Week 688

Sunday, 27th February, 2022

Up at 4.00 am. Couldn’t sleep. Too hot! It’s insane. There’s nothing worse than lying awake with thoughts coursing across one’s mind, telling oneself to empty one’s head and get back to sleep and to dismiss the desire to get up. Why am I too hot? We only have a 1-tog quilt on the bed.

That was one of the thoughts I couldn’t get out of my head. What is a ‘tog’? Where did it come from? Why was it called a Continental Quilt? When did they first become popular? I remember those heavy blankets on the bed of my childhood and first buying a quilt when I left College in 1972. What am I doing at 4.00 am, drinking tea and researching duvet togs. 

The term duvet comes from the French for feather ‘down’ and was first used by Dr Samuel Johnson in 1760 although duvets originated in rural Europe and were filled with the down feathers of ducks or geese. The insulation rating, tog, derived from Togs – the slang word for clothes and probably originated from Toga. We have duvets of varying tog ratings from 12 through 7, 5, 3 and 1. This house is a 1-tog requirement because of its insulation. Even then, it can be too hot. With that sorted out, maybe I can go back to sleep now.

Bradenton Beach

We are going to spend the month of March here in Bradenton, Florida. I’ve at last got round to researching the place. This is their Welcome brochure for tourists. Certainly looks an interesting place. The weather forecast for our first week there says it will be sunny and 28 – 30C. Should be better than UK.

Pauline bought two Lottery tickets yesterday. Both of the won – one for £5.00 and the other another Luck Dip ticket. Think I might retire!

On our walk this morning, we came across an old man staring at a missing piece of fence on the perimeter of his garden. I asked if the recent wind had done it and he said that it had been deteriorating for a few years. He had installed it himself more than 30 years ago. I asked him how old he was. He was clearly pleased to be speaking and to be asked about. He asked me what I thought. I said he was 83. I’ve know idea why. He looked astonished. I worried I had insulted him as he invited me to guess again so I deliberately went down to 73. That clearly pleased him as he told me he was actually 93. He was obviously lonely and told me he hadn’t seen his children for a while. This is what will happen to us all … our fences will fall down!

Monday, 28th February, 2022

Every bone in my body aches this morning. I’m not sure why but at least, sometimes, lovely things happen. This morning was one such time. We are going to America tomorrow. This morning I booked our New York trip. We will be there for 5 days although only 3 will be full, tourist ones. Flying Jetblue from Sarasota Airport to JFK New York and then staying in the Edison Hotel, Times Square for 4 nights.

New York hotels are incredibly stingy with space. The rooms are places we would store luggage in or use as Dressing Rooms. We have decided that this will be a one-off and pushed the boat out. We’ve booked a Suite which is positively luxurious for this city. It is 400 sq. ft. in space.

We have 4 days in the heart of the action for around £1,200.00. The return flights with Jet Blue cost £675.00 so the 5 days will cost us around £2,000.00. You only live once.

I went out on my walk with real optimism in my heart. Aching bones are nothing when other things lift you. The taxi will arrive tomorrow afternoon to take us to a hotel at Gatwick Airport and then we will fly on Wednesday morning for around 10 hours. We will arrive in Florida at 4.00 pm (21.00 GMT). Looking forward to Florida heat!

Tuesday, 1st March, 2022

Happy new month and officially welcome the Spring. Actually, we and the wildlife around us have been welcoming it for weeks. We’ve had such a long run of lovely days with clear blue skies and strong sunshine. Ironically, this morning is dark and wet.

I hesitate to report this because I know it will just convince you of my madness but I don’t care. In line with my personality, I never, ever, ever give in. I had 4.5 hours sleep last night. Up at 3.30 am and into the gym. Did 2.5 hours workout – 2 hrs on the treadmill and 30 mins on the bike – while finishing my Politico-Scandi thriller – the last episode of 25. Like so many of these things, the longer the writers went on the more flabby their ideas became but the parallels with the current Russian invasion of Ukraine mirroring the Russians invasion of Norway to take control of the oil fields.

Back in the kitchen by 6.00 am just as Pauline is woken by the BBC R4 Today programme. A large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice finishing the last 3 oranges, a cup of tea and tick off the jobs still to be done. The automatic lights need to be set up. There are 7 of them around the house which will have an initial schedule setting but which I will change remotely as the clocks go forward. All the chargers and electrical paraphernalia needed for a month including iPads, Kindle, Laptop, phones, watches, shaver, toothbrushes needed to be wrapped and packed.

Seems such a pity to bin them ..

Left over food which can’t be frozen had to be thrown out along with the lovely ‘free’ flowers that have been performing so long.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Eo2ZsAOlvEM?feature=oembedI’ve gone to look for America …

I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America

Taxi picks us up at Lunchtime for the hour’s drive to the Sofitel Gatwick Airport and then the required Covid Test at the airport walk-in. We can drop bags off the night before and then have a relaxed evening because every bone in my body aches even more after this start to the day.

The Covid test was successfully negative. All the required documents were accepted by BA. We checked in on-line and downloaded our boarding passes. I’ve checked out the hotel gym in readiness for tomorrow morning. It looks good.

Wednesday, 2nd March, 2022

Up at 3.30 am and down to the hotel gym. Listened to radio news on my phone while doing 2 hrs 30 mins exercise.

Back to find Pauline was already up and about. Breakfast, check out of hotel and off to bag drop, through passport control with multiple apps to present on my phone and then the sanctuary of the BA Business Lounge – No.1 for a glass of orange juice before boarding. No sooner than we had found and sat down in our seats but a glass of champagne was thrust into our hands and we were off.

Pillows, blankets, TVs with multiple films and other facilities were provided for our 10 hour flight along with this menu for Lunch.

I couldn’t face watching films but I did read The Times on my iPad. We were constantly plied with drinks and really enjoyed the space and comfort Business Class gave us.

I drank large quantities of Rioja with my meal and promptly fell asleep. I couldn’t face watching films although there were about 50 to choose from. I woke up to find an ‘Afternoon Tea’ of smoked salmon sandwiches followed by scones and clotted cream being served. I found it increasingly difficult to cope with all this food.

The last couple of hours of the flight seemed to go on for ever but we finally landed in brilliant sunshine and 27C of warmth at Tampa Airport where M&K were there to meet us. Shortly after settling us in to their home, we were whisked off to a Marina-side restaurant. I must admit to struggling to eat but managed a seafood salad and shared a bottle of white wine.

It is now 22.30 Florida time which is 3.30 am UK time – exactly 24 hrs since I started the day in the gym. I am quite tired but not excessively so. However, it is time for a shower and bed.

Thursday, 3rd March, 2022

It is 3.30 am (Florida Time – FT) / 8.30 am (UK Time – GMT) and we are just settling an insurance claim and drinking Yorkshire tea. Mad? Yes of course but it is not my fault this time. Pauline has just received a call on her mobile from our insurance company telling us they were paying our claim of £200.00 for a pair of my glasses that smashed in the gale a couple of weeks ago. Could they have our bank details to pay it in. Not easy to supply at this time in the morning so we settled for a cheque. The girl on the phone asked us to give her love to New York. Strange world but fascinating.

Kevin & I communicated on Whatsapp. Kevin Sellers contacted me on Messenger. Even received a text message from P in Surrey. What’s she doing up so early. She doesn’t usually get up until Lunchtime. Everyone suddenly feels so far away.

M bought all this for me …

M, on the other hand, has gone out of her way to make us feel welcome and prepare for our stay right down to an alcoholic health freak like me. She has even enrolled us in the Development’s Gym and pool.

Although we are going to the beach this afternoon, we are going to try out the gym and, maybe, the pool this morning. Just getting our bearings today. The TV in our bedroom has a local channel which gives detailed advice on how to cope with the weather. This snap feature Thursday’s weather. Actually, all the local displays made it 87F at midday.

Did 90 mins in the gym followed by an hour’s walk round the neighbourhood and then 30 mins in the pool and jacuzzi. We walk back at around 12.45 pm (FT) wondering why we were so hungry until we realised that our body clocks still thought it was nearly 6.00 pm. (GMT).

It is 2.00 pm (FT), 7.00 pm (GMT) and we are going out for a walk on the beach with our hosts followed by eating at beachside, fish restaurant for Dinner. I could get used to this life … and may have to!

Friday, 4th March, 2022

It was lovely to be in warm sunshine yesterday. It was 28F/82C and a very comfortable temperature without being too humid. Today is going to be 86F/30C rising to 88F/31C over the weekend. Could be worse!

Down on the beach …

I walked a record 16.3 miles in the gym, in the local community and on the beach where we went to drink wine, eat fish and watch the sun set on a lovely day. This sand is a fine, white dust and sets off the beautiful blue of the sky reflected in the sea which is shallow for a long way out.

We are staying with M&K who are currently living in the IMG Tennis Academy. I’ve been conferred with temporary residency so I can use the facilities like the pool and the gym. It all feels very nice and welcoming.

I am already into a routine of getting up early and going to the gym, doing a couple of hours then back for orange juice & coffee before going for a walk around the local area which is full of fascinating people and places but also plants and birds. I saw a bright red parakeet-type bird this morning as I walked to the gym and little, grey terrapins run everywhere in the warmth.

The highlight of the day will be a trip to two, major supermarkets. You can learn so much about a people and their culture by their products and the way they shop. Apparently, Americans are not big on imported goods but prefer to stock locally sourced products. What they lose in variety, they gain in freshness.

We visited the two, big supermarket chains – Publix and Walmart. I have to say there was nothing particularly different other than size. Prices were similar but choice was rather more restricted.

Later, we drove out to the seashore for Dinner in the heat of the evening. I had salmon and it was delicious.

Saturday, 5th March, 2022

Up at 5.30 am on another lovely morning and in the gym I did 2.5 hrs of exercise followed by half an hour in the pool with the sun on my back. Today is really warm and has stayed around 30C/86F which is delightful.

In the middle of the day, as the sun was at its hottest, we went down to the docks and out for a couple of hours on a rented boat. It was a lovely, comfortable family experience.

The boat cost almost $500.00/£380.00 for the trip but it was enjoyable to share with M&K, Pauline + Bumface & Babs. We took a cool-box of beers, cocktails, crisps & nuts and explored the area seaside.

It was a delightful experience as we watched the pelicans dive for fish and the dolphins surf the boats’ wake, the multi-millionaire, waterside mansions and the ultra-rich’s boats. Actually, I hanker for neither which is fortunate because I won’t attain them either. My dreams are much cheaper than that!

Tonight we will return to the same area for Dinner in another seafood restaurant. Salad and fried Grouper was our meal and delicious.

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