Sunday, 20th November, 2022
Strange day but very enjoyable. Quite a cool and overcast start. I did a couple of hours walking then came back to catch up with the UK political programmes and read the downloaded Sunday Times + Sunday Telegraph. As I got back to the house, light rain began to fall and never really stopped for the rest of the day.
In the afternoon, we all went out to the Southern Hills Plantation Club. The idea was to spend an hour in the gym and then to swim but the weather kept us inside.
We decided to drive out to a shopping mall about an hour away. M&K still need more furniture to fill this vast house and so visited Home Furniture shops like Rooms to Go in an area called Wesley Chapel.
Afterwards, M&K treated us to Dinner in a lovely restaurant which served just the food we like. I had Lobster Linguini and Pauline had beautiful, fresh Scallops.
I must admit that, as we left the restaurant, it felt more like Manchester weather than Florida but at least we know tomorrow will be back up to 26F/79F. Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself and we started our 3rd week here today. Incredible.
Tomorrow I am hoping to include a rave from the College grave which popped up yesterday. Oh, how we are aging!
Monday, 21st November, 2022
Gorgeous, hot and sunny day. I’m told that the North of England had their first frost of the year. Julie went down to the sea and took a ‘selfie’. Those without smartphones are really depriving themselves,
The North Yorkshire sea looks quite tempestuous but attractive. We, on the other hand were back to 27C/81F which was lovely for walking in.
I was sent a photo of an old friend who I haven’t seen since 1972. Bill & Jimmy came as a pair. They were from Liverpool and couldn’t look more different. Bill looked older, taller and rather ‘lanky’. Jimmy was smaller, neater and looked younger. He usually wore sunglasses. I understand why.
We know that Bill died some time ago but nobody had seen Jimmy. He appears to have re-surfaced at the latest reunion in Ripon this month. He is photographed here with Chris Tolley November 2022. How we are all dealing with the ravages of time.
I am trying to deal with it by exercising and reaching out – partially successfully – to old friends. It is interesting, painful and exciting in equal measure. Today, Kevin sent me a jokey cartoon. Julie sent me a photograph and John sent me a memory of days gone by. All are nice and rewarding in their own way.
I have walked 80 miles in the past week and 4000 in the past year. I am feeling quite fit and enjoying it. Pauline has stopped walking because her foot is swelling up. I am looking for a witch’s spell to cure her.
Do you know any witches? Answers on a postcard!
Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022
Yesterday the roads were lined with blue Waste (Trash) Bins. Our day in Sussex is Monday as well but there we have general waste every week and recycle every fortnight. Here they don’t do recycling at all and the bins are emptied twice each week.
One of the glories of this house is the garden. It is vast and well stocked with trees and plants as well as extensive lawns and water features.
M&K are having a large pool area installed and K has already put in a golf driving feature. We are going to help by installing a herb garden and we have our eye on a gorgeous blue/green palm tree as a statement plant as well.
The climate makes outside living really enjoyable and the garden encourages that. This seating area at the front of the house is lovely for evening sunshine and warmth before retreating to the air-conditioning.
Wednesday, 23rd November, 2022
A warm and sunny day. I was walking in the morning. Pauline is still troubled by her foot which is rather swollen. When I got back, we nipped out to Publix for some bottles of wine and fish for Dinner.
The supermarket was very busy because it is the last day before the Thanksgiving holiday. We watched PMQs together and then spent a while in the sunshine in the Jacuzzi with a glass of iced white wine.
M&K have booked us a Thanksgiving meal together at the Country Club where we go to the gym and have a large pool.
This evening, my chef is cooking fish goujons and serving it with green salad. Sounds lovely and, after all that exercise, I’m starving!
Thursday, 24th November, 2022
A warm and sultry day that reached 27C/81F. It is Thanksgiving Day in US which means a long weekend holiday. We are booked in for a meal at the country club at 12.30 pm and are all going to exercise first. I was out at 7.30 am for my first walk. We then all drove out to the club. M&K played golf while Pauline and I went in the gym.
It is very exclusive. In fact, I don’t think I have seen more than three other people there while we were working out. David Lloyd Health Club it is not. I was able to watch political programmes from the BBC on my iPad while I exercised which was useful.
The meal was fascinating with elements one would never predict. Who eats sweet almond butter with the savoury course? – Americans. Who mixes sharp cranberry sauce with marshmallow? – Americans. The turkey was lovely and the stuffing is torn shards of bread soaked in savoury sauce which was surprisingly nice. I had pumpkin pie for sweet and that was enjoyable but unusual for me.
Pauline met a woman in the shower who came from Clitheroe, Lancashire. Unfortunately, we rather landed M&K in it because she immediately wanted to arrange a dinner party which we couldn’t refuse. She was obviously in need of Home-origin contact and grasped the first opportunity she could. I’ve suggested we all catch Covid in time for that date but we’ll see.
When we got home, Pauline & I were too full and exhausted to enjoy the lovely sunshine outside. We slumped with coffee and newspapers.
Friday, 25th November, 2022
Screamingly hot and humid day. K came back from a morning’s golf shattered and I came back from three hour’s walking with my shirt heavier than me. It was as if I had showered in it.
We went out to a bar to enjoy the fully immersed experience of the Eng v USA match. Was really hoping to get into a fight. Actually, the ‘Sports’ Bar was running about 10 TV screens simultaneously, was populated by a lot of older and grossly unfit, overweight men many of whom were watching the ice hockey or the golf rather than the football.
Didn’t manage to get the fight. In fact, there was little to get excited or controversial about. People seemed to be more energised by the Boston Bruins beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in the ice hockey. Even so, it was good to have the experience.
What was strange was that I received a message from Leeds in Yorkshire while I was sitting in that bar. It was from John Coates who appears to be on the mend after a terrible stroke. Haven’t seen him since he came to my wedding in 1978. I will visit when I return to UK.
Saturday, 26th November, 2022
Over breakfast on this hot and humid day, we learnt that our next-door neighbours in Sussex had put their house on the market. They had talked about it but we hoped they wouldn’t. They are lovely people and you don’t know who will come in their place.
It is on at £830,000 which is a reasonable price and will almost certainly sell quickly as everything does down here. We are all constantly bombarded with leaflets from local estate agents urging us to have our properties valued and to consider going on the market. Who knows, Pauline is already getting itchy feet and, dependent on what our new neighbours are like, maybe we will take the plunge.
It’s the sort of thing one sits outside on a warm evening with a glass of chilled wine and muses on. Well, we do anyway. I know some people are happy to stay in the same house for most of their lives but it wouldn’t suit us and there will come a time in their old age when they will miss the equity they should have built up.
The house prices in USA seem quite reasonable set against those back home. This substantial property with heated pool is on at $590,00 / £488,000 which is certainly less than would be demanded in Sussex … and the weather comes with it.