Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200605 2 England

TUESDAY 16 MAY – Drive to Newport to meet Julie at Saltershall Cottage.  We inspect the property and find there are guttering and bathroom problems.  Agree that we will deal with the guttering.  As usual the cottage has been redecorated and looks very different to the house we let out 10 years ago.  In Newport we call in to the “Lutine Bell” café,  recently taken over by our friends Dave and Marg Wilkes.  Just stop for a quick coffee as they are due the dinnertime rush. We have lunch up at Paul’s and look at their South Africa photos.  Next stop Mentors head office in Ketley where we iron out a few problems and agree a 5-year rental contract on the cottage. It’s a short drive to Ketley Grange where niece Lauren has just bought a house.  She is expecting a baby boy in 3 weeks and is really well.  Time for an hours chat before heading to Leegomery to catch up with Kevin & Sandra where we have time to stop and enjoy a Balti take away before returning to Drayton. 



WEDNESDAY 17 MAY – Set off at 8.30am to drive Mum up to Wakefield, weather still awful.  Drop her off at Auntie Pamela’s and stop for a chat.  They are going away to Nidd Hall for the weekend.  Arrive at Mom & Dad’s and waste about 15 minutes parked outside the wrong flat where there is no one at home!  They moved whilst we were away and we had parked at the next but similar looking block of flats.  Their 1 bedroom unit is now decorated and furnished very nicely and they seem well settled.  They are off on holiday tomorrow so we have to pack in 1 years conversation in about 2 hours as well as eating lunch.  In Haworth we meet Claire just as she arrives home from work.  We are taking her and the children off to Disneyland Paris for the weekend but the kids know nothing about it.  They get their first surprise when we turn up at school to collect them.  Back at home we hit them with news of the holiday, give them presents from Malaysia and they get Disney backpacks filled with goodies from Claire. To say they are gob smacked would be an understatement and they can’t stop grinning from ear to ear.  At 5.30pm, within half an hour of picking them up from school we are all in Claire’s car heading towards Dover.  Once the initial excitement has worn off the kids spend most of the journey asleep.  With just one short toilet stop Claire drives us to Dover in time to take the 11.45pm Sea France crossing to Calais.  Daniel and Natasha have never been on a ferry and seem suitably impressed with the whole thing.



THURSDAY 18 MAY – It’s about 2.15 am when Steve drives off the ferry in FRANCE where the weather is even worse with dense fog to contend with.  I navigate us down towards Paris and it’s slow progress through many small villages with lots of roundabouts.  The weather improves and it’s fine by the time we arrive at the last service area at 7am.  After freshening up we press on to Disneyland to be met by a very impressive entrance.  The rides don’t open until 10am but we can go on to the car park just after 8am, €8 (£5.60).   With excitement mounting we walk up to “Disney Village” where Daniel and Natasha are soon being photographed with Disney characters at “Café Mickey”.  They buy autograph books and pens in the Disney Store before we head to the main Disneyland Park.  We’ve already bought 3-day hopper passes, (Adults £73, Children £59) and soon pass into Main Street.  The autograph books come out as the kids chase the characters.  They are having so much fun that it’s almost a shame to drag them off at 10am when the rides open!  In Discoveryland there’s no queue at the new ride “Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast”.  You sit 2 in a car on a track and pass Toy Story enemy characters whilst blasting at targets with your laser gun and notching up your own personal score, great fun.  Natasha is too short for Space Mountain so Steve takes her on Orbitron and Autopia whilst Claire, Daniel and I brave the dark roller coaster.  Meet up for the “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” show with great special effects tricking the audience.  Steve opts out of the Star Tours simulator but the kids both enjoy the experience.  Time to catch “The Legend of the Lion King” show before another ride on Buzz.  Fit in a few more autographs en route to Fantasyland where we begin with the gentle “It’s a small world” boat ride. Steve prefers to sit it out and we find him fast asleep on a bench, in fact we are all getting pretty tired so after a few more rides in Fantasyland we make for Frontierland where we sit down to watch the acrobatics in “The Tarzan Encounter” show.  The kids are really jaded but perk up whilst watching the impressive 4pm parade.  Leave as soon as it has finished.  There’s a €1.90 (£1.25) road toll to get to Meaux where I have booked us a 4-bed family room at the Comfort Hotel, €37 (£27).  The Hotel is in the center of town and the rooms has en-suite and TV.  We’re all exhausted so eat in the room before crashing out for an early night.



FRIDAY 19 MAY – We’re a bit late getting up and Disneyland Park is open when arrive.  Before the queues build up we visit “Big Thunder Mountain”.  It’s Natasha’s first roller coaster ride and she loves it.  Nearby Phantom Manor is also good.  Exit the park into adjacent Walt Disney studios.  Daniel and Natasha get the prized Mickey Mouse autograph and a few others before we start on the shows with “CineMagique”, a big screen adventure through lots of movies.   We all visit Walt Disney Television Studios before Natasha and Steve go off to the parade whilst Claire, Daniel and I do CyberSpace Mountain.  Daniel designs the roller coaster for us before we go in a simulator to try it out – absolutely amazing but he wishes he hadn’t put so many bends and upside down bits in it.  We meet up after the parade for “Rock N Roller Coaster” but Daniels too scared to go on and leaves Steve & I to take Natasha.  It’s a long ride in the dark with lots of upside down track but she copes amazingly well and emerges smiling even though she says she didn’t like it!  “Armageddon Special Effects” then “The Studio Tram Tour” which includes impressive Catastrophe Canyon.  It’s then time for the 3.45pm “Moteurs… Action ! Stunt Show Spectacular” with fantastic car and motorcycle tricks.  There’s a Cruella De Vil production in the courtyard en route to “Art of Disney Animation”.  After the show we have chance to draw a character and trace a strip cartoon.  Last ride of the day is the “Flying Carpet over Agrabah”.   On the outskirts of Meaux we call in at Lidl to stock up on wine and beer.  We’re less tired today so go out for a buffet meal at the Chinese restaurant near the hotel.



SATURDAY 20 MAY – We begin in Disneyland Park with the obligatory autograph hunt producing good results.  Encounter queues as soon as we get to the rides and have to wait ages for Natasha to go on “Autopia” and Steve and Daniel on “Buzz”.  There’s a Fastpass service available where you get a timed ticket to the most popular rides but even those are already for times much later in the day.  Do a circuit on the Disneyland Railroad and alight at Fantasyland to venture into “Alice’s Curious Labyrinth”.  Return to Walt Disney Studios so Daniel can see the 1.30pm parade after we have done the “AniMagique” show.  Back to Disneyland Park for the afternoon taking in “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs”, Fairytale cruise and “Casey Jr. – le Petit Train du Cirque”.  Natasha is finally allowed to buy an enormous Minnie Mouse balloon and Daniel gets to shop in the Village.  Catch the Village Circus before eating at MacDonalds.  And so ends our Swatours Disneyland excursion. 



SUNDAY 21 MAY – We’re disturbed early on by a market in the square below our hotel room.  Steve drives us in to Paris where we make our way along the south bank to the Eiffel Tower.  Daniel and Natasha are very impressed with it, even more so once we have climbed the 600 or so steps to the second level where we get fantastic views.  €3.80 (£2.70) adults, €3.00 (£2.10) kids) for the climb up but there’s a free lift back down.  Driving out of Paris we go past the Statue of Liberty, Arc de Triumph, Place de la Concorde and The Louvre making it a very good visit.  Take the motorway to Calais €18.90 (£13) toll and make good time arriving there in time for a last minute shop.  It’s started to rain heavily even before we board the 5pm ferry for the sailing back to Dover.  Reckon we were really lucky with the weather during our visit as we only had one brief spell of rain.  Land in ENGLAND about 5.30pm where Claire takes over the driving.  A good journey back means we arrive in Haworth at 10.45pm.  Daz is pounced on by the kids who can’t get the words out quickly enough to tell him of their adventure.



MONDAY 22 MAY – Claire leaves for work and Daz lingers in bed as he has a day off.  We drop the kids at school then visit the doctors for the start of our immunization programme.  Today we get Yellow Fever and Meningitis injections and it costs us £125 for the 4 shots.  Pick up Mum from Wakefield, she has had a good time over the weekend but says it never stopped raining.  It’s pouring down now and conditions are bad on the motorway but we make it to David and Donnas in time to go out to lunch.  We go to the pub where Donna works.  Steve and David talk mainly football but we do get to catch up on his other news.  Arrive back in Drayton late afternoon in time for Mum’s first pupil.



TUESDAY 23 MAY – At last it has stopped raining so it’s possible to walk up to town.  Having got my laptop back from Claire I’ve lots of work to do and this keeps me quiet for the rest of the day, although I do fit in a singing lesson with Mum in the afternoon. 



WEDNESDAY 24 MAY- Walk up to the market with Mum in the morning. Take Netty shopping in the afternoon then bring Bobby back to Mum’s for a visit.  Drop Bobby back home and stay to chat to Lesley.



THURSDAY 25 MAY – Meet Dave Gough at the cottage to discuss the guttering and roofing problems then follow him back home to chat with Jan.  Have so much to talk about that we end up staying for lunch.  Steve spends the afternoon coating the fence at the cottage and I do a bit of gardening.



FRIDAY 26 MAY – Steve stays behind painting the garage door whilst Mum and I go to Wyevale garden center at Donnington to meet up with Diane.  After a coffee and a browse around the centre we go over to The Clock Tower for lunch.  Stop for a shop in Newport on the way back.



SATURDAY 27 MAY – Back to miserable rainy cool weather.  When I spot a 14 night cruise on Teletext at £599 I can’t resist and within about 10 minutes we are booked to leave from Gatwick on 6th June.  We’re going away on Monday for a week so only have 1 day to then get ready for the cruise so I spend the afternoon getting a few things together.  In the evening we go round to Netty’s as she has invited a few friends around for drinks.  Have a great time and return to Mum’s after 11pm.



SUNDAY 28 MAY – Steve gives Mum’s garage doors a second coat of paint whilst I clean the outside of her conservatory.  Whilst Mum is at church I cook up a roast dinner and Steve picks up Netty and the lads to join us.  It’s a pleasant afternoon so Steve heads to Newport to try and finish doing the fence.



MONDAY 29 MAY – Typical bank holiday rainy weather for our journey up to Blackpool.  We’re taking Mum to stay with Auntie Barbara and we arrive in time for lunch.  We leave after lunch and head over to Keighley to Claire’s.  Daniel has a music show lined up for us and both he and Natasha play a number of pieces on the piano and do rather well. 



TUESDAY 30 MAY – Daz has the day off so we nip down to Keighley without the kids and get more injections done at the Doctors.  The Africa trip is turning into quite an expensive business with Yellow Fever injections costing £35 each, Meningitis £25 and rabies £35. Return to Claire’s and once the kids have had lunch we set off for Hull.  We are taking them to the YSS (Yorkshire Sun Society) club for their half term holiday.  John meets us at the gates and shows us to the club caravan.  It’s a large static van with 2 bedrooms and full facilities other than a bathroom.  At £17 it’s really good value.  Once we’ve settled in we take John & Maureen up to the garage to collect their campervan then all stop off at Lidl for some shopping.  Daniel and Natasha point out the things they like to eat and take turns pushing the trolley.  Back at the club they are eager to get in the pool and spend about 2 hours splashing around.  There’s a football match on TV in the evening and Steve watches it in the clubhouse whilst the kids bounce between there and the caravan.



WEDNESDAY 31 MAY – As soon as we have had breakfast the kids are back in the pool and have to be dragged out for lunch.  After dinner we go for a walk around the site and see rabbits and pheasant.  Mid afternoon it’s back to the pool.  Unfortunately the club rules say there must always be 2 adults in the pool area whilst children are swimming, otherwise we could take it in turns and give them even longer there.  They are both shattered by the time they go to bed at 9.30pm



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