Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life Has Its Ups And Downs....Just Not Here !

It's that time of the year when the Florida snowbirds are packing up and preparing to return to their 'nests' in the northern US states and Canada. Watch any streaming webcam from a Floridian interstate and you'll see convoys of trailers, 5th wheels and motorhomes all heading northwards like a modern day wagon train - so no Flint McCullough and definitely no Indians.

I've no statistics for the percentage of Buttonwood Bay residents leaving over the next day or so but it's pretty huge. I still have just over 5 weeks here but although I won't be a part of the current exodus, my personal end date is speeding towards me.

The hot muggy summer weather is here and when you start to wet your clothing just by sitting in the living room, then you need to either turn on the a/c or empty your colostomy bag. This muggy weather is nasty and saps your energy and I don't have much to start with. Certainly the clear blue skies and warm sunshine are lovely but in the summer they come at a price here and the price is.....humidity. And it's come very early this year.

Just going out to pick up the mail has you dripping with sweat. Do anything more strenuous and you'd better be wearing flippers and a snorkel.

Summers here bring almost daily thunderstorms and although they usually don't last long and provide much needed rain, their presence ups the humidity levels even more.

But there are plenty of days when the weather is just perfect. Warm, not too humid and you know that when you set off for a trip to the beach, you'll have guaranteed sunshine all day.

So would I prefer spending summer here or in England ?

That's a hard one.

As I've said before, in general, if you're not a theme park or beach person, there isn't much else here. Florida is 99.999% flat with some of the most boring landscape south of N. Dakota. It's known as The Sunshine State (although a few other states actually get more hrs of sunshine per year) and not The Killer Scenery State and for good reason. It hasn't much. You'll get no "ooohs" or "aaahs" when driving from A to B here...unless you're visiting South Beach, Miami or passing along Duval Street in Key West during Fantasy Fest when, depending on how adventurous you are, you may utter both exclamations ! !

I do miss the English scenery. I've mostly taken it for granted as it's been around much longer than I have and despite urban expansion, should be around for a lot longer after I've gone. I do need to explore my own country more and since retiring, I try to do so every summer.

Although I have the time now to do that, I'm put off by a combination of our soaring petrol prices, far too many cars on our roads and our 'temperate' climate (ha!). Wandering around a castle when it's chucking it down is no fun at all as for some reason, it seems most of them were built without any sort of roof. Either the weather was a lot better back in those days or they had well dodgy Irish builders knocking on their drawbridges too.

Historic buildings aside, the actual scenery to be found everywhere in England is stunning and it's a constant annoyance to me that most foreign visitors rarely venture far from London. From soaring mountains and deep forest filled valleys to azure blue lakes and cascading rivers, Britain has stunning scenery in abundance and the great thing is that you don't have to travel far to see it.

At 50,345 sq mls, England is smaller than Florida (65,758 sq mls) and smaller than 30 other US states as well. A few miles drive from any urban area and you'll be up to your passports in breathtaking scenery. Of course those few miles may well take you several hours to travel because as well as stunning scenery being around almost every corner, so is the next traffic jam. In the summer (school holiday) months, British roads are clogged to death as, despite last year having the first ever reduction in vehicle numbers since records began in 1904, there are over 31 million registered vehicles on our roads. This is an 80% increase since 1980 on a road infastructure that has only increased 10% over the same period.

Do the math.

But it IS possible to get away from it all and find peace and tranquility in the beautiful English countryside as, thankfully, not all those 31 million vehicles are on the roads at the same time. It just seems like it on a Bank Holiday weekend !

So, on the England upside....temperate climate, stunning scenery, history everywhere, fish and chips, football, proper money, the NHS, bulldog spirit, unique sense of humour, frozen Yorkshire puddings, Sky Sports, no mosquitoes, the food, Peter Kay, the people.

And on the England downside....temperate climate, traffic chaos, close to France, cost of petrol, Manchester United, the NHS, Eastenders, seaside resorts, the food, London, the people.

As for the Florida upside.........semi tropical climate, sunshine, roads mostly free from traffic, store prices, Golden Corrals, gas prices (hey they're much better than most), senior discounts, year round cheap golf, golden beaches, KSC (no NOT to be confused with KFC), the people.

And on the downside.....summer humidity, only one and a bit seasons, no scenery, senior drivers, tv adverts, basketball, taxes, critters that bite and/or eat you, Golden Corrals, the healthcare system, Glee, the people.

I've just added 'the people' to every list for a bit of controversy as I'm that way out.

Anyway those have been my thoughts on snowbirding, England v Florida and Glee. I think it's obvious that both places have their ups and downs (except Florida which as I said before, doesn't) so maybe I've found the win-win answer by spending half the year in both places.

With two nations that are often world's apart, that's the best of both worlds.


Daphne said...

There are lots of things that I don't like about England - - and the rest of Britain. But I do love the scenery, and (some of!) the people, and the work I do. I'd like to travel more - but I am always happy to come home, too.

Jennyta said...

Well, you still haven't been over to visit Chester Zoo, although, looking at admission prices, you may have second thoughts! ;)

CLS said...

you've settled here in Florida in HIGHLANDS COUNTY!!! Of course there must be ups and downs - otherwise why would they have named it such?? (but I don't remember having to down shift the Miata other than for traffic ... hmmm)

rhymeswithplague said...

When we lived in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County our driveway had the slightest of inclines and everybody in the neighborhood said we lived on "a hill"! I think our house was 8 feet above sea level or some absurd thing like that.

Those snowbirds may be in for a surprise this year as it's still a bit blustery and blowy further north.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

The English countryside is 99.999% flat around here without the hot summers with blue skies! At least we don't have alligators and cottonmouths.

Yeah, I remember the humidity from a couple of hols there in FLA, and those were in autumn. Still far too much like breathing underwater for my liking.

rhymeswithplague said...

The only thing that makes Florida inhabitable about eight months of the year is air conditioning. I nearly smothered when I first arrived. I stayed drenched in sweat all the time. One has to go from my air-conditioned home in one's air-conditioned car to one's air-conditioned job or an air-conditioned store in order to survive. Nowadays it is common, but in 1961 not so much so.

Lisa said...

I wish I could spend 1/2 the year in England..

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