Saturday, January 12, 2019

Dawn and Dolphins

As the "snowbirds" all pour in and Florida gets so crowded you think it's going to collapse into one huge sinkhole, there are still the quiet places.

I wasn't the first to walk on the beach this morning - there were footprints in the sand but I had it mostly to myself.

Except for a solitary figure who seemed to be looking for prehistoric sharks' teeth.

I haven't seen so many sharks' tooth prospectors lately, though the red tide seems to be far less of a problem now. I didn't spot any dead fish - although it's possible there just aren't the fish numbers any more. The pelicans haven't returned in force - that's meant to be a sign that all is well.
  The other evening we heard a talk by someone from the Mote Aquarium - they do sterling work with the local sea life. Though I wonder at all the trouble they go to with dolphins, for example, taking blood samples, (which get sent to the human hospital) putting tracking devices on them, monitoring their diets and so on. It's mostly funded by donations, so people obviously support it. I wonder if the dolphins see it as an invasion of privacy. Sadly six dolphins have been lost in the red tide. The speaker told a story which proves there's no end to human stupidity. A dolphin called Beggar used to hang around our local coastline, scrounging for food, despite Do Not Feed signs. It proved irresistible to sightseers and obsessive feeders who turned up in droves. The Aquarium staff spotted one man actually holding his baby over the dolphin's jaws. They just rescued the baby in time.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Goodbye Christmas Hello Chaos

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

The scene outside our front door the other morning. A crescent moon, a morning star.  Nice.

And a last look at Epiphany Cathedral's decorations. Happy Feastday for yesterday! I presume these were gold, frankincense and myrrh from the Three Kings.

And here they are in front of the stable.

And now the fun starts. The street on which the Cathedral lies is the latest to succumb to the town's beautification (sic) project. Elsewhere, so far, this has meant months of chaos and disruption, dust and dirt plus serious loss of business for the shops and restaurants and the toppling of several beautiful palm trees. They assure us it's all in a good cause.  When it's all finished it better look a lot more beautiful or there'll be hell to pay. With Tampa Avenue now being dug up, it's going to make it an adventure to plan a route to the Cathedral.  Church car parks are notorious enough as it as, particularly when everyone's in a hurry to leave. Now if half the town starts using the Cathedral precincts as a rat run, it'll be anarchy.
One thing I can guarantee. It'll finally all be finished on the day we leave to go back Up North.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

On Cops and Donuts

I loved this story about police mourning a doughnut truck on the BBC. But it should have had some context. Is this one for Culture Clash Watch? Do my British friends get the joke? Every American knows about the fabled affection of US law enforcement for doughnuts (or, more properly, donuts)? There's some truth in it. Pass any doughnut place in America and it's fairly likely you'll see a couple of police cars parked outside, their contents taking a little break to chew the fat (and the sugar). And there's the famous anecdote about the trial witness who, when asked what he did after seeing the crime, said, "I ran straight to Dunkin' Donuts."
"Why did you do that?"
(Puzzled at the question) "Because that's where the cops all hang out."
Nice to see the much maligned American cops sending themselves up.

Monday, December 31, 2018

And a Venice Happy New Year!

From Caspersen Beach at sunset - just down the road and next to a nature reserve. It's said to be the best place for prehistoric sharks' teeth. 

From Epiphany Cathedral, lit up in red a few weeks ago to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians.

And all decorated for Christmas

From our brand new library - built to look as though it belongs in the other Venice.

I think the yellow ducklings in the fountain were just there for the grand opening..

From the flowers in the garden - the ones the rabbits didn't eat

From our feathered neighbours

And from our own dear Golden Beach....

Have a wonderful 2019!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Venice Happy Christmas

The decorations are up in the arboretum. During the day they look makeshift and insignificant, hiding in plain sight. At night they blaze into glory.

 As usual the trees are decorated by local groups and families.

 Here's Grandpa's Lake again. I still don't know what that's all about.  That's all it says - Grandpa's Lake. Perhaps Grandpa spent happy hours fishing there, or perhaps something more sinister happened. Could be the start of a suspense novel.

Some deer and a little Nativity scene in the back. Let's hear it for Nativity scenes in public parks. The more the merrier! (I've noticed that shopkeepers here will say "Happy... " and wait for you to fill in the gaps. As soon as you say "Christmas" they say "Merry Christmas" to you back. Does anyone seriously want to say "Happy Holidays"? In Britain that would make you think of Ibiza, or a wet summer in Blackpool.

 I saw these dark dancing figures and thought, gosh, golliwogs! Surely not! Has political incorrectness gone rampant here?  Actually, on closer inspection, they appeared to be gingerbread men, or ginger men, as the Americans say. 

The manatee statue with a wreath was a sophisticated touch.

You can't beat good old-fashioned Christmas trees.

I think in Florida they must sell special Christmas lights to put on palm trees.

Here's another version.

And another. The little lion symbolised the Lions' Club. Those are the great people who collect your used glasses to donate to the needy, among other charitable work.

The giant baubles were my favourite.

 There were polar bears


 And of course snowmen.

It reminds me of the story of a local man who heard that, somewhere, right up in the north of the state, it was actually snowing for the first time in years. So he piled his kids in the car and drove north for four hours just so they could experience playing in the snow.

 A very Happy/Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

And Bridgebirds

This is what you definitely don't want to see, especially if you're in a hurry; the KMI bridge onto the island going up, probably to accommodate a sailing boat with a tall mast. The sailors aren't popular at rush hour. "They just chug up and down the intracoastal with their engines on; they don't even put their sails up. Don't they know folks are trying to get to work/home/golf/the beach?" is a fairly typical comment. 

Usually it comes down again fairly quickly but not before a substantial traffic jam's built up.

But interesting things can happen.  I was once on one of the other bridges when there was an accident and the whole queue of cars had to reverse off it again.  And the other day, a car stopped next to us that was almost identical to ours - a venerable Volvo estate. Hubby and the driver both simultaneously wound their windows down and simultaneously said,  "How long have you had yours?"
  And today, fortuitously, I was in just the right position to stop and look at a pair of nesting ospreys on a platform level with the bridge.

As usual I didn't have my proper camera. But I never get tired of seeing ospreys. And I'd never have got so close to them if the bridge hadn't gone up.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


You never know what you might see on the beach in the morning.  A couple of weeks ago,  the tide was out and these chaps were taking advantage of it to have a conference.

The colours in the water were extraordinary, blending in with the sky. Different every day and never a dull moment.
  Meanwhile it's been raining like Niagara Falls and there was an almighty thunderstorm last night.  We had some storm damage. It blew the ribbon off the Christmas bows we'd stuck on the carriage lamps in front of the house. I found it in a flower bed and patched it up as best I could.