Boo! I had to work late and do overtime tonight so it’s a very quick post from me – just to put today’s American entry where we went to Discovery Cove and we swam with dolphins. Poor bastards. There’s also a wonderful recipe for seriously loaded mac and cheese – nice and American! Of course we had to jazz it up by adding chives, sausages and bacon. Just scroll down.
Hilariously, my book has climbed to #1 in the Amazon’s Gay & Lesbian Travel section. I can’t imagine the competition is especially stiff but still! I KNEW I should have called it ‘Cruising with Gays’. If you haven’t bought it yet, give it a go, it’s a couple of quid and it pays for Paul and I to buy ridiculous nonsense like Thwomp cushions and giant spoons. If you want it, you can buy it here. If not, scroll to get the recipe!
day ten – Discovery Cove and swimming with dolphins
Ah, Discovery Cove day. Booked a long time ago, was I looking forward to it? Not really. I know this is almost blasphemy, but dolphins leave me cold. I think it’s because my sister went through a dolphin phase during the 90s, like most girls, and everything was covered in dolphins. I continued the theme in my teenage bedroom, where everything was covered in seamen. Kaboomtish. That, coupled with having to get my baps out, meant I was a little apprehensive. Nevertheless, we got a taxi and were there in good time, turning up a good half hour early. We had read online that it was worth getting there early to get a good dolphin swim slot in the morning, meaning you could relax for the rest of the day. This done, we were booked for the swim at 10.45.
Breakfast first, then. A good choice, but my buffet-shyness prevented me from getting the full amount I wanted. There’s a cooked breakfast option available but the lady behind the counter looked pretty stern, so I didn’t dare ask for me. There’s also the requisite pastries and cereal if you prefer. We took our time before heading over to the lockers. You are given a little net bag which includes a snorkel, good goggles and suncream – as you’re not allowed to use your own suncream lest it pollutes the water. Then, the tough bit. The wetsuit. Men can either choose from a full wet-suit or a lycra ‘top’, which clings to everything. We did try on the top but it pushed my moobs up in such a fashion that I could no longer see my feet. Ditto Paul. We decided to change into a wetsuit. Jesus. Have you ever tried getting into one of these things, particularly if you’re somewhat rubenesque like Paul and I? It’s like to push water through a cheese-grater. However, ten minutes later, once they had greased us up, we were fine, and dare I say it, the wetsuit was actually the far better choice as it compresses everything in. Clearly the fat was being squeezed somewhere else but I didn’t have any especially big lumps appearing, so it was all good!
Now – time for a serious thought. I read a lot of posts on here about people feeling shy about being fat and not wanting to plod about with it all on show. I’m the same, despite my cool and sexy exterior – quite shy about my jiggly bits. But if you take anything from my trip reports aside from a slight queasiness, know this – you don’t need to worry. I have seen some proper gargantuan heifers over here and no-one ever comments. People might think things in their head but let’s be honest, we all do it. Just remember that you’re never going to see these people again and let it all swing out. Life, and your holiday, is too short to worry about what you look like. But – that said – don’t be setting up a chip pan on the beach, that’s just common.
We spent an hour just drifting around in the lazy river, using our snorkels. The river itself gets to about 8ft in places, but as long as you make sure you can snorkel, you’ll be fine even if you’re a weak swimmer. Paul got the hang of it fairly quickly, but I can’t say I helped him out by sticking my finger in his snorkel-hole. Well, it is a honeymoon. The worst part about being able to breathe and see underwater? Well, you know in programmes like Fat Families or other diet shows, they always show the fat person swimming and all their fat is rippling underwater like an epileptic lava-lamp? That was Paul and I. People didn’t need to throw fish at us whilst we basked, mind.
The river is lovely, full of…stones. Yep, I do think they could gee it up a bit by sticking some little nooks and crannies and things to look at under the water, but it was still a wonderful way to relax. Then – it was time for the dolphin swim. You’re taken into a little tent with your other swimmers, made to sign a disclaimer form to say that any damage or penetration is not Discovery Cove’s problem and then, oh my, the cheesiest video about dolphins ever. It was in this tent that we realised that we were getting proper stink-eye from a woman. She would not let up. I can only assume one of two things:
- she was jealous because her short, bald husband was not nearly as attractive as mine; or
- she had finally realised that she was the absolute double of the lampshade-haired cow from those insufferably smug BT adverts – and I really hate those adverts.
Naturally, as Paul and I can’t get through a day without making an enemy, she became ours, and we spent the rest of the day pulling faces at her whenever she passed. Cow. We were led to our dolphin – Calypso – and our trainer. We stroked the dolphin’s belly, avoided her bajingo which was clearly on show, had flapped at and learnt all about the dolphin. It was a fun half-hour, but as we were alongside a family, most of the attention was spent on the little girls getting to stroke the dolphin and what have you. Which is fair enough, I guess. It didn’t help that their father was a proper knob though, he kept asking really smart-arse questions of the trainer and then correcting her! I can’t bear that kind of attitude, there’s no need for it. Thankfully, our British reserve won through, and we were exceptionally polite. My only lament – I didn’t get to throw a fish in its mouth. But to be honest, I get enough of that at home throwing Skittles at Paul to get him to move. After 20 minutes of tricks and chat, it was time for Calypso to pull us back to shore. You swim out about 50ft into deep water, and the dolphin pulls you back in. It was good fun, and Calypso managed valiantly with both Paul and I, though she did have to be put on oxygen afterwards.
After the swim, you’re ushered into another tent to view photos of the happy day. It’s not hard sell as such, but I do feel it could have been done more subtly, especially given the price of the photos. If you have kids, perhaps it would be best to leave them outside at this point so you don’t feel pressured – as I was with Paul, I had no such luck, and we ended up buying four photos. They’re really good as it happens, so it’s fair enough. After our swim, an early lunch. The food is terrific mind, very healthy and fresh. I had a Cobb salad, purely so I could say to Paul that I had a cob on, little realising the size and scale of the salad. In England, I remember when a salad was thick sliced tomato, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and loads of vinegar. Over here, you need to set aside forty minutes just to plow your way through. Delicious mind.
The other two draws for Discovery Cove are the snorkelling bay, where you can swim around with loads of tropical fish and spotted rays underneath you, and the ray pool, where rays swim around your feet. They’re both excellent, save for the fact that Paul got slapped across the arm by an angry ray, which apparently really hurt. Whilst I was laughing, the ray got me too – and it DOES hurt! We got out of there because we could see it was kicking off. There’s plenty of photos we took with an underwater camera, but I can’t stick them online. They’re all very blurry and blue anyway. I did notice some show-offs with fancy underwater cameras. I admit to being jealous of their superior technology, so next time I’m going to navigate the fish pool in an underwater sub. Might mince a few fish whilst I’m doing it, but ah well.
That is how the remainder of the day passed – swimming, sunbathing, getting lots of free ice-cream and beer, and snorkelling about. There isn’t too much to write about because it was just all relaxing, no being dramas or the like. The only notable event was at the end of the day, when we were getting changed – when I pulled the wetsuit from my body it made a massive, loud, wet fart sound, to which Paul – to his credit, stealing a Phoenix Nights joke, shouted ‘And I’ll name that tune in one’ from the shower cubicle next door. Good lad. Shuttle to Seaworld and then onto the I-Ride trolley back to the Four Points, where the night was spent watching Unstoppable on the PPV TV. Good film that. Day over!
Over and out.
serves 4 (generously)
to make pimped macaroni cheese, you’ll need:
- 250g macaroni (or any type of pasta – we used spirali)
- 1 brown onion
- 6 Slimming World sausages, defrosted, skins removed
- 5 rashers of back bacon, fat removed and chopped into small chunks
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 400ml skimmed milk (6 syns)
- 200ml chicken stock
- 160g reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated (4x HexA)
- 125g quark
- 1 wholemeal brown roll, blitzed into breadcrumbs
- bunch of chives
- salt and pepper
and when you’ve got all that, you’d better
- cook the pasta according to instructions, drain and set aside
- heat a large pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion until softened
- add the bacon and sausage meat, stirring frequently to stop the sausage meat from clumping – I used a potato masher to keep the mixture loose
- add the oregano, paprika and garlic, stir well and remove from the heat
- in a separate pan add the milk, stock cheese and quark and cook over a medium-low heat, whisking continuously until the mixture is smooth – don’t be tempted to increase the heat – it needs to be quite low
- add salt and pepper to taste
- combine all of the ingredients together, mix well and pour into a large baking dish
- sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and chopped chives
- cook at 190 degrees for about 20-30 minutes
If you want to save syns, we made a macaroni cheese where the creamy sauce came from butternut squash which was equally as delicious – you can find it here!