Thursday, April 19, 2018

Springtime in London

The blog is on a family visit to London for a few weeks, so once again apologies for the erratic service. Keep watching this space.
At last we have some decent weather here - the British spring has been much later than usual.


But there have been pretty sights, including some magnificent magnolias.


These are different fom the tall monsters you get in the southern US and quite often get blighted by frost - but not this year. Since I've been here there's been cold and rain but not a lot of frost.


It's been good to hear British blackbirds singing. They really know how to hold a tune, unlike American ones, which sound like rusty hinges.  The last couple of days have been seriously warm and Brits not quite sure what to do about them. Amusingly, the tubes and trains are displaying signs, "In this hot (sic) weather, make sure you carry a bottle of water." How we ever survived in the old days without ubiquitous bottles of water, I can't imagine.
  I have noticed one thing though - the return of people bringing nasty smelling food onto the trains. There was a plague of this when I last lived in London and then things got better. Now a new generation have to be taught manners.  And food has got much smellier. It's not just McDonalds and fish and chips any more. There's always something to make travel on public transport more pleasurable. But I shouldn't complain. In rural western New York there is no public transport - or none that I've noticed.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Florida's Little Pleasures

I can't help it - my mind keeps dancing back to Florida and our beloved Golden Beach, now undoubtedly sweltering in glorious spring temperatures. The winter orchid tree in the front


will be giving way to the spring one at the back


which already had a few flowers before we left at the end of February.  I had been feeling nostalgic when I saw  this exciting story from up the road in Nokomis. Yes, once again, a giant alligator found its way into somebody's swimming pool.  That's the sort of thing that happens in Florida, which can be edgy where wildlife is concerned. I still remember that bobcat sauntering towards me at our beach access. The alligator was more ammunition for hubby, who has a long list of reasons why we should not join the countless residents who dig up their back gardens to install, as he puts it,  a glorified bathtub so they can stand in it when the weather gets hot. "Another reason not to have a pool", he said smugly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Brits and the Bottle Machine

  In Blighty, they are thinking about something really revolutionary. This is the introduction of bottle gobbling machines in supermarkets to recycle your beer bottles and other stuff and get some money back. Well hello, Britain must be the last country in the world not to have these. Back in western New York we have been experiencing them for a whole, so herewith a few helpful hints.
1) It takes a huge mental effort finally to resolve to stop on your hurried dash out of the door and lift the  overflowing box of bottles from the floor to the car. But it is worth it.
2) It's one of life's minor pleasures to feed your bottles one at a time into the machine and hear them being digested with loud smashes, clanks and crunches and I swear it - burps and then see the cents piling up on the little screen.
3) You can also take perverse enjoyment in feeding the wrong sort of bottle in and seeing if the machine can be fooled. Usually it can't.
4) You must remember not only to take your paper voucher out of the machine but also to present it at the till to get your money back. That's where the system starts to break down and presumably where they count on making their money.
5) There are legions of Americans who make an industry out of working out how you can purchase your bottles in a state with low deposit fees and then recycle them in a state where you get more money back. Of course you have to factor in transporting your bottles over state lines, though I'll bet there are some people who fill up pickup trucks specially for this. Judging by the number of customers  I get stuck behind at the supermarket checkout, who produce armfuls of fiddly, time-consuming coupons cut from obscure magazines to save money, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Britain can't get bottle machines soon enough. It will be a whole new leisure activity and family time too. You know how kids just love feeding ducks? This is much better.

The Blog Apologises...

... for intermittent service due to travel and family reasons. In the meantime


A little late for Palm Sunday, a reminder of Florida is in order. Yes I think those really are coconuts. Better not to stand underneath.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Someone Else For Dinner

We were in the kitchen this evening when hubby called out, "Look!"


The cheeky white tail deer nibbled a bit at the fallen maple tree branch, then sauntered off. But not before having a good look through the window. And to think I said only yesterday that we hadn't seen many deer this winter.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The More it Snows (Again)

We were complacent if we thought Spring was on the way. All week it's snowed on and off


We've had two power cuts, a frozen drain, a flood and dozens of fallen branches. Did we leave Florida for this? Is it payback for lounging in warmth for most of the winter? But when the sun comes out..


You would almost pay to come here


With a free art show. Ice crystal fantasy.


A touch of Jackson Pollock 


 And guess who's


Coming to dinner!


 I put up the feeder again and from nowhere they were there. How did they ever get through the winter without us? 


Friday, March 2, 2018

Goodbye Florida Sunset..And Hello Winter

We must be crazy. This is what we left. A beautiful, warm, Golden Beach sunset.


And back in western New York, after a false dawn, a couple of vaguely mild days without a flake of snow on the ground, on Friday morning .... 


 This happened


All that snow on the hanging baskets - that was just overnight


They had warned in the weather forecast that the snow wouldn't be normal snow. It would be extremely heavy and wet and snow shovelling could be dangerous - might bring on heart attacks and so on. Well the trees were certainly bent out of shape.


 With all that weight. And huge branches came off the maple trees all morning.


And the arborvitae by the drive - the bits of them that survived the deer onslaught - were bent right over like triumphal; arches


Even our 4WD got stuck at the end of the drive, in all the heavy snow the plough dumped and I had to dig it out. They were right in the weather forecast.  Plus we had no electricity and no telephone.  I trudged up the hill to try and get a mobile phone signal. We hardly ever get one at the house but this sometimes works. Except not today.


The lane was pretty though.


Coming back, I noticed the variegated dogwood bush was squashed flat by the snow.


But this afternoon we looked out of the window and discovered a kind neighbour had come and ploughed the drive and disappeared before we could even thank him. That's western New Yorkers for you.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cars in the Sun

First a car show of a different kind. This is the view when the drawbridge off the island goes up. Not quite Tower Bridge but we do have three of them. It's a common occurrence - usually to let some tiny sailing boat through on the intracoastal waterway - but the cause of much aggravation. It means you can never be quite sure how long it will take to get to an appointment. The other day we were stuck even after the bridge went down again as there had been some sort of accident on the other side. The woman in the queue in front of us started getting claustrophobic, exited her car and yelled at us all to reverse or  "We'll never get out!" So we did and it took a very long time, especially as the person behind us was a timid reverser. I sympathise with that.  And all that is even without the everyday traffic accidents during "Snowbird Season", an alarming combination of out-of-towners who get lost and people who shouldn't be driving in the first place. Every day holds a horror story of the driver who screeched across four lanes at the last minute right in front of us.


But back to a much more pleasurable car experience, the ubiquitous car show. Florida in dry season of course being the ideal place to show off your wheels. This was at the local classic car dealer's. I have mixed feelings about pickup trucks but would have taken this little Corvair home.


And of course, being Florida, here was a dressed-up golf cart.


 People wistfully wandering around inspecting engines.


 And wow! A Lotus Elan! And one of the real classics too. (With no insult intended to my little Elan S2 back in Blighty. That's Norfolk mustard too. )


This "Galloping Ghost" had some history, apparently.


And this one some nostalgia


Love the colour but wouldn't have dared try to park it.


There was lots of this sort of jokey stuff


Including bird nesting boxes (aka bird houses in American) made out of old number plates


 And this, for which no comment is necessary


They like their furry dice here too


Note the election bumper sticker..


 "I'm all shook up", he says. And he's yours for 699 dollars. Or Nearest Offer. (Or is that the price of the car?)


A 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster. Yours for a snip.


And of course a cute Thunderbird


And a Batmobile

Note the poodle trim

Did she just give him the push?

 Fill it up for you Madam?  Except the Americans say "Fill it".


C'mon, let's get out on the open road!


Aw shucks, we'll have to wait for the bridge.

Alas the blog's Florida sojourn is nearly over. Departure for the frozen north is imminent.  Watch this space!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Foggy Dawn

The weather warning on Saturday predicted, "dense fog". There was none around our house but as I went south on my early morning jog, mist was enveloping the airport. 


A strange thing to see palm trees looming out of the fog


And a landscape more suited to the north - to autumn and ghosts and headless horsemen


I wonder how the alligators and bobcats that haunt the golf course like the fog? They are of course very much alive.


Mist surrounded the fishing pier too.


And against the moody pastels of the sea and sky there wasn't a pelican to be seen. Like the tiny planes at the airport, they had been grounded in the fog.


Until, as I turned northwards up the beach,  here they came


He wasn't bothered. Best stick close to the ground.


There were a couple of white egrets there too - a less familiar sight.  There must be rich pickings at the moment. 


The next day I was at the beach enjoying the sun when a man picnicking with his family caught what looked suspiciously like a baby shark. Everyone flocked around taking photos. It was about 18 inches long I'd say. Enough to give you a good nip on the ankles.   It didn't stop me going in for a swim though, the conditions are perfect now - just as we're leaving soon to go up north.