|Happiness is...building sandcastles|
People have been asking about Florida, so I thought I'd do a quick update.
It was good, thanks for asking. Not that all my problems miraculously cleared up and went away - I still have a lot of painful and distressing physical issues going on - but it was a real break, both from the relentlessly long winter and from the routine struggle through the days that I've been experiencing. Being able to feel the sand between my toes after months of shivering in winter boots, and swimming in a bath-temperatured pool was better for me than any medicine, and during the time away I was able to relax a little,.
The boys were in heaven, playing with their cousins on the beach and in the pool, watching alligators at the state park we visited, even holding a baby one at the zoo. There was a boat trip where they got to see exotic fish being caught in a net, and then see and hold them close up. There was an Easter Egg hunt on the beach. There was a trip to the aquarium to see Manatees. And there was an all-you-can eat Easter brunch where they got to stuff as much candy, strawberries and chocolate as they pleased (while we feasted on seafood and roast lamb).
|Yes, that really is a wild gator.|
We spent my actual fortieth birthday in Pennsylvania. In search for a suitable place to stop off on the journey home (and not wanting to spend my milestone birthday on a six hour car trip), we were recommended the Brandywine River Valley region, on the Pennsylvania/Delaware borders. Here we found a quaint B&B (amusingly, the owners warned us about crooked floors and beams, not realising that it was exactly like an English country cottage), and, surprisingly for middle America, stumbled upon a fantastic local restaurant. I'll name names here because it really was so good - the Sovana Bistro, situated in an unprepossessing shopping centre, serves locally-sourced, seasonal food which was expertly cooked. What's more, they also do (gourmet) pizza, so the Littleboys were happy too.
The next morning was spent visiting Longwood Gardens, a botanical garden founded by the DuPont family (of Lycra fame) which has the biggest and most spectacular greenhouses I've ever seen, more impressive than even Kew or the NY Botanic Garden.
|The conservatory at Longwood Gardens|
Apart from The Doctor dropping a huge wad of cash somewhere in the botanical garden, and then a slightly hellish journey home taking the "scenic route" to avoid a traffic jam on I-95, all in all it was a pretty good birthday weekend. And, although I hadn't wanted a party, a friend managed to arrange a little gathering at a bar in town, and I got to celebrate with my girlfriends and a couple of margaritas. (Thanks also to my brother-in-law and his wife for organizing a delicious cake-and-champagne celebration in Florida).
Now we are back, and have exactly three months to go before we leave the US. We're on the home stretch, and I can't believe that it is all about to come to an end. What with two lots of visitors coming, three piano recitals, Littleboy 1's birthday and all that packing up to do, it's going to be a busy few weeks. While I don't feel cured in any sense, I feel a little fortified by Florida and I'm gathering all my strength.