had to leave early and missed it. I wont say to much about how good a meal it was as I don't want to remind Rob of what he missed. | So here are a few Christmas photos instead | 56

57: Justin and Susie returned to York and unfortunately Andy had to go back to work on Thursday. He managed to swap his hours around so he was able to commute. ie | . Before Justin and Susie left Carol persuaded her offspring to don their new Ruby shirts for the annual photo. This is turning out to be as big a tradition as turkey pie | This is turning out to be as big a tradition as turkey pie | 57

58: On Friday Andy went to work and Carol and Bryan set off to the see the New Year in , in Dublin. David took Mum and I out to lunch after which we did a little shopping before getting a taxi back to the house to finish packing. When Andy came back from work we packed up the car. Bryan had given Mum lovely flowers on Christmas eve and we had to take then with us. Once Mum the flowers Andy and I were installed in the car we set off for home, We Stopped off for same not very nice fish and chips on the way, and finally reached home at about 1 am. and that was the end of a brilliant holiday, | THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED MAKE IT SO GREAT | 58 | YOU ARE ALL STAIRS

59: This seems to be a good place to say Thanks to everyone, friends and family for making 2007 such a great year

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Pam Taylor
  • By: Pam T.
  • Joined: about 9 years ago
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  • Title: Sun,Sand, Snow,Smiles and Sam
  • 2007 trip
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  • Published: about 9 years ago