Tuesday, 28 February 2017


Woke this morning to the birds outside making a right racket, sounded mostly like gulls.

Came down to see a sparrowhawk eating breakfast.

Actually Hubby got a much better photo

Friday, 24 February 2017

2017 Feb - Florida holiday - week 2.......

Tuesday 14
Hubby's birthday!
We started the day with Hubby opening his cards (mine L&K's and those early arrivals I'd brought with). The weather was cooler and windier so we decided not to bother with the trolly tour again and had breakfast (I tested out the hotel waffle iron gadget which was more fun than delicious) then checked out of the hotel. Hubby set the sat nav then between him and K navigated totally against most of her directions, some of the time she sounded quite cross. We took the coastal road which was quite scenic and headed to Daytona and just like our trip there in 2012 we couldn't get onto the beach, so as compensation we made an early lunch stop at the nearest ihop. While Hubby did all the driving we kept him going with regular bursts of singing Happy Birthday, he was thrilled of course hahaha. In the evening friendsL&K had planned which restaurant we should have his birthday meal, but they couldn't book and of course valentine's day is very popular for eating out so we couldn't get in.....back in the car heading for one of the country clubs but when there we found it to be a special 3 course menu which none of us wanted........back in the car and to an Italian restaurant called Meza Luna. Yummy and such a shame I couldn't eat more than about half of my chicken carbonara as it was huge. Of course being the US the waiter immediately asked if I'd like it boxed but I declined. Back home early so Hubby could have a beer or two as he'd been driving. Think it was a successful birthday/valentine day.

Wednesday 15
Well it was our usual lazy relaxed start to the day for Hubby and I, friendsL&K had been to their early pilates class and back mid-morning. Hubby and K had a little job to do putting some lights back up around the lanai then we had a sandwich lunch while going through the villages daily papers to decide what we should do with our day. Then it started raining. And then an alarm sounded on L's mobile phone with a weather warning, so the tv went on
Of course that looks a lot worse than it actually was. We had very loud thunder, some lighting and very heavy rain for about an hour or so then stopped completely. So the plan changed to late afternoon cinema then straight to a restaurant and maybe dancing in the square afterwards. The men were happy as we saw Star Wars Rouge 1 (don't think L or I would give it a glowing review so I'll say no more lol). The streets,  restaurants and square were really quiet, guess the thought of more rain had kept people home. We ate in the Bavarian Brewhaus, and it was lovely. We've not been having desserts at all as meals have been so filling but on our way out I noticed some cheesecake in their cabinet and said yum, so L then promptly ushered us down the street to Too Jays and we bought a whole New York cheesecake to take home. Cuppa's all round and half the cheesecake eaten and it ended up a quiet evening of laptops/sudoku/crosswords etc stuffed and content.

Thursday 16
General sort of lazy day apart from three of us going out grocery shopping while L did a bit of housework (she kicked us out lol). I don't actually do supermarkets at home Hubby does it all, so here it's not only a novelty but fun to look at all the products we don't have. All dressed up for an evening out, to The Eisenhower recreation centre for The Collierite's Valentine's Party. (L&K live in the Village of Collier). Great bbq buffet, lovely people, Blake Guyre was the lead of our three piece entertainment and they were really good, so dancing all night too. Wonderful evening

Friday 17
It was a Shuffleboard morning and friendsL&K beat me and Hubby 2 sets to 1

Lunch at home was added to by last night's leftovers, so much food at the Valentine's party that couldn't go to waste, so we enjoyed cold beef and baby potatoes along with salad etc and then we finished off the New York cheesecake yummy. Late afternoon we headed out in the golf cart into Brownwood for a little bit of shopping then a brief stop at the square to watch Scooter entertain the crowd then to Too Jays deli restaurant and meeting up with more friends of theirs, a couple that live opposite them. Six of us eventually had a lovely dinner, took nearly an hour for our meals to arrive, but gave us all something to laugh about. After dinner we all came back and had a really fun evening playing Mexican Train
I actually won three rounds and came second overall, must have been that half glass of prosecco I had hahaha

Saturday 18
FriendsL&K had been invited to a surprise 80th birthday party and when they said they had friends staying the birthday boy's children who were hosting the party insisted that we came too. So a lazy morning, a quick lunch and we arrived for 2pm as instructed. Hubby and I were made so welcome and we'd met some of these friends previously at the British-American night so we had some lovely conversations. A big shout of "surprise" when our octogenarian arrived and he was definitely surprised, after our introductions I then got to meet his wife who happens to have the same Christian name and surname I had before I got married and friendL had already told each of us all about the other. There was a lot of really yummy food. So when we left there was no need for dinner so we decided to have a night in with Netflix.

Sunday 19
The men had a golf game booked starting around lunchtime so instead of having breakfast then an early lunch we decided to go out for brunch but couldn't go out until K got a help-desk call back on a techy problem even Hubby couldn't solve. 10am and the call came as booked, lasted about 20 mins and K was told he'd get an email with instructions within 24 hours and it would then be valid for only three hours! So a yummy brunch then home in the cart, check emails, then because we can't have four people and two lots of golf clubs in the cart at once we all went in the hire car for the men to drop us girls in Sumter then back to check emails and swap car for cart and out again for golf. We shopped and there was a great craft market that seemed never ending. We both bought stuff and briefly stopped for a cuppa then shopped a bit more

We'd arranged to meet the men at 4pm under the clock and they both popped back to the cart to stow our shopping, then we watched a bit of a jazz band on stage and met up with friends making us a group seven. It's always good fun on the squares people watching, happily dancing or getting very possessive with the chairs. They all had a drink as it was happy hour then we went to eat at Thai Ruby. We got back a bit early for bed so put a film on, "Woman in Gold" starring Helen Mirren. Brilliantly done and made me cry. All to bed but still no email!

Monday 20
Today we made plans to have the day out but first we'd been invited over the road by their lovely neighbour friends for breakfast, so K having checked his email and still nothing we went over. They had gone to so much trouble, first offered coffee but as Hubby and I prefer tea K had brought over the tea bags and had to make it as they don't know how. We had home made pancakes some stuffed with cheese and others with fruit preserve (even our hostess isn't keen on US jelly) they'd made a huge bowl of fresh fruit salad and toasted muffins and it was all delicious and we stayed quite some time chatting. Back home and finally the email had arrived so K could sort his problem before we left again. About 30 mins by car and we were in Silver Springs State Park where three of us took the glass bottom boat tour with Captain Oscar

If you can zoom in on this last picture you may be able to spot three turtles a cormorant and a baby gaitor. Meanwhile L was on shore eating a huge icecream so when we came ashore we had to queue for icecreams too. Just the four of us out to dinner tonight and back for another film, this time L chose it as she'd read the book Before I Go To Sleep which was a psychological thriller with Nicole Kidman playing the lead. I would highly recommend it.

Tuesday 21
All too soon our two weeks have ended so up, packing, stripping the bed and ready to leave after lunch. Big goodbyes, we love L&K and they are brilliant hosts. Journey home was all pretty much as it should be apart from a fair bit of turbulence during the flight. Actually worth noting I used the toilet on the plane and that is a first for me hahaha. Hubby had a short nap but I didn't. And somewhere over the Atlantic the day changed.

Wednesday 22
Landed on time and nicely through the automated passport control but our cases were the very last to hit the carousel. We now have "hive" on our heating so it was great for Hubby to switch on the heating at home before we'd left Gatwick. Walked through our front door just after 10:30am. Made tea before anything else (Daughter had previously bought fresh milk and bread) then I unpacked so I could sort out the gifts as Daughter was coming 1pm-ish and we saw O and a bit later R as well. Thankfully neither of us seem to suffer jetlag so we kept to our usual Wednesday night activities although when friendH offered to drive I gratefully accepted, wouldn't want to fall asleep driving home at midnight.

Thank you friendsL&K xx

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

2017 Feb - Florida holiday - week 1........

All packed and ready (even bought a new suitcase) for another trip to friendsL&K's Florida home. Really looking forward to seeing them especially as they've both been unwell recently I'm sure they could do with a hug brought from home. Have to say with all the President Trump news of late I'm a bit concerned what we will find there, protestors and holdups at the airport are my first concern really.

Tuesday 7
5am start from my lovely warm and snuggly bed and out of the house about 6:20am, so a little later than Hubby had wanted but not a problem as he'd allowed plenty of time. But that little bit later meant a lot more traffic so it seemed to take forever to get from home to Gatwick. We were all on board and had about 20mins to wait before take off as something in the hold had to come out of the hold and go back in. All minor hiccups including the quarter of an hour or so of minor turbulence that coincided with us all trying to eat and drink from the meal trays we'd been given. I wasn't giving up as it was delicious and thankfully I didn't get any down my front. On arrival we were pleasantly surprised to find the whole passport control system had been greatly improved since our last visit. Our case came off the carousel as one of the first but unfortunately our other case was one of the last or we would have whizzed out of there. But the delay for luggage did mean when we went to the car rental desk there was no queue and that took minimal time. It was really lovely arriving at L&K's with an evening of dinner and lots of chat. There was a huge storm just as we went to bed, lots of loud thunder and bright lighting with some much needed heavy rain. I don't think it actually lasted too long or maybe we were so tired we fell asleep despite the noise.

Wednesday 8
L&K went off to their very early pilates class and Hubby and I had a much less active start, just breakfast, unpacking and showers, then L&K were home again. After they'd showered and fed and watered we all ventured out in the golf cart, stopping first in Brownwood town square
And the men mostly found a bench outside each shop we popped into.
Then onto Lake Sumter Standing, another town square, for a lunch stop and walk

Looking really cloudy but actually 27°C so definitely shorts and tshirts weather.
Home and out again about 6:30pm into Brownwood for dinner at Cody's restaurant, where Dangerous Dave was the live music entertainment and you eat peanuts from little buckets on the tables and the shells just get thrown on the floor. Our table was of the high bar stool variety but I managed to get up and down without making a fool of myself hahaha. Dancing in Cody's then just enough time to catch the end of the town square entertainment and a bit of line dancing. Pleased I'd remembered how to Electric Slide from our last visit.

Thursday 9
Really cloudy blowy start but still 23°C, so at 7am I'm sitting in my PJs in the lanai (outside room) while the others are still sleeping
Another lazy morning, total holiday relax. Our men do like to get a few jobs done though, some of it was techy Hubby sorting out their tablet with a promise to do the laptop later and some was actually measuring up the lanai and friendK doing lots of online research for retractable screens with the big debate between them of professional or DIY. When we headed out mid-afternoon the first stop was Home Depot (Hubby can't stay away from B&Q at home and this looked just the same) to price up stuff they unfortunately don't sell, hahaha men were searching up and down all the isles for ages so I went and asked then we left! 

Dinner was at Ruby Tuesday and it was yummy. I had southern fried chicken with a plate full of help yourself salad bar. As they were leaving a man from the next table gave us some vouchers they had extra so we got a bit of a discount too!

Mark Seymour was the singer in the square and he's got a great voice, so we stayed for a dance or two or three. 

From there we went to one of the many recreation centres as tonight was the British-American Club meeting that L&K usually go to. Hubby and I were introduced to a lovely bunch of people, very welcoming. One of the members had arranged the film show in the style of early cinema with lots of short clips and old news reports, very nostalgic and very entertaining. Good use of our hire car today as these venues were all a bit further away from home and from each other so would have taken ages in the golf cart. Back at home we ended the night with some heavy discussions on the political situations both sides of the pond, really hard to avoid talking about it the way things are. 

Friday 10
I was up at 6:30am and now at 7:30am it's bright and sunny with a clear sky but only 8°C so far. Everybody else up by 8am. FriendsL&K went to their pilates class and again we both declined. After some lunch we headed out as there was some shopping needed, friendL did better than the rest of us in the clothes shop . In the evening we went out in the golf cart to Brownwood Square and met up with another English couple L&K are good friends with and all went to World of Beer to eat. Food was great, men tried lots of the beers, lots of laughter by all, fun evening.

Saturday 11
Football was on tv all morning as we are five hours behind so live in the afternoon in England. Then we went out to the Polo Club for a really good craft market.
We had an early dinner at home as we were meeting last night's friends again for dancing, but unfortunately the husband's back was painful so no dancing for him tonight but we went anyway. Scooter was performing in Sumter Square and he is hilarious and gets everyone dancing silly dance routines. He works the cruises too. It's also fun to people watch and L nearly got in trouble when she tried to use a chair someone else had obviously laid claim to but wasn't actually sitting on lol. There always seems to be a happy hour in the drink huts around the square and when K bought L a glass of wine he was given a pint!

Sunday 12
This is day one of our holiday-holiday! The four of us have arrived in St Augustine, about 2hrs 15mins drive to the east coast. Hotel seems to have all we need, nice big rooms and very welcoming and friendly staff. So bags into rooms then out to explore. FriendL had booked a great location as a very short walk and we were through the gateway (no actual gates) into George Street

Which is full of food and drink places and lots of shops of the gifty variety (most a bit expensive though). We seemed to be shopping for hours but there was an early lunch stop and a later relax with drinks in a garden bar then back to the hotel for a quick freshen up and out again for dinner.  Harry's Restaurant was lovely and our waiter was brilliant at explaining flavours and making recommendations. We all came out feeling really full and had to walk it off before heading back to the hotel. Hopefully we can sleep ok with this noisy air con unit that we've set to auto so it only comes on every now and then when it needs to.

Monday 13
We are booked as breakfast included and thankfully L had warned me US hotels are not great at providing breakfast, especially a selection that we are used to. I was not disappointed as I'd been warmed. Very basic, the eggs looked like processed food, had to have coffee as no breakfast tea but none of us went hungry. We crossed the road and bought tickets for the Tour Trolly Bus, expensive but the full circuit takes about 90 minutes with constant commentary, we can also use it as hop on hop off, and we can use it tomorrow too. Had a late lunch in a Greek restaurant then back on the trolly to the museum.

St Augustine is so full of character and historic stories laying claim to being the oldest settlement in America, you may want a quick history link here.
Unfortunately half way round the museum friendK didn't feel too well so with L they went back to the hotel, Hubby and I followed taking in a few extra shops on the way. A brief hotel rest and K felt so much better. So out we all went to eat at O.C.White which we'd seen advertised and had a voucher for. The waitress was lovely chatting all about England as she'd spent some time there. Meal was lovely. Then over the road to a pub which had about 20+ beers on offer!

So a week has whizzed by but only half way though our holiday.
                    To be continued.............

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Theatre: Black Is The Color Of My Voice....

Inspired by the life of Nina Simone, Black Is The Color Of My Voice follows a successful jazz singer and civil rights activist seeking redemption after the untimely death of her father. She reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Direct from sell-out performances in Shanghai, New York and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Apphia Campbell embarks on her debut UK tour. 


Really not much more I can say about this performance apart from WOW !
A one woman show full of emotion punctuated with her fantastic voice.

Hopefully this is a link to the rest of the tour.