The End – Sloth Level Holidaying & Home

Morning!

Anyone heard of it? It’s getting to a point where if we stayed longer, we’d be getting up at dusk.

Decided to make sausage butties for breakfast as it was out last morning and I’d been reasonably healthy each day until tea time. A combination of ‘economy’ sausages, an oven they seemed to be unevenly hot, and a lack of attention from me led to a popping of sausage skins, an oily tray, and subsequently caramelised & burnt ‘bread-fingers’. Lots of red sauce didn’t offset the poor food.

Having tried and failed to get in a couple of pubs, we ended up booking back in the The Ring (where Toby’s ring caused much consternation, previously). A 6pm table meant we only had 4 hours of time to do something.

With no one else suggesting anywhere I set off for Rhosneigr, where we could walk north along the beach and past RAF Valley. Ten minutes in and we did our now customary u-turn, advised by Jane and headed back to the house – for the house key this time. 5 minutes later it turned up, so another 180, and back to parking up at the viewing point on the north side of Rhosneigr.

Had a lovely walk through the sand dunes (except for the bit where Toby tried to roll in the carcass of a long-dead seabird), and then onto the most wonderfully deserted low-tide Sandy beach. We just walked, chatted, threw the ball for Tobes, and looked for unusual stones and shells.

Jane came back with a bird skull (now identified as a Manx Shearwater, whuich is pretty rare), a crab claw, and some coal. Each to their own. Pity Valley was quiet though as I got right in the end of the active runway. Would have got some superb photos if anything had been taking off that afternoon.

After knocking up another 6km and getting a closer look at an Egret, we headed back to the Ring. Good food and a decent pint (Surfin’ IPA by Conwy Brewery), and back to the cottage to pack as we had to be out by 9am.

A busy pack, an early evening, and an early-for-us start, hence the tardiness of this, the last post of this little sojourn.

Got up by the alarm this morning, and then walked down to bring the van back to the house (which used to be a workshop, btw, evidence of which are the steps to the upper workshop floor from the outside of the building). Oh! There’s a lovely Triumph Stag convertible a few doors down. Nearly as good as it’s £££ number plate (5TAG).

A quick stop-off at the local quick-e-mart as we’d spotted multipack bags of salt and vinegar and prawn cocktail flavoured quavers. Impossible not to take some home!

I tried to call in at the Mona Brewery to pick up a few tinnies, but it was all shut up, so nothing more to other than pass by the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Railway station before crossing the bridge and heading east to the M56 and home.

Enjoyed the break, the fresh air, the food & some of the drink, but mostly enjoyed the company. Not sure Charlie feels quite the same however!

Anyway, won’t bore you all anymore! Now back home, so see you next holiday, perhaps!

Day 5 – Mizzle & The Dancing Dog

Thought we’d best make an effort today and get off our ‘localised’ arses and “see Anglesey”. It didn’t work. Couldn’t be bothered. Not in a bad way either.

We eventually got in the van, did the now-obligatory u-turn to get Janes forgotten phone, and then set off. No idea where to, but we at least had managed to set off.

With little input from any of us, self included, we drove clockwise. Bull Bay, then Amlwych, but due to a classic mizzle and apathy combination, we carried on. Until we hit a dead end at Pen Cei. A swift u’ey and we’re back exploring, until we hit a dead end, this time at the intriguingly named ‘Consuelo Caravan Park’. Must Google that one at some point!

Then we set off again and found Moelfre Ice Cream Parlour. And one remaining space in the tiny carpark. So £3-all day later, we went for a stroll.

Gravelly beach done (Toby was still surf-sensitive), we headed along the coastal path, past the old lifeboat station to the very slick looking new RNLI one. Hint to any charities. Put a contactless card reader in the window of any properties, that are pre-programmed to take £2 increments. So easy you can’t not donate!

Sadly it’s the first time the weather cut short out plans, and after less than a handful of kilometres, as the misty drizzle rolled in we headed back to the van. Me, muttering because I’d forgotten to pack Arthur’s ludicrously sharp Zeiss binoculars and/or his ludicrously small & sharp Leica compacts with which I would have got a better look at the lovely Small Egret on the beach and the myriad of birds out on the island.

The Van! Our sanctuary! Hop in, phones on charge, Toby’s tea out of the fridge. Post-Ice Cream Parlour retreat! Charlie went ‘bubblegum’, Jane, ‘fudge’ and me, well, liquorice of course! Lovely.

After some time passed, it felt right to get an inside table at the Robbies pub opposite, which we knew to be dog-friendly, and serve food from 6pm. What we also knew, down to an earlier recon mission was that if you wanted food before 7pm, get in for at least 5:30 and be ready to place an order at 5:48pm latest.

We got in for 4:45, because it was busy outside and the rain was coming in again. Inside was quiet. Until around 5:15, after which it was a scramble for a table. Settling like crows (an outstanding lyric) the older folk began congregating around the food till at around 5:48, exactly as predicted.

I had our order written up in notepad, Table Number highlighted of course, and a checksum total just to save any haggling. Armed with experience of olden days ordering of beer from a packed pub, plus basketball, plus identifying ditherers, I muscled & elbowed my way past the grannies and got the P3 spot at around 5:51pm

Smashed it! I’d suspected P2 was a closet ditherer. One question (the obvious “chips, new potatoes or mash” conundrum) from Server 1 and they buckled. I waved my phone with a screen full of succinct answers to all questions, and I was escorted to the secret fast serve till. Result!

Apart from when my starter of Tempura King Prawns was delivered and just before table, one of the 6 fell off (“oops, sorry” said the embarrassed young girl that was serving, but with no further reference to the 1/6th of my £7.75 starter that I would no longer eat), the food & service were superb.

Toby made Friends with the people on the table next to us, and the table next to that, and some passers by and a big dog on the next nearest table, who at one point stood on his back legs and did what I can only describe as an Irish Jig. Then, stuffed & amazed, we came back to Cemaes.

We’re opposite a pub, The Stag. Next to the pub is a pub. Called the “Ye Olde Vigour”. Google it and the reviews. Quirky. I like quirky, but I can’t say I wasn’t slightly trepidatious before crossing the threshold. All I can say is I had a thoroughly enjoyable chat with the Landlady (read the reviews) & staff, finding out loads about the locale. I’ll be nipping in again before we leave, for sure.

Just goes to show, eh. Don’t always trust everything you read on the internet. 😉

Night!

Day 4 – Well Choughed! [sic]

Always a tad odd coming away this week. We’re always missing two.

Yesterday was the anniversary of our loss of Scooter, our first dog although she would argue she wasn’t a dog, she was “above all that bum-sniff nonsense”. She was such an integral part of our family. She was ‘Grandads favourite girl’, after his daughter, Jane.

And today was the anniversary of the passing of Jane’s Dad, Arthur Robinson. I can’t tell you how much we miss him, not even close to expressing how much of an influence he has had on me, my values & my love of learning how to do stuff.

But he’s had positive effect on today. I’ll get to that. Charlie’s bailed again, so it’s just Jane, Toby and I today. The plan (there really wasn’t one), was to do what felt right to do, so we went for another walk.

This time we decided to skip driving & walk door to door, which meant a left or right decision. It was left (west), for a closer look at Angleseys now-decommissioned nuclear power station.

It wasn’t, it was actually because it’s a lovely coastal walk, and compared to yesterday, relatively flat, as both of my Achilles and my left anterior cruciate are playing up.

Had a lovely walk, sometimes cliff-top, sometimes beach level, all radio-actively monitored. Points of note are:

  1. Toby finding fox poo & draping it down his left ear
  2. A pebbled cove where it was confirmed that Toby is scared of the “light crashing” of surf
  3. Nuclear facilities are designed by the “Architects of Doom” that design sets for James Bond films
  4. Toby being in the sea only marginally washed off the smell of fox crap.

Actually, the highlight was seeing a chough. A moment where we particularly missed Arthur. He’d have been in his element.

Windswept and as typically uninteresting as we are, it was a more-inland but “shoobie” filled walk home. Thank Anne Wilson & her equally miscreant daughter for that regional nomenclature.

Getting back, we had little enthusiasm for a drive out, so we tried the local chippy. Having googled it, I have to say, I had a sense of dread. “Grumpy”, “chips were anaemic”, “Fish? Must have still been in the harbour because all I got was batter” were some of the comments.

All I can say, is that we all enjoyed our food, chips were decent, fish & scampi also. Didn’t even mind the hidden 5% surcharge of a missing pot of curry sauce, and no vinegar on the chips.

Given up on the local beer, btw. It’s cans of Tyskie tonight, to complement a sesh of 8 out of 10 Cats.

Night, all!

Day 3 – Stacked

Seems that “sluggish” is our pace. Both in terms of waking up and walking.

A bit of brown toast and a couple of boiled eggs for me, before we all got van’d up and set off for South Stack.

A stop for diesel (a T5 is a £100 fill-up, btw), and a turn around to return to pick up Janes misplaced phone. All good though as it turned up on the toilet floor. Suspect Jane was planning to ‘upskirt’ me on my return, tbh.

Take 2, and we got ourselves to South Stack car park. It’s about half an hour from here, a squeeze to get in at this time of year, and a fiver to park for the day, which could be worse.

Sadly, the Lighthouse complex isn’t dog-friendly, so we weren’t able to skip across the scary bridge and suffer ‘The Steps’. But we did make up for it, I was sure of it.

I’d planned a fairly ambitious 5 mile circular walk, ambitious for us at least, so after Toby had spun himself a pound lighter in the middle of the busy road, we set off.

Up the hill on the road, past Ellin’s Tower, the RSPB Info Centre, and then off up the rocky, steep steps to the right and to an old lookout building, where there are some great views down to the lighthouse.

Further on up the climb and to the highest point on Anglesey, Holyhead Mountain, where we briefly took a watch of the rock climbers (rather them than me), before head in on towards North Stack through the lovely heather & gorse. Unless you’re combat shorts, that is.

Out that way, Jane (a birdie at heart, like her Dad), spotted a stonechat with its back to us. Clack-clack of its call, like hitting two pebbles together being the ‘tell’. Think she was chuffed, no pun intended.

After a hefty walk down a steep drop, we could see the buildings and Magazine Building (munitions, not Melody Maker), before an even steeper drop down to what looks like another potential afternoon out, Holyhead Breakwater Country Park, after the heavily collapsed quarry face.

Now turning onto the home leg (Charlie tbf had been very patient up to now, especially as his Jordan AirForce One’s were now not “box fresh”), it was a climb back up to the previous levels, before a slightly more rolling southern side westerly walk back towards the Van.

I felt we’d properly earned a decent Soup du Jour, followed by a Steak pie, chips, peas & a pint. Charlie & Jane felt we’d earned a McDonalds. What a let down.m – I feel robbed. Mainly because it cost me £28 as Charlie ordered three mains. Seriously.

Back via a quick trip to Church Bay to suss out the Lobster Pot Restaurant (turns out Joe won’t be on the pier with his £14 lobsters on Wednesday), so our search for a treat continues.

Happy holidaying folks. x

[Editors comments (mine): going to be honest, I am super chuffed that I did that – Achilles stapled to my heels, a knee that’s as solid as jam. May suffer but it was a bit like what I used to be able to do.]

Day 2 – Free Beer and Football

Sooo, the awkward and oft disappointing second…

As day follows night, and as night follows… you get the gist. Charlie just followed XBox/Parties ‘til 4am which means another late start.

Cemaes low tide

Layout is, in the main, great in the cottage if you’re a couple, (truthfully), even if you have a lazy-ass, nocturnal Teen. Wifi is great. Xbox stream is good. Apparently. But I had to get up. My snoring was waking a couple in Port Erin, which to my shame is around 80 miles north of here on the Isle of Man.

So, I had a nip to the shop (siop) in the morning mizzle, where I thought I’d looked like a right piss-pot, buying a replacement bottle of white wine, and, as it turned out 3 bottles of local ale. At before 11 am.

Pleased to say the two farmers (honest, not stereotyping), who were outside a local, finishing a second at least of Carling, made me feel better about myself.

Having dropped the stash off, I collected Toby and another compliment of poo bags, before wiggling his ablutions out of him on a walk. Toby has a unique ‘spin’ technique to that, flinging it out as he chases his own tail. Bless.

Home and a farewell to Charlie, who’s decided to skip today, before Jane, Toby & I headed off on a diametrically opposite walk to yesterday, on a non-nuclear reactor walk.

An uneventful but enjoyable outbound leg led to Toby having his first proper sea swim (poor lad was scared of waves at first), whilst Jane looked for beach stones. Until we ‘met’ Angel. A little French terrier pup. No angel it turned out. Don’t throw her a ping pong ball…

Before swim…

After dodging that arrow, we walked back the same path before nipping in a very local sports bar attached to a hotel to suss out the ambiance. Turns out the fella I spoke to, Ben, was in charge and they’re dog-friendly, serve food, and have a fridge laden with a local Helles Lager that’s not been bought, so we struck a deal. I’m happy.

City lost. So we went to the other pub where we’d previously booked a table for 6:30. I went straight there. Jane, Charlie & Toby a couple behind me.

After swim…

“Booked a table for 3 plus dog , 6:30 in the name of Jane”.

“But we don’t serve on Sundays” was the answer.

Frozen pizza, Oceans Eleven, and a dog walk later and I’m writing this.

Happy hols 😉

Post-Apocalypse Anglesey 2021 – Day 1 (and 0)

A day of contrasts, here in Cemaes Bay, on the northern coast of Anglesey.

After a grotty 3h journey yesterday, where we averaged around 40mph due to traffic, collisions & roadworks, (the immature highlight of which was a diversion down Penisaf Avenue in Towyn), we arrived at our funky little “one up, one down” cottage on the harbourside.

An orientation stroll before tea, then I earned my pie tea, by walking the full distance to the pub, all on my own.

I was sat in the beer garden, acclimatising, whilst Jane & Charlie did the same at the cottage. The breeze picked up and I got a tad chilly, so I shouted across and asked Jane to bring my hoodie when they came across.

Decent wholesome food done, and back to the cottage for an early night after the furthest I’ve driven in 18months, due to the pandemic & lockdown.

Saturday. Late start, then later factoring in Charlie, before leaving our temp accom for the week.

Our home for the week.

A moochy walk, then rain, then sitting in our van watching the rain, then a more-jaunty walk towards two decommissioned nuclear reactors, then a “get back to feed Toby”, stopping off 50yds from our door to see a fella land his catch.

Watching the rain from the ‘Van.

Who the * (apart from non-fishy folks), wouldn’t want a massive 2.5kg of fresh-onto-the quayside, line-caught sea bass for under £40, when Waitrose Dutchy sell it for £30+ a kilo, filleted and rubbed with pepper and veg. Someone tried to haggle the fisherman, bless ‘em.

Don’t even get me started on the lobster & crab! Doubt we’ll be going out Wednesday eve, when he next arrives.

A 2.4kg Sea Bass up for grabs

A nip “home”, then out for tea at a pleasant enough place with great service, decent food, but, tbh, lacking in decent beer.

All interrupted, towards the middle of main, by me thinking someone had dropped those lobster pots outside the pub front door [wafts hands].

Innocence personified.

Turns out (look away now, if squeamish), it was a recurrence of an issue with Toby’s anal glands. Our near neighbours seemed to agree with my lobster pot assumption though, so I think we got away with one there.

Meal done, so just the simple matter of (Jane) donning appropriate protection & squeezing his arsehole surround (repeatedly) into a tissue, using the camper shower, shower gel, wipes etc to clean up, in the pub car park.

Fresh as a daisy, we all went back to our lovely cottage to watch a Netflix film about a man who was imprissoned for over 15 years at mainly Guantanamo Bay without charge, 7 of which were after his successful ‘innocent’ verdict & years of horrific torture.

Beer. Local.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Chips & A Cheesecake

I tend to try & keep schtum regarding my political beliefs as I know how divisive it can be. However, as someone who lives 700m the now ‘wrong side’ of the southernmost ‘Greater Manchester’ boundary, surrounded by other wards reporting zero cases, I am beyond even my own low levels of expectation, at just how incompetently @10DowningStreet have handled the pandemic, particularly the communications.

I tend to try & keep schtum regarding my political beliefs as I know how divisive it can be. However, as someone who lives 700m the now ‘wrong side’ of the southernmost ‘Greater Manchester’ boundary, surrounded by other wards reporting zero cases, I am beyond even my own low levels of expectation, at just how incompetently @10DowningStreet have handled the pandemic, particularly the communications.

I am a reasonably intelligent, sensible, and oft risk averse, 49* yr old – I refuse to acknowledge my non-50th back in early May, until such time as I can have a pint in the Marble Arch Pub, with my friends & family, & hug & laugh & relax with them. I may have to wait a while for the very last part of that!

Accepting that this is a unique and unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in, here’s a common mans summary of what we’ve been told:

1. We should all stay at home & isolate, but not wear masks because they don’t work, we don’t know how to use them properly anyway, and we need the meagre stock for front line workers. Oh, & herd immunity will be important

2. We should all go to the shops and pubs to help the economy and maintain a 2m gap, but not wear masks as there’s that herd immunity thing & were still short, but a mate in Goverment reckoned that for just £108 million, they could get hold of a few through their mate who set up a zero asset pest control firm

3. We should all go to work, and the shops, and pubs, and even try some mass attendance sports trials and if we can’t maintain 2m, then 1’ll do, if you turn your back or wear a cutdown sock over your mouth & nose

4. Now we need to all wear masks, or socks, or underpants over our mouth and nose if we go in shops because it ‘sends out the right message’, but we’ll allow you to determine what that message is. Unless you don’t want to, because we really can’t police it.

5. Some 15-20 year olds are allowed to gather in public places without masks or the need to socially distance, because we don’t have an ability to enforce it, they are seemingly totally immune and won’t be carriers, and we don’t want to upset their ‘don’t give a sh*t anyway’ parents

6. Those in Greater Manchester, can travel to other regions, and sit in a beer garden & have a Sunday lunch and a beer with mates.

7. Those in Greater Manchester can also employ a gardener & tradespeople around and within your home. But your Mam can’t come around and sit it your garden, if you not part of her ‘bubble’.

8. Those in Greater Manchester can travel to other regions, and sit inside a pub surrounded by non-mask wearing strangers, but you cant if you realise you know them & then socialise

9. Those in Greater Manchester can have a mate around and sit on the driveway or pavement and have a socially-distanced chinwag because it’s not a private garden or an indoor space.

10. If we want kids to be back in schools in September to allow workers with children to work, we may need to close the pubs again as a trade off, because it may have been a cock-up to have eased lockdown in June as the herd thing doesn’t seem to work

11. We shouldn’t be getting lockdown obese, so here’s £50 to get your bike fixed, so you can cycle down to ‘Notspoons to utilise the government-backed cheap food voucher system and eat an 1100 calorie vegan all-day brunch, and thus feel much better about your lifestyle

12. Whilst there, take advantage of big-brewers from the SBDRC, who spoke to their mates in Government, who are effectively lowering the Small Brewers Duty Relief being paid by smaller, agile, more creative and now competing smaller brewers, allowing them to serve you a pint for £1.28, which is lower than cost, to further close down the market and, in a UEFA-esque move, protect an industry cartel

13. All that said, we will continue on with the strategy of pomp, bluster, catchphrase and occasional joke, combined with a disproportionate, reactive approach to local flare-ups, known by some as the “whack-a-mole way”, occasionally mumbling herd immunity if pushed.

So in summary:

– Singing “Happy Birthday” takes 20 seconds or so

⁃ Wear a sock on your face. Or don’t

– Blame someone else. It’s not our fault, or yours, it’s someone else’s.

⁃ Meet strangers in enclosed spaces but not friends or relatives, if you end up the wrong side of an arbitrary line drawn through the middle of zero-case communities

⁃ Don’t get fat, ride your bike to a Restaurant & eat goverment-subsidised chips & cheesecake

-don’t drink Alcohol-based hand wash. Ever.

Enjoy “Lockdown2 – Revenge of the Sh*t”!

Chris

Florida 2019 – Day 13/14 – Tans and Tornados

Skipping the day 13 write up as it was a quiet day and today is the airport day, so a combined (and likely last) Florida 2019 diary entry.

So, Thursday. Day 13. Our last full day of “proper holiday”, given we fly home on Friday afternoon, landing (hopefully) just in time to get home, shower and get to the Etihad to watch City play Spurs for the third time in less than two weeks, this time in the Premier League.

Charlie was adamant that he was going to stay in bed all day, and Jane wasn’t in a rush to do anything much, so we headed to the hotel beach, and sunbathed for a few hours.

Clearwater and the beaches are absolutely stunning if you like sunbathing and sand. I like neither. Ah, well.

Charlie joined us briefly with the lure of a big beach hammock, but he just crawled under his towel for about 20 minutes before deciding the air conditioned, dark hotel room was a better option.

To be honest, after an hour or so of trying to relax, whilst repeatedly applying factor 50, I got too hot and too fidgety, and followed Charlie back to the room. After a shower and freshen-up, I decided to explore the area south of the hotel, so got in the car and set off on my own.

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Wow! After the big hotels, the gulf-side of the road became lined with mega-houses. We’d looked into an estate agents (a “Realtor”) window and seen houses like these, selling for between $5 and $16. Million! $16 million! Just wow! I guess one of these is Hulk Hogans. I doubt there’s a better location, though. Their back garden is one of the USAs best beaches, and in the “Sunshine State”. Tough life, I’m sure having to put up with that!

I drove back to the hotel, cleared out all of the accumulated rubbish (all Charlie’s), and took all the unused waterproof coats and other car-stored gear back to the room, so we could start to pack up.

It didn’t take long to pack as we’d not really unpacked since our arrival. Except for Charlie, who had made our room his home, and like his bedroom, his possessions were strewn around the place.

After packing, and another freshen-up (it’s damned hot here), we went back to Cristinos Coal Oven Pizza, the place that we’d been to with the F’s on the first night. Once again, the food was fabulous.

After that we went back to our room, finished the last bits of “prep” for getting away tomorrow and then settled down for the evening.

We ended up watching Discovery HDs “Naked and Afraid”, a series where a male and a female, usually with some survivalist experience, are deposited naked (and I assume afraid) in some form of natural hell, and then meet for the first time.

The aim is for them to overcome the initial embarrassment of having to pretend not look at each other’s genitals, and then survive for 21 days, with only a map, a fire flint, and a cooking pot. They do blur the sensitive parts of the body, so it’s not gratuitous, and so it’s actually quite interesting seeing them work things out.

Lights out after three episodes, and ready for our check-out day.

It’s now that odd phase of the hols when, even though still being on hols, thoughts start to focus on the negatives (the hols are over for another year), when actually, there’s loads to look forward to!

On Saturday, we get to see the fourth member of our family, Toby, whose also been on his holidays at my Mums with his rebel-rousing cousin, Alfie.

I get to watch City try and recover from the midweek disappointment and push on in out attempts to win a “domestic treble”.

I also get to finish brewing my DDH NEIPA, with a three days of dry hopping a few ounces of Citra and Cascade, before sticking it all in the fridge for a couple of days to “cold crash” the suspended particles out, before adding the priming sugar and bottling.

We checked out at around 10am today, and headed back to Orlando, which apart from heavy traffic caused by a car being on fire in the outside lane, was about 2 hours of automated driving, back down the I4, this time eastwards.

We dropped the rental car off with Alamo, unloaded luggage, triple-checked that we were leaving nothing behind and then headed to the terminal.

Bag drop then through security in less than 20 minutes (lessons to be learned here, Manchester!) and headed to Terminal A, towards Gate 83, and a lunch stop at the Bahama Breeze.

There’s a huge weather front passing through today, with storm and even tornado warnings circulating, so delays are highly probable. We are supposed to fly at 5pm local, direct to Manchester. The F’s are scheduled to fly from here to Manchester via a change at New York.

Fingers crossed we all get back when we should!

I’m currently sat at the gate awaiting further news, so will call it a day, and wish you farewell for now.

As I’ve said before, I write these for my own enjoyment, and if anyone else reads them and gets some entertainment then it’s a bonus. As such, I do not offer an “enjoyment warranty”, nor any recompense for time you will never get back!

But if you have, enjoyed them, I’m pleased you did!

Lots of love and best wishes, until the next time,

Chris

Florida 2019 – Day 12 – “Strap Ons” and Dolphins

An initial bit of indecision yesterday, as to what to do; Honeymoon Island State Park just north of here, of The Clearwater Marina Aquarium. Oh, plus Man City has a game on at 3pm local time. So we did all of the above.

Charlie on the other-hand, just wanted to stay in the hotel bedroom

Partly because of his (actually really quite bad) sunburn, and partly because he’s a teenager and NEEDS wifi! Tough luck, kiddo, you’re not stopping in!

We eventually got going, and having skipped breakfast, drove back across to the mainland before heading the short trip (half an hour’ish) north, before another long causeway and bridge to Honeymoon.

Originally part of a larger “barrier island” Honeymoon was separated from the southern section after a major hurricane, which swept away a narrow strip of land, creating the eponymously titled “Hurricane Pass”.

The Honeymoon Island name comes from 1940s marketeers flogging “nookie hut holidays” (my term) to newlyweds, by the way. It’s beautiful. And would still be a great place for “nookie hut holidays” if you’re ever fancy one.

We met up with the F’s and then headed to the north car park, where the nature trails begin, and set off on a walk.

A number of valuable reminders were dolled out:

1. kids don’t like not having WiFi

2. Kids don’t like walking. Anywhere. Ever

3. kids don’t like nature trails at the best of times, more so when sunburned to hell and it’s circa 89 Fahrenheit

4. Along with rattlesnakes and tortoises, there are mosquitoes

5. Mosquitos like the blood of an Englishman. Or woman.

We did see lots of nice birds, an owls nest, and a few ospreys, including a nesting youngster. I appreciated that. Not sure the kids did, though.

The beaches are stunning and the water is tropically blue, and contains stingray, jellyfish and shark. It was therefore decided that we would “look but don’t touch” for a while, before heading back to the car. It was ridiculously hot, to be fair.

We drove back into Clearwater, parked up and headed for a bite to eat. Timing of our late lunch meant that it happened to coincide with the kick off of the Man City v Spurs Champions League Quater Final Second Leg, where City trailed by a single goal, having spurned chances to get an all-important away goal or two.

I watched a ridiculous first half of football, whilst trying to eat a bowl of clam chowder. Ridiculous because for the first 22 minutes, every attack by both sides seemed to result in a goal!

At half time, we needed to leave for the Aquarium, where we were buying the half-priced 4pm-8pm tickets.

A short drive, and we were parked up. I connected to their WiFi and tunes in to the game. In this short space of time City scored to lead on aggregate, and then Spurs scored after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) showed all but the most telling of clips to the on-field ref, who ruled that the goal should stand.

The clip that wasn’t shown to the ref, shows the ball hitting the elbow of the Spurs player, before hitting his hip and deflecting in, thus handball, so the goal should have been ruled out, if you are at all interested.

The second half almost over and City led 4-3 on the night, but with Spurs having the 1-0 home and the away goals, meant that City still needed another goal to go through.

Going in to injury time, we were just entering the aquarium lobby, when Sergio Aguero squared the ball to Raheem Sterling, who slotted home to score a goal that meant we were leading overall and would progress to the Semi-Finals.

A last second winner!? I confess I went berserk and had the whole lobby staring at me as I jumped, punched the air, and according to Jane, whooped and screamed “like an American”!

The WiFi cut out for a moment, but this game Charlie time to show his total embarrasment at my behaviour. Wow! What a game!

The WiFi cut back in. VAR had been used to review the goal and the referee had correctly ruled that Sergio was marginally offside as he played the ball to Sterling and as such the goal had been disallowed. Devastated. We were out of the Champions League.

I really do think VAR is going to negatively affect the match-going fan, yet benefit the armchair-watchers. My later tweet was my take on it.

It did mean that my enthusiasm for learning about the rescue work that the Clearwater Marina Aquarium (CMA) carries out was dampened. And even the sight of two playful otters didn’t raise my spirits.

The CMA is where Winter, the tailless dolphin, star of “A Dolphins Tale” and Hope, co-star of the creatively-titled “A Dolphins Tale 2”, live.

I can at least say that I have seen Winter the tailless dolphin’s ‘strap-on’. His prosthetic tail fins attach to his peduncle (yes, that’s a real part) and allow him to swim like, well, a dolphin.

After a few hours there, we said our final Goodbyes to the F’s who were heading back to their villa in Orlando, before flying home (like us) on Friday evening.

With us remaining in Clearwater until Friday morning, Jane, Charlie and I headed over to Saltys for tea, where I had the most appropriate beer I could have had, “Blue Moon”.

Our server was a young Texan lad, who continuously addresses Jane as Darlin’. I got the distinct impression Jane was not impressed.

We timed our eating to perfection, such that after “settling the check” we walked across the road to watch the sun go down, before heading back to Sand Key for the night.

Last proper day today, but I doubt we’ll be doing much. Jane and Charlie seem knackered, and Jane’s now full of a cold. I may go off and explore on my own. Who knows.

See you tomorrow.

Florida 2019 – Day 11 – Sun, Sand and Sunburn

Another slow start yesterday.

I was up early after a poor nights sleep. Jane’s not been feeling too well (sore throat) so was tossing and turning. But for me, it wasn’t just that. The pillows are a lumpy nightmare, the aircon is noisy, the bog door squeals like a stuck pig on opening, and the 1” gap at the bottom of the room door means light and sound get in the room. All not great for a sensitive sleeper like me.

To be honest, I can’t say I’m overly impressed with the hotel. Location is fabulous, but disappointingly, our room just feels ‘tired’. Not helped that our room is on the ground floor either, which Charlie doesn’t like. It’s not spoiling anything, but just isn’t the ‘grand hurrah’ I was expecting.

At around 7am, I left the room and took a walk out past the nice pool area, and onto the private beach. It’s quite a way to the shoreline across what’s know as sugar sand. It’s snow white and super-fine. It was pretty much deserted, so I had a nice, relaxed walk and then finished up yesterday’s blog, sat on a sunbed.

Charlie wasn’t for getting up, and isn’t great at breakfast person anyway, so when I got back, Jane and I went and had a decent breakfast in the hotel. Not a bad price either.

We’d decided to go across the bridge to the north beach and Pier 60, park up and meet up with the F’s, before working out what to do for the rest of the day.

We parked up, and meandered down the beachfront road, past Hulk Hogan, before cutting through a gap of hotels and got on the beach. The sand here is even finer than at the back of our hotel.

A quick stroll along the pier to look at all the “tat stalls”, and then a meet up with the F’s.

The lads all wanted to muck about in the sea, so after them changing into their swim shorts behind a towel, to much amusement and winding up, they hit the surf, whilst Mrs F and Jane sat on the beach.

Having not brought beach gear from the cars, and finding out we’d parked at opposite ends of the beach, Mr F and I volunteered to go back to their car, drive up to where we parked, and then bring both beach bags back. Via a pint, “obvs”!

We picked up a selection of cold drinks for the rest of the party, and then went back with the haul.

Now as it turns out, I don’t like sand and I don’t like sunbathing, so I went and had a kip under the pier in the shade, whilst the rest chilled out and fried.

Mid-afternoon and I think they needed a break from the heat, so it was decided we’d get a snack/late lunch at a little cafe just off from the beach. I wasn’t hungry so declined, but the rest ordered toasties, hotdogs or sandwiches. So much for snacks! The portions were huge and with the addition of the sides of fries, coleslaw and other gubbins, it was clear that there want going to be any need for them to have tea.

We had a quick look in Ron Jons Surf Shop, and watched some of the street performers, before heading back to the beach. This time, I left them to it and sat under a tree, in the shade, in a carpark. Each to their own, but it was way too hot for me.

Eventually, they all packed up and headed off the beach. Oh! My! Word! The lads looked burned to a frazzle, Charlie particularly so. Even the Factor 50 had been beaten!

Because of that, he just wanted to go home, so the idea of hanging around to watch the sunset was kyboshed.

Instead, we said our goodbyes, and I took Jane and Charlie back to our hotel. It was around 6:40pm, and sunset was 7:55pm, so I decided to head out on my own, park up, watch the sunset and then get some tea.

It took an age to find a parking spot. Especially so because I have that ability to be at the opposite end of a carpark when a space becomes available and someone else just drives in and takes it.

I managed to park at 7:51 and legged it up on to a high point to take some photos. If you’re not aware, once the sun goes below the horizon, there’s still reason to hang around. At the beginning of civil twilight, just after sunset, and when the sun is around 5-10deg below the horizon, the colors of the sky change most rapidly, and there’s more variation, with the “Blue Hour” creating some really nice light for photography.

As it happens, I didn’t have that luxury, as I’d only parked for two hours, most of one had gone, and I needed some food.

I went to a bar that we’d spotted when walking to Mr Fs car. The BadFins taproom is well worth a visit. It has the reputation as having the best ‘beach food’, and a great selection of mainly local craft ale.

The reputation is well deserved. I had their “fish and chips” which were actually three large goujons of mahi-mahi fish in a really light tempura batter, served with crinkle- cut potato slices, that were dry fried. Spot on. I went with a local “Floridian Hefeweizen” to match my tea. You can go posh with this craft ale, and food pair, you know!

I headed back and drive to male and a half back over the bridge to the South Beach and our hotel. On my return Jane & Charlie were still up, and I got to see Charlie in all of his sun-radiant glory. Turns out he’s not put sunblock on his face. Think Gerry The Berry, if you know your “Phoenix Nights” episodes.

Oh, and I fixed the squeaky toilet door by ‘oiling it’ with suncream. Sorted!

That’ll do for Day 11. See you tomorrow, when we think we’ll head off to Honeymoon Island.

Tata for now.