Monday 4 July

Having arrived at Sanibel Island the previous night the rest of my time would be dedicated to the beach and relaxation.

On Sunday as most days of the holiday I awoke early around 6am, cooked an English breakfast of eggs and bacon and cereal and left for the beach.On this first day I decided to find a spot on the beach and enjoy the sun. In the evening I visited a local bar , the Lazy Flamingo, for a few beers and a meal of grouper and chips. The Fort Myers IPA High Fuve was particularly good. I returned home for a bottle of red and some episodes of West Wing.

On Monday the secobd day I decided to take out one of the kayaks from the centre. I didn’t know where I was going but followed my nose and eventually after about 30 minutes I saw what turned out to be a sandy beach. I left the kayak and explored. It was a beautiful spot so I decided to make a day of it. Very few people passed by so it was very relaxing. In the evening I decided to return and as I moved the kayak towards the water I realised that there was a lot of water inside it. On closer inspection I found a rather too large hole in its bottom! I emptied the water from it and decided to risk it for the return. I got back with no trouble and returned to my apartment for an evening of wine, fish meal and West Wing.

For the remaining days of my holiday I decided to walk to the same beach every day. Although I awoke early and set off after a quick breakfast there were still plenty of people out there collecting shells or fishing. At several spots along the beach there were turtle nests and more were being discovered every day. I became quite chatty with the turtle research team whom I encountered each morning. It was great exercise  walking an hour in the morning and again in the evening.

The weather was glorious every day but on Thursday there was a storm which delayed my departure until 7.30am and which replayed later in the morning. It was soectacular to see the weather systems changing as I looked out to the Gulf of Mexico.

I ate in for the remaining evenings except for Thursday night when I decided to visit Doc Ford’s for dinner. I had the special: corvina fish with caramelised mushrooms and leeks on a bed of rice with an accompaniment of cucumber. It was delicious!

Earlier that evening on my return from the beach I had got chatting with several people who had spotted an alligator in the very waters I had paddled my kayak a few days earlier. One couple was from Enfield, North London where I had taught for several years. We exchanged irreverent views on the Americans!

On my last morning I went to the beach close to the apartment around 8am and returned to do a final pack up at 10am. I was sad to leave but had to get back to Tampa in time for Vigil Mass at 4pm. I got to my apartment at 1.30pm and was in work by 2.30pm. The Mass went well but I was so tired and this affected my playing a bit.

Sunday followed the usual pattern with a break during the afternoon which I spent by the pool. At the end of each Mass I had played the hymn ‘America the beautiful’ since this was July 4th weekend. I had followed this immediated with some improvised variations on “America’ which we know as the National Anthem of England.

During the evening I had decided that there was little point in going to bed as I would surely be awoken by the fireworks heralding the arrival of July 4th. A few drams accompanied my journey towards the bewitching hour. And I even recharged my camera batteries to capture the moment. In the event there was nothing at all and I went to bed somewhat drunk and confused. At 5am I was awoken by one firework but returned to sleep.

On Monday I had a funeral at 10am so I was in by 9am to search out the music for ‘In the garden’ which had been requested. It turned out to be a religious ballad which I had to place as the closing song where it would least challenge the integrity of the liturgy.

It was a remarkable funeral in which all the guests were obviously catholic and it was the first funeral in which I knew the deceased.

After the funeral I headed to the local beach to maintain the tan I had achieved during my holiday. I then joined friends at a local bar and headed for home and dined on chicken sandwiches to the accompaniment of fireworks which concluded the evening of Independence Day.




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