I’ve thought of a new acronym. It stands for Too Much Shopping.
On Saturday I found myself in Walmart, having a whispered, but heated, argument with Ian about hand-held vacuum cleaners, in my view a necessity for maintaining adequate cleanliness and hygiene on the boat. It was the first of our shopping forays to get the boat sorted and equipped before we set off on the Great Loop for real, and the objective was non-food household items.
Arguments when we go shopping are not that uncommon, which is why we don’t shop together very often, but as I can’t drive in the US I had to be accompanied. What was bizarre about this particular argument was that I wanted the sturdy, 18v, dark grey Black & Decker job with the ergonomic handle and the two auxiliary crevice tools, while Ian considered that the flimsy, 12v pink one that cost only a few dollars less would be perfectly adequate. I’ve sometimes had to quote Ruskin on the subject of value for money, but fortunately it wasn’t necessary on this occasion. Besides, compared with the plethora of must-have electronic gadgets we have acquired at some expense over the last fortnight, from the laptop, the dongle, and the GPS gadget to the personal wifi hotspot, the vacuum cleaner seemed to me a minor expense.
Yesterday’s shopping task was filling up the boat with diesel. This could have been left until we were leaving St Pete, but Ian thought he needed practice at missing other boats in the marina, and I needed practice at lassoing the poles on the dock, and throwing ropes to people.
Ian had radioed the marina office to say we were coming to refuel, and we were met by a man from the marina, who greeted us with “Hey Ainsworths. Where do y’all get those cute Alabama accents?’ Difficult one, really.
He addressed Ian as Captain, at the end of every sentence. This was abbreviated to ‘Capt’ but the p was silent, so that the conversation went along the lines of ‘You got a line there, Ca’t?’ ‘Hold it right there, Ca’t’.
91 gallons of diesel later, we were done, but Ca’t had unfortunately left his credit card in TGI Fridays the day before, so the first mate had to pay.
This involved getting off the boat and going up to the marina office. Normally I am not very brave about jumping off and on the boat, but perhaps because of Marina Man’s presence, I took a determined leap and landed with a good two feet to spare and my dignity intact.
“You’re just like my wife,’ Marina Man said, admiringly. “Great woman. Lousy taste in men.’
Downtown St Pete is quite posh. Straub Park overlooks the marina, and the palms and other trees provide a cool green space between the bayfront and the sea. There are some elegant apartment blocks between the treelined avenues and lots of nice places to sit out and admire the view with lunch or just a coffee. It’s busy with smartly-dressed people of all ages.
On Saturday night it was heaving. We were tired after the shopping marathon, and Ian fancied going to eat at The Moon under Water, which described itself as an English pub.
Usually I’m suspicious of such places when they are not actually in England, but the Moon does go back to Colonial times, and the name refers to the practices of the Press Gangs. The Army recruiters would slip a silver shilling into drinks. If anyone drank from a vessel (pewter in those days) with a silver shilling at the bottom, they would be deemed to have taken the Queen’s Shilling and forced to join up. The pewter vessels started being made with glass bottoms, so you could pick it up before drinking, and see if there was a shilling (the moon) at the bottom of the drink (under the water).
Anyway, on Saturday night there was a 25-minute wait for a table. We were hungry, but the next place was too expensive. Everywhere else on the bayfront was busy. Getting dispirited, we followed a sign to a Thai restaurant into a rather dingy shopping mall, when suddenly there was loud music coming from a bar, and realising it was a live performance, we went in for a drink and to hear some amazing Bluegrass/ country music performed by a motley crew with guitar, fiddle, banjo and mandolin. Just one of those serendipitous happenings that make travelling so enjoyable. We went back to the pub, and the wait had increased to 45 minutes. But it didn’t matter. We found a nice Caribbean restaurant a couple of blocks away,and had a great meal there.
We went back to the pub on Sunday night. Inside, it looked like one of those Victorian pubs in London or Manchester, high ceilings, lots of pewter tankards hanging up and deep-buttoned leather upholstered seating. And the food was good there too.
The shopping is finished. Of course there were the lifejackets and other boating necessities to be got from West Marine, and we did the final food shop today at Publix, which is to Walmart as Waitrose is to Aldi. Tonight it will be dinner on Carina for the first time.
We’re ready to roll, except that tomorrow it’s going to be rainy, windy and the sea will be choppy. So departure for Longboat Key is now scheduled for Thursday.
I think I’m with Ian on the hoover; not sure about Ruskin but as William Morris is oft roughly quoted, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” To my mind pink just about fits the bill.
By the way, there is a Wetherspoons ‘Moon Under the Water on Watford High Street’, a short bus ride to the canal, possibly cheaper (judging by the clientelle) and certainly lots of available tables.
I agree with you about the Morris quote anyway 🙂
Interesting about the pub in Watford with the same name – it was new to me and I just thought the name was quite poetic and then read about the history of it.
Actually eating out seems quite a bit cheaper here than at home, and you get decent-sized portions too!
Sounds like you’re appreciating the local dialects already and believe me, they will change considerably from place to place. Welcome to our South! Now, Ya’ll take care and keep us posted as to your meanderings. hahaha Jane, enjoy the new vacuum. Joann
The vacuum is awesome Joann 😀
The Floridians keep apologising to us for the weather, so we tell them it’s *much* worse in the UK at the moment 🙂
Great blog Jane-sounds wonderful. Hope Captain got his credit card back! We have wind and rain still too! Best of luck for Thursday. S
Sent from my iPad
Thanks Sue – yes the card was left at lunch time and we realised at dinner time the same night! Horrible moment but rang the restaurant straight away (the joy of smartphones) & they had it.
Will probably stay here another night as the forecast is much better for Friday and it seems sensible to do the actual boating when the weather’s favourable.
It sounds like you are having the time of your life. Let us know how the Alligators and snakes stay away from your boat. haha! Seriously enjoy your adventure and we shall see you in Sept. Let me know what Ft. Myers is like as the Pechin family split in two and one segment remained in Philly and the other headed to Florida in 1930.
Hi Fred, we are rockin’ & rollin’ across Tampa Bay as I write this 🙂
We are using the beakers you gave us for the first time and they are fantastic! Really enjoyed my cuppa 🙂 wouldn’t have been able to have one this morning with an ordinary mug.
I’ll post a pic of Ian with his later 🙂
Hi Jane and The Cap’t
Hope the weather was kinder today and you are now safely ensconced in Longboat key, their weather said no wind at all today. I have just been browsing around and it looks like you can mix within some pretty smart places all around there. On the maps I keep spotting place names I’ve heard in films, popsongs etc! Hope you spot manatees but steer clear of alligators and snakes eek. We’ve had snow today, more promised tomorrow, seems to be a little warmer down in Florida now though? (Aside -Little Salkeld flour mill may be solved, a private buyer has come along, looks set to go through, we may be saved!)