The morning started in what we hope will be a repetitive way with another beautiful sunrise. It was breakfast under the Lanai by the pool again. I am already getting used to this.
Today our improvised schedule was to visit Anna Maria Island which was about 12 miles away. It isn’t an island as such but the top of one of the Keys that is joined to the mainland by one of the many long bridges that are off the Floridian coast. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the World. Whenever we have visited previously, car parking has been a nightmare so we decided to leave relatively early to beat the crowds. Mind you we had never visited in October before and when we arrived we found parking was not an issue.
What was an issue was that the place had been hit by Hurricane Irma just over 2 years ago, something that had passed me by. We drove to the South Pier which was a previous favourite of ours. When we had been here before we had seen Wild Dolphins swimming in and around the pier, and enjoyed watching the fisherman land their enormous catches. Today it was just a building site. The pier had been destroyed by ‘Irma’ and was still in the process of being rebuilt. We were not alone in standing around looking at it mournfully.
Somewhat disconcertly we drove onto the beach area we had been previously and hoped that the bar/restaurant we had planned to stop at had survived. Thankfully it was still there.
The beach was simply stunning. It has the whitest sand we have ever seen. Soft and hard at the same time, and in parts covered with white seashells. There were plenty of people on the beach but it was not over crowded. The sea was bracing which is why there were only a few people brave enough to be in it, despite the sun beating down. Karen was wearing her foot brace and so was unable to even paddle as it is such a faff getting it on and off.
At 11.30am The Sandbar restaurant opened just as we were walking past it. This is situated right on the beach. We have never been able to get a table before actually on the beach itself, so we went straight over and were very pleased to shown to one. There are some beautiful places for beach restaurant's in the world, and we think this must be right up there.
Karen felt the occasion deserved a beer whilst as I was driving stuck to water. We decided to order some lunch. I went for the Clam Chowder whilst Karen had some Chicken thing with Pineapple Salsa which was very exotic for her. It was idyllic and not only that but both our phones connected to the Wifi from our visit from 4 years ago.
We sat there for as long as we thought was reasonable before paying up and going for a good walk along the beach itself. In the end we didn’t go too far as Karen felt that despite covering herself with sun cream that she was burning and so we turned around and headed back to the car, hot but happy.
Driving back to the villa we made one stop to pick up a coffee for Karen at another Starbucks drive through. I then sat in the pool and listened to the Scrimmage Podcast tribute to Duncan Forbes who had very sadly passed away. I did smile when I heard my friend and collaborator Ed contributing eloquently to the programme.
Then around 5.30pm, it suddenly clouded over and started to rain. It was light rain at first followed by some real Florida rain. It didn’t hamper us at all as we were in the process of getting ready to go out again, this time to the Ellenton Premier Outlets which was somewhere we had not visited before.
It was still torrential rain when we arrived but then stopped as quickly as it had started and the clouds disappeared. The outlets were deserted and in most shops we were the only ones looking around. I bought a new coat and some shorts in the Colombia Store. These were an amazing bargain at 90% off the UK price and less than I would have paid for shorts in Walmart.
From here we drove across the street to Woodys River Roo. This is a family owned bar/restaurant backing onto the water. It was an interesting place. It was quite full although I would suggest that the majority of clientele were aged 40+. The majority of the seating was under umbrellas in the open air. It was arranged in a type of square. One side was the bar, another the stage, another the water and shack style building on the other. There was a large space for ‘dancing’ and depending on the song being murdered by the band, many people got up and danced. We forgave the band once they announced that both the normal drummer and bass player were ill and that they had to call up late replacements. They only seemed to play tracks that could contain long guitar solos. The repertoire ranged from Country to Blink 182 to The Clash. It was all very entertaining. The food was acceptable and plentiful. We both had burgers which Karen paired with a Guinness. Guess who was the designated driver again.
Back in the villa on what was a late night for us, we had a cup of tea watching yet another Shark Tank episode on the TV before slumping tiredly into bed.