Monday, 23 November 2015

Birthday to remember.

November is my birthday month and this one celebrated my seventh decade - I'll leave you to do the maths.  It was one to remember not only because I had a lovely day but because it was immersed in such a chaotic month.

Even Google remembered which was kind of them, if just a little spooky....

Before starting this I dipped back into my last post written on 3rd November - it is now now the 18th and just about everything said previously is being rapidly undone....  the stated 'just one Ikea trip' has turned into four with a fifth currently looming,  I boasted the garden was put to bed and the gardener bade farewell until the spring - he is due here in about ten minutes to see if he can do a stack of reconstructing for me before the weather sets in.  I was relieved that I had finished sorting rooms and cupboards and they had all been tidied - we will soon be emptying wardrobes completely and also my relocating my work room.  So much for the calm and order I thought we'd found.

It has been a scabby month so far for a series of breakdowns....  It began with us out and about on a wet and windy day and returning to our car discovered we had a flat tyre - that was fun.  The two heaters in the conservatory died on the same day!!  That was a Ken fix-it job but one needed doing again shortly afterwards and again and again so clearly not 'right'.  The day following my birthday with my daughter and husband still visiting we got up to a cold house and no hot water.  The boiler was on the fritz.  It was condemned by the Corgi engineer that day, but being Friday couldn't go to  'tribunal' until Monday.  On Monday we were promised a Baxi engineer for the Wednesday.  He arrived and duly fixed the unfixable boiler (!) So Friday to Wednesday without the comforts of 2015 was an experience.  Talk about back to the fifties - the 'good old days' weren't actually that good.  Heaven knows what today's generation would make of it. We are currently limping along with a fault in the house electrics somewhere which trips the fuse a couple or more times a day.

Then there were all the proposed ideas about refurbs that did and didn't happen as fast as you can say that phrase.  One minute we were having wardrobes in two rooms done, then none, then one room - that's due before the 30th.  The garden was a re-design now its not until the Spring.  Another conservatory was being built and now it isn't, blinds were being added to our present conservatory - guess what - they aren't.  We are having a workroom added to the side of the house though for my dollhousing hobby and when I get fed up with it, it will make a great storage/work area.  Hoping that will start soon.

We have trailed to and from Ikea four times - both of us hate it with a passion - to buy and return a series of 'decisions' that work and don't work for various reasons.  Bless Ken, my savior, who did the last returns on his own.

Hating it as I do I must say that Ikea has netted me a million plants for around the house. 

 Hippeastrum that flowered before I could blink at just three pounds I wish I had bought a ton of them.  

 a large and a small orchid - the small one being the expensive one.   

and three lovely small poinsettias in a box which I hope to keep going until Christmas but suspect I will be buying again before then. 

 The Christmas cactus has also done its thing so I was certainly ahead of myself. 

 This is a monster.

I squeezed in just one more but have a zillion more on my hit list

Taking a quick flit through my diary - anything of note? - not really -  just the usual very nice round of seeing friends, meals, movies (Spectre done and Lady in the Van to go).  

There was one gentle day - my birthday.  We met S & S at The Fleece, Ripponden for a late lunch - them coming from Edinburgh and us travelling from Bury meant we were just about a drink and starter ahead of them when they arrived ....  I was starving and so could claim birthday rights.  The food and company was all I could ask for followed by a pootle home and an evening's nattering.   They stayed another couple of days catching up with us and others.  It is always lovely to see them even if our cold house wasn't the best of welcomes.

So, here I am at the 18th November and beginning to think about Christmas........ blame it on the shops and TV and all the jobs we are being promised will be done by then!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Back a week

This is primarily a reminder for folk who look out for me at the end of the month that I am now writing as and when the mood takes me; so October has already been done in bits and pieces if you want to flit back through.

If you want to see photos of our leaving Naples they are here for a while:  Leaving 257

........  but, as I am here.........

We have been English now for a week and it has been just lovely.  We are experiencing totally cliché autumn weather - blue skies, wet underfoot and a distinct nip in the air.  Even a hint of November fogs are beginning to roll in.

We arrived home in the early hours of last Monday (26th Oct) after a pretty miserable flight.  Just as we were taxiing for take-off (spot on time) we turned off the runway and headed back to the airport.  Someone had been taken ill (had a fit) on our flight and needed to be taken off the plane.  Handy hint don't get taken ill - took nearly half an hour to get back in and for an air bridge to be connected to the plane.  The passenger and his companion were 'offloaded' but then their four bags had to be found!  We were on the tarmac from boarding to eventual take off for three hours.  Added to an eight-hour overnighter this was certainly no fun at all.  As the cabin crew said 'better now than a diversion in flight'.  Mind you we do fly over my son's home in St John's (NL) so that would have done us nicely.

The minimal Thomas Cook service was repeated on our trip back.  We will try never to fly with them again, especially long haul.

We did still make it back to the house in time for my grocery delivery from Tesco (ordered in Naples).  Deep joy, grocery delivered plus English food.... not to mention the convenience of even being able to order other stuff from their store such as a slow cooker.

I had remembered that my English one was looking a bit dog-eared and could do with replacing.  What I hadn't remembered, thanks to shifting homes every five minutes, was that I had already done that before leaving for the USA.

Never mind - just a simple return five minutes down the road and any way I wanted to pick up the clothes I had ordered (also from Naples)  for Click and Collect.  Don't you love civilisation.

Our little one person (get to know her) cleaner arrived the next day to kick-start our future routines.  A very different feel to the barrage of different-every-time cleaners (as many as four) who arrive in Naples to do our cleaning.  By the time T arrived we had also managed to unpack our four huge cases plus two small ones and tuck everything hither and yon.

Following lunch out, we did a bit of  local shop the next day for this and that which included potted plants - a rarity in my homes for fifteen years as they have to be binned every few months when we shift homes.  Not any more - I can have what I want.... even an orchid!  I also picked up plants and bulbs for winter pots; another experience I have done without for many years.

We squeezed in a quick catch up with friends before embarking on this lot.

I spent the next couple of days moving stuff from A to B to C which entailed moving the stuff that moved out of those letters on to D and E and F.  I think we are now all sorted - for a while any way.

By Friday we were trawling around Ikea checking out this and that for the great updating of the house which is about to take place.  It took us seven hours and a lot of money spent and a full car only to realise we hadn't actually solved any of the queries we had arrived with.... and, of course, we now need to return things!

On Sunday 1st November we had a great day out at Dunham Massey.  If you are local and can get there, go and visit their war exhibition it is absolutely the very best piece of such work that I have seen.  The house was used for injured troops and housed the Stamford Military Hospital.

on the ward © The University of Manchester

After two exhilarating, emotional and unforgettable years, the Stamford Hospital will close its doors for the final time on Wednesday 11 November.
It's your final chance to visit and hear the stories of the soldiers who stayed here and the nurses who treated them, brought to life by actors, objects and original archive material.

We had a lovely lunch, met up with my best friend and walked around the gardens soaking up the afternoon sun and autumn colours and smells.  (more pictures here for a while: Dunham Massey)

Yesterday (2nd) my gardener paid his last visit for the season and emptied all my pots ready for me to plant up some winter colour.  It is lovely having someone do the heavy work for you.  

So here I am fully ensconced in the UK as autumn works its way towards winter....

Sunday, 25 October 2015

It's been a funny old day, Granville....

Our last day as residents in Naples was a mish-mash of plans made, altered and abandoned.

We were up at eight ready to crack on with laundering the sheets we'd slept in, make up the bed with the posh set, dispose of any outstanding give-aways, say our goodbyes and dress the condo ready for viewing.  Our cunning plan was to leave around noon if we could be ready in time, have lunch at Bone Fish, deliver condo keys to realtor, get Ken an ice cream at Regina's and then bowl on up to an airport hotel in Orlando for a relaxing overnighter.

First addition to our schedule was the possibility of someone calling in for some sewing machine 'clobber' sometime between 8.30 and 10.30 am.  That, somehow, got messed up and I was standing outside our garage handing them to a drive-by collection just as we were leaving.

Before that I had said goodbye to our neighbours below us which was a bit teary.  I had already had a sniffle when the car was sold the day before... Tears for a car for heaven's sake.  When we had completed our chores and the condo was pristine I took my usual few minutes alone in a home before leaving it for a final farewell walk round before locking the door for the last time.  Oddly, this was just fine, no moist eyes in sight.  It felt like our usual end of season departure and that was OK.

So, our day had begun well with us ready to leave about half ten instead of noon... Lunch was now brunch with thirty minutes to kill until Bone Fish opened.  We decided to drop off the keys with our realtor at the end of Fifth first to kill a couple of minutes.  We had forgotten it was the day of the Blue Crab Festival.  It is a big deal in Naples and draws thousand from here, there and everywhere so streets are closed off, traffic diverted and no where to park.  We crawled in traffic up to Engel and Volkers and there was a just-vacated parking spot right outside the store, right there on Fifth.  The Gods were with us.

Off to Bone Fish.  We were the first customers in and about the fourth to get our order!!  Took about half an hour.  Pricey coconut shrimp appetiser followed by by even pricier filet steak for Ken and lobster for me.  We know how to leave in style.   The icing on the cake was that Bone Fish picked up the tab as an apology for a 'poor experience'!  How can the day get any better?  They know how to say goodbye in this place; a dolphin even joined Ken for his last swim in the sea the day before.

After lunch Ken was determined to try to get his last ice cream at Regina's even though we agreed it was very unlikely that we would be able to park any where in Collier let alone Naples.  As part of our lap-of-the-Gods gamble we nipped round the back of the store where there are half a dozen thirty minute customer slots and one was empty!!!!!!!!!!  Yeah for Naples' Gods and their laps.

So, one Caramel Caribou and Rasberry Truffle (both Kens) later and Naples was done and dusted and we were off up to Orlando.  The GPS  predicted a 3hr 19min drive and it was just about that when we arrived at the hotel.

Our next delivery of the day was a large electric turntable I had.  It was brand new, cost around sixty bucks and would have been binned had I not had the brainwave of asking Kim Sher ..... runs the Miniaturia shows ...... If she knew anyone who could use it.  She was going to collect it from us.

I gave her a ring and we decided to meet her and her husband in The Tavern in Celebration.  So, off back to the car and a thirty minute ride over there.  Guess what, they also had a festival on (Oktoberfest) with roads closed and no parking any where.  Clearly the Naples Gods had hitched a ride as, by pure fluke,  we pulled up behind the back of a restaurant where there was a tow truck to ask directions.  The building turned out to be the Tavern.  I asked the tow guy if he'd let my husband 'lurk' while I delivered a parcel.  Deal done, I dashed round the corner only to discover the restaurant was pretty big, totally full and I wasn't all that sure I would know Kim in mufti.  Indeed, I have no idea how I found her, or recognised her, but I did.  

Back to the hotel, by now it was about eight o'clock; so much for a nice relaxing afternoon in Orlando.

We settled into our junior suite, watched some TV and fell into the world's comfiest bed.

Last sleep in the State as residents...... Perhaps ......

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Comic strip Sunday

Not entirely sure I can make this work.  I am still rubbish at using my iPad for 'writing' and all that entails, but here we go.  Thought you might like to see a pictorial version of Sunday.

Off to Cambier park for the Naples Concert Band.  Ken is a bucketeer for them.

We arrive an hour before the concert so Ken can hand out programmes so I wander up Fifth.

Nip in to Chicos to check out the bargain rails.

Pop in to The Best of Everything just in case I need some bling.

Note all my favourite things such as a pair of urns that I remember seeing and loving on my very first day in Naples fifteen years ago.

Amuse myself with things such as the understated antique shop.

Always note Reginas but never call in as I did that day.  Only to take photos though!  This is Ken's favourite ice cream shop.  Also a first day in Naples memory.

Back to the concert having touched base with many, many other fifth avenue memories.

Concert over and we are off to Bone Fish for late lunch/early dinner.  View from our table

Best peach bellini in town.

Can not go there without sharing bang bang shrimp as an appetiser!

There are a load more photos on the Leaving 257 web album from our last Sunday in Naples (as residents).  

Saturday, 17 October 2015

More goodbyes

Friday 16th we went for our last visit to Silverspot movies.  We have made lots of memories there of movies and dinners on our own and with visitors.  I remember how astounding it was when it was first built with its very nice restuarant and all the food and drinks that can be served actually in the theatre itself.  We haven't found anywhere yet to beat the comfort of their huge leather armchairs and good views of the screen.

The movie of choice was The Martian.  I thought it was great good fun.  Like its sister Downtosh it has now become know to us as Spacetosh.  Absolutely total factual rubbish but just great entertainment.  Thought Mat Damon was excellent.  There was a quirky flaw though in the shape of Sean Bean.  He had a small and totally superfluous role in the movie and did it just about as badly as anyone could.  What was that about?  The part itself felt shoe-horned in after the script was finished and the character added not a jot to the narrative.  Jobs for boys?  Investor using their pull? .... No idea but I am sure there is a story there.  Probably more interesting than the story in the Martian but no where near as tense or amusing or entertaining.  Well done tosh makers everywhere.

Having breakfast the next day and watching Woody, the woodpecker, doing its imitation of the cartoon I also realised how lucky we have been to have such great views front and back for all these years.  When we are eating in the kitchen we can watch the birds and squirrels and butterflies all doing their stuff.  

Later in the day, as the sun goes down, is usually the time I hit the settee with feet up and watch everything get touched with gold.  If I am lucky I also get to see the fish and turtles in the lake and occasionally herons and ibis visiting.  Indeed, on one memorable occasion, we even saw an otter!  Can't claim such views in my Bury home.  Certainly something to be missed.

Friday, 16 October 2015


We have spent this month leaving by inches and conciously saying goodbye to routines and places.  Thise who know me will not be surprised that many of my farewells were to particular eateries; acouple of which you've already seen.  I am building a web album for our leaving 257 so you can see more there.

Today I did my last trip to the beach.  Ken will go again but its a tick for me:

Our lovely car will also be gone soon of course.  The realtor has bought it and it will be left in the garage until the place sells or he needs it, which ever comes first.  He has a couple of visitors soonwho would  need to hire a car and buying this costs less.  Plus, obviously he has equity in it too.  Win win.

We have a new section of shops added to our local mall and we discovered a new eating experience. So this time "Hello" rather than goodbye.  Moes South West Grill.  Imagine subway but with mexican items.  They claim 'no hormones, steroids, preservative, trans fat or MSG.  Yiu choose the 'container'..taco, tortilla, ear muff, bowl and then choose what you want in it.

This is Ken's in a bowl.

Mine is decidedly less photegenic .... The giant nappy is actually a burrito holding just what I wanted.  It was great. As I said you can wander through the web album if you are wondering what places like Carabas, Bone Fish, Mel's Diner and others have been serving me for fifteen years. 

Handy tip for packing - just like the burrito, you need to roll

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Just when you thought it was safe

Well that was the shortest break in Christendom

Missing my machine already, I have now decided I need to get to grips with my iPad once and for all. I use it just fine but I have always been too lazy to find out half of what it can do..... What a waste....this is the beginning of a fine romance between it and me.  Lovely little gizmo.  So, in celebration here I am again.  Feel rather silly after the dramatic farewell. realtor and photographer arrived to do their thing.  It is becoming real for sure.  We can now relax and go back to living like normal people and smudge the glass table to our heart's content.  After this I will try and add more photos to the Leaving 257 album and post the link here if I can figure out how that works via ios.  Failing that it is in a recent post.

We just went out to iwas six pm and still ninety degrees....

It was our farewell to a cheap and cheerful favourite for my last crabs legs at a price we can afford.

It is one of those eat until you fall over type buffets that Florida is full of.  This one is Chinese food and over 200 dishes.  They include oysters, mussels, frogs legs, blue crabss and crayfish besides the wonderful snow crab legs.  Along with sushi and a hibachi grill where they cook to order, so it isn't the usual chinese buffet that we find in the UK.

I worked my way through my usual sushi and then crabs legs and fruit.  Ken does the full on buffet thing right through to the ice cream.  Plus a chinese beer and chinese tea and all for $34 (£22) for the two of us.

My very constrained plate of crabs legs

See I could have had loads more

You need crackers for the claws but the legs you just snap in half and take out the crab meat.  Delicious but the claw meat is even better.  


Post script:  we gave my laptop away.  Ken wiped it and installed windows ten and stuck a notice up in the clubhouse.  A very nice lady rang and came and picked it up.  She was overjoyed.  I was immediately rewarded as she entered with two parcels off our landing (postie just leaves packages outside the door over here).  They were for my minis and one was a lovely surprise.  See, sometimes, what goes round comes round.