On Sunday 10 May Claire drove us to Gatwick, and we flew to Tampa. We were on standby (using Claire’s staff travel) but had no problem getting seats – in fact the plane was half empty. At Tampa airport we picked up a rental car and drove to Sarasota as usual. We had to remember, though, that this time we were heading for our condo, and not for Jane’s house!
Fortunately we’d already acquired enough furniture – including twin beds from the previous owner – to be able to live in the condo. We had china and cutlery, so we could eat! But there was still a lot to get, and the living room in particular looked very bare. So we spent a lot of time on shopping expeditions. We spent all of Monday and Tuesday looking at furniture, and then had to make up our minds what would fit best, before going back on Wednesday to buy things, or order them if they wouldn’t go in the car. On Thursday we investigated TVs and TV stands, but decided to order online. After that we bought a printer, an iron, ironing board and lots of other bits and pieces for the kitchen or bathroom. Choosing everything was fun, and so was living in the condo. Going upstairs seemed odd though, and we realised it was seven years since we had lived in a two-storey home!
The box spring saga
When we first started looking for furniture in Florida, we had no idea what a ‘box spring’ was. We found out that it was more or less equivalent to the base of a divan bed at home –not quite the same, because it has no casters and has to fit inside a metal frame. As explained in our last blog but one, when our bedroom furniture was delivered, the box spring would not go up the stairs. After phoning the salesman, Eric, the delivery men took it away, and we understood that it was to be replaced by a split box spring, i.e. one that comes in two pieces as most do in the UK.
We fully expected that this might cost a bit extra, so were surprised when time went by and we heard nothing. We phoned to check progress, and were shocked to find that we would have to pay the full cost of a split box spring, and would get no refund for the one that had been returned. We argued unsuccessfully, so when back in Sarasota we visited mattress shops (there are many!) in the hope of getting a better deal. In the US, we discovered, king-sized box springs are usually split, but not queens, so eyebrows were raised when we enquired about a split queen box spring.
The prices quoted were even higher, so we went back to the original company – with reluctance, as we felt they had treated us badly.
However, that evening we went to the cinema, and arriving early we passed the time by enquiring at another mattress shop nearby. We were offered a split queen box spring cheaper than anywhere else, so placed an order. Next morning Sandie phoned Eric and told him we were buying elsewhere. She also gave him a piece of her mind, with the result that, after consulting his manager, he phoned back offering a better deal – better but still not good, and by then we had had enough.
Time to relax
Although most of our first week in Sarasota was spent shopping, we had ‘time off’ to relax. Sandie went to the tap dance class she had tried out last December, and had not had a chance to take part in since. It was good to put on her dancing shoes again!
Ian was keen to start painting, for the first time since leaving Ghana in 2012 (there is no suitable space in our High Wycombe flat). While we were looking for furniture, he was delighted to find a full-length easel in a thrift shop. He stocked up with paints and other materials from a nearby art shop, and is now using the upstairs balcony as his studio.
The complex in which our condo is situated has a pool and hot tub, as well as a gym and clubhouse. We tried out the pool one afternoon, and enjoyed it very much until a thunderstorm sent us scurrying back to the condo. At other times the weather was perfect, and we had the pool all to ourselves!
Further afield, we made a couple of trips to favourite beaches.On Manatee Beach we enjoyed a walk before the rains came, followed by dinner watching the thunderstorm. On Siesta Beach we found a volleyball tournament in progress. We also went to Sarasota Opera House, for the first time. We saw the ballet Coppélia, performed by a local dance studio, with an audience consisting mainly of proud parents and other relatives. Just outside the Opera House, we encountered the Harvey Milk Festival, with a sound stage and stalls advertising various gay societies. There were also fundamentalist Christians protesting – reminiscent of New Orleans!