Sunday, 6th March, 2022
Oh, think twice
It’s another day for you and me in paradise
Oh, just think twice
‘Cause it’s another day for you
You and me in paradise
And it really is another day in paradise here which is starting before 7.00 am with a short walk to the gym.
The sun is just coming up. Exotic birds call from the trees and the lovely, gentle warmth of 22C/70F eases the aching muscles. After a couple of hours in the gym, I walk back to the house and collect Pauline for a swim. We only do half an hour but we have the pool entirely to ourselves and enjoying the sunshine which has now built up to 82F/28C by 9.30 am.
Back home for a shower, a glass of almond milk and a large cup of coffee as I start my new week of the Blog and communicate with friends across social media.
This morning, shocking news came in of the terribly early death of Andy Remic who, as a young man, came to teach English in my school. He was very interesting and likeable. Of Yugoslavian origin, Andrey Remic wrote Science Fiction and even made a few films. He died of cancer at the ridiculously young age of 50. It should be a lesson to all of us to not put off things we want to do but go for everything because we never know when the axe will fall.
The axe will fall for me this afternoon when I accompany two, young women to the shopping ‘Mall’ to look at/buy clothes. It will test my patience to the limit but I will try to look as if I’m with them and interested. Before that, we have walked to the Pharmacy to buy mouthwash which cost $7.50/£5.70 in US but would have cost £4.50 in UK. The price of paradise!
The trip to The Mall wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. It cost me a pair of new flip-flops which felt like being let off lightly. We visited the famous Macy’s store but were not over-impressed. We ended the day at a Greek restaurant drinking Mythos beer and Retsina wine with Mezedes which was wonderful. The temperature was still hovering around 31C/88F as we left the restaurant which felt very Greek in itself.
Monday, 7th March, 2022
In the gym at 7.00 am and then out walking shortly after 10.00 am. It was already hot. We are living in a property on the IMG Tennis Academy where Dan is studying. It really has all the facilities one could want on site including a gym and pool for us.
I do a couple of hours in the gym and then we share half an hour in the pool to cool off. We always have it completely to ourselves.
Walking out of the complex brings us immediately face to face with the naked capitalism that is America. Building goes on everywhere in this vast country and property is constantly for sale.
We might even have considered looking for one of these lovely apartments if we could afford it but M&K have already generously offered us the chance to use their new property whenever we would like to even when they are in England so we’ll keep our cash in the bank.
For the first time since we arrived, we are not eating out. Pauline is doing the catering and we had to go shopping to the fish market and the supermarket. We bought Tuna Steaks, peppers and asparagus for the adults and chicken for the kids. She will griddle on the barbecue outside which will be interesting.
The barbecued Tuna Steaks and Chicken went well. The evening has filtered out into family discussion and the time now is 23.40 (FT)/4.40 (GMT). The temperature outside is still 74F/24C – a balmy end to a very hot day. Tomorrow, we’ll do it all again.
Tuesday, 8th March, 2022
Paradise opened at 5.30 am and the walk from our house to the gym at 7.00 am, as always was magical.
The smells of the flowers and trees in the humid air and the sounds of exotic birds combine to create a magical atmosphere. Two hours in that steamy atmosphere is enough at one go. I walk back for coffee and then we do another hour walking in the neighbourhood and the strong sunshine. We quickly burn in this strong sunshine and return for half an hour in the pool.
In the afternoon, we went down to the local beach with its gorgeous, fine, soft white sand and shallow, gently lapping warm water. We walked for an hour. Although I am getting fitter, 4 hours of walking was taking its toll on my legs as we set off for a nearby dockside fish restaurant.
I had crab which I love with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Eating outside in the balmy air is delightful. We drove home to have coffee, watch BBC News and compete at the new craze, Wordle. This is a game made for people like me and hosted by the New York Times. I won the first two games that I played but only came third tonight so I won’t be able to sleep thinking about it.
Wednesday, 9th March, 2022
Well, we are just completing our first week in Paradise – first of many to come in the future, we hope. We have just over 3 weeks left on this trip and we intend to make the most of it. Someone asked me yesterday if I was enjoying my holiday and I told them I never considered myself as ‘on holiday’ but just ‘living somewhere else’. I really do try to continue my life but through the lens of a different culture. I still exercise, try to follow my diet, write, Blog, correspond just as ever.
In the past couple of days, Kevin and I have exchanged banter on Whatsapp; John Ridley and Julie have shared their days with me by email; I have sent a restaurant postcard to Caroline in Saddleworth and my Blog has been maintained for anyone interested. There must be one!
I won’t bore you with the early up/exercise/walk/swim routine although, of course, I just have. However, I thought I would mention the hot topic of fuel prices as a result of post-pandemic demands + Russian sanctions. Americans are alarmed at having to pay $4.21/£3.20 per gallon. Here, car is king! The huge amounts of space and distance between places and facilities means that everyone from 16 years old up drives everywhere.
How they would feel to know our fuel is almost double the price, goodness knows but they definitely have to drive further than us for everything.
The day has ended beautifully. Pauline has cooked chicken wings with barbecue sauce and the most wonderful giant prawns with green salad. We are eating in one of the two Lounge/Dining rooms. I am drinking local, red wine and feeling mellow! What more could one want? I’m sure you know what I mean! Well, I could win the daily Wordle contest but that will come later.
Thursday, 10th March, 2022
We’ve been here a week already. We have exactly 3 weeks left this time. I won’t bore you with the routine but we were joined on our walk to the gym by a white Florida Egret this morning. Quiet and statuesque, beautiful in the urban surroundings. Not a pheasant, admittedly, but lovely in its own way.
We are going out for a 16k walk and then Pauline & M will probably go clothes shopping and I will stay at home researching things to do in New York where we fly on Monday. Looking forward to seeing JFK International.
Actually, we did 16k on the long, wide straight sidewalks. The weather is more cloudy this morning but still 80F/27C and very humid.
The roads are edged with lots of fascinating, exotic trees and plants and I spotted this unusual weeping bottle brush tree (Callistemon Citrinus) which originates in Greece. I was tired and wet by the time we got back from our walk. Went for a swim. This afternoon, we are going in to the Sports Academy to watch Daniel play tennis and then on to the supermarket for food.
This is bizarre but clocks go forward in Florida 2 weeks before they do in UK. This weekend we lose an hour here and not until the 27th of March does this happen in UK. So, for a couple of weeks, we will only be 4 hrs behind UK.
Friday, 11th March, 2022
We visited the IMG Tennis Academy training facilities yesterday afternoon. We even went in to one of the vast, covered areas of courts where Dan was working with his coach.
It was suggested that we walk to a local Italian restaurant for Dinner but the heavens opened with thunder and lightning and torrential rain which temporarily turned the road outside into a river.
We drove instead to an All-American-Diner with more televisions around the walls than I’ve ever seen in one room. It was busy, noisy and brash – not my favourite location but a great experience none the less.
This morning, of course, we do it all over again. Awake at 5.30 am (FT))/10.30 am (GMT) and down to the gym just before 7.00 am (FT). The house is kept deceptively cool Night & Day by air con. so, stepping out even at that time in the morning, just as the sun is coming up and the temperature is already 22C/70F, is something of a shock. The natural humidity is added to by the overnight sprinkler systems leaving pools of water on the roadside. Walking back from the gym at 9.00 am, the temperature has reached 27C/81F and it is going to be a lovely day.
After 2 hours in the gym, we are going out for an hour’s walk in the sunshine followed by a swim in the pool. Pauline is cooking American-style sweet & sour spare-ribs. There are 6 of us and we bought enough to feed 12 at least. She is marinading them throughout the day and will then slow roast until the meat just falls off the bones. We would never normally eat like this so it will be another challenge.
Saturday, 12th March, 2022
Really strange but exciting day which started off normally in the gym at 6.55 am (FT)/11.55 am (GMT). I have been doing so much pounding of treadmills and pavements that I have produced a massive blister on the pad of one of my feet. It is agony but I am trying to work through the pain because I have my 10 miles a day commitment to meet whatever. I am currently moving on a foot which is plastered and padded but the electric shock of putting my weight on it is difficult.
So, this morning I just had to steel myself and do around 3 hours in the gym to get it all done in one go because I knew I wouldn’t feel like it later. At around 9.30 am, the clouds outside darkened, lighting flashed across them followed by bangs of rolling thunder and the downpour had to be seen to be believed. It reminded us of Greece.
I gave it half an hour until the lightning had stopped and I’d completed my 10 miles and then waded through the temporarily flooded pavements back to the house. In the gym I watch BBC World News which is fascinating, but I am also able to access my Netflix account where I am watching Suranne Jones in Doctor Foster. Once again, it is not something I would normally watch but, in the gym and in a foreign country, it has proved quite absorbing. It is about marital infidelity and the conflict resolution involved.
Back at the house, I am watching two sports at the same time. Pauline is catching up with Doctor Foster on the laptop while I am watching 6 Nations Rugby – England v Ireland on my iPad and simultaneously discussing it with Kevin in North Yorkshire on Whatsapp as well as keeping in touch with the Man.United score against Spurs while Pauline is commiserating with her friend, Christine, on Whatsapp, because she has caught Covid-19. By 2.00 pm (FT), the skies are clear blue and the sun is beating down. The world is back to normal.
This evening we walked to a lovely, little warm and cosy, unassuming Italian restaurant. Luigi’s Il Farinaio Grille is owned and run, apparently, by a mercurial Italian New Yorker whose mood is difficult to predict from one visit to another. We chose Chicken Milanese with salad and it was enjoyable although, we are struggling to eat out so much. We are far more used to controlled, home cooking.