Friday, December 24, 2021

More From a Florida Christmas

 A front garden sample...

And another....

And by contrast...


A Happy/Merry Golden Beach Christmas!

   OK, now time for some Christmas cheer - so here's some....

The Coastguard display at the Arboretum - 

where people and groups decorate individual trees and bushes to make a veritably fairyland.

It was almost back to its old self this year, though they cancelled the official opening night. But there were people strolling and admiring, kids running around, two little girls scraping away at Christmas carols on their violins. Here's one for the aforesaid Buddy

A dad walking past tried to explain to his very literally-minded offspring what the dog was up to. His guess was as good as mine.

Meanwhile the Living Nativity was back again behind the WaWa garage.

Along with numerous goats, "You can feed all the animals!" said one of shepherds at the gate which makes a refreshing change.

And carol singers (they call them "carolers" here).

And here's the archetypal Florida garden Christmas display

The Christmas palm tree. Well come to think of it palm trees are probably more authentic than Santa and reindeer  in the snow. As we await the Florida end of the Omicron deluge most people are getting on with their lives and trying to make the best of Christmas. Merry here, Happy in the UK. Wherever you are, enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

This is Not the Dog Beach

  Ah, peaceful Golden Beach at dawn, with the pinks and greys and blues of the sky and just the odd lone fisherman.

 And the shore birds out, looking for breakfast.

It's a magical time, to walk and think and gaze out over the water and collect shells and I cherish it.

Trouble is, no matter which direction I take, I manage to meet my nemesis - a dog walker. 

He'd just blithely walked past the sign. 

Well  actually that sign is an interesting variation. Mostly they say "No Dogs on Beach". I wonder what sort of other animals people have been bringing to the beach to inspire it.  There are plenty of animals already on the beach - crabs, rabbits, raccoons, bobcats, but they don't read too well. Or pretend they don't.

A couple of weeks ago a man was standing by the water and calling his dog to join him, "C'mon Buddy!" Buddy was a bit reluctant at first.

"I see", I observed, "that your dog can read and you can't."

Buddy then proceeded to chase me, getting more and more excited, his lead trailing and nearly tripping me up until I had enough, "Will you please call your dog!"

The man evidently decided to punish me by doing nothing. Finally after a major loss of temper on my part, he emitted a reluctant, "C'mon Buddy". Needless to say, Buddy took no notice. 

The trouble is, they have a rule but absolutely no way of enforcing it. If every dog owner in Venice - and they are legion - decided the rules didn't apply to them we'd have complete mayhem.

I hasten to point out that there is a dog beach just down the road, so they have no excuse.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Shamrocks, Snakes and a Tortoise or Two

 After our British Pub lunch we checked out Shamrock Park, which sounds as though it should be a genteel bit of suburban greenery with a duckpond and a bandstand. In fact it's a real wilderness.

That's one of the good things about Florida. It gets more built up by the minute, with new gated communities popping up all over the place but they can still be cajoled to leave some wilderness behind. Shamrock Park sits alongside the intracoastal waterway, which divides Venice Island from the mainland.

I once overheard a chap at the farmers' market who claimed there were Komodo dragons in Shamrock Park. Possibly, possibly not. "Perhaps he meant iguanas", my neighbour said. Iguanas being those giant lizards from down south that fall out of trees in the winter, frozen solid, but then perk up again when it gets warmer. We once saw one the size of a dachshund waddling along the pavement in Palm Beach. It gave me a turn, I can tell you. 

 We didn't see any iguanas - or Komodo dragons - in Shamrock Park but we did see a small snake.

Which was quite enough excitement for one day. Of course the other famous inhabitants of Shamrock Park are my old friends (see below) the gopher tortoises, with all the rules and regulations surrounding these most mollycoddled of Florida's fauna. 

In fact we hadn't even got to the park yet when we saw one inching its way along the middle of the road.  I wondered whether we should stop and help it out of the traffic but that would constitute disturbing it and I didn't want to be sent to Guantanamo Bay. I hoped it could muster a turn of speed if necessary.

Then on the path by the intracoastal waterway we saw another one, 

...evidently looking for some lunch. I wanted to point it in the direction of the British Pub but sausage rolls probably weren't its thing. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Whiff of Nostalgia

 It was a nice way to spend Sunday. We had lunch at the British pub, which does a mean Bloody Mary.

in fact - correction - a stupendous Bloody Mary. In  addition to the requisite fish-and-chips and meat pies, it also offered sausage rolls and Scotch eggs. I decided to go for it, wondering how they would match up to what I used to eat in the old days. (Funny how I never liked Scotch eggs back in the UK but suddenly started to miss them when I got here.) I was a bit dubious at first - given it's so hard to find proper bangers here - but one bite of the sausage roll and I went all dewy-eyed and imagined myself back on Wimbledon station platform wrangling with a hot, greasy, flaky handful. The British pub's sausage rolls were neither flaky nor too greasy but there was a whiff of something authentic about them. Any port in a storm. American-style Scotch eggs are also pretty good with a thinner, crispier outer layer and less of the pink sausage meat. If you get one in a fancy bar in New York City, it's usually soft boiled, which has a whole different feel to it.

  The ladies' at the British pub is easy to find:

I finally understood the waitress's ( sorry. server's) directions to "Turn left at the Queen."

And then we were were off to a little wilderness experience. Watch this space.