We have a timeshare in Orlando that we have been trying to sell for over a year now.  Of course, the recession doesn’t help, but timeshares are notorious for not retaining their value.  More people are trying to sell them than there are buyers.  Makes you wonder, then, how some resorts manage to rope people into their resorts when private sellers can’t get rid of their property fast enough.

I’m sure other Britons have the same issues with timeshares, whether in the UK or internationally.  Timeshares are not “bad”, they’re just not for us.  We have a wonderful 2bed/2bath condo that can accommodate 8, is extremely spacious, overlooks a lake and Disney beyond.  We can see the fireworks display from our balcony.  The kids loved it.  In fact, Buppa doesn’t want to give it up.  But, we didn’t use it last year – partly because we were moving.  And partly because we’d rather not sit around a swimming pool all day, or go out to the beach.

Now, the last time we used it, we went to a wonderful dinner show and horseback riding.  But we’d rather that the resort can offer those things to us for free.  We had to drive into or out of town for these events.  Of course, at that time, the resort was starting up with plans to build a waterpark for the free use of the owners (whereas, guests had to pay an entry fee).

We’ve (the adult portion) learned that we’d rather spend our holiday camping out or doing outdoorsy stuff.  We also didn’t like the heat and humidity – very appealing to some, but not good for me.  Had we been of a different disposition, we might consider holding onto the timeshare.  Everyone in my family has a timeshare somewhere.  But it is just not part of our lifestyle, so we’d like to sell it and get some money back.

I just wish there was an easy way to sell it without getting ripped off and scammed left, right and center.  So, if anyone is interested in a timeshare, please let me know before you accept any deals directly from the resorts.  (Oh, by the way, the week is perfect for holidays whether you’re in the US or UK – August.)

It was a beautiful warm day yesterday, so we decided to go to the beach again.  This time, we went to Saltdean.  The tide was low, exposing all the chalky rocks covered with seaweed.  It’s an unbelievable sight, set against the chalky cliffs, with the promenades in between.  Unfortunately, we did not bring the camera.  We had debated it and was unsure what we would end up doing, so we didn’t have it.  It would have been too much to carry around while we were exploring the rock pools.

It was fun and educational for the kids, but we learned a few lessons.  First, we need to make a list of things to bring when we go on such outings.  It seems we’re never properly prepared.  Perhaps, if I make a list now, I won’t forget next time.  Here’s what I’ll need to remember next time: hat (none of us have ever been in the habit of wearing hats), sunglasses (not an option for all of us), extra bag (to carry things that the kids collect), carry-all bag (because the kids never like to carry what they packed), waterproof shoes, bucket and shovel, towels, blanket.  I’m sure the list will grow as our outings increase in frequency.  I’ve also learned not to encourage the kids to bring too much, because it only adds to the weight on my shoulders.

After exploring the pools from Saltdean to Rottingdean (a famous smuggling town that I need to read up on), we stopped to get some drinks and snacks and walked back to Saltdean along the cliff path.  The views were awesome. We then drove over to Brighton, passing the famous Rottingdean windmill (which we’ll need to visit someday). 

We parked up near the marina and decided to walk towards the pier.  It was some distance away, but the kids ran towards the beach instead.  It was a shingle beach, not a sandy one, and walking on it was rough.  I looked up and read the sign “Boundary of Naturist Beach”.  I didn’t know what to make of it, but after walking a little ways, my husband suddenly remembers.  He recalled something about a nudist beach at Brighton and he thought that’s what “naturist” meant.  However, we doubted anyone would be out in their birthday suits at that time (evening).  Yet, the kids had run ahead and he thought it safest to take them away from the area.  Well, it was too late.  They had reached the edge, and just beyond, we saw some naked bathers.  We tried to call them over but they refused and kept going further.  They even rebelled and sat down, refusing to move.  We kept going and eventually they followed.  My husband insisted we go after them and after a while, I decided to turn back to get them.  But it only made them think that we were giving in and they started turning back towards the nudist beach.  Eventually, I had to yell at them to listen (they are very stubborn) before they stopped and we got them to us.  They both insisted they saw nothing, but we found that hard to believe.  Were we over-reacting or did they really notice nothing?

Well, we managed to get them away.  It was getting dark, so they didn’t want to go wading anymore.  Instead, they got on the playground. Then we went to the pier, where our older daughter managed to win Eeyore from the grab machines (and the other one cried because she didn’t get one).  Afterwards, they bought a dozen doughnuts.  It was a long walk back to the car, but it was enlivened with a display of fireworks from far off.  We didn’t realise it at the time, but the fireworks were being set off at the marina.  We hadn’t thought we parked THAT far!  Needless to say, the kids fell asleep on the way back and we had to carry them in and put them to bed.  We were exhausted.

One of my first experiences of British culture was Bonfire Night.  For those who don’t know, Bonfire Night is in remembrance of the capture of Guy Fawkes and his accomplices in the infamous Gunpowder Plot that was meant to blow up the existing parliament of the time.  Since those times, people have been burning effigies of Guy Fawkes and others on November 5th.

We went to one Bonfire Night event and had planned to go to more, but the weather was not very cooperative.  It was drizzling and cold the night we went.  Yet, it did not diminish the celebration at all.  It was unbelievable how much more elaborate Bonfire Night was as compared to the Fourth of July celebrations I’ve seen in the US.

The night started with a procession of various groups in masked costumes.  Each group had torch bearers and the whole effect was quite gothic.  Especially when they had one group carrying an effigy of Guy Fawkes.  Once the effigy reached the bonfire, they light this massive structure of tree branches and add their torches to it.  This one also burned some huge teddy bears.  (We heard that one bonfire was going to have an effigy of Sarah Palin – we did not authenticate this.)  Being a cold and rainy night, we welcomed the warmth from this huge fire.

During this entire time, several organizer members were throwing off fireworks.  When the real display came, it was fantastic.  For a full half-hour, fireworks were continually being let off and in the end, a Guy Fawkes image was blown up.  Having been used to short firework displays in the US during July 4th and New Year’s Eve, I was very surprised at the quantity and quality of fireworks on Bonfire Night.  In the US, they tend to have fireworks for about 10 minutes, with a major let-off at the end, so that you knew it was the finale.  Here, it was continuous for 30 minutes and you didn’t know when they’d be done until Guy Fawkes blew up.

This Bonfire Night display took place several days before Guy Fawkes Day.  Unlike the Fourth of July, Bonfire Night is an extended event, taking place several days before Halloween and ending several days after Guy Fawkes Day.  That may be one reason why Halloween is practically ignored over here, to my daughters’ disappointment.  It is overshadowed by Bonfire Night.  Driving around the country at night during the two weeks surrounding Guy Fawkes Day, you can see various firework displays in different towns and by individuals as well.  We saw a very nice one from our window – we didn’t know whether it was from our village or the adjacent one.