Snapshots from Florida

A Hurricane, A Pelican and a Balcony Bathtub…
Snapshots from Florida

Oh, these are exactly the sort of pictures I want to look at just after getting in from the soggy morning dog walk.  Pictures of fizzy, tango sunsets and palm trees and clear water and blackened Mahi Mahi Tacos.  Ugh, I ache!  I get asked a lot, “Why Florida?”  Why do I go back year after year when I could be exploring somewhere new for my summer vaycay?  And I guess the answer is; I don’t want to go anywhere else.  Southwest Florida is home – in a way.  Not just for me, but for Sunny too.  We’ve both been going there since we were teenagers and know it so, so well by now, that we never experience that foreign feeling you get during the first week of a holiday where you’ve arrived somewhere you’ve never been before and need to spend a couple of days figuring out where everything is, where’s good to eat etc.  And yeah, some might say that’s all part of the adventure of going somewhere new, but I love the familiarity of Florida; there’s always a massive sigh of relief when I get off the plane at Miami Airport (and not just because, yay! I survived the flight!), but because the holiday starts immediately.  And boy, did we need it this year!

I also get asked a lot why I don’t go anywhere near Orlando.  The truth is that there’s so much more to Florida than just the parks.  The Gulf Coast and The Keys are where the real party’s at – and our favourite spot by far is Naples.  Not only has it got some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and plenty of things do when you’re not topping off your tan, but it’s so quiet – especially during the summer and early Autumn.  And honestly, I’m a little nervous about shouting too loudly about how much I love it there because it’s always felt like a bit of a secret – and I kind of want to keep it all to myself.  This year, we spent two lovely weeks there chilling out by the pool (all the while keeping our eye on Hurricane Dorian out in the Atlantic), eating a lot of Tacos and filling our suitcase with lots of bargains from the outlet malls scattered either side of I75. 🙂

Snapshots from Florida

I pretty much lived in this Hawaiian Shirt while I was out there.  One of the best things about taking a late August/early September holiday is that most of the summer fashion goes on sale just before you leave, and everything in this picture was a total steal.  I spotted the shirt trawling the sale section of ASOS and decided that not only was it the ugliest shirt I’d ever seen, but that I had to have it.  The heart-shaped sunglasses were £3 from H&M (I get so many compliments when I wear them, which drives my husband absolutely nuts because he HATES them), and the bag and denim skirt were bargains from F&F at Tesco for £8 and £7 respectively.  I was a little sad packing away these yellow tassel sliders from Zara the other day – I can’t wait to wear them again next year!

Snapshots from Florida
Snapshots from FloridaSnapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida

For the final week of the holiday, we packed up the car and headed down to The Keys.  I used to stay on one of the middle islands called Islamorada with my parents and brother when I was teenager, and last year I took Sunny down there for a few days – knowing that he’d absolutely love the island vibe coupled with the incredible wildlife and fishing.  He did love it, and so this year we booked in for a week at my favourite hotel there, Cheeca Lodge, as a treat to finish the holiday with a bang.  It’s a beautiful hotel anyway – no matter what room you end up staying in – but lucky us – we got upgraded to one of the mini suites in the main lodge, which came with a balcony bathtub!  Over our five or so days there we went fishing, lounged around the pool, went snorkelling on the reef and ate Mahi Mahi Tacos pretty much every single night. 🙂

Snapshots from FloridaSnapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida

We also ended up rescuing a pelican.  From day one there was a very friendly pelican hovering around at the bottom of the pier waiting to score a fish from anyone who happened to be fishing there – sometimes even when it was still on the hook!  I kind of grew a bit of a soft spot for her, and so it was heartbreaking to head down there one morning to find her hobbling around with a massive fishing lure stuck in her flipper.  Luckily, she was so tame that Sunny and a few other guests were able to wrangle her and then gently tease out the lure, and she flapped away to fish another day. 🙂

Snapshots from FloridaSnapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida
Snapshots from Florida
Snapshots from FloridaSnapshots from FloridaSnapshots from Florida

Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

Tailgating at Hard Rock Stadium

I’m no sports nut.  I mean, rugby is totally the exception and you’ll catch me cheering the boys on come 6 Nations time just like any other Welsh gal.  But everything else?  Ugh.  And don’t feed me that, “Oh, but it’s so much better watching it live and in person than on the TV” line.  No it bloody well ain’t, alright?  I spent enough Saturday afternoons down at the Valley (Sunny’s a Charlton Athletic fan) when I lived in London freezing in the cold – and yet somehow simultaneously falling asleep – to know that it just isn’t for me.

So when Sunny suggested we catch an American Football Game while we were out in Florida I… wasn’t fussed.  But at least I wasn’t going to freeze, I told myself.  Sunny LOVES American Football – he spent a year in Colorado supporting the Broncos and Tailgated at Mile High Stadium, and insisted that – never mind the actual game – the atmosphere and pre-game is completely different to British Football.  And he was right!  We pulled up early and joined all Tailgaters from both Miami and Detroit (there’s none of that fear of mixing fans like there is in the UK) and spent a couple of hours wandering around sucking in the atmosphere (and sunshine!).  If you’ve never heard of Tailgating, it’s  a sport in its own right and it’s basically one massive barbecue/game of beer pong in the parking lot – and I can definitely get on board with that!  Finally, a sport  that involves hotdogs! 😉



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Have a great weekend! X

12 Hours in Key West

Here come some palm trees, key lime pie and gypsy chickens to brighten up this very gloomy Monday morning!  I can’t believe that this time last month (I’m pretty sure down to the day) I was wandering the streets of beautiful, balmy (and – let’s be totally honest here – a little bit barmy) Key West.  The southernmost city in the USA and the westernmost island of the Florida Keys, it really is a little world all on its own – a stepping stone between the star-spangled mainland and Cuba.  By day it’s a quaint island town full of clapboard houses with shady porches, lazy bars, bakeries and stray chickens… but by night?  As soon as that sun sets over Mallory Square, ANYTHING goes.  Sunny and I were there slap bang in the middle of Fantasy Fest (Key West’s annual 10 Day adults only extravaganza) and we saw… things.





Since we were staying on the middle keys (Islamorada and Marathon), we only had a day to explore Key West – which was more than enough because the island’s tiny and the city even smaller.  We had breakfast at a bar on Front Street, wandered around looking at the pretty houses on Emma and Fleming Streets, and then climbed the old lighthouse for a 360° view of the sea.



When the heat started to hit (it was close to 100 °F out of the shade of the palm and banyan trees) we hit up Ernest Hemingway’s House just off Whitehead Street.  The writer lived there in the thirties and descendants of his lucky polydactl (six-toed) cat Snow White still live there now and pretty much have the run of the house.  I think there are over fifty wandering around the house and gardens, snoozing on the bed and in the shade beside the massive (for Key West, anyway) swimming pool that Pauline Hemingway sneakily had fitted while Ernest was working as a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War.




When lunch swung around we ducked into Moondog Cafe for some fresh limeade and (finally!) some real, homemade Key Lime Pie.  I say “real” because true Key Lime Pie has to be made from Swingle Limes, which are smaller than regular limes with a slightly different flavour and a yellow juice.  Apparently it was first whipped up by the cook of Key West’s first millionaire – but the recipe might have come from local sponge fishermen who took canned milk, limes and eggs out onto their boats.  🙂


We finished the day off on Mallory Square where everyone gathers on the dock to watch the sun set over the water.

Have a lovely week everyone! 💚

 

A Floridian Halloween

I was so excited when I found out that my (very late) summer holiday in Florida was going to clash with Halloween – I mean, come on, America’s pretty much the mothership when it comes to all things Autumn Fall. 

There’s something really weird about visiting a tropical climate around this time of year when everyone’s shivering and slugging around in the drizzle back home.  I mean, I just couldn’t get on board with the Christmas Trees that sprung up between the palm trees on November the 1st, but Halloween was a totally different story.  Floridian Halloweens are weird in the best kind of way.  Because it’s warm in the evenings, everyone sits out on their porch to watch the trick or treaters come and go – grilling, drinking beer and chatting with their neighbours in between. Plus, the costumes are incredible because no one has to worry about bundling coats on top or layers underneath.


Because we were staying in a community full of families rather than a hotel, Sunny and I really got to experience Halloween – from the night itself and the preparations beforehand, including the amazing decorations.  We saw some really creative ones just driving around the neighbourhood; from 6 foot tall inflatable vampire bats and giant spiders, to this crafty pair of skeletons… 😉



Pumpkin Patches sprung up in parking lots everywhere – not just for buying pumpkins but for staging family (and pet!) photoshoots.

Because we were heading to a Halloween party, I decided to bake some holiday appropriate Welshcakes… which turned out to be really, really salty because American butter is way, way saltier than British Butter.  Not the best I’ve ever made, but the Candy Corn ones did look pretty cool!


Oh, and Sunny and I dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants and his Pineapple.  Sunny found the head in Walmart and I just kind of had to fall in line.  I mean sure, eating was almost impossible, doors were a struggle and when I tried to sit down I kind of disappeared into it like a terrified turtle… but I think it’s my favourite thing I’ve ever worn (including the time I dressed up as an egg salad baguette – long story).  Also, because it was inflated by a battery powered fan, I had my own personal air-conditioning, which in Florida is not a bad thing at all.  We were a big hit with the neighbourhood, especially Sunny, who creeped out the older kids just enough to be considered cool, and was completely adored by the smaller kids.  🙂



I was posting on Instagram Stories the whole time I was in Florida, so if you fancy seeing more of what I got up to, swing by my Highlights. Have a great weekend everyone! 🍍