Thursday, March 28, 2019


The blog will be on travels for a couple of weeks but back soon,  so watch this space...
Meanwhile some happy tidings from Britain for once. Yes, he's really at the wheel!


*(Dear American friends, I am talking about soccer and a man called Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, aka the Baby-Faced Assassin. And a club called Manchester United. Look them up. )

Books and Bluster

Dateline: Golden Beach 

  It's been a blustery couple of days. The surf's up again and walking with my neighbours (yes, spell check, I mean neighBOURS) this morning felt bracing. We passed a man wearing a green puffa who looked as if he was out for a hike on the Yorkshire moors, or a flat version thereof. The conversation often turns to books and I to a familiar grumble. Why do British books published in America change words to suit American readers? I've read plenty of American books in my life - starting in my childhood with Little Women and What Katy Did, not to mention Little House on the Prairie. They were full of American words and sayings and I didn't need a translator. It's actually interesting to learn that our languages do have differences and how people across the pond express things. And it's not that mentally challenging. It seems to me it's nothing but an insult to American readers, who are not stupid. But I suppose they think it's all about maximising sales and $$$$.
   The current book for the library book club is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry , about which I could say many things, primarily that, if you are looking for a story to cheer you up, this is not it. It does however have some good descriptions of Britain and is actually written by someone who lives there and knows it - unlike various other book club books purporting to be about Britain that I've had to suffer through. But what do you know, up pop "zucchini" and "push pin" and "funeral home" and so on and so forth. Hubby is reading the new biography of Churchill by Andrew Roberts - bought in America. He's enjoying it, apart from the occasional mild explosion,  "They're at it again!  'Soldier servant' substituted for 'batman.'" Which is what they did with the  Downton Abbey American version. It's probably one of those things I'm never going to be able to change but I'd just love to know the reason why.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

When it Rains in Florida

This is by way of consoling friends elsewhere who might be a little jealous. Yes it does rain in Florida.

 And when it rains it really rains.

 Nothing like sodden palm trees to give you a real lift.  And while my friends up north are enjoying the end of the ski-ing season, I managed, in solidarity with them, to fall flat on my back in three inches of dirty water while trying to negotiate a car park in the flattest place on earth. "Never jump over puddles" my neighbour said with an "I told you so" look.
  Well that was last weekend. Today was a little better.

  Though the surf is still up from the cold snap.
  This week has been what Americans call "spring break", a sort of cross between half-term and the Easter holidays. Local schoolkids are on the loose and the beach actually has more sandcastles than zimmer frames. Older spring-breakers, those of university age, are more notorious in their behaviour though they tend to seek out livelier places than this. Which is fine by me. This morning it was like Piccadilly Circus on the beach  - I spotted all of four other people.
 Meanwhile back at base here's the orchid tree in the sun.

And boogie-woogie too

 Charlie the mocking bird has been up on the electricity cable - his favourite place - running through his repertoire of different songs. Who needs Spotify? Thank goodness he seems to have given up imitating the telephone, which used to send me running into the house every five minutes. A couple of mourning doves just had a domestic at the bird bath. Probably a good thing I couldn't understand their language.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Spring and St Who?

  Americans will tell you that tomorrow is St Patty's Day. Back where I come from, Patty is a girl's name, though perhaps they just can't pronounce "Paddy." Odd, because, when I try to say "water" in America, no one understands me. There was the famous incident of the flight attendant who struggled for a long time to decipher what I was saying and in the end asked hubby, "What did she say?"
"Wahdurr" said hubby.
  We are in for corned beef and cabbage at our neighbourhood party tonight. Again, I had many Irish friends back home but never got served corned beef and cabbage. "It's an Irish-American thing", someone explained.
  Meanwhile, spring has sprung in Golden Beach. Our white orchid tree is rampant.

Boogie-woogie is in great form

Even Amanda, the straggly alamanda, has made an effort

 And Franky Panky is actually sprouting!

 Alas, we're not likely to see the sublime frangipani flowers before we leave for Up North, though there will be some left in October.
  As you can see, today is a little murky. I went for my usual early morning run on the beach, passed on the way by an elderly cyclist in Full Lycra who called out imperiously, "Stay close to home. It may start raining."
  "Who do you think you are? My mother?" I muttered, "I'm perfectly aware of the state of the sky." Perhaps, I said to hubby afterwards, he was used to bossing his wife about. No, hubby corrected, "He is used to being bossed about by his wife and was taking it out on you."
 I recovered my good mood on the beach

Though it was probably a good thing I didn't encounter the dog-owner who'd left incriminating footprints.

I could have tracked her (it's invariably a her) back home I suppose, but life's too short.  My friend the egret was there was usual.

Though I just missed getting a photo of an osprey flying overhead, an enormous fish flapping in its talons.
  Back on the road, a race had just finished. The temporary traffic sign said "runners" but most of them were walking. Well good for them for trying.

  And another sign of the season - a baby donkey at the riding stables!

 She's an adorable ball of white fluff and scampers around, kicking up her heels.  But she has not been named Patty.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Getting Away From it All

As the traffic gets crazier, the pavements more crowded, as bulldozers invade more and more swathes of flat Florida countryside, as one more small, pretty Golden Beach house falls in a cloud of choking dust and one more monstrosity rises in its place, as the cacophony of obsessive home improvements whines and screeches through the days, there is, incredibly, some peace and quiet left.  It might be found on the beach at dawn, with these the only other footprints.

The company is unobtrusive

 Or busy fishing

In its own way.

 The sun rises over the palm trees, briefly obscuring the man-made landscape.

And I find the last thing I would have expected in the Florida grass - a mushroom. Well it has been raining a bit.

And at Snook Haven today, crowds of people sat listening to banjo music and munching deep fried alligator and smoked beef (I have to give them a big plug - even with the seething hordes, the food was wonderful and the staff delightful and obliging quite behind the call of duty). But if they'd turned and looked at the Myakka River behind them they'd have found it little changed from the old days when panthers howled in the forests and bootleggers sheltered here with their contraband of illicit liquor.

Though even the river was a bit crowded.

The water was a rich, rusty brown and, I suspect, interesting things gambolled in the murky depths. I wouldn't be too keen to go canoeing here.

But for a few seconds you could slip into a timewarp. An antidote to the voracious new Florida that encroaches on it just a little more every day.