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Day 4 Florida 2018

Well, day four started with rain. It was quite warm, but there were clouds and it was definitely drizzling, as the raindrops were bouncing off the ice.

We started the day with a trip to Daytona, which, in the rain, looks like quite a nice place. I’m told that it’s quite a poor town with a great beach…or is that a great town with a poor beach? Either way, Daytona beach is famous worldwide. It’s known mostly for its speedway, and being the host of the Daytona 500, when local Sheriffs round up 500 troublesome teenagers, put them in an enclosure, and allow cars to taunt and chase them.

Only kidding of course. It’s a car race of many laps, one way, round a circular track. The cars aren’t real cars though…they’ve got headlights painted on to them, and stickers everywhere. There’s only one seat in the cars as well, so you can’t nip down the shops halfway through the race for some milk, and there’s no baby seat facility either, so you’re knackered if you have grand children. The cars have slightly offset wheels too, that point inwards slightly, so the driver doesn’t need to steer. Oh, and there’s no windows, so it’s a bit drafty, plus, you couldn’t leave anything in there overnight because someone would just be able to reach in and grab it. In fact, thinking about it, these aren’t cars at all, and the only thing the drivers are competing for is to get the race finished ASAP, so they can get out of the cold car, have a wash, and get home to a glass of milk with their family. The 500 bit relates to the winners prize when the first race took place, organised by local bootleggers under the cover of darkness, due to alcohol being illegal at the time. The original race, organised by the then unknown entrepreneur Emmett Daytona, was a drag race over 500 yards, which progressed to the nearby raceway, after they’d realised the two mile track had to be used for something other than chicken baiting to make ends meet.

The Guinness Book of Records also states that Daytona is also home to the Worlds biggest ever pumpkin, grown by Susie Pickford in 1992, and one that reached a staggering 420lbs in weight….that’s enough to feed almost 4 small elementary schools. Susie sold the pumpkin to a local supermarket for just shy of $420,000, but a few weeks later the supermarket sued her, as the said pumpkin shrivelled and turned to mush under the glare and heat of the display lights. The judge ruled in favour of Susie, but the pumpkin mush was preserved, and is now on display in a large bowl in St Augustine. Well worth a visit.

Vivian has started her very own for of Nikkisms, or Vivisms as they’re called locally. Whilst trying on a top in a store, Vivian joined us to offer an opinion. “Which one do you prefer Viv?” Nikki asked. “Well, I like the grey one” said Viv, “but I haven’t seen the others”.

After a shopping trip, and a short tour of Daytona, taking in the beach, which was cut short as the tide was in, we headed home. On the way, we stopped at a WaWa, which is, to us Brits, a Petrol station. But this is no ordinary petrol station. You’ll now find a WaWa on most street corners, at the entrance to many theme parks, and most people have one in their back gardens. Of course it sells petrol (or gas as the Americans say, which is plainly wrong, as petrol is in liquid form, so it’s like calling rocks “liquid”), but it also sells food, drink, has a cocktail bar, a section where you can have a suit handmade by a Savile Row trained tailor, and a gypsy medium to enlighten you about your future. Oh, and you can get a flavoured coffee. Any size, a dollar. Why wouldn’t you just always get the large? Anyway, as we waited, a man in a mobility scooter drove past in front of us. He had a small terrier dog tucked under his legs in the footwell, smiling and wagging its tail. “Look at that dog underneath that mans legs” I observed. My passengers, Vivian and Nikki, looked and nodded. After a few seconds, Nikki shouted, “Oh look! There really is a dog! I though you meant his numnah!”. The car remained silent for a few seconds, both Viv and me wondering if we’d heard her correctly. Then the silence was broken. “Nik, what the flock is a numnah?”. I’ll let you look it up, unless you already know, but she wasn’t being rude, and it’s easy to see what she meant. Actually no. She should be sectioned…..

We all went to a local restaurant in the evening, with long time friends and associates Rita and Scott. We’ve known these two for years now, and it’s great to see old friends and catch up when we visit. We keep inviting them over to England, but why would you want to leave this place when you don’t have to? They live in a small 38 bedroom mansion on the coast, that has rock star status amongst us visitors, although they are very shy and modest about something they worked their fingers to the bone to get. I wouldn’t be, I’d be proud to show off what I’d achieved, and they should be. They told us they made their fortune by starting out chicken baiting on a large racetrack, then importing alcohol during prohibition in the Daytona area, before living into the giant pumpkin growing business….

****For those of you who can’t be arsed to Google….

numnah (plural-numnahs… Blanket used in horse riding that sits under the saddle)

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