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Blog 15: Florida

A trip anywhere warm in the depths of winter is a great idea in my book and this years winter break was two weeks in Florida to visit some amazing friends who have flown south from Boston to reside in the sunshine and bask in the warmth of retirement. They only had to ask us once and I had booked the flights – I think the speed of my response and the hammering of the credit card surprised everyone, especially Mr B who thought the whole thing was “a plan” not a definite diary entry! Hey ho!

Never been to Florida before, except to transit from airport to cruise ship, so I was really looking forward to experiencing the state. It lived up to my expectations. Now…. I have said this before but it bears repeating - the best top 5 tips ever – go to the beach, go to the beach, go to the beach, go to the beach and finally go to the beach, but again, I don’t think you would find that terribly interesting so here are my top 5 favourite things to do and yes you must go to the beach:

1. St Augustine

2. Go eat at Crabby Joes

3. Enjoy the weather

4. Sunsets, and finally…..

5. Go to the beach!

1. St Augustine : the town lays claim to being the oldest inhabited town on the continent. It was first settled by the Spanish explorers in 1565 and is known for its Spanish Architecture, it’s 17th century fort and Harry’s Bar where we had a delicious lunch overlooking the waterfront. When you come from a country whose history is thousands of years in the making, then 500 years is small fry, but the Americans are proud of the history they have and make the most of it. The cobble streets are quaint, and the shops sell a variety of beautiful gifts and the ubiquitous cheap tourist items. It’s well worth visiting the distillery too (after lunch!)

2. Crabby Joe’s is a diner on the end of a pier. Seats round the edge are the best so if you have to wait then do so! as you get a great view of the ocean and the beach. Drinking beer with a warm breeze blowing over sun-drenched skin and eating sweet potato fries and blackened chicken sandwiches that have to be attacked rather than eaten is a wonderful memory of our day at the beach.

3. Enjoy the weather: bear in mind we travelled in February, the weather was varied and unpredictable - it was alternatively warm and humid, cool and breezy and then hot and sunny. But it was a darn sight better than the storms being experienced back at home (Storm Jorge). The local Floridians said it was the coldest weather they’d had all winter, but for us Brit’s it was like an English summer. They wore coats. We wore shorts. They walked briskly along the sand huddled in sweat tops while we sat and soaked up the sun weak though it was.

4. Sunsets: You can’t beat a good sunset! Enough said!

5. The Beach: The whole of Florida is flat and therefore the beaches are long; stretching for miles and miles. The sky is huge, the sand is fine and white like flour and it’s ‘whistles’ as you walk on it. It is spectacular. In places though the sand is hard packed, and you can drive on it @ 10mph and you’ll find folks with pickup trucks and BBQ’s and chairs and whole encampments, out enjoying the weather. You can see dolphins and at certain times of the year Manatees. There are pelicans and herons, seagulls and beautiful shells to collect. Truly spectacular.

You know – one of life’s rich blessings is having good friends: they make all the difference to any trip. Being welcomed into their homes to stay a while is precious. I think we were good house guests; I hope so anyway and we did get invited to return!

Precious memories - driving in the rain listening to Rascal Flatts on the radio. Warm evenings sitting on the swing seat sipping wine and chatting. Shopping and giggling like teenage girls in the changing rooms. Laughing until we cried and making those precious memories.

Thank you Lisa and Peter.


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