Test – Jul 2017

July 5, 2017

Owing to my inability to get a PPTP VPN client working on the MacBook, this is a temporary web site for our holiday which will be updated daily.

When we get back to the UK the proper site will get published.

Until then – this’ll have to do.

Sorry folks!

PS Testing update from iPad – seems to be ok! Awesome!

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Chip & Dale and a Connundrum…… day 20

August 31, 2008

I did some packing whilst Natty slept, before going down to breakfast at Cape May. Whilst we waited, we chatted with Art (the greeter at Beach Club). What a gentleman. The buzzer soon went off and we joined Goofy, Chip, Dale and Minnie for some scrumptious breakfast.

Natty and I dug into a heap of fruit before both enjoying Mickey Waffles. The character interaction was fantastic! Goofy and Chip both declared that they loved Natty, and she lapped it up! After breakfast we finished our shopping at Downtown Disney then walked through the International Gateway into World Showcase. We’d eaten a quick lunch in the solarium which we’d brought back from Wolfgang Puck, so we popped into France for dessert……more cakes! I might also have had a glass of champagne……Ā  šŸ˜‰ Natty wanted to complete another mask, and as it was a good excuse for her to practice her ‘hellos’ in all the languages as well as do some pin trading, we We went anticlockwise from France…..Morocco, Japan, USA, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico (where I did turn down a margarita!). Natty completed another set of hidden Mickey pins on the way.

We went into Mousegear to find a t-shirt that I’d been looking for, and happily found it. We needed some rehydration and aircon, so we picked up some water and rode Spaceship Earth. We then completed the ‘world’ via Canada and the UK where we bumped into Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. We all had some great character interaction, and the photopass photographer had some fun too. It was time to head back and get gussied up now, we had reservations at the California Grill with Andrea and Frank.

Once at the Contemporary, we checked in, took the private lift upto the top floor where the restaurant is, then went outside onto the viewing platform to have a chat and watch the sun set to the west of the Magic Kingdom. Wow, does the sun set quickly here – it literally drops out of the sky!! Soon, we were seated at a lovely table and think we frustrated the server as we were talking so much we didn’t decide what we wanted to order!!

Finally we ordered. Andrea and I shared a bottle of the nicest wine I have had in a long time ~ Connundrum, which is a Californian wine. Frank continued in his cosmopolitan vein and orderded some red wine (and he’ll definitely be drinking espresso later). We shared some very nice appetizers, flatbread and some lobster and crab cakes. The entrees were Fillet Mignon (me ~ thanks Mike for the recommendation), Halibut (Will) , Salmon (Frank) and some fish that I can’t remember for Andrea. I make it sound so simple and boring but my-oh-my was it fancy! Our server came over and took dessert orders and suggested we go out and see Wishes from the observation gallery, then come back and he’d serve dessert. Good idea! We did our usual dessert sharing which were all wonderful…..

Wishes was fabulous again, and it was so nice experiencing it with the Hendry-Blums. We got dance interpretations from them both, and Natty joined in. After Wished ended, Frank disappeared with Natty. He had taken her around to the other viewing gallery to catch the Electrical Water Pageant on Bay Lake. Thanks Frank. We finally came back and ate our desserts, polished off the wine and let Frank drink espresso.

It was getting late, so we went down in the lift and to collect our cars. Frank had taken deliver of his brand new Honda CRV, so let Will have a drive around the car park. I have never been so nervous. It was dark and it was Franks new car which only had 93 miles on the clock!!!! Luckily, there were no incidents and we drove to our car and headed back to the resort. What a fabulous night!

Good night!

There be Pirates!! ……. day 19

August 31, 2008

It was an earlier start today, as Natasha was off on the Albatross Cruise (aka Pirate adventure) from the Yacht and Beach Club marina. We headed down for her 0930 start and she was met by some CM’s dressed as pirates. She donned her bandana and life jacket then climbed aboard the boat with some other kids. They sailed off to find the first part of their treasure map and clues… and we heard lots of ‘arghs’ as they headed out onto the lake.

Will and I strolled around the Boardwalk and sat outside the bakery and ate breakfast. As we ate, we saw the pirates come ashore and head off into the Boardwalk on their search for treasures. Then Will went off in the car to Nike (he needed new running shoes) and I had some time ALONE!!!!!!!!!! It had to be the weirdest feeling.

At the allotted time, I went over to collect Natty from her cruise. She’d had a ball! She climbed off the boat with pirate goodies in hand and a huge smile. As Will wasn’t back, we popped to the room and changed into our swimwear and then off we went to the quiet pool. Will joined us a little while later, adn we enjoyed some down time. It was HOT again. Afterwards we ate lunch in the solarium before a trip over to Hollywood Studios.

We had missed the fastpasses but decided that we’d wait in or one and only long line of the entire trip ~ Toy Story Mania. The wait was so worth it, even the line was entertaining! The ride is awesome. It’s a fairground carnival type ride, where you don 3DĀ  glasses and fire various ‘weapons’ at targets as you spin around the ride. What amazing fun.

Natty and Will then watched the High School Musical 2 show whilst I popped down to Guest Services to change some dining reservations. I managed to get Cape May breakfast reservations for tomorrow, our last full day šŸ˜¦

In the evening we went off to finish our shopping, ate dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express (which is the best counter service meal in the whole of WDW) and planned to shop some more. However, Natty was getting very tired, so we headed home.

Good night!

Safaris and Wishes…..day 18

August 31, 2008

After a nice sleep in, it was off to Animal Kingdom this morning. The clock was ticking down on our stay and we were filling in with some of the things we’d missed and visiting our favourites again. Fay was a distant memory and the day was HOT! The sky was blus with those lovely white fluffy clouds, just like Andy’s wallpaper in Toy Story….

We parked up at AK, took the tram to the park and headed through the Oasis and over to Africa. Will popped over to collect fastpasses for the safari whilst I took Natty into the shade to apply more sunspray. It’s been so much easier since Frank introduced us to Coppertone spray….no rubbing and more importantly moaning with the gloopiness of factor 50 or 30!

Our fastpasses were for about 80 minutes later, so we jumped on the little steam train to Conservation Station. It’s a very nice detour. There is lovely aircon and some interesting things to see. Natty had a good chat with one of the veterinarians, who rewarded her interest with a giraffe temporary tattoo. It was the second of the day, as we’d bumped into Matt (who had earlier guided her on the animal tracking session) and after completing a task, she gave him one of her little thank you cards. He gave her a dinosaur temporary tattoo!

Any hoo, after handling some animal poo and meeting Jiminy Cricket, we headed outside so that Natty could brush the goats. Will lifted Natty into the spray fan mist, something he’d done when she was only 13 months old and every year ever since…..it won’t be long before he can’t do that anymore! So, goats brushed and more animal encounters (she held a snake and saw a beautiful owl) we collected cold drinks and took the train back to Africa for our safari.

The safari guide was fantastic and we saw loads of animals again. I had said I would just ride this time but temptation was too great and as soon as the animals got close I had to start snapping…..oops! After the safari, Natty was desperate to head over to Dinoland so she could ride Primeval Whirl, so that’s just what we did….via shops, snacks and pin trading. After we’d been spun into a whirl, we let Natty have a go on one of the fairground type games ~ the Mammoth Races. She won the race and we left Animal Kingdom with yet another cuddly toy – this time a large red and yellow frog!

On the journey out, we realised that we’d not eaten at Beaches and Cream. We needed to pop back to the resort for more trading pins (which I’d ordered online as shed traded all the others), so we ate lunch at Beaches and Cream. Yummy! It was cool and quiet, no queue! Will and I had the lovely roast beef sub au jus and we shared an ice cream sundae. Natty had a hotdog and a cute Mickey Sundae.

Having sent Will to collect the car, we drove over to Magic Kingdom. Once there, I popped over to grab fastpasses to Splash Mountain whilst Will and Natty held a spot for the parade. They have started entertaining the kids by sending Cast Members on to Main Street with various toys to play with. When I returned to Main Street, she was happily playing with a beachball with some other kids, whilst Will sat and held our spot. She was having a great time, ending up with seriously pink cheeks! The parade was wonderful. They’ve been very creative with the floats of the Dreams Come True parade, as the parade route had been altered and shortened. Well done Disney, very nice.

Parade over, we walked to Frontierland and collected fastpasses to Big Thunder before riding Splash. Natty was still unsure about the ride despite having ridden it every year since she was 4, and we tried to establish why she was still so troubled by it. Was it the big drop (she loved Big Thunder, Space Mountain and Everest) or was it getting wet (she loves the water slides)? She thought it might be the getting wet when you are wearing clothes, so we put on her rain cape. She made Will sit in the front and we sat behind. He was thrilled that he weighed down the front, so allowing an even bigger splash! Great!

Natty squealed and LOVED the ride. I suspect that this year she had begun to enjoy all the thrill rides, so even with a wet bottom, she wanted to ride again….We then meandered over to Big Thunder and we rode in the dark. As we were about to board, Natty announced that she’d be riding alone, and that Daddy and Mummy would ride together!!!! She’s feeling the need for speed…….

Late dinner at Cosmic Rays, a few photos and a bit of shopping later. we stood together in the middle of Main Street waiting for Wishes. This is one of my most precious parts of every trip. My little family, standing together, hugging, whilst we watched the beautiful fireworks. I always end up in tears and the words mean so much, combined with the tremendous spectacular above the castle. I’ll say good night with the words to the end of Wishes…

BLUE FAIRY-Remember, we must always believe in our wishes, for they are the magic in the world.
Now, let’s all put our hearts together, and make a wish come true.

Star light, star bright,
first star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
have the wish, I wish tonight.
We’ll make a wish, and do as dreamers do,
and all our wishes,
will come true.

JIMINY – You see, its just like I told ya.
Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart.
And the best part is, you’ll never run out of wishes.
They’re shining deep down inside of you.
‘Cause that my friends is where the magic lives

Wishes! Dream a dream (fate is kind)
Wishes! Set it free (she brings to those who love)
Wishes! Trust your heart (the sweet fulfilment of)
Just Believe (their secret longing)
Just Believe (just believe)

Like a bolt out of the blue,
fate steps in and sees you through.
When you wish upon a star, your dreams…come…true

Make a wish, and do as dreamers do (just do as dreamers do)

Make a wish!
(Wishes!) Dream a dream!
(Wishes!) Cross your heart!
And your wish…will…come…true!

JIMINY – Ha-ha, see what a little wishing can do?

Lunch with an astronaut, dinner with Andrea and Frank…..day 17

August 26, 2008

It was a realtively early start as we had a booking with the Disney photographers for some family photos around the Beach Club. We’d had to re book twice due to the storms. Our photographer Cheryl was lovely and the photos have turned out really nice.

Then it was a quick change and off to Kennedy Space Center (no, that’s the way they spell it here…). The highlight of the day was our lunch with astronaut Dr Story Musgrave, a 6 times space traveller! It was amazing listening to his experiennces and him answering questions. He was on the mission that went out to repair the Hubble Telescope, as well as many other missions. I could go on here, but I’ll let you all read his NASA write up. Natty was amazed, and she got to have her picture taken with him, then she decided that she needed his book later, so he did a personal note for her in it.

For the rest of the day we enjoyed a simulated space shuttle launch (wow), a bus tour of the NASA facility stopping at the launch pad viewing platform, seeing the VAB (where the shuttle is prepared) and the Apollo building. Here we got to see Apollo 17, touch a piece of the moon and learn lots about the missions to the moon ~ successful or not. We also took a tour about space robots and saw an Imax 3D film narrated by Tom Hanks about moon landings. That was awesome! After a quick trip around the rocket garden, it was time to leave for dinner with Andrea and Frank.

We were greeted as excitedly as ever by Stella and Phyllis on arrival at the Hendry Blum household. NASA Mike was also there, and it was so nice to see him. Andrea had prepared a wonderful meal, including Pirogi ~ a Polish dish which even Natty ate! She’s getting a bit more adventurous. Andrea had told us all about the Pirogi festival in her hometown, so it was great to try them. They are delicious! Thank you Andrea. After dinner, Frank did the dutiful Uncle thing and taught Natty how to ‘catch’ with her new baseball catchers mit. The dogs tried to join in……a little too well for Natty’s comfort at times šŸ™‚

After a lovely evening, we headed back to the Beach Club and fell into bed.

Good night!

Supercalifragilisticexpialidotious……….day 16

August 26, 2008

Another fun packed day, beginning at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian. We had breakfast booked there with Mary Poppins. We arrived in plenty of time and again Natty had so many lovely comments, as although there are lots of little girls dressed as princesses, no one ever sees a little Mary!

The breakfast is a buffet. We all made our trips for some fine food and then we had visits from Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter (who was truly hilarious and in character), Pooh Bear, Tigger and Mary Poppins herself. She loved meeting Natasha and they had a good long chat. She asked Natty if she knew her special word, and when Natty responded, she was shocked by the speed with which she said it! She obviously doesn’t know how many times we’ve seen the film! Mary then asked Natty is she knew it backwards…..Natty turned herself around and repeated it with her back to Mary. She was very impressed that Natty knew her trick. It was a lovely start to the day.

After a quick change into something more comfortable, we took the monorail into the Magic Kingdom. We stopped for a while to watch the band on Main Street, then popped over to Frontierland for fastpasses to Big Thunder Mountain. Haunted Mansion was next but after a little while in line, we were told it had broken down, so we decided to hop on Small World (again). It was hot, Fay had truly left, and we took a break inside for some aircon and a cold drink. Natty and I had Minute Maid lemonade, and it took us back to being at Vero Beach…..which seems like an age ago. Whilst we were in there, Andrea and Frank called and said they were headed over to meet us. Yeah!

We had a little time, so we took Natty into the Hall of Presidents. I really wanted to show her how amazing the animatronics are in here. All of the US Presidents are represented on stage, each one moving, fidgeting and responding throughout. Some even stabnd up then sitg back down again…..amazing for a robot! Natasha was impressed!

Andrea, Frank and ‘naked’ Mike were waiting for us when we left the theatre. We all said our hellos then decided what to do. We had 3 fastpasses, and Natty chose Andrea and me to ride with her, so off we trotted. The boys went to the Frontierland shooting arcade to prove their manhood! I loved sitting behind Andrea and Natty on Big Thunder, they were having a ball, screaming and shouting all the way around. It was time for a late lunch, so we went and tried to make a dent in our dinning plan at Cosmic Rays. Whilst we ordered food, Frank and Will popped over and got us all fastpasses for Space Mountain. After lunch, we all rode the TTA (or Wedway Peoplemover as Walt named it…and if it was good enough for him…) whilst waiting for our time on Space Mountain. All 6 of us got into one car on Wedway…..it was cosy…….we loved the closeness….

After we rode Space Mountain, we met Will (who chickened out) and chose our teams for Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin. Now, as one of our party used to manage whole of Tommorowland, I was happy to ride with her and take a lesson or two. It was my best score yet, but nowhere near either her or Franks scores, althoug I’m happy to report that I did manage to beat another ’employee’. Thanks Mike šŸ™‚ Finally, we all went over to the Laugh Floor Comedy Club, hosted by Mike of Monster Inc. It was a hoot! As we left Tommorowland, we topped up our photopass card with some group photos ~ I don’t think the photographer was ready for this group though….

It was time to say our goodbyes, so we all walked out of Magic Kingdom together, the split as we were going to collect our car and head back to get ready for dinner. We played out longer than anticipated, so managed a 10 minute turnaround before our rather fast walk into Epcot and to Le Cellier.

Once seated we met our wonderful server, Joel. He was great, and took time to explain everything, especially all the different Canadian Beers to Will (who was as decisive as ever….NOT). I was not sure what to drink either, as all the cocktails were vodka based. Joel suggested I might like to try the new ‘Tropical Storm’ cocktail, then mentioned the magic word………RUM šŸ˜‰ Guess what I was drinking….

The food was fantastic. Cheddar Soup, Filet Mignon (mmmm) and then Maple Creme Brulee. Natty was quite adventurous trying the soup and she was very happy with her chocolate ‘moose’ for dessert. Will opted for a New York strip and some triple chocolate cake affair covered in whiskey. After our leisurely meal, we strolled back through World Showcase, serenaded by Illuminations. What a great way to end a tremendous day!

Good night!

Sleep in, shopping and Aloha……day 15

August 23, 2008

A short blog today….as we didn’t get back until almost midnight last night, we slept in. This was followed by a shopping trip. I won’t elaborate on Will’s purchase of running attire (at least the shorts aren’t licra) or walking boots. The highlight for me was Natty getting her first pair of Levis. How cute do they look?!

We are just back from todays highlight though….the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show over at the Polynesian. Yet again, we had the same server as last year (Michael). This is getting spooky! The show was just as good as I’d remembered and Natasha was mesmerised by the dancing and joined in on stage with some hula. The food was nice, we love the coconut and pineapple bread. I drank a Pele’s Fire Punch, which is served in a coconut carved into a monkeys head. That drink is very yummy….dark rum, light rum, banana liqour, pineapple juice and grenadine. Hic!

It’s difficult to describe why this show is so good, but we LOVE the fire guy! I think the best way to blog this is to post some photos. Will……………..

insert photos here please

Anyway, as I write I realise that I am now upto date with my blog! Yeah! Oh, and Natty is snoring …. nope, that’s Will!

Good night!

Puddle and push…..day 14 (what already?)

August 23, 2008

As David Rippberger had been so kind as to invite Natty back to paint with him, we headed over to MGM. We tried to get fastpasses to the new ride, Toy Story Mania but they were all gone already!!! Instead, we enjoyed a meeting with Prince Caspian and took the Narnia tour. It was then time to pop and see David in the Animation Studios. He seemed really pleased to see Natty, and after a bit of a chat she was in his seat at his light box! He explained to everyone watching that there were only 6 cel animators left in the company, but now there were 7. He then asked Natty to introduce herself….which she did ~ very quietly!

He then took out a fresh animation cel, which was just inked, and popped it on the light box. It was Dumbo. He took out the appropriate colour paint, a fresh brush, then let Natty begin her painting. Compared with the last time, she showed great improvement. David and Natty takked about the concept of ‘puddle and push’ ~ the painting technique that means that the paint strokes don’t show. After she’d given her demonstration, David completed a Magical Moments certificate for Natasha, we took photos and then I chose nmy new animation cel. It’s a fabulous black and white one, called Gala Premiere. It shows Mickey and Minnie (old style) arriving at a premiere, and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (now back in the Dinsey fold) peeking out from the crowd!

We took the Animation Tour, met Sorcerer Mickey and then joined the Animation Academy for a lesson in how to draw Pooh Bear. Let’s just say, it’s a good job Will is good with technology!!!!!!!! After cakes and coffee (for me) we headed over to Epcot. Will dropped me off at the front of the park, so I coudl collect Soarin’ fastpasses, then we all met up at International Gateway once Will had parked the car at the Beach Club. Natty started her mask, completing the UK and Canada before our reservations at Coral Reef were up. Although we were seated a little late, it was worth the wait as we were seated right next to the huge aquarium. Fabulous. I must confess that I did feel slightly guilty eating Mahi Mahi whilst fish swam by……..but I soon forgot about that when I got to share Wills chocolate wave for dessert!

After dinner, we rode Ellens Universe of Energy, Spaceship Earth (again), Living with the Land and Soarin’. We collected our ‘extra magic hours’ wristbands, so we could still play after the park closed at 9pm, then popped over to the pin station for Natty to complete more of her hidden mickey sets. As we were in there, the torrential rain began. It had been such a nice day thus far. We hid under the pin station covering, watching crazy people running through the rain ~ there was a huge puddle developing just outside and the water must have been 8 or 10 inches deep, It was like flash flooding!

As the rain subsided, it was time for us to visit the Character Connection to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Stitch. There are some fab photopass pictures to share.

Due to the rain, which had now stopped, the park was almost empty. We continued our clockwise tour of World Showcase through Mexico (and rode Gran Fiesta Tour with Donald Duck and the Three Caballeros), Norway (and rode Maelstrom), China (Natty remembered her ‘Ni Hou’ as she did her mask), Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco and France. I had been carried along by the promise of champagne but to no avail, the little champagne stall had closed when we got there…..boo! Never mind, Natty had completed her mask and was happy.

A short walk and we were back in the Beach Club and ready for bed.

Good night!

Update received about the turtle nest!

August 22, 2008

Here’s the information we received:

Congratulations!!! Your nest hatched on Wednesday, August 13, 2008.

There were 79 eggs in the nest and 67 tiny sea turtles, each the size of a 50 cent piece made their way to the ocean. Sea turtles hatch at night! It really is an amazing event to watch. It looks like a small volcano erupting as baby sea turtles make their way out of the nest and take that long walk along the beach to the ocean.

How do the sea turtles find their way to the ocean? When they emerge from their nest, they look for the brightest light that they can see. The moonlight reflecting on the ocean surface gives off quite a glow and that’s how they know to head to the ocean. But, there’s a challenge facing these hatchlings. If beachfront property owners have left their lights on at night and they shine on the beach, sea turtles get confused. They will move toward the bright light from someone’s home rather than go to the water. That’s why Disney’s Vero Beach Resort has special signs asking guests to keep their drapes closed at night, and why back porch lights are disabled for the summer. So, if you are ever staying on the beach at night during sea turtle nesting season, please make sure that your lights and your neighbor’s lights are turned off!

Now that the hatchlings are in the water, they will spend the first 24 hours swimming as fast as they can without stopping to reach the safety of the deeper water. There they will hide in the floating seaweed and grasses where they will be safe from predators and will be able to feed undisturbed on tiny crustaceans and sea grasses.

Here’s the most amazing thing about sea turtles. The baby female sea turtles (hatchlings) will not return to Florida to nest for the first time until they are 20-30 years of age!! They will be swimming in the ocean for quite a long time before they ever come back to our beaches. And the male sea turtles will never come back to the beach. They will spend their entire life in ocean.

Everyone can help to keep the ocean and beaches safe for turtles. Volunteer for beach cleanups and encourage everyone to leave nothing behind to help reduce the amount of trash that is on the beach and in our oceans. Turtles can often confuse floating plastic bags and plastic straws as food items since they look similar to jellyfish and sea grasses. At Disney’s resort, guests are not offered plastic lids and straws to help keep the turtles safe. When they consume this “trash” they can become very sick so please help us to keep the oceans and the beaches safe for wildlife!

Your hatchlings are off to a great start and now it is up to you to ensure that sea turtles continue to have a future in the wild! Thank you so much for helping the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund protect sea turtles through the Adopt-A-Nest program.

Global warming – multiple earthquakes – lots of storms….

August 21, 2008

We were in Boma this evening & we know why all these things happen…

At least 2 of you reading this blog will recognise Paul – you should do, he’s helped us eat at Boma with you! Anyhow – we discovered a couple of useful things tonight:

  • drink coffee after dinner – it’s a concept similar to bed blocking, it stops the table being recycled and forcing Paul to work extra hours – we call it cover or table blocking
  • we now know why things like global warming, shrinking ice caps, fuel price rocketing, El Nino occur. Same-sex weddings! It’s so obvious – why didn’t we think of this sooner…….

When you make bookings at Boma, request the tables furthest from the entrance – I guarantee you quotes like ‘free Disney Dining Plan – that’ll bring in the quality’. Paul is a diamond!

And this blog isn’t indexed in any way, so folk can’t stumble across it (using Google for example) if we’ve not given them the address – so no worries about the wrong people seeing this post either!

Paul from Cape Town

Paul from Cape Town