Friday, February 28, 2020


As opposed to mudlarking, which you do alongside the River Thames..
 It's always interesting to see what you're going to find on the beach.

The white strip, for example, is a huge dump of tiny shells. I noticed someone had collected a load in a bucket, presumably to use in the garden to keep the weeds down, or for those strange Florida front gardens that don't have any grass and are perhaps meant to look like a beach.
  Then,  further away from the waves, was a big stretch of larger shells

Including one you could wear on your face...
  Now this must have seen better days and some intriguing exotic climes.

And here was a very pretty crab, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

Later, I asked my expert friend, who confirmed that it was a calico, or leopard crab.
 Then I noticed someone else had been there before me.

I'm not that knowledgeable about tracks but I'm guessing it was a coyote, quite a few of which enjoy life on the island and terrorise people's small pets. Speaking of which, I don't know how this chap got in here..

He was not on the beach, though not very far away, in the park down the road, enjoying a snooze in the sun.
  But at the moment all I can think about is what I didn't find on the beach, which was my phone, lost on Saturday in a moment of inattention when it must have ejected itself from my pocket. In vain, hubby and I and various friends retraced my footsteps over and over again but never found it. I tried "Find Your Phone", courtesy of Google but it was too late. "Phone cannot be reached", it said pompously.
   Getting a new one wasn't easy. For days we trailed from shop to shop, from the phone shop (you'll get a better deal at Walmart) to Walmart (sorry we're not allowed to deal with the phones. There are special phone people and they haven't come in yet), to Walmart again (oops, sorry, not in stock) to another Walmart some 45 minutes' drive away (oh sorry you have to go to the phone shop so you can keep your number) to another phone shop (can't understand why Walmart couldn't do it for you but here you are). Add to that a morning of driving around the various beach accesses to put up Lost Phone signs. When I switched on the new phone I had nineteen voicemail messages, all large expanses of silence with the occasional groan of exasperation, which I realised came from me trying to call my lost phone. All except the last one which was me leaving a message in some vain hope that a savvy finder would be able to get into my voicemail.   So the loss remains a mystery. The phone could have dropped into the waves and be half way to Mexico by now. Or I'll find it next time I walk on the beach, new phone in hand. These tech things are works of the devil, as my father used to say.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Funny Old World

I sometimes miss the good old British sense of humour. A friend from Blighty sent me an extract from a phone-in programme that involved a man going on about chocolate mint biscuits and never getting to the point. It's far too complicated to explain in a few words but suffice to say I laughed till I cried, loving the sheer British-ness of it.  
   It's not that Americans don't have a sense of humour - we can laugh at each other's jokes - but it's not quite, not completely aligned with ours. I can't put my finger on what's different - perhaps a sense of irony, a certain subtlety, I don't know. Possibly American humour can be a little too obvious and in-your face. I sometimes have conversations with American friends and make an off-the-cuff remark that's intended to be ironic and not at all serious and find they've taken it literally and are giving me worried looks. 
   I don't know if Americans would find the biscuit sequence funny - well for one thing, they wouldn't understand "biscuit". To an American, a biscuit is akin to a giant mutant scone. But then a lot of them do love Monty Python - plus here I go again, generalising, as hubby is at pains to point out. "Not all Americans think the same way!" He understands British humour but he's an honorary Englishman. (And he laughed at the biscuits too.)
  Having said all that, I was strolling down our high street, aka Venice Avenue and saw this sign.

Now that made me chuckle. But then it was outside the Irish pub.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Time to Cool Off

 And here's Bree having her shower. Interesting that even Florida horses grow fuzzy winter coats - not as thick as those up north but still fuzzy. So they tend to get sweaty. This winter has had its warm spells - the photo was taken back in January although we repeated the process yesterday - and Floridians are shaking their heads and saying there have just been too many of them for the time of year. And this week it looks as though summer's returned again.

 It is however a blessing for people coming from up north for a few days' sunshine. You can't please everybody.  Here's someone else at the stables finding her own way of cooling off.

 The problem with year round summer is that you're never completely off the hook when it comes to gardening. The weeds are still growing, though a lot of trees are bare, so it's not true to say there are no seasons at all. But I do sometimes find myself missing those bright, cold, mornings in England, a walk across frozen fields, crunching underfoot. Then I think of shivering at bus stops and the quay where I used to pick up the Thames river boat to take me to work and I think, yes, sometimes I miss those mornings but not often. And as for shovelling snow in western New York, the less said about it the better. That I don't miss at all.

Friday, February 7, 2020

After the Storm

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

**UPDATE!** Definitely a lump of coral, as I'm told by our local expert. A nice specimen, he said. Well in Slovenia there is a saying "the blind chicken finds the grain.."  I just call it beginners' luck.

A hit-and-run storm blew in last night. Blink and you missed it,  though it caused a lot of damage in "the south" (that is north of us!). Fortunately the worst that happened to us was the outside dustbin blowing over, though the rain came down like Niagara Falls. 
  The beach this morning was exhilarating

The surf doesn't look that spectacular, though it made a lot of noise and the wind nearly blew my ears off. And it was mercifully free of dog walkers, though pelicans and seagulls were enjoying being blown about by the gusts. Various debris had ended up on the beach, including several coconuts

And this mysterious object

 It was about 6 inches long and weighed quite a bit. Here's another shot of it sitting on our drive.

And here's the underside.

A lump of coral? A bone? A fossilised mushroom? Who knows?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Last Day of Christmas

Well in some traditions it is, 2nd February being Candlemas. It's an excuse to include a Christmassy photo, which I forgot to post before.

The crib at Epiphany Cathedral (now dismantled, alas) I noticed was in the style of an old Florida farmhouse, with sloping roofs over a porch to keep cool in pre-airconditioning days. I don't know if that was deliberate.
  We have finally had a big dump of rain, so we can get in a wintery mood for a few days. It's funny how permanent Florida residents greet colder weather with statements like,  "Great! At last I can wear jeans/a scarf/ a down jacket/ a woolly hat!" People up north would think they were mad.