Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Morale Booster: Bangers in Florida!

  I needed a morale booster today - as we all do. For me few things hit the spot better than proper British bangers for lunch. Slightly burnt, slightly crispy, sizzling and popping in a pan. This is something I went without on this side of the pond for so many years. I tried every food shop, supermarket, website I could find but there was nothing even approximating to the true banger. I used to have several for breakfast at Heathrow before flying back as it would need to keep me going for  long, long time. Once on one of our road trips sister-in-law and I found a tiny cafe. It had no menu, just the owner who said, "What would you like and I'll see what I can do".
 "What I would like is British bangers", I said without much hope. And he did produce something which for a long time held the prize as the nearest to a banger I could find in America. The taste was good but it did not have a skin. So therefore not a banger. I thought I was destined for a life of longing until something extraordinary happened.
  Hubby and I went to the local German butchers' looking for real frankfurters - I'll always the remembered the frankfurters I ate as a starving student at the railway station in Salzburg - long thin and yellow with a dollop of mustard and a proper kaiser roll - with a great deal of affection, though of course not the deep enduring love I have for bangers. After we'd found the frankfurters I wandered around the shop and ended up at the fresh sausage counter. I did a double take. There, miraculously, unbelievably, among the Italian, Spanish, German stuff was a sign saying "British Bangers". I shrieked, I nearly collapsed. When I'd composed myself I gasped, "Real British bangers?"
 "Of course", said the man, "we get lots of people in here with your accent".


So we stocked up the freezer with the bangers, which were truly authentic. So now, when desperate times call for desperate measures I get a couple out and indulge. And the ultimate irony, which an English football fan would appreciate, is that they came from a German shop!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Florida in High Tourist Season


Well we are hanging in there and life could certainly be worse. There are a few things we can still do outside our homes, namely go for a walk, go for a bike ride, play golf, garden; if you're lucky you can take your boat out (but see below) and fly a small plane. And, bless them, the Cathedral priests are having drive-thru confessions on Saturday. I noticed they are stipulating "only one person in the car". Well yes. But people have to be reminded I suppose. America does have a drive thru culture. Fast food. Coffee. Pharmacy prescriptions. Banking. Dry cleaning. Confessions are a natural progression and we certainly need them. Maybe a drive-in Mass will be next.
  But we now live in a world of signs. Everyone has received a postcard from the President, "President Trump's Coronavirus Guidelines for America" with helpful advice. Meanwhile these signs are on the pavements.


And people are certainly spacing themselves out, even going for a walk, looking very suspiciously at anyone who gets too close. Of course with an older than average population here, people are naturally concerned. After years of entreating them to come, they are now begging their grandchildren NOT to visit.
  Today we heard on hubby's marine radio that two white whales are romping in the sea near the town beach. Boaters watch out. Pity we can't go down there and see them. All the beach access points are closed.


And beach car parks empty. If someone landed in all this not knowing what was going on, they would be flabbergasted. Empty in March, the height of the tourist season?


Yes, all the locals who complained about the traffic and the crowds are getting what they wished for and wishing they hadn't. So sad for the local businesses. Some restaurants are offering take away but they must be in despair.
  Oh and some beaches appear to be more closed than others.


Just to make sure some desperate beach bum doesn't ram through the barriers.
The state nature parks are closed too, including the entire road down to beautiful Caspersen Beach.


Oh and another thing you can still do is go to the supermarket. They have instituted special early hours for oldies but as, let's face it, most people who live here are oldies, it's apparently the busiest frenzy of all. Best to go just before it closes, someone advised. But then there might not be anything left on the shelves.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Our Little Squatter

Beaches closed, people veering away from each other as they pass on their morning walks, but for this mourning dove,  who cheekily built her next in the tree at the side of the house...

.
...life goes on.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Goodbye to the Beaches

Here, to try and cheer everyone up is another shot of the orchid tree.


Interesting how people are starting to send each other funnies. I had one from friends in Britain, which I've been wary of sharing with American friends as it's a bit politically incorrect but here's the start:


 "The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent virus threat and have therefore raised their threat level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, level may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”
The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.
The virus has been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada....


And so on and so forth...

Anyway the biggest sadness here has been closing all the churches. You can't even go inside. And hot on the heels of that, closing the beaches. They were encouraging people to go to the beach and get some fresh air. Then that changed to groups of less than ten and keeping one beach towel's length apart from the next group. Now they are closing completely. The reason for this, I suspect, is to encourage short term holidaymakers, of which there's always a big influx in March, to go home, especially the students on spring break from college, who are not the most conscientious about social distancing. The county north of us closed the beaches first so our county had to follow suit. Otherwise I suppose everyone would have crowded down here.

Still there's always gardening. I went off and bought eight sacks of mulch which should keep me busy, as well as more Mexican petunias, which do well here, as long as the rabbits don't eat them, which is a bit of a forlorn hope. Things have been complicated by an inconsiderate mourning dove building a nest in the tree at the side of the house and exploding in a furious flurry every time someone comes near. So now I have to drag everything round to the back the long way.

But I always tell myself, things could be worse. The supermarket is all out of liquid soap but I've just listened to an interview I did in 1988 with the Russian dissident poet Irina Ratushinskaya. She spent four years in a Soviet labour camp, sometimes in solitary, sometimes squashed in a cell with ten others. She wrote her poems on slivers of soap with a matchstick and whispered them down the pipes to her fellow inmates. Yes things could definitely be worse.


Au revoir...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Looking on the Bright Side

Sadly Irish eyes aren't smiling at Golden Beach


So no corned corned beef and cabbage for us this year. And with the world in turmoil it's tough finding something to cheer us up but I'll try.

Well for one thing, the white orchid tree in the back garden is bloomin' marvellous..


....And the politically incorrect Confederate jasmine is getting going.


There have been bird fights over the bird bath - the woodpecker pushing the dove off the rim, then the dove diving in and splashing around spilling all the water. I don't blame them. It's been very dry
Meanwhile the mocking birds seem to have multiplied and upped several gears, going through their high-decibel repertoire of any bird song ever heard in these parts, plus an encore from the one that disturbingly knows how to mimic the telephone.
  Birds don't read the news - not our news anyway - so they are enjoying life as usual. Here were some unusual visitors to the beach


They flew like ducks, dived like ducks, so they must be..... I didn't hear them quack, though, so they may have been imposters.
  The beach early in the morning was peaceful as ever with just a few people looking for sharks' teeth. 


No one had found my phone though. Maybe it was eaten by one of these chaps.


There were more pelicans this morning than I've seen all winter. Must be something good there. Can I have some?


Other reasons I can think of to be cheerful:
There are still loo rolls at the supermarket though for some weird reason they had run out of potatoes.
Also soap, which is more understandable. Plenty of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries though. "Please take them off my hands!" the chap begged, "I've got loads here". Clearly someone in Buying clicked on the wrong button. Strawberries instead of soap. "Glad to hear people haven't started stockpiling those yet", I said, "Oh we want to make sure our customers get what they want!" he beamed. Unless it's soap. And there may be a bottle of rubbing alcohol in a museum somewhere but there certainly isn't any on the shelves, though there is a forlorn sign, "Only Two Per Customer Please". "I only wanted one", hubby said sadly.
On a more philosophical level, were are rediscovering things: good books, binge watching silly old films, emailing old friends, the fact that, as a human race we are all in the same boat, that we don't know it all and may need in the future to shed a part of our egos. Maybe some good will come out of this. Stay happy and healthy everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Request

This is not your usual blog post. Being from Britain, the blog prefers not to wear its beliefs on its sleeve. However needs must and I would like to put forward a small suggestion to my readers.

Please join me in saying a short prayer for an end to coronavirus. For a vaccine, a treatment, spontaneous abatement, a miracle, whatever. Just 20 seconds. While you're washing your hands, instead of singing Happy Birthday yet again. Even if you don't believe,  it won't hurt you. Call it something else if you want. Just do it. Today. Now. Please.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A Gallant Old Workhorse

The airport had an unusual visitor at the weekend.


The Ford Trimotor plane was the very latest in modern technology - in the 1920s. 


For one thing it was built out of metal (and was nicknamed the "Tin Goose"), not canvas and string and would have raised some oohs and aahs at the time. Travelling across country then took a couple of days or so in a very basic cabin without air conditioning (as they made a point of telling the Florida audience.)


- which meant that if you wanted things to get cooler you just went up a little. If things got too cold - well you had to remember to bring your fur coat. It did have some nice wood panelling though. 


Incidentally, in 1930,  a Trimotor carried the first cow to ride in a plane, a Guernsey called Elm Farm Ollie - in a publicity stunt she was milked en route, the milk put in cartons and parachuted to spectators below.
  And here's the back of the cabin. The seats are a natty shape. Let's hope Ollie remembered to fasten her seat belt.


The cockpit may not have been that high-tech but still looked complicated enough.


Here's a close-up from the pilot's seat


or the co-pilot's.  Not sure how this worked but it looked important.


It may not be the most beautiful plane ever built


But it did of course have three engines


Which must have been reassuring.


  In those days you found your way with the help of arrows painted on the ground. And since there were few airports, you often had to land in a field. But the plane had a secret weapon. It could take off extremely quickly from a short distance, almost like a harrier.
  This particular one


built in 1929, was used during its long working life first as a mail and passenger plane, including a route from Miami to Cuba, then for barnstorming, smoke-jumping and crop-dusting.  Now it's an ambassador for the Experimental Aircraft Association a group of aviation enthusiasts and gives rides. Not being as brave as I used to be and though the Trimotor's engines were modern and it displayed a prominent certificate of airworthiness, I decided there are enough things waiting to kill us in this world without tempting fate.
  Several people however had forked out 77 dollars each for a jaunt along the coast and I'm sure they had a wonderful time.
  We contented ourselves with watching it rev up


and taxi off. And sure enough, it was in the air in just a few seconds.


 There she goes!