Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sunday 9th April 2017

Today was a very busy day.

First of all I got up and went out for a run and then a visit to the beach early morning which was nice. I came back and had breakfast and then Karen and Alan were just getting up. We left the villa at lunchtime to go down to Sawgrass to do an Everglades boat cruise – this was a fabulous experience. We sailed out on an airboat into the fresh water Everglades and stopped on the way to see an alligator basking in the sun. He didn;t move until the Captain (whose name was Captain Deborah) threw some reeds into the water and it then instantly moved which was interesting! We also saw some really interesting birds (including vultures and other birds whose names I can’t remember now!) and the scenery was beautiful.  When we got back there was also a swamp tour with lots of cages with interesting exotic wildlife in them, including iguanas, large tortoises, a beautiful Florida panther, leopards, a boa constrictor and a variety of other small mammals. It was all very interesting and Alan enjoyed it. We also had alligator meat for lunch!

When we left there we then drove to the Sawgrass outlet nearby and went and bought a variety of new things – Alan got some new t-shirts and hoodies and shorts and I got some new shorts and khakis. the mall was huge and it was difficult to find our way around but it was interesting seeing all the people coming and going. Alan also got some new Star Wards bobble head figures.

We left there and went to a steakhouse in Delray Beach called Outback. It was very nice and Alan ate shrimp and also tried some of my steak – he is getting more adventurous with his eating!

We got back about 9pm after a long day.

Saturday 8th April 2017

This morning I got up late and went for a jog around the neighbourhood, then a swim in the sea and a walk along the beach. Had breakfast and then we lay at the villa for some of the afternoon.

We then left the villa at 5 and travelled to Fort Lauderdale to go to an Irish bar down by the New River and have food before going on a short ghost tour, which had been booked by Karen. They guide too us around the riverside area of Fort Lauderdale and told various stories. It really was not very scary or very good – but at least we got to see a bit of Fort Lauderdale which is very picturesque at that time in the evening.

We arrived back at the villa at 10.30.

 

Friday 7th April 2017

This morning Alan and I got up very early and went round to FAU to the police department there to get a personal tour of the FAU stadium. We met Captain Ervin, a black officer who is in charge of all operations on campus and he took us in an undercover car across to the stadium. He took us up to the office where, on match days, there are representatives from police, fire and other rescue services as well as the media watching the game and monitoring all security issues. The view from there was a great, right across the stadium and you could also see beyond the campus as far as the beach. Next, he took us down onto the pitch where the Owls play and we had photos taken. Finally, he showed us the in-house jail where people are put in the cells and detained if they are committing any offences. Alan loved the tour and it was great to get a personal guide from the main man in charge of operations.

We then went across to the School to collect a parcel that we had ordered from Amazon – Star Wars figures. Audrey called the FAU post office and they managed to track down the parcel and we went across and collected it. En route, we bumped in to several of my colleagues including John Smykla and Lincoln. I then also had to drop by the bank to check out some issues with my bank account.

Alan and I then finished our morning by going for pancakes at the original Pancake House, before heading back to the villa. Karen had all the food ready for the party by this point, and after some time outside and in the pool we then tidied and cleaned the villa ready for everyone coming.

People started to arrive around 5, and we ended up with about 19 people there. it was a great evening – lots of good chat with the Smyklas, with Sigal and her parents, with Lisa, Lincoln and Vanessa and Vaughn etc. Alan had a great time with Vaughn’s kids, especially his daughter who is the same age as him and Lisa’s son was also there. They all played outside at the pool for a while and then indoors. People enjoyed the cocktails we had made and all the great food karen had prepared. The last of the guests left around 9.

It was another great social evening and so goo to be able to repay some of the hospitality that I have benefited from here over the months.

 

Thursday 6th April 2017

Today I went out for a run and then to the beach for a swim and morning walk. I then went back to the villa and had breakfast and then went out to the liquor store to buy all the alcohol for the visit of Faculty and students coming to the villa tomorrow evening. what a laugh that turned out to be – once he had heard my accent, the owner of the liquor store started talking to me about Scottish independence and then that led on to a discussion about Donald Trump and politics across Europe! The store owner told me all about his experiences of living in London and his thoughts on Scotland becoming independent. Gosh, I only went in for a bottle of tequila, vodka and cava! It is quite amazing how the Scottish accent attracts attention sometimes!

I drove back to the villa and Karen had the whole kitchen surrounded with baking – tablet and several other Scottish treats! I had lunch and then relaxed in the afternoon by the pool, although the weather was cloudy today but the storm that was forecast never actually came.

We had our meal in in the evening and then watched some TV.

 

Wednesday 5th April 2017

Today there wasn’t much happening so this is a short blog. I got up and went for a walk along the beach and then came back and had breakfast. Karen went shopping and Alan and I stayed in the villa. Alan played on the computer for a while and I lay in the sun, then we played at rugby in the pool. We had dinner and then watched a movie called Silent Figures which was a really interesting portrayal of the racism that black women faced in the 1960s in Virginia.

All in all a lazy day after the last few busy days.

Monday 3rd – Tuesday 4th April

For the past two days I have not had access to my laptop so this blog is two for the price of one, covering Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday morning we left for key West, and it was a long journey all the way down the coast. We stopped on the way to have lunch at the Shrimp Shack, which Karen and Alan had seen covered in a TV programme here the other day. It was a real nice luck – we had alligator meat and shrimp and Alan loved it!  The place itself was located a few miles outside Key Largo and was an unassuming little place but with great food.

We continued our journey and as we got further down, passed across many bridges and causeways and the scenery was just stunning, before finally reaching the 7 mille bridge that took us across to Key West. We checked into our hotel and then went straight onto the shuttle bus that runs from the hotel into the centre of Key West. We went to Mallory Square, had some cocktails (well Karen and I did, while Alan had apple juice) and saw the sunset. It is supposed to be one of the most stunning sunsets anywhere and there were hundreds of people out taking photos. It was beautiful although i have to say I don;t think it is any better a sunset than other places I have seen it in!!

We went back to the hotel on the shuttle bus and I got a takeaway wrap from the portable restaurant outside and Alan got a MacDonald’s.

The next day (Tues) we got up and got ready and went back out to get the shuttle bus back into the centre. we got off and had a snack and then got on one of the little trains that gives you  a full tour around Key West. This tour has been entertaining visitors on the island since 1958. It took us through the old town and past Hemingway House, Harry Truman’s little white house, the lighthouse the butterfly and nature conservatory and the southernmost point. It was all very interesting and it was fascinating to learn about the way in which the island had no access to fresh water for a long time and so houses in the old town were built with iron roofs to allow the water to flow into drains. Key West is stunning – at the front the water is clear, crystal blue and there are lots of quirky features such as cockerels walking around the streets. we even saw a hen with her chicks walking along the pavement at one point. Alan and I also went to the aquarium and saw lots of interesting fish including some baby sharks.

After this we went back to the hotel and started back up the road. On the way up, the scenery was again stunning with blue water and white sand everywhere and many quirky, unusual stores and buildings. we stopped on the way to buy some souvenirs and gifts in one of the little stores.

We then drove to South Beach in Miami. It was a little bit of a detour but worth the efforts to go and see it. We got there and weaved down to the art deco area at the front. We didn;t get out the car, but saw many unusual buildings and many unusual people! All the beautiful people and posers are here and the rest!! There were also some amazing views on the skyscrapers against the coastal scenery. At least that means I can now say I have also seen Miami!

We drove back up the road and stopped at the Olive Garden for our dinner, having not eaten since this morning! We then went back onto the i-95 and got home around 9.15. Boy has it been a busy couple of days – but we’ve seen lots of interesting and stunning things. Hopefully Alan will remember it all when he is older. He may not have been too interested just now, but he will be able to talk about all these experiences some day!

I think we are now all due some relaxation!

Sunday 2nd April 2017

This morning we all got up and got ready early and went to Boca Raton Community Church. This has been such a great source of support for me over the months I have been here and at last I was able to bring Karen and Alan along to experience the service and to meet the people who have shown me such support there. I wasn’t sure how Karen would like the format but she seemed to like it. After the service I introduced her to Pastor Bill, and then we met Bob and Ruth who have been so kind to me while I have been there. We went with then and their daughter Julie and granddaughter Anna who are visiting them this week to the Olive Garden for lunch. We had a lovely lunch and a great chat with them all – such good company and it was so great for my family to meet them.

After this we went back to the villa for the rest of the day. It was cloudy and windy today again so not much in the way of sunbathing. Alan played on the computer and we spent time reading and watching TV. we had our tea in the villa and got ready for heading to Key West tomorrow.

We also called our mums – Karen had got a special rate for phone calls so she called her mum first and then I called mine.

Today we also learned that Gino next door’s boat had a malfunction in its engine which is why it was toed back to the villa. He and his family will be cutting their holiday short and will return this Wednesday – so looks like we will not have much time here with the place to ourselves after all.

Saturday 1st April 2017

Today I began the day with breakfast out on the terrace before Karen and Alan were up. I then reminded Alan that it was April Fool’s Day and he played a trick on his mum, telling here there was an alligator on the lawn of one of the houses across the water. She fell for it just for a minute!

We set off at 12p for For Lauderdale where we had tickets booked for the Jungle Queen Riverboat cruise. The double-decker Jungle Queen Riverboat cruises up and down New River, named as the ‘Venice of America’. we thought we were going to be late and not make it since we had been told to be there for 1pm and once we set out we realised that the journey took much longer than expected since the GSP took us the scenic route, all the way down the coast. However, once there it turned out that the boat did not leave until 1.30 so we had plenty of time.  Once we set sail, we caught glimpses of Millionaire’s Row all the way down the water and the homes of the wealthy and their mega yachts. For example, we saw a house that had been the setting for several episodes of Miami Vice, one that belonged to Tiger Woods’ wife and one belonging to Lee Majors. We also saw one that had been in Cape Fear.

It took an hour to sail down the New River and then we stopped off on a tropical isle where there were rare plants and brightly feathered macaws. There was also an alligator show, where a very large guy wrested with a ‘gator. Alan reckoned that the ‘gator had been drugged and that was why it was so easy! We enjoyed the show and the various birds (parrots, owls etc) before having hotdogs and then getting back on the boat and sailing back up the river. It reminded me a little bit of Animal Kingdom in Disneyworld.

Once back we disembarked and drove back to Highland Beach the quicker way, via the i-95. we got back about 6 and had some relaxation before going back out again to Duffy’s sports bar for a meal. There were lots of screens showing the basketball and baseball, and lots of American football hats on display. It was nice, although the service was not the best.

We got back to the villa at 9.30pm. Tomorrow, Karen and Alan will make their first visit to Boca Raton Community Church with me.

 

 

Friday 31st March 2017

Today was a lazy day with not much happening. I went for a morning run and then for a walk along the beach. I then went back to the villa and had my breakfast before Karen and Alan were up. Late morning, I went to Publix to get more water and a few other messages. when I came back I enjoyed a beer on the terrace.

It was a cloudy and windy day today and so we all just stayed in and around the villa. I read quite a bit and then later on we all went into the hot tub and the pool. we then had tea and watched some TV. By the evening the wind had settled and the sky had begun to clear.

Tomorrow we are going on a river boat tour down in Fort Lauderdale so that should be something different.