Wednesday, 15 February 2017

2017 Feb - Florida holiday - week 1........

All packed and ready (even bought a new suitcase) for another trip to friendsL&K's Florida home. Really looking forward to seeing them especially as they've both been unwell recently I'm sure they could do with a hug brought from home. Have to say with all the President Trump news of late I'm a bit concerned what we will find there, protestors and holdups at the airport are my first concern really.

Tuesday 7
5am start from my lovely warm and snuggly bed and out of the house about 6:20am, so a little later than Hubby had wanted but not a problem as he'd allowed plenty of time. But that little bit later meant a lot more traffic so it seemed to take forever to get from home to Gatwick. We were all on board and had about 20mins to wait before take off as something in the hold had to come out of the hold and go back in. All minor hiccups including the quarter of an hour or so of minor turbulence that coincided with us all trying to eat and drink from the meal trays we'd been given. I wasn't giving up as it was delicious and thankfully I didn't get any down my front. On arrival we were pleasantly surprised to find the whole passport control system had been greatly improved since our last visit. Our case came off the carousel as one of the first but unfortunately our other case was one of the last or we would have whizzed out of there. But the delay for luggage did mean when we went to the car rental desk there was no queue and that took minimal time. It was really lovely arriving at L&K's with an evening of dinner and lots of chat. There was a huge storm just as we went to bed, lots of loud thunder and bright lighting with some much needed heavy rain. I don't think it actually lasted too long or maybe we were so tired we fell asleep despite the noise.

Wednesday 8
L&K went off to their very early pilates class and Hubby and I had a much less active start, just breakfast, unpacking and showers, then L&K were home again. After they'd showered and fed and watered we all ventured out in the golf cart, stopping first in Brownwood town square
And the men mostly found a bench outside each shop we popped into.
Then onto Lake Sumter Standing, another town square, for a lunch stop and walk

Looking really cloudy but actually 27°C so definitely shorts and tshirts weather.
Home and out again about 6:30pm into Brownwood for dinner at Cody's restaurant, where Dangerous Dave was the live music entertainment and you eat peanuts from little buckets on the tables and the shells just get thrown on the floor. Our table was of the high bar stool variety but I managed to get up and down without making a fool of myself hahaha. Dancing in Cody's then just enough time to catch the end of the town square entertainment and a bit of line dancing. Pleased I'd remembered how to Electric Slide from our last visit.

Thursday 9
Really cloudy blowy start but still 23°C, so at 7am I'm sitting in my PJs in the lanai (outside room) while the others are still sleeping
Another lazy morning, total holiday relax. Our men do like to get a few jobs done though, some of it was techy Hubby sorting out their tablet with a promise to do the laptop later and some was actually measuring up the lanai and friendK doing lots of online research for retractable screens with the big debate between them of professional or DIY. When we headed out mid-afternoon the first stop was Home Depot (Hubby can't stay away from B&Q at home and this looked just the same) to price up stuff they unfortunately don't sell, hahaha men were searching up and down all the isles for ages so I went and asked then we left! 

Dinner was at Ruby Tuesday and it was yummy. I had southern fried chicken with a plate full of help yourself salad bar. As they were leaving a man from the next table gave us some vouchers they had extra so we got a bit of a discount too!

Mark Seymour was the singer in the square and he's got a great voice, so we stayed for a dance or two or three. 

From there we went to one of the many recreation centres as tonight was the British-American Club meeting that L&K usually go to. Hubby and I were introduced to a lovely bunch of people, very welcoming. One of the members had arranged the film show in the style of early cinema with lots of short clips and old news reports, very nostalgic and very entertaining. Good use of our hire car today as these venues were all a bit further away from home and from each other so would have taken ages in the golf cart. Back at home we ended the night with some heavy discussions on the political situations both sides of the pond, really hard to avoid talking about it the way things are. 

Friday 10
I was up at 6:30am and now at 7:30am it's bright and sunny with a clear sky but only 8°C so far. Everybody else up by 8am. FriendsL&K went to their pilates class and again we both declined. After some lunch we headed out as there was some shopping needed, friendL did better than the rest of us in the clothes shop . In the evening we went out in the golf cart to Brownwood Square and met up with another English couple L&K are good friends with and all went to World of Beer to eat. Food was great, men tried lots of the beers, lots of laughter by all, fun evening.

Saturday 11
Football was on tv all morning as we are five hours behind so live in the afternoon in England. Then we went out to the Polo Club for a really good craft market.
We had an early dinner at home as we were meeting last night's friends again for dancing, but unfortunately the husband's back was painful so no dancing for him tonight but we went anyway. Scooter was performing in Sumter Square and he is hilarious and gets everyone dancing silly dance routines. He works the cruises too. It's also fun to people watch and L nearly got in trouble when she tried to use a chair someone else had obviously laid claim to but wasn't actually sitting on lol. There always seems to be a happy hour in the drink huts around the square and when K bought L a glass of wine he was given a pint!

Sunday 12
This is day one of our holiday-holiday! The four of us have arrived in St Augustine, about 2hrs 15mins drive to the east coast. Hotel seems to have all we need, nice big rooms and very welcoming and friendly staff. So bags into rooms then out to explore. FriendL had booked a great location as a very short walk and we were through the gateway (no actual gates) into George Street

Which is full of food and drink places and lots of shops of the gifty variety (most a bit expensive though). We seemed to be shopping for hours but there was an early lunch stop and a later relax with drinks in a garden bar then back to the hotel for a quick freshen up and out again for dinner.  Harry's Restaurant was lovely and our waiter was brilliant at explaining flavours and making recommendations. We all came out feeling really full and had to walk it off before heading back to the hotel. Hopefully we can sleep ok with this noisy air con unit that we've set to auto so it only comes on every now and then when it needs to.

Monday 13
We are booked as breakfast included and thankfully L had warned me US hotels are not great at providing breakfast, especially a selection that we are used to. I was not disappointed as I'd been warmed. Very basic, the eggs looked like processed food, had to have coffee as no breakfast tea but none of us went hungry. We crossed the road and bought tickets for the Tour Trolly Bus, expensive but the full circuit takes about 90 minutes with constant commentary, we can also use it as hop on hop off, and we can use it tomorrow too. Had a late lunch in a Greek restaurant then back on the trolly to the museum.

St Augustine is so full of character and historic stories laying claim to being the oldest settlement in America, you may want a quick history link here.
Unfortunately half way round the museum friendK didn't feel too well so with L they went back to the hotel, Hubby and I followed taking in a few extra shops on the way. A brief hotel rest and K felt so much better. So out we all went to eat at O.C.White which we'd seen advertised and had a voucher for. The waitress was lovely chatting all about England as she'd spent some time there. Meal was lovely. Then over the road to a pub which had about 20+ beers on offer!

So a week has whizzed by but only half way though our holiday.
                    To be continued.............

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Theatre: Black Is The Color Of My Voice....

Inspired by the life of Nina Simone, Black Is The Color Of My Voice follows a successful jazz singer and civil rights activist seeking redemption after the untimely death of her father. She reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy destined for a life in the service of the church, to a renowned jazz vocalist at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Direct from sell-out performances in Shanghai, New York and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Apphia Campbell embarks on her debut UK tour. 


Really not much more I can say about this performance apart from WOW !
A one woman show full of emotion punctuated with her fantastic voice.

Hopefully this is a link to the rest of the tour.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Quick make......

....that actually took ages from start to finish although most of the time was me going off to do other things while thinking it through. I knew what I wanted just didn't know how to get there.

So I started with measuring the space it need to fit, then I found that the supermarket cartoon was near enough.
Cut the bottom out
And covered it with fabric which had to be held in place with clothes pegs. The fabric was actually one of my mum's dressing gowns so a little bit quilted and the pink flowers were perfect for this project.
Next came the trickiest bit as didn't know the best way to attach one to the other. First tried a back stitch but going through card made it hard to keep the line straight so took that out and then tried big needle and embroidery thread to give a decorative blanket stitch edge but didn't get far with that either. I then tried a small sample of card and fabric through my sewing machine and so long as I was slow it seemed to work.

Because of the size I moved my machine onto the ironing board into the middle of the room, and added a pile of books to extend the footplate to support the thing so it wouldn't bend, and I  had to stand for best reach. Very hard to control and a very wavy machine line but it got the job done.

Next dilemma was how to attach the chunky wool cross strands, which were poked through to the back and knotted off in twos apart from the four corners which had buttons for anchorage. Four more buttons to secure the central diamond and it was done!

And we now have a very useful notice board in the hall with the fabric matching in well with our bright pink walls.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Nothing lasts forever, except memories......

My dad used waxed string for so many things. I'm sure his reel started off looking  like this one

But when I inherited it there was only about a third of the reel left. 

A long length of it went into my holiday emergency kit and has been used and reused on many adventures. It has been a makeshift washing line, I've used it to measure spaces, to tie up things, to secure things....the list goes on. 

At home I've mended shoes with it, wrapped parcels for posting and I've secured sets of books for charity collections with it. Every time I've thanked my dad and it has always been called "dad's string".

The most recent job it did was restringing my beaded light pull cord in the downstairs loo, R & E made it for me when they were three years old and last week when rushing in there while saucepans were bubbling on the cooker it suffered one tug too many and beads scattered all over the floor. Now restored.....

Which sadly after the last 18 years just leaves me with this bit, which I know I'll be reluctant to use.

I can't replace it, I'll just have to manage without it. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Productive few days......

You know what it's like when nothing goes to plan, well hey when things do go to plan it is so worth shouting about here, even if it's normal routine stuff.

We have just ordered new lounge furniture and delivery dates won't clash with our upcoming holiday.

As Daughter will be taking some of our current suite (as it's so much better than what she has), she decided it was a good time to improve her lounge floor before the sofa swap. So with Hubby's help out went the old carpet and down went a floating wood laminate. Not easy as she has nowhere else to put her furniture so it was move aside - do a bit of floor - move furniture again - do a bit more floor - etc.

This Wednesday it was our turn to benefit from the B&Q pensioner discount with more flooring. This is the before photo. We have creamy beige carpet which I still like and I know the front doorway looks good it's only because that's a new rug, as each one gets too grubby to clean up we cut another piece of offcut but unfortunately this was the very last spare piece. Also the rugs really annoy us when they creep under the door and have to be dragged back whatever gripper non-slip products we have tried.
 And this is the after photo. Hubby has done another great job of laying a floating vinyl laminate (not easy getting all our wires secured and flat and hidden). So we now have a wipe clean entrance.

We've also had a tyre change on my car, I've cleared and dried the laundry and half way through the ironing, bought a new suitcase and changed sterling to dollars in spite of Brexit negotiations and Trump-mania lol.

On the social side I had a lovely long Skype catch up with friendsL&K in the US.
BFriendM and I took the train to Ely to spend time with friendHBW where we went into the Cathedral, had tea in a crypt and learnt a bit more about Oliver Cromwell.

Had a lovely lunch with friendLE and friendSG in a local restaurant I've not been to before. We enjoyed it so much our next meet up for the end of March is already booked for the same place.

Oh and also took back a jumper Hubby had bought me for Christmas that sadly didn't fit and changed it for two pairs of jeans. Of course then at home I had to shorten both pairs. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

The ties between charities......

Yesterday was our first of the year visit to Acorn Villages for crafting and lunch. As I've mentioned before it's mainly a residential community for adults with learning disabilities and totally funded by charitable donations and they also raise funds by selling hand crafted objects the residents have made.

Our neighbour-friendsP&A and their church are also very involved in another charity in Romania and taking lorry loads of goods out to them. Recently they were given a huge amount of brand new school ties which unfortunately would be of no use to the orphanages or very poor in Romania.

How lucky they mentioned it to me, just in idle conversation. Well as a crafter I knew there were lots of possibilities and we all loved the idea of passing on a charitable donation straight on to another charity that could make good use of them and hopefully make some money too. I had about 40 here of three different patterns.

So far I made two prototype sample cases, for specs or mobile phone and a pen or scissors etc.

 I took them yesterday to show the other crafters and staff. The member of staff thought they were definitely easy enough for some of the adults there to make. The other crafters all loved the idea and a few came up with lots of different ideas and said they can make for Acorn to sell or make for themselves and make a donation to Acorn instead. As they are bright colours we've decided to keep all scraps too for making rag-rugs and rag-wreaths for next Christmas.

So I've now told P&A I can make use of them all, so think I've some huge boxes of ties coming my way.

2016 reading.........

It's been a dreadful year for reading, seems like I'm not sitting still long enough, or crafting and playing online Words With Friends is taking preference, or I haven't found the right book to grab my interest. So here is the meagre list......

Hardback. Bought used from Amazon with Christmas gift voucher
Started  11/1/16 - finished 21/1/16
An excellent and very entertaining read. So refreshing that it wasn't the usual rags-to-riches celebrity autobiography as Michael was born into wealth and privilege but of course privilege is relative as his parents divorced and he passionately describes his relationships with family members, teenage angst, finding love and the huge struggle to work his chosen career to success. It's so funny.

eBook. Paid for download to Kindle reader with Christmas gift voucher.
Started  22/1/16 - finished 3/2/16
This had been recommended to me by SisterS and I'm just about to thank her as I've thoroughly enjoyed it. The twists and turns of emotion and comparisons between how the generations grew up and how it had influenced their relationships with each other. Secrets and lies and how the truth unfolds. I highly recommend it.

eBook. Free download to Kindle reader.
Started  4/5/16 - unfinished
Carrying this forward to 2017

THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson
Paperback. Lent to me by GranddaughterE.
Started  14/5/16 - finished 16/5/16
A brilliant look at teenage peer pressure, bullying and support when there is added pressure of gender issues. The families were described so well that it showed why the teens had some of their problems. For all the young adult readers I'm pleased it ended on a positive note.  Highly recommended.

NORWEGIAN WOOD by Haruki Murakami
Daughter read this and recommended it,  I found it as an audiobook on YouTube.
Started 1/10/16 - never finished, seems my lifestyle doesn't go well with audio books.
A little bit odd as this book is very Japanese but is read by a young male American. No heavy story but all mixed relationships well implied without being totally described (does that make sense? ). Yes enjoyed as far as I got but easily picked up and put down.

*THE WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins
eBook. Free download to Kindle reader. Another that Daughter had recommended.
Started 26/11/16  - unfinished
Carrying this forward to 2017