Sunday, January 28, 2007

Farewell Buttonwood Bay - Hello Leeds

I'm home ! And it's cold.......very cold.

First let me take you back to last Wednesday when things were a lot warmer and that evening was the 50's dance in Buttonwood Bay. Deb had done magic with a load of material from WalMart and somehow conjured up a skirt and attachments straight out of the 'Peggy Sue Got Married' movie and others of that genre. She'd even sewed a pink poodle complete with sequined lead onto the skirt. As we entered the hall, heads turned and smiles were everywhere. That might have been the drink though (as we were 40 minutes late as we thought it started at 7:30pm but it was 7:00pm) as it was a BYOB function and plenty was brought. It was like a SAGA trip to a brewery !

Anyway everyone danced and ate and chatted and generally had a fabby time to the music from a different generation and once again I was amazed by the energy and physical output from my fellow residents. Plus it was nice to leave without my ears buzzing for hours afterwards.

I'd spent most of the day packing up my belongings and thankfully was able to leave a few items behind to be stored in our 'soon-to-be' new home in the park for my return later this year. So on Thursday I didn't have much to do before getting in the rental car at noon and heading off to the motel in Tampa.

Bright and early the next morning, Friday, it was only a 20 minute drive to the airport and as I got there 2 hrs early, I was delighted to find they had free wi-fi internet available and so I was able to check and send a few emails and have quick chats with anyone who was up and online at that early hour. Other aiports take note.........FREE wi-fi please.

I just must mention the security at Tampa was first class and ultra modern. No old fashioned, but nevertheless sightly more sexually pleasing, manual searches here ! Oh no. I stepped into a glass sided booth and had air blown up, down and generally in all directions over my body which was like having a dry shower. I exited feeling refreshed, clean and with bits of me tingling from the experience. Never mind every airport having one, I think every home should have one too. I wanted to go round again !

You know the way traffic slows down as it passes an accident ? Rubber necking is one term for it. Well the security line had a similar slowdown as men would pause to watch any skirt wearing lady who happened to be in the booth at the time. All I can say is - imagine that infamous Marilyn Monroe footage with the air not only blasting from below and you'll get the picture.

Onboard my flight to Detroit, I had a row of seats to myself and watched in some comfort as the scene below me changed from one of green and warm to white and cold. Thankfully my delicate body wasn't exposed to it at this point in the trip and after the 3 hr flight, I settled in at Detroit airport to a wait of over 5 hours before my next flight out.

Here is a photo of one of the least glamorous jobs in the a Jumbo jet. Well I had 5 hrs to pass so had to watch something.

I was glad to not have any more security checks to go through as, despite enjoying the novelty of warm air blasts, they are a necessary inconvenience at best these days and a pain in the ass if I have to open up my carry on luggage.

The transatlantic leg of the trip was as long and mind numbingly boring as ever and once again I yearned for the days of Concorde when my trips were over in a third of the time. Yea right. The closest I got to a Concorde was at some airport when one passed by the window of the plane I was on and made a noise usually only experienced by those who were up front at a Who concert in the 70's.

During the 8 hr flight I watched 3 movies in between the arrival of the drinks trolley, the main meal trolley, the duty free trolley, the drinks trolley again and the pre landing snack trolley. I picked "The Queen", which wasn't too bad but seemed more documentary than movie, "Flyboys" which was from the old school of formulaic war movies as it degenerated into soppy sentimentality as well as having an obvious ending. In a final effort to make the trip more pleasant, I picked "The Incredibles" which always makes me smile, even at 90,000 ft or whatever height we were at.

We landed on time at Amsterdam airport (by now it was Saturday morning) and next stop, albeit after another flight, was glorious sunny Leeds. Yes sunny. Not a cloud in the sky and sadly, not a degree of heat in the air. Eee by gum it were nippy. It was my first exposure to the air since leaving Tampa and it came as quite a shock to my system. Oh it wasn't as cold as in Detroit of course but it's all relative and this time I was out in it !!

A taxi ride later and I was home sweet home. Was glad to see it looked fine on first inspection and as expected, once inside I could see my breath so heat was the priority. I turned on the gas supply and lit the fire. The flames didn't seem as 'strong' as I'm used to but I'd no time to think about that and went to get the central heating boiler going. I couldn't. No amount of trying would get the pilot light to work and that meant no heat. I rang the gas company as I'm covered insurance wise and the best they could do was send someone the next day.....meaning today, Sunday.

I spent the evening wrapped in all the warm clothing I could get on me but it was still uncomfortably cold in crawled to 42F and in an effort to get warmer, I left to go shopping as I'd nothing other than tinned soup in the old larder. After giving the car battery a zap, it fired up and I slowly set off for Sainsburys, gingerly giving the brakes lots of touches on the way. The car had been on the driveway for exactly 6 months after all.

I'd been looking forward to seeing my new look store as it had had a refurbishment while I was away. Oh what a huge disappointment it was. No, it was much more than that, it was awful. The store I'd left back in August was quite nice and modern so I'd assumed the refurbishment would've only added to it should. The only way I can describe it now is that it reminds me of a city centre Netto (for my UK readers) or a Save-a-Lot (for my US ones). Sorry international readers, you're on your own !!

I know it was a Saturday evening and so it was busy and with lots of staff along the aisles stacking the shelves but was just a mess. They'd added more non food lines as you'd expect these days with clothing and kitchenware and electronic goodies etc, but my impression was that there was even less choice in the staples of supermarket fare, food ! And the checkouts ! I'm sure they were taken from some store which went into receivership as they were just plain nasty and showed up the poor flooring where the old ones used to be.

But, hey, it was WARM. I basked in the heat and almost slapped on some sun cream. Sadly I had to get my frozen goodies to my frozen home and so had to leave. I'd had my bed's electric blanket turned on since I left and by the time I finally went up to get in, it was toasty warm. I'd been up for 38 hrs and slept like a log till the gas man came knocking at 9:30am. He found the gas jet was blocked, probably by a dead spider or it's cobweb, and in no time the boiler was going and the heat was on.

It's now a very tropical 70F in here and I'm thinking of getting out my flip-flops. Life is good.

I'm watching the Corrie omnibus now and thinking of dunking a ginger biscuit in a mug of tea in a while. I'm slowly morphing into my Brit self again.

It's good to be home. Gives me a warm feeling. Well, eventually that is.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


It's coming to the end of my time here in Buttonwood Bay (I leave on Thursday) and I thought I ought to give 15 minutes of fame to the most common critter in the park......well apart from those tiny ones of a flying nature which have not bothered me as much as I feared they would.

In one of my first posts from here last year I mentioned that I had been taking sunset photos down by the lake late one afternoon and once the sun went down, the mozzies came out and found my tender Brit skin to their liking. After only a few minutes of painful snapping, I was left looking like a teenager with rampant acne and I vowed never to give them the opportunity to repeat the meal.

Using a combination of moving pretty much non stop (looking like Patrick Litchfield on E) and running off like a big jessie as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, I've managed to get lots of sunset photos and still remain almost bite free ever since that infamous afternoon.

No the critters I want to highlight here are the squirrels who populate most areas of the park but come out in numbers down by the lake - and mostly at sunset.

I can only assume they have become used to the residents who gather by the waters edge to celebrate the end of each day (or more likely that they've survived another day) by sitting in their golf carts and watching a light show that nature does so well.

It used to be that many residents would feed these squirrels and so they'd actually jump onto the carts and practically take the offerings out of hands.........probably nipping a few arthritic fingers in the process.

This practice was frowned upon and we were told to desist in no uncertain terms. They were becoming pests (the squirrels, not the residents) and it was only a matter of time before we'd lose a resident to their sharp teeth.

But no one thought to tell the many friends, family and guests who came to the park and stayed for a while.....especially over the holidays.

I saw numerous instances of feeding going on and it's hard to chastise a grandson or granddaughter when they look so cute covered from head to foot in squirrels.

The young Davy Crocketts would squeal with delight at being surrounded by these critters and many a doting grandparent had their work cut out chasing them away with the ends of their walking sticks or, as I witnessed on one hilarious occasion, by zooming around after them on their golf carts. It was a scene worthy of a Monty Python sketch and will remain vividly in my mind for years to come.

So the other day I headed down to the lake and had the whole wooded area to myself to start with. I sat down on one of the picnic tables and waited. Like in a scene from a Disney movie, one by one the curious little squirrels came out from wherever they'd been hiding and came towards me. Now remember we're talking Disney here and not Hitchcock or Stephen King so there were no demonic red eyes to be seen anywhere and even less slobbering/drooling going on. There wasn't any creepy shrill violin music either. It was all a very enchanted forest, chocolate box sweet sort of occasion and while most of the squirrels darted about with little aim or purpose, some went on with the things that squirrels do best - scratching themselves, digging up or burying food, scratching themselves and did I mention scratching themselves ? Well they did that a lot.

In fact this particular squirrel (see above) managed to multitask by trying to stare me down while at the same time it's rear leg was going like the proverbial fiddlers elbow.

In this first shot, the stare had been going for about 30 seconds and was becoming quite disturbing to me.

I've seen a few movies where people die and return as animals (the excellent, if somewhat sentimental Fluke being my favourite) and I was starting to believe this squirrel was trying to send me a message.

I was very pleased when it started to have a good scratch as I took this to be a sign that nothing of a human nature was going on as humans would never sit at a picnic table, stare off into the distance and scratch themselves. Well not without a beer and several burps anyway.

I used a slow shutter speed to highlight the speed of movement going on at the back and this only emphasised the rock steady stare going on at the other end.

When one made it all the way along my table and up to my left elbow, I decided it was time to move on. I'd given them 15 minutes of my time and now they've had 15 of yours.

That should be enough for any budding squirrel celeb.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Some Events Defy Understanding

At about 3:50pm last Friday, we were driving back along US-27 towards our winter 'home' in Buttonwood Bay when we were passed by 3 police canine vehicles going south like proverbial bats out of hell. It was unusual enough to elicit a few comments about what might have been going on, but that was it.

As we approached the entrance to the park, we saw a few more police cars but again, thought nothing of it. A short while after that, while visiting with friends inside the park, we saw and heard police and tv station helicopters flying overhead and by then we'd learned that a Florida Highway Patrol officer, Sgt Nicholas Sottile, had been shot and killed after a routine traffic stop just a few miles down the road.

Over the next few days, the story naturally dominated local news and much was said about it any time residents gathered within the park. To quote the local news report...............Joshua Lee Altersberger, 19, allegedly shot 48-year-old Sottile in the neck Friday afternoon when the trooper pulled him over for reckless driving on U.S. 27 north near Cloverleaf Road.

Maybe it's because this was easily the closest I've been to a crime of any sort that it affected me so much. Maybe it was the absolute senselessness of the crime that's made it hard to shake from my mind. Maybe it's that this area seemed so safe and relatively crime free to me since I got here 3 months ago that's made this murder all the more disturbing. I guess all of these are reasons for me never to forget trooper Sottile and why hundreds of residents, me included, went out to the park entrance today just after 2pm to stand in line as the funeral procession drove by.
There was a wish, nay a need, to stand together and honour a man who put his life on the line for 24 years and who deserved to be with his wife and family for many happy years of retirement.

Instead he was killed by some 19 year old deadbeat who, as they were being pulled over, told his passenger that he was going to shoot the officer and this prompted the passenger to flee the scene before it happened. I'm sure family and friends of Sgt Sottile are asking the question.......why didn't this passenger shout a warning to the officer ??? I know I am.

In any case, events took their course and now a wife is a widow and a family is without a father - a man who by all accounts was a credit to his job and the community he served so faithfully till the end.

And so we got in our golf carts, climbed on our bikes or simply walked out to the edge of US-27 and waited for the procession to go past us taking the body of Sgt Sottile on his final 10 mile journey back to Lake Placid.

I once counted the number of 'lots' within the park and got a figure of 940. Some lots are, of course, vacant for one reason or another but if one says that most occupied residences have 2 occupants, then a rough estimate of the total number of residents would come to 1800.

It seemed to me that all of them were out lining US-27 this afternoon. There were a few signs being held up and although this one would seem to have been created by a Hallmark writer, no one could deny it summed up the mood today.

I don't know how many of those by the roadside had ever experienced such a procession before, but it was a first for me. I didn't know what to expect and if asked prior to seeing it, I'd have said I expected 20 or so police cars, maybe a couple of motorbikes and a few unmarked cars would be the sum total. Boy did I ever underestimate the turnout !!!

About 20 minutes before the main procession came over the hill and into sight, about 30 or more police cars and motorbikes had already gone past us with every possible combination of their lights flashing and strobing impressively.

Then came the start of a procession which took well over 40 minutes to pass us and I really hope someone somewhere counted the number of offical police vehicles that took part because I'd love to know that figure.

As usual my attention was mostly taken up with these photographs so I'd not like to even make a guess but it was certainly a very impressive number. think about many cars can go by in 40 minutes ? Many hundreds.

At the head of the main procession were the motorcyclists and there could have been 50 of them alone.

Just as I was composing a shot which would have shown most of them in an impressive line, the gentleman with the sign (from photo 2) decided to get it out as far as possible and blocked off most of the line.

This rushed photo of the cyclists was the best I could get as the procession wasn't hanging around and must've been travelling at 20-25mph.

After these cyclists came the hearse surrounded by it's own cordon of bikes.

By now every resident was eager to pay their respects and were inching further and further onto the road - and in doing so were getting in my line of sight.

I only had the opportunity to get this view of the hearse approaching and then the next shot as it sped away down the road.

At this point there was total silence from the residents who stood either saluting the coffin or had their right arms crossed onto their chests with the hand on heart. It was very moving and I'm sure was appreciated by the family, friends and colleagues of Sgt Sottile.

The sun was blazing down and the temp in the shade was 82F so heaven knows what it was out there on US-27. We'd been there for over an hour by this time but no one was leaving.

After the hearse had gone past, the mood changed slightly and we felt the need to let those officers following behind know how we felt.

Some clapping took place and most of the vehicles received a wave and we got appreciative waves back from them. There were a couple of amusing sights when one patrol car went past with the passenger fast asleep (well it was very hot and I'm sure it had been a long day for him......bless) and then another went by with an opened box of Dunkin Donuts on the dashboard. How typical !!!

We didn't expect the waves back and maybe the officers had been told to not make any gestures at all - but if they were, then thankfully many ignored that request and returned our simple gestures. Many drivers squawked their sirens for a nano second too.

I noticed that many of those in the back seats were taking photos of us which was understandable. Photos provide memories forever and who could deny a friend or family member a record of how many people had turned out to pay their respects.

The photo above gives some impression of the scale of this procession. The hearse had long gone ahead but we kept seeing these police vehicles streaming nose to tail down the road - representing every county in the state and many other states too. They came from Naples and Sarasota, from Miami and Orlando, from Louisiana and New Jersey.

There were vehicles representing every department and area of law enforcement imaginable from canine units to drug enforcement and even corrections.

The governor of Florida came too.

It was quite a sight and one I'll never forget.

The park administators had done an excellent job of letting everyone know about the procession and we were grateful to have been given the opportunity to show our feelings about this incredibly tragic event.

Buttonwood Bay prides itself on it's sense of being an active part of the local community and this turnout proved that when one 'of our own' is taken in this awful way, then we will show our solidarity and let those officers left behind know that we appreciate everything they do for us day in and day out.

In many ways this was a very American procession but it did let me see that even in a nation where the killing of a police officer is hardly news worthy anymore, that when that officer is a decent man who has served his community well for almost a quarter of a century, then his killing will not go unheralded or unnoticed by that community.

The murder of Sgt Sottile was tragic. It was pointless, senseless and totally unnecessary. In this gun crazy nation where 19yr old punks drive around with guns in their door pockets and decide, seemingly on a whim, to kill a police officer, then it might make me worry about the future here.

But if those feelings try and overwhelm me, I can think of the events today and realise that the vast majority of Americans are honest and lawabiding as well as kind and generous to a fault. They have an unswerving pride in, and love of, their country and will defend it and it's laws to the death.

Sgt Sottile was one such American and he died defending those laws.

I didn't know the man but his legacy to me is that I'll never forget him.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gators Rule

I'm not a superstitious person by nature, not at all.

I'm not much into coincidences either. Nope, not me.

A few weeks ago I posted that my adopted state college football team, the Michigan Wolverines, had been soundly beaten by their deadly rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes and this result for the previously undefeated Wolverines pushed them down to 3rd place in the national table and meant they had to take part in the lesser Rose Bowl last Monday (which they also lost) rather than contest the National Championship game which has been taking place tonight.

Still with me ? Ok.

So the two teams contesting the Championship game are those dastardly Buckeyes and the team which jumped from 3rd place to 2nd place and replace the Wolverines, namely the Florida Gators.

Now as this park I'm in is located in central Florida, the Gators would have to classed as the local team and so the one to root for tonight. The fact that they are playing the team 'we' in Michigan all love to hate, makes supporting the Gators even more of a given. The thing is, very few residents here are from Florida - which makes sence if you think about it. I'm not sure of the exact numbers but I'd say that the vast majority of residents are split pretty evenly between the snowbirds of Michigan and those of Ohio.

For days now, Buckeye flags and banners have been fluttering outside many homes here and I really felt that they'd romp home in the game tonight as they are a formidable outfit. Pains me to say that, but credit where it's due and all that.

So where does the superstition and/or coincidence come in ? Well when I rode down to the cafe on the lake for my lunchtime healthy option meal (yea right) today, I couldn't believe my eyes. There on a little sandbank just about 40ft from the cafe and all the people sitting enjoying their food - was the park gator that I'd been told wasn't around anymore !

I shot back up the hill to the 5th wheel and grabbed my camera and prayed that Mr. Gator would still be there on my return.

I needn't have worried as he was going nowhere. I got a few shots at different angles and then went along the few yds to get my burger. I took it back to the sandbank and munched it while watching this awesome beast.

Sure it was only about 4 or 5 feet long but apart from those almost tame gators that you see on show at Sea World or at some other entertainment complex, this was my first true wild gator. Apart from slight movements of it's beady eyes, it never moved a muscle. Despite having a 200mm lens, I wanted to get closer and so, showing a total lack of common sence and respect that the late Steve Irwin would've been proud of, I went around the fence (that provided no protection anyway) and edged along the grass until Mr. Gator decided I'd gone far enough and raised his head slightly.

Never has such a small movement away from my body caused such a large movement inside my body !

I took a VERY shaky photo and backed up to, and around, the relative safety of that fence and decided that gator stalking was not my 'thang'.

As happens on such occasions, my cowardice (and the dampness down my inner thigh) lessened and I felt foolish that this docile looking critter had evoked such terror in me just by raising it's head. It couldn't have closed the distance between us, I felt. I was never in any sort of danger, I felt. I was up for another attempt, I felt. Just then someone came along the path with a large dog which started to bark when it saw the gator. The next few seconds were a blur and all I saw was an explosion of noise and water as the gator shot off the sandbank and disappeared into the swamp. I stood open mouthed at the demonstration of raw power and speed and was very glad for that dog coming along when it did or else yours truely might have been gator food by now. Well ok maybe I'd have got a nasty bite, more likely.

In any case I was so glad to have seen the park gator with only 2 weeks to go till I leave here. But then I got to thinking......why today ? I've been here for almost 3 months with no sign of the gator and suddenly today, he appears and poses for photos. Then I remembered the game. Surely not. Surely it wasn't a sign that the total underdogs, the Florida Gators, would win ???
I mean the Buckeyes hadn't been beaten all season after all.

The game finished just a few minutes ago and the score.........Buckeyes 14 - Gators 41.

Coincidence ? I will let you make up your own minds, gentle readers.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another January Scorcher

You just can't beat an early January dip in the pool, followed by a cold drink as the scorching sun dries you off.

While most of the northern hemisphere seems to be enjoying above average temperatures - ok apart from Colorado which seems to be getting the sum total of everyone elses snow right now - we here in sunny central Florida are enjoying it too.

It's a bit different here though as we're not 10 degrees or so above the average 30's and 40's of the rest of America, but 10 degrees above the 75's that are normal here at this time of year. According to the National Weather Service site, it's currently 82F in Sebring and it's 5:10pm. I think we made the right decision on Thursday to buy a place in the park and I'm not looking forward to leaving in just over 2 weeks time.

This morning we went out on our golf cart to take a few pics to send to someone who is thinking of coming here with a view to buying a place in the park. I thought I'd share a few here.

This one shows one of my fav places in the park as it's where I go to watch sunsets and generally find solitude and a wonderful sence of peace.

The trail path (in white here) runs along the edge of Lake Josephine and I've been along it's length many times on foot, in our golf cart and on my bike.

The pier can be seen through the trees and provides both an aesthetic addition to the view as well as a practical addition to the lake side.

Just to the left of this location are the bocce courts where I've spent many fun hours over the last few months. You can imagine the beautiful views of the lake we get as we play this strange and addictive game. There are periods of time when one is not actually involved in game play and standing looking over this lake is a great way to pass the time.

This shot shows the 3 bocce lanes and the lake is over to the left. I tend to only play on a Sunday as games during the week start at 9am !

I didn't retire to get up and play games at 9am !!!

The exceptions to this 'rule' are the monthly Men v Women games when I feel it is my duty to turn up and help my fellow males to whip ass - in the nicest friendliest way of course.

Sadly last time, WE were the ones to get our butts smacked although we did have a storming comeback which left the ladies winning by the lowest margin possible. I get one more chance to take part in a 'battle of the sexes' game before I leave for the UK so fingers crossed that normal service will be restored on Wed 17th.

By now it was almost noon and a good time to get a shot of the main pool before hordes of residents came out to take advantge of it in the afternoon.....and they did.

By 2pm it was 85F and the pool was the best place to be in the park. Even with air conditioning, it was too hot to do much of anything indoors and so when we returned then, the pool and surrounding areas were as busy as I've seen them here.

But at noon is was a different scene and apart from a couple of people chatting over on the far side, we had the place to ourselves.

This is not the only pool in the park. Oh heavens no. At the bottom of the gentle hill that we live on - well until we move into our new place of course - is a smaller pool which doesn't get as much attention and long may this continue as it means we have it almost to ourselves.

As this photo shows, it may be smaller than it's big brother, but it's still sizeable by any standards.

When Deb/Den were in the park last April, this pool was their favourite as it was kept warmer than the main pool. For some reason that's not been the case recently and so we've not actually spent much time in it.

Another reason for us going to the big pool more often has to be the acquisition of our golf cart as it makes the trip there much more enjoyable - even if it isn't as good from an exercise point of view.

And on that note, I'll end with a photo which sort of sums up life here in Buttonwood Bay in many respects. In previous posts I've mentioned the use of golf carts and how they dominate vehicular traffic on the park roads.

Well just to the side of the main pool is a large concrete parking area - not for cars, not for bikes, but for, yep, golf carts. Enlarge the photo (just click on it) if you can't read the sign.

On days like today, which lets face it, are most days, the parking bays are all quickly taken up shortly after noon and you have to find alternative parking areas.

When you're approaching 80 or 90 or even older, and fancy a dip in the pool, this lack of parking space isn't a good thing. I'm always pleased to see that no one plays the 'disabled badge' card to get a spot closer to the pool and the policy seems to be that everyone is equal in here - equally old and infirm that is !!

Me ? Oh I just prop my skateboard up against the wall and I'm sorted.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Busy Start To 2007

The year has only just started and things have been happening here in gentle Buttonwood Bay.

We paid a visit to Miami yesterday and while stuck in a traffic jam due to a serious accident on SR-836 near the junction with SR-826, my thoughts drifted back to BB and how much it means to me now. Don't get me wrong - I'm not ready for my hot chocolate and slippers (although I like both) but the slow pace of life here and the friendliness of all the residents have helped me in so many ways. I may poke a little fun at some of the things I've seen here over the last 2 months but for stress reduction, it's hard to fault it.

So as we fumed in the hot truck (the temp on the rear view mirror display rose to 92F and it was 10pm), we all agreed that we wanted to be back 'home' where the only traffic jams tend to be when the players leave a game of bocce ball or shuffleboard and involve a few golf carts.

These feelings were quite relevant as we've been thinking of buying a permanent home here for a few weeks now. Life in the 5th wheel is fine up to a point but it's really only perfect for a couple. There is only one bedroom/bed and so I have to inflate an air bed every night and if Deb or Den get up early, I basically have to get up too - as the air bed is in the living area. There are other matters of privacy that I won't go into but lets just say, we could use more space !

On Tuesday we hooked up with the park realty agent who whizzed us around on her golf cart to view 11 homes up for sale. She'd taken our strict criteria onboard and these were the most appropriate of all the non-manufactured homes for sale in the park. I have to say most were very nice but after seeing the first 10, we were thinking that we were only going to get the place we wanted by combining the best features of the 10 !!

Then we came to one that had only been put on the market that very day and we loved it right away. It didn't have 2 bedrooms but then very few homes here have that anyway. It did have an awesome Florida room with the far end of it set up, via a sliding patio type door, as a private area for relaxing, reading, watching tv or whatever. By adding a futon, we'd have a 'private' room with somewhere to sleep, it's own door access to the bathroom and main living area and just as important, the extra person or persons wouldn't disturb or be disturbed by anyone in the rest of the unit. It was furnished and maintained to a very high level and we saw almost nothing that would need to be done prior to us moving in.

Wednesday, yesterday, was spent on our trip to Miami and so we picked up the discussions on a possible purchase this morning. We worked out the finances and decided to put in an initial offer by contacting the agent. She rang back about 20 mins later with a counter offer from the sellers which wasn't far from what we wanted. A good start. We raised our initial offer a little and that was passed to the sellers and a few minutes later, we had a deal ! Ok most things (and people) move very slowly here in BB as you'd expect - but the speed at which this purchase deal was completed astonished me.

I won't go into details to protect both sides as we mutually agreed that apart from paying a nominal deposit, the closure wouldn't take place until March 30th - so if the sellers decide to change their minds and not sell at all, we could be back to square one. I very much doubt that will happen and so we are, in all but the crossed t's and dotted i's, home owners in delightful Buttonwood Bay in sunny central Florida. Woooohoooo.

The plan is to keep the 5th wheel as it is still wanted for travelling to all those places either not visited before or liked so much, they deserve another visit. Live here in Florida for up to 7 months of the year, Houghton Lake for the other 5 and the 5th wheel for any road trips all year round.

Now THAT'S retirement !

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