A Recipe for the Perfect Holiday

Perfect Holidays

It’s a commonly debated subject – the holiday.  What is a perfect holiday?  Does one even exist?

We’ve been reading lots of articles recently about how, for some families, a holiday can be a fraught, even stressful time. There are often disagreements and even arguments over where to go and what to do, marring the pleasure that could be had from perhaps not trying too hard in the first place.Is this the perfect holiday?

We’re getting good at holidays, Mrs C and I.  We don’t argue, we always have a lovely time and we never take anything too seriously.  It has resulted in some absolutely fantastic memories for us to carry into our latter years to use when grandchildren run out of other things to do and become receptive to the undoubtedly much-repeated good old ‘Granny anecdote’.

One of our most recent escapades was a short-notice, impromptu trip to the sunshine state, Florida, in May.  To be perfectly honest, it was one of those rare times when we clicked an advert on a screen and we saw what we thought was an unbelievably good-value flight from London Stansted to Orlando.  It WAS an good-value flight, so we booked it – there and then!  That’s the way to do it!

As we all know, it’s not just the flight that has to be sorted though, so we set to organising all the other stuff… ESTAs, parking, overnight accommodation, luggage etc. Now even though we get out and about quite often, visiting lots of different places, we’re still believers in the old edict that ‘if it ain’t broke.. don’t fix it’, so we decided to use some old favourites.

Our overnight hotel accommodation was with that old stalwart Premier Inn, whose hotel at Stansted yet again proved to reinforce our belief in the brand, offering clean, comfortable, convenient and reasonably-priced hotel accommodation only a stone’s throw away from the airport.  From the moment we arrived everything just went like a dream: easy to park, easy to check-in, easy to find our room, easy to have a really nice meal with a few drinks and easy to get to sleep in their ultra-comfy beds and quiet rooms.  Which of course made it easy to get up feeling refreshed and ready to go the following morning, despite the wind and rain.Premier Inn Stansted Airport

After all these years, we still haven’t lost that sense of excitement we get when it’s holiday time.  I suppose it what keeps us going.  This time felt especially good as it was the first time we’d been back to Florida in about six years and we have such lovely memories of our previous times there.

Now the flight… You know sometimes we all do things on a whim?  When we make that snap last-minute decision to cough up a few extra pennies for that something extra special… Well, we did.  We bought an upgrade to Thomson’s ‘Premium’ class, a decision which was actually swayed in the main by their baggage and seat-choosing policies.  It didn’t cost much more to upgrade than it would have to pay for a couple of cases, to choose our outbound and homebound seats and to book lounge access for us at both airports, so we luxuriated in comfort on one of Thomson’s fab ‘Dreamliners’ both ways instead.   We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, but wow was it worth it.  This is the life!Thomson's Dreamliner

When we got to Florida a shiny new ‘compact-eco’ hire car was waiting for us at Alamo – except it was more a luxury sedan as far as we were concerned: cruise control, luxury seats, enough gadgets to keep an average 15-year-old happy and a really good radio for listening to some of those smaller independent radio stations which play some of the best music ever – in between those irritating commercial breaks.The Howard Johnson on St Pete Beach

After a couple of hours on the road we were back at an old favourite, the Howard Johnson at St Pete Beach.  This is a hotel that we’ve now stayed at five times and have never yet been disappointed.  We think it’s actually one of the best on the beach when you take into account its position, view, friendly service, beach bar, accessibility and overall ‘nice place to be’ air about it.  It’s not 5-star luxury – but there again it never pretends to be.  It’s a plain and simple, clean, good-value hotel in a spectacular position.  It’s somewhere that has never let us down and this occasion was no different.  Looking out from our room onto the beach and pool reminded us of what we’d missed over the few years since we last visited and we made the most of our time by frequenting the fabulous ‘Toasted Monkey’ beach bar with its cold draft beers and delicious frozen cocktails and lounging out on a cabana on those lovely white sands just beyond.  There’s no real definition of ‘Perfect’ but this must surely be close to it in our eyes.View from Howard Johnson St Pete Beach

Any stresses and strains that might have been subconsciously weighing on our minds were now long gone as we simply immersed ourselves in this paradise, as we have done before many times.

One thing we did note was how much more comfortable the climate is in May when compared to our previous visits during August.  It doesn’t have that overbearing humidity that you often get in the height of summer, so it was much nicer for walking around the resort and exploring.  At the other end of the scale though… and what’s this all about?  During the evenings, the temperature dropped to just below 25 degrees centigrade.  So, in the spirit of America, all the beach bars seemed to strike up their ‘fireplaces’.  We’d never seen this before and we laughed to see beach bars, lit up at night with several ‘braziers’ glowing in the darkness.  Odd!Sunset at St Pete Beach

At the end, we really, really didn’t want to come home.  It had been such a lovely holiday that we simply couldn’t fault – and the thought of walking away was actually almost upsetting.  Now that’s what a perfect holiday is all about!

Mr C
Dad to 2 grown-up boys and 3 lovely stepdaughters, I'm Mrs C's right-hand man and 'Bamps' to 6 new 'grand-arrivals' Dylan, Harris, Connie, Toby, Rory and Seren. I enjoy a weekend away, a good film on the telly and a good restaurant. I also love a good rant when things aren't up to expectation or are playing on my mind.

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