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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Alexander gets his way...

Alexander gets his way!
December 24th

I've often heard people say that cats rule the roost. Well, this morning, I experienced the truth of that saying first hand!

Mark was giving Alexander his breakfast while I was sitting on the couch in the living room, catching up with emails etc.

As soon as Ally had finished eating, he sauntered in, as usual, and climbed up on the couch.

Now, it needs to be understood that there are three seating positions on the couch, and in the middle, there is a lovely warm and inviting blanket all ready for a sensible pussy cat to enjoy.  I was sitting on one end with my laptop in my lap (after all, that's where it's supposed to be!)

He sat on the blanket and surveyed the situation, looking for a small Ally-sized space to occupy.

I spoke soothingly to him and promised that as soon as I was finished, I'd put the laptop back on the coffee table so he could climb on my lap for his morning cuddle. As a sign of my sincerity, I began fussing him with one hand, while trying to type with the other. After all, it was Christmas Eve. (Round 1 to Ally!)

However, he was not totally satisfied with the status quo - being fussed with just one hand (and not having total attention) was obviously not part of his plan! The next thing I knew, a paw was placed on my chest, followed promptly by the rest of him! He then sat totally on my chest, facing the computer, and completely blocking my view!!! 

I was laughing so much, I nearly peed myself! Admitting total defeat by this furry feline, who has already stolen our hearts, and had now stolen my computer time, I carefully put the laptop on the couch beside me... taking great care not to disturb him. Putting the seat into the reclining position, I adjusted my legs so he could be as comfortable as possible.

To his credit, he didn't gloat at all! He just turned around to face me and settled down with a gentle purring rhythm which seemed to say, 'I knew you couldn't resist me!

I chuckled when I realized how easily I had been manipulated!

On the other hand, I had not really lost because I got to cuddle with him, and feel the comfort of his warmth and love for a full hour!

Who cares about emails and posts, when you have the opportunity of giving in to the love of an adorable pussy cat!

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Saturday, 19 December 2015

'Oh, we do like to be beside the Seaside...' December 18th

'Oh, we do like to be beside the Seaside...'  

Yesterday, we decided to explore the area for a couple of hours. Helen, our host, had told us of a quaint little place to visit called Seaside. We took the scenic route so that we could be close to the ocean for most of the journey. 

Stopping off to take a look at Laguna Beach, Rosemary Beach, and Seacrest on the way, we reached our destination after about 90 minutes of leisurely driving. 

We should be getting used to it, but it still seems strange to see decorated Christmas trees among the palms...

... but seeing an orange tree reminds us of where we are and how different Florida is from our usual haunting grounds

Before we reached Seaside, we took a short walk to a beach access to see the homes situated on the dunes. In the far distance, we could see the hotels/buildings of Panama City Beach. 

Of course, we took the inevitable selfie!

Seaside is a unique place that has a charm all of its own. This beach community is best known as the location for the film, 'The Truman Show', starring Jim Carrey. 
The main parking lot was in the shape of a horseshoe surrounding an ampitheatre, with the quaint post office nestled in between the two heels. 

All around the park are specialty boutiques which are, themselves, one of a kind. 

At the 'toe' of the horseshoe, behind the Christmas tree, there was a short walkway under the arches which led to a shady park, with a wrought iron framework at the entrance. 

As soon as we walked into the park area, there was a sense of peacefulness which was really tangible. In fact, the walkway around the rectangular park called 'Ruskin Place' was reminiscent of a monastic cloister, providing a cool, serene contrast to the sunnier central square.
The tree branches showed off some interesting shapes, and there were some subdued colours among the plant leaves.


We realized that this was the domain of various artists displaying their crafts with elegance. The sheer variety of the differing art forms was awesome - from fabrics to pottery, metalwork to paintings and etchings - each form had its own attraction. 

At the other end of the 'cloister' was a white interfaith chapel, whose bell announced the passing hours. Unfortunately, we couldn't go inside as it was closed for a private function. 

It was lovely to just amble along taking it all in before emerging back into the sunnier part of the area, near to the ampitheatre. 

When we returned to the main complex, the lawn fountains had been switched on making for a picturesque photo shot with the back of the post office showing on the other side of the park. 

Needing a stamp for a card being sent to Canada, I found my excuse to get inside the Post Office, which I found intriguing in its simplicity and beauty. Once inside, I was momentarily thrown when the assistant told me that they would have to 'piece the stamps together'. I thought they had been torn! Not so! The cost was $1.20, and consisted of a $1.00 stamp and two 10 cent stamps! So they needed to be put together. I've notched up another little piece of information from shopping locally. There's nothing quite like getting right in there to learn and appreciate these nuances!

Across the main street, on the beach side of the township, there were some other walkways that took us through various restaurants and more specialty shops. Although this is considered as 'off-season', there were quite a few people mulling around and the Pizza Bar had several people inside partaking of their lunch. 

 Mark can never pass by a photo-op, so I willingly obliged. Here's 'Mexican Marky'!!!

... and to even things out...

We took one last look at the entrance to the beach, then headed back to the car for the drive home. 

We DO like to be beside the Seaside - especially when the town bears the that very name!

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Ally Pally (Our new furry friend) .... and Swimming in the Gulf!! December 15th

Ally Pally (Our new furry friend) .... and Swimming in the Gulf!!  December 15th 

After a long journey from Nashville, we arrived at our destination late yesterday afternoon. We had Skyped with Helen, our hostess, a few weeks ago, but it was great to meet her in person. We hit it off straight away, and were quickly introduced to the beautiful pussy cat that we'll be looking after for the next couple of weeks. Ally Pally (a.k.a. Alexander) is a lovely ginger cat who is 17.5 years old and very affectionate. He loves to be fussed and brushed, and we're looking forward to spoiling him while we are here. 


We hope he is going to get used to being petted by four hands at the same time! 

Ally has a splendid back yard which he is sharing with us. It's spacious, shaded, and it's great to sit out on the swinging bench while taking in the quietness.


Helen took us out for a lovely meal last night and showed us a few of the places of interest in the area. We also met her friend, Amy, who is our 'go-to' person, should we need her. Another person to appreciate!

This morning, we took Helen to the airport for the first leg of her journey to the U.K. to spend Christmas with her family. We continue to attract the nicest of people into our lives. Helen is wonderful, and we soon felt that we'd known her for a long time! We're not just saying that because she'll be reading this blog... it's meant from the bottom of our hearts!!!

After we left the airport, we shopped for a few groceries we felt we would need over the next few days, then took a mini-trip over to Panama Beach City - a short, 20-minute drive from where we are staying in Panama City. Unable to resist dipping our toes in the water, we couldn't believe just how warm the water was. 


It took very little persuasion to hurry back to our 'home' to collect our swimwear. We're thinking that our ventures in Lake Superior (with its sometimes numbing waters) has prepared us to thoroughly enjoy swimming in the Gulf. The air temperature was 74 degrees, with 45% humidity, and the water was refreshing without causing even a brief shiver. Helen had reminded us to take note of the Beach Warning Flag. 

The flag that was flying was yellow, and so we totally enjoyed jumping the waves as the surf crashed around us. Mind you, I was waiting to see if it changed to white after Mark entered the ocean!!

Alan venturing out into the waves

Mark - in up to his shoulders

After about an hour of splashing around and laughing our heads off, we went for a walk along the white-sand beach. There were quite a few sandpipers who entertained us with their quickstep movements over the sand, while the waves licked their feet. 


There were some others in the water, and one young woman was paddle-surfing. We managed to film her catching a wave that brought her in close to the shore. 

It felt strange to have our winter coats and boots in the back of the car, to know that it was only 10 days before Christmas, to be hearing carols and Christmas songs being played in the stores, and yet being aware that, here we were, soaking up the sun (safely coated with sunscreen) and thrashing about in the sea! Weird - and awesome!!

We stayed to see the sun begin to approach the horizon. Another time, we'll go out a little later to catch the sun actually setting across the water. 

On the way back to our 'home', (and it does feel like home, thanks to Helen), we took a back road and noticed some Spanish Beard hanging from the trees at the side of the road. We had first seen these on our trip to Savannah. 

We were happy to see the place mats on the kitchen table, complete with bear and moose - talk about being home from home!! 

The cool thing is - after a terrific day, we get to hang out with Ally and cuddle up to him while watching the final of the Voice!!! What could be better than that??

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