Monday Briefing – 8/25/14

Witness the triumphant return of the legendary blogger, Crystin! Well. Maybe not legendary. But I have returned – triumphantly, too. I had a fantastic vacation – complete with the best surprise my husband has given me to date.

Here’s a (fairly elaborate) breakdown of how the vacation commenced:

First, the two of us caught a short flight from Austin to Denver Tuesday evening and spent the night in a nice (but fairly unremarkable) hotel. This part of the journey was pretty blah but unavoidable – the flights to England had been purchased before we moved to Austin and the hubby couldn’t switch the outbound flights. After a few hours sleep, the two of us headed back to catch the next leg of the flight to Philadelphia (I managed to finish two books during this time frame – I think my brain was in overdrive because I had resisted the urge to read before vacation). This was when I got my first surprise from the hubby – the seats from Philadelphia to London were business class! Holy smokes, I’ve never had such space and luxury before. Unlimited beverages from the bar, two multi-course meals, six feet of my own space complete with fully reclining seat and footrest – oh, did I mention my own entertainment system with the latest movie releases and personal noise cancelling headphones? I thought I had died and went to heaven.

The next morning after landing, we both had complimentary showers and massages in the airline lounge while we waited for his parents to come pick us up. Over the next few days we stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast in Oakengates (in Shropshire, I believe, near Telford). We visited a beautiful cathedral in Hereford with his parents; I got to meet my husband’s cousin from Australia for the first time that weekend. I was able to do some catching up with the family I had the pleasure of meeting on my last visit in 2009, and also had a nice curry dinner in Shrewsbury with some of my husband’s friends. I got a delightful surprise when I learned one of them had even bought and read my book! After that we visited his sister in Wales for a few days, allowing us to see Aberystwyth and Chirk Castle while we were there.

The next surprise my husband had up his sleeve was a trip to the Warner Brothers Studio in London – which was featuring the Making of Harry Potter Tour. I got to see the actual sets and props used when they filmed the movie! It was absolutely amazing – the Great Hall is actually a huge great hall, complete with the house tables and everything. I also didn’t realize that the exterior of the house on Privet Drive was actually a set – I thought they filmed it in some little neighborhood in Britian. There was even the house from Godric’s Hollow … Then there were the costumes and props and wigs and all sorts of stuff – it was amazing. My husband even pre-purchased a souvenir guide to take back with me!

Unfortunately, the weather turned a bit icky after that, so the rest of the week was spent just visiting with family and relaxing with my books. The weather turned a bit better for the wedding (no rain, but still cold) and I was honored and delighted to be a part of my sister-in-law’s big day. It was a beautiful service and a fun reception afterward. I may have been forced into doing some embarrassing dancing with the bride and other bridesmaids … but as there was no photo or video proof I’m going to pretend it never happened. 😀

Now here’s where the biggest surprise and the most thoughtful gift my husband has ever given me came in: I thought we were going to be in England until the 22nd. Instead, on the 18th, we flew back to the States – for a four night stay in Disney World! For those of you who don’t know me well, I adore Disney. I’ve been to both parks in the U.S. and love them both. So just taking me to the park was thoughtful enough – but my husband didn’t stop there. We stayed in one of the deluxe resorts: Bay Lake Tower, which is part of the Contemporary Resort. And we stayed in a theme park view room – meaning I could watch the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom from my room. Oh, did I mention you could walk to the Magic Kingdom from the hotel? And if that was too mainstream, the Contemporary is also linked by Monorail to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot – my two favorite parks in Disney World. Oh, but my husband didn’t stop there. He also purchased the deluxe dining plan (which by the way, is way too much food – even if it was all delicious) and made all the necessary dinner reservations. Half were at my favorite restaurants, and the other half were in new restaurants we hadn’t tried before. To top it all off, he even got us each Magic Bands (the nifty new all-in-one devices) and even pre-selected Fast Passes for our favorite rides. All of which he did without my knowledge. It was truly a magical trip (despite the horrific heat) and I was almost brought to tears a few times at the amount of thought and care that had to have gone into that particular surprise.

Needless to say, my husband has won the Husband of the Year award. Shoot, I think he won the Millennium award, too.



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