Wednesday December 31st 2008

We woke relatively early on New Year’s Eve and took the bicycles up to the twee town of St Armand’s for some shopping and a root beer float. The ride took just over half an hour, over flat, smooth cycle paths which displayed the cruiser bike’s strengths – easy to freewheel, indestructible and an upright riding position which allows the rider to take in the scenery and spot rogue cars.

After we returned, we woke the children for another day at the beach. We persuaded Blade to follow us in after a while, but as he strode out of the water, we all realised that his white shorts had become completely transparent. Poor Blade had to sidle out of the sea with strategically placed hands to preserve his modesty and the innocence of the children playing nearby.

After lunch we embarked on the trip to Siesta Key to meet up with the olds for the Sarasota street party and dinner at Pho Cali. Karen C spent the car journey complaining that there was something in her eye. Her eye had swollen up and tears were streaming down her face – we tried to make her cry by various methods to try and rinse it out, but to no avail. Once we arrived at the olds’ flat, I put my SJA training into effect and advised her to stick her eye under a running tap. The olds were horrified by this and were preparing to visit the drugstore for proprietory eye rinse, citing the pH value and sterility. I observed that if we were to take Karen C to the hospital, they would stick her eye under the tap. Lo and behold, the tap treatment worked and we went to the drugstore for some eye drops – by the time we arrived, she was almost back to normal.

This visit was livened up considerably when Trellis and his father disappeared for 20 minutes. I theorised that they had gone for a drive in the hired Buick. Mrs M scurried up and down the car park, looking for the Buick, peering into every car in the lot, and we both slowly realised that she didn’t really know what the car looked like, although she did know what kind of detritus was on the back seat. Eventually the Buick swept back into the car park, proving my theory. We waited at the beach to see the sunset and then drove into Sarasota. The main street had been closed to traffic and was full instead of fairground rides and carnival food like hotdogs, sausages and cotton candy, as well as two stages with local bands and recorded music playing. Pho Cali was mercifully only bustling, not packed, and we got our table, bubble tea and beef short ribs.

After dinner, we toured the street party and saw the lighted pineapple which was due to drop at midnight. We returned to Siesta Key to watch some fireworks, and then back to Longboat Key for midnight on the beach. I set up the Eee so we could watch the countdown on MSNBC and opened a bottle of English sparkling rose. It was fun to watch the New Yorkers freezing in -17 degree cold (zero degrees Fahrenheit) while we sat on the beach near someone setting off Roman candles.

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