Day 26 – Florida 2016

Ok. After yesterday’s sad news about the Pulse Nightclub shootings, I’ll try and lighten the mood a bit. I’ll start by saying that were now in Treasure Island, a little town on the beach south of Clearwater on Florida’s west coast. It’s a bit Art Deco in its style, but has gone very modern since we first came here. More bars, restaurants and more people. We drove here after our final night with hosts Terry and Viv in New Smyrna Beach. As always, a great time was had by all, but you could see that constant drinking and eating was getting to us all, and we were all knackered. Great time, but so tiring. Out in the boat three days running, followed by afternoon drinks, followed by evenings of cocktails and more drinks….I’m not a machine!

Paul, a fellow retiree who joined and left on the same day as me, came to visit with his two year old Eva. Against all Floridian law and threats of imprisonment from the water Feds, we went out on the boat. It’s the law that Eva must be wearing a life vest at all times, so we fashioned a helium filled life jacket, together with NASA designed arm flaps and water triggered safety flares, and strapped her into our hastily put together device. We then tied her to the boat, in the middle, surrounded her with marine grade polystyrene, and took it in turns sitting next to her making sure she didn’t move. If she had broken free there was more chance of her floating upwards than falling in the water. Anyway, out we went, and had a fantastic view of a family of dolphins. Right up to the boat, really close, as close as I’ve ever seen them . Brilliant.

On our way back, I piloted the boat. At the last minute, the engine stalled, and we headed for disaster. Viv panicked and shouted for Terry to do something quickly. Terry shrugged his shoulders and simply said, ” yes dear”. Nikki screamed and advised everyone to “save themselves”. Paul stood up and pushed us away from the dock we were fast approaching. Eva just stood there….to be fair we had nailed her to the floor. Terry shrugged some more, and we gracefully came to rest next to the dock we’d aimed for initially. Quick dip in the pool and chicken kebabs for tea. Not before we watched Finding Nemo. Again.

I knew something was wrong with Viv though. When we were jointly cooking the tea, she reached boiling point. As she was cooking her part, broccoli, she said to Terry, “Can you find me the Caesar dressing”. Terry said, “It’s not lost dear, it’s in the fridge”. Viv grew horns, turned red, fire came out of her eyes and her voice dipped 15 octaves. “Can you get it for me please, you know how stressed I get when I’m cooking”. Broccoli. To be fair, the broccoli was really good. Not much you can say about broccoli really. I think Gordon Ramsay’s job is safe, but Viv’s broccoli isn’t far behind *.

We said goodbye to our hosts the next morning, and headed west. We found a hotel, The Treasure Bay Marina, which is lovely, and after a few beers we headed out for an early tea. I had a burger (surprise) with a lobster and shrimp topping, with a lobster bisque sauce. Sounds extravagant, but was actually really reasonable, and ranks in my top ten burgers. The lobster really complimented the burger, and the sauce took away the sweetness of the brioche bun. Accompanied by a pineapple coleslaw, just set it off really. If you’re ever at Sloppy Joes I suggest you try one.

I’m writing this after changing Nikki’s bed sheets. If you get a moment, perhaps inbox her, and ask her how she managed to put a glass of red wine on the bedside table, next to her head, and kick it over. I wouldn’t mind if we were doing something sinister, but I was watching a Carpenters documentary on VH1. Something was amiss anyway…on the way back from tea, she looked in an estate agents window, and said, “these properties are quite cheap, except the expensive ones”. I should have known….

*my lawyers have made me add that Viv also prepared a mind blowing salad, and her all time signature dish of mashed potatoes with garlic and sour cream. All done whist her elderly neighbour, Doris, showed her pictures of her German ancestors delivering milk with oxen in 1882, because she thought her British visitors were from Düsseldorf and would be interested. I think she’d had a few….

Oh, and the air con in this room makes it feel like a flocking igloo…and she won’t turn it down. Or up. Whichever it is….

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