Sunday, July 31, 2016

Back into the wild

It is possible to find peace and relative solitude in the madcap middle of tourist crippled Florida. Lake Louisa Park only a few miles up Highway 27 is a green and scrubby wild wilderness. Miles of empty lakes, curious examples of wildlife (too quick to photograph) and quiet, sunbaked roads. It seems a long way from King Kong and the legions or super heroes and designer shops all hungry for ready cash and footfall. For a $4 entry fee you can quite quickly get lost and come close to treading on a gator's tail or wandering into a swamp. No shops, no amenities, just a student renting out canoes from an old ISO container selling warm Coke and giving sparse advice on how to avoid getting hurt or eaten. For most visitors though the whole point of their day is about getting lost. A rare and nice personal experience that you can't actually share with anybody. Nice to do if you want to be in America but for a short time not be part of the spiralling, crazy circus.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


...can be full of little surprises. (I'd imagine that everyone who has ever looked twice at any American power point has taken a picture like this, so I'm just taking my turn now.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Another day another dragon

Dragons are a big deal it turns out. They make for fantastic fantasy and commercial good sense. They are scary but also photogenic. Once the unlikely property of the Welsh or maybe St George or some other feeble knight they are now the fictional kings of killing beasts and unlikely human allies, from Shrek and Game of Thrones to Pete's Dragon and Harry Potter. No story is complete without some fire breathing, hell raising lizard. Naturally they survive best in theme parks where around every corner, at the end of every queue and propping up plot devices with their timely, fiery interventions the dragons are top of the food chain. Well top but still behind strange super powers, strong willed  women and a little dark magic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lizard on the tyre

This chap tried to hitch a ride but failed, his mate however managed a blistering two mile drive down the highway on our bonnet jumping off quite the thing once we reached our destination, an IHoP.
Sweets sampled for YouTube reviewing.

Food in Florida

Food is everywhere in Florida, it's a religion, it's a belief and for some it's a complete lifestyle. There are many big, hungry people here. Restaurant after restaurant filled with eager waiting staff, scurrying chefs and rapid action cooks and meals, large and larger that defy description. Tonight it was shrimp for me, three kinds, three flavours, three portions, wow! The crab shown above was not mine but worthy of appearing here for a) size and b) complexity of the dish and c) skills required to actually eat it.  Now it's slowly digesting (the shrimp) someplace inside me, the couch calls, the night is long and hot...and there's always something else to do and something else to eat. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Barry Lyndon revisited

Thanks the Guardian for reminding me about Barry Lyndon, it's relevance and importance and informing me of it's re-release.   Like Heaven's Gate (another misunderstood film) or Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces or Dark Star, the movies that populated my screwed up younger consciousness shouldn't be forgotten or filed away (preaching to myself here and no one else) by my muddled sixty year old mind.  Note to self: explore the past a bit more so the present can be better understood and the future avoided at all costs.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Apocalypse Anytime Soon

Skull Island. Home of King Kong and some dazzling special effects.
I've discovered that any theme park queue that is over an hour quickly (?) affects a person's grip on reality. After while the queue becomes all, there is no life before or after, only the queue slowly snaking it's way between features, watering stations, dark spots and notices. There is no past, no future just the somber trudge in some crazy direction, onwards it seems to nowhere.  As if in Apocalypse Now we journey along some lost river, snaking through passageways and caves, changes take place, there are attacks and unsafe refuges, there is danger and the distant promise of safety and a chilled water fountain. These things never arrive however, only the tramping on and the recurring hallucinations, lack of sleep and an increasing sense of dread and worthlessness. So once we get past the bag search area we get to go on some really good rides.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Queues and blues

A poor excuse for a human being.
For a few days I thought that the sun was making me mad, then I realised it was just me, in the sun, making me mad. Too long and too far away from Scotland with only the occasional theme park visit to give me any grounding in reality. In truth I've come to love those long, human, sweaty, steady and up close and personal lines that snake across this fine country, park to park to car park to supermarket. There's just not enough eager people in Scotland to form a decent queue and if it was a sport (possible?) then we'd still be rubbish at it. Also we're not fat or aggressive enough as a nation, don't believe the stats, most Scots over here hardly take up any space, have good manners and apart from obvious football top wearing errors fade into any crowd (once they lose the peely-wally pink colour).

Harry Potter thing

Did most of the Harry Potter stuff today and quickly realised I've watched seven films and read (?) some books without really remembering any meaningful detail. That's an age thing I guess, anyway bits of it came flooding back in some kind of minor flood of almost recognition that meant I didn't have to ask too many questions to the torrent of young and over eager fans surrounding me. God, this business has fairly taken off here, everybody is into dressing up as if they were at Hogwarts and in temperatures in the high 90s, no mean feat. Young wizards and witches from across the world I salute you all (and your interactive if ineffective wands).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Endless Summer

Actually that's incorrect, Summer this year, in the northern hemisphere, will end towards the final weeks in August and when September comes around. I can't be any more precise but watch the skies and see. At the moment however it just seems a bit... endless, complete with thunderstorms and regular fixes of Taco Bell.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Still lives with lamps

Please excuse the recent run of images showing the flag of the USA, I've nothing against it nor mean any offence but it's there purely to remind me where I am. Indeed yesterday I had a meaningful encounter with a bald eagle and some other American avian wildlife; it's true that despite what the media may say or show there is much to appreciate and enjoy out here. Stuff is everywhere and Hair Metal remains a big deal. Taco Bell, Grape Juice, unstable patterns of weather, poor journalism and endless TV commercials for dumb products. These things plus a constant lack of any understanding of irony and the Scottish dialect that (I fall into from time to time) has endeared me with various kinds of terms of endearment. African Americans seem to me to be the most fun and the loudest, white folks simmer in some quiet resignation as if the future is grim, Asians act out their stereotypes and appear behind cash registers and fail to understand any queue system whilst the "others" (from who knows where) who form some block of minority view are all fine. So here's to you all and I salute you with these still (stationery) life tableaux of odd household and tourist type items.

On the tip of my tongue

Somehow special bricks from Hemingway's garden.
A six toed cat cleaning it's sixth toe.
A rather large model of Mount Everest at a Disney Park.
Some kind of holiday fatigue has set in whereby I have normal dumb and/or clever thoughts but they fail to stick in my head for any length of time. It's probably the heat pinging my thin bald head and just causing the thoughts and ideas to turn to steam, like rain drying on the pavement...this happens a lot round here and may well continue as I continue to fail to acclimatize. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Return from Key West

Some people call it Paradise, even the local police do (and write it on the sides of their prowlers). It's the edge of an unbalanced world, a strange mix of drunkards, Jocks, drag queens, hippies, stoners, baffled tourists, Ms Americas and millionaires. Everybody is looking for something; cigars from Cuba, $4 coconut milk drinks, non-stop blues and erotic cabaret, intense heat, bad behaviour,  water sports and marlin fishing. All there somewhere. It defies any easy description, it's an experience where you tick boxes you didn't know you had. I saw Jimmy Page's 1959 Les Paul up for sale alongside a Hendrix Strat, Sting's Precision  Bass, SRV's Strat, Kurt Cobain's Jaguar, Keef's 335 and a host of other things no ordinary person could ever afford. The six toed cats (49 of them) asleep on Ernest Hemingway's bed and a vibe that says truly "you can check out any time you like but you can never leave." Well we did eventually, back up Highway 1 in the blazing sun in a grand race against all the bad drivers of the USA, home safe and as ever still bewildered by it all.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hotter than July

Live band in Gas Monkey HQ.
Useful sign generally ignored.
Chickens roost by an ATM on Main Street.

Just landed on a strange new planet called Key West. Disconnected from the US by miles of bridges and islands. Here the hot plastic hippy, ex-Cuban dream is still alive and anything goes. The normal world seems a long way away with streets full of dudes, cigar shops, clubs and ever kind of everything. We're a long way from Kansas Dorothy. I wonder if the rain will ever stop?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Who can find this cat?

Pokemon Go is driving everyone mad over here (apparently), store clerks, students, taxi drivers, young at heart, they're all after these elusive virtual beasts. Every conversation centres around these things and their possible locations. A number are hiding in my suitcase apparently, seeking a safe haven back in the UK come the day. You think this form of madcap gaming is a good thing? Frankly I think the time has come to form an organised bonfire of smart phones and purge the planet before it's too late.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fairy Dust

Whilst living in a fairytale, miles away from the real and highly troubled world it was only a matter of time before some weird example of the undetectable nether/never land would come into my possession. In this case it's the autograph of Tinkerbelle (with or without the added e). As a result there's some extra fairy dust applied to this post that will no doubt generate it own kind of magic all across this small corner of the universe. I will sleep extra peacefully tonight whatever else is going down.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Large spaces

The problem with Europe is that it's just too small, like a town made up of bricked up terraced houses or a drunken pop festival campsite. Everybody is on top of each other, eyeballing their junk and getting irritated by space invasion after lunatic space invasion. This leads to wars and other bad things whilst those high minded types consider it all to be good for the community and for sharing and economies of scale. Of course it can be good for all these things but we need controls and freedoms and I guess I thought we had at least the structure of those things (as pretty blunt instruments) before the stupid Brexit outcome.  Now we'll end up with hee-haw and continue to be the laughing stock of the civilised world (?). 

Here in the sweaty US there's way too much space, too much super-size, too much long distance and too much disconnection. They do however do a pretty decent burger and the petrol, despite the crumbling exchange rates remains cheap as (pre-Brexit) chips.  So let's stay in Europe by whatever means and fix it. That's really all I have to say on the matter, tomorrow we'll get back to theme-parks, donuts and sunburn.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

American fridge

Trying hard to strike a balance between holiday and healthy eating, not easy.  We have a large amount of alcohol, fizzy drinks, Chinese leftovers, cheeses, cold meat, water melon, pineapple, dips and yoghurts all to be consumed in some random order as time and energy allow. At the moment, following an IHoP breakfast and various sweet things for lunch I can't really face anymore food. As I reflect I hear the thunder's roaring and the lightning's flashing and I've just heard that Boris J is now Foreign Secretary, home seems further away than ever and these idiots (the government) seem hell bent on destruction by one ludicrous appointment after another.  Soon be wine o'clock!

A strange twist of fate

And so, just a day after one shows up two miles away along comes another a mere six miles away. As James Bond or even Sean Connery might say "this is intolerable" or words to that effect.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Look what's popped up for sale just two miles away from my winter residence.  Naturally I'm conflicted right now, torn between reaching for the phone, emailing a load of conditional blethers or just toughing it out until August. A proper conversation is needed, face to face, not over thousands of miles but...

Monday, July 11, 2016


It seems that out of 60 million people or so, that pretty much nobody (other than one) wants to be the UK's Prime Minister. I guess it's a pretty shitty job these days, captaining a sinking ship and all that whilst getting stabbed in the back and then blindly stabbing others. Sadly it only confirms what I've been thinking for a while, this current generation of politicians have no balls, no vision or actual useful ambition for the country. I think they're really just in it now for the parachute payments and the pension...a bit like me then.

Photos of food: Actually I didn't really bother taking any today because, hey, we've all seen food of some kind now and again I don't want to develop some American style obsession with muffins, pancakes and those huge bags of potato chips they sell here, then it's all washed down with a dose of amber and fizzy "light" beer. Pleasant but not healthy at all, at least yesterday's smoothie (as above) was reasonably unpolluted with unwanted extras.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Some images from the week

Home alone today, mostly making smoothies to use up fruit and catching up on domestics. Also good to see Mr Murray do a great job, watched from a safe distance with one foot in the swimming pool holding a cool beer. Next up are the Euro finals, just kicked off. Surprising how much media coverage this gets here in the US, I guess Europe holds some strange fascination for them what with our political upheavals,  strange cars and food and the constant bickering that takes place between each nation state. It'll calm down in a century or two.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Staying oblivious

I'm managing to remain distracted and oblivious towards the desperate state of things back in the UK; the slide continues. So my extended holiday of the mind allows me to fritter time away helping to design virtual cars and then race them on real tracks across America's theme park waste lands. Quite an enjoyable pursuit really and one that makes for great bonding with the grandkids. Here everything is unreal and strange and now more expensive. Some day soon however there will be a large and clumsy bump for me when reality returns, until then....Vroom!

Friday, July 08, 2016


Some people feel strongly about things and exhibit the need to pass it all on to the general public. This welcoming sight warns of the consequences of upsetting a Trump supporter in northern Florida (somewhere in the small print), didn't dare go too close just in case.  Funnily this is one of the few pro-Trump things I've seen. Perhaps I'm visiting the wrong kind of places.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Space City

Funny how much of distant, world wide news (now history) you absorb at a young age. Here in the Kennedy Space Centre I realised I'd lived through all the major Space Race events mentioned and explained and that it all had gone pretty deeply into my psyche. These rockets and the brave men that rode them really influenced me but until I walked among their now silent hulks I just didn't realise by how much. Quite an impressive and inspiring place full of wonderful material and still moving forward and focused on a bright future that many (normal) visitors might find hard to believe in.

Monday, July 04, 2016

4th July

That's the breakfast smoothie exercise completed.
As today is the 4th of July we decorated a nearby wild pineapple as is the custom. The first time I typed in 4th July it came up as $th July, probably a more accurate description.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

It's a wonderful lunch

Well I thought that it was pretty good, first time in a long time I've been full up on vegetables and not bothered with any added meaty products. Could be the new way ahead and the secret of a healthy, long life.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The laptop's final lap

Breakfast today consisted of cheesy baked potato, water and a Twinkie, then out to the supermarket for further useful food and sanitary supplies and then the expected struggle with American petrol pumps. Devices that work after a while but usually require a certain knack, these ones needed payment in advance, all based on a wild guess and the helpful support of the gas station ground crew. Anyway I'm rolling once again.

All things must pass and the time is coming for this old laptop to take it's final, slow, steady but occasionally stuttering final lap. 100000 miles and numerous photos, social media interactions and worthless blog posts later the death rattle is rising in it's white plastic throat and in a few weeks we'll say farewell and thanks for all the sweet pixels. Hopefully this sad event will take place in the glorious UK which by then will no doubt be back to it's normal, civilised (?) self by then. All stable and sorted out and with a healthy economic future. This is known as baseless optimism running rampant coupled with a high degree of self delusion. 

Anatomy of Disneyland

Actually I've not been there for a number of years but I'm currently on the border like some illegal or refugee, unsure quite what to do next but certain that at some point I must cross over. This appears to be my fate, any day now as sure as the sun shines and the thunderstorms pass over this extended and developing house party that I have deliberately created.

Cars - found items in Florida: