Week 724

Sunday, 6th November, 2022

Up at 5.00 am leaving my valet and social secretary silently sleeping. Straight down to the basement gym for a couple of hours. Strangely, I was the only one there. 

This morning the weather had deteriorated badly at the airport.

Breakfast at 8.30 am and then out to get the shuttle to South Terminal. Through priority security quickly and down to No1 Lounge.

By 12.30 pm, we were boarding and offered a bottle of red wine. Great for encouraging sleepiness. Just woken for Dinner. I had chicken with another bottle of red wine.

A 9 hour flight went very quickly and we were soon descending into Tampa Airport. As we did, dozens of friends’ texts/Whatsapps/Facebooks/Twitters shouted out of my phone. Lovely feeling although sad to leave them behind.

After the arduous security checks – finger printing, etc, – we were out to collect cases and be picked up by A&K and whisked off to the house for …. Red wine and barbecued salmon. Delicious. By this time, I was tired. I had been up and active for 22 hours. Time for bed. Oh, Pauline & M have to watch the ‘Strictly’ results programme before bed. 😵

Monday, 7th November, 2022

Time zones do rather mess with your head. Despite being active for 22 hours on Sunday, I was awake after about 3hours sleep. At 7.00 am (UK) / 2.00 am (Fl), I awoke thinking about what was going on in the world. Fortunately, I gave myself a good talking to and went back to sleep.

I woke at 7.00 am (Fl) / 12.00 pm (UK) just in time to watch the Daily Politics on BBC2. It was excellent and geared me up for the day. Took this photo from our bedroom window out on to the front garden. At 7.00 am, the temperature is 23C/72F nice and cool because I’ve got to sort out a 3 hr walk this morning after a big cup of Yorkshire Tea.

I’m going to have to mow the grass.

This is a lovely place to be in the Florida countryside. Still very open and under populated the properties are huge and widely spread. Everywhere is big and surrounded by huge lawns.

Been on a lovely, two hour walk around the neighbourhood this morning. It got a bit hot but it was great to explore the area.

Made a new friend today. Just wouldn’t leave me alone. I do tend to have that effect on girls. Not even sure what she is – Grasshopper? Cicada? Locust? Anyway, she has very good taste!

Tuesday, 8th November, 2022

Adjusting to the time change already. Went to bed early last night – 9.30 pm (F) / 2.30 am (UK) and slept well. Woke at 5.00 am (F) / 10.00 am (UK) feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Yorkshire tea and then out for a walk to see if I could reconnect with my new best friend the grasshopper who I’m going to call Jenny.

Everything appears to be organised on a grid, ‘block’ system and there are miles of rolling hills cut through by roads on which the occasional house, each big enough to be a small town in itself, is standing.

Since meeting my new girlfriend yesterday, I have Googled her. All men should do due diligence on their girlfriends. She is a Florida native – a Lubber Grasshopper – and can be poisonous to small mammals and birds but not to humans and, particularly kind ones like me.

On my walk today, I came across this post box outside a huge, sprawling country property. Suddenly realised it was a grasshopper support. Nobody walks anywhere in America. Nowhere is close enough to anywhere else to walk to it. Everyone has multiple vehicles in the drive and petrol is incredibly cheap.

When they saw us walking down the road yesterday, people stopped to offer us a lift. They assumed we had broken down and were walking for help. The idea of walking for fitness in the fresh air and sunshine is complete anathema to Americans. I have to say, I am really enjoying it.

There is something quite delightful about walking in the fresh air while being bathed in hot sunshine. Today, we set off a bit earlier in 25C and returned a couple of hours later in 28C. Gorgeous. While I walked, I chatted through Whatsapp messages to John, Kevin and Julie in Lancashire, Spain and Yorkshire.

In the afternoon we went out for our first big shop at Publix supermarket. It is a lovely, well stocked shop. Every employee is super helpful, incredibly polite and upbeat. We bought fresh Dover Sole and said to the lady on the counter, We’re from Dover. (It’s a bit of a stretch, I know but it was meant to be light hearted.) You’re from Dover, she said dryly. Well, this isn’t. It was caught a few miles away from here. Of course, you can tell a good shop when it stocks the best brands as illustrated in this photo.

Wednesday, 9th November, 2022

Still haven’t completely adjusted to the time shift. We’ve got the US Mid Term election coverage meshing in with UK PMQs. Actually managed to stay in bed until 7.15 am (F) / 12.15 pm (UK) in order to watch Prime Ministers Questions on Sky TV on my iPad. Florida is on a storm warning so I’ve put off hiring a car until Friday.

A Nissan Rogue – The clue is in the name.

There is an Enterprise Rental outlet just 3 miles away so I’ve been finalising availability and prices. We want something similar to what we drive now. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to settle for a NISSAN. Can you believe it. Who would volunteer to drive a NISSAN? We had a brand new one about 40 years ago and the wing mirrors fell off while we were driving.

Even so, it offers plenty of what we would expect in a car if not everything. It is for three months and it will get us around. We don’t expect to be doing many long journeys ….

…. I’ve booked the car for Friday but not through Enterprise who wanted $3,700 per month. On the advice of K, I did a fresh search and found the same model but at Hertz for half that price. Might buy him a present for that. Some chewing gum or something similar.

Thinking about English friends tonight. Feel so far away. Do you ever get that? Travelling is wonderful. I love it but I feel I am leaving and letting down others. I know I’m bonkers but there it is. Kevin is in Spain anyway.

The chef cooked a lovely meal Dinner this evening – pork spare ribs with green beans and asparagus. It was wonderful. A lovely end to the day. We are expecting a Tropical Storm tomorrow. Should be exciting.

Thursday, 10th November, 2022

Every television screen in Florida, yesterday and again today, has been dominated by two topics – the Mid Term Election results and Trump’s lack of success and the coming Hurricane Nicole to a Tropical Storm.

In UK, it seemed that every effort went into keeping places – schools, offices and shops – open. In Florida, they appear to go all out for safety. In this litigious country, the media is dominated by the dangers of storms advising extreme caution.

I have to do my exercise target whatever the weather so I went out in torrential rain and blustery winds to walk for a couple of hours. To be honest, for all the furore in the media here, it really wasn’t worse than a bad day on the Pennines but much, much warmer.

Now, it is only 2.00 pm (F) / 7.00 pm (UK) and I am shattered. I am reduced to self-portraits of my leg from a prostrate position on the bed.

Friday, 11th November, 2022

The Tropical Storm of yesterday that American media played as life threatening, turned out to be a whimper of rain. This morning opened hot and steamy with high humidity. My walk yesterday left me soaked to the skin with driving rain. This morning’s walk left me soaked to the skin with oozing sweat. (Too much information? Hard Luck!) As I walked, I was contacted by David in Rochdale, John & Julie in Yorkshire and Kevin in rainy Benidorm. We exchanged experiences and it felt nice to do that.

The countryside showed the effects of the heavy rain and everywhere smelled gorgeously of pine needles as they carpeted the ground. Everywhere smelled fresh and new. The world looked great and the woods rang round with the calls of exotic birds. Actually, I’ve known quite a few exotic birds in my life. You can still see the scars.

M&K really kindly drove us out to collect a hire car. We had to go to Hertz in Brooksville for the car which turned out to be a rather bigger Toyota which meant we dodged the lowly NISSAN! Everyone at Hertz was pleased to acknowledge British people – Oh, love your country! – and were super friendly as they took our money. Have a nice day, now.

Don’t know how they chose the numberplate. Seems a bit rude! M&K really kindly guided us home and gave us controls for all the electric gates and garage doors. Later, we did our first trip out alone to shop for tonight’s meal – roast salmon with pesto topping accompanied by roasted Mediterranean vegetables.

Saturday, 12th November, 2022

We still haven’t got this time zone yet and were up at 2.00 am / 7.00 am drinking tea and downloading The Times. Back to bed at 4.00 am for about 3 hours and then out walking in the already warm day which eventually reached 28C/83F of sweaty humidity and sunshine. The woodland paths are teaming with wildlife. Squirrels everywhere too fast to photograph apart from this one which had obviously left the Home for the Visually Impaired.

Wonderful bird song echoes all around. Huge properties set in even greater land are fenced and patrolled by guard dogs who come up to challenge us. Actually, they’ve seen us so much in the past week that many can’t even be bothered to bark any more.

As I was walking, I passed a lady who had driven down her long drive to the gate to collect her post. She looked up and said, You really walk. I’ve seen you so much recently. I told her that I had to do a minimum of 10 miles per day. Ten miles! Get out of town, she exclaimed. Actually, we were in the middle of a forest and well out of town but I held back from pointing that out.

Everyone has a Winnebago bigger than a Northern Semi on the drive. Goodness knows where they take it.

We drove out to Walmart (sort of the equivalent of UK Asda which they once owned.) A woman on the door asked where we were from and, when we told her England, she said, Just love England. I asked if she’d been there and she said, Oh no but I love watching Keeping Up AppearancesOh, Hyacith Bouquet, I said. Bucket, she relied snappily. I just love her. We went on to Publix which is rather similar to UK Sainsburys. It was nice to do it under our own steam. An English, business guest is arriving this evening and Kieron is cooking steak on the barbecue in the Sanders Kitchen tonight so we can just sit back and relax.

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