We’re still here in FL. The weather is cheering up and the coconut oil has turned back to liquid form……..apparently it solidifies at 74’F!
The bow-thruster motor is now in working order, having been overhauled and given new bearings, but the batteries, that we bought in Trinidad just 18 months ago, have died and need replacing.

Whilst we’re here in the ‘Mecca’ of the boating world, we are servicing everything and stocking up on spares. The exchange rate is very favourable, so it would be silly not to get the expensive, but vital, spares such as starter motors and alternators now, rather than have to have them shipped to some remote place in the Pacific later on in our travels.
Clearly it hasn’t all been work with no play! Our good friends, Stamen and Durita on GAIA, joined us in the anchorage in February and we have spent a lot of time together.

We hired a car and took a road trip up to Orlando and back home via the west coast of Florida.

The B&B that we happened to choose online, turned out to be the highlight of the trip!

The lobby of our gem of a B&B!

The lobby of our gem of a B&B!

Checking in at the Edgewater.

Checking in at the Edgewater.

It was in a town called Winter Gardens to the west of Orlando; a tourist town that has maintained the feel of a 1930’s railway town.

The old engine parked in the high street.

The old engine parked in the high street.

On the old rail way.

On the old rail way.

The hotel, which we stayed at, dated back to the 1920’s…..really old by Floridian standards! It had the very first Otis elevator in Florida and people apparently traveled miles, just to ride up and down in the lift.
The hotel, The Edgewater, is now run as a family concern and the three couples that run it, live on the third floor. All of them are in their twenties and thirties and they have clearly worked hard to renovate and restore it to its former glory.

Our room.

Our room.

Stamen and Durita's room.

Stamen and Durita’s room.

Our towel Hamper.

Our towel Hamper.

Our room.....Marcus doing his Harry Worth impression.

Our room…..Marcus doing his Harry Worth impression.

Part of the breakfast bar.

Part of the breakfast bar.

The lounge.

The lounge.

The countryside in Florida, once you escape the endless retail sprawl that lines both sides of the highways, is flat and used mostly for grazing cattle or just left to the Everglades swamp.

Away from the coast and its luxury living, we got a glimpse of real America and its quirkier side!.

SOME OF THE QUIRKS!

One up on a garden gnome!

One up on a garden gnome!

Great idea for a bench.

Great idea for a bench.

Drinking fountain including dogs!

Drinking fountain including dogs!

This has to be an Oxymoron?!

This has to be an Oxymoron?!

Yee Haw Junction........so American.

Yee Haw Junction……..so American.

Motorised Tiki Bar.......only in America!

Motorised Tiki Bar…….only in America!

We stopped at a diner, next to one of the biggest RV (recreational vehicle) sites I’ve ever seen, and were treated to a new dining experience. The food was plain but good, the clientel eccentric and the portions, as always, were big.

On the wall of the diner!

On the wall of the diner!

We continued westward, until we got to the west coast of Florida, near Naples, and checked out the touristy Fishermen’s village and an early evening glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico.

A real pelican with the themed background of the fishermen's village.

A real pelican with the themed background of the fishermen’s village.

 

 

Back home again, we managed a day of culture; we went to the art museum and saw three exhibitions of Italian fashion from the 50s and 60s, a film and photo exhibition of a Cuban artist from the 70s and a painting exhibition of a renowned US artist dating from the early 1900s to the 50s.

Still on a cultural theme, we spent a great Sunday listening to Jazz in the Park.

 

The Bill Scott trio.

The Bill Scott trio.

Every first Sunday the park hosts at least three jazz bands and families bring picnics, barbecues and cool boxes to soak up the atmosphere by the river……..we brought ours and enjoyed it on the dinghy listening to the Big Band on the main band stand……..the envy of all the land lubbers!

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Our cultural exploits weren’t over! We went to see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra at a theatre that’s within walking distance. It was a fun evening, but it took all of the first half to bury the comparison with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (who I still think are ten times better! If you’ve never heard of them they’re worth looking up on YouTube!)…….the comparison is the difference between accomplished musicians having fun and talented amateurs!

The outcome of the anticipation of an evening of ukulele entertainment is that I now have an early birthday present from Marcus of a concert uke and

My lovely ukulele and it's funky case.

My lovely ukulele and it’s funky case.

….I have mastered about a dozen chords so far! I’m really enjoying playing it and playing with Stamen, who is learning violin. The result is not for public consumption yet!!

On Thursday we got a taxi downtown to celebrate St Patrick’s day the FL way. It was a surreal experience! Everyone, with not a drop of Irish blood in them, was dressed in green and wearing tacky shamrock and horse shoe necklaces. Some sported ‘Finnian’s Rainbow’ hats and there was an occasional kilt being worn. We searched out the Irish Bar to get the true ambience and craic………this is what we got!

Kiss Tribute Band on St Patrick's night!!?

Kiss Tribute Band on St Patrick’s night!!?

Last week saw the arrival of two other friends in Florida, Jim and Paula on White Gold. They made landfall north of us in Palm Beach and took the train down to meet up with the four of us for the day on Thursday.

All six of us doing the tourist thing on the big chair.

All six of us doing the tourist thing on the big chair.

On Friday we hired a car to go up to North Palm Beach to visit Nic and Tyler; we’ve known Nic since she was 8 and they visited us on the boat back in December. We spent a great evening with them……….

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………..and the following morning, left as official ambassadors for their new company, ‘ISLAND BUM’.

Tyler, Nic and their new ambassadors!

Tyler, Nic and their new ambassadors!

We bought tee shirts and a hat…….all really good quality. They have an online shop and are expanding into surfer type stores in the area. Look up www.islandbum.com . Be warned, the sizes come up smaller than you’d think. I have an XL tee shirt which needs to shrink a little lengthwise!

While we were up in Palm Beach we dropped in on Jim and Paula and, as you do when you rent a car, we drove them and went in search of a small American propane tank for them………Be Warned any of you who may venture this way…….The camping gaz cylinders, that are popular in Europe, cannot be refilled here and they don’t sell adaptors! Buy all adaptors before you get here as anything non American is greeted by incredulity and a look that confirms we speak the same language, but we are actually aliens!

Well the last of our reconditioned spares, the starter motor, is now back in our possession and we will be setting off this next week for pastures new.

The weather is still not settled enough for us to head north yet, so a month in Cuba now and another month or two later in the year looks like a plan!

We’ll keep you updated.

Love to you all xx.