Friday, 8 February 2013

January chaffering

First day of the new year and we were off on our travels again.  This time we had upgraded to  premium economy so we had the joy of a 'luxury' flight.  We were flying to Orlando on Virgin rather than our usual Fort Myers with Delta.  What a difference. Big seats, endless choices of films (videos, music, radio etc etc) on our personal players, great cabin staff service, good menu choices, linen glasses etc.  Just no comparison to our usual travel arrangements.  

Sadly on arrival we had to report a damaged suitcase.  We had to wait half an hour just for someone to turn up to the office to deal with it.  That said it was the usual form filling bing bang bosh job and we have $70 towards its replacement.  So something else we have to search for on our travels before we go home - a new case at the right price.

Day two and we were in Orlando, having booked a motel for an overnight stay. We started with an early (for us) full breakfast and then we were off for a tote around  the one and only American clothes shop that I favour.  Unbelievably we arrived before they opened - now there's a real first for us!  The shop is Coldwater Creek.... Outlet (!) it is my equivalent of M & S over here.  The Orlando one in particular is a brilliant shop and, even better, it had a 50% off all its (already reduced) stock, so I left with three bargains - all destined for the UK.

We then stopped by Ron's, the mini shop, for another hour's browsing and I bought my five 'Little Women' for my new project.

We then did a gentle pootle on down to Naples, stopping off at Ken's favourite ice cream place - Smokin' Joe's.  This is a Hicksville BBQ place with a huge smoker in a shed and the old fashioned smaller smoker by the roadside to attract attention.  Both are used seemingly non-stop.  It looks like something out of Redemption but they have great ice cream - probably made from pig fat or lost tourists.  We are yet to sample the BBQ which is strange considering the amount of times we have been there.

Day three and we were back in Naples with me waking up with the headache from hell which morphed into a full blown migraine complete with up-chucking and a day in bed - great start!

The following day I was fighting fit again and starting to sort myself out for the Sarasota show - what had I got? what did I want? etc.  During this, it slowly it dawned on me that the notion of doing a doll house project (Hillside) in Naples was just plain crackpot.  I had this huge eight room house which was going to cost a fortune to remodel and fill - more than any of my English projects and, even assuming we stay here enough years to complete it, what then?  It won't be viable to ship it - hugely expensive specialist crating etc and even if I did - where would it go in the UK house?  The more likely scenario is that it would be an unfinished project with thousands poured into it, sold for peanuts, when we leave.  I know it would be 'something to do' but I would lose heart knowing all this.  I decided not to throw good money after bad and try and sell it.  The things I had already bought for 'Little Women' would, hopefully   go into future UK projects and the women themselves would be returned to Ron at the Sarasota show.

The pain in the proverbial backside of this is that I then went on to completely fill a large suitcase, one out of our allowance of four, with doll's house buys and materials and tools that I won't be needing here now..... and there is still more to go!  There should be a lot of fun discussion and decision making when we are packing for our return in March.

Off to the dreaded Coastland Centre.... giant indoor shopping cathedrals are not my idea of fun.  We went to get my much loved glasses repaired.  They have had three lots of lens changes and are about ten years old (!!) As we had bought them from the opticians  we went to (on our say-so only) the repair was free.  American customer service is just the best!  I then talked myself up into spending $200 on a new pair.  They were well overdue but I hate parting with money for specs.

My other (some say better) half has enlisted for another organisation - The Conservancy.  He underwent the required brainwashing aka training to be told that he would be on standby - as he wasn't full-time resident (in other words American).  The (snow bird) chap chosen to be given a shift has only managed to do the one so far and Ken has subbed for him and others every week!  He who laughs last, laughs longest!  Volunteering for bucketeering for an Orchestra cost him a red top and pair of white trousers, the Conservancy are a lot cannier they actually sell you their expensive polo shirt to wear with your own Khaki shorts!  Double whammy there, I think.  You will have perceived by now my volunteering bone seems to be missing.  No chocolate testers required anywhere in Naples.

January 9th and our first dishwasher repair of the winter was under way.  This seems to be a regular feature which goes something like this... dishwasher stops when full of mucky water and dishes, man arrives three days later - yes, we have washed the dishes, but were unable to empty the water from the machine.  He is then puzzled by the problem and decides to change the timer - which he needs to order   Comes back the following week and fits timer.  The last one had done about eight weeks service.  One week after this next replacement ... the dishwasher stops when full of ..... think you've got the idea.  At the point of writing this we are now a month further on with a dishwasher that has had three timers fitted and it washes when it feels like it and doesn't when it doesn't.

Ken is there somewhere
 The 9th was the breakdown day.  I was just thinking about my nine o'clock cuppa and the power went out in our building and the one next to us. Ken rang FPL and got a recorded message saying that there was a power outage affecting 18 homes and the engineer would be there at  11pm!!!   So not an emergency then?  It gave our phone number and went on to say that it would ring us to keep us updated as things changed.  They will not call after 10 pm.  So no joined up logic there then.  There is no human there to discuss it with.  All this seemed to do was cause more frustration not less. 

Brownie solution
I immediately swung into post-holocaust mode and broke out the candles and the propane cooker top - when I discovered it had to be used outside only I went right off it.  Necessity being the mother of invention  I then proceeded to dismantle the cooker and insert a fat candle and an upturned trivet and put on my pan of water to make my cuppa - hardy souls us bombed out British.  I can now tell you for sure a single candle will not a cup of tea make.  I thought of rubbing two sticks together but decided it was easier to go to bed.  Ken and I happened to be awake as the light came back on - 3.15am.  Don't suppose we will ever know why.

10th - haircut, lunch out and a stint at the library with a presentation on Lucretia Garfield.  Now James A. Garfield is an interesting president for reasons other than being assassinated.

The following day the inspector arrived from Rooms to Go to look at the sofa - he did this in about half a minute (total!) from about fifteen feet saying he knew what the problem was from my phone call but has to come out and look and submit a report.  A couple of days later we had a call from the store to say as there wasn't anything actually wrong with the sofas (we just didn't like the fabric) we could go in and 'reselect'.

Most of our days are just filled with the usual Sunday concerts for Ken (I don't go any more) and his Conservancy cover etc etc etc etc.  Really not worth the ink recording....

.......  other than a naked woman!  Ken's first day's work at the conservancy and he arrived to find he had missed all the 'fun'.  Apparently one of the boats went out in the morning and discovered a naked woman on the edge of the mangroves waving for help.  It transpired she had been in a boat the previous day, got drunk, went skinny dipping around midnight and the boat left without her and she was marooned overnight.  She was duly rescued.

I think the best movie we saw this month was the freebie at the library - Moonrise Kingdom.  This was followed by ribs at Mel's which was a nice way to spend an evening for a few dollars.

Around the middle of the month my son and his partner sold their house in Calgary ready for their move to Newfoundland at the end of the Summer.  They will have G's family there so Lucy will grow up with an extended family around her which is as it should be.   I suspect this will be a stressful year for them and hope it all goes well.

Our next movie jaunt was a retro movie back in the Towne Center flea pit where we saw White Christmas, this time it was E.T.  I was surprised how fresh it was for me.  I had forgotten all the detail of it so it was a real pleasure to revisit a well-made piece of feel good factor.

On the 19th we took a trip to Sarasota for a doll's house show.  We stopped in at another Coldwater Creek Outlet on the way up which isn't as good as the Orlando one, but I managed to find three things, again for the UK.

view from our 'patio'
Our room was a ground floor room where we could sit outside overlooking the Marina.  This was in the hotel where the show is held which made it so much easier for Ken to be comfortable while I was doing my thing.  I used the whole 5 - 8 pm on Saturday evening talking to vendors for my show review article and buying things for my projects.  I also traded my four of my five little women for things from Ron's.  We went out for pizza after the show rather than do the free pizza social which is on offer for Preview ticket holders.

The second day of the show is open to the general Public from 10 am - 4 pm.  Preview ticket people get to go in at 9.30 am.  So, after breakfast I went back in for about an hour before we wended our way back to Naples at a leisurely pace.

Lovely empty beaches
We did a bit of a detour and stopped off on Longboat Key for a while.  It really is a very pretty place.... then  on to our real destination... Venice.

Pretty town in the mold of Naples but still a good deal smaller and all the better for it.  There is one main street of various interesting shops and we always seem to manage to park there however busy it is.  This time we were right outside the ice cream shop.

Ciao Gelato
Venice is another 'worth a diversion' Ice Cream spot for Ken and for once I agree.  This is an Italian made ice cream and is delicious.  That day's special was peanut butter which I sampled - Ciao Gelato is just about the only ice cream I eat.

We had lunch at the restaurant to the right of the ice cream shop which was excellent.  What a great journey back for two smiley people.

I was still in holiday mode after a weekend away and we were out for dinner on Monday too.  Ken's reason was the dishwasher was kaput again!

Having given up the idea of 'Little Women' and Hillside I supplanted it with another dream - I am thinking about buying a flat pack American farm house when we leave here to do in the UK and I quite fancy the notion of doing Anne of Green Gables.  To this end I borrowed the DVD from the library.  Ken and I settled in for a couple of episodes and ended up watching two hours of it!  Such a great TV series, superb cast, flawless...... and tons of inspiration for a Victorian American farmhouse.  If the plan comes to fruition I shall certainly buy the DVD for screenshotting.

Our major movie this month was Lincoln at the lovely Silverspot Cinema, courtesy of my son for my birthday.  I had gift vouchers for dinner and a movie for two.  It was a lovely evening, the food was excellent and service a delight.  It came with a glass of wine and a $5 bucket of popcorn which we declined.  A treat to repeat we decided.  The movie itself was excellent but a bit dry.

On the way home we decided to buy a new dishwasher!!

The next day our old one spontaneously started working again!  Cancel the purchase - ring the repair man.... the saga continues.

cream with fine brown stripe and perfect cushions
By the 26th the Rooms to Go issues were all done and dusted and our new replacement sofas arrived and the others were removed - all without any arguing with the store or any cost to us, other than the difference in price between the sofas which could have gone either way.  How's that for service!  Love the new ones.

Our last library presentation for the month was a couple who 'do' the Kennedys.  As always it was a very good piece of work.

The last two days of the month were used getting ready for our friends February visit.  The two cleaners went through the place in a couple of hours so that was pretty painless.  We shuffled the furniture around and waited for P & S to arrive on the 1st February.

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