Monday, 23 November 2015

Florida holiday, week 1, November 2015.........

We are so lucky to now have friends who own property in Florida and even luckier that they invited us to visit.

Monday 16th - early but sensible start leaving home at 8am and arrived at Gatwick about 10:15ish which is good for rush hour on the A12-M25. Check in, security check and double check, flight on time all according to plan. Landing at Orlando airport at 5:30pm (US time) and having to join the longest queue after queue after queue for at least four passport checks before collecting our luggage and then joining another long queue to get our hire car meant we didn't leave the airport till about 8:15pm and finally arrived at friendsL&K's villa at 9:45pm (that's 2:45am the next day UK time). So lovely to see them and L had made us spag.bol. so we had a tour of their US home then relaxed and chatted and went to bed around midnight.

Tuesday 17th - We went out for breakfast then had a tour round The Villages, having a guided tour by friendsL&K of some of the 30ish villages and four town squares and various recreation buildings

and sports areas. Really interesting with something going on in each place all the time and already getting decorated for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A lot of space is given to golf courses but there are also a large number of swimming pools and Pickleball courts and Bocce courts which we'd never heard of before. Our transport within The Villages is their golf cart

which most residents use here, no need for a driving licence or road tax (there are two seats at the back too)! We headed back to Sumta town square for 5pm for the live entertainment by Rocky and the Rollers,
they were brilliant and had everybody (including us) up and dancing. Unfortunately all the seating was taken so we bought some drinks from the "bait shack" street vendor and crossed the road to some comfy seating. A great first day!

Wednesday 18th - lazy day today. Three of us went to the supermarket after dropping friendL at the hairdressers. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying good catchup conversations. It had reached about 30°C so I was grateful for the air-con inside.  We headed out 5pm-ish to Brownwood Paddock Square for the live music
and a mooch around the shops and dinner.

When we got home we sat in the lanai having drinks watching the lightning, then the rain came down really hard and went on for a very long time.

Thursday 19th - We drove into Leesburg as they had a quick appointment (made especially for while we had the hire car) then onto Mount Dora which is a very pretty township.
It was about 28°C and very humid. While we were sitting having lunch on a restaurant balcony it rained again
but that didn't help the temperature, so we had a gentle mooch around the shops. All a bit drained by the heat we had an evening in with takeaway (sorry should call that takeout while I'm here) and actually we all had an early night with the ceiling fans on.

Friday 20th - We are off on holiday on our holiday hahaha. We packed an overnight bag as friendsL&M are staying about 90mins away and we wanted to all meet up. First we drove further to St Petersburg and had a look there and a walk on the beach (lovely soft fine white sand between my toes) after a quick visit into the posh Loews Don CeSar Hotel to use their toilets.
Actually that photo doesn't really show the lights properly as they were like cascades of falling bubbles, very pretty. I even had a paddle in the Mexican Sea, you can see nobody else got close to the water.

From there we drove back up the coast road through Treasure Island to John's Pass, for a stroll along the boardwalk looking at boats and pirate ships
and lots of pelicans and cranes stopping at Scully's for a wonderful lunch of fresh salmon char grilled which was billed as a sandwich but apart from the fact it had an open bun underneath it was so much more than a sandwich. I decided to try a drink called coconut creme and it was delicious and enormous, a bit slush puppy in texture and it came in a souvenir cup to keep which was lucky as I carried it around for the rest of the afternoon to finish it. Then we drove to Clearwater which was Hubby's only special request to see, nice beach but quite seaside commercialised. We reached L&M's rented villa about 6pm
and chatted for a while before sending the men out for Chinese takeout (see I'm getting the hang of this lingo). The portions were huge so lots of waste grrrr! Then we settled round the table to play Mexican Train
It was a late night!

Saturday 21st - I was up first then gradually as each one got up they joined me in the lanai. Great conversation putting the world to rights and lots of funny stories told. Eventually all up and out for breakfast (it was lunchtime lol). We went there in two cars so when we'd finished we could go our separate ways. We had to say all our big goodbyes and hugs in the entrance of Denny's as it was raining so heavy. It rained all our way back to The Villages but we still managed to make a pit stop at a massive candy store Russell Stover, hard not to spend a fortune!

Sunday 22nd - Don't know why but after waking at 3:45am for the loo I never managed to get back to sleep, so by 5:30am I got up and read my book till the others got up. It started raining again about 7am and although not heavy it did keep it up for most of the day, so a good day for shopping. I bought some shoes.
We ended our time out-n-about with dinner at Longhorn Steak House, which was the best fillet steak I've ever had mmmmmmmm. Back home and decided to watch a film......"Did you hear about the Morgans?" starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant.....please don't waste your time, it's sooooo boring! Quite a late bedtime, can't believe I've been up so long!

This first week has been brilliant and gone by so fast. Fingers crossed for enough dry days to fit in all that friendsL&K still have planned for us in our second week.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

We didn't come last........

Saturday evening we went out with neighbour-friendsP&A to a quiz night. It was just £10 each for a whole evening of organised fun and included a massive ploughman's supper followed by a large tray of homemade cakes on each table with tea and coffee. We were a table of eight and the church hall was packed with 12 tables.

It was a charity fundraising event and they raised £700.

The charity was one I hadn't heard of before. Talitha Koum, which translated from Hebrew/Aramaic means "little girl, I say to you, arise" this comes from the biblical story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus was said to have brought a child back from the dead with the words talitha koum.

Here in Ipswich in 2006 five women were murdered, they were all prostitutes, possibly driven into the lifestyle as the only way they could earn enough to feed a serious drug habit.

Following those murders, that shocked the whole community, sprang up a group aimed solely to help women struggling with addictions. Much needed funds are being raised as they are now building a residential help centre. Talitha Koum is the name they have given this very worthwhile cause.
Click here if you want to know more

Oh the quiz, nearly forgot to mention, out of 12 teams we came 11th hahaha.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Theatre: Beryl......

Presented by West Yorkshire Playhouse
By Maxine Peake
     The Greatest Woman On Two Wheels

      Maxine Peake’s witty, charming and critically acclaimed play celebrates the life of sporting legend Beryl Burton – the greatest woman on two wheels.
      When Beryl Charnock met keen cyclist Charlie Burton she was smitten, not only with Charlie but by the thrill and freedom found on her bike. She would outwork the men in the rhubarb fields, she could outclass the cyclists on the road, and still find time to over-knit young Denise an enviable cycling jumper. With her husband, daughter and cycling club at her side she became five times world pursuit champion, 13 times national champion, twice road-racing world champion and made it home in time for dinner.


This was brilliant!

Four people on stage in tracksuits or lycra the whole time, who partly narrated the story to us and partly acted it out, swapping characters as needed. It was hilarious at times, like when one actress had to be the small child and reluctantly sit in a crate that was supposed to be the bike's sidecar and as they rode along she spun a wheel in her hand with a very sulky face! The tallest male actor also had us laughing when he wore a scarf and 'Dame Edna' glasses as the mother-in-law, also a tiara and white gloves as the queen and donned a small red hat and did the safety talk hands as the air hostess to show they were on a plane.

They all rode (static) bikes a lot throughout, mostly racing them fast, it must have been exhausting! Opening lines were something like "I'd never heard of Beryl Burton till I got this job" to which another actor replied "I didn't know what exercise was till I got this job".

This was a wonderful tribute to a sports hero that nobody seems to remember. She dominated women's cycling from 1955 to 1996. To be honest I don't think we would remember sportsmen as we do now if it wasn't for them appearing on quiz shows and reality tv. The cast were so obviously proud of Beryl and her utter determination to "make her mark" and that pride was contagious throughout the audience going by my feelings, my friends comments and those comments I overheard as we left the theatre.

And how funny that we only really booked this one because it was called "Beryl"!