After returning from Corfu, we had a week at home before setting off for Florida. On Saturday 7th June we finally had a day in London. It was raining when we woke, but we did not want to postpone our trip for the fifth time! We checked the forecast, which said rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon. So we took a chance, and fortunately on this occasion the forecast was accurate.
In the morning we followed our usual London routine: buy tickets in Leicester Square, have coffee, browse in Stanfords (travel bookshop). We briefly visited an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and had lunch in the crypt café of St Martin’s in the Fields. When we emerged, the sun really was shining, so we were able to walk a stretch of the Thames Path, from the Tate Modern to Wapping; we returned to the West End by bus which gave us an interesting tour of London. In the evening we saw Imelda Staunton in the play Good People, which we really enjoyed.
Statue by Tower Bridge (1)
The next day, it was the turn of Claire and Charlie to go to London: she took him to Wembley for the One Direction concert. While they were gone, we took Oscar to the park, where he demonstrated his footballing skills and we had a brief trip on the little river in a rowing boat.
The following Tuesday, Sandie went with Claire to Charlie’s Dragons (martial arts) class, while Ian stayed with Oscar. Charlie passed his grading test, and was awarded his second belt (white with red stripes). He was excited, and we were all proud.
Back to Florida
On Thursday 12th June we flew to the USA again. The purpose of the trip was twofold. We wanted to revisit the south-west, which has the most fabulous scenery we’ve encountered anywhere in the world. And we wanted to buy a condo in Sarasota. The plan therefore was to start in Sarasota, where we would buy a condo, and also some camping gear. Then we would go west camping for a few weeks, and return to Sarasota, ideally to collect the keys to our new second home.
Having explored the options last November, and thought it over since then, we’d decided we definitely wanted to buy a condo in the Central Park II development, close to downtown Sarasota. Our agent had been monitoring availability, and our latest information was that there were two condos available, one of which was in the exact location we wanted. She was arranging for us to see both on Saturday.
We flew into Orlando, and stayed overnight in a motel which was close to the airport, although it took us an hour to find it! Next morning we drove to our friend Jane’s house in Sarasota; as we spent some weeks there last November-December, it felt like coming home. As before, we eat lunch out on the veranda, in the company of a little lizard who entertains us by puffing out his red throat. Jane’s house is surrounded by forest, and there is no shortage of wildlife. We’ve seen lots of large butterflies, and birds, including one which was bright orange: unfortunately we were not quick enough to get a photo, and not sufficiently informed to identify it!
Soon after arriving we heard the bad news that the condo we were most interested in had been sold – the deal had been finalised only that morning. On Saturday we viewed the second condo, but decided not to make an offer immediately as we understood (wrongly, as it transpired) that there would be one with a better view on the market soon. That evening we went to the Asolo Theatre, where we saw a one-woman play called I loved, I lost, I made spaghetti; the actress cooks a meal on stage while telling her story, and serves it to those members of the audience who sit at tables in front of the stalls.
Florida summers are hot and humid. Tropical thunderstorms are an almost daily occurrence, but tend to be mainly in the late afternoon or evening. Having ascertained this, we made a morning excursion to Siesta Beach, where we walked on the dazzling white sand, swam or floated in the Gulf of Mexico (warm enough even for Sandie!) and watched pelicans fly overhead, and an egret paddling in the waves.
As it seemed we would need to wait for our ideal condo to be available, it made sense to do our trip to the south-west sooner rather than later. We spent some time touring shops and accumulating all the equipment we needed for camping. And one afternoon we had a practice run, erecting our new tent in Jane’s garden. We are now all set for departure!