After Caroline left, we were on our own again, back in our ‘normal’ routine. There’s always plenty to do here!
The weather has been constantly hot, and usually sunny, so we’ve been over to the Central Park pool several times. We’ve been to three local beaches; the sea is not yet warm enough for us to swim, but we enjoy walking along the edge of the water. On our way back from one such trip, we stopped to watch a free water skiing show.
We like to go downtown on Saturday mornings, when there is a big farmer’s market. As well as stalls selling all kinds of food and other things, there are places where you can sit in the sun, sipping a coffee and listening to music played by street entertainers. We combine market shopping with a visit to the library, where we stock up with books and DVDs to last us through the next week. Last week there was an art and craft market just outside the library; sometimes we’ll spot a yard sale on our way downtown. There’s always something going on!
Sandie returned to her Monday morning tap dancing class, and also joined an International Folk Dance group, very similar to the one she belonged to in Wellington. They meet every Wednesday evening, though she has only managed to attend once so far. Ian has joined an oil painting class which has been started at the Friendship Center (where Sandie does tap) on Friday mornings. And last Saturday he went for the first time to a life drawing class not far away.
Social events are held at our clubhouse fairly regularly during the winter season. During the past two weeks we’ve been to a St Patrick’s Day party (any excuse is better than none!) and a ‘Farewell Snowbirds’ barbecue. Winter residents will soon start the journey back to northern states, Canada or the UK, although we are here until April 12.
One Monday we went with our friends Robert and Kathy to the Ringling Museum complex. After a quick look round the art gallery we went to ‘Music by the Bay’: music, drinks and dancing in a beautiful outdoor setting.
One Friday afternoon we visited the Sarasota County Fair. As well as funfair rides there were lots of other stalls, many selling different kinds of (mostly unhealthy) food. There was also a pig racing show, which was quite entertaining.
There are so many theatres in the Sarasota area, we are spoilt for choice. Since Caroline left, we’ve had three very different theatrical experiences. First, we saw Cosi fan tutte at the Sarasota Opera House. This was a great production, very entertaining, and we really enjoyed it, probably more than we expected. Next we went to the Asolo Theatre, to see a play called All the way, part of their current series about American political history. This one covered the year from Kennedy’s assassination to November 1964, when Lyndon B Johnson won an election in his own right. Brilliantly written and acted, it gave a fascinating insight into what was going on behind the scenes in that period.
In complete contrast, the third production was a real disappointment. We’ve been to the Venice Theatre many times, and the standard is usually very high. But this time we saw Back to Broadway by the Silver Foxes, who are VT’s ‘senior troupe’. We were interested in seeing them, and even wondered about the possibility of trying to join. However… the show was a mix of musical numbers and sketches. The dancing was OK, some of the singers were good, but the acting was dire and the scriptwriting worse.
We’ve recently visited two state parks not far from Sarasota. First was Oscar Scherer, a few miles south of the city. We remember camping there with our children in 1989, and thought it was about time we went there again, as it is now practically on our doorstep. There are several trails in the park; we did the longest one (five miles) in the morning, had a picnic lunch and then did a shorter trail in the afternoon.
We thought we’d visited Lake Manatee State Park (north-east of Sarasota) once before too, but could not remember when. We were disappointed to find that access to the lake is very limited – you can get to the water’s edge only at one point, though you can get glimpses of the lake from some of the trails. It’s a pity that you cannot walk around the lake. We walked for about two and a half hours, and in that time we covered all the trails in the park.