Surviving the London Marathon*

Running a marathon is one of those things that appear on people’s bucket lists – along with a bungee jump, sky diving or climbing a particularly high mountain. ¬†I can safely say that none of those are on mine.

However, my little sister Charlotte, after doing a half marathon last year, decided to capitalise on the fact she’d trained and was half way there and signed up to do the London Marathon 2017 – raising funds for Asthma UK. ¬†She was massively dedicated to her training schedule – running come rain or shine, – and last Sunday headed off to run possibly the most famous marathon in the world through our capital city.

I should point out at this point that I’m not completely heartless – I waited for my sister to post her amazing blog about her actually RUNNING the London Marathon before posting this ūüėČ ¬†So please read what it was like to be an actual competitor!!!

But now – what it was like to be a spectator at the London Marathon!!!

Firstly – the preparation. ¬†This might not have been as excessive as it was for those actually running – but still, there were things to do!! ¬†It was even making me an insomniac. I knew there was an app that contained lots of info and maps, and the same with London Underground apps for getting about – but I’d also been told that phone reception in London on marathon day can be akin to New Year’s Eve, when everyone is trying to use the services at once – so I printed out hard copies of everything too.

There was also setting up the app to ensure you were tracking the people you were going to watch – and other randoms who you could ‘stalk’ around the course.

Then there was the fact that all of the food outlets would be RAMMED – so needing to carry supplies with you. I didn’t go quite as far as Kendal mint cake and powdered meals – but you’re getting the idea!!

The night before I did not abstain from booze like the runners – and enjoyed a pint of G&T in preparation!

Pint of G&T

I have to say I didn’t sleep well with the night before – a combo of nerves and excitement, so was up bright and early on the Sunday morning ready to face our mission. Comfy clothes and footwear were put on (I’d considered wearing a sports bra and putting Vaseline on my feet – but thought that might be a few steps too far……)

My parents arrived at 8am – and we, along with my 2 eldest kids, were ready to go! (I’d left the 2 younger kids with my husband with the instructions he was to take them summer shoe shopping – a task almost as Herculean as running a marathon!!)

Elite runners

A friend had been to spectate last year and I followed her advice for getting into London. ¬†We drove down the M40 to Amersham and parked at the station there. My Dad very kindly offered to pay for the parking – although it was actually free! But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

We’d decided to go straight to the first Asthma UK cheering Point at mile 12. This involved an overland train to Harrow on the Hill (which has replaced ‘Castle on the Hill’ in the Ed Sheeran song to us all now. All the LOLS!!) and 2 tubes round to Bermondsey.

Tube photo

This went RIDICULOUSLY smoothly Рwith us literally going straight from train to train. Consequently we were at mile 12 before Charlotte had even crossed the start line!!

As we were there so early we were able to watch the Elite men go through. There is a definite body shape for these amazing athletes – and I am pretty much the antithesis of this!!

After that came the masses. And there really were masses. It was quite hard to spot individuals, and at this point I was concerned as to how I would see my sister at all.

We spotted James Cracknell (randomly we’d rented his house in Devon over Easter – but I didn’t think it was the right time to tell him that his wifi appears to be dodgy) and then a friend of mine from back in the day at Southampton Uni (whom I almost missed as he’d put a bandana on post pre race photos and before getting to us. ¬†Thankfully his ‘City of Birmingham Striders’ top gave him away!).

The marathon app predicts what time the runners will hit certain points, and so as it was a while until Charlotte¬†would arrive, I moved away from the railings to let other people get close to the action. I was still tracking runners on the app – and at one point told my kids that ‘Chappers off of Match of the Day 2’ was about to run past – 30 seconds before he actually did!!

We then knew my sister was getting close. At this point her husband and kids weren’t there! I knew they were close too – but from ‘Find my Friends’ with their phones they were making slow progress (this happens if you’re stopping at pubs on the way!!!) Thankfully they arrived in time (that is my brother in law and not Richard from Guess Who, just in case you were wondering!!)

The Bates

and it was VERY emotional seeing out star runner in her amazing Little Miss leggings!!

There were sweaty hugs all round – and off she set again. At this point me, my Dad and my niece were all weeping RIDICULOUSLY! I have to say I’ve got emotional and cried watching the marathon on TV at home, but to actually be there and see someone you love doing it is intense!!

My photos from mile 12 are rubbish – and I won’t embarrass my lovely niece by including the photo of her sobbing!!

We were tracking my sister’s colleague who she has tirelessly fundraised with Charlotte for Asthma UK – but she was still 6 minutes behind – and we wanted to get off to the next cheer point at mile 20, so slightly guiltily, we headed off.

Because my sister had raised so much – she’d been given 3 tickets for the grandstand finish, so my brother in law, niece and nephew headed straight there – as not only did they need to get across London – there was also, unsurprisingly, tight security to get in – and they definitely didn’t want to miss her!

We ummed and ahhed about walking or getting the Tube – but decided to give public transport a go. It was really really busy – like leaving a concert or sporting event – but kept moving and we did another cross London journey in great time and made it to Westferry.

We knew Asthma UK had a steel band at this cheer point – which meant there location was very easy to find! They were great – but very very loud!!

Samba band

We reckoned¬†we had about an hour until my sister arrived – and we wanted to escape the noise – and I was desperate for a wee! I saw a small child going in the gutter next to a skip and did consider that (but then realised I was sober!) Mum had spotted a cinema, so we thought we’d pop there for refreshments and a wee (although sitting down in a comfy chair in a darkened room was also appearing!!)

Dad treated us (and did actually have to pay this time!) to nachos, sweets, water and coffees – and the cafe staff were lovely and amenable (even meeting Mum’s exacting coffee requirements!) We realised the loos were past where you needed to have a ticket to get to – but having just spent ¬£20 in the cafe thought the staff member would let me through – but no, tickets only. The nice cafe man pleaded my case – but the chap stuck to his guns. (I did enquire what the cheapest ticket I could buy was to go for a wee – but decided ¬£11.90 was extortionate for watching a film let alone just for a wee!!)

We headed outside – with me huffing and puffing about pedants. Everyone else camped out in the glorious sunshine (well done London on the weather, Dad could even sunbathe) and I went in search of a loo.

Dad

Thankfully the doorman at The Marriot was much more accommodating and so I partook of their facilities (and wifi simultaneously!).

After that it was back to the railings. At this point all of the runners looked tired. Whilst at 12 miles everyone has been bunched together and running – the crowds were much thinner and a lot of people were walking. I should add at this point, that walking is often in people’s training plan and plan for the day. ¬†My sister had a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk plan – from ¬†the start. ¬†(Although kept getting overexcited and running for longer than 5 minutes!) ¬†She’d found that overall in training this gave her a better time than just running and getting gradually slower and slower and slower. ¬†Unfortunately lots of spectators – and some fellow competitors – don’t realise this, and often shout encouragement at walkers – who quite stroppily reply ‘IT’S MY PLAN – I’M SUPPOSED TO BE WALKING AT THE MOMENT’!!!)

We shouted encouragement to lots of people as they went past.  Interestingly my son seems to emulate his father rather a lot Рand shouted encouragement mostly at attractive younger female runners!!

Then we saw her (after a false start as there was another Asthma UK runner with a similar hairstyle – but minus the funky leggings!)

She was a bit teary, and sounded a bit like when she was a small child, telling Mum ¬†that she was really tired and it hurt and needing a hug. ¬†Turns out that she’d found the bit between our 2 meetings the toughest of the whole race. More hugs. ¬†More passing on of half drunk bottles to Mum (because she knew Mum doesn’t like waste and would be hating the sight¬†of things being thrown onto the roadside!!) ¬†And off she went again. ¬†Sods law the Asthma UK steel band were on a break at this point, so she didn’t even get to hear them!

We then knew the next bit was going to be the riskiest Рwould we get to mile 25 and the final Asthma UK cheering point on Embankment before Charlotte did?  There was a minor incident getting on the DLR going in the wrong direction Рbut actually that probably worked out for the best, as it was much easier to change platforms at the wrong station than it would have been at Westferry!!

When we got to Embankment it was the busiest that any cheering area had been – but we battled up to where the final Asthma UK purple flags were flying. ¬†The app said she wasn’t far (but the app sometimes wasn’t right up to the minute) but clearly it was playing the game, as it wasn’t long before she appeared! ¬†Some of the lovely other cheerers had let us get to the front as she was coming – and so we were able to have hugs – and this time pose in a selfie with Charlotte (although I’m taking a photo of her taking the selfie)

Marathon selfie

The end was in sight (well, not literally, she had to go around a couple of corners and there were some big landmarks in the way) but Charlotte knew that it was only a mile or so to go – and that she’d see her husband and kids again before the end.

So that really felt like our marathon as spectators was over. ¬†The atmosphere was still great – but we headed off to where we were all meeting up afterwards. ¬†There was a slight issue with us being given incorrect instructions of how to get there by the Asthma UK team – and if I’d run 26.2 miles and then been told this I would not have been impressed – but as we’d hardly done any steps all day, it was actually quite a pleasant walk – and we managed to get some sight seeing landmarks in too!

When we eventually got to the meet and greet, we were told Charlotte was already ¬†having a massage. ¬†Us five, along with the rest of Charlotte’s family and friends congregated waiting to welcome our conquering hero! Before she arrived we were discussing our various ailments – blisters, tight calves, back ache, sore knee, sunburn, trauma from witnessing the use of a female urinal – honestly, it was tough work being a spectator.

And then she and her medal were there!  Clearly there was more weeping by the usual suspects.

WINNER

We then got to hear a bit about Charlotte’s day (whilst she drank prosecco and ate a plate of food!) ¬†She was literally BUZZING with adrenalin (at least I think it was that, and not that she’d become a cheap date with a small plastic glass of fizz!) and wearing her medal with pride.

I am still slightly perturbed that there’s no medal for being a spectator, and am thinking of marketing those – along with spectator’s T-shirts (perhaps detailing what ailments they’ve suffered being a spectator) – at London 2018?!

All in all it was an amazing day. ¬†I am pleased that it hasn’t made me want to sign up for a marathon #phew – but I am in awe of everyone who got round that course last Sunday – in fact, anyone who does a marathon at all.

As I said to Charlotte – she might not have won the marathon, but she won her marathon, and I couldn’t be prouder of my little sister.

Charlotte - marathon

 

* As a spectator!

There are good people out there!

Yesterday I got an 8am call from a crying 13 year old who had lost her purse on the way to school. She retraced her steps from Tescos to the station but couldn’t find it. She gave me details of what it looked like and the contents (Nando’s loyalty card, debit card, David Lloyd card and about ¬£20 – in that order!) and I reported it online with both London Midland and lostproperty.org – but didn’t hold out much hope (the previous purse she lost on her school train journey didn’t ever turn up again!!)

Then, mid afternoon, I had an email from PDSA Pet Protectors. This is a club that all 4 kids belong to which is part of the PDSA charity for sick animals where they get the Animal Antics magazine every couple of months, and a free gift each year. ¬†Anyway – they’d emailed to say the purse has been found!!

D had clearly missed her Pet Protectors membership card off the list of contents!!

So – there are lots of wonderful people out there to thank –

Firstly the person who found the purse and handed it in at the station with all of the contents intact, including the cash.

Secondly the staff at Worcester Foregate Street station who didn’t just chuck the purse in a lost property box, but went through it to try and track the owner down.

And finally the PDSA Pet Protectors staff who definitely went above and beyond their remit to track us down. They left a voicemail on the home phone – and emailed me too.

All in all there was a very happy 13 year old (although she doesn’t look that enamoured in the photo!) reunited with her purse!!

There are good people out there.

daisy

Human Soup!

Yesterday there was a Tree Top Trek – today there wasn’t – thank goodness!

There was A LOT of walking (but that’s good for the Fitbit challenge I’m in – where my little sister is in marathon training and so the usual winner!) and also quite a lot of time spent in the ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’.

longleat-rapids

To be honest I would question all of the words used in that description.

I fear ‘Human Soup’ is a better description.¬† At one point this afternoon the rapids were shut because someone had VOMMITED in the pool (I am seriously hoping it was a baby and not some adult who’d been on the Jagerbombs at lunchtime?!)¬† But – they were shut for about an hour (I am assuming to give time for the sick to dissipate?!?¬† I am hoping there are protocols / chlorine levels to ensure this is dealt with safely?!?)

I am pleased to report I saw no evidence of vom floating about Рbut plasters / hair / unidentified floating solid things were all witnessed!

The kids adore the rapids Рand despite being 42 and a size 18, I threw myself down them too (thankfully not landing on too many people in the process!)  I did, however, manage to flash most of Centerparcs after my boobs escaped after a particularly vigorous descent.

You will be pleased to hear there are no photos of today’s escapades!!

I also fear a rotator cuff injury and a mid back muscle issue – and all this despite the fact I only take responsibility for myself – with the older siblings (and spare one!) doing a sterling job with the little ones.

I also thought the pool water would be kill or cure for my horrific eczema – and at the moment it seems to be cure #winning

So no doubt there will be more Subtropical Swimming Paradise – Storm Doris Flailing Nightmare – tomorrow! #livingthedream

 

 

 

 

 

Tree top trek

Firstly – those three words are more difficult to say than you would expect – try it!

Secondly – I am never, ever, ever doing such a thing ever again!!

This week we’re spending half term at Centerparcs – ‘just’ us 6, with an extra one (whilst his Mum is busy kicking cancer’s butt!)

All of the kids wanted to do the aforementioned Tree Top Trek – but as 2 of the kids are under 8, that meant two over 18s were required. So I didn’t really have a choice…….

2 years ago for February half term we went to Bluestone in Wales, and I ended up a sobbing wreck and having to be helped off (and given gin afterwards) a similar rope course, so I should have expected the worst – but I really thought I would try. Friends are going through much bigger stuff than me being scared of heights – this would be fine……….

The boys did it first – breezing it, whizzing round, and as they did it so quickly, then being allowed to do it backwards just for LOLs.

the-boys

Then it was time for Daddy and all the girls (I am including myself in that – although at 42 I realise it’s a stretch!!)

The order to try the course was – Daddy, 6 year old, 13 year old, 5 year old – with me bringing up the rear.¬† The first thing was a zip wire.¬† The first 4 went off fine.¬† I dithered.¬† I had a pep talk off the instructors.¬† I had a pep talk off a random Welsh lady walking past. I dithered some more.¬† Then FINALLY I stepped off the platform.¬† I screamed – and I did not land it as brilliantly as the children had……

libby-landing

I then was stuck like a beached whale for quite some time – but eventually managed to haul myself up on to the platform.

I’d only signed up for this ‘fun’ because of the requirement for all under 8s to have an adult with them – I’m just not sure I was the adult that was in mind when setting this requirement!¬† Thankfully the 13 year old did a sterling job with her littlest sister.

13-year-old

I hated every single obstacle.  There was much swearing Рinwardly and outwardly (sorry Centerparcs) and shaking of legs.  It was HORRIBLE.  Of course this just caused more hilarity for everyone else!  The 12 year old was videoing it and threatening to put it on YouTube Рand there was quite a gathering of passers by to witness the spectacle.

At the same time I was trying to be encouraging to the children – particularly to the 5 year old who had only scraped the height requirement by a slightly bouffant ponytail!¬† At the climbing wall I said “Mummy is so¬† proud of you, you’re doing brilliantly’ to which the response was ‘Well, you’re doing rubbish Mummy”…….

libby-and-5-year-old

I dithered ridiculously over the climbing wall – absolutely petrified – and announced that my large breasts would inhibit my passing across the void.

libby-climbing-wall

I think my face pretty much sums up how I felt about the whole thing!!

But eventually – I just went for it – and I DID IT!¬† I loathed it.¬† I feel no sense of achievement – just a massive headache with the stress.¬† In fact – I couldn’t even face gin afterwards, that’s how bad it was, I just had a pint of WATER!!!!

I fear for the rest of the week I will pointed at around Longleat as ‘that crazy woman from the Tree Top Trek’!!

NEVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – the epilogue!

This has been in my drafts for FOREVER – so thought I should finally get around to actually posting it!¬† We’ve been away twice since then!! #holidayaddicts

So, I’ve blogged about our half term trip to Disneyland Paris, from my proposed behaviour plans in the prologue, to the ‘fun’ in the rain for Day 1, the¬†lunch with Princesses¬†on day 2, the ‘sod Mickey when there’s Messi’ of Day 3, the Snapchat filtering of a world famous painting on Day 4, and an emotional balloon release on Day 5.

But I thought I’d compose some advice on matters learned from our trip (and I will try and be the bigger person than just to say don’t bother with Paris, save up for Florida as they do Disney properly…………..)

Hotel
If you can Рstay in the Disneyland Hotel, and if you can Рbook a Castle Club room.  This means you get characters at breakfast every day

mickey

(the Disney ones – and sometimes the world famous footballer ones too!! #LionelMessi) which reduces the need to queue for them at other times.

messi

The fact that you’re between the parks means you can pop back for a battery recharge (metaphorically and for¬†your phone) during the day.¬† You also get to enter the¬†Disneyland Park earlier than the general public (although only certain rides are open for these¬†Magic Hours).

The one thing I would say is that having a Castle Club room with a park view is fantastic¬†(we stayed in Walt’s Apartment with a connecting room as there are 6 of us) but it is noisy. ¬†You have a great view of the fireworks from the comfort of your room – but equally little kids may not sleep through it! ¬†Then when the hoardes leave the park it can be quite raucous (and it’s not very ‘Disney’ to shout at them to shut up from your window……..). ¬†Then the Disney music plays until around midnight and starts again at 7am – and for us this had a Halloween ghostly theme (last time it was Christmas music though!)

fireworks

 

Food
We struggled keeping everyone happy (but we do have 4 kids with differing tastes!)

We had an absolutely amazing meal in the California Grill in the Disneyland Hotel – but the kids meals didn’t have fries, which immediately meant child 3 had a meltdown. ¬†The food was beautifully presented and the wine exquisite (but it is really, really expensive!)

Lunch with the Princesses in the park was also excellent in terms of quality (again no French fries) and a great way to get a few more characters off the tick list.

cinderellas

The best all rounder meal, though, was in Chez Remy in Walt Disney Studios – great quality food – INCLUDING FRIES!!!!

cork

Fastpass
If you’re staying in a Castle Club room – and I think most of the Disney Hotels – you get unlimited Fastpasses for all of the rides that offer that facility. ¬†At certain times of the day these are great (generally in the mornings) but at some points, the Fastpass queue can be longer than the regular queues – madness! And not all rides have the Fastpass option.
Sometimes using single rider queues can also be a way to beat the queues if you’re happy not to sit together in a group – I guess this depends on kids ages and such like.

Going into Paris
We paid to do a Disney trip into the centre of Paris. ¬†This involved queuing for a coach at another hotel and driving through really slow traffic to get there. ¬†Once in Paris we were dropped off to reconvene a few hours later. ¬†We couldn’t face the coach trip back and ditched them in favour of the very reasonably priced train (double decker train at that) back to Disneyland Paris. ¬†It was a straighforward, easy train ride – and so much better than hanging about and a coach.

Once in Paris then there are loads of different options for hop on / hop off trips – or even just walking – which we did loads of!

trocadero-jumping

The kids loved seeing some of the historic sites (although I’m not sure Leonardo was expecting teens to put Snapchat filters on the Mona Lisa……..)

the-mona-lisa

I am sure there are loads of other top tips I can offer – so if you think of anything then ask away – but there we go.

We’ve done Disneyland Paris…………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 5!

Our last day in Paris – and the husband’s birthday! ¬†He got to wear a Disney badge proclaiming this all day!!

After packing, breakfast and checking out we decided that the one thing we hadn’t done were any of the shows at Walt Disney Studios – so after a quick Fastpass on Ratatouille (yet again, it’s the youngest’s favourite!) and the magic carpets we headed to Moteur – Action! ¬†Stunt Show Spectacular – and the name was very correct – it was really spectacular. ¬†The 11 year old in particular really enjoyed it.

stunt-show

It was supposed to last 35 minutes – so we hoped to whizz straight from there to Disney Junior Live (run in English and French at different times). ¬†However time was ticking by so the husband and girls tried to escape leaving me and the boy there – but the French security team were having none of it. ¬†There was lots of Gallic shrugging – and ‘computer says no’. ¬†I assume it was health and safety (although goodness knows why, as the way out was nowhere near the vehicles!) ¬†Anyway – that meant we missed Disney Junior which prompted a 4 year old’s strop!

Thankfully we spotted that Stitch Live was on and so attempted to placate her with that (again it runs in English and French throughout the day).  It was actually surprisingly good!  Stitch was animated, but there was a real life person in the room being his assistant.  Initially I assumed that there were standard questions Stitch would ask Рbut it was actually really clever, and the person voicing him could obviously see the audience Рand deviated with different conversations Рand all in all it was really impressive!  A surprise hit with the Price family.

Then we let Daddy chose the restaurant – and we went to Bistro Chez Remy right by the Ratatouille ride – and supposedly the rat’s restaurant and you magically became smaller as you went in (or as the 4 year old pointed out ‘they’ve just made everything else seem really big’!!)

cork

The food Рand drinks Рwere great!  And the whole family were content as the grown up food was delicious, and there were fries for the kids #winwin.  They made a fuss of the birthday boy Рand even wrote a special message on his pudding (happy birthday Рnot anything else Рthat would have been weird!!)

On the way out the 6 year old was given a Minnie Mouse balloon by a random couple – still not entirely sure why (she was given sweets by a man on the train the day before, so she must have a face for gifts!!) ¬†As we were about to head off to the airport we couldn’t really take it with us – so the kids¬†asked if we could send it up to the sky to Nanny Carol (my mother in law who passed away in 2002). ¬†It seemed like a particularly apt thing to do, given 45 years ago Nanny Carol had been giving birth to their Daddy (cue hysterical weeping from me!!)

balloon

And that’s pretty much a perfect way to end our few days in Disneyland Paris.
Creating magical memories with my family has been wonderful.

 

 

 

“Disneyland” Paris – day 4!

Actually we can drop the Disneyland today – as it was a trip out to Paris for us.

We’d arranged the trip through Disney and had to traipse across to another hotel after breakfast to be picked up on a coach.¬† Which was late (and we had to wait right by some very smelly, noisy building work – nice!)¬† The coach dropped us in the centre of Paris where we were given our tickets for the Hop On, Hope Off Big Bus.¬† We’d also bought tickets for The Louvre from our on coach guide (22 Euros, when it turned out they only cost 15 Euros there – but it did mean we bypassed the big queue, so I guess we can forgive him the mark up!!)¬† We ended up walking down to the Louvre rather than wait for the bus – and of course, once we were in there we headed for the star attraction – the Mona Lisa.

the-louvre

It’s quite a trek – and we saw lots of willies and boobs on statues and paintings on the way there, much to the children’s amusement!¬† We had to wait quite a while to get to the front, but did in the end – and then obviously the teenager had to apply Snapchat filters to possibly the most famous painting in the entire world……..

the-mona-lisa

Then we walked a bit more to pick up a bus – but it was along the banks of the Seine, so felt quite exciting!!¬† The kids all enjoyed ‘helping’ with the map reading!

map-reading

But one of the roads was shut Рseemingly for no reason Рbut it was causing loads of traffic chaos.  There was LOTS of car horn hooting Рlike that was going to make any difference?!  After being stationary for about 15 minutes we decided to get off to walk some more.  The kids were not quite as keen as we were Рand piggy backs / shoulder rides had to be done (I think those steps should count double on my Fitbit?!)

We then found another bus stop and got back on the route up to the Trocadero – the views down over the Eiffel Tower were amazing – and all the standard stupid poses were done by the kids as well as most other visitors!!

trocadero-jumping

Nutella crepes provided some much needed energy to carry on with the bus tour.¬† It took us down to the tower itself (the teenager moaned it was not shiny – somewhat reminiscent of her father moaning about the Golden Gate bridge not being golden and the Sydney Opera house looking dirty not bright white!)¬† We had to wait for about 20 minutes to get through security – you can’t get in without a bag search and metal detector – and there are armed police / soldiers everywhere.¬† We planned to go up (despite it being foggy) but didn’t think the kids would cope with the steps (and having had jelly legs after climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge I suspect I would have struggled too!!) but the queue for the lifts was about 2 hours, so we decided not to bother¬†and do it another time (as I’m writing this I’m stressing that I said the same about the World Trade Center in New York in late 2000……)¬† At this point we had 90 minutes before we needed to meet the coach home (and suspected the coach out of Paris at 6pm would not be fun!) so decided to get the train back to the park after the next leg of the Big Bus.

It was less than 8 Euros for an adult, and half for the kids – and we got to go on a double decker train which was very exciting. It only took 45 minutes to get back to the train station at Disney Village – so we were back before we’d even have got on the coach in Paris.¬† If we ever come again (IF!) then I would definitely consider hopping on the train and going into Paris unaccompanied. #bigandbrave

As it was about time for an early tea we headed to the Rainforest Caf√© before the hoardes (as you can’t book).¬† Kids were happy with nuggets and chips – adults food was very very disappointing – but hey ho!

Then back to the hotel to chill out and pack for travelling home tomorrow night.  So absolutely no Disney parks done at all today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 3!

Day 3 started with another Messi breakfast (and again we didn’t let the 11 year old get a photo or autograph – and the pressure was starting to build from friends and family back home about what cruel parents we were)!¬† Thankfully there were¬†characters galore – Gepetto, Pinocchio, Mr Smee, Pluto and the big 2 – Minnie and Mickey Mouse.¬† All very exciting.

mickeyminnie

Then we magic houred it into the park for the husband and big 2 to do Space Mountain whilst I took the little 2 on Buzz Lightyear.  And here comes whinge 1:

We paid 60 Euros when we arrived for all of the photos from the photographers out and about around the park and for the photos on the rides.¬† This has proved to be quite a rubbish investment.¬† In our 3 days thus far we haven’t seen a single photographer out and about!¬† We’d hoped for a Price family photo in front of the castle, but have had to make do with a rubbish selfie rather than a professional one.¬† Today on Space Mountain we had a photo taken, and it could be viewed after the ride, but the shop was shut and so it wasn’t possible to get the photo.¬† All seems a bit rubbish – and miss-sold.

Whilst I am in whinge mode (some would say I’ve been firmly in that mode for 42 years?!) – smoking!¬† People wander round the parks cigarettes – traditional and e cigs – in hand.¬† Theoretically there are smoking areas and the rest of the park is non smoking, but this rule does not appear to be applied at all. It truly is gross, compounded by the fact it would appear many more Europeans than Brits smoke *based on no research whatsoever, just the gut feeling I’ve got from our travels!!

Our concierge had booked lunch for us at Planet Hollywood (it seemed safer to book, as Rainforest Cafe was turn up and wait – and the only prerequisite from the kids was it was a restaurant with chips!!) But we were early and so went on Panoramamagique – a tethered balloon ride that takes you 100m up above the park.¬† On a clear day you can see the centre of Paris and the Eiffel Tower – but it wasn’t a clear day!¬† However, it did give you a feeling of the scale of the parks and the huge number of beds the hotels in the surrounding areas must provide.¬† The autumnal colours of the trees were also amazing.¬† Half of the kids were scared, the other half were trying to rock the balloon to scare them further – you’ve got to love siblings!

We popped in to the Lego shop then, which the 4 year old was excited about as the boy she loves from school is a big Lego fan – so we took her photo in front of the Toy Story characters made out of Lego to send to him!!

lego

Planet Hollywood was the same as Planet Hollywood the world over (although disappointingly no zucchini fries on the menu here!) Рbut the decor right down to the loos, is the same no matter which branch your in.  Anyway Рthere were chips, so the kids were happy.

The back to the hotel for a power nap (for Daddy anyway!) and we got to see some of the Halloween parade from our balcony.¬† At afternoon tea the 11 year old’s dreams came true and we let him ask Lionel Messi for a photo (when he wasn’t with his¬†kids)¬†– sod Mickey, this was the highlight of his holiday – possibly life to date (he had a photo with Arjen Robben last New Year’s Eve, so is doing pretty well for world famous footballers on holiday recently – apparently only Ronaldo or David Beckham will top this #pressure)!

messi

 

We headed off to the Buffalo Bill Wild West show in the evening.¬† You are divided into 4 teams – this time we were blue (last time we came 6 years ago we were green and after kicking around the house for the best part of 5 years, we’ve only just chucked out the hats!!)¬† It’s a great horse / buffalo / bison show (cue rubbish joke – what’s the difference between and buffalo and a bison???¬† You can’t wash your hands in a bison
(this is better if you’re from the Black Country (West Midlands rather than being racist in any way) as bison sounds more like basin then!!)

wild-west-show

My highlight is that you are told your meal deal includes a soft drink – and they offer beer to the adults #beerisasoftdrinkinFrance!! The horse show is great (and I remembered to take an antihistamine this time!!) and the children enjoyed it loads.¬† The ‘highlight’ was Daddy being a volunteer – so he got to go down into the arena and go in a coach and then be tied up with a woman from Liverpool (standard night out?!)

tied-up

The 6 year old was hysterical the entire time thinking Daddy was actually going to be hijacked – but in true Disney style the bad guys were defeated and all was well – phew! Quick visit to the ‘World of Disney’ en route back (shockingly badly staffed again – Paris really is the antithesis of Orlando) and then back to the hotel room for turn down chocolates, room service wine and potentially the fireworks for a third consecutive night (re-setting them each day must be a task)

Tomorrow is Disney free (yay!) as we’re off in to Paris for the day to see the sites.¬† I’ve never done the proper tourist thing in Paris – I did a quick driving tour once with a Deloitte partner when I was considering a transfer to the Paris office (I told him I could only come if I had red wine on tap, as it’s the only way my French is any good – it did not seem that this was impossible!¬† I was also a bit of a Princess and told him to slow down whilst speeding through the underpasses #PrincessDianareference!) so I am looking forward to seeing all the sites / sights – it should also minise the chance of characters being punched, and improve the quality of food on offer. #winwin

Disneyland Paris – day 2!

Day 2 of the Disneyland Paris adventure started with a character breakfast – which ended up being more exciting than expected.

This was not due to the arrival of Tigger and Eeyore – but more to do with the fact that Lionel Messi (world famous footballer) and his family were sat at the next table.¬† The 11 year old was beside himself, but we were killjoy parents and didn’t let him go and interrupt Mr Messi’s breakfast to get a signature or a photo – he had to make do with the Winnie the Pooh characters providing both!!

tigger

Then, as we’re staying in one of the Disney hotels we are allowed to access the Disneyland park 90 minutes before the general public, so we headed in to try and get on some rides that we couldn’t Fastpass later – Dumbo being the first one, and then the carousel.¬† Much fun was had.

After that the Disney classic ‘It’s A Small World’ beckoned. We then went on Pirates of the Caribbean – which starts as a similar boat ride, but then has a couple of drops like a sedate-ish log flume.¬† The whole ambience down there is quite scary, and the 6 year old had her head inside her Dad’s coat for the entire ride.

At that point I realised I’d left the vouchers for our Princess lunch back in our hotel room – so I had to power walk back to get them (annoying – but the silver lining was the additional steps for my Fitbit workweek hustle #competitive)¬† Back at the park we got the 4 year old ready for lunch in her full on Cinderella garb – her plaits even had to be replaced by a bun.¬† The food at Auberge de Cendrillon was amazing (although again the 6 year old refused to eat anything as it was too ‘French’ and, ironically, with no option of French fries!!¬† The one thing the French totally have right over the Floridians is that you can get booze in Disneyland Park whereas Magic Kingdom is dry – the Disneyland branded champagne was a great addition to the prepaid lunch!¬† We got to see LOADS of characters (and I didn’t punch any!).¬† I’m not sure if the husband seeing Ariel or the 4 year old seeing Cinderella was the most exciting?!?

ariel

cinderellas

After lunch we headed across from park 1 to park 2 – Walt Disney Studios.¬† Ratatouille and Slinky Dog were revisited #deepjoy.¬† Even kids rides make me want to hurl….

slinky-dog

Then back to the hotel for a swim in the pool.¬† The hotel room provides children’s bathrobes as well as adult ones – although the 4 year old was still almost drowned in hers (and she reckoned she looked like Master Shifu from Kung Foo Panda #nonDisneyreference)

spa

Due to rubbish eczema (and a hatred of swimming) I stayed in the room and did some ‘important work’ (although spent most of the time cursing the slow wifi – why can’t hotels have decent wifi?!?!?)

The final excursion of the evening was out to the Disney Village area (where the restaurants were as rude as ever).  Small toys were purchased for small girls, and I headed back to the room with them Рwhere they had their best meal thus far (pizza and fries on room service!) and the husband and big 2 did a couple of roller coasters at the Studio Park whilst the queues were less.  Being able to park hop, and come and go to the hotel is such a massive bonus.

So day 2 has been survived.  Wondering which international superstar can be at breakfast tomorrow to make sure the big 2 can keep their Snapchat stories exciting!!!

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 1!

So it was an early start – but the flight all went fine (apart from quite a lot of annoying kids on the flight – other people’s not my own – although they did try too!)

The first problem was our pre booked Disney driver wasn’t there to pick us up.¬† Now I have to say this wasn’t a huge shock as exactly the same had happened to our next door neighbours when they’d last been.¬† I phoned to query this and was told to get a taxi and the hotel would pick up the tab as our driver was ‘stuck in traffic’.¬† We had a lovely driver – who said it should only take just over half an hour as there was no traffic today!!!¬† He was very informative – although spoke little English¬†– but thankfully I understood enough of the French to translate for the rest of the car.

taxi

Possibly the highlight of the car journey was when the Vanessa Paradis classic ‘Joe Le Taxi’ came on – being the only French song I know!! Reminded me of when The Proclaimers were playing in a pub in Scotland in May.¬† Got to love a good stereotype!!

We arrived at the hotel and were given all of the relevant passes and tickets even though our room wasn’t ready (well, after a minor confusion when they tried to check us in as the Brice family rather than Price family!)

We decided to do a bit of a recce of the Disneyland Park ready for hitting the parks hard tomorrow – but the benefit of staying in a suite in the Disneyland Hotel is that you get to permanently Fastpass the rides!¬† No limit of a certain number per day, or only one every 2 hours, anything that can be Fastpassed you can join the queue.¬† However, it would appear that MOST OF THE WORLD has Fastpasses.¬† I began to question whether FAST meant something different in French?¬† “F*cking absolutely slow thanks” was my suggestion……

We tried to order some drinks and donuts from a stand and it took about 15 minutes – again, this backs up my opinion that the French just don’t do the service levels Disney needs as well as the Floridians (I am yet to do California).

Buzz Lightyear was a hit with everyone – as always – and obviously Mummy and Daddy were the most competitive (Daddy won – boo!!!)

Then our suite was ready so we unpacked before deciding the only way we could keep everyone awake until dinner was to go out again – this time to the Walt Disney Studios.¬† By now it was raining – deep joy…

rain

The big 2 wanted to go on the Tower of Terror, whilst the littlest wanted to go on the Toy Soldiers parachute drop – with Mummy (oh how my day was improving!) but we survived.¬† Then we Fastpassed Ratatouille – which was as efficient as all previous Fastpass attempts.¬† The highlight of the queueing was our 6 year old’s incredulousness that the French family in the queue in front of us had 5 kids – it’s pretty rare for us to find families with more children than ours!!

Finally it was back to our hotel for dinner (although we all needed a change of clothes first as we were soaked through).  At this point the husband and I fell off the wagon Рand had the first booze for a fortnight Рa lovely New Zealand Sauv Blanc Рbut we stopped at one bottle between us (high five to us!).  We ate at the California Grill Рwhich the concierge said was the best restaurant at DLP.  The food was exquisite РBUT Рno chips, and the 6 year old was gutted by this (she is renowned for being *slightly* fussy with her eating!!) however this did lend itself to the comedy comment of the night.

Husband “Oh, I think that boy’s got chips?¬† Oh no, it’s actually pasta”
11 year old “You should have gone to Specsavers”
6 year old “We should have gone to McDonalds”

Aside from that it was a lovely meal (and from hearing about the food my friends’ kids have in French schools, I guess they have much broader tastes than British kids!!) but the 4 year old was asleep before her main course.

We’re back in the room now and after catching the fireworks and laser show from our balcony (which could not be a better view)

fireworks

the rest of the family are asleep, which pleases me as:

a) we have a long day planned tomorrow and
b) with them all asleep and off their devices, the wifi is much more efficient for me #priorities

So day 1 has been survived.  And as far as my plans go from my prologue:

1) No characters have been punched.
2) You can not Fastpass the ass out of the parks as the Fastpasses are not fast.
3) OK – so I’ve moaned about queuing – but I have not had any fights with anyone in a queue –¬†as yet!
4) The food has been amazing in the hotel (but with an amazing price tag too!)
5) The rain dampened the magic – but even I thought the fireworks and laser show were great.
6) It is not possible to stay on the wagon when combining Disney, rain, European queues and hotel rooms.

Here’s to day 2……..