Sunday, October 28, 2007

Signs of Autumn

Last night we gained that extra hour of zzzzz's because the clocks go back - well we would have but my cat doesnt understand GMT so woke me up for his breakie at HIS usual time. Still it got me to thinking about signs of autumn.

When I was working full time it used to be learning songs fo
r harvest festival, daily sweeping leaves off the classroom patio and most things school related.

But now its celebrating dad's birthday. It fell last wednesday and all the family came round for roast dinner, including the dog. Had a lovely afternoon even if I was worn out from cooking 2 joints (dad wanted pork, Laura doesnt like pork so had to do a bit of beef too) 2 apple pies and a plum crumble.

The poor dog got shut in the garden while we ate but I think he was happy as I had just mended and washed his toy teddy which he has had from birth and lo
ves so much he trailed it round for the whole afternoon. He has caused us a bit of heartache this weekend, well not so much him but some annonymous 'well wisher' who thought they should report Laura and Wayne to the RSPCA for shouting and beating him.

Now eversince the two of them found their plot of land and started buildi
ng their house, this 'well wisher' has been helping them and the council out with reports of every little move they made - builder too noisy (this is one bricky using hand tools), use of the 'wrong building materials' so that Wayne had to cart a bit of every material being used in the build around to the council offices; roof a millimeter higher than the plans (how the hell he could tell I dont know). Anyway the list goes on, but this really was beyond the pale. This dog has got to be the most spoilt, loved and lavished pouch in the world. And the biggest irony is that for the time they were supposedly abusing this animal, it was actually kennelling at my parents while Laura and Wayne had a night away in Oxford.

Of course the RSPCA guy took one look at Bailey and knew at once that no way was he being mistreated.

Anyway, just the last day of our holiday in Orlando to write about. Like all last days it started with the mad rush to pack everything and check out of the hotel by 11. There was plenty of room in the cases for all my scrappy stuff. So as I checked the room for any last minute or left items Martin took the cases down to put in the hire car.

When he came back I wasnt really taking that much attention of hi
m, but suddenly he blurted out 'Someones hit the back of the car!

I went down to look with him. Indeed someone had ploughed into the back of the car with such force it looked like they had actually moved it forwards about a foot (we could tell by its proximity to the ant hill we had noted the afternoon before when we par
ked. There were dents under the numberplate and one part where the fibreglass body of the car actually had a hole in it. I was so worried, as on our first day, an old Scottish bloke we had shared the breakfast table with had been telling us how he never hired a car because they catch you on the damage waiver for big bucks. Martin was very cool about it all though as he kept telling me we had paid extra insurance and were fully covered.

Well there was nothing we could do for now, we had quite a lot of hours to fill before our 10 pm flight. So we left the car where it was in the car park and decided to use ou
r I-trolley tickets to go visit the posh shopping mall we had intended visiting the night we had purchased our passes.

The trolley is quite an experience. The drivers have a pa system and the one we got considered himself quite a wag, telling his well practised jokes all the wa
y along I-Drive. Unlike coaches or buses, they are all wood veneer and fancy glass windows, and quite comfortable to journey in too.

Interior of I trolley
The mall was a resounding dissapointment. Most of the units weren't open yet. It took us ..oh... 3 minutes to walk around it. So we stopped for a drink and tried to think of some other way to fill the 5 hours left until we could make our way to the airport.

In the end we decided to take advantage of our 14 day passes and visit Sea World again. It took as a bit of a while to get there on the I-trolley but we still got 3 full hours in the park, and I am so glad we did this. We took in the penguins again and then tried to go see the baby dolphin in the nursery. This one had been a day old on our previous trip so public visits were not allowed, we hoped we would be allowed in now. When we got there it was still shut. Turns out they had had another delivery the day before and yet another baby dolphin had made his way into the world only hours before we had arrived. Wow! 3 dolphins born in one week.

Then I asked Martin if we could go see the Polar bear again bec
ause he had been asleep before. Not only was he awake but he was a she and she was a mum with a baby.

A whole troupe of scouts were on an education trip and were asking lots of questions while the baby showed off in the snow just by our feet. We discovered that the Polar Bears are the only animals in the whole park that the trainers dont interact with directly but work with from above the enclosure. Not because they are aggresive but because they are so powerful and in play simply dont know their own strength.

These photos are not brilliant, partly due to the low light levels and pa
rtly because in the dark I had grabbed the wrong lens and used my soft brown tinted one by mistake.

Baby Polar bear rolling in snow by our feet.

Time passes so quickly in the parks, and all too soon it was nearly time to catch the trolley back down I-drive for the final time and go catch a plane home. One last look at the dolphins as we passed and then onto the bus stop. But what was wrong with that dolphin?

One dolphin had got himself up onto the flatter shelve in the pool and was acting very angrily towards all the other dolphins who kept coming over to see what was wrong with him.
There was a trainer paddling around the pool in a kyak but he didnt seem bothered. I stood and watched for as long as Martin would let me before he dragged me away to the bus, so I never did discover if the dolphin merely wanted some quite time, or was playing a game of hide and seek or was in genuine trouble.

Traffic was backed up all the way along the high way until about 3 miles from the airport. Yet we still arrived with plenty of time to spend a fortune on presents in the Duty free shop and to have a drink in the bar! As we pulled up to hand in the hire car, my stomach went tight as I remembered the damage. But why I worried I dont know, they didnt even look round the car, simply checked the milage, and told us to make sure we removed all our belongings, thank you for using them!

To make up for being an hour late getting to America, the pilote got us back to Gatwick in 8 hours instead of 9. Trouble was Gatwick was experiencing freak fog conditions so we had to go on stack for half an hour. And then another 3/4 of an hour waiting at luggage reclaim. Didnt really matter though as Wayne and Laura(who were picking us up) had slept through the alarm and were late anyway.

Its wonderful to go away, but ooo so great to be home and back in your own bed!

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