24/9/16 – Everywhere she goes, Toni loves mashed potatoes!

Much slower get-ready today as we had a later check-out. Packed everything up and then went for a very poor breakfast that consisted of just fruit, most of which was tasteless melon. I just stuck to the grapes. We then Skyped Kel for a little bit before eventually leaving the room. It had been our most expensive, yet worst stocked room so far, but I was a little sad as the Key West had a hell of a lot of different Pokémon to catch. I’d say it was the geek in me that was sad, but that’s basically all of me. We’d had the option of going to the Key West museum as I’d seen an advertisement on a bus that they had the famously haunted Robert the doll, which weirdly, they’d been talking about in the episode of That Anime Show that I’d been listening to on the plane. I’d initially been interested in going to see him, but after Googling pictures, I swiftly changed my mind.

We finally thought to hook up one of the iPods in the car rather than listening to the radio, so we listened to my fifties and sixties playlist on the road. Had a several hour drive with a stop-off at some restaurant along the harbour for lunch. Couldn’t quite decide what I wanted, so I just ordered from the starters menu and had chicken tenders with honey mustard and mozzarella sticks. Yummy food, but shame about the server with the really bad attitude – though she did forget to charge us for our drinks – and the weird, cabbagey smelling toilets. Gross. We had a little nose out on the harbour afterwards and saw some beautifully coloured trumpet fish. We then got petrol from next door to the hotel and went back on our way.

Stopped off at a Walgreen’s en route, where I replenished my Red Bull stash – some of which I enjoyed in the car – and I wrote a couple of flash fictions. I8’ve barely done any writing whilst I’ve been here; it’s really not acceptable. Our satnav then had a mad moment when we got into Homestead and kept trying to take us to a Best Western, rather than the Super 8 that we wanted. We hit a seriously huge thunderstorm and had to wait it out in their car park, before sending Dad in to ask for directions. Thankfully, we found our real motel in the end. I do love Super 8s The first thing I did was fill up the fridge, yay.

Milled in the room for a while, did more writing, read, showered and broke out more of the Seagrams. There was an Applebees right in sight of our motel, so we knew exactly where we were going for tea. Me and Mom shared a pitcher of red apple sangria. Lovely, but the size was a lot more stingy than I remember. I then had an eight ounce sirloin steak with garlic mash and new crispy cheddar bacon potatoes. When it all came out, my mash was cold. And I don’t even mean it was lukewarm; it was stone cold. There was no other way to describe it. I hate to be the person to send food back – particularly as I was starving and it means you have to wait longer – but I like my mash to be at least warm. Sent it back, had to wait, then when I got it back, the mash was still cold. I was too hungry to care by this point, so I just ate it. Put a little dampener on the meal, but everything else was still lovely. With a nice peppercorn sauce, it would have been damn perfect. Sadly, steak sauces don’t seem to be much of a thing here.

Back to the room after that. Mom liked the Super 8, so she booked us a second night there in order to give us somewhere nearby to come and go from when we visit the Everglades. That was cool with me. Got more Seagrams on the go and read and watched Psych in between watching some interesting documentary on telly about cyber predators who killed and kidnapped young girls. Morbid, I know, but then when have I ever had normal interests?

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I’ve waited a long time to have these again. Jamaican me happy indeed.

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22/9/15 – Finishing up with a lazy day

Got up earlyish, had a natter to Flick’s mom whilst getting ready, then headed down to the beach again. We spent a good hour or so looking for stuff, but all I could find was more fool’s gold – which has quickly become boring in the sense that it didn’t come from a dinosaur. I did give Kel a lot of laughs though as every time I found something that I thought could be something, I’d show it to Flick, she’d dismiss it as ironstone/flint/fossilised wood and I’d throw it back on the sand. Apparently it looked like I had many strops. It was super windy out, some of the waves managed to soak my jeans even over my wellies and the seaside air makes me feel super drained, as well as making my hair all gross, so I was actually pretty happy to quit this time. I guess being short-sighted doesn’t make me well adapted to hunt for things on the beach anyway.

We did a quick co-op run – snacks for all and Red Bull for me – then came back for lunch. We had curly fries with cheese and onion potato bakes and some Mexican falafel things, which I wasn’t too keen on because of the texture. In between, Flick showed us how she does her waxwork paintings. They’re so pretty – the effects she can do on them are amazing! After that and food, we went into the office and Flick showed us and talked through the props she uses on her tours. Much more exciting than you’re probably thinking as it includes teeth and jaws of a great white shark, a giant vertebrae from an Apatosaurus, the nose of a swordfish and a replica of an Allosaurus claw.

From then, we pretty much spent the rest of the day binge watching more Friends. Jenny’s friend Greg came round in the evening, so the five of us had a few hours of Cards Against Humanity. I won, woohoo! Though is it a victory to be classed as the most inappropriate one? Oh, who am I kidding; of course it is! When Greg left, we moved back downstairs to Jen’s cave to watch a couple more episodes of Chuck, then we had to go pack everything up before bed. Thankfully, we’re an old hand at living out of a suitcase, so our stuff had barely even spread about the room that much.

I was hoping for an uninterrupted night’s sleep to be ready to travel back home in the morning, but since my alarm worked fine and I was able to avoid another migraine, it was time for the dreaded ghost attack I’d been afraid of all visit. Apparently I couldn’t escape untraumatised. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this is exactly what happened, so take from it what you will. At about six in the morning I could hear somebody stepping around a lot outside our room, then I heard someone clattering about with metal pans in the kitchen, which was opposite our room, and the cats meowing. I first thought nothing of it, as I just assumed somebody was up and in the kitchen early. That was when the drawers in our room started opening and closing. I didn’t see anything, as I kept my eyes shut tight, because obviously things aren’t as scary if you can’t see them, right? Wrong. I was absolutely bricking it, particularly as I could hear the cats meowing even more and I know that animals are meant to be particularly bothered by spirits and such.

Thankfully, the noises soon stopped and I was miraculously able to get back to sleep. But then, before leaving for the ferry, Flick’s mom asked if either of us had got up around six and said that she’d heard the noises too and assumed it was either us or a supernatural ghost. They’re completely used to this kind of thing happening, so none of them were bothered in the slightest. Wish I could say the same, rather than having an absolute freak-out. Let’s see how long it is now before I can sleep properly again.

Though at least that happened on the last night. I was definitely relieved to be getting out of that room. Maybe I’ll have to stay in a nearby hotel next time I visit! Flick and Jenny saw us off onto the ferry, which was sad but also funny, as we were all doing dramatic waving – to the point where we couldn’t see each other anymore. I have two saving graces about having to come home. One is that Flick’s visiting Birmingham in just a few weeks anyway and I get to keep her for at least a whole weekend. The other is that we go to Gran Canaria tomorrow for a week. All inclusive with self serve sangria, fuck yeah! I certainly know how to make the most of my time off work!

Goodbyeeeee!

Goodbyeeeee!

19/9/15 – Welcome to the lost world

Got up around half five, which was actually an improvement on yesterday morning (starting work at six always sucks, but Fridays also means we get cakes from Lynn, so silver linings, yo). Straightened my hair and packed up the little things we’d unpacked last night. Found our packed lunches waiting – nicely more than basic with fat cheese sandwiches, extra size bags of Quavers, Wispa bars and little cartons of apple juice. Well done, Roebuck. We approve. We moved everything back to the car and headed to Lymington.

We’re definitely in some backwards country area. We had to drive through some creepy misty marshlands, which immediately put me in mind of Silent Hill, mixed with that scene from Lord of the Rings. We realised we could actually see the mist moving over the top of us, so of course it switched to Harry Potter, as that could only mean Dementors. There weren’t really any other cars about – just a very menacing looking lorry that was following us through the mist. Great. Now it’s turned into Duel as well.

With the help of Kel’s Aussie satnav Bruce, we found the ferry port pretty easily. We double checked what we were supposed to do about boarding with some very nice holiday-makers, then grabbed some hot chocolate from the Costa’s inside, before getting back in the car. Didn’t have to wait long before we could board. We left the car in the parking bay and headed up onto deck for a bit. Not for long though, as it was cold and too bright to really see much without sunglasses. We retired to the lounge instead to break into our packed lunches/honorary breakfasts. Thanks again, Roebuck.

The ferry was nice, uneventful and only took about half an hour. Then the drive to Flick’s from the port wasn’t even ten minutes. Oh, we realised that her house happens to have giant dinosaur models outside. I’d seen pictures of them before, but hadn’t realised they were actually in her garden! There’s a Stegosaurus, a baby Triceratops and two Pachycephalosaurs that look like they’d being rudey dudey with each other. Of course I appreciated all the prehistoric types lurking around.

Well these would certainly stop drunk people from trying to break into your house. Not sure if this is a problem in the Isle of Wight though

Well these would certainly stop drunk people from trying to break into your house. Not sure if this is a problem in the Isle of Wight though.

Finally got to see Flick. Had some happy hugs and then she showed us around on a grand tour. Her house is feckin’ huge! Her little apartment within it is absolutely lovely. Me and Kel are sharing a twin room downstairs, so we didn’t have to lug cases very far. We even have our own en suite! Settled in a little, said hi to the rest of the family, then went through some options on what to do. We decided on Seaview Wildlife Encounters and headed out.

It’s a cute little place. Not exactly big, but it offers very hands on experiences with the animals. Most of the animals you can feed, particularly the millions of ducks that are roaming around (there was quite a hilarious moment when Kel was feeding some and then a gaggle of geese came screeching and waddling over at high speed). You can also walk through a lot of the enclosures, where the animals just wander around and you can stroke them if you like.

Wallaby friend!

Wallaby friend!

We watched the various feeding displays – I skipped on some of the feedings myself, mostly the birds as I’m not a big fan, but I did feed the wallabies and a macaw. We got to fuss a lot of the wallabies too, as they really didn’t mind the contact with people, and I also stroked a white and pink macaw that clearly loved getting attention. We broke for lunch in between. I had some very lovely sausages and chips, as well as a strawberry slushie. I do love slushies. The weather got surprisingly good as the day went on. I’d started the day in a jumper and ended up way too hot in just my Deadpool party t-shirt. Kel even sunburnt the back of her neck! Apparently the Isle of Wight is even crazier than England for not being able to decide on a temperature.

Once we’d seen everything we wanted to, we then headed to a donkey sanctuary instead, which Kel had wanted to visit. Apparently when they first moved here, there were two new donkeys called Felicity and Jenny (which are the names of Flick and her sister), so of course that was an amusing coicidence and we had to try and find them. Didn’t see Jenny, but Felicity was there and being very antisocial. Flick was not impressed with her namesake. One donkey decided it absolutely wanted to be my best friend and came trotting straight over for some fuss, practically trying to get through the fence. Sadly it was one of the only ones who didn’t have his name displayed anywhere, so I guess I’ll never know the name of my new friend.

Donkey friend!

Donkey friend!

After donkeys, we came back to Flick’s for a little while to have some food. We had a cheese pizza and something called bean burgers. I’d asked why Flick had so many of them in her freezer and she said it was because they were amazing. And they really were. Spicy, Mexican kinda tasting breadcrumb patties made of different beans and cheese. Yum! We got some brownie bite things out of the freezer too so they could defrost, then drove out to the beach to walk Twiggy and go fossil hunting!

Flick basically does guided tours along the beach to teach people about the paleontology based history of the island and to look for fossils in the process, as it’s a total hotbed for it. Since I’m a total dinosaur buff and being a paleontologist was my dream job growing up, this was just heaven for me. Flick taught us about some of the dinosaur fossils that were discovered here and showed us the historic levels in the cliff-side, as well as some genuine Iguanadon footprints in the rocks along the beach. It was really interesting and so cool to see Flick technically at work. She really knows her stuff! The whole time we were walking, I tried determinedly to find something awesome, but sadly I was being overoptimistic with it. All I managed to find was a rock with some seashell fossils in it. Not the giant dinosaur bone or arrow head that I’d hoped. We had to come back when the sun set, because it quickly got too dark to see anything, but I’m still determined to do better next time!

When we came back, we had our yummy brownie bites (after Flick had some fun trying to microwave them for the right length of time), then retired up to Flick’s apartment with Jenny in tow to play games. We played Cards Against Humanity first, which I wasn’t sure if they’d like too much because they’re nicer people than we are, but I guess nobody can resist the humour of it unless you’re really easily offended. We had ten rounds of that and had a real laugh over it – Flick even won! I came second. I’d been trying to play tactically, but not soon enough. As Flick said herself, “I like this answer too, but you used David Bowie on me!” I get how she works. After that, we played our Harry Potter trivia game for a while. More laughs, this time mostly over Seamus Finnigan’s impossible to understand accent in the films.

Kel was starting to fall asleep by this point, so we retired downstairs to bed. This was where I was trying not to freak myself out. Flick’s told me a lot of stories about her house being haunted, though I think she now knows not to let on about stuff like that. I have an overactive imagination when it comes to paranormal things, so it’s really better if I don’t know. It takes a lot for me to stay somewhere after knowing it has spooky history. Thankfully, Flick is that ‘a lot’. If no ghosties get me in the night then hopefully we can just forget about the whole thing.