On Friday 27th November we returned to our ‘winter base’ in Central Park II, Sarasota. It was great to be welcomed back by people we had met in May-June, and to make new friends. There are more people around now than there were in the summer, as several people at CP are ‘seasonal’ residents like us – they come to escape the rigours of the Northern US, Canadian or British winters!
Back in the routine
It didn’t take us long to get back in our Florida routine. The weather was particularly good for November, so we went several times to the pool (and the gym). Sandie returned to her tap dance class at the Friendship Center across the road. An important first stop was the library, where we borrowed a pile of DVDs – we have still not found much we like to watch on America TV! We love watching the sunset along the Bayfront, and enjoy the fact that we can walk there from the condo.
We also enjoy visiting the nearby beaches, although that requires a drive. On Sunday 29th we followed a pattern established last year. We drove to Anna Maria Island, visited the Bridge Street arts and crafts market, walked along the pier to enjoy the view of the Intracoastal Waterway, and had a coffee. Then we walked along the beach to the southern tip of the island; on our way back we strolled through the beach market and had lunch at the Coquina Beach Café. Back at the car we collected our beach chairs and spent an hour sitting on the sand. We did not find the water warm enough to swim, although plenty of people did.
Tale of a table
We did not like the ‘peninsula’ which was in our dining area when we bought the condo, but our friends David and Donna did. So we reached an agreement. During the summer, David (a DIY enthusiast) removed the peninsula and transferred it to their condo: the marble top was so heavy, five men were required to get it upstairs, no mean feat in the August temperatures! In our condo, Donna repainted the wall to which the peninsula had been attached, changing it from red to light green. They had sent us photos, but we were delighted to see the actual results when we returned.
But now there was an empty space in the dining area – and we had to make sure we had a table and chairs in place before Dec 22, when we have family members arriving for Christmas. We decided to allow ourselves a week to scour the local shops, before implementing our default plan, to buy one we’d seen on the Net. But the search did not take nearly that long: we started the hunt the day after arriving, and by mid-afternoon we’d ordered a set that seemed suitable; we were even back at the condo in time for David’s poolside birthday party!
The table was delivered two days later. We were pleased to find it fits in perfectly and almost matches the kitchen units. We were even more pleased when our friend Jane called in about an hour later. One of her hobbies is quilting, and she does some amazing work. She had made us some table mats and napkins as a housewarming gift – and the predominant colour was green, although she did not know that it was now the colour of our wall!
December is a busy time in Sarasota; the snowbirds are back, the theatres are running their winter programmes, and there are lots of parades and other special events. We spent some time finding out what was on and deciding what we should plan to see.
Last year we spent a very enjoyable evening at the Ringling, including the beautifully decorated Ca’ d’Zan, and some excellent dancing and singing, all in aid of charity. So we were keen to go again this year – but unfortunately, last Thursday there was heavy rainfall all evening. On Friday we went over to St Armand’s Circle, a place we like visiting anyway, so it seemed sensible to go to their ‘Holiday Night of Lights’. This started with dancing by young people from local schools: but it began late, so it was getting dark and the dancing was not easy to see! The ‘Santa Parade’ was very short: just the Wells Fargo stagecoach and Santa’s sleigh. By contrast, the Sarasota Christmas parade on Saturday took an hour and a half to pass by. It was much the same as last year, good fun and a great atmosphere.
On Sunday 6th December, we attended a Christmas lunch organised by two Florida Scottish associations. This was at the invitation of Robert and Kathy, friends we met in Windsor in September. It was great to see them again, and we enjoyed the meal (which mercifully did not include haggis). On the way home, we did some shopping, and bought our Christmas tree. At this time of year, places selling Christmas trees spring up all around Sarasota, and Sandie had persuaded Ian to have a real tree ‘just this once’. We enjoyed decorating it when we got home, with cheap baubles bought for the purpose, and strings of beads acquired while at Mardi Gras in New Orleans!