Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Golden Years ?

Into the 3rd week in March and I've only posted 2 blogs ! Clearly the blogging Muse has abandoned me.

Writers of successful blogs (in terms of visitor numbers at least) tend to post regularly, if not daily. I've never been one for doing that as I never intended my blog to be any sort of online diary. I said a few weeks ago that I'd try doing that but as you can tell, it hasn't worked. My daily life just isn't that interesting....even here in sunny Buttonwood Bay.

Specialist blogs do well too. Dieting, cooking and crafting seem to top the list and no doubt any blog dealing with celebrity, real or made up, will also get thousands of visitors.

So as I don't diet, can't cook, am not crafty and have never met a celebrity (except for some actor from Emmerdale when he came out of Leeds Costco), my blog post topics are somewhat limited.

I thought that travel posts would be cool and even helpful but they take so much time to create that I quickly lose interest in doing them. I've still a few holiday posts that have never been completed and I really have little enthusiasm for returning to them now. Take it from me, Italy, France and Spain are all wonderful and we had great times there. Done.

Oh that felt so if with those unfinished posts out of the way, I have a fresh canvas.

Right, in keeping with that artistic image, my brush is poised and I'm all set to go..........

Ahhh....ummm.........sighhhhhh......dammit Muse, hit me with something ! ANYTHING !!

Well ok, a "funny" thing happened on the drive back from golfing on Monday. Jack and Barrie, along with new member, Jerry, were discussing ages. I think this came about after Jerry suddenly decided to give us the results of his recent prostate test, something I could've done without knowing.

Despite being a good result, the subsequent chat revolved around the well known fact that ANY prostate result is a bit meaningless when you're around 80 years old as you're likely to be dead from something else before a dodgy prostate takes you.

Anyway, ages were mentioned and I said something like "God I'm playing golf with a right bunch of old farts." Said in a compassionate and caring way of course.

"Why, what age are you" came the response.


"OMG you're a youngster."

Now considering I've been somewhat dreading the rapid approach of my 60th birthday in June, this was like music to my ears. Seriously. Music. I suddenly DID feel young. I know, crazy eh ?

You see it's all relative. In this park, the average age is probably in the 70's. I mean you have to be 55 just to get in ! There are probably 3 of us out of about 2,000 who are under 60 and we all live in this house ! Dennis is my age and Debby is even younger.

Back in the real world, my approaching 60th birthday will cause people to believe that I'll be senile, over the hill, geriatric, and possibly a bit useless. Yet apart from losing several thousand memory cells, being a bit physically slower and napping during daytime tv, I feel better than I did 20 years ago.

But the age 'number' is hard to fight against. Most people have preconceived ideas when they hear you are 50, 60, 70 etc. We get told we live in a young society where old relatives are not valued for their life experiences but actually ignored, treated as nuisances and plonked in front of the tv from dawn till dusk. If nothing else prematurely ages a person, that will.

Here in this park, and many others like it, retired people generally live to ripe old ages because they keep active, keep involved and look out for each other. Every few minutes, residents are walking or cycling past my window. The small gym is full by 7am and water aerobics sessions are going on around the same time to keep hearts pumping and arteries unclogged. Tennis and other games are in full flow and indoors, all forms of dancing and manual dexterity crafts are in progress to keep the effects of arthritis at bay.

But the boost I got by hearing myself called a youngster the other day proves that a lot of how you feel physically is determined by how you feel mentally.....and right now I feel great.

60 ? Bring it on !

I donno if we have parks like this in the UK but we should have. Yes we have caravan parks and holiday parks and so on but do we have parks for retirees ? Before I came here I'd have doubted their usefulness but now I'm a convert. If only we had Florida style weather in the UK.

Buttonwood Bay proves the old adage that "you are as young as you feel" and I have to say that being around people older than me and who are just as active as me, if not more so, has lessened my dread of being 60.

In just over 5 weeks time I'll be back in the real world again and back in the UK where I'll be made to face my age in a much different way. I just hope I can take the BB energy and positivity back with me.

One positive note will be that when I reach 60, I'll qualify for free prescriptions. See, it's not all bad !

On the down side however, any water aerobics might have to be done in my shower.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Move Along Please - No Fish To See Here.

Without being too sexist, it's a well known fact that wherever a group of men are gathered, golf and/or fishing stories will be related, debated and often contested.

To keep that tradition going, I shall relate the three highlights of our regular Monday golf game yesterday as believe me, I've rarely had ONE decent story to relate, never mind three !

But don't get too excited as these stories don't include a hole in one, killing a gator with a belly putter or a vulture dropping a fish from 200ft onto the fairway. Actually to be honest, these aren't stories as such, but 3 individual shots that will live long in our memories - or in my case till a week on Wednesday.

Another reason for recording them in his here blog thingy.

Ok lemme set the scene. Jack, Barrie and myself were playing at Harder Hall Country Club and to let you know our standard, we usually go round with scores in the low to mid 90's. So we won't be joining the PGA senior tour anytime soon but man do we have fun.

The first memorable shot came from Jack but sadly he was the only one who saw it. It was the par 4 10th hole with houses and the "out of bounds" along the right side of the fairway. In the past, I've had several drives go close to or, in one case 2 weeks ago, actually go into a hedged garden and despite seeing it sitting up on the very lush bermuda grass, I couldn't retrieve it without trespassing.

This time it was Barrie who sent his ball, we thought, into the same garden but he had a ball retriever in his bag and so with me in attendance (as my own ball narrowly missed going in as well) he managed to hook it out - only to discover it wasn't his ball at all. In fact we never did find his ball.

While all this was taking place over on the right of the approach to the green, Jack must've been having fun of his own down the left side and had plonked his 3rd shot into the green side bunker. Barrie and I were still messing about finding and retrieving balls and had no idea what Jack was doing when we suddenly heard him shout out. He'd taken his 4th shot from the bunker and it had sailed onto the green and rolled right into the hole !

Now I'm only assuming he holed out in par as I think his shout would've been a lot louder if he'd holed for a birdie or even an eagle - no he was just excited about holing from the bunker so I think a par was his score. Anyway he was the only witness to this feat but he made sure we heard his shout and his ball was indeed in the hole, as I removed it myself when I eventually made it up onto the green.

That was excitement No.1.

Well I never said it would be VERY exciting !

A few holes later and with the grin still fresh on Jack's face, it was Barrie's moment to shine and this time we were all witnesses. He'd already hacked a few shots from the light rough down the left side of the fairway and even hit a tree with his ball almost returning to his feet, when he finally hit a shot that landed about 20 feet from a green side bunker. As he viewed his chip, Jack gave Barrie some sage if rather optimistic advice : -

"Just chip it over that bunker and it'll feed down to the hole, hit the flag and go in."

Yes thank you Jack. If only we played golf to that standard !

Well blow me if that isn't exactly what happened. Any comments forming in my head were changing by the second as his chip shot flew off the club face......

Oh good chip over the bunker, Barrie.

Oh well done getting it on the green, Barrie.

Wow you've hit the flag, Barrie.

OMG it's gone in !

Actually it was teasingly better than that as when the ball hit the flag, it was going at a fair pace and so bounced back a little onto the rim of the hole. I thought it was going to sit there and still be an awesome shot but a second later, it disappeared into the hole and that small part of Harder Hall Country Club was treated to the bizarre spectacle of three grown men leaping around and "high fiving" like they'd each won The Masters.

That was excitement No.2.

By now I was feeling decidedly left out ! Then we got to the short par 3 16th and it was my turn to hog the golfing spotlight.

My 8 iron tee shot sent the ball arcing 125 yds over the water hazard and onto the back of the green and I was already thinking.......ohhhhhh I could get a par here.

I'm nothing if not realistic when it comes to my putting skills !

Once on the green, I began to think a par was being optimistic as my ball was on the back edge of a quite severe slope leading to the hole. I'd have to aim my putt along the edge of the slope about 6 feet to the left of the hole and then let it roll almost at a right angle for another 5 feet to the hole. Just getting it close would be an achievement.

(Well I have to build this up a bit as after all, it's MY turn and MY blog)

Now lets be honest here. I know as much about checking a green's grain and lining up a putt as I know about the national flag of Uganda. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

But I can see where the ball needs to go to get to the hole. My problem is that usually the ball doesn't take this route as I'm a pretty crap putter.

Not on this occasion. My putt was a joy to behold and all 3 of us watched as it left my club face and trundled on its merry way along the slope. The speed seemed good. The line was just as I wanted it to be. After about 15 feet it started to turn down the slope towards the hole and I felt it was going to be close. Quite close. Very close. OMG close.

IN THE HOLE close !

A birdie ! Better still, my first ever 2 in golf. My years of patiently watching golf on tv were finally paying off. And people said I was lazy and wasting my time. Ha !

The ball dropped in with all the speed of a very slow snail but all the grace of a Bolshoi prima ballerina and for the third time on the back 9, a trio of shouts went up, the fives were high and a good day just got even better. Now we ALL had shots to talk about and I'm afraid you, dear readers, will have to be my grandchildren on this occasion as I don't have any real ones to tell.

What a day ! What a back 9. What a great feeling seeing a 2 on my between a 6 and a 7 but what the heck, it was still there.

My final score was 94 which won't win any prizes but we play for fun and fun we had.

And yesterday, for 3 brief moments in time, we each felt like a pro.

But unlike them, we didn't just casually touch the peaks of our caps. We didn't just give a small wave. Hell no. We shouted like idiots, smiled like crazy loons and slapped each other more times than was comfortably necessary.

And best of all ? We get to try it all again next Monday !

And yes, I'll be back watching golf on the telle this weekend.

My advice to those pros ?

When you get a birdie, chip in from a bunker or from over a bunker, at least try and look happy and excited.

After all, 3 of us now know the feeling.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Three Men & A Baby.

Blimey, one post in nearly three weeks ! I'll be losing my Blogger Membership status at this rate.

So what's been going on here in sunny Buttonwood Bay ?

Well the main 'event' has been the 7 day visit of Deb & Den's eldest son, Brian and his family - wife Tara and kids Mason (4) and Emerson (baby). Youngest son, Joshua, joined this mini family gathering for 2 days from his home in Miami, a 3 hr drive away on the most boring road in the whole world including all the roads in N. Dakota ! Now that's boring !

So it's been....different. My experiences around 4 year olds and a baby could be counted on one finger although I have been around some adults here who have displayed the same characteristics !

Spewing 'stuff' from both ends and talking nonsense would be the two most common abilities.

Day 1 passed in a bit of a sleepy haze as the family had set off from their Michigan hotel at about 3am to catch the 6am flight to Tampa. Arriving in the park at 1pm or so, the rest of the day was spent trying to get a few words out of 2 VERY tired adults and 2 young 'uns who thought their world had changed completely. A few hours previously they'd been in a world of snow and critters with antlers and were now in a world of baking heat and critters with hard skin and very large mouths. Yes, park residents !

After a few hours sleep for them all, next day, and every day since, with temperatures reaching the 90's and the sun cracking the paving stones, the park's main swimming pool has been the favourite place to spend outdoor time. Here is the family group with, left to right, Tara, Dennis, Mason, Brian, Debby and Joshua.

Ok with introductions over, here are a few more pool shots..........

Now I know what you're thinking.......what on earth is going on in those last two pics ?

Well in the penultimate one, Joshua is showing us that Darren Brown/David Blane aren't the only people who can do a spot of levitation and who knows, he might be the only one to do it in a swimming pool ! Ha !

As for the last photo, well you're on your own there. It could be a recreation of a scene from "The Hunt For Red October" but most likely it's simply a fun thing to do with the broken off end of a swimming pool 'noodle.' I can report, however, that as a snorkling device, a noodle is as much use as toilet roll.

Works a little but you'd never want to explore the Great Barrier Reef with one.

Moving on, here are a few random generation type pics of cuteness........

And then some random shots of just cuteness.........

And here is Mason helping out with the adding to those needing to be washed ! It's early days.

I changed it to sepia as for one thing, there was very little colour in the photo to start with and for another, well I felt it added a bit of 'yesteryear' to the shot. A sort of "if Hovis did washing up liquid" kinda thing.

Lots of fresh air, hot weather and swimming can take it out of kids, and big kids too. But there is always nature's way of recharging batteries.

A good nap.

We'll miss the patter of tiny (and larger) feet when they all leave tomorrow but it's been great being able to accommodate them all here.

On Tuesday 2 more retired friends from Michigan will be coming for a visit.

Maybe we'll leave the toys out for them !

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