Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January's blathering

Looking back through the month to type this I can't believe we were in the UK just a few weeks ago; it seems like months!

We spent our last few days flitting to the doctors and doing chores such as laundry and cleaning before decamping (yet again) for foreign shores. We also hacked down the rest of the climbing roses to knee height to freshen them up for next year. For me, all this was done in the brave state of martyrdom as I was feeling really feak and weeble (as we say in our family). In a way the dreaded journey back was easy by comparison.

By the 5th when we were actually flying back I thought I was feeling a bit better and was surprised how well I managed the trip. Within a couple of days of being back in the sun (it is supposed to help pityriasis rosea) I was doing OK and so my hostessing duties never missed a beat. That said it really has taken me until now to feel 'normal' again. That's what you get for getting a young person's disease.

Our days in the January sunshine with our friends were taken up with our usual eating, shopping, pool, bikes, beaches and tennis. I will leave you to guess which of those activities actually apply to me.

On the 15th we took off for an overnighter in Sarasota. There was a doll's house show there and it seemed like a cunning plan for me to do that and for us all to have a gander at Sarasota and its environs. The show was a good deal better than I thought it might have been especially after I saw the hotel it was in! It was also where we had elected to stay. It was a very tired Holiday Inn which had been taken over by Ramada. I was totally underwhelmed by the rooms/building/service, but for one night it was doable (and convenient).

Ken, Sue and Phil pootled around a little during the morning while I was doing the show and came back for me around lunchtime. They probably did the best tour of the trip as they drove down Longboat Key which I remember (from years ago) as being very pretty. We then all did a mooch around and a meal. Our mooch included a trip to the South Florida Museum to have a look at the Manatees and sit, in my case doze, through a Planetarium lecture. I promise you it was a very good 'show' it was just that I was still struggling through the great itch and its ramifications. The question and answer conversation afterwards was worth the visit in itself. Excellent presenter/lecturer.

This museum has the only born-in-captivity-Manatee in the world, which is now 64 years old - how sad - though, as they are quick to point out, it is a very old Manatee thanks to its lifetime of cosseting and it wouldn't have a clue how to make it out in the big bad world. The other couple of manatees there were just being 'mended' and would be retuned to their natural environment very soon.

This picture shows Snooty getting some extra fruit treats from his keeper. Like me, he is having to watch what he eats as the vet says he should drop a few more pounds. To be fair I haven't had a vet tell me to drop a few more pounds, but that's probably because I can figure it out for myself. How he hops on the scales every morning I don't begin to understand. Those differences aside we look pretty much alike. (He'd be cuter with a blonde wig) You can see how we drive sailors mad with lust.

A new to us novelty was the (occasional) parking spaces in Sarasota with a an electrical hitch (what are they called?) so you can recharge your electric car.

I just enlarged the photo to see if there was a clue - guess what... it is called a Charge Point. So no points for imagination there then and a minus score for lack of fun. Opportunity missed I think....

- leccymeter 
- voltometer
- hot rod
- sparky
- leccy
- we charge (it isn't free of course)
- live wire
- megs

Monday was spent getting back to Naples very slowly. We stopped off at a couple of different beaches in Venice. The first, Nokomis Beach, had a renovated plaza designed by Jack West. No, I admit it, I don't know who Jack West was and judging from the plaza, aka car park and toilets, and the other photographic examples of his work exhibited there it simply looks like the worst of the fifties concrete and steel utilitarian stuff I grew up amongst in Birmingham and was glad to see the back of. It is always a challenge showing wonderful things to a Philistine.

We went to find the centre of Venice and its pier and en route managed to find Ciao Gelato. This is a must if you ever go to Venice. Decidedly freshly made each day with the best of ingredients and all sorts of wonderful flavours. The amaretto was terrific. Even I loved his ice cream. I always like the idea of ice cream but actually hate eating it because it is sooo cold! Yes, I know, I know...... This time it was worth the cold discomfort for the lovely mouth-filling creamy deliciousness.

Replete we finally made it to the pier. I never got beyond the entrance to it as I was waylaid by a delightful lady - as old as Methuselah but so interesting to talk to about her life, both past and present. What a sweetie.

Just before we left for Sarasota Phil and Sue decided they were going to buy a tablet each - this is a small computer, not Paracetamol, just in case there was any doubt. Sue had the Android and Phil opted for the iPad.

On our return, the next few days was back to back, not mention front to front, messing with gizmos that did and/or didn't work every five minutes. Here's a photo of my intrepid three in the Apple Store (Waterside shops). During all these whys and wherefores from the newbies I got tempted into several madnesses which I'd not bothered to try on my iPad all of which led to my having to do a total wipe out (hard reset) and return it to its naked as the day it was born state. Luckily I was backed up in the Cloud (some of you might grasp this?) and all my stuff came back. So now I have done the trial by fire and I am a fully fledged gizmo user who can now do soft resets without a tremor. Hope never to do another hard reset, the anxiety is too much.  Take a look at the photo and guess what everyone had for Christmas this year in Naples.  It was non-stop heaving and you had to make an appointment to see an Engineer if an assistant couldn't help you.

On the 21st we were off again to Orlando for a week. It is almost entirely devoted to shopping. I have done all I need now for a year from just two shops - Bealls Outlets and Coldwater Creek Outlet. Such bargains. When you can get a pair of trousers for 11 cents.  Honestly – they started at an outlet price of $16.99 then reduced to $11.99, then a one day further reduction, then old person discount, then a five dollar coupon and, VoilĂ , eleven cents. I also snagged a couple of brilliant dresses from Coldwater Creek for $6.99 each. They have a starting price around $80. How do you say no? I spent around $150 and have 30 items of clothing which includes a couple of lovely jackets.

Between shopping and eating out every day, Ken and Sue and Phil also threw in some sitting round the pool time. I managed a couple of hours on one of the days but it is not for me. Being a fidgety britches I am useless at just sitting around for long stretches unless I have a really good book to read. Even then I like to do that in comfort and being stretched out on a grill rack (aka sun bed) and being toasted lightly whilst being nibbled at by every conceivable creature on the planet isn't my idea of heaven. You will gather I am not partial to the great outdoors. God's outdoors is why woman invented indoors. Settees, air con/heating, food.... Why would you choose outside?

Phil and Sue were lucky with their weather during their six week Florida stay. There were a couple of cooler days but no real cold snap.  Even in Orlando, although it is further North in the State, the sun still shone. Every day was in the mid to high eighties until P and S flew home on Thursday. That evening we had a tornado advisory which nearly became a tornado warning but settled back into high winds and rain overnight leaving Ken and I with a very dull and cool last day on Friday.

We were all shopped out, so we decided we ought to sample the Disney experience. We do this Orlando stay each year and a couple of other flying visits occasionally and never 'go to Disney'. Shameful for a British Florida resident. Many years ago we did Epcot on a road trip type holiday around Florida (which is how we found Naples) and Ken has done some Disney stuff when his kids were small, but that's it. I searched and searched for something which might be aimed at old fogies and we played with the notion of doing the Titanic thingy, especially as it is the period I am doing in my Le Tout Paris miniature. We reneged on that as neither of us could crank up enough enthusiasm and so we settled on just walking around downtown Disney as the best compromise. I shuffled all my Pollyanna molecules to the surface and determined to be positive and bury my natural cynicism and enjoy it. Sadly I hadn't allowed for the fact that I not only lack a 'fun' gene but seemingly the Disney piece has gone missing too. It was like walking around Salford precinct only with the addition of Mickey ears and sprinkles. However, I did like the huge river boat (the crab house) and I wondered if it is a defunct real one or just a Disney 'set'? It is certainly impressive and led to me imagining the glory days of the show-boats and how wonderful they must have been.  I apologise for the (lack of) quality of the photo.  It was sunset and taken with my phone. The reflections of a low sun made it impossible to see what I was aiming at as the screen was a complete blank.  I had no idea what I I'd got - if anything.  Now you know why I trawled round for days when I bought my camera trying to find one with a viewfinder as well as the stupid screen.  Do you know you just can't get one any more unless you go to SLR.  That said - guess who forgot to take her camera!  I am sure Downtown has another life at night when it is all lit up and the bars and restaurants are buzzing; perhaps we didn't see it at its best?

After we had done the obligatory walk round we fled to Bealls Outlets to return a couple of  (housey) things. This led to us to discovering an Aldi on the same mall. Four months here and Aldi looks like Marks and Spencers! We stuffed a couple of food bags with all sorts of goodies like golden syrup (treacle tart and sponge puddings!) water biscuits, plain chocolate Leibnitz biscuits and dark chocolate covered marzipan bars (and more). Yummy.

The following day we drove home to Naples. I was so whacked I even declined a trip to the best Greek Restaurant on the planet - well, in Tarpon Springs and I actually forgot about a promised trip to Ikea. The only stop we made is the compulsory one at Smokin' Joe's for Ken's ice cream. We were home by lunchtime and filled our faces in Cracker Barrel for ease. I was too tired to care.

The last three days have just been chores - twelve loads of laundry (!) putting things back in place and a bit of cleaning. We now have a month and a bit before my son and his partner and my lovely grand-daughter arrive for a visit. February is ours to do with as we like. Now we’re stuck!

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